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Malik (2/7/06)  

A lot of things have been said. A lot of outcomes were thought out. Maybe they still would've been good. Maybe they would have still failed. Maybe the whole outcome would have changed with a psychological bend to them. There is a lot to be said. 

If you can't tell, I'm talking about the Super Bowl. However, maybe a little more than that, I'm talking about the entire season (or the post-season, at the least). I also know I'm not alone. If you agree with these thoughts, there's a place to make your voice heard

While I feel that the entire post-season, at the very least, felt like it had some incompetence (I'll leave the word "corrupt" out of this...for now), the Super Bowl pretty much summarized one hell of an awkward and sad state of affairs for the NFL. I also can't say that it was only the Seahawks who felt this. Afterall, didn't the Steelers see the same shit when they played the Colts a few weeks ago? 

However, seeing the phantom interference on Jackson, and the phantom touchdown for the Steelers, the missed penalties (that, coincidentally, would have benefited the Seahawks), and imagined penalties, the calls against Hasselbeck that were ignored against Big just feels like something needs to be done. Something is needed to fix the problems while they are fresh in many fans' minds. Whether you want to say the officials are corrupt or not, is up to each of us, but saying that a bad call in football is worse than the typical bad calls in other sports is very true. 

If a call is bad in the NBA, then we might end up with two extra, unearned, points for a team. Two points that are handled in no time, with a single lay-up. In baseball, a bad strike zone (is there any more common bad call in the MLB) call is simply a single strike (out of 81 potential strikes in a standard game) or ball (out of 108). However, when a touchdown is missed or given when the opposite should be true, that is possibly 7 points out of what could be a seven point game. There may never be a time to correct it. 

My friend Bastich and I talked a lot about this yesterday. We both watched the Super Bowl together, and we both went through the same range of emotions that many others felt as they saw this train wreck of a game. He made a good point that I'd like to share. 

We are asking people who, in many walks of life, would be retired and would typically have slower reflexes and diminished observational skills, to judge a game that can be based on inches. We are asking men in their 60's (sometimes younger, and sometimes much older) to make spot decisions about where a ball went, and what 22 large and fast men were all up to in a single 5 second play. Why don't we have some younger guys, who (not to sound discriminatory, but rather to go off of some facts) are not in their prime. Why don't we have some officials who are in their prime. Especially, why don't we have this for the biggest single game of the year, if not for the entire post-season? Why don't we have it for the regular season as well? I wish I could answer this. I also wish I could answer this; what happened to both teams on Sunday? 

While many fellow Seattle fans would like to say Seattle was robbed, I can't. We couldn't handle anything in the red zone. We couldn't handle simple passes at the end of the game. Holmgren couldn't handle clock management (and he is a master of that matter). The Seahawks weren't alone. The Steelers didn't look like a winning team. They did play a little better than the Seahawks. They didn't play like a Super Bowl team, by any stretch of the imagination. Neither team looked like they did only two weeks earlier. This looked more like a pre-season match up than a Super Bowl. Neither team made any big plays, neither had any amazing drives, and neither showed that they were the same teams they were just a couple weeks before. I think Hasselbeck was the closest imitator to a Super Bowl QB (actually, Hasselbeck did a good job out there). We were left, however, with no real yardage from the winners, a QB won with a rating in the 20's (how the f#@% does that happen in the Super Bowl?), and a total game experience that will not let the doubters forget how they said that this is not the match up we should have seen. 

In reality, this should've been a Super Bowl for the ages. This should have been an amazing game with two amazing teams. In reality, I just don't know what to think. It was a three sided game (Steelers, Seahawks, and the refs), and none of the three brought their A game...none of them even brought their D game. 

I don't know how I'll feel between now and Fall, but I can say what I feel right now. In a word, done. I don't think, unless the NFL does something to help the officiating of game, I'll be back in a half year. I have actually talked a lot with Bastich about what I should devote my attention to. I'm actually leaning towards Basketball (which has bad calls, but are not as likely to break a game) or the "other" football (soccer). While soccer looks good, I just need something with a home team (it's always easier to get into something that has a local flavor involved). I guess I'll stick with the Sonics for now, and enjoy seeing a mediocre team self destruct, rather than seeing a high caliber team get shot in the foot every play of the game. 

