Malik (2/7/05)  

Game-wise, there's not much for me to talk about today. I've been playing some Breath of Fire for the GBA to fill in the gap in my game line-up and for a nostalgia kick. It's a good game, in all it's old school glory, but I forgot how completely crapy the plot and translations were. I mean the game is fun to play, and the concepts behind how each character is unique is something no longer seen in modern RPGs, but the dialogue will drive you insane. You will often times have no idea where to go if you didn't get the game new, with the map and instructions, due to some townspeople who have taken the "How to Speak Like a VCR Manual" workshop..."Elder of Romeo can tell you Agua" is not what I call informative when I need to know how to find where to go next. Or there's being told that a place, in my latest frustration that would be Agua (a dungeon/tower), is north of two towns that are no where near each other...it's like saying BC is north of Washington DC and Washington state...it is true, but not as true as a real description could be. 

Anyway, I'm enjoying the game, but I think I would hate it if it weren't for how I played it when it first came out for the SNES, all so many years ago. This game is one that exists purely for that nostalgic thrill. It doesn't work on any other level, unless you enjoy RPGs for the engine and not for the plot. 

This weekend, I went with my friends Bastich and Meat Shield down to Portland Oregon for some slaes-tax-free shopping. I didn't get as much as I was hoping for, but I was able to pick up a few CDs and the trilogy of Invader Zim on DVD. At least I save about $15 on tax, which made the trip worth it for me...well, the savings and the strangeness both played into making that a fun trip. 

Maybe living in a larger city like Seattle has jaded me on some things, but Portland just seems like a sick and twisted experiment in so many ways. The people are way too friendly, the one way streets are nothing short of being a demented experiment in city planning, and the lack of coffee shops had my caffeine buzz sagging. The most interesting part, for me, was seeing the small differences...a lot like Vincent Vega's description of Europe in Pulp Fiction. Both Portland and Seattle have many of the same street names in their downtowns, both have a Pioneer Square, both have tall downtown malls, both have waterways as a major divider of the parts of the city, both have some similar landmarks and features outside the main city...yet, they both feel so very different. It's like, as my friends and I kept joking, Seattle and Bizarro Seattle. 

Anyway, that was a fun trip, and I got some cheaper products. I just wish that I would've found a good MP3 player (which I've been wanting for a few months) where it would be tax-free. Sadly, the deals at Best Buy were nothing short of horrible on that day, so I did the next best thing after I got home. I found a cheaper MP3 player with the features I wanted online and with no shipping or tax. 

On a random side-note to this random rant, Bastich picked up a movie that blew us away. I believe it's called Red Shadow or Red Shadows or something like that. It's a several year old ninja movie from Japan that's a must watch for Tenchu fans. The movie revolves around three ninjas who just finished their training and go out on missions for the clan. There's a silly sort of humor in the movie that makes it look like if you were watching someone playing Tenchu. For example, while the ninjas are usually very stealthy and prepared, they will make some stupid mistakes (like bumping into walls and making noises while being stealthy, or pulling out their kunais too quickly and getting them stuck in a wall/ceiling before they can throw them) and then the shit hits the fan. Anyway, it's not a masterpiece of film or anything, but it's a good watch for any ninja-geeks. 

Anyway, things are on the down low for me today. There's really not much to talk about unless some major news takes place in the next hour or so. So, with this random rambling, I bid you all adieu. 


Malik (2/8/05)  

Last night, as I struggled to find a game with some more power to it, while I wait for Xenosaga 2, I picked up Burnout 3 again. Previously I had failed to actually finish B3 since it's just a really big game and I played it last during that crazy season of Fall 2004. So, I picked up the game again and realized one important fact...not only is this game long, but it's damned good. I mean, I knew it was good, but I had forgotten how good it was. 

It's easy to realize how there were too many good games last Fall, but it's hard to keep it all in perspective of HOW good these games were. I mean so many went under the radar or got pushed aside prematurely just to make room in a console for the next big game, which was always due out a week later. However, looking back, I can easily say that this was about the best arcade racing experience last year (if not ever). So, the lessons from this are two-fold; 

We all need to look back at these games from last Fall in a new light now that the insanity has ended. It is easy to push an old game aside, but now that things have slowed down a bit, it's prime time to give these neglected games of the geek-baby-boom a second chance. Like I said last year, I'd miss a good deal of these games the first time around, but that's what the slow start to 2005 would let me make up for. 

