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Malik (10/23/06)  

Yesterday was one hell of a bad day for any Seahawk fan. Seeing the Vikings crush the Seahawks, and especially seeing Matt Hasselbeck go down with a sprained wow. I suppose, maybe I can look at the bright side. The Seahawks are still tied for first in the NFC West. Also, the other team we're tied with, the Rams, did face defeat at the 'Hawks' hands last week, so we're more in first place than them.

However, when the status of Hasselbeck is unknown, as of when I am typing this, and having two loses already this season, things could definitely look better. I know, as a Seahawks fan, that until I hear things one way or another about Hasselbeck that my mind will not be able to be clearly focused.

If that wasn't enough to ruin a weekend, I finally downloaded the Tony Hawk Project 8 demo and the Lumines Live trial game from the 360 Marketplace. First off, I don't know who's idea it is to call Lumines a whole new breed of puzzle game, and who is the person spreading nasty rumors about how 1337-zor this game is, but I must insist that it stops.

I had never played Lumines on the PSP, despite being a closet puzzle game fanatic. I will find myself playing games like Hexic and Zuma more times than a normal person should. Tetris is in my DS and has not left for more than a single hour since I got it over the Summer. However, playing Lumines Live, even with a slight bit of alcoholic helper (beer), makes me see the game as puzzle-lite. It has all of the fun of Columns...if Columns was made by a person who never wanted anyone to actually have fun with their game. In the standard modes (non-puzzle), the game is about as mindless and pointless as a game of Tamagochi...but without being able to take pride in watching the virtual pet die a horrible and poop-filled death.

I had previously never played a puzzle game before that could not at least fill a few hours of my life with pointless clicking and analogue smashing (or mouse moving)...until Lumines Live. If this is what the crazy fad known as Lumines is all about, then consider me uninterested.

On that note, I also played the Tony Hawk 8 demo for about an hour. Despite how the "nail the trick" interface is supposed to redefine this stale genre, I really can see that this game franchise needs to end. It looks like, literally, more of the same. I suppose, if the game no longer has it's THUG inspired "kewlness" in it, then I'd pick it up at a bargain price next year. Otherwise, I can say without a doubt that I've played this game before...when it was called THPS4. That's all it is. Unless the demo is really holding back on us, there will not be anything new to it, besides some HD visuals, and that is just not worth $60 for a 4 year old game...especially one I already own.

Lastly, if anyone even cares, I know I don't really, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 is now on the 360 Arcade. I would care...I'd really love to care. However, between this game already being out a few times over and the fact that the 360 analogue stick is not meant for this game, I just can't find the insincerity needed to care about this game. Actually, I just can't find the love for any 2D fighters in the modern console world.

A good old school 2D fighter needs a very imprecise and very responsive controller. For example, when the Dreamcast came out with the Rival Schools sequel (why the hell can't I think of the name of this game?), the game was solid, but the high precision of the Dreamcast analogue stick made the game into an exercise in annoyance. The same applies to the 360 2D fighters. The modern analogue stick is not made for a world that involves 8-directions (in a 45 degree spread) and not a perfect 360 degree field of movement on the stick.

Also, if you think something like the upcoming 360 arcade sticks will help out with this problem, you are greatly mistaken. In fact, $60 (the price of a full game) for a stick that was built by a kid on a sugar high ("...and then we'll add the d-pad...and then we'll add buttons...I want more buttons...I want two analogue sticks...MAKE IT SQUARE!!!!!...and then we'll...") is flat out pathetic. By the way, those are two shoulder buttons on the top left (along with two more on the top right)...just imagine how you would use those two L buttons while still using the left analogue stick. I know rumors are saying that Microsoft is also looking to make some competition for this thing. My advice; stop now!

Ok. I think it's safe to say that I am in a bad mood today. Spending most of Saturday cleaning a major mold infestation in my home (with bleach mist flying through my lungs and the horrid smell of vinegar permeating every surface) is the true definition of hell. I actually do this at work all the time (being a microbiologist), but I sure as hell don't like having to do it at home, while not being paid. Then playing Lumines Live during one of my few breaks only made that day worse. Throw in watching Hasselbeck get taken down with an easy to avoid rolling collision pretty much capped on the bullshit of this weekend. At least I did get in a little Tales of the Abyss, and that kept me from just losing all patience.


