Saturday, April 25, 2015

Chrono Fever: Time for Chrono Cross

Didn't I say I'd do Final Fantasy 4 next and finish off Project 'Bout Fuckin' Time?  Yes, yes I did.  However, I've already delayed Project 'Bout Fuckin' Time so much, what's a little more delay on top of that.  I need some Chrono Cross in my life.

For whatever reason, people like to ignore the existence of Chrono Cross.  I don't know if they genuinely don't know about it, or if they're purposefully denying its existence.  Whatever the case, Chrono Cross is a really good game, and they're missing out on it.  Yeah, I know, it's different from Chrono Trigger.  Yeah, I know the battle mechanics changed completely.  It's still a really good game, and not worth overlooking.

So, for anyone who doesn't already know, I'll recap my experience with Chrono Cross.  A long time ago, I got the game and started playing it.  While I didn't get to the second disc, I still got pretty far in the game.  Then, for whatever reason (or the lack thereof), I put it down and haven't played it since.  Being that I don't remember where I was or what I was doing, I'm just going to start over.  Which is fine by me, since I don't fully remember everything that happened.

All of that was typed in advance of actually starting Chrono Cross.  I don't really plan on doing session posts like I did with Rogue Galaxy, but I will post if something interesting happens.  After the break will be kind of a summary of the beginning of the game.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

HomePass Discussion

I'm obviously all for the use of HomePass, as could be discerned quite easily by reading my posts here, or looking at my Twitter.

But some people don't like it, and I'm here to cover the reasons why.

First off: the reasons I consider to be entirely subjective.  Some people consider HomePass to be immoral, unethical, or that it takes the fun out of StreetPassing and/or devalues StreetPasses.  These are subjective because there is no correct answer, it's just down to how people feel.  The rest of my points are subjective as well, but the answers are way more involved than the simple "I don't like it therefore it's bad"/"I like it therefore it's good" that governs everything in this paragraph.

People often liken the use of HomePass to cheating.  I can see why, but at the same time, I don't believe it's cheating.  Cheating would mean that the people doing it are gaining an unfair advantage.  Cheating would also mean that it would reduce the difficulty of the games.  HomePass does neither.

To address the advantage, it's actually a community advantage.  When people use HomePass to get things done, they can then pass on the benefits to their respective local communities, and everyone in those communities can benefit as a result.

To address the difficulty of the games, HomePass doesn't affect it in the slightest.  Yes, some of the games are easier with more people in the same session, but HomePass doesn't magically let you break the limit of 10 per session.  It also doesn't make the individual Miis stronger.  In fact, it's kind of the opposite.  Since you get so many Miis via HomePass, you're usually stuck with groups containing Miis you've only met once.  Although there are plenty of regulars that you will get multiple times, and people that have multiple 3DSes and HomePass with all of them at the same time.

The benefit of HomePass is sheer numbers of StreetPasses, and all that you really get from sheer numbers of StreetPasses is the ability to play the games more often.  I refer to this as "lowering the barrier to entry".

Furthermore, some refer to it as an exploit, which I find to be a wholly uneducated sentiment.  An exploit implies utilization of a bug or programming oversight for the benefit of the user.  HomePass doesn't use a bug or a programming oversight, rather, it uses the Nintendo Zone system in the precise manner in which it was intended to work.

Nintendo Zone was widely deployed long before it gained the ability to relay StreetPasses.  When Nintendo added the StreetPass Relay, it was clearly not feasible to recall all the Nintendo Zone access points and replace them with completely new hardware designed specifically to store and relay StreetPasses in addition to providing access to the Nintendo Zone application.  So instead, it was done with a firmware update and server structure.  It uses a system of what I'll call "lazy addition", wherein a new Nintendo Zone access point gets added to the system when a 3DS connects through that access point for the first time.

Within Nintendo Zone, individual access points are differentiated between on the basis of SSID and MAC address.  The 3DS firmware contains a list of access point SSIDs that it considers to be Nintendo Zones, and the 3DS will try to connect to those whenever they are found.  Enterprising 3DS owners found that with the correct SSID and a new MAC address, new StreetPass relays could be created, which led to the HomePass system.  A large list of MAC addresses was assembled, allowing HomePassers to rotate their hardware between these MAC addresses on a timer, and in doing so, bypass the normal one-tag-per-system-per-eight-hour-period limit on StreetPassing.

