Monday, 22 July 2013

“I am participating in the ‘Writing Contest: You Are A Writer’ held by Positive Writer.” - See more at:

I think Neopets played quite the pivotal role in my own love for writing. It was there I first encountered the art of role playing - for those that don't know, essentially two or more people writing together for leisure with whatever topic is at hand. I spent a lot of time on that forum and Instant Messaging beyond, enjoying writing on the fly and having people to share it with. For many years beyond that I dipped into role play every now and then, had some fun. It made me enjoy writing from a young age, quite the contrast to some incredible dull writing at primary school. I scored top of the class at an essay in my first year of secondary school, achieving ahead of what was expected for one in my year. I seemed to have a knack for essay writing in school after this. But fiction was where my heart lies. Every now and then, I would have an idea, come up with an interesting tale, and be left without the tools to tell it. I was and still am an avid gamer and imagined how these mediums can be used for storytelling, but alas that was not going to help me at the time so I took to Microsoft word and keyboard. My handwriting is APPALLING, even now, so pen and paper would see no one else able to read anything... It's a good thing I was born in the 21st century or writing would have been impossible. I remember in my 2nd year of primary school they taught us joined up writing and mine was a mess. "It'll get better." It never did. Anyway I digress. I wrote a variety of stories... well started, Once I had a few chapters down I always seemed to forget. I was never good at sticking to things. Writing short page long encounters seemed to suit me better, not having to plan for the long term. I remember we had a school project to write a 1000 word short story, I had already written something in the genre so just handed that in, and it was well received. I never was fond of poetry, and again the same teacher made us enter a poetry competition. I did, and I believe every entry got published, regardless of content, so it was nice to have that. A fair while later I was told I was awarded best in the south and received a cash prize, which made me happy. Beyond that my writing is a bit of a blur for several years - I wrote several game reviews for fun and uploaded them to my own websites or blogs, which had no viewers but I enjoyed the practice. But this is all just a prelude. Times that stuck in my mind. The question lies in - when did I know? Well I finished sixth form and had (indeed, currently have, it is where I am now) time to think. it was time to decide what I wanted in my future. I had always had an interest in writing, so it was an idea. I decided a vague aim - I wanted to use my writing to contribute to the world. Very vague, but more of a goal then I have ever had. I still stand by a similar motto, I hope to get there one day. But the very moment? I only read the odd book series every year or so, but once I found one I quickly eat it all up. A Song of Ice and Fire was my latest craving thanks to the TV show. I loved it, read the books very fast, and decided I like the style and setting. And was inspirited to start writing something similar myself. After a few nights of thinking on a plot and whatnot, I sat down and started to write. 5000 words later, all in one sitting, I had my first chapter. I had never wrote so much at once, so I was impressed. But I loved doing it. Finding the ways to best get across my meaning, creating characters, all the like - but I loved writing. I knew at least to some extent I want to do this. I have thought more on this book and thought of where I want to go. Who knows if it will ever amount to anything - I am quick to forget - but it leaves me at least knowing this - I am a writer.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Stand Up! Vanguard!

Both magic and yugioh have seen features on this blick so it's only fair I feature vanguard as well, right? It's pretty new, I've only been playing a month or two but it's really, really fun. It is somewhat familiar but has lots of completely different elements that make it all the more unique. When I think of something to write about, I will :)

Friday, 24 February 2012

My problems with this ban list.

Hey, it's been a while. Consistency in writing is not quite my forte. But I felt the need to do one bit in particular - comment on this disgrace Konami is calling a ban list.
I read a really good joke the other day. Want to read it? -

"In order to keep gameplay at Yu-Gi-Oh! TRADING CARD GAME events fair and balanced, we are updating the Limited and Forbidden Cards List"

