GGF#37: An exciting month for gamers

[Gamer Girl Friday]

February is a very exciting month (which translates to busy for me).

Apart from Valentine’s Day, which is totally irrelevant to today’s column but is being mentioned for the sheer fact that it just so happens to also fall in February, we’re looking forward to all the many games releasing this month.

Plus, and more excitingly, we’ll be experiencing big game launches for three big titles in Singapore, namely Halo Wars, Ninja Blade and Street Fighter IV.

There are so many activities planned for this month I’m getting dizzy sorting through all the info.

But I managed to sort through everything (huzzah) so read on to find out what’s what.

==================================================

Table of Contents

  1. Halo Wars
  2. Ninja Blade
  3. Street Fighter IV
  4. Funtown Mahjong
  5. Lips – Grammy songs
  6. Results of last week’s contest
  7. Win a limited edition UNSC Spartan vest!!

==================================================

Halo Wars

The popular Halo franchise comes in RTS (real-time strategy) format for the first time!

To be launched on February 26 (Japan & Asia Pacific. Yes we get it before the Americans and Europeans do), Halo Wars is already getting ahead with a slew of pre-launch activities.

Halo Wars screenshot

Here’s a summary. See if anything catches your fancy!

  1. Play Halo Wars demo free at E2MAX Feb 14-22
  2. Halo Wars tournament at E2MAX Feb 21-22
  3. Singapore’s Biggest Halo Fan contest, now on till Feb 22
  4. Halo Wars pre-order available till Feb 19
  5. Halo Wars demo now available for download on Xbox LIVE marketplace

If you need more details on anything, they’re all here.

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ninja Blade

Ninja Blade is flying your way on Feb 12! Have you tried it yet? If not, get your butt over to XXZ this weekend! (Feb 7 and 8, Best Denki VivoCity and Challenger Funan.)

There will be Ninja Blade demos and free play, as well as guest appearances by Xbox Xpert Merdeka and a special Ninja mascot!

Ninja Blade

Merdeka’s looking very cute deadly at the bottom of the poster.

More details here.

Ninja Blade pre-order is still availabe at XXZ until Feb 8. Get your Ninja Blade letter opener quick!

Also, take note that there will be launch activities at both XXZs on Feb 14 and 15.

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Street Fighter IV

Street Fighter IV is also launching on Feb 12! How lah! So many games!

If you’re a Street Fighter fan, you don’t want to miss a thing!

Free SF4 calendar

From Feb 12 to 28, show XXZ staff a copy of your SF4 game, or purchase a copy there on the spot, and receive this cool calendar!

SF4 Launch

Go to any XXZ on Feb 14 and 15 to enjoy launch activities!

XXZ is at Challenger Funan and Best Denki VivoCity.

Digital Life party

Digital Life and Microsoft Xbox Singapore are hosting a party on Feb 14 for fans. You’ll get to play the game with other fans and win prizes! This is an invite-only party! You need to send an e-mail to get an invite.

Win an Xbox 360 console and SF4 games

One Xbox 360 and five SF4 games will be given away to lucky winners in an SMS contest. Details here.

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Funtown Mahjong

I just downloaded this game from Xbox LIVE Marketplace. It’s so fun! I can’t wait till more people download it too so I can play multiplayer instead of playing with the cheating AI. (Well, they always win just before I’m about to win big!!)

Funtown Mahjong

The game is very Anglicized. When characters throw out cards, they will announce the cards in English names. For example, “Bamboo 4”. That takes a bit of getting used to.

Even the tiles are Anglicized, although you have the option to change them to traditional tiles.

Funtown Mahjong

Funtown Mahjong

The gameplay is a little bit different from the mahjong I’m used to. The rules are roughly the same, but this is 16-tile mahjong (whereas in Singapore, we usually play 13-tile mahjong).

That means your play strategy has to be slightly modified. For instance, there is less time to build very exciting big combinations. The game ends a lot faster since everyone gets three extra tiles in the beginning, meaning there are less facedown tiles to open up.

Funtown Mahjong

The above is a Chinese New Year special background which I downloaded for 200 MS Points. It’s pretty cool. The original background looks like this:

Funtown Mahjong

And you get to choose which cutesy AI opponents you want to play against.

