Malik (2/21/05)  

First off, as for the news...which is still hella sparse. It looks like a new Suikoden game is in the works in Japan, according to Gamespot. For the most part, this is not really news as much as it's an update on the inevitable. However, considering the cool reception S4 had received, it is a bit of a relief to us old school Suikoden fans. I just hope this next game will focus on a more traditional world system (that should be read as: "Not Waterworld the RPG"). 

Also, for those who haven't been paying attention, but pay homage to the almighty entity known as Naruto...Naruto was licensed in the US last week.  It will be airing in the Summer on Toonami on Cartoon Network.  This is cool since we'll be seeing some Naruto games in the US.  However, on the sad (very sad) side, this means fansubs of Naruto will be a thing of the past.  The last episode that snuck through had a cool looking preview of the next episode involving a return of Rock Lee...sigh...and I won't be able to see it for about 6-7 years (with the speed anime comes to the US)...I feel like lighting a candle for my fallen friend (the friend being Naruto fansubs)...



Anyway, beyond that, news is still stagnant as always. So, I'll just get to my usual ramblings. 

I am trying real hard to enjoy Xenosaga 2. I swear that I'm trying as hard as I can. It's not helping, the will power that is, and I'm still finding more of my attention being put towards my DS (in both Wario Ware Touched...one awesome game...and Breath of Fire for the GBA). I had read a review in Game Informer over the weekend on X2, and it summarized my feelings pretty well with a comparison of the crap-tacular treatment X2 got with the treatment Devil May Cry 2 got. For those who haven't played Xenosaga 2 yet, that's the truth. The game is devoid of all you had come to know and tolerate/like in Xenosaga 1. 

My biggest issue is still with the combat. Since equipment is almost non-existent (there are a few accessories that must compete with equipible skills for spots to equip them), and there are no weapon upgrades, tech upgrades, etc...well, it makes it feel like you're never making any real progress towards gaining power. A battle that's hard at one point will still be hard after a few levels. It's more important in this game to learn of the inner working of the combo system (which is confusing and time consuming) than to even consider the possibility that you'll be more powerful with some item hunting and some more levels. 

Plus, since there's no real money (you can sell accessories to pay towards the good captain's debt...I don't even know why I'd care about the ass enough to pay his way through life), it's not like you can even buy more healing items to make up for your crappy position in the combat part of life. Plus, this all makes no sense since in Xenosaga 1, which took place on several of the same locations and in the same general government area, money was a key factor of Xenosaga 1...so, why would there be no money an hour later when Xenosaga 2 starts? There's no explanation. 

However, the biggest question with no explanation in Xenosaga 2 is why you move so damned slow. If you run, you don't move noticeably quicker than if you were running. In fact, your run speed reminds me of just barely touching the analogue stick in Xenosaga 1. The only thing that could make this worse, and it's in the game, is that your mechs (the ES Robots) move even slower than you move on foot. Throw in the fact that the mini-map from Xenosaga 1 is gone, and you can see what you're in for...a slow and tedious journey that will grind to a halt if you're in an area with random battles. 

The only bonus of Xenosaga 2 that I can speak of is that the plot is interesting. I don't mean nearly as interesting as Xenosaga 1 (or in the same league as the almighty Xenogears), but it's not all bad. Also, the most interesting parts of the plot are those that deal with the characters who never join your active party (like Negredo...aka Guignan). I mean Shion is more whiney than ever, chaos is a little too subdued, Junior is random as hell in his overly childish ways, Ziggy is more depressed, Momo is boring, Jin is an ass, and KOSMOS is extra nice and sweet. I don't know what happened to these characters, but I think so much time in space must have caused brain damage (and that Jin is just a jerk). 

I just hope I can keep up playing this game enough to write a review. I hate to write a review for anything that I don't play through, so it'll be tough to get this review up. I am trying...luckily it's not quite as futile as my struggle against Star Ocean 3, but it's not a whole lot better. 

Also, this weekend, I watched Ong Bak a second time. I still can't recommend this movie enough. This is like old school Jacky Chan, but with the fresh new feeling of it being Thai Kickboxing. Such an awesome movie... 

Anyway, I need to try, once again, with the hell I call Xenosaga 2. So, here's where I must part ways for something far less enjoyable...why Monolith? Why? 


