Non-Flash Links At Bottom Of Page

Malik (10/17/05)  

Well, I will keep this brief, but Jack Thompson is at it again. I don't know whether to call him a conspiracy theorist or a preacher this time. On one hand, he has some unusual thoughts on the structure of the National Institute on Media and the Family, with how they are being controlled by Target and Best Buy. It makes me think of the classic Simpsons episode when Grandpa Simpson made his love enhancing tonic. Namely, the scene when the children of Springfield are trying to decide why their parents were vanishing (in which we learn of the conspiracy of the Rand Corporation, reverse vampires, etc, to try to do away with dinner). This time, however, it's Target, Best Buy, and NIMF in an effort to push evil games on children...yeah...that makes sense...or not. 

On the other hand, Thompson is also explaining how David Walsh (president of NIMF) "has lost his way" as a Christian. I never realized that this was about religion, since I don't remember anything in the Bible about video games, violent content, or ESRB ratings and enforcement of those ratings. I guess they were hidden somewhere in the back of the Bible...on one of those pages that usually gets overlooked...or something... 

It all just makes me wonder if Thompson even believes what he's saying. I can understand the theory that he is just trying to make a name for himself, but I have trouble understanding the alternative perspective; that he actually would believe the words that are coming out of his mouth. 

Anyway, on to something less insane... 

Microsoft has started to prepare more for the 360 launch by getting ready software patches to link the 360 to Media Center PCs. This move should allow for easier transfer of files from a PC to the 360. It was coming anyway, but it's nice to see that Microsoft, considering their history of releasing buggy patches and software, are taking a good initiative on this one. The quick release of this patch should help to ensure that things are actually running smoothly by the time the 360 is actually released. 

In particular, I've been awaiting this since I plan to use the Media Center abilities of the 360. As someone who has been running video files on the PC on a TV (serving as a second monitor), but still having to deal with the hassle of sound coming out of the PC sound system, it will be nice to have something fully integrated into my home entertainment system (not just in video, but in audio too) for watching my fansubs, etc. I just hope the 360 can handle it's end of this (in other words, no surprise news at launch of how the 360 will only play some obscure video file format, like the PSP does). 

As you can probably tell, I just don't have much to talk about right now. I was hoping that my copy of Shonen Super Stars would have arrived sometime early in the weekend, but it's looking like it'll instead be here today. If so, I'll have plenty to talk about tomorrow. Until then... 


Malik (10/18/05)  

I always like to see that when one of these supposed heroes to the morality of America flakes out, that the gaming society still can pull through and show that some of us aren't jerks. I also like to see the word "satire" used in such a strange's like how many people throw around the word "irony" to mean anything from it's actual meaning to meaning a slap-stick incident on a typical low-audience sit-com. 

Anyway, despite all of this, I do want to say that the Penny-Arcade people represented our type of people (geeks/gamers) perfectly and showed that while many critics of our style of entertainment may SAY they are in it to help others, you just have to look at us geeks to see that we are in it for others. Maybe there's some weird hidden part of the "evil" video games that not only "train children to kill", but also "train people to give freely of themselves". That, or maybe the hypocrites are just asses. ########## Anyway, I guess while Penny-Arcade is doing things like donating to charity in another person's name, that same person can go the confusing way. Instead of doing something along the lines of, maybe, matching PA's donation, Jack Thompson has decided to try to file charges, with the good old Seattle PD, of "criminal harassment" against PA. Seriously, Mr. Thompson, now is a great chance for you to do something like say, "they may have donated when I didn't, but I'll do the right thing and match your donation" or some such thing that shows that you can do more than just say you represent morality. I keep hearing of Thompson saying how much he cares, but I don't think any of us have actually seen him back it up with actions (lawsuits and filling charges with the police actually show the opposite). I won't say anything bad (in terms of more than saying "it's my humble opinion that..." and that "it looks like, to me...") about Mr. Thompson (mainly due to my fear of his lawsuits of doom finding me), but I really don't think I could say anything good either (and even a game hater can say that PA donated some money to charity). 

