Delving into a series where everybody knows your name (well, the name of the series), Insanity Prevails has won the thirty-sixth round of Articles of Excellence with his review of Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light. Following some changes to the formula, he describes the title as over-simplified and a cause for some frustrations, seeing it fall in the attempt to bring back some old school ways.

 Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light     Score: 1.9/5
 Genre: Fantasy RPG

 Overall I can't help but feel the game tries to simplify too much and hurts the gameplay as a result. Keeping things streamlined for a handheld game is one thing, but when you start taking out things that seem awfully vital then you're kinda going in the wrong direction.

quote Insanity Prevails
Final Fantasy is one of those names in the gaming industry that people just "know". While the series has had its fair share of fans and detractors, it nevertheless is commonly used as a sort of baseline by which JRPGs in general get measured by. The DS itself has been home to many games of the series, ranging from remakes, side games and those in the Crystal Chronicles subseries. 4 Heroes of Light takes the series in a more traditional direction in the hopes of showing what made JRPGs of yesteryear so great.

The story, while definitely clinging to classic fantasy, isn't particularly forceful about delivery. The four characters are the only survivors of a curse that sweeps through their village and must now seek refuge and find a way to undo the curse. But while there is enough story to justify the actions you're taking I never really felt particularly involved in it. The characters, while having nice personalities, just lack the depth for any real connection to happen and so ultimately it's really hard to care.
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The thirty-third round saw a solid round of voting with several reviewers being recognised. Taking out this round of Articles of Excellence is Dark Arcanine with his review of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. A remake of a classic Zelda title for the 3DS, he describes it as a great polished version of the original, positively noting new additions such as Master Quest and Sheikah Stones.

 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D     Score: 4.9/5
 Genre: Action Adventure

 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is a shining example of why the Zelda series continues to be such a popular franchise and deserves every bit of approbation it receives.

quote Dark Arcanine
A game with a nature reflected in its name, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a game that has stood the test of time. It is an undisputable classic that has remained popular since initial release way back in 1998 on the Nintendo 64, seeing it re-released on both the Gamecube and the Wii. Now thirteen years down the track, it has been remastered for the 3DS, Nintendo’s newest platform. Following a rather poor set of launch titles for the 3DS, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D was the first game for the 3DS to promise any substance. Though with the transition into a new era of gaming and to a handheld console, the question arose of whether it could match the brilliance of the original, and whether it could offer a bit more in the process.

Something that hasn’t changed in the last thirteen years is the plot, and is something both veteran and new gamers alike will enjoy. Awoken by an energetic fairy named Navi, Link finds himself summoned by the Great Deku Tree, following a rather frightening nightmare. Although he manages to break the curse upon the old tree, it finds itself too weak to carry on, using its last breath to ask of Link one more thing. Sensing something special about the child he bequests Link with a task: to meet Princess Zelda of Hyrule Castle, and realise his destiny.

Link comes upon Zelda already awaiting his arrival, and she promptly goes into a lengthy explanation of the history of Hyrule. Outlining her concerns of the Gerudo King known as Ganondorf, she begs Link to believe her and stop Ganondorf from achieving his goals. To this end, she sends Link to find the Spiritual Stones and bring them to the Temple of Time. Yet things go from bad to worse, as Link returns to find Zelda fleeing with Ganondorf in pursuit, who stops for a moment to knock him out (like a good baddie should!). Recovering from the blow, Link recovers the Ocarina of Time tossed to him by the Princess, and makes his way to the Temple of Time. In a very “King Arthur” moment, you pull the mighty Master Sword out of the Pedestal of Time, setting into motion a number of events. Falling into a seven-year slumber (yes, Sleeping Beauty), we awake to find ourselves in a chamber with Rauru, a man calling himself one of the seven Sages of Hyrule, and it is by him Link takes upon himself the biggest task yet: to become the master of time, find the other sages and ultimately defeat Ganondorf to bring peace back to Hyrule.
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With another ten rounds done and dusted, the thirtieth round of Articles of Excellence has seen a two-in-a-row win for Dark Arcanine with his review of Pokémon Black Version. Despite some pre-purchase concerns and niggles he describes it as an overall great game, including a more mature and developed plot and impressive graphics despite original expectations of a 3DS release.

 Pokémon Black Version     Score: 4.5/5
 Genre: RPG

 With a story boasting a new sense of depth and maturity, the gameplay experiencing the usual slight improvements, a bucket load of content round every corner, and gorgeous environments supported by an impressive graphics update providing a whole new perception of what constitutes 3D gaming, Pokemon Black has managed to impress.

quote Dark Arcanine
Pokemon Black, alongside Pokemon White, sees the fifth generation of main titles into fruition and into a new decade. Unlike with the fourth generation, where I scoured the dark recesses of the internet for every scrap of information I could find, I took a comparatively relaxed view on Pokemon Black and purchased it with very little knowledge of what to expect. Despite my original anticipation that it would be released on the 3DS, I eagerly plugged the cartridge in wondering not just how far they’d pushed the Nintendo DS, but also the Pokemon franchise itself.

