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Malik (10/10/05)  

So, back in 2003, Devin Moore allegedly killed three people. His defense used GTA3 playing as an excuse for his actions (since the game is supposedly a killing training sim or some lame bullshit like that). Well, he was found guilty recently and sentenced to death. I bring this up because it's a great example that saying a video game made you do something is not a good legal excuse, and it has to end. 

It will not get you off the hook for doing something retarded (I use that word to not be discriminatory to mentally disabled or delayed individuals...rather I use that word to be derogatory towards people who would think that popular media should serve as an alibi for one's own actions). All this type of thing will do is cast unfair bias towards the gaming industry, while it is not guilty of anything (at least anything not related to corporate crime). This type of crap needs to just come to a halt. 

Anyway, I played a lot of Castlevania DS this weekend. I can now officially say I'm done with the game. I didn't beat it. I have no shame in saying that. I am simply sick of it. For the first 99% of the game, it was awesome...however, the final less than 1% of the game (the point that you have defeated the HP of the final boss but you need to draw the lame magic symbol to seal it) is unbearable. 

Here's what happened; I fought the final boss, and despite taking some damage, I was able to blast it apart. Then the game was requiring me to draw a 10 line connect the dots type of thing on the touch screen...which is definitely not an activity I think of when I think of Castlevania. Well, I failed to draw the symbol correctly (actually, I should say that the game failed to recognize the symbol I drew), and the boss came back with about 25% of it's HP. I killed it again, and the game failed to recognize what I drew. The boss came back...this went on for about 25 cycles. I eventually died. 

So, I reloaded and fought the boss again. I went through the same crap for about 10 cycles. At this point I paused the game, went to a menu that allowed me to practice drawing the magic symbols. What do you think happened? I practiced 10 times and drew it correctly 8 times (including my first attempt). So, I unpaused, and attacked the boss. I went through another 5 cycles of failing, and then I paused and practiced for 5 more times (got it right 4 times). I unpaused and failed for five more cycles. 

At this point, I used my special attack. This attack leaves the entire game world in darkness. No enemy can survive. Magic symbols be damned! I used the power button. Then I put that damned game away. There is something seriously wrong with this picture. I should not be able to get the symbol drawn correctly, in practice but during the boss fight, 80% of the time, yet I failed 45 out of 45 times. This is simply saying that when I try to draw the symbol in the game, it's more selective than when I use the "practice" option. Does this mean that the practice mode has an easier difficulty? If so, then f$@# Konami. 

I still am getting ready to write a review of this game, and I will write a hell of a favorable review. Castlevania DS is one hell of an awesome game. It is, without a doubt, the first game I'd call must have for the DS. However, it will receive a lower score than it could have. If the DS was used simply as a two screen system, then this game would have been one of the best games I've played since SotN. However, since Konami had to use the touch screen in retarded (using the meaning of the word that is "to slow or delay" how drawing symbols delays one from progressing in this otherwise streamlined game) new ways, I have some serious problems with this game. 

Ultimately, this is what makes me weary about the Revolution controller. It may sound like I jumped subjects, but hear me out. The DS is a great system, but it's only true failing (besides a lack of games) is that nearly every game uses the touch screen, despite how many of the games could have done better with no/limited touch screen use. The Revolution will probably suffer the same problem of many good old school styled games requiring motion to play, despite how the easiest and most natural controls being those using an analogue stick and a few buttons. 

The bane of Nintendo fans is that while Nintendo can come up with some awesome innovations, no third party developers seem to fully grasp the concepts and instead make half-assed games that could have been so much more using only standard game technology. Castlevania DS would have been one of the best Castlevania games, if it didn't use touch screen technology. The same applies to many other franchise games that failed on the DS but did so well on the PSP.


