I Hate Moving

I’ve restored all my data to the new drive, restored the previous backups to a new location, and reconciled what pieces of that to keep and what’s been replaced, so now I can set up backups to run again and everything’s back to normal. I just have to watch how much data I put on this drive since it’s an 8TB drive but I only have a 4TB backup drive for now.

But, since I’ve merged two drives into one, a lot of stuff has moved around, and in particular, a lot of games that were previously installed to D:\Games are now under C:\Games, not where they were originally installed. So, is this a problem? It depends on where they came from…

Steam and any games installed through it are actually pretty easy to move around. Move or restore the entire ‘Steam’ directory to its new location, go to there and run ‘steam.exe’ directly, and it’ll grind away for a while repairing things and then pop up and continue on as normal. Piece of cake, and this alone accounted for around half the games I had.

GOG Galaxy:
Games installed from GOG were a bit trickier. The launcher was already installed on C:\, but upon running it, the list of installed games was now empty. Fortunately you can tell it to scan folders for previously installed games, and after selecting the new C:\Games location, it churned away for a while and then most of the games suddenly reappeared in the list and worked fine. There were a couple quirks: We Happy Few didn’t initially get found, but rerunning the scan on just its folder then managed to find it. And Disco Elysium just could not be detected no matter where I tried to scan, so I’ll probably have to reinstall it.

Epic Games Launcher:
Dealing with the Epic launcher was also a bit tricky, but in a different way. The games disappeared from the install list, as expected, but there’s no way to scan for existing installs. Instead, what you have to do is set the default install directory to somewhere on the new drive, go to install a game, find the directory name that it would install to, and move your copy of the game’s files to that same location before starting the install. Then, start the install, and the launcher will recognize that ‘oh, there are some files already here’, and do a verify/repair on them instead of a full install from scratch.

Origin / EA App:
The Origin launcher has been replaced by some new ‘EA App’, and unfortunately it seems to have lost the ability to tell it that a game has moved to a different location, which I think the old one had. Trying to do install swap tricks like with the Epic launcher didn’t work either, so it seems like there isn’t a good way to get it to reuse my existing install files and I’ll have to reinstall all of these from scratch. Not great, EA.

I had good luck with MMOs, though. With every single one I have installed, between Guild Wars 2, EQ, EQ2, Elder Scrolls Online, Final Fantasy XIV, and Lord of the Rings Online, all I had to do was run its launcher in its new location and everything worked fine, no repair or reinstallation or anything needed.

There are also a bunch of other games that were installed on their own rather than from a launcher, or were installed from disc, or needed some modding to run on modern systems, and I’m still not sure how many of these are affected by the move. I’ll have to deal with them on a case-by-case basis, whenever I get around to playing them. My modded Minecraft instances are fine, for example, since MultiMC doesn’t really care where it’s installed, and I just had to adjust the path to the Java runtime that I previously had on D:\. I have a heavily-modded Skyrim install and had to change a bunch of drive letters for paths in Mod Organizer 2’s .ini file.

So, there are a small handful of games I’ll have to reinstall from scratch, but otherwise, having to move a whole ton of games from one drive to another hasn’t been too disruptive. Way less of a hassle than I was expecting, at least.

My God, It’s Full Of Pixels

Dell had its regular end-of-quarter sale recently, and I couldn’t resist picking up their 2408WFP monitor. It’s normally fairly expensive, but at around 40% off with the sale, it was a better deal than a lot of plain old mid-level monitors. It also fulfills a few needs of mine, as not only is it bigger (24″ versus 20″), but it has HDCP support and an HDMI input, and also two DVI inputs and a set of component inputs. Too many of my consoles were languishing on sub-optimal inputs already.

I just got it and set it up today, and so far it’s just as good as I’d hoped. It’s about as big as I’d want for the distance I sit away from it since it already pretty much fills my view, the PS3 looks amazing on the HDMI input, I can put both PCs on separate DVI inputs, the 360 can get the VGA input to itself and not go through the KVM, and the Wii can finally use component instead of crummy old S-video.

