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Malik (8/29/05)  

Gamespot has a new issue of their Rumor Control deal that has me thinking a little bit. I can't help but think about what Nintendo is planning with the Revolution, and if the ideas being thrown around at said column is any indication, I have to say I feel a bit uneasy with Nintendo right now. It's one thing for Nintendo to have delayed their two biggest named titles from the holiday season to some unknown date in early 2006, but it's another thing altogether when Nintendo's potential plans have no power to keep Nintendo running. 

Not to sound like a typical Microsoft or Sony fanboy, but Nintendo is entering a special place; land of the hosed...population: Nintendo. They have no real big titles, unless you count some soccer and baseball with Mario and friends as something to go nuts over, to save them between now and Christmas. However, when the speculation behind what will make the Revolution revolutionary amounts to either gyroscopes or touch screens, I don't think the future is looking bright for Nintendo. 

Ok, the touch screen controllers would be interesting. True, when the controllers break, and they will since they always do with any console, they will cost insane amounts to replace. That's the worst of the bad news for the touch screen idea. However, I can see other issues, like how it's really difficult and expensive to make a touch screen that recognizes more than one point being touched at a time (and how many games in this era have controls that are limited to only one button press at a time?). So, just for that reason alone, I think the touch screen idea is completely inane. 

As for the would be revolutionary if we didn't see this stuff already. It's not like Nintendo, with games like Wario Ware Twisted, is the first company to do this type of device. Microsoft did it with one of their PC controllers (a Sidewinder) about a half dozen or so years ago. It was a cute concept, but it was essentially crap. It didn't add to a game, and it may be interesting for a couple select games, but it sucks for all games in general. Beyond that, it's a worthless idea for anyone who doesn't play video games with perfect posture...if you're slouched on a couch, leaning to a side, which is usually my position of choice, the controller is usually slanted...this means you may always find Mario running to the right as you play until you sit up with perfect posture. There's also those people who get carried away while playing and start to jerk the controller to the side (like it will make them move better or something) as they play...gyroscopic controls will only make these people run from Nintendo like a fanboy running to a Square Enix game. 

Unless Nintendo can pull off something really Revolutionary, I see bad things in their future...really bad things. Maybe they will pull out some major surprise...and that would be great, since Nintendo adds a special flavor to the gaming world, but I'm betting that Nintendo will forget the first rule of making a good system...keep it simple enough to be fun and affordable, and let the games do the impressing. 

Well, I'm in a crap-tacular mood today. I managed, yesterday, to completely f#$% my laptop. I managed to drop it, while off, about 2 feet (on to carpet). Normally, this should be nothing more than a lesson in treating your laptop better, since it shouldn't kill a computer (or at least an off computer). Well, I managed to have the laptop land right on the back, where the AC adapter was plugged in. So, I have a perfectly running laptop, with an old battery that carries a 20 second charge at full power (currently at 0 seconds remaining), with a broken power connector. Yup...the fall caused the power connector to shatter. 

After calling in some back-up, I got the thing opened and learned a couple important lessons. The first is obvious; don't drop a laptop. Secondly, never lose your soldering iron (which I'll need to replace the power adapter). Third, HP makes a nice power adapter, since it's a standard issue power connector, and not some proprietary bullshit connector. Lastly, however, is the lesson I learned about working on an Omnibook (my make of HP laptop); don't. You cannot open up the case without taking everything off the computer. I mean EVERYTHING. The drives, the memory, the modem, the keyboard, the display, some random little chips and boards. This machine is not made to be serviced by anything short of a madman. Luckily, I'm enough of a technophile to be that obsessed. Hopefully I'll find a cheap adapter at Fry's or some electronics store that matches this universal adapter, and I'll be up and running with the laptop in no time...if not...well, it sucks to be me. There's nothing as sad as being a technophile and breaking one of your most enjoyable pieces of technology. Breaking my laptop makes me a sad panda. 


Malik (8/30/05)  

Due to having one hell of a tight schedule today, things are going to be kept short. I wish I could go off on things like usual, but sometimes life has to kick us in the nuts from time to time. 

It's not really game related, but that's never stopped me from talking about the really geekish before; last night Velveeta and I saw Initial D, the movie. I don't mean one of the animated movies. I mean the Hong Kong blockbuster. Basically, we saw this movie because it looked like it would have more unintentional comedy than one could ever hope for. I mean it's a live action Hong Kong version of a Japanese manga/anime. If you don't see the potential for humor in that, then you are a poor depraved individual. 