On Konami's site accompanying the ban list announcement. What a load of rubbish. Why do I hate it so much? Is it because the wind up loop is still spinning, Inzektors are still killing and rabbit are still negating with no problems whatsoever? No. While it ain't an ideal situation, I don't mind it. I've been playing this game since before its British release, and I know there's always some awesome deck at the top that does awesome stuff like this. Perhaps it is too far this time around, so yes, it is annoying. But not nearly as annoying as the ban list.
Trap Dustshoot, yeah, okay. Nobody particularly likes to see it and it's a pretty damn good effect. They at least had the sense to ban this, that's okay. But the other three? Glow Up Bulb, Spore and Trishula all recieved the hammer. How stupid. Yes, plant synchro is good. It's also quite original considering 2/3 of the Triforce now are blatant themes made by konami - I much rather this type of deck. But regardless, I have said it already - this deck is good. In fact, to be honest my encounters with it have been harder than the Triforce. but it plays fair. Sure, it can do some awesome stuff, but none quite of levels elsewhere, simply put, it was a good deck but not broken like the current monstrosities. There was no reason anything should have got hit. Perhaps Trishula was a tad too powerful if you get the materials for free, but it seems pretty fine if you do it normally, so that problem lies elsewhere. Again, the other two are good. I'm not saying these aint great cards, but the deck simply aint what it used to be compared and to be banned now is a disgrace. I feel as if I've just ranted here to I'll sum it up - Plants were great, now just good, and good aint crippling ban worthy.
Exactly.The Same.Problem. Good decks but not broken, and these cards are key parts of them. These do not deserve a limit. There are much bigger threats to the stability of the game. It goes against what Konami said at the top of the page. Perhaps these decks should be limited in some way, but not in isolation and certainly not like this.
Now, this section of the list is alright. It gives a lot of tier 2 decks a little tool to help them along the way. Lumina. Smoke Signal. Even Level Limit Area B for stall choices, especially considering xyz can often make this card redundant. so for the most part, they did well here. Torrential tribute at two is very interesting and I really can't say until I see it in action. The same stands for call of the haunted. But to be honest, Tengu didn't really need to go down. It's only really a problem with avarice up. Its the issue of a good card yes, but there are worse. It still has use at a semi, especially with horn of the phantom beast out. Perhaps this was the right choice, but right now, I don't think so.

And thats what we cna see. What blatantly obvious stuff could have been done to make this list so much better? I don't really care much for debating over this, but I'll add a quick bit. If they put Tengu to two, theres no excuse why tgu could not meet the same fate. If anything it'd encourage use of the bus more. I think Hyperion would have been more suitable to hit than the Agent of Mystery, if the deck even needed it at all. Should the Triforce have been hit? A little bit, but I certainly understand them not wishing to immediately cripple the deck. Hunter to one would have little effect but certainly do something so would have been a safe play. They won't ban the most recent stuff so there aint much you can do to Inzektors, and rabbit at 2 for now would be fine. At 1 its actually a nice card I think, it allows normal decks to get an extra benefit from doing so without being so easy to make a deck like this.
My two cents. (From a tcg point of view)

