Thursday, April 30, 2009

GPH Wiz DPad Test and More

Because there has been a lot of questions about the Gamepark Holdings Wiz's dpad, I decided to make a video of the "T-Mode" button test. During the test, I tried to push down the entire dpad, but it will only ever register one direction at any time. I also did a bunch of circles to show how it tracks the transitions. The conversion to YouTube doesn't show it perfectly, but from what I could tell, it seemed to track fairly precisely.

Some folks may remember that the GP2X had a joystick that could be clicked down, and they may be interested to know whether or not the Wiz has this feature. There didn't seem to be any way to press the "center" button on the dpad. This, in my opinion, is the way it should be (for a dpad as opposed to a thumb-stick).

I finally fully charged my battery and the battery indicator shows it at 100%. I had mentioned in a previous post that the "bettery" indicator may be off a bit, but now it seems fine after a full charge cycle.

I also took some footage of a bunch of the built-in GP2X Wiz games. This test unit doesn't seem to have all the built-in games that are advertised to be included. I assume that some weren't ready to be included on the pre-release units. Check here if you want to see the official list of built-in Wiz games that should be included.

I'll leave you with some footage of various games being played under MAME (the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator).

Games to Own #5 - Jeanne D'Arc

Welcome to another edition of "Games to Own", where I guide you, the shopper to great games that didn't sell well or weren't as popular as they should have been. It's another portable game this time and another PSP one at that.

Sadly, Jeanne D'Arc slipped away from gamers radars quite quickly, even though it's a high quality, AAA PSP game. Why? I think there wasn't enough hype or marketing behind it. Maybe you've played games such as Tactics Ogre, Disgaea or Final Fantasy Tactics before? Jeanne D'arc is the same type of turn based RPG. A grid makes up the levels, but there's also plenty of scenery and backgrounds added too, which can prevent you from moving in those directions. Each turn you can move your troops (up to seven characters) as far as they're allowed in your turn and attack the enemy.

If you didn't know already, the game is based on Joan of Arc, but takes plenty of liberties story wise. Ogres and Dragons? Check. Magic? Check. Demon Gods? Check. The story is actually a high point of the game and is told quite well with some cool Anime video's with good voice acting.

Graphics wise, the "tactics" types of games have always been lacking. But Jeanne D'Arc looks really good, thanks to the high quality 3D graphics for both the backgrounds and the characters. Of course, all this would be for naught if the game wasn't fun to play. And if it wasn't, I wouldn't be writing about it! Jeanne D'Arc is a must have game for the PSP, it presents the tried and working formula of the turn based RPG, adds some twists and provides and long and engaging adventure.

9.1 out of 10

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

GP2X Wiz First Impressions

As you may have seen yesterday, I got ahold of GP2X Wiz test unit. I want to post about my first impressions of the unit after only having messed with it for a day (and only a few hours out of that day).

The first thing that I noticed, which I already mentioned, is the size. I knew this was going to be small, but it just seems much more cute and pocket-sized than expected. I think that the build quality might lead me to be a bit more impressed with the size. I'm used to the GP32 and the GP2X. They're both nice machines, and I've given them plenty of use. It's just that when you pick one up and compare it to a DS or PSP, they appear somewhat cheaply made. The Wiz doesn't suffer from this. It looks like it should be sold on a shelf right along side of a PSP or a DS.

The next think that I noticed was the weight. Obviously, after seeing the Wiz, you'll want to pick it up and see how it feels in your hands. It's light. It looks like it would weigh more, but they did a good job of keeping this pocket-friendly. My Sony camera, which is smaller and has about the same size screen, is heavier than the Wiz.

As you may have noticed from my pictures, I spent most of my evening messing with the Giana's Return port. It's hard for me to get a new handheld and just look at the games. I want to get my code running on it. Fortunately, it was unexpectedly easy to get the code to run, though, as you will see in the following video, it wasn't optimal. For any of you GP2X developers out there that are thinking about getting a Wiz but aren't sure that you want to port all your old games/apps, all it takes is a simple re-compile to get it running. In some cases, the GP2X binary may even work. After that, you will want to tweak things for the Wiz, but it wouldn't be any fun if it were too simple, would it?

Here is a video of the initial, unoptimized, Wiz port of Giana's Return. I have already sped it up, so don't worry about it looking slow.

Now, I will try to address some of the questions that I got about the Wiz. Of course, take these as my initial impressions. My opinion of things may change by the time I get to do a proper review.

There seems to be a fair ammount of concern about the dpad, mainly because of a post made on the gp32x message boards. From what I can tell, this concern is unwarranted. I have not noticed any problems. I haven't yet set up MAME (or any other emulator) to try any fighting games or whatnot, so I can't discuss quarter-circle moves or anything of the sort. I can say that it feels fine to me, and there is something inside that causes the pad to pivot. When you push down on the left side, the right side goes up. You can also push down on the middle of the dpad, so I can see why there is some confusion. Diagonals seem fine, but (as mentioned) I haven't played much.

The battery seems fine. When I do a proper review, I would like to do some tests to see how long the battery lasts when in use. For now, all I can say is that it's WAY better than when I first got ahold of my GP2X and put alkalines in it. Though, that's not saying much. The Wiz's battery seems good, but it's too early to make any real judgement. The battery indicator, however, seems off. I have to assume that they will change/fix the firmware's battery indicator before the final release. One last thing about the battery is that it has 2 screws holding it in place. I'm not sure why this matters to people, but it is a question that I received. On one hand, it seems like an odd design decision, but on the other hand I'm not sure I'd want to remove it anyway.

There's been some question about "diagonal tearing" on the screen. In my opinion, this is mainly an issue that homebrew developers are concerned about at the moment. Most of my use of the game was with Giana's Return, and in the game, I haven't noticed any problems. I have noticed what I assume to be the "diagonal tearing" issue when there are screen changes. For example, when the user chooses a menu item that starts the game, the screen changes from menu to game. Then, your eyes might notice a diagonal during the screen shift. I don't want to dwell on this too much because I believe that it will get fixed in the future and programmers can code around it if it becomes a problem for them.

Another question was about dead pixels. I don't have any dead pixels. Though, in the interest of honesty, I must mention that I did notice what seemed to be a sort of stuck pixel. There was a pixel that seemed to have the blue stuck on. It was only noticeable at all when the screen would change to black, otherwise I couldn't see any problem at all. The interesting thing is that it went away. I can't explain it, but I've heard of LCDs having such things before. Now, I don't notice any problems at all on the screen.

