Malik (1/10/05)  

There still isn't much to talk about in news. I mean there's talk of a new PSP GTA game, but that's not too important. For now, I wouldn't hold my breath. With how the GTA game for the GBA looked, I wouldn't get my hopes up. If you want, check out the news page at Gamespot for the details. 

This weekend I mainly stuck with some good old Mario Party 6. I played a couple game with various friends and saw everything from the worst game to get stars at (the next to last, or last already unlocked, stage...some sort of harbor deal) and the best two (the winter themed level nets an automatic 23 stars and the one before it offers a chance or two to buy stars for 5 coins with 5 stars being bought at a single turn). Beyond that, I saw the game going from nice and polite to being a bitter whore. 

Any game I've played with the CPU on normal difficulty as Luigi was a joke. Luigi can win Burnstyle (like jump rope), but nothing else. Well, last night, while playing with my brother and Velveeta, Luigi got sick of my wrath and took me to school...cutting me down from first place (both before and after counting bonus stars) to last place (counting the two bonus stars I won) in a matter of three very wrathful turns. At least I'm now only 2 stars from unlocking the final game board. It's a shame that unlocking things takes so damned long on this game. For example, the last board requires about 5 good games (or up to 20 bad games) to unlock. Also, unlike in MP4 (and most previous versions, and maybe 5, which I never played), the character taunts have to be bought at 10 stars per character...which means you need about 6-8 good games to unlock all of the taunts. As Waluigi would say, that's lousy. 

I also got THUG 2 yesterday as a belated b-day gift. I don't know what was up, but the game was marked, on the shelf, as $50 new and $40 used, but it came out to only $25 new. I'm not sure the deal or what, but if anyone wants THUG2, go to EB and see if you can get it for 40-50% off. 

So far I've only played a little of the classic mode, but I'm happy. I skipped THUG1 since the career mode looked pretty lame to me (I'm an old-school THPS fan), but the addition of classic mode in THUG2 is a definite plus. I may sound out of the times, but I like having a set 2 minute time span to do my duty. My only real complaints are the fact that certain goals seem poorly designed (it used to be set up that the spell SKATE goal was more intelligently designed on each stage, and the collect or destroy 5 were easier to spot and not so damned camouflaged), and that the stat increases are a pain in the ass to find. I've only gained one on three levels so far. However, overall, the Classic mode is definitely well worth the purchase if you're an old-school THPS fan. Also, the soundtrack, as usual, kicks ass. 

I'm also working on the KOTOR 2 review...but time and patience are needed. Also, after reading some reviews, I've officially given up on the idea of getting Suikoden 4 (which is sad since I'm the biggest S1-3 fan I know). 


Malik (1/11/05)  

I spent far too much time with THUG2 last night. The classic mode definitely lives up to the standards set by the good old THPS1-3 main mode. My only real issue, so far, is that too many of the old levels are reused. For example, the Downhill Jam, School, and first stage from THPS1 are reused, the airport is back from THPS3, blah, blah. Although, the saddest part of this is that the old levels are by far better than the new levels, which feel poorly planned and rushed. However, I have not tried the story mode yet, so maybe they work far better in that situation. 

Actually, I have two complaints. The second ties in to the first, however. The old levels have been slightly altered, usually to add an extra area, or a complete rearrangement of the letters to spell "skate", the destroy 5 goals, etc. Sadly, most of the rearrangements are pointlessly complex. For example, instead of S leading to K leading to A, etc, you will usually find it best to start with some other letter and go completely out of order. 

Ok, one more complaint. All of the collect/destroy 5 involve too hard to see of objects. For example, the five barrels of tea in Boston are a pain in the ass to see. It is no longer about trying to find a way to get to an object, but rather just finding an easy to get to object. This is not what I like...I want to have my goal somewhat obvious, but the path or journey is the hard part. Instead, in Boston with the tea, the barrels blend in way too much and you are ultimately left with some really easy to reach objects that just don't show up visually. 

Alright, a final complaint. Some of the goals are really vague. Like in Berlin you have to do a certain grab move (Madonna or Bennihanna, I think) in a way that involves a sign of a soldier...but I've tried to do the move in front of the sign, over the sign, as I crash into the sign...nothing. Maybe a little more explanation would be a good thing. 

Anyway, I may complain, but that's only because this is classic THPS. The good points are hella obvious and in your face. It's only the bad points that need to be said. It's like if you have a really nice car (say a Porsche) with a scratch on the bottom of the rear bumper. You won't know the scratch is there unless someone says so, but you'll still know the car is hella sweet. That's the case with classic mode on already should know it kicks ass since there is one constant every year; a new and fun TH game that will offer a little new, but the same old game play we've come to love. 