Also worth noting, if you use freely and readily available computer software to grab the SSID and MAC address of a Nintendo Zone access point in the wild, you can add that Nintendo Zone to your HomePass setup and get the StreetPasses of the people who are actually at that physical location.  The system, for all intents and purposes, is therefore completely open.

A final argument for the use of HomePass: not everyone can StreetPass reliably.  Some cities have fewer 3DS owners than others, and some people live farther from cities than others.  It may not be feasible to be constantly driving into town from the middle of nowhere just to swing past a Nintendo Zone and get a measly six StreetPasses.  People in these types of situations may have to rely on HomePass just to have the possibility of getting StreetPasses on any kind of a regular basis.

StreetPass was designed to work in areas of high population density, such as Nintendo's home country of Japan.  Elsewhere, it doesn't work nearly as well.  Large gaming-oriented gatherings, or gatherings of other demographics that overlap gaming, such as game/anime conventions, are typically a gold mine of StreetPasses, and are an easy example of how StreetPass was designed to function.

Whether you agree with me or not, or whether or not you decide to set up HomePass for yourself, I hope I've cleared up the issues I feel reasonably passionate about.

Also, if this post is the first bit of information you're reading about HomePass, I'd be an idiot if I didn't link you to, which contains links to all the information you'll need to get started, as well as being the central place where the list of MAC addresses is kept.

Edit (2015-05-01): I can't believe I forgot to mention a few points that I had, about the legitimacy and authenticity of StreetPasses gained through HomePass, and a little bit more about how HomePass affects people who don't use it, so I'll cover those now.

Some people don't consider StreetPasses gained through HomePass to be legitimate.  They think more highly of themselves because they play the games with "authentic" StreetPasses.  Well, guess what?  StreetPasses gained via HomePass are indeed legitimate, authentic StreetPasses that come from real 3DSes.  The system is working as intended to relay a StreetPass from one person to multiple others.  The only way these StreetPasses would be illegitimate or non-authentic if the HomePass system simply fabricated them out of thin air.

It's perhaps better to think of HomePass as a community-created extension to the Nintendo Zone network.  There's no possible way to differentiate between a StreetPass gained through HomePass and a StreetPass gained via a Nintendo Zone or by actually being physically close to the other 3DS in question, because they are one and the same.  Furthermore, the 3DS has no way of differentiating between a community-created HomePass relay and a Nintendo Zone, because they are also one and the same.  The system of "lazy addition" for adding new Zones to the Nintendo Zone system inherently makes authentication of those wireless access points as Nintendo-sanctioned Nintendo Zones impossible, because the trigger for addition of the access point to the system is the individual 3DS itself, and as I've already stated, the 3DS can't tell if the Zone it sees is Nintendo-created or user-created.

I would like to reiterate that HomePass doesn't make the Nintendo Zone system do anything that it's not designed to do.  In fact, it's the complete opposite, it's using the way the system is designed to work to make it work better.  It's like those "microcells" that AT&T sells to people to fix their horrible cell phone service coverage, only here we're not paying Nintendo for the privilege of making their system better.

Also, how does HomePass affect you if you choose not to use it?  The answer is simple: it most likely doesn't.  Or, consider that it might be affecting you positively without you even knowing it.  These games aren't online multiplayer games that people take way too seriously, they're fun, singleplayer short-session games with entirely cosmetic rewards.  Someone using HomePass to get all the cosmetic rewards faster than you isn't negatively affecting your personal gameplay.  Some people are completionists and want to get all the cosmetic rewards.  That's totally fine.  Others just take whatever they can get and prioritize some of the cosmetic rewards above others, and that's completely fine as well.

