Non-Flash Links At Bottom Of Page

Malik (12/27/06)  

There were no posts earlier this week for a very good reason.  Between the stress, some alcohol, the pain of over-doing Wii Sports, the stress, being slightly sick, and the stress, I was just too damned tired to do much else this week except for...well, stress and recover from stressing.  Yes, the Christmas season is a good time, but I think I may have slightly overdone the whole thing with a little too much stress and a little too much sickness.

Anyway, I don't have much in the way of gaming news or anything for today, but I have a story of how my Christmas day went.  Don't worry, this is quite tied in to geeking.

As a kid, my family always had some game systems around.  It started with Intellivision and Commodore 64.  To get any deeper, my brother and I did our duties in acquiring the next and best new toys.  Through my childhood, I would sometimes play a video game with my mother (who is an avid DS and casual game fan).  However, the last time I had seen my dad playing a video game (unless you count Freecell or Elf Bowling) was when my parents first got Snafu on the Intellivision.  If you need a refresher on what this year would be, I'll just say that the NES was still a twinkle in Nintendo's eye.

So, on Christmas, I decided to show off the Wii to my mother.  She always had a good time with Nintendo games, and she's a bowler.  So, Velveeta, my mom, and I started a game of Wii Sports bowling.  Before starting the game, we were somehow able to convince my dad to try a single game.  Several hours later, we had gone through many games of bowling, some fun games of the training games for bowling, nine holes of golf, and dinner was ready.  However, while dinner may have been ready to be devoured, my dad was not ready to stop his attempt at the home run derby baseball training game.

I don't know how well it will pay off in the end, but I can tell you that Nintendo may be on to something with their idea of bringing non-gamers into the gaming world.  If my dad can be convinced to swing a remote control like a baseball bat, golf club, or an imaginary bowling ball, then I think Nintendo can capture anyone.

I am planning on doing the annual take on the year, as it closes, next week (I believe in waiting for the year to actually end before I start bitching about how much it sucked).  However, I will say one thing prematurely; just for what I saw on Christmas day, I have to say the Wii is, hands down, the best thing to come along this year.  If it can turn a complete non-gamer like my dad into an addict, then it's safe to say that Nintendo is doing the right thing this time around.


P.S.  I should say about now that the Zelda: Twilight Princess review I promised is and has been up.

Malik (12/28/06)  

To start things off for today, this is a little old, but it may of interest; The 360 Oblivion patch for Mehrunes Razor is free on Live for the next few days.  This is a little old, since this promotion started about a week ago, but it's still free, so it's news enough...for now.

I honestly have no purpose for this, but I downloaded it just on the principle that Take Two and Bethesda have been charging too much for content patches for I felt like I had earned it.  In a nut shell, this type of content just cannot interest me for one very simple reason...the same reason Knights of the Nine (the massive content patch released a month ago) cannot interest me.

That would be because of the damned scaled leveling approach Oblivion took to the first person RPG glory that was once The Elder Scrolls.  I know I said I'd wait until the year was officially over before giving my take on various things that made up 2006, but I don't see anything else like this appearing in the next three and a half days...

The biggest let down of 2006 (more so than the PS3, the delays for Zelda and all of the AWOL 360 RPGs from Japan in the US, and more than the complete lack of Wiimotes for those few Wii owners) would have to be Oblivion.  Considering how amazing Morrowind was, not to mention how great Arena was (Daggerfall had it's moments...but the big pointless world was just that...pointless), Oblivion could have been more amazing than any RPG ever conceived.  However, the addition of scaled equipment and monsters ruined the whole concept of replayability.  Once you've finished Morrowind, you were still not close to being done.  You still had the unique items and armors to find, amazing new weapons and armors to craft, hidden monsters that were 100% unique, and dozens of other fund and unique experiences.

Meanwhile, I had not even come close to finishing Oblivion before I had found battles could not become any more challenging.  Not only that, but I could never even have the joy of going back to fight some weak enemies to blow off some stress.  It was all arch demons and nothing else.  The same applied to equipment.  Glass armors used to be amazing and unique...not in Oblivion, where you'd find the once unique glass armor on every damned bandit you killed.  Not only is rare equipment now common, but you have far fewer items to equip (no longer do you have over a dozen items slots...just a half dozen).