By the a random fact; the Seahawks (and the Colts) had the lowest amount of penalties called on them all season, and they had something like 7 or 8 out of 10 penalties called on them on Sunday. Makes you think. 


Malik (2/8/06)  

If you like sequels related to a great series but without any of the plot tie-ins that made the original so good, there's some good news...especially since the game market right now is so devoid of content. Shadow Hearts 3 is scheduled for a release in less than a month. I'm still not too sure of what to think of this game, considering it has nothing to do with Yuri and company. However, since there have been so few good RPGs for the last several months, I'll be happy to take what I can get. Plus, since it doesn't completely change the battle system into something unrecognizable, like Wild Arms 4 did, I think it's worth at least a look from me. 

Of course, it will be coming out next month. March is already shaping up to be a good month for games. If Oblivion avoids another delay, that will probably be the game of choice for most RPG geeks in March. Then, when you throw in the possibilities of what the 360 version of Burnout Revenge could be offering, it might end up being a good month for a console not made by the big N. 

I guess it's only fitting since Nintendo isn't offering much right now. The only noteworthy new game for one of their consoles right now is Rub Rabbits, which is now in stores. While Feel the Magic was a good and quirky game to initiate the DS launch, I think it's time is probably up. With the great traditional games that have come out since the DS launch (like Mario Kart) and the unique DS styled games (like Trauma Center), it just feels like these mini-game fests are no longer wanted or needed. 

Speaking of things well beyond their time, Tiger is going belly up over it's Gizmondo. Wow...didn't see that coming (Malik says as sarcasm drips from his post). Seriously, if you're going to go against the big boys, especially Nintendo, in the handheld market, you better have something real to back up the price. When the price is beyond all sense of reason, like the Gizmondo was, then you should have far more than just ads that are forced onto a customers system. The only thing Gizmondo once had going for it was the GPS idea, and even that didn't come to light. It was like seeing the third coming for the N-Gage (with the Zodiac being the second coming of that type of crap). 

With Sony showing us all that they cannot get good games on their handheld, and with these weird rumors of Microsoft entering the portable world, it might be time for any company, besides Nintendo, with aspirations of making the next big portable system to take a step back and see the big picture. Nintendo has games, creativity, and longevity. This is not a battlefield to be entered lightly, yet so many foolish companies try. Not only do they try, but they try with a price tag that would make any Nintendo fan shake their head in disapproval. 

For example, while the PSP is getting some market share, they are still lagging behind the DS. On top of that, while Nintendo took almost a year to make some amazing games (and to get some amazing third party support), Sony is now over a year old (in Japan) and is still lacking. I have, from time to time, cheered on some game machines more than others. I've always have had a bit of love for Nintendo (not as a fanboy, but rather as a person who hates to see anything cookie-cutter in my games). However, I have never cheered for a system to fail until the PSP came along. Almost a year after I bought the damned thing, I'm still hoping to read that Aibo was not the only worthless gadget to be canned by Sony. I want, as an owner, to see the PSP die. I just can't stand seeing this thing get purchased by naive kids who don't understand that their $250 dollars is going towards a substandard movie player that calls itself a game system (despite the lack of any good games). 

On a final note, Iwata will once again address the Game Developers Conference in March. Considering how little news has come along about the Revolution since the TGS, this may be an interesting time. While most of Nintendo's big news will undoubtedly come along at E3, there should be some interesting hints laid out for the public at the GDC. Since Microsoft is lacking a little in the new generation (it was cute for a while...but I am starting to want those...ummm...what do you call them...GAMES), and since the PS3 is sounding more like a overly delayed gold-plated nothing with each new announcement, I can definitely use some news from the one side of this battle that is not entering the real battle for the next generation. 


Malik (2/9/06)  

I finally had my first moments in a long while to sit down with Ape Escape 3. I got this game shortly after it was released and have still only had enough time to play for a few hours at the most. Between moving, unpacking, and other wonderful issues of bullshit, I have just found myself without the time for anything that requires more than a few minutes at a time. Hopefully this is not some sort of lame sign of where life is taking me...but then again, I'm probably just not feeling too motivated to play anything anyways. 

