Malik (2/14/05)  

GI think the game situation is still a bit stagnant, for now, so let's look in a different direction today...somewhat... 

So, after I posted on Friday, I got in my pre-order bonus for Xenosaga 2. I was expecting some sort of lame "making of" or some crap like that. I was at first rather disappointed when I popped in the free DVD and saw the opening scene to Xenosaga 1. However, soon I realized I was being treated to a showing of every cut-scene in Xenosaga 1. This meant I could review everything I was too lazy to play through again when I picked up Xenosaga 1 for a second play through a couple months back. With a game so heavily continuous as Xenosaga 1 and 2, this is a perfect bonus item...actually, it's a perfect included item and should be given to more than just those who pre-ordered. 

The disk also included a trailer of Xenosaga 2...but that isn't too important since the game is coming out tomorrow (which is only a couple days after the bonus disk was finally given out, so it's too late to entice people with new trailers). However, I definitely appreciated the ability to see the entire plot (well, the entire main plot) of Xenosaga 1 without having to sit through all of the battles. 

To continue this movie related post...my friend Bastich invited me to see "Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior" last night. I had no idea what this was, but it's playing in some major movie theaters around the country, so I took up the chance to see what I assumed would be a bad martial arts movie. Instead of seeing a "bad" movie, I was surprised to see that this is a hella sweet movie for anyone who could get into a Jacky Chan style movie. 

Basically, Ong-Bak is set up a lot like a good old Chan movie. There is a hero, who looks rather unimpressive on his own, who has to save a bunch of innocent people and convert some lost people back to the side of righteousness using a lot of silly and real physical stunts. Instead of traditional kung fu, the hero of this movie uses Muay Thai (Thai kick-boxing). This was definitely a nice little feature to change things up from the standard kung fu showcase that most Asian martial arts movies are. 

There is a good deal of physical humor, especially centered around the hero's reluctant sidekick who manages to imitate (and fail in the process) a good deal of the hero's moves. Plus, for those who know of Southeast Asia, or at least played Burnout 3, there is a great Tuk Tuk chase scene. 

Anyway, while the plot is a little empty, I whole-heartedly recommend this movie to anyone who is a fan of Jacky Chan style martial arts films. However, the best part of this movie, for me, was seeing the trailer for "Kung Fu Hustle"...that's not to say that Ong-Bak was not an awesome movie. 

Kung Fu Hustle is the next film from Stephan Chow, the mastermind behind Shaolin Soccer. If you haven't seen Shaolin Soccer, it's a definite must see movie. It was released in the US by Disney a short while back, so it's pretty easy to find at a rental place (although the international version is far better, if you can find it). 

Anyway, there's nothing game related to really talk about...for now. Wario Ware Touched and Xenosaga 2 are both due out in the next couple of days (I hate when ship dates are listed as release dates), so I'll finally have plenty to talk about in the next few days. While one can check out some interesting things on Gamespot's Rumor Control segment, it's all old and boring, this week, to me. Although the Starcraft: Ghost news reminds me of why I stopped giving a shit about this game a couple years back...when a game has been so heavily hyped and delayed, the best bet is for the companies involved to not draw anymore attention to it until it is released. 


Malik (2/15/05)  

Like I said at the end of my post yesterday; I hate it how we are given ship dates as release dates. With a few very small exceptions, when a ship date is given, it doesn't mean shit to us geeks. In all likelihood, you are not going to see your game for an extra day. If you order it from some online deal and go for the fastest shipping, it will still take a day to get to you. If you go into a store on the supposed release date (which is usually the ship date), you will be told the game will arrive the next day. 

Back in the day, this type of crap was never an issue. It used to be that people would be informed of the release date, not the ship date. These olden days were a good time to be a geek since you'd actually know when you'd have the game. So freakin' what if you know when it will be shipped to a retailer...it doesn't mean anything to you as a gamer. The only people this matters to are the people who work at a game store who have to do the inventory/stocking/whatever to be ready for a late night shipment. 

