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Malik (12/27/05)  

Well, with the end of a year upon us, it seems like it's a good time to go over some of my biggest complaints (and some praise...not much, but a little) about the year in geek-review.  Well, it's a good time, and I don't have much else to talk about right now.  So, this week, without further ado, I present;

The Geek's Perspective On 2005

Consoles/Hardware: The Worst


Anyway, it's been on my chest for about 8 months now, but I would have to say that the single biggest disappointment of the year falls on one single place; the PSP.  While some people, like myself, see the PSP as a game system with no games, and thus it's nothing more than an empty shell.  On the other hand, some people (these would be the damned Sony fanboys who have nothing else to do besides brag about anything that Sony does) like to see it as one hell of a cool portable media device.  I would like to give these guys some credit for seeing through Sony's half-assed attempt at making a game machine and seeing a good underlying quality.  I would like to do that, but it's not that simple.

In reality, the PSP just doesn't have shit on the GP2X (from Game Park Holdings).  While the PSP offers limited formats that can be played for video and audio files, this little thing can handle a nice wide variety , with more supposedly in the pipeline for future firmware upgrades.  Meanwhile, the PSP offers you two choices; either you go with UMD videos (wait for it...) or you can convert a video to a MPEG-4, which is so unusable by any other media player that it will only serve a single device (the PSP).  With the UMD videos you have the wonderful option of either buying a movie on DVD and playing it on almost anything (including a portable player, which you can now get with a good screen for under $100) or you can pay about $15 more (on average) to have the movie on UMD...and then you can only use it on the PSP, since Sony has no further UMD supporting devices.  Wow...that's a lame choice.  While the GP2X may not support any media disks, you will not suffer for finding a supported media type. 

Down the line, the PSP will still suffer.  While it can use Memory Duo sticks, these are some of the most expensive (per amount of memory) memory cards available.  Meanwhile, the GP2X uses SD cards (which are some of the cheapest...and some of the largest).  This amounts to the PSP costing a small fortune to buy if you are aiming to use it as a portable media device (either you shell out big money for UMD videos or for storage of you otherwise lame MPEG-4 files).  Meanwhile, the GP2X will run you about $70-$80 less than the PSP, and it will only cost about half as much for your first 1GB of storage.

However, while it fails as a game device, and it also is only half-assed and expensive for a multimedia device on the go, it truly is put to shame when you combine this thing with Sony's paranoia and control oriented way of running business.  While something like the GP2X is open source and runs with a Linux OS, the PSP has a Sony proprietary OS (which means it's a bitch to program on) and it has more lockouts than one would ever care to deal with.  Everytime someone cracks the security and gives some free programs to the masses, Sony simply comes out with a new firmware update, which is required for their newest games (which is not much of an incentive to upgrade when the newest games are still only half as good as anything you'll find on the DS, for example), which will lock out all of the latest attempts at making free games available to all.  When a system has no good games to offer from the more commercial of outlets, this type of lockout system only serves to reinforce the fact that THERE IS NOTHING GOOD on the PSP.  If you want me to continue my comparison to the GP2X, let me just say this, it's open source and it has (if you believe in them...let's not even open this legal can of worms) emulators (scroll to the fifth from last question on this link).

However, while software only makes half of what a system needs.  Sadly, beyond the built-in wireless networking of the PSP (which the DS also has), the PSP is kinda flimsy on the hardware side.  It may look impressive when you check the stats, but it has nothing when it's in your hands.  For example, the "analogue" nub is hard to handle and is about as precise as using the Intellivision disc for moving a character on a game.  The remainder of the buttons are not bad, but they just don't have the punch or responsiveness of the DS.  The only other thing that really makes it a good system, from a hardware standpoint, is the bright and clear widescreen display.  If only this display was placed on a system with something to take advantage of it...and if only you weren't practically guaranteed a dead pixel or two along the way.

Consoles/Hardware: The Best

XBox 360

Normally a new console suffers greatly shortly after it's launch.  If you look at the PS2, the GCN, or the XBox, for example, you'd see three consoles that became great in their own ways, but they all had the same beginning; home to one good game and many bad ones.  XBox had Halo, GCN had Rogue Leader, and the PS2 had SSX.  Beyond those three games, each system launched with nothing more than a nice bunch of mediocre to horrible titles which just failed on all possible accounts.  Luigi's Mansion showed us why Mario was the true star of so many great games, DoA3 showed us why DoA2 was so sweet on the Dreamcast, and Fantavision showed us that fireworks do not make a good premise for a video game.