Malik (10/11/05)  

My Castlevania DS review is going along nicely and should be up by the end of tomorrow. Sadly, since it's DS, I'll be sans images on this one. That's the only real problem with these new handhelds; I cannot take good images with the technology, as it currently stands. However, the PSP2TV may end up in my hands one of these days (if I can find it for a little cheaper than the current price is looking), and I imagine that when the Revolution arrives (next year...probably), it will probably soon have an adapter to play DS on the big screen (especially since the remote of the Revolution should be able to handle DS abilities). Until then, I just refuse to waste my time with half-assed digital camera images for a game review. I mean, it just wouldn't look right if I'm trying to explain what the game looks like and the pictures look too bad to make any decisions about. 

However, on the note of the DS, I finally decided I needed a truly addictive game for this system. I thought that Castlevania would fulfill that requirement for me...but I didn't take into account the poorly conceived use of the touch screen for bosses. So, with that game soon to collect dust in my pile of played out games, I needed something new. Since I can't get that help from America, I decided to finally look in the right direction; Japan. 

Last night I ordered Shonen Super Stars. If you don't know about this is exactly what the DS needs. It's probably the closest we'll see of a Smash Bros. on the DS, unless Nintendo wakes up to the obvious desire of gamers for this genre. It uses a wide variety of Shonen Jump (a monthly anthology of manga that includes the likes of Naruto, DBZ, One Piece, Yu Gi Oh, and Bleach) characters. It allows for up to four players with one card, and it allows more room for fun with using multiple cards. 

In the game, you basically must make a page of manga by using different characters from these various mangas. Then when you make a page that has enough room for about 20 characters (where some take up to 7 spaces), you have your battle line-up in the bottom screen. As you play, and as you build your special attacks, you can select the characters you filled the bottom screen with to perform special attacks and so forth. It plays much like Smash, and it's exactly what is needed for this handheld; a fun and quick multiplayer fighter that can be played with simplistic controls and doesn't go beyond reason in it's touch screen applications. 

Sadly, the game is a little too popular in the import market, so it'll take a couple of weeks to arrive. However, once it does, I know what I'll be playing until the 360 comes out. It'll also be nice to write another review of a great Japanese game (since I'm tired of writing bitchy reviews of the crap that comes to our shores). Plus, I always feel a little better when I can write a review for a game that I cannot fully understand. I don't know why this is so...but it's always fun. 

Speaking of such topics, the American version of We Love Katamari is just as awesome as the Japanese version...assuming you don't play co-op. If you do, the Japanese version has a leg up by displaying the analogue sticks of both players on the screen. Other than that, I still give WLK the same love and high regards that the Japanese version got when I reviewed it. There is nothing like a game this addictive and wholesome (assuming making giant balls out of people and animals can be wholesome). 

Ok, one last thing before I head out. I just want to say that the PS2 Naruto game (the original one) is coming to the US. I point this out, not as a good thing, but rather as a load of bullshit. I love how when an anime based game comes from Japan to the US, we don't get the best ones (Naruto 3 for the GCN is the current champion, unless you like RPGS, then all of them for the GBA and DS win). No, we get the oldest ones. For example, by the time this game comes out in the first half of 2006, Japan will have the third game in the Naruto: Narutimate Hero series, and a total of four PS2 games. Yet, we will have the oldest that hit Japan back two and a half years earlier (it's almost 2 years old right now). The only reason they did this is so that the storyline in that game will match what is on the anime as shown on Cartoon Network. That may be fine, but all it means is that the game will feel dated, like so many other anime-based games have felt in the past. I just hope that at the very least we can get either the GCN versions of Naruto (which are awesome party games), or a genre that feels less dated with age, like the portable RPGs. 

Ok, now I am seriously out of here. 


Malik (10/12/05)  

I finally beat the American version of We Love Katamari. I guess there is another difference between the American and Japanese versions of the game. When you beat everything (except the one million rose level) you will have unlocked the entire game movie for the original Katamari Damacy. In fact, you unlock it twice. I'm not 100% on what the Japanese version had (I think it was the Korean and American versions of the other words, the dialogue was spoken in English and Korean), but the American version has the Japanese version for beating the standard game, and the Korean version for beating the extra cousin level. It's not a major difference, but it is a minor one and worthy of mention. 