I bring up this mini-Bitching for two reasons. The first being that the "dates" given for Wario Ware Touched and Xenosaga 2 are yesterday and today (respectively) while 99% of the stores will not be selling these games for an extra day since these are the damned shipping dates. It's not like I'm too impatient and NEED these games...but rather I'd like to know when to go into the store to get the damned things. Actually, more than that, I just want to know when a game is arriving. I don't want to have to guess if the "release date" for game X is actually the release date or the ship date. It's a futile exercise in stupidity. Yes, I can call the stores...and yes, I can wait on hold...for a long time. I'm not trying to talk crap about my frequented game stores (since they are hella cool in person...it helps to go to a game store enough that they know you by name...it makes you feel special, or something like that), but they are crap-tacular over the phone. It's mainly because I often times use a downtown Seattle game store that gets far too many calls at a time, especially around the release of any new games. 

So, while I can wait on hold, I'd rather just know without the extra 10 minutes of my life being torn away from me to the gentle beats of the highest class of elevator musak. This could easily be solved with a simple universal release date, and not the shuffle of a date being the ship date 95% of the time and the release/sale date 5% of the time. Also, I have been screwed with not being called for pre-orders (tell me someone who pre-orders about 20 games a year and doesn't feel this at least once a year) and then having my copy sold off since I'm a "no show". 

The other reason I am making this mini-Bitching in my post is because it's looking rather dry out there...as in there is still nothing news worthy to bitch about this week, so Malik's Bitchings, for the...who even remembers how many times now...well, it'll probably be canceled again. I feel almost guilty or lazy or something for not posting anything important lately. However, there's really nothing to talk about outside of what fits in a daily post. There is no news, no good new games, no really bad new games, blah, blah. If there was, I'd be in business, but things are just a little too slow and a little too quiet out there. 

At least with another few days this week, I may be able to find something Bitchings worthy...but that's a long shot right now. At least, also, Xenosaga 2 will definitely give me something to talk about quite soon, and Wario may help me out too. At the very least, I already know something "innovative" with Xenosaga 2 that I can bitch about...however, I will want to confirm it before I jump to any solid conclusions. Confused? Let's just say I know something as obvious as "it will be cold as hell tomorrow in Seattle". There is a minor chance it wont happen (like a 0.0001% chance...I like arbitrary numbers), but I think it's safe to say it'll be true...but I still won't say that with certainty until I know it is so. 

To continue a ramble...that is what my whole purpose with this site boils down to. I will not say anything without confirming it. I hate it when I read a review of how a game is completely worthless, however it is really quite fun but the reviewer couldn't get past the first 5 minutes with an open mind. Suikoden 4 was the perfect example of this. The average review said the game was devoid of plot (wrong), slow (not with the magic of the R1 button), too many battles (no...it almost reached that point, but barely not...these reviewers should try something like Beyond the Beyond before they say anything about too many random battles...actually they weren't "random" in BtB since a battle every 5 steps is NOT random), too short of a game (if you make an RPG that reaches 30 hours, you've done fine...and if it's shorter but really fun, then you're still doing fine...fun and conclusiveness, not time, are what matter), etc. I simply don't want to rush to anything that can be taken as a conclusion without being able to back it up. If I did that, I would've said Star Ocean 3 was a great game since it looked so good from the previews. 


Malik (2/16/05)  

I'll start off with the only bit of news that matters to me today; Xenosaga 2 should either be in stores or on their way as of last night. For the most part, the game was shipped yesterday (check my post yesterday for my thoughts on that crap), so some people got the game last night and a good deal get it today. I've been a Xeno fanatic since Xenogears first was announced, and potentially not going to be ported to the US, way bad in the 1990's. 