However, despite what so many people who failed to secure a 360 will want you to believe, the 360 has easily shown itself to be the top piece of hardware for the year (sorry, DS was in 2004 for the US...not 2005).  While the launch may have had no supposed must buy titles, and while PDZ may have been a really incomplete and rushed title, these was some hope that just didn't get the spotlight.

Kameo has shown to be a game, when given a fair and honest chance, that can easily handle some of the best of the Zelda franchise with a little of the darker side of things that Beyond Good and Evil tried to show the world.  Sadly, much like BG&E, Kameo is just not getting the love and attention it so needs.  Unfortunately, Kameo, much like BG&E, just looks like too kiddie of a game, but packs some more mature of content, leaving it in a weird gray zone of where the game actually fits it.

On top of that, we have Ridge Racer 6.  This is the first time that RR has shown it's skills to a system not containing the Sony name.  It's also one of the most easily enjoyable arcade racing games of the year.  There is no hassles involved in upgrading and customizing your whip, there's no need to deal with some lame story about gaining street cred, and there is sure as hell no weird incentives on why you must ram every single car going the same direction as you.  Beyond all of that, unlike Burnout Revenge (which is one of the games I was poking fun at on that last line), if you come in first place, you will be getting a first place worthy reward.  Throw in the fact that your able to race up to 13 other players simultaneously online and you have one hell of a furious racing game.

Even if you don't like the games out there (and while you may not love the games, you will probably enjoy at least a couple of them...I know I was surprised that I did after my hopes were dashed with Oblivion's delay), there is so much more to dig into with the 360.  Assuming you have the premium set, or a core with a HDD, and broadband, then you have access to the free content of Live.  In other words, there's the free arcade game demos (Gauntlet, Joust, and Smash TV to name a few), the free video trailers in both HD (usually 720p) and standard 480i for everything from game trailers to movie trailers, the free 360 game demos (like how they have Kameo, Madden, and NFS:MW2 playable demos), and the new and unique Live Arcade games that all have both trial (free) and full (pay) versions.  There is so much you can get out of this online marketplace, and while many would want you to think otherwise, you will be able to get a good deal of entertainment without paying a damned cent.

Last of all, while some may say the hardware is disappointing in the end, this is another load of shit.  The wireless controllers, as first pioneered by Nintendo and the Wavebird (Meat Shield, that was for you), are simple to connect, and hell of great to use when you don't need to get off one's fat ass to turn on the system.  Plus, unlike the PS3 and their anticipated batarang controls, the 360 uses a easily recognizable controller that is nothing more than a revamped and btter laid out XBox controller.  The system is easy to set up.  The processor is hella strong, and you will truly see it when you play a game like Kameo and are surrounded by hundreds of trolls, all acting in different ways, at the same time.  Also, while some may say that the "Next-Generation should be about visuals" and that the 360 "doesn't look next-gen", the truth is quite the opposite.  The visuals don't make the next-gen, but if they did, then the 360 would still easily be next-gen.


So, that's it for my first round of recapping what was definitely a year of ups and downs for the geek world.  Tomorrow you can look forward to my take on the games of 2005.


Malik (12/28/05)  

Games: The Worst

Franchise Titles

This was another year that seemed to imitate 2004, but with a twist.  The new games of 2005 were, for the most part, the same exact games of 2004.  In 2004 we were surprised with Katamari Damacy, and in 2005 we had We Love Katamari.  In 2004 we had Burnout 3 and THUG2 on the extreme action side of things, and in 2005 we had Burnout Revenge and THAW.  In a nut shell, 2005 was a lot like a rerun of 2004, but with a few less titles, and a little lack of RPG action.

We have reached the point that we really need innovation (not the evil Square Enix style of "innovation", but rather the type that involve thinking and planning).  It looks like, for the most part, the game industry has just hit a giant stumbling block in which they are always trying to get a little more entertainment (and thus money) from a license or property that has been used to death.

For example, while Super Mario Strikers is giving us all a new and fresh look on the subject of football (soccer), we can see FIFA hitting a brick wall on the same sport, and Madden on the 360 shows truly the lowest possible end to justify EA's greed in the other end of "football".  While Super Mario Kart gave us some silly racing with a bit of speed, we saw Burnout Revenge hit us like a ton of franchised bricks.  Instead of having any creativity, the tracks were poorly conceived (any time a wall appears at the end of a blind turn is an example of bad design on a racing title), the game was recycled, and to make matters worse, the game play mechanics were killed by changing the "try to be reckless but not destructive" mechanics and replacing it with some idiotic notion of "hit everything, wreck everything, and worry more about destruction than winning races".

