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Malik (5/23/05)  

There are so many things one can do in life.  It's not to say that many things are out of the limits of ability if enough time and effort is taken.  Anyway, I I guess I am just trying to say in the way that I have the time and ability to do right loving memory of my aunt.



In the words of Monty Python; "and now for something completely different". I've been going off about games non-stop, but I've been neglecting something else that was big last week. Movies. 

First off, I have had something on my mind for a couple months now that I will share. The new Lords of Dogtown movie. This looks so very poorly done. I mean this is a wonderful story/history that has gone through the usual crap that a movie for this release time frame goes through. It's been turned into a dreaded "summer-blockbuster". True, I haven't seen it. Not many people have seen much of it since it isn't due out for a while yet. However, I have seen the previews and I have seen one of the best documentaries ever made; Dogtown and Z-Boys. 

Dogtown and Z-Boys is the documentary, and closest to the real story, of the event portrayed in Lords of Dogtown. Well, while the documentary shows the highs and lows in a real way (documentaries tend to focus a lot on that "real" aspect), the previews of LoD make it look like it's as over acted and over the top as the acting in Episode 3 was under acted. Plus, I have to say that, at least from the previews, I find the use of any modern music to be a true shame in a movie that's entirely set several decades in the past. Blah. 

I just needed to get that off my chest. Well, that and to say; if you're interested in LoD at all, watch Dogtown and Z-Boys (awesome movie). 

On to the other bit of movie stuff that was more relevant to this last weekend. Star Wars. Yeah, I saw Episode 3. Yeah...ummm...I really wish I could go fanboy-insane on seeing the final planned new SW movie, but I can't. 

I won't have any spoilers, but I will say some facts. First off, George Lucas is one of the best minds I've known for creating a world (right up there with Tolkien in my opinion), making special effects, and touching all of us geeks in a special way. That said, I also think Lucas is about the worst person in the film world for a few things, as well. He is the worst person at writing a script, including compelling characters (well, he kicked ass in Episodes 4-6, and Obi Wan is cool, but otherwise...), he is a retarded director (is this something like how he directs; "that was nice, Hayden, but I need you to tone down those're acting, and I'm looking for more of a Keanu performance on this"?), and he needs to learn that special effects should be just that; special. 

As I watched Episode 3, I kept thinking a few things. The first was that in the days of FMV video game cut-scenes, we never saw as bad of acting as Lucas tried to achieve in this movie. Seriously, I know all of these people can act (I've seen them do so under other directors), but they seemed to mail in their performances in this entire trilogy (McGregor would be the sole looked like he tried to sneak some real acting under Lucas's radar). 

Secondly, I kept thinking that these visual effects could possibly be called "special" effects if they, both, weren't upstaging the action (the backgrounds did so a few too many times), and if they were used a little too often. When I say "a little too often", I mean this along the same lines that there are "a few too many Starbucks" in Seattle. In other words, just tone it down. Seriously, the visuals would be very awesome if there wasn't just too much to take in at any one moment. It's nice that there were many ships in the space battles, but let's keep things focused on the stars of the current scene. For example (no spoilers...don't worry), while we are watching a couple ships fly through tight squeezes, we are also seeing, in the background, about thirty different unrelated ships doing the same sorta stuff. It's hard to focus on the two that matter when there are so many others that are also doing cool shit at the same time. It's like the old saying; too much of a good thing. 

Also, Lucas should've just made the driods (as in the Federtion droids) mute. I'm sorry, but the battle droids are lame as hella with their nasal geekish voices and lame one liners...and General Greivous...why the f$#@ does a droid have a back cough?! Is this Lucas's lame take on a computer virus? I don't even want to know. 

Most of all, the love scenes should've either been left out (leave in a hint and let us image what happened...subtle-style), or Lucas needed to find a second writer to handle the dialogue (and a second director to do the directing in these scenes). I mean seeing Anakin and Padme (no spoilers...just lameness) pretty much go through the whole "I love you more", "no, I love you more" bullshit made me want to punch someone. Maybe the video game industry should take note; here's an example of a movie that could evoke violence and take the heat off of the game industry. 

