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Malik (8/25/08)

I have little to talk about today. I mean there is talking about the obvious of YYZ on Rock Band and how they'll handle a anti-vocalist (instrumental) song...but I imagine it won't matter too much. Either they will grey out the song if a vocalist is in the band (bad solution) or give the vocalist a heads up at the difficulty select screen ("you will not play on this song"; good solution since it would allow it to be in a four player band set list). There's also talking about rumored music creation settings in a Harmonix game...but that's a bad decision and I'll just ignore it as Harmonix finally trying to one up the Neversoft guys (instead of the usual Neversoft trying to one up Harmonix).

Instead, I'll just tell a little story today.

My mother recently got into rhythm games. It started with GH3 (when she saw it at a gathering at my house about ten months ago). She has a Wii, so she got the Wii version of GH3 and beat it on easy. I then bought a new 360 (disk read errors made my original 360 unreliable on the fly, but workable if you allow a little time to toggle the power so the drive would spin) and gave my old one to her. I also planted the all-so-evil thought in her head of how sweet Rock Band is.

Next thing I know, she has Rock Band and a new HDD in her recently acquired 360. I have to say I'm pretty proud of her taking on the game and blasting away at vocals and guitar solo careers. She laid easy guitar to rest pretty quickly. That's when I told her that the final tiers only showed up in medium (and higher) difficulty. So, she had never seen all the songs on the disk.

This was a little nostalgic for me since my first game of Harmonix was GH1. Another game that locked out some later songs when played on easy. I, much like her, felt that the blue button and a fourth finger being used were a sick joke from Harmonix. I even pretended the orange button never existed...that fret was just too much over my head to acknowledge. Being an expert player on RB, it's obvious I got over my fears.

My mother recently made the jump to medium and has done quite well. She's up to tier seven already. Stuck on Vaseline. That's when I decided to go back to Vaseline on medium and see if I could offer some pointers (it is a hard song when you first play it).

I know part of the problem, for me, is medium is slow on the scroll speed compared to expert. However, this is not as obvious on most songs as it is on Vaseline. That song has a lot of "walls-o-notes" due to the strum speed being pretty similar to that on hard or expert. Hell, the majority of the verses are the same as on expert (green to a hammer-on red, over and over again). I actually was stuck at about 90% note hit when I finished the song...a song I get 95%+ on expert when I'm halfway drunk.

I don't know the point of this story. Maybe it's to say that that's a tricky song. Maybe it's me saying I'm glad to have a common game with my mother (not many people in their late 20's can say the same thing for a game not made by Pop-Cap). Maybe it's me saying that Vaseline should be a higher tier, but it feels like Harmonix overbooked the higher tiers (I think Suffragette City, Dead on Arrival, Ballroom Blitz, and Electric Version all had this same problem) and had to drop down some songs in level (but not in their actual charts) to even out five songs per tier.

So, whatever the point I intended for this story, take what you want from it. I should have something more normal to post tomorrow. At least this story, if you didn't give a shit about it, wasn't my other story for the of helping a friend move in one of the heaviest rains we've had in the Seattle area in the last four months.


Malik (8/26/08)

It's another slow day for posting, from the looks of things. I can't look up even the tiers of the Rush album Moving Pictures on Wikipedia. I think this has to do with some technical problems keeping the DLC from being released when expected (2 AM PST).   In fact, I imagine the delay in releasing this pack comes down to one thing; how the game handles YYZ and it's lack of vocals.  I would think that the song gets treated uniquely (not showing in solo vocals, and maybe not showing in BWT if vocals are active or not including vocals when performed).  So, who knows when it will go live.  For now, it's a Tuesday without DLC for the second time in Rock Band history.

I am also expecting Tales of Vesperia this week, but with no call on my pre-order, I'm guessing that it will not show at my local EB Games until tomorrow.

At least the Live Marketplace has something related to ToV.  There are four free DLC packs.  Two include skills for two characters (one character per pack) and two are free item packs.  I doubt they'd effect the game too much (low level items and probably low usage skills).  At least I can download them and...errr...

...why do I have DLC but no game (ToV) and game (RB) but no expected DLC?

In fact, all I've done in the last 24 hours seems to be watching a lot of the Angry Video Game Nerd. I watched about four or so hours of these videos last night and did nearly nothing else. If you haven't watched this stuff before, I would recommend it...assuming profanity doesn't frighten you...and some really bad video games from ages long past don't give you horrible flashbacks of bad purchases.

So, without much to say, I'll probably keep it to that little rambling chunk of sentences. Blah.


Malik (8/27/08)

Ever wonder a great way to cause a complete breakdown of all sanity on a message board? There are some good ways that seem to make no sense, but the best seems to be capable only by Harmonix.

If any of you tried to check any Rock Band related message board for the last day and a half, then you would have seen the fanboys going ape shit. Moving Pictures has been delayed due to "technical issues". It is still AWOL as I type this around 7:30 AM. If it was something like the Devo and Duran Duran songs, then a few people would freak out, but most wouldn't care. However, that all changes and becomes magnified when it's an entire album of the beloved Rush.