In fact, why is that bandit demanding that I pay something like 10 gold to pass him when he's wearing glass armor?  If he's going to be decked out in that nice of equipment, just because I encountered him once I was level 20, then he better ask for something more 10000 gold.

I wish it could all end there...but Oblivion just kept dropping the ball.  True, the game was great for a while, but once you hit that magical level 20 mark, you were basically done.  No more unique armors or weapons (well...there were a few, like the Daedric artifacts, but you could create better stuff with no effort), no bigger and badder monsters to encounter, no more anything.  Once you hit level 20, you basically were left with a very simple feeling...or actually more of a question...should I finish the quest I'm now on, or should I just finish playing the game?

Where Morrowind left the gamer with hundreds of hours of things to have fun with, Oblivion just gave a fraction of that.  Not even was the content less repeatable, it was even stripped down (no flight magic, many missing skills, no truly unique equipment, no distinctions in captured souls, fewer equipment slots, and none of the fun of joining a noble family).  Oblivion had more promise than anyone would have hoped for...but like a political ad, it just couldn't deliver what was advertised.

Well, that's about it for this week.  I have too many important things to do other words, it's my birthday and I am going to live it up.  So, I'll be back in the new year.  Until then...ummm...happy birthday me.  Now when I am told by Wii Sports that my fitness age is 29, the game will be a little less wrong!


Malik (1/4/07)  

It's been a while. I did plan to post a bit more while I was on my vacation, but I came to a strong realization; I was on my freakin' vacation. So, doing what any vacationing geek would do, I put down the posting, turned down the part of my brain that deals with writing, and picked up a controller...or three. Afterall, what use is a vacation from one of my jobs (the one that pays), when I'm still doing all of the other usual stuff?

I also came to another realization over the last two weeks; I think I'll skip on doing my usual end of the year take on what went horribly wrong in the past year. 2006 is a lot like the 1970' seemed amazing and unique from a distance, but it was pretty damned dull when you looked at it up close.

Yes, we did see the Wii and the PS3. Yes, we did see Oblivion. Yes, we did see a new Zelda. Yes, we saw a new Super Mario Bros in 2D. However, I don't think much else could be said about 2006. Even these things were not exactly groundbreaking.

New Super Mario was pretty good, but still not overly memorable. Oblivion was ruined by the scaled leveling. The PS3 saw no games and a backlash of sorts by the gaming market (like when some PS3s started selling for under the MSRP on eBay). The Wii is too damned hard to find to call it officially released yet. I like to think of this period like the early release period some movies get ("Comes out Friday in New York and Los Angeles, the following Friday around the nation"). Maybe when one could find a Wii on eBay within $50 of it's MSRP, and when a Wiimote could be found in a store will I consider it official, one way or another.

In fact, looking at some places, like the annual Best and Worst of awards at Gamespot, one important trend emerges...that most of the year seemed so pointless and dull. So many games came out that no one cared about, and so many came out that just seemed to go from hyped to boring and worthless. It's not that I'm trying to sound like some sort of emo bastard about 2006, but rather I just feel like this had to have been the dullest year for games in the last five to ten years. Things will get better, and worse...but just not with the 2006 title attached.

Anyway, to get back to a more enjoyable subject matter, I picked up Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (DS) and Dragon Ball Z (there's more title on it, but I can't remember it's the Wii version of DBZ) over the last two weeks.

First of all, despite what I've been reading about how it's very uninspired, C:PoR is an awesome game. Unfortunately, like all Castlevania portable games, it ends way too early, but it's as the old saying go; leave them wanting more. Well, I want more, and it's not just me simply being disappointed with a too short of a game experience. The game is fun, unique, and the ability to switch between two very different playable characters on the fly is a nice feature not seen in any real form since Castlevania 3...and well refined from those days.

Most of all, the settings are awesome. Some reviews have called the settings and the level design boring, but I can only say one thing to that; I know I have not played a single Castlevania game in a castle, a desert, a pyramid, an insane mad-house, a village, and an academy...all in one game...ever before. Call it uninspired and dull if you want...but you'll just not be making any damned sense.

I finished C:PoR with all but ~0.5% explored in the main castle, and all 100% explored in all of the other locations (if you thought trying for 200% completed was weird on a game like Castlevania: SotN, wait until you go for around 1000% on this one). Definitely my favorite Castlevania experience since SotN. Plus a few nice additions, like having optional quests to accomplish, makes for a very well rounded experience. Best of all, the touch screen usage is 100% optional.

