Wednesday, December 28, 2016

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Deus Ex: Human Revolution (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC/OSX)

DeusExHumanRevolutionCover I am in love with that coat.

TL;DR: Deus Ex Human Revolution is worth buying if you like Action RPG’s and is pretty cheap.

Some of the greatest RPG's of all time came out of Square during its early days such as Chrono Trigger, Super Mario RPG, and Final Fantasy 6. Then the dark days came. Square experienced a drought in creativity after the release of the wildly popular FFVII which started the now overused trope of the mopey emo-hero. Some Square games gave good reason for why the hero should be Mopey (Lost Odyssey) but most just used the angsty hero as a way to create character depth in a shallow character. However just as Square fans started to wonder if the company was even remotely capable of putting out any sort of good AAA game Deus Ex: Human Revolution hit shelves.

This-guy-are-sick I’m not subtle enough about my loathing of FFVII.

Lets be honest with ourselves, its unlikely that you've heard of the Deus Ex series before and that's totally okay. The Deus Ex series up until Human Revolution was only ever released on the Computer, a platform that never had much in the way of advertising in the pre-internet age. Human Revolution is a prequel to the entire Deus Ex series taking place before advanced prosthetics (called Augmentations in the game), were wildly common place. Ethical and Moral questions are posed over the course of the game about what it means to be human in an age where anyone can easily trade in their old fleshy bits for steam-punk robo ones. This is a naturally dividing issue within the game as two major opposing factions surround the issue one which believes the advancement of prosthetics can only help while others believe its unnatural and only seeks to destroy what it means to be human... naturally this wouldn't be complete without worldwide conspiracies involving mega-corporations and misinformation spread throughout the media.


And this mostly happens in Detroit…

Human Revolution plays like every other over the shoulder action game released in the past decade. Standardization plays heavily in its favor as it minimizes how much time players need to spend on tutorials, a victory for everyone. The controls are literally perfect, when I was playing the first thing I noticed was how every button served a purpose and spent at least half of my game time cycling through the hold-out button and the holster button just because I liked the sound the tazer makes when whipping it out.


Okay so the controls are great but who cares about that if the actual content of the game doesn't utilize those great controls? Well let me tell you what good sir... ma'am... sa'am? Deus Ex Human Revolution combines the stealth aspects of the Metal Gear Solid games, the Espionage Aspects of Hitman, and the hacking aspects of the later Fallout games. AND IT WORKS! The thing that consistently amazes me to this very moment was how well all these features seamlessly were combined in this game. So Adam Jenson, the main character, he's got stats that you can toss points into that allow him to do some things better then others and allow you to customize him to suit your play style. Say you have to break into a secret government facility, well you can choose to sneak in innocuously by Solid Snaking your way past the guards, or using you 733t hax0r skillz to turn all the automated forces to your side and casually walk in while the guards are busy or distracted, the final method is for your inner sociopath where you can build Jenson up to be a murder machine that can shoot bombs out of his arms and eat bullets as if they were a typical breakfast. Oh did I forget to mention that you can go through the entire game without killing anyone? Yeah, thats an option. You can defeat all enemies (sans boss characters) with non-lethal takedowns or non-lethal weapons, which is perfect for stealth runs. Basically:

  • Sneaking is pretty typical, you avoid cones of sight ala MGS and try not to make noise. You can also take alternate hidden routes to objectives like sewers or air ducts. If you encounter enemies you can use non-lethal take downs or non-lethal weapons to knock out enemies.

  • Hacking is very strategy and luck based where you try to capture nodes without being detected by the computers system. The hacking system is leveled and gets harder as the game progresses so if you plan on playing this way you'll want to pool a good number of points in it.

  • Murder-Time Fun-Time, you like murder? Well you can do that, a lot, with guns, or a sword arm thing.

Like I mentioned you play as Adam Jenson, the head of security guard for Sarif Industries, who wind up having to be heavily augmented after most of his body is destroyed during a terrorist attack. The game is semi-open world where you are introduced to large sprawling hub worlds which have side-quests and many opportunists to obtain background information that explains the mysteries surrounding the attack and Adam himself. A good example is Detroit, the starting hub, once you are dropped off in it you can quickly run around and start working on a sting for a prostitute cop, get a guy to lose his job, or just destroy entire gangs for the hell of it. Besides just doing side quests you are presented with many choices throughout the game which shape Jenson's character and his reactions for later quests which is pretty cool and generally makes your experience somewhat unique as one player may make Jenson a sociopath, or a literal Saint who selflessly gives and gives with no expectation of return. You get to visit quite a few hub worlds multiple times but each time you leave one you lose access to those side quests permanently which sucks mightily as I didn't realize this on my first play-through and missed a bunch of them. If there is anything I particularly hated about the whole “hub world” thing was the fact that you don't get the option to revisit them when you want, which stands as a reminder that the game is very linear at its core even though it presents you with other avenues of enjoyment outside the main quest. No matter how far out you travel you inevitably come to a wall that forces you to return to the main quest.