True, not every sequel took this type of path into infamy.  We Love Katamari was a great game, even if it didn't pack anything truly new in it's game play or design, and Dragon Quest 8 showed that there is still some hope left for fans of old school RPGs.  However, many games...far too many games just failed to even try to accomplish anything new.  It all came down to a very sad and tired method for developers in which they simply try to milk any cash cow for all it's worth.

Since it's not fair to simply just name a vague group of games as the worst of 2005, I'll end this with a nice list of the worst offenders;

Madden NFL 06: Which showed that by removing 2K Games from the mix, there is no reason for anything beyond updated rosters

Burnout Revenge: Which killed the Burnout originality, while throwing in canned destructive themes

Castlevania DS: Which not only offered absolutely nothing new, but even forced exercises in tedium on us in the touch screen uses

Dishonorable Mention

Jade Empire: This was not a franchised game, but it sure felt like it.  It was fun while it lasted, but it ended up leaving a very sick taste in one's mouth.  The game was slow and the martial arts were mostly pointless, despite claims of fast paced action in which we'd be able to chain four different combat style together in a flawless blur of action.  In reality, you hit the jump button to go behind your foe and then hit then with you standard attack a couple time before you jump behind them again...yippee?...

Games: The Best

Guitar Hero

It is always hard to name the best game of a year.  In the end, this comes down too much to taste and way too many other personal factors.  I mean, Dragon Quest 8 can easily be someone's idea of a perfect game.  I know I come close to thinking that.  Mario Kart DS is another example of that, and even Kameo (the little game that no one wants to love) is simply amazing.  Hell, every single system had something to hold it's own with; the PC had Battlefield 2 and City of Villains, the GCN had RE4 and some more Mario sports, the PS2 had DQ8 and We Love Katamari, the XBox had Fable: The Lost Chapters and a great version of Staw Wars Battlefront 2.  Every system had something to call it's own, and each game appealed to a small audience when compared to the whole of geeks.

This is where Guitar Hero comes into play.  Never before have I seen a game that just draws in potential players with how it looks.  While a game like Taiko Drum Master will make some people want to play it by how the taiko controller looks, the truth of the matter is that it only reaches a certain group of people.  Meanwhile, the guitar has an appeal that the drum never could.  Just looking at a guitar shaped controller is enough to draw in a potential victim.  And this game will victimize it's players as they pour hour after hour into trying to perfect the guitar solo in the middle of Iron Man (or whatever song ends up being your poison).

When you throw in the massive appeal of the music used in this game, you truly hit something amazing.  While a game like DDR, with it's assortment of J-pop, Guitar Hero has the type of music that no one could resist; a little of almost all major types of rock.  You get 30 or so licensed songs (covered quite faithfully) that range from Hendrix to Cream to Sum 41 to The Ramones.  You also can unlock about 30 or so extra songs from underground bands that cover a wider range of sounds to bring in even more potential victims.  While heavier music may not have massive appeal, there is definitely more appeal for the American musical palate than J-pop could ever give.

However, while Guitar Hero is addictive, innovative, and is definitely showing more appeal than anyone could've imagined (shown by how Red Octane has more demand than supply), it would be wrong to simply ignore some of the other great games for the year;

Honorable Mentions

PS2: Dragon Quest 8, which brought back good old school mechanics with a nice addition of new-school flair.

GCN: Resident Evil 4, which showed that if only more companies gave the GCN the same love that Capcom gave, then the GCN could've been so much more.

Xbox: Fable: The Lost Chapters, which made up nicely for many of the empty promises of the original.

DS: Mario Kart DS, which not only showed that a simply game can be amazing, but also showed what the DS could truly do with it's simple and easy to initiate WiFi.

PC: Battlefield 2 and Civilization 4; two games that are completely different, but both showed some of the best in strategy and visuals on the PC.

XBox 360: Kameo, while being overlooked by many as too kiddy, this is definitely a game that shows a great blend of both Zelda style adventure and Beyond Good and Evil style intrigue and plot twists.

PSP: Ummmm...well...maybe next year...maybe...



Malik (12/29/05)  

So, to continue in the theme of this week, I'll hit upon the news of the year.  While most would look at news, I prefer to look at what it really means to us geeks as a whole.  While something big may have happened, it usually is not as simple as seeing the big events as a stand alone thing as much as seeing what they really mean.

