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Malik (8/24/09)

To paraphrase The Boondocks; nothing that can be typed with your thumbs is worth saying.

I say that because of Gamestop's new idea.  At least it's new to me.  In the past, when a game was ready to be picked up (or the day before) for a pre-order, they would send a goofy sounding automated call.  It would sound convey that the game is ready, or will be the next day, and that was that.

Today, I received, "GameStop:Your Prof.Layton Diabolical order avail Tue PM. Bring game trades to reduce price. Store phone is 206-405-4333. To end txt msgs reply STOP" on my cell phone.  First off, let me take a second to apologize to my computer.  I have so many spell check errors coming up as I type that garbage that I think my PC will have a stroke.  Secondly, since I believe that "txt msgs" are bullshit, I don't have a "txt msgs" plan.  That cost me $0.20 to receive, and it will cost another couple of dimes to "reply STOP" to them.  My one question is will this restore getting automated phone calls or will I simply not hear anything?  What about people with landlines?  I'll have to ask my mother, a Professor Layton fan who also pre-ordered and has a landline, about that one.

This should be, since texting can cost money, an opt-in policy change, not an opt-out one.  I really find this to be disrespectful.  Also, while I love real grammar, I love more details even more.  I don't mean details about how Gamestop will "take your old games for trade in credit" versus what the text said.  I mean I liked the old method which would usually name a real time to pick up a pre-order.  I know I'd usually hear "come in anytime after 11AM to pick up your order" or some such time like that.  Definitely better than "avail Tue PM."

I finished Shadow Complex yesterday. I decided to go for the big 100% path through the game. In reality, it's not like that does anything special (except for an achievement and making the game really easy at the end), but it's the way I wanted to play. Primarily, I did the completionist route because it extended the life of the game some, and I didn't want to end the game sooner than absolutely necessary.

Shadow Complex has received a lot of good reviews. It's not often a game gets universally high scores without really being either hyped or being a lot less worthy of praise than it receives. Well, for once I'm in full agreement with the reviews. Shadow Complex is nothing short of awesome. It is the closest I've played to a perfect game in a long time (at least since GTA4 came along). If an expansion was released today, I would buy it without hesitation. Hell, if the game receives and sort of sequel or expansion in the future, I know Chair (the developer) can count on my purchase.

The only complaint I've found with this game is a very minor one. Well, it might be major to some people, but I call it a minor issue. The leader boards are somewhat goofy. For example, I have all the "kill X enemies in a certain way" achievements. However, I'm listed on the leader boards as having too few melee combat kills to have gotten the achievement. In fact, I got the melee achievement back on Wednesday or Thursday (melee is fun) and am listed as having only about 20 or so (50 for the achievement). If I was some elitist ass who needed to be highly ranked on the leader boards, I'd be pissed off. However, I'm just happy to play a game and have fun, so this is nothing more than an annoyance to me.

Anyway, I now have one day of nothing geek to do. New Rock Band songs come out tomorrow. Professor Layton 2 comes out tomorrow (today in some areas, but not around Seattle). As for today, I'm probably just going to keep playing Shadow Complex...just to get another level or two...and to feed my addiction.


UPDATE: I sent a text to Gamestop to end their text messages.  Instead of being out forty cents when my phone bill comes, I'm out sixty...since they felt it necessary to send a reply telling me that I was not going to receive anymore text messages.  It might be less than a dollar, but it's still money that adds up.  Thanks for wasting my money, Gamestop!  You know how to make a customer feel special.


Malik (8/25/09)

Today I have some random thoughts, rather than one semi-coherent line of thinking.

First off, I watched What Would Brian Boitano Make. This is the new show on Food Network. Normally I wouldn't bring up this network, but I have to say this show is awesome! I mean the only problem is that it's on Sundays at 1PM (or some time around then). This is a show that should be on either at 1AM or on Adult Swim. It is, like The Mighty Boosh, a show that requires mind effecting helpers to be fully appreciated. I'd go with alcohol and sleep deprivation, but whatever you want to use to make this show even more amazing is all good. Plus, you have to respect the opening theme song (a short version of What Would Brian Boitano Do from South Park fame).

Secondly, I watched the newest True Blood. Holy crap, this show just gets more awesome with each passing week. It's just too bad that season two is ending in two weeks. With the blend of fantasy, sex, violence, and craziness, this show doesn't fail in any regards. If only the show could have more frequent of seasons, since I'm already dreading deprivation and withdrawals in a couple weeks.

