Work in Progress…

So… to say that I have been neglecting my website would be a massive understatement. It’s as if I killed it off, left it for dead in a ditch but somehow it clung to life waiting for my return. I’m working on a way to bring some TLC to my website for this summer and hopefully it gets the attention it deserves. I will put to use my knowledge and skill set to bring forth a new and simple blog space for everything in Geekdom, with an emphasis on collecting and simply written reviews for those that are put off by technobabble and unfamiliar terminology. Hopefully 2017 can be the year I reach out and help in the community, and this blog can function as another branch of my online presence. Let’s wait and see how this works out!

Review Time! with Dragondude2525: Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire ***Rating 4.5/5***

Even though there have been over 20 main series Pokémon titles, including the remakes, in my opinion the release of these two games were the most anticipated of all! for years people had been asking for a Hoenn Region remake game, and we finally got it just a few days ago on the 21st of November. It has only been 4 days, but I’ve gotten through a good chunk of the game and I base my review on what I have experienced in the game up to this point.

To start out with one detailed I noticed from the beginning, it seems that the game has become far more personal than any other Pokémon game in the past, even more so than X&Y, with its customization. The inclusion of segments where we get to experience the game from a first person perspective really made me feel a stronger connection to the character I was playing as. Another little and all too necessary addition was the range of facial expressions different characters had throughout the game, especially when coming into contact with your rival.

I won’t comment on the base gameplay or the story much because they are pretty much the same as always, so I will skip ahead to some new things I really enjoyed! The biggest new game mechanic you will notice in the game is that after you encounter the legendary Pokémon of whichever game you chose, you will get access to the Eon Flute which let’s you call Latios or Latias to fly you anywhere you would like! Instead of flying like you would earlier in the game, or in previous games, this time around you have control over your Pokémon and you can fly anywhere on the map, that you have previously visited, including routes, caves, and other locations, which were never accessible by flying in the past! While in the air you can encounter some random Pokémon, mostly flying types, as well as access some uncharted locations where you might encounter a legendary. In these random locations you will be able to fight and possibly catch almost all the legendary Pokémon from all the other main series games. The only downside to this is that you have to meet exact requirements in order to unlock these hidden locations so that you can have an opportunity to catch these legendaries.

Every aspect of this game has received a well wanted facelift, and now we can all finally enjoy our classic games in a new format. One aspect of the game that I really disliked in the original has even been reworked in the remake and in my opinion it’s for the better, that aspect is the Pokémon Contests. I disliked these when I was younger, couldn’t make heads or tales of what attacks did what, but now it is all so simple. While the changes to the Pokémon Contest are minor, I enjoy performing in them much more now than in the original series. These Contests were supposed to show off your Pokémon and their attacks, and I finally think they have managed to achieve that.

Even though I have defeated the 8 Gym Leaders, I feel like there is a lot more to come, and the story is definitely nowhere near done yet. I have enjoyed playing the Pokémon games since Yellow Version in the late 90’s, and now over 15 years later I find myself still playing. You might have expected me to give the game a perfect rating, 5/5, but I just can’t do that to a game that is in a series that is quite repetitive and to a game that is a remake of another. Even though it is an amazing game, it did not push the envelope far enough to give us a totally unique Pokémon experience. So I do give the game a 4.5/5 because every other aspect of the game is absolutely amazing as usual. I did not pay much attention to the series in the 5th generation, but following the conversion from 2D to 3D art style I find myself getting drawn back in. Who knows, maybe the next generation will offer something that we have all been craving for some time, something that will make us all come back to a series we grew up on.

Review Time! with Dragondude2525: Fantasy Life ***3.5/5***

Fantasy Life is one of the latest RPGs to be released for the Nintendo 3DS and whats the first thing that comes to mind? meh… While the game is not terrible, by any stretch of the imagination, its also not great. Story is nearly nonexistent in this game, even though there is a story to it. I can say now that my character is level 38 and I’ve played for a little over 40 hours, but the story itself was completed back at about 12 hours into the game. But the story takes a back seat in this game and the true reason to play this game is to experience all that the world has to offer, craft new items, banding together in parties to defeat strong enemies, and to solve absolutely everyone’s problems in the region.