I can gush about Deus Ex Human Revolution for hours, it has great story, great gameplay, and really well made environments with high levels of detail which resonated very well with my inner child. I highly recommend Deus Ex for anyone who likes Action RPG's with optional Stealth Elements. Its story will very easily keep you on the edge of your seat with its many twists and turns and with how much your own choices and actions affect the world and Jenson himself. There are many versions of the game available, but the definitive version is the Directors Cut which includes “The Missing Link” DLC which explains the events of a time skip that occurs during the main story, and is pretty fun as stand alone story. By the way, you can shoot hoops, nuff’ said.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Alan Wake (Xbox 360/PC)

TL;DR Alan Wake is a great thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat and constantly enamoured by the many twists and turns the story takes.

The Horror genre as of late has gone under a drastic transformation from being the series that makes it so that you can't sleep at night to being the “series with the zombies in it”. Even game series that traditionally have nothing to with the horror genre have been trying to cash in by adding zombies to their typical formula. The results are understandably lackluster. An overabundance of zombies isn't the only problem though, the leaders of the horror genre have been losing their touch as they attempt to increase accessibility of their games to a wider audience.  Unfortunately accessibility has caused the games to forgo the creation of scenario's where you actually feel powerless. You know, the main basis for creating fear. Alan Wake is none of that. Remedy Entertainment knew that you can't have a scary game unless you are willing to make the player feel helpless.

There's no way I could ever hold out against all those undead!

Alan Wake is about a big-shot writer named (what else?) Alan Wake who's been dealing with a debilitating case of writers block and needs to unwind. Alan and his fiancée Alice decide to check out a small mountain town in Washington called Bright Falls to try and revitalize Alan's creative juices by having a change of pace. Upon arriving in Bright Falls Alan meets a strange old lady who gives him a key to a cabin in the middle of a lake on top of a dormant volcano. Everything seems to be going pretty well until the game drops the bomb that Alan's wife is afraid of the dark. Well as fate would have it the sun inevitably went down and the island in the middle of the lake wound up having unreliable power. The power goes out and Alice predictably flips out. After some shenanigans and dialogue Alan decides he needs to go for a walk to clear his head, but just as he walks out he hears Alice scream. Alice somehow managed to find herself coming down with a case of drowning and Alan leaps into the lake to find him, while he's in the water he swears he sees a strange old lady pulling Alice into the water. Alan Blacks Out. Fast-forward a week and Alan wakes up in his care dangling precariously off a cliff. Why did it take him a week to drive off a cliff? There are questions that need answering and this game answers them.

So basically the premise of the game is that Alan is trying to find his missing wife and wants to figure out where that week of his life went. Alan encounters many mildly interesting people (like Barry) and uncovers a plot that has been unraveling since the day he was born. In Alan Wake you balance solving puzzles with booking it away from murder monsters. What you don't like running away? Well you can defend yourself I guess. The many enemies you encounter throughout the game are the victims of the “Dark Presence” the titular omniscient villain of the game. As the name of the villain implies you use “light” to combat it. The light can be from anything from your trusty flashlight to a cars headlights. You are given a gun at a point but ammo is fairly limited so you really have to pick and choose your fights. The Flashlight most likely will be your main form of defense since you can use it to stun enemies. Unfortunately standing your ground isn't always easiest option, I more then once wound up cornered and out of ammo from trying to defeat every enemy I encountered.

Then again, who actually likes having a light shined in their eyes?

The game itself is broken up into multiple episodes each one containing an arc to the overall story. Because the game is broken up into these arcs the game is incredibly linear and only on a few scant occasions do you actually get the chance to revisit previous stages. Exploration is kind of out of the question. I guess as a way of making up for the linearity of the story there are multiple collectible items spread throughout the game that you will find strewn throughout the world like thermoses and copies of “Night Springs the Video Game” based on the hit TV series of the same name that you can find scattered throughout stages. You can also find signs and papers you can read to get more insight into the world and characters of Alan Wake which is pretty neat.

Puzzles can sometimes be pretty abstract in what they want you to do; frame of reference time, there will be a part where you have to fight a tornado full of cars and boats and stuff. Its not exactly easy figuring out how best to approach the problem with your puny flashlight and a handful of flares especially since at a point during your fight you have to start platforming while destroying buses and crows that come at your jugular. I'm kind of a sucker for events like this, it gets the blood pumping and forces you to make snap decisions.

Okay now, imagine for some reason you aren't already in love with the games premise and mechanics. Well maybe this guy will change your mind about the entire game.

I'm certain you've heard of him already that was Barry, Barry Wheeler. You want to deal with Alan Wake you have to go through him. He's Alan Wakes best friend and manager and adds humor to the game by being one of the normal people who's dragged into all of Alan Wakes problems. Barry is quite possibly the most relatable characters as he's so deliciously average in every way.