Third, I am getting Professor Layton 2 today. I'll have thoughts tomorrow. However, my question has been answered. My mother, using a landline to pre-order, received no call about the game being available. Apparently, Gamestop only wants to use text messages now to alert pre-order releases. That's enough for me to be done with them. Between this disrespectful change in policy and the occasional "Gamestop tax" (games being $5 more than any other retailer), I think I can happily end my time with their long as a bonus is not exclusive through them and it's a good bonus (like the DLC code for Beatles: Rock Band).

Finally, ADT is back at it. My alarm still works in my home, but I was told that I'd get three months of credit and my "trip fee", for having a technician come out to fix their mistake, canceled. Well, I was charged for monitoring on the 19th (14 days after I got this assurance of a credit) and received an invoice yesterday for the trip fee. Well, I did get a higher level person than the local manager to fix the credit issue. Now I will either get the trip fee removed or will be doing some fighting. On top of that, I'll be fighting, when this money issue is done, to get out of my contract at no cost for early termination. I am done with the half assed job ADT is doing, and I want to shop around.

On that note, Velveta was worried about my fighting against ADT angering them. She said it would be bad if I was perceived as hysterical or unreasonable. For some reason this worries her that ADT would retaliate somehow. For one thing, I'm not at the phase of looking hysterical by any means. However, it gives me a great idea. If this crap keeps happening, maybe being such a bad customer would be able to invoke retaliation...of which the only possibility is for them to deny me the ability to be their customer. Sounds like a good plan B to my ears. However, I'll let the Washington State Attorney Generals Office deal with this problem first, before I go to such degrading (but probably effective) of measures.


Malik (8/26/09)

I don't know why Seattle sports teams love going for guys who are probably over-the-hill. Anyway, I guess when it's a matter of removing Duckett for the Edge, it can't be too bad of a move...I guess...

I downloaded all of the new Rock Band songs, except for the Fleetwood Mac song that wasn't Don't Stop. I can't remember the name, but it doesn't matter since I didn't get the song anyway.

All of the songs are fun, in a nostalgic way, for me. However, if you're not on vocals and not a Billy Idol fan, Mony Mony may be the song to skip this week. However, as a fan of all the bands added, I loved each downloaded track I bought.

On expert guitar, only one song really stands out any. That would be Running Down a Dream. It stands out for one simple reason. The song is pretty frantic with the main riff bouncing from green to another color, back to green, back to a different color, and so on for about eight or so rapid notes in succession. However, where this song really stands out is by having the solo from hell. The song ends with a solo that makes me shiver in fear. It's like some of the crazier parts of Green Grass and High Tides, but without much warning or build up. It just comes in fast and frantic. The only time I played, I was lucky enough to be playing with my mother (who is not too bad on expert, and handled the bass well). I was lucky because she had to save my sorry ass twice in the solo. I haven't faced a song that killed me twice in the solo, without any real warning, but I could still survive since Highway Star.

I also played a ton of Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box last night. In fact, I'm leaving town in a week and a half for the long Labor Day weekend, and this will be my night time time least that's the plan. However, since I did about fifty puzzles last night, I think my addiction to the game will kill off the experience before this weekend is out.

If you enjoyed the first Layton game, this is a perfect sequel. It's more story, more puzzles, more animated and voiced cut scenes (which is still awesome to see and hear on the DS). The only down side I've found, so far, is that some puzzles seem to just force a point that doesn't seem right in the game. There's more "build the unfolded die using two visual hints" but now with you having to rotate the icons that go on the die. This just turns one of my least favorite puzzle types into something worse. There's also too many puzzles that only have a couple choices, so if you mess up once it's too easy to just guess your way to the actual answer.

My only solid complaint, beyond a puzzle or two that I think the answer is possible wrong on (minor issues of how the puzzle is phrased being taken two ways but only one answer works), comes down to a few puzzles that don't belong. The main one being "the arrow puzzle" found in the first village you visit. It has three arrows entering a bag, but only one exits and you must determine which one it is. You can see the three arrows entering and the single arrowhead exiting. The problem is that this is a puzzle that, when you see it, just comes down to using a straight edge to solve. That's not a puzzle. You could try to determine visually which one is the winning arrow, and the game expects this. When you finish, you're told it's an optical illusion. However, since all three arrows are so close together, it's not an's all too close to be the illusion the developers intended to utilize...then the puzzle, in the end, turns into another case of three guesses to win.

