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Malik (1/9/06)  

Let's think of how things are starting this week as a "do over". Last week, I started to post my friend Raven's web comic "World of WoW". Well, there's been a couple of changes. For one, let's call Raven "Fayne". It's the name he's best known as on WoW, so this makes sense. Also, while we're calling things by different names, let's call World of WoW "Rested XP". Besides that, and some changes on the text of the first couple of comics (reposted for all of your enjoyment, with the updated titles, etc.), things are not really different...they just have a different flavor. Speaking of new flavors, there's also a new issue of Rested XP. Enjoy. 

Beyond that, there's very little actual news going on today. While I could try to make an attempt at geeking out over BloodRayne being in theaters, I just can't find the fake enthusiasm. For one, the movie looks like a made for TV movie. In fact, worse than that, it looks like an episode of some half-assed attempt at making a new Buffy rip-off for one of the non-digital cable channels (maybe USA would be a good home to this). I'm only judging this from the commercials, but I think it's a fair perspective considering the ads for this movie make it look like all the budget on... 

Ben Kingsley and Michael Madsen used to stand for something. They were both in some damned good movies in the past. To see them make the jump to a poor looking video game based movie makes me wonder. Was all of the budget spent on making sure they would star in such a bad movie idea? Did anyone actually think this through? When will we be free from the bad movie adaptations of video games? 

Needless to say, if you are looking for an impression of this movie, you won't find much here...well, you won't find much more than "I don't even have the slightest urge to see this apparent pile of shit". 

After spending part of the weekend watching football with a few of my friends, and then pulling out my PSP to play Legend of Heroes while one friend played the new Fire Emblem and another played Mario and Luigi (DS), I came to two conclusions. The first was that this weekend did not live up to it's potential in terms of the playoffs. In fact, I think I've never seen such a boring and uninspired opening wildcard weekend before. The other conclusion was at least a little better; M&L looked hella fun. 

So, I bought M&L last night, and have played it almost non-stop since then. It easily lives up to all that the GBA title first gave us geeks, and is also one of the first games that made completely logical use of the dual screens without just trying to force the touch screen on us in an attempt to apease Nintendo (I'm looking at you, Castlevania...). For example, while you walk, the top screen shows the map, and in combat it will either show you the airborne action (since there is occasionally interesting stuff up there), or it'll show you the button timings for some of the complicated "Bros. Items" (which are basically your special attacks). 

Anyway, I'm still giving my love to Legend of Heroes, but I'm determined that this may be the final game I get for the PSP. Unless things really change, the PSP will soon be one of the first systems I'll consider selling. While the DS and PSP both have limited good games, at least the DS has Nintendo (who can always be counted on for some fun). 

Also, if you're wondering...since I've given my analogy on the PSP "It's like you can use outside" ads, I'll fill you in. The mice/rats that love cheese are either Italians or at least New Yorkers (it's a mixed accent that seems to change a couple of times during the ad). So, I now see them saying that African Americans, Latinos, and New Englanders are all puppets to be controlled by the voice of the non-regional white guy, who is actually a puppet of the Japanese. I see it more that way than as a simple ad for a game system (for those, I look more towards Nintendo). 

Ok...before I go, I figure one bit of stupidity about Sony deserves a friend. The whole backlash against Sony and the spyware/malware/whatever that they included with some music CDs a few months (almost a year now) back has reached a settlement. While The XCP CDs from Sony may have caused some computers to be completely f$#@ed, Sony doesn't even have to take full responsibility. Instead of having to clean up all of their damage, Sony is instead only being required, by the settlement, to either give one album worth of downloads, a replacement of the original CD (with a non-harmful one), and $7.50, or Sony can give the replacement CD and three albums of downloads. So, in the end, Sony, who kept their mouths shut on this whole attack (let's face it...XCP CDs were listed as one of the highest malware/virus threats of 2005) for several months and then made no real concession of being guilty are now able to get away with this shit. Instead of being force to maybe pay an amount that would allow a person to get their PC repaired (not everyone is good with reinstalling their OS and all applications), they only "have to" force their download service on the consumers they hurt. Wow. It's like saying that if I make a program that wipes out a hard drive, I may be forced to make up for it by giving a free trial of another one of my services, in an attempt to win them over to this service. 