Stupidest News of the Year

Without a doubt, when the "Hot Coffee" scandal broke, this was possibly one of the lowest moments in gaming history.  It all began with the revelation that some sexual content could be unlocked in GTA: San Andreas when a person managed to use the PC version with an appropriate mod.  In other words, by using the PC version, using a certain mod, and then playing through the game with special attention paid to the girlfriends of the game, one could get Carl Johnson to enter into a sexual mini-game.  Not only is this something hard to do (mainly because it was boring as all f#@% to get your girlfriend's mood improved so much), but it was also something that is not required or needed in the normal course of the game.  There was only one g/f that required so much attention paid to her, and this was for the mission "Key to Her Heart".  However, the easiest way to accomplish the goal on this mission was (spoiler of sorts on a 15-16 year old game) to simply kill her and then take the key card needed for the main game from her home.  Even if you do this the hard way, you are still, most likely, going to experience a cut scene of the sounds of CJ having some freaky and nasty sex involving a fair share of S&M.

Also, you can experience a similar type of auditory stimulation from frequenting one of the infinite prostitutes in the game.  However, once the visual stimulation become graphic, then things changed...for some lame reason.  Plus, while a M rated game is supposedly equivalent to an R rated movie, which may include some nudity and sex, the same thing cannot be seen in a game.  So, naturally, for any similarities to sex being present on a video game, then game needs to be rated AO (or the game equivalent of  a movie NC-17 rating).  Thus, we had shit rain down on the gaming industry and the ESRB by everyone from parent groups (who usually have more interest in censorship than in protecting children) to Jack Thompson to Congress.

These groups and individuals decided that not only did the game industry need an overhaul on the rating system, but also that all games needed to be changed to be made cleaner for future children.  This ignored a very important fact; the average age of video game players was not lower than 18 years old...the average gamer is in his (yes, the average is a guy) mid 20's.  To say that people in their 20's are children in need of censoring from their chosen pastimes is like saying that all media, from books to movies to games, need to be censored simply because a vocal group has the need to keep America clean of all "problematic" influences. 

To make matters worse, there was Rockstar's decisions in this problem.  While the news was still fresh, Rockstar and their parent company of Take Two decided to claim that the "adult" content was not programmed by their people.  Instead, they claimed that the content was actually added by the Hot Coffee mod creator.  It was soon seen that this content was included on the original game.  So, Rockstar made it sound like the content was actually part of a bit of code that was no longer intended to be viewed by the public, but was still so tied into the actual code of the game that it couldn't be removed without destroying the game's final coding (like Microsoft said in their defense when they were sued for antitrust in Europe over the integration of IE and Windows).  In reality, this was also revealed to be bullshit, and it was seen that the code was there mainly because Rockstar wanted to just shake things how a screaming toddler likes to scream to get some attention.

In the end, this created the single biggest debate on censorship for video games ever seen.  This made Mortal Kombat and Night Trap look tame.  It also showed how truly low all sides could get.  Rockstar was acting childish for the sake of stupidity and attention grabbing, Congress wanted to simply censor games because of them being a "bad influence" on children (despite the average gamer demographics...let's ignore reality and the age of these VOTERS), and Jack Thompson was brought back into the spotlight in the worst way.  The only side that did it's duty was the ESRB, who rates games based on what they can see, and they did quite well on showing that they rated the game according to the unlocked and visible content.  It also showed how, despite movies looking more realistic, that they are considered cleaner in the view of censor-nuts.  The only real winners in this were the gamers (at the end, since common sense barely won out in a close fight) and the ESRB (who basically told the US to bite their word choice, not theirs).

Coolest News of 2005

Without a doubt, the coolest news of 2005 fell on Nintendo's shoulders.  In fact, they had the top two bits of sweet news.  The first and more minor was how they showed that WiFi portable gaming could belong to the masses.  While Sony has one hell of a frustrating setup for running a game on a WiFi network (try the network setup menu on the PSP), Nintendo gave us the single easiest wireless setup ever seen on their DS.  The DS, using Mario Kart DS, Animal Crossing: Wild World, or a few other soon to be seen games, has a simple setup involving simply telling the system to look for a network and then to go at it.  On top of that, by making a deal with McDonalds to offer DS WiFi hotspots at most McD restaurants, Nintendo played one half of the team that was determined to bring wireless network gaming to the American masses.