While it is an interested RPG, the way you play the game depends greatly on which of the 12 classes you choose to play as. You can change your class at any point in the game and all that it affects is your class based quests, and certain tools and gear you have equipped. If you choose to play as a Paladin, Hunter, Mercenary, or Wizard, you will mainly be playing an Action RPG, going on journeys, banding together and taking down strong enemies. But if you pick any of the other classes, such as Miner, Woodcutter, Angler, Alchemist, Carpenter, Blacksmith, Cook, or Tailor, get set for some true RP. While Miners, Woodcutters, and Anglers require you to explore the land, it is highly recommended that you level up as a Paladin, Hunter, or Mercenary first just so that you have a stronger base attack and are able to fend yourself in the wild. With Miners, Woodcutters, and Anglers you need to travel the map finding rare ore, rare trees, and rare fish that you can only obtain after learning those prerequisite skills. Following these two groups come the lesser classes that mostly involve creating items out of components you have collected on your journeys. This third class should really be left to play after you have at least completed one of each of the previously mentioned classes. In my play through of the game I started as a Paladin, became a Miner and a Woodcutter, and finally I have moved on to the third category, playing as a Carpenter, Blacksmith, and Tailor. These three classes play exactly the same, by creating new items through perfectly timed button presses. The reason to eventually play as every class though is to be able to complete each and every side quest in the game.

Throughout the game you have an ever-growing list of quests belonging to three separate categories you must complete to either progress the story, get Dosh (the currency of the game), or to level up your character’s class ranking. Later in the game quests increase drastically in difficulty, making near impossible to complete them on your own, such as taking on the Silver and Gold Dragons. Another thing that proves difficult are the countless rare ores and trees that you cannot mine or chop down until you have increased your skill level, increased your overall level, and equipped the best gear. At level 38 with high mining and woodcutting skills, I am still unable to do any damage to the rarest of items, but in time that will change.

Fantasy Life is the game for the person that likes to explore and sink hundreds of hours into one gaming experience. If you are looking to just play a game for its story and be done with it, this is not the game for you. In completing the story you will have only finished a small percentage of what this game has to offer. In the end I gave it a 3.5/5 rating because it can be lacklustre and drawn out at times, but the world looks amazing and offers so much to explore! but the score also dropped down because the story is far too short for the shear amount of gameplay available in this game. It almost feels as if the story is a fond memory that I long to return to. But who knows? Maybe the DLC will add more chapters to the story and will help me in reconsidering my  rating of 3.5/5.

Review Time! with Dragondude2525: Tales of Hearts R ***4.5/5***

North American Cover Art

Tales of Hearts R is the latest entry into the Tales series of RPGs made by Namco Bandai Games. This entry is a remake of the 2008 Nintendo DS game Tales of Hearts. The updated version features all new 3D game play, with 3D characters interacting in a 3D world. It features new animated cut scenes as well an all new voice acting throughout main story events. Admittedly I am not well versed in the Tales series, only having played Tales of Symphonia myself, but I do appreciate the longstanding series for producing many interesting stories and characters as well as some solid gameplay throughout the years.

To get into game details lets start with one big fact, it’s Playstation TV compatible! If you so please you can play it on the go, or sit down on the couch and enjoy it with the experience of a PS3 controller! When being scaled up to a big screen TV the quality of the image diminishes somewhat, but that will be a given when looking at almost any Vita game being played on the Playstation TV. The combat system is very good and led to some rather enjoyable random encounters. I like the quality of the lock on in that it can easily switch from one target to another without much effort. The tutorial portion of the game though was a little too detailed for my liking, but it would be necessary for any gamer that is entirely new to the series, although it does play like many action RPGs. The dungeon design was fairly lacklustre in that most of the time you were directed exactly down the path you needed to take, or the path itself was nearly entirely obvious. From my first 1 1/2 hours of gameplay I can say that the core gameplay will be enjoyable and the scenery and cut scenes will look amazing, but as for storyline, I can’t really say much at this point.

I give the game a rating of 4.5/5 because the game itself is easy to control and fairly enjoyable. Tales of Hearts R can be played on the go or on the big screen. While dungeon layouts are somewhat lacklustre and I can’t talk for the progression of the story, for the time being it is shaping up to be a great entry into the Tales series. The only other downside is the game’s availability. It is only available in North America at EB Games and Gamestop locations across Canada and the US. In Canada the price is 44.99, but hopefully with time the game drops in price or receives an HD port to the PS3 or PS4. But if you are a fan of the Action-RPG genre and a fan of the Tales series, I could not recommend this game any more!

