Non-Flash Links At Bottom Of Page

Malik (7/18/05)  

I hate to admit it, but I never will shy away from admitting that I was wrong. I figured Rockstar would be telling the truth about Hot Coffee not being their work. I thought this for one important reason; if they lied, then it could be proven. Well, it looks like Gamespot has proven that Hot Coffee is indeed found in the un-mod-able PS2 version of GTA:SA. I don't know whether this means Rockstar is incredibly smart or incredibly stupid. 

On one hand, Rockstar could be so stupid as to think they couldn't be tracked in including this code. Or maybe they figured that the code would never be accessed. Maybe they even didn't know about the code (as in some rogue programming on the inside included it without anyone has been done before...just look back the the Atari 2600 and Adventure). No matter what, this means that Rockstar is either stupid to think they could try to deny it, or they are stupid enough not to check any unusual code in their games. 

On the other hand, Rockstar could just have been very smart. I mean GTA games sell really well, but how can you make a game sell even better; make it a major news item. If you do that, then you get free word of mouth advertising, and then you get extra sales. 

Many "Parent" protection groups (the hippies who like to tell you that they work in favor of parents protecting their children from obscene other words, they try to do a parent's job since many parents fail so badly at being parents) will try to use this as fodder to keep GTA games off the market. In the end, however, this type of action, especially in trying to get GTA:SA to be rated AO, will result in two things...if it works. 

First off, the games are going to be more popular than ever. This is nothing but good news to Rockstar. Hell, those of us who don't give a flying crap about the Hot Coffee, but like the GTA games anyway are still going to buy them. However, those who are only interesting in being part of controversy will take control and try to obtain the games with even more passion. 

The other thing this means is not so good...not to us geeks, but to retail outlets. AO games tend to not be sold in many physical stores. However, GTA:SA (and potentially all future GTA titles) could face being AO rated and thus being banned from stores like Wal-Mart, Toys-R-Us, Kay-B-Toys, etc. These stores will simply fail to sell as many games, since GTA games will still sell. Maybe they'll be sold only at game specific stores, like EB. Maybe they will only be sold online. Maybe they will only be sold via Rockstar/Take Two. No matter what, the games will sell, but the money will be focused into a smaller number of retailers. If this happens, I guess it isn't really bad news for anyone in a broad picture, but it will mean a definite redistribution of wealth. 

On a completely different note (after all, too many things remain to be said on Hot Coffee for any conclusions to be the ESRB and Congressional opinions to this stuff), the PSP is finally looking at a traditional turn based RPG. I'm talking about Bandai bringing Legend of Heroes to the American audience. I really have no idea about this game, besides that it comes from one of the minds behind the Ys series (which could be both a good and a bad thing), and that it's a port of a Japanese PC game known as Eiyuu Densetsu IV: Akai Shizuku. Besides that, and about 50 hours of turn based bliss, not much can be said. I just hope this could be the game that introduces quality RPGs to the PSP. I guess, like with Hot Coffee, this is more wait and see stuff. 

Anyway, it's hot as hell, and I'm miserable about it. So, I'll just drop off about now. 


Malik (7/19/05)  

I'm still waiting on my Katamari 2 (I'll call it "We Love Katamari" when I get the American release...the Japanese one has too complex of a name to reproduce on the spot, so Katamari 2 it will be). I'm hoping it's waiting in my mail box for me when I get home tonight. Especially since I'm done with my second play through on Tales of Symphonia. 

I have to say, now that I know what I'm doing on ToS a little better, it is a major disappointment that the ending of the game has no real relation to your relationships with different characters. The first time I beat the game, I had Zellos in my final party, and that did lead to the only change in the ending versus my second time having Kratos. However, beyond that, the ending was the same...despite me having a crappy relationship with all but Genis and Collette the first time through, and having the fortune teller in Triet tell me I'm "soul mates" with everyone (everyone...even Presea) the second time. It's sad that Namco didn't at least include some difference in each character's final scene based on who had the most affinity to Lloyd. In fact, the affinity seems to only play into a few scenes that are almost worthless (like who gets swimsuits, who can talk to you in Flanoir, and who says a message about being safe when Lloyd separates from the party in the Dark Dungeon). It's like playing through KOTOR and seeing that good and evil make no difference until the final couple of hours, and has no real effect until the 30 second ending. 

I just wish that Namco could've carried the relationship idea a little further...more like Enix did in Star Ocean 2. In that game, the person you were closest to at the end would be who your character ended up with. In ToS, there is nothing along those lines. Blah. 

