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Malik (1/8/07)  

I just want to start with one thought; If another rumor appears about the "new" 360 that's on it's way, I think I'll lose it. Enough already! There may eventually be a new 360 HDD, or maybe an add on something or other. However, I don't see Microsoft trying anything as big as a complete re-release of the 360 with new features. Afterall, they are trying to win supremacy in the console wars, and the last way to do it is to alienate their early adopters.

Plus, even if one of these redesigns came along in the fall, then it would means it's been two whole years since the console launched. That type of thing would not effect only "early adopters". That would screw over early and middle adopters, and that would just lose Microsoft too much in terms of loyalty and customer satisfaction.

I decided this last week that I really wanted to start another epic adventure or RPG styled game. The options seemed very clear; Okami or FF3. However, a strange thing has happened...I cannot find either game in any physical store. I don't know what to think of this, but it is confusing that a hyped game like FF3 (DS) would have completely been discontinued after such a short time on the market (two months).

I did find, in the end, that has both games in stock. I don't like buying from Amazon because of personal reasons (about how they treat some of their employees...I won't go into it, but let's just say that attempting to humiliate a worker injured on the job is not frowned upon too readily), but sometimes we have some rather unfortunate choices. In this case, it was buying from Amazon or possibly not getting FF3 and Okami until they are selling for outrageous prices on eBay. In that case, I would then have to go via eBay (another group I have a personal issue, that's much more direct, with). is full of crap-tacular choices.

Anyway, I'm still playing DBZ for the Wii. If you want the whole name, look it up because it's too damned big for me to quote from my memory here.

It's definitely an impressive fighter, considering how overly used this license is. I guess even an over-saturated product can eventually be fun. In particular, this game is great since it lets you fight out the entire DBZ series, from the (bad spelling is coming :P) Saiyan Saga to the Maajin Buu battles, without the massive time kill of watching the anime. Right now, I'm near the start of the Saiyan Saga, since there's a lot to do on the side.

For example, instead of just fighting the next story battle, you can find optional side battles which give you special items that allow you to unlock new fighters for the non-story modes. Also, you can level up your fighters in this one, so it's fun to do a little grinding between battles. Especially with the control scheme of the Wii version, in which you actually feel like you're more taking the role of a fighting instead of just pressing buttons blindly.

In the end, this game is still mainly a button masher, since the controls typically come down to A for melee and B for ranged attacks. However, with the Wii functions breaking up the monotony, it definitely becomes mroe enjoyable. Considering how I need to kill time while I wait for Okami and FF3, this is the ideal time kill. Also, with a battle system that's this easy to pick up, but filled with a lot of secret moves and abilities, it reminds me a lot of Smash Bros. In other words, while I may be doing pretty good with the game right now, I think I'll be learning new techniques and skills every time I pick up this game...even if I keep playing for a few years non-stop.

On a final other note for the day, the first true Oblivion expansion is coming to light. The concept behind this expansion sounds pretty interesting. It's the type of thing I would have loved to have been able to do when I was enjoying Oblivion. The whole mystery type of format in which you have a city with clones in a world of insanity is always a fun, if cliché, experience. However, like I keep saying, my Oblivion days are behind me. The game did not offer enough for a player to keep coming back for, since the entire challenge of the franchise was dumbed down with the scaled levels. However, if you are an addict of this game (and for some reason you don't want to just go back for more Morrowind), this Shivering Isles expansion could be well worth it.

Well, it's one of those "too much to do and no damned time to think" type of days, so I'll drop off about here.


Malik (1/9/07)  

This is something I stumbled upon yesterday that has me floored; the Dreamcast is getting new games in Japan. Over the next two and a half months, those of us who like shooters and importing games will have something to look forward to from across the Pacific.

It's this type of news that reminds me of a very simple truth; I loved (or should that be "love" since I still have it hooked up?) the Dreamcast. There was no other game system really like the DC when it came to a few basics. The RPGs, fighters, and platformers found on this final entry from Sega were nothing short of amazing. True, there were not nearly enough games in total that came to the US, but that's beyond the point.

In the end, the DC reminds me a lot of the GCN. However, while Nintendo had the money and the patience to put up with a bad system (or two) from the marketing perspective, Sega just couldn't continue to compete. The DC was simply too unsupported in it's final least internationally. The Japanese audience loved the DC and still does, but it's not enough to keep a system afloat.