So whats the Verdict on Alan Wake? Buy it. I doubt it will disappoint you. Alan Wake is a thriller at its core and will easily keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire ride. The only major downside to Alan Wake is its lack of replayability thanks to the episodic nature of the game. Sure you can revisit episodes you've completed, but what reason would have to return to one besides obtaining any of the leftover collectibles? There is a DLC episode that you can download that expands upon the story and further answers questions that may have been left hanging by the ending . I'd recommend getting the DLC once you've beaten the game, or at least prioritize getting a version of the game that comes with the DLC.

Be warned, shit gets pretty weird in the DLC.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ninjatendo 2 (Video review)

Many apologies for the hiatus since the last installment of Ninjatendo. Sadly, I was captured by a roaming clan of ninjas, hellbent on revenge for my disgraceful review and I barely got away with my life. I fought them off as bravely as a duck with a broken wing and a lame foot walking backwards on a conveyor belt. Tonight, we will tackle some of the highest highs and lowest lows of the US ninja releases for the NES. If you are interested in any of the games mentioned, feel free to click the links below the video. Enjoy.

One final honorable...or rather...dishonorable mention: Shinobi.
Where Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 and Legend of Kage are both excellent arcade ports, Shinobi leaves a lot to be desired. Which honestly is a shame, because arcade ports were the bread and butter of Tengen and most of the games they released for the NES were stellar versions of great games. Afterburner, Gauntlet, Fantasy Zone, Ms. Pacman - these are really great arcade ports that need to be played. However, this port of the 1987 arcade game is severely lacking. The graphics are subpar, the action feels sloppy and slow: in the arcade, Shinobi was an agile acrobat of a ninja - in the NES version, his attacks are clunky, stilted, and he is pretty much missing all of the stuff that makes him a ninja. he no longer LOOKS like a ninja, he doesn't rock the cool sword that he does in the arcade and Sega Master System versions: he just clumsily throws one sad throwing star at a time and hopes to save enough of those hostages to earn a bonus stage. It is one of the games on the list that I can safely say is better passed over. Perhaps I was clouded by nostalgia when I called it "Pure Ninja Awesomeness" back in February of last year...perhaps I was being tongue-in-cheek...the world may never know.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
TMNT 2: The Arcade Game
TMNT 3: The Manhattan Project
TMNT: Tournament Fighters
Ninja Crusaders
Kid Niki: Radical Ninja
Little Ninja Brothers
Ninja Gaiden
Ninja Gaiden 2
Ninja Gaiden 3
Shadow of the Ninja

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (Xbox/PC)

TL;DR: Morrowind is a really good game and you should buy it. Choose the Game of the Year edition over the standard edition. Here's a quick video that will tell you what you're in for.

Where have the years gone? Long before “Game of the Year” was a worthless title applied to whatever game happened to push the most units it was given to a few select games as a mark of merit for being beloved by all. Morrowind was one of the first games to win the right to have a Game of the Year release but unlike most Game of the Year releases it contained two entire add-on's that previously were only seen on the computer. I feel nostalgia as much as the next man or woman so for the sake of fairness I've made a point of playing Skyrim, Oblivion, and Morrowind in succession so that I could make note of improvements to the mechanics and problems that may arrive from other changes. I doubt many who play the more modern Elder Scrolls games have had the luxury of enduring the first two games (Arena and Daggerfall) which although having great story didn't have the most intuitive game mechanics. If anything Morrowind can be considered a bridge between the traditional d20esque mechanics of the first two games and the more action oriented mechanics of Skyrim.
No matter how many times I poke him with my pike he doesn't turn into a blood explosion! 
This game is obviously broken.
If you find yourself getting angry at games where you physically see your attack connect but the game tells you “It missed” or “It hit for 26 points of damage” then Morrowind is not for you. Seriously. You have no reason to continue to read this review because there is no way I could convince you to like a game that heavily utilizes mechanics that you don't like.

In The Elder Scrolls III Morrowind places you as a prisoner being transferred to Morrowind under orders to do a job for the Empire to earn your freedom. (Spoilers Begin) After numerous encounters with imperial agents and cultists you learn that you are the Neverar the reincarnation of an old Dunmer hero who is destined to save the the Dunmer people from a cataclysm. (End Spoilers) Unlike your typical JRPG or WRPG you are not restricted to completely the main story quests and the game does not end once you complete the main story if anything the most enjoyment in Morrowind can be gained from the many side-quests and side stories. You are free to adopt any playstyle you want, be it the stealthy rouge, the burly barbarian, or the Wizard with an awesome beard best of all who you choose to play as has no impact on your ability to fully experience the world, a warrior can still join the Mages Guilds, a Thief can still join the army, and a cold-hearted murder can still be the hero. It cannot be understated how much choice is offered in Morrowind.

 You can even be a lizard with a taste for fashion!

