Archive for August 2014

inFAMOUS 2 – Video Review   Leave a comment

I gave up on completing this game more than a year ago, but I’ve finally beaten it. Here’s a video review from IGN.

Posted August 29, 2014 by StupidSystemus in Games, Reviews, Video

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Fez Review   Leave a comment

Fez is a 2D puzzle game with a 3D perspective. You start out as a character named Gomez. He wakes up in his bedroom and explores the outside platformer world, talking to denizens about how everything is flat and two dimensional. Reaching the top triggers an event: a cube descends from the sky and introduces another dimension. As it turns out, this two-dimensional world is actually in the 3D realm. A few moments after that, the cube explodes into smaller cubes. It is your job to collect as much of the cube as possible to restore the balance of the world.

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A screenshot midturn – You have to see the video to see what I’m talking about

Fez plays like a 2D platformer. Navigating your way around the world requires turning the entire screen 90 degrees (top down). It’s all about perspective. What appears to be an unreachable platform turns out to be inches closer when turning dimensions. Separate ladders on different platforms turns to a complete ladder in a different angle. The illusion of a complete ladder is completed in 2D.

Other than these puzzle-turning events, there are codes and drawings imprinted on stones and walls. If it weren’t for the huge online community following Fez, you would easily dismiss these puzzles. Ciphers, counting, etc. You need a paper and pen to solve these riddles. One particular puzzle is an obvious QR code. With your smartphone, you can scan the QR code to get the code for obtaining a cube or anti-cube piece.

The core game takes a few hours to complete. Finding all collectibles and cube pieces will take more.

I’m done.

Posted August 29, 2014 by StupidSystemus in Games, Reviews

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Proteus PSN Review – A New Journey   Leave a comment

I recently played Proteus for PS3. I didn’t think I’d like it because of the graphics. I was wrong.


Originally posted on Metro:

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Proteus (PS3) – Mystery Island

Another indie classic makes the move from PC to console but is Proteus an interactive experience on the scale of Journey or just a pretentious non-game?

The term ‘non-game’ is not one you hear much nowadays. Very popular a few years ago, especially as a term of abuse, it was applied to everything from Brain Training to Wii Fit, as well as many an indie download. Perhaps some gamers meant for it to imply a general state of worthlessness but it always seemed a perfectly reasonable and non-derogatory description to us. Whatever way you look at it Proteus is not a traditional video game, but it is a fascinating interactive experience nonetheless.

Perhaps the best way to describe Proteus is as Oblivion without the gameplay. And without the attempt at photorealistic graphics. Or indeed the mammoth play length. Proteus uses a much simpler form of procedurally generated visuals, but despite their abstract nature there’s an undeniable beauty to the island world in which you find yourself. A huge sun looms over you like a protective sunflower, bathing light on the fractal geometry that recalls the magic of 8-bit graphics – and yet still allows for a fully explore-able 3D world.

And if there is any goal to Proteus it is exploration. As you emerge from the ocean and into the game world you’re given no backstory or princess to save, and it’s entirely up to you where you go and what significance you choose to apply to the strangely empty buildings and quasi-alien fauna and flora. Do the animals look odd just because of the graphics or are they a hint that Proteus is meant to take place somewhere specifically not of this Earth? Is the nonsense sense of scale, where trees are gigantic but mountains can be climbed in moments, an accident or intentional?

The visuals have a haunting beauty of their own but it’s the music which is the key to the game’s secrets, and the majority of its interactivity. Simply by moving you add to the strange, otherworldy soundtrack but it also changes on its own depending on the time of day, the weather, and the season. Animals and plants make their own sounds – sometimes pleasant, sometimes not – and they in turn react to your presence.

Chasing strange 8-bit butterflies and watching pastel-coloured flowers bloom into life is as action-packed as Proteus gets but, much like Flower and Journey, it’s hugely compelling nevertheless. Soon or later you work out how to advance the seasons, and continuing to do so will bring an end to the game within about an hour.

Proteus (PS3) - the changing of the seasons

Proteus (PS3) – the changing of the seasons

There’s still no way to win (or lose) but the short playing time ensures the experience can never outstay its welcome, and when you do play again the randomly-generated landscape will be completely different (almost – the PlayStation 3 version use the time and location to generate its worlds so it is technically possible to see the same place twice).