I do, however, notice fingerprints. If you've got OCD and you can't handle finger smudges on your handheld game, then the Wiz might cause you to curl up in the fetal position and find your happy place.

Since I received this unit, I've been hit with some bad news about the Wiz. GPH has pushed their launch date back yet again. This time it's only pushed back a couple of weeks. It's great news for the consumer that these test units are in the hands of reviews and developers. That means that they're close to a final product. Obviously, they're not as close as they previously thought, because the launch has been pushed back to the first or second week of May. I'm told that Play-Asia's Wiz pre-orders will be sent out right away on the launch date. Of course Play-Asia can't ship them until GPH supplies them. GPH is making a great product here, and they must need a bit more time to make sure it's done right.

Weekly Special: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts for Xbox 360

Two Xbox 360 games in a row now for the weekly special at Play Asia. Lucky you, Xbox fans! This week it's that famous platforming duo in their latest adventure, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. Available for the super low price of just $11.90! That's a $23 reduction, and if passing high school maths is any indication, I calculate that to be around a 65% saving off the regular price! As always, I recommend you read the whole post before running off to purchase the game.

First thing you need to know is that the this version of the game is the Asian version and while many languages are supported (English, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese), the game is NOT region free. I find it strange that they would have such a large selection of languages but region lock the game. A shame really. So, the game only works on NTSC-J systems and all you NTSC-U/C and Pal Xbox 360 owners are out of luck this week. Anyway, if you have an NTSC-J system, stocks are limited and only one copy per customer. Get in quick and don't miss out on this great bargain!!

"Famed game developer Rare Ltd. is reviving one of its most beloved and successful franchises exclusively on Xbox 360® with the third installment of the Banjo-Kazooie series. Banjo-Kazooie®: Nuts & Bolts® embraces new and old fans alike, as the famous bear and bird duo return in stunning high definition for an unique adventure of epic proportions. The Lord of the Games (aka LOG) is tired of the petty squabbling between Banjo and the evil witch Gruntilda (aka Grunty) over the years, and has arranged a showdown to decide the rightful owner of Spiral Mountain. Claiming to have created every video game ever made, LOG has built the game worlds in which the contest’s challenges take place. Banjo must complete LOG’s challenges to win, while Grunty tries to stop him using every method her devious mind can muster.

Throughout your adventure, create your own abilities by building vehicles for Banjo to pilot over land, water, and air. Vehicle parts, which range from simple devices such as engines and wheels to more unusual equipment such as springs and egg guns, are earned and collected throughout the game. Use your imagination to combine parts in any order to create whatever vehicle you choose. LOG's challenges have one goal, but your choice of vehicle and tactics will determine how you get there. By exploring worlds and solving puzzles, you will be rewarded with more advanced and diverse vehicle parts in your quest to defeat Grunty once and for all.

With the power of Xbox 360® and Xbox LIVE®, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts brings an entirely new experience to the console and takes the franchise to a whole new level of enjoyment. High-definition graphics, user-created content, and online gameplay are just three of the many advances people of all ages and skill levels will discover as they embark on their adventure."

Monday, April 27, 2009

GP2X Wiz Has Arrived

A new pre-sale test GP2X Wiz unit just arrived. I took some quick pictures and videos of it in action right after I opened the box. I haven't even taken off the screen's protective film, yet.

On the left, you can see the Wiz as compared to my 3rd gen iPod Nano. Even though I've seen pictures of the GP2X Wiz compared to other devices, I was surprised how small it is. It also seems very light, yet very sturdy. In fact, it really doesn't seem to weight much more than that iPod.

I will be posting more first impressions and reviews of the Wiz as soon as I can. Please leave comments on my Wiz posts if you have any specific questions about the device. I will try to answer them in upcoming posts. For now, though, I will leave you with my initial pictures and videos.

This is not the boxed retail version, so I can not show you the packaging or anything like that. What you see here is exactly what I received. If you have any questions about it, please comment here and I will try to address them in an upcoming post.

I know that these pictures and videos are not the highest quality. I wanted to get something posted here ASAP, and quality suffered in my haste. I want to get this posted as quickly as possible so I can get some questions and see what people are interested in knowing about the Wiz.

Friday, April 24, 2009

PS3 Firmware Woes

I'm sure many of you who use your PS3 to play online find the firmware updates quite annoying. It's not the idea of updating firmware itself which causes irritation. In fact, I think it's a great idea to remove bugs and add new features into the firmware and should be done for all devices (especially the squashing bugs part).

No, my problem is with the way Sony goes about in doing the whole firmware update. It seems very, primitive, for lack of a better word. So, grab a cup of tea and some snacks and prepare for a list of things that Sony should improve to make firmware updates a little less of a pain in the butt.

1. Frequency & Features

I think this is one of the major ones. Most would agree that the firmware updates come out much too fast and introduce far too few features to warrant an update. How many has there been since launch? 20? Feel free to let me know in the comments. The point is, there's been too many and some have had barely any new things added. If I remember correctly, one firmware update only had "some performance issues resolved in some games" or something like that. Hmm, no comment.

The firmware updates need to come out less frequently and actually contain a lot of new features. Where is in-game Voice chat via the XMB with a friend and better video media compatibility? All these improvements and the best thing we have is text messaging and chat after all these years?

2. Size and Speed

The size is fairly big. Each firmware update is around 128mb. This isn't a problem for people with decent connection speeds (me included), but it is a problem when the firmware does not download at your line speed. I'm always amazed how long it takes to download the firmware. Millions of PS3's downloading the same file at the same time. I'm guessing by the time it takes to download, I'm only getting 25-50kb per second when I should be getting 250kb+. For those with slower speeds, I feel your pain.

Now, I don't get this. Why do I and everyone else need to download the whole firmware package every time, no matter if it's a PS3 with the oldest firmware or if it's a PS3 that has been kept up to date. Why doesn't the server check what firmware you have and only download a file package with the changes (modified files or new files) included. I'm sure with some of these small firmware updates (read number 1), the download would be less than 1mb and a super quick update. It can and should be done!

3. Unfinished Product

Just because firmware updates are possible, doesn't mean that you can release buggy or unfinished software! I think everyone would agree that the PS3's XMB was not finished at launch and was full of essential missing features (and still missing voice chat dammit!). It used to freeze pretty often in the early stages too. Anyone who's tried Xbox live from launch will know how much more complete it was and ready with a good set of features.

