Archive for January, 2004

Marking Benches

Tuesday, January 27th, 2004

Benchmarking a system can give you all sorts of numbers. I’ve run several of them and I think that I have quite a range to deal with here.

Let’s go ahead and list all pertinant system specs:

CPU: AMD Athlon XP 2500+ Barton Core
Motherboard: DFI NFII Ultra-AL
RAM: 512 MB(2x256MB) Kingston HyperX PC3000
Video Card: XFX GeForceFX 5700 Ultra

Now on to the fun stuff. Let’s run some tests!

First up is Futuremark’s 3DMark03.

3DMark is probably one of the most widely known and widely used benchmarks, so, of course, it’s the one I used first, yielding a score that I would put in the range of acceptable scores

3147 3DMarks. That's good I think

Now that’s certainly a score, but I wanted more, so I went out to see my buddy Mr. Google and took a look around to see what I could find.


What it measures: Turbo 95 reportedly measures CPU speed, FPU speed, Cache speed, SVGA frames per second, and hard disk throughput. The writer of the program was nice enough to provide some sample scores so you have something to compare your numbers to.

Turbo95 now with 95% more FAST!(click for a bigger shot)

As you can see, my system blows the socks off of a P133, clocking in as the approximate P2940, and gets longer bars in every category Turbo95 could throw at it… Except for hard disk access. That’s supposedly a limitation of the program which might be fixed sometime before the sun goes nova.

Chris’ 3D Benchmark

Chris’ Benchmark doesn’t really come out and say what it’s doing, but it throws up a cube on your screen, spins it around, does some nebulous computations and then gives you a number.

Yeah, I couldn't get a shot of it running.(click for a bigger shot)


DIAG purports to be a complete system benchmark and analysis tool. Most of the features were tantalizingly dummied out of the free version, but I was able to run the video benchmark, which is really why we’re here, right?

(click for a bigger shot)

Now we begin to see some interesting results. My card scored lower than a GeForce2 running at AGP 4X in both text and graphics written to the screen. What does that mean exactly?

Yeah, I don’t really know either.


Landmark is one of those utilities that tries to measure everything about a system on one compact screen.

(click for a bigger version)

Now, admittedly, I didn’t shell out the $49.95 for the full version of the software, so these results may not be as accurate as they could be, but I think they tell a pretty good story. This program has really opened my eyes about the speed of my processor. It turns out that I’ve been buying Intel 486’s all these years, they just keep bumping up the speeds!


The next three images are from a full system reporing utility called SysChk. This program was probably the most confused out of the programs I ran.

(click for a bigger shot)

(click for a bigger shot)

(click for a bigger shot)

Some things of interest that should be noted about my system that differs from what SysChk came up with:

My hard drive is larger than 3.77 MB
I apparently have the fastest 386 on the planet
AMD makes the Compaq 386sx Intel Pentium Pro

So there you have it. Lots of numbers to look at. What conclusions can we draw from this? Well, I don’t really know. What I do know is that I certainly have a special system on my hands here.

Slow Week

Thursday, January 22nd, 2004

Wow, it’s been a slow week for games and gaming in general. About the only thing that I’ve even seen that’s worth mentioning is the announcement by Nintendo of the dual screened handheld unit. Sure, it sounds like it could be something neat to fool around with, but really, I don’t see what kind of advantages that kind of setup would really give to a portable gamer. There just aren’t really that many games out there now that would benefit from a two screen setup. The only concievable thing that I can come up with is that it would be a good setup for RPGs. Action on one screen, menus full of your items and spells or whatever on the other screen… Kind of like Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is reportedly going to do.

Final Fantasy Crystal Cronicles, I found out recently, has been bumped forward to February 10th, or somewhere therabouts. Maybe I never noticed it before, since I never owned a Playstation, but it seems like that ever since Square-Enix re-friended with Nintendo, they have been putting out lots of games in a large quivering mass. In the last couple of months we’ve seen Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, Final Fantasy 10-2, Sword of Mana, Final Fantasy 11, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. I’m probably missing some, but that’s a lot of decent quality games in not a lot of time.

Since we’re on the Game Cube Connectivity Train, we have to stop for a rest stop at The Legend of Zelda Four Swords for the Game Cube. This is providing the competition for Crystal Chronicals, at least for my gaming dollar. Both games are (supposed to be) coming out at about the same time, and it looks like the Zelda game will be more like a party style game (kind of like Pac-Man Vs.) where you can just grab up to three of your friends and go for a round or two, whereas Cronicles seems like it almost is going to require you to set aside time with your gaming posse to complete the thing (sort of like an online RPG without the online part, I suppose). Now, I’ve never actually played Four Swords on the Game Boy, mostly because I didn’t want to buy a game I already had just to play the new multi-player version, although now I hear that the extra mode is entirely worth it, since Nintendo is bringing out an entire GameCube game based on the thing.

Gimmicky connectivity… I like it.


Tuesday, January 20th, 2004

If you couldn’t access my site between 1 and 2 AM this morning, it’s because I was installing a new router, for purposes so nefarious that I can’t even begin to describe them. Well, not yet anyway.

Massively Multiplayer

Monday, January 12th, 2004

I hadn’t really gotten back into the whole ‘pay to play a game with other people on the network for a monthly fee’ frame of mind since the XBand folded, and I was torn between Final Fantasy and World of Warcraft. Both of them promised that they would keep me occupied for very nearly forever, and since Blizzard has this habit of taking 30 or 40 years to get a game ready, I decided to see what Final Fantasy had to offer.

