Playing With My Weiner

Gaming at the mercy of miniature daschunds.

Review: Chrono Trigger DS November 29, 2008


Can we come in?

Can we come in?

In the Year of Our Ceiling Cat Nineteen and Ninety-Five, Square released a little game called Chrono Trigger.  The story is simple – young adventurers save the world – but with a twist – by porting through time.  Due to its epic nature, branching storyline, and multiple endings, Chrono Trigger is widely considered to be one of the best RPGs of all time.



Wikipedia rightly describes the Chrono Trigger developers as the “dream team” – Hironobu Sakaguchi, Kazuhiko Aoki, Kazuhiko Aoki, and composer Nobuo Uematsu. Yuuji Horii and artist Akira Toriyama.  Masato Kato wrote most of the plot and composer Yasunori Mitsuda scored the game with Uematsu finishing it when Mitsuda became ill.



The art is classic Horii and Toryiama – anime figures, large foreheads, and bright colors.  The DS version includes the well-received anime cutscenes from the 2001 North American PlayStation release, now without load times!  Unlike the recent Final Fantasy remakes, however, the art hasn’t been given a total 3-D makeover. Instead, the sprites have been polished up a bit and given more fluid animation, but the original distinctive art style is there.



Lots of screen real estate across two screens.

Lots of screen real estate across two screens.

Like the original, Chrono Trigger DS uses an Active Time battle system, meaning that each character may only act when their timer is up.  Different characters have different physical and magical attacks, including advanced physical attacks called “techs”.  What Chrono Trigger added to the RPG genre was the concept of cooperative techs – combining up to three characters’ techs to create double or triple attacks. Notably, there is no apparent slowdown when using even the flashiest of techs. 


The DS version has two play modes – “DS Mode” and “Classic Mode”.  DS mode allows you to use both the touchscreen buttons for controls, and Classic mode is a play setup identical to the original SNES version. There are other features exclusive to each mode, such as a DS Mode option to toggle between ‘Walk’ and ‘Run’.


The DS version adds some new dungeons, including the Dimensional Vortex and Lost Sanctum.  The first of these is only available when player’s complete the game, and leads to a new, fourteenth different ending.  The second is another endgame dungeon for folks who love to grind their way up as high as they can.


Finally, the DS version offers an unneccessary arena system.  Apparently believing that all JRPGs must have a Monster Hunter element to them, Squeenix makes this feature available the first time you save the game.  When you enter the arena, you get the option of controlling a small malleable creature known as a Smidge.  You can send your Smidge to any of the seven periods of time to train them, and then you can battle other trainers, er, players, via DS wireless.



Useless arena aside, this is a very faithful translation of a beloved original.  Like Dragon Quest IV, the source material still holds up over a decade later, and the DS developers respected that fact.  As a result, like Dragon Quest, Chrono Trigger on DS is an excellent game with everything you remember and nothing substantially screwed up by modernization.  


For being an amazing RPG now available in pocket-size, Chrono Trigger DS gets 5 Weiners out of 5.

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Thanksgiving Reflections November 27, 2008

Filed under: Other Folks — Gwyddia @ 2:26 pm
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By the time you are a fully-grown adult, with your own home and your own grown-up concerns, chances are you will have lost somebody. If you are “lucky” it is a “normal” loss in the passage of time – a grandmother has passed on or a dear friend has moved very far away. Alternatively, you may have lost a parent at a young age, or a near-age sibling unexpectedly. In any case, today is a holiday, and as you go about your grown-up preparations for your own take on whatever traditions you hold dear, you probably feel a sense of loss.


If you are like me, you probably try to push this sense out of your mind, concentrating instead on the turkey before you or the gaggle of friends who will be arriving any minute. But try as you might, the melancholy will seep in. For me it was as I whisked the Locatelli Romano cheese into the broth to create the base for my grandmother’s meatball soup. She was 84 when she died, two years ago, and had been “gone” a long time due to Alzheimer’s Disease. Her passing was sad, but natural, and I haven’t dwelled on it. Today, though, while making her soup, which she made every Thanksgiving in a pot that was as big as I was as a tot, I felt the urge to tell her that I was making it, or, alternatively, to call my grandfather (still living and healthy as ever, Praise Ceiling Cat) and tell him that his wife of 55 years was not forgotten.


I didn’t make that call, though. No, I did what most of us do when struck by such feelings and ideas – I kept doing what I was doing. The soup is simmering in the pot right now, and I’m writing this. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe I don’t want to get caught up in an hourlong conversation with my grandfather on a busy day. Maybe I don’t want to go down the emotional rabbit hole. Or maybe, and this is probably the real answer – it isn’t easy.


If my grandfather used e-mail, I’d probably shoot him a copy of this and his heart would be warmed. He doesn’t, though. Neither do plenty of your older relatives, I bet. And even though your friends and family that are geographically distant would enjoy a quick call, you aren’t inclined to dial and neither are they. That’s the real sadness right there.