Anyway, I'm still working on the KOTOR 2 review, but things have been silly lately with being overworked and confused by my day job. 


Malik (1/12/05)  

I keep promising, and I am soon to fulfilling. The KOTOR2 review will be up as soon as I get some nice screen shots. I mean with having my video capture card, and having a review of my favorite RPG of 2004, you need to put those two things together for the full effect. Yup. So, the review, in text, is basically done, and now I just need to sort through my library of 40 saves (I believe in saving often and on different slots with a game like KOTOR2) for some fan areas and events to take some pictures of that don't spoil anything...this is a game that should not be's just too much fun to play it for yourself. Yeah, it'll be a most favorable review. 

Anyway, last night I unlocked the final level on Classic mode of THUG2. I was not too impressed with this level. It's not too bad, but it feels rushed and pretty devoid of true content. I mean to make a Bermuda Triangle themed level is (not to sound too much like some damned Valley Girl or whatever) "like, totally 1985". So, I gave up, after finishing 2 complete runs and 2 goals, and started the story mode. I thought the story mode looked really lame from the commercials and reviews I had read, but I may be wrong...but then again, it may just be the part of me that like Viva La Bam despite not wanting to admit it too often. 

In the story mode, you play as a newb skater who gets kidnapped by Bam and Tony Hawk along with a half dozen or so other skaters. They reveal their plan for a world tour of stupidity and insanity involving teams led by Hawk or Bam. Sadly, you get put on Hawk's team, but then the game begins. It has the same sort of goal format from THUG and THPS4 in which you have to do a little talking with some people to initiate goals. Also, instead of finding stat increase items to boost your stats, you simple must complete certain set objectives (do a 5 second manual for a boost to your manual ability, etc). 

So far, it's all looking like good fun. I skipped THUG1 because of the story mode looking a bit too cheesy, but I may have been proven wrong with THUG2. Only time will tell, but so far, so good. 

I also got a little more Mario Party 6 time in last night. I played with Velveeta and my friend Shadow versus a computer player. It was a pretty good game. I finally unlocked the last Party Mode board. This board involves chasing DK in the day to buy stars (he sells them...and he moves, so he may roll right to run you down and sell you a star in his turn, and then you run him down the next turn to get another), but he becomes Bowser at night, who will take stars, or 20 coins if your star-less. It's a pretty fun board, assuming the dice gods are with you and not with Bowser. Also, Bowser is not afraid to use his equivalent to a mushroom (for double movement) when he's about 10 tiles from you. 

We also finally introduced the microphone (included with the game) for the party mode. That was actually pretty fun. The mic is not needed for the game, but it can make 1vs3 games really fun. For example, there's a game in which the mic player calls out fruit names and the other players must jump on a tile representing that fruit before the other tiles fall away (and then the losers fall away). Basically the mic user is trying to get everyone to fall to their doom. Well, it's an easy game for the 3 people using controls, and it's hard for the mic user. You have to speak clearly to the mic for it to understand you. However, if you decide to talk gibberish, then things get fun and interesting. Also, saying lewd comments works pretty well. For example, since Velveeta, Shadow, and I are all pretty loud and lewd when playing games, I started to call out things like "COCK!"...strangely, it may not sound like it, but looking like it works pretty well since cock was interpreted as banana. I won't name the other things I said since I like to keep that talk on the down low on this site. Anyway, not knowing what I was saying (or how MP6 would interpret it) made the otherwise easy game into a fun challenge. Needless to say "waddawoodawoo" was the gibberish that led me to victory (by then it was only Velveeta left, and she could not guess that fruit in time...I think it's the Yoshi language word for melon...or so said the game).

Anyway, I need to get those KOTOR2 pics, so I need to split. Peace.


Malik (1/13/05)  

I got some more play time with the story mode on THUG2 last night...or I should say I actually started more than just the training level. The story mode is definitely a lot better than I figured it would be. However, ultimately, I still think classic mode is the way to truly appreciate this game. 

My only really complaint with the story mode is that some of the goals are just a little too vague or unreasonable. Actually, the goals are not too unreasonable as much as the score system is unbalanced. In the story mode, you are aiming to get 500 out of a possible 1000 points (from different goals) per level. The only thing is that some of the easiest goals give 50 or more points, while the hard ones may net you only 25 points. Also, the finding of different goals can be a little too annoying for it's own good. I mean when you have to find both a guest and a secret skater on each level and they are hidden in areas that only the games programmer could know about...that's asking a little too much for gaining 25 points. For example, many of these hidden characters are located in places that will require an unhealthy blend of going into doors, climbing buildings (both on foot and on your board), and then finding a nearly impossible jump...and if you fail the jump, it will take another 2 minutes to get back to the jump position. 

