August 31, 2009

My Favorite Mac Apps

Though Windows has its share of killer apps, the Mac has some of that too. True, the selection is a bit more limited, but like the PS3, the selection is also a bit more refined, unique and, for the most part, ten times better than its Windows counterpart.

I will (try) not (to) include any apps that you can find on both platforms, but if the difference between the versions are compelling enough, I might have to consider. Additionally, I will not include any Apple software as it will only lengthen the list unnecessarily.

This is not a top 10 list, this is more of a list of apps I simply use everyday without fail.

This app that I'm using to type this post right now? This is Blogo.

With a distinct interface, auto-notifications on Twitter (every new published post creates a new tweet that announces its existence) and wide support for several blogging services (not to mention a full-screen editor!), this blog editor lets you concentrate more on what you're trying to say, rather than worrying if the browser will destroy the obra maestra you've been working for 2 hours.

The app does have its share of irritations, as my Twitter account can attest: it can run slow, it can randomly close down, and picture management can be a bitch. For the most part, however, it does work fine.

The price tag is hefty, though... Seriously, 25 bucks?

While people swear by Twitterrific, Tweetdeck, or whatever they get their hands on, I personally think Tweetie is the best of the bunch (but on the level of the iPhone, I think Twitterfon is the best).

One day I was looking for a great Mac app that would supplement my Twitter addiction, and it just so happened that this app just oversaw release. I loved the iPhone-esque simplicity of it, I immediately downloaded it and I never looked back.

It works damn near flawlessly, it is extremely fast and snappy, and accessing features like "conversation view" is a snap. It also does well when you have several accounts, and you can even import picture and video from within the app! Very, very good.

You can get it for free (with ads) or for 20 dollars without ads. I say, save the 20 bucks and just get it free. The ads, quite frankly, are actually very well-placed. They're not intrusive at all, and they're far and few between. Hell, they're even a great way to discover great Mac software.

This app is not the prettiest thing out there, but it sure is useful for people who want to sync a non-iPod device with iTunes.

Since Apple is stubbornly not supporting third-party devices (at least officially) on iTunes, the only option people who prefer Walkmans, Zens, or whatnot can only access their players as if they were a USB drive. But if that doesn't work out, it means that your device is a so-called "PlaysForSure" device which only works on Windows Media Player. Since we're on the subject of Mac apps, this is the solution to the problem.

This app reads whether you have a PlaysForSure device connected, and then the device will act as if it was connected to Windows Media Player. It could even charge and everything!

Basically, XNJB accesses only the iTunes library (which I'm sure you're using), so you can just move your non-DRM iTunes music into your Creative Zens, Walkmans, or whatever else you're using.

Just make sure the music files aren't in AAC format. Oh, and Zune isn't supported because Microsoft went all proprietary on it. The explanation behind the Zune not working is a bit technical though, so I won't delve into that. Hell, do you even own a Zune?

Not everyone uses RSS, but it's there if you want to. A more motivational way to use them lies in the Times app.

The app looks a bit like a newspaper, and the headlines from the RSS feeds you put there will remind you of, well, a newspaper minus the ads.

It's extremely customizable, and you can even use a "shelf" to keep your favorite news stories.

When you open a headline, it will elegantly unfold to show the whole article (if possible), and if you feel like sharing it, you can send it to Twitter, or e-mail it.

If you like keeping track of the world in an unconventional way, Times is the RSS app for you. It must be worth noting that it costs THIRTY dollars though.

Speed Download
A lot of download apps promise download acceleration, but the promise Yazsoft provides with Speed Download is actually true. When you compare two downloads from a browser and from Speed Download, Speed Download is, I'm not kidding, indisputably much faster. Rarely does an app of this kind appear, and I'm glad I found it.

Jam-packed with tons and tons of features in a relatively small package of 18MB, Speed Download is actually well-worth the 25 dollar price tag especially if you're able to utilize its overflowing feature set.

