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Malik (6/20/05)  

Well, over the weekend, I did manage to put Rise of Kasai to rest. However, instead of feeling glad to be done with this poorly designed game, I'm actually feeling the opposite. I've never before seen a game in which the plot can be so interesting that it'd make an almost unplayable game into entertainment. However, that's what RoK did. The game play was horrible, especially thanks to the infamous AI, all the way until the final battle of the epilogue, yet the plot leaves me wanting more. 

So, I've started putting together my review, but this will probably take a little time. In fact, I wouldn't count on too much coming from me this week in any account. Today, I simply feel like crap, for no particular reason. I guess I'm just rebelling against the return of the weekday. Either that, or I'm sick...but I think it feels more like a sleep deprivation type of thing. 

However, I was expecting that type of feeling to hit me the most tomorrow and Thursday. As an explanation of how I do things, I write my posts, typically, in the morning before I start my day job. However, due to time issues, I don't actually get these posts edited and uploaded until I get off of my day job. It's my personal juggling of responsibilities and enjoyment. The reason I'm saying all of this is as an explanation for what will happen on Tuesday and Thursday of this week...when I start my day job around 3 AM...I will be so damned out of it from lack of sleep that I expect my posts will fall into one of two categories. They will either be funny as hell (not in an intentional way), or they will make absolutely no sense. Either way, it will be interesting. 

Before I call it quits for today, I have a little more left in me. I saw Batman Begins this weekend. I knew to expect better than when Ah-nold was Dr. Freis/Mr. Freeze, and when we saw the Cloony-est Batman of them all (sorry, but I can't get over the lack of range that Cloony shows with all his acting roles...he's always the same ER-inspired character...just with some Desert Storm era weaponry, a Batsuit, or some other toy that Dr. Ross should not be using). However, I wasn't too sure of what else to expect. After all, even if you don't look at Batman itself, DC has not had a good comic book movie since the late great Christopher Reeves donned the red tights back in the 80's. 

Well, I was surprised. Batman Begins is pretty damned amazing. There are some parts that obviously feel tacked on and pointless (enough with people seeing the Batmobile and saying, "nice car"'s dumb and not worth being in this movie), and the origin story of Batman did get nicely skull f#%$ed (not as bad as with Joker killing his parents in Tim Burton's attempt), but the majority of the movie was sweet. Nolan gave the film a feel that is perfect for how Batman should've been from the beginning of live-acted Batman. I mean the villains and Wayne all had a nicely twisted and insane look on things. We didn't have the standard set of how we typically had seen Batman's surroundings pointlessly twisted, while the people involved were just looking mainly like they turned a small grudge into a major hobby (like we had with the Riddler). Bruce Wayne was twisted, Scarecrow was slimy and scary as shit, and Ra's Ah Goul (I spell bad, forgive me) was a sick and brilliant man. No one was cartoony. That is the bottom line and the most important part of bringing Batman to the big screen. The only person who should be cartoonish is the Joker (who will probably be in the next movie, if the usual stretch of sequels follows this movie). 

Personally, however, the part I liked the most about this treatment of Batman was how it focused on realism. Batman has no powers, so to see him flip off of walls and shit like that in the past films just went against that premise. In this movie, Batman was keeping it real. The Batarang was a piece of sheet-metal that Bruce Wayne took to a grinder to shape and sharpen. His fighting was fast and frenzied, but involved no silly flips and wall running. Even Bruce Wayne had the problems of fitting a night-time persona into his sleep schedule when he had his standard billionaire duties during the day. Hell, Bruce Wayne even got bruises. When was the last time a super hero got more than a glancing wound that healed itself in the next camera angle?...not counting Wolverine being shot in the head in X2. 

Maybe I just, as a minor Batman fanboy, needed a Batman film that didn't suck 100%. Maybe I'm blinded to some flaws due to this feeling I have. However, I'm thinking I may just be enjoying seeing the correct treatment being applied to one the most interesting comic characters of all time. I just hope that the obvious hint at a sequel that is attached to the end of this movie comes to be...I just hope they make sure to keep things true to this style. 

Anyway, as I said, I feel like crap, so I'm out. 


Malik (6/21/05)  

As I write this, it's 3AM. Yes, it's going to be/was posted in the afternoon, but it's early as hell as I write this damned thing. It's just an explanation, in case I become completely lost in my own sleep dep. 

