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Malik (9/29/08)

While it was a bye week for my precious Seahawks, at least things turned out good for them. The Jets beat down the Cardinals in a major offensive match-up. I don't think the Cards have ever been in a game with such a high total points for both teams. Also, no matter how much I dislike Favre (for his "I'm, I'm not" bullshit), I have to respect those numbers (6 TDs).

While San Francisco had a less impressive outing, they also proceeded to lose to the Saints. This puts the Seahawks squarely at a half game behind the tie for first place (but with a bit of trouble since the 49ers do have a game won over the Seahawks from week 2). Still, this is putting things more into the right side of the division.

Unfortunately, unless Robinson, Branch, and Engram can really turn things around, there's still some danger in the future. It will start in less than a week when the Seahawks go to NY to face the (somehow) amazing Giants at home. On one hand, the Giants are awesome this season, so that will be bad for Seattle. On the other hand, Seattle sucks on the East Coast, and that will make things even worse.

On a different note, I decided to get through the bass challenges on RB2 this weekend. Let's just say that it's an easy ride until the Impossible Bass Challenge. That's when you're hit with a lot of long songs (Bodhisattva, Battery, Peace Sells, and Ace of Spades) followed by my vision of a bass player's hell...Panic Attack. Panic Attack is a nearly eight minute song with one hell of an insane note chart. It reminds me of a less organized opening to Number of the Beast...but it never lets up for more than about thirty seconds at a time. During the guitar solos, it becomes some of the most grueling bass you'll ever face.

I also went ahead and downloaded the single tracks (minus Sleater Kinney) from last week. I skipped Moving Pictures since the only song I'd want was YYZ, and it's not selectable for a whole band. The songs are mostly pretty damned good, with particular emphasis on The Cult and Bad Religion.

On a final note for today, Fable 2 is now going to be launched without the online co-op feature. What?! After all the hype, I don't like the thought of a highly anticipated feature being delayed until a patch/update comes out around the first week of the game. Since Fable 2 went gold so damned early compared to it's launch date, I don't see why the game wasn't delayed (going gold, not being launched) by a short bit to ensure all functionality is there from day one.

Not much else to say for today, so I'll trail off about now.


Malik (9/30/08)

Yesterday, I wanted to play Rock Band 2. I have a lot of BWT stuff to do on my solo band. Of course, I never transferred my DRM to my new 360 from my old one, for reasons I will not go into. So, I spent the day not playing RB2 just because Live was down for maintenance.

Afterall, I had plenty of sets to do that would all come down to one simple problem...random songs. If the random was a RB1 song, or any DLC that came along after The Cars, I would be fine. Anything else would kick me back to the main menu as my DRM couldn't be verified without online capabilities.

The worst part is that I didn't play because of the purpose for the Live shut down; to prepare for the next dashboard update. I have no love for this update. It's easier to use, in appearance, for casual people. However, I have no love of casual gaming and have no need to think like a casual player. Avatars? F#@$, I don't use my Miis any on the Wii (speaking of which, I haven't even used my Wii since the start of the year...), so why would I care about the 360 equivalent? The rest of the update seems to be changes for the sake of making things pretty.

Moving backgrounds? Well, that seems to f#@$ over anyone who bought any themes from the Marketplace. Avatars do the same for gamer pics. In fact, all of these changes seem to be worse than having zero net effect. They seem to be set to make life less fun for people who bought pointless crap with real money.

Of course I'll use the new update when it comes out in a month or two. However, I only will because it will be required. If it wasn't forced, I would never touch the thing. It's mindless change for no purpose and it's only being implemented so that the 360 can feel more attractive to the people who are still more likely to buy a Wii than a 360; casual gamers. Microsoft has a strong following in the more advanced (hardcore) of gamers, and they should keep embracing it...instead of being some self loathing game console maker.

want more details on this AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack. As I type this, there's promises of new info on the Rock Band forums in a few hours. However, as I type this (before 8AM PST), I can't help but feel afraid. It's a "pack" that is supposed to be $40 for around 16-18 songs (I forget the exact amount on "AC/DC Live at Donnington")...and it's only available at Wal-Mart...? That sounds expensive and weird in every possible sense.

