I want to be the very best ...

I want to be the very best ...

Random – My home seems to have been re-infested with Pocket Monsters. At one of his scout meetings my son learned to play the Pokemon TCG and suddenly both of them were very interested in Pokemon. Which is interesting because it wasn’t that long ago that they wanted nothing to do with Pokemon XY, maybe the newest tropical location has something to do with it or maybe it's just their age, but now they are poke-maniacs which makes me happy.

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Infinite Possibilities ... Disney/Marvel Toys and Game

Infinite Possibilities ... Disney/Marvel Toys and Game

Disney/Marvel INFinity – For Christmas Santa brought the family a new game, this is one of those games that has little plastic toys that you have to buy for each character you want in the game, it also has blind purchase upgrade packs that have new missions, upgrades and more. Essentially someone figure out how to mash-up a video game, collectible game and toy line into one sweet little package. Even if the game wasn't fun the figures are really nice sculpts made out of chunky vinyl, and cost about the same as a premium action figure; so worth it on their own if you're into that type of toy. That pretty much covered everything I new about the game prior to picking it up.

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Video Killed ...

Random – I suck at Video Games. Although I really enjoy the immersive experience of the Xbox 360 and the immediate gratification the games provide, I'm just terrible at them. 

I was going to post a review of Saints Row The Third, and then realized anyone who would care would be like,"Dude you're about 9 months late." So no review coming. The game is sweet and really fun but like I said in the opening paragraph I suck at video games, hence I've barely scratch the surface of the story in this game and spend lots of time just driving around breaking stuff. (Honestly I did the same thing with the entire Grand Theft Series, never really made it very far and got distracted by all the other cool stuff to do and remain confined to the first "Island"). What I like about Saints Row is the map isn't locked so I can go where I want and do what I want.

It's convinient that if I get tired of randomly exploring the city I can just call up on of my Saints and they'll give me something to do. Last night I played through that crazy Genki thing killing mascots and dodging traps. Weird as hell but super fun. I also randomly came upon a helicopter mission, which I failed miserably at but I didn't have to complete it to keep playing the game. This is super important to me as I have very little time to spend playing video games and when I do I just want to play for a while and come back to it later. I think that's part of the reason I like fighting games very little commitment needed (unless you play online, then you just get pummeled if you don't practice).

Rambling on ... I'm not sure where I was going to go with this other than to talk about a video game that I really like, which I don't have enough time to play seriously. A friend of mine puts aside the hours of midnight -2 am to play video games while his family sleeps, this seems like a good idea until you realize sleep is necessary especially when you no longer live on Red Bull and Doritios. So I've decided to try and get a few hours in every few weeks, this will be a good break from painting and terrain building without seriously hampering my progress.

Sometime I hope to get a chance to play Borderlands, Red Dead Redemption, Space Marine and several other games that are sitting in the shrinkwrap waiting for me to play. Once I do look forward to another semi-relevant review.

If you have any other games you think I should have sitting in my que to maybe play someday let me know.

Time to Kill – App Review

Elder Sign: Omens – As a fan of the Cthulu mythos I was excited to see that Fantasy Flight made an app version of the Elder Sign dice game. I really like their games set in the Mythos but it can be difficult to find opponents willing to sit down for several hours to grinds through a board game. The card game is really fun however it's difficult to squeeze into game nights as it's only two player.

For about $5 you can download this great little game for your iphone (and ipad as well I think). The graphics are beautiful like most Fantasy Flight products and the sound quality is pretty good. 

To start the game you choose which monster you want to face. The three choices match up to easy, regular and hard modes essentially. Then you choose four investigators, from a large selection of characters, each of which provides different in game benefits. 

The game requires you to "solve" mysteries or play through stories. Much like the Cthulu card game these are based on Lovecraft's work and are tied to the mythos. in order to beat a story you have to "roll" dice to generate the correct symbols. Digitally this feels a little more like random chance (yes I know there's not a skill to rolling dice–but physically doing something gives the semblance of control) but the different colors of "dice" have different probabilities of getting a certain symbol. By matching the correct symbols you defeat the story and unlock a new one. Once you've collected the correct number of elder signs you win the game. If all your characters go insane, die or the monster collects the right number of doom symbols before you collect your signs you lose.