But the best thing about this app is that it's reliable, and I have yet to experience and sudden crashes or exits. The developers are quick to address compatibility issues (so expect constant updates), and perhaps this is what keeps the app so stable and fast, not to mention powerful. It is simply indispensable.

Things is my go-to app for my task list. The logic of the app is a bit hard to understand at first, but watching Cultured Code's screencast certainly helps.

It's nearly the same app as the one first introduced on the iPhone, but it packs more features and conveniently enough, syncs with the app. It has a simple interface that's easy to use and you can set your own hotkey in case you feel like adding a task you want to do later.

Another good thing about this app, however, is the really tight integration it has with iCal so it not only syncs with the iPhone app, it will also sync to your iPhone's calendar. If you don't have an iPhone, but you use iSync to sync data, Things also lets you sync through there, through the Calendar. Hell, the integration is so tight, I didn't even notice that my W995 got the tasks I made until an alarm came off. Very neat.

It has won several design awards, which is probably why it's pretty damn expensive though. Come on, 50 dollars is a bit eye-gouging.

The Unarchiver
What 7-Zip is to Windows, is what Unarchiver is to the Mac. It's probably the archive extractor with the most file support, and the best part is that it's free.

It melds in with the operating system, so you never notice it until you actually extract something. It's near flawless, and it's very capable. Truly, just download it now and spare yourself from having to contend with several other apps for opening those archives.

Probably the easiest way to make free iPhone ringtones, Ringer is an app that was most likely made under the influence of the simplicity of iPhone apps. It's lightweight, it's easy to use, and it works.

You can simply drag-and-drop any music or movie file onto the huge black part and an editor will appear. If you want to use your iTunes library, it's already on the left side of the app.

It's insanely simple, as you can see. True, you can use GarageBand since it's already included with the purchase of a Mac, but do you really want to have to contend with a more complex way to make ringtones... when you can use the simpler way?

You can download it for free, but it will have a watermark. No watermark = $15. If it's worth it is up to you.

Delicious Library 2
I've covered this app in a standalone post a few months ago, and it's very good for inventory purposes.

The genius of the app comes with the awesome fact that it can accurately identify a DVD, book, video game, audio CD, software, gadgets and even clothing by scanning its barcode through the built-in iSight camera. Granted, it doesn't always work, and that's because the program works through Amazon's database of stuff.

Didn't I mention it was beautiful as well?

While the complementary iPhone app has disappeared because Amazon is a douchebag, at least Delicious Library still supports syncing for those who actually got the app (like me).

Yahoo! Messenger
It's disappointing that Apple only has relatively limited support in the built-in iChat as it supports several other services that are obscure in the Philippines. It looks amazing for video chats. While you can force iChat to support Yahoo! and MSN IM, Yahoo! has its own chat program anyway, and it's a radical departure from the Windows version.

It loads faster, it has most of the features of the Windows version, and it has tabbed chat windows. Read that last part 3 times.

Sad part is that it doesn't offer the more "Fun" features like IMVironments or Audibles or easy Photo sharing, but I rarely use them anyway. Still, I miss Doodle. Another fail is that it doesn't offer the option to change nicknames. I've never gotten to change all those 2 year old immature nicknames because I'm too lazy to open my Windows PC.

True, you can use other IM programs for Windows to achieve tabbed windows, and then some, but it's actually quite rare that the Mac version is much better usability-wise. Scores even more points for bringing Growl-like alerts even without Growl.

Growl is a lightweight app that after downloading, lies in the System Preferences.

What it does is provide subtle updates from apps that support it, whether it be a new tweet, or a status change from a buddy. It's useful, and there are a lot of apps that support it.

I love how non-obtrusive it is. True, it's basic, which is why it's free. Any more excuses?

The icon may not be attractive, but the actual program sure is pretty damn good.

This insanely good program reliably downloaded YouTube (and other video sites') videos and automatically converted them to iPod (or Apple TV, or iPhone) format with just one click. It's very simple, it's very useful, and I love it.

