Eyes on the Horizon

2011 is rapidly bearing down on us, and looking ahead, it’s shaping up to be a big year in video gaming.  With more highly-anticipated releases than you can shake a stick at, I thought I’d share with you the games that I’m looking forward to in the upcoming twelve months (though my wallet might disagree)!

1. Mass Effect 3

Commander Shepherd returns in Bioware’s third game of the series.  Also confirmed as the final game in the series (let’s hope that more series pop up in the same universe), Mass Effect 3 will pull on over 1,000 variable player choices from the first two games to create the final chapter in your very personal tale.  I’ve loved Mass Effect from the first time I sat down to play, and this title on the horizon has me chomping at the bit.  Due out “Holiday 2011” according to EA, you won’t find this on my Christmas list, as I’ll be running out and nabbing it the moment it’s available to me.  Who could possibly sit there and wait for it while it’s under the tree?!

2. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The next installment in the popular Elder Scrolls series, Skyrim is the first direct sequel to any game in the series.  Directly following the events of the previous besteller from Bethesda, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Skyrim will use a completely new engine, which is a big excitement for Elder Scrolls fans across the country.  Look out for this top-notch title on 11-11-11.

3. Little Big Planet 2

This is the sequel to the hilarious fun title that came out early for the PS3 — Little Big Planet.  With a scheduled release date of January 18th, 2011, Sony’s adorable game promises a continuation of the fun gameplay and mind-challenging puzzles.  The online community will also make a grand reappearance.  I swear I’m going to get a PS3 someday, and with this and others on the way in 2011, I might finally bite that bullet.

4. Dragon Age II


Scheduled for a March 8th release date, Dragon Age II is the next game set in BioWare’s Dragon Age universe.  While the story is not a sequel to Dragon Age Origins, it is set in the same world.  Unlike in Origins, the main character’s race is unchangeable, though players will have options to chance the main characters race and class.  With a more linear storyline, I’m very excited to see where BioWare is going with the Dragon Age games.

5. Deus Ex – Human Revolution

With new developers, no one is really sure if the newest Deus Ex will carry the feel of it’s predecessors, but from the videos out there now, I have to say that the graphics and gameplay look amazing.  Developed by Eidos Montreal and Published by Square Enix, the game is scheduled to hit stores in either March or April of the upcoming year.  With a strong emphasis on letting players focus on Stealth and Social skills if they choose, I’m very excited to see how the game plays out.

6. Patapon 3

The Patapon games are a wonderful little series for the PSP.  A charming rhythm game, the upcoming game follows the overarching story of the intrepid little natives as they work toward goals encouraged by the beating of different drum patterns.  Gameplay is said to be remaining mostly the same, though there will be a stronger emphasis on multiplayer gaming.  Rumored for a March 9th release date, I’d not get your hopes up on that one.  Though I think we can rest assured that we will have a new game of Patapon before the end of 2011.

7. Batman Arkham City

Batman is making a comeback against his enemies after his harrowing adventures in Arkham Asylum.  With a teaser trailer shown at last year’s VGAs, Arkham City is set for a release in the third quarter of 2011.  In addition to the familiar gameplay from the previous title, Rocksteady Studios is adding a multiplayer function — though what characters that will include and whether it will be cooperative or competitive remains to be seen.

 

8. Okami-Den

This title coming for the DS on March 15th is the direct sequel to the PS2 / Wii title “Okami”.  It’s an Action-Adventure game that has already seen it’s release in Japan.  I only had a chance to play a little of the original Okami, but the gameplay was unique and interesting, and the visuals were amazing.  Stylized, but amazing.  I’m really looking forward to a title I can play on the go that *isn’t* Pokemon.  Although speaking of…

 

9. Pokemon Black/White

Initially, I was extremely skeptical about the upcoming Pokemon titles.  More 3D graphics, 150 new Pokemon, a female character who at first glance looked like an overly-sexualized lead for something produced for an audience so young.  But as time has passed and the games have gotten more press, my Poke-fever is at full blast again.  I’m really looking forward to the new games.  People who have played them (as they are already out in Japan) have said that the games offer some unique gameplay aspects in a completely new world that seems to be isolated for the previous four regions.

 

10. Portal 2

The original mind-bending puzzle game Portal was packaged with the Orange Box, and it became an immediate smash hit.  A cult-classic, almost.  In fact, the popularity reached such a fever pitch online that the Portal song “Still Alive” hit the ROCKBAND downloads.  My husband still wants to strangle me every time I start singing “This was a triumph!”  I don’t let it deter me, though.  And with Portal 2 fast approaching, the original game seems to have been expanded, tweaked, and revamped for a new and exciting experience with our Aperture Science portal gun!  Now with Co-Op action!

