Thirsk's Age of Wonders

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Trip down memory lane

Posted by Thirsk on May 25, 2010 at 12:48 AM Comments comments (0)

My last blog entry, "Filling the void", was posted on the 27th of March, 2010...that means that two months have literally swept by :|

"So what's this one all about?" you're probably wondering. Actually, I've not a clue. I was hoping you could tell me..haha. Oh well, it was worth a try ;). I might as well use this empty space as a trip down memory lane; a secret stash of all the activities undertaken during my leisure time (not that it's all that secret now but what the hell, lol).

So as I brainstorm two months back into the abyss, it seems that anime has taken up a major portion of my time. Seeing that there's so many, I'll just include a brief comment along with each to tell you how much I enjoyed it.  I finished watching the following series:


- About a junior high girl extremely gifted in mahjong but really painful to watch! Avoid at all costs! Just stick with Hikaru no Go!

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun

- Follows the lives of a group of girls in an academic city of people gifted with superpowers. Best viewed for action and yuri. One of the better animes I've seen this year.

Sora no Woto

- A military-like version of K-On, where tradition and local myth requires a small squad of girls  to defend an outpost and adjoining city near the enemy border. Hmm, not bad at all. If you like K-On, you'll probably like this. Just don't expect much action here though.

Lucky Star & OVA

- Perhaps has the most moe/cuteness you can find in an anime. A slice-of-life anime revolving around a short high school girl who has no hobbies other than online rpgs and anime. Very funny and cute series. A recommended watch.

Wolf and Spice 1,2

- I guess this one would appeal most to those with an intrigue in romance against the backdrop of medieval politics and economy. Very nice romance between two admirable lead characters on their journeys together - an ordinary merchant and a fox goddess.

Eve no Jikan

- A short series taking place in the near-future, where artificial ai has been created in the form of robots to serve in human society. Of course, the kicker is that the AI are slowly developing their own conscience and agenda, like in the movie iRobot (starring Will Smith); however, it is more of a drama than an action series.

Darker than Black & Gemini of the Meteor

- The Darker than Black series was great overall, even if I felt it fell a bit short of my expectations. It is an action-packed series about a syndicate war between magic-wielders in a modern day society. This deserves to be in my "favourite anime shows of the year" list, besides Natsume yujinchou, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, To Aru Kagaku no Railgun, and Lucky Star.


I've also watched quite a deal of movies but by now, I have to admit I'm getting a bit lazy to add in any comments! I'll just have to keep it real short to the point where I'll tell you which a worth watching :)

Boondock Saints

- Hmm, an unusual pair of Irish gun-toting vigilantes. Just a bit too weird for me.


- You'd think that this B-grade movie would be a complete flop but it really isn't so bad. Has a few familiar faces from tv series like Prison Break and Jericho, as well as Morpheus from the Matrix! I've been really reluctant to watch this for several months but when I finally did watch it, it was a pleasant surprise. Some great suspense and action inside. Worthy of a watch.


- Starring Gerald Butler who was King Leonidas in the epic spartan movie 300. This has some great visual effects (in computer interfaces like in Minority Report or action scenes) and an interesting storyline. Nothing as epic as watching 300 though but this is still watch-worthy.

Species 1,2,3

- I must have been completed bored. Yes, actually I was. I'm sure I've watched one or two of these before in my youth but having forgotten them, I was curious to re-watch them. Let's just say that the 1st movie was "okay"...the other two were just hideous like all those numerous Anaconda dupes out there.

The Road

- If you're wondering what an apocalyptic future looks like where 90% of the world's population has been eradicated in some freak-nuclear war, this is it. Bleak, bleak and bleak.

I felt rather miserable watching this show since it was dark and dreary but I really persevered in hope to see that the small boy and his father would survive their journey to the coastline, with nothing more than a trolley and a half-empty pistol. To my surprise, it scored quite a high 7.6/10 on IMDB. Is it because it stars Viggo Mortensen from the Lord of the Rings? See for yourself. A decent view.

Clash of the Titans

- I watched the new remake starring Sam Worthington (Terminator: New Salvation) but with all the great computerised effects, I believe that the original 1981 movie was still much better. After viewing it in the cinema, I quickly rewatched the 1981 version and it only confirmed my belief. What do you think? Nevertheless, the remake is still a worthwhile movie.

UFC Ultimate 100 Greatest Fights, 1, 109, 110, 111

- Haha, I've just been getting more and more sucked into this rapidly growing sport called the Ultimate Fighting Championship, abbreviated as UFC. I guess it's partially due to my dad, who has a love for anything martial arts.