We need to make those calls. You want to talk about giving thanks today? Give thanks to those who are still with us, even if they are old or distant. Not “for” them, but to them. I can’t tell my grandmother I’m making her soup in my own home just as she did in hers, but I can tell my grandfather. I can’t spend time with my uncle or my friends in Vegas today, but I can let them know I’d like to. Because the truth is that someday not a single one of those people will be alive to be called. And what would we rather remember, should we be the ones still here – the story Grandpop told about the time Grandmom put sugar instead of salt in the soup, or the extra 20 minutes worrying about the turkey (or writing the Chrono Trigger review I promised)?


Yeah, I need to make a call.  Besides, my grandfather will probably be at my uncle’s house already, so I’ll just leave a voicemail message.


Happy Thanksgiving, Weiner fans.


Weinercast Wednesday! November 26, 2008

Filed under: Araan,Games,WeinerCast,World of Warcraft — Gwyddia @ 12:13 pm
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The Weinercast is go! This week: News, Roguecraft, Heroic Ajzol-Nerub, and a special moment.

As always, the Weinercast is available on Gwyddia - Weinercast

Please leave us a review or a comment/question, and we’ll address it on air next week!

A non-iTunes link if you need it.


360 Install Base Passes Original XBox Installed Base November 25, 2008

Filed under: Hardware,Industry,Microsoft,PS3,XBox 360 — Gwyddia @ 10:41 am
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154466-xbox_xbox360_originalAnd it only took 3 years! This week Microsoft’s Xbox 360 hit the 25 million console mark. Of course, there are almost 150 million PS2s, even today, so who really knows what that says about the state of the console wars.


Microsoft seems to have scuppered their plans for a box in every home, and is rather focusing on the 10 million folks on XBox Live. The New Xbox Live Experience still has a few hiccups, like frequent network drop-off, but the company continues to patch the product. Nothing like load testing to put a spring in your step, eh, Microsoft fans?


Tale of DesperNo

Filed under: Games,Other Folks,Rumors — Gwyddia @ 10:33 am
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Edit: Tale of Desperaux, an apparent movie tie-in, has been cancelled by the developer. No word on why, but it looks like your desperauxtion shall go unanswered.


“The Guild” is Coming to a 360 Near You November 24, 2008

Congrats to Weiner and Twitter friend @feliciaday!


The folks responsible for internet sensation “The Guild” have signed a semi-exclusive deal with Microsoft’s Independent Video Channel. The show, a comedy which features the “real life” experiences of a small MMORPG guild, will air its second season exclusively on the IVC for four weeks before releasing the episodes on The Guild’s own site. The deal also includes a holiday episode shot in HD especially for the service.


God of War III Is &)(*()*

Filed under: Games,Other Folks — Gwyddia @ 10:23 am
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I make being used as the gods' Cuisinart look GOOD.

I make being used as the gods

Despite the fact that David Jaffe is not involved in the making of the next game in the series he created, he apparently thinks it looks great.


Jaffe made his characteristically obscene remarks on his site (in a post where he also discusses the folks at VGExpo cancelling his Skype appearance without warning or notice). Among other descriptives, Jaffe states that GOWIII “looks like a painting come to life- it’s THAT good looking.”


Rock on. Hey devs, more footage please?


Happy Birthday, WoW! November 23, 2008

Filed under: Blizzard,Games,World of Warcraft — Gwyddia @ 1:12 am
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Players who log in today will earn the special Feat of Strength Achievement “WoW’s 4th Anniversary”. Those same players should check their mailboxes for a beary special gift from the Dev Team – the Baby Blizzard polar bear cub.

Here’s to 78 days, 0 hours, 27 minutes of fun, and hopefully more to come.


Live from VXExpo via Tweets! November 21, 2008

Filed under: Games,Industry,Other Folks — Gwyddia @ 6:55 pm
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– Super quiet con.

– Finally joined the ECA. Now looking for Dan from GamesLaw.

– So many kids, it is hard to me sure I’m giving cards to adults only.

– Official opening ceremonies @ 5pm are quiet, hard to find.

– There is a strong Commodore presence here. I’m glad to see it.

– The robotics kids are neat. I flipped my robot over and it kept going. about 1 hour ago from txt

– The classic arcade area rocks. Getting my qbert on.

– Saw a chick with awesome cat ears. Petted them. about 1 hour ago from txt

– Lots of young folks here. Seems more racially diverse than PAX.

– Previewed we love cake and hands on tangrams. Fun!

– Suicide Girls are here. Maybe the Weiner Daddy doesn’t need his pass for tomorrow after all… 😉

– Weinercard distribution going well. I shall have to print more.

– Frightening. A woman is playing Solitaire in a rig that looks like an immersion chair from the Matrix.

– The woman doing the Sapphire raffle today seems airheaded and unfamiliar with her subject matter.

– The OneUps are playing tomorrow night!

– An hour and a half here and I’ve seen everything and run out of cards. Here’s hoping for more tomorrow.


The Weiner Goes Live! November 20, 2008

Filed under: Games,,Industry,Other Folks — Gwyddia @ 3:40 pm
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Kinda.  I will be at VGExpo in Philly this weekend, enjoying myself and covering it for the Weiner and, to some extent, If you’ll be there, sent me a tweet and we’ll get together!