Video

Review- Tech- Intec Charging Mat ****Rating 2.5/5****

As the title infers in this video I talk about the charging mat and rechargeable battery packs for video game controllers manufactured by the well known third party company Intec, that has produced supplementary devices for major home consoles for many years. I personally only purchased the Wii and Xbox 360 battery packs because the PS3 already has a built in power supply that can recharge through a mini USB to USB cable.

My gripe with wireless controllers has always been battery life, seeming that every time I tried to play on the Wii with family the batteries would always mysteriously die out in a matter of a few minutes, and i don’t really have batteries lying around as most of the rechargeable ones I have are currently in use. So I thought that backups such as these specific battery packs that are only for this one use were a good idea.

These though were over priced and that was what kept me from buying them in the past, until I found the Intec Charging Mat on clearance at The Source at Yonge and Eglinton here in Toronto. The Mat was on clearance for about 10$ and the battery packs were sold separately in two packs for about 6$, so in comparison it would have been like purchasing 4 AA batteries, which these days are getting expensive for reliable brands like Duracell and Energizer. The deal was great so I took them home.

Now, figuring out how they work was a lot more complicated than it should have been. Plugging the mat into the wall outlet was no problem, the blue LED indicator light turned on to show that the device was ready to start charging the battery packs, but when i placed the battery packs on the mat to charge that’s when my troubles started. I noticed that the battery packs also had indicator lights that cycled from Blue to Red, Blue indicating a full charge and Red indicating that it needs to be charged. When I placed the packs on the mat the indicator light flashed from blue, to red, then completely off. Were the batteries charging? How was I to know?

What they don’t tell you is that the light will come on momentarily on the first charge, cycle through from blue to red to off, then after it gathers up some charge it will then turn on the Red LED indicating that they are currently charging.

I have to say, it was a very complicated process at the beginning, considering that nowhere in the instructions did they say that you would have to wait until a charge was gathered for the indicator light to remain on while charging.

You might think though that this isn’t enough of a hassle to warrant such a low rating, but the reason why it is so low is because they do not even have a customer service phone line, instead they have a support email address that seems to be monitored by no one. In about 5 days since I initially sent them an email with my issue, they have yet to respond. That is a factor that will always break the deal for me on any device, poor customer service will always drag down the rating in my opinion.

Toronto Used Video Game Stores Review

Lately I’ve been trying to get back into playing and collecting video games, like I use to when I was younger, but it has been difficult finding decent prices due to the inflation associated with nostalgia. So I’ve been shopping around the city looking for good deals and stores that I can always rely on for good service and good games. To help out any other gamers out there in the Toronto area, I’ve decided to put together a review of several stores I’ve frequented in the last few months that focus on used games. I will state pros and cons to each store and in the end state my pick for the best used game store in the city of Toronto.

To start off I’ll mention the first used game store I ever went to as a young kid about 10 years ago and that is Game Centre at 805 Danforth Avenue. They do have 3 more locations that I am aware of, two near Yonge and Bloor and another on St. Clair, but I have had the most experience with the Danforth location. Over time the prices on older games at this store have increased and the choice of older cartridge based games has really decreased. At my last visit there were only a few NES games and not much else. They do have a few playstation one games and a few dreamcast imports but the main focus of the store seems to be on new games and used games for the current and last generation of game systems. They have a pretty sizable collection of Xbox, Xbox 360, PS2, PS3, GameCube, and Wii games at this location but not much else. They have a few used consoles but nothing really special. You won’t find any super rare games here but you might find a decent new game for about 20-30$. If you are close by and can’t travel too far, this store is still a decent option for more recent games.

Next comes the used game store that every Toronto gamer knows about and that’s A & C Games just south of Spadina and Bloor. They have a massive collection in a tiny store, with multiple copies of just about everything you’d want but the biggest issue is the price. Not to say that this store is robbing customers with its high prices, but instead that they know their central location and large supply warrants whatever prices they set. Customer service can be pretty bad at moments but only because its usually packed with customers and there isn’t usually enough people working to effectively service them all. If you know what you want though you can easily drop in and pick up exactly what you want but if you are looking to browse it’ll be a little difficult in there. These are all minor and understandable faults with this store but one that I just can’t deal with is their pricing for trade-ins. They are almost as bad as EB games for trade in value. 7$ for a game they sell for 30$ and 110$ for a brand new PS vita, only to then be sold for over 200$, not exactly fair. I understand that they have to make money off of these purchases but selling a game for 30$ when you only paid 7$ for it is just horrible. At least max it out at 50% of its fair value. But again, if price is not an issue and you already know what you are looking for, A & C Games is the store for you.