The second lesson is that Burnout 3 is damned good. I know it's been said a dozen times, but it is that damned good. I know many people missed out on Burnout 3 to either make room for the other racers of the season (like NFS:U2) or the non-racing games; well, now is the perfect time to reflect on what we left behind. 

Speaking of racing games, I saw a few more videos and a commercial for GT4 last night...I don't even know what to say. While I can't really know enough about the game play (which will probably be top-notch, considering the prior GT titles were amazing), or how many tracks (which was always my biggest complaint of simulation racing games including GT1-3) will be included since there's still time for surprises. However, the visuals are nothing short of perfect. I have never seen such a high level of visuals on a console game. I'm still going to hold off on buying this game until I know for sure how it plays, and I don't just mean the controls. However, I have a feeling that, assuming the number of tracks is higher than GT3 (How many tracks were the same thing from the past over and over again? How many were the same oval track?), GT4 will be in my hands within the next month. 

Also, on the note of the future, Gamespot had an interesting article today. Sony has decided to drop the bomb early. Instead of waiting for E3 to unveil the PS3, Sony will be holding a special conference/media event sometime between now and May (the month of ye old E3) to show off the new machine. This will mean practically nothing to us gamers, since the machine will still have the same schematics and release date if it was first shown at E3, but it's enough to get us geeks a little more excited. Also, with how it was being assumed that all three next generation consoles would be unveiled at E3, it will mean a little more time to take in all the info instead of getting it all at the same time. Also, on a somewhat related note, the Cell chip, which will be the massive CPU of pwnage in the PS3 has been unveiled. I haven't really bothered to say anything since it means nothing on its own...but with the PS3 info, I figure it's as good of a time as any. 

Anyway, as I keep saying, and I want to stop my repeated saying of it, there is no real news. There are no new games that are any good (well, this week). There is nothing interesting in the geek world (unless Doom 3 for the XB being delayed...wait, that would never be considered news) until Wario Ware Touched and Xenosaga 2 both come out next week. Blah. 


Malik (2/9/05)  

Last night I continued my re-birth of Burnout 3 into my game line-up. I can't believe how I let this game sit for so long without any of my attention. With GT4 due out in a matter of a few weeks, I picked up Burnout 3 to get into the racing mood, however I think Burnout 3 may keep my attention (not counting the stretch of time I'll use on Xenosaga 2) for a long while beyond the release of GT4. 

I was looking at some message boards and came to a realization about GT4 that may keep me from getting as excited about that game as I could. The endurance races are back in GT4, but they are even longer this time around. There is even a 24 hour endurance race. While the game allows time increases to make a long race go quicker, there is still no mid-race saving feature. This means that using computer controlled driving (I think they're calling it "B-spec") and the maximum time lapse (3 times normal speed), this will still make these races last for 8 hours...8 HOURS! No saving and an 8 hour race on the same old shoddy PS2 that has had technical problems and glitches in abundance since it's release. This may be a crucial factor in my skipping of this game. 

True, GT4 has more than just endurance races, but even those tend to be some large time consumers and I just don't have the patience for so much racing at a time with no mid-game saving. I may have had that type of time when I was a kid (and on vacation), but I'm not a kid and I have way too many responsibilities. It just seems like this game has some flaws in it's execution by being a game so geared towards older players (after all, it's a driving sim with a shit ton of real cars) but requiring such a large time commitment. Blah. 

I still wouldn't mind picking up GT4 for the shorter races and the beautiful visuals, but I may now just wait for the Greatest Hits release. I don't think I'm in the mood to drop $50 on something that will be, for the most part, neglected due to it's unreasonable time requirements. I'd be more than happy to drop an hour at a time, but I draw the line at that for a racing game... 

Anyway, there is nothing going on in the geek world...for the 6th week in a row. I wouldn't mind some real news about now, since there are so few good games that have been released this year, so far. Maybe once the games start to roll out, like Xenosaga 2, Wario Ware, KOTOR2 (PC), GT4, then the news will start again. Then again, maybe the industry is just planning to float on auto-pilot until the next generation consoles are closer to being unveiled and then big news will flow in regards to this new generation. Either way, I'm sick of this stagnation. Blah. 


Malik (2/10/05)  

Still no gaming news...well, if you check out Gamespot.com's news page, you can see plenty of business news. The same probably applies to just about any gaming site. I call this no news since I'm not in the mood, when dealing with games, to consider words like "portfolios", "dividends", "investment", blah, blah. 