Despite the amount of choice in the game there are a number of downsides. One of the biggest downsides is that with access to so much choice it can feel overwhelming at times and depending on your play style it can be easy to feel like you are making great gains with minimal effort. Depending on what version of the game you play the amount of debilitating bugs can become a great nuisance. Imagine if you would, you're walking through a new town and you decided to talk to one of the townspeople to glean some amount of useful information. Well as luck would have it the moment the dialogue box opens you are accused of murder and everyone in town subsequently swarms you and starts to mass attack you. Which might suck, just a little bit. Those bugs can get pretty cray cray, but if you buy the Game of the Year version it will come with several patches built in that fix a majority of the problems.
See that bucket? Yeah. Jump at the wall next to it and you can phase through it and break the game. 
Morrowind handles immersion in some pretty classy ways. Have you ever wanted to be able to pick up virtually any object no matter how worthless and carry it around with you? Well you can do that. Imagine, if you would Conan the Barbarian lugging around a sack of 100+ pillows. You can do that, but with most any practically worthless item. To accompany your OCD ways Morrowind accompanies most of your actions with a masterfully composed orchestral number like my personal favorite “Nerevar Rising”:

That song sounds familiar you say? Well as it so happens its been used as the basis for a recent very popular Song called the “Song of the Dragonborn”. Yeah, THAT Song. Kind of makes Bethesda seem a tad unoriginal recycling old numbers by adding different instruments. Its highly unlikely that you'll dislike the soundtrack if you are already a fan of the newer or older Elder Scrolls games and if you are a newer fan who has not played the games then know that the two songs I've provided are considered the most iconic of their respective games and more or less set the bar for their scores.

Morrowind has not aged all that well graphically, the character models and movements seem incredibly archaic when compared to todays standard and can easily be considered an eyesore if you aren't already used to the graphical limitations of previous generations. I mean, even back when the game came out I found the walking animations kind of jarring. For some reason (probably the limitations of the Xbox) the walking animations are prone to stuttering so it looks like everyone in Morrowind is trying to get a grant to patent their silly walks. There also is little in the way of character model variety and you will encounter many NPC's who look identical, sometimes even in the same town!
Because everyone totally has a unique look about them.

I can assure you that most of the games flaws come from gamebreaking bugs and graphics that just haven't aged well. The world itself is large and you can wander where you want, quests are plenty, and if you feel so inclined there are crafting mechanics that allow you to enchant armor with magic and you can even create new spells by combining spells you already know. YOU. CAN. CREATE. NEW. SPELLS. If that isn't one of the coolest things in a game I don't know what is. Sure, you can craft armor or weapons in some games but can you create entirely new spells by combining the effects of of other spells? No. Very, very few games implement such a mechanic due to how potentially gamebreaking it can be. Now when I say gamebreaking I mean that by combing certain spells you could potentially create a spell that could easily one shot most of the games enemies with little to no effort.
 Cool people create spells that calm enemies down while setting them on fire.

Seriously though, what do graphics and choice matter if the mechanics are bad? Morrowind has its share of problems due to how inaccessible the mechanics can be. For a person who is more used to the quick-fire action games or the modern era its likely that the d20 chance mechanics will confuse and baffle most new players until they get a good grasp on how much luck and chance play into everything. From the outset of the game you are given nothing but vague directions to a town and you are left to fend for yourself which can be difficult if you don't understand how important disposition is to bartering and information gathering. Hell raising your disposition can be a herculean task to anyone who just wants to go around hitting things till they become dead, without proper points in speech most people will either dislike you or not particularly care about giving out info to you. The world itself is large and the map isn't terribly intuitive when it comes to helping you find locations what more fast travel wasn't a thing so you have to walk (run) to most places unless you can fend a ferryman or Stiltstrider (more or less giant bug taxis) that will take you to the location you want to go to.
They seem perfectly harmless.

Another problem the game suffers from is faction relations and how it plays into immersion. So every single enemy and NPC has a script attached to it that tells it whether or not it should attack certain people or things. For the most part a majority of NPC's are set to only attack animals and will never attack other NPC's even if they are bandits or assassins. This can be a pretty big problem early on if you happen to wander into enemies who are beyond your skill and you hope to find a guard to help you out. Even if you are in the middle of town and a cultist attacks you the guards will just look you in the eye and say, “That sure does suck, glad its not MY job to keep the riff-raff out of town.”

Akatosh forgive you if you get caught jaywalking though.
Suffice to say Morrowind is a very good game and I highly recommend it, unfortunately its only a good game for those who are interested in open RPG's that use outdated mechanics who like a compelling story of gods and elves and want to be a barbarian mage who fights using the fork of horridation. Morrowind has its share of problems but they really only add to the charm of the game as you explore and alien world. Buy this game, you won't regret it. Morrowind is a completely different beast from Oblivion and Skyrim but its a beast that you can tame and ride around like a goddamn dragon rider.

