Some Sweet Cosplays, pt. 2

Okay, so since I made my first post on video game cosplays, many months ago, I have developed a sort of guilty pleasure involving the subject. While I've never really cosplayed, myself, it's not too unusual for me to get caught up in looking at other people's cosplays on deviantART, sometimes for an hour at a time. So without further ado, I present you: Some Sweet Cosplays, pt. 2.

This one just cracks me up. Not only are the costumes themselves very well-done, but those of you who are familiar with Team Fortress 2 and have seen the "Meet the Spy" video know that the Scout's mom is, apparently, quite the catch. So here, we have a hilarious and unmistakable demonstration of just that. It's title? "Dat Ass". Photo and cosplay done by PANCAKEScosplay on deviantART.com where you can find lots more cosplay goodness in their gallery, including more delightful TF2 ones.

I think it's safe to say that I have a certain, uh, fascination with the Splicers from the BioShock games. But that's not all that makes this cosplay so great, to me. The costumes are exquisite and the photography is spot-on, AND the setting looks like it came straight from Rapture, like a real-life scene from the game. And after all, isn't the recreation of beloved nerdoms what cosplay is all about? Photo uploaded by Dids-91 on deviantART. The rest of her BioShock cosplays can be viewed here.

In my opinion, some of the best cosplays on the internet are ones from the Final Fantasy series. The games themselves are an impressive demonstration of interesting character design, so it's no wonder that so many people are inspired to recreate their favorite Final Fantasy heroes and villains. This one of Lightning and Serrah from Final Fantasy XIII is one of favorites, for obvious reasons...great costumes, great photo, great emotions. Photo uploaded by RainerTachibana.

Those of you who have played Fallout 3 can appreciate the awesomeness of this Lone Wanderer cosplay by Frauette. I don't think I've ever seen a better Lone Wanderer costume. I mean, with her Pip-Boy 300 and everything, she looks like she just came from Vault 101! The setting in the photo is perfect and a common sight for players in the game, making the whole thing all the more delightful. Be sure to check out the other Fallout 3 cosplay photos in her gallery, as well.

I've liked this one for a long time. If you've played Final Fantasy IX, then you should recognize Kuja (in his Trance form) as cosplayed by Demented-Kid (she's got lots of other neat Kuja cosplays, as well). What impresses me the most is the hair--or rather, feathers. I've seen lots of people attempt it, but few seem to be able to pull it off...let alone this good. Aside from that, the makeup and costume are all fabulous, too.

That's all for now. I'm sure I'll have more neat cosplays to share in the future, though, so keep your eyes peeled.


A brief update!

Okay, so I know it's been a long time since my last post. As is quite usual when people go missing from the internet, I've been pretty busy with my life. However, I plan to very much get back on track with all of my stuff online, this blog and my new gaming YouTube channel included. Just wanted to give those of you who read this regularly a little insight as to what's going on in my life and to let you all know that there are many blog posts to come in the near-future, including some more cosplays, my thoughts on BioShock 2, League of Legends, Fallout: New Vegas, and more.

Other sites where you can find me:



For the last few months, I've been playing a lot of StarCraft II and trying to get better. This led me to do a bit of exploring around the SC community, which then led me to Day[9]. Sean "Day[9]" Plott is a professional StarCraft II caster who also runs the Day[9] Daily: a live, online StarCraft and StarCraft II show. Aside from the usual casting and commentary on professional games, his show also features "Funday Mondays", "Newbie Tuesdays", and the occasional "Friendday Wendsday" which keep the show entertaining for more casual viewers.

Not only is Day[9] insightful and good at what he does, but I think he's absolutely hilarious and fun to watch. If you're into StarCraft, I would most definitely recommend checking him out. Odds are, you will benefit from it in some way or another. You can watch him live, Sundays through Thursdays at 9 PM CST or view his videos on YouTube.

Day[9]'s other pages:


BioShock Review

Once I again, I was late to the party with BioShock, but it was an absolutely amazing experience, nonetheless. I don't think that I've enjoyed a single-player game as much as I enjoyed BioShock in years. Everything about this video game is simply exceptional and aside from the fact that I think it's pure genious, it's just a darn fun game...and not one you'll likely soon forget.

When it comes down to whether or not a game leaves a lasting impression on me, mood is a critical factor and rest assured, this stellar first-person shooter has plenty of it. Set in Rapture, an underwater city that was once an anarchical utopia ("No Gods or Kings. Only Man."), BioShock entices the player with intrigue, motivates them with horror and suspense, and rewards them with the continuous discovery of this eerily beautiful and ruined world. Once the game sinks its hooks into you, simultaneously filling you with unease and delight, you can't help but want to cozy up into it and hope that it never ends. As long as you don't mind a duely M-rated game, I would recommend BioShock to just about anyone.

