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Sunday, June 25, 2017

SD Gundam Generation Genesis

Having spent more than 1,000 hours on this turn-based strategy title -- that's according to the in-game clock, anyway ... but probably just a fraction of that in reality since the accumulated hours seem to be the total time the game has been active than of me playing it -- I've grown to like it quite a bit.

I came in as a total newbie as I haven't been a Gundam fan. So SD GGG is a great introduction cos 1) it obviously targets Gundam fans and 2) it tells the same core story about 20+ times (if you play every single story in the game). Sometimes you side with "the Federation", other times "the Zeon" rival fraction, which is kinda clever. I think the anime was created very much at a time when Japan was still pondering about the Second World War and its aftermaths; and its philosophic musings (yes!) verge on that grey area between right or wrong, good and evil etc.

So you can either enjoy these "moral" stories (which I do), or the collecting of the many, many Gundams and robots and warships (which I kinda enjoy but not obsessively) and the gameplay.

Now, the gameplay is pretty straightforward, not unlike Tactics Ogre only less fiddly. You basically unlock characters and units (i.e. an array of Gundam models) that you like and then that's it ... take them to battles and level up. There are options for you to evolve or exchange the units -- and characters gain more skills as they level up -- but the game (on normal mode anyway) is quite easy there is absolutely no need to pay too much attention on "bettering" your team. Sometimes I just want a basic Gundam simply cos it looks great (Blue Destiny Units!!!) without worrying about making it God-like. I leave that to the Unicorn Gundams, which players can easily unlock from the word go. The game also comes with some OP Gundams (Phoenix Gundam Power Unlocked) so this is not a difficult game... though the puzzles/challenges without these OP Gundams can be fun.



Being thematically obsessed, I now have two Federation warships, the Argama and the Nahel Argama [London Bell] captained by Bright Noa, (maybe I should get a Zeon one later) and four different teams. One made up of characters from the default Generation Genesis series, one from the first Gundam series (with Amuro Ray), one headed by Haman Karn (with the Quebley), one with Blue Destiny series (which I like!)

I have decided not to play the hard or insane mode cos that practically just means each battle lasts a lot longer (than it already is!) So I think I will just play through all the series and that's it. Will then move onto Super Robot Wars V, which I've heard has a more interesting story. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Plateau and Repetition

So I have been practising yoga for nine years (I always remember I started my practice a week before the devastating earthquake in Sichuan, 2008) and it feels like I've reached the proverbial plateau. That is when my body doesn't seem to be "advancing" any further and that it feels like I am not making any progress ... that all I'm doing now is to repeat the same old sequence again and again and again. Why am I not gaining more strength and flexibility? Why I still suck at handstand ><

Then I attended this panel discussion at this year's Asia Yoga Conference (AYC) and it all started to make sense. In this excerpt, veteran yoga teacher David Swenson explains why he likes practising Ashtanga and that through the repetition practitioners are able to find the magic and depth that lies within that practice... I'm totally inspired by that!!!

  

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Nobunaga's Ambition: Ascension

Here is a grand strategy game series that I dabbled in some years ago. It takes a bit of time to get a sense of what you are doing (me, several years lol) as there is so much micro-management I didn't know where to start.


With Ascension, the Nobunaga series finally introduced a gameplay mechanism that is similar to the Romance of the Three Kingdom games -- I get to play as an humble office to manage a fief instead of a daimyo working towards taking over/ unifying the entire country. And instead of following some historical events, I can choose to follow my own path: i.e. my office had already defected a few times to build up a stronger army. 

This is one long game (at the moment it's one invasion after another while learning about Japanese history) ... so will see where it will take me ...

