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Goosifer "On your lawn, leaving goose bombs." RSS Feed (On your lawn, leaving goose bombs.)

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Dragon's Dogma - Xbox 360
Dragon's Dogma - Xbox 360
Price: $13.43
93 used & new from $4.45

170 of 184 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Destined to become the next great cult classic, May 23, 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Dragon's Dogma is an interesting hybrid. With Japan's game industry languishing in the wake of newly risen Western RPGs like Skyrim and Mass Effect, developers of the Far East have been scrambling for a way to catch up. Dragon's Dogma may not be the first attempt of East-Meets-West the industry has seen, but it's certainly one of the best.

After a non-sequitur tutorial beginning which sees you filling the role of a presumably ancient warrior, you're eventually given the reins to craft a hero of your own. Here is the first step of the game's quiet brilliance, providing a staggering buffet of customization options. Not only can you set such minutiae as the angle of your hero's brow, or even choose two differently colored eyes, but you can set the big things as well: gender, height, girth, muscle, even the length of your character's limbs. Each of these things has subtle effects on gameplay. Add a few inches to your stature, and you can carry more items without being burdened, but your stamina replenishes slower.

Once you've crafted your avatar, that's when things start to get interesting. A dragon strikes your village and literally steals your heart, setting up the crux of the game's plot: The serpent, by robbing your pulsing organ in a splash of blood, has marked you as its rival, an Arisen, destined to challenge it in a far-off battle. But between you and that far-off fight stands an enormous, living world to explore.

The demo Capcom released for this game prior to launch does not do the world justice. It is a coy place, filled to the brim with shining hidden things that, in similar vein to Capcom's own Monster Hunter series, can be combined into ever-better items, or sold at shops for a premium. The quick and functional inventory menu helps turn this system into a true avenue for experimentation: Every item's properties are explained in full detail, giving you clues as to what materials might be compatible, and when a match shows up in your inventory, or the inventory of your party members, you can easily and faultlessly combine at will.

And what a party you will amass. Unlike games like Skyrim or Dragon Age that have a set pool of companions who will walk at your side, in Dragon's Dogma the legion is limitless. For in this game we have an exultant twist in the form of Pawns, who are the sidekick creations of other live players.

An hour or so into the game, you'll have the chance to craft your own Pawn--using the same breathlessly deep customization as for your own hero--who will stay loyal by your side throughout your entire adventure. As you explore the nooks and crannies of Gransys, the game's world, and tackle all manner of enemies and quests, your Pawn will learn alongside you. Later, when you rest at an inn or travel into the smoky realm of the Rift, your Pawn will be uploaded to the world amidst thousands of other players' companions. And that's where Dragon's Dogma shines.

Gransys is not a world easily tamed. When night falls, the fauna grow vicious, and the only way to prevail over the mightier enemies such as Griffons, Chimaeras, and Cyclops is to have extra hands at your side. You and your Pawn will make an unshakable pair, but the other two spots in your party are open for hire, and that's where other players' Pawns come in. Step into the misty veil of the Rift, and other players' Pawns will approach you. Through a slick menu system, you can immediately see what skills and knowledge they have at their disposal. Bring along a Pawn that's already completed a quest you're about to begin, and he or she will dispense tips about treasure and enemies. The game even offers a search option to narrow down exactly the kind of help you're looking for.

Other players' Pawns don't level alongside you, however, so there's the rub: You'll want to constantly switch out your party to make sure you're in prime shape for the challenges ahead. It's a wise move on Capcom's part, encouraging you to make the most of the Pawn system and see what concoctions fellow players have made. For those of you without Internet access, don't fear: the game comes pre-populated with a bevy of developer-made Pawns as well. Also a boon: none of the online features require Xbox Live Gold. You can get by with the free version and still make full use of other players' Pawns.

In all, Dragon's Dogma stands as a testament to the strength of hybrid sensibilities. The combat is meaty, fierce, and distinctly Japanese: as you level, you can learn ever-more-vicious moves, assign them at will, and devise bloody combos to take down your foes. Larger enemies can be clambered upon, encouraging you to go for the weak spot and hold on for dear life when you're bucked about, while smaller enemies can be grabbed by you or your party members for satisfying finishers. In fact, the grabbing mechanic adds another layer to battles: throw rocks, explosives, or jars of oil at enemies to afflict them with all manner of debilitations. The sheer tactical possibilities only emerge once you start peeling away at all your moves, items, and party combinations, and it can have you number-crunching for hours.

