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Malik (3/15/10)

I did not like how The Divine Comedy got the video game treatment (Dante's Inferno). I mean it just felt wrong to me in almost every way. It's a narrative poem with a very political and philosophical approach...but the game turned it into a pseudo-God of War game. There is no way to capture the poem in a game style in anything more than an old fashioned point-and-click adventure genre...if even that would work for the source material.

That was bad enough, but I am entirely frightened hearing that The Great Gatsby is coming in July as a game.

I think the ultimate problem with games right now is that creativity is gone. Well, it's not gone, but it's limited and rarely accepted by major publishers. You may occasionally get a well thought out game with a deep setting and a great plot that also manages to have fresh or well defined game play mechanics. However, 99% of the year you have the usual stagnant crap that costs publishers and developers very little to create in both time and licenses, and thus look like a more assured "cash-cow".

I mean Dante's Inferno was based on something that had a setting almost built for gaming, and was public domain. This means you can save money on licenses and save time on building an entire gaming world from scratch. Of course with The Inferno you have something not set for a game beyond the location. That doesn't matter when you have a world ready to use and God of War is a popular game. Just borrow the game mechanics, slap in some boobs, and then use the basic setting of The Inferno and you can call it a day. It's even better when "Dante's Inferno" carries a well known name, despite how so many of the target gamers for this work would know nothing beyond, "it's about hell, which means I get to skull-f#@$ Satan! Rock on!"

I understand that the gaming world is facing the same economic hazards as the rest of the world. It's hard to lay out money on creating a new intellectual property when you're absolutely unsure on how the gamers will take to it, and thus you're unsure if you'll get any return on investment. However, that doesn't really excuse making games that will be less pricey to make but almost more likely to flop...despite being well known before ever being released.

I mean it should have been obvious to Activision that Tony Hawk Ride would fail after the series became stagnant. I mean Tony Hawk stopped being relevant to gaming ever since they ditched the "Tony Hawk Pro Skater" name...and became a complete joke once EA reinvigorated the genre with Skate. However, it's cheap to make a sequel of any sort, it's free to use your own IP (plus a minor license fee to Tony Hawk for his name), and the name recognition means "games should buy it", or at least that's the Activision way of thinking. The same goes (not to keep picking on Activision, but they are the new EA) for making excessive Guitar Hero/Band Hero/DJ Hero/Who-Gives-A-F#@$ Hero and all the rest that comes from this franchise. If you release one or two rhythm games, you'll be fine...but when you have competition (Rock Band...and Harmonix is starting to enter Activision ideals with so many releases planned this year and last year) and few new ideas to build upon, you have to slow down or else your cash-cow becomes old and stale.

I think I'm bitching about this for one reason beyond all else; I really feel like playing some new games. I really want to try something new. Right now, am I playing a new and exciting game? No. I'm actually playing Final Fantasy IX again. Why? Because there is so little that is new that is not just some overly manufactured crap. I can give some gratitude to Bioware/EA for Dragon Age Origins, but that's about all I can say in favor of gaming right now. If you want a refined/updated version of one of your old favorites, you may be in luck (FPS fans keep getting some good, or at least fun updates of Call of Duty and Battlefield, sports fans always have the next season for any league sports, and casual gamers will always find a new twist on Bejeweled), but if you're like me and just want something fun and new...well, the options are limited. It's especially bad for RPG fans who have grown tired of the same tired clichés or overly annoying cookie-cutter characters (Square Enix's specialty).

I've also been thinking about this stagnation since I recently finished Gyromancer and Dragon Age Origins. I wanted to play something else while waiting for Dragon Quest IX (which will be a long wait). When I couldn't find anything cheap and fun at a store, I decided to check my game collection. I looked through all of my 360 and PS3 games, but found nothing worth playing again. I mean a good deal of these games were hard enough to find the motivation to play through the first time. It wasn't until I hit my PSX collection that I actually found games worth playing again. I don't mean one or two games...I mean a collection of games with more replay value than anything I've encountered for some time. Legend of Mana, Xenogears (although I think I've played that one a bit too much...for now), Final Fantasy VII and IX, Castlevania Symphony of the Night, Grandia, Arc the Lad trilogy, Lunar Silver Star and Eternal Blue (the remakes...although not quite as good as the Sega CD originals), Suikoden 1 and 2, Wild Arms, Dragon Quest VII...the list goes on and on. Yes, these are tired old games, but the game play was not so watered down with innovation and the plot not so overly stuffed with convoluted twists controlled by annoying characters, so they still feel worth playing another time.

On a side note, these old PSX games are even more fun to play through again when you consider the PS3 and how you don't need to hunt down dusty old PSX memory cards...and the wireless controller is a nice touch.

Maybe I'm feeling old or jaded, but I just feel like I need to see real creativity back in the game marketplace. It seems the only place to find it anymore is in games like you'd find in the 360 Marketplace. While a $10 short game is's like an appetizer and I need a full meal from time to time.


Malik (3/17/10)

I recently ordered Dragon Quest IV for the DS from Gamestop. I should add that I ordered a pre-owned version. I mean this is one of those rare games at Gamestop that's a fair bit cheaper used than new (almost 50% less for pre-owned). The game is one I've skipped for too long and it seemed like a good fit for me while I struggle with no good new RPGs. Of course that was before I started playing FF9 again, so DQ4 is going to sit on the back burner for a bit as I go through FF9 for the second time (well, about fifth time on the second disk, but I only fully beat the game once before...I usually get bored around the time you hit the western continent).

