Blog Posts

  • Off Topic: SOPA sucks and leaving GoDaddy

    Busy day at work here, but I took the time this morning to leave GoDaddy as my domain registrar due to their support of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and corresponding Senate bill, PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). These pieces of legislature would be incredibly harmful to the state of the internet if they were passed, and would make me concerned about even leaving First Hour up and running. Many other sites can do a lot better job explaining how disastrous this would be to the internet, so I'll let them do the talking.

    What I can do is move where my money goes. A non-insignificant portion of First Hour's "revenue" (which is not much, since I don't even run Google Ads anymore) goes towards buying and renewing the domain names involved with running the site. If I'm able to take my dollars elsewhere in protest of GoDaddy's support for terrible legislation, I will do it. Transferring domain registrars was surprisingly easy and I only had to pay for a one year extension on my domains. I'm thankfully not hosted by GoDaddy, otherwise this would be a much larger and more difficult change.

    GoDaddy has said they do not support SOPA anymore, but they have not said they are against SOPA, which would have been an important step in not only keeping customers, but retaining trust with savvy internet users. They also have not said anything about the PROTECT IP Act, which is almost as insane as SOPA.

    Nothing will change from a reader's perspective, so enjoy your new year, and check out our Game of the Year Awards on Friday.

  • Trophy Unlocked: PlayStation 3 obtained

    Heavy Rain CoverFive years after its release, I finally own a PlayStation 3. This feels like a significant length of time, especially as the only console I purchased after a comparable amount of time was the Dreamcast, which had already been "dead" for years at that point. But the PlayStation 3 is far from dead, and through a combination of a down economy and systems that are still "good enough", neither Microsoft or Sony seem to be in any kind of rush to release their next console iteration. This is beneficial to consumers like me, who are greatly rewarded for waiting with lots of great, exclusive games at cheap prices.

    There is definitely an embarassment of riches to be had jumping into a five year old, successful console like the PlayStation 3, emphasized by my recent Christmas extravaganza. My wife ordered me the system over Black Friday, triggering a chain reaction of purchases from siblings and in-laws, hey, I can't complain. Here's my haul:

  • Frankencontroller: The Perfect Pad

    nes ControllerI considered trading down my DS Lite for a DS Phat because I preferred the clicky buttons of the latter. I refuse to play fighting games with a 360 pad (and only tolerate doing so with a PlayStation controller). I spent hours fiddling with bluetooth options and buggy amateur programs just so I could play Super Meat Boy on my MacBook with a Wii remote.

    Controllers matter to me. A lot.

    Though some are preferable to others, no controller is quite perfect. But that's only because nobody asked ME how to design the perfect controller! Instead of waiting around to be contacted by some very smart hardware developer, I figured I might as well lay out a near-perfect pad by stealing the best bits and buttons from controllers past.

    I give you: The Frankencontroller.

  • Need a starting class for Star Wars: The Old Republic?

    Star Wars the old Republic CoverI was in The Old Republic beta for about two months, and during that time, I managed to get three whole classes to level 10. About three weeks into my beta period, we were forced to reinstall the game due to a major update... and I simply never bothered to install the 20GB+ download again. This isn't to say that Star Wars: The Old Republic is a bad game, I just don't have enough time to devote to an MMO anymore, which is kind of sad, but then I go back to playing Zelda and Skyrim and I feel better.

    Back to my original point though, the three classes I played were Smuggler, Jedi Consular, and Sith Warrior. While all fun in their own right, I had a really great time with the Smuggler. This is an action heavy class that plays like nothing I've seen in an MMORPG before. The Smuggler can take cover, roll around, and fire on demand with his blaster. It's a rather exciting class that made it feel like I was playing a lite version of Mass Effect.

    I wasn't too impressed with the starting area of the Smuggler, however. Before playing as a Smuggler, I was expecting to do... some smuggling. But the plot arc made me feel more like a Republic soldier at worst, and a mercenary at best. Outside of my character's snarky dialog, I didn't feel much like Han Solo, the obvious archetype the class should have been modeled after. I understand BioWare is probably trying to lay the groundwork for the all tension between the Republic and Sith early on, but it made everything feel out of character.

    Maybe I'll provide short write-ups of the other classes I tried in the next few days, but give Smuggler a shot, will make the World of Warcraft comparison a big joke.

  • Goodbye GameFly

    Gamefly LogoFive hundred dollars is a good chunk of cash. That's a few car payments. It's a cool TV on Black Friday. It may be enough Taco Bell to last a lifetime (shortened by all that Taco Bell). It's also what I paid on video game rentals in the last two and a half years.

    "Wow," you shriek, "$500 is a lot of money to rent games!" You're right, Obvious Banshee, and that's why I'm dropping my GameFly subscription (temporarily, at least). I've got other expenses to consider, other pastimes to enjoy, and a backlog of neglected games to play, so I think I'll give my wallet a break and go without.

    But whether or not I ever re-up with the service, I got my money's worth in my 30 month GameFly period. It can actually be a frugal choice for the eclectic video game enthusiast.

  • Games I am Thankful For: Harvest Moon

    Harvest Moon CoverLast year I cobbled together a list of multiplayer games I was thankful for during the United States' Thanksgiving holiday season. From Chip 'n Dale to Halo, playing great games with friends is undoubtedly one of the best things about video gaming. This year, I'd like to call out the game that reminds me as much about Thanksgiving as turkey and stuffing: Harvest Moon.

