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Saturday, June 26, 2010

First Impression Review - God Eater

God Eater, an action-adventure game released by Namco Bandai for the PSP, has been gaining popularity for one reason: It’s similar to Capcom’s Monster Hunter series of games in a lot of ways. Though the US release of the game is yet to come, many are already itching to play it. I, on the other hand, was curious about how good the game is to be compared to MH. To satisfy my curiosity, I got a copy of the Japanese version to see it for myself. Since it’s still just an import, I will most likely be limiting the review to as far as what I could observe in my initial play and try to dissect the game’s battle system.

The story starts with three main characters fighting a monster and eventually taking it down. The scene cuts to (what I think is) their base where the game introduces a new guy, which would be your player. Some long conversation takes place and then you finally go and choose missions from a girl in front of a counter (similar to MH’s Guild Hall).

 As you progress, you will eventually unlock new and more difficult missions. Unlike MH, movement in GE is more versatile. Players can jump, dash, roll, sprint, and even sidestep. GE, like MH, also has status bar that decreases with every dash/roll maneuver. The game also has the same difficulty with the camera. You have to keep on adjusting the camera as you move. Luckily, you can reset the camera angle if needed and a lock-on feature enables you to focus the camera on the target enemy.

Players wield only one weapon, which has the ability to change forms to suit your battle preferences. Blade form allows you to do slashing melee combos and block attacks similar to MH’s great swords. Gun form lets you fire from a distance and use various types of bullets for added effect. This form has its own energy bar that’s consumed with every shot. If you run out of energy, it can be filled again with every melee attack you connect. 

Finally, there’s Predator form, a charged attack that transforms your weapon into a monster-like mouth. Once you hit the enemy with this, players can enter “super mode” temporarily. In this mode, players will have stronger attacks in both Blade and Gun forms. With all these different weapon forms, players have a wide range of abilities that can be executed in battle, making them more balanced in both melee and ranged combat. The battles are executed a bit faster in the sense that there’s not much strategy to be applied here with taking down monsters… or at least that was my impression during my first fight.

Overall, GE is a solid game that can stand on its own. You can’t really compare it to MH. Personally, they’re not as similar as everybody thinks. GE impressed me by having an actual story in it as well as voice-acting, graphics and cinematics that give it an “anime” feel to it. Since I’m a complete sucker to the “big swords changing into big guns” kind of thing, I personally love their weapons here. They’re so badass.

BUT! Unless the US release is made available, I won’t bother myself with this just yet. I don’t want to play games that I don’t fully understand (except for Super Robot Wars/G Generation games, hehehe!). I just hope they won’t mess up anything that would ruin the storytelling. I mean, personally, I’m all good if they intend to dub it in English, AS LONG as this won’t ruin it. If they can’t do that then its better to leave the Japanese voices alone and just give us English subtitles. For now, I give it a thumbs-up! Everyone would probably love it. Personally, just wait for the US release (if ever) or try to find a English patched version of it. It’s all up to you. There still a lot of things to discover in the game. I just scratched the surface and got my first impression. Everything else is all up to you. Again, this is my first impression of God Eater.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Taste my Broken Blade! By Raipo

Only a few months more and we’ll see the Broken Blade/Break Blade anime by the awesome guys from Production I.G. and Xebec.

Hobby Japan June/July issue featuring the upcoming Break/Broken blade kits

Broken Blade is set in an alternate world where most of its inhabitants are magic users that manipulate crystals. The hero here is Rygart Arrow, a military school misfit who was born without magical abilities. Fast forward in that world’s future: War has broken out between the continents, by men and war machines called Golems. Rygart is caught up in the war, with love for his family and country in mind, but what he really feels might not be just for the nation itself but for a person he knew and loved in the past…

 pictured here: Delphine/Dirfringe, Rygart's Golem

Broken Blade feels like another underdog story with hints of past sword-and-mecha series like L-Gaim and Escaflowne. The mecha design looks awesome (and I gotta admit, I’m looking forward to the kits!) and the story (as far as the manga is concerned) is pretty deep and engaging.

