Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime review

As I was travelling through the Central Line yesterday, a ten year old kid sitting next to me was staring avidly at my 'not-so-shiny any longer' DS Lite. It was rather rude but maybe all those colourful action happening on the bottom screen intrigued him. Maybe.

He then broke a long standing rule of travelling on the Tube (as well as for an innocent kid) by talking to me. You shouldn't really talk to strangers but I am sure the curiosity got the better of his judgement. Besides a guy playing a game staring colourful little creatures can't be dangerous, right?

"Is that the new Pokemon?" he asked.

"Nope, it is the new Dragon Quest."

"What's that? It looks like Pokemon!"

"No, it is Dragon Quest!"

"What a rip-off! It looks just like Pokemon" he spurred on. (At that point I wanted to twat the little rascal.)

"No... Look, it stars a blue slime. You don't have slimes in Pokemon do you now? There isn't any little yellow critters here too."

"I like Pokemon more" he answered incredulously (noticed how he has already mentioned Pokemon four times, perfect for me setting a record for typing ‘Pokemon’ in a non-Poke related review). Shrugging, he removed his scratched up GBA from his sack and started playing Pokemon Ruby something.

At that point I started to feel pity for the little guy. He had an old school purple GBA from 2001 with a backlit mod. It is obviously a hand me down from his dad, who is probably playing his DS somewhere, or worse - his PSP. Furthermore he (the kid, not the dad) had Pokemon Ruby something game cart, which is like from ten thousand years ago.

It shouldn't surprise anyone for mistaking the game I was playing with a Pokemon game (actually this is game closer to The Legend of Zelda series than Pokemon due to the action RPG elements). With simple and colourful to graphics to match, the title I am reviewing today was always 'asking for it' (the comparison). Design hark to a time (SNES era) where carefree and cheery looking creatures were the order, not those complex Doom-style horror villains that seems to grace 93.6174% of the newer so called 'next-gen' titles today.

Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime is a spin-off of the insanely popular Dragon Quest series. It is the second Slime portable (the first was a Japan only release on the GBA). It stars a Slime (the mascot and one of the easiest enemy in the series) called Rocket, a blue blob who stretches its body to attack other beings, from the kingdom of Slimenia.

One day Boingburg (the city) is attacked by the Plob, who kidnapped all the slimes. Rocket, the only Slime left behind due to mistaken... uhm... identity, must liberate all 100 slimes from a total of seven funnily named locations (e.g. Flucifer's Necropolis).

Like the Zelda series, players has to explore the area and solve puzzles in order to unlock hidden locals. However, unlike later Zelda games however, Rocket Slime adventure portion is extremely easy. On some levels progressing would require you to battle traditional boss (easy) although most would mandate the participation of tank battles (fantastic). Gameplay is as easy as keeping one of your finger squarly above the 'A' button.

I can't help pointing out how much I love tank battles. It involves manning the Scheliman Tank against another a Plob tank. As you advance through the game the tank can be upgraded to enhance its HP level and better weaponry (mixture of weapons/defence). Three slimes can also assist Rocket in tank battles, with each having its own capability.

For example a Slimenian called Holly is adept at infiltrating and sabotaging the enemy tank. Or you could recruit Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan Tokyo Tom who prefers to turn itself into an ammo and launch at the enemy. Similarly some members of the Plob may try to enter the Scheliman Tank in order to create mayhem. While tank battles may sound simple, you will have a wide option of destroying the enemy tank. My preferred strategy usually involves sending Rocket to infiltrate the enemy tank and disrupting their routine while leaving Rocket's assistants to their job of firing continuously.

As I said before, the graphics are simple yet colourful. It doesn't match The Minish Cap in detail, but as far as portable games goes, Rocket Slime 2D sprites is wonderful and works flawlessly with the spirit of the series. Sound is pretty good too with each levels having it's own unique soundtrack.

The game is hilarious and is littered with countless of references/puns to other games in Square-Enix's portfolio including Enix's own Dragon Quest series and Square's Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy series. Dialogues are often comical too. I haven't played a more witty RPG since Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, and many people knew that was fun.

If there is a problem with the game is the main objective of saving 100 slimes and defeating the Plob is pretty short (roughly 10-13 hours) and easy. You could easily push the game further if you bother improve your stat or to 'gotta catch em' all' Pokemon style. Personally I couldn't care less but even if you won't bother with all the Pokemon inspired stuff you really should at least play the main portion of the game (you know, the saving the slimes and defeating the boss stuff). Go Slime!


Buy now from Play-Asia

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Tarrant split increase Brain Training sales

See, all hubbies out there should rush out and purchase Brain Training. Start late and you could suffer like Chris Tarrant.

The advert featuring Tarrant forgetting his wedding anniversary sees the presenter kicked out of the marital bedroom by his wife. He then uses the Nintendo console to help build his memory power.

Oh, and guys, don't ever ever cheat on your wife.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

National Express thoughts / Lego Star Wars II DS / Wii stuff

I can't begin to tell you how much I hate the new fleet of National Express coaches. It looks comfy, but really - it isn't! It looks modern, until you notice the number of cheap and tacky plastic furniture that graces its interior. Like cheap Asian (except Japanese) cars.