Maybe the method the community arrived at produces StreetPasses at a rate much faster than Nintendo originally intended, but Nintendo still doesn't have a good solution to the whole "low population density" problem.  If individual localities and neighborhoods could get official deployment of Nintendo Zone for their entire area, that might be a solution that would be more palatable to some.  If metropolitan wireless ISPs could pay a simple fee to have their access points added to the list of Nintendo Zones, that would also work.

Edit (2015-09-17), titled "The Ultimate Angler Address": Since people use HomePass all over the world, or at least with the region information on their 3DSes changed, you will get a much more diverse set of regions when HomePassing.  One of the games in the second bundle of StreetPass Plaza games, Ultimate Angler, has a system that unlocks travel to certain areas of the game based on the regions of the people you StreetPass.  While employing HomePass, you almost always have access to all of the islands.  This access is normally difficult to get organically via StreetPass, and costs a hefty sum of Play Coins to obtain otherwise.  The clear advantage here goes to users of HomePass.  However, just as with any other game, it doesn't really hurt non-HomePassers in any way.  None of the StreetPass Plaza games are competitive games that directly pit players against each other.  The paid ones, except for Flower Town, have rankings, but those are basically just a high score board and are unaffected by HomePass because they depend solely on in-game accomplishments, where HomePass grants no advantage.  Besides, once you complete the restricted-access islands, the access restrictions go away, while there's still plenty more left to do in the game.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

StreetPass Mii Plaza: New Games

I've finally got my hands on the two latest StreetPass games, so... here's my initial thoughts on Ultimate Angler and Battleground Z.  The games are $5 each, or $8 if you buy the bundle.  If you've already got any of the games from the first bundle (Mii Force, Flower Town, Warrior's Way, Monster Manor), you get an extra dollar off the price of the bundle, which is neat.

Continuing the tradition, you get a hat for purchasing each game, but with the plaza update, you also get a speech balloon for purchasing each game.  If you haven't updated your plaza, do it now.  Even if you don't plan on getting the new games.  It's okay, I'll wait.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

StreetPass Mii Plaza: Birthdays!

After getting the plaza update and paying the $5 for the VIP room and birthday calendar, I went to a CAINE meeting and got three people because my 3DS is really ornery these days and refuses to streetpass the person sitting next to me.

Then I went to sleep.


I started HomePassing, and it ended up being the longest HomePass session ever, lasting about 9 hours, with a break for dinner and walking the dog.  I ended up at 281 of 366 birthdays from that session.

I've moved on today and gotten to 304/366, and the incoming birthdays have slowed down quite a bit, as you could expect.  I'll probably have a remedy for this soon, though, because I do plan on getting a New 3DS, and I'm keeping my current one.  I do plan to fully exploit being able to streetpass myself, especially in combination with HomePass so I can do it repeatedly.  I wonder how long it'll take to get all the puzzle pieces a second time...

The whole "collecting birthdays" thing is interesting only because you get plaza tickets as rewards.  Looking through the list, there is absolutely nothing that you have to do anything special to get.  Once you've gotten the plaza ticket for getting all 366 days, that's it, you've got all the plaza tickets for the birthday calendar, no questions asked.  Some of the plaza tickets highlight an annoyance I've had with games for a while now: They don't tell you what you need to do for some of the plaza tickets.  It's the same with the accomplishments, some of them just show up as question marks and then later, once you've already gotten the plaza ticket or accomplishment, you get to see how you were supposed to get it.  Secret achievements and the like are one thing, but they're usually limited to one or two per game, which is nowhere near this many.

Oh well.  At any rate, I have all the months down to needing less than 10 days.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

StreetPass Mii Plaza: Premium Plaza

The plaza update was finally released outside of Japan today, and due to some monetary shenanigans, the only thing I could afford to buy right away was the premium plaza, which I'd previously expressed doubts about getting.

But first, a small bit about the update itself.  It includes updates to the StreetPass games to support the VIP plaza, where you can manually place up to 100 Miis that will never be deleted.  It also includes a very welcomed update that makes all the games realize when you've completed them, and even shows a medal on the game's icon to indicate this.  These medals can be turned off if you so desire.  You can reorder all the icons on the touchscreen, and hide everything except the Plaza and Plaza Gate icons.  Games you've hidden show up in the Game Vault and can be launched from there, or restored to the menu.  The update also adds custom speech bubbles for your StreetPass message, chosen by selecting "Change Greeting".  You get a few of these themed around the pre-existing StreetPass games immediately, and more can be unlocked using Plaza Tickets.  There's also more hats to be unlocked with Plaza Tickets.

