Malik (12/13/04)  

This one goes out to my fellow PS2 loving, DRE (Disk Read Error) hating brothers and sisters (which would be 25% or more of PS2 owning geeks). Yesterday I decided that all of the action games (Sky Gunner, Katamari Damacy, Naruto 3, and Metroid Prime 2) had just been a little too much to play with a headache, so I looked for something a little more tranquil to play. The solution was simple (considering I don't want to buy another game right now); Xenosaga Episode 1. It was a good time to get back into Xenosaga since Episode 2 comes out in 2 months, which leaves enough time to get back into the series without being burnt out when the sequel arrives. So, I popped in the DVD and watched as the...game had a DRE. Normally I have a good solution for this; I put the game back in while holding the PS2 at an angle (between vertical and horizontal). No good. So, I turned it fully vertical. Nothing. So, after seeing the disk was fine, I popped in KD to test the system (I played KD most recently on the PS2 and it worked perfectly)...you probably guessed it; nothing worked. I even tried my Swap Magic disk (since it's only the boot up that fails and this would be an annoying fix...if it worked) and watched it DRE with the best of them. 

Eventually I found one game that would work, Sky Gunner, which would only aggravate my headache (which was now at epic proportions due to the DREs). So, I decided it was time; I had my PS2 since day one (literally) and it had been suffering with DREs for about 10 months less than that. This was finally the end for my persistent friend. I packed up a bunch of games (including MP2...I'll get back to this) and went down to EB to trade-in and get a new PS2. I went to EB to be informed that the most oversold console, the console that is oldest and most outdated of this generation, the console that has a larger market share than anything short of the GBA, the system that should be done selling...is sold out everywhere. Part of the blame is on the slimmer PS2 being a trendy item, and part of the blame is on really bad gift-givers (those who think something that has been around for the better part of a half decade and has a solid market saturation is a good gift idea). But this doesn't matter since all that matters to me is how I cannot get a PS2 to replace my dead machine...not even a used fat bodied model. The EB clerk was even cool enough to check out some of the local EB stores while I waited to see if I could get one anywhere within a half hour...no good. 

So, I checked out the PS2 FAQs at gamefaqs.com and decided to try some of the voodoo they recommend. That's when I realized my options were limited to either using the scotch tape method (and I have too many games and too little tape to go with this), to ship it off to Sony (I wouldn't qualify for a free fix since I've played with mod options before and currently don't even have the top part of my PS2 case...I went with the Swap Magic/Flip-Top mod solution...which is a great no electronics tinkering mod solution for anyone who wants to mod their system for the cheap) or to play with the laser voltage. At least the PS2 is designed in a way in which reaching the magical laser power screws is really easy (it's like Sony knew this shit would happen to the PS2 when they designed it...I wouldn't be surprised). I gave it a shot, plugging the console back in and...was very surprised to see the games were all working after only one adjustment of the screw! I cannot recommend this option since you could fry your PS2 if you're not an electronics geek...but if you feel like taking the gamble and you can't rely on the free Sony fix, this could be the solution for you (I take no responsibility for you frying your console by doing anything I've done). Here's to hoping the PSP and PS3 are Sony's first and second attempt at not making a defective console. 

So, as I said, I was ready to trade-in a stack of games (only way to afford a spur of the moment console replacement when it's Christmas shopping season), including MP2. I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I'm not going to finish this game. I could probably play for another few hours, but I know when the scavenger hunt section arrives, I will throw this game in the trash...if I even make it that far...the repetition is a killer and the dangerous environment of Dark Aether is too annoying...not to mention the lack of weapons (I don't count a gun that I only get between 10 and 50 shots for a majority of the game to be a normal weapon). Most of all, however, the random luck element is annoying as shit. I should not have to count on the boss summoning cohorts that will leave me large energy pick-ups in order to survive a boss fight (like the boost ball guardian fight entailed). So, I'm just stopping now (or very soon) before I lose all faith in my once beloved Metroid series. I just hope, despite how M: Hunters looks, that a new 2D Metroid can be in our future at some point. MP and MP2 (and soon MH) have some nice features and are fun for a rental or two, but there cannot get anywhere near the wonder that was Metroid, Metroid 2, and Super Metroid. No offense to Retro, but you guys need to pass Metroid back and let some innovation back into the series (and MP2, I care not what you Metroid Prime fanboys say, has no innovation...at all). 