DS version: not recommended. At all.

Today I went into GAME to return Lego Star Wars II* for DS. The version is almost identical to the console version (except shorter) despite different developers - with graphical/gameplay bugs to boot. It plays like the dreaded Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (not surprising since it is by the same developer) where instead of hack-hack-hack, you shoot-shoot-shoot. Nice to see that George Lucas is still keen on ripping fans off.

I also took the chance to enquire about the new Wii. Though NoA has only announced that a white coloured version (don't they know white is so uncool' as the 'only colour' that would be available in North America, sadly NoE failed to announce any specific for the European market. The GAME staff did mentioned that his company will be making both white and black accessories, so based on that there is a small chance that Europe will get a black Wii as well. I hope that is true. White is so un-cool.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Apple launches new iPod (yet again)

Oops. Wrong picture.

I am sorry but I just had to.

Seriously, why bother? Still I am expecting this to sell like hotcakes to hip Londoners who should know better.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Bike Ride: Rye & Romney Marsh circular

We went for a bike ride around ancient Rye and the Romney Marsh yesterday.

After a false start (my fault), we were on a road (National Cycle Network 2) that runs alongside the Royal Military Canal to Appledore. The canal was built during the Napoleon era out of fear of a French invasion. Also note the pillbox in the third picture below, presumeably built during the second World War. Little did they know that our guest cyclist and mate, Maureen, is French.

At Appledore we turned right onto the Regional Cycle Route 11 through the Walland Marsh, where Jennifer and Maureen went on the pick some blackberries. If you prefer you can continue up to Appledore Heath via Ivychurch for a longer route.

Just after a rail level crossing we arrived at the small isolated church of St Thomas Becket where a group of sheeps entertained us by getting stuck on a small bridge. The church is worth a visit though don't expect to be wowed.

We later stopped at the Woolpack Inn, Brookland (we are now in Kent) for a drink. Built in 1410, the old smuggling inn is right at the heart of the Romney Marsh. This isn't your usual Weatherspoon crap. This is our kind of pub.

We continued down towards Lydd, which was hosting an air show. The 14th century church here is apparently known as the Cathedral of Romney Marsh. Here we joined a traffic free exhilarating off-road trail next to a Ministry of Defense firing range land and close to the Dungeness nuclear power station.

After a couple of miles we were at Camber where we cycled on the sea wall which overlooks the vast shingle beaches and the Camber Sand dunes. Another off-road trail eventually lead us back to Rye. With no hills to climb throughout, the route was easy - apart from the times when massive winds blow in from the Channel.

This was possibly the last weekend bike trek where we enjoyed the company of the sun this summer. :(

Total: 27 miles (+1.2 miles in Brighton) according to the bike computer (44 + 2km)

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Saturday, September 9, 2006

MTB Bike Ride: Falmer to Ditchling Beacon

The trail began at Sussex University (although we did have to cycle up from the town centre up to Falmer first) and ended at Ditchling Beacon (where we used a short cut via Ditchling Road - London Road to get back). The off-road trail was relatively short (about 5-6 miles) though we did a total of 13-14 miles that day.

Here are some pictures:

The lovely view of the Sussex Weald and the many villages on the foot of the Downs:

A dew pond near the Home Brow by Ditchling Road just opposite the Iron Age Beacon:

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Friday, September 8, 2006

Iraq = back to normal indeed

American sponsored Saddam regime = mass executions
American sponsored post 2006 Iraqi regime = mass executions

Who's surprised?

BTW, we received a new neighbour recently. A day after he moved in, he was found clearing the garden, wearing only a pair of Calvin Klein underwear.

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Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Mercury Music Prize 2006

Hmm... Well, looks like what I predicted came true.

Not that I am surprised that the judges bought into the hype. After years of criticsm that they only tend to award the top prize to 'niche' bands, they finally went for the safest choice available. Even safer than 2004's winner Franz Ferdinand. Well, at least it isn't some crap hip hop artist.

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Saturday, September 2, 2006

My 'test the nation' result

We had a little test the nation party tonight where we played I got 55 answers out of 70 questions correct. Can't say I am too pleased though I am quite chuffed that my final score of 79% (119) is higher than the national average. In an attempt find an excuse I can say I blame a couple of factors contributing to the low score including:

1. lack of hi-def telly
2. accent
3. Anne Robinson's annoying voice

Note: none British should do the online test. It is actually easier as it doesn't deal with listening to ridiculous 80s accent. I won't do it again as it would be considered as cheating (some of the questions are repeats from the telly quiz)

Friday, September 1, 2006

Politics goes MMO

I realise that British politicians were one of the first politicians in the world to embrace the use of blogs to reach new audiences. Just look at the number of Labour and Tory MP bloggers (a Lib-Dem MP beats them to the punch by being the first British MP to blog) around, all thanks to Manic.

But this is just freaking cool. Mark Warner, a possible future American president decides not to view video games as a scape-goat for once, instead, embracing it as a platform, via MMO Second Life. Talk about being more in touch than even David Cameron.

If only a vicious MP would have the courage to do something similar here. Virtual heckling anyone? I can't wait!


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