Oh. Did I neglect to mention that Morrowind's expansion packs are as  awesome as they are huge? Yeah. Bloodmoon and Tribunal add many new elements and factions to the game along with entirely new areas with new characters and weapons and shit. Seriously. This ain't none of that "Dee-el-see" trite that publishers are pushing where you spend $20 on damn horse armor and shit. No. You buy the Game of the Year edition and you get both of those expansions integrated into your game. So if you have the option grab the Game of the Year edition over the standard edition it will add werewolves, new spells, and so much neat lore to the game that it's practically a crime to not choose it.

Monday, March 25, 2013

What Handheld should I get? Pros and Cons (Gen VII Edition) Part 2-PlayStation Portable

   Way back in 2003 a tiny little handheld was announced during a time when everyone was going on and on about how the future of gaming was in MMORPG’s. Which is kinda’ true, but I’m not here to discuss how eventually we’ll all be wearing virtual reality helmets trying to solve the mystery of your friend falling into a coma. I’m here to talk about a Handheld console that has had almost as many revisions as the Xbox 360. The PlayStation Portable boasted some of the best spec’s of any handheld ever conceived at the time having the prototype GUI of the PS3, the ability to play movies, view pictures, and most importantly it played games with graphics similar to that of late era PlayStation games. Despite boasting such impressive specs and such impressive features the system was marred with a host of design flaws and marketing problems. Aren’t you lucky you have me to explain all this?


PlayStation Portable

   The PlayStation Portable was Sony’s answer to Nintendo’s long line of successful handhelds originally launched on March 24, 2005 in North America with mixed reactions as many weren’t to thrilled with how much more expensive it was than the Japanese version. Despite retailing at $250 the Sony managed to push 500,000 units in the first week alone. The handheld was revolutionary for its ability to not only play games but act as a sort of media center by being able to play not only games but music and video, it also boasted higher specs than the Nintendo DS and was able to play games at higher resolutions and with better graphical quality. The PlayStation Portable also could utilize WiFi for both local and online play of games similar to the Nintendo DS. If you ever became bored of how the systems interface looked you could download new themes and backgrounds for the system and customize the media icons to make the system more personal.

tux starwars

You’d be surprised at the level of variety.

   The PlayStation Portable went under many revisions with its final form being the recently released PlayStation Vita. Sony has had to deal with many bumps in the road involving both marketing and building its gaming systems. If it isn’t from terrible marketing campaigns, to poor anti-piracy measures they've more or less spent the past decade on a steep learning curve as they’ve been trying to reach the plinth that the other gaming giant Nintendo has been standing proudly on for decades.

   All games on the handheld come in either UMD form or can be downloaded from the PlayStation store and saved onto a seperate memory stick.


Tiny DVD’s, who would’ve thought they’d catch on?

Pros and Cons of the System (Overall)


  • Media Center: Can be used to play MP3’s, view pictures, and play UMD’s and stream video
  • Some good First Party titles: Sony somewhat dropped the ball on the PSP, although they have published some good games they’ve also published lots of shovelware in the form of generic sports and shooting games. But Ratchet and Clank, and Ape Escape more then make up for it?
  • High Resolution Screen: 480 × 272 at a 16:9 aspect ratio (widescreen in layman's)
  • Decent amount of good third party games: Atlus, Capcom, and Konami have a host of great games on the console from many of their flagship series.
  • Region-Free (sans E1000 and PSP Go!): The 1000 – 3000 series can play UMD’s from any region.
  • TV-Play: From the 2000 model up the system can be hooked up to a television by using a special TV-out cord
  • Multiplayer: The system supports Adhoc and WiFi multiplayer
  • WiFi: All the models besides the E1000 have wireless capabilities


  • Expensive: The PSP (depending on model) can be very expensive
  • Shovelware: For every good game there is twenty sports and call of duty games
  • Proprietary hardware: The system only accepts specially made power plugs for each individual model, based on the differing shapes and sizes of each console many accessories such as cases and screen protectors need to be rebought for each different model.
  • Small Library of games: The PSP does not have the largest video game library boasting only a couple hundred games.
  • Hard to repair: Like all things in life PSP’s can break and when they do they come at a price. PSP repair parts are not only expensive (pushing $10-$20 for a new screen alone) they aren’t easy to repair. The process for taking apart and replacing anything is terribly convoluted and not really worth the time of anyone who is inexperienced when it comes to fixing electronics.
  • Short Battery Life: All of the PSP’s average between 4-10 hours of battery life. The newer models may be able to last longer if you get a new battery slapped into it.
  • Region-Locked: The E1000 and PSP Go! are both region locked. The PSP Go! because you have to use Sony’s online store which only lets you download games for the region you registered with them. The E1000 can only play games for the region it was designed for.


   The first model released, it boasted graphics unseen in the handheld market and the ability to play movies and televisions shows sold in the form of UMD discs. Within the year of its release a system update allowed the handheld to surf the on an opera based browser. If you wanted to be able to use the internets on the PSP you had to make sure that the system was set to it as there is an external switch that alternates between both ad-hoc connections and Wi-Fi. Compared to previous handheld consoles the PSP boasts the crispest, largest, and most colorful display.