Malik (12/14/04)  

It looks like my tinkering with the PS2 DVD laser hasn't gone up in smoke...yet. I was able to get in a couple hours of Xenosaga (Episode 1...) last night. I mainly started to play this game again since I wanted both an RPG to play and I was feeling nostalgic for my favorite game of all time (Xenogears). I figured Xenosaga would be a better option since I just played through Xenogears in the last few months (for the 6th or 7th time) and since I should get a refresher before Xenosaga Episode 2 comes out. Well, instead of getting into Xenosaga, I could only think about playing Xenogears again. I am way too obsessed with that game. 

Anyway, I'm still thinking of keeping Metroid Prime 2 on the back burner. I may go back to it sometime in the next week, but I'm doubting it. Since I resigned myself to selling MP2 to pay for a new PS2 (one that doesn't like those 3 magic letters; D, R, & E), I just don't feel like it's worth playing anymore. I know I'm not enjoying the game enough to finish it. I know it only gets worse (the infamous scavenger hunt comes to mind). I know the whole concept of the light and dark worlds were done incorrectly (the dark world is just a bitchy version of the light world by having a poisonous atmosphere, the same enemies but with more hit points, and the same layout...Zelda: LttP, this is not). I sure as hell know that the boss battles are really pointlessly difficult and rely too much on luck (like the boost ball guardian...yes, I'm back at this topic again...who is only possible to beat if the luck gods shine on you by giving some big energy refills during the battle). There just isn't anything worth coming back for. Plus the exploration aspect of the game is less than MP1 had...which was bad enough when you look at the awesome exploring sessions one could have with Super Metroid. I mean the weapons are even really lame. I wouldn't have minded so much if they called this something other than Metroid (of course I wouldn't have purchased it, but I wouldn't have minded), or if they had just called it an expansion pack for MP1. 

Of which MP2 is. It is nothing more than an expansion pack or a mod. The abilities you have only get slightly altered from MP1. You still have only 4 main weapons, morph bombs, super bombs, and missiles (I don't count super missiles since they are just a charge beam used with 5 missiles...woopity-doo). Plus, these 4 main weapons can't even be called that anymore. You can now call then 1 main weapon and 3 secondary weapons (you get too little ammo to ever use them on a regular basis). On top of that, the visuals are at the same general level (which isn't bad...but these visuals are just a slightly different looking version of MP1). The controls are the exact same. There is nothing different on this game from the original MP, besides the story and the setting. Even the ammo using weapons are the same weapons as on MP, but with ammo. Don't believe me? The dark beam is a large projectile that moves slow as hell and slows down/freezes enemies...ice beam, anyone? Plus, the light beam is the same as the plasma, and I'm betting the annihilator (which I'll never get far enough to use since this game is so damned tedious) is the same as the wave beam or something to that effect. In fact, with how little effort must have gone into making this game, compared to the effort that went into MP1, there is no reason for us to be charged $50. You can't tell me it took a high level of creativity to throw in the "cool" idea of having to reactivate 3 temples by first going to the temple, then going to the dark temple to find it lock, then finding three lost keys (each requiring a new ability or a boss fight), and then to unlock the temple, fight a big boss, reactivate the temple, return to the light world temple to reactivate it in that world, rinse, repeat. I don't remember any other Metroid game following such a strict, and boring, pattern. I, also, can't think of any expansion pack (for any prior game) that included so few changes, but cost as much as the original game. 

Anyway, enough of me bitching about this game. I feel ripped off for wasting so much money on a game I already had, but there is not a damned thing I can do about it besides trade in the game (which is my plan). At least, in the meantime, I can play some Xenosaga and Naruto and try to take my mind off of this. 


