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Malik (8/17/09)

I did finish the last of the August Final Fantasy 4: The After Years chapter/tale this weekend.  The would be the Lunarians' Tale.  I don't know what to say after this latest set of tales.  Actually, I do know what to say.

In Japan, when these episodic games came to cell phones, they were structured a little differently.  In particular, Kain had a separate tale, instead of being part of the opening chapter.  It was also, as far as I understand, the final chapter before the big conclusion started.  I think this is important, since Kain's Tale really brought the bulk of the tales together.  Kain encountered Porom, Ceodore, Cecil, and several other characters.  On top of that, his chapter started around the beginning of this whole chaotic affair, chronologically, and ended right where the main game will pick up when the game concludes next month; with Cecil being confronted.

So, instead, we end with a batch of three tales that seem minor in comparison.  There are some minor spoilers in this following rant, but I'll keep them minor and mostly inconsequential.

For one thing, Porom is mostly filler on what the other characters are up to.  Her tale bounces from the basis for what Palom is doing, to what Rydia is up to, and ends with a brief start to the Kain section, which already was more properly covered, out of order, in the start of the game (US game, that is).  Then we have Edward, who is not only somewhat dull as a character (it's been 13 years...get over Anna already, or at least move on some with your life), but he's also in a dull tale that features no boss fights and no real drama beyond him stating the obvious (Cecil is an imposter).  This all concludes with the Lunarians' Tale.  This tale at least includes a few good boss fights (three, to be precise), but is a bit of a chore to play out considering the battles all revolve around a guy who gains no HP when he levels and another guy who gains nothing but HP when he gains a level.  Between Golbez and FuSoYa, you either have one real character, or's a glass half full, glass half empty thing.

I guess the fact that you do get boss fights again and two challenge dungeons can make the final tale a bit interesting.  However, after playing through FF4 and seeing Golbez as an offensive powerhouse, it's sad to see how lame his offense is and how he really doesn't make up for it much with any other abilities.  Golbez is a lot like M. Bison in Street Fighter 2.  Until Champion Edition came along, M. Bison was beyond broken.  However, once you could play him, he just seemed a little more grounded in reality.  The big difference, however, is Golbez is less than a normal person...he's just weak and unimpressive compared to a real powerhouse, like Cecil, Kain, or even Edge.

On a side note, if you want some confusing fun, kill yourself at the end of Golbez's chapter.  Let's just say the laws of time seem to get messed up when killing yourself in a flashback results in the world ending via a game over screen.

At least next week I'll have some more fun with gaming when Professor Layton 2 comes out.


Malik (8/18/09)

Not much worth saying today except for one thought;

Go away! I've had enough of this bullshit of Favre and his flip-flopping. Maybe it's time for him to follow Steve Largent into politics. Although, while I respect Largent for both his action on the field and being a consummate politician, Favre would be at home in the major style of American politics; his inability to stick to anything he says.

One day he's retired, then next he's back. Then he's not really back since he is not 100%. Then he's back again. Then he's gone. Then he's playing for another team. Then he announces he will retire...but he's not really...or is he? This is bullshit on the most basic level.

I'm not happy about Favre returning since I've never liked him. However, the most frustrating part is that it's hard to follow real NFL or even sports news when this primadonna is on the front page of the sports section like the football world revolves around him. I mean Favre should at least have the decency to do like some other hall of fame members (and future HoF types) and quit while on top. Beyond that, quit and remain out of the spotlight. I guess I'm just not happy with anyone who cannot be a man of his own word.

Personally, and this is just my thinking, I figure Favre just was being lazy and skipping the training camp with this latest "I'm retired...not" escapade. I mean he comes back just in time for the pre-season...just a little late for training camps? That doesn't sound like he's being lazy...noooo.

I just hope when Favre announces his intention to walk away again, in January, and then announces his full retirement again, in February, that he sticks with it this time. Of course, I wouldn't be surprised to have this flip-flopping behavior as an NFL tradition for many more years to come. After all, there's been older QBs in the NFL.


Malik (8/19/09)

I went ahead and downloaded all the new Rock Band songs yesterday. I can say all of them offer some good fun on guitar (expert). However, I have to say that not many of them really stand out. I think in all honesty, the only ones that stand out any are No Rain and I'm Shipping Up To Boston.

The one thing that sets these two songs apart are that they have some very unique rhythms with some fun and interesting hammer-on sections. Beyond that, these songs also have the most distinct sound of the set for this week. I mean where you have a lot of alternative, these are the two songs that have something a little different to add to the party.

I hope to see more come along from Dropkick Murphys in the near future, in particular. I think the only other band that seems to offer anything of this style in Rock Band, so far, has been The Dead Kennedys, who were featured quite a long time back in a three pack. I mean there just seems to be a lack of punk lately in the game. Yes, we do get pop-punk stuff from time to time, but I'm talking of good old dirty punk. I mean a little Sex Pistols or Death (look them up on wikipedia...the punk band Death, not the other Death references) would definitely be a great addition. Even more Dropkick Murphys or Dead Kennedys would be awesome.

Anyway, to avoid just helplessly rambling, I'm going to stop this post about now. Too much is on my mind to remain focused, and most of that falls into the WTF category as I watch primary election results come in from my region and wonder how some things could happen as they did.


Malik (8/20/09)

I finally had to break last night and buy a new HDD for my 360. So, now I have a 120GB drive in my 360, and am down way too much money. There's nothing like how overpriced the 360 hardware is. A new HDD that's basically what would work in a PC, but with so strange of a connection that you must buy the specialized proprietary one? We'll just charge you about quadruple for it! A wireless network adapter, but it's certain to work unlike a PC designed USB wireless adapter that is more than likely to not work? We'll charge you triple the price! A battery pack that will not last more than a couple of years? We'll charge about double (versus rechargeable AA batteries that would also work), but only because they have no life span!