 Character sheet for Break/Broken Blade

We’ll just have to see how the anime measures up.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

How To Revive A Dead Torrent

Tracker’s not announcing? Stuck at 98%? Must you finish downloading this movie to preserve its existence for your grandchildren to watch?

Have any of these happened to you?

Well, if you're looking for a way to continue your dead torrent download, then you're in luck. By reading through this article you can learn exactly how. First though, a short review. (If you know the basics already just skip this part.)

Torrent File (or just Torrent) - the file you use to start downloading stuff
Client - the software you use to download stuff using torrents
Tracker - a webhost dedicated to tracking who is downloading what, like The Pirate Bay (http://thepiratebay.org/)
Seeders - people who've finished downloading and are sharing with (or seeding) their peers.
Peers - people who are currently downloading from the same torrent.
Swarm - a group of people relying on one tracker.
Announce URL - the link in which a tracker announces who is downloading what, to torrent clients currently connected to the tracker.

Let's try to think of this in a systematic way, shall we?

The torrent is dead, stuck at incomplete status. The trackers are not replying. You're alone, your wife and kids have left you. Your pet is dead. You are a lo... Whoops! Went a little overboard there...

A torrent may be incomplete because there are no seeders and/or there are not enough peers to complete the file, or the download itself may not start because the tracker is busy or is not tracking the torrent anymore. (Of course you don't expect them to track a torrent forever, right?)

There are many solutions. The manual way involves our friend Google, but if you want an easier way, btReAnnouncer offers just that. If both of these don't work, then we have another, "desperation" method. These solutions really just work in one way, which is finding more trackers. Why? Well, let's say that you download a torrent, the trackers are responding, there are no seeds but there are peers so the download is running, but it stops at 47%. If you find another tracker, then you have access to another swarm, and maybe, just maybe, that swarm may have the remaining 53%, if you're lucky enough it may even have more seeds for faster downloading. Here's how we find more trackers...

We’re going to be using this example:

The torrent contains these files in this hierarchy:

Iron Man1and2BOXSET_DivX(eng) ... (a folder)
>Iron Man1and2BOXSET_DivX(eng).Disc1.avi ... (a file inside the folder)
>Iron Man1and2BOXSET_DivX(eng).Disc2.avi ... (another file inside the folder)

A good way to find trackers is to Google the FILENAME of the download enclosed in double quotes If you have more than one file in your torrent, then add the word “or" between your filenames, and in the end add the word "torrent". here's an example:

"Iron Man1and2BOXSET_DivX(eng).Disc1.avi" OR "Iron Man1and2BOXSET_DivX(eng).Disc2.avi" torrent

Once you've found trackers, download the torrent from them and open it Chances are the trackers will be different or you'll find trackers you haven't used before. Add the trackers to your torrent download and wait for seeds.

The double quotes tell Google to search for "this exact phrase."
The word "or" tells Google to find one or more of these phrases.
The word “torrent” is so that you find just that.

So why search for the filenames of the download and not the torrent filename? Because torrent files may be renamed but its contents cannot be modified.

Go to btreannouncer.net, have your torrent ready, and upload it to the site, then wait a while and you'll see a drop down list of primary trackers, and a list of announce URLs with checkboxes. The default selected in the dropdown list is the primary tracker of the torrent you uploaded. Select another tracker as the primary one to gain access to another swarm (Ignore the check boxes for now). If you've changed the primary tracker, click "ReAnnounce," then the announce trackers (the list with the checkboxes) will change. Select or de-select any or all of the announce URLs. Selecting more will mean that your client will have more connections to a tracker. Note that some URLs may be down so having an alternative URL will keep you connected to a tracker. Selecting less means there are less URLs for your client to listen to thus using less bandwidth. After all is done, click "ReAnnounce" again and Download your “reannounced” torrent. Open it in your client to download from more trackers. Make sure that the download path is the same to continue your incomplete download.