   As the first version in the series it sets the bar that many of the redesigns will attempt to surpass, it features Local and Online play through Ad-hoc or a Wi-Fi connection and can play videos and music off of a Memory Stick Pro Duo.

Pros and Cons


  • Infrared Connection: I could never find a use for it, but some people did by making their PSP’s remotes for their TV’s.
  • Metal Frame: The 1000 model has a metal frame and many of the internal parts are made of metal which helps if you are prone to dropping things.
  • Cheap: The 1000 model is the cheapest model (used) out of the series
  • Wireless Multiplayer: It supports both Adhoc (local) and WiFi multiplayer
  • Media Center: It can play movies, music, and pictures
  • Download Play: If you have a PSN account you can download games onto a Memory Stick Pro Duo and play them!


  • Bulky: The PSP – 1000 isn’t the kind of system you just cram into your pocket. Its bulky (and in some manners maybe unwieldy) which is natural considering that its Sony’s first shot at making a handheld.
  • Short Battery Life: Unless you buy a high quality new battery it is likely that you will only be getting between 2-6 hours out of your PSP
  • Only one flavor: The original PSP only came in a glossy Piano Black 
  • Spring Loaded UMD Bay: By pressing a switch the bay pops open, but if its handled to roughly the bay can break.


   In at E3 2007 Sony announced their first redesign of the PlayStation Portable which was thinner and boasted a much brighter screen then the previous model. The 2000 model was the beginning of a series of design improvements which trimmed the fat of the console down while adding extra features. The only major improvement internally is that it has double the cache memory of the 1000 model which helps with load times in most of the games. There are  also claims that it has better Wi-Fi connectivity but in my experience I found no noticeable difference between the 1000 and 2000 model. The screen is slightly brighter and the system comes in a variety of flavors and special editions.

   A small aesthetic change is that the UMD door is no longer spring loaded and you manual open and close it, the battery is also slimmer so you can’t swap batteries between the 1000 and 2000 models. A pretty big addition to the handheld is a headphone and video out port so that you can connect the system to a TV which you can play at a whopping 480x320 resolution! :o

Pros and Cons


  • Low-Profile: The PSP – 2000 is significantly more lightweight and slimmer than the original 1000 model.
  • TV-Out: The PSP – 2000 has a combo headphone and video-out port that you can use to connect to a Television using a special cable.
  • Fast Load Speeds: The extra cache memory allows the system to load and read games, video, and music faster than the 1000 model
  • USB Charging: The 2000 model is the first in the series that allows you to charge the handheld with the any mini-usb
  • USB-Computer Connection: You can sort and mess about with the content of the memory stick and even update the system by connecting it to the computer
  • Flavor Variety: Blue, Black, Red, White, a host of colors are your to choose from along with several special editions.
  • Decent Battery Life: The 2000 one a fresh battery can get between 6 – 8 hours
  • Instant Messaging: You can download Skype and chat with your friends. It does not support video even with the Camera add-on.
  • Manual UMD Bay: The UMD bay is now manually opened and closed which prevents almost any sort of malfunction involving the drive bay.


  • Plastic Frame: An odd revision is that that the 2000 model is made entirely out of Plastic which isn’t terribly sturdy and can’t take much of a drop.
  • Low Quality Video Out: Even though the system has video-out it isn’t high quality by any stretch of the imagination and is letterboxed.


   Physically the 3000 model seems almost identical to the 2000 but the handheld has an even brighter screen with better refresh rates than its predecessors. The Screen on the handheld is coated in an anti-glare material so that you can play games under even the most obnoxious of lights The console also has a small microphone now built in and so that when you scream at the system for freezing while you try to play Mobile Suit Gundam Crossfire it can actually hear it. Besides the better screen the innards of the system are basically the same and I noticed no improvements in the playing of games compared to the previous two consoles.

Some owners have complained of screen tearing issues.

Pros and Cons


  • Everything from the 2000 model: The 3000 model retains all of the features of the 2000 while adding new ones
  • Microphone: The PSP – 3000 comes with a fully working microphone
  • Anti-Glare Screen: The screen of the handheld has an anti-glare film that eliminated the most common problem with handheld gaming, the reflection caused by the sun. Now you can game at any time of the day with no real hassle!
  • Improved screen: The screen of the 3000 is brighter and features much more vibrant color then the 1000 and 2000 models


  • Screen Tearing: There have been reports of screen tearing during regular play. Screen tearing is when during regular use lines temporarily appear on the LCD that can impede gameplay.
  • Microphone: Despite having a functional microphone no known game released in North America utilizes it. It can be used for some homebrew games though.


Disclaimer: This is a PAL console but it is technically a revision so I’m including it for posterity.

