Saturday, September 29, 2007

Toy Review: Final Fantasy III trading art figures

We went down to East London today. Did some cultural shopping down at Greenwich Market, then visited the new TokyoToys market stall across the road where Jenni went to pick up her Final Fantasy III DS trading art PVC figures. Final Fantasy III DS was the second ever RPG that she played. She even completed it without a walkthrough, putting to shame the professional reviewers who bemoaned the game for its apparent difficulty (owned) and old-school'ness.

These official Squenix licensed figures seems to like the company of video games:

L-R: Luneth (freelancer), Arc (red mage), Refia (dragoon & devout) and Ingus (knight)

Cute aren't they? The character designs on this remake were by Akihiko Yoshida, who also designed the characters for Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy XII and Vagrant Story, among others.

Dragoon Refia just loves the attention.

The figures are pre-painted and display ready. They come with small display stands which could not be removed (a shame - but understandable). Each stands around 2 1/2 inches tall and are quite faithful to the character design. Overall we are quite happy with these fellas, as the quality are reasonable for the price.

You can purchase the set here.

TV Review: Bionic Woman "Pilot"

The Bionic Woman was one of my favourite TV shows back in the days when The Incredible Hulk, Six Million Dollar Man, Airwolf and Knight Rider ruled the terrestrial airwaves (you young-ones won't understand). It didn't have the production quality of current TV series like Heroes or Lost but it did have a certain charm to it and certainly back then I rather watch TV than head to the theatres.

Today with the revival of quality television which began with Six Deep Under and continues with Heroes and Dexter, it is pleasing to find that studious such as NBC recognises the audiences' need for good television. But rather than coming up with an original IP, NBC's new line-up for 2007 is a remake of the classic Bionic Woman, updated for modern times.

When news broke out that Michelle Ryan was to be cast in the lead role of a remake on Bionic Woman I was a bit sceptical. I mean Michelle Ryan was one of the major reasons why someone would ever want to tune into BBC's EastEnders (license money well spent), but she wasn't exactly one of the more memorable cast. It would be no doubt that the 2007 Bionic Woman would be darker and edgier than its predecessor and Michelle Ryan does seem to fit the bill as a replacement to the charming and beautiful Lindsay Wagner.

Fans of the old series may be disappointed with the direction in which the remake is going. The plot is darker than I would have preferred - like La Femme Nikita or Dark Angel dark (though cheesier and less intelligent). Personally I think it is a positive move by the production team to modernised the series, though it is filled with unfortunate cliché (e.g. hacker sibling, darkish organisation run by moppets, The Matrix reference).

In the Pilot episode plucky barmaid, mother substitute Jaime Sommers and her boyfriend Professor Will Anthros are both involved in a hit and run accident which left her severely crippled. Fortunately for her, her date happens to work with a shady and malevolent agency that were experimenting with artificial body parts. When Jaime finally woke up, she finds herself a new pair of bionic legs and other plastic replacements (like her Steve Austin eye). Unrealised by her, the accident was caused by a disgruntled former bionic woman experiment gone wrong Sarah Corvus (played by Katee Sackhoff of Battlestar Gallatica).

The first episode isn't without its fault. In fact they are plenty. Editing was jarring and the special effects were crap, quite unlike NBC's own Heroes. The writing isn't as good and filled with very very corny dialogue. It doesn't have that 'ready for prime-time' feel to it, though I love the Sci-fi b-movie vibe (which isn't surprising since this new series is being produced by none other than Battlestar Gallatica's David Eick).

The major problem here is the production team tried to cram over two hours worth of materials into a 40 minute broadcast. So what we have is a convoluted mess where we get quick one minute scenes that doesn't make sense with plenty of two dimensional characters and confusing plot lines. They could have easily split it into a two part episode where Jaime's recovery from her accident could be explored in the first and her realisation of her power in a second, giving more room for Peter Parker style of discovery.

Michelle Ryan as the new Jaime Sommers is, well, different. She doesn't have the same charming presence that Lindsay Wagner has, but given time I am sure she will settle down in her American role. The modern Jaime is however more alluring. Her character's relationship with the shadowy agency whom she is obliged to do work with, and the doppelgänger will be something to look forward to in future episodes, as long as the series doesn't get dropped. She already had her first battle (of many I am sure) with Sarah Corvus.