Malik (2/22/05)  

I'm determined that this week will end the drought. No, not the news drought, which will (it seems) go on for at least another couple of weeks. I personally am aiming for it to end around E3. I hope I'm wrong, but I doubt it. 

No, this week Malik's Bitchings will be back up and running. I've already started the typing, so this is not just a futile hope for the future; it's becoming reality. And it's all thanks to Xenosaga 2 and the crap-tacular treatment that the development team gave this potentially awesome game. Key word in that would be "potentially". 

I play about 3 hours more last night on X2, and I got almost nowhere. It's not that I'm a slow player, but the game is. I mean I only covered some side quests on the first area (Second Miltia and the Foundation). These side quests typically involve having to quickly navigate puzzles or running from one location to the furthest possible location and then back to the start. It's like that "point A to B to A" analogy I keep using...except you have to go back to point A after you reach B to conclude the mission. It will take, despite how this area is not really that big, up to 30 minutes to go from A to B to A without any battles. I mean a direct run (if you can call it running on this game...more of running in place) from the start to finish to the start again without taking part in any distractions (like load times beyond the required, talking, battles, etc). You move that damned slow. 

The side quests also make me feel like a wuss. Right now I've been having chaos (who gave me the feel of being a bad-ass in Xenosaga 1, and a pansy in X2) do "Good Samaritan Campaigns". These involve such bad-ass activities like recovering a stolen teddy bear, finding a doctor to help a sick cat, and re-arranging bookshelves when some idiot messed them up. At least you get good enough prizes (like new skills being unlocked, or skill point boosting items). However, I can't help but feel like a tool while I have chaos finding a stolen teddy bear. You cannot be a quiet bad-ass when you're doing that. 

However, the characters have undergone such a change in their personalities that I guess this is a bad-ass activity for chaos now. I mean he's a complete tool who's slow on his feet, slow to think, slow to act, and as mellow as a valium addict on pot. In other words, every cool part of him has melted away into a big pool of nothing.

Anyway, off of my new enemy (Xenosaga 2). I'm thinking of getting some real re-design to the site in the near future. I'm personally sick of my lack of skills leading to a frame based site. It's not that it's all that bad if you enter the site from the front door. However, a link to a secondary page is a nightmare. So, I'm leaning towards one of two possible changes. Either I'd go with PHP Nuke, which is included with my hosting package (but I'd want a newer version...which I'm not sure how to get that fixed up in my hosting package), or just using some more proper use of images and links. I'm not sure which way I'll head, off hand. I'm personally in favor of PHP Nuke, but only if a newer version is more user-friendly (the version I have is a little too slow to program).

Knowing me, I'll get lazy and procrastinate for the next year on this decision. At least I'm thinking, and thinking is the first step to doing (which is the first step to failing). So, I'll see how this works out and how my time can fit into things. Time, which will be spent mostly on having chaos helping to plant flowers (I can see this side quest a mile away...I shit you not), and on KOSMOS running a love letter around the known (or visitable) world. I feel like punching myself for doing this type of quest...if only I would've played this before KOTOR2...then I could have made up for this wussiness with an evil play through on K2.


Malik (2/23/05)  

Well, to start with some geek-type news; GT4 should be in stores by the end of the day, if it hasn't already hit shelves yet (it all varies from store to store by how the shipments were received and where they came from). I'm still interested, but I don't know how soon I'll get the game. I may just wait a few months for the usual Greatest Hits price break. It's not that I care not for GT4, but I do have concerns about some features and would probably prefer to not be paying full price. What could be wrong with this game? Well, the lack of damage is still a sad thing. Also, the 24 hours endurance race and the other long races...even with B-spec (to speed things up to 3 times quicker) with an avatar driving, it still could be a long time to leave a Sony system running (anyone who's ever had a DRE or multiple of the same Sony console would understand). So, I'll let this whole situation clear itself, in my case, as time goes by...maybe I'll just freak out for the cool visuals and good game play and just go for it anyway...or I'll remember the horrible license exams and skip completely. I have a short and unusual attention span, so we'll have to wait and see on this. 

Also, a Naruto game is coming, in Japan, for the DS. I cannot stress enough how while many anime series have crappy games, Naruto games have constantly kicked ass. I'm hoping it will be ported to the US with how Naruto is now a licensed deal. Time will tell...but I'm hoping for the best with the whole license deal...although I still miss the idea of fansubs. 

