Friday, June 14, 2013

Nintendo World Store E3 Experience - Nintendo Fans' Reactions

This past Tuesday I visited the Nintendo World Store in NYC for a viewing party of the Nintendo Direct Conference. There were also playable demos of some newly announced E3 titles at the store. It was a really fun experience, check out my video for more!

Monday, June 10, 2013

E3 2013

For the past two years, I have used this blog (and other forms of social media) to document all my thoughts, predictions and  reactions to the biggest event of the year for gamers. During E3 week, I usually find myself locked up in my room with chips and soda, watching all of the coverage I can find and also dreaming I could be there.

This year could be considered one of the biggest E3's in a long time because of the announcement of the next generation of console gaming. But for some reason, I have been less interested in this year's E3 than I have been in the past.

Because of my mixed feelings, I have decided to change things up this year. Instead of blogging about my every reaction and live-tweeting during each press conference, I am going to remain quiet for this year's E3.

Yes, I am going to watch the "big four" press conferences (Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft and Sony) today and the Nintendo Direct conference tomorrow morning. But I am going to hold off on any commentary for at least the next few weeks. I'm also going to avoid what my friends are tweeting , what the "gaming news" is saying, and skip the show floor coverage.

Why am I doing things differently? I don't know. I like to change things up. And maybe I am just a little tired of this new "console war" that many have begun to stir up. Yeah, I think that is it. I'm a little fed up. Maybe I'll enjoy E3 better if I just enjoy the conferences without all of the snarky commentary.

For those of you who are interested in the press conferences, here is the schedule of events for today, June 10th (I only have a half hour to type this before Microsoft begins).

Microsoft Press Conference: 12:30 PM EST
EA Press Conference: 4 PM EST
Ubisoft Press Conference: 6 PM EST
Sony Press Conference: 9 PM EST

And on Tuesday, June 11th:
Nintendo Direct: 10 AM EST (Yes, that would be 7AM for the west coast. Why so early, Nintendo?! It's okay, I still love you)

Are you planning on watching E3 differently this year, too? Let me know! If not, enjoy the show! As gamers say, "it's the most wonderful time of the year."

Thursday, May 9, 2013

My Top Ten Zelda Songs

There is so much great video game music out there. I have playlists for many different game soundtracks, and I appreciate the variety of music that different games have to offer. However, I feel that no game music out there can top the genius work of Koji Kondo when he composed the music to the Zelda games (and the other composers who contributed to making the music of Zelda).

The music is so widely appreciated that the 25th Anniversary Symphony of the Goddess Tour which took place last year (2012) has extended tour dates into 2013 (I am praying they will announce a stop in New York). Because of this excellent news, I have been on an extreme "Zelda Music kick". I have gone through dozens of "Best Zelda Music" lists created by fans, and I thought it was only necesary to create my own list.

In some ways, some may call my list "unconventional" compared to other "Top Zelda Music" lists. This is because my list does not include some of the more popular songs included on everyone's lists such as the main Zelda title theme and major boss battle songs. Yes, the Zelda title theme is a classic that I adore. But for myself, I am all about "catchy" tunes, and I feel that the majority of my list includes the more "catchy" Zelda tunes along with other classic favorites. Please enjoy my list of favorite Zelda songs, along with a few comments about each song.

10. Eldin Volcano - Skyward Sword

If I can recall, I remember Eldin Volcano being one of the more frustrating parts of Skyward Sword. However, the catchy music made it much more enjoyable. The strings mixed with the brass instruments in this song ROCKS, making it one of my favorite upbeat songs in Skyward Sword.

9. Deku Palace - Majora's Mask
This is yet another song where I appreciate the "catchiness" of the tune in order to get past the frustrating part of the game. Sneaking past all of the Deku guards in the Deku palace was annoying, but the great music made it better.

8. Nayru's Song - Oracle of Ages

I am including both the original and the ZREO (Zelda Reorchestrated) version in order to compare. I do love the original, but I feel that ZREO fleshed the song out into a beautiful composition from it's original "bit" sound. I feel this song is highly underrated -- it is a beautiful tune that you only hear when Link encounter's Nayru in Oracle of Ages.

7. Phantom Ganon - Wind Waker
I would have to say that this song is my favorite "boss battle" song in Zelda. The song just sounds really cool, and it was certainly a memorable Zelda fight. 

6. Spirit Temple - Ocarina of Time
I love the "exotic" feel of this song, which is perfect for the setting: the desert colossus. Nabooru is my favorite sage, and this song always reminds me of her, and that very first meeting as young Link. Oh, such fond memories.

5. Dark Hyrule Castle - Minish Cap
This is a recurring song among Zelda games, but my favorite version is Minish Cap. I feel that it brings a more "eerie" feel to Dark Hyrule Castle, and is overall one of the better "dark" songs of the game.