Add random trackers to your download and hope that those trackers are still announcing your download. If not, then remove those trackers to save bandwidth. You'll know if a tracker isn't announcing your download anymore if it is saying "File not found" or something like that. Here's a tracker list to help get you started. Of course you can find more through Google.



Thursday, June 17, 2010

The next Gundam anime is going to be all about… GunPla??? by Raipo

We knew this was to happen, and it did, right after Kidou Senshi Gundam 00. The 2010 June/July issue of Hobby Japan announced the next Gundam series, titled Gunpla Builders: Beginning G.

“Oooh! Is that a villain I see there in the background?”

So wait a sec. A Gundam series that will feature Gundam kits instead of the usual boy-finds-and-pilots-a-giant-robot plot? Unbelievable at first, but hey, this is Bandai we’re talking about. They can do whatever they want with their franchise. If they decide to dress up a Gundam in a tutu and call it Ballet Gundam then they can.

  Shown left: Beginning Gundam. The GunPla  Builders (clockwise): Irei Haru (the blue-haired boy), Noyama Rina (the only girl) and Sakazaki Kenta (the brown-haired guy).

But seriously, little has been revealed about this new series that will feature a trio of GunPla enthusiasts. What the heck is “GunPla,” you might ask? Gunpla is the portmanteau of “Gundam Plastic,” referring to the wide range of Gundam plastic models (which by the way has its own portmanteau: “plamo”) produced by Bandai. The details on the main Gundam itself, called the Beginning Gundam, has not yet been revealed. Whether or not it’s going to be the group’s main GunPla project or a man-sized robot or whatever, our guess is as good as yours.

Let’s hope it doesn’t turn out into another toy anime…


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Portal (PC Version) Review

Hello to the HobbyBox. It's me, lord_emina, the "Lord of Games" as I and some of my friends call me. Anyway, since it's been a while since I made a video game review, please bear with me in the meantime... and now for the review.

Developer(s): Valve Corporation
Genre(s): Puzzle, First-Person
Platform(s): PC, XBOX360, PlayStation3
Multiplayer: None


Portal's plot is revealed to the player via audio messages from GLaDOS and side rooms found in the later levels. The game begins with Chell waking up from a stasis bed and hearing instructions and warnings from GLaDOS about the upcoming test experience. This part of the game involves distinct test chambers that, in sequence, introduce players to the game's mechanics. GLaDOS' announcements serve not only to instruct Chell and help her progress through the game, but also to set the game's atmosphere and develop the AI as a character. Chell is promised cake and grief counseling as her reward if she manages to complete all the test chambers. She proceeds through the empty Enrichment Center, interacting only with GLaDOS. Over the course of the game, GLaDOS's motives are hinted to be more sinister than her helpful demeanor suggests. Although she is designed to appear helpful and encouraging, GLaDOS's actions and speech suggest insincerity and callous disregard for the safety and well-being of the test subjects.

(Reviewer's Note: Plot taken from Wikipedia.org)


"Pure genius" were my first thoughts when I first played this game in the XBOX360. Ever since Half-Life, Valve always had great stories for they're games, and Portal has no exception. From the start to finish of the story, you'll never see a dull moment, but like most puzzle games, story doesn't have much meaning to the game, thus I can only write so much about it.


Now here's what the game's is all about. If you don't know how to play Portal, the picture on the right will give you an idea how.

What I can say about the gameplay is that it's very different from what you usually see in a first-person game. No enemy war soldiers/zombies/aliens for that matter. Just you, obstacles in the way, and an exit.

Some people say that Portal's gameplay is very simple and needs more flare to it. Simple? Yes, it's simple enough (or maybe too simple) to learn and have fun with, but needing more flare? I don't think so. In games like Portal you don't need more of that. It has a basic concept that works very well and that's enough for one to enjoy this game. Yes, it does take some time to get used to, and maybe you even have to go through some headaches and/or vomiting, but for most people who are used to FPS games it'll only take a while to get used to.