I also spent some time playing with different web page features last night and could not come to a real conclusion. I like some of the features of my available version of PHP Nuke, but not enough to re-format the entire site. However, I have to limited of a control on the server I use to actively upgrade or do some independent PHP programming. So, I've eliminated the PHP approach, for now. If you are wondering what this "PHP" that I speak of is, just check out one of my favorite Naruto sites; Narutofan.com

I also looked into changing things from frames to a single page layout and came across a small problem; proliferating a single item, such as a nav bar, across all pages as the nav bar changes. This is easy to do in FrontPage, if I designed a web rather than a ton of independent pages. However, I don't care for how Microsoft handled the formation of webs and I cannot change a ton of pages into a web (at least with my version of FP). Since I don't have the bank to get a new HTML development program, I'll just need to find a better way to do this. 

Anyway, my ideal, right now, is to eliminate the left frame (that you hopefully see right now to the left side of this window) and replace it with a simple nav bar at the top or side of the same page. Then I want this on every single page on the site. Then I want to be able to change this nav bar as I need to, without having to change it on every single page. So, ultimately, either I will have to learn some new skilz (if you know how to do this, please feel free to explain and call me a newb...but only call me so if you will explain a simple suggestion to fix this dilemma), or I'll have to keep things the same, or I'll have to update every single page on this site (there's a couple hundred of them) whenever I change the nav bar (like how I did when I made the movie section or placed the forums on the site)...which is just too much work for a simple change. 

I would go into Xenosaga 2, but you should know the deal. I did break the 10 hour point last night, and I am enjoying the plot (which is good on it's own...but it doesn't flow correctly from Xenosaga 1, since there are some inexplicable plot changes between the games...such as U-do, URTVs, and the fall of the URTVs after Jr. cut the link...play both games and you'll see). Too bad the game play engine is so completely crappy. Also, I can't help but feel like this game is going to end too abruptly (I know how many dungeons remain, and it probably won't be enough to really handle any feeling of completion with the plot). Blah. I could say I could still hope for the best, but I'm tired of seeing my hopes fail on this game. 


Malik (2/24/05)  

Well, another day of no news is upon us. But, after all this time of that situation, I think I'll manage. 

I was reading more on GT4...yeah...it's like I'm trying to break my own will power by reading more and more. It looks like the number of tracks is somewhere above 50, at least according to the review at Gamespot. This is pushing me in favor of buying. However, since Xenosaga 2 is such a horrible game, I'm going to try to hold off against buying anything else until this slow crapfest is defeated. I mean if I got GT4 now, I would give up on Xenosaga 2 completely, and then I couldn't rip it apart in a review. Since I so want to write this scathing review, I need to keep my eyes off the prize, and instead keep them on a festering pile of crap. 

Anyway, I did play more last night. I really want to end this game already so I can learn the plot and never deal with this game again. Considering the plot isn't a complete waste, even if it goes against some of the plot of Xenosaga 1 (which is lame since 2 is a direct sequel), I want to brave this one. Also, if Xenosaga 2 is another cliffhanger (which will hopefully at least have some sense of finality in at least one aspect...please...), I'll need to know for Xenosaga 3. Just because one game is bad, I don't want to give up on the entire series. 

Last night I faced another new dungeon, which meant more of the same. You first face a normal battle and wonder how the difficulty shot up so high, then you realize that you current line-up sucks and you wish you had been using character X instead of Y, but X has no skills (you get experience for everyone when a battle ends, but only the active battle party gets skill points to buy new skills), so you'll tough it out with Y and hate the game a little more as the monsters have their way with you. It's a lot like how in Xenogears you would only get new combos/deathblows from using a character in combat and once a new character came along you would have to work for far too long to make them useful...well, it's a lot like that, but worse. 

I'm guessing that I'll end the dungeon I entered last night the next time I play. At least I hope so. The dungeons are completely devoid of any lasting thrill and only leave you with some downtime as you wait for another large plot progression. Basically the game works with this formula; you watch movies for about 2-3 hours, then you're in a boring dungeon for 2-3 hours, then...well, it just cycles those two parts, except for the time you spend in town, which can be horribly long and pointless due to how slow it takes to get anywhere. I just want more plot progression so I can be entertained again. 