Next is a store I’ve only been to twice, and this sort of starts a trend because I have only recently been shopping around for new stores. This store is called Game Shack and it’s inside the basement of the Bay Atrium. It is more of an overflowing kiosk than an actual store, considering that all their shelves poor out past the front of the store. Because of this kiosk feel, creating a solid customer base doesn’t seem to be what they are looking for and instead they really focus on video game impulse buys, attracting customers and then sending them on their way. They have decent deals on their PS2 games, but everything else is pretty regular. Again like Game Centre, they just don’t have that many older games, and when I asked if they had any N64 games it turned out that they were all behind the counter in a plastic tub, out of site. Another thing is also that they offered preorders just like larger stores which I found interesting. But for the most part I just think this store can be equated to a grocery store magazine rack, just an impulse buy setting without much thought put into the purchases.

Yet another store that I have only recently visited is a store that I believe is called Hi Tech Video Games that is just East of Dufferin Station, across the street from a Popeyes. This store was just not worth visiting. I gave them a second chance but even then I just could not buy anything. They store itself was dirty and smelled of piss, both times I entered the store. They had a good deal going on where if you purchase 4 games for 14.99 or less you could also pick up 3 games for free. The selection was pretty big but the quality was really lacking. The only games they had under 10$ were sports titles and we all know those are pretty worthless. I took a look at their Dreamcast selection and again the condition was just horrible. If you have a high tolerance for bad smells I suggest you take a look, otherwise you can just pass up this store.

If you live further north then this next store might be the choice for you, Gamerama Video Games at 2370 Yonge street just north of Eglinton station. This store was facing some serious sports games overload as it seemed they were really trying to clear out these games at any cost. Overall it just seemed like a dusty and broken store, lined with countless dead consoles. Although there were many games at this store, the focus of their business seemed to be more towards repairs of consoles, phones, and tablets. The prices were ok, but the condition of many of the disc games were pretty low. I took a look at their Dreamcast games and out of the six they had, one was a sports title and the other was in dire need of resurfacing. The remaining games were ok, except Sonic Adventures 2 which was also scratched and missing the manual. From my visits to Gamerama I noticed the majority of the customers were either just looking or came to the store to drop off or pick up something in need of repair. Afterwards I looked at some online reviews of this store and most of them seemed to mention that the repair work at this store just wasn’t that good. In the end the only redeeming quality was that it was beneath an EB Games and my trip to that location wasn’t a total bust.

Lastly I thought I should mention my new found go to store for all my gaming needs which is Game Mania just at the corner of Bloor and Keele, outside Keele station. To start off I should mention the atmosphere and customer service. The people that own and operate the store are pretty cool and always knowledgable of everything from gaming history up to new releases. They are always buying more merchandise so you will definitely find something good. Although some games are still expensive, they are understandable at least, being well known and popular titles like Majora’s Mask and Ocarina of Time. I like that at this store you could end up dropping 50$ and leave with a pretty sizable amount of games. They even had completely random stuff like Ngage games. If you are impatient you might not like the relaxed feel of the store, but I personally don’t mind. It is definitely a browsers paradise. No uptight vendors at this store. Even on my last trip for 30$ I got a Wii zapper with the original box and link’s crossbow training, 3 Dreamcast games, and the dreamcast web browser. I even found a section of Original Playstation imports for pretty reasonable prices. They have a variety of classic and obscure consoles, as well as a decent collection of current and last generation console games. By far my best and most memorable experience of buying used games had been at this store. I will mention 2 things I didn’t quite like, but they are minor things, such as the fact that they open shop at 11:30am and that if you are in the market for an N64 controller you better look somewhere else. But one final factor that I just like is the impeccable quality to price ratio. For example condition of complete in box games seems to also affect the price instead of being fixed with condition not being a factor. Also I purchased a Model 2 Genesis from them and when I opened it up to clean the console I was very happy to find next to no dust, dirt, or unmentionable filth inside such an old console.

In the end my breakdown is as such, best overall experience goes to Game Mania, largest game selection goes to A & C Games, and best recent game selection and price goes to Game Centre. The rest of the stores are only worth looking into for the off chance you find something you’ve been looking for.