Final Fantasy … a mobile verdict

January 14, 2013 12:58am
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So after my little review of the Nintendo DS version of my all-time favorite video game last week, I actually discovered an iPhone version of pretty much the exact same game. I spent some time playing around with it this weekend and as excited as I am to see a considerable catalog of Final Fantasy games now being ported to iOS, ultimately I think I’ve come to one conclusion…

…I don’t think I want to play an in-depth RPG on a handheld device.

I mean, the game looks great on my iPhone and I think the increased resolution vs. the DS did those updated graphics much better justice, but it’s still just not quite the same. And I think I’m quite ready to admit that it may just very well be that I’m getting older and I can’t stare at a 3.5″ screen for three hours on end anymore! When I play RPGs, I typically dive in for several hours at a time – snacks are involved, and a comfy spot on the couch, and mobile gaming just doesn’t provide that same experience for me.

Plus, for those long stretches I don’t really think that touch is the best interface for the controls … battles seem to take a lot longer than if I were able to just press A repeatedly through all of the battle screens when we’re strong enough to not need special abilities, but still need the XP to move on anyways.

Plus, I’ll be 100% honest – the increased difficulty I guess does kinda bug me because the result ends up being a different game for me than the nostalgic one that I remember. When I play FFIV, I’m not really looking for a new challenge – I’m looking to revisit an old favorite; if I wanted a new challenge, I’d play a new game. So yeah, it makes me not want to put time into it when I find myself getting slaughtered in areas that have never been overly challenging in the past.

In fact, I didn’t even make it through the Waterfall Cave with this go around – the screenshot you see below is about as far as I got before calling it a day. Maybe if it were a bigger screen like an iPad, though not likely still because of the controls … I think I’ve come to the conclusion that mobile RPGs just aren’t right for me. It’s too bad because there seems to be a ton of new/classic RPG content on handheld devices that I’d otherwise probably really enjoy, but let’s face it, if I didn’t enjoy the experience all that much with my favorite game of all-time, then what are the chances of me really being able to get into something new that I haven’t already loved since I was 12 years-old? 🙁

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So all of that said … I guess I’m seeking recommendations for console-based RPGs that I should give a try … unless perhaps some of these others end up pulling what Rock Star thankfully did for the GTA series and ends up releasing their handheld titles as console versions years after the fact. I know that the graphics won’t exactly be the same, but some of us are getting older and need that 52″ screen in order to see everything that’s going on! 😉

Angry Birds Star Wars?!?!?!

December 28, 2012 12:52pm
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This one came very much out of the blue on me – I had no idea it was coming until I saw a tweet this morning!

That said, I played through a little while I was sniffling in bed this morning and from what I’ve seen so far, they did a really good job with it! The cut scenes are cute without taking a huge amount of time (I think we all know the story by now!), and the levels seem to mix the mechanics from a lot of the older games (including Space!) and also introduce some new ones as well. The character tie-ins with the individual birds, as you can even see from the logo screen above, was really done well, too.

Plus, it’s 99 cents – I love that price point where I’m willing to click Buy without even thinking about it because it’s so cheap … and then to end up scoring a really great game to boot!

May the force be with you! WeEeeeee!!!  8)

Alright, alright – so when you put it that way, maybe I don’t need to rush out and replace my perfectly great iPhone 4 that’s technically two versions behind now, but still surpasses my expectations in about every other way!

For the record, though, I still don’t get what all of the stink is about changing up the connector – how many things do you people plug your phone into?! I’ve got a special cord attached to the stereo in my car, and that’s about it – everything else is just the standard USB -> iPhone 30-pin cable that you can buy on Amazon for $2.35 a piece. What, do you have docking stations for every flat surface in your house or something?!?!?!

Look at my food! LOOK AT IT!!!

August 22, 2012 7:06pm
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I just discovered this new website the other night, but I think it might be kinda awesome.

…at least to other people like me who enjoy taking pictures of their food, anyways!

Foodspotting is basically a social food sharing site – I guess the idea is that even a step beyond reviews of restaurants, why not check out actual pictures of the dishes that you might enjoy, as taken by other obsessive Internet sharers like yourself?! You can subscribe to different foods that you’re particularly fond of – pizza and peanut butter, I’m following you! – and all in all, it could be a neat way to sample a new restaurant before even setting foot inside the door and committing yourself to a full meal that might otherwise end up looking terrible!  😯

What can I say – I find it amusing simply because it seemed like another unique opportunity to share some of my fun food pics with the world, and if I happen to stumble into a new dish that I enjoy myself along the way, then all the better.

