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Malik (3/14/06)  

I was out yesterday, and will probably be short today, due to me being one sick bastard. I don't mean my usual sick sense of humor, or anything good like that. I simply mean that I feel like my head and gut are currently the playground of a few too many individuals. 

The only thing I can really think of saying today, mainly because I spent all of yesterday zoning out playing Shadow Hearts 3, is that they seem to have ran out of originality with number 2. Where Shadow Hearts 2 tried to keep the content pretty original, Shadow Hearts 3 seems to have taken some weird twists. 

While SH2 may have used some of the same characters, but still kept some fresh ideas in the mix, SH3 seems focused on keeping any of the SH2 conventions in the game, despite the game focusing on a whole new cast. The best case of this is how Joachim (I can't spell, and I'm f@#$ing what), the vampire wrestler of SH2, would walk along and find a new weapon laying on the ground. He used big long objects, like coffins, light poles, signs, etc. as blunt massive weapons. So, when the ninja, Frank, of SH3 needs a weapon, he does the same think by attaching a sword hilt to a large object, including a sign, that he finds along the way. 

Not only does he do the same, now overly used and tired, set of jokes, but he even does it in the same way as our vampire friend. He will tell a story of how such-and-such an object was ignored and abused, and it's up to him to return glory to it's once useful self. 

Now, I have no problem with using some of the same game elements from an earlier version/prequel/sequel/whatever, but this is like taking a Brokeback Mountain joke and telling it now. It's done. We've seen it, we've heard it, we've had enough of it. While many cliché elements can return from one media (movie, game, etc) to another, comedy doesn't work that way. A joke can only be original once...after that, and especially when it's told repeatedly in the past, it just doesn't work anymore. 

In fact, if I had to find a fault with the nearly flawless SH3, it would be that it focuses too much on comedy that's been used a hundred times before. You can only use the jokes from SH2 a few times (in SH2) before they are old. Pt them in SH3 and you aren't hitting comedic're only wasting precious time that could be used on more original of content. 

Ok...I came, I bitched, and I now shall go to be sick. 


Malik (3/15/06)  

Sony is doing something completely out of character...talking. In fact, they are talking a lot. 

On one front, they are finally lowering the price of the PSP. It will be sold for $199. Still a hefty price to pay for a system that has almost no fun games. However, it will at least make it look a little less like shit when compared to the far superior gaming portables, like the DS and the GBA. Also, at the same time, Sony is going to release a Playstation emulator (I think this is the only one that hasn't been already handled by homebrew people) and they will digitally distribute PSX games. 

The one question I have about this is if it's really worth it. On one hand, the games will obviously have a shrunken screen (since PSX is not widescreen). On the other hand, you will need at least a 512 MB Memory Duo to handle these games. In fact, it would be wise to say that you'd need a 1GB card to handle a single game that you've already had the joy of playing through...a decade ago. It's not like a old Nintendo game that could fit on the included 32MB card. We're talking about games that spanned up to 4 CDs. If you want to play FFVII, for example, then you'd better look to invest in a 2GB card. What an awesome can shell out more money to the Sony monster by buying their memory that otherwise is useless. That means, for example, after you buy a 2 GB card (for around $150-$200), and then shell out some cash for FFVII (which will probably cost a good $10+ IMHO), you will then have spent as much as a PSP just to play a game that you could already play on a PS2 (which is probably in your home already) or a PSX (if you don't have one, that's maybe $15 used with a $5 memory card) and you'd be out maybe $5 for the game. Where do I sign up to give more money to Sony? 

Let's face it, this is Sony's attempt to imitate Nintendo's idea of downloaded past games on the Revolution. However, where Nintendo has had a plan for a year or more, Sony is once again trying to jump into this with only a (my guess here) half-assed approach. 

On a different front, Sony has finally (about f#@%ing time) announced a release date for the PS3. It will be Spring 2006...wait...that was the last time they announced a release date. Well, there's a new "official" word on this; November 2006. That's worldwide. So, the delay was caused by the Blu-ray (supposedly...and not the fact that the Cell sounds as buggy as ant hill) drives not being ready. So, here's my question for all of the fanboys who thought that Microsoft f$#@ed up the 360 launch with they supply and demand problems; do you think a worldwide launch of the PS3, which has probably not started production yet, will be any better? It wont. 

We are going to see, this November, just what we saw last November...a new console that's slated as the must have gift for the holidays...and no supply to meet the demand. It doesn't matter that the price is a complete enigma. It doesn't matter that a 60GB HDD will be needed for an untested online service that will be an example of Sony, once again, imitating the competition (it's a Live clone from the sounds of it). It doesn't matter that the HDD has not been mentioned anymore than that, so we don't know if we can get one with the system or what the cost will be. All that matters is that this system will be impossible to find. It will be the PS2, or the 360, all over again. 