While the messy Pilot indicates that the production team still has a lot of work cut out in order to sustain interest, it does highlight that 2007's Bionic Woman has potential to improve. If only they will get their act together.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Resident Evil 4: Wii edition review

One of the biggest issues with playing 3D shooters on consoles are the ridiculously difficult controls. This is especially true for someone like me who was institutionalised with KB+Mouse combo since Doom was installed on our 486. Gamepads are the reason I did not like Goldeneye on N64 (despite its a-okay split-screen multiplayer); and is a reason why I always hoped that Capcom would release a decent Resident Evil 4 port on PC. Because while I liked the GameCube version enough, despite its obvious controller problems; I was sure I would love a PC version with mouse support even more.

Well they did finally release a PC port earlier this year, but like the typical anti computer gaming they are, Capcom (or at least the third party who did the porting) did not code in mouse support. Selling a PC game with no mouse support is like shipping a TV with no remote (trust me I know something about operating a TV without a remote because we lost the remote to our TV a long time ago - it is a chore) or a phone without buttons.

So when Capcom announced that they will be releasing yet another port, I cringed. Then I mourned for Shinji Mikami's headless corpse over how Capcom's execs defiled their GOD (Mikami, not the mythical ones). Later someone pointed out that this latest port would be for the Wii. My hopes raised. Capcom noted that Resident Evil 4: Wii edition would have the same code as the GameCube version but with support for progressive scan and 16:9 widescreen (but it does suffer from black lines on the side - so it isn't true 16:9) rather than the letterbox format on the GameCube version. It also contains previous PS2 exclusives such as Ada Wong's Separate Ways and other bonuses. But the real reason to get this new money spinner is Capcom has finally brought almost mouse-like precision to Mikami's finest through the inclusion of WiiMote and Nunchuck support, which I will be concentrating in this review.

As with any Wii game, there are gimmicks and an obvious one here is 'shaking the WiiMote around' for melee attacks. Stupidity aside, tacking on waggle control at least contributed a massive improvement on gameplay over to the GameCube version, which while graphically good, was a pain to play due to the unwieldy controls of the GCN controller. The WiiMote control does enable console third person and first person games a joy to play, though it isn't as precise as what you would normally get when playing PC shooters with a KB+Mouse setup.

The targeting system for one is different from FPS where the crosshair always remains in the centre. In RE4: Wii controls the , the WiiMote crosshair, where as the analogue stick on the nunchuck controls Leon's (and Ada's) viewpoint. Basically the camera and aiming are controlled independently. For example in order to shoot an off-screen enemy, move the analogue stick around so Leon/Ada's camera also changes. Once the enemy is in sight, hold down the 'B' button on the WiiMote where the crosshair will appear then aim with WiiMote so the crosshair pointer will move towards the enemy and press the 'A' button to shoot.

Unbelievable as it may sound, what this mean is you can't walk and shoot.

It does gives a sort of light-gun kind of vibe to it, which is okay, though it needed some getting used to. The WiiMote isn't as precise as mouse to do FPS style twitches and I believe Capcom was wise enough to understand that. In fact this is probably why the next Resident Evil spin-off (Umbrella Chronicles) to appear on the Wii will be on-rails. It will appeal to a more casual crowd, which is what the Wii appears to be built for (yes, I was being derogatory).

Perhaps the biggest disappointment after playing RE4: Wii edition was how good the visuals still hold up. Yes you read that right. RE4 was originally a GameCube game, and as a port, remains the best looking game I have seen released on the Wii this side of the pond. So while I thought that RE4 looked great on the Wii especially on 16:9 none-HD tellies, I am disappointed that there are no developers that are willing to push the Wii to its graphically limits, preferring instead to tack-on waggle capabilities with crap graphics.