By the way, to the Jack Thompson supporters, I just want to say this was another chance to show that your camp is full of people who care, and you guys blew it. 

So, I finally got my copy of Shonen Jump Super Stars last night. I cannot believe how sweet a Smash Brothers like game can play on the DS. In fact, I have to say this is possibly the game I had in mind as a definite possibility when I first got my DS. To bad, despite how it contains many characters that Americans would know so well like Yugi (Yu-Gi-Oh!), Yusuke (Yu Yu Hakusho), Naruto (Naruto), One-Piece guy (I don't watch One-Piece since the American dubbing is so damned bad and I was late in trying to give the fansubs a chance), the Bo-Bobobo guys (I can't spell it correctly, despite it's use of only two letters in it's name...), and the cast of DBZ (from DBZ), we Americans will never see it in English. 

Also, while few people who read this will go through the hassles of importing it, I just have to say that this game shows exactly how to use the touch screen of the DS in an action based game. Before you start a battle, you will make a manga page of characters. Some characters will be active fighting characters, while others will pop in to throw a few punches, and some will just give stat boosts. To design these decks from the hundreds (there's over 700 to chose from), you can either scroll through huge listings of your kona (the manga panels that make up a page), or you can use the touch screen to chose what type of kona you wish to currently view. That is a nice and unobtrusive touch feature. 

Even more important is how you play a battle. You will see the action on the top screen and you page of manga konas will fill the bottom screen. To change characters in a fight, or to pull out some support from a support kona, you simply have to touch that kona on your touch screen. It's quick, it can be built into combos (hit your current character, another fighting character, and then your current one again for a massive team attack), it can require some skill, and it doesn't require anything as annoying as drawing some lame archaic symbol on the screen to end a fight. Best of all, you play on the top screen, so it doesn't matter if you smudge your bottom touch screen with sweaty fingers as you're playing. If you couldn't tell, those last two comments are directed towards Castlevania: DS. 

The only problem with this game is that an English speaker (who doesn't read Japanese...that is) cannot play the game too easily without a translational walkthrough. It's not hard to find one, but you will have to play the single player game in front of a computer. I doubt the multiplayer has such a hindrance, but I'll have to wait until the weekend to know that answer. 

I can say, without a doubt, that this is one of the most addictive games that will never come to the US. The saddest part of this is that the manga characters seen in the game are pretty much all known in the US since we do get Shonen Jump, translated, in the US. While it may be a smaller target audience than some games have had, it would definitely warrant a small initial release, and then a larger release when word of mouth gets people who don't know Shonen Jump into wanting the game. Blah...and best of all, for those who watch the latest fan-subs of shows like Bleach; the game is up to date with the manga, so Ichigo has his Bankai (if you understand what I mean, I tip my hat to you...if I was wearing my hat right now I would, that is). 

I also got, last night, a demo of Shadow of Colossus, and somehow I could not find the will power to break away from my DS long enough to play this thing. I was hoping to have had some time with the Shadow demo, but I guess that will hopefully have to wait for tonight...assuming I can give up my Shonen time. 


Malik (10/20/05)  

I didn't post yesterday. It just wasn't worth it with the lack of news and how I've just been playing a shit ton of Shonen Jump Super Stars (which is fine and all, but I think the game was nicely summarized with my Tuesday post). Throw in all that there wasn't to report about and that I was feeling a bit under the weather get no post. 

Anyway, there is a bit of news today. First off, I tried out a Shadow of the Colossus demo that I got in the mail. I am thoroughly impressed in almost every way. The game is beautiful (this is eye candy beyond the levels of what we normally get in eye candy), the sounds are amazingly tranquil, the mechanics of the game are amazingly fun and addictive, and it would be an awesome game until you beat it. That would be precisely why I won't buy it. Between how short the demo was (and it was 1/16th of the game) and how short many reviews call it, I think it's more of a game to wait for when it'll eventually fall to $20. As soon as it's that price, I'm all over it. 

