Malik (3/21/05)  

I was aiming to do some Ys this weekend, but once again I failed horribly. On one hand, GTA:SA was just too much game for me to turn down (I'm nearly this shouldn't be too great of a problem in a couple days), and secondly I was helping some friends move, which led to me being too tired and busy to do too much in the way of geeking. 

However, I did catch a few movies, at least. I saw the DVD of The Incredibles. I've seen this movie a few too many times, as it is. It's a great movie, and perfect for the geek audience. However, the best part, for me at least, was the extra stuff on the second disk of the set. The extras included that Jack Jack Attack feature...the one advertised on the commercials for the DVD set. But the best part was some imitation Mr. Incredible cartoon that was made (in context to the movie) right when supers had to go underground. The cartoon is a really cheesy still image thing with human mouths super-imposed over the faces of the still animation. It includes Frozone as Mr. Incredible's side-kick. The cartoon is funny enough in the poorly done 19070's style, but it's even better when you have the commentary track, featuring the commentaries of Frozone and Mr. Incredible. This is some of the funniest shit I've ever seen. 

I also watched New Police Story. It's a movie made about a year or so ago that continues the plot of Police Story (or Supercop as we call it in the US) with Jacky Chan playing the same old character we've come to enjoy watching. However, the plot, the villains, and the acting is all done on a level that I've never seen in a Jacky Chan movie before. The tone of the movie is often time depressing and dark, the villains are not the usual one-dimensional foes who are only out for money or power, and the acting is on a level that I've never seen from Jacky Chan. 

The stunts, which we have grown used to being amazed by in Jacky Chan movies, are a little more low-key in this movie. They are still amazing, but they are a little more subtle in their design. It's the type of thing that is good to amaze the audience if they know what they are seeing, but won't take away from the plot and the acting and can be seen as a little more believable. In the end, this is not a movie for those who watch Jacky Chan just for big stunts and crazy fight scenes...this is a movie for those who like to be entertained on more levels than just what an average American action movies can give. 

Anyway, as you can tell, games were not really front and center for me this weekend. However, I am still getting in a nicely healthy (or is that unhealthy?) amount. I played a good 6 or so missions on GTA (including the casino robbery and one of my personal favorites; Vertical Bird), and am back in Los Santos (which I'd have to be with having done Vertical Bird). I should be able to finish quite soon (assuming the draw distance doesn't kill me Vertical Bird, a telephone pole appeared right in front of my Hydra jet as it flew at full speed...and then blew up at full speed), and then I'll have no more excuses to keep me from Ys. 

Also, I've been thinking a good deal about the PSP. In the end, with it coming up pretty soon for it's US release, I have to say there are only a couple of things keeping me from watching it. I mean the battery life is not good by any means, but I care not about that; I could easily get power if I need it from a car adapter or the AC power supply. The crappy design of the Square button is workable. I mean the PS2 controls tend to have shoulder buttons that jam, but I get through that fine (and a jammed R2 can be far more annoying than a less responsive square button). Even the flying UMDs of doom are not that bad...knowing me, I'd just tweak the latch for the UMD drive and make it work as it should. No, the problem I have is the same problem I have with how I got my PS2 and my GCN; bundles. I just don't want to buy a useless bundle set. I mean it includes a movie, and I don't aim to use this thing for movies. Period. It's a game device. That's all it is to me. That's what I would want it for. Games. Namely, right now; Ape Escape. Also, the memory stick...32 MB!?! Wow! It's like being in the 1990's all over again. If you have a warehouse full of 32MB memory sticks, don't force them on to people in some lame bundle deal. Seriously. 

Anyway, I just felt like venting. I mean I'm not buying one of these monstrosities, and I felt it was my duty to explain why. Also, I wanted to reiterate my hatred of bundle packages...after all, it's how I ended up with Armageddon on DVD...and that's a feeling no one should have to go through. 