I’m still trying to figure out the ins and outs of it, but feel free to follow me or whatever and we can gawk at each other’s meals like perfectly normal Internet people!  :mrgreen:

P.S. This was my very first post … not bad, eh?! Gotta come out the gate strong…

My very own virtual Springfield…

August 21, 2012 9:53pm
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I never really got much into The Sims, but I’m kinda curious about this new iPhone game that I downloaded earlier called The Simpsons: Tapped Out which finds you having to rebuild Springfield after Homer accidentally blows it up by paying more attention to his iPad (err, I mean, his myPad) than the controls at the nuclear power plant…

The graphics are really nice, and the story so far is pretty entertaining because apparently a lot of the writers from the show participated in the making of the game. My only real concern is that because this app follows the freemium business model, there seems to be an inclination for in-app purchases to get all of the coolest Springfield icons for your own version and honestly, I’d rather just pay $4.99 or $14.99 or $29.99 for access to everything all at once than random charges of $9.99 so that I can unlock Moe’s Tavern or Professor Frink’s Lab.

The currency in question that you seem to have to buy is donuts – you get a few each time you level, but I have a feeling that if a more reliable source than my wallet doesn’t appear shortly, the game’s gonna get old kinda fast. Too bad because again, it is a really sharp looking game, but perhaps the concept of freemium just isn’t for me-(ium)…

my latest distraction – Kingdom Rush

July 2, 2012 8:22pm
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I’ve always been a fan of tower defense-type games because they’re typically fairly easy to learn and quick to play, so when I came across Kingdom Rush the other day, it was an easy sell … and not just because it only cost $0.99!

Basically, you have four different types of towers you can build – barracks, archers, artillery, and mage towers – and each has different pros and cons depending on what’s being thrown at you for a given level. I myself am a fan of archers, however as I get into the later levels I’m definitely finding that you really have to make use of everything if you want to be successful because even though my archers can take down most enemies fast, if I get hit with a hoard of armored knights who are resistant to all but magic, suddenly I’m kicking myself because I tend to neglect the mage towers more than anything else… 😯

It’s fun, though, and in the last couple of days I’ve managed to sink a ridiculous amount of time into strategizing against trolls and ogres and pregnant, giant spiders who drop baby giant spiders until you slay them! Good fun!!! :mrgreen:

Angry Birds … IN SPACE!!!

March 12, 2012 11:46pm
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I have little doubt that I’m going to be just as horrible at this game as I have been at most of the new Angry Birds levels, but the physics look awesome and I’m sure that Rovio will still get my $2.99 just the same…

Love the NASA promotional tie-in, too!

I am not really very good at Scramble at all.

February 25, 2012 8:38pm
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You know, it’s bad enough to regularly get my ass handed to me sometimes at triple my own score by my sister in Scramble, but it certainly doesn’t help my ego afterwards because with using a picture of Madelyn as her Facebook profile picture, it totally looks like I’m getting beaten by a baby…

My Less-Than-Stellar iPhone Replacement Story…

January 31, 2012 12:19am
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Good god, I never imagined that getting this fixed would end up being so difficult… 👿

Tonight I had a really bad experience getting my iPhone replaced. It wasn’t one person that did something really poorly, but instead several entities who all made tiny mistakes individually that compounded into a giant ball of frustration that for a brief moment left me wondering if I really did need this beloved iPhone of mine after all!

Let’s start at the beginning…

The Appointment, Part 1 (Apple’s fault)
I actually had originally scheduled my appointment for 7:20pm Saturday night, but rescheduled to 7:20pm on Monday so that we could go to Disney. Or at least I thought I had rescheduled, but come Monday morning, I double-checked and apparently it didn’t take, so I ended up with a slot 30 minutes earlier because my preferred spot was now mysteriously gone…

The Appointment, Part 2 (Apple’s fault)
Though I’m honestly not even sure why I had an appointment because I literally sat there for 40 minutes before somebody was actually able to help me. It kind of reminded me of that old Curb Your Enthusiasm episode – what’s the point of having appointments if you’re still taking walk-ups ahead of me?!