The only caveat so far is that for the Wii, I have to set the monitor’s scaling mode to ‘Fill’ in order to get a proper widescreen display. But I don’t want it set to that for the PS3, or it scales the 1920×1080 mode up to 1920×1200, stretching things vertically a bit, so the PS3 has to be set to 1:1 or ‘Aspect’ mode. Making sure it’s on the right mode is a minor annoyance, but I can leave it on Aspect 99% of the time since I haven’t been using the Wii much lately anyway.

Edit: Hmmm, I can see some backlight bleed in the corners on the right-hand side when the screen is dark. I don’t think I’ll do anything about it, though; I’ve heard of people returning their screens six or seven times in a row before they got one that didn’t bleed at all, and it’s only really noticeable when the screen is completely dark, so it’s not really that big a deal.

An Expected Surprise

While passing through downtown today, I was surprised to notice that an arcade along the LRT line had closed down. I actually shouldn’t have been so surprised, though; it had been there for years, but I had often wondered just how it stayed in business, as there was never anyone in it whenever I went by. And yet, it persisted like that for a good ten years or so, at least. I was starting to wonder if it was just a mob front, or something…

Just Make Sure They’re Clean Ones

I’m kind of glad that I got the standalone Rock Band game and not the full set, given how much trouble a lot of people seem to be having with the reliability of the new guitar and especially the drums. On a lot of sets, rapid drum rolls aren’t properly detected and miss a lot of notes, and the pedal snaps in half a bit too easily.

People are inventive though, and have come up with a lot of quick, homebrew mods to try and make the drums more reliable. One of the best so far doesn’t even need you to break the drum set open; you just need a bunch of…socks?

Dear Diary…

As time marches on, a lot of my gaming memories blur together a bit. I’ve started more closely tracking what I play on a day-to-day basis and my thoughts on it, for my own archives if nothing else. It probably won’t be too interesting to most people though, and I don’t want it to crowd out other entries and become the main focus of this site, so instead I’ll be writing it over here.

Enjoy! Or not.


With the announcement that the stock of 60GB PS3s will be running out soon, I’ve been waffling back and forth on whether to get one or not.

On the one hand, this will be my last chance to get a model with the hardware-level PS2 compatibility, and I’ve still got a lot of unfinished PS2 games that would benefit from the upscaling and faster loading (the 80GB models use a software emulator that’s not nearly as compatible). And, being the gaming whore that I am, I’d probably wind up eventually getting one anyway. And it can run Linux and things like the MythTV frontend, which always tickles my inner geek.

But on the other hand, the thing is freaking expensive. It’s better now, at only $50 more than I paid for my 360, but that’s still a lot for something that’ll largely be used as a glorified PS2 in the short term. Which leads to the next problem, the lack of games. There are a couple that look interesting, like Resistance and Warhawk, but they’re not really compelling by themselves, since they’re not really my preferred genres. A bunch of others are turning out to be disappointments (i.e., Lair), and most of the rest are also available for the 360 anyway, where I’d prefer to get them for things like the Achievements and better online integration. And it won’t even work with my LCD monitor (damn HDCP), so I’d be stuck using it on S-video until I get a proper HDTV. And I don’t really need the backwards compatibility since I already have a PS2; it would just be a convenience.

The PS2 library did have a lot of games I liked, and hopefully the PS3’s library will eventually turn out the same way, but is that hope that it’ll live up to that potential enough to balance out the immediate hit to the wallet…

Oooh, Shiny…

I was thinking of upgrading to a DS Lite for a while now, and Picross DS pulled me out of a stretch of neglecting my old one, so I picked up this bundle today. It’s a pretty good deal at only $20 more than the regular DS for both Brain Age 2 and a carrying case. The store threw in a free copy of Monster Trucks DS too, which I’m sure is a terrible abomination that they would have charged me more not to take.

The red is a fairly dark metallic crimson which complements the black nicely, and otherwise it’s a regular old DS Lite. I’m a bit wary of the controls at the moment, as it seems like I have to push up and down a lot harder before they register, but maybe I just have to get used to them.

Brain Age 2 is garbage, and I’m just saying that because after the first test it immediately told me my brain age is 80. Let’s just say that “scissors” is the new “blue”. Really, it’s exactly like the original, just with a different set of tests and some more new sudoku puzzles. The tests seem to be a bit harder too, with things like being trickier with concealing information (in one it asks a series of addition problems, but covers up one of the digits and reuses it in the next problem, so you have to remember what it was), making you play musical sequences, and more memorization (e.g., a grid of 25 numbers).