I would be lying if I didn't say I liked the movie. I did. It was a horrible movie, but it still entertained me. However, while I spent good money to see Episode 1 about 4 times in the theaters, I will leave episode 3 closer in my wallet to episode 2, which I saw but one time in the theaters. This is a bad movie, but it will entertain a Star Wars geek. I guess that's all it really needed...but I still would want more (well, more of the good scenes, and less of the love scenes, droid speak, abused special effects, and the horrible scream at the end of the'll see, if you haven't already...I almost choked when it happened since I was trying to suppress a laugh before the fanboys killed me). However, I think the biggest liars would be those who gave Episode 3 such great reviews as to say "better than" anything in the original trilogy. The Ewok party at the end of Episode 6 was better than episode 3. 

Also, I just have to say that while many fanboys will want me dead for saying this; the big Yoda scene near the end was about the most pointless of crap I've seen in a Lucas movie. 

Well, fanboys, go to the forums, if you want, and to quote another thing that will be butchered in theaters this summer; Flame on! 


Malik (5/24/05)  

I'm still not in much of a mood to be upbeat, so I'll take advantage of this with some more Bitchings. 

First off, I just feel like I have to comment on Tiger's Gizmondo. This little handheld is due out in the US later this Summer. I'm not too sure how it's done in Europe (where it's been for a while now), but I think I know how it will do in the states. Basically, Tiger has created another all-in-one type of handheld. Or, to be more precise, Tiger has created what would be seen as either another pwN-Gage or a PSP. I personally think it's more of a pwN-Gage. I mean with the current state of handheld-do-it-all systems, can anything honestly compete with the PSP. 

Where Tiger is offering a system from a company that we have not really heard much from since the days of their single game portable units (way back in the 80's...yes, I know they had a little something, that I refuse to recognize, in the meantime), Sony offers their do-it-all PSP with a name and the support of names that we all know and love as what defines geeking. 

While they got the jump on Sony in Europe, they won't have such a luxury in the US, and this will bite them in the ass. In the US, Sony has proliferated itself like a professional with the PSP, and Nintendo is reigning champs with the GBA and are doing quite well with the gameless wonder (the DS). It is too late, in my opinion, for Tiger to try to be the third wheel in this relationship with the American geek. Because of this, I see another N-Gage on our hands in will fail, and it will try to linger beyond it's welcome, and it will just be ugly for both Tiger and the poor fools who buy one of this Gizmondos. 

On to more bitching, there are some Episode 3 (the movie) spoilers coming. Leave now if you haven't seen the film and don't want anything ruined. 



So, I basically covered why I thought, despite being somewhat entertained, Episode 3 was pretty sad and pathetic yesterday. However, I kept that spoiler free to avoid pissing off anyone. However, today I'll say the main reason I felt so pissed about this movie. 

Anakin lived his life believing that he had a higher moral authority. He wasn't evil, in his mind at least. He was always looking out for the little guys (usually the Republic). When Palpatine tried to tell him the Jedi council was trying to destroy the Republic senate, Anakin was understandably upset. He wanted to use his power to help people, and to stop such oppression. He, quite frankly, may have been misguided, but he did try in his heart to help those in need. 

When he was first told of the "Jedis' plot", he didn't want to believe it, but he felt it must be true. However, he hoped that Obi Wan would be wise enough, along with other Jedi, to turn against the "corrupt" council. That all made sense. He had faith in the people around him, even if bad things were going on. 

So, when he saw Mace holding a lightsaber to Palpatine's throat, and with how he missed seeing the fight that led to this instance, it was only natural for him to feel like Mace was harassing a wise leader of the people. So, in desperation, he cut off Mace's hand, and this led to Mace being killed. Anakin not only saw that he probably acted wrongly, he felt true remorse. His fall to the dark side had begun (well, supposedly it started with his desire to keep Padme alive, but this was the first actual "action", and not just a "thought" or "emotion", towards the dark side). 

So, how the hell did he go from thinking, "Oh shit! I killed Mace!" one second, to saying that he'll kill a bunch of little kids the next second?!? Seriously. His fall to the dark side, instead of being gradual, was about as sudden as two bullet trains colliding head-on. We saw hints of it coming. However, when it happened, it only took a fraction of a second to go from thinking that he could help people to thinking that the only solution for the youngest of Jedi students was to meet his lightsaber. 

Anakin was not an idiot. He was portrayed as a whiney little bitch-monkey, but he was smart. So, why did he not think something, in his style of thinking, along the lines of, "I was once a child being taught by the Jedi and I saw the truth, so maybe I can rescue these kids from this cursed fate!"? 

