Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010 Was Great! :)

I had a great Christmas this year. The food was great, everyone was happy and I got some very nice presents. (Pictures Coming Soon.) What did I get?

*From my Parents unless otherwise noted:
-- Mint green pant suit with red detailing
-- Blue suede coat
-- Black and white boots with plaid detailing
-- Desperate Housewives season 6
-- Webkinz Cream Soda Pup (It looks like our dog, Coco)
-- 7" digital photo frame
-- Barbie Dream Bedroom set (From Mike, Terrie & Merissa)
-- Liv "Its My Nature" Maple Lodge playset. (From Shawnie)
-- $30 from Grandma & Grandpa Coleman (I bought Webkinz: Floppy Pig, Pom Pom Kitty, and two Mazin' Hamsters -- Waffles and Cookie.)
-- $100 from Grandma Perry (I bought Lego Harry Potter. Will likely use the rest to buy 'Peace and Plenty' by Sarah Ban Breathnach or the 'Awake Live' CD/DVD set I want of Josh Groban)
-- "Up!", "Despicable Me", and Farscape seasons 3 & 4 from my aunt Brenda.

I still have gifts coming from my best friend, RJ, and my boyfriend, Jay.

I also have some pretty awesome things to look forward to in 2011:

-- Jay is coming to visit soon. ^.^ I cannot wait to see him.

-- DC Universe Online has a release date! It is coming out January 11th. (Hm... 1 / 11 / 11 ... Should I be afraid my PC will explode?)

Anyway, this will give me a spot to update all my Christmas stuff as we touch back down to earth. Wanted to make sure that I wrote something. :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Kat's Christmas Wish List...

This has been a wonderful year that has opened up a fresh new array of interests, hopes and desires. As always, I do not expect to get everything that I put on my holiday list. But I am glad to like as many different things as I do so that those I love have lots to choose from.

Games:

I own a Wii and an Xbox 360 and I have selected a couple games for either of these.

Xbox 360:

Fallout: New Vegas -- The swquel to Bathesda's 2008 hit Fallout 3, New Vegas takes place in what was Los Vegas. This is an RPG that has choices to be made, places to explore, etc. Its also a bit of a shooter.

Lego Harry Potter -- This game covers books 1 - 4 from the Harry Potter series, allowing the player to experience major plot events in a video game format that mixes casting spells and exploring. Characters to unlock, secrets to discover, etc.

Wii: (Note: I need someone to hook this up for me!)

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn -- This takes place 3 years after the GameCube game Path of Radiance, one of my favorite RPGs ever. It begins in Daelin, the country conquered in the last game. This is turn based strategy with excellent story telling.

Kirby's Epic Yarn -- A fun platformer starring everyone's favorite pink puffball. As you guide Kirby through over 50 levels in a world made completely of stuff you'd find at a craft store you will take advantage of the various effects this type of environment would have.

DVD:

Desperate Housewives Season 6 -- I've been following this show for a very long time and this is no time to stop watching! Did Mike end up with Susan or Katherine? Will Bree divorce Orsen? What is happening to Lynette, Tom, Carlos and Gabby? Only one way to find out...

Books:

"Dark Peril" by Christine Feehan -- Solange has suffered greatly at the hands of male Jaguar people. When she meets the last of the Dragonseeker clan, who has injested vampire toxins to find the Carpathians greatest enemies, what will the pair do when they discover they are lifemates?

"No Mercy" by Sherrilyn Kenyon -- Following the tragic deaths of Mama and Papa Peltier, who owned the Sanctuary bar, Dev Peltier has stepped up and started to fill his parents shoes. What will happen when he has feelings for Amazon Dark Huntress Samia?

Liv Dolls:

"Its My Nature" Daniella -- I think this doll is really pretty: she looks somewhat like Amy Farrow from my Mystic Guardians series. As a bonus, the doll is a musician who comes with her own litle guitar, song book, etc. Cute!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Final Fantasy XIV Beta -- Katryn Rosemir


Well, here I am!

Image taken at the Quicksand in Uldah.

So far I have been quite enjoying my adventures in Eorzea. My character is a conjurer, currently rank 4. She just learned cure 1 before I had to log off for maintenance. This far in my journey I have done two sets of guildleves, killed quite a few Star Marmotts and explored the area around Uldah and Camp Black Brush. I have a long way to go before I master control of this game, but the clothing is cute and varied, the music is great, the setting is pretty and so far I feel like I can go at my own pace, so I am not all that worried. I will write more about my experiences with Final Fantasy XIV as I uncover more details.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The time has finally come...

Here is the info sheet for my new pc.

Kathy's New Computer

Overview:

Why are you building a new computer?: My current PC failed the FFXIV benchmark scoring a 565 out of the 1500 that is needed to play on the absolute lowest settings. After some consideration I decided that it would make no sense to buy a $200 - $400 graphics card and put it into a machine I intended to replace in the spring. Final Fantasy XIV seems to have some pretty tough settings to be able to play it at recommended settings so it should make a good foundation for a new built that will have some staying power for the next two to three years.

What is the computer for?

MMOs: Final Fantasy XIV, World of Warcraft, DC Universe Online, etc.
Other games: Sims 3, Spore, basic facebook stuff
Mild Video Editing: FRAPS, YouTube footage on hand held camcorder (Currently RCA Small Wonder)
Ventrilo, MSN and iTunes
Basic web surfing, graphics editing (MS Paint; this is not too demanding) and word documents

What is your budget?: ________________ before taxes and costs to be built.

When is the PC needed?: I would like to have it for the early launch of FFXIV, which starts the 22nd of September. If this is not possible, however, that's the way it goes.

Do you plan to overclock?: Not likely as I would not want to risk my PC.

Do you plan to use CrossfireX or SLI?: Not likely as I have heard it can be a hassle. It seems like less trouble to upgrade.

What is your monitor's current resolution?: I am using a 720p HDTV right now. I may get a new monitor / TV eventually. I have vision issues so I do not necessarily have my TV running at the highest resolution that it can.

Final Fantasy XIV Recommended Specs: (Taken from the official website)

Operating System -- Windows 7 32bit / 64bit 2
CPU -- Intel Core i7 (2.66 GHz) or higher
RAM -- 4GB or more
HDD/SDD Space -- Installation: 15GB or more
Download: Space on the hard drive where My Documents is located should be 6GB or more
Graphics Card -- NVIDIA GeForce GTX460 or better with VRAM 768MB or more
Sound Card -- DirectSound compatible sound card (DirectX 9.0c or higher)
Internet Connection -- Broadband internet connection or higher
Screen Resolution -- 1280 x 720 or higher; 32-bit
DirectX -- DirectX 9.0c
Others -- Mouse, Keyboard, and Gamepad

Questions, Concerns and Considerations:

1. CPU / Processor:

Is there an AMD build that can be done that would be comparable to what is listed above?
I've heard some people say yes, I've heard some people say no.
They listed AMD stuff on their minimum requirements but not their recommended and I am not certain if this is to do with them being partnered with nVidia for the game or whether the hyperthreading technology in the i7 is actually that important.
I cannot see the CPU being more vital then the GPU in a game but I could be wrong.

2. Motherboard:

How important are USB 3.0 and SATA 6.0gb/s overall?
My research indicates that USB3 is more valuable then SATA 6.0 since HDDs cannot fully utilize it and have been told that if you are that worried about speed then you should add an SSD.
My research also indicates that usb 3.0 is a large improvement for those who use USB devices

3. RAM:

Do I want 4GB RAM or 8GB RAM?
I realize that this will tie in directly to whether I am buying Windows 7 32 or 64 bit as 32 can only utilize up to 4gb.
I have been told to get 64 bit and that 32 bit is outdated. True, false, neutral, doesn't matter?
I have been told that I will want 1333 RAM since I do not plan to overclock.
I have also been told that getting a lower latancy RAM, for example CL7, is better. True, false, neutral?

4. Graphics Card:

I have been told that since my vision is not so great that I shouldn't waste money on anything above a GTX 460.
I do not want to be replacing a whole PC over a graphics card again for a while.
Am I better off getting a 5850 / GTX 470 / 5870 to increase the overall lifespan of the PC or will this not help?
I am likely going to get something better then the GTX 460 incase I do get a better monitor then what I have (resolution wise) anyway unless someone can give me a valid reason not to.
I will say, though, that the footage I saw of someone playing using a GTX 460 did look fine.