The PS3 also still doesn't recognise files on my USB stick, which my 360 has no problem finding. I once tried downloading the PS3 update on my PC using a download manager to get line speed. It worked, but I had to use a lot of connections because it was going so slow. However, when I placed it on my USB stick, the PS3 would not find the firmware. To cut a long story short, I formatted the USB stick and then copied the file to it and finally, that seemed to work. But since I use this USB stick for backup of PC stuff, I've given up on the whole idea. The only positive in all this, is that you can set the PS3 to turn itself off after it's finished downloading and installing the update...only problem is, it doesn't turn itself off completely, but leaves it in standby. I'll have you know that standby uses up quite a bit of electricity over time and needlessly adds to your electricity bill. But that's a tale for another time.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Conquer the World - Tytania

Legend of Galactic Heroes by Yoshiki Tanaka, ran from 1988 to 2000, will always be one of my favourite SF series, so Tytania, written by the same author just automatically becomes one of my must watch anime series.

Dealing with issues such as wars, battles, military strategies and politics, this series is anything but light (although some classified it as a light novel series). But all of this is laid out in the most interesting ways, with characters that you can feel for and humourous scenes sprinkled throughout the show.

Take a look at OP to see what a "Space Opera" is like:

Tytania, named after the fairy queen (one of the few things that could be learned from Earl and Fairy!), alone gives hints about the clan's pride in their power over others. Although these people are knighted, they are not awarded with land or planetary systems, they don't need it, after all, as the symbol of fear, they owned everyone and everything in the galaxy.

The struggles between the clan and the opposing force forms the trunk of the story, while the dynamics between people and nations are the branches and leaves, and these paint the space opera a very lush green.

One of the nice things about having the series animated is that you can see the formations during the war. When I was reading Legend of Galactic Heroes, I had a lot of problems imagining what the battle scene would be like (lack of imagination on my part) and with the names of vessels spelt out in a long string of katakana, there were times, especially in the first few books, when I didn't even know which ship is fighting against which ship. Now it's all colored and graphically presented and easy to understand.

The only little flaw with the anime, in my opinion, is the ED, which sounded like a Power Rangers song.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Weekly Special - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. for Xbox 360

We're back to a console bargain game at Play Asia for this week. Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. for Xbox 360 is available for the low low price of just $24.90! That's a 50% reduction, stocks are limited and only one per customer, so don't miss out!

The game is also region free, so it will work on any Xbox 360 console in any region and features various language options (English, Spanish, French, German, Italian). Games featuring the Tom Clancy name are usually great games. The Rainbow Six Vegas and Ghost Recon Advance Warfighter games are some of my favourite shooters this generation. This is the first Tom Clancy game to feature air combat. So if you'd like to shoot some bogey's down Tom Clancy style, then please proceed to the checkout.

"As the era of the nation-state draws toward its end, the world of warfare is evolving rapidly. New challenges demand new solutions, sometimes with unpredictable outcomes.

For many years, state-sponsored militaries have struggled to maintain and modernize their forces. Increasing budget restrictions and difficulties in recruiting skilled personnel have led many countries to seek other solutions. More and more nations now rely increasingly on Private Military Companies (PMC) – elite mercenary groups staffed with equally elite personnel - to support their field operations.

PMCs have proven to be excellent partners in respect to efficiency, skills, low prices, and reliability. They’ve been able to fulfill most of the mission normally handled by regular armies, without risking political fallout.

In time, these private military corps diversified their field of operations, from mere securing land objectives to motorized assault and counter-intelligence. It was not long before a few of these PMC secured enough resources to require being involved complete support air and sea-bound operations.

With each passing year, the PMCs expand their influence and scope of activity. Initially just consultants, they are now involved in surveillance, logistics, site security, and other essential roles. In order to keep the war machine going most of the PMC warranted firms dealing with other sources of income such as mining, oil extraction, airliners, goods manufacturing etc. Ensuring a steady flow of currency allowed these companies to operate a tighter game against their opposition. Each year, they come closer to serving as fully operational field units, and their services are so widely used they’re already essential. Pandora’s Box has been opened. There’s no getting rid of the PMCs now."

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Final Fantasy XIII Demo Available

Remember back in the PS2 days, a whole lot of people bought Zone of Enders for PS2 just so they could play the Metal Gear Solid 2 demo bundled with it? Well, I'm sure hardcore fans of Final Fantasy will be doing the same with Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Complete on Blu-Ray, which just so happens to bundle a demo of Final Fantasy XIII.

Unlike the Zone of Enders incident, at least this time round you get a product which is related the demo offering. So if you're a Final Fantasy fan and you want the movie and the demo, what are you waiting for? Just hold up one minute and read on to see what else I have to say about it.

First thing to realize is that this is the Japanese version, but the movie also has English language options, but it doesn't seem to have English subtitles. Be aware that the demo is in Japanese. Also, it's Region A, so if you're Blu-Ray player (most likely a PS3!) is not Region A, then this is not for you. The demo however, is region free. It's also around 4GB in size, so make sure to have room for it on your HDD!

Apart from that, I must admit I'm not a big Final Fantasy fan, but I thought the Advent Children movie was quite good and enjoyable. It's great fan service, that's for sure. There's probably a heap of neat extras too. If you meet all the requirements and you want it now, then go grab it!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Broken Reset Button on a PS3 Controller

Something happened the other day while using my PS3 which I  must mention. You may remember in a previous post I had a whinge why I think wireless for controllers is an unfinished, annoying and basically crap technology that's not worth the price, nor the trouble. Yeah, go ahead and read that article first if you haven't already!

Anyway, back to the thing that happened the other day. After completing the new firmware update on PS3 (oh boy, is the FW update a good thing to rant about...later), my Dual Shock 3 controller started acting very strangely.

I'll explain what was happening and I should mention that every time things were different, sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't! Turn PS3 on, login to my user and the XMB loads, I press the buttons on the D-Pad but there is no response. I turn the controller off and turn it on again. Yay, problem solved, or so I thought. Once the game had started and I pressed the PS button to access the XMB ingame, again the same thing happened. No response to my inputs on the controller whatsoever. Strangely though, the PS button would work. The only way to access the XMB was to turn the controller off and on again on the ingame XMB... I thought it was a bug with the firmware and didn't put too much thought into it.

