Authors Posts by Cheena

Cheena

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Fantasy Hero: Unsigned Legacy is an action RPG by Arc System Works who is famous for games such as the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue series.  They are releasing more games outside the fighting game genre lately (there is also Magical Beat, a rhythm game that will be out soon), so this is quite exciting news for ASW fans.

In Fantasy Hero, the game’s world has been overrun by alien beings known as Decoders and humans were driven away from their homes after being attacked. After twelve years in the game’s setting, you are introduced to (and will be asked to choose from) the four main protagonists in the game such as:

  • Acress, a justice-obsessed swordsman
  • Haul, the mysterious Crow with a penchant for guns
  • Ashta, inventress with a giant robot and a bone to pick
  • Mask, a well-muscled luchador
Mask the Shout
Mask the Shout

Each of these heroes have different fighting styles — Acress of course specializes in slashing, Mask wrestles, Haul is the ranged shooter guy and Ashta uses a robot to attack with. The game sets you off and introduces you to your wild band of party members (all the protagonists are working together but you get to control only one during the game). A woman named Gram gifts you with your Hero Artes (equipment that makes you super strong) after returning from a two-year expedition and sends you on a quest to become stronger and take back your land. You play the fairly easy to go through tutorial and eventually do the missions (core of the game) while progressing in the game’s story. Easy peasy.

Is this real life? (AKA the good stuff)

  • Good visuals – I always appreciate good character designs and especially like cel-shaded graphics in RPGs. Fantasy Hero has interesting character designs for the protagonists especially Mask (my favorite because luchador), but the other guys like Haul, Acress and Ashta aren’t bad either. The environment is not mind-blowing and could probably use more inspiration and uniqueness but it still works.
  • 140313FANTASYHERO_ss_01Character customizationFantasy Hero has a good system of customizing skills for your characters and make them play either as a DPS or a support unit. There is also assigning of stats which can really make each character you play unique from your friends.
  • Fully voiced characters – All characters are fully dubbed with Japanese voices and have some popular seiyuus doing them. There is no option for English voices however, but then again who plays with that.
  • Game Controls – The game is easy especially if you have experience in RPGs. There is no way you will have a hard time learning the controls as it is very simple and streamlined. Attacks are assigned to two buttons, movement to the left analog stick which is really everything you need to play. Skills and items are mapped to your directional and command buttons later on and can be activated by pressing the LB button.
  • 14 Player Local Co-Op – I like playing with friends in games so this is a good addition. If you want someone to get into multiplayer games like Monster Hunter, you can start them up in Fantasy Hero as the game is fairly easy to learn and get into mostly because of the simplified controls.
  • Mission Division – The bulletin board where you can get missions divides them into main and side (and DLC), so you can easily breeze through the story if you want to. However, during the first few hours of the game you are compelled to do the side missions to learn controls and the basics of the game.
  • Difficulty Toggles – You can make the missions harder if you are more confident of your level and skills and can get more rewards from it which is a good touch. New players can stick with recommended levels or if you just want to enjoy the game and run through it.
  • Near System – Like 3DS’s street pass, you can get gifts from others players if you bump into them which I always enjoy in handheld games.

Is this just fantasy? (AKA the bad stuff)

  • Generic story line – Cookie cutter storyline in RPG: get. Unknown monsters suddenly invade peaceful land and drive people out of their homes yadda yadda. I wish they would’ve gone the extra mile and make the plot more engaging but it is what it is.
  • 140313FANTASYHERO_ss_02Dialogue font – Not that big of a deal but the dialogue is hard to read at times because of the kerning / spacing. I wish that they patch this game to improve readability.
  • Entire Map view – It would have been so much better if they assigned a button in the game to view the entire map instead of going inside the main menu (accessible by the start button) and going through it to access. It somewhat breaks the game’s momentum especially if you are in a mission.

Caught in a landslide (AKA can go anywhere)

  • Super linear gameplay – I am all for linear gameplay in RPGs but I know most people like variety and choices. The game is straightforward as straightforward goes.
  • DLC – Extra missions can be acquired in DLCs. Again, not many people might be up for that but it won’t hurt if you don’t get them. Here is what’s available in the game:

DLC Available:

  • Mission Pack #1 “Birth of the Sacred Treasures” – 5 new missions with new weapons and equipment
  • Mission Pack #2 “Then and Now” – 5 new missions with post-story content
  • Character License and BlazBlue Color Set
  • Character License and Guilty Gear Color Set
  • Character License and Special Color Set
  • Character Color Pack (Ashta, Haul, Shout, or Acress set)
  • Basic Upgrading – The game has super simplified upgrading in equipment. You just go to the NPC with the stuff required to upgrade and you can choose an effect whether to have a higher damage output or increased effectivity. There’s not much to do with changing the looks and other stats like in other games.

No escape from reality (AKA the verdict)

10928847_10153688488167137_7789638585044720629_nIf you are looking for a lighthearted action RPG, Fantasy Hero is not a bad choice. Priced reasonably at $14.99, you definitely get your money’s worth from the game content, especially since you can go play local multi on it. It’s also a good idea to have new players start on this game to learn the basics of action RPGs and Monhan type of games. The game also works on the PlayStation Vita TV so that’s great.

Fantasy Hero: Unsigned Legacy releases on February 10th in the Americas, and February 11th for select countries in Europe, Middle East, Australia, and New Zealand. The game is exclusively available for PlayStation Vita as a digital download on the PlayStation Network. The game is currently available in North America.

Disclosure: 30lives.net has received a review copy of the game from Arc System Works.

At the Kaihinmakuhari station
At the Kaihinmakuhari station

Major item in bucket list crossed, y’all. Finally got into Tokyo Game Show this year which is definitely one of the biggest events in all of gaming. All the giants in the video games industry were at the Makuhari Messe to showcase their latest games and titles under development that we should all look forward in the next few months. Notable attendees were Sony and Microsoft (Nintendo does not attend TGS for some reason but was still present through 3rd party devs), Konami, Sega, Capcom, Square Enix, Bandai Namco and more. We were super stoked to see the presentations by esteemed game directors, squealed loudly with more than 220,000 game fans, and shared some of the disappointments as well. Here are some of the pictures I took in the event (and some captioning for context). Enjoy!

More pictures and coverage on Alex’s post soon! I will also be posting about select games that we got to test on the floor as well.

As avid gamers, we always want to be ahead of the game (awful pun intended) by having the latest gadgets that enable us to play all the best games, either on the big screen or on the go. Y’see, games aren’t just played on consoles or handhelds nowadays: gaming is now a ubiquitous enough hobby that one can enjoy on any piece of tech with a screen. For instance, here’s my personal list of gadgets that I enjoy playing games on!

IMG_26171. HP Envy 15″ and Macbook Pro Retina 13″ laptops – I only play Diablo III Reaper of Souls and a bunch of Steam games on PC so I fire one of these two from time to time. I use the HP when I’m docked as it is heavier but it’s where I mostly play because of the bigger screen,  hard disk and a fuller keyboard. I use the Macbook when I’m stuck outside and more for work, but I also have a limited number games installed on that machine (like yep, Diablo III; if you haven’t figured out, I’m a D3 addict).

2. PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS – If I have to go out and I know I have to wait long for something (pay for a bill, or wait for someone to arrive), I almost always carry one of these babies depending on what I am currently playing. The titles are pretty diverse in each so you can always find a few games that will sit on your GOTY of the forever (for me it was Persona 4 Golden and Fire Emblem Awakening).

IMG_2529

3. iPhone 5 – If I have a spare minute (or thirty), I fire up Clash of Clans or one of my favorite Kairosoft titles (now being Ninja Village) to get my gaming fix. LINE also has a bunch of games like Puzzle Bobble (who hasn’t played or got addicted to that game though) but it gets pretty limited because of the fatigue-based mechanic (5 stages at a time, then you have to wait 30 minutes to replenish one stage turn). It’s pretty lightweight as a gaming platform but with millions of users, even Square Enix has picked up the pace and ported some of its most popular titles on iTunes.

4. PlayStation 3, XBOX 360 and Wii U – Exclusive titles and things more epic go to one of these consoles. Admittedly, I haven’t fired up anything recently (probably Wind Waker U from a few months back), but I still have a few discs lying around that I should look into finishing before I get a…

5. PlayStation 4Dragon Age: Inquisition comes out in a few months; I happen to be a big DA fan so this is the title that will make me break the bank to get a unit. Priced competitively and having supported off-screen play through the PS Vita, this is definitely the next step to my gaming progression.

From upgrades to new models to competing brands, deciphering what’s worth the splurge is an exhausting, confusing feat. So, SM Supermalls is making it easy for you as they celebrate Cyber Month for the whole month of August.

Get a gadget upgrade and join in the geeky fun with SM Supermalls’ exciting line-up of activities that will make all tech lovers go crazy:

  • Tech Sale – Stock up on the latest gadgets at discounted prices in the biggest technology sale of the year.
  • Cybervasion – Discover and experience the latest gadgets at their interactive tech displays.
  • Game Station – Check the hottest gaming consoles and videogames of the season.
  • Cosplay Parade – Catch your favorite characters and the most outrageous costumes at their exciting cosplay parade.

Even more surprises await online with SM Supermalls’ #31HappyCyberDays promo:

  • DigiTalk – Answer Cyber Month-related questions on the SM Supermalls Facebook page and win cool prizes.
  • Cyber Rave – Listen to what your favorite blogger has to say about their favorite gadgets of 2014.
  • Tech Throwback – Send in a pic of your “antique” gadget together with a clever caption or funny story and win its modern-day counterpart.

Be the first on scene with the newest gizmos as SM Supermalls celebrates Cyber Month until August 31. For more details, like SM Supermalls on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@smsupermalls), and use the hashtag #EverythingForTheTechieInYou. You can also like their SM Cyberzone Facebook Fanpage at https://www.facebook.com/smcyberzone. Contact these numbers for queries: (02) 876-1111 (Metro Manila) / 0917 876-1111 (Globe) / 0908 876-1111 (Smart) / 0922 876-1111 (Sun).

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

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423140When I was little, one of my favorite cartoon series was Duck Tales just because of the catchy opening theme song (Duck Tales, awoo-hoo!) and lead character Scrooge McDuck diving into a ton of gold coins in his personal vault. “That was the life!”, I thought. Now in my early 30s, I still have no vault of gold coins, but I can still dive into riches virtually in a whole realm. Enter WAKFU‘s latest update: Enurado the Golden Realm.

Being a strategy nut, I got engrossed with Ankama‘s first game DOFUS. I played it like crazy during my stint as an online game playtester (aka content coordinator) when I was still working in Level Up! International. DOFUS ended up being published only in the Brazil arm which made me a bit sad as I really wanted to have the game released locally so I can play with the thriving online games community here in the Philippines.

mapHowever, I am psyched that they have upgraded the game with WAKFU, which also has a cross-media experience of being in all of relevant geek media like comic books, animated series, and video games (both online and console). Best of all, it didn’t lose all that strategic gameplay charm that DOFUS had because it is practically the same universe (called Krosmoz) in the game, only with extra cool features like ecology and citizenship. Now, WAKFU is also being hosted in Asia with a local service specifically meant to cater to us. That is pretty sweet!

So anyway, this update is set in a new map called Enurado which is basically a map made of riches. This is best explored with a party of your friends so round-up your posse now-ish because the update is already live. Below are the newest things to make the update:

  • 1 new dungeon for level 160-170 so keep up with the program and hit the max level pronto
  • 1 new Enutrof monster family, led by Cledus ‘Onist the Key-Keeper
  • 9 main quests to keep you busier
  • 4 environmental quests
  • 9 achievements
  • 53 new items to loot and make you richer

entree_djYou can line your pockets with treasure inside Enurado as the update is now live in the site as I’ve mentioned, but before you go, you might as well grab some riches in this here site! Below are codes that you can enter in your WAKFU game account that will net you:

10 Glossy Runes (used for upgrading items) for just liking and sharing this post! Limited to 100 WAKFU players!

(Note: You can only redeem this code once per game account)

…And a very rare (classed as mythical) item in WAKFU called Virulent Treacherose. Only 10 codes will be given away so aside from liking and sharing, you need to answer a question as well!

Question: What crafting profession in WAKFU can make all sorts of dishes from meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, and fine herbs? Their dishes not only give your taste buds a treat, but they’re also highly sought after as they grant special bonuses that no other items offer.

CLICK HERE AND ENTER YOUR ANSWER AS THE PASSWORD TO WIN!

(Note: You can only redeem this code once per game account)

Within the week, we are also going to raffle off some VERY COOL action figures inspired by WAKFU. The game has amazing art and it is actually one of the most endearing things about it for me so having these action figures will add a lot of pizzazz in your desktop or display cabinet! Just to tease you, we are giving away:

  1. Collectors Edition Remington action figure x 1pc
  2. Wakfu Collection Yugo action figure x 1pc
  3. Wakfu Collection Nox action figure x 1pc

Here are some of the pictures of the action figures! They are pretty awesome, right?

IMG_5447 IMG_5449 IMG_5450

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The patch is live now so you can go to www.wakfu.asia to continue playing or sign up for an account if you haven’t yet. You also need to like the Philippine Facebook page as they are hosting a lot of events in their page for local fans (and their GMs are funny)!

Ready to line your pockets?

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Giveaway time! I know you guys like free stuff and we do like giving stuff, so it’s a win-win sitch right there. The good folks from Garena gave us some Elsword in-game item codes plus awesome real life stuff like t-shirts, baller bands and ID lanyards so read on to know how to get your hands on some.

Elsword is launching its second season TODAY, July 10! Aside from fixing major game issues such as getting rid of horrid hackers and other nasty vidya problems, new character Ara Haan’s highly anticipated release is also being celebrated by game fans as well as more exciting stuff coming up in the next few weeks.