 

11. L.A. Noire

This game has gained a lot of press attention for it’s high attention to detail and motion-captured acting for characters.  A mystery-sandbox game, the atmosphere is very “film noir” and allows players to work to solve a number of murder mysteries.  Using a state-of-the-art technology, actors were surrounded by 32 cameras to capture facial expressions from every angle.  This immense level of detail makes me super excited to give the game a try!

12. Mortal Kombat

This upcoming Mortal Kombat title is a revamp of the series for the current generation consoles.  My husband has long been a fan of the Mortal Kombat games, and I am really looking forward to having the chance to experience this with him.  I’ve always really liked fighting games, (I’m a pretty good combatant in Soul Calibur), and the hype surrounding this game is so thick you could cut it with a butterknife.  While there isn’t a whole lot of information about the game out, there is a lot of skepticism surrounding the “pre-order exclusives” already.

13. Tomb Raider

With her cover feature in the most recent edition of Game Informer, miss Lara Croft is getting a lot of press.  This reboot is supposed to completely revamp the entire Tomb Raider franchise.  VERY little is known about this game so far, and a 2011 release date isn’t even certain yet.  But my interest has been piqued.  An “M” rating has been heavily alluded to, and with a “younger” Lara, I can only hope that this will be the start of something wonderful that will reinstate Lara as a strong, powerful female figure in the gaming world.

 

What games are YOU looking forward to in the upcoming year?

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A Holiday Shopping Guide Pt 2

We took care of Part One, and now it’s time for Part Two!!  Not much time left to shop for Christmas, and if you’re ordering online, you’d best do it fast or you’re going to end up paying as much for shipping as the gift itself to get it on time!

Here’ a look at a few more things that will make that Geek on your holiday shopping list squee with joy.

Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters is truly a work of mastery. Pulled together by the wonderful fellows over at Gnome Stew, this 310 page book is one amazing book that will serve your tabletop gaming needs for years to come.  Each adventure plot is completely system neutral, meaning you can plug the themes and ideas in to just about anything.  Not only is this a great thing to read cover-to-cover, it’s great to have displayed proudly on the gaming shelf.  Purchase for $25 on Engine Publishing.

This little lovely is a white Xbox 360 Christmas ornament.  With Hallmark making a killing on Christmas ornaments, why not support a smaller seller and get something a little more personal for your resident video gamer.  After all, I know I’d be a proud Gamer to have this adorn my tree. Check out the Etsy Shop here.

“Keep Calm” is probably the classiest internet meme I’ve ever seen, and this little lovely will set you back between $11 and $17 (minus the frame) on Queen Spoof’s Etsy.  With loads of options to choose from, I think this is my favorite.  I’d like it in Brick or Clay to put in my entryway, thanks. ;)

This ice cube gives your drinks an extra nerdy flair!  Just be careful not to set up a full Tetris line, or you’ll lose all the ice!  A perfect stocking stuffer at only $7, you can find the Iceblox ice cube tray over at Think Geek.

The Mandalorians are pretty much the baddest of the bade dudes in the universe.  Yeah, they’re bad enough dudes to rescue the President.  But will they?  That’s another question entirely.  For the Wo-mando on your Christmas list, it doesn’t get much better than this adorable pj set from Her Universe.  In fact, just about anything from Her Universe would make a wonderful gift.  It’s like a treasure chest in an internet full of “unisex” and “manwear”.  But this pretty much takes the cake.  Purchase at Her Universe for $35.

A Holiday Shopping Guide

This is part one. :)  With the holidays fast approaching, if you haven’t found that special gift for your special geek, then you really need to jump on the opportunity!  I know I’m one of them.  Between work and finals, Christmas shopping has been pretty low on the priority list.  I hadn’t even put up the Christmas tree until this weekend!

So what are some spectacular gifts for the nerds on your list this year?  Well let me be so kind as to take you on a little trip around the internets.

Star Wars Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle.  If your Star Wars nut doesn’t have a copy of this yet, she needs one!  This 320 page hard-cover includes stunning illustrations, concept arts, and photographic stills taking readers through the beginning stages of A New Hope all the way through the second season of the currently airing Clone Wars series on Cartoon Network.  Contained in each book are two random glossy images suitable for framing as well.  Purchase on Amazon for about $30.

