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Malik (6/26/06)  

You may have noticed a recent trend in game news. Not the news I talk about, but rather what is on the majority of game sites (take a look if you need to...I'll wait). They all keep talking about the recent explosion of game laws that are made in the sick idea of keeping children from the single most harmful of perverse media (/sarcasm) games.

Why have I not touched that subject nearly as much as most sites? Simple. I am sick of hearing about laws that are deemed unconstitutional within their first few months of infancy. It's always the same crap...over and over again.

Some politician seems an election coming up and knows that they have to do something to save their poor level of support from their constituents. The easiest way to do so is to take on a major (or at least it seems to be major) item of no real importance. Now a days, this would be video games and how they are turning all of our children into mass murderers.

Might I add, at this conjecture, that Jack Thompson, no matter how you feel about him, is doing his job pretty well. He is getting massive doses of PR in his fight against what he sees as filth. This is also where so many parents and politicians get their ideas from in terms of how video games are evil. It's not just Mr. Thompson, but he is the biggest name in this supposed fight against indecency.

So, in the end, we are left with a bunch of people who have no exposure to games trying to force anti-game laws into the law books in the name of keeping their voters...constituents...happy. However, in their rush to finish this stupid and pointless endeavor, they all end up making laws that contain horribly vague language, and often times these politicians don't even know what is in the laws their supposedly penned.

The truth is simple; children shouldn't be exposed to things that they are not ready for. However, unlike how law makers like to think, the answer lies with the parents, guardians, and neighbors of these children. It's a lot like the episode of The Simpsons that Fox showed last night (the one in which a monkey adopts Bart). Marge was watching the Flanders children, and she started to give them some freedoms that Ned would never allow them to feel. Rod and Todd ended up actually having fun and becoming somewhat normal members of society since Marge exposed them to life as they should have, according to their ages.

In this episode, the lawmakers would be represented by Ned. He was so damned afraid of introducing real life to his kids that he turned them into quivering piles of jelly. Meanwhile, a proper parent (in this case, Marge) show the children reality, and they handled it just fine. The same applies to games.

We shouldn't expose children to games like GTA when they are just fresh from the womb, but we shouldn't be afraid to allow our children to see subject matter according to what THEY ARE READY FOR. In other words, a game may be M rated, but some children are ready for this earlier in their lives...and these games won't turn them into psychopaths (I am well aware that "psychopath" is not the correct term, but am using it in it's commonly and incorrectly used meaning). However, it can cause some problems for the less prepared children.

It's actually like Tiger Woods said in his ESRB public service announcement advertisements; the right game for the right child. This doesn't require a draconian legislature, and it doesn't require a written-in-stone rating. It requires proper parenting. Also, any parent who says that the ratings are needed because they don't have time to keep an eye on their children (to see what is right for them)...well, you shouldn't have become a parent if you weren't ready to fulfill that obligation.

To completely shift gears, I finally am caught up with Lost. I am just sad that I now can't watch any new episodes until the fall. This has to be the most captivating show I have ever seen. In fact, with a show as good as Lost, I'm honestly surprised it hasn't been canceled yet, since other shows of this caliber tend to die quick and young, like Firefly did.

Also, I got in a good deal of Suikoden V this weekend. I am now finally getting into the main bulk of the game (as in, I have a base of operations, which starts the official game as previous Suikodens have shown). The most I play, the more I can plainly see that this game is much better than it's flaws would reveal. I just wish the stars of destiny (recruitable characters) weren't so well hidden in the game. I don't like that I have to follow a walkthrough to find the hidden characters before it's too late (many characters can only be overlooked for so long before they are out of the game for good).

That would be the one part of Suikoden that keeps going downhill. In Suikoden, you could find everyone with only some investigating. Suikoden 2 introduced the characters at the very beginning that you could anger quickly and not know it until the end of the game. Suikoden 3 and 4 continued this with some extra people that would only be around for about 10 minutes (unless you never progressed the plot) of the game. Suikoden V does that type of situation...but a 1000 times worse.

I don't care for this type of obsessive behavior that is required for the good ending (you only get good endings in Suikoden games if you acquire all recruitable stars of destiny). It does lower the enjoyment of the game as a whole. However, the game is still plenty of fun, but for anyone who plans to play Suikoden V, I just want to say this; find a recruitment guide online and follow it closely...or you'll regret it.