Besides, am having a game drought (ironically someone gave me a PS4 slim!!!) and there isn't much out there worth playing right now for me. The other night I finally finished Summon Night 6: Lost Borders... the turn-based gameplay was interesting to begin with then it just kinda fizzled out ... the game itself is not challenging (though the final boss battle did take quite long). Think it was released just for fans (and I am not one of them). So I sold that -- as well as the Super Robot Wars Z3 cos it's in Japanese and I now have two more robot wars games that are in English (am not playing them right now). Psycho-Pass Mandatory Happiness also seems to appeal only to fans, as is Persona 4 Dancing All Night

In the meantime I just jump between old games: Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky  I'm still playing but it's just not very engaging (though it is beautifully rendered). I'm just not very good at alchemy lol. Then there are the games I already finished: the two Zero Escape titles, the various Final Fantasy games, Uncharted Fight for Fortune ... which I kept going back to. 

But I really need to find something new -- and good ....  

Saturday, April 15, 2017

My Fav Final Fantasy Intro

From Final Fantasy IV



... oh, and a great track from Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core

Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Body That Feels Heavy

It could be the humid/ dreary weather or the fact I'm physically (and mentally) drained but my body felt very heavy during the vinyasa class today. When I was doing the handstand (against the wall, had to hold for a minute each time we went up), I felt like my body was crushing onto my shoulders and hands ... it could be that my shoulders weren't open enough ... but when I was doing the mermaid pose I was able to reach back to hook my fingers so that might not be it ... anyway, I just felt my body was one big piece of brick and my energy level was low.  

Still, I'm glad I practised for 75 mins cos it did me an energy boost -- and an appetite -- after the class. At least now I don't feel like crawling back to bed, even the sky has gone completely grey.

Nothing's happening much on Games-land ... bar Psycho-Pass Mandatory Happiness (what a weird title name) I'm STILL playing the same (literally) old games. I picked up Persona Dancing All Night again but it's just too repetitive ... I will eventually finish it but I just need to spread out that repetitiveness. I've decided to do a third playthrough for Final Fantasy X-2 cos I've pretty much done all there is to be done in my second playthru -- which was to unlock all the fiend cups. Since I get to keep all my accessories and the entire Fiend Arena, I can rush through now to get the True Ending then just go through the Fiend Arena again ... from level 1 !!! That'd be very challenging... I am leaving all the strategy games for later...

Phone-wise I've decided to continue to use the BlackBerry Priv (which has been behaving itself since the last firmware update) and the LG G5. Have to say I hated the G5 when it was released last year... I just thought the phone felt cheap and plasticky ... but one year on, and having owned the more metallic V20, I actually quite like its light weight and size. V20 was far too big to carry around. I was planning to get the new Sony but the XZs is a bit of a let down, especially its camera quality is not as good as other mid-to-top range phones. Just as well, can save some $$$ ^^

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Final Fantasy Accessories and Weapons (2)


Darkness!!

Yes, another tweak! Quake + Dualcast turns out (to me) very underwhelming (ran out of MPs casting !!) so have decided to swap that with Darkness, an AoE spell that uses HP instead of MP. Not only because it looks kinda cool (and ignores defence, and can hit flying objects too, unlike quake), I have the Genji Armour -- Regen -- so can just keep casting ^^ Also now have two HP +999%!! Darkness' power is determined by ATK stats and 215 is not bad. Think current setup is pretty powerful -- and fun too (You can do it Zack!!!)  

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Final Fantasy Accessories and Weapons

Part of what makes Final Fantasy games is so addictive for me is not so much the stories but how I can find and unlock rare items in the game to build my ultimate/ perfect setup. My most recent success with the Pink Tail in FFIV (last post) is good example (all 10 characters have their ultimate weapon/ gear/ accessories), as is all those dresspheres and garment grinds - as well as the ultimate bosses I unlocked - in FFX-2. With FFIII I've unlocked all the jobs but the game is simply too grindy (even for me) I'll leave that for now. FF Type 0 is even worse as trying to get the ultimate spells and gears mean AFK grinding i.e. taping your control down so it'd grind while you are "away from keyboard" (!!) What? Again, I'll leave that for now.    