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Uncharted 3 Review

Drake's back, this time in search of the Lost city of Brass. If you've played any of his other adventures you'll know all too well what it's all about. If not I encourage you to read my previous Uncharted series review, as I won't be going over it again.
However, I can say we are back to an action packed adventure, which while short in length more than makes up for it in impact. We start in the streets of London, but it is not long until we are treated to a flashback showing some of Nathan's earliest adventures and how he met Sully. I must be honest in saying out of the three Uncharted games so far, this was my favourite way to lead the game. The end result is us going on a search once again.
The basic combat and navigation has not changed. What has though, is important. In previous iterations of the series I shied away from the AK47 and weapons in that tree - they were simply too unwieldy for too little gain. This has been solved here, so I don't complain to pick one up, Its actually rather nice. We also see improvements to close combat. Grabbing now takes place fairly frequently, so an extra layer is welcomed. I would say that it has pretty much integrated combat into gunplay perfectly. But that would be lying. Its close, but if you want to roll away from an enemy to avoid sniper fire, you may find yourself instead grabbing them. In the heat of battle such an important control issue can be important, as while sometimes you can roll fine other times your stood there waiting to be sniped. With the ability to throw back grenades, while useful, sometimes conflicts if there's a weapon nearby, prompting you to instead change weapon, leading to an untimely death. Other than these (which both turned up at multiple points) the game play is perfect. Fix these and it's golden.
We also see graphical enchantments. Some areas look amazing first time round, and it is not hard to see the detail on each character has again been improved upon. It's a wonder to see. The UI is as clean as ever, with only ammo being shown, and you don't need anything else. You are pretty much guided where to go, so it's still a linear beast, but during the action scenes it seems this is not so as your naturally guided to make the right choices. It works for the kind of game. I would say I was longing for more, but I didn't feel a need - I was just left with nothing.
Now this may be personal, or perhaps because I saw a fair bit of footage for this game before its released compared to the first two games. But it felt rather short. It seemed as if not as much happened, and while I know the series is not quite known for it's length it felt just a bit TOO short. Again, perhaps this is because of my recently completing a 50 hour epic. But regardless, I'll comment on it. And finally, a crushing blow... repetition is starting to set in. It still feels awesome the majority of the time, but in the "epic" finale felt against it's aims. We have seem the massive civilisation being destroyed and falling apart at your hands. Seeing it for the third time felt like just an expectation rather than an epic finish. other than this though it all plays fresh and fine.
And finally, I finally felt a disconnect with Drake. I know that we are meant to use a bit of imagination - Drake will have killed thousands of men by now, more it seems than the villains themselves. But they are evil minions, so it's fine. Indeed, when infiltrating a museum in Uncharted 2 they used stun guns instead, so I felt at least he was unwilling to hurt innocents... But unless I missed a plot device, it seemed to me that Drake killed many airport security guards. Sure, they were trying to kill him, but seeing as he is trying to board a plane with weapons illegally, can you blame them? Ever since this point, regardless of the airport staff intentions - I felt it was just too much. A man who kills good people to save his friend... seems a bit like a villain.
I may seem fairly negative in this review. As indeed, this is how I came out of the game. But perhaps that lies in how I have already said all the good points previously. They carry over. As a standalone game this is fantastic. Must have. But as a third in the series... it's still epic. Yet I did feel elements of dissapointment. I would be lying to say I did not enjoy the game all the way through. Perhaps I have been too negative. This is an A* game for the PS3. Certainly a definite purchase.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Yugioh VS Magic Round 3

Finally, we finnish!

Difference in playing:
I can’t say much for this, but I wanted to touch on it – for my experience of magic at least, it seems a lot more…planned. You can have a game plan of turn 1 preordain, turn 2 squadron hawk, turn 3 sword, turn 4 equip, attack, mana open to leak, etc etc, and have it work out half the time. It can make for similar games. Yu-Gi-Oh has this to some extent, but I find most of the time you take your cards as you get them, with more of an overall plan than turn by turn basis. However, this is countered in commander, where generally the only play you have is when to play your commander and everything else is up for grabs. But it seems to happen in standard – minimum deck size games. It may not always, but it seems to often enough that I should comment on it. For example, my flyers plan is T1 vault skirge, T2 Squadron Hawk, T3 Aven Mimomancer, T4 2 Hawks, T5 Grav shift for game. And while it can alter slightly or slow down a turn, it rarely makes a massive change in game plan.

Now this is pretty much completely opinion reliant. Yu-Gi-Oh opts to adopt the manga style of Japan. Magic takes the western fantasy style. Both work very well in the respective settings and I like them both, where which I prefer depends on the independent card. Both good styles, for different reasons, and since its so depending on context I can’t say much more than this.

Finally, I come to this. Both have elements. In Yu-Gi-Oh, there is no overall set theme, instead many mini themes. Each monster type typically has a or multiple themes within it. The advantage of this system is that you start off with a decent ground, and can add an odd card here and there as sets go on. If you make a theme about say, Vampires in Magic, and they didn’t work quite as well as planned, for the standard game at least you just have to deal with it. Since Yu-Gi-Oh has no ban list, you can just add it in later and help out. Which is nice. But I digress.
The mini themes are nice. Gladiator Beasts to Six Samurai to Frogs. You can make a theme deck if you want, or you can go on random cards, or a more subtle theme such as Chaos. It’s nice to see these mini themes over all the sets. But magic takes a different approach. Each set of non-core set sets is creating a new world or revisiting another, creating an overall feel rather than odd pieces. You could argue here that this makes Magic have improved flavour. And I’ll agree. The effort it puts in is awesome and can really create a different feel – and that’s all good. But it can be limiting. A designer has a really good card idea but it does not quite fit, so they may wait several years to see it. Yu-Gi-Oh can always find space, and this can be really helpful for subtly helping an old theme become apparent again. And each mini theme still has a distinctive, fun playstyle. Both have merits, but for outright flavour Magic comes out top, but the likes of Gladiator Beasts should not be discarded(geddit).