Anyway, I had to take the plunge since I was down to less than 1GB left on my "20GB" drive...and that left no room for anything new beyond a few Rock Band DLC songs...which is all that was on the damned drive. A few save files and a bunch of RB songs.

At least this gave me room to actually install RB2. I don't know how well it works, but I've heard a lot of good things about load times being improved on an installed RB2 versus disk ran. I didn't check since...

I also downloaded Shadow Complex. After watching a couple videos and hearing the hype (like winning a billion best of E3 awards...for whatever that's worth), I decided to take the plunge. I have to say it was a good decision for a cheap game that very well should sell on a disk for full price. This isn't like Braid, which is an awesome game but feels like an arcade title. This is a full game with awesome graphics, great detail in the cut scenes, and full voice acting.

Anyway, if you don't know the game, it's safe to say that it borrows heavily on a few other games of the past. It has the Metroid style of action and exploration. I mean you have Metroid weapons and abilities in nearly everything you can do. You can get missiles, the ability to run super speed (to destroy objects), wall jumping, a flashlight (like the Super Metroid X-Ray ability), a double jump, and even the grappling hook. You also explore a area with a nice map reference that shows your next goal and marks save rooms and so forth. This is the spiritual successor of Super Metroid. The only real thing Samus didn't have in Super Metroid was the ability to make some awesome looking melee attacks against foes, make her enemies scream (there's an achievement tied in to this one), or to go for headshots (and this one as well).

You also have the twists of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night by throwing in experience to level up. Sadly, the teleportation rooms didn't also come over from SotN. However, you gain stats with each level, and that's a hell of a lot of SotN did with the Metroid concept. Best of all, unlike SotN, you don't just get experience from killing foes. You also get XP for each item you obtain (it pays to be a collector) and for each map square you uncover (it pays to be thorough). This just makes you want to do a little better and look a little deeper.

Speaking of which, there are some cool bonuses to collecting in this game. Beyond just increasing health, grenade capacity, and all that, you also can find a super powerful ability via collecting all twelve of a certain item. You can also start with all of the weapons if you beat the game and find all of another type of collectable. These bonuses really do make you want to keep looking deeper into every possible area.

The game also borrows off of Metal Gear Solid a bit. You have the same basic plot idea of a terrorist organization trying to take down the world, while using shiny technology of the modern age. You even get a few fights with Metal Gear style robots and there's a couple helicopter fights. Most of all, you also get the training missions of a Metal Gear Solid game, with a VR style setup.

Lastly, the game uses Uncharted a bit as well. It's not as heavily obvious as with the other three "borrowed" games. However, if the protagonist of Shadow Complex is not Drake (of Uncharted), then I must be confused as to what game I was playing when I thought I beat Uncharted. I mean you are basically playing the role of Drake (down to looks and attitude), and are constantly trying to save your girlfriend/love interest, who is just like what's-her-name in Uncharted (sorry, I really couldn't say what her name was...but she's the only female character in that game, so it's not hard to figure out).

Still, I don't want this to sound like I'm complaining. I love Shadow Complex. In fact, if it didn't borrow so heavily from Super Metroid, I just wouldn't be enjoying the game this much. So, while I'm only about 25% into the game (after a good couple of hours...still, it is short, like a Metroid title), I fully recommend this game.


Malik (8/21/09)

I was first planning to add some thoughts about Shadow Complex today...but then I saw the Rock Band DLC announcement for next week. Well, I think I need to say, a few times over, "it's about f$#@ing time!"

First off, we finally get more Billy Idol, including Rebel Yell...which is the song I've been wanting for RB since the early days of RB1. Then we finally get some Fleetwood Mac DLC to round out the one track already in RB2. This makes two bands to now have enough songs for a challenge in the challenge mode. Then we finally get some Jet DLC. Sadly, it's only one song (no challenge mode yet), but still it's not a bad song and it adds another band that's been overlooked for DLC.

However, the largest "about f#@$ing time!" goes to Tom Petty finally coming to Rock Band. Once again, it's not three songs (only two), and it would rock to include Free Falling...but I'll take what I can. I mean Tom Petty is one artist that has been desperately needed for Rock Band for a long time now.

This type of DLC announcement makes me glad I now have enough HDD space to handle a lot more songs. I mean this would have been the final nail in my 20GB HDDs coffin. Too bad my bank account is still going to be angry with me.

Anyway, Shadow! The more I play, I more blown away I become. As I've unlocked more abilities, I just realize why this game is so awesome more and more. Yes, it is basically a Super Metroid clone...but it goes so much deeper with some new tactics and some awesome 3D effects in a 2D game world.

I still am maybe 50% through the main game, but I did finish all of the Proving Grounds challenge packs last night. I have to say that most of this "virtual" levels are awesome. A few do get annoying (the second one in the final challenge pack comes to mind), but the majority are worth a play. More so, the final level is a full on mini version of the actual campaign. You start with nothing (except a gun, a few grenades, double jump, and only 100 health), and slowly build up with health packs, new abilities, new weapons, and all that fun stuff...but in a space that is more in line with taking 15 minutes (for a first time, far less on subsequent plays) than the four hours or more that the campaign will take. However, you also have no save feature, so it will probably take longer than just 15 minutes with the enhanced challenges versus the normal campaign.

The only problem with beating the challenges before the campaign is that it can disorientate you when you re-enter the campaign. I mean I still didn't have the double jump when I started the campaign again after finishing the challenges...and my thinking I did have it caused some unnecessary stupidity.

While I want to keep playing this game for a long time, I do hope I finish soon. Between new RB songs, Professor Layton 2, and a wife who's getting annoyed with my new obsession, the madness needs to stop soon.


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