For the uninitiated, Elsword made its way to the Philippines last October 2, 2013. It is a 2.5D MMO game that was awaited by a lot of casual-MMO players for over 5 years since its debut in Korea. The game is developed by well-known developer, KOG’ Games.

Anyway, let’s cut to the chase and check out what’s new in the game. For your easy reading pleasure, here’s a bulleted rundown of what’s happening in Elsword Season 2!

  • Ara
    Season 2 features new character Ara Haan

    Antihack System – I bet this is something all online gamers would want for their game. Garena is strictly implementing the Elsword PH Clean Up Drive which has helped curb hackers and the videogame villains from abusing the system. With the installation of the new anti-hack feature now in effect, gamers can now play without worries.

  • New UI – Elsword has also revamped the game’s UI which is now well-organized and user-friendly. But if you prefer the old UI, there’s also an option to keep using it so don’t fret.
  • New Characters – Aside from the awaited Ara Haan, all your favorite characters will have a big update! Each one will have a third job branch beginning with titular character Elsword (which becomes a Sheath Knight), Aisha (Dimension Witch), Rena (Night Watcher), Raven (Veteran Commander), Eve (Code: Battle Seraph), and Chung (Tactical Trooper).
  • New Dungeons – Teamwork is key in the game’s new dungeons as you need to work effectively with other players to conquer the quests at hand. Secret dungeons also appear when you hit level 50 so don’t slack off! Dungeons reward players with materials that can be used to craft powerful items so it is worth going through them.
  • New Pets and Mount System – Pets, aside from being super cute, are also super helpful during dungeon runs as they can loot stuff for you and also can unleash devastating attacks once their affinity reaches 100%. Mounts are ever present in MMOs as they provide you with mobility, but did you know that they can also attack in Elsword? Pretty awesome.
  • Wedding System – Lots of benefits for couples deciding to get marriedin game! Aside from looking snazzy with the wedding costumes that you get for 30 days, you also get an exclusive skill called Extreme Heavenly Love! You also get a chat tab exclusively for you and your honey’s use too so you don’t bombard the regular chat with the mushy messages.Awww.

    WEDDING (1)
    Wedding!
  • PvP – What’s unique in Elsword’s Player vs Player is the introduction of the sparring and arena modes. Feisty adventurers who want to compete against other players can go to the arena and get ranked. Sparring is a game mode where you can practice your skills against other players. The match isn’t recorded but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give your all!
  • Hyperactive Skills – Once you reach level 65, you can get these ultra powerful attacks for your characters! Whirling swords, elementals storms, rain of arrows, large exploding hands, deadly laser beams, destructive missiles, you name it. These skills are the deadliest of the deadly and requires you to be at your best.
  • Ara Haan – New character Ara is the daughter of Warrior family called ‘Han’ in Northern Empire of Fluone Continent. She uses the long range benefits of the spear, but is also dangerous close up.
  • Other stuff to look forward to – Little Hsien as Ara’s first class and Sakra Devanam as second job for Ara, Sander 5th and 6th dungeons, and level cap increase to 70.
MOBYCHARIOTMOUNT
Moby Chariot mount

So here’s the exciting stuff! We have in-game item codes to share with you so you can start with a bang in Season 2. Just like and share this post via your Facebook account to claim! Reminder though, you can only claim one code per game account so don’t be greedy and share with your friends!

Here’s what you can get in the game:

  • El Search Party Officer Full set cube (3 days) x 1
  • Mount 3 types random cube (7 days) x 1
  • EXP 15% medal (7 days) x 1
  • Magic Necklace (7 days) x 1
  • Luriel’s complete recovery potion x 10

You can start redeeming them today until August 10, 2014.

 

We’ll also raffle off a set of Elsword t-shirt, baller bands and a lanyard to some lucky winners who will like and share the post so make sure you do (and tell all your friends about this raffle while you’re at it).

See you in Elrios!

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Something to get excited about, folks. Local game developer Altitude Games is releasing a mobile game reminiscent of your favorite Tokusatsu shows from the 80s called Run Run Super V.

RRSV_ScreenMockup_VehicleModeThe game has three different modes:  Run mode which is a side-scrolling runner game mode set in the city, Vehicle mode where you can blast baddies in a shooter type of game and this is where it gets interesting, the Robot Mode where you can all “volt in” to fight a daikaiju (giant monster) and time your attacks to defeat it. The game uses one-touch controls like tapping or swiping so casual gamers can get in on the fun without breaking a sweat.

An interesting social feature is also integrated in the game where you can invite your friends for team missions. Each friend can play one of the sentai guys (or girl!) and play the different game modes together. Special rewards are acquired if your team performs well in each mission, and these are stuff that you cannot get in the single player mode too.

Each ranger is customizable with power ups, vehicles and other stuff and you can do that by getting rewards or buying them in the game’s store.

“Robots, aliens, rangers doing hero poses, and a burning team spirit. That’s what Sentai is all about. It’s flashy, epic, and never gets old,” said Jan Rey Solomon, Product Manager at Altitude Games. “We’re super-psyched to let everyone experience THAT, on the go.” RRSV_ScreenMockup_RobotMode

“We love playing mobile games that combine familiar gameplay with cool and unexpected themes, and that’s what we want to do with Super V,” Luna Cruz, Altitude’s Creative Director added. “We want it to be a game people get excited about, and they can’t wait to form squads with their friends and do missions together. That’s the dream.”

Run Run Super V is set to launch at Q4 of this year for Android and iOS devices and will be free to play.  Hopefully we can review it when it comes out!

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One of the few anime series that I’ve enjoyed watching is Fate/stay night. I got really obsessed with lead character Shiro Emiya’s Servant, Saber, that I even started collecting all the Nendoroid releases and most PVC figures of her. She was one of the stronger Servants in the series and had the most charm for me because of her blonde hair, green eyes and somewhat creepy blank stare . So what does this have to do with anything you might ask? A few weeks back, I got the chance to somewhat feel like Shiro by downloading a mobile game called Brave Frontier. The premise is somewhat straightforward: summon heroes to fight for you in your adventures. However, there’s so much more to that once you delve deeper in the game.

The Good:

1. Level of Polish – You all might get huffy about playing a mobile game because 99% are mostly shovelware-tastic. The production quality of Brave Frontier is actually top-notch: you get well-drawn sprites, crisp colors, good enough animation and sound effects that it makes for a game that rivals actual handheld games released for the Nintendo 3DS or the PS Vita. 1531938_10152809116237137_1016008783_n

2. Summoning and Combining – As mentioned above, you can feel like Shiro and Rin in Fate by summoning allies in the game. Each ally has different specialty skills that can help you in your quests. What’s also awesome is that you can level up these babies by combining them with other summons that are pretty useless in your party. It gets pretty complicated when you get the real nice ones as they only have really limited levels so you have to be careful what type of summon you combine it with to maximize its stats. Summoning can also get pretty addicting and you can get the Super Rare ones by spending game cash, so make sure you’re ready for this.

3. Super Moves – As Brave Frontier is a real-time tactical game, you have to time your attacks cautiously and watch each of your guys so that you don’t face a complete wipe especially from bosses. One of the cool things in the game is unleashing the super move of a character. This builds up ala Limit Break in Final Fantasy 7. Unleashing it to a boss is completely satisfying, especially if you get to build them all up with each of your characters.