I actually almost forgot. An essential part of magic. It has a similar representative in Yu-Gi-Oh, but not one that matters nearly as much. The colours. Magic is splint into five colours that really each do their own thing. This is one advantage of the mana system I forgot to cover. It allows you to limit what decks can do what – If you want to draw cards with blue and destroy creatures with black you might have to miss out on Red’s direct damage. This is something I can only really see as good. It does leave certain colours out of the game a bit – White has little way to gain actual card advantage alone with very few draws, but it has board wipe to cover that, which means before deck building even begins choosing colours is a deciding factor. Sure, Yu-Gi-Oh has attributes, but these do not affect what does what but rather what the category the card fits under. They have some flavourful execution in certain requirements for cards like Chaos Sorcerer or Frozen Fitzgerald, but have a pretty passive role overall. It’s a defining feature of magic and gives restrictions otherwise impossible. A decision must be made when making card choices, to ensure more than just interacting with each other to being able to have the right colour mana to cast consistently. A card might be a perfect fit, but if you have to dedicate another colour it might be worth a pass. Sure, Yu-Gi-Oh has similarity. In Chaos, every non-light/dark creature you take is an opportunity for frustration. And you must consider the balance. But it feels much less influential – you could still get use out of an off-attribute card, but in magic it’ll probably be useless. And many decks don’t even consider attribute or monster type at all, yet still work fine. The colour system has disadvantages, but overall is pretty fun that separates it.

So what’s better? Neither and both. Both are great games that are very fun with lots of advantages and disadvantages to both. Indeed, I’m at over 3700 words and I believe I could still cover much more. But I’ll end with this. In my opinion, Yu-Gi-Oh is better for both single player and competitive games, but this may just be from experience, and Magic is better for Sealed, Casual and Multiplayer. I really love both games and I doubt that will change, so if you are currently only playing one I would really recommend giving the other a go(Especially if your names Ollie) – there are ways to get a decent deck for both with a relatively low price tag. I hope you enjoyed my first three part article, and feel free to let me know if I’m wrong.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Xenoblade Chronicles Review