This seems an odd new feature though as it appears to contradict the game’s deeper themes about the impact of man on the environment and the unavoidable progress of time. And if you resent applying those themes to the real world they seem all the more relevant when you consider how you usually interact with video game worlds.

Proteus’ island may be small and roughly formed compared to other games but because you’re unable to shoot or race anyone you’re given the excuse to simply enjoy the virtual landscape for what it is, and wonder at how it came to be and what it really represents. There are gameplay mechanics in Proteus but its main form of interaction is between its audio and visuals and your imagination.

With Grand Theft Auto V still fresh in everyone’s minds, and the Christmas games rush in full flow, Proteus seems much more relevant now than when originally released on PC earlier this year. But even if you enjoy its enigmatic charms the obvious complaint is that it’s too expensive for such a short experience. You can keep replying on different islands but it has to be admitted that your first time is always the best.

But Journey was short too, and although Proteus doesn’t have quite the accessibility and structure of that game (and Journey definitely was a game) it’s an experience that will stay with you just as long.

In Short: Many will argue as to whether it’s a ‘real’ game or not, but Proteus’ ability to stimulate your imagination and your senses makes it a more satisfyingly interactive experience than many.

Pros: Mesmerising visuals and cleverly interactive soundtrack create a game world unlike any other, hinting at deep secrets – both physical and metaphorical.

Cons: It has very few of the elements that make a traditional video game and a single walkthrough lasts no more than an hour – which makes the high price harder to justify.


I’m done.

Posted August 25, 2014 by StupidSystemus in Games, Reviews

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Relationships   2 comments

Numerous casual flings, one-time and/or several hook-ups aside, I’m currently not in one. I’ve only ever experienced mutual admiration once and it was towards the middle of my longest relationship after a rocky start.

People change. What you were before is not who you are now or tomorrow. Multiple times I’ve surrendered myself for who they were. Though it seem honorable and quite noble, it wasn’t the real me.

Love shouldn’t be stressful. If it’s always like that, it’s not love.

Or maybe I’m just not built for that. I quite like my independence now.

… maybe I haven’t found that kind of love.

I’m done.

Posted August 23, 2014 by StupidSystemus in Musings

Otakon 2014   3 comments

Otakon 2014 was different from the previous years I’ve attended. I booked the hotel in advance back in 4th quarter 2013. I was still undecided on whether I wanted to go. I registered for it in March 2014. They announced the guests and events. I still wasn’t feeling it. I was pretty sure this would be my last Otakon. I went into the convention having no expectations. This made it much better than I thought.

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Nurse, Pyramid Head and Armless Man, aka Lying Figure (Silent Hill).

I’ve been attending since 2004. My 2nd cousins asked me during the summer in my first year of college if I wanted to go. They picked me up and we lined up for our tickets. That was the longest I’ve ever stood in line for Otakon (from 9:40AM to 1:30PM). They used to have 3, 2 and 1-day badges. We only went on that Saturday. It was a surreal experience, for me. Seeing all these fans dressing up and all. It was my introduction into Otaku culture. I’ve been watching anime since a kid, but this a whole new level of awesome. After a long line, we went to a video room showing Kiddy Grade. Went around the dealers room for a bit before going to my first AMV Contest. A few of the videos I picked actually won (http://www.otakon.com/awards_2004.asp). Also went to my first Otakon Masquerade Contest. They didn’t use the First Mariner Arena (now called The Baltimore Arena). Ballroom III-IV was used (4th floor in Baltimore Convention Center). We didn’t stay too long and left around 9:30PM. It was fun.

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A Minion (Despicable Me) in Captain America (Minion?) Costume

In 2005, I went with friends from college. They used to have group discounts, so that was a plus. My ex helped me with my cosplay attempt as college Gohan (Buu Saga). Not that many people recognized me. Only 2-3 people asked for my picture. I had the right red pants, white sleeve shirt, black vest, spiked hair and the tag in my vest that my ex made for me. It was a tough time for me. Rocky relationship and all. Again, we didn’t get to stay too late at night. We picked up our badges on Thursday and attended Friday and Saturday. This was my last Otakon until the next one.