Malik (10/24/06)  

I spent all of Saturday cleaning mold from my apartment. Sunday I watched as Matt Hasselbeck was taken down with a knee sprain on the first drive of the third quarter. Monday I learned that Hasselbeck is out for at least three to four weeks. Last night I get no sleep because the f#@%-tards who live above me would shut the f#@% up. This morning the noise continued leaving me with three hours of sleep. Then it becomes a torrential downpour as I drive and walk to work. To wrap it all up, my iPod decides to freeze with no hope of unlocking. Wow...if things keep remaining this good, maybe I can expect a bus to hit me on the way home from work.

At least there is some news to dive into. In particular, the rumors of the Microsoft 360 100GB hard drives are bogus. Yes, Microsoft is now saying that these rumors were just that; rumors. I say good. I for one would've hated to have seen where things were heading if a probable $200 add-on, besides the HD-DVD player, were to find it's way to the 360. After all, it would probably mean an increase in size for game demos and Arcade games, which would almost force an increased HDD on the consumers (including myself). I sure as hell don't want to spend hundreds of dollars on an add-on for the 360 that would cost a fraction of that on a PC...despite being an over-glorified PC HDD.

Also, Jack Thompson is now facing a "Petition for Order to Show Cause". In other words, Take Two's lawyers are trying to get Jack charged with contempt over his outbursts following a Judge's approval of Bully. I say good. Maybe it's just me being annoyed from getting no sleep, or maybe it's the pain in my hands (from hitting the ceiling repeatedly last night to try to get my neighbors to shut the f#@$ up), but I want to see this lawyer face the wrath of his own style of justice. He brings about frivolous lawsuits left and right, so maybe it's about time he was on the other side of the law.

In fact, I would love for him to be charged with contempt, since that alone will lower his standing in the court and make him even less desirable to potential plaintiffs than his typical tirades already have made him. Take Two and Blank Rome (the law firm that represents Take Two)...take 'em down a peg. Do it for all of us geeks in the world.

I especially hope this keeps Jack pre-occupied as the "gay" love scenes of Bully are starting to take center stage. Also, for those who complain about the ability for Bully's hero to kiss boys (as well as girls), I have a feeling you are the same type of people who were pissed at Makoto (the gay character) in Enchanted Arms. Well, I just have two things to say...

First of all, some people, whether you want to believe it or not, are gay in real life. In fact, there are quite a few. So, if you cannot accept a gay character in a video game, then you need to stop your close minded and bigoted ways. Just because a character in a game you play is gay, it doesn't mean that you are. Of course, maybe you're complaining so much because you need a little push out from your own closet...?

Secondly, if you find the subject matter in a game, movie, music, or whatever to be objectionable, then there is an easy solution; just don't watch/play it. Is that so hard. The last thing you need in the world is for more censorship. Censorship is a magical tool that only causes grief and problems, no matter how it is played out. If freedom of speech is denied for one thing, then it can just as easily be denied for something you enjoy. I personally find WWII games and movies to be objectionable (mainly because we already know how it ends...we knew long ago and more games/movies will not change that), so what if I tried to force them to be censored (it would never happen since I love our freedom of expression)?

In life, there are many things that you will find objectionable, and many things you enjoy will be objectionable to other people. The simple rule for us all to live in harmony is for us all to learn to respect the desires of others (assuming they are not just sick and f#@$ing twisted lighting small animals on fire or some other idiotic activity). All we need is a little respect, as Aretha Franklyn told us so many times.

Since I need one more thing to bitch about before I pass out from exhaustion...Sony is causing some problems in the old legal department. It seems that Sony decided to do us all a "favor". Since we all know that finding actual data from the real sources can be hard to do, Sony decided to help out by telling us some facts and making up a few others while they're at it. After all, when the spin-masters at Sony are on the job, what else do we need? Well, maybe some solid facts that don't lead to Sony being sued by both Microsoft and Nintendo...but that's just me being picky and demanding a little too much.

On a side note for Sony...when you're trying to do so good of a deed for us gamers as to point out our faults in buying anything but your high quality merchandise, you may want to avoid the whole lies and deception thing. I appreciate the deception, but for some reason Microsoft and Nintendo don't. And now for everyone's favorite emotional-meta tag .

