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T. Hill "Relytia" RSS Feed (Portland, OR)
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Nintendo 2DS Sea Green
Nintendo 2DS Sea Green
Offered by DealsPointer
Price: $149.98
21 used & new from $120.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great 3DS option for parents with small kids or gamers strapped for cash, December 1, 2014
Nintendo's 3DS handheld has quickly become one of my all-time favorite gaming devices. We're only two and a half years into the console's lifespan, and we've already been treated to several masterpieces so good, they can easily compete with and defeat many home console releases in terms of quality and overall excellence. It has also been a hugely successful venture for Nintendo, but some people have still held off from buying one. Why? Maybe it's the price that has kept people away. Perhaps parents are afraid their children will break the hinges of the 3DS. Admittedly, one of the coolest features of the system, the 3-D effect, isn't for everyone, either due to preference or age. Well, whatever the case, Nintendo has come out with the 2DS to try and appeal to those people. Let's get one thing straight right off the bat: everything about the 2DS has the same high-quality and attention to detail that is to be expected of Nintendo products, but in my opinion, the 2DS pales in comparison to the 3DS XL in almost every way. You should only consider getting a 2DS in specific circumstances. I'll warn you right now, in order to be as informative as reasonably possible, this may be a long review. If you don't like long, detailed reviews, give this one a pass. You've been given fair warning.

Build Quality and Design: The 2DS' design is quite bold, to say the least. Abandoning the classical clamshell design that has been around for nearly a decade since the original DS (or even the Game Boy Advance SP, if you want to go way back, :P) was introduced is pretty gutsy. Here, we get more of a solid slate chuck design. It's a little shorter than the original 3DS folded out, and actually weighs a little less than the 3DS. On the one hand, this design makes the handheld really tough and a lot harder to break, which is great for kids. On the other hand, this design makes the system a lot clunkier to carry around, and really lessens its portability. Not being able to fold the system makes it much more of a dust magnet, and little incidental scratches on the screen over time are more of a likelihood. All that means is you have to be a bit more careful with where you store it and how you handle it. You can also buy really high-quality screen covers for dirt cheap that will protect the screens, so that isn't much of a problem. Instead of folding the system, there's a slider button on the bottom of the system to engage sleep mode. All buttons have a nice click to them, but are lacking any colorized highlights to label the buttons. Instead, it's just indentations showing which button is which, which gives the system a much cheaper feeling than the other 3DS models. The d-pad itself has a shape similar to the 3DS XL's, but is much, much spongier and the clicky nature has been lessened in comparison to the other 3DS model d-pads. Personally, I actually like it more, but whether others will find it to be a negative or positive change is really up to personal preference. Button placement is different as well. Instead of the buttons, d-pad, or circle pad being to the sides of the lower screen, they're much more central and playing the system feels like holding the Wii U's gamepad, which is surprisingly comfortable. The shoulder buttons also help with comfort as they are much bigger than the other 3DS models and wrap very nicely around the top rounded corners of the 2DS. They also have a nice concave groove to them, making holding the system superbly comfortable. My hands used to cramp up a lot with both the 3DS and the 3DSXL and I was forced to buy grips for both systems to be able to play for extended periods or else suffer from crippling pain in my hands, but not so with the 2DS. This is an incredibly comfortable system to hold, regardless of hand size, right out of the box. Overall, the build quality of the 2DS is excellent, despite the jarring nature of its design.

Sound: Unfortunately, one of the worst aspects of the hardware is the sound design. There's only one mono speaker on the left of the system and while the sound from it is just as loud as the other models, it's simply not detailed or distinct enough to match the other 3DS models (and their speakers aren't that amazing by themselves either, but their stereo set-up is much better than the 2DS single speaker by comparison). Trust me, you'll want to get a pair of stereo headphones to use with the system. Personally, most of the time I don't even play my 3DSXL without plugging in a nice headset or a decent set of speakers, so this isn't that big of deal to me. 3DS games are just much more enjoyable with headphones/earphones/earbuds/whatever regardless of which 3DS system you have, at least in my opinion. Still, some will probably be bothered by the mono speaker in the 2DS, so I must mention it. It sounds great with headphones though!

Screens: The screens on the 2DS are the same size as the original 3DS. Despite what I said a little earlier about the screens always being exposed being a small cause for concern, the 2DS' screens seem to be made of a tougher material than the original 3DS screens, which makes them more resistant to scratches by nature. They're also set into the system deeper, making it harder to brush the surface accidentally. The actual quality of the screens are very nice. Colors are vibrant and bright. The sharpness is very crisp and detailed. One of my biggest complaints about the 3DS is that when the 3D is all the way up, there can be really annoying "ghosting" of images in areas where brightness contrast is high. You don't have to worry about that at all on the 2DS, and that is a big positive in its favor. Overall, fantastic screen quality.

Battery Life: The 3D effect can be a major drain on the batteries of the 3DS(XL). Since it's gone here, battery life has been dramatically improved by default. This is a big boon in the 2DS' favor. Now, batteries last at least 7-9 hours per charge, as opposed to the 3DS' 3-5 or the 3DSXL's 4-6 (keep in mind, that's with the 3D all the way up). That's really nice and makes the system less of a hassle on trips. Granted, without 3-D on, the 3DS and XL do last longer, and all 3DS/2DS models last longer when you turn off power draining features like wifi or lower the brightness setting. That been said, I stand by my statement that the 2DS has great battery life by default, about as good as the 3DSXL with its 3-D turned off.

Backwards Compatibility: This is a bit of a mixed bag. While the colors and vibrancy are very nice, the screen size and pixel resolution leave a little bit to be desired. Playing in native resolution makes the screens so small you can't see very much and the bottom screen becomes super cramped. If you don't opt to use the native DS resolution, then you have to deal with the games taking up the whole screen as normal, but with a little bit of blurriness. Is it that big of a problem? Not really, no. Only the biggest sticklers will even notice any blur, let alone be bothered by it, and most will easily be able to enjoy any DS game on their 2DS.

Lack of 3-D and Price Reduction: What is the 3DS without its most distinguishing third-dimensional feature? The 2DS. Is that a problem? For me, it would be because I love the 3-D effect personally. For those who don't like the 3-D, or for the kiddies, it's perfect. The 3DS' stereoscopic effect is not supposed to be used by kids younger than seven or eight. Until now, those young'uns could only play their games with the 3D slider off, and parents had to pay full-price for a system which would have one of its most prominent features unused. What a waste. Now you can spend much less and get pretty much every other good aspect of the 3DS system, including its most important feature: an excellent library of games. This is an idea I can get behind. Aside from the 3-D effect, the 2DS has virtually every other feature the 3DS has. All software aspects, such as wifi connectivity, access to the eshop, and all on-system programs, are here. The 2DS also comes with a nice-sized SD card so you can download a good number of eshop games. At a cool $129.99 (and don't ever pay more than that for this system), all of this is an absolute steal of a deal.

I have to admit, when I first glimpsed the announcement for the 2DS, I was incredulous. What was this clunky monstrosity before me? A 2DS?! Why remove the very thing that defines the 3DS? What's with that slate design? Has Nintendo lost their mind?! As time has gone by, however, I've warmed up to the idea, and got one for certain occasions where I wouldn't be able to bring my 3DSXL. It has worked out well so far. Let me be clear, the 2DS is certainly not for everyone. If you have the funds, then I would invest it on the 3DSXL over the 2DS any day of the week. Ultimately, the 3DS XL is still the best version of Nintendo's current handheld brand. However, if you're the parent of a child who isn't old enough to use the 3DS' stereoscopic visual effect, a monetarily challenged gamer who wants to enjoy the incredible 3DS library, or someone who'd like a cheaper secondary 3DS-type system, then the 2DS is certainly a worthy investment. If you fall into anything resembling those categories, then I heartily recommend the 2DS. I hope you found my review helpful. Thanks for reading. Toodles


Good Smile The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker Link Nendoroid Action Figure
Good Smile The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker Link Nendoroid Action Figure
Price: $47.71
55 used & new from $42.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome little WW Link figure, November 20, 2014
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The Legend of Zelda is my favorite gaming series ever, and The Wind Waker happens to be my favorite entry in that series. Needless to say, I've been waiting for a figure like this for a long time, and now that Good Smile has made one, I can safely say it was worth the wait. This is a fantastic, expressive little figure. The description says "action figure," but make no mistake, this will not function well as a toy. It is a figure meant to be proudly displayed first and foremost, and it fulfills that duty perfectly.

The figure itself stands at around four inches tall, so it's not very big at all actually. Even though it's a bit on the small side, it's super expressive and full of detail. The "Toon" aesthetic of WW is a perfect fit for Good Smile's "chibi" line of figures. In fact, you can hardly even tell it IS in their chibi line since it nails the look of WW so well. The figure and all its parts are very well formed and the paint job is superb, with no blemishes or smudges anywhere to be seen (on mine anyway).

There are a huge variety of poses you can create with this figure too, thanks to all the accessories that are included. You get the core figure of Link himself, obviously. You also get two different sets of arms, one specifically designed to replicate Link playing the actual Wind Waker, and the other for pretty much everything else. There are also quite a few hands included, with some being open and others designed to hold the accompanying accessories (ie, sword, shield, etc). There are two sets of legs as well, one for normal standing and another set for action poses. Link also comes with four different faces: his default gazing serious face, his screaming attack face, his open mouth happy smile face, and even the face he makes in-game while shimmying side to side against a wall. All are very expressive, well crafted, and easy as pie to take off and put on. The figure also comes with a few accessories for Link to interact with, such as the aforementioned Hero's Sword (including a "swishing" accessory you can place over the blade to give it the illusion of motion for action poses, pretty cool), the Hero's Shield, the arm holding the Wind Waker itself, and even a heart container. To cap it all off, there is a stand in the box that pretty much allows you to pose Link and the accompanying props in any way you want. Awesome.