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Elsa and Anna (Frozen)

I went to Otakon in 2009 to get my mind off of things. It was my first time doing a serious cosplay as Roy Mustang from Fullmetal Alchemist. I was able to join the Fullmetal Alchemist photoshoots. Sometimes, we get stopped in the hallway to get our photos taken. My co-worker also attended and decided to cosplay Soi-Fong from Bleach. For the heck of it, I made a skit and participated in the Masquerade. Just being able to perform in front of a lot of people was an obstacle I overcame. I probably made a full of myself on stage. I wasn’t really that good at dancing, but I made my mark that night. I was congratulated with applause backstage with all the other contestants. I did all this while still having to drive back home at night. I went early on Sunday and sang at Otacafe. It was all worth. It was also my first time experiencing con depression.

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The playable character from the game Journey

Otakon 2009 Pictures

I came prepared in 2010. I invited my youngest sister to attend. Got her a Kairi cosplay from Kingdom Hearts. I had two cosplays. Teito Klein from 07-Ghosts and Roy Mustang from the previous year. Everything was all good, but my sister also planned to attend a concert on Saturday. We also had a fire alarm incident at the convention. Everyone was evacuated out of the building. That caused some traffic in the street. My sister, co-worker and I got our pictures taken at the photobooth. My co-worker was gofering that year and the years to come. With the heat and everything, I took my sister home earlier in the afternoon. I decided to head back to the convention to attend my final cosplay photoshoot at the outdoor fountain. At night, I decided to attend the Otakurave, I changed into my extra clothes at my car. I met my former co-worker from Muvico (now Cinemark) inside the dance along with a bunch of other people from college and Pump It Up crew from the mall. They had an after party after the convention so I went to their hotel room. It was a packed room. 20-30 people came in to just hang out, drink and play games. A few people had to watch the hallway and kept shushing everyone so we don’t get thrown out of the room. I ended up sleeping in the room for the night. I probably only slept for 2-3 hours tops. I took a shower and went to the convention afterwards. I just went to the dealers room and then went home.

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Fionna the Human (Adventure Time)

Otakon 2010 Pictures (Day 1, Day 2)

I booked a hotel room for 2011 and went all out with 3 cosplays (Nyan Cat, Eddie Riggs from Brütal Legend, and Roy Mustang). It was probably the hottest of all the Otakons I’ve attended. I was also surprised to find my photoshoot picture make it to the Otakon 2011 Handbook. Definitely a highlight for me that year. My hotel is at least 0.7-0.9 miles away from the convention, so the long walk did not help at all. I was drenched in sweat wearing Nyan Cat. After 2-3 hours walking around, I went back to the hotel, took a shower and changed into Eddie Rigg. I was stopped a lot more as Nyan can than Eddie Riggs. Having a hotel to return to after a long con day is much better. I could have worn comfortable shoes, but no because cosplay. I wore Roy Mustang on Saturday. Attended the Q&A panel with Nobuo Uematsu. I’m not sure if this was his first time visiting Otakon, but he had a concert that same day. I didn’t have a ticket for the concert, but it would have been nice to hear all the classic songs he created for the games he’s involved in (mainly Final Fantasy). I didn’t do much during the day on Saturday. I went back to my hotel and took 2-3 hour nap. I also attended the Otakurave on both days. I also found out that a friend online (Emily) was here. I didn’t see her, but it was nice knowing she was. Her AMV video won that year. I also played a lot in the game room on Pump It Up.

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General Grievous (Star Wars)

Otakon 2011 Pictures, (07-Ghosts Photoshoots)

In Otakon 2012, I originally planned to room with a bunch of people that my friends knew, but they couldn’t hold their room. So I was left with finding a group that still needed people to room with. Good thing I found someone in the Otakon boards. That actually saved me money. The hotel is also just across the hotel is also less than a block from the convention, so not too bad. Still, sleeping with 7 other people in one room is not that comfortable. I planned on having two cosplays, but decided to skip one. I think my co-worker finally became Otakon Staff this year. I cosplayed as Ryan Gosling’s character from the movie Drive. I finally saw Emily there on Saturday, dressed up as Mokuba. It was nice meeting a Xangan at Otakon. Also played a lot in the game room. They also had a Hunger Games Photoshoot.