The first couple of playthroughs this felt really random and I lost horribly. Once I figured out what the character abilities actually did the game made much more sense and I felt like I could exert more control over what happens. The trick is collecting the right bonus items to help make the difficult "rolls" easier. Also character selection plays a role in this as some characters get bonus dice, free re-rolls or can solve multiple "cases" in a story. 

For the money this is a pretty fun game that you can play solo or pass and play with friends. I like it better than some of the random finger sliding games available for the iphone as it feels like you did something when you finish the game.



While I don't play a ton of video games there are a few that I follow pretty closely. I've been a huge fan of Mortal Kombat since the first game came to arcades. I fondly remember waiting my turn at Tilt to have a chance at playing the game. Of course the waiting tended to be more enjoyable for someone like myself who was terrible at the game and promptly got beat down by the "king of the arcade," but the memories are still great. 

I remember picking up the home versions for Genesis and having a blast with those games. When four came out for the playstation I was a little bummed. The changes in the game made it less fun in my opinion. The later versions for the Playstation 2 brought back some on the fun for me and I really liked all the mini games like puzzle fighter. Each new version added more stuff and soon the series was bogged down by it. Having different styles was cool and chaining combos between them was fun, but something just didn't feel right.

A few years ago they released Mortal Kombat vs. DC, which was supposed to be similar to Marvel vs Capcom mashing up super heros with the video game characters. While the game was fun, and introduced some cool mechanics like smashing through walls and arial combat, it didn't really feel like Mortal Kombat. Really you could have shoehorned any characters into the game and had a decent time with it.

Now in 2011, Mortal Kombat is back and has cut out all the extra nonsense to go back to it's roots. A 2D fighting game that has tons of gore and crazy moves. After picking the game up last week and playing through about half of the story mode I 'm really impressed. I liked the Konquest mode from previous versions, so having a story that makes sense in a fighting game is a lot of fun for me.

Going online and getting beat down in king of the hill matches is just like wasting quarters at the arcade. The nice thing about this is you can heckle and interact with the avatars of other players while waiting your turn.

There are also a bunch of hidden items, unlockables and other easter eggs that will eat tons of time trying to find them all. The challenge mode is pretty difficult, but mastering it will only improve your skill level.

If you were ever of a fan of the series this is the perfect spot to jump back in spill some blood.

Taking a Break

I've been painting and modeling pretty much non-stop for the past year so I decided to take a little break. The above video inspired me to pick up Pokemon Heart Gold for the Nintendo DS. I remember playing the original game during the heyday of the franchise around 1999, and throughly enjoying the experience.

This version has been updated using many of the features presented in the Diamond/Pearl/Platinum versions of the game and therefore looks very similar. The play-style sticks true to form catch and battle grinding through to level up your characters. Just like in previous incarnations of the game there are creatures that can only be obtained in specific versions of the game or wifi events. To truly complete the game you have to put in some serious time and effort as well as pay attention to promotional events. 

The "Bank of Mom" has been reintroduced as well. This feature takes a portion of your income and automatically stores it so you won't lose all your cash when you encounter a difficult match-up. Annoyingly though "mom" spends your money on items that may or may not be useful and calls to inform you that she's sending you packages bought with your money ... thanks mom.

The phone system is something I don't remember from previous versions and it's just as annoying as real life. Random people will call throughout your quest to "chat" sometimes they have items for you, but most of the time it's just mindless chatter.

One of the neat add-ons the Nintendo included with the game is a pedometer that acts as a storage device to "walk" your Pokemon. This allows you level up your monster as well as gain items and catch monsters that only appear on the device. This is a cool device that encourages kids to be a bit more active (or at least shake the crap out of it). Fun peripherals are a mainstay for the franchise and this one adds to the list.

Most people will see this game as a quick cash grab for Nintendo/Gamefreak as it doesn't really move the series forward and doesn't introduce any groundbreaking features. However if you played the original this is a nice throwback that takes better advantage of the touchscreen features on the DS.

Given the sales figures and hype from the newest Japanese version it sounds like the next incarnation will better incorporate the features available for the DSi as well as change the look and feel of the game as a whole.

It only ends when you catch 'em all.