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Malik (12/7/09)

It was a good weekend for football in the Pacific Northwest. I mean the Huskies ended their season on one hell of a high point, and the Seahawks are now tied for second (in terms of win-loss record) with the 49ers.

The Huskies, sadly, may be ending a great era. If Jake Locker (the QB) is smart, he'll leave UW and join the NFL draft. Since the new rookie salary cap is looming in a little over a year, if he leaves now Locker can make a nice bunch of extra cash. Of course, if he sticks around with UW next season, he may be poorer but he can make one definitely solid attempt at the Heisman. I mean this is a QB who can pass like a master (just look at the game two days ago), run like a bat out of hell, and read the blitz like it's an open book. He is a solid package. Plus, if Locker returns, with Polk at running back, UW can stand a good shot at making a bowl game. This season was damned close, in a rebuilding year, and next year can be the start of the new Huskies dynasty.

As for the Seahawks...well, there isn't much good to say. In reality, it was a game of two bad teams who have no business ever pretending to be more than losers. If the 49ers or Seahawks end with a winning record, it will be a fluke. The only way to be in this division and be worse than these two teams is to be the Rams.

At least, against a horrible team, Seattle looked somewhat good. Of course, I think the win and the fake good looks were due to San Francisco being nothing short of stupid. The 49ers would have won with one change in their game plan and only an idiot (or a San Francisco coach and offensive coordinator) could make this mistake.

Frank Gore runs over the Seahawks defense like it's a peewee team playing against an NFL caliber rusher. In fact, Gore is the only real quality player currently doing anything for the 49ers. However, for some insane reason, Gore was not being used all that much. If the 49ers used a plan more along the lines of two runs per one pass, they would have destroyed the Seahawks.

Anyway, it's hard to write much today. It is freezing cold here in Seattle, and I spent the weekend hanging Christmas lights in the cold windy conditions. I think I froze my brain and it's still thawing out (and I think if a camera recorded my ordeal, I'd easily beat out any scripted sit-com for how bad of a job I was doing and how much anger I was feeling). So, I'll keep this short. However, I did buy Nostalgia (DS RPG) this weekend and should start playing soon. Even though the game is a month or so old, I think it was overlooked enough that it'll seem somewhat fresh when I start rambling about it this week.


Malik (12/8/09)

I started playing Nostalgia (for the DS) yesterday. I was a little unsure of what I'd think of this game. I mean the reviews I read all seemed to point in the same direction; it would be a good game if it wasn't tedious and repetitious, and if it had a real plot. I was worried that this sounded like a bad game.

I should have known better. I mean the golden age of console RPGs, at least to me, was the SNES days...maybe a little into the PSX era. After that, console RPGs had to always suffer from the innovation complex ("if it isn't innovative in poorly thought out ways, then it sucks!"). The golden age of RPGs covered lower levels of plot, and some "tedious" game play styles. In reality, these were brilliant games, but it was back when RPGs were a niche or cult type of genre, and not something marketed to the masses.

This also is what Nostalgia (aptly named, might I add) is. It's an old school RPG with some interesting ideas...but no forced innovation. You have a standard turn based combat system (with a touch of the Grandia timing system...but not in real time), a simple but full plot, and random encounters (which only became a "bad" thing when RPGs became mainstream).

I played Nostalgia for a good five hours yesterday. That's not too shabby for a game when I normally cannot find even an hour to play games each night. The real world, last night, had to wait because an RPG had finally claimed my free time and would not let it go. Besides my recent Ratchet and Clank addiction (and I still need to finish Up Your Arsenal), nothing had claimed my free time in this way for longer than I can remember.

I think one of my favorite ideas to Nostalgia is that the game takes place on Earth. Much like the Shadow Hearts games, the locations are based on reality. However, in Nostalgia, the game is more focused on a completely alternate reality, instead of a reality that separates from actual history only as the game plays. The world is set in an age of blimp/airship travel within the 19th century. However, the basic concepts of historical fiction of this time remains true; you have adventure guilds that seek out amazing discoveries, and the world is something to look at in awe rather than being something in need of "shock and awe". London is, more or less, the center of the world, and Africa is still a place of wonder like the Africa of Tarzan or Dr. Livingston.