In BioShock, you play as Jack, who at first seems like a simple enough protagonist, but by the end of the game, we learn that there is much more to him than the earlier parts of the game let on. After his plane crashes somewhere in the Atlantic, Jack finds himself caught up in Rapture, struggling just to survive, let alone escape. Guided through the vast city by a number of mysterious characters--all of whom have their own motives--via radio broadcast, the player faces constant adversity from what's left of Rapture's citizens.

There's the Splicers, whose minds and bodies have been wrecked by excessive modifications to their genetic makeup, leaving them violent and insane. They're also probably my favorite "common" antagonists of any video game, ever. Not only does fighting against the many varieties of Splicers throughout the game pose a fun challenge for the player, but they're also legitimate video game characters with an unmistakable depth to them; not just a random gameplay component like so many other games' bad guys. Then, of course, there are the iconic Big Daddies and the seaslug-possessed Little Sisters that they guard with their lives. These creepy little girls wander the city, extracting ADAM from corpses. If the player succeeds at killing a Big Daddy, he or she must then decide whether to save the Little Sister or "harvest" her for more ADAM. ADAM, in addition to plasmids (commercially-sold DNA-altering potions), essentially gives a person super powers. Therefore, more ADAM means Jack can become more powerful. However, harvesting a Little Sister also makes you a bad person and changes the outcome of the game. These are the sort of choices that the player must make.

As if that wasn't enough excitement, the player is constantly being threatened and pursued by Rapture's founder, Andrew Ryan, who would like nothing more than to have you "eliminated". He also bears strikingly similar philosophical views to those of Ayn Rand, and I think it's safe to say that BioShock is a response of sorts to Rand's fictional works. This is just yet another thing that makes the game so compelling and unique.

While adventuring through the city, the player may pick up a number of audio diaries. These recordings tell the stories of Rapture and its citizens, helping the player understand the city's fascinating history. Even still, greater secrets await Jack as the player nears the game's end and discovers the true meaning behind his arrival in Rapture.

All images are (presumably) the property of 2K Games.


Some Very Awesome Video Game Soundtracks

When it comes to entertainment, there are usually two things that catch my attention: the aesthetic and the soundtrack. This is true of movies, TV shows, and especially, video games. The way a game looks is an obvious determining factor in its appeal, but I cannot tell you how many times I have been compelled to buy a game simply because of the music playing in its trailer. Every good game needs a soundtrack that helps set the mood and immerse the player in the game's setting. However, over the years, there have only been a handful that have truly moved and inspired me, so for this post, I thought I'd share some of them with you and say what I think makes them so great.

Shadow of the Colossus
Despite being a cult classic of sorts, everyone knew that this game was going to be epic the moment it was announced. The objective of the game was simple enough: journey across a dreamy and mysterious land on your trusty steed in search of colossal beings...once you find them, climb them and kill 'em dead. While the thrill of taking one of these huge things down (and I mean HUGE) is undeniable, you can't help but feel a sense of remorse for destroying something so magnificent. All of this is and more is portrayed perfectly in Shadow of the Colossus's ethereal and grandiose soundtrack.

The Kingdom Hearts series
It's no secret that I love this game. I still remember the first time that I saw a trailer for it on TV. I had read bits and pieces about it in gaming magazines, but none of that could hold a candle to the trailer. The moment that I heard Hikaru Utada's "Simple and Clean", I knew that I must acquire this game as soon as possible. And that's not the only thing that makes the OST so awesome. Among its dozens of tracks, listeners will feel nostalgia, excitement, fear, and longing, all of which beautifully compliment the memorable adventure that is Kingdom Hearts.

Fallout 3/Fallout: New Vegas
Made up of a satisfying blend of already existing oldie classics and original instrumental tracks, the music of Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas not only acts as a fantastic backdrop for the game's retro, post-apocalyptic, out-west setting, but gives players the delightful feeling of ominous adveturousness, which is--I believe--what Fallout is all about. Fallout 3's soundtrack was impressive, no doubt, but I think that New Vegas's takes the cake.

BioShock/BioShock 2
Set in the 1960's, BioShock and BioShock 2's soundtracks have a retro feel to them, similar to Fallout 3/New Vegas. However, what makes BioShock and it's sequel so special is the games' use of mood. Everything from the story to the game's art sets out to create a world of horror, beauty, and loss, and the OST is no exception. Players and listeners alike will find the game's music unsettling, but at the same time, will want to loose themselves in it, and that's what makes BioShock and BioShock 2's soundtracks so fantastic.