   The E1000 isn’t a rerelease of the 1000 line, it’s actually a budget model retailing a paltry $99. How could the get away with such a low low price? Well they did that by removing every single piece of extra hardware and software from the console giving you a barebones experience. Have you ever hated how fingerprints so easily stare back at you when you play a system with a glossy finish? Well the E1000 is the only PSP to have a Matte finish which prevents that scenario from ever becoming reality. The entire back part of the system is one big foldout drive for the UMD which in my opinion is an odd design choice.

Pros and Cons


  • Cheap: The E1000 is the cheapest (new) PSP on the market
  • Lightweight: The E1000 is the lightest and slimmest of the PSPs (mostly because of all the things that were removed)
  • Decent Screen: Unlike the 3000 model the E1000 doesn’t have any of the screen tearing issues but has a screen that is just as vibrant and bright.


  • No Wifi: The E1000 only supports local multiplayer and does not have the ability to utilize WiFi for either online play or for surfing the internet.
  • No Microphone: Oddly the E1000 doesn’t feature a microphone.
  • Plastic Frame: It feels cheap, and I don’t think it could take a drop very well.


   Real Talk: I have no idea what Sony was thinking on this one. So the PSP Go is a radical redesign of the console for I assume Sentai heroes. The system is significantly thinner then all of the other models and features a slide-out design similar to modern texting phones. Long gone is the UMD drive and separate battery, both replaced with an internal rechargeable battery and a 16gb hard drive. Sony made it very clear in designing the system they wanted you to purchase games from their online store and download them to the console, especially the PSone classics which it was campaigning very heavily.

Pros and Cons


  • Compact: For the hero on the go you can fit this in even the tightest of tights. Seriously though its pretty small.
  • Designed for the hero on the go: It’s the only logical explanation for its existence.
  • Internal Storage: It features 16gb of internal memory for saving your downloaded games.
  • Decent Battery Life: You can get up to 10 hours of usage on a full charge
  • Bluetooth: If you have a device that supports bluetooth controllers you can use the PSP Go! as one.


  • Digital Download only: If you like the PlayStation Network then you’ll love the fact that you can only download games onto the system.
  • No UMD support: You might as well toss out those UMD’s because the Go! can’t use em’

Final Verdict

   My personal recommendation will always be original 1000 model due to its durability and low price point. HOWEVER! I understand that it does not have many of the features of the later models, such as instant messaging, access to Sony’s PSone classics, and the fastest of load times. Objectively I’d say the best bang for your buck is the PSP 2000. It has not only a host of features but you can get it in different colors and special edition variants. I cannot in good conscience recommend the PSP Go! or the E1000 they both take away so much from the PSP experience while replacing it with nothing substantial.

PSP – 2000 is best PSP

PSP Trivia: The PSP Go!’s design was used to create Sony’s Xperia Play line of smartphones.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

NINJATENDO Pt 1: How the Ninja Craze Hit the NES Era in a Big Bad Way

Television, Film, Video Games, and Music. The foundations of our media-oriented society and the building blocks of a mutual relationship that society has with its entertainment. Many can argue that trends in entertainment have a profound impact on societal trends, and others could argue the opposite. It can lead to a "chicken versus the egg" conundrum of what came first; the popularity of cheesy polyester leisure suits or the popularity of Miami Vice. All I know is that I worship at the altar of Don Johnson and don't trust anyone who doesn't.

So here I present a "chicken and the egg" question: how, why, when, where did America pick up its fascination with ninjas? Somewhere in the 1980's, films and video games were overrun with "Ninja" this or "Ninja" that. My best guess is that the success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles played a key role in everything in the late 80's to early 90's being Ninja-centric, at least over here in America. You had films like Revenge of the Ninja, Ninja Vengeance, 3 Ninjas, Surf Ninjas, American Ninja, Zombie Vs Ninja, and more. Everything was ninja, ninja, ninja.

Circa 1992, every 5th movie I watched on Showtime was like this...

So naturally, much like every cold-war era Atari or Intellivision game being named "Space" something or "Star" something, you had no less than at least 10 Nintendo games that are directly related to the dark, mysterious art of Ninjutsu. Some of the games were groundbreaking and hugely influential (the Ninja Gaiden series) and others are confoundingly confusing (The Last Ninja.) Let's dig in!

Truth in advertising! You jump through trees and everyone wants you dead!
Legend of Kage: In 1985, Taito released an arcade game that, while kind of primitive now; is a strangely addictive action platformer. You play as the ninja Kage trying to save your princess from her evil captors by running through the forest, jumping through trees with amazing, Crouching Tiger Flying Daggers-style wire-fu leaps that no mere mortal could possibly make normally without a Game Genie. You have to slash your way through a sea of faceless nemeses that all want to kill you. Occasionally they drop power ups which will help you upgrade your outfit to a different color allowing you more hit points. It's a generally common and inexpensive game so I definitely think it's necessary for your collection.