Unfortunately, it doesn't even download properly from YouTube anymore, so I've gone to iTubeX Ultimate which isn't free and automatic like TubeTV. Mactubes is a free alternative which has a great YouTube search browser, but not very reliable with downloading. TubeTV, if it worked, is still the best for me.

These 12 apps should be enough to get you on a download (and maybe spending) spree. If you're on a new Mac, then I hope this preliminary guide can serve you well in your quest to find great apps that'll replace some of those Windows apps you used to have.

August 30, 2009

Ruining the movie - Movies Opening This Week

There was a time when Sandra Bullock was the queen of the rom-com, but when she decided to "quit", she kind of became a bit obscure. Now, she's aiming for a comeback at what she does best. She seemed to do it well in The Proposal, so why not her next movie...

All About Steve
I actually got a bit of faith when I saw the trailer for The Proposal. Bullock was at her best, and her costar Ryan Reynolds was actually a good choice for a partner since they exude a certain chemistry. Granted, I've yet to see the whole movie, but that trailer does give you an adequate enough inkling of what seems to be a harmlessly light and fun movie.

This one doesn't, but it'll make a crapton of money anyway.

Basically, All About Steve sees Sandra Bullock become a stalker to a guy (Bradley Cooper) she gets set up with one night (and yes, she stalks him because she is in love with him). Thing is, Bradley Cooper doesn't feel the same for her, especially since she doesn't particularly look very flattering. With Bullock in tow, you'd probably expect a bit of funny, but the trailer ruins practically what looks like the entire movie, thus making it look extremely disappointing. It's like one of those "5 Second Movies"... it's that badly edited.

The big draw here is actually Cooper though, because he'll be the one who'll draw the women to flock to the theater. Come on, admit it, it's true. They won't be there to just watch the movie, because they've seen it all before! They'll be there staring at him every step of the way, and they'll likely act like Bullock throughout the movie, I reckon.

Personally, I'll just catch this on Quiapo "Blu-ray".

For the men, they'll probably skip this one and maybe even go see...

Gerard Butler is back in action with a movie about games. It's not based on an actual game IP as far as I know, but it's about an uber-realistic video game character called Kable (Butler) looking for freedom from the player who controls him (through Natal?). Thing is, Kable's not just some ordinary video game character, he's actually a death row inmate. Policy in this world is that a death row inmate will be controlled by a player, and when they survive the "game" for 30 days, they're set free.

While one can legitimately call this premise high-concept, I don't think it's particularly groundbreaking though. Hell, it's kind of unethical, maybe even a bit allegorical. The not too original execution is the worst part, though. Reminds me of the not too hot Death Race what with all the inmates.

Maybe you want something lighter, though? Well, how about a comedy called...

Starring Jason Bateman, this comedy is about a factory owner who has to contend with problems both at home and work. Nothing else is very special about it... trailer does seem mildly funny though.

OK, this one probably made you feel numb and indifferent, so maybe it's okay if we just went to horror territory to make you even numb-er. You wouldn't feel it since you're already numb anyway.

An unoriginally boring pandemic "thriller", Carriers is about a group of people who try to help the sick people, but end up having to control them because they become zombies. Sound familiar? Because it is. I think it starts with a number... oh yeah, 28.

It would've been right to just shelve it forever, and that's because this has been in the back-burner for quite a while... apparently since '07! Obviously, this is pre-Star Trek Chris Pine, so don't get your hopes up, and get ready to just sleep through this derivative film.

Top 10 Snow Leopard Features

Despite the emphasis on under-the-hood optimization rather than end-user features, Snow Leopard still has its share of new features, and if it's not a feature, it's a bit of a significant step up that breathes life into an old feature. So with that, I give you the top 10 new stuff and adjustments I really like. (And don't worry, I'll do a Windows 7 one, although I've already covered features I really like in a previous post.)