Though at times the game does feel linear due to the flow of the story, but of course in a game like this, that line can easily be broken by your creativity and sense of humor. In this game you can't just stand in one place and think on how to solve the puzzles because usually you will be wrong. You also can't do much without thinking because you will also end up dead. In this game you have to do and think at the same time. I know it sounds weird, but once you play this game, you'll understand the feeling.

Most of the puzzles in the game are easy to moderately difficult, but some are just brutal. Maybe one of my complaints in Portal is the fast rise of difficulty between levels.


Why don't you be the judge?

Everything looks very smooth (unless the thing your looking at is naturally not). Lighting is great with accurate shadows, and even the PC I played it in (512 Mb video card memory and 2 Gb RAM) could play it with everything in the game's graphic settings at the highest level, at 800x600 resolution, with no lag, so I can safely say that even if you install Portal in a good Netbook or other laptop, you could still play and enjoy it (maybe at a low or medium graphic setting).

Loading times are really fast between levels and only takes a while to load near the end of the game, but other than some parts, I never really complained with loading time.

Since Portal utilizes the Source Engine, and you know how either Half-Life 2 or Counter-Strike Source looks like, then you can have a good idea how the graphics looks like.

(sure it's not from the Game, but come on! It looks cool!)


As I said before, Portal uses the Source Engine, so controls can easily be changed even in-game, so not much complaints there. With default controls, even I had to get used to some things in the game like holding items and the jump height of the character, but these things are just small problems that can be fixed with an hour or so of getting used to the game.

Thanks to the keyboard and mouse of the PC, playing Portal was much more easier in my experience than playing it in the XBOX360. With the "WASD" moving and the pinpoint sensitivity of the mouse really helped a lot. Take note that I finished the XBOX360 version in 6-8 hours while the PC version took only 4-5 hours. Don't get me wrong though! When I played Portal again in the PC I did forget all of the puzzles.


Well not much can be said from the sounds in Portal. I guess Valve really wanted the game to not have much sounds. I mean, in the whole game you can maybe only hear 4 or 5 BGMs.

Voice Acting? Well the only one that talks in the game is the A.I. that's instructing your character, so not much of that as well, but the way the A.I. talks and what it says is really hilarious.

What to write?.. What to write?..


Portal is a great game. Period. I suggest to people who take video games seriously to play this game. Only crazy people would say that Portal is a bad game.


Story: 10 (Very good with unexpected plot twists.)

Gameplay: 9 (Fun and different, but takes time to get used to.)

Graphics: 10 (B-E-A-utiful!)

Controls: 9 (Easy to learn and change.)

Sounds: 4 (Not much to hear here.)

Overall Score: 10

Well, thanks for reading my game review.

Portal (PC version), you've just been tagged!

lord_emina out...


Wednesday, June 2, 2010


I actually need to be in bed by now, but I didn't want this to wait too long. Anyway... The HobbyBox has joined forces with Rai's Garage, the blog of my former co-worker and fellow Hobbyist Raipo (not to be confused with reipu, heheh. That's him up there, by the way). Being this blog's aniki, you guys may wanna give it a peek. Just be sure to come back, ya hear?


The HobbyBox Blog is Now Open!

That's right, you heard right. The HobbyBox, a single-person bedroom/hangout for fellow otaku/gamers, now has it's own blog. I'll personally see to it that this blog is stuffed with all things anime, video games, and related stuff.

For starters, we'll be posting reviews of anime and games, both old and new. Other blogs out there may be out to review the newer releases, but The HobbyBox makes it a point to give everything equal doses of love.

We'll also be posting events that strike The 'Box's interests. Sure this country doesn't have much in terms of conventions and the like, but we'll do what we can.

Comrades! My fellow Hobbyists! Let's unite and make this blog successful. Let the SEO begin... err... Spread the word!