The case is a bit unusual in that it just wraps around the two flat sides, and there are a few bands to hold the DS in place. That makes putting it in the case take a bit more effort, but it looks really classy, at least.

Ripoff Hero

I’ll probably pick up the 360 version of Guitar Hero II eventually, but concern is already rising over one of the things that’s supposed to be a feature of the 360 version: downloadable songs.

It’s great that you can add more songs to it, of course, but the current pricing scheme seems a bit…excessive. The songs released so far are only available in packs of three, at $6.25 USD per pack, and are songs imported over from the original Guitar Hero, not new ones. Over $2 USD per song seems a bit much when their relative value was more like $1 each when you bought the original game. And the bundling scheme encourages them to put one good song in with two crummy songs, so you may wind up paying $6 for just the one song you really want.

I still like the 360 and Live service overall, but this is the kind of nickel-and-diming people were worried about finally coming to fruition… Hopefully they’re just testing the waters, response will be poor, and they’ll start doing more reasonable bundles and prices.

Way Too Many Games

Earth Defense Force 2017 (X360) – The graphics are a bit underwhelming for a next-gen title, the animations are awkward, the frame rate gets choppy at times, and it’s a bit repetitive. It’s still a ton of fun though, just because of all the frantic mayhem of fighting off huge swarms of alien ants, giant robots, and sky-blotting UFOs with a large variety of heavy weaponry.

Worms (X360) – The same old classic 2D Worms gameplay, really. Unfortunately there aren’t as many terrain and voice sets as the PC versions, due to size limits, and they got rid of a lot of the weirder and more powerful weapons. More terrain and voice sets will be available later on though, and it’s easier to find people to play against on Xbox Live than it was with the now-ancient PC games.

Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords (DS) – This is probably the oddest RPG I’ve ever played. It has all of the standard RPG tropes — character classes and stats, spells, equipment, towns with inns and vendors, quests to go on, etc., but combat is resolved by taking turns on a Bejeweled-alike grid where lining up different colours or symbols has different effects (gaining mana for spells, gaining gold, doing damage to the enemy, etc.). It’s challenging too, as you have to think ahead a few turns and try to avoid leaving the grid in an advantageous state for your opponent at the end of your turn.

Crackdown (X360) – Another GTA-like game, except this one puts you on the side of law enforcement. It’s a bit shallow in that there’s not a wide variety of missions and most weapons aren’t too useful (you soon run across an optimal combination that you can pretty much stick with for the rest of the game), but the firefights can get pretty intense. A lot of the fun is in just how exaggerated things can get — level up your skills a bit and before long you’re jumping up the sides of skyscrapers, leaping from rooftop to rooftop, picking up cars and throwing them halfway down the block, and setting off huge chains of explosions.

Trackmania United (PC) – It’s the same old Trackmania gameplay (essentially a faster-paced, modernized version of Stunts), but this version combines all of the terrain types and vehicles from the previous three releases, adds some new block types to the editor, and greatly expands the online community support. Your times on official tracks can now be registered on the global ladder rankings, you can organize into groups to compare times against each other, you can create tracks and publish them as an official track so that others can set times against it, and download others’ tracks and replays, all from within the game itself.

Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night (X360) – I’d played the various GBA and DS versions of Castlevania, but not this PS1 version, which was essentially the genesis of the current form of the series with its leveling, non-linear exploration, and variable equipment. This XBLA version is a perfect emulation of it though, and it’s pretty good. The voice acting is horrible and it gets a bit too easy after getting certain weapons, but it controls well and keeps things varied and interesting throughout the entire map.

Unfortunately, in one of the bonus modes where you can play as a character from the previous game in the series, the flaws of the 360 controller become a huge hindrance. You can pull off Street Fighter-ish moves with the characters, and although they’re completely unnecessary for the main game, they’re crucial to winning with this bonus character, as they’re the only way he can reach certain areas. They’re difficult to pull off reliably with the analog stick though, and the d-pad on the 360 controller is just horrible. Half the time you’ll accidentally hit a diagonal, ruining the precision of your current jump, preventing you from chaining moves, and making you land in the wrong place.