Unless this game/pack/whatever is really a pack and is also available as a track pack (DLC) for a realistic price point, I see this as Harmonix, MTV, EA, and whoever else is involved all going to the dark side of Activision Blizzard and Neversoft with their damned spin off titles for Guitar Hero. The last thing I'd expect from Harmonix is for them to make a spin off game. They seemed to understand the limited appeal and how it would be easier to bring in more potential sales by keeping the game as a single game with a lot of optional DLC.

Now, I shall sit and wait while Harmonix eventually releases an announcement...

...and, lo, there was an announcement.   However, since the Rock Band boards have time warped, last I checked, to all posts after 9/26/08 being removed, who knows what announcement is around...

It was interesting this morning waiting for an official announcement. Everyone, from posters on boards to game news sites, had a different "official" story on this. However, in the end, the official word seems to be either completely wrong from the sum of all reports (guesses), or completely right...depending on what side you put the most credibility towards. In the end, the news, to me, is quite lame.

$40, only at Wal-Mart (elsewhere outside the US), as a disk (not DLC), for 18 songs. That would be the most awkward and expensive DLC pack ever. While The Who gave 12 songs for $20 (which would equal 24 The Who songs for the AC/DC price), and RHCP gave 16 for $20 (32 for the AC/DC price), and both of those (or any other pack for this case) would allow selective buying (buy it all or get only a few tracks), the AC/DC thing offers no choice...beyond "get all or nothing".

Plus, since the game will be separate, it means Harmonix has finally intentionally made a GH:Encore style game. They made a small game, with a too large of a price point, and it's not going to be compatible (hold on...) for the "real" game of RB2 or RB1. Yes, you can export the songs to RB1 or 2 with an export code...but then why couldn't you cut out the middle man (Wal-Mart) and save some production costs (on the actual disk, some programming, and packaging) and get it as DLC? I mean that is how the vast majority of gamers will take to this "game". It will be as much a game as RB1 is now seen as a game by most gamers; as something to rip songs from to use in the real experience of RB2.

To say I'm disappointed with Harmonix's methods on this is an understatement. This is coming from a sucker who bought GH:Encore. I was stupid with that, but I forgave Harmonix since it wasn't really the game they wanted to make. It was more of a contractual obligation in the changing of Neversoft taking over the license. As for this...well, Harmonix had to have some part in this. At the very least, they should have had the power to voice their opinions if this was entirely handled by MTV and/or EA.

I just hope this "game" tanks in sales. Not because I hold anything against AC/DC (although I think my tastes moved beyond them about ten years ago...) or Harmonix (who has generally done me so right), but because I don't want to see any possible incentive, being a profit, for this spin-off practice to continue. It's overpriced and just feels poorly thought out.

To end my bitchy rant for the day, the economy looks f#@$, my 360 will soon be f#@$ (in the dashboard), and I have no interest in playing any more RHCP on RB2. Viva everything...or something like that.


Malik (10/1/08)

F$#@ YOU GMAIL AND INTERNET EXPLORER! I had to start with that. After typing a draft of this post for the last 20 minutes, I find IE crashing due to the recent changes with Gmail (which I type drafts on), and Gmail never bothered to save my draft...despite how it should save once per minute. So, I'll try to recreate this, but forgive me if I sound rushed and impatient.

I am still angry about the AC/DC Track Pack "game" after a night of thinking about it. However, I think the blame is in the wrong places for a lot of people. I imagine (my own speculative opinions follow) the deal went down something like this; AC/DC, who will not split their songs in digital distribution (hence no RB, GH, or iTunes in the past), put down a hard option for Harmonix. Basically, they probably said that either their music will stay forbidden or that it must be in a format that cannot be separated into individual tracks. Let There Be Rock was probably an exception because of this deal existing long before RB2 came out. So, with that choice, Harmonix decided to give fans the best they could, which is a separate AC/DC game that one could chose to buy or not buy, instead of no choice at all. Basically, they passed on a choice that was bad for them on the fans. No one can really win in this, except AC/DC who doesn't seem to care if anyone else walks away entirely happy.