The Replacement (nobody’s fault?)
Ok, so this part actually went fine – they gave me a new iPhone with almost no questions asked, and after nearly an hour, it looked like I was finally on my way!

The Activation (Verizon’s fault)
…except that I couldn’t actually activate the thing in the store because Verizon wanted some stupid “Billing Password” that I had no idea what it was. When I got home, neither did Sara, so she ended up having to call and have them activate it over the phone.

The Restore Process (iTunes != iCloud, Apple’s fault)
But we weren’t done yet! After all of that, I couldn’t help but notice that a good number of my apps, along with all of my music, were just plain missing. It took more digging, but I finally figured out that I had backed my phone up to iCloud instead of iTunes, and so I had inadvertently restored from the wrong backup. Worse yet, the only place you can choose between the two is when you’re setting up the device for the first time, meaning the guy at the store had just buzzed right past the option that I needed and I had to wipe the whole thing and start all over again to choose the option correctly that time…

Thankfully, when I got to the activation process again, I just guessed at Verizon’s mystery password by using the last 4 of my wife’s social and it miraculously worked, so at that point I just had to give it time to re-download all of my apps from iTunes again, this time based on the list that iCloud had, not iTunes.

A couple of hours later, and one incredibly long walk afterwards to calm my nerves, it looks like everything has been restored and I’m back to business as usual again. Just goes to show you not to let yourself get too excited about a company’s “amazing customer service” because it really can change just that quickly.

In retrospect, it’s also interesting to note all of the precautions they took in the store to emphasize that they had no responsibility for my actual data – I had to sign something stating that I was authorizing them to wipe my old phone, and the guy even had me push the confirm button! So it’s a little discomforting to find, even only temporarily, that my backup didn’t actually contain what I thought that it did – I certainly don’t have lists of my apps or contacts anywhere, so if those actually had been lost, it would’ve been a major inconvenience to say the least.

If anything, it seems like a fairly quick fix would be a setting on your Apple ID to indicate whether your backups were local or in their cloud, just so there’s no confusion. I actually thought that when I migrated to iCloud, I wasn’t allowed to do local backups anymore, so if during the restore it had just asked me to sign in and then explained whether it could get my data from the cloud or if I needed to connect to iTunes to continue, that would’ve made a lot more sense.

Apple’s usually pretty good about the overall user experience, but they really dropped the ball on this one, especially considering that I’m a geek and I still got confused. Most probably would’ve went back to the store the next day and yelled for them to “fix it,” whereas I pretty much just yelled at the dog and was a grump the rest of the night while I tried to work through it myself… 😳

Just glad that it’s over now, and I’ve got a working home button on my phone to show for it.

Also, one more reason why Apple is awesome…

January 21, 2012 10:47pm
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My other revelation that I had at the Apple store earlier this evening is one that even made my wife do a double-take and say, “Wow – now that’s cool!”

Admittedly I can probably count the number of times I’ve been in these stores on one hand, so I’m not super familiar with their layout, but when I finally settled on my iPhone case, I caught myself saying, “Hey, wait a minute – where do I actually check out?!” as I looked around the store and realized that with the Genius Bar in the pack being entirely for tech support, they actually don’t have cash registers on the floor in these stores! Surprisingly, I asked a random employee and he proceeded to check me out right there on his iPhone, which alone was pretty darned neat, but that wasn’t the cool part…

The cool part was that before he ran the transaction, he gave me a quick, little demo of the Apple Store app that’s available as a free download, that not only allows you to schedule tech support appointments and browse Apple’s full product line using the store’s free wi-fi, but also using a new feature called EasyPay gives customers the ability to check themselves out when making simple purchases for accessories and the like, with the balance just charged to your iTunes account after scanning the barcode of each item with your phone’s camera! You obviously can’t use it for big things like computers and phones, and employees have to retrieve those from the back for you anyways, but for anything else, just scan the back of the box, click a couple of buttons, and you’re good to go!

I’m a big fan of self-checkouts at grocery stores because A) I tend to be a bit anti-social when I’m out shopping, and B) most times I feel like I can check myself out more quickly and efficiently than a human cashier who’d rather go on break or flirt with their bag boy than help me anyways, but this is even a step cooler yet! I downloaded the app as soon as I got home, and I’m definitely looking forward to giving it a try when we go back next weekend to pick out a case for Sara’s phone and run some other errands…

This is the future, and it is awesome. :mrgreen:

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