5. Hard Drive:

Is it still a worthwhile money saver to get a smaller HDD or is it basically a matter of biting the bullet and getting a 1tb drive these days?
I have been told that my best option is to go with a Western Digital Caviar Black.
I have also been told to avoid Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 at all costs as they had a large batch of faulty HDDs that break. True, false, opinions?
If I choose a motherboard that can take a 6.0gb/s hard drive do I want to take advantage of that?

6. Wireless Card / Router Space Extender:

I checked the router in my current PC and it is a D-LINK G router.
Do I want to get another G router or an N router that is backwards compatable? I am totally clueless about routers so I really have no idea about this part of things. 90% of my PC use is via the net so it is *important*.
I have also been told that if I can go wired instead of wireless that I will have a better gaming experience.
Unfortuntely our router is currently "full" (all four spaces are taken up).
I was told that there is something that I can get that will get us more spaces. True, false, too big a hassle to bother with?
I will likely still buy a wireless card regardless but if the solution for wired play is easy I want to hear about it.

7. DVD Burner / BluRay:

BluRay or DVD Burner?
I initially thought that getting a DVD burner for now and then getting a BluRay player later would be fine but my brother has informed me he would rather have to install a new CPU then have to install a BluRay "down the road".
How useful am I going to find it? (I do not currently own BluRay movies, but they are becoming more prominent.).
Are they really that difficult to install?
Also am I going to need a DVD Burner and a BluRay player or just one or the other?
One other thing I want to cover here is being able to use the DVD player / BluRay player to actually play BluRays / DVDs. Do I need an additional program for this to work?
When I reformatted my current PC I did not have that function and when I brought it home from your store I only got the ability to do this because a friend installed Nero for me.

8. SSD:

SSD: Yes, no, maybe, wait until your next PC?
I've seen a lot of debate via the net about these and have read a lot of debate over who should buy them and who should wait.
Not totally sure where I fit into the picture, although whether I go AMD or Intel will ultimately decide whether this is even an issue (Intel is just more expensive in general from what I see.)

9. Power Supply:

How strong a power supply do I want?
650w? 750w? 850w?
I realize that its more important what is going on with the rails, that I want something that is at least 80+ bronze certified and that even though I am not *doing* SLI / CrossfireX that having something that is SLI certified / Crossfire Ready certainly cannot hurt.
From what I gather Corsair, Antec and Cooler Master are good suggestions.

10: I still have not selected a case. I do have some criteria though:

Must have USB ports and mic / headphone ports at the front that work***
Must have a flat surface / surface that will be flat with a mousepad on the top since I sit my mouse there***
Must be at least a mid tower; a mini would be too small*
Must provide enough cooling for the type of graphics card, etc. I am putting in it.***
Must be able to fit large video cards since I could get a different one in the future**
Must have a power button that is easily found but not easy to accidentally push***
I would prefer a case with black interior*
I would like LEDs, I would like them more with an on / off function*
I would like a bottom mounted power supply to improve temperatures**
I would like fans to have dust filters *

* It would be nice
** Its fairly important
*** It is absolutely vital

A Few Random Things:

How often should someone update their keyboard / mouse?
Is the sound option on a motherboard going to be good enough?
If I keep my current logitech keyboard & mouse is there anything special I will need to get them to work?
Is there likely to be any real benefit between 720p and 1080p for me when I buy a new TV / Monitor?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Comparing Basic Computer Builds: Intel or AMD?

So here we get to the heart of the matter, folks? Who do I want to go with: Intel or AMD? Its a tough choice in some regards and yet almost painfully easy in others. First off, Square Enix seems to be backing Intel and Nvidia. Their recommended specs for Final Fantasy XIV listed only a Core i7 processor and a GTX460 graphics card. However, this does not in any way mean that an AMD / ATI setup cannot / will not work. Without further ado, here are my samples for potential AMD and Intel builds. Note that I did not include a case in any of these as I still do not know what case I want. Lets see what is in the realm of feasibility ... and what clearly is not.

AMD:

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This seems like such a "phenom"inal value to me. That is one hell of a fast processor and if I really want to bump up to a hexa core rather then a quad core it is going to be a whopping $20. This setup, while it is still without a case, comes nowhere near my max budget and could possibly get an extra upgrade or two. Do I want 8gb of RAM? The XFX model 5870 that is on sale right now? An SSD as the drive that Windows 7 is installed on? An extremely flashy case like the Cooler Master Sniper Black AMD Dragon Edition?

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Oh the possabilities!

Intel:

There are three different chips that I could go with if I decide to buy an Intel computer. But as you will see not all of them are necessarily feasible.

i5 760:

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This computer is alright but if its not a little slower then the 965 then it is pretty much the same. Intel fans might tell you differently, but I have seen no arguements to back it up. It is a completely feasible option just like the AMD machine up at the top but since I am not quite as familiar with Intel I cannot properly gage its value.

i7 870:

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Here is where things start to get blurry. I know that an i7, whether it is a Lynnfield model like this one or a Bloomfield like the one below, has 4 physical cores and four virtual cores for a total of 8 logical cores. What I don't know is whether all of that imaginary processing power is really worth $340 here. The store I am going to does not seem to have the i7 860, which would have been $305 and made this all a little more feasible. If I really want to spend this much on a processor I could easily get the Phenom II x6 1090t for $320 when its *not* on sale as it is right now.

i7 930:

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Its the most advanced setup of them all, the i7 930. This is running on a 1336 socket motherboard and you can tell -- I'm paying for it. But that is the only way to go and even here I am likely skimping a little. This is enthusaist country we're entering; we have teetering away from the border of game machine land steadily here. I don't think I would be too keen to buy this machine as it offers me nothing new or special that I *need* in exchange for the funds that it is taking.

Anyway, those are my builds *before* I add a case. I still don't seem to know what kind of a case that I want to put my PC in yet. Anyway, I'll post this for now and do another post strictly about cases soon.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

July's Financial Calendar. I did good. ^.^

Ever since I started working on saving up for my new PC I have been making my own handmade finance calendars. What I am finding is that if I write down what I buy I actually think about how much I am spending and am not tempted by dumb impulse stuff. In the last 5 weeks I have saved $650 and I currently have $1,355 in my purse 7 days into August!!! I am truly amazed. So I'm going to start sharing the calendars and talk about what I think of them after each month. Plus it will show me stuff I did that month to boot. :)



So, where could I have improved? Well...

-- I have not touched the new Puzzle Quest since I bought it. I should have tested the demo more thoroughly before paying $20

-- The $20 for beer was a family expense so I am not really counting it against myself.

-- I never did really read that EGM magazine that I bought.

-- Notice how much pizza I had at the start of the month? That was before I started the calendar. :O

I will say this, though. My goal for July was $600. I saved $650. Despite any 20/20 hindsight complaints, I still did AWESOME! :D

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Computer Build Templating and Pricing...

A M D B U I L D T E M P L A T E S

In trying to figure out the easiest way to represent the different options that I have for designing my PC it has come to my attention that I tend to forget certain things. Therefore I have decided to place things into groups. I am listing Processor, motherboard, RAM and graphics as varying packages since they are the things most likely to be changed. I am listing hard drive, optical (DVD) drive, wireless card and Windows 7 as a group since they are most likely to stay the same. I am also listing power supply and case as their own grouping since they are the most likely thing that will have to be really decided "on location". At the end I will try to show some examples of completed packages.

C P U / M O T H E R B O A R D / R A M / G P U S E T U P S:

I have changed two variables consistantly in these examples: the processor and the graphics card. I could just as easily back down to 4GB of RAM for $110 - $130 and get 4 more later, I may also be able to find a motherboard that would suit my needs just as well that is less expensive -- GIGABYTE an 890gx model for $145 or Asus has an 890fx for $190, although I would prefer to stay away from this as I think I would value USB 3.0 more then I would 4 PCI-E (graphic card) slots.

I currently have 1333 DDR3 RAM chosen because that is the highest non-O.C. RAM type that the GIGABYTE board I am looking at will support. I would not want to buy RAM that would not work. If I have the wrong RAM listed I would certainly appreciate knowing this.