For example, the only games I have that are not completely stale to me are AE3 and Marble Blast Ultra. Beyond that, there simply have been no new good games since Mario and Luigi 2 (or fill in whatever random DS title that came out right around the holidays). I think, when games just aren't looking too attractive, it's hard to be motivated to do anything un-constructive (in other words, it's more appealing to unpack boxes of random shit than to play a game right now). Way to go developers...way to go. 

I can't honestly fault Marble Blast Ultra. I have played through about 80% of the levels and have enjoyed most of them greatly. I don't feel the need to beat the achievements on these Arcade games (not to mention any other 360 title). After all, what do I get for beating all of a game's achievements? Well, I do get the reward of wasting my time to ensure that I manage to get 10 head shots in a single deathmatch of whatever...or I waste time getting a perfect rank on each mission of that other game...or I could kill excessive time by driving for a million miles on that third game. Really, if this is supposed to motivate me to play a game to death, I better get something more than a waste of my precious time. 

Anyway, MBU is a game well worth the download price for the full game. It's as much fun as Monkeyball, but without the annoyance of the Super Monkeyball 2 cut scenes ruining the experience (with the magic monkey words...saccharine overdose...). As long as you're not playing to just unlock achievements, the game is a good experience. Since these gamer achievements require such things as getting a better than par time (easy to start with, and insane to get later in the game) on every single level, it can become a major annoyance. However, if you're only playing for the fun of trying to solve these puzzles while getting a little work out for your reflexes, then this is a great game. In fact, it's sad to say that this game puts most of the full fledged 360 titles (so far) to shame. 

As for Ape Escape 3...I really do want to enjoy this game, but I don't think even the first generation of 3D games had this bad of a camera issue. In fact, I don't think this game should've allowed any camera controls since all they seem to do is to infuriate me a little more by being so utterly worthless. If you want to look straight forward, you may be able to manage that, with some object between you and the camera blocking half the view, about 50% of the time. If you want to look at a specific monkey that is above your normal plane of vision, or one that is below said plane, you are in trouble. It will not happen, and if by some miracle it does happen it will not last long enough for you to act. 

Beyond the camera, the game is amazing. Unfortunately, as we have all probably learned from one game or another, a bad camera is a game breaker. I think the only thing keeping me playing at all is my love of AE2. Also, the new morph abilities (in which you can shape change to get a completely new power set) are pretty fun. Nothing like becoming a gunslinger and shooting a bitchy monkey into submission...well, nothing feels that good except the thought of a good camera. 

Anyway, since I've been failing on writing any reviews lately (and I have a few I should work on), and since presentations at work will keep me from doing so for a short while still, I'll just say that if you never played Ape Escape 1 or 2, or if you didn't like those two games, just avoid AE3. It's just not worth it. If you have never played any of the AE titles, get number two (on the same system, the PS2, as AE3). That's not just me saying it's the better alternative...that's me saying that it's a must have for people who like platformers or games that require a little thought and a little insanity. 

Well, if my presentation at my day job doesn't kill me, I'll try starting some reviews in the next week. I really want to post one for Mario and Luigi 2, and probably get another done for MBU. By then, we should be lucky enough to have a new 360 game or two, and who knows where that will take us. 


Malik (2/10/06)  

It's nice to have some solid news for once. Of course, if it's solid news, and not just speculative crap, I guess the old fact is true; you need to turn to Nintendo (who will usually be good enough to lay out some cards at all times and not just recycle hype). 

If you thought Nintendo was being too nice to Japan, while ignoring the US, with the download stations for the DS, things are now changing. Previously, only Japanese DSers had the ability to go to select hotspots to download free game demos. That will change, supposedly, in the next few "weeks" when Nintendo brings download stations to the US. 

While the exact locations have not been released, one could expect to find them at the usual DS-friendly environments; malls, fast food joints, transit stations, retail outlets. That's all on top of the announced plan to have these hot spots at Target, Wal-Mart (both still being negotiated), EB, Gamestop, and Game Crazy. I wouldn't be surprised to see McDonalds added to that list, since they were already in a deal with Nintendo to supply DS hotspots. 

