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Malik (2/26/07)  

It's time for the...what number are we at again...for the fourth or fifth release of Ocarina of Time. Yes, today's Virtual Console update on the Wii is including Zelda: OoT. I could go off like other people in the Wii camp ("OMG...I already teh have Ocarina! Nintendo teh suxors!!!11!"), but that would be close minded and really just lame.

There are a lot of Wii owners who never had a N64 or GCN, and a lot who never had a chance to play Ocarina. I personally can think of one, without any real effort on thinking, person who loves Zelda games and never played any non-portable Zelda since LttP. Of course she doesn't have WiFi and won't be able to download Ocarina...but maybe one day WiFi will enter her home and allow her to enjoy another modern Zelda (she already got Twilight Princess and is enjoying it).

Also, the Virtual Console, at least in Japan, will be getting some NeoGeo games. Hopefully this will happen in the US and it will be here in a short time. I also hope the game prices don't reflect the original NeoGeo game prices, or else we'll need some points cards to come along with far more than 2000 points ($20) per card. Afterall, NeoGeo was the console, of sorts, that brought us the concept of $250 games on a far more pricy of machine.

Anyway, I think I've been seeing a little too much hate towards the VC as of late. Message boards seem to be filled with people pissed off about not having a certain game. Then, when the game (for example, Donkey Kong Country) comes out, there's even more complaints. People were rabid over wanting Ocarina, and now that it's here, there's constant complaints about it being released for the fourth or fifth time and that is apparently too much.

Here's the secret about the VC; you don't have to buy anything if you don't want to. Velveeta and I got a 2000 point card from her brother for Christmas, and we are still holding the points. There are some things I want, and there are things I know will come out before long. However, until I see what I really want to spend these points on, I will just sit happily idle and play something else.

In the end, whether you want to call the VC a scam or a good thing, the simple truths remain. Nintendo does want your money...they are a business. How many damned times must I hear "Nintendo only wants your money!"? It's true; Nintendo is a company that doesn't work in the non-profit sector, and they are a company that has thrived a lot longer than any other console maker before. So, I will trust them to do what is right...not what is right for me, but what is right for their business and, therefore, what is right for the bulk of their customers.

Also, you have full control of what you personally purchase. If you don't want a certain game, then shut up and don't buy it...however, you should realize that someone will buy it. Nintendo is releasing a fair amount of "A" games.

Lastly, in the end, we will have some damned good games in the VC. However, that will take time since Nintendo is smart enough to not release all the best games at once. If they did that, then we'd see a few months of the best possible games and then we'd have four years of crap. I'm happy waiting. I've been waiting for good games on Nintendo consoles since I was eight. About twenty years later I am still fine waiting for quality games (although, I would like to see Majora's Mask and F-Zero-X sometime this year)...and I'm fine with buying some of the more obscure titles that end up being sleeper hits.

There's just too much Nintendo hate going on. I still can't believe how many people are pissed off about Twilight Princess. For some reason this game is getting a lot of hate, despite being the longest Zelda game ever released. It was fun, different, and just amazing to play. Yet, I keep hearing about how it was "rushed", despite being delayed numerous times just because the final two dungeons are a bit shorter than the rest. Well, you know what? Even being shorter than the other dungeons, those final two are longer than anything for LttP or the original Zelda.


Malik (2/27/07)  

Question: Why do we keep hearing about new games based on Conan? I'm serious with this question. There was a lot of talk about an MMORPG based on Conan, an action game, an adventure game, the newly proposed PS3/360 game. It just keeps coming.

I ask because Conan has not been culturally relevant for...what...two freaking decades!? Is there so much of a fanbase for this franchise that a game made in the current decade means anything more than being a throwback to the few old time geeks who remember it? I really doubt it. It would be like making a new racing game based on Smokey and the Bandit.

