my thumbs aren’t idle

Contrary to popular belief, my life hasn’t been all sexy swinger’s parties and grown-up decisions lately: I’ve managed to squeeze in a fair amount of video game playing (at the expense of other things, like housework and non-anonymous sex).

So, what have I been passing my time with lately?

DS:

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box
To say that I was eagerly awaiting this sequel to last year’s Professor Layton and the Curious Village was a bit of an understatement. The game itself didn’t disappoint – the good Professor was just as uptight as ever, his “assistant” was raising eyebrows of the authorities, and everything was just so delightfully British. The puzzles range from easy to murderously confusing, and more than once I found myself looking things up online because I just could not figure it out on my own. They added some mini-games that increase the amount of content – you can brew tea, exercise a fat hamster, and build a camera; all of which unlock even more things to see and do. You might blaze through the story quickly enough, but to go back and complete everything is where you’ll find a lot of the action.

And yet .. I wasn’t feeling it. I love the series and would gladly recommend it to just about anyone, but I wasn’t head over heels about the sequel as I assumed I would be. I think there might be several reasons for this – I was sick while playing the game, and being unable to remember my own name and at the same time attempting to solve complicated math puzzles or garlic puns would frustrate anyone – but at the end of the day, the Professor was spent and pleased with himself while I laid there dissatisfied and unfulfilled. I might go back and give it another try to see if I can’t spark the old flame, but something was missing.

Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story
The third entry in the Mario & Luigi RGP series is a damn good one that you shouldn’t pass up. It’s got all the fun you’d normally find in a Mario title, but in an adventure format AND it’s hilarious to boot. I’m 19 hours in and there’s no end in sight. Where else can you roam around the inside of Bowser’s gut while a toothy alien nerd has chortles at you from the outside? This game is great. I am enjoying it mightily.

Scribblenauts
Rooster Hat aside, Scribblenauts is very, very good .. but not great. It’s as inventive and amazing and hilarious as you want to make it, but the actual movement of Max (the guy in the Rooster Hat) is so clunky you might be driven to fits of shrieking which’ll scare the cat into launching off your thigh with all the power of his claws and 22 pounds of horse muscle, and that will hurt. The game itself is huge – there are 10 levels each with 11 puzzles and 11 action scenes, as well as encouraging you to repeat scenes using different objects, getting you extra points. The game isn’t always clear what it wants from you though, or something that you think should work won’t come out the way you intended – trial and error is a big part of it. It’s really cool though, and I’m liking it a lot – it’s my Go To game when I get tired of wandering around Bowser’s bowels in search of mushrooms.

PS3:

Little Big Planet
We’re a little late on the bandwagon for this one, but we were waiting for a PS3 price drop. We picked up the Game of the Year edition (for $8, thank you EB trade-in policy) which comes with a whole lot of extras – it’s well worth it to seek out the GOTY copy, if you’re in the market to buy the game. Little Big Planet is incredible, and it’s easy to see why it’s the flagship title of the PS3. Ed and I are playing it together – literally the first game we’ve ever attempted to play co-op all the way through – and it’s a great deal of fun. It’s very cute and looks amazing in HD and the hardest part is not playing ahead but waiting for both of us to be available to play. We have a date to night to play some more levels, and once we’re far enough ahead I’m going to play through it single player to collect the things I’ve missed – but it’s a truly original game, and one that is well worth getting for the PS3 – or getting a PS3 for, if you’re in the market.

Katamari Forever
Maybe I’m just too used to paying DS title prices, but PS3 games are incredibly expensive. As a result, we’re trying to keep our collection down to excellent titles only. We have exactly two PS3 games – Little Big Planet and Katamari Forever (technically the entire reason I wanted a PS3).

It’s .. well, it’s a Katamari game. You either love the games, or you don’t get them. I am absolutely in the “love” category – but this is the 5th title on the 4th console, and they’re all the same. Katamari Damacy was a breakthrough title – We Love Katamari was even better, both story wise and in game play – and the others .. well, they’re Katamari games. They’re good, funny, creative, fun – and exactly the same. The King breaks the universe, The Prince is tasked to create replacements, and the katamari keeps on spinnin’.