After a few days, I went online to play Hot Shots Golf (great game by the way). However, when I entered the lobby, the text chat which is controlled by the R2 button kept opening a text box automatically. Closing it would just result in it opening up again and I was unable to move my character or press any other button commands, when I canceled the text chat, it just kept coming back. I tried my "turning off and on" controller solution, but this did not do the trick.

So basically, I was royally screwed and was unable to play online at all. After cursing the wireless controller, I thought that there might be something wrong with my PS3. I decided to search the problem up on Google. You see, people on forum boards are usually very helpful and actually able to solve your problem, I really recommend using google and forum boards as your FIRST choice for fixing any tech problems you might have.

After my initial search, I found heaps of people on forum boards with the same or similar problem as me! Unfortunately in this case, replies (if there were any) were unhelpful. But I'm not one to give up so easily! After about 15 minutes of searching, I found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The reply on the forum (forgot the link, sorry), mentioned that if the controller is working but acting strangely than it's most likely not broken. But, the wireless signal can go out of sync and there's a reset button on the back of the controller you can press. Right, reset button on the back......WHAT???? Yes, have a good look and you'll find a little black button in the center on the back of the controller. I kid you not! I did not know about this at all, I thought wireless always worked fine. Did I mention I hate wireless?

To finish up, I turned on the PS3 with the controller, jammed a pen in the reset button and held it for 10 seconds and turned it on again. Voila! Controller worked perfectly again. If you ever have a similar problem, you'll now know the solution. Thank you for reading.

Case closed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Weekly Special - Lux-Pain for DS

Another handheld bargain and again a Nintendo DS game on special this week. I'm sure DS fans will be happy! Don't fret PSP fans, I'm sure you'll see a special for your system soon too. Lux-Pain is the new weekly special, at the great price of $14.90. That's $34 off, less than half price!

Again please be aware that this is a Japanese action game and I'd assume there is no english language option. But if you enjoy a challenge or you're learning Japanese, then this will be a good buy. Of course the game will work on any DS, so you might want to play it for the gameplay instead of the story, it's a bargain price after all.

"The historical Kisaragi City is plagued by mysteries. From small mishaps to murders, there is no logical explanation as to why these events occur. Silence, or worms borne through hate and sadness infects a human and forces them to commit atrocious crimes. The hero, Atsuki's parents are victims of such crimes. To avenge his parents, Atsuki goes through a dangerous operation to acquire Lux Pain, a power that allows him to see and destroy the Silences.

To learn more, and effectively destroy the worms, Atsuki joins the special forces Fort, which is established by a group of youngsters with special powers called Zigma. Throughout this text based adventure, the player, as Atsuki, gathers information about Silences and utilize the full potential of Lux Pain. After destroying a Silence, he has to fill in the gap left in the infested victim's heart with a new memory. Learn about the troubles that disturb the people in the city and destroy the worms. Be careful though, and do not to destroy the people's hearts in the process."

Lay your rational mind to rest - Earl and Fairy

As long as you are not too serious about it, Earl and Fairy is a perfectly entertaining show. It it not pretending to be anything other than pure shoujo fun, so do expect a lot of handsome men, close ups of their faces, sweet talking and absurdly grand adjectives. Let your minds relax a bit, why so serious?

The show introduces us to Edgar, the lethally dangerous nobleman who is dying to get a sword to prove his lineage and Rydia, the fairy doctor whom he abducts along the way to aid his search. The usual stuff happens, formal dinner parties, grand cruises, actions and sword fights with violence obscured, or toned down with a layer of bubbles and dazzlies and of course, fairies.

For all its mention of torture, kidnapping and other horrible happenings, this series manages to keep itself light and bubbly. There is no lesson to be learnt through the series, it won't teach you anything, it won't make you think, in fact, the best way to enjoy the show is through shutting your rational senses down completely.

After all, fairies, as seen in the anime, and a lot of other works such as Peter Pan, are not exactly rational creatures. So, let's be irrational once in a while and jump into Neverland.

The series has all the right props for a model Shojo show. Although it portrays the era featured in Victorian Romance Emma and Kuro shitsuji, it lacks the historical details of the former and the tinge of dark mysteriousness of the later, Earl and Fairy made it all up with pastel pink bubbles, balls and lacy dresses.

A ball happened almost every two episodes, so plenty of chances for the heroine Rydia to (unwillingly) show off the garments in her wardrobe (funded by the Earl, her romantic interest, no less). Balls happened quite a lot in series that featured the upper class in the Victorian era, but it's happening with such frequency is still remarkable. So I just can't help but wonder where, or how they found the money to finance their expensive activities, especially since I have never seen Edgar work at all.

But that doesn't really matter, since the Fairies, whom Edgar governs didn't seem to mind all of these too much, in fact, they have been waiting so long for their king to return that they did not even care too much about the authenticity of the tattoo that marks the lineage of the Blue Knight Earl on Edgar.

The sweet talking, performed mainly by the Earl, forms the staple of the dialog in the show. Perhaps to keep the victorian atmosphere, English words are used constantly to describe the character's attributes e.g. Rydia's eyes are peridot and her hair is rust/caramel colored, while Edgar's eyes are ash mauve. Whether these (ridiculously) grand words are distractions or romantic gestures are up to interpretation.

Although the show has its (glaringly obvious) short comings, the beautifully drawn characters more than make up for it. The details missing in the plot have shown up on the character's facial features, expressions and colourings. It seems like the author and the production team knew exactly where the charm of the series lie and are exploiting it to its full potential.

Let your mind rest, this is not Tytania, Legend of Galactic Heroes, Monster, Death Note or Meitantei Conan, once you get used to the rhythm of Earl and Fairy, it's more and more amusing, plus, there are quite a few eye candies available.

Demon Swords under the moon - Oboro Muramasa

Done by Vanillaware, under the artistic eye of Joji Kamitani and Yoshifumi Hashimoto, the Wii action adventure is very similar to Odin Sphere in terms of gameplay, therefore those who adored the Norse Mythology inspired RPG will love this Eastern counterpart.

One attractive aspect of the game is hacking and slashing, nothing quite compares to the simple fun of running a sword through hordes of enemies in a series of lightning moves.

Compared to Odin Sphere, the system seemed easier to master with difficulty levels that you can choose according to your abilities. The musou mode is friendlier for beginners (such as myself) and the most difficult mode that could be unlocked, or so I have heard, is torturous in a lovely, hellish sort of way, perfect for veterans.

