Archive for March, 2009

America, Still Blessed

March 24, 2009

Last Friday, I was enjoying my weekly out-to-lunch moments. As I left the restaurant, fully satisfied, I thought to myself: “We’re going through a recession, and even so, we are still able to enjoy things in life that we often take for granted.” I mean, looking back maybe a century or more, restaurants that serve you good-quality food of a satisfiable size that only costs 10 bucks to enjoy (not to mention the restaurant itself being clean with a comfortable atmosphere) was more than likely unheard of. Great food is being served to us in a clean restaurant, and most of us in America have such a privilege, compared to in the past.

That’s not all, though. We can still go to the grocery store without fighting each other over a loaf of bread. There is plenty of food to go around, and plenty of different kinds of food, as well. The meat and vegetables are kept fresh. Most stores have bakeries in them. And, even better, the dairy products are fresh! Look at what we can get worry-free at a grocery store! We don’t have to worry about buying certain items, wondering if any of them are rotten.

Ok, the next blessing will not be food-based, this time. đŸ˜› How about Wal*Mart, and how awesome it is to have so many things we may need in exactly one place? Back when I was growing up, Supercenters were pretty far out. Unless my family went on an out-of-state trip, I would not have the privilege to explore a Wal*Mart Supercenter. Well, now, whenever I see a Wal*Mart, I also see a Supercenter. Of course, the parking lot and lines may be crowded, but that’s a small price to pay for having the luxury of having so much under one roof.

However, we do not know how long these luxuries will still be around. Future events might happen where food will no longer be abundant in America. For now, let us acknowledge where America’s wealth truly comes from and that we should be thankful that, despite what is happening all around us, we still have blessings.


Samurai Warriors 2 (XBox 360)

March 20, 2009

Samurai Warriors 2

Samurai Warriors 2

Well, recently, I bought a copy of Samurai Warriors 2 for the XBox 360. I must admit, I really like this game even better than Samurai Warriors 1. While Ranmaru Mori and Okuni do not have their own story mode, and Kunoichi and Goemon Ishikawa were removed, the game still has plenty of great characters to choose from. So, first, I’m going to talk about the different modes. Then, I will talk about the characters, themselves. Lastly, I will talk about my experiences with the stages.

Sakon Shima slices through an enemy officer with his broad sword.

Sakon Shima slices through an enemy officer with his broad sword.

The modes Warriors fans are familiar with reappear in Samurai Warriors 2: Story Mode and Free Mode. Story Mode focuses on the route each individual warrior takes. Free Mode allows you to choose a battle, one of the opposing sides, and the character you wish to run and slice through the battlefield with. There is not much else to say about Free Mode. Story Mode, however, has more worth talking about. Each character has 5 or 6 campaign stages each. These stages get progressively harder as you continue with the character’s story. After you complete that character’s storyline (or in some cases, more than one character’s storyline), you unlock a dream stage and/or a new character. The dream stage goes off the beaten path a bit, with What If? missions or missions that are solely meant to be silly, such as Oichi’s dream stage. There is a shop that sells abilities, weapon upgrades, bodyguards, and horses. You can purchase these items with the gold you earn on the battlefield. I mostly spent my money upgrading weapons that I get. However, these upgrades are random, so it is always smart to pick up several kinds of the same weapon.

Survival Mode is the return of Samurai Warriors 1’s tower ascension challenge. However, it has some twists to it. First of all, you are not just running up the tower just for the sake of running, you are given a mission to complete, which will give you extra gold. However, you can fail the missions, so be careful. You can also start at a higher floor, for a price. Every five floors earns you a new floor to start you on.

Sugoroku Mode is a board game that is kind of like Monopoly.Your goal is to obtain property via either purchase or a minigame duel with another player, and to collect three flags to upgrade your property value. You can also upgrade a property by connecting properties to each other. Aside from properties, you also have shrines, which are like Chance cards of Monopoly, and ports, which, in big map mode, take you from one part of Japan to another. Speaking of maps, there are two sizes. The small map covers the bottom of Japan, while the big map includes the top part of Japan and surrounding islands. Set aside enough time for this mode, because, even with minimal settings, this game can take a while. It is a fun and unique, feature, so I suggest you give it a couple of tries.

Lastly, there is the Vault. In Samurai Warriors 1, Vaults contained mission objectives. However, this is no longer the case. They still have character info and cinema scenes, as well as horses and bodyguards you have collected.

The characters of Samurai Warriors 2 have plenty of personality in them. You have the optimistic Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the fight-loving Keiji Maeda, and the chaos-seeking Kotaro Fuma, as well as many others. The characters’ personalities are one of the biggest reasons why I enjoy playing their story modes. My personal favorites are Yukimura Sanada, Kanetsugu Naoe, and Nagamasa Azai. Also, each character has his own unique weapon. The weapons could be as plain as Mitsuhide’s katana or as unique as Ieyasu’s cannon spear. Most of the weapons are very fun to use.