I think, since I'm low on games to entertain me, I may see how far I can get on the 1 million rose goal this time. On the Japanese version I managed to get about 75,000 roses (which took a loooong time), but I think I may have the time and boredom enough from other games to give it another go on the American version. 

Ok, there's been a bit of news about how Ah-nold signed the violent game bill into effect in California. I'm a firm believer in preventing censorship, and a firm believer in keeping pointless laws out of action (like my home state, Washington, which had a law prohibiting games with violence against law enforcement officers, despite how they could be the agents in Matrix qualify to make the crappy Matrix games illegal to sell to minors despite a T rating; luckily that law was found to be illegal). Any law that states it's illegal to sell a game with violence to a minor, has a problem. 

What's the problem? Simple; to ban a violent game is a subjective thing. What is excessive violence to one person is actually slap-stick comedy to another. Some people see the Three Stooges as violent, while others see that it's slap-stick humor. What about Bugs Bunny? He keeps dealing what would be fatal injuries in the real world to characters who may just end up with a few soot marks on their faces as they walk off the "injury". "Violent" is far too subjective of a term to use as a guild line for prohibiting sales of a product. 

On the other hand, if there was some sort of law that took an established guideline, such as the ESRB ratings, and made them into legal limitations on game sales, that wouldn't be too bad. I honestly believe that if a parent is not watching their 13 year old kid, then that kid should not have GTA. I don't think it's because the kid will imitate GTA, necessarily, but rather that it will give firepower to a potential lawsuit against Take Two when one of these unsupervised kids does something stupid (and in all honesty, kids do stupid things; with or without video games). 

In other words, why not make a bill that actually will go along with the game industry (which supports the ESRB ratings) and simply make a law that states that it's illegal to sell a M or AO game to a minor? From the game industry perspective, it would go along with the standards that you set in place. From a government perspective, it would force the game industry to put up or shut up about their commitment to their ratings board. Best of all, from a gamer perspective, it would limit the potential problems that may come down the road from leaving things overly unregulated. 

True, the political types, who are usually trying to get their faces out there so that people will remember to vote for them and their firm stances against the "evils" of gaming, may argue that the ESRB failed us with Hot Coffee. All I have to say about that, in the end, is that even the Motion Picture Association failed a few times. If you don't believe this, then check out this link (warning, slightly objectionable material including minor nudity). Yes, in the Disney film "The Rescuers", there was a shot of a topless woman. This was in the movie despite it being widely accepted as a wonderful children's' movie. If this can escape into entertainment designed for kids, then why go off the deep end about sexual content in a game with a "Mature" rating? There's no damned reason. 

Ok, I've bounced around on enough topics. I do have the Castlevania: DS review up.  Check it out. 


Malik (10/13/05)  

After sitting on this for a couple of days, I humbly present; a rant about the annoyance of the week... 

So, the master of over-exaggerating and turning facts on their heads...yes, I'm obviously talking about Jack Thompson...has decided to make a proposal to the game industry. Basically, he will donate a pathetic (in terms of how much it costs to make a video game, $10,000 is little more than a drop of piss) amount of money if a developer makes a game in 2006 that fits his proposal...his very sick and f$#@ed up proposal. I'm sorry to say it, but as of today (after reading this proposal), I am more terrified of Jack Thompson that I am of anything else on this planet. 

First off, if Mr. Thompson is indeed calling video games "Murder Simulators" (and I doubt there's any doubt to him doing so with all he's said in the last several years), and he's asking for a game in which you go to the "Long Island home of the CEO of the company (Take This) that made the murder simulator on which his son's killer trained. O.K. gets "justice" by taking out this female CEO, whose name is Paula Eibel, along with her husband and kids", and when the real CEO of Take Two is Paul Eibeler, isn't this actually saying, by his logic, that he wants to train kids to murder the CEO of Take Two? That's what this sounds like to me. It also sounds a lot like a threat against Mr. Eibeler's life. 

