Ndolger

En-duhl-jer: The one who indulges

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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Puzzle From Hell Time Lapse

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After many long, painful hours…it’s finished! The puzzle is done! It’s been glued and framed.

This is the 2nd 1000 piece puzzle I’ve done. First was one of Rams (mascot of girlfriend’s alma mater, UNC), wolves are mine (NCSU).

This one was brutal…not much unique here. Easily the hardest puzzle I’ve ever done…pretty sure this has killed my will to ever do a puzzle again. Happy to say it’s been glued and framed, sitting alongside the Rams. 🙂

Took 8 months to complete. At least 50+ hours working by myself a few hours at a time. Actually bought a 2nd puzzle because I was *sure* I had lost a piece over 8 months. The cat really liked to sit on it…O_o;;; Amazingly, nothing was lost.

Didn’t have a tripod so this is all shot free-hand, sorry if it’s jittery. =E

Timeline
– Border took < 1 hour to complete
– Early pictures normally indicate an hour elapsed time
– End game is every few pieces; 10, 5, 3, 2, 1

Music
Nobuo Uematsu – Final Fantasy VI – The Decisive Battle / Fanfare

Actor
Lucy (cat)

Materials Used
Puzzle – The Art Of Larry Fanning – Crystal Morning

Glue – Puzzle Glue

Frame – 20×27 Cherry Wood Frame

* Frame did NOT fit correctly…I had to trim about 2 CM off the edge to get it to fit. If attempting this puzzle, I would look for another frame, but this is what I used.

Filed under Animals, Info
Sep 24, 2011

Star Fox 64 3D Review

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Star Fox 64 evokes some of my greatest childhood memories; vivid memories that I carry with me fondly to this day. I remember where I was when I got this game, and just how incredible of a launch experience it was. I was in Florida at the time, over my grandparents’ house for the summer. I remember going to Barnes & Noble reading the latest Nintendo Power about all the levels that were in the game and marveling over the graphics. I knew I had to have this game.

Excitement kept building over the impending launch, the waiting began…when you’re a kid waiting days can seem like an eternity. But alas, the day arrived! I distinctly remember purchasing it at Target because it came with a booklet with Star Fox 64 trading cards as a bonus (which I still have!). I rushed home to play it…well, as fast as my grandma could drive.

I had rented the original SNES Star Fox, and it was OK…but this game, this game was something else. I’m not sure how you knew Star Fox 64 was going to be an amazing game, but you did. Nintendo in those days never let you down. In an era without internet or 24/7 news coverage, you just knew it was going to be something special. And it was.

This game was groundbreaking in a few ways at the time. It was the first console game (that I know of!) that featured full voice acting. This was the first game EVER to include support for what we now love or hate…force feedback. The game package itself was double sized to fit the RUMBLE PAK. A gimmick? Maybe, but it sure was cool.

The levels, the voice acting (with ultra-memorable cheesy dialogue, “Do a barrel roll!”), the sound effects, the crazy enemies, the chaos going on screen, the 3 different types of vehicles, the varied stages, the branching difficulty paths, the Medals, Expert mode, Slippy (err…wait), sound test, 4-player multiplayer, the combo system, the secret areas, Star Wolf…Andross…General Pepper saying “Whaaaaaat?!” when you get a high score at the end…! What a game.

I still consider it to be the best pure on-rails space shooter ever made. Pretty sad considering it’s 14 years old! So that said, how does the newly released Nintendo 3DS version stand up? In a word…OK. Like Ocarina of Time released before it, the core gameplay is left unchanged, and that’s great because these are both masterpieces from Nintendo. But…the entire game feels like a missed opportunity. So what was changed?

VOICE ACTORS
To sum up the new VAs, they’re sound-alikes of the original actors, that…sound like they’re trying too hard. Peppy’s southern drawl is upped (ugg….), Slippy now sounds like a little boy instead of a little girl, Falco sounds…not as good as before, and Fox is pretty stale. Star Wolf…wow, they really messed with Leon and Wolf. Pigma actually sounds exactly the same! And…nobody cares about the other one, so no comment.

That’s fine…but it is worse than that. Most notably in the first stage, and throughout the game, the lines just feel…flat. It’s like someone is reading for a scene rehearsal. No emotion, no inflection…I’m sorry, it may sound stupid, but it really takes away from the atmosphere. Even if you didn’t grow up with the original, the voice acting just sucks…

OK, I do like the BEAR that trains you in the beginning. He’s pretty badass. =E

DIALOGUE
The dialogue is left unchanged…for the most part. Instead of the boss in Sector Y saying “Cocky little freaks! … Cocky little freaks!” He’ll now say “Cocky little freaks! … You’re making me mad!”. Falco now says, “Hey genius, I’m on your side!” instead of “Hey Einstein, I’m on your side!”. Why? I don’t know. Does Nintendo not expect people to know who Einstein was? (Yes, I noticed these things…).