I did learn an important lesson in this excursion into removing sleep from my life. Well, two lessons. The first, and least important, is that I don't function well on little sleep if the reason is not a good one. For example, a LAN party, playing games, or just screwing around on a weekend are all great reasons to go with little sleep. Going in to work about 5 hours early, all so I can still quit at my regular quitting time, is a bull shit reason. Sorry, I'm bitchy about this. 

The second lesson is that waking up at 3AM is actually a good time to wake up on a Tuesday morning. I mean it's still dark, it's cold, and it's easy to fall back into the seductive lure of slumber, but at least I can wake up watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force...a show that's normally on between bed time and the annoying screech of my alarm. At least things could be worse. 

Anyway, another thing I did this weekend, but didn't mention yesterday, is that I had a fun time at a friend's LAN party with Battlefield 2. I never did play the first Battlefield, mainly due to a combination of how my PC was not up to par when it came out, and the fact that I find playing a game based on real wars to be disgusting. It's not that people who play these games are evil, but I feel like I'm a sick individual if I play a game based on something in which real people died, all for the sake of fun and entertainment. 

Anyway, with that in mind, Battlefield 2, the demo at least, kicks major ass. I can't believe how fun this game is, and how easy it is to get into. I started as a complete newb, with a newb style of playing. However, it only took a couple of games before I was in a squad with the other LAN party people, jumping walls along side them, planning joint strikes, and taking flags. I was told it's new, or maybe I just didn't listen too well, but the squad game play of B2 is awesome, and makes this game even more addictive. 

When you join a squad, you have a leader that you can use as a spawn point. So, despite how I had a habit early on of getting my ass blown off (or ran over, or capped, or burned beyond recognition in a flaming helicopter as it crashed), I was always able to come back in in my leader's vehicle, or on his current attack run. Combine that with the need for certain player kits on certain missions (for example, if you want to take out some artillery, you need to bring the C4 to the party), and you have a great ability. Just commit suicide, with your virtual character, and rejoin as the person you need, mid-strike. It also makes capturing a flag a far more interesting challenge, since you no longer have to worry about everyone being at the flag, at the same time. You just need to make sure your squad leader remains alive. 

Anyway, B2 is supposed to come out this week (I think...sleep dep took away my sense of time), so I'm thinking I may pick it up. I don't know how much I'll play it on my own, but it's a definite LAN party game. Plus, for those who don't want to shell out the $50+, the demo is a great game on it's own. This is the first PC demo I've played in a long time that I actually felt was a must buy...and this is from someone who passed on Half-Life 2 since it felt like it just wouldn't entertain me long enough. 

Anyway, if you're wondering, I don't know when my Rise of Kasai review will be up. I was aiming for this week, but that was not taking into account the sleep deprivation I'll be having both today and on Thursday. I figure a review of a game of this ambiguity deserves a little more thought and consideration than a sleep deprived mind can give it. I'll aim for early next week...but who knows, I may still get it out this week. 

In the meantime, I've started a new game+ on Tales of Symphonia. I decided with it being a game I knew inside and out, that it would work well with the whole sleep issue of this week. Also, I never gave it a second attempt, despite how it has a great new game+. With a second play through the game, you can use your grade (which is acquired via beating battles with a little flair, and very little death to your party) to retain some characteristics of you last game, like your gald, your skills, your EX-Spheres, your tech usage numbers, etc. You can also start with some bonuses, like gaining experience quicker (2X or 10X, depending on how much grade you want to/can afford to spend), having 30 of a given item instead of 20, or earning more grade (which always carries over to the next new game+. 

Anyway, as I said, it's early, and I need to work...the bane of my existence. 

By the way, at the end of the day (this is being written around 12 hours later than that last stuff), I can now say it's good I wrote my post while I was merely tired, since I am now beyond that point and in a state of pseudo-hysteria brought on by too much work, too little sleep, and too many damned weird things (if it wasn't for me being in Seattle, one of the most f#%$ed up cities I've ever known for randomness, I would say I'm hallucinating...sadly Seattle says I'm not insane, but rather this place is).  Viva no sleep and a shit ton of work!


Malik (6/22/05)  

I have, today, a brief respite from the insanity caused when a night person, like myself, has to do 12-hour shifts at work on two almost-consecutive days (yesterday and tomorrow) in a single week. In other words, my brain is actually in a sane frame of mind, however, I'm not sure how well it will last. 