If you’ve never played a Katamari game before and only have a PS3, then get this one. If you have access to a PS2, get the first or second title instead. Die-hards will buy this one and they’ll enjoy it, but there’s really nothing to write home about. Disappointing, but it’s very difficult if not impossible to recapture the original magic – that’s why you move onto new things, like Little Big Planet.

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days comes out today – my copy is waiting for me at EB Park Royal – but it’ll be a while before I can get to it. Titles are finally starting to back up again, but I’m pretty sure nothing comes out between now and December (the new Zelda DS title) so I can catch up on my games and maybe get some sleep.

illicit mushrooms

I’m illicit!

More than usual, even!

Now that some decent games are finally being released for the DS after almost 9 months of horrible offerings, my pre-orders are starting to come in. Last week while I was sick I received a call from my favourite EB, telling me my copy of Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story was in and I could pick it up any time. Hooray! I called Ed and asked if he would do the honours, as I was feverish and housebound. I texted him a permission slip (EB takes pre-orders seriously it seems and has given Ed shit for picking up my stuff in the past) and he grabbed the game for me that night.

I’ve been playing it for the last few days, and it’s pretty cool. I’m enjoying it more than I did Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, even though the story makes about as much sense – it’s cute and engaging, and almost exactly what I needed to pass the time while sick.

Yesterday I was determined to leave the house for a while, as I hadn’t been further than the sidewalk since Tuesday. We didn’t do anything exciting – went to the mall so I could buy a new keyboard and some packaging material, and I traded in a few games (4 crappy/finished DS titles) for a copy of Little Big Planet (for the PS3 I don’t have yet). I got to talking about upcoming DS titles with the guy behind the counter (known as Band Guy, because he’s in a band) and he mentioned that he was looking forward to the Mario and Luigi RPG and Scribblenauts. I expressed confusion, because the M&L is already out – I have it. I’m pretty sure I didn’t hallucinate it like I did everything else.

Turns out that Nintendo pushed the street date back by a couple days but the store didn’t find out until the next morning – AFTER they had sold one copy. That one copy sold was to Ed, and for the time being, I’m the only person who has the game. Do you want to touch me? It’s okay; you can touch me.

This means I can get in many hours of M&L:BIS before I get my sweaty little hands on Scribblenauts on Wednesday (launches tomorrow; we’re always a day late up here). Also, there is a rooster hat involved. I will be beyond disappointed if I do not get my rooster hat.

ROOSTER. HAT.

No, I am not better yet.

pax recap

PAX 2009 was:

  • awesome
  • exhausting
  • strange
  • fun
  • not quite what I expected
  • going to be attended next year, but with A Plan
  • a good time
  • definitely worth pre-registering for

PAX was A+; would buy again.

We were at the event for about 6 hours on Saturday before bailing – the lure of a Built Burger BBQ at Doug and Ali’s place was too strong and delicious to resist. It was a very full day though, and even though we were beat after just six hours, I could have easily spent the day there if I had planned things out better. For starters, I had no idea that the passes for the evening’s concerts were handed out to the first several thousand people through the door each morning – so even if I had made plans to see the MC Frontalot and Jonathan Coulton shows, I wouldn’t have been able to. Next time, Gadget, I will make a plan and see the shows and panels that interest me.

We spent most of our time in the Main Exhibition hall, trying out new games and people watching. There were so many strange nerds around – some normal, some unfortunate, some clearly on some sort of day release program. I wished I had a stable internet connection and a computer; I could have just live blogged what I was seeing around me for three days straight it was so surreal.

A third day of PAX seemed a little over the top, but we went for a few hours to do some last minute things – get some more swag, buy new mice, and see John and Scott. We made a quick side trip to Archie McPhee’s so I could stock up on Random Things to give away, and after a couple hours of Sunday PAX we hit the road. We were home by 6pm, and enjoyed a leisurely evening knowing we still had a full day off ahead of us.