The Final Fantasy series
When I think of expert story-telling in video games, the Final Fantasy series is the first thing that comes to mind. Distinct characters, mind-blowing worlds, and intricate plot-lines are what make these games such a success, but the games' soundtracks add another whole new layer of depth. These OSTs are fully capable of telling the games' stories, in and of themselves. With each new title, fans are reminded that no combination of feelings is too complex to be perfectly captured in this series's amazing soundtracks.

I would love to hear which video games you think have excellent soundtracks in a comment below.


Games would like their own classy awards ceremony, please.

If you're like me, you've probably never seen a Superbowl game in its entirety, but the Oscars--now that's a live event that's worth spending a night in front of the TV for. Well, if that's the case and you are like me, then I can assume that you watched the 83rd annual Academy Awards ceremony last night. It was nothing out of the ordinary...actors, producers, writers, directors and so on all dressed up with their family members, big-name presenters, entertaining hosts, heartfelt speeches--the usual. Now, I'm not suggesting that the Oscars is a perfect example of what I believe an awards ceremony should be, but I would love to see something similar become a standard part of video game culture.

Sure, video games already have things like the Spike TV Video Game Awards and countless Game of the Year titles are declared every year, but I would like to see something a little more official and organized. Spike's VGAs are all fine and dandy, but for starters, rather than being chosen by people with experience in the industry, the winning games are voted on by the public. I have no problem with things like The People's Choice Awards, but it would be nice to see video games recognized in something other than a popularity contest. Aside from that, Spike is a network specifically geared towards men. I understand that gaming is still dominated by guys, but an awards ceremony hosted by an institution that is specifically trying to appeal to one gender seems a bit unproffesional. And last but not least, the Spike VGAs feature guests like...the cast of Jersey Shore. Snooki? Really?

I'm not sure if I would like to see a new organization rise to the occasion, or one that already exists take it to the next level, but I do know one thing: gamers deserve better than this.


Video Game Romances that I Love

For people who don't play games, it may be hard to believe what gamers have long-known: video games tell some of the best love stories you could ask for. In fact, romance has been a common theme in video games since the days of Pacman and his beloved Ms. Pacman. Personally, I find that games that successfully integrate a compelling love story are far more memorable, so I thought that in honor of the holiday, I would share some of my favorite video game romances with you all (contains spoilers).

Zidane and Garnet/Dagger from Final Fantasy IX
The romance between these two all starts when Zidane, who is part of a plot to steal Princess Garnet, bumps into her as she's attempting to make an escape from Alexandria, the kingdom over which her mother rules. As if drawn to each other by fate, Garnet agrees to let Zidane "kidnap" her so long as he and his band of thieves, Tantalus, assist her in getting to Lindblum to meet with Regent Cid who, as it turns out, was the person who hired Tantalus to kidnap her in the first place. Along their journey, they encounter many sinister foes and witness horrible destruction caused by said foes. This only fuels the involvement between Zidane and Garnet. Initially, Zidane's interest in Garnet is little more than one of his frequent displays of shallow womanizing, but as the two get to know each other and Garnet becomes "Dagger", her non-princess cover, Zidane's feelings for her turn into something more. At the realization that there's little chance of them hooking up with each other, he is left heartbroken, convinced that even if Dagger did love him in return, he would never be suitable for royalty. However, towards the end of the game, Zidane is believed to be dead and when the two are reunited some time later, they embrace their love for each other, making for a very happy ending.

Ico and Yorda from Ico
More innocent than most other game romances, perhaps, Ico and Yorda's is not only essential to their survival but a crucial gameplay element. Ico being a horned outcast and Yorda a strange, gentle sort of ghost, all they have is each other. Both characters are trying to escape from a large and haunted castle inhabited by Yorda's evil, shadowy, ghost queen of a mother and a host of other frightful specters that appear to be made of the same shadowy stuff as their queen. Both characters also possess unique abilities that compliment eachother's. For example, Yorda has supernatural powers that allow her to open certain magical doorways and Ico is strong and agile, able to push around large stone blocks and climb chains to solve puzzles. Ico literally holds Yorda's hand throughout most of the game in order to lead her through the castle and prevent her from being stolen away by the queens shadow monsters who are constantly pursuing the two. After a final showdown with the Yorda's mother, both Ico and Yorda escape the castle as it is turned to ruins and wake up together on a beach after.