And yet this fast, visceral, and stylish core is wrapped in a world that wouldn't be out of place in an Elder Scrolls game. It's a perfect marriage of two distinct and complementary styles: the obsessive depth and detail of JRPGs combined with the epic sprawl of the West. Much has been said of how Japanese development needs to step up to the plate, and step up they did. And yet, perhaps it's less of how much Japan can learn from the West, and more of how both sides can learn from each other.

If you are any sort of fan of either genre, you owe it to yourself to pick up Dragon's Dogma.

-----Quick Points-----

* The game runs terrifically well on Xbox 360, even without an install. Load times when moving between the overworld and towns seem even faster than in Skyrim, and I was pleased to find that there are no loads when entering and exiting buildings in town.

* While the game doesn't offer true multiplayer, it does have online features. These can be accessed even without Xbox Live Gold, and if you don't have Internet access, you can still use developer-made Pawns. There is no online pass.

* If you played the demo, you can seamlessly and easily import your created characters into the full version of the game. I'm glad to report that this worked flawlessly.

* While fast-traveling isn't as free and easy as in games like Skyrim, you have an extremely fast sprint that can be used to cover a lot of ground. Your sprint is limited by your Stamina and carrying weight.

* You can combine items from any of your party members without requiring those items to be in your own inventory.

* When upgrading equipment, you can use your stored items without first needing to place them in your inventory. This is a big time-saver.

* Money is rather easy to come by, so it's worth experimenting with new equipment and items.

* Your pawns are fairly autonomous. They'll often find items on their own that you can then take from them. They are also fairly smart in battle. However, you can also issue simple commands with the D-pad to influence their behavior.

* Pawns don't die immediately; they get knocked unconscious, at which point you can run over to them and press a button to revive them. This doesn't use items and is instant. Pawns can be revived as many times as needed. If they're unconscious for too long, however, they'll become "forfeit" and return to the Rift. If you die, it's game over. Pawns don't revive you from death, but they will heal you.

* After you return a Pawn to its owner, you can review the Pawn and leave a pre-selected comment for its owner. You can also send along a gift item when releasing another player's Pawn from your party.

* The world is absolutely filled with goodies. Search for shiny stumps, barrels, plants, and treasure chests everywhere.

* Items can weigh you down. You can place items in storage at inns, or you can distribute your inventory across the rest of your party.

* You can pick up and throw a variety of things--even your Pawns and enemies. Thrown jars can damage enemies with debilitations, or you can find hidden items in broken-apart containers.

* While there's no dedicated lock-on system to target enemies, it seems like there's a sort of invisible smart targeting system anyway. I found my hero "sticking" slightly towards the closest enemy I was facing.

* Striders have unlimited arrows! You can also purchase special arrows tipped with all manner of poisons that are limited.

* Your starting class and your Pawn's starting class aren't locked in stone. You can switch classes later in the game, multiple times.

* You can save anywhere.

* When the game gets dark at night, it really gets dark. There's a real sense of danger here, and it's vital to keep a lantern or torch on your person. Alternately, you can set enemies on fire and try to walk by the light of their flames as well.
Comment Comments (21) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 17, 2013 12:04 PM PST

Accoutrements Squirrel Coffee Cup
Accoutrements Squirrel Coffee Cup
Offered by Knockout Novelties, Inc.
Price: $5.18
16 used & new from $2.39

34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A comfortable chalice for the special sciurid in your life!, May 9, 2012
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
If you're anything like me, then you know there are untold joys in sharing a warm afternoon "cuppa" with some old friends. Once you find a spot of outdoor shade, pull up the well-worn patio chairs, and let the Earl Grey steep to its full-bodied flavor, then you know you've got something special brewing. In fact, I believe I've walked away with some the best gardening advice of my life from the cozy little klatches I've had in my own backyard amongst the Hollyhock, Rhododendron, and Red Columbine!

But there's a little secret to these gatherings--a secret all good hostesses know:

It's all in the mug.