4. Hyrule Field - Twilight Princess
Out of all of the Hyrule Field/Overworld themes in Zelda, I love this one the most. It is extremely lively and I am just a sucker for a fully orchestrated version of this song. Twilight Princess had an excellent soundtrack, but this song remains my favorite.

3. Temple, Palace Theme - Zelda II
Many may know this song from it's remastered version on Super Smash Bros. Melee, however, I remember it from Zelda II. This was the hardest Zelda game I have ever played, but it is still a great one with incredible music.

2. Gerudo Valley - Ocarina of Time
This is my favorite song from my favorite Zelda game. Ever since the first time I stepped into Gerudo Valley in 1998, this song captured me. I could listen to this song for hours and still love it to death. The Gerudo Valley song is considered by many as one of the best Zelda songs out there, and I would have to agree.

1. Song of Healing - Majora's Mask
Putting all of these "catchy" tunes aside, this Zelda song, in my opinion, is the most beautiful song. There are not many notes played, it sounds rather simple, but is also sounds tragic and beautiful at the same time. Essentially, this song brings out all of the Zelda-related feels for me, making it my favorite Zelda song of all time. There are other versions of this song out there that sound incredible, and I encourage all who enjoy this song to check them out.

That concludes my top ten list of the best songs in Zelda. I love so many incredible games, but nothing (and I mean nothing) will ever fill the spot for "best video game series of all-time" in my heart other than Zelda. The music in these games played a large role on the impact they had for me loving the series as much as I do.

As I previously stated, I have a huge appreciation for video game music, so please share with me some of your favorite Zelda songs, or your general favorite video game music pieces.

Friday, March 29, 2013

PAX East 2013: Gunnars, Games, And Good Times

It is hard to believe that this is the second year in a row that I have attended PAX East. It does not seem like a year has passed since my first event as a Frag Doll Cadette at PAX East 2012 (technically, it has not been a full year because last year's PAX East was in April). It is amazing to see how things have changed for the good. Since last year's PAX East, I have met so many great people. This year, I have established relationships with my industry friends, making the event all the more enjoyable.

During the PAX East weekend I worked with GUNNAR Optiks, showing PAX attendees the many different styles of gaming and computer eyewear that the company has to offer. Despite losing my voice late Friday evening after the first day of the event, I learned a lot and had a great time working with Gunnar.

My fellow GUNNAR ladies!
There were many great games on the show floor this year. Most of these games included playable demos or exclusive footage such as Elder Scrolls Online and Marvel Heroes. The convention also included some of the very first glimpses of certain games such as Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. My favorite game and what I was most impressed with at this year's PAX East was Watch_Dogs. While I have already seen footage of the game at E3 2012 and the PlayStation 4 conference last month, the footage shown at PAX East gave a better idea of the main character, Aiden Pierce, and what the game is going to entail. I am looking forward to seeing the development of Pierce as a main character -- he does not seem like a hero, nor a villain. But I have many questions about the motives behind the actions that can be taken in the game.

Watch_Dogs on the show floor at PAX East 2013.
 I was able to get my hands on a few games during my breaks throughout the weekend. I got my fill of 3DS games; because I do not own a 3DS, I thought playing different 3DS games this weekend would help trick my mind into making me purchase one faster. I played Fire Emblem: Awakening, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Gates to Infinity, and Castlevania. I also managed to play a bit of Marvel Heroes, the MMO that had a huge hype at this year's PAX East. However, my favorite game that I was able to play was Metro: Last Light. Being such a huge fan of Metro 2033, I was ecstatic to see this game available to play on the show floor. It did not have a large display or big attraction, but despite that, I was happy to play the game. The demo brought me back to the days when I first experienced Metro 2033, which was a frightening and suspenseful experience.

I met many notable figures in the gaming industry this weekend. I have also reaffirmed my creeper status. No, really. When it comes to meeting famous individuals in the gaming industry, I turn into a complete creeper. For example, on Thursday evening I went out to dinner with the Gunnar team. I happened to notice Cliff Blezinski and his wife, Lauren, walk into the restaurant. I did not see where they went, but I knew they were in the building. I was determined to see them and grab a picture with them, so I tweeted to them both about seeing them in the same restaurant. Cliff happened to see my tweet, confirmed that he was in the restaurant, and acknowledged that I could find him and take a picture. When I found him, he happened to be having dinner with Randy Pitchford of Gearbox Software, another big name gaming individual whom I had already met a PAX Prime (another creeper story for another day).

Lauren, me, Megu, and Cliff
 On Sunday, I happened to notice that Major Nelson of Microsoft had visited the Gunnar booth. At the time, he was modeling some of the newer Gunnar styles, and I contemplated for a few moments if I should introduce myself to him or not. Apparently while I was contemplating, my friend Megu managed to capture a picture of me looking like a complete creeper in Major Nelson's picture. I finally did decide to walk up to him and say hello. He introduced himself, and I found out that Major Nelson is actually an extremely friendly guy. In addition to that, he is a great figure in the gaming industry.