The best part of this news is this; 

Kutaragi also made it clear that the hard drive will be necessary to play games--Sony is telling developers to make games assuming every PS3 has a hard drive installed. "We view the Hard Drive to be mandatory for the PS3," he said. "Rather than have developers create games for the PS3 with or without the HDD, we will be asking them to develop games as though all PS3s have the HDD installed." 

Which, when you consider that Kutaragi hasn't decided if the PS3 will be including a HDD from the factory, it makes you really wonder if this is another case of the PSP, in which you have a system that's relatively worthless until you shell out another hundred or so dollars. Sony fanboys can say what they want, but from a realistic perspective, Microsoft was quite on the ball with not only including the HDD (let's accept facts; the Core 360s were only out there so Microsoft could say they sold the 360 for under $300 at launch as a PR thing), but having a good number of built-in features so a 360 owner wouldn't even need to buy $50-$60 game if they didn't want to (Live's fan-f#@$ing-tastic). 

Of course, the single most key piece of information, and it's still not being stated, is what the final cost of this thing will be. The estimates seem to point that we'll be asked to shell out around $500+. On top of that, with the HDD being 60GB, I honestly see Sony selling that for extra (not including it) so as to milk a little extra money out of gamers, despite how Kutaragi is saying that it will be required. On top of that, I see a bleak launch, in terms of games. True, we may get MGS4, but I'm not even sold on that. I expect that the actual launch, in terms of the United States, will be quite limiting, quite unimpressive, and it will sell out just because it's Sony. Also, with games being released exclusively on Blu-ray disks, I see Sony having no qualms about raising game prices (third party 360 may be $60, but 1st party is still $50...don't expect that with the PS3). 

If I sound bitter, I don't mean to. In fact, I actually find this interesting. On one hand, this will be the first Sony system I don't specifically aim to buy at launch (at least not until the price issue and the HDD questions are resolved). On the other hand, there will be a bit less challenge in getting a Revolution. 

No matter what happens, however, I think it's safe to say one thing; there will be some more PR twists from Sony before this is done. Some will be interesting, some will be incredibly inane. However, in the end, the whole experience will be one hell of a roller-coaster ride for those willing to not join a fanboy camp. 

While I may sound like a 360 fanboy at times, the reality is that I'm just happy about having a system in HD (I'm more of a HD fanboy) that was affordable and will soon have Oblivion. Also, a system in which I can play a cheap yet fun game like Marble Blast Ultra is a definite plus. If any of the new generation has been actually bubbling over with excitement, it would have to be the one company that says they are in it for the games; Nintendo. 


Malik (3/16/06)  

It was a substandard game that could only be loved in a time long passed...or on a portable platform. So, I guess, with the confusing and illogical nature of Sony that Untold Legends would be heading to the PS3. I wish I could say something about this, but I think the fact that it sold well on the PSP due to the absolute lack of games (especially RPGs) should answer fully to the question of why a sequel for the PSP was made. 

As for a PS3 version...well, Sony didn't look at the full picture. A game that sold well due entirely to a lack of content does not mean the game is good. In fact, the Diablo 2 rip-off that is called Untold Legends is really worthy of it's should be untold and it would have been if not for the lack of original PSP content. 

There's not much else to really talk about today. All the news seems to be focused on reactions to the news that the PS3 will be launched, worldwide, in November. So, on that note, let me get off topic... 

How many of you have seen Office Space? Probably a good number. I've been in a work environment that makes Office Space seem like a reality. The silly thing is I work in a non-profit research lab, which is about as unlikely of a place for this type of behavior to occur as any workplace could be. So, despite that, and in fact of that, I just have to say there is no feeling in the world that is as amazing as the phrase, "take this job and shove it". Better yet, as it was said on the song that played as the end credits rolled, "shove this J.O.B." 

Yesterday I reached an amazing moment in my life as a worked-to-death American worker. I've known for a long time that I hated my job. To put it simply, my job started off in one direction, and due to changes in supervisors, that entire workload I now do is not only completely's completely worthless. We have gone against what our funding is for, we have wasted tens of thousands of dollars in materials (not to mention hundreds of thousands on paychecks) in order to fulfill a certain supervisors demented desire to hunt her own personal white whale (that's a Moby Dick reference). 

So, when I realized that I will quit my job in a couple of months, despite having no job lined up for after that, I realized that things will get better. I may have to deal with a loss in my pay for a short time (which basically will amount to me not being able to afford as many toys), but the long term is only going to be up from here. 