While we wait for some more good DS games, this should prove to be a good distraction from this void. The demos being planned will include the common puzzle games, like Meteos and Tetris, some Nintendo standards in the form of Mario Kart and Pokemon, and also a brain training edutainment title. I expect, if things go well for this plan, we should see plenty of new titles in the first 6 months of this program. I'm just glad to see that Nintendo and Microsoft are both being intelligent enough to supply gamers with demos of new (and old) games before forcing the player to waste money on buying or renting the games first. 

Also, while Nintendo is making some news, there's more. If you don't remember (and who's to blame you if you don''s only been delayed for over a year) Metroid Prime: Hunters, there may be a reason to remember it. This will be the first DS title to support a new DS voice chat technology. It was only a matter of time, since the DS can go Wi-Fi and has a occasionally used built-in mic. It only makes sense to combine these aspects of the DS to go, once again, to a place Microsoft knows. 

The voice chat will be limited to the game lobby for online Hunters games. This is probably a short term solution to Nintendo determining how much data they can handle being transmitted to and from a cluster of DSes at a given time. If things go smoothly, we may even start to see voice chat available to in game action in the next year...assuming Hunters is released in the next year. If you're wondering, March is the current supposed month that I'll not be buying this game (the demo card just did nothing for me). 

If you are more in the mood for phantom news that more likely to disappoint than enlighten, Sony is supposedly going to dedicate a good deal of space at the Tai Pei Game Show to the PS3. I think this was also the case at the Tokyo Game Show. Hell, it even was the case as far back as last May with E3. 

Until Sony announces something, I feel it's time to put the PS3 to rest. There is no news, no solid release date (I can tell you that the plan for a Spring 2006 release in Japan is bogus), no price point to even begin to guess at, no information on if the Cell processor is not going to explode when used, no word on heat issues in the final system, no news on any potential changes to the batarang controller idea, no news on if the console will still look the same as the prototype shown at last years E3, and no word on if it will have the bun warmer or just be a standard George Foreman Grill. There is nothing. 

If you're a fanboy, you are probably thinking my words are fighting words. I'm not trying to sound like I hate Sony. Truthfully, I don't like them. However, that's only because of how I've spent more than $1000 of Playstations (1 and 2) due to their horrible track record of making systems that break everytime the warrantee is done. However, the PS3 is the target of some abuse in forums and posts and the like online for a better reason; there is nothing to go off of. The news is empty, the demos are mainly pre-rendered movies made on PCs, and until Sony feels like explaining what they are currently working on and when we may see it, it's simply not worth giving a flying f#@% about. 

On a final note before I walk off into that sunset (it amazes me to see that ball of light in the Seattle sky) I call the weekend, a final thought; while it's great to see some recognition of good games at the DICE conference, I have to wonder why certain things always remain true. If you check the link, check out the best "children's" game of the year. It's We Love Katamari. I can definitely agree with that game getting some recognition. Hell, I think there's never been such a proper title for a game as We Love Katamari. The game is rock solid. However, why is it that any time an American founded and sponsored event looks at things that are not violent, bloody, sexual, or just flat out "mature", it has to be a children's thing? 

Seriously, Katamari could've been a good fit for "family game of the year", or just for "game of the year". However, since it's non-violent (almost) and it's full of fun characters with bright colors it has to be children's. To call WLK a game for children is like saying that Futurama is for children (it's animated and features relatively no violence). Just because something looks non-threatening, it doesn't mean it's only for doesn't even mean it is necessarily for children. 

It reminds me of how many times I'll go to Best Buy, check the anime section, and watch as a parent/guardian drops their kid in front of the anime area and walks off to check action movies. It's even better when that kid, who may only be about 8 or so, is seen later at the checkout counter with his soon to be purchased (by the guardian/parent) copy of Fushigi Yugi, Cowboy Bebop, or Samurai Champloo. Yeah. If it's cute looking or animated, it's always for children. Just like if it's a video game, it can't have sexual content since a M rated game is still a video game...and video games are all meant just for the target demographic of ages 8-12. I hate idiocy as much as I love sarcasm. 


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