According to wikipedia, a localized version will be going to the States and European countries, so hopefully gamers in those regions can get this title soon. For those who are impatient, come get the Japanese version now, as it is not uber difficult to learn the basics of the game.

Let's say that the action part of the game is not particularly difficult for those who can't speak a single word of Japanese.

You can start playing once you learn the basic moves such as pulling out a sword, slashing your enemies etc. But like all Japanese games, you need to know the language to fully understand the story, and with its pseudo archaic speech, this game might need a little getting used to in the beginning. Luckily, the game is more action packed than dialog intensive, so not understanding the speech won't be fatal.

As you proceed through the game, you can collect and create more swords through the smithing option. Learn the special characteristics of each sword, the lighter ones can be wielded faster to create more combos and the larger ones attack with more power. Other things you can create throughout the course of the game is food, you can cook your own by using the materials you have collected on the fields or by defeating enemies. The food such as the tofu pot looks absolutely scrumptious, by the way.

Genroku period, apparently, is a very colorful era in Japanese history, the game takes you through forests, coastal areas, towns and the red light districts. The era depicted is charming, intriguing and apparently, quite dangerous. A perfect time frame to adventure in. The game will cover your screen in layers and layers of vibrant paint throughout the playing time so you would feel like you have entered the world of Japanese paintings.

The story isn't quite as deep as Odin Sphere, but what it lacks in plot is recovered through the gameplay and much enhanced graphics. So if you have both PS2 and Nintendo Wii, nobody is going to stop you from getting both games (Odin Sphere is available as a Best Priced version as well.) And if you have a Sony PSP, there is Princess Crown, the spiritual ancestor of both of these games.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Games to Own #4 - Metal Slug Anthology

Here's the first handheld game to join the "Games to Own" ranks. Compilations often fail to satisfy, often with stingy collections of games, games that show their age or poor ports/emulation bringing down the experience. I'm glad to say that Metal Slug Anthology does not follow this tradition and SNK Playmore have done a stellar job in bringing the arcade games to the PSP.

I have fond memories of playing Metal Slug with a friend at the arcades, back when arcades were still alive in the west. For me, it was the perfect pickup and play game for the arcades. In fact, the Metal Slug series are some of my favorite arcade games ever. You're a one man (or women) army against an actual army and one hit kills and deaths is the name of the game. The massive boss machines on the other hand, require a lot more punishment.

The PSP collection contains seven Metal Slug games, yes that's correct, SEVEN. It's a very generous and good value collection indeed! Included is Metal Slug, Metal Slug 2, Metal Slug X, Metal Slug 3, Metal Slug 4, Metal Slug 5 and Metal Slug 6. My favorite game being Metal Slug X, which is a sort of directors cut or upgrade of Metal Slug 2. It features new enemies and some level design improvements/upgrades. Metal Slug 3 was the last game the original SNK team made and none of the latter ones by SNK Playmore compare even to the first three, but they're still good fun.

Each game plays well on the PSP and looks good even in the stretched widescreen mode, although you can play it in its original 4:3 ratio if you want to. Metal Slug can also be played with two players and the co-op with wireless works great. Make sure to pick up another copy if you have two PSP's and a friend to play with. I give this Anthology 9 Heavy Machine Gun's out of 10.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Future Prediction - Handhelds Part 2

In part 1 of this 2 part feature, I predicted the hardware specs of the PSP 2 handheld from Sony and since I haven't yet been proven wrong, I'm right of course! Now, witness as I delve into the depths of handheld gaming and technology information to bring forth another prediction.

It's time to predict Nintendo's handheld! Will I be on the ball, or fail miserably, you be the judge! Either way, I hope you enjoy these future predictions and when the time comes, be sure to remember how close or far off these posts were! Read on as I analyse and predict each feature of Nintendo's new handheld, which will be known as the Gameboy DS.

Why the Game Boy DS? You may recall Nintendo saying the DS was not a true successor to the Game Boy and that only the real deal would carry the name. The DS was an experiment and succeeded beyond anyone's expectations. I certainly didn't think a touch screen and an extra screen would become so popular. And since Nintendo decided to remove the Game Boy name, I'm sure they didn't either.

To cut a long story short, after a shaky start, DS's started flying of the shelves faster than you can say "Alucard" backwards. Due to this large factor, the true successor will also have the DS name at the end of it. And why Game Boy you ask? Easy, that's because the next handheld will be the true successor to the Game Boy Advance.

Size and Shape

Remember the DS in the name? The Game Boy DS will feature a similar clamshell design and will be slightly bigger than a DS lite. It will have more rounded edges and have even more style than the DS.


Two 3 inch widescreen LCD screens will be used and will provide a higher resolution than the DS. Both of these will be touch screens and provide much better color reproduction.


Nintendo will opt for a reliable CPU that uses a low amount of power, perfect for handhelds. This type of chip, known as ARM, is already powering the DS. This CPU will run at 400mhz (quite a jump from the DS's 67mhz!) and provide a capable processor for all functions. A second CPU will be used for the second screen and backward compatibility with the DS and will be clocked at (you guessed it) 67mhz.


The relationship forged with ATI for consoles will continue. ATI will provide a small and power efficient 166mhz mobile graphics card which will propel the graphics quality comparable to a Gamecube's on one screen.


The Game Boy DS will have high quality stereo sound, much better quality than the current DS. Music will sound great and games will now have CD quality music.


64MB of RAM.


For web browsing purposes, 1GB storage will be included.


The Game Boy DS will use the same memory cards that are used currently and will be backward compatible with the DS. Game Boy DS games will start at 1GB in size and go as high as 4GB in the later years of the handheld.

Other Hardware Features

The handheld will also feature a motion sensor (similar to Sixaxis), two low resolution cameras, microphone and wireless.

Operation System Features

The OS will have limited PDA functions and allow you to browse the web and take pictures with the camera as well as record sounds.

Battery Life

Expect battery life using games to be around 9 hours.

Release Date

The Game Boy DS will be announced in early 2011 and will have a November 2011 release date in Japan.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Weekly Special - Hercules no Eikou: Tamashii no Shoumei for DS

There's been a lot of Xbox 360 and PS3 weekly specials, hasn't there? Well, don't fret, this weeks weekly special is a DS game called Hercules no Eikou: Tamashii no Shoumei, at the attractive price of $14.90. That's $34 off, less than half price!

