Sword of Mana Review

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The Game Boy Advance is a unique system; for old school game players its a re-hash of our ill-spent youths. That being said, it’s no surprise that Sword of Mana fulfills the craving that I’ve had since first playing Secret of Mana on the Super Nintendo; notwithstanding the fact that Squaresoft, and now Square-Enix, have been the forefront in the RPG series for as long as I can remember.

Sword of Mana, like the other Mana series games, does not fit into a particular time frame in comparison to the rest of the games. It plays just like Secret of Mana, minus two buttons, and the storyline is almost exactly what you’d expect from the series. At the beginning, you choose a character, male or female, and start the game. It’s different from all the other games in the Mana series that I’ve played, however, in that the storyline is markedly different depending on which character you choose. Kudos to that. The story revolves around (what else) an evil power threatening the land, which you must fight, gain levels, and acquire new weaponry to stop. The fighting system is almost identical to Secret of Mana and Seiken Densetsu 3; instead of random battles there are solid creatures on all of the dangerous map screens, giving you the option of fighting or running away with your tail between your legs. Obviously, I didn’t run much. In fact, I was so struck with the similarity between Sword of Mana and Secret of Mana that I felt it was my duty to gain some serious levelage for money and armor.

Alas, in this respect, I found one of the the serious flaws in the game. It’s easy. Not only is it easy, but it’s really, really easy. There are statues placed throughout the game, even in the middle of dungeons, that fully restore your hit points and magic points. If that’s not easy enough, Sword of Mana included a feature that none of the other Mana games had, which is the ability to sit/squat and replenish your MP. Because you get the ability to heal yourself so early in the game, I was able to run straight through supposedly “difficult” dungeons without trouble because I could insta-heal magic points and take care of myself. I think that I died one time in the entire game. And while that’s not too uncommon for a single player RPG, this game felt especially easy. I don’t know what it was, I just never felt challenged. I was playing a story more or less. Nevertheless, I persevered and finished the game through to the end. It was a worthtwhile little story too. I don’t want to spoil anything, but aside from some really terrible names (i.e. Dark Lord…just Dark Lord…not THE Dark Lord, or Dark Lord of BlahBlah, but Dark Lord) the storyline ran smoothly and even incorporated some elements of surprise and humor.

The Class System. This game is very player friendly. If you want to be a swordsman or a spear-wielder, you can go right ahead. You have your choice of any weapon in the game; they all have their strengths and weaknesses, even against monsters. Leveling up in this game doesn’t take long either. But therein lies another problem. There are advanced classes, but the game gives very little information about how to achieve those classes, something that is ultimately very irritating if you accidently make the wrong choice. However, all of the classes have their own particular aspect that makes them enjoyable. On the bonus side, there are so MANY advanced classes that pretty much every player will be able to find one that suits their needs best. I chose Ninja Master as my final class because of the bonuses that it gives to Evasion, Critical Attacks, and various elemental powers, but I was also intrigued by the Warrior classes, as well as some of the Wizard classes. All in all, aside from some confusion about how to get those classes (thank you GameFAQS.com), the class system is robust and well developed for a Game Boy Advance game.

My biggest problem with this game was the secondary character AI. Whether you choose the Hero or the Heroine, you almost always have some backup help in the form of minor characters. However, they are almost completely useless. Their pathfinding is terrible, they rarely ever follow your lead, and usually die about 8 times faster than you do. They don’t attack with any discernible intelligence, and their magic skills are frighteningly terrible. They used the same grid system for Sword of Mana as they did for Secret of Mana, but the AI was much less responsive to your needs in the GBA game. For the most part, the player is forced to do 95% of the fighting, healing, and running in times of danger, leaving your secondary character to die or get stuck on a mountain that you jumped over, and he can’t figure out. This, in my opinion, is the dominating weakness of the game.

Lastly, as much as I enjoyed the weapon system in this game, the armor system was terrible. You are requied to find certain materials to make new armor, something that you probably won’t even consider until minutes/hours before the end of the game. You also have to plant seeds in your Orchard to grow fruit to temper your weapons and armor. Most of the fruits you get are totally worthless. You don’t need healing items as much because of the replenishable MP, and therefore a short trip around the corner and a few minutes spent sitting will completely restore all the MP you need to have full health for that boss fight. All in all, I felt that the armor in this game was more of an accessory to your character than necessary in the slightest.