According to GameFAQs, there are a whole host of additional updates to the existing StreetPass games.  Text in general is faster.  Apparently dialogue in Mii Force is now skippable, Flower Town goes faster, and a whole array of changes relating to hiring Miis with play coins.  Also, in Find Mii 2 you can apparently see which rooms still have hats left, which is a very nice thing, and there's a Helper Hare that removes traps in rooms you've already been to if you pay play coins.

Now, on to the subject of the premium plaza.  Its first main feature is the VIP plaza, which as mentioned above, can hold up to 100 Miis that you specifically choose.  This is pretty useful for keeping Special Miis around for use in the StreetPass games, as well as generally being useful with the Hire Old Allies option found in some of the StreetPass games.

The second main feature of the premium plaza is the Birthday Calendar.  It keeps track of the birthday assigned to each Mii that you get via StreetPass, and challenges you to fill in the whole year (including February 29th!).  You get Plaza Tickets for accomplishing various objectives and reaching certain landmarks.  There are 22 Plaza Tickets total, which matches the precedent set by the previous paid StreetPass software.

Other than those two main features, what else is there?  Well, both the VIP Plaza and the Birthday Calendar have new background music, and entering them will unlock that music in the Music Player.

Speaking of the Music Player, you now have the option to change the track that's played in the StreetPass Plaza, by selecting a track and pressing Y.  Strangely, not all tracks can be selected.  You can also listen to music in the Music Player through headphones with your 3DS in sleep mode.

In the Settings, there are a series of options to exclude portions of the greeting process when greeting Miis at your plaza gate.  Sadly, there isn't a "Make 'Fantastic' the default option" toggle, but pretty much everything else can be disabled.

Overall, a lot of nice things were added, even before the paid portion of the update.

Fix for YouTube Center Subscriptions Grid View

I can't possibly have been the only one running into this.  Video titles and other metadata, as well as the menu to hide each individual video, had completely disappeared.  Fortunately, this disappearance was only a visual issue, solved with a couple simple CSS tweaks via the Firefox extension Stylish.  Other browsers also have methods of loading user CSS, but I don't use other browsers.

Anyway, here's the CSS, ready to be copied/pasted into Stylish, that makes both the metadata and the menu visible once again.
@namespace url(""); @-moz-document url-prefix("") { .ytcenter-gridview .yt-lockup-content { clear: left !important; } .ytcenter-gridview .menu-container { z-index: 9001 !important; } }
It shouldn't be too hard to adapt this to other browsers, just copy what's inside the @-moz-document block and set it to only load for URLs beginning with  Make sure you don't copy/paste the period at the end of that sentence, lol.

This does have the side effect of making the menu button always visible, but to me, that's an enhancement.  Therefore, issue closed as WONTFIX.  If you'd like to make the menu easier to see, you can add a background color to the rules in the .ytcenter-gridview .menu-container selector.  I personally recommend background-color: rgba( 255, 255, 255, 0.5 ) !important;.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Chrono Trigger DS Sidebar Update

Since everyone's maxed out, the table was just a bunch of zeroes and stars.  So, I've changed it to reflect what I'll be working on with a lower priority than Bravely Default SCIENCE! and Chrono Cross: the six items found exclusively in the Arena of the Ages.

Once again, I've played around with the CSS, partly to stroke my own boner, and partly to get around Blogger's own boner-stroking and a CSS nuance.  The list of items is an unordered list, with the normal bullets hidden and the Unicode "empty checkbox" and "checked checkbox" characters placed in front via CSS classes.  However, I had to get around a CSS nuance in that placing the HTML entities for those characters in the content rule of the li:before just caused the entity text to be printed literally instead of being properly interpreted as an entity.  My first attempt at addressing that was just to copy and paste the actual characters into my CSS, but Blogger decided to be helpful and turned them back into entities, which got printed literally.  So, stackoverflow to the rescue, and I'm using regular old C-style escape sequences.