Funtown Mahjong

I really dig this game, although the 16-tile gameplay annoys me because I like building big cards.

Still, it’s a very nice “break time” game to play for when I only have 10 or 20 minutes to spare.

And I think it’s a good game for beginner players because there’s a fully guided tutorial on the rules of mahjong, and the game seems to encourage a play strategy of “anyhow build your tiles just to win fast”, which is the strategy that most beginners adopt.

Drop me a note if you download this game. Let’s play together! =)

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Award-winning songs for Lips

Lips launched late last year with quite a sad selection of downloadable songs.

Lips

But over the months, the list has just been exploding, with three to six new releases every single week.

I think now would be a really good time to buy Lips if you haven’t already.

Available from today are three new Grammy Award winning songs:

Fallin’ – Alicia Keys
In My Place – Coldplay
Building a Mystery – Sarah McLachlan

Alicia Keys - Fallin

And coming up next week:

Buttons – Pussycat Dolls
Magic – Olivia Newton-John
My Happy Ending – Avril Lavinge

Yowza!! Siiiiiing! Sing a sooooong! Sing out louuuuuud! Sing out strooooooong!

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Results of last week’s contest

Dominic wants an IAHGames iCash card to buy Expert scrolls and Enchantment boosters and +7 his weapon to make it bling.

VERY WORTHY GOALS, MY FRIEND!

So, Dominic wins a $10 IAHGames iCash card! Congratulations!

Please e-mail me to claim your prize, thanks!

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Win a limited edition UNSC Spartan vest!!

I suddenly have a lot of stuff to give away!! But one at a time, eh?

This week, I’m giving out a very special exclusive item which I have kept since 2007.

It’s a limited edition vest that was given out as part of the Halo 3 launch campaign in Singapore in 2007.

I thought this might be a timely thing to give out, while the search is on for the Biggest Halo Fan in Singapore.

It’s still brand new, never been worn before.

To win this, I need from you:

  1. 3 reasons why you need the vest
  2. 3 reasons why you deserve the vest

Please post your reasons here. I will pick the most convincing, sincere, heartfelt, touching entry. In case there are too many convincing, sincere, heartfelt and touching entries, I will get Mr Randomiser to help me decide.

Closing date is Thursday, Feb 12, 2009, 11:59 pm.

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Phew! Mission accomplished! A winner is you!

[Gamer Girl Friday]

GGF#16: The biggest issue ever

[Gamer Girl Friday]

The Force Unleashed was supposed to be this week’s main story. I was going to do a comparison between the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions. But then, a series of annoying things happened:

  1. The PS3 demo refused to be downloaded. After 72 hours of downloading, it was still at 60%.
  2. My camera broke a few days ago so I couldn’t film the gameplay like I normally do. I had to use my TV capture device, instead, which is very troublesome because I have to tweak my TV to run at a gimpy 480p before the card would acknowledge it).
  3. After spending hours editing the footage and rendering it, the AVI playback was wonky. Then I found out that the raw footage itself was wonky. The audio and video tracks do not sync and each time you play it, it’s different.
  4. I tried rendering the video a few times, but they all end up with parts that skip back to replay a random segment, making the video very schizophrenic.
  5. I spent two more fruitless hours trying to get it right but it refused to cooperate, so I gave up.

I had to give it up or GGF#16 would never see the light of day.

One reason for the faulty video could be that the raw footage is too big (1.2GB for a 28-min video) for my PC to manage, but I think my PC is quite decent with 2GB ram and a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU running SATA Raid HDDs of 320GB each.

But I’m not a video editing professional and I don’t know how to fix the problem, so no TFU videos today!

That’s alright, though. Today’s big bumper issue should be able to sufficiently distract you.

==================================================

Table of Contents

  1. Halo Wars redefines the Halo universe
  2. The Force Unleashed is too awesome
  3. What if you were The Last Guy on earth?
  4. Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise4
  5. Tales of Vesperia almost here
  6. Soul Calibur IV costume contest
  7. Professor Layton and the Curious Village
  8. I’m playing Warhammer Online. Are you?
  9. Results of last week’s contest
  10. Ask the Goonfather
  11. Mystery giveaway coming up soon!