One thing that will never change is the basic premise of Pokemon. You still get to pick your starter Pokemon, while being asked to complete a Pokedex by filling it with information about all the Pokemon you meet while on your adventure; you still travel around the world, collecting Gym badges and becoming the number one trainer; and you still have an evil organisation, who you have to prevent carrying out acts of evil. What’s different about this generation is the new sense of maturity and the quality of the content which encompass the aforementioned premise.

The plot, for example, is the most detailed and engaging to-date. Following the hard decision of your name and gender (I know, I always forget mine too), you venture out from Nuvema Town into the new region known as Unova, with your two (yes, two) childhood friends Cheren and Bianca at your side. These two, unlike previous friends and rivals, are given the royal treatment; their characters appear much more often and, as a result, are far better developed. While Cheren is the whizz kid with an unhealthy focus on becoming the strongest trainer, Bianca is a laidback and quiet girl who just wants to have fun and make friends, with the two characters seemingly representing two halves of your typically non-speaking neutral character.
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Having retired from the position of running our much cherished Articles of Excellence contest, we've recently seen the return to participation of one of our long-running, high quality reviewers. Insanity Prevails has netted his latest win for his review of Scribblenauts on the Nintendo DS. Describing it as a game that went and did something refreshingly different with some flaws, he concludes it's worth the purchase, if only just.

 Scribblenauts     Score: 3.5/5
 Genre: Puzzle

 In all it somewhat leaves Scribblenauts as an odd title. I can't honestly say it is a great game because it has some glaring flaws that would get any other title lynched, but at the same time I find the sheer experience of creating almost whatever you want to be something all gamers should dabble in.

quote Insanity Prevails
Every so often we get a game idea that manages to break away from the otherwise endless stream of tried and tested formulae. These are the kinds of games that don't just present a unique feature or a fresh approach on an old idea but instead give us an entire experience unlike the rest. Scribblenauts concept is to allow the creative minds of the gamers to flourish by letting them create almost anything they want to complete the levels and it's an idea that excites any gamer. After all, who could resist that?

The overall point of the game is to collect the starites located in every level. While each stage already has a multitude of objects already in place, the real point of it all is to summon new objects to solve the problems and reach the goal. A simple tap of the book opens up the input screen where you can tap in (or literally write if you want, although it's a painfully slower process) words of stuff you want to summon to the level. You can then drag the objects around, attach them to things in some cases and use them. Finding the right combinations is the key.
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With the seventh round in the Articles of Excellence contest we not only have another great winning review, but a change in management too. From now on, I will be running our beloved User Review contest. This round, Vergil Ties was the clear winner with his review for the Nintendo DS game, Infinite Space. Going into his review with expectations for another solid game from developer Platinum Games, Vergil Ties writes up a great review for the space-based RPG that despite generating some mixed feelings, makes for a good addition to the library for anyone looking for a meaty storyline and a decent handheld RPG.

 Infinite Space     Score: 4.0/5
 Genre: Adventure RPG

 Overall, Infinite Space is a reasonably good and unique strategy RPG game.

quote Vergil Ties
Platinum Games are starting to become an instant favorite of mine. Madworld was awesome, and Bayonetta was *bleep*ing mantastic! Here, I’m on my chair, thinking “they’re going for a hat trick, I can tell”. Enter Infinite Space, a game unlike the previously mentioned games. Instead of a beat em up (either with fists or with hair blades... go with it), they opted for an RPG of the more strategic variety. It’s not played out like Disgaea or Fire Emblem; it’s more like your typical RPG game, but with loads of strategy incorporated into the mix. Layers upon layers of gameplay build on to one another, managing for a hell of an experience. Some may not like the unforgiving nature of the game or the steep learning curve, but it’s one that opens itself up to satisfaction upon victory after getting the grasp of how it all works. In essence, this game is great!

Yuri is like many kids his age; he wants to go beyond the confides of his home and explore the galaxy around him. The only problem with this is that the planet's ruler is a petty bastard who forbids space travel. After seeing a ship crash near him and the pilot being a young girl named Nia, he and her build a ship to bypass the guards. Eventually, he's roped into some battles against space pirates alongside his mates (crew members).
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First I'd like to touch upon what has already been stated within the forums, just in case this doesn't reach some contributors due to playing the games or just generally contribute and don't visit the forums. This is on behalf of the CRS team, with Avalith having made the announcement:

quote Avalith
Hello everyone. This message applies to all cheat and code submissions. Due to the recent influx of a few certain types of submissions, the CRS team has decided that we will no longer be accepting cheats for anything that can be generated using a program, such as PokeSav for the Pokemon DS games or Wondermail codes for the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games. One minor change can render a completely new code, and thus a new submission, and it's a very easy way to abuse the system, so we've decided to blacklist these submissions so to speak.