In retrospect, staying up until 3am was a bad idea but they were showing a Bones marathon on Showcase and I love that show. I used the time wisely though, going through the huge pile of swag we brought home from PAX. The thing is, I can’t or won’t use most of it – so I did the only logical thing: I made 5 piles of random awesome, and I will give them away via the Fan Page on Facebook. Check there later today for what you’re going to have to do to get a PAX Prize Pack!

Lastly, here are some pictures:

star trek online

star trek online

no more tshirts

no more tshirts

oh dear god no

oh dear god no

craigslist cosplay: awesome

craigslist cosplay: awesome

raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawr!

raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawr!

The rest of my PAX09 photos can be found here!

pledge the allegiance

How does one prepare for a video game convention? By making sure your affilliations are displayed loud and clear:

PC Gamer: My army medic bag has a Return to Castle Wolfenstein patch

DS Gamer: The above-mentioned bag has three player pins from The World Ends With You

XBox Gamer: Jet Set Radio Future hoodie (quite possibly the only one in existence)

Old School Gamer: NES Controller necklace; Pac Man lapel pins

I’m ready to throw down.

1039 smoothed out apps

Now that I have far too much space available on my iPhone, I’ve been downloading everything in sight. At brunch on Sunday, Ali asked me for a list of my favourite apps because she hasn’t had the time to try a bunch out to find some good ones. I currently have 97 apps on my phone – down from 103; I removed some last night – and since I don’t have anything interesting or happy to talk about today, I thought I would list my favourites here in lieu of any depressing content.

I’ll even break them out into categories for you, because I don’t want to think (too much about what we should or shouldn’t do):

Camera Utilities

  • Camera Bag ($1.99): applies cool filters to pictures you’ve already taken and/or take new ones in different styles, emulating different toy and fancy camera types. Probably my #1 app; some of my favourite pictures have been run through the Lolo and Helga lenses in particular.
  • QuadCam ($1.99): (not yet working in 3.0) Lets you take 4 or 8 shots in rapid succession for a fun sequence – a close second to Camera Bag when it’s actually working
  • Auto Stitch ($1.99): creates panoramic photos by stitching images together – works pretty well, but the more images you stitch the smaller the output size
  • Meow Cam ($.99 – no longer available on iTunes Canada): For taking pictures of animals, small children or people with ADD; plays a series of sounds before taking the picture to get their attention

I am a Sensitive Artist:

  • TypeDrawing ($1.99): Very cool app. Choose your font, your text and your background, then draw – it’ll use your text as the pen, varying the size based on the speed of your swooping. It’s a little hard to explain, so check out the app in the store for sample images
  • SpinArt ($1.99): Drop paint onto a spinning canvas and watch it splatter!
  • Bebot ($1.99): A cute little robot makes sounds when you poke the screen – a neat little robo-synthesizer with a big variety of sounds and effects
  • ‘stachetastic ($1.99, or $2.99 for the Ultimate ‘stachetastic that includes mullets, 80’s hair, and a Douchebagifier): Add a glorious moustache to any picture. Change the style, colour, size, angle – anything you want, really. Makes for some awesome photo fun.

Fun Time Games

  • Flight Control ($0.99): This one is obvious because it is awesome
  • HarbourMaster ($0.99, on sale): Clearly trying to cash in on Flight Control’s popularity, but with boats and apparently pirates (I haven’t encountered any yet). Still good, even as a borrowed concept.
  • Must.Eat.Birds ($0.99): I downloaded this last night, and holy crap – it might be the most ridiculously hilarious game I’ve tried. Touted as “the world’s first ever picnic defense simulator”, it is absolutely worth the $0.99 – do yourself a favour and get this game now.
  • Ragdoll Blast ($1.99): A physics game in which you shoot a ragdoll to hit an increasingly complicated target
  • Shift ($0.99): A little platformer with a very cool twist – similar to Crush for the PSP (not the best reference because I’m probably the only person who played it), but much simpler and very cool
  • DoodleJump ($0.99): Cute little vertical platformer with neat sounds

