I’m back!

Woohoo! It’s good to be back! Well, not really. I loved being on my honeymoon, and I enjoyed the first real 100% relaxing trip I’ve taken in over 10 years. Nothing beats swaying in a hammock on a tropical island. We took a Disney Cruise to the Bahamas and had an absolutely wonderful time. This was my first cruise ever, and I have to say it was much better than I expected.

We were on aboard the Disney Dream. She really is a beautiful ship, and as a detail oriented person I love how Disney goes to great lengths to ensure every little detail contains that sparkle of Disney magic. From the Aqua Duck water slide-coaster to the private island, it really is a great experience. We paid quite a premium, as in all things Disney, but it was worth it for us as Disney fans. I’m happy to share any details and answer any questions you might have about the cruise. Suffice it to say I highly recommend it and will do it again.

Oh! The wedding was beautiful, and the the whole day was magnificent. I’m so glad that I can say the entire thing from ‘I do’ until the last day of the honeymoon was absolutely flawless. The one hiccup in all of it was at the very end on our flight home … we got delayed right at the last second before boarding and ended up spending like 14 hours in the airport waiting on our flight. To top it off we both got colds from all the sneezing and coughing people on the plane. Both of us agreed that the honeymoon ended upon the cruise docking so this doesn’t count! ;)

So what now? My internet (~22mbps … grumble) is up and running. I just got my computer and desk all set up yesterday night. I’ll be logging in from home now to play games again!

Did I miss anything big? I’m going through all the news sites and my email (over a week without my phone on means quite a pile to sort through) and should be up and running today or tomorrow at the latest. We have lots of furniture being delivered and still so much to do, but I’m at a point now where I can come home from work and relax to some games.

AFK Getting Married

Tomorrow is the big day! As you might expect there will be some downtime here while I’m on my honeymoon. I’ll be back and posting on March 30!

In the meantime, feel free to post here about any gaming news or cool things I miss!

See you on the other side!

Nintendo Smart Device Games & Multi-platform Gaming Network

nintendo-smart-device-games

Huuuuuuge news coming out of Tokyo this morning! Nintendo has formed a massive partnership with mobile gaming giant DeNA to bring Nintendo’s IPs to smart devices as well as develop a multi-platform gaming network spanning across PC, smart devices, Wii U, and 3DS. This news is INCREDIBLE for people like me and Graev who have always wanted Nintendo to finally get into some form of online service.

Nintendo has always been afraid of diminishing the value of their handheld consoles like the New Nintendo 3DS XL by releasing games on platforms like the iPhone, but with this multi-platform gaming network perhaps allowing all of these devices to interact in some way, it can only strengthen the power of their overall trend toward ‘mobile’ gaming.

Here are a few key notes from the announcement:

  • All apps/games will be new games (not ports) based on the Nintendo IPS and will utilize the characters, etc.
  • ALL of Nintendo’s IPs are up for grabs
  • The games will be designed toward “more premium experiences” on the smart devices (aka the higher priced games)
  • The multi-platform gaming network will be an”online membership service”
  • Nintendo gets 10% of DeNA, and DeNA gets 1.24% of Nintendo

I’m stoked. I love my iPhone 6 Plus, and I love my New Nintendo 3DS XL. If I can get nintendo games on my iPhone then I can ‘game’ more inconspicuously in places where busting out my 3DS is a little less socially acceptable than staring at a phone. I’m betting it’s only a matter of time too before Nintendo’s eShop will be available on their ‘online membership service’ allowing us to download these “ports” of games they supposedly aren’t working on right now. Give it time. It’ll happen.

I’m also really excited for the possibility that Nintendo may actually have something a little more like Xbox Live. It will be a platform that connects all players regardless of their device, and it will perhaps finally allow for the multiplayer experiences I’ve been wanting in my Nintendo games.

New Nintendo 3DS XL & Monster Hunter Ultimate 4

New NIntendo 3DS XLI’m 1/10th the enthusiast that Graev is when it comes to handheld systems. We both got the 3DS when it very first launched and became ambassadors (received the spiffy badge and free games) for supporting their somewhat rocky launch.

When the 3DS took off and launched the ‘XL’ version, then several more versions of the XL, Graev would get them and pass down his systems to me and I would fiddle around in a Pokemon game every now and again. When the New Nintendo 3DS XL came out, boasting so many new features, I decided I wanted one.

My family got me the New Nintendo 3DS XL as a belated birthday present, and thanks to Graev tossed in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate to go along with it. I’ll talk on MH4U but first let me talk up a few of the things I like about the new system.

Improved 3D Technology

New Nintendo 3DS Eye Tracking

If you’re like me and unable to hold still, you probably noticed that the 3D was finicky on the original 3DS. Moving your head to the side or not holding the 3DS at just the right angle made viewing the 3D effects difficult. The New 3DS includes a form of eye tracking that knows where your eyes are at and adapts to follow them when you move your face or the system around. I know it tracks my eyes because when I look a way then look back it wigs out for a second to find my eyes again. So as long as you don’t turn your head and look away completely, this thing keeps you engaged in the experience.

new-nintendo-3ds-c-stickThe C Stick

A couple of new controls were added like two new shoulder buttons, but the real star here is the C stick. The C stick is that little nubbin you see just above the X button. It barely moves but is made of a rubbery type feel that is sensitive to how your thumb pushes in directions. The only C stick implementation I’ve played with so far is in Monster Hunter, but that ability to control the camera alone has proven immensely useful for someone like me who has always struggled with handheld systems and the lack of ‘freedom’ of movement. Works great!