Malik (3/22/05)  

Well, yesterday I did a couple of things. First off, as you can see right above this post, I bitched about the lame value bundle (or whatever the f%$# they are calling the way we Americans will be forced to get a PSP). This is completely wrong. A bundle is never the right answer to the question of "how will we sell our obsolete memory sticks?" or "how will we squeeze an extra couple of twenties out of our market?". No, the bundle is only the correct answer to this question; "how can we be total dicks about our new system?". 

Yeah, I am still going off about the bundle, and I will until people stop this bullshit. Seriously, the use of bundles are bad enough on their own, but even worse in the modern geek landscape with how we can ONLY buy a new system in a bundle. Usually it's not even the good type of bundle (well, the "less crap-tacular" type of bundle), like how I got my GCN; where you can pick the games that come with it. That wasn't too bad. I mean with the GCN launch, Kay-B-Toys forced people to buy 3 games, but of the buyers choice (as long as it was in stock). This is a lot better than with the PS2, which had almost nothing at launch, as it was, in which Amazon forced me to chose one of three really lame game sets. When there are no good games at launch, the lack of selections makes it feel even more like you're being screwed. 

However, at least things are different with the PSP. I mean the bundle only includes an obsolete memory stick (32MB, does not store an "impressive amount of data"), headphones, a battery (which should be built in...I won't even go into this now), a cleaning cloth...when the f$#@ was it decided to charge extra by forcing us to also buy a freakin' cleaning cloth with a PSP?!?!...imagine the meeting when Sony decided to not only unload a ton of old and worthless memory sticks on the public (probably because it would be illegal to dump that many into landfills), but to try to make the geeks feel better with a cleaning cloth. 

Well, actually, when I said things are different, I did mean it. This time, instead of just a bundle, you get to buy your bundle in a bundle. That means there's more fun bundled in your bundle that pulling the will to live out of your wallet. Besides Bestbuy (who I linked to above), every major retailer is selling this bundle in a bundle. For example, check out EBGames, which, judging by the web address, they seem to call this type of shit "value packs". So, with them, you will have to pay $400-$430 for a freakin' portable system that should be selling for about $175-$180. Yeah, that sounds like one hell of a bundle offer to waste your money. 

But, at least, that's not nearly as bad as the ToysRUs/Amazon bundle of doom. Yup, 5 games in one bundle. There's no options. It's these five games, or you get the f%$# out of their web site. That's the options they present you with. 

Do you know the odds of liking every game in a bundle? Especially when the bundle is 4 or 5 games? I'll give you a hint; these bundles are not put together by gamers. They are put together by retailers who know that games like NBA will appeal to gamers, and that games like Ape Escape are too obscure to sell to many people. So, you put both of those games, with a couple of others, into a bundle and you will make people feel happy with their NBA, confused with their Ape Escape (one hell of a good series, I must add), and ultimately the retailers just sold about 5 times more games than they would have normally. Plus, these games will soon come back to the retailers for trade-in credit, and then the retailers will make a little more money off of the people who had access to a different bundle pack. 

Anyway, I'm ranting a bit, but not about the PSP. I will keep this all in perspective. I like the idea of the PSP...I just don't like some of the flaws, like the self ejecting UMDs, the poorly designed square button, and the very short battery life. Despite what Sony or the fanboys would say, these are real problems. Especially the battery life issue. However, the real problem, beyond all others, is how we cannot buy the PSP how Japan had the option to buy it; outside of a bundle. I would, in all honesty, pick up a PSP (I do know where to get one despite not pre-ordering it...I didn't pre-order the PS2 and I had one day-one without waiting in line outside a store for 2 days, or even 2's really easy to do) when they're launched, if I could get it without the headphones, the memory stick, the blah, blah, blah. I would just want to buy the PSP, and only the PSP, and Ape Escape. That's it...for now. 

For those who are touting the PSP as the second coming, or as the greatest moment in gaming history...sigh...I'm disappointed. Not in the PSP (well, a little...flying UMDs...), but in these people. The fanboyism is insane. Plus, when these same people talk of how bad the DS is. Seriously, both systems have some flaws. It's not a one-sided thing. The PSP has flaws and over-priced games, the DS has flaws (not many, however, from a hardware stand point) and too few games (but backwards compatibility with the GBA, which is hella sweet). Plus, as Nintendo keeps saying, these two systems, just like with the GCN and PS2, are not geared towards the same people. So, if you don't like the DS, then just move on. Tell us all why you don't like it and then move on instead of bashing the DS with your love of the PSP. These two systems don't have to be compared. 