Xenosaga 2, which is a direct sequel of Xenosaga 1 (same characters, timeline, etc...in fact it starts just minutes after Xenosaga 1 ended), but with some twists. For those who thought that Jr, Momo, and Shion looked a bit dorky, the game now has them all looking a little more mature. For those who thought a swordsman would be a good addition to the party, Shion's brother Jin is now is the game as an actual character. For those who thought any sort of conclusion would've been nice in Xenosaga 1...well, I'll have to wait and see how this pans out (I didn't care for every single villain escaping at the end of Xenosaga 1...I like a little progress to be made when I'm fighting against evil). For those who like the idea of buying items and not treating an RPG like a survival game...well, you're screwed. I'm in this group. I've heard that money had been done away with (ironically this is from an RPG only a short time after...or before in Japan...RE4 introduced the RPG element of money). 

I'll probably go through the standard set of geek steps after I pick up Xenosaga 2 this afternoon. First I'll be caught up in the hype. Then I'll be pissed about the changes. Then I'll be happy about some changes. Then I'll wonder why the reviews were so low. Than I'll probably think the game is average and could've been done better. That about sums it up. 

I did pick up Wario Ware Touched last night. I both picked it up in the sense of buying it, and in the sense of playing it. I couldn't stop playing it. This game is what I refer to as "kiddie crack". That is to say it's electronic addiction at it's highest level. 

WWT plays a lot like the prior Wario Ware GBA game, but with almost all of the action using the stylus. The only exception is when you use the microphone. The games have the same level of variety as what was seen in the GBA WW, but with almost every game being brand new and involving a good level of stylus skills. 

I think I, more or less, beat WWT last night. I got some end credits. However, the more I played after that, the more new games and toys I found. A toy in WWT is basically either an extra mini-game or some sort of bonus diversion (like a virtual yoyo or, and I shit you not, a virtual grandmother to give you advice). I'd like to punch up a review for this game sometime soon, but that will depend on how much Xenosaga 2 dominates my time. 

For those unfamiliar with the Wario Ware genre (which is it's own unique genre); basically you are given a one or two word instruction and about 3-5 seconds to do what you were told. For example, you might be told "STRETCH" and you'll have a silhouette of a dog. You will have to then touch and drag (with the stylus) the back of the dog to turn it into a wiener dog. Or you may be told to pet and you'll have a picture of an egg. You will have to rub the egg (with the stylus) until it breaks. Or, with the microphone, you may be told to levitate and you'll see a picture of a guy falling towards a a giant upturned head. You will have to blow into the microphone to make the giant head blow to keep the little guy afloat. Yes, the game is that weird...in fact, it gets weirder than that. 

Anyway, my old review of WW for the GBA is a good source for knowledge on this genre. I'd suggest both checking that out and checking out the new game if you have a DS. 

Anyway, I have my precious Xenosaga 2, so I'm out of here. My one fanboy-ish obsession awaits. 


Malik (2/17/05)  

Before I touch what you all know is on my mind, I have another funny (not as in "hahaha", but funny as in "f$#@ing idiots!") thing to share... 

Yup, with that type of funny it can only be, as I read on Gamespot, another person/group of people suing over GTA. This time it's over a few cops who were shot to death when a captured criminal (who was arrested, ironically enough, on GTA charges) grabbed the pistol of one officer and shot said officer and two others before stealing a cop car to escape. 

That's tragic, and I want to make it perfectly clear that this is horrendous. However, the right course of action is not to sue Take Two, Walmart, Gamestop, Sony, and anyone else who was remotely associated with this criminal playing GTA games. Of course, as one would guess, the hater of free speech and lover of censorship known as Jack Thompson is once again the lawyer suing GTA related companies. This is the same guy who's tried to do it a dozen times before.

This is a horrible event and should never had happened, but, no offense to the victims and their families, but how did a criminal in custody get an officer's firearm? That's my question. Even if you argue that GTA teaches people to steal cars and to kill (BULLSHIT!), it doesn't teach how to steal a weapon from a living person. It doesn't TEACH any of this, but I'm just assuming that the nut cases are right (which they're not). GTA did not help this criminal steal the firearm, it did not guide his hand in this terrible incident, and it is the criminal's fault (not Take Two's) that he did something so f%$#ing stupid as taking the life of another.