Resident Evil 4 was an already great game just slightly handicapped by traditional dual analogue gamepads. The Wii version is even better and is the definitive version to play. Controls could have been executed better, but the precision of aiming of the WiiMote makes this the edition to own/rent. If you prefer, RE4: Wii edition also support the Classic Controller and GameCube controller, but why should you? Playing shooters with gamepads is like riding a bicycle without handles, sans-brakes and punctured tyres, while blindfolded with hands tied to the back and a cat peeing around while attempting to cycle on the M25 on the wrong side of the road during winter. It just does not make sense.

- Ada Wong
- Wii remote control better implemented than majority of Wii games
- Same old masterpiece that was Resident Evil 4, with good controls to boot
- Proper progressive widescreen
- Ada Wong ^^

- Essentially a GameCube game with waggle support
- UK rip-off price
- Can't run and shoot
- Not enough Ada Wong


You can purchase it here from Amazon UK or import the NTSC version from Play-Asia

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Facebook, overvalued, overrated

Unbelievable as it may sound, there are people out there who actually believe that the current social networking fad Facebook is worth up to US$10 billion. O_o With around 34 million active users that is roughly around £130 per user. O_O For a company that has very little cash flow and revenue.

Bad move Microsoft. Remember the Hotmail bubble? Even then you guys paid around US$50 per user. Now the rebranded Windows Live Hotmail is lagging behind competitors. What about Yahoo!'s acquisition of Geocities or Time Warner's AOL? None proved to be worth the price tag.

Anyway, like Myspace and Friendster, Facebook is yet another Web 2.0 fad. Wait a year or two, and I am sure another new social networking site will come to exist and will be the new mass-media darling. Just wait. The bubble has to burst eventually.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hype 3

Why would anyone want to queue for a video game is beyond me. It isn't like it would be short in supply, like say theatre tickets where the demand far outstrip the supply. Not constantly refreshing video games sites because you are fed up with a certain hype can be a good thing. Just like the "revolutionary" fruit phone that was launched a few months back, overkill hype marketing can sometimes makes you hate the things associated with them.

Reminds me of other video gaming hypes - Mario 64, Twilight Princess, Final Fantasy VII, Goldeneye - all of which failed to live up to its mass-hysteria praise, at least to me.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Product Review: John Lewis clear glass clip 24 x 32 inches frame

This clear glass clip frame has been mounted on the wall empty for the past two weeks. Why? Because a poster art that was sent two weeks ago has not arrived. Why? Because Royal Mail and CWU are still screwing with us. They have even announced two more official strikes to go with their illegal unofficial ones. Friends has almost even come to accept that this was a mysterious poem by someone called "John Lewis" (until they read it).

So here it is, a very very short review. It is glass frame which is far sturdier than those tacky plastic frame that you get from discount art stores. The frame can be hung vertically or horizontally and directly onto wall fittings. The glass (and poster) is mounted to the frame with ten metal safety clips. I give this a 8/10 score. Right now it just needs a bleedin' content. Argh!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Rogue Galaxy review

Rogue Galaxy is a beautiful game. I mean stunningly beautiful. It isn't pixel perfect or high definition like a PS3 game - it is just beautiful. Cities are vast and the environments are massive, making exploration a joy. Consider that it was made by the same developers who made Dragon Quest VIII (which incidentally was a very very beautiful game), then you will know what I mean. Level-5, I kowtow to you, the visual experts of cel-shading.

Phew. Anyway that's the best part of the game. Now on to the average part, starting with combat. It isn't exactly the most beautiful combat system in the world. In fact it can get messy. You see. jRPG fans are a fickle bunch. They love old school turn based combat. And Level-5 excelled in such when they did the incredible old school Dragon Quest VIII. Even when the series almost became an action RPG, fans cried aloud and eventually they decided to switch back. Rogue Galaxy is Level-5's take on finally modernising the archaic combat system, by making it real time, ala Final Fantasy XII.

But... it doesn't do it quite as good. Like Final Fantasy XII, combat takes place instantaneously as there are no transition between exploration and battle. Unlike the menu-based-real time Gambit system employed by Square-Enix, the combat system by Level-5 is almost Ninja Gaiden/Devil May Cry'ish, not quite unlike Level-5's own Dark Cloud series; with some sort of auto fighting system engineered in it for good measure. So is it a RPG, or a button-masher? Well, it is sort of both, jack-of-all and master of none sort. RPG elements are evident as you are able to go into menu and get all sorts of RPG cliché items and customising your characters.