Space Rangers 2 (PC) – It’s hard to categorize this game, since it has a little bit of everything in it. It’s primarily a space trading/combat game like the Escape Velocity series, but missions and random events often take you off to something else entirely. Help defend an outpost and you’ll play a simple little RTS map. Get caught smuggling, and it becomes a text adventure as you try to endure or break out of prison. There’s even a Galactic Pizza Cook-Off competition. Most of the fun is in the core space sim though, establishing trade routes, upgrading your ship, fighting off the Dominator enemies and pirates (or becoming a pirate yourself), and maintaining relationships with the various factions.

Final Fantasy XII (PS2) – The story isn’t all that thrilling so far (though I have a long ways to go), but it’s one of the best-looking PS2 games and the gameplay mechanics are pretty good. It cribs a bit from MMORPGs, with real-time (though pausable) combat integrated into the zone maps. Party members are handled by letting the player set up ‘gambits’, which are sets of rules that control how they behave (e.g., if the target is weak to fire, cast a Firaga spell; if a party member is at less than 40% health, cast a heal, etc.).


Yoshi’s Island DS (DS) – It’s really more of the same of the original Yoshi’s Island, which is just fine as the original was a great game to begin with. This sequel primarily adds dual-screen support so you can see more vertically, some new minigames, and the ability to change between different characters as Yoshi’s rider (from between Mario, Peach, Bowser, Donkey Kong, and Wario), each of whom has different abilities that are necessary to get through certain spots or to find secret areas. It’s still a fairly easy game though, and I’ve already collected over 100 lives so far.

Viva Pinata (X360) – Beneath the cutesy exterior, this is fundamentally a resource management game. You have to figure out how to lay out your garden in the right way to attract new pinata types, try to breed them and keep them happy, fight off the bad ‘sour’ pinatas or convert them to good ones, prevent fighting among your own pinatas (some types don’t get along with each other) and take care of sick ones, and so on. Taking care of all this once your garden gets larger can get fairly hectic. There’s no real end goal, but it’s a fun enough way to kill some spare time.

Phantasy Star Universe (X360) – This is a rather unusual single-player/MMORPG hybrid similar to the previous Phantasy Star Online games, though I haven’t played those. There’s a single-player campaign that unfolds in chapters, much like many other RPGs, but the engine mechanics and world layout, with towns and instanced mission areas, are clearly designed to support the MMOG-ish multiplayer mode.

I’ve already got too many online game subscriptions as it is though, so I’m sticking to the single-player game. The story is pretty standard, and some of the crafting and collecting mechanisms look neat, but the combat and environments have been a bit repetitive so far. Hopefully it opens up and becomes a bit less linear later on.

Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana (PS2) – It’s very much an ‘old-school’ Japanese RPG, with an isometric view and turn-based attack/magic/item-choosing battles. Its main distinguishing feature is that instead of casting spells, you collect elemental resources by whacking things with a staff, and then use alchemy to combine them into magic items with various abilities. You can also combine items you find lying around to produce new items at certain shops, and you can often vary the ingredients you combine a bit to produce a different item.

The system’s interesting enough to appeal to the collector in me, at least. The story’s fairly light-hearted, but the voice acting isn’t all that great. If the catgirl in my party says ‘meow’ out loud one more time, I’m going to toss her in a sack and throw her in the nearest river…

Lost Planet (X360) – A fairly traditional third-person shooter, though fairly well-executed, as it looks great and controls well. It keeps you on your toes, as you have to keep moving and defeating bugs in order to gather recharges for your ever-decreasing thermal energy meter, and you occasionally get to hop into mechs for some additional firepower and protection. The boss battles are pretty good too, with a decent variety of different tactics necessary. Its main problem is that it’s really short, taking less than 10 hours to go through the single-player campaign, but the multiplayer is supposed to be fairly fun too (I haven’t tried it yet).

Backlog Shrinkage

I’ve still got way too many PS2 games to get through before even thinking about the PS3…

Radiata Stories (PS2) – A traditional Japanese RPG in many ways. I kept thinking to myself that it was a bit too cutesy and simplistic for my tastes, and yet I couldn’t stop playing it for a while. Its main feature is that there are well over 100 different NPCs you can recruit, each one a little sidequest in itself, and I guess that triggers the obsessive-compulsive in me.