Anyway, I will shut up about now. I just felt like getting some of this bundle crap off of my chest. Also, I felt I should clarify that I actually may be interested in the PSP and am not one of those damned DS fanboys (and there are PSP fanboys a-plenty too)...I just don't think Sony is being considerate of our gaming dollars right now, and $50 portable games and required 32MB memory sticks are not showing otherwise. Anyway, if you're one of those people who want to jump on the PSP bandwagon and didn't pre-order, check out those links above. I'd suggest the first one (Bestbuy) to avoid extra bundling of bundles. 


Malik (3/23/05)  

The PSP is launching before my next post, and I can't help but wonder one thing; why have I talked so much about it this week? I think I've just been caught up in the rather lame hype for this system, but in my own way. Unlike the majority of views being expressed on the net, I'm not a Nintendo fanboy (although I do appreciate Nintendo for it's fun feel that is often times neglected by Sony and Microsoft), and I sure as hell am not a PSP fanboy. In fact, I can see some good in the PSP, but I can see some major flaws. The biggest of which, the bundle pack, is what is ultimately keeping my excitement level to a minimum...well, that and $50 portable games when I can get high quality console games for the same price. 

So, I'm wanting to stop talking so much about this thing. It's a new system, and it's a new type of system (the first handheld by Sony), but it still is just another system. This is not the system that will change the gaming world forever. Hell, it won't change anything, beyond giving us another system to throw our geek money at. 

So, on GTA:SA, which is still pwning my attention span, I decided to go after every territory this time around. I only grabbed as many as I needed my first time through, but I figured I wanted to pushy my influence a little further this time. While it's been fun, I think it's also been incredibly lame having to drive all the way to the northern edge of San Fierro (and above) to get the final areas. I can see why these areas were included...Rockstar didn't want you to be able to get all of the areas until the end of the game, so some had to be outside of Los Santos. However, these areas are full of bugs when you're trying to do gang wars. 

I cannot find any Vagos in San Fierro's northern territory, despite how it's the final yellow zone on my map. I found Balla's (?!), and I found the Vietnamese gang, but no Vagos, despite the area being yellow, so I cannot start a gang war. This was annoying enough, but I'll get through it. The worst part was when I went further north to the little city with the boat school. I started a war with the Vagos, and the game decided to throw me a curveball. The Vagos all appeared, in the gang war, underwater. In other words, I could not kill them since they were running on the ground, at the bottom of the bay. It was too far to lock on, and being underwater, I couldn't do anything to get them...all I could do was swim to the bottom of the bay and look at them...I really should've taken a screen shot of that. 

Eventually, I fixed that bug by leaving the area to cancel the gang war, and then I returned to start it again. However, as soon as it started, I got as far from the water as possible, and this made the Vagos spawn elsewhere (on land). 

I still can't believe I haven't even put Ys into my PS2. I really do want to get on to this game, but GTA:SA is just throwing too much entertainment my way. I figure I'll put it in by the end of this week...I hope... 


Malik (3/24/05)  

Well, so much for wanting to play Ys or with finishing GTA:SA for a second time. I didn't get a damned thing done last night due to "responsibilities". I have grown to really hate that word. I mean when that dreaded word involves having to shop around for financing options for a car that you have to research, that will require insurance that you must shop around for, while you suffering from the "wonderful" news that you have to get a couple fillings...damn...last night sucked. 

However, it did end up resulting in two geek related things. First off, I played a ton of Mr. Driller (DS) while I waited to see the dentist. It didn't make up for having to get some fillings, and all that other crap, but it did entertain me in a way which most games could not. I'm not saying this is a perfect game, but it is a good deal of fun when you don't have the attention span or time to play anything long and involved. I mean if you have about 5 minutes, you can play a couple games of Mr. Driller, while that time would fail to give you any time to play something more involved. Plus, despite not knowing why I like this game, it is really addictive in that type of way that web based games, like those from Pop-Cap, are. That type of addictiveness that cannot (and maybe should not) be explained. 

