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Malik (2/13/06)  

If you actually enjoyed Advent Rising or if you were one of the three people who purchased Psychonauts (sadly, I am still in the majority on this and need to correct that) and enjoyed it, there's some not so good news for Majesco. On one hand, the NASDAQ exchange is getting ready to pull Majesco from the market, since it just doesn't have the investor equity required...big surprise, especially after last year's complete bitch-slap of the company in all possible forms, right? 

On the other hand, the interim CEO, Morris Sutton, is supposedly ready to walk if certain relations are fired/dismissed/laid-off/whatever. That's never a good sign. While Mr. Sutton may be a good CEO (I wouldn't know, since I never follow the business side of things too much), but anytime a CEO may walk just for a family member being let go, it's not a good sign. In fact, that's usually a sign, when combined with the NASDAQ deal, that it might be time for one of the big boys to buy out Majesco's library of licenses, or to take over the entire company. 

While this has been in the works for a good long time (ever since Advent Rising bombed on it's release), it's pretty safe to say that Majesco will probably be the next company to go the way of Acclaim. It's over for them, and the real question is which properties will be bought by which mega-company. 

On other news of things going away without much noise, Arrested Development may finally be done. The final 2 hours of episodes aired on Friday, with no real warning, advertising, or fanfare. It's sad when FOX doesn't know how to handle a great show when they have one. They did it with Futurama, The Tick, Firefly, the first run of Family Guy, and a few dozen other great shows. Between changing time slots, little publicity, and the fact that the last season was often pre-empted or would disappear for months at a stretch, it was safe to say that FOX's last chance season for Arrested Development never had a real chance. 

The final few episodes (the 2 hour final shot was actually several episodes), not to mention the final season, was some of the best for this show. I know I won't be alone in hoping that someone with the intelligence to properly handle a good TV show will step up and buy the thing from FOX...and if it's a premium channel, I hope it's HBO so I can still watch it. 

To round out the day, and to end with some less stupid of news, Peter Moore, while addressing DICE, made some interesting announcements. Mainly, Moore went on to say that Microsoft is going back to it's roots. When Windows Vista (still, I must say, this is a stupid name for an's almost as bad as ME) launches (supposedly later this year), Microsoft will be more ready to look at PC gaming. This will include a bunch of almost worthless features for the dedicated gamer. There will be a "My Games" style folder in the Start menu, more parental controls (which most parents will probably not use or not even know of), easier access for casual gamers (read: solitaire will be back with a vengeance...yippee...?), and there will be more stability. That last one should be taken with a grain of salt, since "Windows" and "stability" go together like "Barbie Horse Adventure" and "Best Selling XBox Games". 

Well, I didn't get any sleep last night, thanks to a neighbor who apparently cannot think of a better time to play with his/her dog than around midnight. 


Malik (2/14/06)  

It's one of those days of "too little too late". On one hand, Square Enix is finally giving a release date for the US for FF: Advent Children. I honestly don't know if anyone even cares anymore. For one thing, the buzz and hype around this "movie" (I use that term lightly for this thing) has come and gone. Maybe if this announcement was made about 6 months ago, some more people would care. However, by now, all of the people who were ready to freak out and buy a PSP to get this UMD have already seen it via bit torrent. When the thing (that term fits Advent Children far better than movie) was launched in Japan, it became an overnight star of the bit torrent world. 

On the other hand, those who were stupid enough to buy a PSP for this UMD exclusive must be kicking themselves. After all, there is now a planned DVD release in April (which is the UMD launch date as well), which will include a bunch of bonus material for those who can't pull their heads out of the asses long enough to see that FFVII is not the actual ultimate RPG of all time. It's not like I'm saying FFVII is bad, but there were awesome RPGs before FFVII and there were many after. It was another pleasant chapter in RPG history...but it did not redefine RPGs as a genre like so many seem to think from their emo-inspired fanboy worlds. 

On that same "too little too late" note, the King Kong demo is finally on Live. Wow. I assumed when Microsoft said this would launch with the 360 Live Marketplace, they meant it would be the first demo. I didn't think they meant it would arive long after either the game or movie had left the common lexicon of the day. In other words, this game which is probably close to being on of the first budget titles for the 360 is no longer worthy of affection and attention in the form of a demo. The game is old news, and anyone who wanted it would have already bought/rented it months ago. 

There's some other downloadable goodies. However, since all of the new content is only either themes/pictures or content packs, it barely warrents a mention. In all honesty, if you have $2 for a new theme or to change the look for your pieces in Bejeweled 2, then I think you'd be far better off just giving me that money. You'd get the same final feeling...that you threw out $2 for nothing. The only difference is that I'd be happy for the money, while Microsoft doesn't care too much one way or another for a single gamers $2. Yes...I was being sarcastic about it being better to send me your money...or not... 