Real Life

  • Evernote (free): Fantastic application for keeping notes and sharing information between multiple computers and your phone. It saves my ass in the States – I don’t have data roaming, so I will save directions or addresses in Evernote and recall them when I need them. Super awesome!
  • My Lists ($1.99): I love keeping lists.
  • Total ToDo ($0.99): Reminds me when I need to do something, because a list isn’t always enough
  • Grocery IQ ($0.99): I always seem to need Diet Coke
  • Traffic Canada ($1.99): I have traffic cameras on my usual routes bookmarked so I can see exactly why the Lions Gate Bridge traffic is backed up until next Tuesday. I also have the border crossings monitored, so I can choose the quickest route before I leave the house. Handy!

Staying Connected

  • Facebook (free)
  • TweetDeck (free): My current iPhone Twitter client; same as the PC/Mac version. Not completely stable, but does the trick well enough
  • Tumblr (free): Allows me to post to my oft-forgotten Tumblr blog
  • WordPress (free): Now that the bugs have been squashed, I find this application really useful for making quick posts on the road
  • IGN (free): The entire reason I bought an iPhone to begin with – I use it daily to check video game reviews. Settings allow you to choose which platforms you want to see, and the search function will look up old reviews. Very, very handy when I’m standing in EB and looking for something new to play.

So .. yeah. This isn’t a complete list of applications I use/d, but these are some of my favourites and why. What are some of yours?

happy ending

I can’t always get what I want, but if Corporate Canada determines that I am telling the truth and decides to come through for me, I can get what I need.

I picked up my shiny new 32GB iPhone 3GS on Tuesday, thanks to the legwork done by the Office of the President of Rogers Canada. The phone itself is kind of glorious – I have so much free space I may have to start getting into horse porn just to fill it – but that’s really beside the point here, as the story is the HOW and not the WHAT.

As of last Wednesday, I had left matters in the hands of Rogers. I had passed along all the information I had, and they asked for several days to look into the matter and get back to me. We decided on Tuesday, and I attempted to forget about everything as to not get my hopes up. They were going to try to find the recording of my original conversation with the sales rep, and we would go from there.

On Tuesday morning, Rogers called to say they were going to find me a local dealer with stock so I could go and get it set up right away. I was mostly asleep when I received the call, so I stumbled through it and completely forgot to ask the important questions: why, how, and what will it cost me. I tackled the issues later that morning though, when they called back to say there was a 32GB phone waiting for me at the Apple store in Pacific Centre. This time I used my mouth words and asked how much it would be: the full price, or the new activation price? The answer was “$299”; the new contract price, which was not entirely unexpected. The real issue here was the $400 Early Termination Fee that I had been told didn’t exist – Rogers would let me come aboard the party train, but would Fido let me go without a fuss?

I’m happy to announce that the answer was “it’s all taken care of; you won’t have to pay the termination fee”. Hooray!

I don’t know the exact details, but if I had to guess I would surmise that they did eventually locate the conversation I had with JC and discovered that my story was the truth: I was calling to inquire about the “switch from Fido for free” clause, JC pressured me into signing up then and there, and he repeatedly told me that there would be no penalty for ending my Fido contract early. Strings were pulled, and the end result is my satisfaction – it took a little longer than usual, but I am a happy camper.

Major thanks to the guys I spoke with at Rogers for sorting this all out to the best possible conclusion, and also to the people behind the @RogersHelps Twitter account – they’re the ones who got me in touch with the Office of the President and ultimately made everything all better.

Hooray for persistence, patience and sweet, sweet release!

sam

like an onion

Did you know you could wear more than one shirt at a time? Until last night, I had no idea. Today, though, I am delighted to announce that I have learned the fine art of LAYERING.