Now, why does AC/DC demand to keep material together? I don't think anyone knows. Afterall, think of an AC/DC it in your head? Good. I imagine the theme of this song is either about getting chicks, getting a specific chick, how awesome the chick was, or, most likely, how awesome AC/DC is and how they rock. Why do I think this? Because it's what all of their songs are about. All of them. Name me an exception...I bet you couldn't. Even a comical song, like Big Balls (now that would be fun for RB2), is still about them being awesome and having awesome parties, despite the silly double meaning, which comes down to them rocking.

I would say I'm upset about the price ($2.22 is pretty high per track), the spin-off game (lame, but Harmonix was probably not given a choice), or having to buy at Wal-Mart (although that detail disappeared with the official press release), but it's not that simple. Hell, I think I would go down to Wal-Mart (or actually hit Wal-Mart's web site) and buy the tracks there for $3 each. I would...but only if I could see my real problem go away; buying all the tracks together. I only want three songs from the whole pack. Like I said, all of these songs sound the same and have the same theme (be it the "rocking out with chicks" theme, or a more musically "rocking the E5 chord with heavy distortion"), so I sure don't need a whole set of 18 of these. Just give me Back in Black, TNT, and Dirty Deeds. I'd drop the $3/track price or even go up to $10 for these three.

This forced buying of a whole "album" is weak. This is like forcing one to buy all of Texas Flood (album) for Texas Flood (song), even if you don't like the rest of the material...which, might I add, is far more epic and more reasonably forced together than the AC/DC material. The same goes for The Colour and The Shape (which actually has a complete theme, as the album plays out, of a relationship with a girl from start to end). If I only want Monkey Wrench, why should I have to buy all of the album? By the way, I sure as hell want that whole album...which doesn't include 18 songs that all sound the exact same with the same theme and the same love of E5 (a chord not too overly common in that album...I mean Enough Space, the only song I completely know on guitar from the album, only uses it 4 individual times and only in the start of the solo).

So, my main thought is that Harmonix probably was placed in a bad position by a bunch of primadonas (AC/DC) who think their music is so much more epic than it really is. Not to sound insulting, but AC/DC is as much "by the numbers generic rock" as possible. The one thing that helped to set them apart was two important facts. First, they brought a very unique vocal style to their songs. Secondly, they brought the energy that few other rock artists could keep going for 30 years. However, energy or not, they still are not worthy of this self-pampered bullshit that they keep showing the world.

If anything, this has made me more appreciative of Harmonix (for offering a difficult decision and stepping up to look like the bad guys through this) and more tired of AC/DC, who I feel like I outgrew a good ten years ago. You can only listen to how "we rock and we rock the chicks" so long before you need something more fulfilling and less like the musical equivalent of a bunch of empty calories.


Malik (10/2/08)

Another year, another rehash of a Nintendo portable. The DSi is coming sometime in the near future (November 1st in Japan, 2009 for the US). It's another case of how you cannot have a Nintendo handheld unless you have a thousand different versions, that all essentially play the same damned games.

Anyway, the DSi (as opposed to DS or DS Lite, and not a GBA, GBA SP, or a GBA Micro, and not a Gameboy, Color Gameboy, Gameboy Pocket, or a Gameboy Color...and don't forget a Super Gameboy or a Gameboy Player) is the same console...but with a larger screen, a 3 megapixel camera, another lower res camera, and an SD slot to be facilitated in music playback.

Of course, that's at the cost of the GBA slot...which is also at the cost of enjoyment for those who like Guitar Hero: On Tour. So, it's not just the addition of pointless changes, but Nintendo pulled a Sony with a loss of backwards compatibility and functionality. Bravo.

Do we really need this? No. Will people buy it? Yes.