Indeed, if your guests don't have their very own ceramic bundle of warmth to soothe them through your social gathering, then they might as well not even be there at all. There is nothing so reinforcing as a cup of strong tea when discussing the particulars of pruning a Miss Ruby Butterfly Bush, and there is nothing that will make your visitors leave faster than when they realize they've been scorned with a sheer lack of cup consideration.

And if anything, gentle readers, I've had to learn this fact the hard way.

Out of all my friends, a few could be considered a bit more "bright-eyed and bush-tailed" than the others, and unfortunately they were always the first to leave my garden gatherings. It took untold awkward weekends for me to figure out just what the problem was, but like with all things in life, it came down to that revelatory "Eureka!" moment while browsing Amazon.

I could not be more thankful to Archie McPhee products for their Squirrel Coffee Cup. As soon as I chanced across the product description, I knew immediately that this was the solution to my recent social snafus. Imagine my sheer delight when the Archie McPhee products Squirrel Coffee Cup arrived at my doorstep, and I learned that not only was it the perfect size for my furry friends, but it was also officially Squirrel Approved! Gentle readers, look no further--this is truly the "holy grail" of all squirrel coffee mugs!

The intricately crafted, 3.2cm x 3.2cm exterior strikes a perfect balance between form and function. My friends have told me that the porcelain finish feels like fine bone china nestled within their dainty grip, while the sturdy traditional mug handle ensures that they're in full control of their beverage at all times. What more could you ask from such a perfectly honed chalice?

So, gentle readers, don't delay! If you, too, have a few special sciurids in your circle of friends, it's in your best interest to provide them with only the finest in squirrel drinkware. Trust me--they'll go nuts!
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 21, 2015 1:18 PM PDT

American Classic Squirrel, Small
American Classic Squirrel, Small
Offered by VirVentures
Price: $8.99
21 used & new from $2.90

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sophisticated centerpiece of any decorative arrangement, May 4, 2012
I consider myself to be a connoisseur of sorts when it comes to premium quality squirrel products. The key things to look for in a premium squirrel product include texture and fur quality, stitching symmtery, and active posture. More than anything else, these are the elements that will make your premium squirrel product shine as the centerpiece of any decorative arrangement.

For example, just last year, I tried to use the Knight Pet 18-Inch Flat-A-Mals Squirrel as the anchor point of the casual tableau above my fireplace, but something didn't feel quite right. Although the fur and color quality of that product were exquisite, the flat posture of the squirrel evoked a sort of existential helplessness that seemed to drag down the entire atmosphere of the room. I quickly went and replaced that product with the American Classic Squirrel, Small, by American Classic, and the transformation was astounding.

Dinner guests constantly compliment me on my new American Classic Squirrel, Small, by American Classic, which sits majestically on my mantle. I've cleverly placed it between a pair of French porcelain Sevres vases filled with alstroemeria, lilies, and salal--just a few of the European floral classics--and this squirrel blends in so beautifully it's as if the old masters crafted it themselves. During casual parties and family gatherings, the American Classic Squirrel, Small, by American Classic becomes a popular topic of conversation, and there's always a palpable buzz when people gather to study its craftsmanship. In fact, I'd say that more than a few of my friends have grown jealous of the household sophistication brought forth by the American Classic Squirrel, Small, by American Classic!

If you want to add a touch of high-class style to your living quarters, look no further than American Classic Squirrel, Small, by American Classic. American Classic has crafted a truly superb premium squirrel product, and I assure you that you will feel a little touch of affluence anytime you chance past this decorative masterpiece!
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 11, 2015 4:30 PM PDT

Renaissance Rapier Fencing Sword w/ Swept Hilt Guard
Renaissance Rapier Fencing Sword w/ Swept Hilt Guard
Price: $65.95
4 used & new from $59.95

19 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sharp accessory for any occasion, May 4, 2012
As the ladies out there know, there are times in a woman's life when it seems like there's nothing good to wear--your dresses look frumpy, your purses have lost their shine, and that scarf that you once thought was fabulous now looks like a wet sock hanging around your neck. I, too, have felt those Friday-night blues, and fell into the easy habit of simply staying home instead of spending another evening agonizing over a closet that no longer thrills my fashion sense.