To that end, I believe that any fan of the Mana series will have a good time playing this game. It’s a solid twelve hours from beginning to end, and there are enough side quests to push that to 15-20 hours if you want to accomplish everything. I had a good time playing this, and it was hard to put my GBA down…even when the batteries started to run out =)

The Starcraft II Trilogy

StarCraft 2 is divided into three campaigns, each dedicated to one of the three species. The first campaign, already released by the developer of the video game, is Wings of Liberty, focused on the Terrans. The StarCraft 2 Zerg campaign was named Heart of the Swarm. This episode will be dedicated to the Zerg and will center on Sarah Kerrigan and the future of the species. Blizzard Entertainment announced that the next episode is in process.

Also, the developer stated that Heart of the Swarm will introduce new units and will be present a jungle setting. The key of the game will be Sarah Kerrigan. Even if at the end of Wings of Liberty, she is deinfested, Kerrigan, also known as the Queen of Blades, maintained some of the powers achieved through mutations. So, her plan is to control her powers and to increase their strength. The greater her powers grow to be, more Zerg she controls.

Even if the company has bigger plans for Heart of the Swarm, Blizzard stated that is a lot of work to do and the project will be extremely ambitious. So, for the moment, there is not even an approximately release date for the StarCraft 2 Zerg campaign. But, probably, the next episode will be ready in the summer of 2012, after 18 months of work. As its precursor, Heart of the Swarm will have about 30 missions.

Also, Blizzard announced that there will be new units, like the infested bunker, the lurker and another fresh Zerg unit will be added. But, there are still in the creation process and is not for sure that these are the new StarCraft 2 units. Also, some things will change. For example, Jim Raynor, the main Terran character, will get a job in order to finance his organization, Raynor’s Raiders. Then, the next step will be the release of the third StarCraft 2 campaign. Legacy of the Void will center on the Protoss. This episode is a total nebulous even for the developer. The company didn’t offer any single details about this campaign, saying that they don’t have anything planned for this episode. First, they need to release Heart of the Swarm. Here are more details about the StarCraft 2 campaigns.

BAFTA 2015 Award Winners

The British Academy Awards for Video Games recently ended, and what an eventful night it was. While AAA titles like Alien: Isolation and Far Cry 4 won some awards, as expected, the awards showed much more. Destiny won the award for best game, arguably the most prestigious award of the show. Additionally, the BAFTA awards were a huge win for Indie games, who won a number of different awards. The full list of awards is below.

Lumino City
Artistic Achievement Award · State of Play
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BAFTA Games Sports Award · Simon Bennett, John Ribbins, Tom Hegarty
Overly Kinetic
Ones To Watch Award · Chambara
Alien: Isolation
Best Audio · Sega, The Creative Assembly
Thomas Hoffman
Ones To Watch Award · Chambara
Monument Valley
BAFTA Games Mobile & Handheld Award · Ustwo
Kevin Wong
Ones To Watch Award · Chambara
Far Cry 4
Music · Cliff Martinez, Tony Gronick, Jerome Angelot
Catherine Fox
Ones To Watch Award · Chambara
Ashley Johnson
BAFTA Games Performer Award · The Last Of Us: Left Behind
Alec Faulkner
Ones To Watch Award · Chambara
Minecraft
Best Family and Social Game · Mojang, 4J Studios, Microsoft Studios
Esteban Fajardo
Ones To Watch Award · Chambara
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
BAFTA Games Multiplayer Award · Blizzard Entertainment
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
BAFTA Game Design Award · Monolith Productions, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Destiny
Best Game · Bungie, Activision
David Braben
Academy Fellowship Award
Ustwo
BAFTA British Game Award · Monument Valley
Riot Games
Persistent Game · League of Legends
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
BAFTA Games Innovation Award · Nordic Games, The Astronauts
Simon Choquet
Original Property · Valiant Hearts: The Great War
The Last Of Us: Left Behind
BAFTA Games Story Award · Neil Druckmann
Yoan Fanise
Original Property · Valiant Hearts: The Great War
Never Alone
BAFTA Debut Game Award · E-Line Media, Upper One Games
Paul Tumelaire
Original Property · Valiant Hearts: The Great War

The Last of Us: Left Behind, Riot Games (League of Legends), and Hearthstone were the remaining AA titles that won awards. For the most part, Indie games won the rest of the awards. This is a huge win for independent game companies, which is a win for gaming in general. Indie companies can provide unique ideas and insight that are uncontrolled by large publishing companies that can squander unique and independent thought.

