Hump Day Otaku News Report 04.02.03

Well, I hope everybody survived the dreaded April Fool’s Day. It’s been one of those holidays for me that was funny the first time, but after so much misinformation every year, it may as well be done away with, just because it doesn’t really have a point. I’m back, as always, to share my love of some of the great things from Japan. Ok, not all games are from Japan, but most are, so humor me, ok?

This column will have some new stuff, just to make it more interesting. I’m going to throw in the ever-popular mailbag section, just because I got enough letters to merit it. I’m also going to include a column on anime, just because there are some things about it I want to share my thoughts on. And since Zelda: Wind Waker just came out, and I finally got a good chance to play it, I’ll share some of my thoughts on it with you. So lets jump into the fire, so to speak.


Gaming News
Dammit, another slow week. Let’s look at the regular sites. Oh yea, as I do this it’s April 1st, so they’re probably trying to trick people.

Gameforms is changing their name to RPGameforms Intelligence Headquarters NetworkSpot. I wish they would just go back to being The Gaming Intelligence Agency, so they will be good again. Lately, they’ve just had rehashed news stories (like most other sites, except a lot later) and reviews of games that have been out for 6 months.

They’re the only ones with any pranks that I went to. If it’s not a prank, then they’re getting deleted from my bookmarks for good. I’ve done it before, but I always find SOME reason to put them back.

Square Enix Merger Complete
As of April 1st, the merger between my two favorite RPG companies, Squaresoft and Enix, is complete. They even have a new logo to go with the merger, which you can see on their official website here. I think the logo is pretty cool, and definitely a different look from the original two. But it’s almost as if I’m in bizarro world, looking at information on Final Fantasy XI and Dragon Quest on the same company page.

Namco Tales Studio formed
Namco has formed a new studio called, with a total lack of originality, Namco Tales Studio. The purpose of the Tales Studio is to make Namco’s flagship RPG series “Tales of”¦” Previous Tales of games include Tales of Destiny and Tales of Eternia (released as Tales of Destiny II in the states). They are currently working on Tales of Symphonia. Personally, I could never get into the Tales games that I played, but I won’t knock the graphics, because unlike Dragon Quest VII, they kept up with the times. I do think it’s a good idea to form a new studio like this, but I doubt it will overshadow the works of their previously formed RPG studio, Monolith, which is working on the Xenosaga series. In a little bit of rumor mongering, it was previously reported that Monolith is working on a new game for the PS2 and Gamecube, and it was previously thought to be Tales of Symphonia, but since that has been confirmed as being developed by the Tales Studio, could Monolith be working on Xenosaga Episode 2 for the Gamecube as well? Probably not, because I know those itty bitty discs couldn’t hold all the damn cinemas and voices that were crammed onto the DVD9 (9GB DVD-ROM) that Xenosaga Episode 1 had.

Golden Sun 3 Not In the Cards?
Camelot, makers of Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Ages, are reportedly not going to be working on a 3rd Golden Sun game anytime soon, if at all. They are currently developing several titles and just don’t have the time to work on it. I don’t know much about the Golden Sun franchise since I don’t have a GBA yet, but from what I heard, it’s a really good title. On the other hand, it may be a better choice to go a completely different direction since so many sequels can get stale. Just look at Final Fantasy. Square has put out some top-notch titles in the past (Xenogears, Vagrant Story) and only wanted to give sequels to their BIG games, like Final Fantasy, Mana, and SaGa series. That’s why the people who made Xenogears left Square, and went on to make Xenosaga, which has the potential to be the best series EVER.

Sequels in the Works
For my token NON-RPG news of the day, the makers of Spy Hunter and Shinobi (Midway and Sega respectively) have announced that they are making sequels for said games. Did anyone play Spy Hunter? Not the original, I mean the update. I’d rather play the Knight Rider game than that. And for Shinobi, did anyone actually enjoy that? I’ve heard it is so frustratingly hard that it’s not worth it. Do these games even merit a sequel? I’ll mark these in the column “nostalgic remakes that were good as a novelty but shouldn’t be a series.” In other similar news, Warner Brothers has announced that they’re making a sequel to Scooby Doo. Bleh.