Maybe I would love a chance to pick up Burt Reynolds' mustache and go cruising around the country trying to keep my guard up against Smokey. However, I don't see many other modern geeks feeling this way. Maybe another game could be based on Red Sonya? How about Flash Gordon: The Official Game of the Movie?

I personally think Conan games are long done (the old Apple game will always be my favorite anyway). I think that's the primary reason why we don't see any of the proposed Conan games going beyond the stage of being a "proposed Conan game". It just isn't culturally relevant anymore and it just would not find the right audience.

That's not even saying how games based on movies (yes, I am damned well aware that there are books, but that's not how this game will play out...if it gets released) are almost always complete crap. A movie to game translation is about as worthy of an endeavor as a book made from a movie or a game based on a TV show. It's only a little higher up in quality than a book based on a TV show (the true lowest of the low).

However, if this is going to happen, which I'm not 100% certain of, I only know that more bad movies from the 1970's and 1980's need to come along in game form. I would love to see, beyond all other movies, a Red Dawn game. You could be a brave Wolverine, needing your hated to keep you fueled to stop the damned red menace.

You could play the role of a young pixilated (or polygon based) Patrick Swayze. I'm sure that Swayze, Charlie (Charles) Sheen, and Lea Thompson are all free enough to do some voice work. It would be a step up for C. Thomas Howell to do some voice work for a game (and not another "Killer Bees!"). I'm sure we won't be seeing Ah-nold doing voice work on Conan, James Earl Jones is a little too high class for this type of shit, and sadly Mako is no longer with, let's go with the best possible movie game with the best possible ambiance.

Ok. Maybe I'd be the only one to play a Red Dawn game (besides possibly a few family members of mine), but it seems more logical than Conan. At least the material is the same age, but has been mentioned numerous times in recent gaming history (listen to the Ammu-Nation stuff on San Andreas to hear the triumph of Red Dawn in modern gaming).

I might be serious or I might just be f#@$ing around by saying this. However, the one thing I do want to make clear is that, in no way, is a Conan game right for the modern gaming landscape and it needs to end. Developers and publishers have far more important things to do. I don't mean more games based on sequels of other games, but rather looking towards making some novel and fun intellectual properties. Enough is enough with rehashing old or irrelevant stuff and passing it off as a worthy use of $60.


Malik (2/28/07)  

I find it quite funny (in a sick sense of the word) that Europe is constantly the butt of the gaming world. Game systems tend to be released last in Europe (and maybe Australia...sorry, but Australia has the fewest gamers per region, so it's natural for Australia to be last in anything). Games tend to either come to Europe very late, or not at all. Prices are higher for both consoles and games, even after the late release, in Europe. It's like the gaming world is set against Europe...but supposed "economic" factors can be used as an excuse to keep the European gaming audiences down.

However, that doesn't seem to fly when the PS3 is not only released several months late in Europe, and with more expensive of hardware and games, but they get a slimmed down PS3. I don't mean a thinner PS3 (and we all know that behemoth can use a diet), but rather that they get a PS3 that suffers from a lack of Emotion. As in Emotion Engine.

The supposed buzz term of the PS2 era (BLAST PROCESSING!) actually had some importance. While it may have not delivered what we were promised when the PS2 was released, it did help to allow some games to run on the damned system. However, Europe is not getting the Emotion Engine on their PS3, and thus they pay for more, waited for longer, and pay more money for games, but they will not have the full backwards compatibility of the Japanese and American PS3.

Luckily for me, I live in the US (where we pay more than Japan for hardware, and less for software) so this doesn't effect me. Also, I honestly could not give a shit about the PS3 (at least for $600...not until I have a reason to pay through the nose for a console). However, it's nothing short of sad that Europe is getting hosed on one console after another. It's claimed that costs are higher to import games produced overseas (yet many game studios have production plants in Europe), and that hardware all falls into the higher priced import duties.