However, one thing I hate to hear in the modern sense is how the is the new Dreamcast. Yes, a PS3 is not hard to find in stock at major retailers, only two months after it's launch. However, in the end, this does not qualify it to bear the title of "another DC". For one thing, that's an insult to the DC name. I'm talking about the system that game us some of the most imaginative RPG experiences ever seen...Shenmue, Grandia 2, the original release of Phantasy Star, and even Skies of Arcadia. That's not even looking at the fighting games, like Power Stone 1 and 2, the best version of Dead or Alive 2, some damned good Street Fighter and Capcom fighters in their final glory days, and Project Justice (the under looked awesome sequel to Rival Schools).

Then when you throw in how user friendly the DC was, with it's easy to import abilities, Bleem, and the Windows CE OS...the DC is just not another console for the ages. It was an amazing toy that not enough people realized the power of until Sega had to throw in the towel. Like Rocky at the end of Rocky 1, it was a great fighter that just needed more time. However, instead of taking another shot at Apollo, the Mickey of the DC's world just gave up then and there.

Yes, the PS3 may be able to improve some aspects of the concepts of what a console can do (Linux, WiFi, and other new ideas), it comes with a price; $500-$600. The DC did it all with the standard console price attached.

The other thing to keep in mind when people throw around "another DC", is that we don't know the fate of the PS3. It has been out for only two months. In the end, we don't know if the system will be the last for Sony (doubtful), if it will be a huge failure in a half decade, or if it will be widely accepted by the hardcore gaming world long after it's labeled as "dead". We just cannot say anything this early in it's life. That, and it seems, with the strong similarities to the PSP, that maybe it's more appropriate to call the PS3 "another PSP". Afterall, the PSP is the system that tried a bit too much with new technology, cost a little more than one would expect, and introduced a major new media format. That's not the DC spirit...that's the PSP spirit in the PS3.

Anyway, all I want to say in the end is this; if you're one to label the PS3 as doomed or a success...either way, you need to wait. I personally don't like the thought of a $500-$600 game system (especially since I live in Washington...the state of sales tax hell), but I will not go one way or another. All I can speak of is the present, and it's all any of us can speak of.

Yes, the PS3 launch is nothing short of ass...but what console had a really good launch of all accounts? Go ahead and think about that. If you name any, I'd simply counter with "what about the games for the first year?" How fun is the PS3? Well, it's still crap-tacular, but until good games come along, there's nothing more to expect. The only solid truth that can be said at this early point is that Sony needs to find a way to solve the 1080i/720p scaling issues, and fast, if they want to come in and play on my 1080i/480p/480i big screen. Other than saying that, the PS3 is in the same state of purgatory as the 360 and the Wii...only another few years wi9ll tell us the truth.

Anyway, I say all of this for one reason; it's always good to think before opening one's mouths. Be it saying is another DC or saying that the PS3 will destroy all competition. The geek world is a good place to be, but it only takes a few too many fanboys to turn our little slice of paradise into a nasty little geek hell. Speak of the present, and speak with knowledge...don't let your inner fanboy ruin things for those around you.


Malik (1/10/07)  

My thanks to Tangwich for bringing this to my attention; New info is up on the 360 exclusive features on Guitar Hero 2. I've just got three names that should explain more than well enough. How does "Rancid", "Toadies", and "Iron Maiden" strike you?

I was ready to drop money on a pre-order when I heard Possum Kingdom was going to be representing, but once I knew that Iron-mother-f$#@in'-Maiden was there...well, let's just say that little metal head in my heart nearly died from the excitement. Plus, when you consider that downloadable content is supposed to be ready for the launch...rock overload!

I've personally tried to take the approach that I don't want to keep buying the same product over and over again. However, when it comes to a real difference, like GH2 is giving 360 owners, versus buying a DS in a smaller frame or Burnout on HD, no justification is needed. I finally have a good reason to not only be excited about March (usually a weak game month), but also a reason to not just wonder why my 360 is sitting around collecting dust.

Then again, the inevitable and soon release of Castlevania: SotN on the 360 Arcade is another good reason to be excited about this console. Even though I have the game on the PSX, this one is another I can justify (assuming the price is reasonable) buying again. I can justify it for one simple reason; PSX memory cards are hard to find and I think my last one may have finally given up it's will to live.