So really, it's a great figure that pretty much has it all. I really can't think of any problems or flaws in the figure. Mine is pretty much perfect. However, it is worth noting that none of the legs or arms have articulated joints, and they all fit into place via simple plugs, not ball joints or anything like that. So keep that in mind as you set up its pose. It's fairly easy to pop and arm or leg off or separate the waist from the torso at the hip if you're not careful. Doing so will not damage the figure in any way, and this design does make reassembly quite a breeze, but it is worth keeping in mind.

Really, the only nitpick I can think of regarding this figure is that you ONLY get the default sword and shield from the early game of WW. I *really* wish they had included the Master Sword and Mirror Shield as accessories too. That would have been amazing, but alas. This is admittedly a nitpicky gripe, and it certainly isn't enough to detract from the overall quality of the figure or to dock from its score, but I figured I'd say it anyway. What IS here is fantastic, and that's all that matters.

I have to express my gratitude to Good Smile for making this figure and bringing it to the states. I have waited for a nice WW figure of Link to go along with my special edition WWHD Ganondorf figure for a long time and this one does not disappoint. It is wonderfully expressive, very well crafted and painted, has tons of different pose possibilities, and is wholly faithful to the colorful spirit and tone of The Wind Waker. I love it! If you're a Zelda nut like me (or you know someone who is) and you have a soft spot for the Wind Waker, then I give this figure my wholehearted recommendation without hesitation. Buy it, pose it however you'd like, and proudly display your love for gaming's greatest series with this lovely little Toon Link.


Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Price: $49.87
80 used & new from $43.88

107 of 143 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate Halo single-player campaign omnibus (online issues are MUCH better but still need some work), November 11, 2014
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
*Update 12/19/14: Another small update is in order. Many of the multiplayer issues that I experienced for the first couple weeks of the game's launch have been largely ironed out. The truth is, this game is worth the roughly $45-50 it costs right now based on the single-player content alone. Just playing through these campaigns alone will take you about 40 hours to do. To say nothing of the substantial updates that Halo 2 Anniversary has, as well as the smaller visual updates and performance improvements all the other games received. As far as multiplayer goes, the online functionality is much, much better. It's becoming harder and harder to fixate on the failings of the collection now. Of course, many are irrationally going around down-voting any positive reviews simply because they refuse to stop being crybabies, pretending as if the game's problems are still there even after having been fixed. To say this collection is irredeemable and only worth 1-star is nothing short of childish and irrational. Grow up. If you're a fan of Halo's SP like I am, this collection has always been a good choice, and if you love Halo for its Multiplayer like many are, then this is definitely worthy of consideration now. It's only getting better each week too. All that's left to fix are smaller bugs that don't really hamper the experience much anymore.

*Update 12/2/14: This will be a smaller update. After the last few updates/patches, the online MP is working a lot better for me now. Some playlists are better than others, but I haven't had a pretty good time finding matches and staying connected (Maybe I'm just lucky, lol). The BTB and Slayer playlists are the safest bets, it seems. So yes, things are working a bit better than they were before. It's not perfect though. From what I understand 343 has another big patch for later this week. Hopefully that irons out the rest of the problems, but we'll see. Again, single-player/story fans of Halo will be very happy with this package. Even with its issues, it's hard not to get your $60 worth with four fantastic campaigns (with one receiving a full-on Xbox One makeover and the rest receiving nice visual and performance enhancements) and a bunch of neat extras. I've beaten all the main campaigns on heroic difficulty, found all terminals and skulls, and am going through again because it's just so fun. HOWEVER, if you want this purely for MP, it's true that things are better now but I'd still wait a bit for them to make it perfect. Thanks for reading my review. I hope you find it helpful. Take care. Toodles

*Update 11/25/14: Whoo boy! Two weeks, a full-on update patch, and several smaller updates later and we're barely closer to functioning matchmaking online than we were on release day. In fact, it seems that where some issues were fixed, others popped up to replace them. I don't know what to tell you guys. From what I understand, the main cause of the problem is that the matchmaking has to juggle four different games (five if you include Halo 2 anniversary MP), with each one having its own unique engine. I have also read that they've brought in major Microsoft (not just Xbox) engineers in to fix their servers. They evidently tested the game before launch, but not under the kind of load a game this hyped would inevitably bring. For shame 343. To try and make good with players who bought the collection and had to deal with these issues, 343 is planning on giving everyone some sort of compensation. My fingers are crossed for free downloads of the SP campaigns from Halo 3: ODST and/or Halo Reach at 1080p 60 fps), or Halo 5: Guardians at a discounted price and/or with extra content, but who knows? They do say it'll be good enough to make every Halo fan happy, which is a tall order considering the chaos and rage that rules the fanbase these days, lol. As always, I'll update my review as things come to light. While a lot of these explanations about the issues make sense, they're still inexcusable for such a major release for such a major franchise from such a major company. Again, the single-player stuff here absolutely kicks ass and if you love Halo for that, like I do, then this is a great collection. However, it's becoming harder and harder to grant 343 and this collection mercy as these completely inexcusable online issues persist. I know this update isn't much, but for what it's worth, I hope this, the other updates, and the review itself was helpful to you. Take care. Toodles.

*Update 11/18/14: Wow, a week in and STILL the MP problems have not been resolved. To be fair, there have been SOME improvements over the course of the past week, but as it stands, the online matchmaking is still in shambles. I REALLY hate to do this, but I'm going to have to dock another star off my score until these issues are fixed. A whole week of this is simply unacceptable and unprofessional. Thank GOD I bought this for the single-player campaigns, because those have been nothing but stellar. However, if I was like the majority of people who bought this for its MP, I'd be furious as well. If you want this collection for the SP campaigns, story, and local co-op, then this is an awesome collection. If you want this collection for MP, WAIT. From what I understand, 343 is planning a massive patch for later this week that will hopefully fix everything, but until then, I cannot in good conscience give this anything above 3-stars for now. I hope you find my review helpful. I really appreciate you taking the time to read it, even if there are a bunch of crybaby haters downvoting all the top, vaguely positive reviews because of their frustration with the collection, and not based on the quality and merits of the reviews themselves (grow up please, lol). Take care. Toodles

*Update 11/13/14: I hate to do this, but I'm going to have to take off one star from my score due to the egregious multiplayer mess-up so far. I don't know if 343 wasn't ready for launch but didn't want to delay it past Halo 2's anniversary date or what, but they probably should have delayed it anyway. I am astounded at how badly 343 botched the online MP for such a hugely anticipated release. The online matchmaking is virtually non-functioning at this point, casting players into the limitless void of lobby purgatory with no hope of joining a match in anything resembling a reasonable amount of time. I have no doubt once they figure out the server issues, then things'll be great, but as of now, it's very hard for most to find a MP match. It's a damn shame, because everything else about the collection is fantastic. So there you go. Once 343 fixes the matchmaking issues, then I'll edit this review once again to 5-stars without hesitation. IF you want this collection primarily for the multiplayer, then I'd recommending holding off until its problems are fixed. If you're like me and you love Halo most of all for its single-player campaigns, co-op, and story, then this collection is, right now, top-of-the line quality and most definitely a MUST-BUY immediately. I hope that helps. It's been very sad for me to see all the anger and negativity surrounding this game. Everyone should be happy and celebrating Halo together right now, not turning on the game, 343, and each other, but alas, that is the world we live in these days. Thanks for reading my review at any rate. Also, thanks to all the haters giving out kneejerk downvotes to the top/positive reviews based on them enjoying and scoring highly a game you don't like, rather than the actual quality and helpfulness of the reviews themselves (Remember, reviews are, ultimately, subject to a reviewer's personal opinion/experience. Time to grow up ladies and gentlemen). Take care. Toodles.

*Original review*

Once in a blue moon, the gaming industry can bestow a gift that seems almost too good to be true. When I had read about the rumors of this collection before its official announcement, I laughed derisively. I thought there was no way a collection THIS good could possibly see the light of day. AT BEST, I thought MAYBE we'd get Halo 2 Anniversary, and we did. We also get something much more grand along with it. I love the Halo series. It is definitely in my top 3 favorite gaming series of all time, and I've played every entry within it to death. Now, I get to play it all again, and boy is it glorious. Fair warning: I'm going to try and keep this review concise, but I do want to be informative to all those wondering exactly what is in The Master Chief Collection, and whether or not it's worth its asking price (spoiler alert, it is, ten times over). If you don't like long reviews, you may want to skip this one.

*Halo 2 Anniversary*

I don't know about you, but it has always been the single-player campaigns and their great stories that have captivated me about Halo, and Halo 2 is no exception. As a matter of fact, Halo 2 is my favorite game in the series largely because of its SP campaign. It took the great sci-fi adventure format introduced in the first Halo and expanded it to new heights and depths. I always loved the overall melancholic, pensive mood in Halo 2's campaign. New characters, the Arbiter in particular, were really awesome additions to Halo's lore. It also refined and expanded on the gameplay in wonderful ways, and cemented Halo's place as THEE console first-person shooter. To be able to play its campaign with brand new visuals and audio is thrilling beyond compare. I had high expectations for this remake, as Halo 1 Anniversary is my golden standard for what a remake can and should be. Needless to say, Halo 2 Anniversary has not disappointed me. In fact, to my shock and surprise, it has exceeded my expectations.

If you played H1A, you know what to expect here in H2A. The updated visuals were built from the ground up for the X1 and are incredible. They are faithful to the spirit of the original while also updating things to make it feel brand new and to connect it more to games that came after its initial release in 2004. Awesome. The audio is likewise fantastic. The sound effects, including those of all weapons, have been redone and while they sound faithful to the original, they definitely pack a lot more punch than before, which I love. The incredible soundtrack by Marty O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori was also rerecorded by Skywalker Symphony Orchestra and it sounds incredible. Perhaps the most impressive upgrade in H2A is that they hired Blur, the studio who made the stunning CG cutscenes inHalo Wars, to remake EVERY cutscene in Halo 2 in CG. Words cannot describe how breathtaking these are. It is almost literally like watching a live-action Halo movie at times. It's incredible.

