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Malik (5/16/05)  

It was another weekend of both LAN party style fun, and feeling like shit. The LAN party part was cool, at least. We played more of the good old Rise of Nations. There's not much to really say about was a LAN party. Ok, there is one thing to say. I have been holding out on buying Half-Life 2 since it was released. I mean I know I'd have fun playing the campaign, but I'm not a Counter Strike fan, and that's where most of the lasting power of this game comes from. Well, my eyes may have been opened a little at the LAN deal. 

One of my friends pulled out Garry's Mod. This thing is awesome. It's basically a sandbox mode. You can spawn life-less characters, ranging from people to birds to aliens. Then you can throw their bodies around with a leash-like weapon, weld them together, attach rocket-thrusters, attach balloons, light them on fire...there is so much you can do, and it's all so silly and pointless, but fun. I mean you can attack balloons to a body on it's hands, feet, and head, causing the body to still not be light enough to lift off the ground, but in the great rag doll physics of HL2, you will see the arms, feet, and head all floating upwards as the torso lies on the ground anchoring it all together. Then you light it on fire, attach a thruster, and throw the body. Then as it floats back to the ground, fire up a thruster and watch the flaming balloon covered mess fly randomly through the air. 

There's also not much to throw out about feeling like shit, except that I hate it when a damned virus don't know when to f$#@ off. It's been a little over a week since I got hit with this thing, and while I'm recovering, I still feel crappy enough that I can't seem to keep my thoughts together. This also means I haven't been able to play any Phantom Brave. I mean a game like PB that is so heavy on strategizing is not the game of choice when you can't seem to keep your thoughts together. I mean I'd probably start a battle fine, but I think about 3 rounds into the thing I'd forget what the hell I was doing, and then...well, game over screens tend to follow. 

However, while I wasn't able to really do too much gaming (beyond RoN at the LAN party), I am starting to get some things together on my journal of modding The S. I'm not sure when I can get things really up and running, since I do feel pretty out of it still, but it will definitely be sooner than later. 

There's also not much news to talk about today. The only real news out there is more stuff on what will be revealed in a very short time at E3. I never could understand the whole deal of revealing something at E3 but first revealing that your company will reveal it a few days ahead of E3. Just show the damned thing at E3 and cut the forced hyping of the game. This isn't news to's like making a trailer for a movie's trailer...or like how Square Enix liked to announce that they will be announcing a new game series earlier this year. 

Maybe I'm just getting too jaded on crappy games, but I can't get excited anymore about a game until I can actually see some real details...not just an announcement. I used to find news that, for example, a new FF game was in the works, to be awesome...but now I have to see details to see if, for example, that new FF game is just going to be a pile of crap like so many recent, for example, Square Enix games have been. I should say that I can understand a console being hyped before being revealed at E3. I mean a console, no matter how good or bad it is, has the potential to always go both ways. A bad console (like the N64...let's face's been enough years was a pile of shit) can still have some awesome games that make it into a fun gaming device (like how Smash Brothers and Golden Eye did for the N64), but a bad game is just bad and will be forgotten in less time than the hype was started before the revealing of the game. 

Ok, I'm rambling. I should just stop now since I can't seem to clear my head today. Hopefully I'll be feeling a lot better tomorrow so I can form some logical thoughts on the E3 stuff that will start piling in so soon. 


Malik (5/17/05)  

Ok, to start things, here's the links to what we all are really thinking about...the pre-E3 press conferences from the big boys. Yeah, I have my own take on the news from Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo within these links. For those, however, who want a preview...well, here's my take on things for the next generation; 

Microsoft is ready to not just prove to Sony and the world that they are contenders. They are ready to show they have as much innovation, creativity, and big enough balls to not just play with Sony, but to crush Sony. Microsoft is making a big move. They are bringing new features, both good (wireless controllers from the start) and bad ones (changeable anyone gives a f$#@). They are forming new alliances, like having Square Enix and FFXI being part of the 360 thing. They are just poised to attack. 