I'm really getting tired of this trend. In past years, companies would often times use the beginning of the year as a good time to announce some cool projects to make their (ok, I'll use this crap for one subject) fiscal year end look better with a promise of a prosperous financial year for the next fiscal year. It's a simple premise. You sound cool at the end of the fiscal year to boost you stock for your investors' sake and to look better for the upcoming year. That's the theory, at least. 

I'm still just playing Burnout 3, and, in theory (since I haven't played for a couple days), Breath of Fire for the GBA. There's really nothing to talk about with these two games. Their old in respect to what the current date is. I'd whole-heartedly recommend B3 for any fan of arcade racing, but I've already done that (the recommending thing) a few times starting last year, about 5 months ago. At least I can say it has staying power. It was fun 5 months ago, and it's still fun today. I'd say the same for BoF, except it's only really fun for those who remember the RPGs of the SNES as the "good old days". 

I'll be random...I got a new MP3 player last night. I bought it online a few days ago, but it arrived last night. I got an EnTempo Spirit 20. Basically it's a 20GB laptop HDD with MP3 playing software and a display. Basically, this fact makes it a rather big MP3 player, but I have to say I'm happy so far. I bought it since I needed an MP3 player for my daily walks to and from work and my CD player was scratching the hell out of my disks. 

The player, besides being larger than most, is a pretty good investment. It can be found for as little as $130 with a suggested price around $169. For 20GB, I'd be fine large player or small for this price. It's also a pretty tough little thing. In other words, it's built like a tank...hell, if I was making an MP3 player that was big on it's own, I wouldn't care about bulking it up a little more to make it all that much more stable, and that's what EnTempo seemed to have been thinking. Plus, they threw in a voice/radio recorder and a digital radio receiver. Not bad for $130. 

With how little game news there is right now, I may consider reviewing this little thing properly to fill in some space on the site that should've been devoted to some game news and new reviews. Speaking of which, at least Xenosaga 2 and Wario Ware Touched come out in less than a week, so I might have a review or two in the works next week. 

As you can tell, there is really nothing to talk about. There's no news, no new games of interest (right now, at least), and there's nothing even being hyped about now (beyond the PSP...which I've gone off about a few times already). So, I will stop my ramblings for now and play with the features on the Spirit 20 (the instructions are electronic and on a CD I am supposed to install...but that's tedious, so I'd rather just tinker with the thing and learn what I could more easily look up...I'm just that way with electronics). Later. 


Malik (2/11/05)  

Well, the EnTempo Spirit 20 kicks some major ass. I've been playing with it for a majority of last night and it has some fun little features. While the radio receiver is pretty bad (mainly static on strong stations) and the voice recorder is pointless (it's really quiet and can't do much beyond picking up someone yelling into it), I bought this to be an MP3 machine, and that it does. The quality of the sound is brilliant, the ease of use is great, and the ability to add new music is flawless. 

The only complaint I have is that making a play list can be a bit tedious. The menus move a hair slower than really needed, and this makes compiling a play list into a tiring chore. However, since I'm using this thing to mainly just play whole albums, for now, it's great. There are some minor issues, such as some songs being put into a different album than the rest of the songs from that album...however, that's from the Spirit placing songs in album according to artist, and if a guess artist was on an album, things get silly. However, I can deal with this. 

As you can tell, with me going off about an MP3 player, two things should be evident. The first is that I like new gadgets. I mean I am a tech-phile (dude who gets way too excited for new tech-toys) to the highest degree. The second fact is...sigh...there is nothing important to talk about. 

True, next week will have some cool geek stuff to talk about. Most of all will be either the first new DS game that's bound to be fun; Wario Ware Touched. Or it might be Xenosaga once again returning to the American shores (in a non-import version). Both of these should be great and you can expect me to go nuts with this type of thing. 

As for news...sigh...still not much to look at. There is, according to Gamespot, a new Metroid Pinball game for the DS that's in the works...I won't even go off about this...I won't touch it (no pun intended). There's also one other bit of news... 

It makes me sad to see that Ion Storm is going the way of Acclaim. As shown on Gamespot, Ion Storm has finally folded. Considering the most influential part of Ion Storm, that being the genius Warren Spector, left late last year, this comes as no surprise to me. I mean the work force was less than 40 strong when the studio got shut down this week. I just hope that there is some hope for Spector to acquire the rights and find some more insight and make another Deus Ex game. Beyond that, and maybe another Thief titles from the master, I won't really miss Ion Storm too much...

Anyway, no Malik's Bitchings today since there's not much to say this week. The announcement of a couple of games and the loss of Ion Storm is nothing worthy of a Bitchings...but the loss of Ion Storm is worth a minute of silence.