Anyway, if this judge (U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald) wanted to show she was not just trying to end this case, and was rather trying to help the hurt consumers, maybe I could offer an idea or two of an appropriate settlement. Here's an idea...since consumers were just wanting some good (or their idea of good) music when this happened, let's give the hurt some music back; Sony would pay for three albums from Napster, iTunes, or any other competing music store (not their own). After all, to use a music service, you usually have to give a fair amount of your information to the service, so to "punish" Sony in this way would only give them a list of customers to solicit their services to, legally. A better idea, the judge could have said done along the lines of forcing Sony to pay, to each customer hurt by their ineptitude, the average cost of what it would take to fully repair this damage at a PC repair place (usually around $80-$160+ to fix a Windows problem and reinstall the OS). If this judge wanted to be so nice to Sony, then at least she could have forced Sony to arrange a repair service (which they could probably get at a discount by pulling some strings with any number of retailers that have repair centers, like Comp USA or Best Buy) or paid an equal dollar amount to those who already fixed their PCs on their own. 

Either way, a judge should be responsible for doing more than "punishing" a music seller by forcing a small free sample onto the company's victims. Hell...Sony may end up with more customers from this sad excuse of a settlement. 


Malik (1/10/06)  

I'm having an interesting time; between the move (which is only about 10 days out), my current apartment going inane with forced changes for the sake of change, and now feeling like my working day is just an uninspired remake of Office Space (including coworkers who just don't see that anything is wrong with some of the crap that's going on and think I'm insane for rebelling against the ineptitude)'s been a hell on an interesting 2006 so far. Anyway, since I'm not in a good mood, by any means, today I'll focus on some of the stupider and more frustrating of news; 

BloodRayne, the movie, is getting it's ass handed to itself in many ways after it's opening weekend (this last weekend). On one hand, you have the fact that the movie's distributor actually sent about two times more copies of the film out than theaters wanted, so many prints just sat collecting dust. I wonder how this could be...I mean it's not only BloodRayne, and it doesn't just look like a made for TV movie, but it's a new Uwe Boll gem. That says instant classic to me... 

Beyond that, the movie brought in about 1.2 million dollars. In terms of movies, that's pretty sad...and funny. Considering it's "amazing" debut, I don't think that BloodRayne will even generate enough revenue to cover the paycheck for any of the films highly known actors (Billy Zane, Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, etc). If you ever want to make a really bad video-game-to-movie film, a great idea is to spare all expenses on talent, because you will not recoup those loses. 

There's more stuff going on with the whole line of retarded PSP ads (I'll use that word since it's fits, since these ads seem to have been partially completed before being launched). This time it's NYC (Queens) Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., who is trying to get Sony to pay for these ads. The sad thing is that NYC is one of the few places that can't complain about the ads. While Sony may have done illegal graffiti with some of the locations they picked (like any abandoned buildings, which they did not have the ability to pay for the advertising space on), the NYC locations were all paid for to the building owners. 

So, instead of just going off about how pointless this advertising campaign is, Vallone is trying to obtain a $20,000 fine against Sony. On one hand...yeah...$20,000 to Sony is like asking one of you to pay a dollar fine for something you legally were allowed to do. In other words, it's not a punishment, it's a punishment for something that's sadly legal to do, and it only further gives word of mouth advertising to Sony. If Vallone wants to tackle the ads, why not say something like the inane and stupid format will encourage children to become idiots. 

By the way..."Urban Nomads"...I know we all like to coin new phrases, but Sony...come on. I guess, by definition of that term, I think Sony is trying to sell their $250 (overpriced) gameless wonder to homeless people. Interesting concept. I guess it's only fitting, since first bums were used to sell items, via Bumvertising, and now they are expected to save up the $1 to $5 and a box of Newtons for a PSP. 

Also, while LotR: The Third Age may have been complete crap, and while the geek world is just about done with anything LotR (too much of a potentially good thing...), EA has decided to keep pushing their luck. Supposedly, according to one software engineer, EA is working on a new LotR RPG; The White Council. There is no literally news available on this. EA hasn't acknowledged it, there's no rumors (beyond this one blurb linked above), and there's no clues as to if EA will actually make this game into something that anyone would want to play. All I can say is that I probably will never be turned on to an authentic LotR RPG for one simple reason; an authentic one offers far too many shortcomings, since there are no healers (besides the type who just help you to mend with plenty of rest), only a half dozen magic users in the world, and mainly a bunch of fighters and thieves. If it has more of the healers and mages, I'd be happy as a gamer (not as a half-assed LotR fan) and the other way around would leave me unimpressed as a gamer. LotR may have all the makings for being a book, a movie, an action game, a strategy game, blah, blah...but it doesn't mean shit in the RPG genre. 