Sony, on the other hand, is taking things in a lazy and ignorant way. Rather than trying to blow Microsoft and us geeks away, they are simply trying to do one better than Microsoft. They will let you use 7 controllers on a single PS3 (seven...why is a very unusual number for people playing on a single console). They will have a quicker CPU (as if we'll ever see it...I mean we still haven't seen the limits of what this generation can do, and we never will). They will have a sharper video card. They will also have sequels of all their standard games. The only new feature that pushes the envelope that Sony is bringing to the table is a really stupid one to brag about; you can hook up the PS3 to two side-by-side HD TVs for a super wide screen gaming experience. Do you have 2 identical HD TVs side-by-side? I doubt it. I know I don't. The only people who could afford this type of setup are the people who will usually not use it for video games. 

All in all, Sony, it seems, is just growing complacent in their number 1 position. The only cool thing that they are bringing to the table that impresses me is that the PS3 will be able (supposedly) to play both PS2 and PSX games. However, even Microsoft announced at least some backwards compatibility will be around in the 360 (although their language makes one scratch their heads). Oh yeah, Sony also showed us some pictures of what the PS3 looks like next to one of Batman's Bat-erangs...oh wait...that retarded thing is a controller...blah. I've used this shape of a controller before from 3rd party people on the PS2, and I can tell you it just doesn't work. It's not comfortable. 

You might have noticed I haven't mentioned Nintendo in this comparison, yet. That's because Nintendo is in their own little world. This world doesn't include any knowledge of Microsoft or Sony. Nintendo is making a highly under-powered system, with no big new features (well, backwards compatibility, wireless controllers, and Wi-Fi...but nothing we haven't seen or heard of before), no real details, and no hype. We don't even know what their controllers will look like. They are officially distancing themselves from the competition in a way that only Nintendo could do. This will either payoff big for Nintendo, or this will be the final nail in the coffin...I'm more inclined to think (and I don't like to think this) that Nintendo is in over their heads and we may soon see the end of Nintendo as a competitor in the console market. 

Anyway, for more on my take of events, click on the links. 

As for non-E3 stuff...I did finally have some time with Phantom Brave last night. It's been a while since I last played, and I was able to get back into things as much as I was ever into it. Seriously, this game just isn't fun. Or at least it's not fun to progress in. I actually am finding more enjoyment in this from re-playing old fights than to progress further. I think it's because of how awkward the game is to play...that and the lack of a interesting plot. With Disgaea and La Pucelle Tactics, NIS showed that they aren't exactly masters of writing a good plot...but with PB it's only worsened. There is just no plot to speak of in this game. 

Also, that awkwardness, which is found in having your party members present for only a few rounds before they have to leave a battle, is just a major annoyance. The only static character for an entire fight is Marona, the heroine of the plot. Not only is she a whiney character that one can't help but dislike, but she is horrible in combat. She has very low stats, no really useful skills beyond healing (what's the use of healing if your party members have all poofed out?), and no real way to make her useful. She is the single worst main character I've encountered in an RPG. Even Tidus (of FFX) was useful in combat, and all of the weak characters from games like Suikoden were at least interesting. Blah. 

I'll keep trying to beat this game, but I don't know how much longer I can try. It's been about 16 hours since I started the game, and I feel no compulsion to continue...well, no reason besides me not having anything else to play right now. If I had some extra money that didn't go into The S, I would drop this game in an instant. I just hope NIS can make a good game for their next one to make up for this bore-fest. 


Malik (5/18/05)  

To start things off today, Gamespot has some expectations for the PS3, as first said by a Japanese newspaper. It seems the expected price tag for the PS3 will be under $ Sony lost their mind? That's my first thought on this. 

While the PS3 may be powerful, it could also be said that the true abilities of the XBox and the PS2 (and the GCN, but Nintendo is in their own world now, so I'll leave them as an after-thought) have not yet been realized. In fact, they never will be realized. By the time that games would have truly utilized these consoles, the next generation to the next generation would be in the works. In other words, Sony is trying so hard to one-up Microsoft in the PS3 generation that they are risking a price point that will be out of the reach of the average gamer. 

Way back in the day, 3DO came out with a price in the neighborhood of $600+, and that console bombed. Yeah, there was more to do with it bombing than just the price, but the price definitely started it on a bad note. Also, when the PSX and Saturn both came out, they had a price of $300, which was unheard of for a console. We eventually got used to this high and frightening price. However, if Sony aims to push it again, especially when it's being expected that Microsoft will sell the 360 for $300, one of two things will happen. 