Something to note about Halo 2 Anniversary is that it, like everything else in the package, plays at a smooth 60 FPS. While the rest of the package is all in 1080p (1920X1080), H2A alone has a resolution of 1328 X 1080, so not quite true 1080p. This is due to the fact its constantly rendering 2 engines simultaneously. It's still gorgeous though. Like I said, there are two engines running at all times during H2A. One is the actual, unaltered original game engine, which is constantly running so that the game plays EXACTLY as it did when it first came out, and then overlaid on top of that are the new visuals/audio/additions of Anniversary mode. Like in H1A, you can hit a button on the controller and the new engine disappears entirely, leaving you with the original Halo 2 in all its 2004 glory, old visuals, sound, and cinematcs in all. Unlike the 360 version of H1A, however, the switch between classic and anniversary mode is instantaneous. You can even do this during cutscenes, which shows just how advanced the new CG ones are by comparison. Awesome.

Just as in H1A, there are some new additions to the game to refresh things too. In addition to the classic skulls, they added in several new ones that are unlocked by default that change the game in various ways, which keeps things refreshing. There are also terminals hidden in each level ala H1A and Halo 3 that, when found, unlock videos that greatly expand on the lore surrounding Halo 2, with the Arbiter being the biggest focus. Since the Arbiter is one of my favorite Halo characters, I loved learning more about him. You can never have too much Arbiter! The terminals also offer glimpses of where the series is heading in Halo 5. Great stuff. There's also online co-op for the campaign, which is always swell.

Something I LOVE about 343's Halo remakes is how they update and enhance the original game's experience, while also showing great respect to the source material so as not to change/ruin any of it. You can tell they're cognizant of the original's greatness and celebrate it by updating all that has aged. I applaud this. Actually, they did that more here than they did in H1A, which had used some of Reach's art design to change the look of elites. Not here. Elites and their rank are only reflected in their armor color. Personally, I liked what they did with H1A, but oh well. They still did a great job.

*Halo 1 Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4*

While Halo 2's campaign obviously received the most attention in this package, the other games were not left in the lurch. You also get H1A, Halo 3, and the more recent Halo 4, great games all. Each of these play exactly as they did before, but now in 1080p and 60 fps. Each game has seen some other visual upgrades too, mostly in the form of enhanced lighting and shading effects. For some games, this will only make them prettier. H1A still looks great in my opinion. Halo 4 already looked like an Xbox One title to begin with, and these small enhancements only make it look more fantastic. The only game that looks noticeably aged is Halo 3. While it still has the same great art design it always had, and all the visual enhancements certainly make it look nicer, it's definitely the odd-man out compared to the rest. Here's hoping we get a Halo 3/Halo 3: ODST Anniversary collection in 2007 *fingers crossed*. Each entry's co-op mode is included and they all play online. There's not much else to say about these games really. They're awesome games with upgrades ranging from marginal (lighting/shading) to massive (the new framerate). For me, the single-player Halo guy, the inclusion of all of Master Chief's games really elevates what was already an awesome package.

*The Multiplayer*

While I've always loved Halo for its single-player and co-op most all, I do have a long history of enjoying its famous multiplayer as well. I don't usually play games for their MP, instead viewing it as a nice diversion once in a while at best, but Halo is one of the very rare video game series where I've sunk countless hours into the MP component. Within the collection, you will find the entire multiplayer modes from Halo 1-4 mostly intact, especially with regards to custom games, matchmaking less so. The engine from each game is perfectly preserved. Every Halo MP map ever is here, and that includes all expansion packs and even previously PC exclusive maps for Halo 1 and 2. That's over 100 MP maps to play on! The menu system is fairly intuitive and easy to use, so you'll be able to pretty much jump into any general type of Halo MP experience you'd want. The amount of playlists are decent, with most matches giving you several options of maps from across that playlist's games to vote for. Perhaps best of all, each of the MP modes get their own dedicated servers, so you can play the entire MP suite on display here online in matchmaking! For Halo 1 players, this is a first on console! I have to say, the memories of 16-player LAN parties with huge, clunky SD TVs playing Halo 1 and 2, or being in awe at playing against other people online when I first bought Halo 3, have come flooding back. It's pretty awesome. I really cannot praise 343i enough for this part of the package. The ONLY problem, and it is a BIG one, as of now as that the severs are virtually non-functioning. It takes FOREVER to find a match, if you can find one at all. This is unacceptable. I'm sure once these issues are fixed, it'll be great. Now though, this is probably the only blunder in the package.

HOWEVER, I do want to point out that when I say these are the original MP modes, I do really mean original in every way. That means the graphics from each ORIGINAL game is perfectly preserved, including clunky, aged 2001 Halo Combat Evolved graphics. So if you expected them to remake all the MP with this console generation's graphics, you'll be disappointed. Still, for the sheer amount of quantity and quality of fun to be had here, it's hard to complain. I like the nostalgia factor, personally. Like I said, the memories just keep rolling in, and I love it.

In addition to the original Halo MP modes being present, they also included a Halo 2 Anniversary MP mode. This features 6 classic Halo 2 maps, remade from the ground up in a new engine for the Xbox One. They even brought back developers who had worked on the original maps way back in the day to do this. Not only is it incredible to play these classic maps with spectacularly gorgeous visuals, they also freshened up the gameplay as well. Most of these remade maps feature "gimmicks," for lack of a better word, that would have been impossible in 2004. These really mix things up and keep matches very interesting. This mode also features online matchmaking. Personally, I really enjoyed the Halo 2 Anniversary multiplayer mode included. It's pretty awesome.

Oh yeah, and then there's also a little thing called the Halo 5 MP beta included as well. Obviously it's not out yet, and once it is, it will be for a short, limited time, but still, Halo 5 MP Beta guys! Awesome.

*Miscellaneous schtuff*

There are a few things to address that don't really fall under any of the earlier categories, so I'll just stick them here. The collection features some new cutscenes that tease Halo 5, which is neat. Each Halo gets their own entire set of new achievements and 1000 gamerscore to unlock. Some are limited to a specific game, others are tied to the collection as a whole, and others are tied to MP. So, in this collection, you get a grand total of 450 achievements and 4500 gamerscore. Crazy! A lot of them are brand new to the series too. Everything in the game is accessible from one central menu system, so it's not like you have to select which game you want to play and then reboot to get to the others, which is great. They included playlists for the SP campaigns as well, such as one where you play all vehicle-focused SP levels across all games in a row, or play from the beginning of Halo 1 all the way to the ending of Halo 4 in one sitting (and one that adds all skulls active on legendary, wow, lol). When you factor in the ridiculous amount of MP playlists, as well as the expansive Forge options you get in the game, you get a collection that pretty much caters itself to every Halo fan. That's true for the controls as well. You can set a control scheme for each game individually, or one across all games. I appreciate that level of customization.

*Day One Patch*

Finally, I figured I should give you guys fair warning about something. There is a MASSIVE patch you have to download when you first pop in the disc. From what I understand, this was to keep the collection experience seamless, as there's so much content it would have taken two discs to fit it all. So, yeah, day one patch that is roughly 15 friggin' GB big. It is a pain to have to wait while it downloads, but once its on, everything's gold. I'm glad they did it this way as opposed to just printing 2 discs that I'd have to switch between frequently. Delayed gratification is the name of the game here I suppose. Once the patch is downloaded, everything runs smooth.

Whew... this collection is quite a package. I bought my copy at a midnight release party and have played it for several hours now, testing each part of the collection. I've played all of this content for countless hours before in their original format, so I feel I'm more than qualified to judge the quality of this collection. It's really common sense. Now I've peeled myself away to write this review. TMMC is absolutely bursting at the seams, filled with a ludicrous amount of content for something costing $60. Honestly, I'd have paid that much JUST for Halo 2 Anniversary alone. Not only do we get that, we also get the ultimate Halo multiplayer collection, Halo 1 Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4 which all received some pretty nice additions and upgrades, a ton of new achievements, new skulls, hints of Halo 5, the Halo 5 beta, the Halo Nightfall TV series... I mean, it just goes on and on and on. I am absolutely floored by the sheer value on display here. Even Microsoft/Halo-haters have to admit this is an astoundingly good value when you weigh the content versus the cost. Just like Halo 1&2 Anniversaries have set my golden standard for remakes, so The Master Chief Collection has set my standard for gaming collections. Many game collections will come and go through the years, but I doubt any will be able to top this one for a good long while. If you're a Halo fan, buy this IMMEDIATELY, you will not regret it. If you've never played Halo before and want to get into the series, this is the perfect way to do so. This is, in my opinion, an absolutely essential purchase for every Xbox One owner. In fact, I JUST bought my Xbox One the other day specifically for this collection and I have no regrets. It's a superb collection at a splendid price. So buy it, prepare yourself for some incredibly awesome gaming ahead, and enjoy the ultimate omnibus of a legendary sci-fi game series.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have more Halo to play...
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 21, 2014 4:24 AM PST


inFAMOUS: Second Son Standard Edition (PlayStation 4)
inFAMOUS: Second Son Standard Edition (PlayStation 4)
Offered by TreeSS
Price: $32.79
80 used & new from $19.90

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My favorite entry in the Infamous series and a wonderful game in its own right, despite its shortcomings, November 8, 2014
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Have you ever played the latest entry in an established series you loved and found it to be lacking compared to earlier entries objectively, but still found yourself loving it most of all? It's a strange collision when your subjective judgement trumps what you know to be true objectively, but Infamous: Second Son really is the perfect example of this phenomenon. I've always loved inFAMOUS, right from the beginning. I also really love ISS, it's a great game that you can tell was crafted with a lot of enthusiasm and care by Sucker Punch. It's my favorite Infamous game. Even if a few aspects have been done better in past entries in the series, the stuff ISS gets right, it gets REALLY right, in a way that elevates the game overall. Allow me to explain...