Malik (6/27/06)  

Ever get that feeling of deja vu? I know I'm definitely getting about now. Usually the summer is a time when game news is pretty sparse, but it's all different, on the surface at least, this year. Namely, I can definitely tell an election year is coming up for a lot of elected "leaders". How can I tell this? Because we are being given the wondrous gift of their "protection" from our own interests.

On one hand, there are all of those gaming laws being passed. The ones that will help save our children (as in the children living in our society) from the "harmful" influences of video games. Then, there's also the lawsuits and legal investigations into game companies and into how solid of an alibi one could expect from "I didn't know it was wrong to light a kitty on fire...since Grand Theft Auto told me to do it".

So, it's not a surprise at all when a completely dead subject, like Hot Coffee, is resurrected by the NY county DA. Yes. Let's bring back a subject that has basically been officially closed. Brilliant. Maybe, while we're at it, we could bring back senate investigations on the song "Cop Killer", rap music in general, 2 Live Crew, and anything else that was once deemed harmful to children and is now a dead subject.

I'd be willing the bet, without taking the time to look it up, that this NY DA is probably facing an election year either this year or next year. There is no other reason for a person with some level of power to drag out something so damned old and no longer interesting to the public, than to show it as their own way of protecting youth.

The saddest part of all of this can be found two paragraphs back (right above your eyes right now). In one time, it was thought that 2 Live Crew, Cop Killer, Rap Music, Judas Priest, Ozzy, rock in general, Dungeons and Dragons, Mortal Kombat, Night Trap, and a few thousand other forms of popular (or even unpopular) entertainment that had any youth audience was a corrupting influence. Now, I ask you to think about this; how much are they feared now? Not one damned bit.

This is also how GTA will eventually become. As long as it's popular, it will be seen as a horrible evil, but once it stops being seen in the spot light, things will change. I'd be willing to bet that ten years from now, GTA:SA will be seen as no more harmful than anything else I listed above. Why? Because politicians will move on to newer election year condemnation, and the old ones simply get left behind.

I'd also like to say that with the fines that Rockstar has faced, the bad PR (GTA:SA, when it was re-released as an M rated title about 9 months back, it sold horribly), and the sleazy behavior they tried to pull off, they have probably learned a very important lesson. It's over, and Rockstar has been punished by both authoritative figures and by their own poor actions via the public. It's over and it's time to move the f@#% on.

Also, it's still interesting to me that GTA:SA was re-rated to AO for having a hidden sex mini-game that was about as erotic as the thought of having Ben Stein do the orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally, yet there are plenty of games that push the envelope further without losing their precious M rating. Hell, look at the first few minutes of God of War, when you have the sex mini-game between Kratos and two very topless women who look far more realistic than the women of GTA:SA ever would. I guess that's the true lesson...keep the sex in the open and that will keep it off the radar. It's also funny that for having what a movie would consider R rated material, the game gets rated the movie equivalent of NC-17, just because "children play games", even thought the largest demographic of gamers are well over 18, and the largest money spenders in the gaming world are well into a midlife crises.

Maybe it's time for government to move on and spend their budgets on materials and subjects that actually matter...and that doesn't include video game controversies (especially those already a year old). Maybe into finding a better renewable fuel source that will also work for jets, a way to save some face with the rest of the world (the US is a master of making themselves into a joke), how to return Iraq to the Iraqi people, how to make better relations with China before they eclipse the US as a more dominant global authority. In fact, I suggest we start with finding a way to stop being the butt of most of the world's jokes.


Malik (6/28/06)  

When things go wrong, usually it's never as simple as one little problem. Hell, it's never as simple as one large problem, in most cases. It's like karma, as seen on My Name is Earl. Something goes wrong, then it means a lot of bad things will come your way...however, unlike Earl, it usually doesn't end just by doing some good deeds.

I'm not talking about myself (job interviews are rolling in, I have an assistant at my day job, Suikoden V is kicking ass, Superman Returns is in my immediate future...booyah!) for once, but rather about Take Two. First they have the NY County DA trying to dig up old skeletons with the Hot Coffee bullshit, and now Roger Hill is suing Take Two for $250K. If this name sounds unfamiliar, that's because he was once an actor, but is now less seen. However, his legacy as Cyrus in The Warriors will forever remain with him.