4. Crafting – There are tons of shops and resources that you can unlock in your town after progressing in the game. These are all at your disposal and you can create a lot of nifty items that can help you out in your adventure.

5. Events – The folks at Gumi are especially active in crafting events for the players so there are always something fun to do when you’re logged in. You can rack up pretty sweet event items if you’re faithful in logging in. Hooray for loyalty rewards!

Fusion!
Fusion!

6. Accessibility – Free is always a good thing, and a free, well-polished game is hard to come by!

The Bad:

1.  Download times – Initial download time can be a pain, and comes the first patching as well. In my experience, I got disconnected a few times, but then again it can be because of our service providers (Sigh, Philippine internet).

2. Complexity – This can be a bit of a challenge for newbies (which is the current market bulk), as most are used to very simple one-tap games such as Flappy Bird or Candy Crush Saga. If you’re an experienced gamer however, you won’t break a sweat and learning curve is not so steep.

Other stuff:

1. Microtransactions – We’re not big fans of it, but whatever floats your boat! If you think the purchase is justified, by all means.

If you look at the whole package, Brave Frontier is one of the best mobile games out there. Starting with the overall polish of the art and sound, to the controls and actual gameplay, RPG lovers are assured of a good play experience. What can be daunting however is the complexity of the game – with simple one-tap games like Flappy Bird spearheading the game charts in iOS and Android, Brave Frontier might not be the new gamer’s cup of tea. However, if you give it a chance, the game’s excellent tutorials can really help you out and you’ll find it pretty easy to learn.

Not every game is a winner, and we certainly can’t give participation medals for those games we didn’t quite like this year. So—since this blog isn’t the Special Olympics, we decided to suppliment our Games of the Year feature with an antithesis: another scientifically-calculated list; this time of our five collectively-chosen worst games of the year!

ff-all-the-bravest

5. Final Fantasy: All The Bravest (Mobile) — I’ll admit it, I’m a hater; so much so that I’ll willingly subject myself to hours upon hours of objectively bad games in order to have more material to spit truth towards my less-enlightened brethren. Prefacing that, I found it a challenge to find a game I’ve played this year that was equally or more heinous as Final Fantasy: All The Bravest. Best described as a disease-ridden prostitute of a mobile game that forces you to whack off your mobile phone in order to ejaculate recycled sprites from Final Fantasies past, the game doesn’t even have the decency of letting you go ten minutes without shaking you down for more money. And what does that get you? The chance of maybe getting another cute sprite character to play this pointless, meandering game with.

At this junction, I realize that even challenging Square’s creativity is a futile venture—the company is clearly content on spending their last few vestiges of consumer goodwill on running their franchises into the ground, but All the Bravest is a particularly loathsome venture that should have never gotten greenlit. If you like this game, you are probably one of two types of bad people: a “whale,” of which scummy mobile companies get their primary sustenance from, or a bleeding-heart Square fan who swears the company could do no wrong. -Ryan

tokitowa-3
Nope irl

4. Time and Eternity (PS3) — because of Ni No Kuni‘s release last year, I was doubly stoked to find out that there’s another “anime” game that will be released a few months after. I guess NNK really set the bar pretty high because I found it really (almost impossibly) hard to enjoy Time and Eternity. While the ideas were all good on paper, the execution in TaE made the HD anime on 3D backgrounds look really grotesque, almost Frankensteinish in actuality. What saved the game for me is Yuzo Koshiro’s amazing soundtrack which kept the track ‘Towa’ on my playlist rotation for quite a while. – Cheena

Here’s the link to my full review!

3. Injustice: Gods Among Us (Multiplatform) — With all the hype leading to its release; the comic book events with tourneys hosted by prominent celebrities and personalities, the tie-in action figures, and the overall excitement for “the ultimate superhero fighting game”, my fears were realized when I played it confirmed that it is indeed a re-skinned Mortal Kombat.

It seems like director Ed Boon (NetherRealm Studios) can’t make anything but Mortal Kombat. This is really an uninspired game using the DC Comics property to sell it. I’d rather play a first-generation Marvel/Capcom game than this worthless piece of crap.

More like, Injustice: Shit Among Us. –Shin

Oh look, it's some alien... martian... man... guy.
Oh look, it’s some alien… martian… man… guy.
wonderfulfail
I SAID MAKE A CIRCLE GODDAMNIT! WE’RE GONNA DIE!

2. Wonderful 101 (Wii U) — Disregard the cheesy superhero clichés and quirky personalities of the game’s main ensemble and you will still be left with little to desire except for Platinum’s talent for making action games. The latter is marred with frustrating controls and questionable game design decisions. There are so many times where you could die or miss out on bonus items because you couldn’t perfect making a circle (to activate the main hero’s power) or repeating a circular motion (to energize normal citizens) with the right analog stick just because your game pad is telling you that “you’re doing it wrong”. Never has changing weapons in an action become so unnecessarily complicated that one of the main functions of the game feels tacked on and forced rather than an intuitive control scheme that utilizes the Wii U’s unique game pad. In other words, why make simple things complicated for the sake of a gimmick?

Speaking of the game pad, the only innovative thing about it is the off-screen play which sometimes is also a cause of death because you would need both screens (TV and game pad) to know what’s actually going on in the game. Without any warning messages it’s pretty obvious what would happen next.

Only a Nintendo fanboy will tell you Wonderful 101 is THE killer-app for the Wii U. Let’s face it people, Nintendo is the autistic kid who nobody understands among the big three. Only Nintendo gets how to develop for Nintendo. If that’s the case, what are third parties even for but to be used as lab rats in hopes of developing a brand new IP to be milked to oblivion? With Wonderful 101, I can see how third parties’ projects for Nintendo’s Wii U is nothing more than a money sink. You would have better success making games on the 3DS and you don’t even have to give damn about making 3D graphics anymore. – Alex

1. Bioshock: Infinite (Multiplatform) — pls

bioshock-infinite-coins

P102027730lives.net was at the Glorietta Activity Center yesterday to cover the launch of the PlayStation 4 in the Philippines. The event called ‘Play the Future First’ unveiled the much awaited next-generation console to Filipino gamers at the SRP of PHP 24,999. The event is hosted by seasoned radio jocks Gino Quillamor and Riki Flores who also demo’d some of the games on the PS4. The launch was held in partnership with Sony Computer Entertainment Hong Kong Limited (SCEH) Singapore Branch.

Opening the event is the President and Managing Director of Sony Philippines, Mr. Yasushi Asaoka. “Sony has always been in touch with what the gaming community needs and wants. We have always strived to give consumers the best experience in home entertainment, which includes  the thrilling roster of PlayStation. It is with great pride that we bring the newest PlayStation 4 in the market today,” Asaoka mentioned during his speech.