I mention DQ4 and buying it pre-owned for one reason; I do not understand modern gamers. So, in the past, when the SNES and NES were around, pre-owned games never have boxes or instructions. This was all due to how a game cartridge did not fit in with a cardboard box and overly large instruction manual. That's why in some cases a box and instruction book can be more valuable than the game they belonged to on eBay. Games lasted and were, generally, taken care of, while the flimsy paper goods were tossed aside by excited kids.

However, with modern gaming we have modern cases and instructions. In games of the PSX era, and onward (not counting Nintendo until the DS and Gamecube), we have CD or DVD cases. I guess you could say it started with the Sega CD era, but those were horible cases that were oversized and made of some damned brittle plastic. We also have disks that can be scratched. Plus, the books are all sized and designed to easily fit into a case with not a problem and not a chance of being unintentionally discarded.

With that being said, I could understand instruction booklets being lost still. I mean they are paper and they can be quite simple to misplace. Especially in games after the single disk PSX times when the cover of the case was not the same as the book. I guess I could even understand an occasional instance of packing material and instructions being separated from a DVD/CD/Blue-ray based game, since some people would rather have a CD/DVD wallet of games than a shelf lined with larger cases. It should be as common for a case to be separated from a game as in the SNES days, but it could still happen occasionally. I'd never separate my games from their case, but some people might.

With that said...why the hell does it seem that pre-owned games at Gamestop never have a case or book included? When I bought the second and third Ratchet and Clank (PS2 pre-owned), I got the Gamestop fake cases. When I bought...well, any digital disk based game pre-owned from Gamestop, there is never a case. Then when I bought Dragon Quest IV, once again I get not a damned real case but some Gamestop fake-case.

Then's not like I can do anything about this.  Maybe if I trade anything in to Gamestop I should just always keep my cases and instructions to continue the cycle of being a douche.


Malik (3/19/10)

It's pretty far from autumn right now. So, normally, I'd be thinking of just about anything besides the NFL. However, I can't help but feel next season is going to look a lot like last season for the Seahawks. I mean so far the moves being made by John Schneider (the new Seattle GM) make me feel about anything besides confidence. I figured the moves that Tim Ruskell made as he tried to destroy the Seattle roster were bad, but at least some good came from Ruskell's actions (not much good, but Burleson did come to Seattle...more on that in a second).

Let's see, on the Seahawks roster front, there's been nothing but confusing moves this offseason. First Schneider drops the ball on Nate "The Great" Burleson and Seneca Wallace. Burleson was the number one receiver last season for Seattle, and about the only receiver that has any type of understanding of how Matt Hasselbeck throws, despite being considered the "number two" receiver for roster purposes. Burleson led in receptions and was about the only player who could, week after week, perform to any level of quality.

Wallace, while not being the greatest QB in history, is not too bad of a backup. Primarily, he is a man who can pull off some awesome moves in a wildcat formation, pulling triple duty as rusher, receiver, and passer on the fly. He is not the best at any single action, but he's a good enough player who can be the triple threat. Unfortunately, Wallace has always been underutilized, and Mora's offense made the wildcat too damned predictable. At least Wallace should do good with the Browns and being back with someone who understands his play style (Mike Holmgren).

Now, however, the Seahawks just get more confusing. I mean Schneider just brought in Quinton Ganther from the Redskins. Really? A tiny (5'9" 214lb) rusher? Do we really need another season of this crap? The last three seasons have seen the Seahawks flounder on their running game, with the only bright spot being when Julius Jones was injured last season and Justin Forsett finally got the starting role he deserved. Considering Forsett can play the starting role like a pro (assuming he's finally given enough respect to be given the number one spot), it would be a lot better for Schneider to look for a third-and-short rusher. Someone like who T.J. Duckett was supposed to be, who could pick up a couple yards by just plowing through the defensive line.

Then again, it's not like the weird moves end there. Now Seattle, with it's lack of a second/backup QB, picked up a backup's backup in Charlie Whitehurst. This would be the third string QB from San Diego who has yet to make a regular season pass. In four years, Whitehurst has done just shy of jack-shit. However, it's not like he's got a $8 million two year contract with $2 million in incentives...wait...he does? In other words, Seattle gains someone with no real record, good or bad, and loses a lot of room on payroll for a potential "QB of the future", while they gave up Seneca Wallace for a hell of a lot less. In fact, Wallace has a proven record, and is a player who we at least knew would remain healthy when Schneider makes a bunch of bullshit moves and probably forgets about the O-line, leaving Hasselbeck in injury-land again.

While I understand a new GM making some moves to help a struggling team rebuild, there's something different between "rebuilding from the ground up" and "spending money like the world is ending on a team of unprovens". Maybe I'm just too used to poor quality GM mistakes with the Seahawks roster, but I somehow feel like this offseason is one of the more befuddling and wasted of recent Seahawks history. I also can't help but feel a bit unsure of the direction of this team when most starters are coming from teams like Washington and Tampa Bay, while the players coming from winning franchises are all way too familiar with the bench.


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