I may have only paid slight attention during my logic classes in college (needed something to satisfy my financial aid requirement of a full course-load each quarter), but the logic here seems to fit. Just to walk a Thompson supporter through this logic; if a violent game trains people to kill, and if a game is made with an intended target with a nearly identical name and job to a real person, then that game is made to help someone kill said person. Even if you want to say that the name of the fictional "Take This" CEO is different than Mr. Eibeler, isn't it saying that this game will train people to kill someone with the real name of "Paula Eibel" (and in this world of billions of people, I bet that name probably fits a few people)? 

I guess you could say, from the gamer perspective (which is one that views Thompson as someone of little logic), this is good news. Yes, the idea of Mr. Thompson turning against his own views so sharply is not only hypocrisy. It is something seen often in history by many of the most unbalanced (a euphemistic phrase for "psycho") fundamentalist nuts. This is what fascists do in order to justify their brutal ways of removing "brutality". 

All of this is insanely...well...ummm...insane. Depending on your views and your own feelings of paranoia, this open challenge by Thompson can be viewed, quite easily, as a thinly veiled threat. Beyond that, it shows he's out of touch with the concepts behind the industry he is supposedly an expert on. $10,000? That doesn't even cover the cost of a single employee on a project like this. 

Anyway, with his prior stance on the removal of violent games from the market, I think his idea of creating more violent media is exactly the opposite of what someone in his position should be doing. More than that, one should never turn away from their beliefs if it's these beliefs that they are trying to push onto the common man (not to mention an entire industry). 

Of course, this comes as no real surprise. If you want a better understanding of this man (I'll refrain from using slander...he is a lawyer, after all) and a good laugh, just check his wikipedia profile. For more laughs, I'd check out Penny-Arcade later this week since Gabe has had some dialogue with Thompson and some good comics are probably going to come from it in the next week. Some of the best examples of his "unique" view of the world include these quotes; 

"The Bible doesn't promote killing innocent people," Thompson said. "Grand Theft Auto does. Islam does." 

Wow...I won't even begin (and I will say, as I rarely do, I am a Christian) saying how there are numerous accounts from history and the Bible on violence being inspired and endorsed by Christianity (ever heard of the Crusades?)... 

"Islam promotes the killing of innocent people," Thompson said. "The Quran requires the infidel, whether Jew or Christian, to be killed. That's a core essence of the religion. Muhammad was a pirate who killed infidels and who advocated the killing of infidels. Not a nice guy. Osama bin Laden is in keeping with his fine tradition." 

...and here I thought the core essence of Islam, much like with other monotheistic religions, was to praise your god, to serve said deity, and goes on, but I don't even know how killing others was thought of as a core belief for any commonly found modern religion. 

Interestingly, the Florida Supreme Court ordered that [Thompson] undergo psychiatric testing during this campaign 

Sound about right...I think he needs one of those about now as a requirement to be able to make himself heard in the media. 

I won't even go into his crusade against EA and The Sims 2 earlier this year. I especially won't go into how he, off of no real evidence, stated that The Sims 2 showed human genitalia and was a bad game for minors. I definitely won't even touch that bringing false accusations against a person or organization in an effort to lower their business and to tarnish their reputations is illegal. 

Plain and simple, it is about time that the regular media takes the same stance that the independent game media has taken; Jack Thompson is an annoyance, a contradictory hypocrite, and a man who looks like he is simply out there to make a name for himself. More importantly, government people need to see this. This man needs to stop serving as the voice for anything. A person with this distorted of a view of reality needs to just be pushed to the back corner and ignored. If a random person came along and told the AP that games were evil, this person would be why does the media listen to Thompson, who is obviously just trying to get some attention? 