I mean, yes, I could just stick the character, or the entity representation thereof, in front of the text and just use a bunch of <br /> tags.  But that's not how I roll.

Anyway, since I mentioned Bravely Default SCIENCE!, I might as well say that the first thing up is a bit of an in-depth look into what affects the power of the Rejuvenation special move, with the goal of getting the number on the sent move to be as high as possible.  Even though the amount will be recalculated on the recipient's side and they won't see the full number without perfectly replicating the setup used to generate it.  If I had a second 3DS and a second copy of Bravely Default, I could test what actually does get transferred...

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Final Thoughts on Chrono Trigger DS

Now that I'm done with the stat maxing, I feel like this is as good of a point as I can get to talk about the game one last time.  I still have the six items you can only get from Arena of the Ages left to actually obtain, but I'm not feeling very pressured to go get them.  I'll post about them specifically once I go back and get them.

As far as the gameplay goes, it's still the Chrono Trigger we know and love.  The redesigned menu system that takes advantage of the touchscreen is nice.  The range of options allowing for toggles between classic gameplay elements and newer stuff that takes advantage of the second screen was also nice.  I welcomed that as well, opting to use the bottom screen for all my battle menu stuff and leave the top screen uncluttered.  I did enable the classic battle UI for a while, but the smaller screen and the smaller font size really made it feel cramped.

The new items were an interesting touch, though I think most people wouldn't have cared if they hadn't been added to the game.  The stats on some of the helms and armor are basically combining together other items, which is really neat in the post-game.  For instance, if you get three Angel's Tiaras out of Dimensional Vortex, your female characters can be under permanent Haste and status protection.  That's basically the same as if they had a Haste Helm and a Vigil Hat equipped at the same time.

The new areas, however, are kind of clunky.  For my stat maxing, I did get into a rhythm for running through the 12,000 BC and 1,000 AD Dimensional Vortex areas (the 2300 AD one didn't require as many runs), but in general, they feel like a romhack that isn't completely polished.  I've touched on this before.  There are too many unavoidable battles.  Also, these areas differ from the rest of the game in that you can trigger a battle with an enemy that's onscreen without having to make contact with them.  The only enemies in the rest of the game that do that are bosses.  Just saying.

Arena of the Ages is kind of neat, however, it needs better integration with the game.  I know it exists in a parallel space or whatever the story is, but when you send your monster out for its 10 minutes of game-time training, there's nothing that tells you that it's come back.  No audio cue, no dialog box, nothing.  You just have to remember to check.  Most of the time, I didn't.  Additionally, you'll notice I said "10 minutes of game-time traning".  Yeah.  You can't send your monster away and then put the system in sleep mode for 10 minutes, because that stops the game's timer.  You have to leave it open.  Not an issue if you're actively playing the game, but if you just want to power up your monster, it's annoying.  Furthermore, it gets reset when you start a New Game +, without even telling you, so all your hard work will go away.  To fix this, I'd suggest four things, two of which would be backed by options:
  1. Either an audio cue or a dialog box to direct the player back to Arena of the Ages when their monster comes back from training.  This would prevent the player from forgetting about their monster.
  2. When starting the Arena from the main menu (and perhaps only from the main menu), have an extra option available to speed up time, so the player can train their monster faster.  This would allow a player like me who's completed everything else to do this without having to sit around doing nothing for 10 minutes between menu selections.
  3. Don't reset the Arena of the Ages when starting a New Game +.  It just doesn't make sense.
  4. Make the monster come back after 10 minutes of real time, not 10 minutes of game time.  This would be somewhat addressed by my second suggestion, but I think the difference between game time and real time is still an important distinction to make.
Then there's the issue of the re-translation.  It's in this weird gray area where it's trying to be more accurate than the original, but still keeps a lot of the original's stuff.  Frog's dialogue not having the dialect is just a slap in the face to classic gamers.  On top of that, items and techs were renamed, even when their renaming doesn't really make sense.  It led to me being confused for about 99% of my gameplay, because I couldn't easily tell what I had gotten and what I was still missing.  I don't know if the amount of storage space in the cartridge is an issue that would be run into, but I would've preferred having the option to choose between the new and old translations.