As for anything game related, there's no real news today. Well, there is the fact that Battlefield is still a newly released game. I know this has me excited in a way that few PC games could make me excited. However, it's not too important, in and of itself. I still whole-heartedly recommend to anyone who likes a good team based FPS game to check out the download for the demo. I forget the link I used, but it's easy enough to find on EA's website, Gamespot, or by just typing in "Battlefield 2 Demo download" in just about any search engine. Yes, I do sound lazy with my lack of links... 

Also, there's a funny thing I saw in regards to the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) on Gamespot. It seems the new contract for the SAG and the game industry is being rejected. You know what? It matters nothing at all. In all realism, how often do you buy a game because a certain actor plays the voice of a character? If you answered with any number above zero, you have a serious problem (mentally), and you should seek help in understanding why your game collection probably sucks. No, the real reason a gamer buys a game is for the game itself (or a part of the programmers' work, like the visuals). The actors who whine about not making enough money on doing a game's voice, or on how they should get royalties for their voice work are full of a little too much ego, and way too much bull shit. Seriously, if no actors from the SAG can be found to do a voice for a game due to contract/financial crap, the game industry will do a simple thing; they will find non-SAG voice talent. Plus, they run equal chance with this method to find real talent as they do with using the SAG...after all, how many games have you played in which the voice acting, done by a SAG-member, was beyond approach? I don't even need to ask; the number is greater than it should be, I bet. 

Anyway, I'm keeping things short today since I have some work I need to get done with my Rise of Kasai review. I still don't know if I can finish it this week, but I should at least take a stab at that before I jump into a little more Tales of Symphonia. I should also toss out that ToS is hella fun the second time through when you can take advantage of the grade you earned on the first play through. 


Malik (6/23/05)  

Some news today. Well, the first bit of news isn't as much news as it's the US being hosed, or Japan getting some extra love. Some more details of the launch titles were released from Microsoft Japan for the 360's Japanese launch. So, to put things straight, in Japan the 360 not only has more details on launch games than in the US, but it also has a firm release date, which the American 360 only has a vague speculated launch date. Nice. 

Also, it looks like, according to this link at Gamespot, that the PS3 we saw at E3 was actually running at 75%. me get this one into my sleepy head (as I write this, it is, once again, 3AM); the PS3 games that we didn't see since all we saw were pre-rendered video clips (which are as much games as if I drew a picture by hand and called it a "screen shot") are actually going to be more powerful than what we didn't actually see. That makes as much sense as me telling you all to close your eyes, and then to show something behind a closed door that is now a door and a set of eye-lids away from you seeing, and then saying "the real thing you didn't see is more powerful!". 

Sony, let's get over it. You and Microsoft are in a console war. We get it. You don't need to tell us that there are no good emotions between the two companies. We so f#%@ing get it. We don't need to hear it anymore. Sony and Microsoft, in the end, you will both have consoles that will max out in terms of technology long after the next generation becomes a thing of the past. We don't need to be told how powerful your consoles will be. All we gamers will ultimately need to care about come down to two simple facts (as I pointes out last week); how much memory is in the machines and what good games will there be. That's it. 

Man, this whole thing is turning into one of those Kindergarten battles of half-wits in which one says that his dad is stronger, then the other says "my dad can pick up a car", and then the other one, to top that comment, says "my dad can pick up our house!"...eventually it all ends when they both agree that "well, he can lift more, but he never wants to show off". This is not sleeplessness speaking. I've seen this, and 99% of people who went to a public school have seen it. The important fact, however, is that we've outgrown it...can Sony and Microsoft? 

As for some REAL and awesome news; Check out If you have a PSP, and you haven't upgraded to 1.51, this is the link for you. KXploit has been released! 

Basically, in the last weeks, some really awesome dudes had released a method to play homebrew apps on the PSP using 2 memory cards. Basically, each card has game data, but they have to have been altered by a certain program (swaploit). Then as the game loads from one memory card, you have to quickly pull it out and put in the other card. This leads to a few things; first, if you short of a second memory card, then your hosed. Second, you do run a minor risk of frying your memory card. Thirdly, this method is as much fun as having a swap-hack for any console (in which you have to swap your local game disk out for your import/illegal game, all in a limited time window). 

Well, as someone who has had his 1GB card on backorder for the last 3 months, I was not going to buy another card while waiting (and the price was too good to ignore for the b/o card), so Swaploit was not going to work for me. Well, with KXploit, you can put both cards' data onto a single card, and then play the program/game like it's nothing. 