Is this the Real final setup?
Which leaves us FFVII: Crisis Core and, surprisingly, the setup for Zack has taken me a longer time to fine tune and perfect (as you can see my past posts). And I am still tweaking it. While getting his accessories (e.g. the Genji gear and Divine Slayer) was "straightforward" -- completing the 300 missions and unlocking all the scenes in the DMW but it wasn't as grindy as in FF Type 0 -- his materia setup is more fiddly. It took me ages just to understand how it works; it's a bit like chemistry when you combine two things you get a new one only you have to think about transferring "properties" from one thing to another. Like, how to give Costly Punch more VIT or create an attack that has more SPR etc. Well, unfortunately it is impossible to transfer VIT+100 to Costly Punch. Luckily, I can boost its VIT stats by fusing it with another Costly Punch materia and lots of aegis armlets (which, thank god, was easy to farm). So with stat boosting accessories like Ziedrich + summon materia, I am able to cap all VIT, SPR and MAG stats. 

But I didn't want to have the SPR+ and VIT+ materia taking up my precious skills slots so today I managed to do more materia fusion and now have BOTH Costly Punch and Quake, as well as an additional Mug skill (which I could transfer the SPR +100 onto). I'd have liked to have Dual Cast but you cannot transfer stats onto it (i,e. if I wanna have it on, then I won't have SPR +255). Besides, I'll need to Master it (hmm, may do that later) ... maybe I will alternate a Mastered Dual Cast with either Lucky Stars or Rebirth Flame. 

A couple of hours later...

Okay, I just levelled up/ Mastered Dual Cast (in that tedious kill 1,000 troupers mission - yikes) and I don't really see any distinct advantage of having the skill other than it heals more (?) (and did I imagine it or it eats up a lot of MPs for Quake?) So, back in Rebirth Flame (great animation) + Lucky Stars. Just took Zack to that "only for 1st class mission" (love the spawning of those eggs...) and got a free phoenix down from the RF summon. Level 96 now so three more levels to cap that.   




Friday, March 10, 2017

A Tale of the Pink Tail

This is, like, totally INSANE.

Hello Princess!

So having recently picked up Final Fantasy III (downloaded onto iPad1 awhile ago) -- I am going though my FF phase -- I decided to revisit FFIV since FFIII became a bit grindy just to level up (little did I know!) 

Anyway, having got all the top gears for my characters (was around level 50-60 then), I noticed I could try farm the legendary "pink tail", which can be exchanged for the game's best equipment, the Adamant Armour. I knew it is a super rare drop but not THIS RARE! Literally hundreds of battles (killing those Flan Princesses), zillions of gils, and many levels later (Cecil, Kain, Rydia, Rosa and Edward all @ level 99 or close to), still not one pink tail in sight. This is the BIGGEST grindfest since Tactics Ogre!!! I've levelled so much I can take on those flans without losing any HPs (which is great cos I can save MPs on healing) ... still, how many more auto-battles (thank god this HAS auto-battles) do I have to sit through before getting this item???

I've just stocked up for more mindless grinding, so I now have thousands of Sirens that I farmed earlier (need them to summon the Flan Princesses) and TONNES of elixirs (for Rydia to summon Bahamut/ mega flame) to grind until my PSVita (or me) blows up ...

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Final Fantasy X-2 2nd Playthru (Part Two)

After a week I managed to reach Chapter 5 - faster than expected though I did skip all the side quests, hence locking myself out of the Fiend Colony, meaning I will not be able to unlock the The End garment grid (boo-hoo) ... why did I missed it in the first playthrough?

Anyway, have now unlocked not only the Aeon Cup (got the Peerless GG already -- hurrah) but also the Fiend World Cup/Almighty Shinra Cup (nabbing the Adamantite along the way). Will do one more Cactuar Cup battle before attempting the Fiend World Cup and unlocking, hopefully, the Almighty Shinra Cup before YRP levelled up more. Yuna, Rikku and Paine are at level 42-43 currently, which is neither too high nor low and battles remain challenging, especially in the Fiend Arena.