Also, on a brighter side of things, Grandia 3 should be out (or being shipped, or whatever). While the IGN review doesn't sound overly favorable to the game, it sounds an awful lot like the good old original Grandia games. That is also to be read: Doesn't include a lame title to sound hip, like "Xtreme". To my eyes, it looks a lot like the good old Grandia style game has returned with a major visual overhaul and not much else of a change. That is not as bad as the IGN review makes it sound. 

The only part of the game that sounds like it's lacking is the side quests. While Grandia 1 and 2 offered a good number of bonus areas to explore, Grandia 3 sounds like it's a little too linear. On one hand, it might mean less of a reason to try out every possible path and option in a dungeon or on the world map, but on the other hand it might keep the game a bit more focused. I just hope the hidden spells and abilities that one would have to look very carefully for in Grandia 1 and 2 are still hidden away and remain a good reason to stretch what little bonus material there may be. 

I honestly had kept this game off my radar for a good long time. I didn't do it on purpose, and have long awaited a Grandia that was not Xtreme!!!111!!!!! Sorry, the "!" and "1" are required with such an awesome title (I love sarcasm). However, I think this game evaded all of my notice for one simple reason; Square Enix. They are the publisher for this game, and I honestly try to ignore them. While Square Enix once gave us some of the best games from RPG history, they have recently felt so stale and uninspired (with the exception of DQ8). Sadly, while this should only be an excuse if they developed the game, as well as publishing it, but it seems that the developer of a game just doesn't really matter. 

For example, look at this listing at EB for Grandia 3. I ask you, who published it? It's pretty obvious. Now, who developed it? I'll give you a second to look at the listing. Give up? Game Arts. 

The reason I bring this up is quite important. On one hand, the individual development studios are what really matters with a game. For example, a good number of developers have folded recently, but their staff and properties are often acquired by new companies. So, while a game's publisher can remain constant (although Square Enix is new to publishing Grandia games) or not, the actual importance is who developed the game. A great example is with KOTOR versus KOTOR 2. Both were great games, but it's obvious, once you've played both, that the developer for KOTOR2 was not the same developer as KOTOR. 

In all honesty, the publisher of a game means almost nothing. Hell. Valve taught us this lesson when they published Half Life 2 online and VU published it for offline. There was no honest difference in the game, except that one could be listed as published by VU and the other was a Steam game. Phantom Brave, Disgaea, and La Pucelle Tactics were all published by completely different companies in the US, yet it becomes obvious, once played, that they were all developed by NIS. 

Sorry, I'm sorta going off on some random rant. I just think, in a world where developers make the game while publishers get the credit, something is just a little wrong. It's part of the reason why I like Game FAQs so much. They show both sets of data, and thus one is free to freak out, if they chose, over the worthless publisher, while those of us who want to better understand the nature of a game can see who did the dirty work. 


Malik (2/15/06)  

I'm so tired of hearing about this group or that group talking about censoring GTA. First it was Jack Thompson, then it was the National Institute on Media and the Family (via David Walsh), then it's some other parent group, then it's congress, then comes...who even cares anymore? Well, for once, I do. Not because a new group has come forward with how much of a problem GTA is, and not because some new reason is stated. Those types of things just don't matter anymore. 

However, when it's a sex industry (prostitution friendly is how that is read) group comes forward to complain, that is when I'll pay attention again. This group, SWOP (Sex Workers Outreach Project USA), is worried about children imitating a biased view of what is in the content of GTA. They are worried about children imitating rape and murder on prostitutes. 

On one hand, and let's all say this together, lol. LOL!!11!! This is just freakin' ridiculous on so many levels. I could name them, but do you honestly need help in seeing the massive humor of this? No, I didn't think so. 

Secondly, I would like to see where in any GTA that rape is included. I don't mean potential possible themes that may slightly ultimately point to a rape. No. I mean a solid instance of something. I could just say the game has a very rich city-like environment, so I can find examples of how, in theory, someone in that city, who is never seen on the streets, looks like me and how that person got murdered, behind the scenes, in a brutal and horrific fashion. Therefore I could say that Rockstar wants children to murder me. OMG!!!111!!! They teh hatezor me!!11!! Seriously...just one example is all I ask for. 

Beyond that, there's another fact. This series is always rated M or AO (for the first GTA:SA release), and therefore is not supposed to be played by children without parental consent and parental supervision. If you're afraid of children imitating GTA, maybe you should be more afraid of stupid adults who view this game appropriate for 12 year olds, and go after them. 