Hell, if he wasn't trying to just make a name for himself, he would have probably gone the simple and logical route. What is this simple path? Don't try to get into a slander war over games when you could easily just call for major reforms in the ways that games are accessible by minors. Mainly, call for more bills and laws dealing with fines for companies that sell violent games to minors. At least that way you don't look insane and you are actually matching one of the popular opinions of our society. 

I just feel sorry for someone so misguided by their grief that they would hire this man after the loss of a loved one to a violent crime. Thompson has a strong history (at least seen on wikipdeia) of losing cases and campaigns. However, for those who lose a loved one and then decide to try to milk some money out of the game industry for your loss...actually you deserve to go with someone like Thompson as your lawyer for such a fraudulent claim. 

Hopefully this newest "get my name in the press" attempt by Thompson is what it looks like from my perspective; a FINAL act of desperation by a man who has lost touch with reality. True, he'll probably be back, and he'll have support from the right vocal minority to keep himself in the press, but it is a nice hope. 


Malik (10/14/05)  

The PSP is getting another update for it's firmware. The new patch, for version 2.50, is looking like a mostly Japanese only release. The main added feature is to let users watch TV on the PSP by using an LF-PK1 remote TV tuner with the system...which would be why I think it's mainly a Japanese update since these location free tuners are not exactly a common American entertainment item. 

Also, this new update will store form histories for the Internet browser...which may be one of the best features found on this new update. Considering how slow of a job it can be to input text on the PSP, this will probably be a nice time saver for those who actually have a fondness for turning a perfectly good homebrew player into an Internet browser only system. If you could not tell, I'm still running 1.50 and loving the freedom of playing Doom and other homebrew PSP apps. Ok...I don't play Doom all that much, since the controller is not set up for this type of game, but I still enjoy some of the other homebrew apps. 

I'm betting another add-on for this update is probably one to remove the potential bypass found in altering background wallpaper files. If anything, you should always count on upgrading your PSP will result in, primarily, a new security lockout. So, if someone finally gets homebrew working on 2.0 (it may have happened...I just haven't been paying attention since I have 1.50), it will be pretty useless, I'm betting, on 2.50. 

The only thing that might entice me to upgrade, beyond the requirement that GTA:LCS will probably have for a more recent firmware version than 1.50, is if they actually make the system more user friendly for those who like to go beyond gaming on their PSP. For example, if they included either the ability for people to easily run homebrew apps (seriously, the PSP would sell better if it had this ability) or if they updated the video player to accept more file types than the uncommon ones. Seriously, is it that hard to add some support for MPGs that are not MPEG-4 or some AVI file codecs? I don't think so. 

Actually, I'll toss out one more observation before I call it a week. Since it effects both movie stuff and potential games, I just have to say I'm afraid. I can understand that EON wants a new face for Bond, but I think they missed their mark. True, they wanted an unknown (and the only thing I can think of that I've seen with Daniel Craig in it was how he played the whiney little bitch in Road to Perdition...not too Bond-ish if you ask me), and they wanted to replace Brosnan (who was pretty good, despite how he was in some pretty lame Bond movies due to bad writing, and was willing to go in for one more film), but I think this misses the mark completely. Namely, I just don't get the image of Craig playing the character who is supposedly the ideal of suave, mysterious, and ready for action. I see Craig more in a role of playing a banker in a scene where some mastermind steals a priceless from a high security bank at the start of a Bond film. 

Well, that's my take on it, at least. As a fan of politically incorrect movies (especially those of 007) I'll still see it, but I have to be weary with this choice... 

Anyway, I've got little to actually discuss today. I would talk about my gaming exploits, but all I've done in the last couple of days is play the million roses level of We Love Katamari, which is pretty damned dull to play. I wouldn't even play it, but I have nothing else to play right now that can hold my attention, and I feel like I need to do this to show the King of All Cosmos who is in charge. I guess I'll wrap up today by saying that if you know someone who wants the DS and Mario Kart DS for the holidays, there's good news from Nintendo. Ok...I'm out. 


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