Is your Star Wars fan already a proud owner of the above coffee-table book?  Fear not.  The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force is an amazing gift.  The 160 page book is sealed inside of a working “vault” that makes a wonderfully appropriate hissing noise as the book rises from it’s container.  Contained with the book is a Padawan’s braid, a Starfighter patch, a letter tracing the book’s history, and more.  Many reputable Jedi have added commentary directly into these pages, including esteemed Jedi Masters Yoda, Qui-Gon Jin, and Obi-Wan Kenobi.  For $70, this isn’t a cheap gift, but one that you can be certain will be greatly appreciated.  Purchase here on Amazon .

Your geek isn’t a Star Wars fan?  Not to worry, not to worry.  I’ve got you covered.

The “House Brawl” T-shirt from Threadless has rapidly become the best selling T-shirt ever for the site.  Perfect for any Harry Potter fans on your list, this shirt comes in a hoodie as well as a men’s cut T-shirt and a women’s cut T-shirt!  And at $12, it’s a complete steal!  Pick up one for yourself as well, you smart shopper!  Purchase on Threadless.

Geek Soap is probably one of the most amazing websites I’ve ever seen.  There are TONS of sellers of geeky soaps on the internet, especially over on one of my favorite websites, Etsy.  But Geek Soap is an entity all to itself.  With high-quality, high-clarity soaps made with clean lines and a scent described as “invigorating lime-mint”.  With a soap to please every manner of geek, there’s no way she won’t be thinking about you in the shower when she’s scrubbing down with a bar of this!  Purchase at Geek Soap for prices that won’t clean out your wallet!

Sharkrobot has some great T-shirts, and perhaps my favorite amongst them is the Pokemon “Strollin” shirt.  While it does cost an extra $2 for the ladies’ T-shirts, having the option for that perfect fit is better than settling for the “Unisex” that never looks right anyway.  And for the Pokefan on your list, there’s nothing better than re-encouraging the use of that Pokewalker during the cold winter months.  Purchase at Sharkrobot for about $20.

Shiro Cosmetics is my first discovery in the world of geeky make-up.  With the option to purchase a number of sample sizes for extremely reasonable prices (as low as $5), these beautiful loose eyeshadows come in a wide variety of colors, each with an appropriately nerdy theme.  Pictured above is her “Super Effect” collection, though I highly suggest checking out her “Legends” collection with a ton of Zelda-inspired colors.  Everything is available for purchase on her Etsy Store!

Betrayal at House on the Hill is one of my favorite board games of all time.  Previously out-of-print, Wizards of the Coast has picked up the licence and revived this well-deserving game.  I’ve only played it once, but it was so much fun!  With a cooperative nature and an element of betrayal and a game that’s different every time you play, it’s great for the gamer who’s played a few board games before.  It’s NOT for gamers who have never played anything other than Life or Monopoly.  But for those who have already experienced some Settlers of Catan or Pandemic, it’s a great purchase!  But on Amazon for about $30.

Not seeing anything here yet that strikes your fancy or quite fits your resident nerd?  Don’t fret.  There’s at least one more Shopping Guide on the way just in time for the holidays!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part One

Midnight, November 19th.  After months of anticipation and two-and-a-half hours of standing outside in below-freezing temperatures huddled in many layers of Potter apparel, I was ushered into my local theater with hundreds of other Harry Potter fans.  A local radio station was passing out trivia sheets and the local news networks had already been out asking questions about what would possibly possess us to endure such temperatures for a movie.

And with trembling anticipation, the lights dimmed in the theater.  The cold was finally starting to seep out of my bones and I could feel painful tingles in my toes, but my discomfort was forgotten as the logo I have come to love filtered onto the screen.  Hedwig’s Theme played in an eerie tinkling and the audience around me burst into excited squeals and a smattering of applause.

The moment had arrived.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One

I started typing this review as soon as I got home at 3:30 AM, but between the post-movie glory and the realization that I had been up for about twenty hours, I decided that it was best to give myself some time to digest everything.  And I come to you now with a review.  The first portion of the review will NOT contain spoilers.  I’ll then insert an image and a reminder that I’m going to spoil some things, and then it’ll be the total nerdy-freakout I can put out there.

Deathly Hallows was overall a very good, solid film.  It’s quite the change from the last six movies — considering that none of the movie takes place inside Hogwarts.  It creates a film that is refreshingly different from the previous six without being completely disjointed from the overall storyline.

The start of the film was a little bit rough.  There were a number of things that WB had neglected to include in previous films that were now important in this seventh film.  One of the biggest was the eldest Weasley boy — Bill.  Having never been mentioned at all before, he needed to be introduced before the Wedding scenes.  The sudden insertion of him as a character, explaining to Harry in about a second-and-a-half that the scars on his face were from a werewolf called Greyback (a character who also had not previously been mentioned in the films) was a bit jarring.