I need some sleep...and a band-aid or two for my hands...let's hope that my luck turns before a bus slams me into a ditch...


P.S. in piece our old friend...and as I emphasized above; Sony, go f#@$ yourselves!

Malik (10/24/06)  

Maybe it was somehow tied in to my Bitchings yesterday, but everything has started to get more mellow and enjoyable. For example, right after I posted, I got a package in the mail with the new Iron Maiden CD (and some Reel Big Fish), as well as Velveeta getting some Rammstein. Then my iPod started to work correctly and I finally was able to install iTunes on my main PC, which had had some problems with the InstallShield installation with the previous version of iTunes. It's always nice when everything comes together.

Anyway, to touch on something I ended with last night...the whole closure. I really feel that this is a deeper issue than the simple rants on most message boards. On one side, we tend to have Sony fanboys who shout a wonderful "hurray!" in hearing Sony finally winning a lawsuit against on of their bitter "rivals". On the other hand, we tend to have the Sony haters who are pissed off to see Sony get away with this "heinous crime". If only life was this simple...

The way I see it, in the entirety, is that this is more of a grey issue. There is no black and white solution to this. While gray importing may be frowned upon by many countries, I still can't help but feel that this type of activity is just not defined enough. The laws behind gray imports are about as non-existent and vague as humanly possible, especially when you consider that every country in the world has a different set of gray importing laws and regulations.

Also, as for the people (Sony fanboys and haters alike) who say that this sets a precedent for future lawsuits against other game importers, like PlayAsia and YesAsia, I have one thing to say; the case of Sony versus Lik-Sang was not technically won in a legal argument. This case was won, by Sony, on the simple grounds that in London you must be present with legal representatives in the court at the time of your trial or you will face an automatic defeat. Lik-Sang did not have any representation at this event. It may be for a million possible factors...probably Lik-Sang did not want to put up the money needed to have representation, for either lazy reasons or, more likely, because it would be rather pricey for this Hong Kong based business. That is the whole reason that Lik-Sang lost, and this cannot be used to set precedent. In fact, the only "precedent" this sets in place is actually a firm reminder to other importers; attend the trial or be defeated. Also, it's a reminder that Sony has the money and international presence to attend the trial, so if you get called to court by them, they will deliver their side of the case.

However, there's another side of this that I find a rather morbid way. Sony executives and employees would often times use Lik-Sang's service. That's like going out of your way to order McDonalds food by your own free will and then suing McD's when you get fat. It's hypocrisy in the simplest of terms. Maybe if Sony never used this business it could be a different matter, but they did and this will only make them seem more the enemy to the Sony haters and the Sony neutral.   For the record, when Sony is now claiming that they did business with Lik-Sang for research purposes, I somehow can't believe it.  Why would you do over-cover research like that?!

The other side of this that angers me is that Sony is now in the habit of releasing region free games and systems. For example, if I walk down to an importer, and assuming I still had my PSP (which I don't because...well, I saw the rats jumping off and knew this ship was sinking), I could buy a Japanese or European PSP game and play it in any American PSP. The games are no longer bound to region, so why should it be so damned "evil" to purchase myself a Japanese PSP (which even has English language menus)? Maybe I want a White PSP (which came to Japan first). Maybe it was that stretch between December of 2004 and April of 2005 and I wanted a PSP before the North American release. Maybe people in Europe are sick of being shafted (they have always received consoles of any nature after the other two major regions...with Australia getting things even worse still).

Whatever the reason you may have, it is probably reasonable, assuming it's for a region free console. Importing of consoles is big and it will not be halted by Sony's attempts to be vein and arrogant. If anything, this will just push game importing into the black market areas that became common for other shunned (and more illegal) activities, like ROM downloads and console modding.

The simple fact remains...the PS3, like with the PSP, the PS2, and almost any Sony system that will ever grace (or disgrace) the Earth will come to Europe far after the console sees it's first sale. So, when Sony of Europe is the primary body that caused this lawsuit, I think something becomes obvious; Sony of Europe needs to change their business model or face some bad PR. Not only is Sony basically saying they don't consider Europe or Australia to be as important of markets (unlike what Nintendo and Microsoft have both least towards Europe), they are also saying that they will fight with all of their legal muscle to keep putting Europe down. At least that's the PR message I'm getting since Sony consoles bought over Lik-Sang still originate with Lik-Sang buying from Sony, which means Sony gets paid either way.