Thanks for your understanding and keep those contributions coming!
Hopefully this make sense to you all and if not, you can feel free to PM me and ask as many questions as you like. Broken down into the simplest forum, the submitting of PokeSav and Wondermail codes can really be seen as "points whoring". NOT to be suggesting that everyone who submits these is looking for an easy way to increase their NeoPoints, as many will just be trying to help out others. Having said this, however, it is because of the millions of possibilities that this just isn't possible. Anyone can access these codes, all the submitter is doing is saving them a small amount of time which when you think about it, is not a sufficient submission. So please anyone who contributes these or plans to, do not do it anymore!

On the topic of Pokemon, there is also currently some contests being held which could use some more publicity. Even if you don't play or like Pokemon, it's a good chance for graphics artists to test out their skills and get their work put up in a forum. You have the Pokemon Soul Silver and General Pokemon Forum contests currently under way. For Pokemon Soul Silver Header/Footer questions feel free to contact me, for the General Pokemon Forum look into the organiser and new moderator Boo.


And then we come to my life, which seems to be the boring part which stops people commenting in my blog but well I'm going to do it anyway. I'm actually sick today, which considering all the rain and changing temperatures lately isn't surprising as it always happens to me. I'm currently working on a project for Extension English 1 which really sucks... it's going to cut into my Friday sleep in and everything.

Exams are next week, oh joy. My timetable must've been designed on purpose to make me want to rip my hair out, giving me no less than three exams on the one day. I've only ever had two before, so I'm not sure how I'll go with that but we'll see. Luckily it's going to be a long weekend, with three days, so I'll be able to dedicate a fair amount of time to my last minute studying.

I'm also in high anticipation of the new Pokemon remakes, Soul Silver and Heart Gold. Since the destruction of my Silver, I really look forward to a new make of it and something to do. It's likely to come out after I graduate during the gap between that and starting University so that'll be handy.

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of the Sky has also been given a date! It seems America is likely to be receiving it this Autumn, so everyone should make sure to save up for that. This game is an interesting development, being the first single release and third to the second generation. The original generation, Blue/Red Rescue Team did not see a third. It's a good signal that the PMD series is likely to become a lot larger and be a close second to the main.

On that note I hope the forum for it will soon pick up, if you have any interesting discussion to add or you haven't realised the forum exists yet please visit the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky Forum. I also hope to hold a Header/Footer Contest there soon to, so please keep watch for that and I'll be sure to blog about it at the time.

I'm so glad the discussion meant for my life has revolved back around to Neoseeker. :(

Anyway feel free to comment, if you have something urgent then turn to PM. Hopefully this blog has been useful for some of the Pokemon fans out there.

Until next time!

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In fact, not a lot of anything for a while now. I'm actually finding it a bit of a bother, as contributing around here is something I take an odd pleasure from.

So what is keeping me you ask? Well my HSC is within half a year from me now with my birthday even closer. I'm going to become a man, and then thrust into the workplace. So now it's finally dawning on me, perhaps it's time I give up that reliance on natural skills, and actually put in some effort.

Now only the Australian members are going to know what the HSC is, but I'm sure all of you can guess. It's the final exams which will determine your life, so call them what you will.

As we speak I'm currently working on a novel... well you could say that, I've been beasting the novel. What I'm currently doing is making up my journal. Yes, yes I know I should do it as I work. What do I say to that? Keeping a diary is a girl's thing, seriously. I'm going to stick by that statement and I feel as a guy I can't keep a diary/journal to save my life. I find it much easier to do my work, then go back and make up entries for each bit. I think it gives a better scope to work with in terms of my reflection on the work and I can get the journal out of the way with pretty fast.

Now this is another thing which isn't going to mean anything unless you're Australian. The work is for a course which is known as Extension English 2. It's a brilliant course, allowing those who really shine in English to show their stuff by designing their own project and spending a year working on it. Not many people take it at all, a lot drop it and you can't even take it without the right qualifications. This basically means you have to have done well with English in the past and need the approval of a couple of teachers... may deviate from school to school, but it's how mine's gone and done it anyway.

Actually, my school alone must make a large percentage of the total participating populace, bit of a joke but there you go. We have enough people doing it to make a class, which is ridiculous.

Anyway enough of my rambles. I've had a big glass of wine and I think it's what gave me the confidence to leave my work for a couple of minutes to get this up.

I'll note a couple of things quickly. I entered for that Demigod games, looking forward to seeing the winners. I'm very excited for Pokemon Soul Silver and have set up a Header/Footer Contest so if you're interested in testing out your graphics skills pop in. And I've been in a really big music download binge lately, which I'll blog about some other time.

So until then, later guys.

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  • Australia AU
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