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Handy IronSudoku Bookmarklets

December 19th, 2007 · 2 Comments

IronSudoku Javascript Bookmarketlets

We’ve covered IronSudoku here at Brittlefish and spent some time with autofill scripts to automate the tedious task of filling in green and red notional numbers. We got them to work in IE6 after some Javascript wrangling.

Bookmarklets

Bookmarklets are link buttons you add to your browser where the URL is some Javascript code. So instead of hunting around for the autofill Javascript, you can just click the autofill button when you’re at the IronSudoku site.

In Firefox, you can just left-click and drag the links to your bookmark toolbar.

In IE, you will need to right-click the link, then click “Bookmark This Link…”, then add it to the Links category to put it on the Links toolbar.

GRAutofillGreen + Red Autofill will automatically fill in greens and reds for the possible numbers in each square. Reds are used to indicate where a given number in a 3×3 sub-grid can exist in only one or two locations.

GAutofillGreen Autofill will automatically fill in greens for possible numbers in each square.

ClearNotesClear Notes will erase the greens and reds from each square. Good for starting over if you’re manually entering the numbers, or if you’ve been modifying autofilled numbers manually and make a mistake.

RowHintRowHint will ask which row you want, display the answer for that row in a message box.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Online games · Puzzles · Tips

Holiday Gift Guide – Xbox 360 Games

November 23rd, 2007 · 1 Comment

Xbox 360 Game Picks

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 has been very popular, easily outselling Sony’s PlayStation 3 system so far.

Microsoft has been aggressive in promoting and supporting Xbox 360 game development and has been largely successful. Several Xbox-only games are huge draws to the platform. Halo 3, for instance, sold 4.2 million units and made $170 million in the first 24 hours.

So which games are going to make good gifts this year? Let’s take a look.

Xbox 360 Best Bets

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare brings the wildly successful COD franchise into modern times and lets the player choose to play as a U.S. Marine or a British S.A.S. soldier. Fantastic graphics and sound. Single or multiplayer. Rated Mature. About $59.

Rock Band Special Edition is an expensive multiplayer competitor to Guitar Hero III. With Rock Band, you can choose to play lead guitar, bass guitar, drums, or vocal parts. The game comes with a wireless guitar, drum kit, and a microphone. Rated Teen. About $169.

Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga is a great game for any console but really shines on the Xbox 360 and the PS3. The graphics are improved and the Xbox 360 version offers online co-op play. Rated 10+. About $49.

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas is a realistic tactical first-person shooter that puts you and your squad in the middle of Las Vegas to take down terrorists. A high energy game with great graphics and sounds. Rated Mature. About $37.

Bioshock is a first-person shooter that takes the player into an undersea world of war and genetic modifications. Rated Mature. About $39.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 is a fantastic squad-based tactical first-person shooter set in the year 2014 that pits you and your team against insurgents involved in a Mexican civil-war that threatens both Mexico and the United States. Rated Teen. About $39.

Other good Xbox 360 game choices

  • NBA 2K8 – Top quality basketball simulation with improved sounds and player and crowd graphics. Great gift for any basketball fan. Rated Everyone. About $59.
  • The Orange Box – Five games in one package, including Half Life 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2. Great graphics. Single and multi-player elements. Rated Mature. About $49.
  • Halo 3 – Halo 3 is incredibly popular and has no doubt driven a significant portion of Xbox 360 sales, but is only an incremental improvement over Halo 2.. Rated Mature. About $59.
  • Guitar Hero 2 Bundle with Guitar – GH2 provides single or multi-player modes where players attempt to play any of 55 included classic rock and hair band songs. The two-player mode adds a bass or rhythm guitar to the mix. Rated Teen. About $59.

Other articles in the Brittlefish 2007 Holiday Gift Guide

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Holiday Gift Guide – PlayStation 3 Games

November 22nd, 2007 · No Comments

PlayStation 3 Game Picks

The incredible power of the PlayStation 3 opens up new possibilities for games to shine visually and in their gameplay. Soundtracks also receive a welcome boost. Online co-operative play and other community features let a gamer extend their PlayStation 3 world out beyond the living room.