Although everyone should be aware that this is a Japanese RPG game and I'd assume there is no English language option. But if you enjoy a challenge or you're learning Japanese, then this will be right up your alley. Of course the game will work on any DS, so you might want to play it for the gameplay instead of the story.

I've never played or heard of this game, so I'll paste the information that can be found on the product description.

"The RPG sets stage at Olympus, from the Greek myths, and tells the adventures of an amnesiac youth whom the fairies recognizes as Hercules. The youth has been wandering around aimlessly after being washed up the shore. One by one, he came across allies and some vital information about himself.

He is an immortal, and so are his allies. To find his source of immortality and come to terms with his own fate, he travels toward Olympus with the help of his friends.

The game displays a map with locations of shrines, villages and cities.
Fight monsters to gain EXP and/or money.
Make use of both the touch pen and buttons as methods of control."

Sounds interesting for sure, you might as well check it out.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Giana's Return

Wow, nice trailer. Giana's Return is the unofficial sequel to the classic game "The Great Giana Sisters." This is not to be confused with the official Giana Sisters sequel on the Nintendo DS. Giana's Return is a homebrew title being developed by a team headed by Kojote (of PDRoms fame).

I have been in close contact with a couple members of the team, and I have seen the game in action. This is not just some silly little game made by some random hobbyist. I've worked with the main coder before on projects. He is one of the best that I know. Also working on the project are professional graphic and audio artists. This is no Bob's Game, which is all hype. This project has kept relatively quiet, but I think you'll find that it's just as good as many commercial titles. If you know Kojote, you will know that he won't release anything until it's completely ready and perfect.

I expect it to be released on the GP2X to start out. Depending on when it is ready, I'm hoping that it will also be available on the GP2X Wiz. After that, I expect it to be ported to other systems like maybe Dreamcast and such.

If you're still skeptical, just check out the trailer. Does it look like the work of some hack that couldn't make it in the game industry, or does it look like a team of devoted fans have worked on it for several years? I think the answer is obvious.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Hatsworth DS = Metal Slug + Pokemon Puzzle League ( = Flavor's Random Pick)

"Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure" is a great game. It seems like the sort of title that most people would simply pass over or never hear of. Hopefully, I can do my bit to change that.

Imagine, if you can, the best possible outcome if you took a game like Metal Slug or Alien Hominid and mixed it with a game like Pokemon Puzzle League, Bejeweled, or Zoo Keeper. My guess is that your imagination falls short of what developer Tiburon has created.

The game has a silly wittiness about it. On the top screen, you play Henry Hatsworth, and run through levels searching out treasure and vanquishing enemies to the puzzle world. On the bottom screen, you must use your puzzle skills to completely vanquish those enemies from existence. All this is set to music that seems appropriate for an episode of Cowboy Bebop. At this point, you should be thinking, "How can this all possibly fit together?" Your brain ought to tell you that this equation does not compute, but, just this once, it might be wrong. The correct answer is that it fits together incredibly and surprisingly well.

I usually don't do "reviews" of games, because I figure that anyone can Google the game and see that IGN gave it a 9.0 and GameSpot gave it an 8.5. My intent here is to simply spread the word about a game that you might not otherwise consider even reading about. Here's EA's official trailer for the game. Though, be warned. If you value your real life, you might not want to get this game, as it will eat up loads of it.

GP2X Wiz Games

If you've been following the GP2X Wiz at all, you may already know that it's set to launch at the end of this month. You may also know that GPH (GamePark Holdings) have already announced games like "Asura Cross Wired" and "Her Knights: All for Princess" for the system.

However, you might not know anything about any other games that are in development for the Wiz. In an earlier post, I already talked about some "GP2X Wiz Flash Games" that are being developed. Now, let's discuss some games that are believed to be in development. There is very little information available about these titles, so I will present pictures (click on them for larger images) of these games for our speculation.

GP2X Wiz Party must be a Mario Party clone. Judging by the name and the picture, I'm not sure how it could be anything else. That's not a bad thing, though, as the party game genre is a popular one. These types of games are always worth keeping in your stash for when you want some multiplayer action without the learning curve. The art style looks nice, so let us hope that translates into good minigames and an overall enjoyable experience. In making this title, they already took ideas from previous popular games, and I would assume that they'd take ideas from their minigames, too. Hopefully they borrow from the fun ones to make this GP2X Wiz game!

The picture at the top of this post is for a game called Rhythmos. Rhythm games have fared well on touch-screen systems like the Nintendo DS, so it seems reasonable that it would work well on the Wiz.

To the right, you can see an image for "Legend of Sword." This is an RPG being developed by BITMAGE. My guess is that the storyline for this game will be based on "The Legend of Sword and Fairy" franchise from 1995. It seems that BITMAGE is doing a bit of this re-inventing older game franchises.

Deicide 3 looks to be a futuristic adventure game where the police have mech suits like you see on the right. It looks like this was originaly developed by Studio Jacobin in 1997 and BITMAGE has bought the rights to bring the game to the GP2X Wiz. If you want to see some cool concept art for the 1997 version of the game, check out the archive of the old Studio Jacobin Deicide 3 website (which no longer exists) and keep clicking NEXT a the bottom of the pages.

There are more games to come. Titles like "Figure Skating Queen," "Perfect Goal Manager 2010," "Brain School," "Side Mind," "World Bumper Car," "Enormous M," "Mother's Tycoon," and "Wiz Party" just to name a handful of the ones we've heard about. I'll try to dig up more information about some of these games and post here when I do. For now, though, I'll leave you with more images of some of the aforementioned titles.

Future Prediction - Handhelds Part 1

Want to know what the next handhelds from Sony and Nintendo will be like specification wise? In each part of this two post article, I will examine current technological trends, using some basic research and assumption skills to predict the next handheld offering from each respective company.

Will I be on the ball, or fail miserably, you be the judge! Either way, I hope you enjoy these future predictions and when the time comes, be sure to remember how close or far off these posts were! Read on as I analyse and predict each feature of a certain handheld, which will be known as the PlayStation Portable 2 or PSP2 for short.

The name is the easiest part. Just look at the names of Sony's consoles to get the idea. PlayStation Portable is a brand name Sony has invested in and they'll be sure to slap on a two at the end of the name for the next handheld offering.

Size and Shape

The PSP2 will have a similar overall shape to the current PSP Slim & Lite, but will have a bit more depth below the screen and be a bit thicker to fit in all the new technology. Two analog sticks will now be present. It will also be a bit heavier and have different styling, making it look a lot like the PSP1.