Before you start to think it's perfect, I do have to say the game has two flaws. Besides it being short, the game has some camera issues (I fought the camera the entire time I played the demo) and the controls could have used a little tweaking. This is especially bad when you are trying to either ride your horse with any precision (that's a pain in the ass) or when you're jumping from one cliff that you're hanging onto (not standing on) to another. These are the only two things that really brought me any frustration, but I don't know how much they will matter in the final game (since I don't know how much you'll do these activities in the final game). 

I can say, however, that the moment you slay a colossus...there is no word to describe the feeling of slaying something that you had to physically climb up. Plus, they don't just die...they fall and they shake the Earth beneath them as they do so. The one colossus I took down in the demo was the single coolest enemy I've ever defeated in a video game. 

As for some less personal of news...and I say less personal because I wouldn't waste my money with this doomed thing; The Gizmondo, which is due to launch in two days, is sounding more and more like a joke. For a portable, I would want a good reason to buy something that is going against Nintendo and Sony. Well, instead of a good reason, we get crap. Namely, we get a small line-up of games with almost no appeal (Carmageddon? What, are we back in 1997?), with the exception of a couple of EA titles. Then again, what doesn't EA put out games for. They are the definition of the overly wealthy publisher that could afford to do anything, no matter how dumb, and still turn a profit. 

However, beyond the system itself being a joke, the price point is even more so. In fact, it makes me think of shareware/trial versions of a PC utility versus the full program. For $400 you can have the full program. However, for $230 you get the trial version which will constantly remind you of it's inferiority by pumping ads onto your display. I should say that this was the plan...key word being "was". 

Now the system, no matter the price, will give all Americans stupid enough to blow their money on this thing (hey, I collect video game systems and even I would turn this one down like it was an N-Gage or a Zodiac), when they could afford a PSP or a DS (with a game or two) for the same price, annoying ads. Instead, the expensive system will turn your Gizmondo into a GPS system. However, if you want to have GPS coverage of the full US (and not just one region), the ultimate price of the Navigator comes out to $250 (there's another PSP in that money). 

First off, if you want GPS that badly, go with something designed for it. Maybe a GPS system? Yeah. Also, for the price of a Gizmondo, with the full US covered in it's GPS system, you will pay the price of two PSPs or almost 3 DSes. In other words, if you want GPS, go with something cheaper and more reliable than a game system, and if you want games you should check out Nintendo and Sony. If you want all, you can get all three systems for just a hair more than a fully equipped Navigator version of the Gizmondo. Better yet, you would also have an actual selection of games to play and not just two EA games (that will play better on practically every other system) and some games from the PC of the 1990's. 

With how many good games and systems are on the market right now (this month alone, we have added about a dozen high quality pseudo-must-have games and we'll be adding a new console in a hair over a month), this is the wrong time for a has-been like Tiger to try to make a comeback. This is as ridiculous as making a new Rocky movie 15 years after the last one bombed. I guess if Stallone can try, then Tiger is free to flop as well. 


Malik (10/21/05)  

I guess Sony has finally cleared out their excessive inventory of 32MB memory duo cards. I say this because they will finally offer a PSP package that doesn't contain a worthless piece of shit in terms of memory cards for the PSP. In fact, this is a pretty good deal. Starting next month, for $300 (instead of the old price of $250), a PSP purchaser will get a 1GB memory duo pro with their PSP. While the 32MB card only served to let a PSP owner have enough room for a few game saves OR a couple of music tracks, the 1GB setup will leave room to actually take advantage of the PSP's video, music, picture, and game capabilities. 