From the absolute cheapest model (1d) to the most expensive model (8a) there is a $395 price difference. Within each model family (1+2, 3+4, 5+6, 7+8 or "whatever processor is labelled") there is a $255 difference from the most expensive model (a -- 5870 edition) to the cheapest model (d, standard edition)

OPTION #1: Phenom II x4 955 3.2ghz

Option 1a:-- $920 -- 3.2ghz quad core / 890fx / 5850 / 8gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II 955 Black Edition 3.2ghz processor -- $180
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD5 motherboard -- $210
ATI Radeon 5850 graphics card -- $330
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $200

Option 1b:-- $865 -- 3.2ghz quad core / 890gx / 5850 / 8gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II 955 Black Edition 3.2ghz processor -- $180
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD5 motherboard -- $145
ATI Radeon 5850 graphics card -- $330
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $200

Option 1c:-- $830 -- 3.2ghz quad core / 890fx / 5850 / 4gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II 955 Black Edition 3.2ghz processor -- $180
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD3H motherboard -- $210
ATI Radeon 5850 graphics card -- $330
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $110

Option 1d:-- $765 -- 3.2ghz quad core / 890gx / 5850 / 4gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II 955 Black Edition 3.2ghz processor -- $180
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD3H motherboard -- $145
ATI Radeon 5850 graphics card -- $330
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $110

OPTION #2: Phenom II x4 965 3.2ghz 5870 Edition

Option 2a -- $1,020 -- 3.2ghz quad core / 890fx / 5870 / 8gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II 955 Black Edition 3.2ghz processor -- $180
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD5 motherboard -- $210
ATI Radeon 5870 graphics card -- $430
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $200

Option 2b -- $965 -- 3.2ghz quad core / 890gx / 5870 / 8gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II 955 Black Edition 3.2ghz processor -- $180
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD5 motherboard -- $210
ATI Radeon 5870 graphics card -- $430
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $200

Option 2c -- $930 -- 3.2ghz quad core / 890fx / 5870 / 4gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II 955 Black Edition 3.2ghz processor -- $180
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD5 motherboard -- $210
ATI Radeon 5870 graphics card -- $430
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $200

Option 2d -- $865 -- 3.2ghz quad core / 890gx / 5870 / 4gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II 955 Black Edition 3.2ghz processor -- $180
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD5 motherboard -- $210
ATI Radeon 5870 graphics card -- $430
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $200

OPTION #3: Phenom II x4 965 3.4ghz

Option 3a: $940 -- 3.4ghz quad core / 890fx / 5850 / 8gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x4 965 Black Edition 3.4ghz processor -- $200
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD5 motherboard -- $210
ATI Radeon 5850 graphics card -- $330
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $200

Option 3b: $875 -- 3.4ghz quad core / 890gx / 5850 / 8gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x4 965 Black Edition 3.4ghz processor -- $200
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD3H motherboard -- $145
ATI Radeon 5850 graphics card -- $330
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $200

Option 3c: $830 -- 3.4ghz quad core / 890fx / 5850 / 4gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x4 965 Black Edition 3.4ghz processor -- $200
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD5 motherboard -- $210
ATI Radeon 5850 graphics card -- $330
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $110

Option 3d: $785 -- 3.4ghz quad core / 890gx / 5850 / 4gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x4 965 Black Edition 3.4ghz processor -- $200
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD3H motherboard -- $145
ATI Radeon 5850 graphics card -- $330
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $110

OPTION #4: Phenom II x4 965 3.4ghz 5870 Edition

Option 4a: $1,040 -- 3.4ghz quad core / 890fx / 5870 / 8gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x4 965 Black Edition 3.4ghz processor -- $200
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD5 motherboard -- $210
ATI Radeon 5870 graphics card -- $430
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $200

Option 4b: $975 -- 3.4ghz quad core / 890gx / 5870 / 8gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x4 965 Black Edition 3.4ghz processor -- $200
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD3H motherboard -- $145
ATI Radeon 5870 graphics card -- $430
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $200

Option 4c: $970 -- 3.4ghz quad core / 890fx / 5870 / 4gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x4 965 Black Edition 3.4ghz processor -- $200
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD5 motherboard -- $210
ATI Radeon 5870 graphics card -- $430
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $110

Option 4d: $885 -- 3.4ghz quad core / 890gx / 5870 / 4gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x4 965 Black Edition 3.4ghz processor -- $200
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD5 motherboard -- $145
ATI Radeon 5870 graphics card -- $430
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $110

OPTION #5: Phenom II x6 1055T 2.8ghz

Option 5a: $960 -- 2.8ghz six core / 890fx / 5850 / 8gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x6 1055T 2.8ghz processor -- $220
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD5 motherboard -- $210
ATI Radeon 5850 graphics card -- $330
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $200

Option 5b: $895 -- 2.4ghz six core / 890fx / 5850 / 8gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x6 1055T 2.8ghz processor -- $220
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD3H motherboard -- $145
ATI Radeon 5850 graphics card -- $330
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $200

Option 5c: $870 -- 2.8ghz six core / 890fx / 5850 / 4gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x6 1055T 2.8ghz processor -- $220
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD5 motherboard -- $210
ATI Radeon 5850 graphics card -- $330
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $110

Option 5d: $805 -- 2.8ghz six core / 890gx / 5850 / 4gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x6 1055T 2.8ghz processor -- $220
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD3H motherboard -- $145
ATI Radeon 5850 graphics card -- $330
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $110

OPTION #6: Phenom II x6 1055T 2.8ghz 5870 Edition

Option 6a: $1,060 -- 2.8ghz six core / 890fx / 5870 / 8gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x6 1055T 2.8ghz processor -- $220
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD5 motherboard -- $210
ATI Radeon 5870 graphics card -- $430
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $200

Option 6b: $995 -- 2.8ghz six core / 890gx / 5870 / 8gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x6 1055T 2.8ghz processor -- $220
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD5 motherboard -- $210
ATI Radeon 5870 graphics card -- $430
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $200

Option 6c: $970 -- 2.8ghz six core / 890fx / 5870 / 4gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x6 1055T 2.8ghz processor -- $220
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD5 motherboard -- $210
ATI Radeon 5870 graphics card -- $430
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $200

Option 6d: $905 -- 2.8ghz six core / 890gx / 5870 / 4gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x6 1055T 2.8ghz processor -- $220
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD5 motherboard -- $210
ATI Radeon 5870 graphics card -- $430
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $200

OPTION #7: Phenom II x6 1090T 3.2ghz

Option 7a: $1,060 -- 3.2ghz six core / 890fx / 5850 / 8gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x6 1090T 3.2ghz processor -- $320
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD5 motherboard -- $210
ATI Radeon 5850 graphics card -- $330
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $200

Option 7b: $995 -- 3.2ghz six core / 890gx / 5850 / 8gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x6 1090T 3.2ghz processor -- $320
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD3H motherboard -- $145
ATI Radeon 5850 graphics card -- $330
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $200

Option 7c: $970 -- 3.2ghz / six core / 890fx / 5850 / 4gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x6 1090T 3.2ghz processor -- $320
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD5 motherboard -- $210
ATI Radeon 5850 graphics card -- $330
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $110

Option 7d: $905 -- 3.2ghz six core / 890gx / 5850 / 4gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x6 1090T 3.2ghz processor -- $320
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD3H motherboard -- $145
ATI Radeon 5850 graphics card -- $330
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $110

OPTION #8: Phenom II x6 1090T 3.2ghz 5870 Edition

Option 8a: $1,160 -- 3.2ghz six core / 890fx / 5870 / 8gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x6 1055T 3.2ghz processor -- $320
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD5 motherboard -- $210
ATI Radeon 5870 graphics card -- $330
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $200

Option 8b: $1095 -- 3.2ghz six core / 890gx / 5870 / 8gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x6 1055T 3.2ghz processor -- $320
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD3H motherboard -- $145
ATI Radeon 5870 graphics card -- $330
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $200

Option 8c: $1,070 -- 3.2ghz six core / 890fx / 5870 / 4gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x6 1055T 3.2ghz processor -- $320
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD5 motherboard -- $210
ATI Radeon 5870 graphics card -- $330
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $110

Option 8d: $1,015 -- 3.2ghz six core / 890gx / 5870 / 4gb 1333 RAM

AMD Phenom II x6 1055T 3.2ghz processor -- $320
GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD3H motherboard -- $145
ATI Radeon 5870 graphics card -- $330
8GB (4x2) 1333 G-SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 RAM -- $110

***

HDD, Optical, Wireless and O.S.: $260


Nothing all too shocking to see here. A nice solid setup that should work just fine regardless of what setup I decide to put with it:

Western Digital Caviar Black 640gb / 64mb cache / 7200rpm -- $70
dvd burner -- $30
wireless card -- $50
Windows 7 Home Premium -- $110

Power Supply and Case

Antec EarthWatts Power Supply 650W ($80) (Fine if I am using one or two 5870s or one 5970)

Antec EarthWatts Power Supply 750W ($120) (Needed if I ever do decide to get 2x 5970. They are $700 plus right now so I don't see this happening soon.) (EarthWatts power supplies claim to be good for the environment, consume less energy reducing hydro bill, and still have excellent performance, according to the manufacturer. I will need to do research.)