The story in ISS takes place seven years after the climactic (good karma) ending of Infamous 2. Evidently, there are still conduits (people with the superpower abilities to control types of matter) in the world, and people in general are fearful of them. Who would blame them after the events of the first two games? This has led to the government setting up a special agency called the "Department of Unified Protection" or DUP for short, whose sole purpose is to round up and essentially imprison any and all discovered conduits. This is led by a conduit named Augustine, who is so good at her job that eventually, the DUP is soon to be absolved because it appears there's no need for them anymore. How convenient, then, that three of the most dangerous conduits would escape during a prison transfer and "wreak havoc" in Seattle, thereby needing the DUP's help. Unfortunately, this escape took place in the home of a Native American tribe called the "Akomish," where a delinquent street artist named Delsin Rowe discovers that not only is he a conduit, but his power is to absorb the powers of any conduit whose hand he touches. His first power is that of "smoke, which he absorbs from one of the escapees. In the ensuing chaos, Augustine maliciously afflicts Delsin's entire tribe with a horrible condition and leaves them to die slowly. Determining the only way to save his people is to use Augustine's power himself, Delsin travels to Seattle in order to build up his strength, take down Augustine, and absorb her powers. He and his police officer brother, Reggie, take off for Seattle together. While there, they'll meet up and ally themselves with the three escaped conduits and add their powers to Delsin's.

Whew, that's a hell of a set-up isn't it? The story in ISS is one of its biggest strengths and its biggest weaknesses. The story itself is a lot less original than the first two Infamous games, ditching a lot of the creative takes those games had on the superhero genre in favor for what is essentially a copy of X-Men. Themes of mutant, err I mean conduit, persecution and prejudice abound, as do themes of questioning the rightness and morality of preemptively locking up people with the potential to do harm even if they're upstanding citizens. Still, for treading on plotlines that have been around for over 50 years, ISS does make its mark on these ideas in ways that make them feel unique and faithful to the spirit of Infamous. The result is pretty refreshing. In fact, the story itself might be stronger because of that. The writing itself in the game is pretty top-notch for all main and supporting characters, and the acting is equally excellent. Sucker Punch recruited top talent like Troy Baker, Travis Willingham, Laura Bailey, and others, and it shows. This is especially evident during incredibly well-made cutscenes with tremendously excellent motion capture. All characters have great chemistry with one another, with Delsin and Reggie's brother relationship being particularly enjoyable to take in. It's all very well done. The ONLY complaints I have about the story is that, much like the rest of the game, there's just not enough of it. You meet important supporting characters and spend the briefest of times with them before they're largely gone from the narrative again. The ally conduits are particularly great characters, but they're hardly in the plot, and they develop far too quickly to believe sometimes (whether you chose to take them down the good or bad paths), for how little time you spend with them. The other complaint I have is that the bad karma story really makes no sense in a lot of places and is quite weak overall. Since X-Men was obviously the main story inspiration here, they could have made the "bad" path more like a renegade "Magneto" path, where you play a sincere, zealous warrior for all your conduit brothers and sisters who suffer under the oppression of a prejudiced, hateful public, but the story really fails to capitalize on that. Many of the events during the evil playthrough are contradictory, and it's just pretty weak overall. The good karma story is great though.

That's enough about story, let's talk about the gameplay. ISS is pretty much a continuation of all the open-world superhero antics we've come to expect from the series. There are all sorts of awesome conduit powers you get to play with, from the third-person shooter-esque ranged powers you get to the unique melee attacks to the movement based abilities that get you around town quickly. What I really like about ISS is that they ditched the more generic elemental powers of past games for really imaginative and surreal ability sets. Your first power is Smoke, which is kind of an all-around medium ranged power-set with lots of offensive potential, but you get to unlock others too. Neon is a gorgeously colorful power-set that focuses more on high-speed finesse, careful aiming, and long-distance precision. Video is the strangest of them all, mixing stealth, summoning high-fantasy video game NPCs to aid you (talk about meta, lol) and then taking advantage of the ensuing chaos, and raw power. Every power-set is exceptionally fun to use, and they're all different enough to keep the game fresh over the roughly 10-12 hours it takes to complete a playthrough. I found myself gravitating toward Neon the most, but all ability-sets really cater to different play styles, which is awesome. You upgrade your powers by destroying drones floating around town and taking the blast shards within, which are used as XP currency. Each power-set has upgrades that are restricted to one karma path, so to see all abilities you can unlock, you'll have to play the game twice. Let me tell you, the karma power unlocks make each playthrough a very different experience.

The playground you're given to use your abilities is also much like past Infamous titles. The story missions themselves are varied and exciting, but there are tons of side-quests to undertake in the city as we. Since Seattle is under lockdown from the DUP, you have to liberate each district of their control by undertaking various tasks. This includes hunting down the roughly 100 drones flying about, using your smart phone to determine the location of hidden cameras and destroy them, hunting down double-agent DUPs by identifying the correct citizen in the crowd, taking out mobile DUP command centers, and my favorite, spray-painting certain spots. These are particularly fun as the Dualshock 4 is utilized in such a way where it feels like you're holding and using an actual spray-can, complete with rattling and spraying sound effects coming from the controller itself. The resulting artwork is quite creative and cool-looking. I found myself greatly enjoying this part of the game. After a DUP's control of a district falls below a certain percent, you can activate a showdown with them, wherein you have to take down increasingly challenging armies of DUP forces. If you win, that district is liberated, and you get a new fast-travel point in the city. It's all incredibly fun and varied. It's also very easy to find and complete all these tasks, as they are constantly and clearly displayed on the map. Unlike past Infamous games, where 100% completion could be a major pain, this game makes it almost painfully easy by comparison. It sort of gives ISS an "Infamous Lite" kind of feeling, but whether or not that's good or bad is up to you. There's a lot more situational stuff that I haven't even mentioned that just comes up as you travel through the city, all of which add to the feeling that you're really in a living, breathing city that reacts to you, whether you choose the light or dark path, which is really cool.

One thing that I have nothing but praise for in this game is its presentation. The graphics in ISS are group-dead gorgeous from a technical perspective, and it absolutely NAILS the spirit of Seattle in its art design. I grew up in eastern Washington, and my family often went to Seattle on vacation, and I still love it there to this day. Maybe it's because of my nostalgia for Seattle, but I really loved my time in the fictional Seattle depicted in this game. They included many famous locations in the game, like the Seattle Science Center, the Space Needle, and the Paramount Theatre. They also included places that, while not explicitly named the same, are obvious allusions to places like the world famous Pike Street Market, including its famous, gross used gum wall (lol). It's all so authentic and it really makes ISS special in my opinion. The graphics are incredibly impressive from a technical standpoint too. The way the streets glisten from all that good ol' PNW rain, or the way the sunset lights up and paints the sky and the cityskape during those rare cloud breaks, or even just running around the city streets during a rainy night, where the puddles, wet streets, and streetlights combine in a beautifully romantic, nostalgic way, is just amazing. I LOVE the visuals in this game. Bravo Sucker Punch! The soundtrack seems to be equally catered to my tastes, with its delightful mix of Post-Rock, grunge, and atmospheric soundscapes. I love it. The sound effects give suitable punch to the powers you wield, and the sounds of the city really depict Seattle as a cool place that is always bustling. As I said earlier, the voice acting is also superb. Overall, the audio/visuals in this game are top-tier, and really help make this my favorite Infamous game.

It's not perfect though. There are a few ways where ISS is lacking compared to earlier entries in the series. For one thing, there's only one major enemy faction you'll be fighting against, the DUP. As cool as it is to fight an official, sanctioned military force in a superhero game, it definitely takes away the character and variety past Infamous games had. There's nothing like the magnet, mech hobo Dust Men, or the creepy, cultish First Sons from Infamous, or the cryogenic futuristic soldiers of the Vermaak 88 from Ifamous 2. Nope, it's just the grey/black/yellow DUP with their concrete abilities, the whole game. It's a shame, if you ask me. It would have been cool to have multiple rebel conduit factions duking it out with you and the DUP, but alas. Instead of other cool factions, you get generic drug dealers, racist protest groups, and annoying, bigoted Russian bully mobsters in track suits with guns (lol). The other complaint I have about ISS is that it feels like there's less content than past Infamous games. Infamous 1 definitely had a ton more content, I2 maybe a bit less so. It took me less than 20 hours to get the platinum trophy for this game. That includes two 100% completionist playthoughs, one as a Hero on Normal, and the other as Evil on Expert. Less than 20 hours. That's a bit of a shame. It's a good thing that what's here is so good. Lastly the difficulty of the game is way too unbalanced, particularly in favor of evil playthoughs. I'm not kidding when I say that it was WAY easier to play through the game on evil/expert, than it was to do a good/normal run. That seems a bit messed up in my opinion. All of this is the reason why this is a 4-star review, and not 5. If I were to be exact, I'd probably give the game somewhere between an 8.5 and 9 out of ten, but Amazon's rating system does not allow such precision, unfortunately.