The first one is that Sony is ready to throw away it's current status as the leaders of the console wars. If this price frightens a majority of gamers, then the PS3 will definitely not be in as many homes as the PS2 has entered. Plus, with a lower priced competitor that has more support this time around (when 360 has freakin' Square Enix, 360 they have Japanese support) and more money to throw away on winning this war, PS3 is in some serious shit. Plus, if the PS3 is as faulty as the PSX or PS2 were (I had 3 PSX die on me and one PS2 dies on me), it will only be another nail in their smug-ass coffin. 

While I have grown to love games on Sony consoles (despite hating the easy to break pieces of shit), the other possibility makes me loathe the thought of what Sony may be doing. If a $500 price tag is set, and Sony succeeds in selling massive quantities of the PS3, then we could expect the PS4 generation to consist of more expensive consoles from everyone. If Sony gets away with it this time, it will set a new precedent. 

In the end, I can say at least this much; I have blown more money on Sony consoles over the years than I have even spent on the longer running Nintendo lines. I have purchased 4 PSXs (that's Playstation 1...I feel like saying that I hate how the original abbreviation was turned into a very ill-conceived home media center...however, I bet the people who wasted their money on said media center will waste $500 on a PS3 after being burned so badly by Sony), 2 PS2s, and a PSP. Meanwhile, Nintendo has gotten me with one NES, one SNES, one N64, one GCN, one GB, one VB (I got it for only $10 on eBay), one GBA (Christmas gift), one SP (gift from my friend Meat Shield...thanks again, man), and one DS. In the end, 17 years of Nintendo has cost me loss than about 8 years of Sony. I should also say that I've only had to get one XBox from Microsoft. So, I will just say that the price per time from Sony has been too bad to qualify throwing away $500 on another console that will probably break in only a year. So, if Sony aims to break $300, I'm out. I'll get a 360, and I'll get (if it's not lame as shit) a Revolution...but, as for the PS3, I'll just wait for the price break (which will be sooner than later, since I know many people share my thoughts that $500 is just f$#@ing insane). 

Just take a second to think about this...the PS2 was launched for $200 less than what the PS3 may cost. $200!!! That's the price that we'll probably see for the revolution. Seriously, you could probably have an honest choice of two next gen consoles (360 and Revolution) or paying the exact same price for one single next gen PS3...f@$%! That's just stupid. 

I guess Sony is actually trying to help me to make up my mind on who I'll support on the next generation. I am an avid collector of game systems (I lose count at 20 when I could what I have), but I'm just not as f#$%ing insane as Sony would need me to be. In terms of such a retarded price, to quote Token on South Park, "I don't know what I saw, but I'm out". 

Part of me almost wishes Sony would sell the PS3 for over $500. I'm sorry, but I find their "let's try to one-up Microsoft (without doing anything original)" attitude to be nothing short of a sign of how they are too damned full of themselves. Microsoft is bringing a fair fight to Sony's door, but Sony is too damned full of themselves to even feign caring about their potential customers. If Sony is going to act like they have some higher power that determines they are fated to be our masters, then I'm more than ready to see them crash and burn. I love competition...not Sony trying to stop competition by insulting their audience. I, however, am excited to see the price of the bundle sets that retailers will try to cram down our throats when the PS3 is launched. I mean if I had to pay a total of around $600 for my PS2 bundle from when the PS2 was released, I can't wait to see what an extra $200 on the console will do. 

As for some other news, that is far less disturbing... 

Microsoft is pushing things even further for the next generation. They now have Konami on board to make a Castlevania game for the Xbox, which implies that Konami is ready to embrace Microsoft. There's more info at Gamespot.  It's not really anything worth too much of my time, but I'll just say it has a Fall release. 

Also at Gamespot, they say Rockstar has something for the PSP version of GTA that's being displayed at E3...behind closed doors. So, in the end, it means we'll still know next to nothing, since Rockstar will try to keep this stuff mainly under wraps. However, Rockstar is now at least naming a partial release estimate. GTA: Liberty City Stories will come out after September 1st. Wow...that's almost like giving us nothing. 