    Even the name conjures up the best autumnal memories, and while the game doesn't really have anything to do with giving thanks, I still strongly associate this time of year with Harvest Moon. Undoubtedly, it has to do with the game's central objective of running a farm and harvesting basic crops that are found during most Thanksgiving meals, and maybe the themes of starting a family ring true in my life, too.

    I still return to the original Harvest Moon sometimes, though it's been out nearly 15 years and surpassed by a few other titles in the series, the game is still very fun to play. The formula hasn't changed greatly over the years, but even at the beginning it feels polished. It's amazing how much Natsume got right the first time around and how fans and critics have stuck with the series for so long. It's a testament to Harvest Moon's simple yet deep design that it so successfully established a niche. The series has evolved and gone off the rail a few times, but some things never change.

    Here's to Harvest Moon, hope my American readers had a great Thanksgiving holiday.

  • Chrono Cross: The Best Worst Sequel of All Time

    Chrono Cross CoverChrono Cross is an excellent game, it is also a really awful sequel.

    To celebrate Chrono Cross' release on the PlayStation Network, I'd like to take a moment to tell you that, yes, it really is a good game. How could it not be? Even though it was released in the waning years of Squaresoft's peak, the development teams still had a bit of magic left in them. But I'm also here to tell you that if you approach the game as Chrono Trigger 2, you will be incredibly disappointed.

    And that's what I was back when the game was released: disappointed. As someone who has claimed Chrono Trigger as their favorite game for more than 15 years, it's hard for me to look back objectively on its sequel. So here's a bit of subjectivity for you.

    But please, don't let me stop you from enjoying the game's re-release.

  • 2011 holiday releases and no preorder for Skyward Sword

    Legend of Zelda Skyward SwordWe’re just a few weeks away from the release of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which in turn caps a pretty amazing holiday buying season for console games. Gears of War 3, Batman: Arkham City, Battlefield 3, Uncharted 3, Modern Warfare 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Assassin’s Creed Revelations, and Skyward Sword are all being released within just weeks of each other.

    Every year, more and more huge titles are crammed into the holiday schedule, grade inflation becomes rampant, wallets are emptied, and I seem to miss out on more and more games. But this year, I’m missing out on them mostly because I just don’t have any time to play games these days. I’d love to play Arkham City and give Battlefield 3 a try, but I’ve only managed to play four whole hours of Professor Layton and the Last Specter in the past week, which is why our content has been a bit dry lately.

    Which leads me back to The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, I’m usually frothing at the mouth for the latest adventure of Link, but through a combination of Twilight Princess still stinging and just being sick of the Wii, I’m not preordering the game. I have preordered every console Zelda game since Ocarina of Time back in 1998.

  • Memorable Ideas from Forgettable Games: Load Screen Time Wasters

    Bionic Commando Xbox 360 CoverI'm trying to find the right word to describe the Bionic Commando reboot. Like so many modern pop culture reboots, the desecration of the source material is surely blasphemy. It took a beloved NES classic with an unabashed nerdy charisma and '80s action movie lunacy and reskinned it with lifeless grit, detestable characters, and the kinds of military-political entanglements and absurd plot gimmicks that shouldn't be allowed to escape the feature length cutscenes of Metal Gear Solid. It also exhibited a few genuinely terrible design decisions, like invisible, death-dispensing fallout zones. I'm not sure how nobody questioned the merit of sudden, explosive cancer as a hazard in a video game, but it makes me wonder if Capcom and James Bond villains hire from the same temp agencies.

    And yet, despite its many, many, many downsides, the game actually managed to be fun at times. If nothing else -- and that's not really an "if" -- the NES original's joy of mobility remained intact. There was tingling grace and invulnerability in swinging around the bombed-out Ascension City. It was enough to persuade me to finish the game's story mode, all the way through the atrocious final hour that actually made me yearn for the one-screen "Congraturation!" endings of the coin-op age.

    "Forgettable" is a pretty good descriptor for Bionic Commando 2009. Marking the game as "god awful" and calling it a day would be a disservice to those ecstatic moments of suspension between swing and freefall. But this is one of Capcom's western-focused HD experiments that won't be the subject of any "PS3 games that need a PS4 update" blog posts, that's for sure.

    But hey, the game sure did one thing right: load screens!

  • I am now in the Star Wars: The Old Republic beta

    Star Wars the old Republic CoverYes, I am now a beta tester for Star Wars: The Old Republic, and that is literally all I can tell you. The NDA says everything is confidential except for two addendums:

    1. The fact that there is a Game Program.
    2. The fact that you are a member of the Game Program.

    So until the NDA is lifted, I have to be silent! Please don't tempt me!

    I am rather excited about beta testing, I recently went from seeing The Old Republic as a must-buy to being on-the-fence, so I see this as my free trial at the game before I plunk down $60 for the box plus $15/month. When I finally can write about the game, I will have plenty to say, with hopefully first hour impressions of every class. (yes, the game has classes and that's a well known fact, I can say that!) I'm also a big fan of Mass Effect and Knights of the Old Republic, and I usually put tons of trust into BioWare blindly, so that too will be put to the test.

    Hopefully this won't cut into my regular gaming too much, but I'm actually not playing much at the moment though besides Xenoblade: Chronicles, so they will definitely compete for time. In the meantime, I'll probably pop up some first hour reviews of a few of my Steam games, Recettear has been calling to me for a while.

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