10) Improved Stacks
When Stacks was introduced in Leopard, it was a pretty convenient way to access files, not to mention it looked pretty cool. But not being able to access other folders through the Stacks interface (and just through the Finder instead) was a bit inconvenient, not to mention that if the number of items present in a folder exceeds the items the monitor can display, you'd still have to open the Finder anyway. Now, Snow Leopard eliminates all these cumbersome processes by introducing some subtle, but immensely helpful adjustments to this feature to make it much more elegant than before.



9) Put Back

It has been, for a few versions of Mac OS X, extremely cumbersome for me to just conveniently get trashed items back to its default directory. I'd have to recall its former location before being able to just open two windows and dragging and dropping the file. In Windows, this would've been resolved with just a press of the Restore button, and now, Snow Leopard introduces (and apparently marks the return of) a feature called "Put Back", which finally lets you return a deleted item with one click of the mouse. It's been a long time comin'.



8) Intelligent Ejection
It's not a really big deal, it's just that it's pretty convenient, especially in 2009, that both Windows and Mac are finally introducing an ejection mechanism that actually tells you what app is using the USB (or whatever) device you're trying to remove. About time!

7) Smaller footprint
It has been reported that people have been genuinely freed up of a significant 10GB chunk of their hard drive space, and that alone is actually pretty amazing. Come on, an upgrade that doesn't take up more space than the last version (wink, wink, Windows)? It's hard not to love it.

6) Multi-touch activation
Even though there are a few Macbooks that are capable of the basic multi-touch gestures introduced in the first generation Macbook Air, they don't support the more complex four-finger actions introduced last year. Snow Leopard finally "unlocks" these gestures for the older multi-touch capable Macbooks without hacks.

5) Text Substitution/Correction
The iPhone's native correct-as-you-type mechanism gains form in the Mac, and I think the world is all the better for it. I mean, people just don't know how to spell right anymore. This feature is also the same feature on Microsoft Word that replaces "1/2" into "½", but at least this one is a bit more spread out within the OS. It's not truly applied to the whole OS as well as third-party apps, but I think you can set for it to be like that or something.

4) Individual device settings
While I don't have a big issue with my devices, I do like the option of setting the defaults for devices individually instead of having to adhere to a universal rule. I mean, I constantly hate having to close iPhoto every time I connect my iPod (or my dad's iPhone), but if I had it stop opening iPhoto, it wouldn't open when an actual camera was connected, so yeah, a bit of irritation. Now, at least, you can set settings for each individual device, so next time you connect an iPhone, it won't have to open iPhoto, but with a real camera? It'll open.

3) Quicktime X
The thing about Quicktime was that it was totally not free, which sucks a lot of balls because the only thing the paid version ever offered was a frigging Full Screen mode, and copy-paste basic clip editing. Fortunately enough, Apple has finally gotten some sense into their heads and bringing Quicktime into the 21st century with this reinvention. Hmph, took long enough.

Now, the focus of Quicktime has been re-aligned to make it a much better experience for the average consumer to use. Though it is free, it at least gets a few features like the Full screen mode, the basic trimming, and the exporting! Granted, it doesn't work with as many codecs as Quicktime 7, which is surprising. Even worse is the stubborn reluctance of Apple to natively support WMA and WMV on the app, and this is while Microsoft is already putting Quicktime support natively onto Windows 7!

A few upgrades to the software will definitely come, and hopefully, we won't ever need to re-download Quicktime 7 when the need arises. The fact that people will have to contend with the crippled software at one point or another is also just plain stupid in Apple's part. Of course, that is unless we're talking about a legacy codec that Quicktime 7 supports, but has long been dropped by all the other players.

2) Chinese Handwriting, Improvements to Pinyin
I make Chinese reviewers so being able to just write a word I don't know on a trackpad instead of skimming through the (IMO pretty well thought-out) Character Palette is a huge step-up for me. The "Changes" page of the Apple website also detail a few improvements to the Pinyin dictionary used by OS X. Hopefully, it won't have to crash every time I type "Yiyi"-- something I'm very optimistic will happen.