The Prince and Farah from The Prince of Persia: Sands of Time trilogy
The unnamed Prince and Farah's relationship is similar to that of Ico and Yorda in that the two are alone in a world filled with fearsome monsters and depend on each other for survival. The Prince is handy with his sword and dagger while Farah is good with the bow. Farah can slip in through small openings to poke around on the other side, and the Prince can scale walls and swing from pole to pole. One of my favorite things about these two is their constant bickering throughout the games. Believe me, it's very entertaining. The Prince and Farah meet in the first SoT game when the Prince's kingdom is overthrowing hers. While this would normally make these two mortal enemies, they don't really have any choice other than to team up after the Sands of Time are unleashed and turn everyone else except the evil Vizier into sand monsters. During their journey to restore normality by reversing time, the two start to fall in love. They even take a bath together at one point. Sadly, at the end of the game, the Prince is forced to go back in time, erasing his relationship with Farah in addition to saving the day. However, he drops some hints before it's all said and done and the pair meet again in The Two Thrones.

Yuna and Tidus from Final Fantasy X (and X-2)
Yuna and Tidus's love story is one of the most popular of the series, and for good reason. These two star-crossed lovers are destined to save the world together, but in doing so, they must ultimately part from each other in a very permanent fashion. They initially meet after Tidus wakes up 1000 years in the future while Yuna's just beginning her pilgrimage to become a Summoner in the hopes of defeating the monsters known as Sin. This would be a very quick fix that would--as Tidus discovers later--take Yuna's life. For as long as anyone can remember, Summoners have repeated this process in order to grant brief, decade-long periods of peace between Sin's rebirths. From the start, the romance between the two isn't looking too bright. However, after some groundbreaking truths are revealed, plans are changed and things begin to look up for the couple. They get to thinking that there's a way to defeat Sin for good without sacrificing anyone's life. This is all good, but it's later revealed to Tidus that he isn't exactly "real", but rather, a dream of sorts that the Gods (called "the Fayth") came up with in order to put a stop to Sin. When that happens, the Fayth will stop dreaming and Tidus ceases to exist. Knowing this, Tidus continues with his mission and ultimately helps destroy Sin for good. Afterwards, Tidus leaves Yuna with a very touching goodbye and disappears, leaving Spira behind, finally at peace.

Sora and Kairi from the Kingdom Hearts series
What can I say? Square Enix is good at romance. Sora and Kairi, along with their friend, Riku, crave adventure. They build a raft together and while they're preparing to embark on their journey to other worlds, the two start to hint at their interest in each other. Unfortunately, before they get the opportunity to make anything of it, their world is overcome by Darkness and destroyed. However, before Sora is transported to another world, he encounters Kairi whose heart, rather than being taken by the Darkness, becomes one with Sora's, unbeknownst to him until much later. Seperated from his friends, Sora begins his journey not only to find them, but to save the worlds from the Heartless. Along the way, he encounters many obstacles and is filled with intense longing for Riku and Kairi. But Riku becomes jealous of Sora, who has been chosen as the Keyblade Master, as well as his relationship with Kairi, who, without her heart, has become "a lifeless puppet". By the end of the game, Sora battles a possessed Riku, sacrifices himself to restore Kairi's heart, and in turn is saved by her. Then, finally, he seals the door to Darkness, restoring peace to the worlds. After this is done, he finds Kairi on a patch of land that is slowly turning back into Destiny Islands. Separated from her, he reaches out and assures her that he'll come back to her. The two are finally reunited towards the end of the second game and all is well.

Well, there you have it. I would love to hear what your favorite video game love stories are in a comment below. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.


Rift beta: initial thoughts

Last weekend, I participated in a beta event for Trion's upcoming MMORPG, Rift: Planes of Telara. If you've been keeping up with this blog since I first started it, then you'll probably recall one of my earliest posts, expressing my feelings about MMOs. Let's just say that I'm generally not too crazy about them. While I have a pretty good idea of what makes them appealing to a lot of people, games like WoW and Final Fantasy XI/XIV tend to lack practically everything that I find makes video games enjoyable for me. However, despite this, I am determined to continue to expose myself to the genre as it evolves and changes, in the hopes that I will find something that I like. This being the case, when I received an invitation to take part in the three-day beta event for Rift this past weekend, I gladly accepted. Afterall, at the very least, who doesn't like freebies?