Much like Final Fantasy XII's License Board and Final Fantasy X's Grid Sphere, Rogue Galaxy also has a system similar (Revelation Flow) that requires the player to unlock special abilities. Similar to the License Board, I find it slightly annoying and serves no gameplay purpose. It is also less intuitive than Square-Enix's version. But there you go. These sort of gameplay hurdles is set to stay whether we like it or not, so better get used to it.

Rogue Galaxy, like Final Fantasy XII, has a Star Wars'esque plot. The protagonist Jaster Rogue (an orphan BTW) a man who dreams of escaping his desert planet Rosa, and somehow managed to do so when a monster attacks his town. He then inherits a sword... Sounds familiar? No? Well go download Star Wars Episode Four AND One then (even Lucas rips his own films). The plot (Rogue Galaxy, that is) is pretty much a typical RPG plot cliché, so I won't ruined the rest for you. Unfortunately Jaster and his band of space pirates are some of the worst character development in RPG history.

So Rogue Galaxy is almost like Final Fantasy XII so you may as well play XII. But if you have already enjoyed XII, then there isn't any reason why you wouldn't enjoy this. It just isn't as polished and in almost every part of the game from graphics to voice casting to gameplay, it is sub par to Square-Enix's finest in the past ten years. As long as you understand that and recognise the me-too generic plot, then you will likely enjoy this, if not for the above average gameplay.


You can purchase it here from Amazon UK or import the NTSC version from Play-Asia

Friday, September 21, 2007

Hovis London Freewheel

This Sunday is the annual Hovis London Freewheel event, in uhm, Central London.

8.7 miles of traffic free roads will be made available to us cycling enthusiast. About registered 40,000 cyclists will join the ride tomorrow with many more unregistered riders expected, so make sure you head down early. Roads closed will include those in Westminster borough, City of London and Southwark. Cycling sightseers will be delighted to know that the roads closed will take you through such scenic routes such as Parliament Square, Temple Place and the Victoria Embankment.

People taking the Tube should refer here for TfL's police on bringing non-folding bikes on different part of the Underground network. Unfortunately engineering work would mean that we may not make it, though I am still trying to sort out a way that would enable us to get into Central London. With good luck we hope to see you there Sunday.

Happy cycling!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Figure Review: Ikki Tousen's Ryomou Shimei Blue Nurse version

Ikki Tousen isn't exactly the best manga ever drawn, not even close. In fact the English translation (Battle Vixens) is pretty poor. The anime is much better in that respect and is what I would recommend getting into, at least until TOKYOPOP set things right by ordering a complete retranslation. The plot deserves better than pretentious wise-crack rapper dialogue.

Yuji Shiozaki (the creator and manga writer) does seem to have very little imagination when it comes to female character design. They differ only in hair style and all tend to have massive boobs and exploding shirts... But he does know his female form.

One of the few characters that interest me is the Toushi known as Ryomou Shimei (呂蒙 子明) - the girl with a fetish for weird fashion and less than orthodox combat methods. If there was ever a figurine to own it would be Shimei's. Personally I have always found her to be one of the much better character design from the series (she is based on the Three Kingdoms Lu Meng). Shimei specialises in grappling moves, which is particularly effective given her weapon of choice - the handcuffs.

Unfortunately 99% of all Ikki Tousen related figures, including those of Ryomou Shimei, sucks - so I never had an opportunity to even consider getting one. Just because the manga is well known for its excessive ecchi content and fan service does not mean we want to have figurines with boobs and other kinky materials displayed in the living room!

Wani Book's Ryomou Shimei Blue Nurse version figure, sculptured by Yasuhiro Utajima, is by far one of two figurines based on the franchise that have caught my eyes (the other being the cheerful Sonsaku Hakufu, but I didn't fancy the pose). And with good reasons too. No exploding clothes makes this a very conservative 1/7 scale PVC figure which we can proudly display on our Cargo manga bookcase without upsetting too many guests.