1) Dock Expose
Ever since owning a Mac, the first thing I fell in love with was Expose. It let me switch through windows much quicker than I can ever do in Windows, and it lets me go to my Desktop without having to minimize windows one by one in case I need to get something from there.

In Snow Leopard, Apple introduces an enhancement called Dock Expose. What it does is that if you happen to have a lot of windows open in a single program, you can just click the program's dock icon and all the application windows will show. Granted, pressing F10 unleashes a bit of the same effect, but this one also reveals the windows that are minimized to the Dock. Ever since its introduction in WWDC, I've had several cases wherein I desperately felt the need for the feature "now, now, now!", and this is why it's #1 for me.



A few of you may have noticed that I've omitted the fact about Microsoft Exchange being natively supported. Frankly, I could care less. If Mail was able to support free Yahoo! Mail accounts like its iPhone counterpart, call me then.

August 27, 2009

Guess Who Joined the Party?

Since the PS3 cut its price and weight down to $299, the Xbox, after several weeks of persistent rumors, is too.

The console with the longest warranty ever is phasing out the Pro model and bringing the black-colored Elite model to the fore which is good news for those holding out for the console.

Thing is, Microsoft still has the red ring of death issue, and the Elite model doesn't even have Wi-Fi. If you want Wi-Fi, you'd still have to pay another hundred bucks, but on the flipside, there's Xbox Live... which isn't free either. And they're removing the HDMI cable... why?

Now that I think about it, the PS3 still has better value even with the 360's new price cut.

August 26, 2009

iPhone App of the Week: Space Invaders Infinity Gene

Everyone knows what Space Invaders is (if not, then they have at least played some clone of it), so it wasn't a surprise to see it on the App Store. Oh wait, there's two different versions of Space Invaders on the App Store? Then what's the one I'm reviewing?

So it's called Infinity Gene, eh?

Now that putting retro games on steroids is officially a current trend, Taito is going in with the tide and releasing its own new spin on the Atari classic.

Apparently it relies on a futuristically retro "branch" menu system that oddly requires a double-tap to access.

When you enter the game, you are initially stuck with the default "rapid fire" weapon, but as you progress the game and unlock more stuff, you'll be able to access more weapons, and trust me, there's quite a few.

Never mind the picture, I've unlocked quite a few more since then.

So yeah, after selecting a weapon, you'll be able to start a level. It will remind you a little bit of those Star Fox games in the SNES, but the pumping, pouncing techno soundtrack somehow makes it distinctly Space Invaders.

Basically, the game introduces power-ups that increase the rate and effect of shots, and the ability to move freely throughout the level. Somewhat reminds one of another iPhone game Platypus or the same ol' Space Impact, but I've logged in more hours into this game than the others because it has quite a bit of replay value hidden as well.

When you die or finish a level, a scoring screen appears to evaluate your performance.

A blue bar at the bottom fills up as the score goes up, and if it becomes full, you experience "Evolution".

This basically means that you've unlocked something new, and believe me, there's a lot of stuff to unlock. From graphics, to music, to extra levels, there doesn't seem to be a shortage of unlockables, and that is a very good thing since it holds your attention much longer.

Of note is the peculiar "Music" mode which enables you to pick a song from your library. It's not Bit.Trip (and I sure wish it could've been similar) but it basically summons a level at random and uses your music as the background soundtrack. Some people have reported that the game bases the speed of a level through the song's BPM though, so I guess the most ideal song you can get for Space Invaders Infinity Gene is something electronic, I guess. Maybe a bit of Chemical Brothers or Crystal Method to get you started?

Overall, it is an addictive space shooter that despite having a "new" style, still reflects its retro origins. The techno soundtrack is also pretty good, and there are a ton of unlockables that'll surely keep you coming back for more. It is definitely worth the price of admission.