Mr. Tomoyuki Haba, who is the Singapore Branch Manager of SCEH also spearheaded the launch in other SEA countries. He mentioned during his speech that the PlayStation 4 has sold more than 4.2 million copies already, according to their Tokyo office. The PS Vita has also jumped in sales in anticipation for the PS4‘s release. SCEH also has a new plan on the warranty service for 6 South East Asian countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Customers who buy the PS4 are entitled to have an extra ONE YEAR WARRANTY COVERAGE in countries where the product has been officially launched (including Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia), and the warranty will be valid throughout these countries. Wherever the customers are, they can also have the repair service for their products.

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New PS Vita color with light blue back

On stage, Sony Philippines head of marketing Ms. Zhorida Lipayon presented the new game consoles that are launching locally. First up was the new PS Vita system which features a more streamlined form factor and an 1GB internal memory card, is 20-percent slimmer and 15-percent lighter than the original version, making the portable entertainment system even easier to carry. It also comes in different colors such as lime green, light blue, pink black, khaki, black and white. The PlayStation Vita 2000 Wifi is sold at PHP 11,999 locally. Accessories are also available and are sold separately.

Meanwhile, since its unveiling in September 2013, PS Vita TV has become one of the most anticipated Sony products. PS Vita TV is a new entertainment system within the PlayStation family that will allow users to easily access various content on their TV at home. The new system adopts chip sets and system software of the PlayStation Vita portable entertainment system and its size is 6.5cm × 10.5cm, smallest of all PlayStation platforms that connect to a TV. On stage, two girls demo’d the Japanese version of God Eater 2 with one playing on the PS Vita and the other on the PS Vita TV which played flawlessly. I’ve also tried the demo unit on the floor and played Dragon’s Crown which is installed in the system’s memory card and it played without a hitch. I am just not sure if the memory card is the same as the PS Vita‘s and if it can be plugged straightaway from Vita to Vita TV.

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Oh myyyy.

According to the press release, “To continue servicing the gaming community, a separate retail launch will be held for the Sony PS Vita TV“. This hopefully means we’ll be able to finally see The Philippines as an available option in the PS Store soon.

The PS4 is a next generation computer entertainment system that redefines rich and immersive game play with powerful graphics, speed, deeply integrated social capabilities and innovative second-screen features utilizing devices such as PS Vita. By utilizing PS Camera, users can expand gaming ways of PS4 and enjoy different gaming experience. The hosts demo’d some of the games on stage which utilized the PS Camera like Play with Asobi and Air Hockey which seemed fun.

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Seriously, it’s called Magma Red.

There is also a wide range of peripherals for PS4 that are introduced such as the color variation for PS4 Wireless Controller (DUALSHOCK 4) in “Magma Red” and “Wave Blue”, PlayStation Camera, DUALSHOCK4 Charging Station and PS4 Vertical Stand. Once you touch these babies, there’s definitely no going back to the DS3, at least this is what I felt while I was playing Crank on the demo floor. There was also a demo of the Personal 3D Viewer where attendees can sample the experience of playing Assassin’s Creed Black Flag up close.

The PlayStation 4 was also made available during the press launch. The payment terms were cash or a straight credit card charge of PHP 24,999 or PHP 26,999 (with camera) on site.

For more details on PlayStation and other Sony products, visit the nearest Sony Centre.

You can also log on to www.sony.com.ph, like them on www.facebook.com/SonyPhilippines and follow them on www.twitter.com/SonyPHInc and www.instagram.com/SonyPHInc.

30lives recently received an invitation to attend the press conference for the Philippine release of Sony’s next-generation gaming console, the PlayStation 4. Dubbed as ‘Play the Future First’, the event will be held at Glorietta Activity Center on January 14th (Tuesday) at 11:00 AM.

We are definitely excited to cover what might be one of the biggest gaming industry events for the year, and we’re only still on the second week of January! I hope we get to demo the console as well as some of the biggest titles that will release this 2014. Keep checking the site for our full coverage coming soon!

For more information on the PlayStation 4, do visit Sony Philippines’ website at http://www.sony.com.ph/microsite/preorder/pspreorder.html.

Okay guys, this is what I’ll be doing the week of March 25th: Make sure my calendar is clear from any social events (lol who am I kidding, of course it is), have a backup internet connection (just in case) and stock up on tons of Cheetos and caffeine because there will be no sleeping. At all.

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Yes Sir Bad Ass sir

I have played the beta to Diablo 3‘s latest expansion Reaper of Souls on and off for the past few weeks. I just finished the campaign last night (would’ve finished it earlier if my internet connection wasn’t wonky – yes PLDT, I’m looking at you), with a solid eight hours game play on Act V and the all-new Adventure mode. I really had a great time playing and if you’re looking at a recommendation whether to buy it day one, you can stop reading now and have my big fat YES. YES most especially if you’re starting to play Diablo 3 only now because you’re getting to the best version yet.

I am dying to talk to people about the new expansion’s story but I won’t be an asshole and spoil it all for you. Let me say one thing though, it is BAD ASS.

Here’s a rundown on what’s new on Reaper of Souls!

  • Screenshot077The Crusader is definitely the most fun to play with, and this is coming from a person who has played all the available job classes in the core game, so you can trust me on this. The crusader is so damn versatile you can pretty much do everything you want – be the tank, be the main damage dealer, do long-range attacks, dish out AOE damage, whatever you need him to do, he can do. Best of all, the crusader can carry a 2H weapon on one hand so he can still carry a shield with him. I can see some barbarian players going green at this awesome passive skill. The hammer skill (Justice) and splash damage skill (Fist of the Heavens) also mimics the witch doctor’s play style while being tough as nails. While the barb and WDs will not be deemed obsolete, the crusader can pretty much give these guys a run for their money.
  • Screenshot060The Mystic is an all new NPC who has joined you in your journey in Westmarch (where Act V mostly takes place). The mystic has interesting services such as transmogrify and enchant. Transmogrifying items is a novel idea; you can change the look of your equipment so if you have a favorite look, you can keep it even if the item you’re wearing is of a different style. Also, have you ever picked up a legendary item but found out that the stat bonuses it gives are pretty much worthless for your class? You can now re-roll the stats for any item that you have in exchange for crafting items and a bit of gold so hold on to your trash legendaries and give the enchant service a try.
  • Crafting materials are now dropped by monsters. Yep, you don’t have to keep salvaging the blues, yellows and oranges that you get to produce crafting items. Most monsters now drop these things so you can be a pack rat and keep all the legendaries that you nab. There are even legendary crafting materials now. Nifty.
  • Special legendary items now drop from bosses. After fighting some of the bosses in Sanctuary, they curiously dropped legendary items specific for my class to use. Some of these legendary items also had special skills that activate during use. One of the items that I got is called Pox Faulds which stinks up from time to time like Ghom’s poison fart attack. I’ve tried standing near a mob and waited for this ability to kick in and it was mad, juvenile fun. Also, dropping special legendaries is a really good idea too as you can get to farm more items when you keep replaying boss fights, and what’s great is that…
  • 80-90% of the loot that you get is for the class you are playing! Blizzard has introduced Loot 2.0 which makes most of the stuff that you pick up during your runs usable for the current class that you are playing. This makes the hunt more fun as you’re guaranteed to get items that is for the main class you’re trying to gear. I guess this is also because…