==================================================

Halo Wars redefines the Halo universe

The Halo series, one of the most popular series on the Xbox 360, will come newly-incarnated next year as Halo Wars.

Ensemble Studios, which brought us the well-loved Age of Mythology and Age of Empires series, have spent the last four years developing an RTS game worthy of the Halo universe.

It’s no easy task. No game developer has yet been able to revolutionise the console industry by making the D-pad work on RTS as well as on keyboard and mice. But from what I’ve seen on Halo Wars, it appears that Emsemble Studios is on the right track.

Harter Ryan, the executive producer for Halo Wars, was in Singapore recently to demo the game in an exclusive preview session.

Harter Ryan of Ensemble Studios

Actually, it was just yesterday.

We were shown the game and given a chance to play it.

Halo Wars demo at the Xbox room in Microsoft Singapore

One of the journalists asked why the UNSC seemed overpowered against the Covenant and Harter admitted with a laugh that the preview build was purposely made to give journalists an easy time playing the game, because the main purpose is to show off all the cool features of the game.

He assured us that the final build will be very balanced.

But I like it easy. It’s funny watching the Covenant base blow up into smithereens while its helpless infantry fire at my army with ineffectual artillery.

Here are some screenshots of the game:

Halo Wars screenshot

Halo Wars screenshot

Halo Wars screenshot

Halo Wars screenshot

Halo Wars screenshot

Halo Wars screenshot

Looks pretty cool, huh?

In the final product, you’ll be able to play co-op or versus modes in sessions hosting up to six players.

Although not as handy as playing RTS on the PC, the controls are pretty intuitive and suitably comfortable.

You can make Spartans (up to three) and get your Spartan to hijack an enemy tank. That was pretty cool to watch. After the Spartan hops onto the tank, he will start monkeying about, wrestling the enemy tank commander and then throwing him out of the vehicle. Haha! And then the vehicle will change colour to reflect your army’s colour!

We tried the co-op mode. It was fun! I like having a partner to play with so he can make all the tough decisions. I’m quite peace-loving, you know. I just like to build things and will tend to forget to attack my enemy unless the threat comes to my doorstep.

Sheylara plays Halo Wars

Keep your eyes on my face.

I was wearing shorts okay. They just happened to be very, um, short.

Oh, check out my cap! It’s a Halo Wars UNSC cap.

The Goonfather confiscated it when I brought it back, so I can’t give it away, lol. You can ask him if he wants to give it away. Haha.

Halo Wars will be released for the Xbox 360 in the first half of 2009. For now, here’s a trailer you can dig into:

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Force Unleashed is too awesome

I wanted to show you the video of the gameplay, but I can’t, so I’ll just talk about it.

It’s really awesome. There’s something very satisfying about destroying enemies without having to use a weapon. Without having to even touch them physically, in fact.

That, I think, is the largest appeal of The Force Unleashed. You play Darth Vader’s apprentice, ordered to cause havoc to the universe with your force powers.

How awesome!

The Force Unleashed screenshot

I found it a little hard to hover enemies with precision before smashing them at chosen spots because you have to use both thumbsticks to move your target around. But I guess it’s something that will come naturally after some practice.

There are infinite possibilities for using the force! Pick up a droid and smash it at a stormtrooper. Pick up the stormtrooper and hurl him over the railings to fall to his death. Pick up a stormtrooper and make him airsick by turning him round and round in the air. Pick up a very large random object and smash it into an army of stormtroopers.

It’s like being a kid at a candy store. There’s so much damage you can do and so many ways to do it that you’ll go nuts.

Check out the official website for info and videos, if you haven’t already.

While waiting for TFU to come out on all the major consoles and handhelds in mid September, you can get into the mood first with TFU on your mobile phone.

If you have an N-Gage enabled Nokia phone, you can start playing it next week!

The Force Unleashed on Nokia N-Gage

It’s a very different gameplay from the console versions but it’s the same storyline and music and everything.

Because of the limitations of a mobile phone, the game has been simplified into making patterns with your keypad. So, like, each enemy will have a certain pattern next to him. You’ll have to “draw” the pattern to kill him before he kills you.