I also want to add something...Sony claimed this lawsuit was brought about because they were worried about non-European PSPs being unsafe for European gamers. Well, on one hand, I have and had non-European Sony systems...does this mean I should be afraid since European Sony products are far "safer"? Maybe I should avoid all Sony products...after all, their batteries already cause laptops to explode, so maybe my PS2 is next?! That was a bit of sarcasm, but it's quite fitting when Sony is trying to claim this is in the name of safety.

Also, it's interesting that Lik-Sang supplied official SONY BRANDED AC power converters with any PSP sale to Europe so that these non-European PSPs would be safe on European home outlets. If I wanted to try to interpret this finding, I could get even more sarcastic (Sony power converters must be bad for my health and will destroy the world!!!!). Oh well...I guess I'll just stick to my trips to Tashi Station to get my power converters.

In the end, this whole matter was nasty and unpleasant for all involed (even the one company that "won"). Lik-Sang was a great importing site. I have another that's my personal favorite, but I'll avoid naming (to keep them less on the radar and...well, they don't pay me to advertise for if they did...$!), but Lik-Sang was always my favorite third place option, behind my favorite site and getting friends and family in Asia to pick me up some gear. The importing fans, and we all know who we are, are not coming away unscratched, as we will not have fewer options, and options are always good. However, most of all, despite what they may think, Sony is coming away a major loser in this one just from the PR this is generating. I have never seen more message board threads crying out for a Sony purchasing strike than I saw in the last 24 hours.

At least I wasn't counting on importing any time soon. Also, maybe this will give some more attention to European gamers and help them to become less of second class gamers. Now if only something can bring the plight of the Australian gamer to the forefront...


Malik (10/25/06)  


Well, the final songs of Guitar Hero 2 have been revealed. Yes, the commercial rock was already shown a few weeks back, but now we know the b-sides (AKA: the extra songs). Most of it, like one would expect, is stuff that no one has ever heard before, unless you're a fan of underground rock clubs (which, I know, are almost nonexistent in my home town).

Most importantly there are two songs that I know I will download the instant I obtain the in game money needed to unlock them. Yes, I'm talking about Trogdor from Strong Bad and Thunder Horse from Dethklok. It's great to see that being bought up by Activision has not diminished Harmonix's humor one bit.

It's a bit of a slow day today, in almost all regards to my life. I honestly can't complain. Normally, a lack of news would bring me down, but things have been stressful and strange for the last few days. Between not sleeping (thanks to the f#@$ers who live above me), stressing at work, and the BS that has come with most of the recent gaming news (like the whole Lik-Sang thing), I just haven't had any good old Malik Time.

Last night, I got in some of the first massive time blocks with Tales of the Abyss for the last few days. I'm now officially over the hump (I'll keep the spoilers out of this...they didn't harm no one so I won't force them in here). I don't mean 50% done...I think that was last week. I mean I'm now at that magical time in all Tales games when I can do a majority of the side quests.

In particular, I'm at the point when I can start getting costumes (which always come about from humorous situations) and the best hidden weapons, items, and the hidden village of the game. In other words, I'm at that great point from which I will play about 15 hours without progressing the plot one bit. Viva Namco! Viva Tales!

Anyway, like I said...not much going on. It's a slow day, and so I'll keep this short today. Plus, I have some things to get ready for to geek out some with some friends tonight. Peace.


Malik (10/26/06)  

Just when you think you've had enough of something and couldn't stand anymore, along comes another helping. True, you still can't stomach anymore, but if you remove yourself from the situation and treat it objectively, the latest tirade of Jack Thompson can be seen with a fair share of humor.

First of all, while in court defending himself against the charges that Jack should be tried for contempt of court, Jack did not bother to stop for one second to act in what Judge Ronald Friedman would call a professional manner befitting a trial lawyer. This type of action included trying to display some large cardboard sign, having non-legal arguments with the Judge, and...well...just being a nuisance to the court.

So, the judge, doing what would be right for this case, excused himself from the whole Jack issue and is bringing in another judge to handle the issue. I think Friedman did the right thing, since he just would not be able to escape this whole crap-fest, unless he made a literal escape. Nothing helps one's legal career as a lawyer like causing a judge to leave a case your in with the stern warning that the next judge "might not be as kind".