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    Transmogrify – pimping your style
  • They are shutting down the auction house. I have mixed feelings about the auction house to be honest. I don’t hate it because I’m able to easily get items that I need from other players that don’t need them, but at the same time I hate it because Blizzard has probably tweaked the drop rate of items to be really crappy for the auction house to be more useful. In the end, the game’s fun factor has dropped since most of the time you’re not able to get the stuff that you need. Which brings me to another point…
  • The legendary items are now account bound. You can say goodbye to trading legendaries with friends. All legendary items are now account bound even when they are still unidentified. I guess you better get back the oranges you’ve lent to friends or you might not get them back when March 25th rolls in.
  • The side quests for the other characters round up their story nicely. You can get into special quests for Kormac the templar, Eirena the enchantress, Lyndon the scoundrel as well as service NPCs like Haedrig Eamon and Covetous Shen and find out more about them. What happened to Eirena’s sisters? Is Covetous Shen really a god?
  • Screenshot075The difficulty levels have changed. You can start up to the third hardest level (Expert) right off the bat so you do not need to replay it two more times (from normal and nightmare) to get to the hardest difficulty. Nightmare has now been changed to Expert and two more difficulty levels called Master and Torment is added to the game. You can only get to these levels by reaching 60 and 70.
  • And yes, the level cap is raised to 70 as I have mentioned, which means extra passive and active skills for everyone!
  • Paragon levels do not have cap anymore and the experience points are shared within all of your characters. With leveling up your paragon, you can now assign your characters extra stats (instead of it auto-assigning) so it gives you now an option to really build your character. I still don’t know whether I like this or not since I don’t really like thinking of builds (more of gearing characters), but we’ll see.
  • You can now form clans in Reaper of Souls. This is great for gaming communities and groups so you can easily see friends’ progress and stuff. I haven’t really tried this feature yet since I’m the only one who has access to the beta from the group and I’m a snob when playing with people I don’t know (huehue) but maybe I’ll try it out sometime.
  • Screenshot070The adventure mode adds an extra layer to the game. If you’re up for random challenges, you can give the adventure mode a whirl and complete missions in different dungeons. Completing these bite-sized (well, okay some are not so bite-sized) adventures will reward you with special gold that you can use to buy random equipment from the NPCs. Finishing all adventures in an act also rewards you with a Horadric Cache. Getting a bunch will let you build a treasure chest that has sweet items, I assume. I have to get back to you on this once I actually get to build and open one.
  • Cursed chests and fountains can be found in different parts of the map. To open these chests, there will be certain conditions like beating a number of enemies guarding the chest, clear an area and so on.
  • Aside from dropping health globes, monsters also drop a white globe called Nephalem Glory. This gives bonuses much like getting Nephalem Valor and fountains and lasts for about two minutes. You can extend the time of the bonuses by picking up health globes so WDs will have a field day on this for sure.
  • Possibly one of the best tweaks to the game, you can now revive from corpse. YAY!
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Let’s go on a Shenventure

Sadly, some parts of Act V is still incomplete and only have placeholders for texts and NPCs and have a bunch of bugs yet to be zapped. I find myself sometimes fighting bosses that get stuck and skills that do not have an actual description yet. This is of course purely understandable and acceptable – even in beta, the level of polish for the latest act is very impressive. The city of Westmarch is very dark which brings me back to the ultra-gothic feel of Diablo 2 and the new tracks they used are hair-raisingly good. Also, the beta stops just as when you’re about to fight the last (?) boss in the act so it really left me hanging so bad that I wish we can fast-forward to March 25th now. Please.

Again, if you’re just jumping to Diablo 3, this is the perfect time for you to do so. A lot of things in the core game have been tweaked in Reaper of Souls which makes the game more challenging with the new difficulty levels, more exciting with the crusader class, and the new additional features makes a more satisfying game experience for the dungeon crawlers and looters like me.

Asiasoft is the exclusive distribution partner of Blizzard in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls will be available in the Philippines on March 25, 2014 at the following suggested retail prices of P1,800 for the standard edition and P3,500 for the collector’s edition which contains the following:

  • A full complement of Diablo III helms and weapons, primed for transmogrification
  • A Ghost Wolf minion players can summon
  • Three additional character slots to accomodate new heroes
  • A World of Warcraft in-game companion pet: the Treasure Goblin
  • A set of StarCraft II Crusader themed Battle.net portraits and Malthael-themed decals
  • A full-color hardcover art book
  • A behind-the-scenes Blu-ray/DVD two-disc set
  • A limited edition Reaper of Souls mouse pad

See you in Westmarch! The crusade goes on!

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Yes, I know, the game has been out locally weeks ago for some reason, but Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness is now available in the US. What this means for you is that you can download it via the PlayStation Network (PSN) if you have a disc-less game library or want a Region 1 game or whatever.

D2‘s release heralds the 20th anniversary of its game developer / publisher Nippon Ichi Software (NIS). The game goes back to the first Disgaea game so you can again play with the overlord Laharl, his vassal Etna, and the fallen angel Flonne. NIS has confirmed that there will be a lineup of DLCs that will soon be available for all Disgaea fans, so this is pretty exciting news for me, being a Laharl fan and all!

I have  also been given a review copy of the game a week ago and I have been playing it for days now. My review will be up pretty soon so look forward to it, dood.

Official press release below!

Santa Ana, Calif. (October 8, 2013) – NIS America is thrilled to announce that the newest installment of the fan-favorite strategy RPG series, Disgaea®D2: A Brighter Darkness, is now available for purchase across North America on PSN and at retail stores. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Nippon Ichi Software and 10th anniversary of the Disgaea series, Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness brings back the popular trio from the first game: Laharl, Etna, and Flonne! With a completely new storyline, it offers game system refinements that will entice new players, while still offering the same kind of hardcore, over-the-top, endless gameplay that is sure to please longtime fans! Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness will also feature various DLC to keep players entertained for even more sleepless nights this fall! For more information, please visit disgaea.us/dis_d2

About the game:

The Netherworld – a place where might makes right and today’s friends are tomorrow’s enemies. After a long journey with many ups and downs, Laharl finally finds himself as a full-fledged Overlord. However, the other denizens of the Netherworld do not see him as such, so he sets out on a journey with his loyal(!?) vassals to receive the respect he deserves. Along the way, Laharl will meet a girl who claims to be his sister, fight demons with bigger than usual chips on their shoulders, and find out that even his own body holds a few surprises for him…

Key features:

Enhanced Customization: The character creation system has been completely revamped to allow for the highest level of character customization in series history!

Master/Pupil System: The player chooses the master and the pupil, as well as which skills to learn! Benefits include new skills and higher weapon proficiencies for the pupil, while the master gets a stat boost!

Item World: Challenge this battleground to power up your weapons, items, and characters! Prepare to deal massive damage!

Geo Panels: These status-altering blocks provide bonuses or detriments to the terrain! Change the tide of battle by skillfully manipulating these elemental icons!