Grandma, this is sooooo NOT Ninja Gaiden!
Wrath of the Black Manta: Taito did a damn good job with striking gold on Legend of Kage. It's not in the top 10 games for the NES, but it's one of the better common titles from the 8 bit era. So you would think that in 1989 when they released Wrath of the Black Manta, that the game would rock the world. Sadly, that's not the case. Wrath of the Black Manta is a bland, by-the-books action scroller/platformer where you control a rather slow, clunky ninja through hordes of faceless enemies. It's nowhere near as lifeless as say; the Schwarzenegger games, Lethal Weapon and the like; but it's still nothing to write home about. That being said, it's a common and affordable title so one couldn't really complain about the reasonable price-point.

Do all ninjas have random thugs walking around in their dojos?
The Last Ninja: This 1990 port of the sequel to 1987's The Last Ninja for the Commodore 64 is a strange game. The game definitely shows its Commodore 64 roots in the graphics and gameplay department. It is absolutely fair to call this game "unique" because it is unlike any other NES game I have ever played. The player controls a ninja in an isometric 3d environment trying to dispatch with bad guys and solve basic puzzles to unlock doors and advance further in the game. There is a relatively open world to explore here for a Nintendo game and there is danger around every corner. The closest comparison I can make to a popular game would be the early Alone in the Dark titles. As with those games, there are problems arising from hit-detection errors and overall clunky controls. I can only imagine this game would play much smoother with a joystick (haven't tried it with the NES Advantage - perhaps you guys and gals should!) as I'm sure it would have been played on the commodore 64. This makes enemies tough to kill and puzzles difficult to solve, leading to some frustrating and confusing moments.  It's one of the more unique items on the list and should be played. I cautiously recommend it: it's often aggravating, but fun.

It's like Chubby Cherub, but fun!
Ninja Kid: Moving from a very atypical NES game to a very prototypical one, we get Tose's 1986 action-platformer, Ninja Kid. Upon first glance, our main hero looks very familiar. Could it be...? Yes, it is more or less the same sprite as the lovable ghost/cherub from Tose's Chubby Cherub! While both games came out around the same time here in the states, Chubby Cherub actually predates Ninja Kid, and boy is it obvious. That's not to say that Ninja Kid is drastically different than Chubby Cherub (both have similarly primitive graphics and similar arcade style gameplay) but the areas where Chubby Cherub fails (it is incredibly frustrating, random, and difficult) Ninja Kid succeeds. The controls are relatively tight, the platforming elements are rudimentary but serviceable for an arcade style scroller, and the enemies don't seem to block off your path and cheap shot you as much as in Chubby Cherub.

Those evil, evil dogs!

Ninja Kid does feel amazingly dated, but is a lot of fun in a similar style to the first Goemon game. Run around, jumping between platforms, shoot at enemies, wash, rinse, and repeat. There are minibosses and a map screen between levels that allows you to pick which level you want to play first. It's a lot of fun and is relatively dirt cheap compared to its uncommon sibling Chubby Cherub, so I recommend picking this one up!
New APP coming: Zen: Intergalactic Fruit Ninja!
Zen: Intergalactic Ninja: Rounding out this segment of ninja-related fare, we have Konami's 1993 action game Zen: Intergalactic Ninja. Based on a comic book that nobody I know has ever read, Zen focuses on a super-powered test-tube Ninja who is fighting the vile, despicable Lord Contaminous on his crusade to pollute the planet. Subtle job there, Message Hammer...really subtle. The action in Zen: Intergalactic Ninja is split into a couple of styles: one is reminiscent of games such as Isolated Warrior; an isometric 3d style environment where it is Zen versus robots, pitfalls, and the clock. A few stages are broken up into an action platforming game ala GI Joe, Batman, and a million others and there is also a railway car stage ala the Battletoads spaceship racer stage. The action is fluid and fast, the graphics are slightly muddy, but overall decent and the music is truly rockin'. The problem with Zen? It's a tough grind. In the isometric stage: the same problem that Isolated Warrior, Gremlins 2, and many other games with this perspective plagues Zen: a problem I like to call "the I-swear-I-made-that-jump!" issue. This particular perspective lends itself to a lot of second guessing when it comes to how close or far you are from the moving platform you're trying to land on or the bomb/laser/enemy you're trying to avoid or kill. It's not impossible, but can provide a lot of frustrating moments! The platforming stages are much more forgiving but still provide a huge challenge as everything is trying to kill you at once. Even though the difficulty level is relatively high, I recommend Zen: Intergalactic Ninja for your collection based on the variety of gameplay and originality. It is one of the more uncommon games on the list and is priced accordingly, but if you like a challenge and a bit of variety in your games, you can't go wrong here.

That's just round one of this two part series on Ninja games for the NES. Stay tuned as we recap some of the heaviest of heavy hitters and a few more hidden gems. You won't want to miss it!

Special thanks to my buddy James for the idea!