All I am missing from my equasion is a case. Once I have that figured out this all becomes wonderfully simple, a matter of following the data here and finding an acceptable price point. Of course this all assumes that I am keeping my mouse and keyboard, otherwise I'll need to add another $50 or so.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lal-Awful... !!!

For the last several months I have tortured Jay night and day telling him that I wanted to be a Lalafell in Final Fantasy XIV. Well, I just finished watching some (well done creation) videos and ... the Lalafell look LOL-Awful!!! They only have four hairstyles. The voices are obnoxious -- I almost had heart failure when voice #3 played for the Plainsfolk male sample. That was just creepy. And that hair with the buns and braids that I was so gaga over? From the back ... she looks like Mikey Mouse. No thanks.

Think I'm pulling your leg? Feel free to watch these but beware... The lalafell have a 50% chance of being cute and a 50% chance of being creepy. What do you think?


Male Plainsfolk -- beware very creepy voice #3!!


Mikey Mou-- I mean, a female Dunesfolk Lalafell

Bow before my cuteness!

No, its not (only) a video about Lalafell. Actually I have not found a good emote video for them yet. But I am really impressed with the Miqo'te emotes -- a lot of them remind me of ones that I liked in Phantasy Star Universe. Have a look for yourself and tell me whether you think that these further show that a Miqo'te is the right choice. ^.^ Enjoy!

FFXIV: Character Creation Videos!!

Hey guys! Today I am going to round up the coolest / cutest Final Fantasy XIV creation videos that I can find. This started by finding an Amazing Miqo'te video where the person using the character creator actually had the camera come around to show -- oh I cannot stop squeeing with joy! -- how their hair looks in the back, in full detail, for each style. Yay!



Here is a great Female Hyur Video, chosen for much the same reason: extreme attention to detail where hairstyles, colors, highlights and eyes are concerned. I love the ponytail that is encircled by braids, and noticed 'Yuna', 'Paine' and 'Lightning' were all present as hairstyles. :p



Well, Jay, there are some very sexy options for male Hyur... ;) I had a lot of fun watching this video. Oh, and it shows the great detail for customization that the last two did as well. Thought I might want to mention that. Enjoy... ^.^



And now a little something for Shawn. The Duskwight (Now called Shader) Elezen look awesome. I don't think they are for me (at least not the guys -- haven't checked the girls yet) but they certainly have a certain edge of cruelty and arrogance about them, the way all well designed drow do. I think you'll like this, buddy. ^.^



O....M....G!!!! I found Red Galka / Hellsguard / Lohenguard!!! Have a look at this, they look very cool. You're going to have either a very easy or very hard choice, Jay. These are like the complete antithesis of the midlander hyur. Enjoy! ^.^

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Big Decisions = Big Risks...

I'm thinking of buying a PlayStation 3. Again.

What happened to my last one? Well, for those who weren't that for that drama filled episode, I "gave" it to my brother and his girlfriend when they moved out. Nice, huh? I don't regret helping them out. But I despise purchasing something more then once (note that I tend to feel differently about repairing something I have invested in.) I paid over $1,000 in system, accessories and games. What do I have from that currently? Two games -- Disgaea 3 and Folklore -- which are both currently unplayable due to my lacking the proper console for them. But is it logical spending $300 to make these games work rather then getting $30 or so for trading the pair of them in?

If only it were that simple. There are other titles that are enticing, such as those in Sony's "Play, Create, Share" line of games. These are currently Little Big Planet, the soon-to-be-released ModNation Racers, and the recently announced Little Big Planet 2. There is something that I find very enticing about being able to make and share content with other games. And the systems for doing these are very slick indeed. I owned Little Big Planet but gave that away with my system.

But the PlayStation is also a rather solitary experience, at least from how my experience with the system went. In a fashion very different from that I have had via my Xbox 360, the PlayStation, while offering "free" online, seems to do absolutely nothing to actually encourage its users to communicate using it. Along with the games that I bought when I got my last PlayStation I also bought a second controller and a headset. Being brutally honest I am still uncertain whether or not the headset ever worked properly (it was BlueTooth and labeled as an "official" product) as I never had a single legitimate conversation with any other gamer via the PlayStation in the entire time that I had it in my possession. Clearly there are reasons that the Xbox 360 is my multiplayer console of choice!

ModNation Racers looks like an incredibly social game as well as an incredibly creative one. But without friends to share the experience with it is just as likely that my creations will get lost in the flood of content that will be produced by hundreds of thousands of other Mod Designers. There is no way to be certain that there will actually be a truly diverse amount of options until the game launches either. The game does also support play and guest online and offline four player splitscreen modes, but I am really the only one here who is interested in a "cartoony" kart racer. Shawn is trying to sell me on Blur, but I simply cannot muster any real enthusiasm for it because despite all of these intellectually sound reasons against it, the artist and the kid in me are both extremely eager to play ModNation Racers. If I am going to play a realistic racer its going to be something like Forza 3 or TestDrive Unlimited 2. I like my kart racers "cartoony". (Speaking of this... Where the hell is Joy Ride, Microsoft?!)

And its not like the 360 front -- or my writing, for that matter -- is barren on the shopping front either. Alpha Protocol, which is made be Obsidian (Knights of the Old Republic II) has captured my attention as well. And I am very tempted to take GameStop up on the deal that they are offering if I pre-order the game from them. I am also curious about playing Bully. Having enjoyed my time with Red Dead Redemption this far I see no reason to skip investing the $15 or so it would cost me to grab a copy of that game. Jay and I also want to mess around with Crackdown which has an asking price of $9.99. Oh, and we are back on Final Fantasy XI, too. Which means that upgrading to a 60 -- or even 120 -- gb hard drive would save me a lot of headaches.

I have some decisions to make and they are not easy. Which purchases are going to benefit me more? Will the PS3 be used this time or will it persist in being a big black paper weight? Will the 360 hard drive really make a difference for me? Will ModNation Racers open the door to an amazing experience I would regret missing, or am I far too over-eager to jump into the game since it is bringing back fond childhood memories of Diddy Kong Racing? Everybody keeps telling me that only I can decide the answers to these things. That's obvious. What is yet to be seen is whether I can reach a solution that I am truly satisfied with.

I will wonder about ModNation Racers until I am able to try it. BUT I will likely get bored with this since no one I am close to has a PS3, can afford this, or is interested in it. (Everyone that matters fills one of these three categories.)

I will continue to be annoyed by the lack of space on my 360 until I upgrade it. BUT this is becoming too large a problem to ignorel. I absolutely must upgrade this either via the purchase of a new 360 while trading my old one in, or by buying a larger hard drive for my current system. With my install for FFXI I am down to less then one gig of free space -- this is becoming too serious to ignore.

I will miss out on some awesome extras for Alpha Protocol if I do not pre-order it. BUT I can get the game whether or not I do this. This would be really, really nice but its not 100% necessary. BUT I do need to decide whether or not I am going to do this by the end of the week and determine how this will effect my other plans. It is a pre-order bonus.

I will miss out on owning Record of Agarest War all-together if I do not purchase it soon. BUT I am not sure how good this game will actually be. It could be a total gem or it could be a total piece of shit. On one hand I know I will regret it if I do not try it. On the other hand I know that I will feel frustrated if I buy a toilet bowl game.