The whole basis of the lawsuit is because Hill claims that Take Two had no right to use his likeness in The Warriors (the game), and that he denied Take Two access to his likeness when they asked him for permission. Take Two denies this, as is usually the case with that company. I mean they denied Hot Coffee until someone had to prove it was their fault. So, it's no surprise to see them deny Hill's allegations. Either way, I somehow have very little faith/trust in Take Two and expect a quick settlement, or legal agreement, in favor of Hill and his allegations.

The interesting part of all of Take Two's scandals is seeing how much their stock has become a roller coaster ride in the last year. I was actually once a happy owner of some shares of TTWO (their stock symbol), and cannot begin to tell you how glad that I WAS holding and am now out. In the end, they will rebound, but not too securely until next fall when GTA4 hits store shelves.

I don't have much to talk about today, and I have a written interview (I don't even understand the logic in this lazy-man's-phone-interview) to fill out so I can get freedom from a job that has been stealing my will to geek. I'll be seeing Superman tonight and I'll probably have some strong opinions tomorrow.


Malik (6/29/06)  

If you haven't heard and still care, FFXII comes out on October 31st. It's pretty's Halloween and we have what (the demo showed) would be a probably bad game wrapped up in the title of what was once a great franchise. Trick-or-treat!

I watched Superman Returns last night and it left me some strong impressions (spoilers will begin after a nifty little spoiler don't fear). First off, the actors and the parts they played...and yes...I am too lazy to look up actual names for the actors.

Superman/Clark Kent was cast pretty well. The voice, the geekiness, the overall feel...all Superman. However, I don't understand why he looks more artificial than your average Playboy centerfold when in the Superman persona. It looks like Superman forgot that there's such a thing as too much makeup.

Jimmy Olsen was an interesting choice. He was always a fanboy, but now I think he's ready to pound some ass. Actually, I shouldn't say that...he'd be playing catcher in that relationship. If you don't understand my vague wordings, what I mean is this; he is flat out gay. There's nothing wrong with that, but it seems a bit...unusual.

Lois Lane...ok, I could think of many better choices, and I can think of a few good role models for picking the Lois actress (like Teri Hatcher...who was good in the first season of "Lois & Clark"...or the old Margot Kidder approach), and Bryan Singer apparently tried a whole new direction. Well, I couldn't care less about his choice.

Perry White was cast perfectly. At least he was cast as perfectly as one could be expected. No complaints here.

Now the one choice that was made for the cast that was spot on in every freakin' way was for Kevin Spacey to play Lex Luthor. I don't think I've seen such a perfect match up in a casting choice in any movie. In fact, you could say that Kevin Spacey was born for this role. He captures the insanity, the eccentric behavior, the look, the voice...everything!

As for the real important detail of the movie (the plot), I have to say I was with it until about 80 minutes in. The first half of the film was well done, and the explanations and reasons for each action and each directorial choice was self explanatory. In other words, the movie had an awesome flow to it. Lex had the perfect insane and inane plot to make himself a king in a way that only he could understand to it's fullest, the explanation of Metropolis being abandoned by Superman was well done, his return to the Earth was handled with a great level of skill. It was starting off to be a great movie. That was until...

Teh Spoilers!!!11!!!11

...Lois's kid was revealed to also be Superman's kid. What the f#@%! I am a firm believer in an old saying; "Nothing will ruin a movie quicker than animals or kids". Well, Singer chose a kid. Not only is this kid crammed down our throats, but we are also forced to put up the knowledge that a sequel is in the works and that Superman is well aware of the kid's lineage, and that the kid used his powers at one point in the movie. Take a moment and think of what this means for the (obvious to come) next Superman that image in your is a painful image, indeed.

That was bad enough, but then the effects of kryptonite were revealed. This ultimate weakness for Superman seemed more like an ultimate annoyance. I never felt like Superman was in any real danger as he battle Lex Luthor. For one thing, Superman was completely surrounded by kryptonite, and he still could fly, use his heat vision, etc. He even lifts an island, made of a good amount of kryptonite, into space. AN ISLAND OF KRYPTONITE! Hell, he got stabbed with a blade ('s a blade shaped crystal shard) of kryptonite, has it twisted in his side, and then the blade is broken off (along with some fragments breaking free of this blade). Lois removes the large chunk of this blade, still leaving (as we'll see about 30 minutes later) a few pieces in the wound, and Superman is still able to revive himself (at first without any sun light...might I add), lift that island of kryptonite into space, fall from orbit into the Earth...and he is perfectly healthy later that he can tell his kid, while the kid sleeps, that it will be a hard journey.