As for those children...ok...he did have far more skill than them, but I know kids and gang mentality in children. If a dude who was once trusted by me, when I was a child, showed up in my class with a sword and was going to kill us all, and if my friends all had their own swords, we would have gone down fighting. Believe me, a child with a weapon is a wild-card, and over a dozen children with weapons is about the most frightening thing one could encounter. Even if they were taught to not give in to their emotions, they would have. Jedi student of not, a child will give in to their emotions when face with a serious threat. Anakin may have killed some of those kids (many would've died from their classmates going ape-shit with their own lightsabers in a poorly executed plan to take down Anakin), but they would have f-#-@-%-e-d h-i-m u-p. Plain and simple. I have seen kids threatened, and if you think Yoda moved at insane speeds when he faught with Dooku or Palpatine, that ain't shit on the speed of a threatened kid with a weapon. Don't ask me how I know, but I know. Now imagine a gang of this little things going ape-shit on Anakin. He could stop them, but he would've lost a few limbs or digits in the process. Plus, kids are low to the ground, so I imagine that Obi Wan would've not been the one to take Anakin's legs. 

Anakin could've taken the adults and older children one at a time. This would've given him a good chance of not being hurt (the dude was good at combat), but taking on so many kids at once is not going to be easy. Plus, he was beaten by Obi Wan in such a lame way (that was the lamest way to conclude that fight..."I can jump over Obi Wan!"...idiot!) that Anakin would've not stood a chance against those 20 kids. I know that we're supposed to suspend our disbelief since Anakin is the chosen and a Jedi...but, these kids were also Jedi (they may be students, but they still are just lower on the same ladder that Anakin got his training from), and any dude who falls to Obi Wan in such a lame way is not going to take on any real fight and live. 

So, that's the biggest complaints for me. Anakin's fall from the light side was hinted at in a nice and subtle way, but his fall was as quick and as blunt as David Spade's career after Chris Farley passed on...and THAT is quick and blunt. Plus, he lost both his sense of morals and his fight to Obi Wan with as little gusto as his fall from the light side. I don't buy it. I refuse to buy it. I accept that the script and the acting was horrible (I think Ewan McGregor must've waited until Lucas wasn't looking to get in some semblance of real acting), but I don't accept the plot was this blunt. 



Spoilers over 


Malik (5/25/05)  

After taking a couple days to look at another side of geek things, I'm pulled back in to games. It's for the better, since I know my geek passion of choice is gaming, but it is nice to get in a little break time when I can. However, it looks like my Bitching for the week is far from over. Nothing like E3 style announcements to make me bitchy. 

So, in Gamespot they have an interesting (to say the least) article about Sony's view on the PS3 (and the PSX and PS2, while they're at it). That game machine that we've all known and loved...ok, we loved the games and hated the glitchy hardware that made "DRE" into a household term...but this "game machine" series is actually not in any way supposed to be seen as "game machines". Nope. I know I was surprised when I heard this. It seems that the Playstation line has been an evolving experiment to make an "entertainment supercomputer". 

I know this is way too obvious, since the PSX games. Oh, wait! It could also play CDs (so, the Sega-CD was one of the first attempt at an "entertainment supercomputer"?)! Wow! I see it all now. Then the PS2 could do the same, but it could also play DVDs...well, it could play most DVDs, and a majority of the ones it played wouldn't be glitchy. Yeah. So, that's an "entertainment supercomputer"! Give me a f#$%ing break. The Playstation line has, is, and forever will be seen as a "gaming machine", or console, from the day the Playstation first hit stores in Japan. 

In the end, all of the bullshit that Sony is spewing forth leads to a few simple conclusions. The bonus features that push a simple "gaming machine" into a "entertainment supercomputer" will be ignored. The average target consumer for Sony is going to want a new console, not a "supercomputer". Secondly, the PS2 was as much a "supercomputer" as the XBox, the GCN, and the Dreamcast. It was nothing special. In the end, the PS3 will also be just that; nothing special. Let's face it, all consoles have their good and bad parts. Each company will do quite well when their next consoles launch (well, Nintendo may be facing a bad fall, but they set themselves up for it), because people will want next-gen game consoles. I don't give a shit if the 360 and the PS3 can record video. I have a f$%#ing computer that can do all of that for far cheaper than a $300-$400 console; it cost $50 for my PC to be fully integrated into my home entertainment system and to do all the lame shit that 360 and PS3 are trying to push on us as "bonus features". 