There’s a branching storyline, so you have to play through it twice to get the whole story, but once you’ve beaten it once you can carry over a lot of your skills, equipment, and friend list to the second game, so it goes much quicker. Thank goodness, because I’m already approaching the 50 hour mark on my first time through…

Super Monkey Ball Deluxe (PS2) – After playing Marble Blast Ultra on the 360, a search for similar games led me to this series, where the single-player game has the same basic premise: lead yourself (in this case a, uh, monkey in a ball) through an obstacle course to the goal line within the time limit. The SMBD courses tend to be a lot shorter, with only a one minute clock versus MBU’s multi-minute courses, but there’s a lot more of them and a greater variety of obstacles. There are also a bunch of minigames that are fun to fool around with for a bit, but you really need multiple players to get the most fun out of them.

Its only major flaw is that the graphics are a bit disappointing in the PS2 version. Even though the courses have fairly simple geometry and detail, the jagged edges and swimming textures can make it a bit difficult to tell what’s coming up in the distance. I probably should have gotten the Xbox version instead, but it seems to be harder to find.

Midnight Club III DUB Edition Remix (PS2) – A solid enough arcade-ish racing game, with plenty of competition, lots of city to see, and no cheesy storyline that gets annoying fast like nearly every other racing game nowadays. I probably won’t put much time into it though, just because there are so many other, newer racing games coming.

Theme Night Reviews

Tiger Woods ’07 (X360) – I hadn’t played a golf game in a very long time (since, um, Links 386 sometime in the early ’90s?), so I figured it was about time I caught up. I passed on the ’06 version due to bad word-of-mouth — it sounded like a rush job to hit the launch date of the 360 and had very few courses — but the ’07 version seems to be caught up again.

I don’t really know what the state-of-the-art in golf games is right now so I don’t really have anything to compare it to, but I’m still enjoying it a lot. Besides the regular tournaments, there are a lot of training exercises, minigames, and head-to-head challenges to mix things up. The currently-controversial advertisements and purchasable cheats aren’t too intrusive either, compared to other games, but that’s a whole other article…

The only slightly awkward thing is that since you build up a character’s golfing skills, it’s often not clear whether you screwed up a shot because you didn’t wiggle the stick properly, or if you just happened to ‘roll a critical miss’.

Splinter Cell: Double Agent (X360) – I hadn’t played a good stealth game since the Thief series, and I’d heard good things about previous entries in this series. I was torn between either getting it for the Xbox 360 or waiting for the PC version, but wound up getting it for the 360. Usually I prefer to play games with shooter elements on the PC, for the mouse/keyboard control combo, but since this is primarily a stealth game it’s not as important here. Plus, my PC is four years old now and would likely run it fairly slowly and/or at lower graphic detail levels.

I’m not too far into it yet, but it’s enjoyable so far. I prefer the ‘feel’ of the Thief setting and the tools that were available there, but you have some nifty special moves in this one, too.

Tomb Raider: Legend (X360) – And I hadn’t played a Tomb Raider game since the original (are you sensing a theme yet), so I picked up this latest installment. Well, that’s not entirely true, I did get Tomb Raider: Angel Of Darkness as part of some video card bundle, but I played it for all of five minutes before giving up due to horrible controls. Fortunately the controls are much improved in this version, and there were only a few spots where I died or failed to make a jump because the controls didn’t seem to respond properly.

It has all of the climb-jump-n-swing platforming you’d expect from a Tomb Raider game, with a few driving sequences and ‘traps’ where you have to push the displayed buttons in time to avoid failing. Those traps were a bit annoying since you’re often not expecting them and fail them the first time, but then they’re no problem on the second attempt. The story’s a bit cliche, but not horrible, and the scenery is very nice in spots.

It’s short though, and only took me a little over nine hours to complete. It was only $20 though, so it was still well worth it. Going back and getting the rest of the trophies, doing the time attack runs, and getting the other achievements would take longer, but I’ve got too many other games still waiting to be played.

Move Over Switzerland

In a recent press release, Blizzard announced that there are now 7.5 million World of Warcraft players.

That’s almost 19 times the total population of EverQuest at its peak when I was playing it, and even *that* felt like a huge community at the time. You’d occasionally discover that a coworker here or an acquaintance there was an EQ player, but with WoW it’s almost a given that you’ll know a good number of people who are either players or at least know of it.