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Titan Erin, Reiner and Annie (Attack on Titans)

Otakon 2012 Pictures

I tried to check out the Matsuri event on Thursday afternoon. Unfortunately, they had to cancel it due to inclement weather. I cosplayed as Desmond from Assassin’s Creed in 2013. It was very last minute, to be honest. I also booked the hotel next to the one I booked in 2011. I actually prefer the nice and quiet. I got the hook up with VIP seating from Emily. Since she submitted a video, she could give a VIP badge to two friends who want to watch the AMVs at the VIP seating. Jason David Frank (The Green Ranger) was one of their guest for this year. This was also Otakon’s 20th anniversary as a convention. The game room is continuing it’s state in decline, but I still went there to play Pump It Up. Not much I remember from this year. I did take a lot of non-anime photoshoots, though (The Walking Dead, Silent Hill, Assassin’s Creed, etc).

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Raiden, Gecko Metal Gear, and a member from the Beauty and the Beast Unit (Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriot)

Otakon 2013 Pictures

Then we have this year’s Otakon. I went expecting nothing and ended up with one of the better Otakon experiences since the first time I went in 2004. I booked the same hotel from 2011 much earlier than usual. This time, I know where to make the turn and park in the City Center underground parking lot. Their prices were  a lot cheaper this year. Besides the almost 2 hour wait to pick up our registration badge, everything was good. There was no choice for the badge art this year, but they made up for it in ID-grade badges. This was a lot harder to imitate from the badges in previous years. I think they’ve finally caught on that some people sneak in without paying. It’s still a mess, to be honest. I’d rather they mail the badges to all those people who pre-registered. Some people are from out of state and used the extra day on Thursday for badge pick-up. Many people were stuck in line for hours and still didn’t get to pick up their badge on Thursday. I’m glad I went there early.

I checked out the Matsuri event near the Science Center. I just missed the Sumo wrestling demonstration, but I saw the band RiCECOOKERS perform. There were also a few food trucks in the area. I didn’t stay long and went around Inner Harbor taking pictures. I got a text from Emily, saying she was at an Editor’s dinner and didn’t know anybody. I decided to check it out. Did not expect a world-class glomping from her. No injuries (almost lol). This the 2nd time since 2004 that I didn’t have a cosplay. I didn’t get stopped for pictures, so that was a plus. I wore comfortable shoes. I’m used to long distance walks. It wasn’t as hot as previous years. All of that made for a nice convention weekend. The game room opened later than last year. When I walked in, they didn’t have DDR or Pump It Up. Many people, including me, were expecting those arcade machines. It wasn’t a bad thing for me. I got to explore more of the video rooms, photoshoots and movie screenings.

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Zombies and characters from Resident Evil Series

I got that VIP treatment again from Emily. The AMV Contest was pretty good this year. I went to the OCRemix panel and the Sailor Moon voice actresses Q&A. My love for everything anime and East Asian culture was slowly returning to me. After a 4-year hiatus, I went to see the Masquerade contest. It was worth it. Afterwards, I went back to my hotel room, freshened up, and went to Otakurave. I was only there for less than an hour. I didn’t have to right shoes to shuffle and my finger dancing needed work. On Sunday, I saw the screening for Mai Mai Miracle. I cried a little watching that anime. I also went to the Closing Ceremonies, where they announced the various winners from their events. This was the first time I attended closing ceremonies. Not much going on after that point. People were in the dealers’ room and artist alley for last minute purchases. I decided to call it a day. But before that, I stopped by the hotel across from the convention to say goodbye to Emily. It was nice seeing you again.

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Bane breaking the Batman

Otakon 2014 Pictures

Otakon brings in lots of people from various walks of life. Some of them like anime. Some of them to dress up in conventions. Some of them only stay in the game room. Some are into the panels and workshops. Others like LARPing. Others only care about the Otakurave. Others enjoy AMVs with a passion. Others take their high-end camera equipment and shoot professional-grade videos and photos. Others are just curious and wanted to see what’s the deal with Otakon. There are just too many things to do in Otakon that it’s impossible to do them all. The best thing to do is stick with what you enjoy and have a great time. If you like them all just as much, make the most out of it and enjoy. Experience Otakon (or any convention) like this is your first year in attendance. There’s always something new. That’s probably why I’m still going next year.

I’m done.

Posted August 16, 2014 by StupidSystemus in Out and About, Personal

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