I tried out this method last night, since I'm a skeptic and since I've downloaded a ton of homebrew apps that I've been waiting for a chance to try out. Well, the KXploit program is really easy to use, and even puts all the data on your PSP without you having to do more than name the folder that will be made on your memory duo, selecting a PBP file (PSP application file), and telling the system which drive letter is the one for your PSP. Then, you just have to copy over any extra files from your PC to the PSP memory that also go with the program (like sounds, add-ons, etc). That's it. It's that simple, and it works! I was playing a good old-school Arkanoid clone on my PSP in a matter of minutes from when I started my download. I also tried out an emulator or two (with some homebrew games...I won't say my opinion or the facts on pirating is illegal, but that's as far as I'll touch this subject), Sinobi (an awesomely fun old-school platformer, homebrewed), and some other fun things. Every program worked. Plus, you can actually fit a lot of these programs on the 32MB included memory duo that comes with the PSP. 

To make things worse, and I hope it's not just sleep dep that making me imagine cool things, I could swear I just got an email from saying my memory duo pro is no longer on backorder, and I can expect it shortly. Perfect timing. 

Anyway, I have things to do, like a looooooong day of work. So, I'll leave off with these final thoughts. The Rise of Kasai review is progressing. Expect it in a few days. Tales of Symphonia is so much fun when you carry over your EXskills from the previous game, and give your party the ability to earn 2 times the normal experience (plus, keeping all your previously acquired recipes and cooking skills are a cool thing). I can't believe it took this long to give ToS a second play. 

Alright. I have sleep dep and a long list of work to do. Peace. 


Malik (6/24/05)  

There's a good deal of stuff I could talk about today. If you check out Gamespot's news page you'd see countless things I could bitch about. There's how a double murder (with a house a-sploding) was linked to GTA3 in Japan, there's the news about how the DS is doing well and the PSP is not doing so hot in Japan, or even how there are G-Phoria nominations. It's all pretty pointless, to me, overall, however. 

I mean when it comes to G-Phoria, I can't help but wonder why G4 is getting any attention. Seriously. This is the channel that has no truly decent gaming programs of their own (the closest stuff is the shows they took from TechTV in the merger of a year ago). I'll call Formula D good entertainment, but when the closest thing to games it involves is showing a sweet ride with a PS2 or an XBox in the car (usually not on the cars that are doing the drifting even), it's not "TV for Gamers". G4 is a channel that, several years after it's launch, is still not living up to the high standards that were set for it when the channel was announced. So, quite frankly, I don't get why this type of programming (G-Phoria, that is) is getting any attention from anyone outside of G4. If you want real awards, then you check out the GDC awards, the E3 awards...hell, you should even check the Spike Game Awards before this type of kiddy friendly bull shit. Ok, I'm in a crappy mood from my weird sleep schedule this week. Forgive me if I go over the top too many times or sound too bitchy. 

As for the DS doing better than the PSP in Japan. Whatever. Let's look at a few things. First of all, both handhelds are kicking ass. It is that simple. Second, the margin of sales between the two systems are really close. Third, this generation of handhelds have just begun. Plus, as I like to say, both handhelds are for different purposes; the DS is for casual gaming, and the PSP is for more geeky things (like hardcore gaming, and homebrew apps). Because of that, they aren't really in competition, as much as they share the same location in Best Buy, if you get my meaning. 

Lastly, read the article on the GTA3 linked homicide in Japan. The only link was this; the kid played GTA3 and really liked it. I should mention that this applies to millions of people around the world. However, he was humiliated, supposedly, by his father, so he felt like taking revenge. This was not a GTA3 linked homicide as much as it sounds like an abused kid (whether or not he actually would have been "abused" is not the point...what the kid perceived is, and humiliation is a form of abuse in some peoples' eyes). As for why he killed his mother...well, it sounds like this kid was not "mentally stable", and he kept hearing how his mother wanted to die because of her work. He thought, from how it sounds, that he was doing her a favor. As for blowing up his home...well, either he wanted to hide the evidence, or he just liked blowing shit up. Either way, it was done with home made explosives. 

So, GTA never shows you to make home made explosives, GTA3 never has you blow up a building, and GTA3 doesn't deal too much with humiliation. Ultimately, GTA3 is being blamed for only one reason; that this kid liked the game. I call this jumping to the easiest solution. I mean it's harder to blame a victim of murder for being the trigger to a crime than a couple of big faceless corporations (Rockstar/Take Two and Capcom). Blah. 