Well, so far, the rest of the E3 news isn't really exciting me all that much. I said this last year, and I'll say it again this year. I'm sick of seeing the same games (The Movies, etc) and the same damned sequels (more Prince of Persia, more Devil May Cry, more Castlevania, more Tekken, etc). I remember how a few years back we would see things that would make us really shit a brick in excitement. Where have the Half-Life 2, or Doom 3, or all of those games (and I mean the first E3 appearances, not their many returns) that really get one excited to geek gone? True, it is a console year at E3, but it's getting that console years are every year. PSP and DS were last year, Revolution will be next year. We need good games to shake things up, not just the hardware that will run these endless sequels and clones. 


Malik (5/19/05)  

So far, E3 has been something that has just not really earned my attention. I hate to say it, but it's pretty true. Yes, the pre-E3 press conferences were cool. I mean learning of new consoles is always an important thing. However, as the name of these press conferences say, these were not really E3 as much as "pre "-E3. 

E3, as a whole, has looked pretty lame. One one hand there are so many damned sequels of games that I know, but no longer care for. How many times can a new Tekken game come out that I would honestly give a crap about? There will be a new Ghost Recon, a new Ninja Gaiden, a new Project Gotham, a new Metal Gear, a new Castlevania, a new Prince of Persia, a just goes on like this. 

On the other hand is the new games that are not associated with a franchise. So far, the only one that has stood out any is the next-gen racer from Sega. I can't even remember it's's not as much that the game didn't catch my eye enough to merit my attention. It's that this game looks really freakin' lame. It's another instance of "we have an old tried and true genre, so how can we make it stupid?". Well, Sega's answer is to put guns on your car...which has been done, without much success, many times in the past. Every time one of these "race with guns" games has come out, it either is a kart-style racer, so it's crap. Well, Sega isn't making a kart game, so I already know where it's the bargain bin. 

There's also the games that just don't know when to die. Yes, I'm talking about Starcraft: Ghost. Seriously, this game is as delayed and as forgotten as Doom 3 was about 18 months ago. It's over. Blizzard, VU, Swinging Ape, and whoever else is, was, or will be associated with this poorly planned excuse for a game, along with Phantom (who I haven't heard anything about from E3, but I'm sure are there in a dark and forgotten corner), just get over it. You guys had a good idea (well, I never through either the Phantom or S:G were good ideas, but some people probably did), and you blew it. Get over it. You've lost. Just pack up, throw away the poorly misused ideas, and move on. 

At least, while they have sucked so far with their E3 showing, Nintendo is offering a nice breath of fresh air. Nintendo, as you can read more detailed on Gamespot, does have a good and clear goal in mind with their future. It still is a future that looks rather cloudy due to their unique take on reality. However, the idea of sticking to games with their next gaming machine is something I like the sounds of. To tell the truth, Microsoft and Sony are getting too caught up in the idea of making their consoles do too many things. My PS2 can play DVDs, but it fails compared to a real DVD player. My XBox can do voice chat and all that crap, but my phone and my PC both do it far better. In other words, most of these features tend to be either unused, or are just weak counterparts to the professional way of doing said task. I won't use my 360 to rip music to put on my MP3 PC does that really nicely, and my PC allows me to have an easier time controlling the process in the background as I do a hundred other tasks. 

So, that brings me back to Nintendo. If I wanted my consoles to do a thousand other things, then I'd probably not have an ISP. Nintendo seems to recognize that if you can go online, you probably have a PC that will do all of these multimedia functions for you. So, Nintendo is sticking to a (my guess, and it will probably be right) cheaper console, because they want to stick to what they know people will use; games. Maybe if the final 360 or PS3 have some sort of TiVo like function, I'd use it. Otherwise, Sony and Microsoft are just not realizing that most gamers (notice that word; gamers) will only use the gaming part of the consoles. While Nintendo is insulting me by requiring me to buy a new console to play their next generation of games, despite the console being considerably weaker than it should be, they at least will not try to win me over with hype...well, on the console market. 