New Pet
In other, more important news, my wife and I got a Sugar Glider. She’s cute and she’s shy. We wanted to name her something appropriate, so we picked Sugar. Not only because she’s a Sugar Glider, but also because there is an anime coming out here next week called Sugar, which stars a snow fairy that is so kawaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii. Note: kawaii is Japanese for cute, but when I say it, I think of a little Japanese girl seeing a puppy dog and going “KAWAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!!!!!” So when I say kawaii, I mean so cute and sweet that you can feel your teeth rotting. The level of cuteness is directly proportional to how many I’s there are. But the Glider is a cutie, but we haven’t been able to hold her yet because it takes them a while to get warmed up to their owners. They’re a lot of work, but we’re going to give it our best! (Blatant Hand Maid May reference there).


New Game Releases
* Ship Date – 4/1/03
Red Faction II (Xbox, GC), Def Jam Vendetta (GC, PS2), Music Maker (PS2)

Wow, slow game week. Red Faction II is supposed to be a really good game, but I’m not into first person shooters that much, so I don’t know anything about it. DefJam games should not exist, period. And Music Maker had the word “music” in the title, but it looks like another one of those MTV Music Generator things.


The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker Impressions
I would have done a review for the site if I had gotten my copy sooner. Besides, everyone wanted to do one for it anyway.

This game has become very well known for several reasons, mainly the graphics (and the controversy surrounding them). I was one of the disbelievers myself, saying to myself, “What the hell were they thinking,” but after having seen it in action, I wish I could go back in time and kick myself in the ass.

This game is basically a direct continuation of Ocarina of Time (OoT) and Majora’s Mask (BleH). The story is that over 100 years after the events that took place in OoT, a boy (that’s you) is coming of age. In his village, on their 12th birthday, the boy that is coming of age will dress in a green outfit resembling that of the hero from 100 years ago. That hero is the same as from OoT, and after talks from Miyamoto, they guy who’s behind Zelda and Mario games, it is revealed that most of the Links in the Zelda games are different people. Link is just an anonymous name for the hero, kind of like the Avatar was in the Ultima games. Anyway, just before his ceremony, Link sees a girl dropped by a big bird into a forest on his island. So he goes to help her. But the bird got confused and picked up Link’s sister, Aryll, so Link follows the bird to retreive his sister and that begins the adventure. And of course, like any Zelda game, you have to go save the world eventually too, and fight the baddest of baddies, Ganon. Please don’t tell me that was a spoiler. If you’ve played any Zelda games, you know whom the boss for all of them is. Except for maybe Majora’s Mask, but it sucked so it doesn’t count. This is the best story to date from a Zelda game. It’s got a lot of humor and fun stuff thrown in to go with the drama.

As for gameplay, well, it’s basically the same control wise. It plays almost exactly like OoT, except that the C-stick moves the camera (an ability that I so desperately wanted in OoT) and the R-button functions as a secondary action button. So if A is used to climb onto a block, R could be used to push/pull it. The biggest change over all the Zelda games it the fact that the majority of the game is the ocean. There are only islands in the world, so you use a boat to traverse them all. The weapons are also pretty standard for Zelda games, with a few notable exceptions. First and foremost, the Grappling Hook, which is probably the most useful. Not only is it used to swing across pits, but you can also use it to steal items from enemies, and it can also be used as a crane in your boat to pick up treasure on the bottom of the ocean. You also have a telescope and a picto-box (camera), which are really cool. Also, you gain spoils from enemies, which can be used to get items from people. You also can get bait, which allows you to get some animals to do certain things

