Saturday, December 31, 2011

Game Review (Pokemon SoulSilver - DS)

Graphics: 4.5/5 It's nice to finally see Pokemon with 3D landscapes. The environments look much better, and the colors and attacks are much more pleasing to look at as well. Not the best looking game on the DS, but for what it is - a Pokemon game - it's well done.

Sound: 4.5/5 People can complain all they want about the 8-bit Pokemon cries, I like it due to its nostalgia. Hearing some of the cries, in particular the first generation Pokemon, flew me back 10+ years.

Fun: 5/5 Pokemon Ruby was the last Pokemon game I played on a regular basis. About 8 years later, I finally got this and am glad I did ... better late than never. Everything you loved about the past Pokemon games is in SoulSilver, with several little things added to make the experience just a little bit different from when you first played Silver. To make things even better, the Pokemon in this game can be traded over to Platinum/Diamond/Pearl or even Black or White. If you haven't played this game yet, now's the time.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

7 Ways to Get Better at Mario Kart 7

So maybe you've just made the plunge in to Mario Kart 7 and it's your first title of the series, or you've been a fan of the series for a long time but just have never done that well. You've come to the right place if you want to get better at this game.


1.) Drift!: This may just be the most important thing to do out of all of these steps - use your drift-boosts. How do you do this? It's really rather simple. Upon turns, move the left stick in the direction you're going and press the 'R' button on your 3DS. When you do this, your kart will slide. If you do this for a long enough period, your kart will have blue and then red flames. The difference between these two flames is simply that red gives you a longer boost. Regardless of whether or not you can get red on every turn (to be honest, you can't get one on most turns in this game), every little boost helps.

2.) Know the tracks: This should probably be common sense, but it has to be said. If you don't know the tracks and the short cuts and how to cut corners flawlessly, then you just aren't going to finish in a good position. Period.

3.) Use your items intelligently/Watch the bottom screen: If you're a long-time fan of the Mario Kart series, then you know that its notorious for catering the better items for those further back in the race. For instance, a person in 8th will get the lightning bolt or a blue shell, while the person in first will almost always get a banana/green shell/Tanooki tail. If you're in first place and have one of those three items, don't use them unless it's necessary - don't just plop bananas down behind you. It is much wiser to instead hold the 'L' button while you're racing, so that if a red shell is fired at you, you won't flip your kart. Also, it's easy to ignore the bottom screen when playing this game, but you should definitely keep an eye on it, particularly if you're in first place and you want to see if the guy in 2nd is about to put out can of red shell whoop-ass on you. Use my tips from this step, and he'll be screaming in frustration in no time.

4.) Collect coins: When playing online, I see very few people actually doing this. Not only does collecting coins help you unlock kart customization things, but your kart goes a little bit faster with every coin you get - so get as many as you can.

5.) Empty your load: If you happen to be in first place and a dreaded blue shell is headed your way, and you have items on you, drop them. When you do this, you can potentially wipe out any racers that would normally pass you had you not done it.

6.) Starting boost: If you're new to the series or just have a bad memory, there's a way to instantly put yourself ahead of the other racers. How? When the race is counting down (3..2..1..), halfway through 2, hold down 'A' until it says "GO!" What this will do is give you a shooting start. Be careful though - if you hold 'A' as soon as you see 2 or sooner, you'll start in the BACK of the pack.

7.) Acceleration: Last but certainly not least, this is the best thing you can do for yourself to improve your chances at winning. While you may be tempted to use the likes of heavyweights such as Bowser, Donkey Kong, or Wario, you should pick a lightweight racer like Lakitu, Toad, or Koopa, and optimize your kart for acceleration. While you may not like the idea of having low speed, the fact is, you don't need high speed in this game to be successful; basically just acceleration, and that only. The reason? Quick recovery. If you wipe out, you'll recover so quickly it's almost as if it never happened. If you're racing as a heavyweight though, you take forever trying to get yourself back up to speed.


And there you have it. Trust me, if you follow these tips, you WILL finish at or near the top almost every single race. Of course, since this is Mario Kart, there will be times where a blue shell will strip victory from your hands literally feet from the finish line, but for the most part, these tips will help you immensely. Take it from me; I currently have a 252-24 record when racing online.

Happy racing!