At least your total acquired grade does carry over with each new game, including what you spent to start your last new game+. So, I now have over 3000 grade to play with the next time I go through the game. I don't think that will be anytime soon, but it's nice to know it's there waiting for me. 

However, while I didn't do much last night in my eternal wait for Katamari 2, I did get my solution for playing import games. I bought a "magic key" (for the slim PS2). What a piece of crap. Basically, this is about the worst import solution possible. Especially when a flip-top lid option works so much better. The magic key is basically three tiny piece of plastic that don't quite do what they are supposed to do. It's like getting a model kit and expecting that it will be put together when you open the box. 

The magic key is actually three pieces of plastic. The first one did it's job nicely, after I found instructions (the site I bought this from didn't include instructions and didn't have any on their web site. So, I eventually found another site that sold the keys and had visual aids on what the f#%^ you are supposed to do with them. Basically, one piece of plastic covers a button in the front right of the case (this one works), one stops the disk brake on the middle-to-back middle-to-right area of the disk tray (it doesn't fit, I jury-rigged it with a homemade solution), and the final one slides into an area next to the back left door hinge. It's the final one that caused me no end to my annoyance. It especially didn't help that the key I got was broken in transit. 

It was the last one that caused me to think that the stupid advertisement saying the magic key is a simple no-mod solution that takes "only 5 minutes" was only posted to taunt me. It took me about 50 minutes before I finally created my own "key", in the form of scotch-tape. Blah. I can't begin to say how bad this magic key crap is. The only no-mod solution that should exist is the flip-top lid. It worked wonders for me with the original PS2, and it would probably be perfect for the slim PS2. I was just being dumb by thinking that since the magic key is about $5 cheaper that I should go with it...brilliant... 

Anyway, I should get Katamari 2 tonight. If so, I'll have some nice things to post tomorrow. If not...something should come up anyway. 


Malik (7/20/05)  

So much for Katamari 2 coming in last night. I was all set to start playing some truly insane game play, but it looks like I'll have to wait another day. It's almost like Christmas as a kid...ever since I played the original Katamari, anything new on the Katamari front drive me nuts with anticipation. I mean it can't be helped. I still stand by my review of Katamari Damacy and my opinion that it was the second best game I've ever played (yeah, "best" is a subjective term, but to me, it's true), right behind my one true obsession; Xenogears. 

So, instead of playing some insanity that I wouldn't understand one bit of (even in English, I'd probably only understand a small fraction of what was going on, but that's half the fun), I was stuck with nothing to play besides some Hot Shots for the PSP. 

I'm not a golf fan, and never really have been. I usually hate golf games, I suck at mini golf, and I can't hit a ball straight 90% of the time on the driving range...but Hot Shots just has something going for it. Besides Mario Golf (GCN), this is the only golf game that has held my attention span for more than a few minutes. I know that I should write a review for it, but since I have no clean way to get screen shots, I just can't get into writing a review. 

Anyway, on a completely different note, GTA:SA is now rated AO.  I think this is pretty lame on all accounts.  On one hand, the ESRB definition of "M" versus "AO" is about the same thing on paper.  On the other hand, Take Two f#$@ed up on this one...they should've just come clean about what was theirs (and if they didn't intend for "hot coffee" in the final game, they should've deleted the files for it).  On a third hand (I have many hands), the fact that this game will now be hard to find in retail outlets due to the stigma against a game being rated for people over 18 (as opposed to a game rated for people over 17...whatever that one year difference is).  Last of all (I guess I have four hands), it's lame to hold a company accountable for something they locked out of a game when the current end-user license agreements (those things that come up prior to installation that you all just click "OK" to) specifies that the developer and publisher are not accountable for content they did not make, says it's not their responsibility.  This opens a new potential way that games may face changing ratings as new content is programmed for them by the mod-community.'s all lame.

Anyway, I really have nothing to talk about today. If Katamari 2 came, I would probably be able to ramble for hours on end about, I'll just poof about now. 


Malik (7/21/05)  

Well, as I posted last night, GTA:SA is now found in that fancy section of stores with the beaded curtain and that sign that says "No Minors"...or at least that's how it would be at a video rental place in the 80's. Yeah, it's "Adult Only", and it's no longer being produced by Rockstar. Apparently, Rockstar is stopping production of GTA:SA until it can be reprogrammed to not include the unused coding that allowed "Hot Coffee" to become more than an urban legend. This means that, after the game sells so well because of current controversy (Hillary Clinton, you only helped to boost GTA:SA sales in the short run), it is going to be hard to find this game in a months time...if you're one of the late comers to this game, and don't already have a copy. 