As for DBZ (Wii)...I still haven't played too much. I've only had the time to play through all of the different basic training modes. Considering the game is really heavy on Wiimote usage, I figured this would be the best route to take. Plus, if I have ignored the training, I doubt I'd ever have known some of the blocking/defending (waving the cursor out of the screen upwards).

I have to say, however, that DBZ is the first game since Zelda and Wii Sports that I've played for the Wii that really seems to have the right idea of how to use the Wiimote. It's not just pointing and clicking in FPS hell like some games (Red Steel and even Elebits), and it's not all about exact precision like most other games (Trauma Center). Instead, it's more about just adding a little fun into the game play experience (like pulling your arms back and then thrusting forward, like the characters you control, to pull of some projectile attacks) while keeping most of the controls rooted to buttons and sticks.

I'll probably get into the meat of the game (Adventure Mode) later today. However, from what I've seen and experienced from training mode, I think things can only go up from here.


Malik (1/5/07)  

Today's post is not too geek in subject matter. If you're looking for something other than me venting some frustrations, come back on Monday and you'll find your reward.

I always love it when the real world keeps dragging me away from my precious fantasies. For example, I'm now in a few interesting situations ranging from looking for a new job to dealing with increased responsibilities at the job I want out of, and even including the joy of finding a home loan option to enable me to purchase a house, condo, cardboard box, or whatever it is that an employee of a non-profit company is allowed to afford. No matter how you look at it, however, it's just becoming a pain in the ass for me to get anything done on any front...including trying to relax.

A great example of this is how I have loan people telling me, in the most complex language possible (probably so I can't understand and will agree to anything presented) on what type of loan I "want". Meanwhile, I just want to know what I can afford and what each loan type will offer in terms of flexibility with payment rates or prices. Then I want to make a damned informed decision...not just blindly say "YES!" to anything and everything said because I can't get an answer to a very simple question or two. For example, "what else do I qualify for?", "What if I bump up my down payment?", or "why the hell are you avoiding every one of my questions?" These all seem rather sane to me, but these questions are seemingly viewed as evidence of the loss of my sanity.

Anyway, I currently have a nice mix of about 4 different loan related parties I'm either in constant phone tag with, or an attempting to start a game of phone tag with. That's not to count my real estate agent (who, thankfully, is family, so I know I'm not getting screwed on that side of things), and a half dozen friends and family who are all trying to offer their two bits.

In fact, that's another great one for driving me insane. Here's a hint, to all the people giving me friendly (or hostile) advice; if buying a home (or finding a new job, or whatever other issue you have the magical answer to) was so damned easy to solve, then I don't think there would be professional services dealing with solving these issues. It's not easy, it's not simple, it's sure as hell not fast and convenient, and you don't have the solutions to all of life's problems when you don't even fully comprehend the entire situation of other people (or ever yourself). I don't even know if I'm now bitching about my house hunt, my loan battle, or my job search...but it doesn't even matter.

To those few people who have offered good advice (like hooking us up with you actual loan people who gave you actual deals in the past, or those with the same experiences as what we are embarking on), I do thank you. However, those who seem to have answers despite not having real experience (if you have never tried to own a home AND if you never tried to finance it without mommy and/or daddy footing the bill, then this is for you) who are only too happy to freely share you "solutions", I just have one things to say; Shut the f#@$ up already!

So, while I'd love to post today on some great and magical geek type of thing, I just can't. There is no news out there, which is a bit of a surprise (since news of holiday game sales, increases or changes in next gen console supplies and production, and more frivolous Wii lawsuits should all be the order of the day), but that's not normally a problem. However, when I can't get a damned second to play games or watch anime or whatever, due to being overworked in both my employed and my down time, it means I just can't post anything useful.

At least this weekend I should be able to get in some downtime that is actual downtime. Also, I have finally applied for a job that I have a great chance of getting, and have some leads from some experienced friends on some home owning advice that will actually be worth the time of investigating.

Last of all, before I go and try to have a fun weekend (starting mid-day Saturday, since I meet with my real estate agent Saturday morning), I will just point out the overly obvious; yes, I think I am losing all semblance of sanity.


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

Rested XP    News    Reviews    Videos    Features    Forums    Archives    Search This Site    Links    Contact Us    Disclaimer

Non-Flash Links At Bottom Of Page