Quite honestly, I think it's about time for someone to shake things up a little with this. I don't mean like how Sony shook up things by destroying Lik-Sang...I mean in a constructive way. Europe is not exactly an untapped market, but is rather a screwed over market. If a real game system (not the Gizmondo) came out of Europe, things would be changed for the worse for everyone. Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft would all lose some of their market share to an obviously cheaper competitor.

Plus, why is it that all European games cost more, when some come out of European production lines? Why don't these competitors in the software field just start slashing their prices to ensure an extra cheap product on the store shelves and just undercut the support for American and Japanese produced games? It would make sense.

In fact, all that Europe needs to get a better slice of their pie is to start doing business differently. A single company cannot change things, and neither can a single gamer. However, if the whole environment was altered by gamers and developers alike, it could be a bright new day for that could possibly set the balance to a more neutral position.

Anyway, I'm feeling sick and rather bitchy today. So, maybe I'm just talking out of my ass. However, maybe there's something to this. Afterall, there is no real excuse for Europe (and Australia) getting constantly screwed in the most confusing of ways. Emotion Engine? Why the hell should it not be in European PS3s?


Malik (3/1/07)  

I won't get into too many details about my feelings on this subject, but I'll just say that Americans having any sort of awards program for anime is a bad idea. Why? Well, most American palettes are limited on anime, and what most people would consider the best is usually some half-assed production with giant effects in the visual department and very little in the thinking department.

For Advent Children to be called the best is like saying an Ah-nold movie should have won a few Oscars. True, you leave the experience with a sense of adrenaline, but you don't actually get any fulfillment. Advent Children did not have some amazing potential. It was a feature made for and worshiped by FFVII fans. This was not meant to be a real experience on it's own merits anymore than the Viva Pinata cartoon is meant to be an amazing example of cinema.

I'll just wrap this up by saying this one final thought; there is a lot of amazing anime out there. Unfortunately, the best is usually not noticed or is not properly handled by the audience in question. For example, a few great anime films made it to the US for the first time last year. I cannot even begin to name them (the problem with watching fansubs is that you never know it's proper US release year) but the Full Metal Alchemist movie comes to mind...may not be the best example of an anime movie that made it to the US in the last year, but there's more and it's better than the "anime" (I also have trouble calling CGI "anime") equivalent of a blockbuster summer action flick.

I'm still enjoying Rogue Galaxy for some unexplainable reason. The game, the more I play, is a complete waste of time and space. The story is pathetic for half of the time, and anything that could be interesting as a major event is instead limited to a small and pointless couple of seconds of dialogue (for example, to avoid spoilers, the closing moments of the Cancer King Ruins). There is a plot in the world of RG...sadly, we have to focus on all of the wrong elements.

In fact, to try to avoid some spoilers, I just have to wonder about the nature of Vedan society in the game. Children are abandoned (I know it's a little cliché) and left to fend for themselves in the sewers. Meanwhile, some massive beast (in a world in which all beasts tend to eat people) is their sole protector. On top of that, the beast is tied into the ghost of a king who died thousands of years in the past. I would say I'm being vague to avoid spoilers, but that's actually the limit of this part of the RG plot. It would have been amazing to get a stronger idea of the backstory to all of this...but RG would rather show us the damned moments that cause me to be thankful for the ability to skip cinematics (I never do skip...but I know others use this feature like it's one hell of an amazing drug).

In fact, if you've played the game you'll understand where I'm coming from, but any moment between Mark/Steve and the Doctor is some of the most annoying and trivial plot moments of any game. I'm sure, from what I remember, that Cool Spot (the Genesis game that served as a 7-Up ad) had a better plot than these moments. There's also Chie and her mom on their endless quest to find Chie's some of the most dangerous locations in the galaxy. Here's a summary of each one of these events (now you can skip them if you play RG); Chie is sad that she can't find her father, her mother gets hurt, they both cry, you wonder how that five minutes of dialogue could feel like a f#@$ing eternity.