A 4.3inch OLED (organic LED) touch screen will take up most of the front of the handheld. This is the same size as the PSP1 screen. The OLED technology will provide the best possible screen which will put the PSP1's LCD screen to shame. Ability to play in daylight, low power consumption, super thin and superior picture quality will round off the package. Why a touch screen? After the success of the DS, Sony is sure to have learned its lesson and the PSP2 will also function as a PDA by using this feature.


After investing heavily in the Cell processor for the PS3, Sony will be using a mobile version of the chip for it's PSP2 system. The chip will use 45nm technology to save on battery life and will be clocked at 2.6Ghz.


The relationship with Nvidia will continue and Sony will use a custom mobile version of Nvidia's graphics processors to provide the grunt work. It will run at 300mhz.

Graphics capability of games will be comparable to launch PS3 titles, but will be a bit inferior in detail and physics.


The PSP2 will have standard high quality stereo sound. Music will sound great and games will have even higher quality audio then on the PSP1.


128mb of main memory. 128mb video memory.


The PSP2 will come with 8GB space inbuilt via flash memory, but will also support the latest Memory Stick Pro Duo's for extra storage. Games will have the option of being installed on to the drive space or memory stick for faster loading time.


An improved UMD drive with faster reading and seek times using a blue laser to bring storage capacity of one disc up to 6.5gb. Expect perfect quality video and no more limitations on voice acting in games.

This new UMD drive will also be compatible with PSP1 UMD games and movies, but PSP game backward compatibility will be handled via emulation.

Other Hardware Features

The PSP2 will also feature a motion sensor (similar to sixaxis), wireless and bluetooth (with the ability to use it as a controller for PS3) and a USB 3.0 port. It will also have a 3MP camera (no flash).

Operation System Features

The XMB interface will return and access to the PlayStation Network, trophies and online gaming will be available from day one. An Internet Browser just like the PS3 one will be included.

Battery Life

Expect battery life while using games to be around 4-5 hours.

Release Date

The PSP2 will be announced in late 2011 and will be unveiled in 2012 with a December 2012 release date in Japan.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Wired Controller Fan

With the release of the PS3 and Xbox 360, Sony and Microsoft decided to bundle wireless controllers with their systems, probably to make them seem more "hi-tech". I'm sure many a geek had a sparkle in their eye and as they enthused over this new technology, while the casual gamer might have looked to see the cord missing and thought how convenient it first.

In my opinion, there are more advantages in using wired controllers and I recently switched my wireless 360 controller for a wired one. I would have also done this with the Dual Shock 3 (DS3) if the cord was longer than the USB cable, so props to Microsoft for releasing both versions. "He's mad!" you say and maybe you're right, but first hear me out

A simple reason to start with, wired controllers are cheaper than their wireless counterparts. Now, moving on to the first big annoyance, which I'm sure everyone is aware of and that is power supply. If the wireless tech only required the console to be powered on, we'd be set, but it doesn't, so for the 360 we need to say hello once more to AA batteries while on the DS3 we have a Li-Ion rechargeable battery which is a better alternative. Whenever your AA batteries run dry, you'll need to put a fresh pair in. AA batteries aren't free, they cost money and every time you game, it'll cost you a bit extra. You'll need to pull them out of the controller and put new ones in. The alternative? Buy rechargeable AA batteries, which cost more to begin with, but quickly become the cheaper alternative. But of course, you'll need to recharge them, which is annoying too. And what if you want to game but have no batteries with power with them? Well, then you're screwed. That's wireless for you.

Oh, but I'm fibbing, there is another alternative. The play & charge kit will save your butt in such situations. Wait a minute, not only does this make your controller wired during the charging period, defeating the purpose of going wireless in the first place, it also costs you more money! Can you see what I'm getting at here? Hmm, let's move on.

The wired 360 controller will also work on your PC with no additional hardware (very cool), while the wireless one does not. Not without extra hardware, which again costs more money.

The inbuilt DS3 Li-ion battery is the better alternative, but isn't the big fix either. You'll still need to wire up your controller when charging, but at least you can keep playing without buying additional hardware. Pairing up controllers is a pain and sometimes you'll need to switch with your friend(s) or reassign which controller is the 1st player. Turning the controller on and off every time you turn on downloads and leave your PS3 alone is another annoyance. Like all batteries, Li-ion start to lose charge with age and need to be replaced after a few years, I haven't seen any spare batteries for Sony controllers for sale yet and I wonder when they will be available. This will require you to unscrew and open the controller and replace the battery. Finally, as I mentioned at the start, the USB cable could have been much longer and the battery easier to remove to provide for both the wired and wireless users.

To conclude, I'm very happy with my wired 360 controller and I never have to worry about charging or changing batteries or anything else! There are only two negatives I can think of. There's a cord (no big deal, put it back near the 360 when done) and it takes up one USB slot (only a problem on a PS3 if you've got a lot of accessories). However, I think the positives more than make up for its shortcomings.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Games to own - #3

Welcome to part three of games to own in your collection. I try to dig out titles that aren't your multi-million selling AAA titles, but great titles that deserve to be in your collection that you might be unaware of. But most importantly, the point is to point out great games that have been neglected and have done poorly commercially (sales wise).

The strange thing with the game I have picked today; Valkyria Chronicles, is that it IS a AAA title, yet sold quite poorly. I assume it's due to the lack of marketing behind it, which is a real shame, as it is a fantastic strategy/RPG and a must have exclusive on PlayStation 3.

There's no doubt about it, this is a very original take on strategy RPG's. The game blends three different game genres (third person shooter, turn-based strategy and RPG) all into one to create something completely unique and fun to play. How does it work? Imagine a turn-based war game with beautiful anime watercolor type graphics and great orchestral track. And just wait till you see it in motion! 

During your turn on the battlefield, you choose which character you want to move and then proceed to do so in real time, just like a third person shooter. You have a limited amount of steps you can make and you can only attack once per character. When choosing to attack, you also aim a cursor before firing your shots. The enemy will also counter attack in real time as you approach and you keep doing so until you have moved all your troops and attacked or your turn is over.

You can also hide your characters behind cover, crouch and use vehicles and various weapons (just like a real war!). It's an excellent mix of gameplay and it works so very, very well. Couple it with an interesting plot and decent voice acting and you've got a AAA title which is one of the best strategy RPG's this generation.