Well this is a mixed martial arts tournament with Boxing, Wrestling, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Although there used to be more like Savate and Sumo-Wrestling. Can get rather bloody because it's essentially cage-fighting but I think that's one of it's selling points. Doesn't the sight of it get your blood pumping? Or am I just going psycho? :/ I guess we haven't completely progressed from the Colosseum shows from Ancient Roman times..

*Deep sigh of relief* Yep, that's all the stuff I watched. I've also read a fair deal of Berserk manga since I was relatively bored.

In my time spent with friends, we usually end up playing DOTA or Counter-strike.

Oh yea, I did even update my CS-Zombie mod to version 1.5. It's ridiculous how much time I spent designing, programming and playtesting that game but it was a grand satisfaction at the end of it all.

I mean, remember the original Counterstrike 1.6 and how you had but four character models to choose from on the Terrorist and Counter-terrorist side? Well, in my Survivors vs Zombies mod, you get to choose from 22 Survivors and 22 Zombies! Each with accompanying pictures and description. Anyhow, that's me getting carried away. Will update that CS-Z page later (someday!)

And finally, I also spent a week or two (41 hours and 30 mins) playing Dragon Age on the PS3. The storyline, character development and fantasy-like environment is usually all that I look for in RPGS and although this one did have alot of fantasy lore and a lengthy storyline, it was the combat system and over-abundance of monsters that slightly dimmed my experience.

Geez, what is it with RPGs and their over-abundance of monsters. Don't they know how much I dislike hack 'n slash games? :( There is still quite a bit of fun whilst playing this game but near the end of it all, I was simply playing to complete the game (to the point of lowering the difficulty to a mere "casual")

Anyhow, it seems I've overdone it again =/

To end it in good fashion - next week, I'll be on an "Around-the-world" tour, visiting America, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Singapore (and a whole lot more I can't remember!). So it'll be a while before my next entry. Until then, adios! :D

Filling the void

Posted by Thirsk on March 27, 2010 at 8:51 AM Comments comments (2)

Eversince completing Final Fantasy XIII on the Playstation, I've been knackered about what next to do. I could have easily inserted a new game into the PS (still have Demon's Souls and Dragon Age untouched) but the thought of conceding another week or two to games put me off. Not that a week was so bad, but being addicted to a game shortly before an exam was the worst thing I could do. That, and also because I've already been in front of the tele too much. :dry:

So I was left to find entertainment in another fashion. I resorted to movies. I watched all 6 Rocky flicks in two nights. I say nights because that was exactly what they were. I must have been crazy to start watching the first Rocky movie at 10pm at night, and even more so to continue onto the sequel shortly after midnight...and perhaps being just a notch short of lunacy for watching the 3rd right after. That, multiplied by two because I just repeated the whole damn thing on the next night - watching the last three Rocky's in succession.

So that was two nights of madness accounted for, lol.

I'll probably have to fast forward a bit just to make things interesting. I went onto a short anime bout after that. There weren't a whole lot of anime I found interesting at this point since I had to scour my whole collection twice over to finally decide on what to watch. I usually don't bother to even watch such animes even bordering "harem" because to me, it's just another cliche where a group of girls flock to a typically nerdy guy. To say nothing of downloading it - I must have been bored out of my mind to resort to this!

Nevertheless, I watched a series called Kannagi, which turned out much better than I expected. It wasn't a harem, thankfully, and there were enough elements to believe there would be a serious storyline to it. Believe, being the correct term. Well, with it's charm and magical hocus-pocus, it got an ok from my standards. Bad anime series I completely ditch after about five episodes.

I then watched Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, which portrayed a predicted representation of Tokyo being hit by an earthquake of magnitude 8.0 on the Richter Scale. It was one of the best anime series I watched this year - right up there beside Natsume Yujinchou. Perhaps it was because they shared a common tone, serious and mature but light and touching at the same time. I was thoroughly surprised by Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 because by the end of it all, I was empathising with the characters and awash with mixed emotions. If you're reading this, don't just dismiss it without a thought - you have to watch it. It's a very touching story between a young girl and her little brother, caught in the city during the earthquake, and as everything goes to hell in death and destruction, they desperately try to return home to their parents - who quite possibly, might not even be still alive. The character development, which to me is the most important element to a story, is brilliant, and this story sparked the long-lost thrill and excitement I had for writing my zombie novel..