I think, in the end, the most important message on all of this is that everyone f#$%ed up, and in turn they all f#$%ed us gamers. Yup. It's true. We will be the ones who will now have to face the oncoming tide of censorship fans wanting to ban games, stores not selling the games we want (from being either AO or just having their production cut), if you're a stock investor type you will see your portfolio take a beating if you have Take Two (or potentially any game company) stocks, and we will be the ones who are put under extra scrutiny for our chosen passion. In other words, we geeks may get out of this fine, but there's potential of too many small things raining shit on us. 

So, who's to thank for this crap-tacular situation? There's plenty of people. There's the guy who unlocked Hot Coffee on the PC and started all of this shit. He's the one who thought that it would be fun and harmless to mod the game, and he's the one who ended up opening this Pandora's Box. Way to go! Next time you want to make games more interesting, you should just go f#$% yourself. 

There's Rockstar, the people who did nothing (no sarcasm here) wrong by having unused code, but did everything wrong in actually acting like they knew nothing about it. the digital world, you never lie about shit. It is that simple. Any lie that has a digital footprint can and will be traced back to the truth. Then, instead of having a small problem, you have a massive problem. I actually believed Rockstar since I thought no one could be stupid enough to lie about something like this. At the very least, you should have simply kept you mouth shut with comments like "no comment!". That way you wouldn't look like quite as big of dicks about it. There are many games with unused material in the code, but this doesn't mean that you can deny it's in your games. 

Hillary Clinton also f$#%ed up on this one. So, you want to stop incorrect games from getting in the hands of children? I have two things to say; first off, you only created hype about this game, and now it's going to sell better, until the current supply runs out. It won't sell at Wal-Mart or Target, but it will sell online and at the independent stores (all three of them that remain in the country). Secondly, Hillary (you don't mind me calling you by your first name, since you seem to know us all well enough to say what's right and wrong for us, while you couldn't even keep your husband in check...yeah, you're a pillar of how to properly keep indecent material from slutty interns from Billy), who the f#$% do you think you are to say what's right and wrong for all of us. Hey, it might help parents by keeping these games away from children, but it won't do shit. The proper solution, as it's always been, is for parents to actually pay attention to their children. 

Jack Thompson...well, we all already know what's wrong with this guy and his crusade to make an easy buck...I mean to stop indecent material from making him not look right to take some money to bring the game companies to trial and making a quick buck...I mean...f$#@, I can't think of anything to say besides how he has found a nice little stash of money and is milking it for all it's worth. 

Last of all, the ESRB has f$#@ed up for a long time, but only now is it coming to light that the difference between M and AO ratings is the use of the number 17 vs. 18 and the addition of the word "prolonged". So, "prolonged" violence or sexual themes can make a game go from M to AO? Then why is a game like Mortal Kombat (pick any of the newer ones...or even the old ones) not rated AO? I mean that series is a bunch of "prolonged scenes of intense violence". All you do in the games are butcher people and watch the blood fly (I'm not dissing MK...I'm not the biggest fan, but I like these games none-the-less). Also, what about GTA3, in which, if you chose, you could just shoot people nonstop. That's not prolonged violence? I think we need to hear something more from the ESRB than that GTA:SA is now AO...especially something detailing why so many of the games in the M rating are full of prolonged violence. 

Anyway, since the actual content of GTA:SA was not rated, but rather the unused code was, it leaves another question; what will the future hold? Do companies actually have to be responsible for this locked content when it requires a broken end-user agreement to actually see it? I'm not 100% on the GTA:SA end-user agreement (since I don't have the PC version), but it probably includes mention that Rockstar is not responsible for mods, and possibly says that mods are not legal. So, assuming this is true, one could say that any of the government-type people who actually used this mod to condemn GTA:SA were actually violating the law...that is assuming that mods are not legal with Rockstar (which is more likely than not since it covers their asses in a lawsuit), and that any government official actually saw the mod and didn't just try to condemn this game off of things they didn't understand or know firsthand (which is less likely). 

Also, beyond us geeks being screwed (potentially, that is), this means a shift in money, which could be "interesting" in a bad sense. It means that the best selling product in a multi-billion dollar a year industry will no longer be sold at Wal-Mart (for example), the nations largest employer. Will this mess up their bottom line and cause more heart-ache for the low level drones? Who knows...but if it continues to expand, more games could be deemed just makes you think. 