All things considered, I think we have a winner in ISS. It may be shorter than the other games in the series, with a little less content and not enough time given to the story, but it's a wonderful experience overall and just has that special something that elevates it overall. I have a personal story that I think really encapsulates why ISS is such a great game. I recently had my family visit and stay with us for five days, and during that time, my sister practically made me play through the whole game so she could watch. It was tough, as we only had the evenings/nights to play, but by golly we did it and it was awesome. When I was growing up and throughout my teenage years, I used to play games and my sister (then only a little kid) loved to watch. Now, SHE'S a teenager, and it was really special recreating that nostalgic experience. She LOVED ISS. The funny thing is, my parents also watched me play this game during their visit, for about an hour during some downtime between planned activities. They've always supported me playing games, but I think it has always been more toleration than acceptance. The funny thing is, they loved the game too. Every time we'd approach a famous Seattle landmark, they'd get genuinely excited and marvel at what a good job they did on the game. Before they left for home days later, they thanked me for showing them the game. It made that big of an impression on them, my parents, who don't particularly care for video games. I think that really says a lot about how well-crafted and high-quality ISS is overall. It's an fantastic game, very much worthy of your time if you're an Infamous fan, and really, who isn't? I highly recommend this game to any and all gamers. Buy it, travel to the beautiful city of Seattle, and enjoy using your awesome powers in this delightful virtual playground.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 11, 2014 5:42 PM PST


Hyrule Warriors: Prima Official Game Guide (Prima Official Game Guides)
Hyrule Warriors: Prima Official Game Guide (Prima Official Game Guides)
by Prima Games
Edition: Hardcover
22 used & new from $53.49

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect, but a great, helpful guide overall (with a great art section), October 15, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I really love this guide. Maybe it's because I've wasted money on some truly atrocious limited edition guides lately, that this one seems so great in comparison. This guide for the awesome Hyrule Warriors is genuinely informative with an excellent format, and its production values are superb. Truly, this is a great guide overall, but it's not without its caveats, which I will be sure to address in my review.

The guide is organized into several sections, each one covering a different mode of the game, with a celebratory art section at the end. The guide opens up with an intro to the guide itself that includes a very well-written forward that establishes the tone for the rest of the book in a nice way. The first section is entitled "Hero Training" which basically boils down to bringing anyone unacquainted with Dynasty Warriors up to speed. Given that most people buying Hyrule Warriors are undoubtedly Zelda fans and more than likely have never played a game in the niche DW series, this section is very helpful. It makes the game's core concepts very easy to grasp and simple, without muddling the more complex aspects. Great opening.

Next is the "Walkthrough" section which is broken up into two main subsections. First is the "Legends Mode" walkthrough, which includes a very detailed, well-written breakdown of every story mission in the game. It lasts about 64 pages. The second subsection is for the game's "Adventure Mode," which is a mode where you are given a massive gridlike map where each square is composed of a specific task or mission to complete. This subsection lasts about 84 pages. Each mission in the game, whether in the Legend or Adventure mode, has different collectibles and rewards to find, and some rewards are character-specific AND/OR require certain conditions to be met (ie. what difficulty you play on, which character you play as, as well as other battle conditions you have to meet to even get certain collectibles to show up). This includes heart containers, pieces of heart containers, Gold Skulltulas, HARD MODE Gold Skulltulas, new weapons, new weapon upgrades, etc. All of these things are covered in the walkthrough. It also does a great job giving you hints on how to dispatch bosses and commanding enemies more easily, as well as including many tips and tricks to make playing through the game smoother. The walkthrough of the Adventure Mode of the game is also helpful as it tells you what conditions must be met to get the best ranking in whatever mission you undertake, and therefore unlock the "A Rank" reward of said mission .Overall, it's a very informative, well-written guide that has helped me immensely as I've played the game. I've used it countless times and would not have unlocked the myriad of rewards, collectibles, and upgrades without it.

After the walkthroughs is a section entitled "Warriors" which is a fairly thorough breakdown of the 13 characters playable at the game's release. This lasts roughly 20 pages. While this isn't required reading by any means, it does give you a nice overview of what kind of playstyle each character has, what weapons are unique to them and where to find their weapon upgrades, and a little summary of who they are in the Zelda universe. It's a nice little section. It is followed by an "Extras" section which is very short, about four pages. It's basically mischellaneous info, such as what each potion does, what enemies drop what materials upon defeat, weapon skills, etc. It's not terribly interesting, and unfortunately, not detailed enough to be helpful. It's nice to know which enemies drop which materials, but the guide doesn't tell you what missions those enemies can be found, and trust me, getting materials is crucial to character building in this game.

Lastly, there's an awesome section entitled "Behind the Scenes" that is almost like having a mini-Hyrule Historia that is specific to this game. It lasts about 70 pages, and it's great. It's essentially filled with fantastic concept art on all aspects of the game, ranging from the main characters to enemy designs to stage designs. There's even some commentary from the developers on the design process. For a major Zelda nerd like myself, this was great. I love the art design in Hyrule Warriors. The character designs are particularly great in my opinion, so to see concept art of them as well as some insightful commentary was truly a highlight for me. There are even some designs that did not make it into the game that are truly awesome, such as a Link that is MUCH more Dynasty Warriors influenced than the more traditional depiction that made it into the game, or a design for Link's sister that very much reminded me of the elf from Dragon's Crown. I LOVE when guides feature stuff like this, so this "Behind the Scenes" section is one of my favorite parts of the guide. You can tell a lot of thought went into it. I applaud that.

As far as presentation goes, the guide does a very good job. As I've already said, the guide is informative for the most part, but it's also written very well too. I always appreciate it when a guide writer tries to inject some life into a guide, and this is an stellar example of that. I love how the mood and voice of the guide when you get to play during Ganondorf's story missions differs so much from the hero story missions. Great stuff. The guide is also printed well on high-quality paper, and the format is pleasing to the eye and feels like a Prima Zelda guide should. That is to say, it sort of feels like a Hyrulean tome (except the cover, which is a bummer). Very fun overall.

I mentioned earlier how this is not a perfect guide. It definitely has its quirks and flaws too. As informative as the guide is in most areas, there are some aspects that are glaringly missing. A section detailing each character's badge tree for attack, defense, and support progression feels like a major omission to me. I had to go online to figure out which missions to play to get materials for leveling up certain characters, because this guide simply doesn't cover it in any meaningful way. Not good. Also, some of the A-Rank requirements seem to be off in the Adventure Mode guide. On SOME stages, I found myself missing the requirements listed in the guide (ie. receiving more than 4,000 points of damage, or taking longer than 15-minutes to beat the stage), yet still getting the A-Rank during the results screen. Honestly, playing according to the more difficult standards laid out in the guide guaranteed that I'd get an A-rank, so I'm not too upset about it, but still. It's worth noting. One thing I hate is when guides require a lot of page-flipping, and unfortunately, this guide suffers from that A LOT in its Adventure Mode coverage. This was going to be inevitable because Adventure Mode is arranged in a grid, but it's still a bit bothersome having to flip from C-9's map to D-9's mission and then to F-8's stage, etc. Another nit-pick is that I don't like the cover of the guide. I've always enjoyed Prima's past Zelda guides because their gilded-gold pages and classy covers gave the book an authentic Hyrulean tome feeling. Prima's current policy of just slapping some official art on a hardcover is less appealing to me.

All-in-all, this is very much the quality I've come to expect from a Zelda guide from Prima. That is to say, it's great. It may not be to the legendary status of their very best Zelda books, but it's certainly better than almost any guide I've bought this year. It has told me almost everything I've wanted to know about the game, and has been a constant companion as I've undertaken the insane task of trying to 100% complete Hyrule Warriors. The fact it ends with such a lovely, fun behind the scenes section, and one that shows it to be the developer's love letter to the Zelda series, is the delicious frosting on the cake. It may not be perfect, but it is a great guide overall. I hope this review was helpful to you. Thanks for reading. Toodles.


Hyrule Warriors - Nintendo Wii U
Hyrule Warriors - Nintendo Wii U
Price: $59.84
45 used & new from $49.99

96 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great game for fans of Zelda OR Dynasty Warriors. A dream come true if you're both., September 26, 2014
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
You can fit me squarely in the latter camp and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

When it comes to video games, The Legend of Zelda is my all-time favorite series, and Dynasty Warriors has always been my go-to guilty pleasure series. I love Zelda AND Dynasty Warriors immensely, and to combine the two always seemed like a fantasy that would never see the light of day. Yet, here I am writing a review for the very game I have selfishly dreamed of for years, still a bit shocked and in denial of its existence. Being a massive fan with a tremendous amount of experience with both Zelda and Dynasty Warriors, and having played Hyrule Warriors for several hours now (and many, MANY hours as of October 1st lol), I'm confident in my ability to lend a voice of reason to all those out there curious about whether this game is for you or not. However, this review may be a bit lengthy, so either prepare yourself for that or abandon ship now. You've been warned.

I have to issue another warning before I say anything else: I will not pander to the DW haters out there. DW is a divisive series. You either love it or you don't. If you don't like DW, you more than likely won't like this game, plain and simple. There, I just saved you a bunch of time and money. Now you can go play or look at something you'll actually like and everybody wins...

*Ahem* Are they gone? Good. For those who enjoy/love DW (and there are way more of us than some would have you believe), or are Zelda fans who have never played a Warriors game before but have an open mind, this is a review written for you fine people. Let's get started...

The plot in Hyrule Warriors brings us to a new, original era in the kingdom of Hyrule. A new villain, a witch named Cia, arrives and throws the kingdom into chaos. In the ensuing conflict, portals to different eras in Hyrules history are opened, bringing the worlds of Skyward Sword, Ocarina of Time, and Twilight Princess into the fray. A new hero of legend (guess who THAT might be) must arise and he will be aided by the land's beautiful, wise princess, her attendant/protector/general, and many disparate heroes from across time itself, to right everything. I'm being vague about the story on purpose, because this was one of the most pleasant surprises about the game to me. For what it is, I think the plot is pretty riveting, and shouldn't be spoiled. There are plenty of twists and turns that keep you invested beyond the fun gameplay and Zelda celebration. It's not award-winning stuff by any means, but the story is wish fulfillment at its finest. I have ALWAYS wanted to play a game where Link isn't a lone wolf, but a hero of the people battling alongside Hyrule's army against the forces of Darkness. I've ALWAYS wanted a Zelda game that let you play through the story as... well... ZELDA, and Impa, and Sheik, and Ganondorf, and Midna (my favorite Zelda companion, our Rat Terrier is named in her honor, lol), and this game finally lets me do that. That alone makes it special to me.