There are also patterns you have to memorise to perform ad hoc actions such as healing yourself or force pushing an object out of the way.

The action can get quite frantic, especially when you have a zillion patterns on the screen and you have to decide which enemy to destroy first.

Something to consider if you’re a Star Wars fan.

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

What if you were the last guy on earth?

Okay, you won’t exactly be the last guy, but you’d be the last sane guy on earth. Your mission is to save endless hordes of rabid, screaming people from zombies. If you don’t, they’ll all get eaten by the zombies and then you’d really be the last guy on earth.

The Last Guy is an arcade-style game available for download on the PlayStation 3. It’s a Snake-meets-Pac-Man sort of game.

So, you’re this guy running about in the city. Your job is to collect people. They’ll follow you once you pick them up so you’ve got a line of screaming people running behind you, getting longer and longer.

The Last Guy

You have to avoid zombies. The zombies don’t exactly eat your people when they collide, but they will scatter them up. Your people will shriek their heads off, break the line and run off in a zillion directions so you’ll have to collect them all over again. Annoying!

You have a time limit to collect a minimum number of people and bring them to a safe zone.

This game will make you schizophrenic with the speedy action and the screaming people. The zombies move slower than you do, but they’re everywhere and it’s really hard to avoid them when you’ve got a long train of panicky peeps trailing behind you.

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise

For the record, I haven’t played any of the earlier Viva Piñata games but I was given a copy of Trouble in Paradise yesterday, so I tried it out.

Viva Pinata box

What a cute game! I felt like I was playing SimGarden. The premise is that Piñata Central’s computer records have been wiped by evil ruffians, which threaten the happiness of parties all over the world. So your job is to make a beautiful garden to attract cute piñatas, and then nurture them into full candiosity to send out to parties.

The thing I like most about the game is the cute piñatas. They’re really very cute, whether they’re roaming about your garden, sleeping, or making babies. Yeah! You can manipulate a pair of same-species piñatas into falling in love and making babies. Haha.

Viva Pinata screenshot

This is a photo I took right off my TV using a phone camera. Trying to take a good photo of them is like trying to take a good photo of toddlers. They just refuse to stay still! You spend a lot of time zooming in and out and twirling perspectives to get a nice framing, and then the piñatas either look away or walk away. Damn things!!

But they’re so cute I forgive them.

Viva Pinata screenshot

I don’t have much patience decorating a garden (I’m not really a plants and garden sort of person) so my garden turned out looking really ugly because I was planting stuff all over the place without much thought.

Viva Pinata screenshot

Trouble in Paradise has a multiplayer option but I haven’t had a chance to try it out since the game hasn’t been officially released yet and there’s no one to play with. (It will be out on Sep 2 in Singapore.)

Special piñatas cards will be made available which give you exclusive piñatas when you scan the cards with your Xbox LIVE vision camera.

Each game comes with one card!

Viva Pinata box

I’m looking forward to exploring the multiplayer elements after the game’s release.

Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise is an Xbox 360 exclusive.

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Tales of Vesperia almost here

Besides Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise, I also received Tales of Vesperia yesterday. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to play it.

So, all I can do is show you some photos of the box and the manual, sorry.

Tales of Vesperia box

Tales of Vesperia box

Tales of Vesperia box

Tales of Vesperia manual

Tales of Vesperia manual

Tales of Vesperia manual

Tales of Vesperia includes an offline multiplay feature for battle scenes for up to four players. The game will be officially released in Singapore on Sep 4.

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Soul Calibur IV costume contest

I know you’ve been having a blast making all sorts of outrageous costumes for your Soul Calibur IV characters. Now it’s time to show off your creativity!

Soul Calibur IV poster

I’m running a Soul Calibur IV costume contest over at my Xbox blog, so do check it out!

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Professor Layton and the Curious Village

This is an old game (there’s even a sequel already) for the Nintendo DS but I’m featuring it because I just discovered it.

Professor Layton and the Curious Village

Hot Mama (and evil temptress) Shelly recommended Professor Layton and the Curious Village to me after recommending Weffriddles, which I mentioned last week.