I am of the firm opinion that splitting the movie into two segments was a wonderful idea.  At first, I admit I wasn’t sure about the whole thing.  It seemed like a ploy for Warner Brothers to stretch the series out just a little bit further before losing the massive flow of money Harry Potter has created for them.  But after seeing the film, I am more than a little thankful that WB made that choice.  Separating the book into two movies has allowed WB to better pace the film, keeping the humorous bits movie-goers have grown accustomed to in the WB Potter films, and maintain an amazingly accurate portrayal of the last book in a decade-long saga.  In fact, after seeing Deathly Hallows, I find myself wishing that WB had split all the books from Goblet of Fire onward into two films!

Though speaking of pacing, while it was usually quite good, there were a few places where the progression of the story seemed a little wonky.  It’s not that I was ever disengaged from the film or confused about what was going on, but there were times when I felt things weren’t moving quite fast enough or were progressing at a pace just slightly too fast.

The music was wonderful.  It wasn’t a phenomenal John Williams score, but Alexandre Desplat did a very good job.  The music was always very fitting to the situations at hand and was never distracting from the action going on.

The ending for the film was wonderful.  I know there are people out there who think it shouldn’t have ended where it did, but from a film-maker’s standpoint, I can see exactly why they put the split where they did.  Watching that scene (no spoilers~!) was a very chilling moment and a great cliffhanger to get the casual movie-goers to come back for Part 2.

Coming up after the pretty image, SPOILERS.  I’ll be providing a list of Fangasming things I loved, and things I hated.

Deathly Hallows Poster

Things I Hated

I wanted to start with this list because it’s shorter and probably a bit more insignificant in the long run.  Remember, what I type here may spoil parts of the film for you.  This is your last warning.

  • Harry and Ginny’s Kiss in the BurrowThis was the most awkward kiss I have ever seen.  Neither of them seemed to enjoy it, and it was completely out of the blue.  It seemed strangely placed, forced, and unpleasant.  also, it was George that walked in on them, and while the toothbrush sticking out of his ear-hole was hilarious, it was NOT accurate to the book.
  • No Flashback of Voldemort murdering the PottersThis was something I had really been looking forward to.  Seeing the murder of Harry’s parents through Voldemort’s eyes could have been such a powerful, amazing scene, but instead all we got was Harry bursting through a wall into what must have been his nursery and then more fighting with Nagini.
  • The Deluminator – I wanted to see the little ball of blue light go into Ron and lead him back. >.>
  • Hermione used Obliviate When Hermione sent her parents off to Australia in the books, she did NOT use Obliviate.  That spell has always carried a sense of permanency.  Like, her parents would never remember her again, at least the way the spell works in the books.  In the book, she had worked some memory rebuilding magic, erasing her from their memories and changing them into different people in their own memories until she could reverse the spell.
  • Missing Luna’s bedroom The scenes in the Lovegood house were very well done in general, though I was extremely disappointed that we didn’t get to see Luna’s bedroom.  I thought it was a very poignant moment for Harry to see how much his friendship meant to Luna, and that missing piece was disappointing to me personally.
  • Kreacher’s Tale Kreacher’s tale was another powerful moment in the book.  It gave great insight into Kreacher’s character as well as the nature of House Elves in general.  It made Kreacher likable, even.  Kreacher, however, didn’t get a chance to tell his story in the film adaptation.
  • Lack of Disguises Harry Potter is UNDESIRABLE NUMBER ONE.  Yet somehow, despite the fact that Voldemort is seeking him out with an absolute fervor, Harry Potter is wandering around the world WITHOUT his Invisibility Cloak and WITHOUT the protection of Polyjuice Potion disguises.  In the books, Harry and his crew are extremely careful about Harry being seen, even Disapparating underneath the Invisibility cloak.  Yet in the film, he’s even completely undisguised at the WEDDING.

Well, there you go.  That’s the list of stuff I hated.  Now for the much more pleasant list.  Prepare for super-gushing.