But just because Sony has provided unprecedented power to game developers does not mean they all take advantage of it or, if they do, their games are worth playing. Most of them are priced around $60, so picking quality games is more important than ever. So which games are good choices for giving this year?

PlayStation 3 Best Bets

Sony’s PlayStation 3 gaming console is the most powerful and flexible game console available, but unlike the Nintendo Wii, demand has not outpaced supply. Yet. The recent introduction of more powerful systems coupled with price cuts could turn that around and make the PS3 harder to find.

More and more games are being made available for the PS3 all the time, and are taking advantage of the powerful hardware and Sixaxis controllers. Graphics are top notch and the PS3 will output up to 1080p resolution.

PS3 Best Bets

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare brings the wildly successful COD franchise into modern times and lets the player choose to play as a U.S. Marine or a British S.A.S. soldier. Fantastic graphics and sound. Single or multiplayer. Rated Mature. About $59.

Rock Band Special Edition is an expensive multiplayer competitor to Guitar Hero III. With Rock Band, you can choose to play lead guitar, bass guitar, drums, or vocal parts. The game comes with a wireless guitar, drum kit, and a microphone. Rated Teen. About $169.

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction is the latest in the Ratchet & Clank 3D platformer where you run around the galaxy building gadgets and fighting off a wide and nutty range of enemies. Graphics and sound are great. Rated 10+. About $59.

NBA 2K8 is a good choice for the sports fan, especially if they like basketball. NBA 2K8 is visually impressive and the best BB game available. Rated Everyone. About $59.

Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga is a great game for any console but really shines on the PS3. Graphics are better and the PS3 version offer online co-op play. Rated 10+. About $59.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 is a first person shooter that offers a realistic squad combat simulation with single player and online co-op modes. Rated Teen. About $59.

Other good PS3 game choices

  • Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune – Gorgeous 3D aventure game that has the player looking for the treasure of El Dorado. Rated Teen. About $59.
  • Resistance: Fall Of Man – This war game has the gamer fighting off alien invaders in the historical setting of World War II. The graphics and soundtrack are amazing. Single and multiplayer modes. Rated Mature. About $58.
  • Heavenly Sword – Incredible gameplay, graphics, sound, and cinematics make up for this intense fighting game being somewhat short (several hours). Rated Teen. About $59.
  • FIFA 08 – The premier soccer game makes good use of the PS3 power and graphics to deliver a challenging and exciting sports title. Rated Everyone. About $59.

Other articles in the Brittlefish 2007 Holiday Gift Guide

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Holiday Gift Guide – Wii Games

November 22nd, 2007 · No Comments

Wii Game Picks

Nintendo’s Wii system continues to be scarce, but if your giftee already has a Wii or you have managed to score one for them, there are some great games available.

Some of these games make full use of the innovative Wii-mote controller system to add a more immersive aspect, while some games use the controllers for little more than wiggle-sticks.

Wii Best Bets

You can not go wrong with Super Mario Galaxy, an instant bestseller with great graphics and gameplay that uses the Wii-mote and Nunchuk controllers. Rated Everyone. About $49.

Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga is a great game for the Wii. It uses the motion-sensitive Wii-mote — though it is not as graphically impressive as the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, nor does not include the online play offered by those versions. Rated 10+. About $49.

Metroid Prime: Corruption is one of the best games available for the Wii, both graphically and with respect to its use of the controllers. Rated Teen. About $49.

If your giftee is into this sort of thing, Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Dance on the Wii is not as graphically polished as DDR games on other systems, but has over 50 songs and uses the Wii-mote to add hand movements. Seriously, be careful about who you give this game. Some people love it but some people would not be caught dead playing it. Rated 10+. About $69.