A Simple Way to Play Minecraft for Free

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If you are like me and don’t want to spend a dime on games you know anyone could get for free, then you’ll want to keep reading. There are a number of crucial steps you need to take in order to successfully play Minecraft for free. First, you need to find a version that doesn’t require any other software to be installed, like the one on minecraftforfreex.com. Instead of downloading the game and risking your computer’s security, you can simply play from your browser. Beware of fake launchers that are are actually trying to steal information from your computer like malware.

Benefits

Once played, Minecraft can bring a lot of benefits to its user. The game is being played in even the most remote corners of the world. It’s a game that’s relatively easy to play, which also contributes to its popularity. To get the game officially, you must first register an account at minecraft.net, purchase a premium account, and download the game (and install it too, obviously). If you wanted to see the demo, you can play it on the official website. Or, if you prefer playing online with other players without a premium account, you could always search for cracked servers and join those.

A well-known benefit that is associated with playing Minecraft is the fact that you could learn a thing or two. Surprisingly, the game is quite popular in the education industry. It has many applications when integrated in a classroom and helps the students engage with the material and have more fun. Another benefit is that you won’t have to wait too long to download the game, as it is not resource intensive. The download can be carried out in an even shorter time frame if the computer has a powerful RAM and if the internet speed is also sufficiently high. If so, the download can be accomplished in less than five minutes as well. The installation of the game is straightforward, and the price associated with its purchase makes it easily affordable for one and all. The game isn’t terribly expensive, so most people can afford to play this game.

The benefits make the purchase of this game very appealing for gamers. Minecraft is a game which belongs to the fantasy genre. The world is supposedly being taken over by creatures of the night and gamers need to gather as many resources as they possibly can in order to build structures which can fight these creatures and which can prevent them from coming and destroying things on earth.

Guide

The main difference between the PC version is that it doesn’t really have any instructions on how to play or survive. While the console versions of Minecraft have helpful tutorials and reminder pop-up things, the PC version makes you look up the resources online and lacks an instructions manual. Luckily for us there are many helpful sites like Minecraft Wiki where users can read through in order to understand what the game is all about and learn about the different steps to play the game successfully. Sometimes an instructions manual can also contain pointers and suggestions for players, which can be useful for them in securing a win easily. I personally have used this guide: http://minecraftforfreex.com/guide/

Playing for Keeps on League of Legends

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League of Legends is one of the most intense multi player combat game experiences that are considered to be the top of the line in online gaming. Not only does the game engine and game play design excel, but the fact that it is one of the most popular online games – with more than 27 million users logging in a day means that there are always interesting challenges to find. There is a lot to do there, and a lot of ways that you can get even more out of the game by learning how to picks champions.

Even if you have played League of Legends for a while it is important not to forget to check the updates and blogs to find out about releases, patches and changes. Some of the mapping systems work to reveal hidden levels or have multiple levels of solution. You may need to build yourself up enough to go back down several maps to solve it again, but in a different way, to get even more out of the world.

Building Up Your Champion

The first thing you do, after you have completed the tutorial level, is to begin building up your champion. There are several ways that you can do this, the slow and sure way is to just show up and log on. The longer you spend online the more gold you will accrue, not a large amount but enough to allow you to begin buying and trading to outfit your champion to increase your skill and power levels. You can also engage in a variety of different combat forms, each of which can either wipe out your character – or get you faster gains if you succeed.

Tournament Play

Tournament play is hugely popular. It is a moderated combat lane with a set of criteria for declaring winners of the tournament. You can enter as pairs, teams or an individual. The tournaments are staged throughout the real time year to allow you to build up your champions to stand a better chance of advancing. You can always set your stats to pull your champion out so you can preserve your gains too.