2011 has been dark times for Nintendo's Wii. Personally I can't recall a single game worth buying on British shores. I could say it's to be expected towards the end of a consoles life, but then I see Portal 2, L.A. Noire, and countless other games on other consoles, so this can't be the case. Luckily enough, the Wii has this. While Wii owners may have spent the better part of a year finding their consoles simply collect dust, once again we have a gem to play.
The premise is quite unlike any game that has come before. The star of the show, Shulk, is a homs(this world's humans) who lives atop a giant titan, the Bionis. It once waged war with the Mechonis, another titan but eventually the battle ceased and life prospered on both titans. The inhabitants of Mechonis, the Mechon, launch an assault on the Bionis city of Colony 9, which for reasons I won't explain due to spoilers result in Shulk leaving on a quest to defeat the Mechon. All hope seems lost, but there is a sole hope in the Monado - a powerful blade that has the ability to seamlessly destroy any Mechonis threat where other weaponry would fail. It may seem like a typical JRPG storyline of Boy with powerful sword beats overwhelming odds, but there's so much more. This game's plot took me and didn't let me go until the very end. It's gripping. I won't shy away from admitting I shed a tear multiple times. I won't spoil anything of course, but once you enter you need to find out what happens next. Some of the plot elements are predictable, but many are not and nonetheless it is interesting throughout.
So the story gets 10/10, but gameplay must match it. It was widely believed that combat had stagnated in JRPG's, but Xenoblade Chronicles throws away this idea. You have a series of "arts" that you can execute in battle on various cooldowns to smite your foes. Each character will specialise in something different, and you can choose which arts to take to battle, so while one persons Reyn may be there to absorb damage another could just hit hard. I really can't do it justice through words alone, but it's fun. Really fun. It does not tire as the game goes on thanks to new tactics needed and new skills acquired. I have a criticism that the main character, Shulk, has little customisation as to which skills to use. While you can choose where your specialisations lie, the arts themselves stay the same. You'll probably be playing as Shulk, so it's annoying to have a lack of customization where there are several spare skills on each other character where you may not know which is best. Regardless, this is a small qualm, as I still enjoyed the game with the skills I had, and thanks to the Monado he does have more skills at any one time than each of his comrades.
For a Wii game, it looks good. Perhaps I've been spoilt by seeing how well Final Fantasy XIII can run on the PS3, so I had to adjust to the Wii's level. But this fault is not with the game but the system, so is irrelevant for the review. For its console, it looks good. Even with the restrictions, there are some simply breathtaking views in the game that really do make you question which console you're on. Elsewhere production is a little off, with occasional discrepancies between what characters are saying and what the subtitles read. Sometimes the voice synch is a little off too. But I only noticed because I was looking, it really does not matter. Where the game really excels is in its soundtrack. All the songs fit the mood perfectly, and some are truly awesome. When entering an expansive field not only does the view impress, but the music alongside it really gives that epic feeling.
All in all, this game is brilliant. I have so much I could say, but in doing so would ruin something for you. I'll end with this. Buy it. It's one of the best Wii games out there. I hope America gets it soon.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


Well, Im a bit late in posting (and writing) but ill get onto that.
Early morning rise as is usual for a busy holiday. I did say how ridiculous the train fare was - but there are more changes than that of the UK system than I expected. For one, seats are ordered. Yes, you have a number that you must sit in, much akin to a cinema. This was certainly a change. It is also noticeable how the train was quiet, no one seemed to talk at all. Mysterious. And perhaps the biggest difference is that our train was delayed. Bu quote a margin. If I was in Britain I would find myself lucky to receive a bus ride free as transport home, but the French were kind enough to provide another train at such short notice, seeing as we had a connection. Was a nice surprise to be honest, perhaps heightened by the fact the station seemed in the middle of nowhere and my extent of speaking the language lies in "Je suis Anglais."
Paris itself? Well, as tourists we perhaps took a rather surprising visit to... the Eiffel tower. How surprising. But you would guess as much when your with people who have never been to Paris. However, we took the rather unconventional method of walking the long way the entire way. Obviously hindered by shops along the way it took multiple hours. Now might be the time to point out the station had trading cards which pleased me. Perhaps a bit late, but now seems to work. Anyway. Saw a few sights, took a few wrong turns, crossed chaotic roads(literally) and ate some rather nice ice cream. I'm not usually a fan but it was brilliant, regardless of hot weather.
Speaking of which, the forecast was rain, so twas odd to find sunshine at every corner. But as if by omen, the moment we left the tower bloomin thunder called down. We didn't climb it and damn glad too, couldn't see the top due to mist, wouldn't have liked to be up there. We just went for a look and it's an awesome piece of architecture like much of Paris I had yet to appreciate, where it literally felt like there was a landmark on every street corner and such amazing works that I have new respect for the French. Some of the sights were literally breathtaking, a feeling I have rarely felt while abroad, so to find it so close to home was rather astounding. Speaking of which. I was never really one to for the French language, perhaps with aid of forceful teaching in school, but as soon as I arrived unlike any country I suddenly wanted to learn. I used what I knew where I could. It's not something I'm going to pursue, but I saw it as an interesting observation
Anyway, dat weather. was funny to have a thunderstorm within a minute of sunshine and no less for about half an hour before the sun shone again. Was odd.
Few other things happened. The walk back to the station took half the time it took to get there. We ate food, surprisingly. Nice, but not 18 euro nice. Thanks for reading!
P.S. Pretzels at station ftw, England needs dat.