Now I’ve never actually played a online role playing game, much less one that promised to be both massive and multiplayer. My experience with online gaming has mostly been in the form of playing Unreal Tournament 2003 against people who are much better than me, so I was intrigued by the premise of not actually having anything really defined to do. Just sort of existing. That sounded right up my alley, I exist multiple times a day!

To be quite honest, Final Fantasy XI isn’t really a whole lot different from this free online game in a couple of respects: nearly all of the quests that I have done are ‘go here, fetch/do that’ quests, and you gain levels.

That’s pretty much the gist of the game. There’s a lot of minutae that I could go into, but I don’t really need to.

There are only two real problems that I see with this game:

1. Playing with friends. I know why Square-Enix did what they did. I know that if you let everyone just pick what server they wanted to be in, there would be servers full of people and servers devoid of people. So things are balanced out. Great! But, if I buy the game and my friend does the same, there’s only about a 1/28 chance that we will end up in the same server. Now, of course, I have somewhat of an interest in playing an online game with someone that I know from Real Life. Square-Enix recognized this and let people buy World Passes that allow a player to be created in whatever server they choose. But that’s the thing. You can’t move your character, you have to create a new one (which costs an extra dollar a month). So one of you ends up playing a new character while the other one is cruising along with whatever one he was originally playing with. Not a real big deal, but if the level difference is too big between the players, then neither one of them will get a decent amount of experience, effectiely penalizing you for buying that world pass so you and your friend can play together.

2. Fees. There is a fee with everything about this game. Want more than one character? There’s a fee. Want to play a card game? There’s a fee. Want your significant other to play the game too? You have to buy two copies of the game and two accounts. Bleh. Well, at least I have the option of not paying for the card game. That saves me $0.25 a week!

One of the more interesting things is the auto-translate feature, letting North American and Japanese people play in the same server and, to some degree, communicate with each other. It’s kind of a pain to use, but it gets the job done, especially in a non battle situation. I wouldn’t expect to be able to carry on a conversation with someone like that, but certainly saying, “Thanks,” or, “Watch out!” is doable.

Now, admittedly, I’ve only been able to sink about a week into this game, so my opinion may change slightly as I invest more time into it. If it turns out that this game isn’t as fun as advertised, it’ll probably happen during my 30 day free trial, and then I can give World of Warcraft a try, assuming Blizzard releases it before the Sun goes nova, that is.

The Year

Tuesday, January 6th, 2004

It’s the beginning of a new year. A time for reflection on the previous year and anticipation for the new one.

Or an excuse to have a party, I forget which.

Right, that whole reflection thing. I already had a kind of reflection on the site a while ago so there’s no real need to go into that again, so let’s look at some of the games that I’ve had the pleasure (or displeasure) of playing over the last year or so.

Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing is kind of like a simplified version of the Sims… Kind of. The game is strangely compelling, although I will admit that I really bought it for the NES games locked away in it, but I played the actual game part of the game for just over eight months. Eventually, it just got too repetitive. Sure, the holidays were neat, and the random town events were nice, but on the Regular Days, running around and talking to everyone just to hear them say the same thing over and over again just wore a little thin. Maybe I’ll pop the thing in on my birthday and see if anyone remembers me.

Paper Mario

I picked up Paper Mario over the summer on the cheap, and was really impressed by it. Yes, it’s a ‘kiddie’ kind of game, and yes, it’s not an enormous challenge, but it’s a genuinely fun game. I am most impressed at how well the characters in the game are animated. It really looks like you are playing a cartoon.

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance

I’ve invested over 80 hours into this game so far, and I’m nearly two-thirds of the way done with the missions. I never had a Playstation, so I can’t really compare it to the original version of Tactics, but this one is really fun. Of all the reviews I’ve read on it, people either really like it or they really don’t. There isn’t really any middle ground. Mostly the people who don’t like it are the people who are upset that it’s not Final Fantasy Tactics 2. Well, that and the whole ‘Laws’ thing.

Game Boy Player

Okay, it’s not technically a game, but the Game Boy Player is still a really nice accessory, especially when playing games like Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Nintendo seems to have this ‘thing’ lately about connectivity between systems, and this does a fine job. Complaints? Using a Game Boy Camera with it isn’t so possible, and Nintendo says to not hook two of them together with a Game Link cable… But they don’t know why (or won’t say why).

Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne

I bet you thought that I only bought Nintendo games this past year. No, I bought and liked Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne. There really isn’t a whole lot to say about the game except that if you liked the original, then there is a really good chance that you’ll like the expansion as well. It’s a whole lot like the first one, except more. Blizzard doesn’t really break any new ground with this title, but they hardly need to to satisfy fans of the game.

A lot of games for less than $5 apiece

Let me spare you some grief. If you’re in a store and you see a game that costs less than $5 and you need a computer or game console to play it on, turn directly around and run as fast as you can, plowing into the rack behind you and knocking yourself unconsious. Believe me, that’s a much more bearable experience than playing that bargain garbage. While it’s true you might find a gem out there, sifting through the crap infested ‘one step away from the trash compactor’ shelf is rarely worth it.

Right, so there’s a sampling of the games that I bought over the last year. I probably bought more, but I seem to have lost the checklist that may or may not have existed.