Now onto the heavy stuff. In the past week, I read three fantasy novels, which to me was quite an amazing feat. Who, in this generation and age, even reads books? We've got much too many technologised forms of entertainment to even consider opening a dusty book cover, let alone glancing at one. Well, as I said, I was bored. And I did exhaust my other mediums of entertainment. On one stifling hot day when I jogged and sprinted for 2 and a half hours, I found my mind unable to find peace in the world of games. When I usually would be delighted to play an RPG on the PS, I just sat there half-brain-dead, wondering if my mind was really playing tricks on me, or was I really bored of games all this time after all? Surely not, I later realised. I was just so beyond physical exhaustion that it bogged my mind down also. So with no mood for games, and no exciting movies/anime to watch, I looked at the one place I would never had dared to venture on a normal day - the bookshelf.

I picked up a book that I had started a while back but failed to complete. Sasha by Joel Shepherd. The bookmark was only a quarter through. I recalled throwing in the bookmark after reading mindlessly through to no satisfaction - the worst thing was to find out later on that I stopped right before it started getting good! I blamed the author for his slow pace, but later blamed myself for my impatience. I read the rest of the book in a little more than a day. When it ended on a half-cliffhanger, I decided that I must read the next two or I'd surely go mad. Well, it turned out to be quite a shock to discover that it wasn't a trilogy like most fantasy novels are, but a quartet instead. Also, they only had the second volume in the paperback version whereas the third volume was in a tray-size paperback edition. I settled for the 2nd novel and thought to seek out a smaller sized book for the 3rd volume elsewhere. I read the 2nd in one and a half days, and cursed myself for having not bought the 3rd book. The 3rd was only available in that format, whilst the 4th was still coming out. So I had to venture to the shops a second time (20 mins drive one way was bad enough for me!) just to get that 3rd book, tray-size format and all.

I finished the book just an hour ago. Not as great as the first, but that's just to be expected with stories. The original is usually the best. It's just too bad how I have to wait till September 2010 before the next and final volume to the series comes out. Till then, I've got a couple more options to fill the void; finish an anime I started watching, play a bit more Civil War Generals 2, or move onto reading a new series of books by one of my fav authors...hmm..only time will tell.

Great games live on

Posted by Thirsk on March 18, 2010 at 7:23 AM Comments comments (0)

It's about 10:30 pm here and I'm not in any mood to go to bed :mad:

The reason being is that I just completed a 7 day marathon of Final Fantasy XIII and I've got all the dramatic music and cutscenes still crystal clear in my head!!

(But that also has something to do with the FFXIII soundtrack playing on my hi-fi stereo in the background lol)

I usually don't bother ranting about games after completing them, but that's probably because I rarely do finish games - oh dear. :roll:

Well I guess it's my way of paying homage to such an incredible game. This way I can look back on the excitement and thrill I've experienced today.

Strangely enough, I actually had some doubts on Day 1 when I first began playing FFXIII. The combat system was really different, being an entirely new experience..but for some reason, it just seemed kind of simplistic. The cinematics were great, however, the story was a bit too linear and two-dimensional (similar to a children's animation).

But now after completing the game, I've completely changed my mind. The combat system became just more and more complicated and so did the storyline. Everyone had a great role to play in the plot and the gradual growth of camaraderie between the main characters was a winning formula. I couldn't help becoming empathetic towards to them, even though the back of my mind was saying - get a grip man! It's just a game!

As with all rpgs, I enjoyed the freedom of customising the team to my liking. Slowly each of the characters branch off into their own fields of expertise, like commandos, ravagers, synergists etc, but I preferred to keep a very versatile jack-of-all-trades approach. Turned out quite well and I was on top of the game for about 90% of the time.

The other 10% of the time was when I got near the end... :dry:

I particularly did not like how the monsters just became unbelievably buffed near the end - I mean..each battle taking at least 4 mins to complete? That's ridiculous! I found myself falling asleep at about 1 am last night just because the battle was so straightforward - I knew each button to press and all at the right timing, but the monsters had just wayyy to much HP. So I was pressing the buttons in combination and timing with my eyes shut. Serious.

It's not because my team was full of weaklings. No, I'm too much of a strategist for that..They were probably as good as you could get because I played this game not only with a controller but a pen, some paper and a calculator. A calculator?? Like WTF! MANUELLA! LOL

It's probably the first time I used a calculator for a game :lol: (besides those text-based online games I used to play in high school)

But aside from that minor issue, everything seemed in order. The character customisation makes up for the single path you must take to complete the game. It would have been better if it was an open-world environment but considering how much effort went into the game and all the cinematics, it's only to be expected.