But enter the Renaissance Rapier Fencing Sword. I'm not usually an impulsive woman, but I felt my inner fashionista trembling as soon as I spied this sharp-looking accoutrement in the Activewear department. As soon as I fastened it around my waist, I knew this was just the thing I needed to add that missing edge to my wardrobe.

Upon first glance, you might not notice the swept hilt guard that's unique to this particular Renaissance Rapier Fencing Sword. The double cocenctric ring guard is a subtle couture element that makes this accessory immediately stand out compared to its peers. For example, when I wore this Renaissance Rapier Fencing Sword on a "dry run" to the coffee shop, a fashionable middle-aged woman in line remarked how much she loved the swept hilt guard, and how it was so much better than the cheap plastic knock-off Spartan Warrior Sword she sees all the young girls wearing nowadays. This isn't a flea-market accessory, ladies.

The moment of truth came the following Friday, when I wore my Renaissance Rapier Fencing Sword to the clubs for the first time. And wow! What a reaction! It was a hit with all my girlfriends, and now they're all going to go out and buy a Renaissance Rapier Fencing Sword for themselves! This really is emerging as the cutting edge of fashion these days--word is that even celebrities are catching on!

So don't hesitate, girls--this Renaissance Rapier Fencing Sword is a sharp accessory for any occasion. It works well alongside sleek evening dresses and fun summer outfits, and you can even wear it while doing a quick grocery run for some added sophistication. My wardrobe wouldn't have been complete without this Renaissance Rapier Fencing Sword. In fact, I love it so much that I might even buy two!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 21, 2013 9:57 PM PDT

Beard Amish
Beard Amish

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most high-quality beard I've ever purchased!, May 4, 2012
This review is from: Beard Amish (Toy)
As part of the minority half of the human population that doesn't grow a beard, I know there are times in life when this accessory is a must. Unfortunately, the beards I've previously purchased have been of low quality, and are either too short, gray, mangy, or dull to give me that much-needed beard authenticity.

Thankfully, I discovered the Beard Amish by Morris Costumes! Imagine my relief when I realized that now I, too, can wear a shiny, high-quality, coveted beard of my own!

This beard has been one of the best purchases of my life. Sometimes, when I'm feeling less than confident, I simply don my Beard Amish and become a transformed individual! People take me more seriously, they listen to my opinions, and they follow my lead. I've even convinced complete strangers to work together to help me build community barns!

When I make returns at the store, associates no longer question me when I've forgotten my receipt; when they see my Beard Amish, they know I mean business. When I order pizza, I always wear my Beard Amish to give that phone call a little extra importance--and it always pays off when I get extra toppings, free of charge.

Something else happens when you put on the Morris Costumes Beard Amish--you convince people to become better individuals. I stepped into a bar one day after getting my Beard Amish, just to see if I could get a few extra drinks with my newfound beard authority. Instead, I was seized with a new desire to renounce alcohol. Not only that, but the mere presence of me and my beard was enough to convince the entire establishment to go teetotal! That bar has since turned into a Youth Center, and the community is still thanking me for that powerful conversion. But I'm thanking the Beard Amish--without it, I'm not sure where I'd be in life!

Ladies, don't hesitate! This Beard Amish by Morris Costumes will open you to a world of confidence you never knew existed! With its glossy gravitas and rich volume of hair, it provides that understated classiness that will allow you to move through life like the goddess you are.

Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect 3
Price: $6.99

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic, emotive soundtrack, May 4, 2012
This review is from: Mass Effect 3 (MP3 Music)
As the capstone to one of the greatest trilogies of the videogame world, it's only fitting that Mass Effect 3 would have one of the most intense, moving soundtracks recently orchestrated. From the emotive, piano-and-crash juxtaposition of "Leaving Earth," to the pounding fight themes of "Mars" and "The Cerberus Plot," this is a musical journey that will leave you breathless.

Compared to the free version of the soundtrack that released alongside the Collector's Edition of Mass Effect 3, this version is missing two songs: "Betrayal" and "Creation," which is a shame, because those two tracks are wonderful.

As it stands, however, this package is a solid purchase nonetheless, and offers a good amount of music for the price. If you enjoyed the game, then this companion soundtrack captures almost every major track used throughout. And fans of instrumental music in general will most likely find something to love in this well-rounded, atmospheric collection.

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