Things I Loved

There were about a million things to love in this movie.  This was easily one of my favorite movies of all time, not just one of my favorite of the Potter films.  Some of the best bits are detailed here:

  • Dobby Everything about him.  When he reappeared, he looked so wonderful, so real.  His voice was perfect, and his mannerisms were great.  But the most amazing thing was when he took Narcissa’s wand and she looked at him, perplexed and horrified that her former slave was defying her, and Bellatrix tried to belittle him, but Dobby wouldn’t have it.  He looked up at Bellatrix and asserted that “Dobby is a FREE elf.  Dobby has NO Master.”  My theater erupted in applause at this.  Then, a minute later, Dobby had rescued his friends and lay dying in Harry’s arms from Bellatrix’s dagger.  He looks up at Harry and as the young wizard is screaming for someone to help, Dobby reassures him — “This… is a beautiful place… to be with friends.”  I bawled.
  • Harry and Hermione Dancing – This scene was not in the books, but it was absolutely wonderful.  Just after Ron has left and Hermione is in a very depressed funk, she and Harry and listening to the radio and a rather upbeat song comes on.  Harry stands up and takes Hermione’s hand and dances awkwardly with her until she starts to smile at the absurdity of it all.  I thought it was a ridiculously adorable scene.
  • Fluer’s Wedding Dress – I knew it wouldn’t be typical.  A traditional wedding dress couldn’t possibly suit the world of Harry Potter OR a half-veela.  But what would it be like?  Maybe I was extra conscious of this because I just got married myself, but Fluer’s wedding dress was absolutely gorgeous.  Twin phoenixes in black embroidery wound down the beautiful A-line dress.  It was perfect.
  • The Seven Potters – This scene was HILARIOUS.  Watching Fred, George, Fluer, Hermione, Mundungus, and Ron transform into Harry was absolutely amazing.  Daniel Radcliffe acted this amazingly; adopting the personalities of other characters looking like Harry couldn’t have been easy!  And there’s honestly very little more hilarious than seeing Harry Potter in a bra and skirt asserting that he’s ” ‘ideous”.
  • “Bathilda Bagshot” – OH GOD SHE WAS SO CREEPY!  But it was perfect because it wasn’t REALLY Bathilda.  Her eyes were so wide, and her face gaunt.  She moved silently and a with a jerky, unnatural fashion.  Just wonderful!
  • The Locket Destruction – It was bigger and more terrifying than I had imagined.  Seeing phantom Harry and Hermione groping each other and trying to devalue Ron was so powerful.  It was tense and HUGE.  Watching Ron triumph over it was extremely touching.
  • Three Brothers Animation – Since the story of the Three Brothers is so vital to the story of the Deathly Hallows, the story needed to be told in the film.  So Hermione reads the whole thing out loud in Xenophilious’ home.  Instead of just focusing on the people in the room the whole time she reads, an animated sequence came one.  All done in black and a parchment-y yellow, this animation sequence was absolutely amazing.  It was beautiful and slightly creepy and had this oddly sweeping quality to it, like it just picked you up and swept you away.
  • Hermione’s Bag – It wasn’t quite how I imagined it, but it was the perfect size!
  • Beautiful Scenery – They really found some gems to film in.  The woods were beautiful, as was the beach and this weird rocky mountain plateau they filmed on.  Wonderful, wonderful~
  • Umbridge’s Office – The pamphlets and the files, the pink… It was all so Umbridge, and so conform-y creepy.
  • Decoy Detonators – These little gems are what Harry uses in both the book and the film to sneak into Umbridge’s office.  In the book, it wasn’t really explained how they worked or what they looked like.  In the film, you got to really see it.  These little jet black half-sphere things with feet scuttled across the room, splitting  up into more and more little buggers that suddenly sprouted jet-black bugles and exploded with clouds of foul olive-green smoke.
  • Ron – Even when he was being a jerk.  While Ron has always been the comic relief in the films, it didn’t seem forced or awkward in this film.  It was wonderful.  Ron was just BEING Ron, and it was HILARIOUS.  He’d do things or say things that were slightly bumbling, and it was just naturally funny.

Well!  There you have it!  This movie was really strong, and I don’t regret going to see it.  I’m already highly anticipating the release of Part Two, while also dreading it slightly.

I’m not sure if I’m ready for the end of this Saga.

Know Your Nerds

It’s important for every Geeky Girl to know what they’re up against out there.  And this awesome shirt from Threadless Tees (naked no more!) gives you a readily available look at the different types of Nerds out there, as well as their most relevant stats.

Nerdy Chart

Buy it HERE on Threadless for $18.  Best part is, it comes in the “girly tee,” which is MUCH more flattering than trying to stuff your woman-body into a man’s T-shirt.

Video Games 101

Welcome to another edition of Nerding 101 with your friendly Professor Nattata. ^.^ Today we’ll be discussing Video Games 101 — Current Generation Consoles.

On the market today, there are three home consoles that are available for purchase in this – the seventh generation of home video gaming. Please note that today we’re just talking about home consoles and not handheld. We can talk about handheld consoles at a later date. If you enjoy playing video games at all, or are simply looking to get into the newest generation of video gaming, you’ll need to educate yourself on your options to make the best choice for you. After all, a home console is an investment these days, and no one wants to make an unwise investment in this economy.