The graphics for the game are what turned most of the heads, and I for one, think they are simply beautiful. Many people complain about the lack of detail, blah blah blah. Yes, there is little detail, but the point is that they wanted it to look like a cartoon. Did they succeed? YES. Without a doubt this is the best cel shaded game to date and it accomplishes exactly what was intended. At first, even after playing, I didn’t like the character designs, but they’ve grown on me. The characters have a lot of funny expressions, and Link of course has the best ones. So if people say the graphics suck, they either a) haven’t played the game, b) actually think the graphics are good and are lying, or c) don’t know what good graphics are. Personally, I thought that OoT’s graphics were horrendous at times. Madonna wannabe Great Fairy? I rest my case.

Sound is a mixed bag. There isn’t really much voice acting, which is unfortunate, because I think they could have done some really good things with that. The voices that are there speak mainly gibberish. The sounds are pretty much the same from OoT. The music is a lot better though, and they even threw in a lot of the themes from OoT, which is great.

This game is by far the most fun and entertaining Zelda game to date. There are so many minigames that it’s not funny. And with all the exploring that can be done, you will spend many, many hours playing. Plus, if you beat it, you can play a second time through with some bonuses. I only have one minor gripe and that’s that sometimes traveling the ocean can be tedious, since there’s so far to go occasionally. That is a non-issue when you can warp though. Also, on your boat, the bombs are shot out of a cannon, but it’s extremely difficult to aim, so a lot of times you waste tons of bombs trying to take down another cannon, while it’s shooting at YOU. But those are just minor nitpicky things that don’t affect the game at all. This is a must buy for the GameCube. The only people who shouldn’t own this game are those who have hated past Zelda games. If you don’t hate Zelda games, buy a GameCube and buy this. As others have said, you can get the Metroid Prime bundle and get this, and for $200, you have a Gamecube and the best two games on the system. Oh, and when you play it, look out for tons of OoT cameos. They’re really cool.


Mailbag
Whenever I do something like this, that everybody does, it reminds me of something out of Excel Saga. “I, Lee Baxley, grant permission to turn the Hump Day Otaku News Report into a mailbag column. Signed, Lee Baxley.” Don’t worry though; this isn’t something that I’ll do all the time. I just got a few letters that I wanted to address publicly so everyone can see what goes on. I’m going to be a nice guy and go all anonymous though, so the world doesn’t have to see your spelling errors.

Letter #1 – Hellsing Mini-Review
Hey, you made a mistake on the Hellsing commentary. It’s Arucard, not Alucard. Alucard is a common mistake by American fans. It’s a huge Anime/goth geek debate, but the official name according to the manga, Japanese anime, the American Distribution company Pioneer and even
Hirano, the creator of Hellsing are adamant and get quite pissy about it being called Alucard.

Ok, I lied about being completely anonymous. If this were from a regular reader, then I would probably either dismiss it, or do a lot of research to validate these claims. However, this one is from our own Alex Lucard, so I tend to believe him more than the average person, just because after talking to him enough, I know he wouldn’t say anything were he wrong on the matter (unlike myself). So I wanted to include this as errata, if you will, to my previous column. My basis for calling him Alucard (the vampire from Hellsing, I mean) was that the dumb pronounces it that way. Plus, I thought it was Alucard, like Dracula backwards, you know? But Alex informs me that was never intended. So here I am, humbly saying I was wrong on the matter. Expect it to happen again. Oh, and if you catch me screwing up like this again, tell me.

Letter #2 – Subject: Why I won’t read your collumn again.
I like videogames. I don’t like anime. In fact I can barely stand that poorly animated crap. If you want to watch some good cartoons, check out some of the old Batman Superman Adventures or The old X-men cartoon. Until 411 opens up an Anime Zone, you should keep your news and reviews about anime to yourself. Otherwise you write a decent collumn.