There is one reason people want to buy the next-gen consoles from Microsoft and Sony. People like playing games, and the old systems will only be supported for so long before we NEED the next-gen for new games. That's it. These extra non-gaming features will be as ignored as the PS2 DVD player (well, it was ignored for me when I realized that there were no common DVD player features, and that American Beauty and Princess Mononoke both have issues with the PS2 DVD player software...that took only a month after my buying of a PS2). 

If Sony wants to do something revolutionary, I have a great idea. Microsoft will probably beat them to the punch, but when they make the PS# backwards compatible with all older Playstation line games, they should finish the job. When the PS2 came out, we still needed a Playstation memory card if we wanted to play with the backwards compatibility. The only problem is that PSX memory cards vanished about the same time that the PS2 was released. After that, the only real option was to either have an old PSX memory card (and they, at least for me, have only had a limited lifespan...Sony quality tends to mean that hardware breaks down, including memory cards) that still worked, or to buy one that has a sketchy history from eBay. Both options were bad. Maybe the PS3 could be designed to allow what the PS2 should've done. Let us allocate a certain space on the HDD or memory card, or whatever the PS3 will ultimately use (since the HDD is still up in the air about if it's actually included with the "entertainment supercomputer"...I love abusing that lame term), for PSX and PS2 virtual memory cards. It's so damned simple. 

Ok, I'll leave Sony and their "entertainment supercomputer" alone for now. I mean they still haven't even announced anything important. I went off today only on their philosophy and not about any real news on the PS3. 

I am still playing Phantom Brave. I'm determined to finish this game. I think, at least, I did discover why I can't get into this game. The story is a rip-off of the Legend of Mana style of plot. In other words, there is only a vague hint of a real plot, but there are many characters that have interesting, and subtle, back-stories. As you finish quests, you will see small hints of these story elements. 

When Square did this with LoM, it was a brilliant idea. It was so revolutionary that many didn't know the genius they were seeing at work until the game was done. However, with PB, this revolutionary style of story telling is nothing short of lame and pointless. The main difference in LoM and PB is the linear game play of PB. PB is so linear that you cannot actually focus on just one plot line at a time, if you chose, like you could in LoM. Instead it is very linear, so you will keep getting only a small piece of each back-story every several hours. 

That's the other difference in these games, and the cause of the other problem; the game play style. Since PB uses tactical combat, each battle will last for anywhere from 5 minutes (if you're over-powered and some some major power leveling) to an hour. You have 3-5 battles per episode (the game is made of 20 episodes). So, you may have to play for almost 5 hours in order to see a small snippet of story that has not been mentioned for about 3 or 4, you'll have forgotten this little blurb you already knew, and the new piece of this sub-plot will only confuse and bore you. 

To further add to the aggravation of the LoM rip-off, PB even has some of the same general storylines. For example, there's a brooding evil seeming NPC with a deep desire for revenge, a small group of fighters that start off bitter towards the world but they soon start to seem more human. It's all stuff we've seen in LoM, but it just takes longer for these LoM imitations to get off the ground due to the slower combat style. Plus, all of this is done in the background of a really vague and shallow plot of the world being threatened by the return of a great evil. 

Hell, you can even customize your weapons with the help of your blacksmith. You can customize your magics via a piece of equipment (including at least one type of music maker). This game is the most blatant LoM rip-off I've ever seen that doesn't use the same combat style. 

Anyway, I will finish this game. I am too determined and too close (on episode 17 out of 20) to fail now. Then I will write a nicely honest review. Then I will be done with this game and can move on to something entertaining. 


Malik (5/26/05)  

Too many people skipped Arc the Lad: TotS (click for my review of the game), but for those of us who did find this slightly hidden classic would find this to be good news; Gamespot has some information on the latest sequel to the AtL series. Sadly, AtL: End of Darkness will not be the good old Arc we've come to know and love. Instead of the classic turn based strategy combat, the action will be in real time. I'm not 100% on the details, but it sounds like another game being butchered in the name of online. Yes, this game will let you play online. So, naturally the turn based elements had to go in favor of a more friendly to multiplayer format. The same developer who made AtL:TotS is behind this game, and this change. I'd like to hope for the best since Cattle Call (said developer) did bring about a good deal of GOOD innovation with their last Arc game. I mean it was Cattle Call that broke the grid system of movement. At least on the bright side, the game is due in June. So, for better or worse, we'll see this game quite soon. 

Speaking of things hopefully coming soon, I've finished the real quest of Phantom Brave last night. I'm actually trying some of the extra material, found in the form of 10 bonus dungeons of insane difficulty, and special cameo appearances from the cast of Disgaea. 