The plot is pretty good, but the storytelling itself is a big reason why it's so compelling. Cutscenes combine the cinematic flair Team Ninja/Omega Force are known for, with the subtle style of a traditional Zelda narrative, with a dash of storybook fairy-tale, and it's great. The action and cinematography is dynamic and exciting. Cutscenes are also made warmly nostalgic by the fact that all "speech" is relegated to traditional text boxes and "Zeldaesque" grunts/gibberish. I really like these two styles together. Even my wife loved the story in this game. She wanted to keep playing just to see what would happen next. All of the characters, whether familiar or new ones introduced in this game, are likable and fairly well-written. Any Zelda fan should find a lot to enjoy about the "Legend" mode in this game.

The plot may follow in the spirit of Zelda closely, but the gameplay is mostly a huge departure for the series. This is where the Dynasty/Samurai/Orochi Warriors part comes in. If you're not familiar with DW (I'm assuming most reading this are Zelda fans and therefore are not), the gameplay goes a little like this: You assume the role of a larger-than-life hero among a big list of larger-than-life heroes, practically a demi-god in your powers and battle prowess, who enters massive battles between two (sometimes more) armies. Through the power of various combat combos and special attacks, you'll mow down hundreds, nay, THOUSANDS of peons who dare stand in your way. You'll also have an army on your side as well, and various actions will actually sway the battle in your army's favor. Taking out commanding officers, attacking fortresses, etc, all affect the tide of battle. It's all GREAT fun, and incredibly addictive, as you acquire new items and gear, level your characters up, and become more powerful. There has always been an arcade-like sensibility to the DW formula, and it fits perfectly with the LoZ setting. It just makes sense to have Link fighting in battles of this scope and nature.

This particular game does stand out from the DW pack, however, as it introduces distinctly Zelda concepts and mechanics to the mix. For instance, a "dash" move has replaced the jump button. Z-targeting is included. When fighting commanding officers, there's a much greater emphasis on counter-attacking, at least early on. This makes those battles feel like actual one-on-one duels, very much in the spirit of Zelda. Littering each mission are chests that contain either heart containers or pieces of them for specific characters to collect, as well as Gold Skulltulas that appear after certain conditions are met. There are also many traditional Zelda items and weapons you can equip, such as bombs, bows, the fire rod, the Wind Waker itself(!), etc., that are all used both offensively and in light puzzle-solving. Sometimes these are essential on the battlefield as big Zeldaesque bosses arrive and wreak havoc. When King Dodongo shows up, you know to use bombs to give him a bad case of indigestion. Gohma's eye just BEGS for an arrow. All Zelda fans will know the drill, and things like this go a long way to making this game feel like a love letter to those very people. I applaud this.

There are 13 playable characters in the game, and as of this edit to my review (10/1), I have unlocked all of them AND played quite a bit with each one. Let me assure you, all of them are awesome. Every character has totally different move-sets and weapons that make each feel unique, and they're all incredibly powerful. No one has a boring, no-frills hack-n-slash move-set in this game, no sir. It's amazing how many foes you'll dispatch in a single mission, always in the triple digits at least. I'd say that the combat is even more over-the-top than the already over-the-top DW games are. Most importantly, each character plays exactly as a massive Zelda fan would hope and expect them to, while also feeling refreshing and unique as well. I love Impa with her giant water broadsword/katana, or Zelda's rapier/magic-baton combo, or the always fabulous Lord Ghirihim's fabulousness, and Ganondorf? He's basically Lu Bu, if Lu Bu had the actual power of the goddesses. What a beast. I love this game. lol

As you'd expect from a DW game, there are tons of modes and content beyond just the story campaign. There's an "Adventure Mode," where you have a grid-like map with each space representing unique missions or challenges to undertake. Awesomely, the map is represented in 8-bit graphics as a homage to the very first The Legend of Zelda. As you move across the map, you'll unlock tons of new content. Some of my favorite characters are unlocked this way, as are most of the weapon upgrades, so Adventure Mode is very important. There is also a challenge mode included, which is exactly what you'd expect. Bottom line: There is a TON of content in this game and pretty much all of it is playable in co-op, and that's swell! My wife and I love both love Zelda AND playing DW games together, and this game allows us to do both at once. I always award bonus points to a game that is fun and makes for good wife bonding time. :)

I also have to mention the visual/audio aspects as well. The DW series has never been renowned for its cutting-edge graphics, and it probably won't be here either. I do think it's better looking than most DW games however, as the developers have been free to play with much more imaginative, fantastical motifs and color schemes. The cutscenes are drop-dead gorgeous (they're comparable to Super Smash Bros. Brawl's "Subspace Emissary" cutscenes). This is definitely the most vibrant, colorful Warriors game I've seen yet, and the variety on display is impressive. Ocarina of Time retains its vibrant anime/manga aesthetic, while Twilight Princess has a more gritty high-fantasy look, and Skward Sword still shines with its gorgeous water-color design. Despite these very different styles, the game still maintains strong artistic coherence, which I find remarkable. The character designs are a real treat as well. They're absolutely fantastic, with refreshing, unique takes on classic characters that just look awesome. I absolutely love what they've done with Zelda, Link, Impa, Ruto, and Ganondorf in particular, but they did a superb job on all characters, really. DLC will add more classic outfit/skin options for the three main characters, which is fun. I almost always prefer colorful, stylistic art design over hyper-realistic graphics in my games, so if you ask me, I think HW is quite beautiful overall.

The audio is great too. As I said earlier, I adore the characteristic Zelda "speech" in the game. The soundtrack is the highlight for me. It is awesome, and giggle-inducing, to hear beautiful classic Zelda tunes in that unmistakable DW "butt-rock" style. The usually peaceful Skyloft theme in this game made me giddy, and the Hyrule Field theme from Twilight Princess is goose-bump inducingly awesome. This style of music, much like the rest of the DW elements in the game, may not be for everyone, but with an open mind, you just may love it as much as us grizzled old fans do. Give it a chance. It's awesome.

So that's the majority of the game in a nutshell. You might be wondering if there's anything really wrong with the game. We already discussed how DW isn't for everyone, and that's fine. But what if you love LoZ/DW and want to know, from one fan to another, if there's any problems? Well, there are a couple minor issues. For one, the counter-heavy focus with the armored enemies, especially early on when you're low level, can cut the pace of battles a bit. This goes away as you level up and become more powerful though. The game implements the gamepad a little bit, but not much beyond off-screen play in co-op. Co-op also makes the game a bit choppier with more pop-in, and the resolution seems to take a nose dive if one of you uses the gamepad. It's not terrible mind, but it is worth noting. My biggest complaint about the game is that I wish more Zelda games had been represented beyond OoT, TP, and SS. I would have absolutely loved it if The Wind Waker (my personal favorite Zelda game) or A Link to the Past/Between Worlds had been included more substantially (ie. characters, levels, etc.). However, the fact I'm resorting to such a small complaint (that admittedly reeks of entitlement) should really show you how good the game is overall. Maybe we'll get to battle bokoblin hordes on Outset Island as Toon Link alongside Tetra, Medli, and Valoo in the sequel (fingers crossed).

Lastly, DLC, both free and paid, is planned that will add new costumes, playable characters, levels, weapons, etc. to the game. A free patch will make the game's trio of original villains playable, which I think is pretty cool. Future paid DLC includes a "Majora's Mask" pack. Whether or not that's a positive is up to you. Personally, I think Nintendo does DLC right (see Mario Kart 8 , Fire Emblem: Awakening, etc.) so I'm excited, but it's pretty subjective, so I'll leave this factoid here on its own. Nintendo's stated purpose of supporting this game for the long haul, even in America, is admirable in my opinion. Bravo!

In many ways, Hyrule Warriors feels very similar to the Smash Bros. series. Both are a love letter to the fans and a celebration of gaming heritage. HW is also the only place alongside Smash Bros, as of now anyway, that you can play as beloved Zelda characters other than Link. HW has so many wonderful nods to the Zelda series, it's incredible. DW fans will love it as a standalone Warriors game for its unique content and the sheer amount of it. There are many features I haven't even had a chance to mention (I TRIED to keep this review reasonable in length). You can tell that every moment in this game was crafted with love and care, by massive LoZ fans FOR massive LoZ fans. If you're a gaming savant who already loves DW or are open minded to it, and you love the Legend of Zelda series (and you should. It's the greatest series in all of gaming, :D ), then recommending this game is a no-brainer. Buy it, steel yourself for the battles ahead, and go save a legendary kingdom in one of the most celebratory love letters the Zelda series has ever seen.

*Update 12/24/14*

Hello all. Just thought I'd update this review with some new information regarding the game. Since I originally wrote this review, there have been several additions to Hyrule Warriors in the form of Amiibo implementation and, most importantly, DLC. First of all, scanning a Link Amiibo figure will actually add a new weapon for Link into the game, and they also made it so that you can scan 10 other Amiibo figures a day which gives you a randomized reward. This is pretty cool if you ask me. It gives the already novel Amiibo idea more life to it, and I enjoyed how they did something to incorporate it for this game. The real treat, though, is the game's DLC. OH the DLC! I wish the game's industry as a whole would take notes on how Nintendo implements DLC, because they seem to be the only big company that does DLC right. As of now there have been two major DLC packs released, with another two on the way in the near future, as well as the pre-order costumes that you can now buy in packs at a ridiculously cheap prices. You can buy all four major packs together in a "Season Pass" of sorts for twenty bucks and a free Dark Link costume thrown in for free. Is it worth that much money? You'd better believe it. For instance, the Master Quest pack adds new costumes and 8-bit weapons for every character of the game. Most substantially, it adds in a brand new adventure mode map with 100+ new missions with very master questy remix ideas. This new map alone will add HOURS upon HOURS of playtime to the game, but they also added in a new addition to story mode that gives the game's original bad guys a chance to shine in their own little origin story. Incredible value. The second DLC pack is Twilight Princess themed and it adds even MORE costumes, weapons, upgrades, etc. to the mix as well as another MASSIVE adventure mode map with its own twists and tweaks to the formula. You also get a new character to play in the form of adult non-imp Midna which is awesome enough by herself. It's just great stuff. Each DLC adds a lot to the game, both in terms of unique, engaging content and the sheer amount of it, without feeling at all tacked on or like it was pulled from the game to get more money out of the player. They are substantial additions that enhance the game at a fantastic value, which is what DLC should be. Bravo Nintendo! Great job! I can't wait until January's Majora's Mask pack. I have no doubt it'll give the game even more legs than it's already got (can't wait to see the two characters they add to the game). I also have to salute Nintendo for making the original bad guys FREE DLC to everyone. That's just classy.