I hate this type of crap. Not because I am dying of envy to get one for myself. No, I just hate seeing more pointless crap added on to a game machine. The microphone is pretty pointless (any uses I've seen has been tacked on in feel), a portable playing video is usually bad (the PSP was the least comfortable movie watching experience I ever had), and quite frankly these additions only add to both the cost and the odds of a critical failure (hardware crash).

I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it; console makers need to stop putting out revisions of a console. A new chip that's easier and cheaper to make reliably is fine, but new features that don't really add to the real game experience (like a new HDD size or a change for the worse in backwards compatibility) need to stop. Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft, I implore you...make a console and just freakin' stick with it for a whole generation.

Anyway, on the note of stupidity...good comedy tonight is in store with the vice presidential debate. I will spare all on this site about my political views, but no matter who you are, you have to see the comedy potential of Palin and Biden meeting. Unless you're blinded by a strong desire to love your chosen affiliation blindly, you will see great comedy as Palin stumbles and stutters, and Biden looks like a deer in headlights not knowing if he could go of the attack or if that would label him sexist.


Malik (10/3/08)

The only important thing I saw coming from the Nintendo show they held in the US this week was looks like the Wii will soon be able to use the SD card slot as a primary storage device. That is to say that one will soon (in several months) be able to save games and DLC to the SD slot and access them as if they were a HDD.

The current situation was one that required you to copy all files from the SD to the system's built in flash memory if you wanted to use it inside of an application. That was the equivalent of having a perfectly good second HDD on your computer, but only one SATA or IDE port. You would have to copy data instead of just using it when you wanted.

The most obvious and important part of this new update will be that RB2 for the Wii will be able to handle DLC due to this. RB2 is not alone, but Harmonix is probably the single most obvious culprit (in a good sense) I know of for dominating storage space on a console. I mean my 360 HDD would be nearly empty if I didn't have any RB/RB2 songs on the console. Having those songs, I run with about 1-2GB free at any time.

Beyond the SD implementation, I think the Nintendo conference/presentation was mostly smoke and mirrors. That is to say that they tried to make the simple and uninspired look awesome. We'll be getting another Fire Emblem? We'll be getting Animal Crossing? We'll get a DS that lacks a GBA slot and now has a camera or two? Big deal. This doesn't change anything, but Nintendo sure made it sound like it is all supposed to be the best thing since Mario first graced living rooms across the world.

For my usual thoughts on Rock Band DLC coming out next week, I'll first take a side step. Supposedly, Dr. Feelgood (Motley Crue album) is coming on the 14th of this month. That, however, is all according to Motley Crue and their people. If you go off of this type of source, there'd be a lot more stuff in RB/RB2 right now than there is. I don't trust this for another reason...Harmonix is good to their word, and they already announced a set number of albums this year...none of which was from Motley Crue. I mean this could very well be a real thing, but it also could very well be a real thing for another year. Until Harmonix says something, I can't believe it.

As for the real DLC stuff, straight from the Harmonix looks pretty good. The rumored six pack of Offspring, which then lost one (Come Out and Play is on RB2), is now a three pack. Self Esteem, Gone Away, and Pretty Fly. It's $2 each or $5.50 for the pack. It's sad to see the loss of All I want and The Kids Aren't Alright, but hopefully they can come along at a future date...maybe in a second Offspring pack.

Also, a few tracks are mixed in. The link shows them all, but there's six of them at $2 per track. Some eclectic stuff (Harvey Danger), some faster stuff (Static X), and some damned good bluesy rock in the long rumored Bad to the Bone.

Even if you're not a fan of some stuff on the list, it's pretty hard to be a rock fan and not find something in this list to enjoy. Even if it's one single song, something will probably call to you if you're not completely closed off to all but one genre of music (sadly, this is usually the people who I would have associated with as a kid...metal heads). Plus, there's even a good assortment of eras and overall musical themes. I think this is one of the first times (not counting the initial RB1 launch DLC lineup) in which Harmonix really has reached to as many genres as possible. While I may not be a fan of some of this, I don't even think I could bitch about the big picture here.


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