Last of all, you can kill prostitutes. You can also kill anyone else (with a few exceptions. This game series doesn't single out whores anymore than it singles out any other group of professionals or ethnicity or whatever. The only people honestly targeted in GTA games are police. That's it. Other people exist, and other people are killed by the player (as he or she decides), but only police are a constant target. In fact, do you know how many prostitutes I've picked up in GTA games? Around 6. That's in all three GTA PS2 games. Beyond the first one for my own self discovery, the next four were only to show people what happens when you pick them up. The last one was only because I just finished a mission with 1 health left and didn't know anywhere good to go for some life, and then a prostitute jumped in front of my car...problem solved (until the car I was in fell off a cliff, landed in the San Fierro PD secured parking lot and I got 4 stars for being there...but that, my friend, is a different story). 

Anyway, like I said, there is a M rating on this game. If you think children will imitate a game, then those children obviously need some parental supervision (if not some psychological assistance). Maybe, if you really have a fear or problem related to kids playing GTA, you should consider going after the parents who buy this type of game for their kids and then think of it as a digital babysitter. 

To shift gears, but to remain on the topic of stupidity; Full Auto is out. The reason I say this is stupid news is because this is the first real 360 release since DoA4 (in December). Also, if the demo is any indication of the real game, this game is crap. It makes me think of how arcade-style racing games would be if Need For Speed and Burnout never existed. It's like imagining an extreme sports title that would exist today if THPS never was made. In other words, to put this in an evolution standpoint; Full Auto had a divergent evolution from the rest of the racing world, and the last common ancestor of Full Auto and the good games (Burnout 3, NFS:MW) would be RoadBlasters (Lynx). In other words, the last time a game was like Full Auto and it wasn't considered obsolete, the year was 1990, the Internet was little known to the average person, email wasn't a common thing, BBS services were still in their infancy, and four presidential terms of office did not happen yet. True, you could count Smashing Drive (Arcade, 2000), but it didn't have a lot of weapons...and it was also considered crap by many. 

Also, before I forget...a friend of mine pointed out some falseness to my claims that a publisher means next to nothing for a final game (see yesterday's post).  What I should have said, and will now say, is that I mean this from a gamers' perspective.  A publisher does mean a lot for a game's development (they usually finance the game, it's distribution, and it's advertising).  I simply meant that having a publisher's name on the from of a game, while the developer is relegated to the back (and not even on a product listing) will rarely, if ever, help a purchaser determine if a game is worth their money.  For example, check out the product listings at EB for Zelda: The Minish Cap and Metroid Prime 2: Echos.  Tell me who developed the games.  If you say Nintendo, you are horribly wrong.  It also may explain why some people don't understand why Nintendo would so change their beloved franchises without any reason.  In reality, Capcom made that Zelda title (and the two crappy Gameboy Color ones; Seasons and Time), and Retro Studios made the two Metroid GCN games.  However, you will be hard pressed to see that on the product listings.  So, in a nut-shell, I was simply saying that the publisher of a game doesn't mean much to a game buyer when a developer will mean a hell of a lot more.

Anyway, my Mario and Luigi 2 review is underway. It'll finally see the light of day, and soon...probably tomorrow. 


Malik (2/16/06)  

It's nice that the GBA has no region if only I could read Japanese, I would seriously think about importing Mother 3 (the third "Earthbound" game as we Americans called one of them). Sadly, Nintendo has no plans, as of now, to release this game in the US. However, considering the fame that Ness has gotten in the last 10 years, thanks to Smash, and the amount of tolerance and acceptance that has formed in the US for RPGs, I hope Nintendo does the right thing. The right thing being the release of this game in America. 

Considering how few quality old-school styled RPGs have been released in the States recently, the choice to keep the game only in Japan seems a bit...ummm...retarded (as in the choice seems to be delayed and not current...damned PC word choices). At the very least, when Nintendo is fine with releasing multiple Fire Emblem games in the US, the release of something far more palatable to American tastes, like Mother 3, should be a complete no-brainer. 

If you've been on a PS3 or 360 message board recently, you've probably seen the crazy talk and flame wars that are exploding over the potential PS3 online service. I feel like, with the amount of flames that have begun, that the obvious needs to be stated. 

First off, considering Nintendo has an online service forming with the DS, and definite plans for it to be Revolution compatible, plus with Microsoft's long-lived Live service, it's obvious that Sony will try to do something. They cannot afford to remain in the past any longer. Ironically, I always figured Nintendo would be the last console maker to have solid online plans... 

As for the news of how XBox people are afraid of this service...I'd take it with one hell of a big grain of salt. This is one editorialist's thoughts, and while some make sense, a lot of this editorial (which has been the sole source of info for most fanboys on the "Playstation HUD" service) sounds like confused double-talk. Hell, consider this line "With Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD players costing as much as $1,000". Blu-ray players will actually, according to presentations at the CES, cost far more. The basic models will cost about $1000, while the upper level models will easily break the $2000 mark. At least that's what the Blu-ray player makers were saying, and I'd happily take their word on this matter over an editorialist at Team XBox. 

