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Malik (6/27/05)  

On one hand, there's not much with news today.  It's another slow Summer day.  I expect we'll be seeing, as usual, far too many of these days for the next several months.  However, we'll also see it all end with a flurry of how too many good games will hit the stores in September through November.  At least there's a bit more of an excuse with 360 coming this Fall, but it'll still be another over crowded Fall.  Anyway, that's just me thinking out loud (or in text).

I had a nicely old-school weekend this weekend.  It started with a good old night of playing Saturn games with a couple of my friends.  While many people saw the Saturn as another step towards the demise of Sega's hardware empire, I (along with a few others...very few) saw the good.  With the Saturn, there were some rather nice games that too many people overlooked.  For example, while the guns were pretty poor back in the Saturn day, and are even worse when used now, VirtuaCop 1 and 2 are still what I think of when I think of the almost forgotten genre of gun-games.  We got in a couple of games with both of these titles.  Sadly, unless someone releases a new Saturn gun, which is as likely as someone releasing a wireless NES (so, while logic has defied one of these two situations, I'm still doubtful), these are two games that will be likely to be some of the dustiest in my collection.

We also, in between Saturn time, got in some games with the DS Bomberman game.  It's good to see that some publishers are not so greedy as to require multiple carts for every multiplayer game.  Bomberman for the DS is one of these wonderfully designed games.  Plus, with the dual screens, you have the room for 8 players (which is used, not just a good idea) in a single multiplayer game.  However, there are a few minor issues that I think were not properly planned...although some of these issues fall down to the design of the DS more than the game, but...

There are some multiplayer features that use the microphone.  The most often used one is when you're in revenge mode (after you die, you can flick bombs at the surviving people using a cross between the touch screen, the mic, and either the d-pad or the buttons).  The main problem is that if you're left handed, you will usually cover the mic with your hand if you're also using the touch screen.  The mic, in this case, is used to power-up your bombs, but if you're left handed, then you're stuck with less control of the touch screen since you must remove your hand to use the mic.  Anyway, this is a flaw of the DS, which should've had the mic place either in the middle of the screen area, or somewhere else entirely.  Anyway, I'm left handed, so this does tick me off a bit.

The other use of the mic is in some games it will be used to either place bombs, or detonate bombs.  This is done with a simple blow or shout into the mic.  The only problem with this, and it can also become a better way to seek revenge on a human player who outlives you, is that you can effect other players if you shout loud enough.  I know I faced the wrath of my friend Bastich from this was unintentional, but that didn't make it less painful when I dropped a bomb and it blew up immediately after when Bastich shouted and it triggered my bomb.  So, I turned the unintentional effect of his shout into a full out revenge plot when I started to sporadically shout for the rest of the round.

Anyway, I don't know how the single player game is, but I think the multiplayer mode of Bomberman (DS) is plenty to justify a purchase.  It's being said that Kirby may be the first must-have DS game, but I'm thinking the same should be said of Bomberman, at least if you know a few fellow DSers.

Well, I don't have much else to say, so I'll end things for today with this; the Rise of Kasai review is up and running.  While I did complain a lot about the poor AI, you may notice that my score is still quite high for a game with such a fatal flaw.  In terms of another game with a horrible flaw or two (Xenosaga 2), it plays out a little differently.  While I played through Xenosaga 2 just to know the plot, with RoK I played through because the plot wouldn't let me stop.  Anyway, just check out the review.


Malik (6/28/05)  

Well, it's nice to see that the US is not the only f#%@ed up country in the world. Yeah, Gamespot has an article on how Japan is now looking into considering bans and limitations on sales of violent games to minors. I personally have no problem with this type of behavior. 

I may sound like someone who doesn't like violent games to be banned from children, but in reality I have no problem with limitations of these games in terms of requiring parental consent for buying these games. The main reason I say this is because parents do need to be involved in their primary responsibility as parents; raising their children. A parent should keep an eye on at least what a child is doing. While I feel game induced violence is a big steaming pile of shit, I do also feel that a parent should be involved in watching the kid to make sure little Billy or Susie doesn't have some emotional or mental issues that may make them act out. Sadly, it should not be a game ban to under-age children that causes this action from parents, but whatever keeps parents from being negligent towards their kids is a good thing. 

As for the violence "caused" by violent games...well, in Japan it amounts to two major instances. The first was in the first couple of months of this year when a 17 year old killed his teacher (and wounded a few students) with a knife. My take on this would be that this kid was probably the "mayor of crazy town" (I watched Lemony Snicket last night, so I felt that quote would be a good one) long before he played games...or at least he would've been even without the games. Seriously, a game doesn't cause violence; it's a mind that's been pushed too far (from either stress, other violence, or mental problems) that causes this type of violence. 