Given everything that I had seen/read about the game, Rift actually piqued my interest somewhat. One of the central concepts of the game is that, in order to make things more exciting and less "same old, same old" for players, in places where the barrier between Telara and the other dimensions are weak, openings called rifts appear at random and unleash all sorts of fearsome creatures. This idea was a major plus for me. I have always found the typical MMO formula--accept quest, grind, grind, grind, complete quest, level up--to get old real fast. In addition to the rifts, the process of creating your character and determining his/her class emphases seemed like an improvement over that of other MMOs. And it is...kind of. Ultimately, from what I've experienced so far (about four or five hours of gameplay), Rift is essentially a more polished and somewhat more advanced version of World of Warcraft.

While it's very difficult for me to pick out any specific flaws with the game, I can't really say that it's anything special. Another typical MMO, really. Though, it seems to be one that many MMORPG fans are thoroughly enjoying. While I would not be so audacious as to suggest that Rift is likely to boot WoW off of its throne--a claim that many players are already making--there is no denying that Rift is striving to take the genre to the next level. The game's premise is actually semi-interesting, the soundtrack inspiring, the artwork and animations appealing, the characters unique, and so on. That being said, as someone who has a very difficult time getting into MMOs, I would not pay for this game, as its central design is the same as always with a few perks, here and there. However, for those of you who enjoy games like WoW but are looking for something new to delve into, I would definitely suggest giving Rift a try.

Rift: Planes of Telara is due to come out March 1st, this year. I'll play as much of the beta as I can before the game comes out, and if my opinion of it changes, I'll be sure to make an update in a later post.

Website: RIFT

Image property of Trion Worlds.


Yoshitaka Amano

One of the things that really got me interested in video games at a young age was the artwork that went into them. As a kid, I remember spending hours looking at the illustrations and concept art that were spread throughout the booklets that came with the games--particularly those of Final Fantasy games. Anyone who knows anything about Final Fantasy knows that the games' visual designs and graphics are some of the best out there. One of the people largely responsible for the series' prestigious aesthetic is Yoshitaka Amano who has been contributing artwork to the games since Square Enix very first started making them.

While Tetsuya Nomura has more or less taken over the art scene since Final Fantasy VII was made back in the mid-90's, Amano is still involved and is still the series' "title logo designer", among other things. With every new FF title that comes out, there's usually at least half-a-dozen new illustrations of his to go with it.

Amano is by far one of my favorite artists of all time. I fell in love with his work when I was just a kid and as I've gotten older, I've only grown more and more impressed by it. While he has lots of amazing stuff that has nothing to do with Final Fantasy, the series has no doubt helped him spread his wings as an artist. Well, enough of me talking about it...have a look for yourself:

All images were found on GiantBomb.com and are the property of Yoshitaka Amano/Square Enix.



First and foremost, I hope everyone enjoyed their New Year's Eve/Day and that 2011 sends lots of good things your way. Before it gets too late into 2011, I feel it wise to do a bit of reflecting on 2010 and maybe even share a few of my aspirations and plans for the new year. In list form, of course.

I don't know about everyone else, but 2010 was definitely an eventful year for me, but I somehow made it out alive. While my sanity was unquestionably stretched a bit thin at times, there were parts of 2010 that I enjoyed:

  • Starting up this blog--it's helped me clarify a lot of my thoughts, opinions, and aspirations. It's also given me something to keep myself busy with.
  • Playing lots of cool games like Fallout 3, Final Fantasy XIII, Team Fortress 2, Starcraft II, etc.
  • Getting a (temporary) job at GameStop.
  • Developing a comprehensive portfolio complete with artwork, gameplay overviews, and character descriptions.
  • Joining and becoming an admin for the awesome gaming community, Addiction to Gaming.
  • And last but not least, applying to and being accepted at Tribeca Flashpoint for their game development program.

As for 2011, I have a few exciting goals and plans on the horizon:

  • Keep up with this blog and get even more familiar with video games and the industry as a whole.
  • Continue to work on my portfolio and further develop my game ideas.
  • Acquire a PS2/PSP.
  • Play more games and keep up with big releases...study said games.
  • Move to the city and start taking classes at Flashpoint in downtown Chicago, this September.

Lastly, having been out of a console for a large part of the year, I have a list of the games of 2010 that I missed out on but plan on getting to in the very near future:

  • Bioshock 2 (and the first Bioshock, for that matter)
  • Fallout: New Vegas
  • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (and the first two Assassin's Creed games)
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep
  • God of War III (as well as God of War and God of War II)
  • Red Dead Redemption
  • Heavy Rain
  • And probably many others.

Well, that's about all for this post. I hope every one has a happy new year and expect some sort of game review from me soon.