Rating: 8.5/10 [Tons of unlockables for $5, iTunes Store Link]

August 24, 2009

Snow Leopard out in the wild August 28

Mac users can rejoice as the cheapest Mac OS X upgrade since 10.1 finally has an official release date!
Much speculation has been brought upon Apple's latest Mac OS X upgrade codenamed Snow Leopard being released a month earlier than Apple's proposed September window, and it's actually true. A few hours ago, Apple shut down the online store to gear up for the long-awaited official announcement of the release date, which is literally just days away. Now, people can pre-order the thing if they didn't already pre-order from Amazon.

My personal advice, however, is to actually wait for next year. Why? Apple will release a new version of iLife and iWork and update the Mac box set, which holds much more value since the Snow Leopard disc you'll be receiving there will not require you to have Leopard pre-installed (yay for clean installs!). Despite the deceptiveness of the $30 dollar version, it's hard not to get jealous of all the other users who will purchase that version and brag about all those speed refinements and stuff.

Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard brings native Microsoft Exchange support, Dock Expose, and more subtle refinements into the pre-existing version of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard.

August 23, 2009

Games I Want: September Edition

NOTE: I've decided to start a new monthly blog post called "Games I Want" (as if there weren't enough of these), so technically, the games I will list monthly must excite me. Otherwise, even if the omission is glaring or not, I will not include them here. To note, I only have a Wii, a DS and a PC for gaming so there will definitely be some glaring omissions. You'll note that Final Fantasy: Dissidia will not be in the list below, but in my humble opinion, it still has enough multi-platform games to keep your interest.

This was originally intended for my other blog in Gamespot, but I found it to be something I wanted to share to everyone else instead. For now, I've copy and pasted the entire post verbatim. Enjoy.

I just noticed that I have a lot to be excited about in September, not only because my birthday strikes on the first, but also because of a lot of major game releases. Yes, people, fall season is almost here... consider the summer drought over.

So I'm gonna make a little recap of the exciting properties overseeing release throughout the month (that I'm excited about), so it will definitely be a bit more Nintendo-oriented since I only own a Wii and a decent gaming PC.

The major releases I'm looking forward to are:

Muramasa: The Demon Blade
This Wii game has a particularly stylish traditional look that reminds you of other games like Viewtiful Joe and Odin Sphere, and that's because the game's developer is the same as that of the latter. VanillaWare looks like it's gonna do a really good job with this Wii-exclusive button-mashing title, and I'm gonna be first in line to get this.

Guitar Hero 5
Granted, I prefer Rock Band 2 tons more, but any numerical Guitar Hero release is most likely major. I'm not likely to go buy this in an instant 'cause I'm gonna wait till people say "It's compatible with Rock Band 2 Wii instruments". I know, I should've bought the GH ones since they're more durable and stuff (ironically, there were quite a lot of issues last year which led me to buy Rock Band 2 in the first place) but hey, it's been 2 incompatible GH games since then, and I demand that Activision give this one some Rock Band instrumental love since Rock Band 2 already supports every GH instrument compatible with the Wii. If that happens, I might buy it... the drop-in drop-out system is actually quite compelling for me... the setlist is kind of okay too.

The Beatles: Rock Band
Speaking of rhythm games, I'm surprised at myself for being excited for this Beatles game. I never grew up with their music, I've only heard snippets, but somehow I feel compelled to buy it. When news of this came out, I would coincidentally hear their music all over the place, and I would in turn develop a strong appreciation for them, which must be the reason why. For fans, the Beatles and all the unreleased exclusive content coming along with the game are enough to justify what seems to be a really steep price for the special edition. Of course, I'm shelling out for the disc only so I can save money. 1 set of instruments is enough.

While it's only overseeing release in the Xbox and the PS3, I have no doubt that it will eventually come out in the PC since this is Bethesda we're talking about. Gameplay and art direction both look insanely great, but I feel that waiting for the reviews of the console editions is a bit more of a rational thing to do for now. I still have doubt if Rubi can manage to hold a gamer's attention for more than 30 minutes because quite frankly one can have the tendency to get sick of automatic Matrix-esque slow-mo shootouts.