Beyond these problems, THUG2 is pretty good. In fact, I think they helped the stat system greatly with the way you increase stats in story mode. In the classic mode, you still try to find a universal stat increase pick-up as you go through a course. Then you can use that increase on whatever of the dozen stats that you choose. However, in story mode, you have to meet certain goals related to that stat. For example, to increase your rail ability (which is mainly grinding ability) you may have to grind for increasingly long amounts of time in a single grind. If you manage to knock out two or more goals with one trick, then you'll gain more than one stat increase. I like this style of system more than collecting hard to reach stat increases that don't tie into the skills used to get the increase. 

Ok, I have one more problem. The create-a-trick option, which allows you to combine different moves to make a new trick, is broken. I created a trick that is almost impossible to land (I haven't landed it yet), and it is worth far less than an easy to land McTwist (my move is only worth a measly 3400 points). Hell, it's harder and more complicated than a Indy 900 (which is worth more than 10,000), so I think they could at least give me some points for it. Blah. I haven't tried to make any easy moves, out of score just doesn't feel worth it. 

Anyway, I aim to get in some more story mode tonight. I also aim to get some KOTOR 2 screen shots, but that may take some time. I won't bring up the non-geek today, but I'll say it involves being overworked and underappreciated (it's called the American Dream...woohoo!). So, time is not a thing I have much of this week. But, patience will be rewarded. 


Malik (1/13/05)  

Ok, I had a little time and a little patience.  Here's what I've been promising; the review of what I'd have to call the best game of 2004.  KOTOR2!  Happy?  Good.  Also, there are a good deal of pictures for those of us who feel that while a thousand words can equal a picture, a picture can be more to the point.


Malik (1/14/05)  

It's the weekend, at long last. Normally, you could expect a new issue of Malik's Bitchings today since it's a Friday...however, things, like with last week, have been slow in the geek news world. There is not a damned thing going on in the geek news field. So, once again, I'll have to leave the Bitchings for another week. I mean, take a look at or or wherever else you want to check and you'll see there is nothing important going on. A GTA for the PSP, Myst 5 announced, blah, blah. It's not that I don't care, it's that there is nothing to care about. 

Anyway, I've been killing more time with THUG2. I'm about done with both the classic and story modes of this game. I'd have to say, for the most part, I'm quite happy with the game. However, last night I came across a new problem...sorta new problem. I was finishing the story mode of New Orleans. This city ends with a special team stunt that is vague, hard to understand, and therefore I wasted about 30 minutes making the stunt harder than it had to be. It involves you having to grab onto a raising helicopter, hanging on as it move over a pool, jumping down into an acid drop to jump up the other side of the pool and then grab the copter again, and then jumping down into another acid drop and then gapping over the copter. The problem I had is that I was unaware of the final part being a gap over the copter, so I gapped partly over, grabbed the copter again, and then proceeded to fall and acid drop into another grab of the copter. I had no idea what was going on since the directions that appeared in the upper right corner of the screen were far too small to read while doing all of this stuff. So, once I figured out the real trick, I felt like a dumbass, but I also felt annoyed that I couldn't see the text clearly enough to do the stunt properly the first two dozen times I tried. 

Beyond that little problem, I'm enjoying this game immensely. It's no THPS3 (which I will always hold in a special place in my heart, despite how much people tend to like it the least in the series), but it's still pretty damned good. Plus, it doesn't have the cruise ship level from THPS3 (the only part of THPS3 that I hated), so that's a definite plus.

Also, if you didn't notice, my KOTOR2 review was put up last night...along with a nice selection of screen shots. I was thinking of adding a movie of the game, but I couldn't think of what would look movie worthy. It is an RPG after all. If any of you think there's a certain movie of K2 that I should put up, feel free to tell me, and I will get on it. Just because I can't think of anything doesn't mean that there is nothing.

I'm starting to think of getting the new Zelda GBA title (The Minish Cap). I need something to kill some time before Xenosaga 2 comes this way, and Zelda rarely lets me down...except on the portable systems (meaning the ones not made by Nintendo, like the Time and Season games...and Minish is made by Capcom if I remember correctly...sigh...). I may take the gable anyway since I need to trade in some games anyway. I guess this weekend will decide this for me.

Anyway, as I said before, this has been a tiring week, so I'll head out about now. Next week I'll try to get a Bitchings column up, assuming there's anything to bitch about. Peace.