Console #1: The Xbox 360

The Xbox 360  is produced by the Microsoft company and is the second home video gaming console from the company.  Initially released in 2005, the Xbox 360 completely sold out in all sales regions (except Japan) in it’s initial month.  Today, over 41 million Xbox 360 systems have been sold worldwide.

Pictured here is the most commonly recognized form of the Xbox 360, though if you go out to purchase a brand new Xbox today, you’re more than likely going to be looking at one of the new models, which is slimmer than the one pictured here, and is also black.  The new models are very impressive, sporting five USB ports, integrated WIFI capabilities, and a 250 GB hard drive.

Currently selling for $300, this system is an investment.  But Microsoft has announced that with the release of the Xbox 360 Slim (the new black models) that they expect the system is only halfway through it’s life cycle and plans to continue producing it until 2015.  So even if you were to purchase this system now, you’d be getting a good solid five years out of it before anything new comes out, and you’ve got five years of games behind you already.

And if that $300 price point is a bit high for you and you’re willing to sacrifice the storage space in the hard drive, a very new release has just happened in America – an Xbox 360 Slim with a 4GB hard drive selling for $200.

Console #2: The Nintendo Wii

Second, we have the Nintendo Wii.  Perhaps the most well-known home gaming console system currently available, it is produced by the Nintendo company – a leader in video gaming, both console and handheld.  Released a year later than the Xbox 360, the Wii has sold more units than either of it’s competitors, hitting nearly 74 million units sold worldwide since it’s initial launch.

The Wii has the ability to play both Wii titles as well as the titles of its predecessor, the Nintendo Gamecube.  It contains only 521 megabytes of internal storage and uses external memory cards to provide the user with space to store save files and such for games. It also features motion control – the first of the current generation consoles to offer motion-controlled gaming.  It has ports for 4 Nintendo Gamecube controller and can handle four Wiimotes (the name for the controller used to play Wii games).

The Nintendo Wii is currently selling for $150 and is the most affordable of the current generation systems.  And it’s honestly good that it’s the least expensive console, as Nintendo has not given any sort of lifespan expectancy for the Wii, stating only that they will continue to produce it until they have run out of ideas and meaningful content for the system.

Console #3: The Playstation 3

The last console on our list today is the Playstation 3.  Produced by the Sony company, it first hit the markets in 2006, the same year as the Nintendo Wii.  It sports the least amount of sales overall, having sold just over 38 million units worldwide since it’s release four years ago.

The Playstation 3 (often shortened to “PS3”) is the only of the current systems to provide the ability to play BluRay Discs — and in fact uses the BluRay as it’s medium for video games.  It comes with various sizes of hard drives, from 120 gigabytes to a full 320 gigabytes.  The current slim edition runs very quietly and smoothly.

It sports very little extra other than the BluRay, but for many, that is more than enough.  For those with big, flat-screen TVs and HD cravings, bluray is a great way to go.

The Playstation 3 sells for between $300 and $350 on the market today, depending on the size of the hard drive you’re looking for.  It is the most expensive console on the market, considering that bluray players on the market go for well over $100, that often factors in to the decision on purchasing this particular console.  There’s no word on how long the PS3 will be on the market, which may make some nervous at spending that much money on a home console system.

So how do you go about deciding on what console is the one for you?  I mean, it’s a big investment, and you don’t want to end up making a decision you’ll regret.  So here I’ll provide a bulleted list of the pros and cons of each system, and you can make your decision and get into the wonderful world of home video games!!

The Xbox 360

  • Wide Variety of Games
  • Intuitive Gaming Interface
  • Massive Amounts of Storage
  • Cordless and Corded Controller Options
  • Triple Core Processing
  • Durable
  • Good Warranty and Product Servicing
  • Reliable Company
  • Plays DVDs
  • Compatible with Netflix Streaming
  • Connects with PCs for Music and Video
  • Solid Graphics and Sound
  • Fantastic Online Play
  • Controller is big and sometimes clunky
  • Older models have over-heating problems

Nintendo Wii

  • Great for the Casual Gamer
  • Wonderful for Children and Families
  • Interactive Play
  • Streams Netflix
  • Intuitive Controls
  • Simple controller design
  • Durable, Reliable System
  • Long-standing, Reliable Company
  • Many interesting control add-ons
  • Small, Compact Design
  • Most Affordable System
  • Does not support DVD play
  • Very few games for the “hardcore” player
  • Motion Control can be quite finicky
  • Less impressive graphics than it’s competitors