I've been fiddling with the setups a bit because I want to stay thematic (like, I don't see Yuna as a physical fighter, more a mage/ healer) while making every character strong and useful. So this is what I have so far (and this is what makes this game fun):

Yuna
She can switch between Gunner, Songstress, Psychic, Festivalist, White Mage and Mascot, all with maxed abilities. But since Mascot kinda overrides White Mage and Catnip has been nerfed, I've switched out both. Psychic is a real find (teleport and invincibility abilities are amazing) so great to have at the start of a battle (to get behind enemies). Songstress is great for buffing and Festivalist can cast Ultima but probably only good enough for non-boss fights).Lady Luck seems like a good one to explore later... So Mascot is still the preferred dressphere/class for Yuna and when coupled with the Higher Power GG, she can be a v good healer while dealing out decent damage with Moogle Beam. I still have one more accessory slot for her (be great to give her Ragnarok so don't have to worry about running out of MP). I put the stat boosting Adamantite on her. Though that slows her down a lot but it also makes her invincibility and (songs) buffs longer (I think...) which is super cool.  

Rikku
I see her more as a support character, with ability to steal, heal and buff. I switch her between Thief, Berserker and Mascot ... thematically all make good sense. I skip Alchemist cos I cannot do the mixing (cannot read the Japanese names of items!). So she can do damages as Berserker, with auto-regen (though not great) as well as heal and buff with Mascot. I like her because she moves fast (and can steal) and I slapped a Valiant Lustre GG on her to further boost her defence. But she is the weakest of the three... sometimes just use her as bait (for tough boss). I put a speed bracer and ribbon on her for More protection! 

Paine
I never liked this character (all the pouting... and that hair!) but, boy, is she the best Boss Killer in the game?!  I only see her as a heavy damage dealer so Warrior and Dark Knight classes suit her the best. Mascot also has Samurai skills (Fireworks!) which is brilliant. Needless to say, I put the damage-boosting Peerless on her (break damage limit) as well as Iron Duke to boost her stats (monstrous!) and Ragnarok, meaning can keep using her amazing Cactling Gun without the fear of running out of MP.  




Chocobo/ Lulu
I need to build these "creatures" ... both have multiple hits so putting Invincible and Catnip on them would work wonders ... will try that later Mwahahaha...

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Final Fantasy X-2 2nd Playthru

The thing is, there aren't that many Final Fantasy games out there that I like and are ported to the PlayStation Vita so after some dithering I've returned to X-2 for a second playthrough. The fact that it's all in Japanese is a real turnoff (since there are so many missions that require understanding of the language) but I really want to unlock the Aeon Cup (summons!!) so I am willing to overlook this inconvenience. Since I am going to skip all those time-consuming side quests, at least I can speed through the chapters this time round. 

I'm in Chapter 2 now and so far so okay ... since this time I made a different decision - handing the Awesome Sphere to New Yevon - I 100% the game. So my objective is to get to the last Chapter (5) as quickly as I can cos only then I can catch all the fiends I need to unlock the Aeon Cup ... but before that, I will have to substitute Yuna Rikku and Paine with Nooj, Baralai and Gippal to keep their level low so I can morph the fiends more quickly. Which also means, by that time, the game will get very challenging because YRP will be @ Level 4 while all the enemies will be @ very high levels... which should be interesting... 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Steins;Gate 0 (Part 2)

Have played a bit more and gradually getting into the story. I'm still getting used to some of the new character illustrations (Mayuri and Luka especially) and (I know, this is weird) I really don't like that save file image, which looks like a blurry blob ... what's happened to the mini scream caps?

New (and old) cast
Now I understand the structure a bit better and I'm, basically, on the right track. There are, like, six endings (including the "true" one) and to unlock that, I will have to, compulsorily, unlock the Kurisu and Mayuri endings. Which leaves me two optional Maho, Kagari and "Bad" endings. Well, if I still have time (and enough curiosity), I will play through those too (maybe the bad ending?)

More Mystery and Action!
Is that ... really you? Kurisu....

I've reached a point where Okabe is now quite sure he's leaping from one world line to another. And the shift is done after answering (or ignoring) a call from Amadeus Kurisu (the AI). I have yet to find out how the AI and world line changes are connected. I hope there is no more padding out on this route -- before I have to, like, go back in time, and do the other route, which unlocks the Mayuri and True endings. 