It's a weird feeling. I went through the game, absorbing in all the cutscenes like crazy and wondering when I was going to finish the game. I kept saying to myself, "Alright, I'm almost there. I'm going to finish this tonight.' But it ends up taking a whole lot longer and I'm left wondering if I should be cursing my misfortune or counting my blessings.

And counting my blessings was probably what I should have done. When you finish a game as grand-scale as this, you can't help but feel a bit nostalgic once it's over. I was hoping that I'd be able to unlock all the amazing cinematics on completion of the game, but alas, it was as I'd feared. You need to re-do the entire game just to re-watch all the cinematics..Argh those cruel Japanese gamemakers!

They did this to me one time already with their Bayonetta - all I got was a 5 minute clip of Bayonetta dancing :(...not that the dancing was was goood..but that's not the point!

On the bright side, I had a feeling that they wouldn't unlock the cinematics so I saved two gamefiles right before some great cinematics. This way I can just load up the save file and re-watch a nice long scene.

Ahh..I've just been rambling on for a while now and this is turning into an essay..what else is there to say? Besides the fact that I love RPGs and now am an absolute Final Fantasy XIII fan. Thank goodness I bought the Collector's edition :) Ah yes..

Although my voice would be but a mere inaudible whisper on the tip of an Autumn breeze, I'd like to thank the Square Enix team for creating such a Godlike game and allowing us all the privilege of  journeying through a world beyond our imaginations.

ps. If you haven't played it yet, you really are missing out on one of the biggest games of all time.

The past few months..

Posted by Thirsk on March 5, 2010 at 4:04 PM Comments comments (0)

That's right. You better rub your eyes and stare hard at your screen because this is the biggest new thing since sliced bread! A blog entry!

It's currently a cloudy and rainy, Friday afternoon and I'm feeling a little bored, wondering what I can do to pass the time. These past few months, I've had a mix of work, study and games - though mostly it was the latter :wink:

Sometime in December, I bought Fifa 10 and Borderlands for my PS3 on a whim and felt rather glad I did so. At first Borderlands wasn't as fun as I expected (I was hoping for more of a storyline and less mindless shooting) but the idea of levelling up my character quickly became addictive as I kept anticipating the use of my newly acquired guns - the next thing I knew, I was at the maximum level of 50 and I had completed the game..twice even.

So that was pretty much a week of addicted gaming accounted for, lol.

From then on, I think I must have played the MAG beta from the 1st of January till the 10th or 12th..then re-watched my Bluray discs of Band of Brothers. I was pretty bored at that stage so I returned to working on my counterstrike mod, but this time, making it a Resident Evil mod. And that meant alot of playtesting with friends and THAT sucked up a LOT of time. As February was drawing to a close, that meant I had to study for the next exam - but that only took up 3 days LOL. Gee I'm so lazy.

I also played a great deal of my modded Age of Wonders with a friend (ah I better upload it someday so everyone can experience the magical and bloody chaos of tactical-fantasy warfare!) and this is pretty much still ongoing. A single game can last 3 nights! It still amazes me that I'm playing a game that is at least 10 years old when I have a Playstation 3 :lol:

Anyway, in time for my exam, I went on a massive online PS3 games shopping spree and went broke within a few hours. I ordered MAG, Demon Souls, Bayonetta, UFC undisputed, Dragon Age Origins, Resident Evil Darkside Chronicles + Wii Zapper (for Wii), and the first Resident Evil movie on Bluray.

Oh and to top it off, add in a FragNStein wireless mouse controller for the PS3 and two pro gaming mousepads (Steel Series and Razer Sphex) to go with it. They came from local Aus stores, Hong Kong, America and Britain. The last two took pretty much 2 weeks shipment but the low price was very well worth it.

What else did I do? Pretty much played those games I bought..though much of it is still untouched - ahh and now Battlefield Bad Company 2 and Final Fantasy 13 is coming out too! There's just too much to do and I can't believe I'm here typing away like this :ohmy:

Lately downloaded the Resident Evil "Lost in Nightmares" DLC and invited a friend over to play it. Then went on a continuous DOTA gaming spree with 4 other guys..and now I'm right here. It's just been so hectic lately, my sleep pattern is destroyed (stayed up to 4 am playing DOTA last night and woke up at 1 pm today) and my health has been on a decline since. Oh and did I mention that before this, I was getting up at 6:30 am each morning to jog at a park and work out? And played a great deal of Left 4 Dead 2, which I didn't quite enjoy as much as the prequel. I've watched two seasons of Natsume Yujinchou and also re-watched an old favourite, two-season tv series called Jericho on DVD. The list just goes on and on. ARGH I better stop here before I get a headache from all the brainstorming!

More stupid news to follow.