Making big decisions can be really annoying. But then, I guess that having decisions to make is better then having no choices in life at all. As one of my favorite authors, Sarah Ban Breathnach, states in one of her books, (Paraphasing here) " If we all made just one tiny choice every day for one year imagine how different our lives could be then from where they are now. Perfect? No. But certainly better then if we sleep our way through making coma choices. Just letting life do what it may rather then actually making a decision for fear that we will make the wrong one. There are good choices and bad choices. But coma choices are definitely a far worse alternative. "

So that is it in short. I have to make a choice what I am going to do. There does not seem to be a perfect answer. So I guess I will just have to pick something.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Agarest War Becomes a Price War...

I buy a lot of luxury items. Anyone who reads my blog here, or who has taken a look at my work in progress, Shop N Tell, knows this. I'm not afraid to spend a little cash. But don't let that confuse you -- I am not a fool who is soon parted from my money. The reason I can buy the stuff I do, have fun, and not stress out? Its simple: I have confidence that what I am buying is worth what I am paying for it.

So when Aksys Games decided to release their strategy RPG Record of Agarest War on the Xbox 360 with a full color booklet (these are becoming far too uncommon to take for granted), a really pretty anime pillowcase, a soundtrack and (this last part I didn't need personally, but I will still) an 8 x 10 mousepad of a character from the game -- complete with gel filled boobs. Yes, I realize that is very cheesy. And yes, I am a girl who is definately *not* a lesbian!

The thing that I found so impressive about this special edition was just that -- that all of these extra goodies -- which it could easily be argued are unnecessary -- are included in the game price. At $60 Canadian it was a true effort of fan service, and something that I would like to see more companies do far more often. So I was all ready to click buy and add it to my credit card. The trouble is, I was not ready quite fast enough. I am on a pension, as some people know. I don't drive. So I did not get to choose exactly when I would cash my check or add funds to my online accounts. And as of Thursday the game is all gone on Amazon.ca ... All gone, that is, unless you want to pay the rediculous prices that are being demanded by online sellers.

So just how bad is it? I have been following it the last two days and in less then 48 hours the price of Record of Agarest War on Amazon.ca has gone from $59.99 (which was the MRSP) to $89.99, and then from that to anywhere from $90.15 through 107.99. Then you have people who bought extra copies so that they could separate all of the extras and sell each piece separately on sites like eBay. Research indicates that the complete game will run you $74.99 over there, whereas the game can be had for approximately $35, whereas the mousepad and pillowcase seem to be worth about $15 each.

But really, that is all above and beyond the point that I am attempting to make. If you glance at the picture that I chose for this article, it reads "This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things". If this is how we, as a society, behave when something like this comes out, then should things like this be presented to us? This seems like a complete slap in the face to the company who chose to design and destribute their game in the manner in which they did. Sure... The overall marketing scheme for Record of Agarest War was over the top. It sold itself on sex, which is totally classless, and also very much false if you research the actual game. (C'mon, it is rated T, people.) Is it going to reach the upper levels of SRPG greatness that games like Fire Emblem, Disgaea and Final Fantasy Tactics achieve? It would seem questionable, considering all of the bells and whistles being used outside of the actual game as selling points.

But did I still want to give it a whirl? Yeah. Sure. For $60 with all of the extra goodies, I did not feel like I had a lot to lose. For going on $100+ because some idiot on the internet got greedy? No way. Its not that I couldn't afford it -- I'm actually sitting here with $200 ready to go on a shopping spree at all my favorite online stores. Its not the money that is stopping me. Its the principle of the thing. Someone else, who had nothing to do with the production of a product whatsoever, feels that I should pay them an aditional $40 in order to buy it. And I won't fall for that.

Interestingly enough, Amazon.com still has copies of Agarest War. They are even selling them for $4 less then the company suggests. Too bad it would cost me about $12 in shipping. But if I were to have to decide between giving some asshole reseller extra money, or paying for shipping to avoid them, I would choose the shipping. Because at least there is a legitimate reason for it beyond a company or individual's greed. Beyond the twisted practice of resellers wiping out unique products like jackells to lazy to make their own kills. When I pay money, I make sure that I know what I am paying for. And if I am paying to not only assauge, but also encourage someone else's greed, then I don't need what they are selling. (I also don't need the game companes thinking I am willing to pay $100 per Xbox 360 game, thanks muchly!)

So it looks like I might not be getting Record of Agarest War after all. Too bad. I was really looking forward to it. But its only a game, and there are far more important things that are at stake by not buying it then there are by going ahead. I can live in a world without one more aditional SRPG. Trading in an exuberant amount of money as well as a few grains of my self worth to get it, though? Nope, sorry. That's just a little above and beyond my budget for any purchase. If this is what adding cool bonuses does to a game the developers can shove them up their collective asses.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Yay for May!

Ah, May. The perfect month. Lots of sunshine, less sunburn. Blue skies with puffy white clouds. The full allure of spring, summer and early fall unfolding before us like a fresh white page on a canvas, awaiting our attention to bring forth what is to come. Can you tell this is one of my favorite months?

And it is so with good reason this year. There are tons of awesome things coming out in May 2010, ranging from the ridiculous (and possibly raunchy) to the utterly sublime. Books, games, a new tarot deck... If you are curious what has caught my attention this month feel free to read on. Some of this is no surprise, but some might shock you.

This game looks pretty cool. I love strategy RPGs and this was on a list for me from Amazon.com. I have definately struggled over whether to get it or not, but my research indicates that there are only going to be 100,000 english copies for the Xbox 360 so I suppose I will be viewing this as a (somewhat kinky and cheesy) collectors item. What the heck is in the picture? Well, for starts there is the game of course (which does come in its own 360 case -- I don't have to make that gigantic box fit in my lazy susan table! But along with the game you also get a game soundtrack CD (cool) as well as a pillow case and a mousepad which has the wrist rest shaped as gel filled boobs. I'm not joking, ether. As a girl I am still wondering precisely what I am going to do with *that* piece of "fan service". Anyway, here are a couple videos for shits and giggles:

American Release Trailer. Click here for a better version, as I can't seem to get this video to fit on my blog properly.

The "Very Naughty" Limited Edition

I love the House of Night series by P.C. and Kristen Cast and book 7 just came out on April 27th. I don't have it yet, so it gets to be in my May article. Anyway, reviews on Amazon have been mixed from what I have read, but they were also mixed for Hunted, which is the book I am reading right now (HoN book 5) and I am enjoying it, so I am not overly worried. I will have to see what I think once I am all caught up on the serie and (*groan*) waiting for the next installment.

Cute looking tarot sets must be purchased! Shadowscapes definitely fits this category, plus it is one of those sets that comes with a nice book to boot. And so it goes on my Wish List (along with The Fairy Ring Oracle, which I still have yet to get.) I don't have much to say on it here but keep your eyes peeled for a post with some images and links to reviews.


This is May's crowning achievement, a game Jay and I are getting together, and an experience that I am counting down the days for. And it all started because I thought the horses in the trailers were cute. I do realize that this game is not "cute" as a whole. It is actually going to be quite gritty and challenging. Case in point: ClipClop and Speedy (those are Jay and my horses in Lord of the Rings Online) can accidentally take a bullet to the head (or any other body part), resulting in quite a gory bloody mess. Sorry, ClipClop and Speedy!

On the plus side, however, the game looks like it is going to have quite a solid set of multiplayer options, boasting both traditional competitive modes as well as a Free Roam mode where we can just get on our horses, or go into town or (essentially) go anywhere and explore at our leisure. That is what *sold* me on the game. Anyway, here are a few trailers to whet your appetitie if you have been sleeping under a rock and don't really know what Red Dead Redemption is yet. Enjoy!

Multiplayer Free Roam Trailer

Competitive Multiplayer Trailer

My brother, Shawnie, got me a boxset of Vampire Academy of books as one of my birthday presents off Amazon this year and I really like the series. I picked up book four when I was in Florida. With all of this said, is it really a surprise that book 5 is on my May shopping list? Probably not.



I love the Dark Hunter series, but still, when an author does something like this it is always a gamble. Take a character integral to your series and do a book about them set in the past. This could be awesome or it could just be awe-inspiringly bad. Personally, though, I think that Sherrilyn Kenyon knows what she is doing, so getting this book will be a gamble that I am willing to take.

Friday, March 26, 2010

OMG: iPad Looks Gorgeous!