Buying the same over and over again is not my idea of cool. It's the reason why many people have multiple versions of the exact same Nintendo portables, but in different colors or shapes. Sometimes we get something nice added to the mix (like downloads and exclusive songs on GH2) but usually it's just a different shape or color that does the same damned job (Gameboy versus Gameboy Pocket versus the colored Gameboys...not the Gameboy Color). I figure that Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, Konami, and whoever else all get enough of my hard earned money without me going stupid and buying the same shit over and over again. Afterall, if I bought every damned re-release that they wanted the consumer to gobble up, then I'd be one broke and pathetic geek.

It's only when I'm given something new, like what Harmonix is doing, that I can actually part with my money with less than total self-loathing. However, I can assure you, buying another version of GH2, along with another wired (damn you Microsoft!) guitar controller will be painful. It will not feel good, by any means. However, sometimes the cost of being a geek does require some dedication and some tricky decisions.

I sound too down on this, so let me just re-affirm that I'm stoked. IRON MAIDEN!!!!

Anyway, I don't have much else to say today. Yesterday was another day blown on filling out mortgage applications and meeting with loan brokers. Seriously, I need all of this stuff to come to an end right about now...however, that's the cost of being a "grown up"...paper work.


Malik (1/12/07)  

I was a bit indisposed yesterday. Considering how the greater Seattle area had another round of unusually nasty ice storms, I just didn't feel like doing much else besides watch the news (and see the sensationalizing effect of "ICE STORM 2007!") and play FF3 on the DS. So, while I sat bundled up, I just couldn't find the effort to be constructive or anything like that.

Before I go into much else, I just want to say that this is no surprise; Castlevania: SotN will break the 50MB size limit for Live Arcade games. Considering this game was originally a PSX game (followed by the superior and never-released-in-America Saturn version), and thus was on CD, it should come as no shock. Anyway, with the recent releases of HD TV shows and HD movies on Live, why should whole games be limited to a small 50MB?

Hell, not even a single demo (besides Arcade trial games) has come anywhere near that small of a size. It's about time that Microsoft shows they are willing to battle Sony on the right front...and the first step is showing that these previously "casual" only Arcade games can go beyond both size and "casual" limits. Afterall, this is a console war, and Microsoft and Sony both need to use their big guns in this fight.

Anyway, as I said above, I've started playing FF3 for the DS. I held back on buying it in November since I was finishing up Tales of the Abyss, so my RPG fix was being met. Also, with the Wii on it's way, I couldn't afford to drop extra money without a good reason. Well, little did I know that FF3 was a great reason to drop money on the DS.

First of all, this is a classic game with a classic sense of game play mechanics. However, beyond that, this is a great example of what RPGs used to be; hard as f#@$. You don't save in dungeons, you don't get warned of boss fights by the obvious save spot right before the battle begins, and you don't have anyone holding your hand to explain what you can and cannot do. This is RPG glory from the days of the NES, when Dragon Warrior 1-4 all took turns kicking your ass...and when you would crawl back, in a submissive state, begging for more!

However, more than the sheer and unadulterated fun of a good hard RPG, this game is perfect for showing what the DS can do. Just like with New Super Mario Bros., FF3 uses a brilliant mix of old school 2D mechanics, but with 3D polygons to make it look fresh and alive in the modern landscape. This is best seen in FF3 by how you can zoom into the map screen with a press of the L button to get a better look at the finer details. In fact, this is needed to help you see which pots, boxes, and whatever else hold secret switches or treasures.

In fact, after playing about 7 hours of FF3 since Wednesday night, I can only think of two things; I need to play more being the obvious first choice. The other would be that the DS needs more RPGs to showcase this wonderful style of game play.

Best of all, I don't think any game on the DS before this has shown how amazing the visuals can get. All you need to do is start the game and watch the initial opening movie to see how good it can become. The visuals on the opening are a nice blend of the best of the PSX age with some of the better visuals of the PS2 era. If you want eye candy on the go, then this is it! You don't need the supposedly eye-candy glory machine of the PSP when the DS can do this type of stuff.

I also picked up Okami (PS2) at the same time as when I got FF3. I really wish I could comment on this game. It's supposed to be the last great PS2 game (well, if you count it, then it along with FF12 are the last great PS2 games). I even told myself on Wednesday night that if I couldn't get to work (due to ice) then Okami would get a lot of love. Little did I know that FF3, a game I once beat in it's original incarnation, would prove me so damned wrong. However, eventually, I will get to this game. I just hope the hype lives up to the reality of things.

Anyway, time to drop off so I can finish up two days worth of work before the weekend. The one bad side of a snow day is that when you get back to work (in my line of work, at least) things did not patiently put themselves on the American dream...or some such bullshit!


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