In reality, Sony will have a service, it will probably cost money (they are one of the founders of pay-for-play MMORPGs with games like Everquest and EQ2), and it will be a usable option for PS3 online games. Hell, it will be better than the patch of random networks that made up any semblance of a PS2 online community. However, given the fact that Sony has not yet shown that they can handle an online service across many games (and no, the PSP does not have a real unified network), it will probably be buggy and full of hacking. 

It took Microsoft some time to get their Live service to the quality it is today. Nintendo has had some problems with their still small DS network. Plain and simple, an online service of this size takes time to establish, time to get working, and time to remove the bugs. It will be bad to start with, and there will probably be some interesting hack jobs. That's not to say it won't be good. It just won't be good for the first few months. 

In the end, the only real difference between the potential HUD service, Live, and the Nintendo service will be minor. Nintendo will offer, in theory, every single Nintendo console game made for emulation on the Revolution. Other than that, the Sony and Microsoft services will be nearly identical, but with potentially easier or more challenging of layouts to navigate. 

In the end, the console wars will not come down to online. It simply wont. If that was the case, then the PS2 would have been a distant 2nd behind the XBox and the GCN would have never sold a single unit. The real truth of all of this is quite simple; all three consoles will sell, they will all be popular enough to remain afloat (and have sequel systems in about 4-6 years), and the only thing that should matter is your own personal taste on if the games justify the price. Nothing else should matter...and to the consumer, little else, beyond some fanboy loyalties, will matter. 

Enough of this crap. I am completely sick of it. All three consoles will have strengths (Rev: backwards compatibility, PS3: large third party support, 360: new found third party support), and a lot of weaknesses (Rev: no HD support and little third party support, PS3: price and lack of innovation and no HDD out of box, 360: perceived as a poor launch and too much emphasis on online). It's simply how these things happen. The reality is I'm just sick of being fed stupid crap. I want some hard facts, or nothing at all. I don't want editorials, opinions, rumors, myths, legends, or any other crap that will not effect the final systems. I want a release date, a price point, accessory prices (how much, in particular, will those Revolution controllers cost), and game line-ups. 

Anyway, that long overdue Mario and Luigi 2: Partners in Time review is up! Viva me...or something. Anyway, check it out, and enjoy. 


Malik (2/17/06)  

It used to be a little less frequent, but here I go saying it again...I told you so. When the PSP launched, many people immediately, when they had a PSP in their hands, wanted to jump right in to the only thing that got released for the system. I don't mean games. After all, we are all still waiting for games to come along (hence, I'll be selling my worthless bundle of crap as soon as something worth the trade in credit comes out). No, I mean UMD movies. 

Initially the UMDs sold rather well. The main reason was that people didn't realize what they were doing. People didn't see how you could buy a 1GB memory duo pro, and with a DVD drive on their computer, they could rip a movie to the PSP with almost no real knowledge of what they were doing. People also didn't see that a UMD movie is not only nearly worthless (if you don't have a PSP, you cannot use this disk, at all), but it has far lower quality than a DVD and it lacks any bonus features. When you throw in the extra fact that a lot of UMD movies sell for the same price, or more, than a DVD, there's an obvious problem. I won't even mention how if you aim to watch a movie with a friend or two, then the UMD simply won't work. 

So, finally, after a good year of stupidity, people are wising up about it. UMD sales are declining. So, when the initial boom started in sales, too many production studios jumped into the fray like madmen. Finally, they are seeing the light of sanity. Development and production is soon to be limited, and the UMD might finally be doing what I have been predicting for the last year or so...they may be heading to the great Sony media graveyard (which is home to beta and mini-disks). 

The only smart thing about all of this is that Sony may finally be making an adapter to let people watch UMDs on their TVs via a PSP. That's great...only 6 or so months after the first set of homebrew hardware has been out to do the same exact thing. 

However, if you own a PSP, and you are still a rabid fan (their are two people...rabid PSP fans, and those who see it as what it is; expensive and useless), I have a suggestion. Before you buy whatever adapter Sony launches (that will probably sell for a good amount of cash), remember that the UMD holds far less data than a DVD. So, while the HD-TV people already feel that DVDs are a little underpowered, you won't even need a HD-TV to see that the UMD is even worse off. The video quality is poor, the audio is horrible, and if you miss the bonus features, this adapter won't do shit for you. Your best option is to simply buy a big memory duo card (1GB should be fine), get a DVD ripper for your PC (free downloads are out there), and then download a media converter to set it up as a PSP friendly MP4. Problem solved. Better yet, sell your PSP while it's still worth something, and invest in a least the DS has games. 


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