Overall, even with its flaws, I think the DS version is probably still the version to recommend these days, just because the SNES version is a kind of expensive collector's item, and the PS1 version has its loading times.  Console gamers these days are more likely to have a DS or a 3DS than a SNES or a PS1/PS2.  Plus, portable Chrono Trigger?  Hell yes.  I'm aware that there are mobile ports, but... if you're going to play games, do it the right way: on a platform that's meant for it, or your personal computer.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Chrono Trigger: Level 99 Character Analysis

This is probably only relevant to a small portion of the player base for Chrono Trigger, but I don't really care.  It applies to people who have max-level characters and have used tabs to improve or max out Power, Magic, and Speed.

Chrono Trigger has seven characters to choose from, as you probably already know by now.  While any party can be used to some degree of success, surely some characters stand out above others, and some might even be less desirable than others, right?

Well, right.  I'll go into each character a bit, in order by permanent acquisition, then discuss dual techs and triple techs, then give my objective opinion on what the best party is.  Spoiler: if you've read my Twitter or talked to me in real life, you probably already know what that party will be.  All of this will take place after the break, since it's kind of a wall of text.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Nando's Peri-Peri Sauces

Hey, I actually have a picture of this one.  It's potato quality because I took it with my phone, in the store, but it's all I've got.

Because jump breaks are awesome, you'll have to continue past the break to actually read my thoughts.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Chrono Trigger DS: Last Spekkio Run

This run went pretty well, despite being slower than my personal best.

The run went pretty well.  Triggered a stupid accidental fight in 600 AD Guardia Forest after getting Marle back, and triggered the fight before Yakra.  Other than that, everything was relatively straightforward.  I don't know how I'm managing to improve the R-Series split so much, but hey, I'll take it.

Also, I figured out what LiveSplit was comparing my times to.  Apparently, it was set to Best Segments instead of Personal Best.  Changing it over made the delta times accurate once again.  I kinda wish I could load the splits for the previous post and remake the screenshot.  Since it's all stored in an XML file, it should be relatively simple to do, but LiveSplit doesn't seem to have that capability right now.

I still have to get Frog back so I can give him his 10 remaining magic tabs, and get to Dimensional Vortex so Crono and Marle can get their last stat boosts, but... feels good man.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Chrono Trigger DS: Penultimate Run

I improved a couple splits and got my sum of best down below my prediction of 47:30, but overall it was worse.

I had two accidental battles: one in Lab 16 and one in Arris Dome.  All the deltas after the first are off because LiveSplit was dutifully comparing segment times to something other than my best segment times.

As you may notice, I added my personal best time to the layout.  It's just a text element that I'll have to manually update, but whatever.  As you can see, though, there's a lot of room for improvement, but I just don't see where anything can be improved upon.

Next run will be the last one I'll ever have to do on this version of the game.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Two New StreetPass Games

According to a Nintendo Direct released yesterday, we're getting some weird Premium StreetPass Plaza that can hold 100 or so specifically-selected Miis, as well as two brand new StreetPass games.  One game is a fishing game, the other is a zombie game.  Personally, I still want a StreetPass racing game.  Apparently the games will be $5 each, or $8 for both, and there's a separate $5 charge for the Premium StreetPass Plaza.  I'll definitely be getting the games, dunno about the premium plaza.

Regardless, I will once again embark on a quest for 100% completion.  However, rather than updating the post I already have about finishing the StreetPass games, I'll make a new one when I get back to 100% completion.  That'll also serve as some record keeping for how many puzzle pieces there are before the new games come out, for anyone who cares.

They've been putting out new Puzzle Swap panels on about a monthly basis recently, so... will we get a new panel alongside all these things?  Who knows.  The 16th is also a Thursday, so... taking brand new StreetPass games to a CAINE meeting lol.

Edit: Here's all the information you need about the new stuff, straight from the source.  Thanks for the link, /r/3DS.