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 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: .

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: Thanks for reading, and feel free to share what you are looking forward to this spring!


Thursday, March 25, 2010

New DS at E3 2010!

Today while looking around at 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 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 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 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!


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 -- & GameSpot! (8.6 / 10) (8.5 / 10)


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

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

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!