Malik (12/15/04)  

Not much going on with me right now. I played some Xenosaga last night...I'll play some more tonight. It's not that I'm in a rut, but I'm just in a rather tranquil zone. Plus, there's a lack of anything exciting in the geek world. I mean there's (all according to news from Gamespot.com) a delay in the release of the really crappy looking Matrix Online, a bunch of Atari classic games being released as a collection cart on the DS (every other console has some classic game collections, so we all knew this was coming...this one is coming in March), a new Dynasty Warriors game for the PS2 (which will be in the US, supposedly, in March along with the DS DW game...as if there's ever a 6 month period without a new rehash of this series...it's surpassed Street Fighter as the game with the most sequels with the least new content a while back). 

It's all old news...at least in terms of how one could have predicted all of this about 6 months back. I know I did...as soon as the DS was announced I knew a collection of Midway, Atari, or Namco games would arrive within the first 6 months of the DS life (I bet the PSP will have one within the first 6 months too...the US first 6 months). The Matrix Online is an MMO, so it was obvious that it would be plagued with delays (what MMO hasn't been). Plus, the Dynasty Warriors series will never end. However, it will reach some amazing new lows, like Street Fighter did, probably due to some poorly thought our innovation. Maybe DW will even see a movie made from the franchise. Then they will have a movie version of the game (like SF) and then the series will truly stagnate. Give it another year and a half and a few new versions will arrive, bringing the classic flavor (of DW1-4) back. 

Like I've said before, I'm not expecting any real news, of any sort, for the next couple of weeks. However, this is typical. Things get stale around Christmas since the only news the industry cares about is what the best selling gift game is. However, like I said before, I can taste some cool shit coming next month. January is going to have some big announcements as the game industry prepares to wind down their fiscal year and make up for any short-comings to their investors. I hate the business aspects of geek life, but they play too important of a role (when things get bad for companies, they usually get good for us when they try to stop their investors from jumping ship) to ignore. 

Anyway, as I said, I hate business, so let's stop this line of thinking. For now, I'll just be happy in my nostalgic world of Xenosaga, with a little Naruto to keep things interesting...until Christmas, at least. 


Malik (12/16/04)  

Not much new in my world. I'm still reliving the past by playing Xenosaga Episode 1. I figure I'm probably going to play this game all the way through before I focus on anything else...at least until I get whatever I get for Christmas. It's not that the other games I could be playing are bad games...they just are nowhere near as good as Xenosaga in my Xeno-obsessed mind. Although, I still plan to get in some more Naruto to unlock some more characters. I figure with New Years coming up pretty soon, I need some more characters for the obvious playing that will ensue at Velveeta's New Years Eve party. 

On a different note, I'm thinking of trying out another older game. I have always been one to neglect the realm of MMORPGs due to two main reasons. The first is how they don't have the staying power in my short attention span due to the lack of plot (or any other driving factor beyond "the grind"). The second factor, which ties in with the first one a little too well and is usually the ultimate decision for me to skip out on MMOs, is the cost. I mean paying $30-$50 for the game and then $10-$20 a month to play what I already dropped $50 on feels like a waste...especially when I know I'll be sick of the game in only a matter of a couple months. 

Well, according to Gamespot, there is some hope for me. Funcom, the makers of Anarchy Online, is going to be making their game free for "purchase" (download) and free to play until 2006. All one needs to do is register for the game before January 15th. That, and not use any expansion packs (those still cost to get and cost for monthly access). I figure, even if I don't plan to play for much more than a month or so, it might be fun to give it a shot. I mean what will it cost me if I like AO or hate it? 

Another bit of fun news for you all; does the name "Minna Daisuki Katamari Damacy" mean anything to you?  Gamespot has announced that Namco has released a teaser site for the sequel to Katamari Damacy. Since I have trouble reading a language I don't know, I can't say too much of what's going on with this site. Well, beyond the fact that the pictures only make me want to play. The visuals look a little sharper, but with that same simplistic flair that KD gave the world. Also, I like the classroom theme and it should be fun to try taking down a classroom in MDKD. It looks like the release should be around Spring 2005 (for Japan). I don't know what the status of the American release is, but you can bet that Namco will give us this game with how unexpectedly well the first KD did. 