They are completely trying to win people with hype on the handheld market by marketing the Game Boy Micro as a "fashion" item. Games are not in fashion...they never will be in fashion. There is a stigma with gaming, and Nintendo will not be the company to destroy this stigma with an old handheld system. Maybe Sony and Microsoft will help the game world by destroying the stigma against "gaming being for losers", but Nintendo won't do it with a hard to use handheld (it's smaller than an I-Pod Mini...try wrapping your hands around that...) that has mainly "kiddie" games. 

At least Nintendo is showing one important thing.  With all of their fighting against people pirating their old titles, they are now seeing that we, the geeks of the world, want to play them.  The concept of downloading and playing old Nintendo games on the Revolution is a brilliant concept that Sony and Microsoft could never use (since they don't have old enough of a gaming history...yet).  This does show that Nintendo's concept of focusing on games could have one important effect; the resurrection of classic titles in a way that is both readily accessible and cheap (don't charge $20 per classic game, you did so stupidly on the GBA).

Since E3 just isn't doing anything for me, so far, here's some non-E3 stuff. For those who have Phantom Brave and don't know the best exploit in the game, I'll share what I did last night. 

Last night I used a Dungeon Monk to make a far too difficult of a dungeon (well, I make one with around level 50 monsters while my party is about level 12). Then I make a new character who had the title of "failure". Then, you use a titlist to take the failure title from this character, and then apply it to the dungeon you just made. Then you enter the dungeon. The monsters will give you no real experience, but the items will. Simply by confining a phantom to any item on the map, it will get several thousand XP at the end of the battle. On top of that, the enemies are really easy to kill. Also, killing an item will net some serious XP. After doing a four level dungeon (warning, the bosses in these dungeons can still f$#@ up your shit), my characters are all in their 20's, and I was able to steal a really powerful spear. 

I still can't find a reason to progress the story in this game, but at least fighting random dungeons and old battles is proving to be a little fun. I really need a new game to make up for this poorly conceived game. Either that, or I need PB to actually have a plot. Either way, I'm just not feeling it, and I doubt I ever will...PB may have been called awesome by NIS fanboys, but seriously, as a rational fan (not fanboy) of NIS, I am very disappointed. 


Malik (5/20/05)  

I was wrong. E3 has actually been quite entertaining this year. Well, the endless clones and sequels are lame. The lack of any innovation or creativity is lame. The lack of information on the Revolution is...nope...teh roxor. 

For those who have only been paying strict attention to the actual news coverage of E3, you may have missed the best part. The Nintendo fanboys have taken up the hobby of being conspiracy theorists. If you checked out a message board on the Revolution, like this one at, then you have been getting the best free entertainment one could ever ask for. Just check that link and look for anything dealing with "a real announcement" on the Revolution. You'll find these topics...they might be buried deep by now, but they are there. 

Basically, someone by a name like Areis (or close to that name) stated about a month or two ago about how the pre-E3 Nintendo press conference was going to say this, and that, and show this, and not show that. Many of these predictions came true (but they were general enough that half of us knew they were going to come true). These included that the Nintendo showing would be lame, it would be limited, and it would not include a controller or many hardware details that would actually make us all happy. The second part dealt with saying that Nintendo would announce something on the 18th or 19th, in the middle of the day, that would really reveal the Revolution. 

Well, when the time started to get shorter and shorter between this supposed announcement and the crap that was the pre-E3 showing, others either got in on the act, or at least fell for it. There were rumors of how the clock on Nintendo's demonstration of Nintendogs was set to a certain time on the 19th, and thus this is when the real announcement would go down. There was talk of fake ad banners showing up on Nintendo's web site and Gamespot. These fake banners said things like how the pre-E3 conference bombed, or how something was coming. Then there were supposed videos on these two sites that showed cryptic things of Nintendo admin people saying weird things...but the videos were removed before anyone could verify them. In other words, there were some people trying to hint that Nintendo was trying their hands at a Microsoft style "alternative reality" game, like they did with both Halo 2 and the 360. 

In the end, this was all as I thought it was from the start. A great chance to see fanboys struggling to grasp a faint slim chance of a hope of there being something big from Nintendo. In other words, it was pure gold in terms of humor for the realists, like myself, out there. 