Playstation 3

  • BluRay Compatible
  • Online Connectivity and Play
  • Superior Graphics and Sound
  • Solid Console-Exclusive Titles
  • Most Storage Space
  • IBM-Designed “Cell Processor”
  • Corded and Wireless Controller Options
  • Lots of “System Extras”
  • Access to the best Roleplaying Titles
  • Comfortable Controller
  • Most Expensive System
  • Limited Game Choices
  • Not Good for the Casual Gamer

Beer and Pretzels for the Uninitiated

“Beer and Pretzels” is the term often given to games that are fairly silly and easy to grasp.  They’re usually a great way to introduce people to gaming because they’re really fun and not very intimidating.  I mean honestly, for someone who doesn’t really have the desire to learn how to roleplay, a Dungeons and Dragons rulebook is an extremely frightening thing with all the numbers and terms and dice and math.

So for my first ever experiment in the GM project, I’ll be working with a group of unsuspecting (okay, maybe slightly suspecting) women who haven’t roleplayed before.  Luckily, I’ll have one in the group who has roleplayed and enjoys it, which I’m hoping eases the rest of the group into things nice and gently.

And what game am I choosing to introduce these attendees of my bachelorette party to the world of roleplaying?

Kobolds Ate My Baby is a small, hilarious roleplaying game designed by an independent publisher/designer called 9th Level Games based in Pennsylvania.  The game runs on what they call the BEER Engine (after the stats used to make up your character – Brawn, Ego, Extraneous, and Reflexes) and provides a lot of fast-paced absolutely hilarious pandemonium.  Players take on the role of a fuzzy creature (a Kobold) with a mouth full of teeth and a body that is almost 90% stomach.  The point of the game is really to collect as much food (and babies are the most delicious of all Kobold delicacies) and return it to the great King Torg (all hail King Torg).

So I hope to bring a few new girls into the world of gaming through this fun little game.  I’ve got my map and my plans all ready to go.  Now I just need to finish brushing up on all the rules and prepare to introduce these girls to gaming.

Wish me luck~

Contain the Infection!!

It’s time for another Snapshot Sunday here on Hot Pink Joysticks! Today, I’ll be showing you what it’s like to play a game of Pandemic, a board game designed by Matt Leacock and published by Z-Man Games in 2008.  The basic premise is that you and your fellow players need to work cooperatively to save the world from four very infectious diseases spreading across the continents at an alarming rate.

Outside Box
This is the Outside of the box for Pandemic. It’s about a pretty decent-sized box, but not overly huge. It fits comfortably in my messenger bag.

Close-Up Publisher
Here we’ve got two close-ups. The artwork on the front isn’t spectacular, but has sort of a gritty real feel, which is neat considering the game’s subject matter. And LOOK~ The publisher – Z-Man Games.

Instructions
If you’ve ever played a common, popular board game, such as one produced by Hasboro or that you can purchase at Toys ‘R Us, you’re probably familiar with the tiny little instruction packets that come with. Pandemic comes with a full-size, full-color pamphlet that details all the game’s instructions in a clear, concise format.

Blank
This is what the board looks like without any of the pieces placed.

Outbreak counter
This is the Outbreak Counter. In the game, whenever you have a city that “explodes” (obtains more than three markers of a single disease), you must increase the Outbreak Counter. If you get up to ten, the game is over and you’ve lost.

Infection Rate Counter
When an Epidemic card is drawn, the Infection Counter goes up. This determines how many cities get hit with more of the diseases when each turn is ending.

GOOOAL
The Goal of Pandemic is to get a cure on each of these four diseases. (They’re nameless and marked only by color.)

EPIDEMIC
These are the Epidemic cards. When you draw one of these, all hell breaks loose on the board. Ben and I played with five, the normal difficulty. You can play with four for an introductory game, or six for a “heroic” game.

Player Cards Back of Player Card
This is a player card. It can be used like a plane ticket or discarded with a number of other cards to create a cure for a disease. Pictured is “Washington”, an American city. :P

Infection Card Back of Infection Card
This is an Infection Card. At the end of a player’s turn, a number of these are drawn and then infected with diseases. This is the intense action part of the game.

Special Events
Thankfully, there are Special Event cards to help along the way. Otherwise, the game would destroy you. I promise.

Marker
This is in-game you.

Cards
Each marker is linked to a Role Card — the card that tells you what your special abilities in the game are. There are five roles — the Scientist (who can cure diseases with 4 cards of a single color instead of 5), the Dispatcher (who can move players around the board as though he were moving himself), the Researcher (who can exchange cards much easier than the rest of the players), the Medic (who has the ability to cure all the blocks of a single color from the city she occupies, instead of one at a time like most), and the Operations Expert (who can create Research Stations much easier than anyone else).