I finally got my imported DVD of Kung Fu Hustle last night. This is the new movie from Stephen Chow (who made Shaolin Soccer a few years back) that's hitting theaters next month. I cannot believe how awesome this movie is. This is one of those movies that has to be seen to be believed. It takes a perfect blending of comedy, drama, dance, silliness, seriousness, martial arts, and the good old Shaolin Soccer style special effects to make a completely unique entity. Plus, for those who saw Shaolin Soccer (and hopefully the import, and not just the cut and maimed version that hit US theaters), there are a good deal of the same actors from that film. Anyway, since it's Sony who's distributing Kung Fu Hustle (and not a certain major entity that destroyed Shaolin Soccer) this time, it should be a great movie to catch in the theaters. 

Anyway, as you could probably tell by my more random ramblings today, I am completely out of it. My day job has dominated my will to live, so I've been left in a weird state of being awake enough to get things done, but too tired to be more than a zombie of sorts. So, I'm out of here to try to get a nap or something. 


Malik (2/25/05)  

First off, something I haven't been able to say for the first almost two months of this year; I have a new Malik's Bitchings. There hasn't been any Bitchings worthy news, but Xenosaga 2 helped to cure this problem...maybe I should be thankful that the game has given me something. 

However, on the note of news, here's something awesome for the XBox Next (or whatever they end up calling it); as reported on Gamespot, Hironobu Sakaguchi (the father of Final Fantasy) has worked out a deal with Microsoft. This deal entails making Japanese flavored RPGs for the next XBox. Considering that, beyond KOTOR, Fable, and Jade Empire, XBox has been devoid of good RPGs, this is some really good news for us XBox lovers (even those, like me, who still feel awkward admitting their love for a Microsoft console). While many people may remember my hatred for recent FF titles, I have to also remind these people the reason I could be happy; Mr. Sakaguchi left Square just after the crap-tacular FF movie came out, so he's not to blame for the horrible turns FF has taken in recent years (starting with FFX). I have to admit that this is one of the few things I've heard that could excite me about any of the next generation consoles. 

Speaking of excitement...or the lack there of...I played more Xenosaga 2 last night. I am so glad my resolve didn't break last night in picking up GT4 (I pass an EB everyday on my commute home from work and was so tempted...so very tempted). This game is so awful, at least when you're playing and not just watching a cut-scene, that I would've stopped playing for good if I had something fun like GT4 to play. 

I finally broke through both the 15 hour mark (it means nothing, but it reminds me of how people said SO3 would be fun after 15 hours...that was disappointing, a lot like X2) and I am now on the 2nd DVD (out of 2). I hope this means I'll soon be finished with this stinker. The plot is still amazing, and the cinematics are just sweet. However, this game engine is so very painful.

For those who remember FF8 and it's "brilliant" innovative step of drawing magic, let's just say I'm in a similar situation. Since there's no money in X2, I have to resort to using the non-random battles (but the enemies move so quick on the map that you can't run from them, so it's like random set battles, if that makes sense) to steal my much needed healing items. This game likes to give you little in terms of items to work with, yet the enemies are so strong that you have to heal after every battle...it's called irony (sorry, listening to music while writing makes you want to add lines from said music). This makes me waste so much time as I play each slow battle and start by using Psycho Pocket (spell that steals shit) to steal items. If I finish a battle without using this ether, I usually end up feeling like a fool a few screens later when I need to heal. The worst part, however, is these healing items don't do crap in terms of healing. So, you need about 4 of them to fully heal a person and you only get one per enemy. I feel like a salmon swimming upstream, but this stream is full of sewage.

Anyway, I'm still determined to finish this game for two reasons; the first being that the plot is great (except for how it always contradicts the plot of it's predecessor). Secondly, I want to write a full on and honest review of how bad this game is. I haven't had a reason to write a bad review for a game I've actually played through for a long time, and I feel like bitching.

Also, I found out my friend Bastich has GT4. So, this weekend I aim to play some and see if the game is really for me before I drop $50 on it. I don't see why I wouldn't like it, but it's always better to be safe and not regret blowing money that could easily be used on something more important (like food). I'm thinking that playing GT4 will be a good beginning to a night of Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle (awesome Stephen Chow movies). Good weekend to you all.