I mean Nintendo is so paranoid about Microsoft and Sony stealing their ideas, and since the Revolution is not due out until, most likely, after the next E3, and the 360 and PS3 are both due before then, Nintendo would not give them a chance to supposedly steal their ideas. In other words, Nintendo won't reveal a damned thing this year (well, until the last part of the year, at least). 

I probably should have shared this humor earlier, so you all could get in on the laughs, but I figured I'd sit on it since I've had too many other things on my mind (mainly bitching about the lameness of E3). My bad. 

Anyway, since E3 is wrapping down about now, I thought I'd just share a few final thoughts. First off, there is no creativity in the game industry right now. Actually, I should say there is no expression of creativity. I think, as it was said at the opening speech of the conference, the way publishers finance games is to pay for tried and true other words, publishers like to fund sequels. Until this changes, games are going to start getting stagnant. What does it matter if you have a PS3 (which will probably be over priced) or a 360? Both will have the same games from the previous generation, but with a higher number after the title (Tekken 5 becomes Tekken 6, DMC2 becomes DMC3, MGS3 becomes MGS4). 

Microsoft is the best at identifying with it's audience. That's just obvious right now. Sony is going to build something that is really cool on paper, but will require too many papers (money) to own. Nintendo is making something that seems like it will look weak on paper, and it probably will be nowhere near the coolness of a 360 or PS3. Meanwhile, the 360 will be out first, have the lowest price of the "good" looking systems, and will have more support from Japan than it did in the last generation. 

Sony has the coolest looking games for the next generation...until you realize one simple fact. Most of these "games" we were shown on the PS3, were non-playable demos. Most of these demos were actually pre-rendered videos. Who knows how the actual games will look? No one does. Take pre-rendered things with a grain of salt, as they say. True, Sony may pull off some really awesome games on the PS3, but we don't know enough to call PS3 the winner. 

Last of all; if the current generation taught us anything, it's that launch window titles usually will look good, but will play horrible. I plan to get each system (unless the PS3 is actually as expensive as it sounds like it will be), and am completely equal on my love for the next generation (despite how I mock Nintendo, and I make fun of Sony's god-complex). So, I think it's safe to say that this is pretty unbiased; the launch games are about the only ones we know much on for the PS3 or the 360, and these all may look nice for now, but this is not a reason to buy the system(s). Unless you are an avid game collector, like myself, wait and see what the future holds for the systems before you rush out to drop $300 on a pre-order of a 360 or a PS3 based on these launch titles. 

Since everyone always likes to put some sorta of "best of" type of spin on these things...the best system is going to probably be the PS3 (but with the worst price), best game is Zelda, best waste of time was Nintendo's pre-E3 conference, best waste of money will probably be the PS3, and best humor was the fanboys of the Revolution on message boards. 

I just hope E3 next year will hold some creativity and not just a bunch of sequels...well, sequels and Mario wearing about 4 or 5 different costumes/uniforms (Soccer, Baseball, DDR, DS Kart racing, more Mario Party...Nintendo is the pimp, and Mario is their poor little whore with a heart of gold). I know my hopes will not be met, but I can dream. 

By the way, to just pound in the points I've said all this week, check out this link at Gamespot. It's a summary of E3 from the mouth of Mike Goodman, at the Yankee Group (some sorta analyst of the 2 trillion of said firms that are out there telling us what to think). I normally like to disagree with analysts as someone who thinks of himself as a free thinker and a non-conformist, but I have to say Mr. Goodman hit the nail on the head. Especially about Sony's potential PS3 price, the lack of usability for the GB Micro, and the fact that Microsoft is actually preparing for a real competition and where they could go with the 360 by the time PS3 launches. Just read the link. 

Ok, one absolutely last "final" thing for the week. Gamespot has a new issue of their Rumor Control (I love this feature of theirs), and it addresses something quite directly that I was right about and too many people were freakin' out over. According to Rumor Control, Microsoft's people have stated, as bluntly as possible, that their goal is for every single XBox game to work on the 360. The backwards compatible for "top selling" games turns out to be just what I said; Microsoft is trying to sound big and important by calling their games "top selling". I mean what sounds better, calling games "top selling" or saying both "top selling and the crappier games"? Yeah. They want to sound big and important, and with the war they are waging in the next generation, can you blame them? 

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