Okay. I did just buy a 32gb iPod Touch, and WalMart did just screw me over -- I did not get the headphones with a mic built in. Bad WalMart! But anyway... Back on topic. The iPad... I am stunned... It is just mind bogglingly awesome! Its going to have a bigger screen. Its going to use all the goodies from the Apps store. It is going to actually have its own WRITING PROGRAM. (A very large squeak of joy there!) In short? Hopefully I will be toting one of these beauties -- along with my wonderful iPod touch, which is much better for just dropping in my bag with some music and my grocery / shopping list) -- to Florida next year.

Has anyone besides me been sleeping under a rock with regard to Apple's latest invention? If so, just watch this. But make sure you get a bib, or a bowl, or *something*... Because drool probability is high. The force is with this one. You get the idea.



So, what do you think of the iPad? Do you think you will want to get one? Do you think its price is fair? Are there things that Apple could have done better? Share your opinions here!

IGN's Games of Spring: What I Want

So IGN has put out its "Games of Spring" articles for all the different consoles. I love seeing what is coming out and planning what I will be buying and features like this are majorly helpful. So, what is getting auto dropped into my shopping cart, and what will I be following with baited breath? Read on to hear my picks and find out why I want them. I will also include links to the various pages so that you can share your own selections. Enjoy!

Nintendo DS

Nintendo DS is getting the special treatment and getting to go first since I am going ahead and getting my Nintendo DSI XL, hopefully this weekend or sometime early in the coming week. What can I look forward to playing on it? Well, lets find out!

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Sky -- For years I have heard nothing but praise for the Dragon Quest series and I am very eager to try out a game from this series. With my new DS in hand playing a turn based RPG is something that I look forward to testing and hopefully not having any more troubles with. As this is not a series I am familiar with or a game I have deeply researched it gets a 3/5 on my interest meter and it is a game I will be watching for now.

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey -- Another series that I have been meaning to check out. I am not sure if I will grab this or look for a copy of Shin Megami: Devil Survivor as they both have different gameplay and Devil Survivor is an SRPG which is something that I know that I like already. Either way, this is a watch title, not a buy, and it gets a 3/5 on the interest meter. I will be looking forward to reading reviews.

WarioWare: D.I.Y -- WarioWare: Touched! was my first game for my original DS system so picking up D.I.Y. when I get my DSI XL seems almost a no-brainer, especially with my background designing stuff for RPG Maker. I am very anxious to have tons of fun working with the art, scripting and music tools to make interesting little mini games. Unless something else grabs my attention at the stores, I will likely have this sometime this week. Keep your eyes peeled for my impressions! 5/5 in interest -- if I don't buy it this week, I am sure I will buy it soon.

PC Gaming

I'm normally not a huge PC Gamer, but when a company is going to give me a free game to give a whirl, I'm all over it. (Even moreso when and if Jay gets his darn comp working right again! Gah!) That brings us to Mytheon, a game that seems to have had no trouble catching the attention of those at IGN.com. I checked out a video and have visited their website and my interest is piqued. Will I take it seriously? Probably not, as I am already mega busy as is. But will I check it out? Absolutely, provided it does not crash, a la Mythos. Still mad about that one. This gets a 2/5 if I were following it as a financial game, but 5/5 since trying it out is FREE. Visit: www.mytheongame.com .

Xbox 360

Lego Harry Potter -- I can already hear you, even though you are sitting at the end of another computer screen. "Really, Kat? You can't be serious!" And you are very right. This is likely not a game that I will end up buying, but I am intrigued as I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I will be following this game and paying attention to what is said about it. This gets a 2/5 as I know its just the Harry Potter in the title that is drawing me in.

Lost Planet 2 -- I was paying no attention to this game at all until friends mentioned that this was a very co-op heavy game. Jay and I love anything that we can play as a couple, and adding a friend or two never hurts either. (See: Borderlands! Which ties Dragon Age: Origins for best game last year IMHO) Anyway, this one needs research. While it will likely get purchased by Jay and I since we are dying for something co-op to do together since his PC is currently out of commission, I am only going to give it a 3/5 here because it needs research before I will commit. (*cough*Modern Warfare 2*cough*)

Puzzle Quest 2 -- In all fairness, this could have gone under Nintendo DS, too. But I am more likely to buy this for my 360 as I prefer planning my moves on my 37" TV and that is where I played the first Puzzle Quest. Puzzle Quest, by the way, is more addictive then chocolate, shopping and Jewel Quest (okay wait.. maybe not Jewel Quest...) combined. It is a mix of RPG character building and story with a combat system that tweaks the classic Bejeweled match 3 formula. It was awesome in the first Puzzle Quest. I still need to buy Galatrix even though I loved the demo, and I am sure that Puzzle Quest 2 will be great as well. I can't wait. 5/5 as I know this will be a 100% no brainer.

PlayStation 3

3D Dot Game Heroes -- After the frustration that was Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (not the game's fault, btw. I just did not know I couldn't use a Wiimote & Nunchuck at the time!) 3D Dot Game Heroes is something I am looking very forward to when I eventually get my PS3 (I gave one to my brother last year and have yet to replace it. Yes, I am that nice / pathetic.) This is a game that I will be following and for now I am going to give it a 3/5 since it needs more research and I need a PS3 before I can even consider carting it. I need to tell Jay about this one...

Nintendo Wii

Arc: Rise Fantasia -- I am generally very cautious about what I buy for the Wii, since I am horrid at using the Wiimote and Nunchuk together. But this may be an exception. I mean really... Can they mess up a turn-based RPG? Its definately something I will be watching since I do not know much about it and I am leery of Wii games. It gets 2/5 on the interest meter, as I know I am primarily listing it because I love RPGs.

Trauma Team -- Curse you, Jay. I love you to death, but I have to say it! The fact that I am listing this is 100% your fault. Trauma Team is going to be the thing most likely to break my TV this spring, likely via a flying Wiimote and Nunchuk when I screw something up for the 10 millionth time. But I adore the Trauma Center games for the Nintendo DS, I have watched a ton of videos for Trauma Team (that was my first mistake!) and now I am dying to get my hands on it. This gets 5/5 from me and is a game that is getting the covetted "Carted!" status, as I am literally counting down the days for this one.

*+*+*

At any rate, that is all the games that caught my interest in the lists made. I did not list PSP games as I do not own a PSP anymore and have no interest in getting one again. For those who would like to see the games that they listed fully, feel free to visit: http://wii.ign.com/articles/107/1079595p1.html Thanks for reading, and feel free to share what you are looking forward to this spring!

Katallina

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New DS at E3 2010!

Today while looking around at IGN.com I discovered that Nintendo has told newspapers in Japan that it is planning to release a new Nintendo DS. According to the article on IGN's website the new system could hit Japan by March of 2011. There is currently no estimated release date for any other area but the site did say that Nintendo will be revealing more details about the new "Nintendo 3DS" at E3 2010, which is scheduled to take place from June 15th -- 17th this year.

So, what do we know so far? Apparently the reason for the name Nintendo 3DS is that this new system will offer some form of 3D imagery through the console without the use of any sort of special glasses. Also, there are rumors that it may use some form of motion control, although in this capacity it is more likely to be akin to that found on the iPod Touch / iPhone rather then that seen via controllers on the Nintendo Wii.

There are currently no launch titles, games in progress, etc. announced for this yet but I am sure that we will have lots to look forward to in the gaming community when Nintendo fully unveils this at E3 later this year. Hopefully (at least for me) this will be a DS moment and not a Wii moment. While I admire the Wii I am not physically able to play it. I will be paying very close attention to the development of this console as I determine whether or not I will make a purchase.

However, as much as I am always excited by new tech news, I do also find this announcement, and more importantly its *timing*, incredibly frustrating. The Nintendo DSI XL releases in North America this Sunday. While those in Japan and Europe may be cursing Nintendo right now, the reason that I am smacking my palm against my forehead is a little different. As a gamer with vision problems I am very excited about the Nintendo DSI XL and I want to see it do well. Why? Because the success of the XL may very well determine whether an option like this is ever given to those of us with vision problems again. With this new announcement, there is a strong likelyhood that there will be people who intended to get the DSI XL who will change their mind, or who purchased it in other placed and who will feel they were betrayed.