Other good Wii game choices

  • Zack & Wiki Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure – Puzzle-based adventure that uses the Wii controllers to perform the actions in the game. Rated Everyone. About $39.
  • Resident Evil 4 – This is a superb translation to the Wii with great graphics and controls, but is pretty scary and is rated Mature. About $24.
  • MLB Power Pros – one of the best baseball simulations ever. Good for a sports fan, great for a baseball nut. Rated Everyone. About $39.
  • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn – A roll-playing game with a deep storyline, good music, but only passable graphics. Some people are really into these roll-playing games, while others are bored to tears by them, so be sure they like this sort of thing. Rated 10+. About $49.
  • Excite Truck – A fun off-road truck game that uses the Wii-mote to steer. Rated Everyone. About $39.

Wii Points

Give a Wii Points Card to enable a Wii owner to download classic games from old systems to play on the Wii Virtual Console. This way the Wii system will play classic games from the SNES, NES, Nintendo 64, Sega Genesis, Turbo-Graphix 16, and the Neo Geo. About $20 for 2000 points.

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Holiday Gift Guide – Gaming Systems

November 21st, 2007 · 1 Comment

Our Holiday Gaming System Gift Ideas

First in a series of gift guides for 2007, let’s take a look at which gaming systems would make the best gifts. Then in a later article we will cover the games themselves.

Gaming Systems

The choice of a new gaming system is largely a matter of preference and, often, prior investment. So that aside, if you do not already know which system to buy, we recommend either a Wii or a 80GB PlayStation 3… but since situations vary, let’s take a look at the options.

PC

Upgrading a PC to play more advanced and current games will typically make it faster at everything else, while a new gaming-class PC will handle everything else quite well.

The latest games, such as Crysis, require very beefy Windows-based PCs to run well. We recommend a system with 2 GB of RAM, a fast Core 2 Duo processor, and a high-end video card. Windows Vista is usually fine, but Windows XP still tends to be more stable.

A new gaming PC will set you back around $1500 to $3000, but depending on your recipient’s needs, good gift upgrades are a new video card (around $250 – $350) or an additional GB or two of RAM ($50 – $100). One other good option is a good gaming mouse like the Logitech G5.

Bottom line: shell out thousands for a high-end gaming PC or pick up some system upgrades like RAM, a good mouse, or a video card. Make sure the video card or RAM is compatible with the system to be upgraded.

Nintendo Wii

The Nintendo Wii console is still in short supply, is still great fun, and is the lowest priced of the latest gaming consoles.

The primary attribute that makes the Wii so much fun is, essentially, the Wii-mote controller system and how they are integrated into the games. A great example of this, Wii Sports, ships with the system. To bowl, you actually stand and act as if you are bowling. Same deal with the other included Wii Sports games: boxing, baseball, tennis, golf. The Wii will get folks off the couch and more active.

Bottom line: Nintendo’s Wii system is in short supply but is innovative and loads of fun and backwards compatible with GameCube games and can download games for the SNES and other old consoles. Get an extra Wii-mote and nunchuk controller, and possibly a Wii Classic Controller to play downloaded classic games.

  • Nintendo Wii System – a great system that is not as powerful as the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 but, arguably, more fun and will get your giftee up off the couch.
  • Nintendo Wii-mote – an additional controller or two is a good investment that enables multiplayer.
  • Nintendo Wii Nunchuk Controller – an add-on controller that enables two-handed control in games that support it.
  • Nintendo Wii Classic Controller – an alternate controller that enables control of downloaded classic Nintendo games.

PlayStation 3

Sony has had a rough year with the PlayStation 3. It is easily the most powerful game console available, has a built-in Blu-ray player, acts as a home media center, and interacts with the PSP handheld game systems. However, it was introduced at $499 and $599 for the 20GB and 60GB models, respectively. Though the hardware itself easily makes that a bargain, it is still a tough sell given the cheaper Xbox 360 and much-cheaper Wii systems.