The New 3DS XL Overall

Overall the system is nice a big, feels good in my hands, and runs faster thanks to a better CPU. The browser on this thing feels better to me and navigates well. I think the camera was also improved to no longer be so dark and grainy. I haven’t played with the Amiibo support or anything but it has that. I plan to give the wireless file transfer stuff a try later to see how easy it is to take stuff from the micro sd card and transfer it over the wifi network straight to my PC. OH! I should also mention that exclusive games are coming to the New 3DS XL that will take advantage of not only the controls but the new upgraded speeds, so they will look even better.

 Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

mh4u

I have never been a Monster Hunter fan. I was always intimidated by what felt like massive barriers to entry and learning curves. There is so much that goes into such a simple premise of hunting monsters. Choosing weapon and armor types, crafting, upgrading, massive amounts of collecting, tons of strategic positioning during fights… it’s intense.

Much of that has changed now that I’ve hunkered down and put about 8 hours into the game. I’m starting to realize MH isn’t as incomprehensible as I thought. Still massive and overwhelming? Yes. If I stop and think about how insignificant I am compared to other people like Graev who have put in 100 hours already and could play another 200 hours easily… yep I could give up now. But I don’t. I focus on me and I go kill monsters.

For those who are completely unaware, here’s the gist of the game. You’re a monster hunter (the story is pretty simple and forgettable). You have a basic city/hub where you get quests, craft, etc. When you’re ready to go out on a quest you depart from the hub and you’re transported to a ‘map’ of ‘screens’ or ‘sections’ containing monsters. You’ll have lots of ‘trash’ monsters to kill as you make your way to objectives. You can harvest monsters you kill, big and small, for their resources which is essentially the entire point of the game: Kill monsters, harvest resources, make better stuff. You can mine nodes too for metals and gems, harvest plants, bugs, fish, etc. When done, you’re teleported back to the hub.

I’m having fun. I’ve even played multiplayer co-op with Graev! From the break room at work on my lunch I log in and Graev and I can connect to each other and slay monsters together. That’s an AWESOME feature for handheld systems, and it supports like 4 or 5 people all playing together hunting big monsters — yep, that’s pretty sweet.

I’m still a newb. I’m actually still trying to figure out which weapon I want to use. I thought I decided on the Chargeblade, but something about it just doesn’t fit my play-style. I’ve slayed lots of monsters already, gone on plenty of quests, and I’m crafting armor sets. This game brings out the min-maxer in me already by making me want to go online and read message boards to find the best combination of armor sets for my weapon type. Kinda fun, but kinda stressful.

Maybe the biggest downside to Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, and MH games in general, is the time investment. Don’t get me wrong, you can have tons of fun like I am from the start, but to really get far it’s going to take you easily 30+ hours. That’s realistically no bad, but for a handheld system it’ll be the most I’ve ever put into a game except for Pokemon.

Should you get Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate? Yes. Get it. It’s awesome. Just be ready for a learning curve and expect to invest some time. It’s a game that will last.

AT&T U-verse Questions – HELP!

My fiancée and I are moving stuff into our new place, debating which TV to buy, waiting for the bed to be delivered, trying to find decent furniture, and then we realized one important thing: We should probably get internet. Before I jump to the point of this post I want to give a little preface.

When choosing this place we did so based on a huge list of criteria ranging from our budget to its location, etc., etc. Everything is truly amazing except for the fact that the only internet provider we can get is AT&T U-verse. What a total drag. I hate being victim to a monopoly, but supposedly the developers gave TWC time to come in but they were late so they closed up the ground and said no more running lines.

Our apartment complex was built just under a year ago. AT&T U-verse ran fiber lines directly to each unit during construction. U-verse has a dedicated rep for our complex that supposedly gives pretty good deals to rival what AT&T will sell you on their website. So I got the guy’s number and gave him a call.

I got on the phone and cut right to the chase: I want the best internet you got and I want a little bit of TV too. So he put together a package that comes in at $76/month +California taxes (that price includes their hidden fees and modem leasing, yada yada) and a guarantee that our prices do not go up each year due to the special deal we got through our complex. Yep, that’s cheaper than their online prices (I’d be paying 86 for the same package and slowest internet). I choked when he told me how fast the connection was: 18mbps. Excuse me, say what? I currently have 100mbps from TWC. The rep told me “Yeah but this is Fiber running straight to your unit. It’s better.” I asked, “Why?” He said, “because it has more bandwidth and on TWC you have lots of people sharing the same line and that slows you down.” I replied, “Speedtests showed me getting 100mbps-125mbps at all times. I didn’t feel slow. I downloaded any time of day at 10 megabytes to 13 megabytes a second.” He replied again about it being consistent and great.

Having no choice, we’re going to have our setup occur on March 30th. My question to you all is whether or not this guy is giving me a load of crap. I see 18mbps and I think I’m about to go back to the stone age. I want to watch my Netflix in super HD and not have any buffering issues, and I want to do it while playing online games with great ping. Am I going to be okay? Speak comfort to me, friends!