Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow

Today I bought Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow for my DS. It is way cool.

I've only ever played "Symphony of Night" before so I don't know how Castlevania games are across the board. The graphics on this game are great - detailed, rich, and crisp, even on such small screens. The character movement is just like Alucard in "SoN", or at least very close to it. (Re-reading the above article, this probably due to the fact that they used a lot of sprites from "SoN", which explains a lot.)

Apparently with most Castlevania games you are one of the Belmonts and you only ever have one weapon throughout the entire game for the most part. "SoN" was a bit different because you were a Dracula descendant and you could choose between hundreds of types of weapons you got off dead enemies. You can do that, too, in DoS. Yay! So the equptment works the same.

One thing that is pretty neat is your ability to capture souls. Most, if not all, creatures in the game have souls that they "drop" every once in awhile that you automatically absorb, giving you a new ability. The more of each kind of soul you absorb (say, bat souls) the more powerful that ability becomes. This kind of replaces Alucard's four abilities in "SoN". There are four categories of souls and you can have one of each type of category equipped at a time. Familiars are back, too, but they are a type of soul you can equipt -- same with the various weapons of Castlevania fame (dagger, holy water, cross, axe, diamond...) - those are replaced by soul weapons. I haven't gone very far in the game and already I really like this new soul system - it's highly customizeable for different players. Say, by killing bats you can obtain the bat familiar. By killing Wargs you obtain a kind of warg fang bite thing that does a lot of damage. Using souls uses MP, which is the only thing you ever use MP on - well, that and special weapon attacks. You aren't casting spells like "Soul Steal" all the time like in "SoN".

Another interesting thing is that boss enemies can't just be killed - they have to be sealed. You must take them down to zero HP, which causes a Magic Seal thing to appear on your screen with the pattern of seal you must now 'cast'. You use the stylus on the touch screen to quickly draw the pattern you just saw in order to seal the boss permanently. Failure to draw the symbol correctly means the boss regains some HP and you have to take it back down to zero before you can attempt to seal the enemy again. You learn seals BEFORE hand and have the ability to practice them at any time you like. And they're pretty simple in the beginning so it's not that freaky. In comparison, the non-mandatory spells from "SoN" were WAY more difficult due to the directional pad not always doing what you thought it should of done. ;)

I also really like having the two screens on the DS. While you run about the castle, the map is constantly displayed on the upper screen. VERY handy. And apparently this is the largest castle of any Castlevania game made yet. I am so very excited.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Microsoft Word

Have I ever mentioned this? How much I detest Micro$oft Word? My dislike is not based on who makes the program, either. It's based soley on poor interface and poor document handling, etc. I seriously have no idea how the masses put up with Word — well, no, I take that back. The masses who all blindly suffer daily from using Microsoft software are obviously used to torturing themselves - no, they actually LIKE it.

Word is so cumbersome to navigate and get anything built properly. There was a time when I knew how to use Word but that was several years ago. I do recall knowing how to use it well enough to create fancy little newsletters for a class project in highschool. I can compare what I felt learning Word with what I felt learning, say, QuarkXPress – industry standard software for page layout. XPress (often called "Quark", though that's like calling Photoshop "Adobe") is to Word what graphing calculators are to simple, basic calculators, at least in terms of what the two programs can do and are used for.

But Learning Quark was WAY easier. Hmm. Shouldn't that say something? Shouldn't learning to ride a tricycle be more simple than learning to drive an 18-wheeler? Apparently this isn't how things go in the software world.

Anyway, my gripe with Word is that everyone USES this vile software to transport text around the globe. And it SUCKS. It REFUSES to give up its vile formatting when imported into a more dependable and versatile program. It drives me NUTS when I get text from a client that I have to lay out in Quark and I must first "de-Word" it, much like picking the ticks out of a newly adopted dog from the pound (or one would imagine). I go through the little song and dance of resaving the file as plain text so that when I put the text into Quark, I don't have to go through weeding out the bizarre residual glyphs from Word formatting. GAH! Sure the process takes only a minute to re-save but when working at a fast pace, minutes count. And the longer the document and the heavier the formatting, the longer the weeding.

Every flipping book, magazine, newspaper, and most newsletters you read were designed in something like Quark or InDesign. Not Microsoft fucking WORD. And yet Word refuses to be functionally helpful to those who are *actually* IN the business of dealing with WORDS. Does anyone else see the irony here?

Seriously, if i have to open Word again one more time today I am going to throw something heavy.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora

So, I got as far as 6 episodes into Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora:

The Good
• So far it is easier to follow than Kannazuki no Miko (KnM) was.
• We also got a solid explanation for the existence of the Absolute Angels (this series' Orrochi) which was also nice.
• The mecha are more interesting than KnM's. They look better and fight more interestingly.
• Evil Psycho Lesbian leader of the evil Absolute Angels.
• Kuon (Chikane) is in love with and not abusing Himiko (Himeko). What a first.
• Already some of the Angels have some depth, as of episode 2 (particularly the Chikane/Himeko clones - Kuon/Himiko)

The Bad
• Everyone else has very little depth
• Obnoxious stereo-hetero couple as the central romance.
• SO much fanservice. Nudity abounds with way more bathing and molestation than is neccessary in two episodes than would be tolerable for an entire series. Gawd.
• Music (opening/ending) SUCKS. At least KnM's themes were worth downloading, imho.
• There is mecha, which although has an explanation, the explanation is still a weak reason to have it. The series would work much better if the characters just had swords - same way KnM would of worked better.
• Evil Psycho Lesbian leader of the Absolute Angels. Can we be more stereotypical?

The parts that are ressurected from KnM:
• Chikane and Himeko - as bad guys (Angels)! *gasp*. At least they're in love and kiss.
• Oogami Souma - obnoxious dude is now also a bad guy (Angel).
• Catgirl chick is back though she's blended with some other manga/anime character.
• The scarred up meathead dude is also back. Yay.
• The Evil Psycho Lesbian leader of them all reminds me of the nun chick. Hmm.
• Kuu is a lot like Himeko - totally clueless about her surroundings and has super low self esteem.
• Kuu also has a dykey roomate like Himeko did. Only this one for sure is a dyke.
• Pointless mecha.
• Takes place in a town that symbolizes all the same stuff the town in KnM did.

The story was really horrendous til we got to Kuon/Himiko, then suddenly there was some depth, albeit minor. I think the creators are weighing heavily on KnM for backstory/back-character development for Kuon/Himiko. I was hoping for more continual development there but the segments on those two are so far and few between (and short) that the pain of the rest of the series just wasn't worth it. The main character, Kuu, is WAY more annoying and pathetic than the original Himeko, if you can imagine that. And her obsession with her 'prince' is just sad. Stereotypes abound with gender roles and sexualities. Love between girls is at first something to be disgusted by but upon reflection, something that is beautiful and thus should be exploited (although I must say, the kiss between Kuon and Himiko was very nice: loving, tender, and beautiful). Any hetero couples must be fantastically gorgeous: any long-lasting couple will include a male who is at least two feet taller than his female partner, be a total gentleman, and be tall dark and handsome, and the female should be super girly, blonde, self-concious, shy, and have no self-esteem.

This story was so shallow I couldn't bear to watch another episode. Even for Kuon/Himiko I could not bear to push on. It just wasn't worth it - and I tried HARD (you've SEEN some of the stuff I've made myself watch!) So by far one of the worst anime I have seen. Even Iczer One was better because it was at LEAST so ridiculous as to keep me watching out of sheer shock. And that's saying something.

2 out of 10