Thursday, April 21, 2005

Sega Fantasy VI


I was about 20 seconds away from being late for work this morning. And this flash video is why.

(Click "New Game" to view the whole thing.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Nuns and Earthquakes

Some weirdness today.

Around 4PM, word spread through the office that some sort of psychic nun had predicted an intensity nine earthquake today at 5PM. (This fantastic prediction came through SMS of course. Despite my not having a cellphone, I am not outside its' influence.) Since we work on a rather high floor, an earthquake would be very bad (tm) from us. Of course, nobody took it seriously, although I suspect some wanted to take the opportunity to dodge some work. It's ridiculous after all. There's no real way to predict an earthquake will strike at a certain time.

The funny thing is, it seems that at least in one other office in the building, the employees were asked to leave the office temporarily "just in case." It's funny when individuals worry about earthquakes predicted by psychic nuns...but when a company decides to take it seriously, well, that's downright stupid.

Games: Suikoden IV

Well, I thought I'd write about Suikoden IV before I forgot all about it. I finished it around Holy Week, but haven't bothered to go through again, even though I promised myself I would try since I did not get the magic number of a hundred and eight stars of destiny this time around. Curse my pride for not reading any FAQs while playing! Time is short, with work and all, so I should make the most of my games so I don't need to re-play them.

Suiko 4 has big steps to fill. The first two Suikoden games gained quite a following on the PSX, and the third game, while taking things in a somewhat different direction, was pretty good as well. Does Suiko 4 live up to the series' legacy? It's mostly the same as Suiko 1 and 2, but the plot is a lot simpler this time, and quite uninspired. Very few truly moving mments or scenes. The story takes place in the Island Nations some hundreds of years before the events of Suiko 1. Only three characters are here from previous games: Viki (no surprise there), Jeane (WTF? How is she alive at this time? Does she possess a true rune?) And Ted, the original bearer of the Soul-Eater true rune from Suikoden 1. The worst part is I didn't get Ted! Damn it. I shouldn't have rushed the last part of the game.

Having the Soul-Eater would have been good, because frankly, the hero's true rune in this game, the Rune of Punishment, is really lame. Story-wise and gameplay wise. The story of Suikoden games have always revolved around the 27 True Runes...powerful, living artifacts of magic that shape the destiny of the world. Sought after not only because of the immense power they wield, but also because the True Runes grant their bearers one thing men can only dream of: immortality. This game is about one madman's desire to possess the power of the True Rune of Punishment.

In fact, the story follows quite the same trend as Suiko 1 and 2. Hero is a young member of prestigious nation's military arm. Hero is forced to leave his home for some reason. Hero finds a True Rune. Hero gathers together a huge army to lay the smackdown on an evil Empire. When the war is done, Hero fades into obscurity. Really, no spoilers here. So why the plot fall so flat if it's following a tried-and-true formula?

I think it's because of the uninspired supporting cast. The silent unnamed hero of Suiko 4 doesn't have any strong, loyal personalities attached to him (Gremio in Suiko1, Nanami in Suiko2, a buttload of people in Suiko3) Because of this, he lacks a powerful mouthpiece to help drive the plot forward. Also, it has always been the problem in the Suikoden series that since they always have a cast of 108 in each game, many characters are underdeveloped. But in Suiko 4, I find it hard to name more than five "solid" characters that drive the plot. And the Silverburg tactician here is boring here as well. No particularly clever plots or tactics here, don't expect any Matthiu or Shu tricks.

Gameplay-wise, it's pretty blah as well. It's mostly the same as 1 and 2 though, so it's more of no big improvements than suckiness. There is one thing that bothers me though: The dice-bowl gambling game has been given a limit. You can only bet 3000 potch at a time! This minigame was a major source of funds in the earlier games in the series, and with this cap, it's hard to keep up with the high blacksmith prices towards the end of the game.

One last complaint. This game seems to be technically inferior to Suikoden III. Case in point: cut scenes. It frustrates me that a simple change of perspective/camera angles in cutscenes demands a load time (as in, fade in/fade out) of 0.5-1 seconds. It's the same scene, the models are already loaded in memory, why can't it be a smooth transition? As it is, the cut scenes are jarring and feel skippy.

That is all. Will I play it again? Maybe, I really want to use the Soul-Eater again. One nice thing about this game is that for the first time in the series, they include a New game + mode. Not much benefits in terms of carry-over, but one major thing: You can skip cutscenes! But I probably still won't play it again. There are other games to play, and too little time.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Blogsome - free Wordpress hosting

Wordpress host - free blog

I've wanted to try Wordpress for a while now, but not having easy access to a PHP-enabled server of my own, I haven't had the chance.

Blogsome is a new, free service that provides Wordpress for blogging. I signed up, and was still available (nothing there, don't bother looking)

Am I going to leave blogger? I don't know, really, I'm already pretty comfortable with it already, and moving to Wordpress means learning a while new templating language (I know it would take all of an hour to get it down, but still...inertia).

I'm definitely not moving to Blogsome right now though, as there is currently no way to use Wordpress' import from Blogger feature with Blogsome since they do not provide FTP uploads for you. My other issue is that since everything would be hosted on Blogsome servers, there's a lot less control than with Blogger.

As far as I'm concerned, Wordpress has only one thing which Blogger still does not have: categories. If you're anything like me and you like to pretend to be organized, categories are a big step towards that. I have no doubt that Blogger will eventually have categories sometime in the feature, but right now they're having trouble keeping their existing features from the hiccups.

Ah, if only I got could get some free/cheap webhosting with a significant amount of space and JSP/Tomcat support. Since I use mostly JSP/Java at work, this is best for me...PHP means having to learn a whole new language, and we've been over that.

Games: Timesplitters III

I'm not much into FPS titles, but over the past couple of weeks, my bro Alvin and I have been playing the occasional game of CTF or Zones in Timesplitters III (via split screen on one TV of course.) The last time I got into an FPS game multiplayer was when Mon, Dave, Paul and I would do a four-way splitscreen on a single TV with the PS port of Quake 2. Insane I know, but fun. Timesplitters is like that, and since I'm expectedly not-so-good at these types of games, the challenge level is just about right for Alvin and myself. We always go co-op, since I have no doubt he would beat me hand down in versus.

The single player game? I have no idea. I let Alvin play that part just to unlock more characters.

And speaking of characters! The real reason I like this game is that the characters are crazy. Alvin likes to play the T-Rex (yes, imagine a T-Rex holding a 12-gauge tactical shotgun), but I try to pick a new one every fight. The most important thing is that the you can be a Ninja Monkey! Wow, I was giggling at that for one whole 30-minute game.

Too bad Mon is away and we don't hang out much at David's anymore. Otherwise, I'd buy a multitap and we'd lose our eyesight from Dave's samll TV.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Congrats Neil

Speaking of my high school batchmates' earth-shaking accomplishments, props to Neil Simon Silva for getting 9th place in the recent bar exams.

Congrats as well to new attorneys Chris Bolastig and Ly-an Carlos.

Jeesh. It's getting harder and harder to keep up with my batchmates. When will I accomplish something that will land me in the papers? Or maybe I should stop being so competitive? =p

The Gender Genie

The Gender Genie

Apparently, according to this handy web tool, I write like a girl, or at least I do when my posts exceed 500 words. How embarassing! Apparently I should be using more masculine words like "the", "good" and "something" rather than feminine words like "but" and "actually"!