However, the bigger piece of news that Nintendo gave us comes down to the next-generation.  At the Tokyo Game Show (TGS), Nintendo finally revealed the controller for The Revolution.  While Sony was bringing us a George Foreman Grill with 7 Batarang controllers and a processor 2348.4 times (my number...sorry, I find these numbers silly) more powerful than the PS2, and while Microsoft was bringing us mini-tower PC with an intelligent design and about 1239.7 times (see note above) the power of the XBox, Nintendo said that they actually cared more about making gamers happy than just looking good on paper.  So, their response was to make a system only twice as powerful as the GCN, to make it tiny as hell (the thing is only about 2 or so times as big as a DVD case), WiFi out of the box (which Nintendo has shown they can handle with the DS), a price that will be ready for the average person (not just the average gamer), and the ability to play all past Nintendo games (details still need to come along...I'm betting on a pay-per-month service similar to XBox Live) with a little downloading.  However, the biggest bit of this news came with the TGS announcement that showed what Nintendo showed off for the controller.  

The Revolution will use spatial mouse technology to give the most immersive gaming experience possible.  If this plays out like Nintendo is hoping for, it will actually work, unlike the average PC spatial mouse (which is typically a pile of shit).  Also, it will open up a new realm of possibilities for video games.  While one hand holds what looks like a DVD remote with the spatial technology, the other hand will be able to be free or be holding an analogue nub that is optional.  Then, using the controller, one can motion their hand to do all that is needed for both old genres and for the new possibilities of genres.  For example, if you're playing a fishing game, you can flick your wrist like you're casting your rod, and then you can jerk you wrist to fight the fish.  If you're playing pool, you can jab the remote like you would jab with a pool cue.  If you're playing a FPS, you can aim with the remote, like a light gun, and then use the analogue nub to move and use either a button on the nub (which has a couple of action buttons) or the remote to fire.

These will be no end to the possible gaming genres that can be invented for this technology.  One of my favorite possibilities is one I've discussed with my friends Bastich and Meat Shield.  It basically is how a Jedi based FPS Star Wars game could be done on the Revolution.  While one hand uses the nub to move, the other hand will be able to swing a light saber and to be able to block enemy blows and even deflect blaster fire.  On top of that, you could drop the nub and pick up a second remote to play a game with dual wielding light saber action.  In a phrase; hot damn!

While there are some concerns over if Nintendo will start to get the third party support needed, and if the spatial mouse technology can actually work correctly, the possibilities are simply astounding.  This will allow the type of innovation in the gaming industry that we once had so much of, but are not so severely lacking.  However, this will all depend on two simple things; will the third party developers support this new technology, and will this new technology live up to Nintendo's hopes (being cheap and effective).  To make even more excitement, Nintendo has recently been saying that there is more news in store for the Revolution, and these cards will be revealed in the next 6 months.

Most Confusing News of 2005

Without a doubt, Sony was the master of confusion in 2005.  This comes down to the method Sony is using to advertise their almost useless PSP system.  It started when the intelligent advertisements for the PSP (including the one with the song Take Me Out as the background music) coming to an end a few months back.  Then the graffiti arrived.  Sony denied any knowledge in this thing, but basically a bunch of PSP themed graffiti, that looked a little too stenciled, started to show up around the country.  When you combine the obviously stencil look with the coast to coast proliferation, it was obvious that this wasn't just some PSP fan who was also a master tagger.  It was obvious to even the most fanboyish of Sony fans that this was the work of Sony...and that they were willing to break the law and deface the private property of others in order to push their gameless wonder.

Sadly, after the graffiti was attacked by upright citizens, Sony only further tried to confuse the gaming landscape.  They decided to start a series of ads that were based, on the surface, on either a couple of nut-obsessed squirrels or some carpet-obsessed dust balls.  However, while the ads may have looked crudely drawn, had nothing to do with the PSP, and were simply pointless wastes of TV commercial airtime, they seemed to hold a deeper meaning...maybe.  One could not help but notice how the dust balls had an obvious Latino flavor to their accents, and the squirrels sounded stereotypically African American.  On one hand, you can't help but wonder why the overall message in this could be that African Americans are nut-obsessed and Hispanic Americans are obsessed with carpet.  You also could substitute whatever sexual meaning on "nut" and "carpet" that you want.  You could also see the fact that all the animated characters are male (meaning all male "squirrels" are obsessed with "nuts"'s f#@%ed up).  In the end, the voice of the narrator who tells us all to waste our money on the useless PSP sounds stereotypically white.  Some potential meanings for this could be;

1.  All "Squirrels" want to stare at "nuts" all day, while all "Dust Balls" want to stare at "carpet"...which is f#@$ed up in assigning sexual orientations on "Squirrels" and "Dust Balls".