Reunite with old friends and meet a new crew: Bringing back the fan favorite trio of Laharl, Etna, and Flonne, with new characters and a brand-new story!

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Square Enix handed out a special magazine that has their games lineup for 2013-2014 to the Tokyo Game Show (TGS) attendees and 30lives had the opportunity to get a copy. I took some pictures of the interesting games they have in store for us in the next few months!

ff10As we all know, Final Fantasy X and X-2 are both remastered for the PlayStation 3 and Vita and will be released soon! According to the ad (and to the limited Japanese I know, sorry), there is also a RESOLUTION BOX which has a white Vita wi-fi model (with SKU of PCH-2000) with a special FF decal at the rear touch panel. It will also come with the two games although I’m not clear if it’s pre-installed or will be in cartridges.

The official site is at http://www.jp.square-enix.com/ffx_x-2HD/

Another game I’m pretty interested in is Theathrythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call. I am a big fan of the first game, clocking in more than 30 hours in the game and max leveling Sephiroth in the first few hours. You theawould know that this is a feat as Sephiroth is a locked character that can only be acquired by collecting the black shards (which only appears in the Chaos Shrine on notes level 80 and higher). AHEM. Anyway, Curtain Call will have new features such as ‘Quest Medley’ and ‘Versus Battle Mode’, additional 30 new characters and 40 monsters, as well as new Collect cards to look forward to! Snazzy! According to the magazine, the game will be released in Japan in Spring 2014 and I am praying hard that it sees a North American release so I don’t have to buy myself a Japanese 3DS.

Then there’s Final Fantasy Agito which is still alive for some reason! I didn’t follow the progression of the game but it looks like it’s going to be a smartphone online RPG. Graphics look impressive for a mobile game, but it’s still pretty much zzz on my part.

mobileSpeaking of mobile games, there’s a bunch coming out from SQEX starting with The World Ends With You Remix which is developed by GREE. It will be coming out for the iPhone and Android devices. The graphics look like the 2007 DS title which is good as I liked the ‘street art’ aesthetics of the game.  There’s also Final Fantasy Artiks which looks like a card collecting game (CCG), Pictlogica which is a puzzle game, and Final Fantasy Brigade Break the Seal which has the adorable art style of Theathrythm! There’s a Final Fantasy IV The After Years which is already out in the Japanese iTunes App Store and Android Market which is a remaster of the game. Deadman’s Cross, a zombie shooter RPG will be released within the year and Chaos Rings Sigma will be up 2014. An interesting mobile title called Emperor’s Saga (which looks like it is based off the popular SaGa Frontier franchise) will be released on October 2013, and a new IP entitled Melpharia March for the iPhone and iPad which I’m wildly curious about  because it’s a ‘line strategy’ (tower defense) game.

Kaku-San-Sei Million Arthur seems to be a popular card battle game and will be out on mobile and the Vita, along with a spin-off title called Yui-Itsu-Sei Million Arthur.

For casual fans, there’s a Kingdom Hearts browser game which looks mad cute! Basing on the screenshots, it looks like a hybrid of MMO / action / CCG as there’s a persistent world, boss battles and using cards for action. I doubt we’ll see it outside Japan though. Another BB game is Dragon Quest Monster Parade made for Yahoo! Games, which again is pretty sad because I can’t play it and it looks pretty cute.

xvThere’s also a teaser of Final Fantasy XV which will be available on the PS4 and XBOX One, as well as Kingdom Hearts III which is tagged ‘Now in Development’. We’re all looking forward to Bravely Default for the 3DS, so there’s no need to elaborate on that. It will be released on December 5, 2013 in Japan and shortly after in the US so yay! SQEX is also coming up with a spin-off browser game called Bravely Default Praying Brage which is an online fantasy RPG.There’s a collector’s edition of Drag-On Dragoon 3 coming out on December 19, 2013 which will have CDs, DLC codes, postcard sets, artbook and more for the low, low price of 19,800 yen.

There seems to be a content expansion for MMO Dragon Quest X coming on September 26, 2013. If you can read Japanese, you can play it at http://dqx.jp.

Of course, there are the staples like Lightning Returns Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy XIV Online which I won’t talk about since there are tons of content already out. I’m still thinking of whether to FFXIV or not, but LR is a sure bet.

For SQEX partner games, there’s Call of Duty Ghosts which will be released on the Japanese PS4 on February 22, 2014, Diablo 3 for the PS3 (also 2014), and Thief which is developed by Eidos Montreal. Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag will be out on November 28, 2013, Rocksmith 2014 which features the music of B’z will also be out on November 7 and Wolfenstein The New Order will be out on 2014.

There are tons of toys and goodies as well as music CDs that I can only drool about, but I’ll be visiting Japan on the last week of November so I hope I can at least grab myself a Slime cookie tin box. Sigh.

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In this second part of the interview (the first part can be read here), Neutral Ground‘s Ambassador of Geek, Freddie Tan talks about pro gaming, digital Magic and their participation in this year’s Laro Convention.

30lives: In your opinion, is it feasible for people to go pro in TCGs (trading card games) in the Philippines?

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Just a normal day in Neutral Grounds

FT: That’s difficult for us primarily because we’re in a region that doesn’t really give a lot of opportunities to get into the pro player bandwagon. I think that’s a wrong way of looking at things. Number one, when you get into this hobby or whatever game you get into, it is because you like the game and it’s fun. The pro aspect is I think putting the cart before the horse. If it’s available to you then that’s good, but if it’s not, as long as you enjoy the game [then] that’s all there is to it. If you’re enjoying the game, whatever organized play there is, it’s a plus. Locally, we run a lot of events [and] we give out really good prizes, but I wouldn’t really suggest any Filipino to quit their jobs and go at this full time. It’s the same thing [as] I wouldn’t suggest to a kid to quit school and play basketball the entire day even if we have a professional league like PBA here. No parent would tell his child “Okay, quit school and just concentrate playing basketball”. That doesn’t make sense. It’s the same thing with this hobby. We probably have talent here, but I wouldn’t suggest [to] anyone to quit their job and just play. Bottom-line, if you like the game and you enjoy it, then just play it. If you win or lose, it’s just secondary. The most important thing is you’re playing the game, you’re enjoying it, [and] you’re enjoying the company of the people you’re with. It’s not about making a living out of doing it. I always joke with people who want to make a living out of this, [I tell them] “Open a store”. That’s a bit more realistic than “I’m going to go to the Pro-Tour”.