The more sentimental soundtrack here actually reminds me of that in Ao no Kiseki, which is quite beautiful, lyrical and moving. And I've just reached the part when Okabe and Kurisu (in human form and another world line) reunites and that got me a bit teary. ><

So, will continue to play this ... while I've also just download YuGiOh for mobile phones and that looks very interesting. I've Always loved this card game (I still have the Ultimate Masters- World Championship Tournament on my GameBoy Advance) and can't wait to get back into it. Though I also recently re-bought the Marvel Trading Card game but since it has this terrible lag on my Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core limited edition PSP2000 I think I will kinda leave that (I'm just more interested in the cards cos they include a lot of different series from the Marvel universe...)  

Friday, January 13, 2017

Steins;Gate 0

Have started this "midquel" of Steins;Gate and my opinion of it so far is a bit mixed. Since I went straight to the True Ending in the last game, I know how this story (canonically) ends. Steins;Gate 0 is more a follow-up that fills in more details about one particular "world line" (alternate universe), the one that started the last game. And it's not a pretty one. While the Stein's Gate universe is the one with the happy ending, i.e. no one dies, the Beta world line is the one that Kurisu dies, an event that leaves our protagonist Okabe devastated.

Okabe ... a broken man 
Steins;Gate 0 wastes no time in jumping into the thick of it and quickly introduces the new characters. Kurisu still exists in this world line but only as an AI. So far the story is interesting enough (though peppered with small talks that I really have no interest in). The relationship between Okabe and Kruisu is probably the only thing I'm interested in ... Mayuri sounds a bit different (though the same voice actors have returned for this instalment) and I really don't like her new look. The new art is actually more slick but, like, Daru looks better in the last game. The music also makes less of an impression. 

New character Maho

While Suzuha returns ... 
I'm taking the route that unlocks the true ending of this game, though I'll have to leap back to unlock others endings to finally access it. This time the story is told from different PoVs instead of just from Okabe so whenever I reach a segment I have little interest in I tend to stall there a little. Anyway, will keep playing (since there isn't much out there at the moment). 

Genji Armour + Genji Shield = Invincible!
I played a bit of Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core this morning; decided to change the set up just a little so I have Rebirth Flame replacing Costly Punch, using Quake to kill big mobs. I really love the music so will keep playing the game until I get really tired/sick of it ... but will I?   

Monday, January 9, 2017

Steins;Gate

So, after a very, very, very slow start ... did I say this game has a VERY start? @.@ Steins;Gate turns out to be exactly what critics had long lauded: an excellent localised VN game. I cruised through the final three-four chapters last weekend ... I just couldn't put it down. I laughed, I cried and I cried some more before a very, very satisfying end.

Since I am not a big VN fan -- I don't have the patience to unlock every single ending --  I went straight for the the True Ending (though I did, by mistake, unlocked the Suzuha ending) and though it is kinda long (an full extra chapter) but it wraps up the whole story very nicely.    

Okay, *** Spoiler alert ***



moments of comic relief


...and high tension 

Take away the padding (and there is quite a bit) the structure of Steins;Gate is actually quite simple. Protagonist Rintarou Okabe (brilliantly voiced by Mamoru Miyano) accidentally stumbles across a way to send emails back to the past (D-Mails) and, inadvertently, sending himself to another "worldline" (like, an alternate reality). Without knowing what happened and the (serious) consequences of sending these emails, he gradually leads himself into a reality (Alpha) in which his oldest childhood friend has to die. When he finally realises his "mistakes", Okabe, with the help of the very intelligent (and later love interest) Kurisu Makise (voiced by the equally outstanding Asami Imai), has to undo all the D-Mails that eventually takes him back to his original reality (Beta). But all is not well in this reality -- from the beginning, we know Kurisu dies here -- so who is Okabe going to save? His childhood friend or love interest??? It's heart-breaking to witness the many sacrifices that he has to make in order to save at least one of his friends ... but, if you get to the True Ending, at least there is one reality -- known as Steins Gate, where this game got its name from  -- in which they all survive, alas, with an unpredictable future. 