Game Review (Super Mario 3D Land - Nintendo 3DS)

Graphics: 5/5 The graphics are bright, colorful, and smooth. The 3D effect not only looks great, but is actually MANDATORY for some sections during the game. Simply put, if you want the best looking game currently available on the 3DS, here you have it - it completely makes use of the 3DS's capabilities, and does it very well. It really blows my mind that such a tiny little cartridge can do what 3D Land does.

Sound: 4.5/5 Beside the fact that the music likes to loop a lot, like any other Mario game ever created, 3D Land has a really nice soundtrack. Surprised? Also, even the really minor sounds like Mario's "woo-hoo" and "hee-yah"s are nice... but you can't really expect anything less.

Fun: 5/5 Super Mario 3D Land is probably my favorite Mario platformer. While it won't take many long to go through all the worlds and "beat the game," you can always go back and get all three medallions on every section on every world to get a few nice unlocks that I won't bother to spoil for you. I don't generally recommend purchasing single-player only games (due to lack of replay value), but 3D Land is a game that just has to be experienced, and seen to believe. To be frank, anybody who is a naysayer of this game is either mentally retarded and/or has a brain tumor.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Game Review (Mario Kart 7 - Nintendo 3DS)

Graphics: 4.5/5 Just about the best looking game on the 3DS, and better looking than any Wii game, in my opinion. The tracks - both new and old - all look and play fantastically, and there aren't any I can think of at the top of my head I don't really enjoy... except maybe the Rainbow Road SNES track. Many people would probably call that one a classic, but I just don't care for it. Compared to the other tracks? To me, it's just really easy to overlook. The 3D in this game is also cool; while it doesn't necessarily help you with anything or give you an advantage, it's a new way to play Mario Kart, and I definitely recommend playing with the 3D on.

Sound: 4/5 Hit and miss, really. First off, I have to say, whoever they have doing Donkey Kong's voice ought to be fired... to say it's terrible would be an understatement. While mentioning the voices, it should be mentioned that they are extremely redundant. You'll hear Mario going "Wa-hoo!" "Yeah!" "Woo!" "Wa-hoo!" until you about snap your 3DS in half. On the plus side, the Retro Tracks' soundtracks bring back memories, so I naturally approve of that. While the new tracks have some decent soundtracks, there's nothing particularly memorable.

Fun: 4.5/5 Mario Kart 7 may not be drastically different from the recent Mario Karts, but it's still fun. The addition of the gliders and under-water moments are cool and interesting, but they don't change the game play much at all. Just about every single new track is worth playing over several times, and the Retro Tracks are incredibly fun, even if they were changed a bit to be Mario Kart 7-ish. The online features in this game are slightly improved from Mario Kart DS, but it's still not that deep. There are Communities, which are in a sense "clans," but it doesn't change much. The online play is still fun, even if there are blue shells a-plenty, and there are a few stats (Wins/losses, coins collected, VR rating). Mario Kart 7 may not be revolutionary, but it's still fun regardless. If you don't have a 3DS yet, you may's well buy one for this game alone.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rock Band DLC Review Part XIX (May 2009)

Franz Ferdinand 01
"Smooth Criminal" Alien Ant Farm
"Blue Sky" and "Midnight Rider" The Allman Brothers Band
"Drain the Blood" The Distillers
"Naked Eye" Luscious Jackson
"Idealistic Types" and "The Banishment" Prong
Social Distortion 01
"Stricken" and "Stupify" Disturbed
"Black Friday" and "My Old School" Steely Dan
"Radio Radio" Elvis Costello
Alice Cooper 01
Taking Back Sunday 01
"Kids Don't Follow" The Replacements
Ministry 01
"She's Not There" and "Tell Her No" The Zombies
"Linger" The Cranberries

Simply put, an incredible month almost all the way through. I didn't realize until typing this up that there are a hell of a lot of "The"s this month. The Allman Brothers, The Distillers, The Replacements, The Zombies, and The Cranberries. Phew. ANYWAY - as I said, a great month. I could go through and say good things about a lot of these songs: Franz Ferdinand has a couple well-known tracks in their pack, "Smooth Criminal" is a pretty nice challenge on drums, Social Distortion is some quality old-school punk, Alice Cooper is a no-brainer despite a few live tracks, "She's Not There" is a classic. Most of what's here this month is gold.