Sadly, while these extra battles are slightly interesting, beating PB was not. The plot was abrupt, vague, and didn't give any sense of accomplishment. After I finished the final battles, I was left with more clichés than a single person should be able to handle. It was like watching a Disney movie with how many of these damned clichés showed their faces. I actually saw everything coming about 10 dialogue scenes ahead of time...he's going to sacrifice he'll be saved when the other dude sacrifices himself...yup, there it is. I'm not giving any spoilers by mentioning that someone sacrifices himself. If you can't see it back in episode 6 (out of 20) you are blind. That's how cliché this plot is. Plus, since the plot is so vague, and so quick to follow conventions, what you guess will happen will probably not only be right, but you're thoughts will have been more developed in that matter. Play the game and you'd see what I mean. 

I'll try to start writing a review of PB quite soon. I'm not 100% on how soon, but I'm aiming for a week from today to be the publish time. I just need to find the time to keep caring about the main quest of this game, and not to get obsessed with the bonus dungeons (which may be limited to 10 in number, but are far more interesting to a longtime NIS fan than the 20 episodes of the main plot (which consist of about a total of around 100 battles). Maybe it's because each extra level has a bit of extra story, and it involves the Disgaea characters, who are far more interesting than the PB cast. Anyway, don't get me wrong. PB is not a horrible's just not a good game. Just wait for the review and I'll explain. 

Speaking of things that are coming; the XBox 360 is actually being sold-out at some stores this early in the pre-order cycle. I couldn't believe it when I first heard about it, but for being officially "announced" only a couple weeks ago, the 360 is actually becoming hard to track down (depending on where you live). I was hoping to wait on pre-ordering, but I decided it was better to actually pre-order now than to be raped by the bundles this fall. 

Anyway, I really don't have too much to say today. It's a slow day for news and I've lost my mind playing through the dull ending of PB. 


Malik (5/27/05)  

Well, it looks like it's going to be a pretty slow day, today, for news and such. This suits me just fine since it's a damned heat wave in Seattle, and I am the type of person who'd rather be out in a blizzard than sitting on a sun soaked beach any day. In other words, as things stand, I plan to be very lazy and incoherent as the sun melts my brain. 

However, there is a little something I found interesting at Gamespot. It's a bit of a three-fold deal on Bioware. 

First off, it looks like they are already working on two 360 games. No details have really been stated, but it's safe to say that they should be good, and they will be RPGs. Also, they will probably be 2006 releases. Not much else can be said on this matter...however, knowing Bioware, the hype machine will probably start pumping out massive details quite soon. 

Next off, it looks like Bioware may not be contained to Microsoft this generation. Bioware is actually looking at all consoles. I don't really know what to say about this. On one hand, I think this will be great for Bioware, but on the other hand I really want to see Sony face a stiff wake up call, and more support will not help in this matter. Sony is just trying to hard to distance itself from what matters...geeks. Once a console maker announces that it's console is not a "game machine" but rather an "entertainment supercomputer" (whatever the f%#@ that is supposed to mean), and when they are cramming a little too much into a system in order to simply one-up the competition, I don't think they are worthy of Bioware's attention...or anyone else for that matter. Anyway, that was a bit off topic. 

The third part of this news is most interesting to me. I figured that Bioware would make some next-gen titles, that they may look to further their prospects with more consoles, blah, blah. The part I didn't think of, but it could be really cool, is that they may look into putting some of their RPGs on handhelds. The thought of a Bioware RPG on the PSP (or DS...but I doubt it) would be freakin' sweet with how few RPGs are slated for the American PSP market right now. This is the type of news that can really matter. Plus, since PSP offers the ability to download extra content...well, that's a perfect match for Bioware. 

On to other things, I've been working on the Phantom Brave review. I'm trying to be nice, but it's hard to be nice about such a bad attempt at tactical RPGs from such a good company. I mean with how NIS raised the bar with La Pucelle Tactics and then with Disgaea, PB failed to deliver the previously set expectation. It's like how Arc the Lad: TotS delivered such a solid tactical experience and the next Arc game will be real's obvious that Cattle Call has made a major miscalculation with Arc, and NIS did the same with PB. 

I expect the review to be up shortly after the weekend...assuming I do some work while I'm on vacation. I'm off from my normal job on Monday through Wednesday, so this may mean the same for my postings...we'll have to wait and see. 

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