The build quality isn't perfect. The knee caps are weirdly boxy and the hair isn't as detailed as my Jingai Makyo Ignis figurine. But then again Shimei only cost 4800 yen (this was a gift though). I do like the small details such as the cross on her chest (though the less than perfect paint almost ruined it). Utajima's sculpture of her facial expression pretty much captures her personality. The katana isn't as lovely as I would have preferred, though I did find the tsuka hilt to be pretty detailed.

Because of the pose, the crotch is well hidden - much to the relief of the household and guests. Speaking of poses, I love how Utajima decided to have Shimei kneeling in a battle ready position. It is far more ideal than most of the perverted poses offered on other Ikki Tousen figurines (for example this Ryofu Housen figure, which while accurately depicting Shiozaki's Ikki Tousen volume three cover, isn't something you would want on your mantelpiece.). Those who find this disappointing should not fret. Because the skirt is removable you will be able to instantly peek at underwear at your leisure.

The nurse outfit wasn't what I would have preferred. Instead I would rather have her in her trademark French maid outfit, but even then a nurse costume does highlight her penchant for bondage wares. The only thing original are her boots, eye patch, hair colour, mole, the aforementioned cross and her demur look. I kinda wished they would at least include her hand-cuffs, at the very least. On the positive side the costume isn't battle damaged.

There are currently two versions of this figure - the blue version reviewed here, and a limited edition black version coming out over the next few months. Personally I would recommend the blue version. The black uniform is pretty cool, but they also changed her hair to grey for it, which unacceptably deviates from the manga, though I do think that black would probably do better in hiding any imperfections.

- Classic fighting pose
- Non exploding costume
- OK build quality (for the price)

- Lack of detail, especially in the hair
- Not in her French maid costume
- Poor paint quality (especially knee-caps)

This figure was obtained from, a Swindon based site specialising in Japanese toys and figurines. Thanks Steve.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What is the point of Royal Mail?

We have been waiting for a couple of letters and parcels to arrive for the past three weeks. Apparently the postal workers at the Royal Mail postal depot near Watford, North London have been unofficially striking. One of our package arrived last week, but was sliced open. Fortunately the content was not stolen, but then it was worth nothing.

I suspect there are rogue postal workers who are stealing our posts at the sorting office. It is a massive allegation to make but I believe it to be very true. So far only invaluable posts has arrived but things that parcels with goods that have commercial value has failed to turn up. On the other hand the only post being delivered to us by the posties are junk mails. Not by kids but by the posties! Just why do they think it is okay to demand a pay rise when they are moonlighting delivering junks and stealing our mails?

For fuck's sake just sack the lot of them (management and posties), steal their pensions and privatised Royal Mail. When a left winger like me is advocating privatisation you know something has gone seriously wrong somewhere.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rayman Raving Rabbids mini-review

Here I have is a review of Rayman Raving Rabbids for Nintendo Wii. Jennifer decided to buy this game after we downgraded the Wii to a 'party console'. The last console we had that was designated as such was the GameCube. It got dusty very quickly and only got cleaned up when we had guests. Anyway, our decision isn't surprising. The majority of the Wii library are made up of generic party games anyway!

Now, if you are looking forward to a main platform Rayman game then you will find yourself utterly disappointed by the latest Michel Ancel game. The brilliance of 3D platforming that was evident in Rayman 2 is gone.

What you have here from the Beyond Good & Evil genius, are indeed more mini games. To be fair as this was one of the first batch of Wii launch games, you can't accuse Ubisoft of doing a quick and dirty Wii cash-in for soccer mums. This is important because unlike many newer Wii cash-in non-games, the production value of Rayman Raving Rabbids is pretty high (for a Wii game, I have to stress). Visuals aren't that great but equally at least things are bright and colourful.

Rayman Raving Rabbids contains about 70 'trials' or mini-games that requires the use of the unique properties of the motion sensing part of the WiiMote. Some are downright ludicrious (such as swinging a poor would be beef as far as you can), others are brilliant (on-rails FPS can get hectic and fun), while others are just piss poor (drawing over a shape), often hampered by poor controls and sensitivity of the Wii remotes.