Need for Speed: Shift
After a few underwhelming additions, EA is putting its famous Need for Speed franchise into the pit for a bit of a tuning. The product of this tuning? This game. It looks so pretty, damn it! It's been so long since I've last played a serious racing game too. Judging from what I've seen, it's gonna be pretty cool.

Batman: Arkham Asylum (PC Edition)
The Dark Knight has never really found a serious video game to call home, but Arkham Asylum may be it. I've only heard tremendously good feedback for the game so far, so I can safely say that I'm excited for it as well.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
Loved the first one, second one looks awesome as hell, and... Stan Lee's in there. I didn't know why I said that. Anyway, while I'm not really much of a comic book fan (I have yet to read one. Ever.), I still love a lot of these characters, and believe me, there's quite a lot. I know it's just some beat-em-up but there's a lot of customization, a lot of RPG elements, and there will be quite possibly a pretty good story behind it. I mean, people are making a big deal about this "Civil War" thing. So yeah, a lot to expect, a lot to be excited about, and the best part is, you just know that they'll be able to deliver. Aah, if only it had a PC version.

Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story
I love the Mario and Luigi RPG series, and it seems that it has yet to lose any of its charm. I don't think anything else new has been added though, but we may soon see when the game comes out. Come on, it's a full-fledged Mario RPG. Nothing will probably go wrong... except for the fact that maybe Bowser should've just eaten the whole Mushroom Kingdom in the first place instead of, you know, the same shtick he does over and over again. I mean, how do Mario, Luigi and Peach shrink anyway? Bowser's not that big (except for that last part).

When I first saw the God vs. the Kraken video on YouTube, I just said to myself, "I'm so gonna buy this," and for good reason: you put any noun you can think of in your head and it will possibly appear. Granted this is a rated E game so there's none of that stuff, but when you think about it, there's possibly nothing else like it. You're forced to use more creative ways to solve puzzles, and truly I like how they think.

PC versions of Red Faction: Guerilla and Resident Evil 5
I've put the two together for the reason that I don't know whether I'll buy them or not. I know for a fact that Red Faction does look like an awesome game, but I don't think it's compelling enough for me to buy yet. RE5 I might get when I actually get to finish RE4!

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
I am a fan of the KH series, I'm not ashamed to admit (but I'm not particularly a fanboy since I've become a bit lost on the lore), so I am very much looking forward to the DS installment of the franchise. While Chain of Memories on the original GBA was decent, this one doesn't look like it will feature that bullcrap card battle system (and thus, for me, will be very, very good). While the card battle system did offer a bit more strategy, I prefer the excessive real-time button mashing-ness of the series, it just feels "un-Kingdom Hearts" without it. I don't particularly care much about the story since it's become a tad convoluted for the sake of making more games for more money, but I don't know, it just looks too good to pass up. And hey, The World Ends With You was a perfectly awesome Square handheld RPG, so why not give it a chance?

Dead Space Extraction
I have yet to play some real Dead Space, but I've heard that it was an unexpectedly good time. Now that it's a name that's bankable, EA has gotten the same developing team to make a Wii-exclusive prequel. This would've sounded awesome if only they just let the player control the character! That's right, Extraction is apparently another on-rails shooter ala the Resident Evil Wii games. I'm not saying that on-rails on the Wii isn't fun-- far from that-- but it's getting a bit... tiresome, don't you think? I'd regret saying this but the graphics also make the atmosphere a bit less scary... but at least there's a flamethrower which is awesome! It's hard to say that I'm particularly optimistic about this title, but I'm giving it a chance and expecting it to offer at least a quarter of the greatness the full-fledged game was said to have. And come on, it has more strategy than the House of the Dead because of the dismemberment thing! Think about it!

I've saved the best for last, and that is...