A perfect example is the other case of violence "caused" by GTA3 in Japan. A kid killed his father, who had supposedly (as far as the kid saw) humiliated the child, and his mother (who kept saying her work made her want to be dead in front of the child), and then blew up their home. The home part I don't know the whole story of (it sounds like the kid was trying to cover his trail), but it was a cross between emotions of vengeance and mercy that caused the killings, at least in the child's own eyes. It wasn't "that level" in GTA3 that has you kill your parents and blow up their home (which, anyone who played GTA3 could tell you, is not in the game), despite how journalists and lawmakers try to make it sound like it was taken directly from GTA3. 

Anyway, it's pointless to show a form of media as the cause for violence when violent media has been around too long. Some can argue that new findings that show your brain handles virtual stress in the same way as real stress could explain it...but I think that's only a sign of how well developers have programmed games. It's not just a tool to desensitize you from the violence of real world issues and problems. Blah. 

Ok, so to end that subject is always a thing I enjoy doing. I hate the bull shit, but I still feel like I should comment on it. It's like a test in may hate doing a test, but they must do it if the opportunity is presented...or something like that. 

Anyway, I'm still playing Tales of Symphonia for the second time through. In fact I spent about 10 really enjoyable hours on it yesterday as I took a day off from work after my crazy work week last week. I still am thinking the game's more enjoyable the second time through. I think using your leftover grade to buy an experience increaser for a second play through greatly increases the replay value of this game. It's not that there were too many times the first time through that you had to power level, but there were enough to make it more fun to not need them the second time. 


Malik (6/29/05)  

According to Gamespot, Merrill Lynch of Japan (one of those financial thingies, for those who don't know) is expecting the PS3 to sell, upon release, for about $400 (I hate the "$399" bullshit; it's $400, and once your dealing with three digit dollars, the ones digit means as much as a kick in the nuts). This isn't too surprising, considering that the system is expected to cost about $494 per console to manufacture. 

This is all basic marketing. I mean with most consoles, a company will lose some money the first year. However, that first year will both establish a fan base and it will set a date for when we can look back at the end of it's life and say "it may be obsolete now, but it kicked ass in 2006". Anyway, Sony took a dive in profits with the launch of the PS2, and they did it with the PSX. It's all common math and marketing strategies. 

However, the wild card in this will be that Microsoft makes most of it's money from non-gaming things, and thus they could afford to f#%@ with Sony by dropping the price of the 360 (which is expected at $300) by $50 or so right around the launch time of the PS3. This will leave two new consoles (dude, the 360 will still be new when the PS3 launches) with relatively similar abilities (at least game-wise) with one costing almost 40% cheaper than the other. 

I mean, this is not exactly news or anything. This has been speculated and rumored to be the way things will go down ever since E3. However, with Merrill Lynch now saying the same thing, the rumors are looking a little more like reality (although they are still guesses, at best). 

Anyway, I think that when real news comes out about the next generation, in terms of prices and dates, it will be interesting to start really looking at the situation. However, I think this speculation needs to be put to rest. I especially think that Merrill Lynch should get with the times. Yeah, they have a view to share on some economical stuff, but what are they...the 10th company to say the same damned thing. I just hope Sony and Microsoft will finally speak on their strategies and put this endless speculation by the "experts" to rest. 

Anyway, I don't really have much to say about game stuff today. That would be why I'm going back to talking about the next-gen consoles. It's like my way to fill in the post for the day if I have little to talk about. About the only things I can really say is that this is a sad and wonderful week for RPG-geeks. On one hand, two great RPG franchises have sequels on the PS2 that just came out. On the other hand, Atelier Iris is pointless, unless you like the idea of item creation more than plot (and if you do, there's a better game choice for doesn't have to end after 50 hours like AI). There's also... 

I really hate it when a strong and functional series of games is untimely put to sleep. That's bad enough, but it's worse when the company behind it has some sick necrophilia fantasies and decides to skull f#%^ the series that so many fans had once adored. Yeah, I'm talking of a poor game know as Arc the Lad: End of Darkness. The once amazing and fun strategy elements of the AtL series have been replaced with single player hack-n-slash...very repetitive hack-n-slash. It's a lot like Everquest and Champions of Norath, but with the original game being awesome and the hack-n-slash sequel being crap. 

Anyway, I'll stick with good old ToS. It's looking like the only good RPGs that will grace consoles this Summer are the ones that are already collecting dust on some shelf. 


Malik (6/30/05)  

Well, on the news front, it looks like, according to Gamespot, Xenosaga Episode 3 is in the works. In the past, this type of news would have driven me insane with excitement. I am probably the biggest Xeno fan I have ever known of...or at least I was. It all ended with Xenosaga 2, which took a blending of innovation and the command "stock" to bring me to what I'd formerly call the "dark side". Now, I'd call it the logical side. 