Other than that, everything is exactly the same.

GRAPHICS
Very pretty, but I’m of the opinion the original still holds up pretty well after all these years! That said, one of the best looking 3DS games so far, without question. But that’s hardly a feat considering the software library….

SOUND
Sound effects are perfect. There are no changes that I can see, and that’s a wonderful thing. Each bomb launch, bomb explosion, item pickup, boost, laser blast, asteroid crunch, charge shot, etc, all sound wonderful. Really great sound effects in this game.

MUSIC
As a huge fan of videogame music, and Star Fox 64 music, I’m kind of torn here. The original music does sound dated, and here was an opportunity to make it sound better, but the score here leaves something to be desired.

I’ve heard remixes in Nintendo’s OWN GAMES that sound better (go play Brawl) let alone amateur mixes that sound better than this game. The boss battle songs were really tampered with, but areas like ZONESS sound pretty nice. So there were a few stages that sound great, but…in the end, I wasn’t impressed with the changes.

GAMEPLAY
OK, this is the problem. There is almost nothing added. In a game like OoT, that’s OK…that game is perfect. But Star Fox 64 could have used some really cool, really obvious tweaks! Most notable is…ONLINE PLAY! The fact that this isn’t in here is absolutely pathetic. PATHETIC! There is NO excuse.

And it’s a real shame because 4P split-screen is still *really* fun! I played this to death as a kid. I have really great memories of playing multiplayer over friends’ houses and we’d take turns passing up the controller (loser out!), and this remains, but…we don’t live in the same world anymore Nintendo! And *finding* three or more people with a 3DS is quite a feat. A real, real letdown.

So was anything good added?
A save function which lets you keep one “campaign” going which you can return to at any time. If you want to start over, you lose your save file though (not sure why exactly, but that’s how it is).

A SCORE ATTACK mode was added as well. This, as the name implies, lets you play any stage and aim for a high score. The “play any stage” part should make fans of the game happy. Honestly, this is the biggest selling point for me.

The fatal flaw with the original game is that there was no continue or password system, so this is a big improvement. You’d have to beat it in one sitting. Considering the game takes about an hour, that’s OK, but if you really, really wanted to play Area 6, Macbeth, Venom…or whatever, you had to start from the beginning.

This sucked. Everyone agrees it sucked, so I’m glad the limited save system and SCORE ATTACK were added to address this.

OK, what else sucked, I know you’re holding something back.
There are two modes: 3DS and N64. In 3DS mode you have the option of moving the system around like you’re flying a plane around the room. You can also go “vroooomm” and “pew pew pew” if you’d like, that’s your call. Worthless. I found no enjoyment out of playing it this way, although admittedly I only tried it for 20 seconds. With the 3D on, this is impossible though so…

Yes, the 3D. I think I’m starting to grow weary of 3D to be honest, but there was nothing “great” about the 3D here to me. I used it for about 15 minutes before turning it off.

The aforementioned 3DS / N64 modes are identical. I found absolutely no difference in gameplay. None. Yet, you need to earn medals on both modes to open up…well, nothing! That is the next major omission. There are no extras. NOTHING! You have a new SCORE ATTACK mode that gives you gold medals for completing. If you beat all of them…what do you get? The enjoyment of getting gold medals.

You open up sound test for beating the game once. You open Expert mode for getting all medals on either N64 / 3DS mode. You know what you get for getting all medals on N64, 3DS, AND Expert? A title screen change. Not cool Nintendo.

If this is a non-issue for you, that’s great. I’m happy for you, but as a gamer, I usually like some incentive, something to look forward to for doing something challenging. You won’t find it here.

WRAPPING UP
OK well, words are nice, but these two comparison movies are all you need. It shows the opening level, Corneria, in both the N64 and the 3DS release. Most notable changes are the graphics and the dialogue:

ORIGINAL

NEW

SUMMARY
* This is Star Fox 64. It’s one of the finest games ever made. A great on-rails space shooter.
* Left unchanged for the most part, but this is both good and bad.
* New changes to music and voice acting don’t enhance the original versions.
* Graphics look very nice, 3D is what it is.
* Very minimal extras; the same extras in the N64 version.
* New 3DS mode joins N64 mode. Strangely, the N64 mode doesn’t let you listen to the original music or voice actors. *scratches head*
* New Score Attack mode and you can save your game and resume later.
* No online play, only local wireless. Multiplayer is still fun, now you can play with the CPU.
* No rumble pak support. Kind of ironic, seeing how this game created the concept.

FINAL WORD
A remake of a fantastic game. Lacking in many areas, it does little to propel the game past the original experience, and instead detracts from it in many areas. Those who fondly remember the original, you may want to avoid this. Those who have never played it before should enjoy it. There’s just not enough here to warrant a $40 purchase.

SCORE
7.5/10

Filed under Reviews, Videogames
Sep 17, 2011

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