Video games don't train you to do shit in the real world (a button press doesn't correspond to any actions I can make in real life...if I press a triangle shaped button, I never end up in the nearest vehicle. A fried of mine has a triangle shaped button in his car and he never bailed out of the car after hitting it. It's a freakin' game. I hate people who get so caught up in the idea of trying to win big cash prizes ($600 million is what I call big) that they would throw away reason and common sense. Anyway, if a game store sold these games to an underage person, then let them pay a small fine for a small problem. However, that is the extent of the companies being liable.

Ok, enough...

As for the little I played of Xenosaga 2 last night...where to begin...there is good and there is a lot of bad. The plot is pretty good, so far. Also the joining of all skills, ethers, and techs into one skill menu that uses only one type of point (skill points) to purchase a skill is hella good. The fact that everyone has the same skills (there are a lot of skills...well over a hundred...of which everyone has the same list) sucks. The speed at which you move while in the ES (the new version of AWGS) is horrible...I actually was happy when my ES, in the opening scenes, was destroyed and I had to start walking, since this sped me up incredibly.

The most obvious changes, however, are in the characters...it's also the most static element of the game. There is only one new playable character. That's it. Teh suxor? Teh suxor. However the returning characters all look a bit more mature, which is a good thing in the case of Shion (in particular), who always pissed me off with her prior look. The biggest change is the way in which the voices are handled in the numerous CGI sequences. The same voice actors are in this game as the last one, but the voices all sound so wooden...it's like Keanu-Saga. There is a total lack of emotion. These lines were phoned in. With how many spoken lines there are, this is a definite bad point to the game.

Anyway, I need to cut things short here. Partly because I want to play more Xenosaga 2 (I don't want to form too many conclusions until I've played a good amount), partly because I sick as a dog and feel like I'm dying...next person to spread their cold/flu to me gets kicked in the junk.


Malik (2/18/05)  

Sick as a dog...that about describes what I've been up to. Last night I mentioned how I was feeling like crap, and today it is crap on 'roids. So, I will probably be short and rather nonsensical in this post. It's hard to think when you let DayQuil do the thinking for you (but I'd rather have that than feel like shit and not want to think). 

It's probably from being sick that I can so much easier say the following; Xenosaga 2 (my beloved hyped game to end all hyped games for the year...I'm a hardcore fanboy of Xeno-) is crap. I'll play through it more and try to enjoy it for what it has, but it's best summarized like this; Monolith took everything bad about all RPGs on the market (like no money, unbalanced leveling systems, no equipment, and no individualism to each character) and gave it a good plot. It's not even an awesome plot, yet. So far I've seen a crappy plot with no logic to the horrible engine. 

True, I've only played like 4 hours so far, but it's been four hours of working my ass off to enjoy the decent plot. I think this is what they mean by "labor of love". I love the Xeno games and will have to labor my ass off to enjoy the fact that I'm playing a Xeno game. 

I mean, the first Xenogears had one of the single best game engines I had ever seen. While Namco and Monolith don't own the rights to Xenogears, the engine was so common in it's elements (just brilliantly executed) that they could use a similar engine and not be sued. However, this hasn't to be. Instead, Monolith made a somewhat over-thought and under-developed engine for Xenosaga 1. Then, to use that dreaded "I" word (innovation) they changed the game play of Xenosaga 2 to make it into nothing short of a transition that would befit how Star Ocean 2 could become the ugly nightmare of SO3.

I'll keep playing, and I'll keep trying to enjoy this game. However, for once, I think the reviews of Xenosaga 2 were way too high. This is not a 6-8 out of 10 game...no this is a 8 plot in a 3 game. I hate to say it, and luckily I can blame the DayQuil on my loose lips, but it's true. This game is a nightmare and can only be enjoyed by Xeno fans. I'll play more before I form a solid enough conclusion to write a review...but that's how things are looking...now I go and pass out.