At the same time, though, I do think that the timing of this and the XL may have some form of connection after hearing what another user from YouTube had to say when speaking about the future DS console. What good will 3D actually be on a 3 or 3.2 inch screen? It will be interesting to see what size Nintendo will choose to have the screens be considering the technology that it seems to be adding to the system. I am certainly not saying that the screens are going to be the size of a netbook. For all I know Nintendo could cater soley to those who like small screens and give us postage stamps -- although that I will categorize as sarcasm since that would, even for those with impecable eyesight, be too small.

All in all, only time will tell what this new system will actually bring to the table. IF anyone would like to share there thoughts, feel free to post a comment. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I love Zhu Zhu Pets v.s. Its Not Educational!









Dreams Versus Reality: Which Will Win?

Zhu Zhu Pets. They were the hot toy for 2009 according to Toys R Us. They can go for anywhere from $30 to $300 USD on Amazon.com. They have tons of things that are collectable, meaning there is lots for little ones to nag their parents to buy. But are they good for our children? Is there a valid reason for choosing these, or should they just go away in favor of the real counterpart? The debate is heated and sides have been claimed. I ended up stumbling onto Zhu Zhu Pets thanks to a random Gamestop add for a DS game and some encouragement from Jay. Here are my thoughts on the issue.

What Are Zhu Zhu Pets?

Zhu Zhu pets are mechanical hamsters that run on two AAA batteries. They have two wheels on the bottom and three buttons -- one on their nose, one on their head and one on their back -- that are used to do different things. The one on the nose tells the Zhu Zhu that it needs to turn. The one on the head puts it into "Love Mode" where it will make cooing and squeaking sound. Tapping the button on its butt puts it into "Explorer Mode" where the Zhu Zhu will move around on its wheels.

There are currently 8 - 9 different hamsters. The ones I know of for certain are: Pipsqueak, NumNums, Chunk, Mr. Squiggles, Nugget, Jilly, Scoodles and Winkle. The one that I have heard of, but which I think may be for purchase only with an accessory package, is Patches. But by all means, don't think this will be the end of the line! Website http://www.zhuzhupetsfair.com/ is listing approximately 38 unique pets that will be available *presumably* be the end of 2010. And that is before we even begin to look at the Hamster Habitat aspect of this fuzzy two wheeled crazy.

Yes, I did just say Hamster Habitat. And there is a lot that you can do in regard to this. To start with you can get various rooms such as a kitchen, movie room, bathroom and bedroom. There is also a garage with a car that the Zhu Zhu's can power, a hamster wheel they can run in, a slide to let them escape the habitat and even their own hamster balls that they can race around in to protect them from the overly curious dog or cat in your life. And that is just a sampling of what is there.


A Zhu Zhu Pets Commercial. Check it out! :)

The "It" Toy

People have gone crazy for Zhu Zhu pets and they seem to be willing to pay some very crazy prices if the information on Amazon.com is any indication. There have been reports of people paying anywhere from $30 to $300 for the varying pets and accessories. There are reports of people getting into actual fights to obtain these toys. Pretty scary stuff.

Yes, this does put Zhu Zhu Pets into the same category as other "It" toys, such as Cabbage Patch Kids or Tickle Me Elmo. And yes, that can be annoying when you are the parent whose tots clearly "have their heart set on it" when within your own heart you believe that your kid(s) will have burried it under the bed by New Years Eve.


This is not a shopping experience I want to have. How about you?

Love or Life Lessons?

I have heard a lot of things regarding these pets from exasperated customers and people who cannot believe that other people would buy these -- or indulge a child, *period*. It is quite fascinating to witness the variety of views that various people have toward children, childhood and child development. Interesting, that is, when it is not being downright distrubing, to the point where those writing are actually referring to children as "crotchfruit". (What in the name of Zeus is our planet coming to?) There seem to be two strong opinions that are opposing the Zhu Zhu Pet sensation:

1) " Getting your children things that they want is bad because it causes them to become spoiled. You need to teach children disappointment. The World sucks ass and the sooner they recognize this and accept it the easier parenting will become. They aren't happy that they didn't get this toy? Tough shit. They should be glad that you have food on the damn table at all. Life is tough and a lesson regarding this is likely the best thing you can give them. At least then they'll respect whatever you decide they should have, if anything. "

2. " Zhu Zhu Pets are stupid because they provide no real educational value. Not only will they not improve valueable skills like spelling or math, they technically cannot even impart the lessons of responsability and acceptance of death that are naturally acquired through ownership and care of a living breathing creature. Uneducational toys are useless toys. "

I think, however, that there are some perfectly logical reasons to go ahead and get a Zhu Zhu Pet though (provided of course that you are not being charged $300 for it -- that *is* rediculous. If you are dealing with a kid that you do not feel is ready to take care of an actual pet this could be a fun alternative where no harm is done. It is also a great idea for those who have someone wthh allergies in the home, or who live in housing situations that do not permit animals. It could also be good for children who already have living breathing pets but who want something that is "theirs". For instance, you cannot take a living breathing hamster to bed or to school for show & tell (hamsters do not adapt well to changes in environment).

As for whether the toy is educational or not? There are ways that you could potentially work on that.

  • You could integrate things like play "food" into the hamster's "care" cycle to teach responsability
  • A barbie brush used gently (or one of the brushes that come with the Zhu Zhu Babies) could be used to encourage grooming, etc.
  • You could also work with your child about how to handle a hamster using the Zhu Zhu as an example where no real animal is at risk
  • How about using the Zhu Zhu interest as a doorway to educate your young rodent fan about a variety of different creatures ranging from hamsters and gerbils to mice, rats, rabbits and more?
  • Why not encourage your kids to make up stories about their adventures with their hamsters and / or their hamsters adventures?
  • Or why not take them to the toy section when it is time to get a new accessory for the Zhu Zhus and talk about it, be it a blanket, a carrier, a habitat expansion, etc. as if it is "real"? If you have a real hamster you could go to a petstore and look at how the toy and real varieties differ and why. Ask them: "Why does the hamster need it? Why might a hamster in real life need this?"
  • Further in regards to math: since Zhu Zhus are collectable and their accessories are also many separate bits you could use expanding their collection as a way to teach basic math skills as well as basic money management *and* learning to work toward something rather then "Mommy / Daddy I want it *NOW!* "
  • Also for those who have children into gaming there is a Zhu Zhu game that is being released for Nintendo DS so that might even further inhance your experience.
  • Buddiing artists could be encouraged to draw pictures of their Zhu Zhus. What do they like to wear? What is their favorite place to be? Get creative! What will the Zhu Zhu be for hallowe'en? What does it want for Christmas? NOTE: Clearly some of these suggestions depend on whether you and your child(ren) view these as "pets" or as more cartoonish toys that would want to dress up or go out trick-or-treating.
  • Putting up videos, reviews, plain old footage and much more of these and other toys seems to be very popular these days. If you feel safe, why not let your budding actor / actress star in his or her own Zhu Zhu production? Or let them make a film using the Zhu Zhus? (I have seen both of these done to great effect.) Whether its for YouTube or for Grandma it is an exciting experience for a kid to go on camera and with models like the RCA Small Wonder (check my videos -- that is the camera I use) going for $99 Canadian its not an impossible dream if you have interest in it.
In short: an educational aide is not a toy unless it is *fun*, and a fun toy can, if one uses some imagination and creativity, be used for *education*. The two need to stop being treated with mutual exclusivity or we will forever have the struggle between fun and education that, as we press education onto our children at earlier and earlier ages, actually conditions them to not want to learn and to view learning as a negative experience.


This clearly took effort and it is pretty cute, too! Nice job!

I have not purchased a Zhu Zhu Pet of my own at this point, but you can look forward to a review from me when I finally get the chance to. Despite this I simply felt that I needed to say something in regards to all of the varying things that were being said about these little guys (and gals) as I think the idea is ingenius as long as the company makes sure their products work and that (hopefully!) we do not see another eBay Blitz on these toys when we reach the 2010 season. If you have any questions or comments feel free to post. Thanks for reading!

Katallina

Monday, March 8, 2010

Nintendo DSi XL Releasing March 28th!!

I may or may not have brought up my excitement about the Nintendo DSi XL before here on Precious Things. But let me tell you... Being able to properly see -- and more vitally read text and stats! -- in portable games is a "precious thing" indeed. And its something that my trusty DS Phat has left me dangling on many times in the past five years. The hard truth of the matter is that for me the DS Phat is great for simpler games like Meteos or Puyopop Fever that do not require a lot of reading. But put in something like Final Fantasy IV DS -- a port of my favorite game of all time -- and the problems become apparent fast.