Is He a She?

The True Ending ....
So now I just started Steins;Gate 0, which is pretty dark as it is set in the Beta reality in which Kurisu is dead. So how does Okabe cope with this reality? With some of the old cast returning and new characters joining, I'm going to find out. But at least the pace of this follow-up game seems to be a lot faster (no need to reintroduce characters / background I guess) so I hoe it's more engaging than the early chapters of Steins;Gate, which did put me to sleep :-)

More (Thoughts on) Handstand Practice

So. Hand. Stand. 

Standing on the hands. 

Though this might seem all too obvious (DOH), as the video in my last post shows, to be able to do handstand you do need to have 1) core strength, 2) good alignment and 3) shoulder/body strength. Once you've acquired all these three conditions, then the focus should be back on the hands! Hand. Stand. For some reason I've been faffing around with my legs/ feet (reflex?) when I'm upside down, which makes holding my handstand very difficult. Last Saturday, my yoga instructor helped me get into alignment and he was counting to see how long I could hold my handstand without falling. Many things went through my head... like, am I squeezing my butt and legs, am I tucking my ribs in ... then I thought, What are my hands doing? Let's use those fingers to balance!! So I started to shift my body balance - ever so subtly - on my palms, those ten fingers and before I knew it I was up there for 10 seconds (the longest I've held a handstand). I felt a great sense of achievement and I think I am now another step close to mastering this pose :-)  

Monday, January 2, 2017

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII ~ Revisited (finale)

Truly, one last post on my fav RPG game EVER (also my first!!!)

Kinda 100%
So I 100% the DMW wheel (Genji Armour), 100% the Missions (Heike Soul) and beat Minerva (Divine Slayer). Hurrah! But I will not finish the main story cos its ending is just TOO SAD. So my Zack will always be on the verge of meeting the final in-game boss (Genesis) but won't take him out (with the gear I have, piece of cake!!)

Instead, I will play through the tough missions again ... the thing is, even with top equipment, you can still get killed so this is how challenging this game is (even on normal).

Also, I'm a bit split about Heike Soul, the "ultimate" accessory in the game. Though it basically makes Zack godlike (and doubles, like, everything including casts), it is 1) cursed and it 2) consumes SP. I don't mind so much about being cursed, since I am now done with the DMW (it is now forever in Heavenly state tehe) and levelling, I am not sure about it eating up my SP ... so will explore just how practical this piece really is. I've kept the Genji Glove cos it guarantees critical hit every time. Divine Slayer and Ziedrich are for stats boost. I probably won't be putting this game down anytime soon (I also love just holding the Crisis Core Limited Edition) though I must admit Steins;Gate is getting Really Good so these two games will keep me happy for some time yet 😊

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year Resolution

But of course! This being New Year Day! (And Happy New Year !!!)

What I really want to achieve this year is ... *drum roll* Doing the Handstand ^^

I am, like, half way there ... as I can kick up to handstand in the middle of the room with scissors legs:


To have straight legs is much harder, I think... well at least for me (!) I find the video below THE BEST in explaining how to do a handstand (the three requirements mentioned are CRUCIAL)


It totally matches with my own experience. First and foremost you have to have core strength. Without which then it's not possible to hold yourself up without assistance. Alignment is also extremely important ... again, without which you are just gonna fall. Of course you'd need strength !!! I have Core and Strength but Alignment is a bit of a hit or miss; sometimes it's there and other times it isn't ... I know, totally weird. That is partly due to my shoulders being not as open as they should be and am still too scared to flip over (even though I know how to fall)... But slowly, slowly, I am getting there... I just need to practise more!  

So that is my Number One resolution for 2017. In general, I want to improve in both my practice and teaching while at the same time become (more) mindfulness. I think I still pay too much attention to the shape (to be able to "do it") than the asana itself... like, what is the purpose of the pose and what is it supposed to do?? Think will have to think more about that. 

AND I will have to control self and buy fewer (if any!!!) games and even fewer phones!!! ><!!