Anyways, with no good gaming news, and with me being in a great mood, I just felt like sharing. It's true. Office Space, when it showed the protagonist slacking at work and feeling great, was a wonderful example of the simple pleasures that can really improve one's disposition. Not only is this applied to work. It's when you realize that you shouldn't be someone's bitch for the sake of doing what's normally considered "right" that you can feel really good about who you are and where you are going in life. Now sign along with me... 

Take this job and shove it. 


Malik (3/17/06)  

A new Ape Escape is in the works in Japan (and will hopefully make it to our shores not too long afterwards). In Ape Escape: Million Monkeys, the game is changing focus a little bit. It will be driven around real world Japan locations, which should be an interesting direction. Considering how all prior Ape Escape titles have focused on fighting monkeys in fictional, and somewhat silly locations, like different TV studio sets in the AE3, this could be a nice way to inject some new life into the series. 

My one concern with this title is that Sony is aiming to arm the monkeys with heavy weapons, like mech suits. While this has been done before with some monkeys, to have a focus on these weapons could be a quite frustrating and bad thing. I, for one, have always found the most enjoyable moments of AE titles to be when it's you versus a rather tricky monkey to capture. As in the ones who require a very specific use of an obscure weapon. To give then massive armor and weapons could turn the whole game into the more tedious, in my opinion, moments of the prior AE games; the one on one mech battle scenarios, which are usually an exercise in finding health before hand because you will take a lot of hits during the frustrating and pointless battle. 

On a different note, it has been confirmed, but with no specifics, that the Revolution controller is being kept in mind while Nintendo develops Zelda: Twilight Princess. Since no further details are being given, it's hard to say what impact this could have. Although, my hope is that the sword fighting, when played on the Revolution, will contain some extra details and allow for the Revolution owning players to control the path and swing of Link's blade. That would be so damned sweet. Imagine planning your attacks, blocking an opponents swing with your own, and then driving the point right into it when it's guard is down. That would rock. 

I just hope we're not dealing with some minor and almost pointless add-on....along the lines of how many GCN games would give small bonuses when a GBA was attached. The best/worst example of this is how in Animal Crossing you could only get to the island, which is a massive money maker, if you use a GBA. It's this type of exclusiveness that can only hurt a game. While it's nice to reward a loyal fan who owns all of your products, it's not fair to the less well off who can only afford a GCN, a DS, a GBA, a Revolution, or whatever else, and thus will be left without a major and important feature. I always dreaded buying new GCN games since I knew I'd have a chance of missing something important unless I pulled out my annoying as f#$@ GBA to GCN cable and my GBA. The only game that handled this type of exclusive content correctly was Wind Waker...and I only say that since the GBA content was almost worthless in the grand scheme of things. 

Anyway, I shouldn't bitch too much, since it won't require anything as overly convoluted as attaching the Revolution to the GCN. Also, I'll have both the new Zelda and the Revolution, so it won't matter to me. 

What does matter, however, and it's something that has been on my mind is how saves will be handled. We all know that Microsoft was a little bitchy in not allowing XBox saves to be transferred to the 360, so I just wonder if the Revolution will take the PS2 route (which allows PSX memory cards), or if it will go the 360 route (make a new save to play the same old game on a new console). I for one, don't want to get deep into Zelda and then, after I get the Revolution, be forced to start from scratch if I want to try whatever this new Revolution controller feature. On that note, I wonder why Microsoft didn't do some easy thing like create a new Live update for the XBox that would allow an XBox and a 360 on the same network to transfer saves. Really, it isn't that hard to least it shouldn't be. 

Before I head out for the day, I found this to be pretty cool. Considering that Civ4 has to be one of the best LAN-party style games, the news of Warlords (the Civ4 expansion that should come in 6 or so months) is nothing short of great. This expansion will focus more on combat, and will give a new unit, the warlord. Basically, from the sounds of it, the warlord will serve a purpose quite similar to the generals of Rise of Nation's expansion. Basically, they will, when kept on the front lines, help to improve the abilities of the troops. 

However, even better than the addition of some new units (I can't imagine that the warlords will be the only new unit), is the news of some new empires/civilizations. I, for one, felt something was lacking when the game first launched without some the Zulus and Babylonians (or as I viewed them in Civ1, those damned green civs). Also the news of the new scenarios should be good fun. There was nothing like starting a game of world war 3 on Civ2...and the hint at these scenarios allowing the player to change history should bring some fun times and some potentially awesome LAN-party games. 

Well...good weekend to all. 


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