Anyway, according to a voice actor in Japan, he says that he's been doing voice work on Xenosaga 3. So, I guess, despite Monolith not saying shit about the potential game, it must be in the works. However, since there's no info available, beyond the fact that Voyager, a bald dude, is a character with voice work in the game, nothing has been revealed. This includes not knowing the ETA for this game to come out in either Japan or the US, or if the game will be on the PS2, PS3, 360, or what, or if the game will once again continue directly from the same time point in which Xenosaga 2 ended, or if the game progresses the plot some beyond being a direct sequel. Hell, we don't even know if the protagonists from Xenosaga 1/2 are back (personally, I think it's time to ditch Shion, Jin, Momo, Ziggy, and possibly the whole remaining roster, with the possible exception of Chaos, who has still been unexplained in his role in the game series). 

All I can say safely is that Xenosaga 3 needs to stop being plagued by "original" and "innovative" combat methods. Seriously, the stock command of Xenosaga 2 was the single worst combat mechanic I've seen in an RPG. That's saying a lot since I've been through the dark ages of FFVIII's "draw". For those who didn't play Xenosaga 2, stock was how you pulled off any attack that dealt more than minimal damage. You would "stock" an additional attack into your combo meter. When it reached three, which would take three full turns, per character, while the enemies were beating you senseless, then you could, if you think the words I'd say are "a devastating attack", you're wrong. You would unleash what any other RPG would call a standard amount of damage in proportion to the HP of your targets. Then, after you unleash the guessed it. Another three rounds of "stock". Meanwhile, the enemy could deal massive damage each and every turn. Yipee... 

Plus, Xenosaga 3 better try giving an actual world to explore. In Xenosaga 2, there was nothing more than a big-ass city, a couple of spaceships, and dungeons. That was it. There were as many townsfolk/random NPCs in Xenosaga 2 as other games would have in just a single town. Plus, travel in the towns was so damned slow that it would take you an hour to do a simple fetch quest. Hell, Xenosaga 3 better just re-invent the entire game engine. If it wasn't for being so invested in the plot, which seems like it may be going nowhere now, I'd have quit after the first agonizing hour of Xenosaga 2. 

Anyway, beyond this Xenosaga 3 news, there's not a damned thing to talk about today. I've only been playing ToS, which I talked about plenty the first time through, last July and August. So, I'll just go about now, and hope for some real news tomorrow. 


Malik (7/1/05)  

When there is news, there is always a lot of it. I mean so much stuff can be told, but it's always all at once. Anyway, today is not one of those days. There is nothing. I guess the news that Nintendo is expecting for the Revolution to come out after the PS3 is news...or it was when it was first speculated and assumed. That was a month and a half ago. 

Anyway, I'm in a strange mind set today. I won't lie and try to keep things lower key than they should be. This site doesn't get the biggest number of hits a day. It's not too bad overall, but I definitely have plenty of bandwidth to spare. So, I looked at the stats and noticed that recently I've been seeing my bandwidth getting devoured. My first thought was that things were looking brighter on the hits-front. That was until I saw some dumb ass mother f#%@er on a Spanish forum had hotlinked to a video here at the old Asylum. 

While I'm glad that someone would link to one of my videos, since it's saying I made something informative, useful, or damned entertaining, I don't like the idea of people being asses about it. Seriously. I make an entire site. I don't expect everyone to like every part of the site, but I do hope there will be a little something for everyone. Sadly, people will never see this site if they have a link that, instead of opening a browser window, only opens a media player, with no links back to the site. 

So, what I'm saying is two-fold. One part is that I'm killing hotlinking. I'm doing it, like with most of my other stuff, in phases. The first phase should be ready quite soon. In fact, if you check out any old links that hotlinked my videos, you'll either find a nice message about hotlinkers eating shit and dying, or you'll find a dead link. 

The second part is that there needs to be some respect out there. I think I am definitely not alone in the web world when I say this; show respect to people and their hard work. Even if you disagree with a web site, realize that the person who made the site has probably put a good deal of work into it, and possibly a good deal of money too. When a person is hotlinked like that, it means that the majority of their work is going un-noticed, and that a majority of their bandwidth may be consumed without any form of gratification. For example, I like to know that people visit my site. I don't get money (another form of gratification) for my work. I just do this as a personal passion for sharing my views and my knowledge. 

Anyway, no one is probably reading this, since it is off-topic in some regards, but I'll just say this; If you want to show one of my videos to the world, feel free. Just please link to the page you found the video on...not the video file itself. 

I was going to post some more useful videos for some things, but I honestly have lost my motivation...for now. I'll probably still do so, but not until I get over feeling like I've been bitch, with my short attention span, that'll be a week at most. 

Anyway, to end things on a geek note...Bruce Campbell (of indy film fame...yeah, that includes the Evil Dead trilogy) has a new book out; Make Love: The Bruce Campbell Way. I just want to say that this book is funny as hell. It's worth a look by any true geek. 

Anyway, I have a long weekend to get ready for. Happy fourth of July to all...or the very least, happy three day weekend to make of my fellow working stiffs. 

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