The movie started with some really good comedy potential as some bad Chinese rock starts with all English lyrics. That was enough to get me hooked. However, from there a good movie actually developed. I don't mean a "good to get a laugh" movie...I mean a damned entertaining movie. Initial D is everything that a movie like The Fast and The Furious wasn't. It had characters with more development than "Mia, I'm a cop!" could ever give us. In fact, that's one of the great things about Initial D. Instead of giving us actors who are known for pulling off action or pseudo-action, we are given actors who can actually pull off some impressive performances without cars and CG doing the work for them. 

Beyond that, the believability of this movie helps it a lot. We don't see some lame attempt to show an undercover cop infiltrating a street racing underworld. We see average people, and average racers, trying to make their way into street racing while dealing with non-racing problems. Beyond that, the races are believable. It's none of that "I'm playing PS2 in my car while waiting for the race to start" bull shit. It's about people with actual street racer cars, with realistic drivers, driving on a world famous stretch of road. 

Anyway, Velveeta paid about $15 for this movie from (actually in region 1 coding...) and it was well worth every dollar. It definitely has some silliness to it, but it's kept to the right level where it doesn't interfere with the movie itself. If you watch Initial D, it's obvious why this is one of the highest grossing movies ever in Hong Kong. Plus, it's a great way to see how American movies have gone towards f$#%ing up too much with blockbusters, while foreign movies can still offer us the quality that American cinema now lacks. 

Ok, so as I said, no time tonight. Later. 


Malik (8/31/05)  

My monetary drought is finally over. I have money, I have the ability to spend said money, and I have no games to play beyond my latest attempt at Morrowind. So, while that would usually leave me in an idea position to have some fun, I realized, when I went to EB last night, that there is nothing worth my hard earned money. 

There are some fun sounding games. Mario Baseball sounds like it'd be a blast...for about 2 hours. Geist sounds like it'd be fun to play...for about 10 hours (which is how long this game is supposed to take, and it's so linear that a second play through would be unwanted). Let's face it; there are no worthwhile games. I thought I was missing out on some good games while I had my month of poverty, but in reality, there just isn't anything worth the money. 

It's a true shame that this year is looking a lot like last year. By that, I mean that we are going to once again see some awesome games before the year ends...however, they are all going to come in the last couple of months of 2005. There will be nothing truly worth one's money, unless you're a sport game fan, until GTA:LCS comes out in October, or I guess you could start with We Love Katamari at the end of September. Then, we'll have the onslaught of Burnout Revenge, Ratchet Deadlocked, the new Jax game, some RPGs, more Tony Hawk...just like last year, it's all going to erupt right around October, which means many good games will once again be neglected. I can understand that Sony wants to battle off the threat of 360 by having a strong release calendar around November, but I think we'd see this even if the 360 wasn't due for another year. It's too much of the philosophy of having a good holiday season and neglecting the rest of the year. 

At least I can say it's not quite as bad as 2004...but this isn't really a good thing...considering the RPGs of 2004 were amazing and the RPGs of Fall 2005 are going to be rather pathetic and bland. For example, we'll have two of Square's worst efforts with Radiata Stories (it's like making a descent RPG and then giving it the unplayable battles system of Star Ocean 3) and Romancing SaGa (isn't it time for Square to see that SaGa games need to be put to rest...they had their moment, and it was on the original GB...the GB is dead and so is SaGa). I won't even add my thoughts on the other genres (mainly because I have some nondisclosure agreements keeping me quiet for the next few months) and big named titles. I'll just say that if it wasn't for the 360, I think this would be one of the bigger holiday season letdowns in recent geek history...and who knows how well the 360 prospects will brighten or get bleaker this year after it's release (hell, it could be more faulty than the PS2, with it's 25% DRE rate, or the PSP, with it's dead pixel confusion). All I know is that I'll be stuck with Morrowind for a good while longer as I wait for something that's actually worth my spending of another $50. 


Malik (9/1/05)  

Ok, I was a little off yesterday. I said that Katmari would start the good games for this holiday season. The release list I was checking seemed to have forgotten the correct date for Burnout Revenge. That game will actually start things later this month. I guess you could say it's my bad on that one...or it's the bad of the list I checked...either way... 

Anyway, I saw the newest way for Sony to try to entice people to take a web browser over playing homebrew games. I got an email earlier this week from Sony about joining a PSP beta test for SOCOM. Normally this would be a pretty fun thing for me to try out...well, if I was an actual SOCOM fan and if the PSP was properly designed for this style of game, it would be even better. However, beyond the fact that the beta is limited, so if I signed up I would only have a chance of playing the beta, it has something far dumber. 