While there is a storyline, it only serves to accompany the gameplay. It is pretty basic. Naughty bunnies kidnap Rayman and forces him to complete in Gladiator spoof trials. Uhmm, and that is it really. Complete enough trials a day and you earn enough plungers where Rayman will use to plot his escape. You will also get to unlock secret stuff for Rayman such as clothings and hairdos.

Rayman Raving Rabbids isn't one of those killer titles on the Wii (I am still waiting for those to be announced - glares at Nintendo). However it is a good enough party mini game that I am sure will be enough to entertain guests when Super Monkey Ball and Singstar gets too boring. It is amusing enough, though often dull. It is definitely not worth the admission price of 35 quid though. £20 ought to be the sweet spot, in our opinion, at least for a party game.


Import it from Play-Asia or buy it from Amazon UK today

Monday, September 10, 2007

Save the Cheerleader, Save the World

This Wednesday's BBC2 terrestrial debut of Heroes' ninth episode "Homecoming" is the episode to watch. It basically concludes the 'Save the Cheerleader, Save the World' arc that began with "Hiros" a couple of episodes back, and is one of the more memorable episodes since the series was incepted. Richard has a very nice write up on the episode that you should read.

You should also aim to catch "Six Months Ago" on BBC3 after "Homecoming" at 10pm as it is one of the more important episodes and partly explains the main arc as well as the origin of season one's main villain and 'patient zero' Sylar. The minor arc will conclude next week on BBC3 with "Fallout", where Peter discovers something shocking and Hiro finally meets Isaac.

I always thought that the next couple of episodes are pretty weak, though it does introduce a very important character played by the fabulous Christopher Eccleston. The next minor arc will follow Peter's attempt to understand his powers as more revelations will be revealed such as Mr. Bennett's mysterious company. Anyway don't let me ruin it for you. Just make sure you clear your Wednesday evening schedule.

"Volume Two: Generations" will begin in two weeks for lucky Americans (and downloaders).

Friday, September 7, 2007

Gyakuten Saiban 3 / Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations mini-review

Is there really a point to reviewing another Gyakuten Saiban (Ace Attorney here in the west) game? The gameplay mechanics are alike as the first two GBA to DS ports (you should read a review somewhere). But what you get in the final Phoenix Wright outing is more cases to solve (yay!) and closure too (boo!).

Gyakuten Saiban 3 (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations) opens with a glimpse to the protagonist's past and how he came to meet his mentor Mia Fey. It is sort of a tutorial case similar to the first cases in the previous two cases though it is much longer than those two. The case is also more challenging to solve than its previous equivalent cases from the other two games, signalling that the writers has opened up to new imaginations. Other cases are also similarly more challenging and present more twists than 100 David Fincher films.

Then we have out new prosecutor Godot, who in my opinion is the highlight of GS3. Suffice to say I won't ruin it for you but his involvement in Gyakuten Saiban 3 is deeper than previous two main prosecutors from the first two games combined (don't worry we will have a prosecutor reunion in this game). You will also find that with the cast of new characters, beloved old ones makes a hearty and significant return. The much derided Psyche-Lock mechanism that bring trial like solutions during investigations is also back for this game. This may annoy some folks but it does increase the amount of challenge within the investigations part of the game.

The localisation effort is impeccable with plenty of reference to modern popular culture. There are hilarity abound that will delight fans of comedy (such as a very nice dig at Microsoft's blue screen of death), and rival that of other comedy point and click adventure games such as Sam & Max and Monkey Island. As with any text heavy adventure games there are bound to be elementary English mistakes (mainly typos, some grammar etc.), and they do exist. But these are so rare that they are negligible. However if you are the kind of people who are easily distracted by such minute details then you will be pleased to know that Capcom has promised to improve on the localisation for the western release. That and you shouldn't be reading this English challenged blog.

The game isn't without its problem though. The soundtrack by Sega's Noriyuki Iwadare, while awesome, is plagued by what seems to be of a lesser audio quality output compared to the first Gyakuten Saiban DS port, especially when playing through a headphone. You can easily hear the artefacts due to poor audio compression or maybe though the non-optimisation by Capcom.