Ftw of the month: Almost everything except...
Gtfo of the month: "Naked Eye", Steely Dan; only because... NO "REELIN' IN THE YEARS"? GTFO!
Avg of the month: 4.5/5

Rock Band DLC Review Part XVIII (April 2009)

After about a five month hiatus, I've finally decided to try and continue my review of Rock Band's DLC.

"New Slang" The Shins
"Warriors of Time" Black Tide
"Waking the Demon" Bullet for My Valentine
Toby Keith 01
Chinese Democracy by Guns 'n Roses
REO Speedwagon / Styx Tour '09
Hautewerk 01
Nothing's Shocking by Jane's Addiction

To be honest, I didn't get many songs from this month. I didn't get New Slang, Chinese Democracy, Hautewerk, or Nothing's Shocking. I did, however, get Warriors of Time, Waking the Demon, and most of the REO/Styx songs. April 2009's really an average month.. Warriors of Time and Waking the Demon both have some pretty sick guitar solos, and the Toby Keither pack provides a few decent country tunes. For me, the best thing from this month is the REO/Styx pack. Even though the Styx songs are re-records, the pack as a whole is fantastic on all instruments.

Ftw of the month: "Warriors of Time", "Waking the Demon", REO/Styx Pack
Gtfo of the month: Virtually everything else with the exception of a few Keith songs. Damn you, new GnR!
Avg of the month: 3.75/5

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Game Review (Back to Karkand Map Pack for Battlefield 3)

For veterans of Battlefield 2, DICE and EA have finally released the Back to Karkand (B2K) map pack for the Xbox 360. Contained in this pack are four maps - Strike at Karkand, Gulf of Oman, Wake Island (2014), and Sharqi Peninsula, along with 10 weapons, and four new vehicles, for 1200 MSP ($15). If you're looking for an in-depth review, look elsewhere... I'm making this one brief.

Having never played Battlefield 2 before, these maps are all new to me, with the exception of Wake Island, which I played in Battlefield 1943 (Although that version looked quite different.) After a couple playthroughs on each map, I will say that all four maps are pretty good, and I'd assume most would agree. While the maps have very similar templates (I.E. Have similar colors), they are all laid out in quite different ways.

For the weapons, you don't have them available for use right away. Instead, you have to do Assignments for each gun. For instance, for the FAMAS, you need to get 10 revives, and 10 heals. As you look through the ten guns, you'll see that some will take much more time to unlock than others. While at first I thought it was pretty stupid to be forced to unlock guns in this fashion - I still think some of the things you have to do are a bit lame - it encourages you to play until you do unlock them all, and it will take the average player a decent bit of time to do so.

If that wasn't enough, there are a few new achievements added for you achievement whores, including one as simple as swimming in a pool on the Oman map, to getting a kill with a tank, a jet, and an assault rifle all in one life.

All-in-all, B2K is a pretty good map pack, and one that was much needed, as the 9 on-disc maps in Battlefield 3 were beginning to get a little stale. Although DICE/EA haven't put up DLC specific servers (which results in a lot of leaving matches when a disc map comes up following a DLC map), and while I'm mildly disappointed that the maps are colored similarly, they're fun to play, and the Assignments give reason to keep playing and unlocking the guns.


Friday, December 09, 2011

Food Review (W Burger from Wendy's)

I saw this on GrubGrade and was intrigued, so I went to Wendy's last night to try it out. The quickest way to describe this thing is that it's a double cheeseburger with Wendy's "secret sauce" on it.

In a word, unimpressed. The sauce didn't add much to the burger, despite there being a good amount of it on there, and the rest of the ingredients are on any other one at Wendy's. For $2.99 for the sandwich alone, I expected more. Something fairly unique, and something I'd try more than once... but there's nothing about this cheeseburger that's different from a single or a double, because like I said, the sauce is pointless. It's not terrible, but it's certainly "been there, done that."


Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Hardware Review (Turtle Beach MW3 Foxtrot Headset)

After going through several stock Microsoft headsets, I finally decided to get something a bit more durable - what I ended up getting is the Limited Edition Turtle Beach MW3 Foxtrot Headset.