All-in-all, Hyrule Warriors is one of my favorite games of the year. I'm still playing it to this day and enjoying it just as much as I did when it first released. There's just so much fun to be had here. Zelda and Dynasty Warriors turned out to be just what I thought it'd be: a match made in heaven. Honestly, it's hard to find an equal or better value in a game aside from this, Smash Bros., and Dragon Age Inquisition. Hyrule Warriors is superb. Well there you have it, hope you enjoyed the review and this little update. Now if ONLY they'd make a Fire Emblem Dynasty Warriors game, then I would want for nothing (HINT HINT Nintendo!).
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 18, 2014 3:46 PM PDT


Destiny Limited Edition Strategy Guide
Destiny Limited Edition Strategy Guide
by Phillip Marcus
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $27.78
50 used & new from $20.67

64 of 69 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A glorified instruction manual that is not worth the money, even for huge fans of Destiny, September 20, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I hate to say it, but this is one of the most disappointing "limited edition" guides that I have ever bought in my life. In many ways, you can tell that Bungie had a hand in this. In the book, it clearly states that Bungie/Activision wouldn't let Brady Games have much access to Destiny itself in advance of release beyond letting them visit Bungie studios for a few days to get tips from the developers. Bungie's characteristically stubborn refusal to reveal ANY substantial info about Destiny before release has hurt the quality of the guide I'm afraid. There are many examples of this. I'll try to be clear in discussing them. I also want to make clear before I say anything else that I am a HUGE fan of Destiny. I've sunk countless hours into it already, as all three classes, and I have to say, I haven't enjoyed a game or been hooked by one like this in a LONG time. So take that fact into consideration as I rip this guide a new one.

You can tell something is off the moment you see the book: it's much too thin for a game as huge in scope and concept as Destiny. Quite simply, there's tons of stuff that SHOULD be in the guide, but is glaringly absent. There's no section that details the many different armor permutations you can attain or their stats, upgrades, or even just images of them. You want to know how in-depth they go about Armor? They have two paragraphs telling you what anyone with half a brain would know anyway. Same with weapons. In many ways, this guide feels like a glorified instruction manual. You want to know what their "armor gallery" section consists of? Each class (Titan, Hunter, Warlock) gets their own two page spread with four pictures of guardians outfitted at level 1, 5, 10, and 20. That's it, and no labeling system to tell you what each armor piece is. There IS a huge armory section with is filled with charts that tell you in abstract mathematical terms what each modification does to any given armor/weapon it may apply to (again, no specifics), but they're absolutely confusing and meaningless to look at. Not helpful at all, or even interesting.

I don't know about you, but I buy guides like this primarily to know where well-hidden collectibles are, and if you bought this guide for that, well I'm afraid you're s*** out of luck. There are many dead ghosts dispersed throughout the worlds of Destiny. You want to know what they put in this guide to help you find them? Three word hints from Bungie. Want to find that ghost in the dig site at Venus? "Rinse. Wash. Repeat." is the only help you get, sorry (I ACCIDENTALLY found this one in a sink in a back-corner, out-of-the-way labratory in a building complex. Hilariously, I was trying to find a different ghost based on one of the other hints in the book). Absolutely worthless. There are also five golden chests in each location in Destiny, and while each one is detailed in this book, the descriptions of where to find them are terrible. Seriously, "find the water falling in front of the cave" in a section filled with waterfalls and caves is not helpful in the least. Most locations don't get pictures either, not that the ones that ARE there are at ALL helpful anyway...

There is quite a bit of space in the guide devoted to the different story missions and strikes, but many of them are bare-bones and you can tell that the writers weren't given enough time to really become acquainted with them. Anyone who has played the game knows that the story-missions are just the tutorial of the game anyway. Most of Destiny's meat-and-bones is in its end-game content, including the Strikes, and this guide barely passes in that regard. The only Strike that gets truly substantial coverage, is the first Strike on Earth, the only one that was available during the beta. Again, it's obvious the writers weren't given enough time with the game. Some of the biggest, most important end-game stuff, like the dreaded "Vault of Glass" literally gets a paragraph advertising how great it will be. The "hardest challenge" Bungie has ever crafted and probably the biggest thing needing a strategy guide gets a PR statement. Gee, thanks for that.

Perhaps worse of all is that Destiny already has BIG DLC expansions planned for the game that will obviously not be covered in any way, shape, or form in this guide. Just like Destiny is incomplete now compared to what it will be in a year, so is this guide, and let's face it, this guide is incomplete anyway.

Seeing how this is supposed to be a special "limited edition" guide, I had some other expectations going in. Most of the LE guides I've bought over the years almost always include nice little bonuses like an art section or some sort of documentary style interviews with the developers... SOMETHING interesting. Again, there's nothing like that here (two high-quality lithographs, as nice as they may be, are not enough. Sorry BG). This is especially disheartening because Destiny is such a gorgeous game, both conceptually and graphically. It would have been great to see more of the art that went into it, but alas.

One thing the guide does WELL is that its format is pleasing to the eye. Much like the interface of the game itself, this guide is presented in a simple, clean style that is pleasant. Bravo on that. The printing quality is nice and so is the cover and dust jacket, although the paper quality is not the best. Many pages in my book are wrinkled and wavy, which annoys me. The writing quality itself is decent for the most part, although there are several typos and some egregious examples of poor writing here and there that makes me wonder if Brady Games has an editor OR if they rushed this thing because of time constraints. My vote is on the latter.

Honestly, I cannot in good conscience recommend this guide to anybody, not even to those who, like myself, consider themselves massive fans of Destiny itself. This guide utterly fails in almost every regard that I buy game guides for. I don't get it. The Halo: Reach LE guide was fantastic, and the Halo 4 Collector's Edition Guide was 100X the quality of this. What went wrong? Personally, I think it may have to do with the nature of Destiny itself, seeing as how no one could play it until the 8th due to its always-online nature. There's also the fact that Bungie was particularly, frustratingly cryptic when it came to revealing ANYTHING substantial about the game before launch, instead slinking back and relying on fancy, eloquent PR speech. It's obvious that hurt this guide as well. Unfortunately friends, I cannot find much in this book to recommend to anybody. I feel like I wasted my money buying it, and I regret. So I'd skip on this one and hope that Destiny 2, whenever that comes out, gets a better treatment. Thanks for reading my review. I hope it was helpful. Toodles
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 22, 2014 1:36 PM PDT


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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome product! (From a guy who has always hated nut milk, until now), September 20, 2014
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I have to admit, I've never liked nut milk all that much. In fact, most of the time I rather despise it, mostly because of the seemingly always grainy texture no matter what sort of filtering method my wife and I have used. It always ended up grainy, which made it a poor substitution for dairy milk, that is, until now. This nut milk bag is superb.

This product is very simple in concept and execution, so this review will be short and sweet, just like the milk it produces. I've used all manners of nut milk filters, cheese cloths, you name it, but THIS particular bag was the best of all by a long shot. Using it to filter almond milk creates drink that is deliciously creamy and VERY smooth. It's fantastic. We've also used it to filter juices and other fresh made liquids to make them smoother and free of particles, and it works just as well for those things as well. It's also very simple and easy to clean, and for a dumb caveman like me, this is pleasing.

So overall, it's a product as simple in concept and execution as its name would suggest, but it's the quality of the results that elevates this nut bag higher than the rest, for me anyway. If you're like me and you don't normally like nut milk because it's too "rough" to enjoy, then I'd heartily recommend this bag. When I got mine, the price was quite cheap, so it's definitely a great value. I hope you enjoyed this review and found it helpful. Thanks for reading. Toodles.


Nintendo 3DS XL Pink/White - Nintendo 3DS XL
Nintendo 3DS XL Pink/White - Nintendo 3DS XL
Offered by Consumer Express L.L.C.
Price: $232.99
67 used & new from $149.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, Nintendo delivers on the 3DS' potential (an in-depth look at the improvements and differences over the original 3DS), August 24, 2014
If one looks at the 3DS with an unbiased, objective point of view, there is a lot to love. It is basically a next-gen successor of Nintendo's vastly successful DS console, with the horse-power of a console somewhere between the Gamecube and the Wii. It utilizes a very cool 3-D effect that, when done right, really adds to the overall immersion of the gaming experiences available on it. Everything about it is an improvement on the original DS. Granted, it also has some caveats and issues as well. The 3DS XL does a very good job delivering the goodness of the original 3DS, while making vast improvements over its smaller brother original. In this review, I will focus on the differences and improvements this model makes on the 3DS line. I'll warn you right now, this is a long review. If you don't like long reviews, then you may want to skip this. :P

Screen Size: With a title that includes "XL," obviously the increase in size is the biggest difference between this and the original 3DS. It may be easy to hear that the screens are 90% bigger than the original, but it really is a stark difference when you take the system out of the package and see it for yourself. The XL's screens are HUGE compared to the original. It's comparable to the jump between the DSi and the DSXL, for those savvy to what that means, but in this case its even bigger because the top screen is in a widescreen format. Despite the size increase, the picture is still crisp and pops with nice detail. I thought that because the screen would be bigger, but with the same resolution as the original, the XL's picture would be distorted and fuzzy, but that's not the case here. I've put the screen detail and quality through rigorous testing since buying the system, playing many different games, and the bigger picture really makes the scenery more detailed than I ever noticed before. It's no exaggeration to say that the games actually feel new due to this greater detail. It's great!