I, personally, do have to admit I'm disappointed. I'm not a Rush fan, but I like new songs. I can get by with nothing new, but it would have been a good time killer when my work is suffering from network failures and I have the option of staying at work and doing nothing or going home (having a good boss is a good thing). Going home is usually followed by finding something to do. Do to Tales of Vesperia not being available on it's ship date, that left Rock Band. However, I got by fine with the fact that I could always get by doing what I normally do when I'm home and slightly bored; some real guitar followed by watching random shit on TV.

However, the reaction on the message boards is beyond insanity. The threads opening on the official Rock Band boards about this failure to release Moving Pictures are being closed and locked as quickly as the Harmonix moderators can. The message boards at GameFAQs are being flooded with messages being removed by moderators. It's like the fanboys (be them RB or Rush fanboys) are coming out of the woodwork to spread a special dose of insanity.

The songs will be released, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it delayed until next Tuesday. I still think the key issue is with a lack of vocals on YYZ. The only other explanations I would be able to think of are;

Something is being tweaked to replace Tom Sawyer on the normal sets with the new master track, assuming you downloaded it. This would be a cool feature to add, but not worth the hassle of driving fanboys crazy.

The second option is the classic "someone spilled some coffee on the server and it's fried" type of thing. In other words, random technical problems.

The only thing I can think of saying about this is simple; Rock Band fans need to chill. It's not like a single delayed pack will end the world. Also, Harmonix may way to, in the name of damage control, toss the salivating dogs (insane geeks) a bone about now. The best way would be to explain what the issue is and maybe even hint at some future DLC. At least that would redirect the energy of the masses and answer some questions. However, in reality, Harmonix is one of the best companies out there. No other company would offer so much DLC for a relatively low price with so much consistency. Afterall, they could act like Neversoft/Activision and offer a whole one pack per month (or less frequent). It's almost like the average Rock Band player has become spoiled from having too much good stuff coming his/her way.

Anyway, by the time I post this, I should have ToV. So, at least I'm set for a good afternoon of gaming.


Malik (8/28/08)

Some info was released in the last day at the Rock Band message boards on the albums expected for this year. Ok...actually they released a link to Entertainment Weekly, which was the exclusive place to release this information. It's probably something to do with how MTV likes things like EW, despite how Harmonix seems like they could use the info directly at their site to battle their recent PR mess of no Moving Pictures.

In a nutshell, we are looking at;

"...full albums by Foo Fighters (The Colour and the Shape), Red Hot Chili Peppers (Blood Sugar Sex Magik), Jane's Addiction (Nothing's Shocking), Megadeth (Peace Sells... But Who's Buying) and Stevie Ray Vaughn (Texas Flood), along with a specially-compiled No Doubt Best Of collection."

I think it's safe to say that some of the albums (Foo Fighters, RHCP) will definitely not come out until September 14th at the earliest. I say this since each of those albums have a song on the RB2 set and Harmonix would look rather lame to release all but one song on an album and then release the game later...with the missing song. For an easier view of the albums, check Wikipedia.

Also, according to the Rock Band boards (sorry, no link), Moving Pictures is not coming for a few weeks. However, something is supposedly going to still come along this week to make up for a break in the DLC each week streak. Even if that streak ended back in the spring when the Sony store was being redone. I'd still be happy if they would just tell us a hint of what happened. I don't even care if they lie about it ("a monkey threw some poop when we had 'bring a monkey to work day' and it fried the servers"). I'm not upset about no Moving Pictures, but rather I'm curious about what could be going on. It's like putting a joke in front of us and then refusing to include the punch line. Maybe that's what this is...a big joke. April 1st, however, seems to be about a half year away.

Anyway, if something does come along this week, there is not much time left with Saturday rapidly approaching. As long as it's not some more music from American Mall, I'll be good.

Last night I started playing Tales of Vesperia. After playing the demo on the Live Marketplace, I was a bit worried about the balance in the game. The boss in the demo was insane, and with no instructions (I wanted to know the controls, at the very least), it was more than I'd want to see from anything that's not an optional boss in a Tales game.

Well, the good news is the game is balanced nicely. The better news is that the game is, at least in my mind, the best damned RPG on the 360. There have been some good RPGs (especially Lost Odyssey), but none can hold a candle to ToV. The game looks amazing with it's anime cut scene visuals in the actual game engine. The sounds are great, complete with some good voice work. The controls are solid. The challenge is about right. The plot is interesting.

In face, I think I would have played the game all night if not for the need to eat dinner at some point. So, I put in a good four hours and didn't feel like I had done more than just started the game. That whole "time flies..." saying holds so true with this game. I mean, the only complaint I can think of (and this is not a valid complaint) is that you don't get a mage for any of your first four party members. I just want to finally see what the arcane arts (magic spells) look like beyond healing and beyond a confusing and short demo.

Anyway, instead of rambling about ToV for another fifty pages, I'll cut this short and say I don't think and J-RPG fan or Tales fan will be able to complain about this game. I'll also end for today by saying I'm on a four day weekend. I may post if anything cool comes out of Rock Band, but I will probably be too busy. Until Tuesday, this place is going quiet.


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