2.  "Squirrels" and "Dust Balls" are stupid enough to do pointless activities, so the overbearing white man must force another piece of useless and boring shit on them...which being manipulated by a Japanese mega-company.

3.  Sony doesn't give a shit about female gamers (two ads, five voices, none of them female).

I won't say how I see it, but I will say that this type of advertising could be seen as far more offensive to young minds that all the Hot Coffee in the world and that it is still allowed to be seen before PG rated movies (I saw it in a theater before Narnia started a couple weeks back) and during commercial breaks between cartoons.  This just astounds and confuses me like no other event could.  It's like Sony doesn't know who they are selling their system to, they don't want to know, and they don't even know why people would buy their steaming pile of clunky-gameless-shit.



Malik (12/30/05)  

So, the whole end of the year recap thing is now over with.  I've spent the rest of this week going off about the "best of 2005" stuff for two main reasons.  For one, I had not much else to talk about, and on the other hand I was just too damned lazy to think of anything original to talk about.  However, that's done now.

So, with Christmas and my birthday (which was yesterday) being over with, I now have a nice set of new games (Legend of Heroes for the PSP and Guitar Hero for was a hero filled holiday season) to play with, some extra money, the prospect of being promoted in the next couple of weeks, and the harsh reality that I'll be moving from my home of the last 3.5 years in less than a month.  To say it's been a slow end to the year would be a complete lie.

As for the games I got, Guitar Hero is nothing short of amazing.  I've said it before, and I say it now; this is one of the most amazing games that will ever grace the PS2.  It is addictive, it meets the American palate for being a rhythm game, and it is freakin' fun as hell.  I think this is just the type of game that has been needed in the home market to introduce the once dreaded rhythm genre to a group (Americans) who have been neglected with forced J-pop and K-pop (and occasional C-pop).

As for the other heroic game, Legend of Heroes is shaping up to be pretty good so far.  Of course, since it was a b-day gift, I haven't had too much time to play with it yet.  Besides the fact that the PSP analogue makes this a pain in the arse to control (hence, I use the d-pad), the game is good fun.  The plot is somewhat original, which is saying a lot for an RPG.  However, I haven't experienced a battle yet, since it takes about an hour or two to get through the opening plot and start fighting battles.  I should have more information on this game next week, but I'm thinking I'll be having some nice praise for this one of two first RPGs for the PSP.

I also saw Munich last night.  It's a complete subject change, but this movie is amazing.  It's rare that a movie can inspire my friends and I to have meaningful conversation, but this movie really did a good job as getting us to discuss some real problems of the world.  That isn't to say the movie isn't simply amazing.  I personally didn't think a 3 hour movie could be carried by Eric "The Hulk" Bana, but he did an excellent job of showing the rumors of his career being dead were indeed false.  Also, like with the other Spielberg movies that deal with real historical incidents (Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan), this movie doesn't feel like the typical Spielberg movie.  Instead of forcing action down the audiences' throats, Spielberg simply gives a series of connected events, little personal commentary, and lets the events speak for themselves.  Even though I'm done with that "best of 2005" kick, I would say this movie fits in as one of the best 3 (in my opinion, at least) films of the year.

Lastly, I finished Kameo on Wednesday, and the rumors of it's lameness are greatly exaggerated.  This is an awesome game for anyone who enjoyed both the Zelda series and Beyond Good and Evil.  While it looks really kiddy, the plot is more about manipulation and back-stabbing (like BG&E), and the action involves plenty of options for determining the best solution to anything.  Also, unlike BG&E, the final boss was not a flat out bitch.  The only complaint I had, at all, was that the Eye of Regeneration (one of four equipible items...all completely hidden and optional) breaks the game.  You will regenerate life if you don't get hit for about 2 seconds, and while your spirit (think MP) takes more time to regenerate than normal, this is easily offset by being constantly at full health.  Besides that one issue, this game has a lot of content and a lot of chances for replayability, despite having about a 8 hour lifespan.  While many have been vocal about 8 hours being too short, I'd just like to say that no one voices this complaint about Zelda games, yet have you ever noticed how long they last?  I doubt these people would complain if this game was called Zelda, instead of just playing like a game in the same genre.

Ok, I'm out of here for 2005.  There will probably be no post on Monday, since it's a vacation day (my last one before I'm back at my day job).  Expect some nice changes to the site in the next couple of weeks, and have a safe New Years.


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