You will also find that in the final case (where you play a previous prosecution attorney in a defence role) rather than redrawing his/her sprites, the developers merely flipped the stocks of sprites, complete with his/her typical persecution attire. While it is understandable since they have already spent so much time redrawing the same person's sprites (and others too!), it just doesn't look as right as non-flipped sprites. You will also encounter a rookie prosecutor Miles Edgeworth (the main prosecutor from the first game) in one of the case and may find that the sprites aren't as detailed.

Despite the minor annoyance, the game is filled with awesomeness. GS3 is a fitting end to the law career of Phoenix Wright. It delves into Phoenix and other main characters past as well as tying up lose end. The fifth and final case for example is a major one, worthy of Hollywood proportion that ties all three titles together. And it delivers an emotional ending for this reviewer.

Does it take three glowing review to entice you to purchase a Gyakuten Saiban game? I hope not. It is easily the best Gyakuten Saiban game of the Phoenix Wright arc trilogy, though I would well to recommend that you buy and play the games chronologically. Go order it now. I will now weep and wish a Haitian remove any Gyakuten Saiban from my memory so I can play it again.


Related posts: Gyakuten Saiban, Gyakuten Saiban 2

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Hardware review: Belkin Wireless G Cable/DSL Router

Belkin's Wireless G Cable/DSL Router is a no frills easy to use router that is compatible with Virgin Media, NTL Broadband and Telewest broadband cable connection as well as DSL connections. It comes equipped with four 10/100 Base-T Ethernet ports with support for up to 253 wired LAN users and 32 wireless LAN users. It is reasonably priced for a wireless router and is about 10 quid cheaper than my first choice Linksys Wireless-G router, which wasn't in stock.

After a quick setup via the included CD where it detected the broadband settings and then connecting the Virgin Media (NTL) cable modem to the router and allowing it to reboot, the thing was up and running all within 10 minutes. Unfortunately on my ThinkPad (which was also the installation PC for the router) did not manage to connect wirelessly, but after a quick check and enabling automatic IP, it worked fine.

Configuring the security is easy, probably will take about five extra minutes. Just navigate to the router's IP via Firefox or your browser of choice and click away. Enabling security is important. One of my former neighbour had this exact router and never enabled any sort of security, be it on the wireless connection itself or even the router (it was great filtering out MAC addresses). The router has support for two WPA2 keys where the first pre-shared passphrase allows full network access and a second 'guest' key allows only internet access via the router. Perfect for friends dropping by.

The wireless connection is excellent and I can't stress that enough. ThinkPad, Nokia N80, XDA Exec, Nintendo Wii, an Acer lappy with Atheros wireless card - all were connected within seconds. I have yet to test my PS2's wired network capability with the router though but my gut feeling is it would be fine.

Signal strengths are reasonable considering that this Belkin is an entry level model worth £35. The router is sitting next to the telly in the living room and signals up to 50% were obtainable from the pub across the road making pub quiz cheating easier. Signal in the bedroom is roughly 90% even with the doors closed. It is obvious that in a typical small apartment an entry level router like this would work just fine. Anything higher (like Belkin's own MIMO range) is overkill unless you are planning to share internet connection in a four story Victorian flat.

A caveat with this product is it does not include a modem (which is understandable considering the price) as well as a USB port. Most ADSL modems today comes in USB flavour but the Wireless G router only comes with Ethernet ports. It is very old school but if you are lucky enough to have a Ethernet broadband modem then this shouldn't be a problem.

This product comes highly recommended. It is easy to use and gets the job done.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Fibre-Optic broadband goodness

Just had cable Virgin Media broadband installed. 4Mb download link. Very quick and no worries of being far from some exchange or being tied down to BT. Peer-2-Peer never looked more appealing. We would have applied for Virgin's XL service (20Mb), which is already available here, if it weren't for the high price. Maybe once we build a multi-terabyte home server.

Image by Danbri

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Tube strike suckage

Due to the collapse of Metronet, possibly the least efficient contractor ever, a 72 hour strike will affect the Tube from tomorrow 6pm BST. It willl last until Thursday 6pm.

It sucks that Londoners would have to pay for this.