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Malik (2/19/07)  

It will probably be a short post today. On Saturday night I was up quite late (with booze) and was up beyond early on Sunday. Nothing like a hangover and no sleep to make on feel pretty crap-tacular for several days following.

I did get in my Wii+Drink party on Saturday night. I have to say the Wii, just like the GCN, really shines once you have some people over to truly appreciate the experience. However, unlike the GCN, I'm already enjoying the single player of the Wii a lot more than the single player of the GCN gave me after five years of enjoyment. I think it all comes down to the simple fact that Nintendo took a better approach to marketing the Wii versus their half-assed GCN marketing ideas.

I think the shining star of Saturday was Wario Ware. This game is the perfect example of booze friendly Wii excitement for a crowd. There is nothing like one controller (and yes, it's only one, but it's well done) flying from hand to hand as no one knows what to expect next or what player will be the next one to feel Wario's wrath. Plus, the diverse style of multiplayer is really well handled.

In particular is the Life Line game. It's like Mario Party, in the sense that it doesn't matter how good you do on the mini-games...because you can still come out on the bottom despite winning the most games. In fact, the best part is that you could very well end up eliminating yourself in the final seconds of the game.

I also got to have my first taste of Wii Play. It's not the best of games I've ever seen, but there are a few gems. The last two games (which I don't know the names of, so let's go with my made up names), Cow Racing and Tank Combat, are especially noteworthy. Cow Racing is just a chance to collect points as you race on other player. The Tank Combat game is an almost identical experience to the old tank game on Triple Action for the Intellivision, but with a little more variety to it. Definitely a great game for any old-school Intellivision fan who may want to pick up their old tank busting Triple Action ways.

Sadly, Wii Play suffers from two big problems. It's not a single player game, so it's only really there for people who don't often times play alone. The second problem is that it's only two players, so it's only good for those final bits of a Wii party (after most guests have headed home). Those issues aside, it's not bad for a $10 game (assuming you count $40 for the included Wiimote).

Anyway, I'm tired today because I did more house hunting on Sunday. I think this strange use of time may finally be coming to an end as Velveeta and I found the perfect house for us, and have made an offer. It should all be wrapped up in a nice little package later this afternoon.


Malik (2/21/07)  

I was out yesterday getting an inspection done on the house I soon should be moving into. So, while I'd rather play games and post on my day off, I had to settle for one or the other. Playing games after the inspection seemed like the right thing to do.

So, once the dust had settled, I moved on to playing some more Rogue Galaxy. I think I'm not at the point in the game when I can really say, with total certainty, that the plot is complete garbage.

For example, your party has a robot who is definitely inspired by C3PO (as if the whole games isn't a rip off of Star Wars in one way or another...the "orphaned" main character, the space battles in which certain "swords" are the best of weapons, blasters a plenty, a looming battle of two forces, a desert planet that has been enslaved by an evil just goes on) who has the spirit of a child locked in it's processor to observe the world around him. This child will occasionally communicate with his father, who is the scientist who created this protocol droid...I mean robot. These scenes are about the most boring and painful moments I've encountered in gaming history, but I still can't afford to look away in case some important plot element is revealed.

There are more of these obviously annoying and frustrating moments beyond the boy's spirit and his father. Most of the cut scenes in RG are ones that should have been completely re-scripted, to say the least. While I've always said that plot is the most important element of an RPG, it's nice to see I was wrong.

As the plot drags on, you want to play more. Why? Well, you have the great revelation tree (like the sphere grid for leveling in FFX, but not incredibly dumb and frustrating) to gain new special attacks. You are always wanting to slay one more beast to find the last secret item you need to unlock a new over-powered skill. There's also the leveling of weapons, which require you to spend 15 battles with a given weapon equipped. After 15 battles, a weapons is "maxed" and once two weapons are, you can combine them to make new weapons.