Considering the options of either getting a 32MB card and a wrist-strap or getting (for $50 more) about a gig of extra memory and no wrist-strap, the choice is obvious. I just wish Sony didn't start the PSP lifespan with the ridiculously underpowered 32MB cards. It also means it's time for Sony to start selling their 1GB PSP named memory sticks (a definite improvement since it can be a real chore to find a reasonable price on a 1GB stick). It's just too bad that Sony waited until most people are unable to use homebrew to do this (since I know my PSP v.1.50 is filled to it's 1GB capacity with games). 

It's also too bad that this is all happening after GTA:LCS is coming out, since I'm willing to bet that the game requires an upgrade to 1.51 or 2.0...which means the first must have title, which will limit homebrew abilities, will also force the upgrade prior to the ready access of memory for all. If anyone ever argues that Sony was stupid in delaying the release of a PSP package with reasonable space, I think this logic shows anything but their shortsightedness. 

Well, speaking of GTA:LCS, next week is the week. It will also be the week that Civ4 comes out. That's on top of this week getting Shadow of the Colossus, THAW (if you still can stomach spending $50 on the series every fall),'s last year all over again. Just like last year, I saw the battle coming and drew my line in the sand long ago. I'll be picking up GTA and Civ4 next week, but I'm otherwise laying low until the 360 launch. I just can't afford to go off the handle with a limited budget. 

I watch my friend Bastich play some Shadow last night and I do have to comment. This game, in it's full glory, is a thousand times better than the demo made it look (and the demo made it look freakin' awesome). This is a game that goes to 11 on almost every possible level. Even the lacking sensation I got from the camera is made up for if you learn to stop fighting it. The camera knows what it's doing. It may piss off the player and the audience from time to time, but in reality it's only trying to give you the most cinematic gaming experience possible. While this may make game play suffer a little, it usually will make up for it by making it feel like each scene has it's own personal cinematography expert involved. 

Beyond that arguable issue, the rest of the game is amazing. The bosses are all completely unique and require a completely original approach, the visuals are the most impressive I've ever seen on the PS2 (while Burnout Revenge pushed visual quality to the extreme, Shadow pushed artistic quality in conjunction with visual quality well over the preconceived limits), the audio is perfectly planned in a way that the music always matches the game, and the world is simply amazing. While the story is quite subtle, you can tell from looking at the land that this place has one hell of a history to it. There are ruined temples, barren wastes, lakes, caves, underground lakes...some people say the next Zelda will involve a world similar to this, and if it's true, I'm ready to do a fanboy freakout on the game. 

However, despite all of this, I think the true highlight of the quality that was programmed into this game can be seen in your horse. Not only does it move realistically, and does it sound real. No, the best aspect is how it acts real. It will get spooked and run from a fight. It will get bored and wonder off if you leave it to it's own devices. Hell, last night, Bastich simply followed his horse at one point to see what it was up to, and that (despite how non-eventful it was) was amazing. It left the main temple (your base of operations, so to speak) as a leisurely pace, walked outside, got spooked and ran for a bit, calmed down and started to eat grass (or that's what it looked like it was trying to do), and then it took notice of the hero and started to wiggle it's head in recognition. If you push the horse too hard, it will get angry. Also, if it doesn't like where you're trying to go, it will try to make it's own decision about your destination. This shows that not only did the programmers know their research (it acts like a real freakin' horse), but they put in far more effort and time than you would ever seen on a standard platformer. 

I still doubt I'll buy this game. Why? The 360, GTA, and Civ4 are all devouring my bank account. However, I do know I'll be begging my friend the instant he finishes to let me borrow the game. Without a doubt, I can say that this is a once in a console-generation game. I can also say that when Fumito Ueda (the director of Shadow) makes his next game for the PS3, it might be a reason, on it's own, to buy the George Foreman Grill knock-off


For Those Who Don't Have Flash Plug-Ins...

News    Reviews    Videos    Features    Forums    Archives    Search This Site    Links    Contact Us    The Car    Disclaimer