Thanks to her, I lost a few nights of sleep playing this game way beyond socially-accepted waking hours.

I love this game, which is why I need to talk about it despite probably half of you already having played it. The other half haven’t and they need to know about it!

It’s a game of puzzles. In the game, you’re a professor who got invited to a curious village to solve a curious mystery. While you go about looking for clues, more mysteries pop up and you have to solve those, too.

Professor Layton and the Curious Village

While solving those greater mysterious, you’re constantly put to the test with quick puzzles, most of which test your IQ and maths as well as your ability to look at things from different perspectives.

There are 135 puzzles in this first installment, not counting the bonus ones you can download.

Here are some sample puzzles:

#1

Professor Layton and the Curious Village

#2

Professor Layton and the Curious Village

#3

Professor Layton and the Curious Village

And here’s the answer to the puzzle I set out yesterday.

The puzzle:

Puzzle

The answer:

TEXT ME

You can get the answer by looking at your keyboard. The bite marks tell you where to look! So, like, G has a bite mark above it, so look at the key above G… which it T! Get it? :)

Highlight the space above to see the answer.

Hope you like these puzzles as much as I do!

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I’m playing Warhammer Online. Are you?

Just thought I should let you guys know that I’ve bought a Collector’s Edition copy of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. It’s like the biggest MMORPG since WoW, so I bought it even though I knew I wouldn’t have time to play it.

Warhammer Online Collector's Edition

The game launches officially on Sep 17, but CE owners can start playing the Open Beta on Sep 7, and then get a few-day headstart in the live game. Woot!

Then again, even if you give me one year headstart, I’ll still be lousier than you considering the amount of time I have to play MMORPGs, which is none. A case in point is Age of Conan. Three months after activating my AoC account, my character is still at level 10. LOL. (The account is still active as we speak. I’ll have to remember to cancel it soon.)

Anyway, here’s a funny quiz WAR fans can do while waiting for the game to release.

Warhammer Online Quiz

It tells you what realm and race you’re most affiliated with!

I got Empire, which is the human goody-two-shoes type. Haha.

I will be playing in the realm of Destruction (a guild decision) on the server Darklands (tentative).

Are you playing?

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Results of last week’s contest

Last week’s giveaway of the very coveted item of a Microsoft LifeCam VX-7000 attracted many potential happy owners, which significantly reduced everyone’s chances.

Microsoft LifeCam VX-7000

But, well, that’s life. If you don’t win today, you’ll win another day if you keep at it. It took Sylvester Stallone 10 years to sell his first Rocky script and star in it, did you know?

So, anyway, Randomiser picks #15 as the winner today.

I should be evil and make you go check last week’s post to find out who’s #15 yourself. More exciting, no?

But, nah. I shan’t do that because I’m not as evil as temptress Shelly, so I shall name the winner. It’s… Numby!

Ding Gratz! You get the LifeCam! Will contact you via e-mail soon as I get a moment.

(Or you winners can actually contact me, instead, to make life easier for me. If not, I have to go search through my database to find your e-mail address. :P)

Alrighty. Till the next giveaway!

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ask the Goonfather

Sheylara is taking a break from answering questions here because her paying job of answering questions on Xbox LIVE is tiring her out.

So, the Goonfather is taking over the Q&A segment in GGF indefinitely (until I feel ready to take over again).

The Goonfather is Sheylara’s goon partner (not father!) and he’s a huge gaming buff with more knowledge on games than Sheylara, so please throw all your questions at him!

You can also ask him stupid non-gaming related questions because he likes to be amused. Just don’t piss him off or you’ll never live to tell your children about it.

Please e-mail all questions to:

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Mystery giveaway coming up soon!

I will be announcing a contest on Monday which will interest both gamers and non-gamers and involve several winners (not just one). Because of that, the contest will be slightly harder than just posting a comment, but it’ll be worth it.

So, watch out for it!! Akan Datang!! :)

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Woah! What a big issue today! Don’t you hate it when they release stuff all at once? Well, no rest for gamers all over the world. Keep gaming, and don’t lose the passion!

Gamer Girl Friday signing out.

[Gamer Girl Friday]