Anyway, for being a game so readily panned as tedious and boring, I am in love with this game. This is a game that any old school RPG fan simply cannot let slip by. I already cannot find this game, which only came out a month or two ago, in most stores. It's not like Nostalgia will become a huge collectors item like Suikoden 2 did, but it will definitely be of a different type of investment; one in good old fashioned fun.


Malik (12/10/09)

After a certain point, the cold loses it's charm. That point is after about five minutes, unless it's me sorting through a cold section of a store for beer. It's now been almost a week of sub-freezing temperatures around area that doesn't get too much in the way of this cold, since the water usually keeps us insulated against freezing cold. To make it better, I'm paranoid about playing any video games since it's also really dry (meaning I get a nice shock of static electricity any time I touch anything).

Anyway, I'm still having a blast with the "tedious" and "repetitious" Nostalgia. For being such a "mediocre" game, it sure is a hell of a lot of fun. Almost every issue I've seen about this game just doesn't add up. Yes, the battles are slightly tedious, if you want to nit-pick. However, it should be noted that all good RPGs have tedious battles. I mean it's the nature of the game. To complain about this "fault" is like saying a football game would be fun if not for the tedium of having to constantly call plays from a limited playbook, or like saying a FPS would be fun if not for having to constantly aim your gun before firing to ensure you actually hit something.

I also see a lot of bad talk against Nostalgia for it's lack of plot. For one thing, the game has a constant plot. It's not like certain times in the highly acclaimed (yet despised by myself with a passion) Final Fantasy X, where you literally have no plot as you go out to beat each temple. Yes, the characters in Nostalgia can be a bit thin at times, but they never reach one dimensional factors. They are usually what I'd call 2.5 dimensional characters. Some elements of development take a back seat, but the game never just forgets about a character and lets them stagnate in plot-oblivion. Best of all, Nostalgia has a world-based plot that's more intriguing than anything I've played since the Shadow Hearts trilogy. It probably helps that the basic idea of Shadow Hearts is here; take the real world and then pick a point in history to have the world completely change (with Nostalgia having airships being common in the 19th century).

Maybe I'm judging a great game as great too early. I mean I've only played about seven hours (five to six hours without the time I lost dying a few dozen times). Then again, a lot of the better modern RPGs have made a point of ensuring that the first ten to fifteen hours are boring hell before the game picks up the pace. So, if Nostalgia is following that idea any, I can't wait to get further into the game. Even the potentially annoying side quests that have you constantly re-entering old dungeons are kept fresh with new bosses to fight and more details to the plot of the world at large.

True, Nostalgia is probably not for everyone. I mean this is a game for RPG fans with a strong sense of nostalgia for the SNES and early PSX era of the genre. In other words, this game skips the flashy effects for more of a game based experience. It's not a movie that you play, like FF games have become over time (I pick on Final Fantasy since it's become the benchmark used by many reviewers for RPG glory), but rather Nostalgia is a game you play.


Malik (12/11/09)

I don't have too much to say for today. I can talk about the Rock Band DLC for next week, but it feels wrong to say much. I guess I'll say that Harmonix finally ended their hot streak, at least in my eyes. Maybe some people like the new Green Day album and will enjoy another three songs from it. I know I'm not a fan. Maybe someone wants more 30 Seconds to Mars...I sure don't. I guess, depending on the song, a single from All American Rejects could be fun...but I feel like it's more likely to be a waste of money.

Anyway, I'm behind on RB DLC if I wanted any and got back into playing the games. I mean I still need the Simon and Garfunkel stuff, the Tom Petty live pack, and the conclusion of Nirvana's Nevermind. I just can't find the reason to play RB when I have Nostalgia and a little left in my Ratchet and Clank marathon session.

Speaking of Nostalgia, I don't have much to add. I mean I'm playing the game and think I've stated my opinion rather clearly (the the game is damned good). The only thing I feel like I can add is that I'm getting tired of airship combat. I mean the combat engine and style is fun, but there are a lot of random encounters as you try to find "world treasure" (like natural and not-so-natural wonders of the world), and it just makes the game drag a bit since airship combat is much slower than normal combat. It almost remind me of Skies of Arcadia, which suffered the same problem of excessive combat when moving by airship.

Still, this is not enough to lower my opinion of Nostalgia much. It's still an awesome game. It has only the one problem, and I think one minor issue is fine in a game. It's only when the game is too plagued with issues that I will really take notice if the game is otherwise so good.


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