League Play

League play is structured much like the fantasy sport games. You can bid on players and build your team and then compete against others through points and scores to declare an overall winner. If a league doesn’t fill, the players are given an opportunity to roll over into another championship league. You can also host multiple champions in different league competitions.

Independent Challenges

The most popular of all the combat forms remains the individual challenge. This can occur in one of two ways. Either you can roam your lanes and engage in battle against AI or other players, or you can schedule challenge matches against another player. These independent challenges do not have to be played to the death so you can preserve your main champion and return to fight another day.

American Amendments

An amendment is a change made in a law. Most important, in the United States, are the amendments that have been made in the Constitution. A proposed amendment to the Constitution must first be voted by a two-thirds majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Then it must be ratified (approved) by the legislatures of three-quarters of the States.

The first ten amendments are called the Bill of Rights, about which there is a separate article; Most famous of these is the Fifth Amendment, which says that a person cannot be forced to testify against himself. A witness in trial or hearing is said to “take the Fifth” when he refuses to answer a question because it might incriminate him.

Other famous amendments are the 18th (like Prohibition), the 19th (Suffrage), and the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments (constitution). Since Flipper’s Fascination games was up during prohibition, I thought this would make a nice read.

One of the two chief patriotic hymns of the United States is named America. It is second only to The Star-Spangled Banner, which is the national anthem. America has the same tune as the British national anthem, God Save the Queen (or King). The words for America were written by a Boston minister named Samuel Francis Smith, more than a hundred years ago, in 1832. He found the tune in a German songbook and did not know it was the tune for God Save the King. It is not considered necessary to stand up when America is played, but most Americans do anyway.

Getting into the Starcraft World

I basically grew up on Blizzard Entertainment’s original Starcraft and Brood Wars expansion. It more or less defined RTS as a competitive sport and grew ridiculously big both locally and internationally. You know it’s a hit when there are dedicated gaming channels solely for Starcraft.

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Starcraft has been called the defining example of its genre of military science fiction RPG games. It has been hugely influential in the gaming community and has spawned many copycat games. One thing that it has also spawned that is unusual in this day and age is an entire line of merchandise, including a whole series of novels based upon the game story.

The Game in a Nutshell

In brief, you join a team that is struggling to preserve the Confederation, a human entity, against the Terrans, Protoss and Zerg alien species. All of the species have their own goals and you have to make sure that none of them are successful in achieving any of them. One thing that complicates the storyline is that the Terrans were once human. In fact, they are future humans come back in time to conquer the universe as they have depleted all of their resources. These leads to some unusual twist in the game plot as human commanders get seduced by the power promised them by the Terrans.

The Merchandise

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There are more action figures available for this game than almost any other with a predominately adult following. Part of this is thought to have stemmed from the Nintendo 64 version release. From the action figures have also come a whole line of models that represent different Starcrafts, the Zerg Overmind base and other elements of the Starcraft story. Of course, for the more cynical adult player – there are also t-shirts, posters and custom laptop items available. One thing that makes all of this merchandise possible is Starcraft is one of the few multi-player games that has spawned an entire generation of novelists to keep deepening players understanding of the world.

The Books

There are numerous books that take up parts of the main story of the game and spin out additional plot lines. There are even ones that promote that they are telling the back story of the alien species. The original game story came from an idea developed by Blizzard Entertainment that has spawned several authorized books by different authors. Some of which are leading to future expansions for the games.

The Board Games and More

There is an authorized board game version available from  Fantasy Flight Games and Wizards of the Coast is set to adapt Starcraft Adventures into an RPG game called Alternity.  As the Starcraft world grows, more and more fan fiction is appearing as well and you can find whole sites devoted to scenarios, episodes and art work supporting the game that is fan generated. The extent to which Starcraft has reached beyond its existence as a digital game speaks highly of the quality of its craftsmanship. While many people were unsure about the choice to use episodic storytelling as a linear progression to drive a game, it appears as if it has been very successful. The other advantage to all of these offshoots is that it will keep new ideas for expansion modules flowing.