As for something else that's not just me picking apart the crap that goes for news right now; I am surprised at Sony. Sony, from the looks of things, is going to start forcing a gamer to download the latest firmware versions for future games. I firstly find this inane due to the fact that not everyone has access to wireless internet, and not everyone can figure out the PSP network connection menu (it is a little less straight forward to even play in ad-hoc mode than to play some multiplayer on the DS). However, even if you live miles from wireless (think of a farming community or something like that), you still might have access to a Fred Meyers, Target, Wal-Mart, etc, to pick up some games. So, if you're out in the middle of nowhere, but you can buy games, you may be screwed when you can't play Coded Arms, a game soon to be released, on your very recently released PSP. That is not right, Sony. 

Secondly, I like how Sony is comparing the PS3 to a "supercomputer" (cough::bullshit::cough), and they speak of making their systems as computers rather than toys. So, why are they forcing firmware upgrades? The obvious reason is to make it harder for homebrew apps to be played on the PSP. For example, if you have v1.0 or v1.5, you can now play homebrew apps, but v1.5 only got this a couple weeks ago (after being out for about 2.5 months). v1.51 is still out of luck. So, it's obvious that Sony is trying to prevent people from taking full advantage of the technology and computing power of the PSP. 

Basically, what I'm getting at is that if Sony wants to call their consoles more computer-like, then they need to allow true freedom of use to the gaming world. You can't just say, "we make supercomputers" and then limit people from having the ability to program for your system. It's one thing if you're trying to prevent people from pirating games, but it's another entirely if your trying to prevent homemade games and useful applications. For example, if someone can get a fully function web browser on the PSP (and I'm not talking of the limited functionality of the Wipeout browser) that doesn't require anything more than a memory card, that would expand the number of people who'd want a PSP (if you were on the fence between getting a PSP and a DS, and you learn that the PSP now can do web browsing for free, this could easily push you over to the Sony side), which is good for Sony. It'd also make the PSP more like a "supercomputer", which is good for Sony's image. Lastly, it would make the gamers happy, which is good for both Sony and the geeks. 

Blah. This is why I'm not in the game industry. I can understand logical situations. I think a pre-requisite of being in the industry is that you can't understand logic. A kid killed someone...well, I doubt he could just be a f#@%ing head-case, because he liked GTA. Sony makes "computers" let's not allow any homebrew applications, which are common features of real computers. G4 is a joke of a channel (which is the only real reason I watch it...for a good and cheap laugh...ok, Cinematech is a good white-noise show since it is free of the kiddy friendly atmosphere) everyone naturally will follow their award show. I don't even want to get started on the current 25 to Life fiasco involving the American government trying to stick it's nose, once again, in a place it doesn't belong; before Washington DC tries to pick another fight, maybe you should handle the huge messes you've already made in the last couple of Afghanistan, Iraq, the tarnish of the international image of what Americans represent, illogical security concepts that fail in application, revoking rights that have long been held as the "freedoms" that Americans were once so proud to have...the list is way too long, and I think 25 to Life just isn't important enough to anyone outside of the game industry or parents to make a dent. Sorry to get political, but I just don't think 25 to Life is a worthwhile fight, especially when the Legislative and Executive branches of the government really need to end some of the fights they have already started. 

Anyway, I'll try to get the Rise of Kasai review up on Monday. 

Before I poof, I just want to say that I won't have my Memory Duo until Monday.  Why, you ask?  Because FedEx is about as logical as a pile of dog shit.  Seriously...they tried to deliver my memory stick today at 8:15.  8:15!?  At this time, few apartment management offices are open, and most people are in the rush hour commute (if not at work, like I was).  Why not wait until 9AM?  By then apartment offices tend to open, so I'd at least have it delivered to them.  Plus, to make things lamer, since they only operate M-F, and their hours are only until a damned early time, I can't get it with how they are located, in Seattle, at the middle of a giant construction nightmare.  That, combined with rush hour, would equal a 3+ hour commute to only get there in time for them to be close.  So, to FedEx, I send out a big "f#%@ you!"

Plus, while I'm bitching, Car Toys still can go f#%@ themselves...if they remove their heads from their asses.  They still have my money from the wipers they were too incompetent to properly ship.  I wish people would just stop being so f$#@ing lame.

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