Now, if I were to rip off Eric S., and start up an area called “You’re a Baka”, this would be the first recipient of the award. I replied to this individual, but never received a response. His reply-to address was invalid (@home.com is not a valid domain), but he included others, but still no reply. Anyway, touching on the points he made, 1) games and anime have become linked in a way that makes talking about them in the same column, or even the same sentence, perfectly normal. 2) He goes to say that anime is “animated crap”, and then suggests some “good” animation. I know I may piss some people off, but the X-Men cartoon he’s referring to had some of the worst animation I’ve seen, and Batman/Superman aren’t much better. They had style, but technical animation quality was very poor. This guy must have been watching anime like Dragonball Z or Yu-Gi-Oh! or something like that, and I hate those two anyway. 3) I like the melding of anime and games here. I think it’s fun, so I’m not gonna stop. The only things that would make me stop are if there was an anime section here, or if I was told by the site bosses to stop, but I doubt that will happen. But since I know there are those of you out there who don’t want to read anime news, I will now start putting everything anime related below the Plug area.

Letter #3 – re: me bitching about Gamestop and preordering
I take a small offense to your comment that we treat people like scum if they do not pre order. The truth of the matter is that at gamestop the only reason we pester about the Pre Orders is that part of our job requierments is to try to get people to pre order and if we can not do that we will loose our job and they will find someone else to try and sell Pre Orders. If it was up to me I could care less about the Pre Orders the only thing you really need to Pre Order that you will not be able to find easly is New Systems as the PS2 Launch has shown everyone.

Ok, I apologized through email to this person, but I’ll do it publicly as well. That little rant on Gamestop was not meant as an attack on the employees of Gamestop (well, maybe the one that is a jackass to me), but the company as a whole. I’ve heard some of the stuff that Gamestop wants their employees to do, and it’s pretty sad. Then again, a lot of retail stores are like that, so I guess focusing on Gamestop won’t solve anything.


Props to my Homies! (aka Plugs)

First, we have Joseph Stanley’s Weekend Wipe-up, which is great as always. I recommend his Zelda impressions, because I feel basically the same way (except in different words, which is why I wrote my own).

The almost always-punctual Ron Yip is back with another SimColumn News Report in which he gets another chance to bash Dragonball Z: Budokai. Personally, there is not enough DBZ bashing going on, so I hope you have more chances like this Ron, because I hate DBZ in general!

Bebito Jackson dropped the ball in his Rumor Down-Lo this week by not trying to fool anyone! Damn you, Bebito! Just kidding, I’ve never been big on those types of things for April Fools. This week, he reviews Mike Tyson and Jay Bow”¦err, I mean Cody Webster. And he has another contest that I can’t enter (boo-hoo!).

Tomorrow is Bryan Berg’s day, and then Friday is Chris Pankonin’s day, and Joseph Stanley rounds out the circle of life on the weekend, so read them all because they rock. Then again, so does everybody on this site, so read everything!

Quentin Fraser was the winner of the “who gets to review The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker“, and his review is pretty good. If it were me, I would have written a more in depth review on the game, since there is so much depth, but that’s why no one reads my reviews.

Matthew Cress reviewed Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven for the PS2, which sounds like a fun little stealth game. I like the idea of stealth games, except that I suck hard on them. On Thief, I couldn’t get past the first stage. I didn’t do much better on Splinter Cell. This is why I haven’t even tried any of the MGS games, because I will just be wasting my time.

And we have Michael Blaszkowski who reviews Apex for the Xbox. This sounds like a pretty cool racing game, definitely a little different than many of them. From the looks of things, if they had done a little bit more to it, it could have been a good Gran Turismo contender.

Speaking of racing games, why hasn’t anyone here reviewed Auto Modellista? I thought someone would do that for sure. Also, Amplitude was another I’d like to see reviewed. I guess I could go rent them and try them out, but I don’t have a network adapter, so that would leave out the online aspect. Ah well, I may do that this weekend if nobody else has a review coming for them.