In order to sign up for the beta, I would have to sign up using the PSP web browser. I don't mean any PSP browser (no Wipeout Pure browser allowed), I mean the 2.0 browser. So, basically, if I tried to sign up for the beta, I would have to give up on homebrew apps a little earlier than GTA would make me do anyway. So, the choice amounts to this; either I get another month (or so) of homebrew, or I have a slim chance of being in a beta for a game that would be far more enjoyable on the PS2 (which has a controller set up for this genre). I don't think this choice should take anymore time than the two seconds it took to delete Sony's email. 

On a different Sony related note, Phil Harrison, one of Sony's chief development type people, has some interesting skewed views on the XBox 360 launch. According to Mr. Harrison, the idea of two launch packages will only confuse consumers, retailers, developers, and anyone else who may be potential targets for Microsoft's console. Supposedly, unlike how Sony will do things (with one scrapped down and expensive version of the PS3), Microsoft is not thinking things through by having multiple versions of the 360. 

So, consumers won't know which one to buy? They's the $400 system. If you buy the $300 system, you will be forced to buy a memory card or a HDD (for $40-$100 extra), headset, etc. Consumers fall into two groups. Either they know what to buy, or they probably won't buy a launch 360. 

Developers don't know which one to make games for? They's the same freakin' console. The only difference is that one has the HDD, and one will have an HDD when the few consumers who get shafted with the $300 version buy the almost required HDD. Plus, developers will simply make games, and then they will add smoother operation (like quicker load times) for a HDD enabled 360. 

Retailers don't know which to stock? They sure as hell do. They will stock mainly the $400 system since it's the one that pre-orders are coming in for. In fact, the $300 system will be hard to find at a retailer once the holiday season is over with. 

I just felt like sharing that stuff since it's an obvious attempt at Sony to try to compensate for having a slower to launch and far more expensive (yeah, Sony didn't announce a price...but when they say it will be "expensive", you can guess that the $400 360 will be nothing compared to the money drain of a PS3) console. That's all this crap is. Just like how Microsoft will try to buy out or rip-off any competitors, Sony uses the tactics of trying to frighten people away from the competition. It's the same defensive moves they have always done. 


Malik (9/2/05)  

Last night I learned the flaws of using an exploit in Morrowind. Previously, I never quite finished Morrowind, but I played without any obvious use of exploits (beyond using restoration magic repeatedly by a bed so I could level it up in a hurry since you only use so much restoration magic in the natural course of the game). So, on that style, I decided to level my conjuration magic by buying a summon spell (Bind Boots...or something like that). I bought it only because it was one of the cheapest conjuration spells. Then, using a spell crafter, I made a minimum cost one (duration zero...for those who know Morrowind, I didn't know this one exploit...). 

Next, I spent a long time casting the spell. Normally, this would give a bonus of 10 to your speed and then it would expire. Well, I didn't know when the duration was zero, it would mean that the effect would last forever. I also didn't know this as I cast the spell repeatedly, since I was casting by a bed, healing to regain MP, and then casting again. I kept this up for a while so I could level up my conjuration a good deal (too many of my conjuration spells had greater than 75% failure chances). By the time I was done, I was left wondering what the f$#@ happened as my character had super-human levels of speed. In fact, I now have a hard to control dark elf with a speed of over 1300...which, while it makes land travel a breeze, makes indoor movement a pain in the ass. I guess that's my lesson for using an exploit...always expect a little more than you bargained for. 

Anyway, I'm playing slowly at Morrowind. I'm at the point where I've done a few thieves guild missions, started the first mage guild mission, and have done a few of the lame escort missions ("please take me to and I'll give you money!"). Those are the worst ones. While I've gotten used to a speed of 1300, I still forget that my follower has not gotten used to me taking off without warning. So, the escort missions mainly consist of me walking for about a half second and then waiting for my follower to catch up. The worst part is when I forget and run for about 10 seconds and have to spend an extra few minutes finding where my follower wondered off to. 

I figure I'll get back to the main quest when I'm good and ready. After all, as a proud representative of the Thieves Guild, I need to do some hardcore looting before I can just worry about anything minor like saving Morrowind. Well, that, and I like to get all the money out of a city when I first arrive. For example, I had to go to a few far off places for the Thieves Guild and I couldn't take all the time to get there and just do the mission and return home. I have to make sure that no expensive items go unappreciated while I'm in that neighborhood. 

Anyway, there isn't much news going on. The only thing that even can perk my interest is that City of Heroes is still expanding. It would be nice if CoV finally showed it's face, but at least NC Soft is giving the CoH subscribers some love with the new areas and powers. True, I haven't touched the game for about a year now. However, if the game situation didn't look like it'd be getting any better this month, I'd probably consider going back to CoH and trying some of the new power sets. However, the knowledge that I'll soon have Burnout Revenge in my greedy hands has me too excited to worry about getting back into a game like CoH for only a couple weeks. 

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