Our Roles
Ben and I ended up playing the Scientist and the Researcher (respectively).

Diseases 1 Diseases 2
These little, colored cubes are made of wood and are very nice markers for the diseases.

Cardboard Markers
These are the small, cardboard markers that do a few lovely things for the game. On the far left, is the Infection marker, it slides along the Infection Counter. On the far right is the Outbreak marker, it slides along the Outbreak Counter. The middle four are markers for the cures. They slide down onto the four circles that represent the diseases on the game board.

Research Stations
These little wooden houses are the Research Stations. They mark cities where you have built a research station.

Dance, Boy~
To start the game, Ben got Antilles to do a dance for us. I don’t think he was very happy with the situation.

Starting
This is what the board looks like all set up and ready to go! Let’s hope we can save the world!

Oh noes~
OH GOD THE FIRST EPIDEMIC!

So many diseases
Look! The diseases are EVERYWHERE!

WINRAWR
OMG WE DID IT~

Hi Puppy
Antilles was happy that he would not be consumed by the blocky diseases.

Hope you enjoyed a look at Pandemic~

A Sugary Shop

So passed to me from a friend, I now pass to you the amazing adorable that is the Sugar Bunny Shop.  On this edition of Fangirl Friday, I will be squeeing all over the adorable merchandise available through this wonderfully creative seller, Samantha Whitten.

Now, let me start by saying that I absolutely adore cute things.  I can’t help it.  Cute turns me all melty and I tend to lose the ability to form coherent sentences.  Ask Ben.  I routinely will find something cute online and be reduce to nothing more than a squirming little girl babbling on in what we’ve just decided to term “Neko Speak,” which is generally just me making a lot of strange noises.

Unfortunately, these cute things usually come at a price, and with the wedding coming up, there is no spare cash for us to play with, let alone spend away on every adorable thing I squee about.  So Ben will usually just roll his eyes and go back to whatever he was doing before, or sometimes start doing something more manly to wash away the mass amounts of “d’aww” I’ve just shoved in his general direction.

So instead of making Ben look at all of the adorable items from Sugar Bunny Shop (again), I’ll share them with you!

Now, I’ve done posts with cell phone charms before.  A few of them, actually.  But these are just way too adorable.  How would I even begin to choose which would adorn my (admittedly outdated) flip phone?

Like this:
Charm 1Charm 2
Charm 3Charm 4

FOX IN A DUMPLING!  KITTY CUPCAKE!  OH GOD THAT BUNNY IS SO “:3”!  THAT FLOWER IS BIGGER THAN THE MOUSE!

You see where this is going?  Her designs are absolutely nothing less than complete “kawaii”.

But suppose you really don’t like things dangling from your cell phones.  Well then, do you enjoy jewelry?
Necklace!Earrings!

Yes, those are poison candy earrings.  And yes, that necklace does depict a bunny who also happens to be a bomb.

Still not your thing?  Try MESSENGER BAGS!

I seriously want this for school this semester.  Not even kidding.  If I had $25 to spare (minus shipping costs), I’d totally nab it.

She even does a few plushes:
PLUSHIE

And buttons galore.
123
456
789

GO BUY SOME OF HER STUFF!  Seriously.  I’m planning on ordering a bag for myself.  And then a ton of buttons to put all over it.  And maybe a notebook…  And the bunny plush… And…

“You Can Call Me Han”

Hey there~  It’s another edition of Strings and Things here on Hot Pink Joysticks!

For this segment, I wanted to show you all the current cross stitch project I’m working on.

That is what I’m trying to make.  I’d like to finish it and give it to Ben as a wedding gift.  But right now, I’m pretty sure that there’s no way I’ll finish in five weeks.

That’s how far I’ve gotten. T.T\

But as you can see here, the work I’ve done is quite nice.  The lettering espeically has come out very well.  I’m very pleased. ^.^  The entire project is about 8×10 inches, so it’s the largest project I’ve done to date (not counting the Pokemon cross stitch that I ended up scrapping thanks to a certain puppy ruining the Aida).

I started in on Leia, but there were SO many color changes in that corner (that you can’t even really see) that I decided to give up and move over to Han, who is more one color in the corner.

Even so, I managed to mess up a bit.  It’s hard to tell in this image, but the top row and part of the one below it there are the wrong color blue.  Just a couple shades too dark.  I guess I wasn’t paying attention. T.T  So now I need to take out about thirty stitches and redo them.

If you’d like to use this pattern as well, a link to the PDF can be found here. You have my thanks, Stephaniem of SpriteStitch. <3