Out of the box, I was pretty quickly satisfied with the design and the feel of it. It's well-made, yet lightweight. Hook-up is also quite simple, but if you need instructions, they're there for you. As this thing is wired, it doesn't take batteries; it simply plugs into one of the USB ports on your 360.(I recommend the one in the back, just because. Well. It's in the back.)

On the cord, there's a little box that allows you to adjust game sound, chat sound, toggle mute, adjust bass, and this thing that says "Expander" ... I'm ignorant as to what this thing is supposed to be, all I know is that when you turn it to on, you get a bit more static than when it's off, doing nothing from what I can tell other than lowering the audio quality. There's also a little 360 controller on the box, which is where you plug in the little included adapter cord, so you can talk to people over Xbox LIVE.

It's really quite incredible what a solid headset does for you - how much it changes the game. You really have to hear it to believe it. While this isn't the absolute best headset on the market, or the cheapest, it's not too bad at the price of about $100. While this headset doesn't have Dolby 7.1, it has "amplified stereo," as well as an awesome thing I mentioned above - the bass boost. This thing makes the headset all-the-more worth it. Turn this up, and any game you're playing instantly becomes better. In Call of Duty or Battlefield, every shot you fire from your gun rattles your eardrums ever-so nicely, as does a nice big explosion. Perhaps even better, is using this headset while playing Rock Band or the good ol' defunct DJ Hero - never has the music sounded so good. And of course, the bass just makes it better.

Another thing that's included with the Foxtrot Headset is "chat boost." The chat boost is a built-in thing that is supposed to adjust the volume in the people you're talking to's voice, to the sound in-game. While this is great in theory, I've had issues with it. While playing Modern Warfare 3, I had the game volume about 3/4 of the way up, and chat at half way. Seemingly randomly, the chat would suddenly get incredibly loud, so I'd turn it down. After doing so, it was so quiet, I couldn't hear anybody to talk. I had to do this over and over again, and it resulted in quite a bit of frustration. What I have noticed is that the lower your bass boost, the less likely this will happen. Regardless, it seems unavoidable if you're chatting with people, and it can be either a minor annoyance, or an ear-bleeding hell of an experience.

So... would I recommend this headset? Yes. Are there other and better, cheaper options? Yes. The main reason why I really prefer this headset to other Turtle Beaches, is that it just looks nice with its sleek design. I should also let you know that even though this says it's a Modern Warfare 3 headset, the only spot you can really sense that it's a Call of Duty headset is on the box on the cord, where it says Call of Duty MW3, and on the top of the headset itself, where it has Call of Duty pressed in. Overall, it's just aesthetically pleasing all-around, and the audio quality isn't too shabby either.

+: That brand new "out of the box" smell, solid sound quality, bass boost, looks pretty cool.

-: Cord is pretty freakishly long, the chat boost has its issues, may not be the best option for the price it is - shop around first.


3/1/12 UPDATE: Just a couple weeks ago, after having this headset for just about 2 months, it stopped working for no reason at all. I take care of my stuff, so it certainly wasn't because of throwing it around, dropping it, or anything like that. I just used it one day, and the sound coming out was really quiet and staticy. I went to return for a new pair, and found that they don't even sell Foxtrots anymore - at least not at Best Buy, apparently. I wound up settling with the Turtle Beach X12's (Which I'll be reviewing soon, most likely). As much as I originally liked the Foxtrot Headset because of its design, feel, and sound quality, I can't rate it very high now considering it only lasted me about 60 days. You may be thinking that I'm just incredibly unlucky, but this same thing also happened to one of my friends around the same time mine broke. Because of the lack of durability in the Foxtrot Headset, I'll now have to give them a...


Monday, December 05, 2011

Food Review (New Burger King Fries)

This isn't going to be a long review, because it doesn't NEED to be a long review. A couple weeks ago I decided to get Burger King, and saw that the fries seemed to be bigger than before. I didn't see any advertising for the fries, so I was pretty confused.

All there is to say is, if you liked the old BK fries, you'll like these ones. If you didn't like the old ones, you won't like these. Why? They taste exactly the same. The only difference here is the size.

Personally, I've always liked Burger King's fries, and have preferred them to any other fast food fries out there. I know, I'm a rare breed. If anything, I like these fries more than the previous version just because they are bigger. Unlike Wendy's change in fries, this change is a good one.


When they're fresh, they're glorious. When they're old, well. You know.