The movie was around 2.5 hours long. That's a long movie for one based on a comic. Well, I can tell you that I could've found a great way to have reduced the running time. Either the artsy scenes could be cut out (like Superman's overly long fall to the Earth after lifting the afore mentioned island) or just cut out the entire final hour of the movie and spare us from the Superkid bullshit.

Anyway, I'm not a huge Superman fan, but I definitely know enough to geek-out. What I saw, made my potential happy geeking moments into me brooding in silence wondering how much longer this treatment of Superman could continue. Maybe it sounds cold blooded, but I think the ideal ending would've had either the Sueprkid die or for the whole movie to have been revealed to be just one potential reality (the whole, "we were only kidding...the next movie will be different" approach that comics so often use).


Malik (6/30/06)  

To change the nature of what I've been posting on lately, we have some 360 Live news available to end this week/month.

First off, the demo for Chromehounds is now available. It's not found on the North America version of the Live Marketplace, but this doesn't mean too much to anyone with a slightly inquisitive nature. If you want the demo badly enough, you simply will have to add an additional gamer profile to your live account, and set the address information to something more Eastern or short, make a European or Japanese gamer profile and enjoy the download.

If you need help with this, just do a search on the net, and you should find what you want. It's a simple process, and it's a way to ensure that you get all downloads available. However, the one downside to this is that there is normally nothing of interest on the Japanese or European Live Marketplaces that are not found on the American Marketplace. At the worst, like we'll see with Chromehounds, most items from one Marketplace will be proliferated across the the Marketplaces in a matter of a few days, or maybe a week. However, if you're desperate for a new 360 experience, and you feel you must have this demo...well, there's an option.

To tell the truth, while many are looking forward to Chromehounds, I'm left with one initial first impression that ruins the experience for me. That would be that it's "another damned mech game". I'm sorry, but I feel like mech games have been beaten into the ground, and I simply want a change of scenery about now. Mechs were interesting for a few years, but they stuck around for well over a decade, and it might be time for a breath of fresh air. Especially, I say that, since all of these mech games ultimately come down to using the same elements that were on MechWarrior 2, and there's nothing but recycled and tweaked mechanics in these games. We might see them with a touch more action or a bit more strategy, but they all keep turning out as the same games with nothing really innovative.

The best we can even ever hope for in innovation in this genre is for a freakin' $250-$300 price tag to give us a supposedly "full size" control panel to control the mechs in the game. However, when the dust settles, the final word on a game is how fun it is...and I simply cannot have fun playing the same game, over and over, with different names...

...whoa, I'm getting a bit off anyway, the Chromehounds demo is out if you know where to look and actually give a shit. It'll be out in the US (my guess) around mid next week.

While we're talking about the Marketplace, Street Fighter II is obviously not coming out in the 2nd quarter  of this year. Considering that today is the end of the 2nd quarter, that goes without saying. However, it makes you wonder if there's some reason for such an old game that is obviously completed, and would not be too hard to port, is being delayed so much. After all, not to sound like some damned conspiracy nut, but with the Wii and PS3 both hitting the streets later this year, maybe Microsoft would be delaying some items to make the 360 more attractive in the Fall. In other words, one could possible think that Microsoft is creating a backlog, just so they can make the 360 better in the important start time for the next battle of the console wars.

Of course, there's one problem with this type of...ummm..."logic". That would be that then Microsoft would only be angering their current fan base, which would only create a larger demand for another system. Maybe a system that "knows how to release some new titles". So, if this is Microsoft's plan, they may be laying down on a nice double edged sword. Of course, it could always be that maybe Capcom is feeling a bit lazy about porting such a game, and they are creating the bottleneck. Blah. If I knew the truth behind these type of things...well...who knows?

Well, it's a 4 day weekend for me, so you can probably expect me to not post next week until Wednesday. I may sneak in a small post on Monday, but that's all up to what I'm playing and what I'm drinking. So, have a safe 4th. Good grilling to you all, drink 'em if you got 'em, and I'm out.


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