Next off, Jack decided to do one of his famous cease and desist orders against Midway Games for what someone at Gaming Target did with the kreate-a-fighter mode on Mortal Kombat Armageddon. I'll trail off about now, but feel free to click the old links and enjoy some nice attempts to make some real people in MKA.

In one of my typical random subject changes, had some final words in response to Sony. Sony claimed, shortly after Lik-Sang was forced to close their e-doors, that they had nothing to do with Lik-Sang's demise. Well, as it's plainly clear, when Sony had brought lawsuits against Lik-Sang in every possible European country, the legal fees alone would be enough to put Lik-Sang out of operations (assuming they would try to fight so many of the same identical lawsuit). So, the options were simple and clear; lose all of their money paying for lawyers or go out of business and at least end things on a more stable note.

I have to agree with what Lik-Sang said in the end. If Sony bought PSPs from Lik-Sang just to investigate Lik-Sang's practices, then they probably would not had kept it on the down low in their court filings. Sony is the company that killed off Lik-Sang. Sony and Lik-Sang can argue (as well as all import gamers and Sony fanboys or haters) what Sony was trying to do, but the simple truth matter what you call it, Sony's actions were what killed off Lik-Sang.

It would be like me hitting a friend in the face to kill a bug that landed on him. I could say I only did what I needed to to eliminate the bug...but I still did hit my friend in the face. The friend could say I hit him with intent, and I could say I was doing a good deed...however, I should take responsibility for my actions and admit one truth; I did inflict violence.

To keep things in perspective on why Lik-Sang was so loved in Europe, and why Sony so despised them, I'll just say this; The PSP initial bundle deal in Europe cost 269.99Euros (~344 USD), it was ~$250 in North America, and in Japan it ran around 24,800Yen (~210.85 USD). It also came out 5 months later in the US than Japan and almost a half year later still in Europe. The same is seen with the PS3, of which the $500 (USD) version will run ~$635 USD when it launches in Europe...several months later.

Throw in that Sony Computer Entertainment World Europe vice president Jamie MacDonald's comments from earlier this month about European gamers, and you can see some things. I'll just say this; I'm not trying to show any reason why Sony should be shunned (after all, Tales of the Abyss, in my PS2, is my current pride and joy), but any company that says a region doesn't mind paying extra and waiting longer for a console obviously has some twisted perceptions and a twisted idea of customer appreciation. Also, any company that would allow this type of PR-spin to manifest itself is probably not too reliable when they say they did not try to kill a company like Lik-Sang (that was offering the chance for Europeans to pay less for the product...killing into Sony's poorly conceived European profit ideas).

On a completely different note, and a different side of insanity, this Sunday is when Toy R Us is doing their Wii and PS3 pre-orders...both on the same day. It should be a lot of fun if your idea of fun is to stand in a long line and still face a strong chance of rejection. I may have considered going for this type of "fun" except for Toys R Us either forgetting or counting on one thing to keep things relaxed...if Sunday and Sunday means football.

On that note, this Sunday will be an interesting day, since for the first time in a nice long stretch of years, the Seahawks will be starting without their number one quarterback. Since Seneca Wallace has not had a chance to prove himself when he's had time to actually practice with the regular team the week before, it could easily go either way. On one hand, if we're lucky, Wallace's skills that he's shown in a few trick plays can also be a factor in his QB skills. If that's the case, then things could be pretty interesting. On the other hand, if his performance last Sunday against the Vikings is an indication of how things will go down, then it may be a dark day for Seattle fans.

I like to remain optimistic about this type of thing, but I really have a bad feeling about the next few weeks for the Seahawks. The team is just missing a few too many important players, and with the second string QB in place, now definitely is not the right time to be without our rushing game...and it's probably at least one more game before Shaun Alexander comes back to help out on that front.

In the end, I plan to have a nice relaxing time on Sunday...or maybe a frantic morning if I chose to still try going the pre-order route for the Wii out of fear of seeing the Seahawks get broken even further...but when you consider Toys R Us opening an hour after kick off, I see myself not getting a Wii from them one way or the other. So, when Sunday rolls around, either I'll be having a great time by the time Toys R Us opens...or I'll be half drunk before noon watching the stretchers pull more Seahawks off the field of battle.


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