Anyway, enough of my enjoying other peoples' stupidity. I can't really add much, except that Mario and Luigi DS is one hell of a great distraction from the weights of reality... 


Malik (1/11/06)  

Third longest stretch of rainy days for Seattle continues today...maybe we'll hit number one. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to have it rain on the day that I'm moving (because nothing is more fun than moving...except moving in the rain!!!111!!). If I sound annoyed, it's only because I am sick of being drenched...and I'm really sick of walking a mile to work each day in pouring rain. Anyway... 

Microsoft is starting to come back to it's pre-launch plans for the 360. Initially, Microsoft said that three games would have downloadable demos at launch. That ended up meaning that Kameo would have a demo and nothing else. With time, a few more demos have come our way, and now it looks like another launch title is getting the demo treatment

I just have to wonder what the point is in releasing demos of games that have been out and playable for nearly two months, like PGR3, when there are some good upcoming releases that should be getting this treatment. It seems to me that this game is nearing the end of it's sales boom life span and is soon to be relegated to the "old game" (but not clearance) shelf. True, there aren't too many top notch games coming out until spring, but still it would make more sense. I mean, isn't that the point of a demo; to entice and to build anticipation to boost initial sales. 

Anyway, if you want the PGR3 demo, Microsoft is making a big demand of one's time and HDD space. We're talking about around 1.25 GB for the total download, which comes out to about an hour or more of download time. I guess with how this game just doesn't seem to pack the punch of the earlier simulation racing games, with it's lack of low powered cars and how you can play through all of the game with only three or four cars, maybe the demo will spare some people the need to purchase this game. 

To make matters more frustrating on the 360 front, the highly hyped DoA3 is having major glitches with erasing it's own save file. Since it sounds like Tecmo is confirming this issue and is supposedly working on a patch, this is one hell of a major bug. More than that, this is too big of a bug to have happen. This is the type of crap that happens when online and hard drives become commonplace on a console. It means that games no longer need to be tested as heavily prior to being launched. Instead, if a problem occurs (and this is one bitch of a problem), you can come up with half-assed pass through solutions, that many will not even see, while you work on a...yup...patch. Because we all know that half assing testing and then making a patch is not only the American (or in this case, Japanese) way, it's also a great way to save on money and time, and to be lazy. 

Also, if you're looking for a non-portable RPG fix (since Mario and Luigi DS and Legend of Heroes PSP covers the portable RPG market nicely), Wild Arms 4 is out there. I have always held Wild Arms games in a special place in my heart, but this might be the one that kills my love of the series. In fact, I'm so cautious that I am refusing to buy this game until it's either Greatest Hits priced, or I find it used for under $20. 

It was bad enough when WA3 made ARMs into something that was commonplace on all of your heroes, but it seems like WA4 is not content to come through without even bigger and more ridiculous changes. For example, there is no map screen...well, not the one like we had on WA1-3, DQ1-8, FF1-9, Suikoden1-4, etc. Instead we have the FFX style map screen of just pointing to your destination and going there. I guess this is for the "RPG fans" who hate random battles (you make me want to retch...). The dungeons are mostly linear, and include platforming elements. These actually sound fun...assuming you're playing a character with a name like Mario or Link. However, the largest change is in the battles, which now use a small S-RPG grid system to control where each person attacks from. I think it's this one that made my mind up about not buying the game until it's been reduced, a lot, in price. 


Malik (1/12/06)  

Because I so do love speculation with no basis (along with my love of obvious sarcasm), this may interest all the Sony fanboys who can't get enough speculation. Basically, it's being thought, by many different people from different occupations, that the PS3 will cost anywhere from $399-$699. Wow. With that type of accuracy, and with such firm reasons behind it, I can't help but agree. In fact, I'd like to be even better at speculations; the PS3 will come out sometime in the next 18 months, it will cost money to purchase (and the games/accessories will also cost money), and it will have some technical and logistical problems at launch. In fact, I'd vote for the same stuff being true of the Revolution. Wow. I'm good. I should be an analyst. 

Seriously, it's time for all speculations to end. For example, the PS3 will be revealed better in the future (around GDC and E3). Until then, there's absolutely no reason to speculate on things that are beyond everyone's' knowledge (except Sony, who's staying quiet). To guess on this would be like (before they passed on in our sleep) guessing when a recently announced Working Designs game would actually come out. The same is true for the Revolution, and Halo 3, and whatever other games/accessories/hardware you are looking forward to. 