There's even a ranking system for the best hunters/fighters in the universe. It's basically 99 NPCs and your protagonist. As you slay secret optional bosses and given amounts of regular enemies, you gain points. When your points are high enough, you advance in rank. You do this enough (get ranked at 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, and every one after) and you will unlock some new secret items and such.

Truly, RG is the best, and maybe the only example I've ever seen of a RPG having a complete crap-fest for it's plot but actually still being incredibly fun to play just because of a deep game engine. It also doesn't hurt that the in game visuals make the game look more like an anime than anything I've ever played before. Hell, the in game visuals are so good that 95% of the cut scenes are performed with the game engine and not just CGI moments.

Anyway, I am now about 50% done with RG. I'm not sure if I can beat the game without losing my sanity unless the plot improves a little. However, 28 hours in, I'm still having a pretty good time.


Malik (2/23/07)  

...and let chaos reign. That's a good way to summarize this week in a nut shell. I missed another post yesterday due to having too damned much to do and not nearly enough time to think. At least part of it was my filling in of an application for an interview I have between writing this and posting it online today. However, other parts are less of fun news and more of normal the BS involved in filling out forms and paperwork for buying a house.

Supposedly Circuit City is getting into the business of selling used games. I don't know how long this will last for them or what they plan to do exactly with the "pre-owned" market, but this can only be good news.

EB/Gamestop has the only real national used game game. This means there is absolutely no competition, and no competition means they can charge whatever they want and offer credit in how ever small of a chunk as they want. If Circuit City does things right, the margin between buying price and selling price could be influenced in the right direction. For example, right not you can buy a $50 game used for about $45 at Gamestop. However, you will only get around $20 of credit for this used game. That means that Gamestop is making a very large profit per game...especially since most new games give them far less profit.

Now, if Circuit City wants to be competitive, they can offer something like $25-$30 on average and/or turn around and sell that $50 game used for about $42 or even $40. It's not a huge amount when you consider the profit one can get off of eBay or another online auction house could be in the $40 range. However, since it's less of a hassle, people always like selling to a physical store and not to a virtual auction house that takes a chunk of the profits.

If this scenario was to happen, then Gamestop would be in a tough enough of a position to have to lose business (and used games is their main money maker) to Circuit City, or they would have to offer more competitive of prices. In the end, the person who would win in this scenario is the consumer. We would get more for our trade-in value, and we'd pay a little less for the used game (of course, buying used online is better since it's less of a hassle for the buyer than the seller).

That's assuming Circuit City wants to compete, and not simply imitate. If all they do is try to imitate the Gamestop model, then no one will win and only Circuit City and Gamestop would lose on having too much direct competition. Either way, this whole situation spells out nothing bad (read: worse) for the consumer than what we already see.

Anyway, I say all of this because I'm a firm believer in competition. Competition kept NFL games interesting, it keeps prices lower, and it ensures that everyone does their job to the fullest and not just to some half assed degree that doesn't matter one way or another for anyone around them. In other words, competition keeps it all honest and balanced at the end of the day (assuming it's real competition and not just some lame under-handed and under the table partnership).

Also, on a different note, if you've been wanting some RPG and some quality on the Virtual Console (Wii), Sega is coming to the rescue. That's right...Beyond Oasis is finally on the list of confirmed VC titles! If you don't know this game, you like Zelda style, and you have a Wii, you owe it to yourself to buy this game. It was one of my favorite Genesis titles (not counting the Phantasy Star and Shining Force series).

On top of that, if you want more traditional of RPG, then Sword of Vermillion is coming as well. I couldn't really care less about this game, since it was in every possible way and old RPG. I love old RPGs, but this one was slow and tedious and very hard to get into. True, it gets more enjoyable as you get into the game...but those first few hours will drag on like days.

You'll note I didn't mention Vectorman or Sonic Spinball. Well, Sonic Spinball goes without a need for mention since it was one of the best pinball inspired games to see the light of day. You should all know this game by now, even if it's just from hearing about it. On the other hand, I'm a firm believer that Vectorman initiated the "play to win" type of contest for a was just that bad of a game.


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