Not being able to read the text in the RPGs that I buy -- or more clearly: being able to read the text but feeling that your eyeballs may fall out at any minute -- is not fun. Especially when the plethora of RPGs available for the system are the reason you bought it. With this in mind, it is not surprising that I was very excited from day one of discovering the DSi XL's existance, sometime before Christmas 2009. I was still mildly skeptical about how much the screen increase from 3 inches to 4.2 would effect my gaming, but my interest was piqued.

The latest information on the DSi XL has Nintendo claiming that the screens are 93% bigger then those on the DS Lite (correct the version if I am mistaken.) Numbers are pretty, but what does that really equate to in terms of actual added value and usability? Well, the way one person on YouTube has put it, essentially the DSi XL has two large screens. Each of these are roughly the size of two upright standing DS Phate screens placed side by side. Here is his video:



There is a lot of grief going on via the internet about this product, and I also want to weigh in on that. If you just bought a DSi last year and are now kicking yourself and wishing you had known about this, I feel your pain. I have never had that sort of issue with a DS -- I am still using a DS Phat Mario Kart Red version from Christmas season 2005 -- but my brother got a 20gb Xbox 350 within 24 HOURS of the 60gb model being announced. At the same time, that does not mean that this version should never have the right to exist.

A lot of people have laughed at the DSi XL as Nintendo are marketing it toward older DS gamers. I realize this is not necessarily as common in North America as it is in Japan, but older need not mean the post-65 crew either. I am 28 and I am anxiously awaiting this new DS version because of my above-stated crappy vision. Yet let me continue! There are valid reasons beyond old people and those with vision issues to justify the DSi XL's existance. What else is good about it?

-- Better sound
-- Better Battery Life
-- Wider viewing angle for those who have people watching them play
-- Larger screens = more space for working with the stylus
-- Larger build may be better for larger hands, although admittedly buttons are not larger.
-- The DSi XL may be heavier then the DS Lite or DSi but it seems like it would be comparable with the weight of the DS Phat.

I am not a blind (pun intended) zealot though. I realize that there are issues here and that there are valid points for not getting one of these as well. Simply because I feel this is going to be a great upgrade for me does not mean I think it is the perfect thing for everyone.

-- Less portable then DSi or DS Lite
-- Screens are larger but the resilution has not been changed
-- Those with better vision may notice, due to last point, that some graphics are "blocky"
-- Is completely the same as the DSi aside from the larger screen size & system in general
-- Coliurs may not appeal to everyone. While I like wine red, bubblegum pink or violet would have been great.
-- Price Point for this system is higher then any other model since the DS Phat (I paid $200 for my silver one in summer 2005.) at $189.99 USD.

I have seen a lot of confusion and misunderstandings about this product via the internet as well. Let me answer the three most common things that I keep reading based on the research that I have done:

1. Can I transfer my DSi Ware from my DSi to my DSi XL?

Apparently you need to contact Nintendo. They will send you a box and you will put both your DSi and your DSi XL into it. They will transfer the stuff for you. (And yes, if I had a DSi this would definately make the XL seem less attractive!)

2. Does the DSi XL, which is much BIGGER, have a GBA slot?

No. Unfortunately Nintendo did not take advantage of the bulk to put this much loved feature back in. If you are getting your first DS and have a GBA, keep it or get the Phat or Lite. If you are thinking of doing an upgrade from a Phat or Lite and love GBA games too then you will want to keep your old system as well.

3. I don't want to get the DSi XL because I don't want to buy all my games again in digital form! PSP Go was bad enough!

This is a huge misunderstanding about the DSiWare feature. All of your DS games will work just fine regardless of whether you have a Phat, a Lite, a DSi or a DSi XL. Please note that DSiWare, which is usually smaller stuff like Flipnote Studio, is region specific based on where you buy your DSi XL. If you care about accessing the North American DSiWare shop then you need to wait until the 28th of March and get a DSi here. DS ***games*** are region free -- the DSiWare option is not.

As a gamer with vision issues, I eagerly await the release of the DSi XL at the end of this month. A lot of people already have DS systems and while I know I am buying one of these I would strongly recommend, as I do with any product that I am interested in, that you research it thoroughly before you part with your hard earned cash. What is right for one person can be horribly wrong for someone else. What do you use your DS for? What do you like about it? What do you wish was different? When do you use it -- where? Knowing what you need is the first step in getting it. So, is the DSi XL right for you? Have you read anything interesting that I need not cover here? Do you have any questions or comments? Please feel free to share.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Final Fantasy XIII Reviews -- GameTrailers.com & GameSpot!

GameTrailers.com: (8.6 / 10)



GameSpot.com (8.5 / 10)



Enjoy!

As Pokemon HeartGold / SoulSilver draws nearer...

Here is some more info! I have lists of the pokemon that are exclusive to each game, images of the figures you get for pre-ordering each version, and a cute image from IGN of pokemon following their trainers; a feature that apparently has not been done since Pokemon Yellow. (It also wants to make me choose Chikorita even more. No!) Here we go! :)

Pokemon HeartGold: This information was found on Bulbapedia -- The Online Pokemon Encyclopedia

Mankey - Primeape - Growlithe - Arcanine - Spinarak - Ariados - Gligar - Mantine - Phanpy - Donphan - Sableye - Baltoy - Claydol - Kygore - Mantyke - Gliscor

Pokemon SoulSilver: This information was found on Bulbapedia -- The Online Pokemon Encyclopedia

Vulpix - Ninetails - Meowth - Persian - Ledyba - Ledian - Delibird - Skarmory - Teddiura - Ursaring - Mawile - Gulpin - Swalot - Groudan

Exclusiusive Pre-Order Toys! This information was found on Bulbapedia -- The Online Pokemon Encyclopedia



A Cute Pokemon & Trainers Image: This information was found on www.IGN.com



With less then a week until Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver release I am finding it hard to contain my excitement. While it will be a couple weeks until I can use my game on the new DSi XL it will still be fun to get started!! Stay tuned for more info.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

March Brings Many Things!! :D

There is so much to be excited about this month. First off, the weather here seems like it is deciding to be totally gorgeous, which means it is totally safe to go outside and do some shopping. And as far as shopping goes? There is going to be some very cool things to buy.

First off, we have the much anticipated Final Fantasy XIII. I have been a fan of Final Fantasy since childhood and I eagerly await each new game. Some (FFIV, FFVIII, FFX) are totally awesome. Others (FFIX, FFXII) don't quite hit the mark. But each game is unique and memorable, and I am sure that everyone has their own personal pecking order when it comes to favorites. (Notice that I did not list FFVII, anyone?) Where will FFXIII fall in the scheme of things? We'll all find out on March 9th. Meanwhile, here is a very cool trailer that I found on YouTube.



Next up on the list of awesome is Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver. I am very excited to try out a pokemon game. I played one for the gamecube and I tried one of the older GBA games and thought it was pretty neat. But this should be an even more interesting experience thanks to the new PokeWalker accessory that allows you to take any cute little pokemon of your choice with you on the go and progress your game by -- gasp! -- getting some exercise by taking a walk. So far it looks like I am getting the game and Jay and Shawn are considering it. Jay needs to get his WiFi sorted out and Shawn will likely break down since we are going to have another DS in the house thanks to my next awesome purchase plan for March. Meanwhile, here is a video for the english trailer for the game.



Lastly, and quite possibly getting purchased at the start of April, is the DSI XL. What is this? It is a DSi with 4.2 inch screens. Apparently that will make the screens 93% bigger then those on the DSI. Why am I so hyped for this? Because it should make turn based strategy and RPG titles much better while still remaining portable. I cannot wait to get one of these! Not to mention that the wine red colour (they also come in brown, which is nice) looks elogant and classy. And the new DS also comes with a pen styled stylus, which will be great for some games, too. (It also has a normal stylus.) Here is a cool video for it from cNet.com.



So, what are you looking forward to this month? Other things on the Must Buy list for me this year include a larger hard drive for my Xbox 360 and a PS3 -- which I will at *least* want before Final Fantasy XIV if that is not announced for the Xbox 360. Keep your eyes peeled! I should have video from my trip to Florida up soon. Bye!