Screen quality: Instead of the top half of the XL having a shiny, glossy finish of the screen and the area around it that the original featured, the 3DSXL features an almost "smoothed over" finish that was meant to lessen glare from the sun or other lights from bothering your eyes. It actually makes quite a difference. The trade-off is that the back-lighting seems just a smidgen less bright, but not much at all. One of the biggest problems I had with the original 3DS was the problem of "ghosting." It was especially frequent in games with areas of high contrast. This was a common issue people had with the original 3DS, but I haven't noticed it much at all yet with the XL. This is a big plus for me, because that ghosting was one of my biggest gripes with the original. I made my peace with it though, because ghosting naturally occurs from time to time with the tech being utilized in the 3DS, but to have it mostly gone here is a real treat. The colors in the XL seem brighter and a bit more vibrant as well. The touch screen is really nicely made, and seems to be a slight improvement on the original, but the difference is negligible. The saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," comes to mind.

DS backwards compatibility: Honestly, this is one of the best things about the 3DXL. If you look up comparison videos of the first 3DS playing original DS games and a DSi playing DS games, the 3DS is surprisingly inferior. The colors are more bland, the resolution is fairly fuzzy, and if you choose to play it in its native resolution to fix that blurry smudginess, the screen becomes so small it's hardly worth doing that. The XL makes drastic improvements in all of these areas. The colors are just as bright and beautiful as playing on a normal DSiXL. Due to the larger screen size, playing in a native resolution still leaves ample room for playtime and is no longer the cramp experience the first 3DS offered. If you choose that route, the screen will be close to a normal DSi. Even if you don't, the picture is still decent at full-size, shockingly. This fantastic backwards compatibility is a real plus in the 3DSXL's favor and should not be understated. Massive improvement here.

Build quality: Much like the new DSi and DSiXL made notable improvements in build quality to their predecessors, so does the XL refine the design of its predecessor. Instead of an outer glossy finish, there is a sleek matte exterior that makes the XL feel more heavy duty and refined. It definitely has a better build quality than the original. My original 3DS' top screen hinge became fairly loose and the lock-in positions a little weak after just one instance where I accidentally jostled it. The hinges on the XL click and lock into one or two set angular positions before locking into the flat position and I know there's no way this thing is going to break easily at all. That's a really nice improvement. The system is surprisingly slick in its form too. It's about the same thickness as the original (which is kind of clunky in comparison, let's be honest), and even weighs less than expected, despite the larger screen and button size, and this size and shape really comes across as a mature, sleek gadget from Nintendo. I felt the same way about their classy DSiXL system too. The buttons are also vastly improved. The home, select, and start buttons are actual separated buttons that have a bit of click to them, which is a vast improvement. The other buttons have more "squish" to them, but still click in a satisfying way. All-in-all, the buttons feel very balanced, if that make sense. They're very similar to the DSiXL's button quality, which is to say, very nice. The 3-D and Volume slider are also different. When all the way off, the 3-D slider clicks into position, and when you want to turn the 3-D effect on, you must click it out of position and then slide it to your desired position. Both the volume and 3-D sliders seem more heavy duty. They stick and stay in position very, very well. A lot of small details add up in this system, to be sure.

Battery life: In my personal experience, the original 3DS had battery life that lasted about 4-5 hours with the 3-D slid up, 5-7 without 3-D, and roughly 6-8 hours with DS games. The 3DS XL is supposed to last 3.5-6.5 hours with 3D, 6-8 without, and 8-10 with DS games. It's not a HUGE improvement, but every bit counts. If you're like me and play a lot of the time with the system plugged into the wall, it won't really matter all that much anyway, but for those who want to play on the go, this is a really nice improvement over the original.

Sound: Supposedly, the sound tech in the 3DSXL is pretty close to the original, but I (and others, I've checked) have noticed some differences. The speakers on the XL seem a bit quieter than the original. Not a ton, mind you, but it's noticeable. The speaker volume level seems to depend on which game you're playing too. 3D Classics: Kirby's Adventure seems just as loud as before, but better now. I tend to play my 3DS with these amazing headphones on, and the difference becomes really noticeable then. The sound from the XL with headphones seems a lot more detailed and ambient than before, and the volume level is fine. The highs, mids, and lows are distinctive with no aspect overpowering or distorting the others. Much like the visuals, I'm hearing things in games I never heard before, and it has enhanced my experience even further. Great stuff here, and a very pleasant surprise!

Memory: The 3DSXL comes with a 4 GB SD card, making for a much bigger space for storage than the 2 GB SD card included with the first models. This is nice. I almost filled my first one up and still had a lot more games to get. Granted, you can buy any sized SD to use with the 3DS after some formatting, but having more space right off the bat is nice.

Any issues?: In many ways, the 3DSXL is what the 3DS should have been from the beginning, and it's a fantastic little handheld. It's not quite perfect though. For one, where's the second analog slider? There's ample room under the right-hand face buttons for it, but alas, no slider. It's not a problem that bothers me much, but I must note it because there are many who will view it as an issue. Imagining the boat-peripheral they're making for this system makes me giggle a bit. It conjures up visions of Nintendo releasing a laptop-sized 3DS with trigger buttons, lol. I understand they kept it out due to tech/power/space optimization, which makes sense. Personally, I never cared much for a second slider, and not having one has pushed developers to come up with some really creative things in the past on the DS and 3DS alike. I also find the design of the XL to be, like the original, cramped and painful to hold after a while, especially in high-action games. It's definitely better, don't get me wrong, but the cramping is still there a bit. I highly recommend this comfort grip, as it pretty much eliminates any discomfort from playing (too bad it doesn't come in white or pink :/). :D Perhaps the most annoying thing about this handheld is the d-pad. It works just as well as the one before, but now it's extremely "clicky." I don't mean the button clicks when you use it; that has always been the case with the 3DS. What I mean is, now the d-pad seems to be looser in its area, and so makes this "clickety" sound against the bracket if you lift your thumb off of it even if only for a split-second. It can be really annoying. One more personal gripe: the color choices. Really Nintendo? Bright blue, red, and pink? The DSiXL had really mature, fetching color options that made the system feel like an adult's gadget. These slick red and blue colors are a lot less subtle and elegant. Don't get me wrong, I own a teal 3DS (not exactly the most "mature" color choice) and love it, but I wish there had been a more subdued teal, gold, or forest/jade green finish to choose from. This Pink/White XL stands out from the others due to its white highlight instead of black like the others. Objectively speaking, it is very pretty (as a married man, I confidently say that and feel no shame or embarrassment). My wife has a 3DSXL with this color scheme and it is surprisingly eye-catching and clean looking, but like the other color options, it is hardly what I'd call "mature." Ah, who cares though, right? It's still a fantastic handheld

I realize this review is very long, but when considering tech purchases that are this pricey, these kind of reviews always helped me make informed decisions better. I have both the original and now the XL, and I must say the 3DSXL feels like the "true" 3DS. The system should have been like this from the start, honestly, and when it was originally announced, I, along with many others, hoped for an XL edition. Now we get it and it has been well worth the wait. For those who don't own a 3DS yet, this is the perfect time to get it. This system finally delivers on the promise of the original 3DS, and now there's an absolutely incredible library of titles for newcomers to joyously embrace, and that library grows more amazing with every month it seems. The 3DSXL is easily my favorite and most played gaming device in a long time. At a mere 30$ more than the original for practically double the space and a big jump in hardware quality, it's more than worth it. This is a great value. I'm glad I got the original a year ago, but I am absolutely thrilled to get this version, and heartily recommend it to all gamers with a heart container for Nintendo. It's not a choice you'll regret. I hope you enjoyed this review and found it helpful. Have a good day. Toodles.


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Argan Oil Hair Treatment - Leave in Conditioner - Infused With Organic Argan Oil, Jojoba Oil, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Shea Butter, Grapeseed Oil And Vitamin B5 For Hair - Best Hair Care Conditioning Treatment | Perfect for Frizzy, Dry and Damaged Hair - Guaranteed Results
Offered by Instanatural LLC
Price: $69.95

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My hair has never looked or felt this nice. Seriously., August 11, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
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After using this elixir for the past two months, my hair has become noticeably stronger, shinier, thicker, softer, and just plain better in pretty much every way. I'm actually shocked at how well this stuff has worked for me, and how fast too. I noticed a difference within a few days, and two months later the difference is pretty remarkable. Even my wife has made comments about how noticeable the improvements are. My hair was always very healthy growing up, but it's never been to the level it is now. This serum conditions my hair so well that I no longer have frizzy and rough hair after showering. Instead, it's silky and smooth. I absolutely love this stuff.

One of my favorite things about this elixir is the quality and simplicity of its ingredients. Unlike most mainstream hair care products, there isn't a single ingredient that I can't pronounce or don't know about already. My wife is super knowledgeable about these sorts of things, and often makes DIY hair/teeth/facial care products herself. My wife knows a great deal about pretty much every oil in this serum, and she immediately gave it the highest praise and recommendation upon seeing the ingredients alone. I think that's very important. Everything in this is naturally proven to nourish hair, and much of it is organic to boot. No wonder it works so well.

There are a ton of different ways you can use this serum too. I typically put two full compression's worth and run it through my hair thoroughly, go to bed, and then wash it out in a morning shower. I find that overnight saturation is when I get maximum results, but massaging it into your hair for any amount of time before a shower, be it ten minutes or a couple hours, always gives benefits. Using a drop or two is great for styling your hair also. So you can add variety of uses to the list of benefits too.

I think it's worth noting that I was sent this serum for free in exchange for an honest review, but once my bottle runs out, I'll definitely be buying another. When that bottle runs out, another again. I really can't praise this serum enough. I am just amazed at how much my hair has improved in a relatively short period of time while using it. If you're looking for a natural, high-quality conditioner for making your hair healthier and more beautiful, this elixir is the way to go. I give it my highest recommendation. Thanks for reading my review. I hope it was helpful. Toodles.


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