Also, the stress just got to me after a while. Normally this involves me buying a new game (that may just sit collecting dust...sorry, Ys...), but since it's this magical time of year, it involved me ordering a PSP. I'm not sure when I'll get it, since my usual method of getting a system right before launch was way over-priced, so I had to go with a more mainstream retailer...which means I'll probably have to wait a couple weeks. At least the games I bought with the PSP will show up pretty quickly...wait, that's not a good thing...blah. 

Anyway, I figure, since the stress of "responsibilities" are still pissing me off, that tonight will be a bad time to start Ys. I mean I am in the middle of a GTA:SA game, and I cannot think of a better stress reliever than capping some virtual ass. If I started Ys in this mind set, I'd probably get a bad first impression, and then I'll have passed by what is probably a really fun game. 

So, I'm not all that with it tonight. Sometimes life just takes a crap on you...and then you just need a nice break from reality...thankfully Rockstar has this covered for me. 


Malik (3/25/05)  

I was trying to finish GTA:SA, for a second time, but I think one mission has ended that. I'm talking about Grove 4 Life. It's a mission in which Sweet and you have to take over some territories (which I already reclaimed). This is a very bitchy mission (speaking of Malik's Bitchings this week, but the PSP may make that come true next week...). Sweet has all the intelligence of any other AI NPC in this game. In other words, he likes to walk into traffic and get ran over...then the mission ends. He also likes to stand in front of you...and then you accidentally shoot him and the mission ends. It's a lose-lose situation. If the mission included an option of leaving him behind, I'd love this mission (gang wars are hella fun). Anyway, I tried about five times last night. The best I did involved taking all but one of the required territories before Sweet jumped in front of a speeding car and it ended.

So, in my frustration, I popped in Ys. Now this game is amazing. I cannot believe I waited so long to put in into the PS2. It may have some flaws (like the worst voice acting I've heard in the last 2-3 years...and every line in the game is voiced), but it is nothing short of pure addiction. I thought I'd play for an hour or so, but I ended up playing for about 4-5 without even realizing it.

The game plays a lot like a cross between Crystalis (NES), Ys 1, and Gauntlet. You have large armies of evil monsters to hack and slash through, a limited number of equipment, and some elemental swords. The plot is a little stale, in some regards, but rather interesting in other ways. Also, the visuals have a simplistic look to them, which actually makes it perfect for nostalgia fans. This may be my favorite action/adventure/RPG of the year...well, not counting Jade Empire (which will claim my life in a couple weeks).

So far, from what I've played, I've gained plenty of levels, most of the game's armors and shields and weapons, about 22 levels, and a good sense of losing time without knowing it until I actually looked at my watch. This game is one of those rare ones that actually makes it fun to just gain levels. Killing monsters is just fun.

I'll try to play a lot more in the coming days, so I can write a review. It may take some time, since I'd like to finish this game first, if possible. At least (well, in this regard it's good...but it's sad at the same time) this game is supposed to be quite short. However, there's not many good games of this genre that are much longer than 20 hours...just look at Zelda and BG:DA. The review should come, however... my hands is a thing of prettiness. I have yet to turn it on (since I feel I should post this before I play before pleasure, and all that), but it does look mighty pretty. Yeah, I'm talking about my PSP, which arrived today. I'm hoping for the best, expecting something in the middle, and not too happy with having to get a bundle to buy this thing (since my usual connection failed me)...that is, on top of the Value Pack bundle. Sadly, the games I have are not really ones I wanted (except Untold Legends...A.K.A. BG:DA Portable), but I should rectify that with Ape Escape quite soon.

Anyway, I've posted enough for today...actually, I just want to try out the PSP. I am still not a firm believer, and I will probably not call it the best thing ever (like many sites are doing), and I definitely have a soft spot in my heart for the DS...anyway, I'll let you all know on Monday how this thing compares in my less than fanboy mind.