Anyway, it's this type of news that I've been waiting for. I'm just surprised any news is seen with Christmas only 9 days away. Usually, this time of year is all about news on how well something sold for the holidays, and how we should've all pre-ordered the latest systems, and how...you know the drill. Anyway, I'm just glad that KD is going to have a sequel so soon, and that it is a popular enough game to warrant making news during the holidays. 

However, for now, I'll be happy sitting in my Xeno-obsessed world, while I wait for the season to roll to a close. 


Malik (12/17/04)  

As I prepare for a nice long (and overdue) vacation, I've been caught up with the serious (as in: crappy, boring, tedious, teh suxor, etc...job stuff) parts of life. So, you may have noticed a lack of new things coming to the site in the last couple of weeks. My goal is to stop these serious activities quite soon (at least the increased quantity) since I'm now caught up enough to get ready for over a week and a half of good old fashioned vacation. So, I bring this up for two reasons. The first, and most obvious, is to explain why I may have seemed a little lazier than usual. The other reason is because I want to announce that I'll have some extra time (when I'm not playing KOTOR2) to work on the site in just one week. So, I openly invite anyone who feels like sharing their thoughts to tell me; what would you like to see done at Geek-Asylum.com?  Write me, post it on the forums, or whatever. I'm open to ideas, and I feel like this is a good time to get some ideas in since I'll have plenty of time to get them done. 

Also, a third reason for saying how busy I've been is to say I have a new issue of Malik's Bitchings...a short new issue. So, check it out. 

I decided to take up the free Anarchy Online deal. I only had enough time last night to download ( a good, quick download since it uses Bit Torrent) and install the files. I'll actually try it out this weekend. However, I figure if a company has enough respect for it's product to allow this type of research, I'm more than happy to take part in the action. I never had much of a desire to play many MMOs since I'm an old-school RPGer. In other words, I understand that the mechanics of most RPGs are on the weak side and the true use of an RPG (over another genre) is to serve as a story-telling device. So, since MMOs are a little empty on the plot, I usually prefer to keep my $50+montly fee for more traditional games. However, if it's free, who am I to complain? 

I'm also still pounding away at my Xenosaga refresher. I forgot both how good and how bad this game was. Overall, it's a great game, but the little flaws seem much bigger this time around. The main flaw being how often you have to repeat the same maps. The best example is when you're on the Elsa (Capt.. Mathew's ship) and you are instructed to find KOS-MOS. Then you have to head back to the bridge...a long amount of time goes into traveling this tiny area (mainly due to slow elevators and somewhat long load times). Then you need to go back to the catapult deck (which is about the same distance away)...then back to the bridge...then back towards the catapult deck...then you give a guided tour of the whole damned ship. This walking (not counting time spent in cut-scenes...which one could skip if they only cared about the grind and not about plot) takes about 30 minutes since you're still unfamiliar with the Elsa (this serves as a method to introduce you to the ship)...then there are the extra items and side events you can start doing about this point. All in all, I spent about 3 hours at this part of the game, and I didn't waste any time doing anything stupid (except about 10 minutes on the drilling passport game). I think this stuff really cut down the replay value of the game...I didn't have this annoying of a time the first time through the game (almost 2 years ago), but this time it is just too much to bear without a little venting.

Anyway, since I need to be fresh on the plot when Xenosaga Episode 2 comes out, I'll be in this for the long run...while I play some nice Christmas RPGs...

As an uber-geek, it's hard for people to buy me Christmas gifts (I buy everything I want the day it comes out). So, I end up having to tell people what I want so I can make a mental note to NOT buy said game on the release date. It ruins the surprise of Christmas, for the most part, but it's the only way things can get done when I'm too much geek for my own good. At least with my usual caffeine deprived mindset on Christmas morning, I'm too tired to remember what I asked for, so I still get a surprise of sorts (caffeine...is there anything it cannot do?)...viva caffeine addiction!