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MTG Grand Prix in Hannover, Germany

Even if you are in the States, it’s really hard. It’s kind of like golf, or basketball, or whatever sport . There’s a very small percentage of people who can actually make a living out of doing that. A lot of people play basketball, but how many people get to play it professionally? I think it’s the same thing. But there are a lot of people from the Philippines who like to travel, go abroad, and play. When you do that, these people don’t do it and have the mentality that “I’m going to make a living out of this”. For example, in Hong Kong [Grand Prix], we had like 70 people go. That’s a lot of people going [out of the country] just to play a tournament for Magic: The Gathering. I don’t think these people go there, of course at the back of their minds they want to win, but they don’t go there because they want to go pro. They go there because “Oh, I’m going with these guys, my friends, we’re going there to do something that we all like to do and we get to see the world at the same time”. So they’re playing, they’re going around different countries just like going on a road trip. I think that kind of mentality is healthier than thinking about the money, the competitiveness, and it puts things on a better perspective. It doesn’t put you in a frame of mind that will probably turn people off when playing against you. If you’re really just about winning, then you’re probably not very pleasant to play with and at the end of the day, it’s [just] a game. It’s not work. The reason that you got into this hobby to begin with is because it’s something you enjoy. The moment you start looking at it as work, then you’re in the same boat as I am (laughs).

30lives: My next question is actually sensitive. You can opt to not answer it or go off-the-record. There are special sets like FTV (From the Vault), Planechase, or special decks that are sold online but I cannot order if it’s going to be shipped to the Philippines. I’m curious, is there’s a special reason for that? Or is it because the official distributors are being protected?

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FTV 20 has the highly coveted Planeswalker card, Jace The Mind Sculptor

FT: It’s not about protection. The thing is those items are reserved for stores that are running tournaments. The reason for that is it’s a reward system [for stores]. The people who put effort to grow the market are given those specific items. Like for example, not even all our stores get those products. The FTV, only the 3 stores of Neutral Grounds have it. The other stores that do not run tournaments can’t sell it. Each store only gets a specific amount [so it is] very limited. This is also the reason the prices of these things go crazy online. We at Neutral Grounds want other stores to follow what we’re doing. We’re not selling it at ridiculous prices that eBay or other online stores sell it for. For example, for FTV we’re selling ours near the SRP (suggested retail price) but we’re not just selling it over the counter because if we did that, the first guy who comes in during the release date will just buy everything. If our allocation was 20, somebody can just easily buy it and resell it high. What we’re trying to do with it is use it to tie it with organized play. That way, we get more mileage out of it and we don’t feel like we’re gouging our customers. Our cost is really based on the retail price and of course we can sell the FTVs for, I think some people are selling it for PHP 9,900 or something like that. I don’t even check the prices on eBay, but I think it’s being sold higher than what it is being sold here in Manila. We sold ours for PHP 2,000. We could easily sell it for more but we don’t want to do that and we’d really like for other stores to copy what we’re doing which is stretch it out, make it tied with play experience and not just selling it outright [and] making a killing [for a] short term. You just made it faster for you to earn and get a big profit. It’s so easy to do, but we don’t want to take the easy road.

I know a lot of players are not happy with what we’re doing by tying it with organized play, but I think especially with games, the most important thing is the play experience. It’s not about making a quick buck, like some people are focusing more on the trading rather than on the game. We’d like to focus more on the game and not the trading aspect. Of course there are lots of people complaining with what we do, on how we raffled it out to people who joined the tournaments, but at the end of the day it’s fairer. I’m not condemning the other stores for selling, it’s their thing. But we’d really like them to follow suit. So focus more on the play, rather than the trading part. It’s actually very transparent. The reason why you can’t buy it on online stores is because they can’t have access to it. It’s not a protection thing or whatever, it’s WotC (Wizards of the Coast) basically rewarding the stores who put an effort to grow the market. Let’s admit it: online stores, they do jack squat for this hobby. If anything, they hurt the brick and mortar stores. They can do deep discounts and the brick and mortar stores obviously have higher overheads. They can’t beat the deep discounts the online stores do, and I guess this is the only way WotC to reward the stores that help promote [them]. It’s also the reason I want to tie it into organized play rather than just sell it at a huge profit. That’s how you grow the market, you sell the experience, and not just the product.

30lives: So this year celebrates the 20th anniversary of Magic: The Gathering. What are your events to promote this milestone?

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Happy 20th birthday, MTG!

FT: Well this year, we’ll be having the Spartan Cup. We’re partnered with Laro Convention. It’s going to be the first local tournament that’s going to give that big amount. It’s like PHP 300,000 worth of prizes, so that’s the first time this is going to happen. There’s going to be 300 people invited to the event. Towards the end of the year, we’re going to have our usual Gold Rush tournament [which will have] PHP 100,000 in prizes. It’s going to be open so anyone can join, it’s not invite only. First place, because we call it Gold Rush, last year we started giving out jewelry. Actual gold (laughs). Last year for the first place, we gave out a ring like an NBA championship ring. This year, I’m still thinking what kind of jewelry to do, probably a ring again. I’m toying with the idea of a bracelet like a WSOP (World Series of Poker) bracelet but if it’s more expensive, maybe not because that usually needs a lot more gold than a ring but we’ll see. Every year, around September, there’s an MTG celebration where people can play for free. We give away free products. It sort of coincides with MTG‘s anniversary although it’s really in August, but [WotC] celebrates it in September.

30lives: It is said that about a third of MTG’s revenues are from Magic: The Gathering Online and 2/3 is in Paper Magic. Do you have customers who also play MTGO?

FT: Yeah, we do. When MTGO first came out, I had apprehensions. I felt “Oh my god, WotC is going to compete with us”. But now I don’t really feel that threatened.  1/3 is a really big amount for them, but we’ve never really felt that MTGO hurt our business. We’ve never felt a dip [in growth], there were years that were flat in our business. The people who play it, they don’t leave the paper game. It is something they can do when they want but at the end of the day, the people they play with in MTGO are not their friends, [they’re] not the people they know. It’s not the people who know you by name. They know your handle, like you’re R2D2-PH, they know that, but they don’t know you. I guess people still want that relationship when they’re playing these games so that’s how I see it. It’s really a big business for WotC, but it’s something that I have no idea [about]. There is no way for me to tap into that market [so] I just look at it as it’s keeping people in MTG even if they do not have the time [to play Paper Magic]. But with the online element, at least they have somewhere to go to. Eventually if they have the time again, they can go back to the shop to play Paper Magic again.

30lives: Ah, so you view it more as complementary.

FT: I think it is. It probably competes with [Paper Magic]. Everyone has a set amount of money that you can spend in a hobby. It probably competes in that aspect, but you don’t really lose players to it. If anything, it probably complements it.

30lives: So what do you think are the pros and cons of playing the digital version?

FT: Recently, there’s this game called Duels of the Planeswalkers (DotP).

30lives: Yeah, I actually learned the game through DoTP 2010 on the XBOX 360.

dotp2010
My MTG training wheels: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2010

FT: Through that? See? It’s a digital game that on the surface looks like it’s competing with the paper game. But I think what happens is people download the game and realize that “Hey, I CAN actually play this game!”. Because before when they see it at the shop, it looks intimidating. Now what happens is when they see it on the app store, “I’ll download the free demo copy so I don’t have to pay for it”, and then [they realize that] “Oh, it’s not that hard!”. Sometimes people are afraid to ask when they go in the store and see people playing “How do you play this game?”. DotP allows them to do that even if they’re shy, [just] download it, play the game, and [realize] “Ah! It’s not hard at all!”. Now when they go back to the shop, t