Anyway, when you have so many puzzles in a single game, it's no surprise for there to be some that just fail. I just hope more puzzles come along that actually deal with logic and less that are just guessing games or annoying puzzles that fail on a few word choices or slightly goofy looking diagrams. That, and a lot less of the spatial puzzles (loose strings that may or may not form a knot, unfolded dice, etc.).

At least the game does give a good memo feature to counter some issues. It lets you write on top of any puzzle like you have an overhead transparency sheet. This does make things easier than how the memo feature was so limited in the first Layton and you'd sometimes need scraps of paper to solve problems on.


Malik (8/27/09)

After spending much of the week bitching about things, I'll try to keep this post more up-beat.

I have become addicted to Professor Layton 2. I can't say that's a surprise since the first game had the same effect on me. Still, I should say that if the first game consumed your time, the second will return with the same vengeance.

I think the best part of the game this time around is the new collection mini-games. Instead of just finding pieces of a robot dog to unlock some puzzles in the bonus section of the game, you find parts of a camera that play out as a puzzle in the main game. You then use the camera (which is a puzzle to rebuild) to take pictures of areas to have extra bonus puzzles in the game game. These are "find the difference" type games with the picture you took on the bottom screen and the real screen you took the picture of on top. If you find the three differences (which are very hard to find in some cases), you'll typically know where the hint coins are in that real location. Plus you'll unlock a hidden bonus puzzle in that screen that is also played in the main game.

You also have a fun mini-game of helping a fat hamster to lose weight by finding toys. You add these toys to his cage and make him exercise according to how many steps you can make him take going to these toys, with some offering bonus uses and special alternative methods to entertain him. For example, a light bulb will excite him and make him run forward until he hits something, while a normal object will only get his attention if it's within three steps of his current location. If you get the hamster fit enough through this exercise, then you get his help, occasionally, in finding hint coins on the main game map screens.

There's also a tea collecting game in which you collect herbal tea components and then must invent new tea recipes. Then you offer tea to exhausted people in the game who will offer you random bits of wisdom in exchange. I think something special happens if you help every thirsty person in the game, but that's still in the future for my current play through of the game.

Anyway, I'm finding less to complain about with each minute I play Layton 2. Some puzzles still come down to annoying multiple choice exams or lame puzzles with poorly worded descriptions. However, enough puzzles are coming up with either serious logic problems involved or nice brain twisting answers that I'm fine with the assortment.


Malik (8/28/09)

I just have to say that my random bitching about ADT should be coming to an end now. I finally got a real solution (the ability to cancel my contract at anytime without some sort of termination fee). So, this problem, assuming the person from ADT I spoke to is honest (which seems a 50/50 proposition), I should be done bitching about them forever more. Now I just need to find a new provider, and then I can completely close this damned chapter of my life.

However, I still want to bitch about something. In this case, Professor Layton 2. The game is mostly awesome, but of those mini-games I mentioned yesterday, there is one very bad one. The one in which you make tea for people who are thirsty in order to unlock more puzzles. Well, it's a fun side game and it makes you think about a few clues and how that will find a correct tea for a villager. They may mention a certain ingredient or how the final tea will make them feel, then you concoct the recipe and serve it up. If you're wrong, you can try again later when you have more ingredients if you're lacking anything.

Well, it's a fun side quest except for how people become thirsty. When you enter a screen, each person has a chance of being thirsty. However, you don't get a list of who you've given tea (only a count of out of 26 total customers). Some people just refuse to get thirsty no matter how many times you enter and exit a screen to try to toggle this random event. This means you better keep track of people who have become thirsty and you better have the patience to walk on and off a screen potentially dozens of times.

To wrap up things for today, it seems that my awesome feelings of Rock Band DLC every week will end now. It's not that it's a bad week, but it's not as awesome as the last couple of months have been. Still, that's all subjective, so if you like these songs, then more power to you.

The DLC is mainly Talking Heads, in a five pack. There's also two from That Jam. The rest is rounded out by singles from Oasis, Rage Against The Machine, and Avenged Sevenfold. I know I'll get the A7X track (Bat Country...hopefully the full version and not the shortened radio version). Beyond that, I'll check out the others, but the only likely choice will be Oasis (maybe RATM if the guitar chart is a lot better than Testify).

Still, I can't complain really when the variety is pretty damned good...even if it's not my cup o' tea.


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