New Anime Releases
* Release Date – 4/1/03
Argentosoma Vol. #2, Betterman Vol. #6, Dai-Guard Vol. #5, Devil-Lady Vol. #3, G-Taste Vol. #2, Ronin Warriors Vol. #1

Slow week here as well. Most of these wouldn’t be on here, except that this is ALL that’s coming out. Argenosoma sounds interesting, but doesn’t leap off the shelf at me. Same with Devil-Lady. Don’t know much about the others except G-Taste is hentai (anime porn for those of you who are unaware of the term) and Ronin Warriors reminded me of Power Rangers, I think.


Mini Anime Reviews
Since there is little released this week, I’m going to take a break from doing the reviews. I will say though that anyone who is a fan of mecha anime should take a look at RahXephon. The first disc has a version that comes with a box and a t-shirt, so that’s a bonus. The character designs are stunning, and the writing is top notch. This show is highly recommended.

Oh, and if you want Manga (Japanese comics), go to Waldenbooks. They have the best selection around, plus at the one I went to, they gave me tons of free stuff. Why? Because they had a new sucker. This is the first purchase of Manga that my wife and I have made, so we bought the first 4 volumes of Marmalade Boy (which is a romantic comedy sort) and Di Gi Charat Volume 1 (which is a kiddy style comic that’s kind of hard to follow). We got so hooked, that we had to go to Border’s on Sunday night (since Waldenbooks was closed) and bought Marmalade Boy 5, all 5 volumes of Real Bout High School, and a box set with the first series (3 volumes) of Magic Knight Rayearth. As if we didn’t have anime and games to take our money, we now have manga too. * sigh *


The Anime Enquirer: Fansubs
If you’re a big fan of anime, then you’ve probably heard of fansubbing. For those of you who don’t know about it, it’s basically when fans take a show that was recorded off Japanese TV (called a raw) and translate and subtitle the show, and then release it on the Internet. Before the net became popular, there was still a lot of fansubbing done, but it would have to involve tape trading and stuff like that, but once the net was big, and broadband became popular, fansubbing groups started popping up all over the place.

What is the point of fansubbing though? Well, if there’s a really cool show in Japan that you can’t see because you can’t get those channels and you can’t understand Japanese anyway, well that’s where fansubbing comes in. The intent of the fansubbers is to generate interest in a series in hopes that an American company will license the show to be released here. In theory, you can download any of the fansubs as long as they aren’t licensed. If they are licensed, then you’ll need to wait for the American release. Plus, it’s a good way to see shows before they’ve been licensed because that way you know what to like.

What do the studios that produce anime think of this? To be honest, I don’t think there has been an official stance on it. But I tend to think that from a business standpoint, the Japanese companies think it’s a good idea, simply because it doesn’t take any of their manpower to translate and distribute, it helps get the series out and known (and hopefully licensed), and it gives the series to people who otherwise may not be able to see it. Anime is becoming more and more popular in America, and more anime is being licensed from Japan than ever. It’s hard not to say that this is because of fansubbing, because were it not for these hard working people who translate these episodes, we may never be able to see some of these shows.

There are some bad seeds out there though. For example are the people who just copy American DVDs and distribute them. While not fansubbers themselves, I could just see congress not knowing any better and saying that fansubs were just as bad as direct copies. Also, distributing a fansub after the show has been licensed is seriously frowned upon. The worst of the bunch is bootlegging. A lot of times, a bootleg is simply a fansub that people charge for. I’ll go over it more next week, but the groups that take the fansubbers hard work and make a profit off of it are despicable.

I won’t post how to get fansubs simply because of the gray area of legality around them, but just use Google, and you’ll find plenty. Trust me. Oh, and a few good ones that are out that haven’t been licensed (that we know of) are Star Ocean EX (based on SO2), Witch Hunter Robin and Wolf’s Rain.


Well, I hope you had a fun and informative time. As always, if I screwed something up, which I’m sure I did, write me so I can correct myself next week. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you here again!