Anyway, like I said, for some sick reason, even though the game pains my head to play it, I like playing this game. I won't even say how you can obtain all of the best equipment in the game by the end of the 7th chapter (and there are about 7 more to play through in which you'll never upgrade your equipment again). There is no reason to enjoy this game...but it keeps pulling me back in for more.


Malik (3/2/07)  

Firaxis is officially working on the next full installment of the Civilization franchise. I hope that Civ4 was a great sign of where this series is heading. After Civ3 brought about some uncalled for political correctness, that left a distinct taste on the Civ3 game, Civ4 returned things more to the roots of the franchise. If Firaxis can keep up this new vibe, Civ5 should be amazing.

I also hope that Firaxis doesn't count on just making a graphical resource hog out of the game. Civ4 pushed some PCs to their breaking points despite being a simple turn based strategy game. If things go any further with Civ5, I may have to bid the series a fine farewell for a while since I've just become a little too jaded on PC upgrades.

I've done it just a few too many times in the last few months, and I don't aim to touch the inside of any of my machines for a good 12-18 months. I know this will put me out of the running for quite a few PC games in the next couple of years, but it just isn't worth the money and frustrations anymore.

On a different note, a trailer of GTA4 will debut later this month on the 29th. This is a little unusual, considering when a new GTA game is released, we usually see nothing more than a half dozen screen shots until about three weeks prior to the release.

However, this should be a great chance to see what Rockstar aims to do with the series as it makes it's debut on the next generation. Since the basic engine and game play, not to mention the visuals, of GTA 3, Vice City, and GTA:SA are now feeling their age, it will be nice to see how Rockstar aims to make the game it's best for the 360/PS3 generation. Also, with the added competition in the basic sandbox-city genre from Crackdown and Saint's Row, it will be nice to see if Rockstar is still ready to fight back and reclaim the crown of king of sandbox game makers.

That's not even to say that it should be good to see some details of this game. I for one want to know what timeline they aim to have things take place in. As long as it's not another throw-back to the 1990's, 80's, or 70's (or older), I know I will be happy. I also would like to see where this takes place, since I know another flat game (like VC and a good part of SA) would be a bad move for this franchise.

Anyway, I guess this is another "time will tell" moment. Hopefully we'll see some good news on the 29th. If not, then Rockstar will undoubtedly have a few aces up their sleeves. I don't like to sound like a blind fanboy, but let's face it; Rockstar at their worst is still usually better than the competition at their long as you only focus on the 3D GTA games and Bully and not on the crap (State of Emergency, Manhunt, Table Tennis).

To make one more subject leap, I went out and bought FFVI Advance last night. This is the final FF remake for the GBA. After this, they will have all been done and there will be no more FF games to port...ok, no more main franchise games, since Mystic Quest is still out there.

Even though I have FFVI on the SNES (still) and have played the game to death, I thought I'd take this new journey for two simple reasons. I need a good portable game to keep me busy when I do the more annoying of life's requirements (oil change, dentist appointments, etc). FF usually does a good job at filling this need. I also wanted to check out the new content.

Unlike FFIV Advance, and a bit stronger than FFV Advance, FFVI has some interesting new content while the game still feels like the original. There are now four or so new espers (including Leviathan, Gilgamesh, and Cactuar/Cactrot), some new spells to go with these espers (flood, valor, etc), and the standard additional dungeons (two this time that can be faced prior to beating the game). I just wish they would've tossed all of us old school FFVI fans a bone by giving another playable Leo (to make the old rumors come true).

Also, the game's translation has been improved to a point in which the player can now understand everything that's said, and not just a majority. Unfortunately, this means some items and spells have been renamed, so it may be hard to remember the good old favorites (Offering is renamed, for one)...but that only makes it a bit more interesting to play through again.

I also must say that I bought FFVI Advance since it might be the final new game I buy for a while. I still have a lot of time left with Rogue Galaxy, but more than that I have a new house in a few weeks. Once those mortgage payments arrive, it'll be time for my wallet and I to sober up to the real financial least until we find a roommate/tenant.


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