Now for the stages. The stages have noticeably changed since the first Samurai Warriors game. One big example is the Battle of Mikatagahara. In the first game, Mikatagahara was a sizable plain with a river on the south side and some passageways to the east. All that has changed, though. The battle now holds several garrisons in mountainous terrain, completely different from the original. What I was disappointed from was the change in the Battle of Kawanakajima. Although the map still has the landmarks from the original, the battle is fought in the daytime, as opposed to the previous game’s nighttime battle. The music stayed the same, although with the battle being in the daytime, the music does not fit as well. The game’s stages are more memerable in this game than the last. Experiences in battles, such as Sekigahara and Yamazaki, make the battles more easily remembered. In Sekigahara, you will remember the struggle to gain the upper hand, especially if you are in the Tokugawa army. In Yamazaki, you will remember the “king of the hill” feeling as you capture Mt. Tennoh in order to use its cannons. Last, but not least, the boring, monotonous castle stages are gone. They are now melded into the field stages. When you enter a castle, the map zooms in with the floor number. This, of course, shrinks the castles to a miniscule size, but at least you will feel more comfortable playing these castle siege stages.

If you are a fan of the Warriors franchise in any way, this game is definitely worth the buy. The game has a familiar feel of a Warriors game, yet at the same time, feels completely different.

The Guardian Legend (NES)

March 13, 2009
The Guardian Legend

The Guardian Legend

The original Nintendo Entertainment System’s library contains video games that became legends: Super Mario Bros., Metroid, The Legend of Zelda, and even Kid Icarus. However, there is one legend that is rarely spoken of. That legend is “The Guardian Legend”.

This interesting game is a hybrid of two genres: overhead adventure and shooter. The shooter portion takes you through what is known as a “Corridor”, where you travel through different areas at various speeds while destroying enemies and utilizing various weaponry. The overhead adventure portion allows you to explore a star, known as “NAJU”. Here, you explore different areas, finding other corridors, fighting mini-bosses, and collecting and buying powerups that will serve you well in your adventure. There is an RPG element within the game, that when you reach a high enough score, you will receive a level up: an increase of your HP by one, and a complete refill of your HP.

The Guardian engages the infamous seaweed boss.

The Guardian engages the infamous seaweed boss.

At the beginning of the game, you are taken to a corridor that, when completed, will allow you to enter the world of NAJU. At first, you are travelling quite fast, unable to destroy any computers that carry items that replenish your health or chips. After some point, your ship slows down to allow you to fight sentries at the end of the corridor. At the end, your ship engages a large group of centry hatches that block the player from making it into NAJU. The boss fight itself isn’t that bad, as destroying the projectiles that fly at you often spawn powerup-containing computers. Once the boss is defeated, you appear in an info room that gives you the backstory of NAJU and your mission objective: to destroy all 10 corridors to activate the self-destruct system on NAJU. One change you may notice right off the bat is that you are using the same primary weapon that you used in the corridor. In some areas of the map, you hear a siren go off, giving you a chance to escape before blocks appear to block your exit, and you will have to engage the mini-boss that appears. If you manage to defeat the miniboss, you are rewarded with a powerup, which may be a weapon (or weapon upgrade, if you have collected the same weapon, previously), a player upgrade (which could increase your attack power, defense power, or speed), or a red or blue lander. A blue lander will increase your maximum HP, similar to that of a level up. A red lander will increase the amount of chips you can carry, which also powers up your primary weapon, resulting in a greater range of fire. You also have a map at your disposal. This map shows all of the areas that are accessible so far, your position, and the position of different corridors. Areas connect to info rooms, save points, shops, corridors, and other areas via warps. However, you cannot use a warp unless you have a certain key shape. This key is obtained by beating a boss in a special corridor. Unlike regular corridors that open up as you enter, these corridors are opened by performing a certain action, and often require hints from info rooms to figure out.

The Guardian avoids the enemy crabs while exploring the surface.

The Guardian avoids the enemy crabs while exploring the overworld.

The game’s strong points come from a variety of exciting shooter levels, along with exploration of various terrain, while powering up your character. The game does not offer much in terms of actual traps, but with the enemies you will meet during your adventure, that is not much of a problem. The game does present a strong challenge to players, especially during fights with the seaweed boss, whose streams of seaweed can deplete your health from max to nil in seconds, and they occasionally become very difficult to dodge. The music in the game is incredible, whether you are exploring a forested area or blasting through aquatic foes in sea floor corridors. The passwords can be quite tedious, though chances are likely that you may be playing this game on an emulator. The weapon varieties are just amazing, and upgrading those weapons often yield powerful results. Shooter fans and adventure fans alike will enjoy this game, as both parts of this hybrid game have much to offer.