I bought a couple of very cute tops at Target this weekend, but was a little hesitant to wear them in public (especially after my Extreme Wardrobe Malfunction of last Friday). As I wondered if I’d ever be able to wear the shirts in public and still keep a tiny sliver of decorum and decency, a tiny light bulb went off over my head. What if .. what if, instead of wearing JUST this shirt, I wore another shirt under it? One that doesn’t expose my nipples if I breathe? This could work. By gum, it could totally work!

So, I did just that. I am wearing TWO SHIRTS, one over the other. I’m still showing enough skin to be true to myself, but at the same time, you can’t see anything I should technically charge you for. Layering is awesome! I should do it more often!

For the longest time, I resisted using my iPhone as a gaming device. I know, it’s pretty backwards of me given that I am all games all the time – but seriously, the last thing I needed was to add even more games to my already over-crowded “must play” list.

However, I recently changed my mind for several reasons. I’m still hoping that someday my 32GB iPhone will manifest itself in my pants, which means I won’t need to horde free space as much as I’m currently doing. I could buy all the games I want and still have room for many days worth of music – and when the games cost between $.99 and $5.99, suddenly owning every decent game available isn’t such a terrible idea (unlike when I attempted to do the same on the Nintendo DS – $40 times this list is catastrophic and let’s not talk about it).

The biggest reason I’ve been using my iPhone as a gaming device has nothing to do with available space and attractive pricing, though. It’s not even my mostly forgotten New Year’s Resolution of “buy fewer games”, as noble as that was. No, it’s simply because Nintendo – of the so very many excellent games – has completely and utterly failed me this year, delivering at most one or two “must have” ’09 titles to date.

At this time last year, I was still knee-deep in lust for The World Ends With You and my pre-ordered title list was several pages long. It’s almost July, and my list currently has ZERO pre-orders on it – and of the ones I’ve picked up (4, down from about 20), only 2 are really worth playing. What’s the deal? Where are all the excellent games? Did all the effort go into squeezing out the DSi instead of making quality titles? I am bored with my DS, and that is making me extremely grumpy.

I have hope. There are some titles coming out later this year that I am incredibly excited for; even more so because there’s been nothing to get my squee on about lately. The new Professor Layton title launches in August; there’s a new Zelda game (I don’t care what the haters say; I loved Phantom Hourglass) coming out; a new Phoenix Wright game that doesn’t star Phoenix Wright (a refreshing change; the Ace Attorney game of last year was better than the previous 4 PW titles); Scribblenauts (which looks just awesome); a new Mario & Luigi RGP; Kingdom Hearts 365/2 .. I have hope that the titles will stop sucking soon. There is only so much Scrabble I can play, you know.

Fake Thursday is awesome times!

how am i?

  • I’m afraid of Americans
  • I’m confused
  • I’m just a girl
  • I’m not a model
  • I’m not okay
  • I’m on a boat
  • I’m with you
  • I’ve got my love to keep me warm
  • I bet it stung
  • I can’t take it
  • I constantly thank god for esteban
  • I could say
  • I don’t care
  • I don’t like Mondays
  • I don’t love you
  • I don’t remember
  • I feel fine
  • I hate you
  • I hate your blog
  • I heart fags
  • I know what I am
  • I love how you love me
  • I love myself today
  • I miss you
  • I need all the friends I can get
  • I never told you what I do for a living
  • I only eat candy
  • I only want to be with you
  • I think I have a chance with this guy
  • I want to be alone
  • I want you
  • I want you so hard
  • I want you to want me
  • I want you, but I don’t need you
  • I was married
  • I was wrong
  • I will follow you into the dark
  • I will survive
  • I won’t be left
  • I write the songs

I am trying to INVENT A MEME! Actually, I needed to sort my iPhone music alphabetically and I was amused by all the “I ..” titles and I thought they made a good story. Try it for yourself – open up your music and sort it by name, and find out how you’re feeling today.

Then credit it back to me; I need love.