Deca Sports 2
The holy grail of Wii sports games, Deca Sports is a franchise any gamer should ever miss... and yep, I'm saying it's underrated. Now that there's a sequel, I'm sure to join the frigging bandwagon 'cause it's so totally awesome!

NAH, just kidding. Just total BS, that game. If I wanted to play a compilation of sports games, I'd go back to Wii Sports Resort. It is fantastic (except for cycling, canooeing...)!

August 21, 2009

What, no Mecha-Hitler? - Movies Opening This Week

Last week saw the release of a highly-praised sci-fi film District 9, today we see a highly-praised Quentin Tarantino film, and it's called...

Inglorious Basterds
Movies about Nazis are not particularly original, but when you put Tarantino and his wild movie geek imagination in play, you get a pretty different take on something cliche.

Basterds, while fictional, is about a team of Nazi killers who, obviously, want to kill Hitler since he killed many Jews (and yes, the Basterds are Jews). They meet a girl whose family is killed in front of her, and she too seeks out her revenge in her own way.

Expect a lot of (likely well-written) dialogue in this film, as well as a little bit of those explosions and violence, I guess. Personally, I think Brad Pitt sounds like a Southerner than a... uhh... what nationality is he supposed to be anyway? I think I heard the Germans say Yanks, so... I guess it's valid.

Long story short, I want to see this movie. But what I don't wanna see is...

I've seen this movie before, I just can't get myself to remember. Maybe a mix between Devil Wears Prada and all of the rom-coms I've ever watched with a smidge of the premise of Adventureland. But then again, just because you've seen something before, doesn't mean it's bad.

But does that stand true with this one?

I say no and that's because it doesn't look like it was made with any effort at all. Even the critics agree that it's "unambitious and lightweight". The trailer does have some funny parts, but it's not exactly anything terribly exciting.

There's also nothing terribly exciting about the more modern horror movies these days. Case in point:

The Final Destination
Judging by the title, it seems to be a reboot of a dying series. Ironic since it has the word "final" on it, but not surprising since Square has already been there done that.

Also "been there done that" is this film. Come on, you don't think that everything they'll do will be the same tired shtick everyone else has been whoring out for years?

But given the benefit of the doubt, I guess the movie's gonna be gory and more exciting in 3D. No doubt it's gonna be exploited but hey, horror in 3D is a path not always traveled. At least not in this century.

But hey, why not see the future of the reboot by looking into the sequel of another horror reboot? Yep, it's...

Halloween 2
Rob Zombie returns to helm the sequel to his reboot Halloween. Thankfully enough, it at least looks like there was a bit more effort during production, but it might be due to Zombie writing it.

I thought that it would be a bit more promising until I heard about that sister thing. Come on, isn't this something you reserve for the actual movie and not the trailer?

Regardless, it could possibly be fun, I have to admit. Still, what does it have that the original doesn't aside from the addition of a Miss Myers?

August 20, 2009

iPhone App of the Week: TuneWiki

If you've noticed yourself looking for a "karaoke" feature in the iPhone instead of just a display of lyrics, then TuneWiki is definitely the app for you.

Featuring a relatively clean interface, TuneWiki is basically a bit of an extension of the iPod portion of the iPhone that utilizes your music library and lets you listen to it while displaying the lyrics currently being said ala karaoke.

One great thing about this app is that when you close it, the music continues playing anyway. But that's only applicable when you have your own music library playing. If you do choose to play their radio stations, you'll be able to do so.

For a more visual audio experience (really oxymoronic), you can also look for music videos in the YouTube database.

If you're part of its community, you can access some features like lyrics search or whatnot.

Perhaps the only complaint I have about it is that there are times when I think an option is selectable, but really isn't. Sometimes, I feel the interface borders on too minimalist. The settings screen is a good example.

A perfectly decent app for those who want to really sing along with their songs, TuneWiki offers great performance, but only under an Internet connection. Hey, it's free though.

Rating: 8/10 [It's free to sing with your songs, iTunes Store Link]

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