My infamous "creepy" picture.

Yes, there are other creeper stories from the weekend that I could share. But I think I will stop there. In the past, I have been creeped on at conventions, such as my incident at San Diego Comic Con 2012 with an individual nicknamed "Creepy Creep". But this convention made me realize that I am just as bad as the person I deemed "Creepy Creep".

What an epiphany to have at PAX East.

While many of my friends in the industry are debating over sexism and female presence after a series of events at PAX and GDC, I am discussing how much of a creeper I am in my personal blog.

I hope this lighthearted topic and recap of the weekend adds a nice change to what most blogs have been bringing to light after the recent incidents this past week in the gaming industry.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Taking Time To Appreciate PS3

Take a few moments to forget about the recent talk of the "PS4". Instead, let us take some time to appreciate the PS3.

Five years ago I purchased an Xbox 360 after much debate between the infamous "console war" that had me contemplating for months which of the two consoles I should own. My final decision had been made, and I do not regret choosing my Xbox 360. At the time, I felt Xbox Live blew PlayStation Network out of the water, and the Xbox exclusives were a much better incentive for me to choose. For years I enjoyed playing many Xbox 360 games and chatting with my friends online.

The games that were included in my PS3 bundle.

As the years went on, however, Sony improved itself and more games were releasing for PS3 that grabbed my interest. In the second quarter of 2012, I had finally been sold to Sony and decided that I wanted to own a PS3. There are an immense amount of PS3 exclusives that looked too good for me to not play. Some of these games include:
  • The Uncharted Series
  • The InFamous Series
  • Heavy Rain
  • The Last of Us
  • PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale
  • Ni No Kuni
(Other great games not included on this list are Metal Gear Solid 4 and God of War 3 because I had already played these games with friends who owned PS3s.)

In December 2012, I finally received my PS3 as a Christmas gift and I could not be happier with it. The PS3 slim is a great size (despite not being backward compatible like some of the older versions of PS3) and it included an amazing bundle of games: Uncharted 1 & 2 and InFamous 1 & 2 (unlike my Xbox 360 bundle which came with Kung Fu Panda).

I now own all of the games that I listed in the bullet points above (minus The Last of Us, of course, because it has not been released yet). I have finished the first Uncharted and began the second game of the series, I have also played much of All-Stars, and I have started InFamous. I am quite impressed with the games, mostly with the visuals because of the drastic change from Xbox 360 graphics.

My PSN ID, Terra from FFVI is the inspiration for my gamer identity.

I love being the owner of a PS3. I love PSN and the perks of PS Plus. I love the gorgeous graphics of the games I play. I love now being able to watch Blu-Ray movies. I love being a cross-platform gamer, owning both a PS3 and 360.

There are, of course, a few things I do not love about the PS3. Some examples include the controller. I have never been a fan of PlayStation controllers and the horrid joystick layout. Being spoiled with an Xbox 360 controller for years does not help this (but neither of the consoles compare to the joy of a mouse and keyboard! Shameless PC gamer plug has been inserted into this post). Also, I have been getting many bugs and errors when installing games and trying to connect to the internet; these problems never occured with my Xbox 360.

In regard to the quality of PS3 exclusive games, the Uncharted series has quickly become one of my favorite game series of all time. I truly did fall in love with the first game (and I fell in love with Nathan Drake -- he is such a cool character). I cannot believe that I did not play this series sooner, but I am so glad that I got to experience the game.

All-Stars came with both the PS3 and PS Vita version for $49.99.

Additionally, PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale is a difficult brawler-style fighting game. It is constantly compared to Nintendo's Smash Bros. because it includes a roster of characters from Sony games and other third party titles, but the style of All-Stars is completely different. For anyone who is interested in playing this game, it is good to understand that there is a steep learning curve unlike Smash Bros. which is designed for beginners to the fighting game genre. While the game lacks in single-player value due to unconvincing stories for each character, I believe All-Stars is a pretty solid fighting game for anyone who is heavily dedicated to the genre. I wrote an in-depth review of All-Stars as a contribution to a friend's magazine, so I will be sure to share my additional thoughts after the review is published.

My readers, be prepared for many future blogs where I discuss my adventures with my PS3 and the many great games I will be experiencing. I look forward to playing more of InFamous, Heavy Rain, Ni No Kuni, and The Last of Us when it is released. Of course, I will still be playing my Xbox 360 quite often (I am currently playing Far Cry 3 on 360). But for now, my PS3 is my new toy and I am thourghly enjoying it. I may be a few years late to appreciate the PS3, but nonetheless, there is still much to love about the PS3 before the next gen consoles become the next big thing.