I'm just glad I buy a majority of my games online, where AO has no bearing on what is sold and what isn't sold...which is something else that isn't taken into account when someone says they are keeping bad games out of the hands of children. This is all just a redistribution of wealth and power. It's no more of a solution than to try to fix the problem of Seattle's monorail (which is international news, because of how badly it's been handled...I love my home town...blah) not having enough funds by building the track in sections (which require more money for safety testing than building it all at once, since each time it's re-opened or expanded, it requires full testing). Shuffling a problem is never going to solve anything. 

Anyway, I'm still without Katamari 2...but I'm hoping...and am tired of waiting...At least I know I'm now in the beta for Ratchet: Deadlocked. I just hope this beta doesn't focus solely on multiplayer (I'd like to beta the single player too). At least this will give me something to do (besides Katamari 2) during the slow end of Summer. 


Malik (7/22/05)  

Happy birthday Velveeta! 

I have been avoiding updating my PSP firmware, since I like the ability to play Doom, and all the other fun homebrew programs. For only the original US firmware 1.5 will handle these programs. However, it looks like Sony, as reported on Gamespot, has been listening. The next updated firmware will come as a special anniversary gift for me, on the 27th of this month. So, with how the firmware updates in the past have only really eliminated access to homebrew titles, why would I want this update? 

It all comes down to Sony realizing that we PSP users would like to take full use from the Internet connections that the PSP can establish. Yes, an Internet browser will supposedly be included with version 2.0. This means that those of us who don't want to pop in Wipeout every time we want to do some portable browsing will now be able to do so. No need for special DSN addresses, no need for finding the correct protocol online on what settings, no need for a certain game. It should all be accessible from the PSP main menu. Booyah! 

However, Sony's PSP update (including I give a will start coming out in "fun and new" colors) means nothing compared to the thing that happened last night. I finally got my hands on We Love Katamari (Japanese version). At first I was stuck with a nice hassle of remembering words like "save", "load", "yes", and "no" that I learned to read because of Naruto 3 (GCN). However, once I figured out what I was doing, and had some help from, the game began. 

What can I say about K2? Well, if you loved the first game (which you should, since it's one of the best PS2 games ever...if not one of the best games for any console), the second one is more of the same. Typically, "more of the same" is a term used to say why a sequel is bad. However, with Katamari, this term is nothing short of music to my ears. You still have the same controls, the same basic idea (of rolling stuff into your Katamari to make it big), but with some nice new tweaks. 

The most obvious is that not every level is the same map. This time, while some levels are repeated, you will find a good half dozen or more different areas. The good old town theme is back for one map set, but we also have a Mario Kart style race track on an island, a campsite, a garden, a lakeside wilderness park, a school, and even an underwater pond level. There is a level in space, there is a messy room, there is pretty much anything you could ask for...well, there's a lot of variety, at least. 

Also, the basic themes of levels have been expanded upon. The race track level has your Katamari constantly being propelled along the race track as you pick up stuff on and around the track. The camp level involves you keeping your Katamari on fire (by picking up objects to burn) so you can light a campfire at the end of the level. There's a snow level that has you rolling up snow (and objects) to make a head for a snowman's body. There's a guy who wants to read at night, so you need to collect fireflies for him and then place the Katamari by his reading position. There a par of kids who act like Hansle and Grettle, and want you to roll up a gingerbread house and deliver it to them for a snack. There are so many themes and ideas going on in this game, and without any idea of what's going on (I only know how to read four words of Japanese), it feels like I'm still exploring more and more ideas with each new the Zoo, in which you're expected to pick up as many animals as possible, or the standard levels in which you must reach a given size before the timer expires. 

Damn...just talking about this game makes me wish I was playing right now. This is about the best PS2 game...ever! There's nothing better than the feeling of taking down a school with your giant ball of doom. Plus, to make things better, there are rumors (well, more than just rumors) of Katamari 2 coming to the US before the previously stated October release date. In fact, the Official US We Love Katamari site says we're looking at September! It may sound insane to those who never experienced Katamari before, but I can't wait to buy this game again, in English. 

Anyway, I'll try to get a review up as soon as possible. This is a game that needs to be shared with the world, and since the American release is still a couple months out, I'll do my part with some nice images, a review, and maybe a movie or two. However, for now, I must play. 

For Those Who Don't Have Flash Plug-Ins...

News    Reviews    Videos    Features    Forums    Archives    Search This Site    Links    Contact Us    The Car    Disclaimer