Lately though, Sony has introduced two new models at 40GB and 80GB and reduced the prices to $399 and $499, respectively. The earlier models have been discontinued. More capacity, lower prices. Note that the new low-end model (40GB) now has built-in Wi-Fi, but does not have flash card readers, SACD playback, or PS2 compatibility. The high-end 80GB model has all of these features.

Bottom Line: Sony’s PlayStation 3 is simply the most powerful and flexible game console available. Recent price cuts, enhanced capabilities, and more games make the PS3 more attractive than ever. Go for the 80GB model and get a second Sixaxis controller. Since the PS3 has a built-in Blu-ray player, consider throwing in a few Blu-Ray movies.

Xbox 360

Microsoft’s flagship gaming console is also a good choice, and becomes the only choice if your giftee wants to play Halo 3.

Priced, for the most part, between the Wii and PS3, the Xbox 360 is doing quite well.

Bottom Line: Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is not our pick, but nevertheless a fine system, and the only system for Halo 3. If you decide to get the Xbox 360, we recommend you get the Xbox 360 Pro Value Bundle or the Elite Bundle, both of which comes with Forza 2 and Marvel Alliance games. An additional controller will come in handy.

Handhelds

Like the choice of gaming systems, the right handheld game system is a matter of taste. This boils down to a tie between the Nintendo DS Lite or the new, thinner Sony PSP 2000. For pure gaming fun, the DS wins, but for flexibility we give the nod to the PSP.

Nintendo DS Lite

The Nintendo DS is a dual-screen, handheld game system. Thinner and lighter than the original DS, the DS Lite also sports brighter LCDs, more rugged build quality, and better battery life. There are special and limited editions, of course, but we will go ahead and recommend the stock DS Lite in whatever color you prefer. The DS has a touch screen, supports Wi-Fi, and wireless gaming with up to 16 other DS players. White for neat and tidy gamers, black for cool gamers, pink for girl gamers, and the red-black model for edgy gamers. It is also backwards-compatible with GameBoy Advanced games.

Bottom Line: The Nintendo DS Lite is thinner, lighter, and sturdier than the original DS system. If the gamer is into puzzles or cute Mario-style games, this is the handheld system to get. Wi-Fi is supported, as is wireless gaming.

Sony PlayStation Portable 2000

The Sony PSP is a handheld game system with power roughly equivalent to a PlayStation 2, but also supports Wi-Fi internet access, MP3 playback, photo viewing, Tivo-to-Go DVR playback, and UMD movies. Thinner and lighter than the 1000 series PSP, the new 2000 series is faster, has longer battery life, and has a brighter LCD. It also will connect with a PlayStation 3 and act as a remote.

Bottom Line: More than a handheld game system, the PSP plays UMD movies, has Wi-Fi internet access, is an MP3 player, and has some connectivity to PlayStation 3 systems. You might throw in a UMD movie or two as stocking stuffers.

Other articles in the Brittlefish 2007 Holiday Gift Guide

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Crysis Multiplayer Video

October 11th, 2007 · No Comments

Crysis Is Coming Soon

Crysis is looking very good, and will be available on November 13th, 2007. The demo is coming on October 23rd. However, given the minimum PC requirements, you might want to get that new system now.

Here is some Crysis multiplayer in-game footage, from Red Star Studios.

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Download Free Command and Conquer

September 27th, 2007 · 1 Comment

To celebrate the 12th anniversary of Command & Conquer, EA is providing the original Command & Conquer PC game as a free download. Visit the news section and click on the 12th Anniversary link, then download the two ISO images. Windows XP users will want to also download the special installation instructions to get it working on your system.

If you’re having trouble finding the page, the direct download links are C&C GDI Disc ISO and C&C Nod Disc ISO. You might also want to download the C&C Installation Instructions.