9.5 out of 10. Buy it now, or at least try the downloadable demo off PlayStation network, which only shows a bit of the brilliance in the full game. Support unique games and buy this one so we can all enjoy a sequel.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

CryptoCut Double-Oh Seven, 22min of Söldner-X

The guys (which really means 2 guys and a girl) at Cryptic Allusion have released their latest CryptoCut. The CryptoCut is a concise podcast that is aimed at covering a specific topic (which would usually be a single game or news item). They try to release a CryptoCast (the full-length podcast episodes) every other week. They use the CryptoCuts to fill in when they have a topic to discuss between CryptoCasts.

The latest CryptoCut 007 does not have anything to do with James Bond, but, if you go by the wikipedia entry, he could fit the translation of "Söldner-X: Himmelsstürmer."

My suggestion is that you listen to the latest CryptoCut and/or CryptoCast. You can find them by clicking the links in the previous sentence or by searching for the Cryptic Allusion CryptoCast in the iTunes store. After listening, head over to to get the Limited Edition version of Söldner-X: Himmelsstürmer, which you can get for less than $10 if you hurry.

The Candy Shop

I thought I'd change the topic away from video games for a bit and let everyone know about...candy! Sing it, "I, want candy". Anyway, there's a section not many Play Asia shoppers are aware of. If you click on the toys tab and look to the link categories below it, you'll find a "groceries" link, which contains not only candy, but instant noodles as well.

Now that I have acquainted you with this category you probably didn't even know about, I'll outline and even write some recommendations for the candy and why it's useful to you when making a purchase. I'm nice that way.

Everything in this category is cheap, cheap, cheap! How cheap? Starting as low as $0.99USD, anyone can bundle some of the goodies with their order. Got a Play Asia coupon giving you $5 off a $50 purchase but your total order only equates to $49.90? Just throw in some candy and you'll be getting your discount in no time.

If you don't live in Asia, then you most likely don't have access to the candy available at Play Asia. Want to do something extra nice for your friends or co-workers? Buy some packets of Japanese candy and share it round, they'll be sure to enjoy it. There are plenty of flavors to choose from and everyone is sure to be interested to try something new. Finally, it makes a great gift to add to any existing gifts you have purchased for friends, loved ones or that special someone and the receiver is guaranteed to think you're just as sweet as the candy*.

*Not guaranteed!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Games to Own - #2

I admit, I have little to no postive feelings towards EA, with their large library of shovelware, yearly rehashes of sport titles and often bug-ridden or unpolished games. If it wasn't for the studios they have acquired such as Criterion (Burnout games) and Dice (Battlefield, Mirrors' Edge), I'm sure they wouldn't have such healthy profits. But things may change for the better now as EA is attempting to produce more quality titles and fix the crash and burn yearly titles such as Need for Speed.

Anyway, you're probably thinking why I'm talking about EA in this "games to own" post. That's because, dear readers, the next one on the list is (shock, horror) an EA game. The special edition is also available at a bargain price, so I've chosen the PS3 version, but the game is also available on Xbox 360. May I present Army of Two.

Now don't get me wrong, Army of Two is not a AAA title, but it is highly entertaining and fun shooter, especially with a friend. That's where the title of the game comes into play. You'll have control of one of the two foul mouthed Army Ranger veterans working as private military for hire, wearing some freaky death masks and spouting plenty of one-liners with attitude! The government gladly throws you into some dangerous missions where you and a buddy or AI will need to use strategy and cover to your advantage if you hope to survive.

From here, the game play similar to most third person shooters such as Gears of War, but includes some special tactics for two player teamwork. The AI is acceptable and does a decent job, but the fun lies in playing with a friend, which can be easily done over the PlayStation Network. You'll play through five missions, with additional missions available as downloadable content. Humorous dialogue and some great looking graphics round off the package. Customisable masks and weapons (including weapon bling!) make it worth earning as much cash as possible.

A word of warning, the game is one of the only ones to have a multiplayer region lock. However, this is easily bypassed. To play with a buddy from any country in the world, make sure to have the same version (region) of the game and you will be able to play together no problem. This lock was meant to be removed with a patch, but this still hasn't happened. I give Army of Two an 8 out of 10.

Don't Break your DS Screen - Lux Pain

Like many adventure games, Lux-Pain stars a cast of absolutely beautifully drawn characters typical of Japanese games and a soundtrack full of mysteriously eery melodies, but the main attraction is its full use of the touch screen facilities of the Nintendo DS.

Doubtlessly, the Nintendo DS gets a lot of good games, but I could not help but think that some of them might actually be nicer when played on the Sony PSP. Tales of Hearts, and Final Fantasy III and IV, for example, have some stunning movies and its gameplay doesn't require the use of a stylus much.

Lux Pain, on the other hand, exploit this facility to the point where you might accidently leave scratches on your screen. Your objective in the game is to get rid of worms called "Silence" within people, find the culprit of a string of murders and gather clues as you read people's memories as well as emotions.

You do this through using your stylus to erase a person's shell and pretences and delve straight into their heart within a time limit. See the string of yellow dots? That's the memory, or the worm you are after, be sure to catch it as soon as you spot it as pretenses build up very quickly and the these yellow dots slither around fast.

So, excitement and adventure with a wonderful cast, this is not a visual novel that simply makes you want turn page after page, but a game that makes you sweat adrenaline.

Before you get your game, you really should get some screen protectors just in case you can't control your strength and leave blemishes on the screen. It's really useful for this game.

The atmosphere was somewhat dark and eery, but hardly bloody, yet scenes of cruelty are hinted at. After all, the "Silence" worm brings out a person's darkest sides, so it's not surprising that the plot has to include these scenes.

Another wonderful thing about Lux-Pain is the voice acting. I have only played the Japanese version, so I am in no position to comment about the English version.

Miyano Mamoru, the voice behind Light Yagami from Death Note and Tamaki Suou from Ouran High School Host Club. Starring as Atsuki, the lead character with a traumatic past and a quiet personality, his performance is an inch closer to Light than Tamaki, so for those who adore his darker voice, here's a treat. Although its a DS game, it has quite a bit of voice clips, so that's some candies for the ears.

While the gameplay differs greatly, Lux-Pain reminds me of the Persona series that delves into a person's dark side. So people who loves the great RPG series and gloomy/mysterious plots, this game is definitely worth a try!