Also, for those who speculate that the XBox 360 is crap and can't be left on for extended periods of time; that one is also wrong. I managed to leave my 360 on all night as I downloaded the PGR3 demo (big demo, and my PC hogging bandwidth on bit torrent left me with a need to leave the system on overnight). In the morning, the 360 was a little warm (not hot) and was fully functional. Yeah! I break another bit of ignorance. Just like with that one prior to the 360 launch that "you will only get a launch system if you preorder a lot of accessories", with was complete bullshit. 

Here's another great one; Oblivion will come out on March 20th. If you believe this, then you have some problems. It's not that this is beyond the realm of possibility. It's rather that this is not in any way a solid date, especially since it's coming from, who has done great jobs in the past at guessing release dates (more of that sarcasm...). They are even doing it again with Lost Odyssey

Anyway, the lessons to be learned on this are simple; don't trust people who throw out random dates and prices for things that the developer won't even comment on. It is rare that a game/hardware will be released on a specific date, and yet the developer is unaware, or seemingly unaware, of it. Don't believe the crap, and if we all just try to ignore it, it might go away...leaving us with some useful news in it's place. 


Malik (1/13/06)  

Fayne is back, in a new issue of Rested XP. This would be the fourth episode in what will become a long line of Rested XP episodes. 

Speaking of MMORPG related items (well, it's not too big of a subject change...I think), I did what so many others are waiting to do; went to Barnes and Noble and got the February issue of OXM. I did it mainly so I could find a time killer on the 360. Namely, I was banking on the FFXI demo being my main amusement until Oblivion drops in a few months. 

While a standard issue confidentiality agreement prevents me from discussing the game (I know...many break these things, but if I'm going to have free entertainment, I will be respectful to Square Enix...for once...), there are a few things I can say that I believe should avoid the confidentiality issue. First off, if you don't have a USB keyboard, you can expect this game to be an exercise in frustration. In fact, the install screens alone will use massive inputs for things like your name, address, email address, registration codes (those will kill you with a standard controller), blah, blah. 

Secondly, you will be worn down by the install. IGN was not lying about how tiresome the install is and how long it takes. In fact, it's safe to say that the North American version is just as long as the Japanese. To make things better, even after you get the install running, you will be asked to update everything a few different times. Enjoy those downloads...I know I sure had fun with them... 

Best of all, however, is how the install is like dealing with a two year old who just discovered the word "Why?". Actually, for FFXI installation, it's more like the words "Are you sure?". Everytime you think it's ready to install and you can walk away, you will be hit with another "About to : Are you sure?". Then you have to hit yes for the 50th time in a 30 minute span. However, when the install takes almost 2 hours, you can expect to see a small chunk of your sanity go away. 

So, after I sat through two hours of pure tedium (special thanks to Mario and Luigi DS in helping me survive with a little sanity left), I finally started to play. I can't go into details with the confidentiality thing, but I will say one thing; why is there a confidentiality agreement on a game that is this old and is just like the other versions (especially the PS2 version)? I really don't get this. If you want to learn about the game, don't ask someone who's in the beta. Instead you just have to go to a FFXI (PC version) message board. It's that easy. It's a freakin' 3 year old game, after all. 

Well, I don't honestly know how much this beta will remain in my hands (as in, it will soon be relegated to a shelf, to collect dust). I wanted to have fun, but it's a 3 year old game. Enough is enough in pushing old stuff around and calling it new. While paying $10 for the beta (or the OXM issue with the beta) is not a bad deal, I honestly don't think I'd be able to pay full new game price and a monthly subscription. To make things worse, with how Square Enix said they may consider supporting the 360, this game may be used as either a reason for doing so or an excuse to not. While I honestly can do without Square Enix and their inane ability to be both a trend setter and a fanboy's wet dream, I do want to see more Japanese support for the 360, and this would be a major victory for the console if Square Enix did stick around. 

Anyway, it has now been the longest stretch of my life of consecutive rain, and I feel it wearing on me. This is also the second longest stretch of consecutive rainy days in Seattle's recorded weather history. With a forecast of rain non-stop, I think I may reach the end of my wits soon. Blah. If you're not in Seattle, then a happy weekend to you all. If you are least there's always football on the TV. 


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