It’s surreal to think about how much it’s exploded ever since it was primarily the domain of the dorkiest and nerdiest. :)

Yet More Quick Reviews

I’ve got a lot of catching up to do…

Doom (360): I never actually finished Doom when it first came out, as I think I only ever had the shareware version. It was just rereleased for the Xbox 360, so I picked it up on a whim, and…it actually holds up fairly well. The graphics are ancient and the controls extremely primitive compared to modern shooters, but it’s still full of plenty of action, tension, and challenge.

Okami (PS2): An action/adventure game in the Zelda vein, where you go from area to area fighting monsters, collecting upgrades, and helping people. Except you’re a wolf. With a paintbrush. The art style is definitely different than your usual game, and keeps you from tiring of the scenery. It also has a unique new feature in that you can temporarily freeze time and ‘draw’ on the screen with the analog stick, which has various effects depending on what you draw and where. It sounds gimmicky at first, but it gets used so often that it starts to feel natural after a while.

Defcon (PC): Nuclear war is harder than it looks. Defcon seems simple enough at first, just place your air bases, radars, missile silos, and navies, and unleash hell. If you want to ‘win’ though (or at least lose the least badly), you’d better have good strategies behind those placements, managing fleet routes, providing bomber and fighter cover, watching enemy defences, timing launches…

And aaargh… I’m one mission away from 100% completion in Lego Star Wars II, but it keeps freezing on me. It’s happening in only a few different specific spots to other people as well, even on the PS2 and PC versions, so it seems to be a bug in the game itself. Hopefully there will be a patch to fix it.

30.017 Second Reviews

Test Drive Unlimited (X360): It has all of the usual types of racing you’d expect, plus various types of delivery missions, but TDU’s real hook is that you can roam around the entire island of Oahu, Hawaii, encounter other Xbox Live players driving around and chat with them, and challenge them to on-the-spot races. You can also use an editor to create your own challenges and post them for other people to beat, and form a club of people. The club feature seems a bit underused, since it’s hard to meet up with specific people and perform purely intra-club challenges, but there’s still a ton of other things to do.

Kameo (X360): This is a pretty decent little platformer, with plenty of okay-what-special-ability-do-I-use-here puzzles. It’s a bit short and easy though (unless you go back for the time attack achievements), so I probably should have rented it instead of buying it…

GTR 2 (PC): I was initially hesitant since the demo for this was pretty much exactly like the original GTR, but the full game does actually add a few new features. There’s the ‘driving school’ tutorials on racing basics, some more 24H events, unlockable smaller custom championships, and a few new tracks and cars. At only $30 for some reason, it was well worth it. Now I just have to get my wheel hooked back up…

Lego Star Wars II (X360): It’s cute and fun, just like the original. What more do you need? :) It feels longer than the original, and there are a handful of new features like additional ‘time attack’ modes, rideable vehicles within the levels, and new things that can be build with gold and orange blocks.

And I’m now at 97% completion in Saints Row, though a bit stuck. Those level 8 drug trafficking missions are just nuts…

Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangster

Me and my crew rollin’ around town in my pimped-out ride:

Don't mess with Chicken Guy

I’ve been playing a lot of Saints Row recently, and it’s a pretty decent Grand Theft Auto clone. The storyline isn’t all that great and takes itself a bit too seriously, but they’ve improved on a lot of the gameplay mechanics (driving and shooting stuff feels a lot more natural now), and there’s a ton of stuff to do.

They’ve added some new mission types like ‘insurance fraud’, where you have to throw yourself in front of or ram other vehicles and try to cause accidents with as high a dollar value as you can. It even uses the ragdoll physics model to rate you, based on whether you fly through the windshield or not, how high and far you get tossed…

It still has a few other problems, such as missing motorcycles, which were my favourite way of getting around in GTA:SA, there are no countryside areas, multiplayer is somewhat buggy, exploitable, and laggy (though a patch is on the way for that), there’s frequent screen tearing since they don’t use vsync, and it’s frozen on me a few times now. It’s still fairly fun overall though, and a good way to fill the void until the next GTA, which will hopefully pick up some of the improvements from Saints Row.