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Awaiting The Casual Collective

September 23rd, 2007 · No Comments

Desktop Tower Defense is a great game by Paul Preece that we reviewed here previously. Since Preece joined forces with Dave Scott, the creator of Flash Element TD (and Flash Circle TD and Vector TD), they’ve been working on a multiplayer Flash gaming site call The Casual Collective.

The Casual Collective is out of beta and running on an invite-only basis. Once in the system, you can invite others to join your collective. TCC appears to be adding the social element to casual gaming, with groups, collectives, etc.

Read Awaiting The Casual Collective...

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The Best Mouse Gets Better

July 28th, 2007 · 1 Comment

Logitech G5 Laser Mouse Updated

Logitech has updated the superb G5 Laser Mouse. It’s a small but welcome bit better.

For a couple years now the Logitech G5 Laser Mouse has arguably been the mouse to get, particularly for gaming, and particularly if you can mouse right-handed and spend roughly $40-$50 on a mouse.

The G5 sports a 2000 dpi laser engine, but more importantly offers on-the-fly resolution adjustment, allowing you to move between three sensitivity settings. The scroll wheel has a nice grippy texture and supports rocking right and left.

Custom Weight

Another nice feature of the G5 is an weight tuning system. The mouse has a tray for various weights that slides and snaps into the mouse’s guts. Snap out the tray, pop in the combination of weights you want, then snap the tray back into the mouse. Or leave it out if you want a feather-weight mouse.

The G5 2007 Update

The updated G5 Laser Mouse has nearly the same specifications but adds a welcome second thumb button. Oh, and it’s now festooned with an obnoxious blue-black crackle pattern instead of the original decayed rust and gray gunmetal look. A step forward technically, but a step into aesthetic insanity.

Original G5 Specifications

Officially, the original G5 supported Windows 98, 2000, Me, XP, and Vista. Its tracking resolution was customizable but defaulted to 400, 800, and 2000 dpi. The image processing rate was 6.4 megapixels per second, maximum acceleration was 20 g, max speed was 45-65 inches per second, and supported 16 bits per axis. USB data reporting was 500 reports per second.

New G5 Specifications

A testament to the quality of the original, the new G5 has identical specifications, with the exception that it supports up to 1000 USB data reports per second (defaults to 500), and it has the extra thumb button.

Officially the new G5 supports only XP and Vista, but that is likely only a limitation if you install the Logitech software.

Compared to Other Mice

Logitech MX518 Laser MouseBy way of comparison, the Logitech MX518 Gaming Mouse handles 5.8 megapixels per second, up to 1600 dpi, 15g, 16 bits per axis, and 125 USB data reports per second. Many people have apparently decided to go with the MX518 over the G5 simply due to the missing second thumb button. The G5 has now overcome that problem, and given the G5′s obvious edge technically, it’s now a no-brainer unless the extra ten bucks scares you away.

Microsoft’s Habu Gaming Mouse runs 45 inches per second, up to 2000 dpi, 25g, and 1000 reports per second. The Habu specs are pretty close to the G5, but does not match the G5 ergonomically or aesthetically — even considering the new crazy-blue G5 color.

Recommendation

Our recommended gaming mouse has been, and is now more than ever, the Logitech G5 Laser Mouse.

If you like the old color scheme or want to save a few bucks and don’t need the second thumb button, get the original G5. It’s a solid gaming mouse that continues to perform well.

On the other hand, if you don’t mind the wacky new colors or really want that second thumb button, get the new G5. You’ll pick up the minor improvement in USB reports per second and have the best mouse out there.

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Desktop Tower Defense 1.5

June 26th, 2007 · No Comments

Desktop TD Gets An Update

Paul Preece of Hand Drawn Games has released Desktop Tower Defense 1.5. This update adds ink, snap, and boost towers, morph and dark creeps, and several new modes. The bash tower is improved, the 10K mode is 100 levels, and the UI has picked up some snaz, as has the audio.

This is a welcome update to DTD, though you can still play versions 1.2 and 1.0 if you’re so inclined.

Screenshot

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