Hump Day Otaku News Report 06.11.03

Welcome back to the greatest news report on Earth! Well, besides those that are actually good. I’m kidding, I feel good about all my news reports, but this week was pretty hectic so this report isn’t as chock full of goodness as last week’s was. And it has to happen the week that Alex Lucard joins us with news reports and the week that Bebito returns and the very same week that we have tons of new reviewers coming out and reviewing every game under the sun. This is the week that I decided to be busy. Well, actually, I’ll be pretty busy from now on in, but you bet your ass I’ll make time for you, my loyal readers. Both of you guys mean so much to me.

This is a slow week for a lot of things. It’s a slow news week, and even though there were a lot of reviews, there was only one game release for consoles, and it was for the GBA. It was a pretty big anime week, but I’m lazy so I only reviewed one show, and it’s an oldie at that. Hey, if someone wants to BUY me anime to watch (or games for that matter) I’ll watch them and give you the best damn review you’ve ever seen! So until that happens, let’s get on with the news.


Gaming News

Third Party Peripherals That Don’t Suck
Pelican, one of the primary makers of third party peripherals for console games has decided to make a bold statement. They are making a guarantee that if any of their products, during normal use, causes your console to break, they will pay for repairs or replacement of the console. This is good news, because it means that they are focused on quality. But it leaves me begging to ask, what about stuff that can’t possibly harm the console? What about controllers and memory cards? Because I’ve never heard of any third party hardware device harming a system, but I’ve heard of tons of shoddy controllers and memory cards that eat save games. Can they promise that their controllers will last a month when I’ve got tons of RPGs to play? Or that their memory card won’t die when I’m 100 hours into a game? Didn’t think so.

Oh No, More Tomb Raider?!
Eidos and Core Design, makers of the Tomb Raider series of games, have stated that Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, will unfortunately NOT be the last game in the series. It appears that people are still buying these things. Resident Evil is a series I don’t like, but I can kind of understand why people by the games. Tomb Raider is a series I DON’T understand. One of the features they want to include is voice recognition, where you can tell Lara what to do. While many teens would buy the game to see if they could tell her to “get naked”, I’d rent the game just to see if I could say, “put the gun in your mouth and pull the trigger”. I can fully understand teens wanting to buy a game with hot chicks with big boobs (see DOA:XBV), but Lara is not hot. She’s ugly, and always has been. Then again, the same people that say Lara is hot probably think Chyna (or Joanie now) is hot. I cringe at the thought.

No Half Life 2 on XBox
As reported on 411 Games a few days ago, it has been said that there will be no Half Life 2 on the XBox. While I’m not a big fan of FPS games in general, and though I did like the original Half Life (the first half anyway), I don’t think this is that big a deal. I doubt Half Life 2 will be that big a seller on the XBox compared to say Doom III or Halo 2. My question is: why aren’t there more FPS games set in modern or futuristic times where you fight humans and only humans? I loved Half Life when you got to fight the army, but then you had to go and fight aliens again. It’s so overdone. That’s probably why my favorite FPS series is the Delta Force Series for PC, because it’s so realistic, and it plays almost like a stealth game. No life bars, very limited ammo, limited weapons. They’re all a lot of fun. I need to pick up the new Black Hawk Down game, because it looks to be just as good. Who knows, I may get Half Life 2 also.

New Grand Theft Auto?
My personal favorite reader, and GI Joe reviewer for 411 Toys (yes, it’s Figures, but dammit, the things are TOYS) has given some upcoming info on the next game in a very popular series.

I have some more news about the next GTA game, taken from a clone (of a clone of a clone) of Bebito’s Rumor Monkey: it’ll be called Grand Theft Auto: Glitchville. Building on the innovations brought forth in Vice City, the graphics engine has been fine-tuned to go far beyond the previous standards. Players will now be able to see what’s under the floor at all times, instead of just at random. Buildings and landmarks, instead of simply appearing out of nowhere too late for the player to react to them properly, are now accompanied by either a cute little crayon that feigns drawing the object onscreen, or a “pop” sound a la Pop Up Video, depending on how fast the game renders the object. An increased element of danger is introduced by adding the possibility that the player’s vehicle will disappear while it is being driven; there is no longer the added hassle of parking it in a garage or getting out and turning around for a second. NPC AI has been increased dramatically from “rock” to “rock with old chewing gum and a bit of mold on it.” The save feature has been revamped significantly: any save point can now erase your game data at random, adding both difficulty and replay value. Also, fanservice aspects were addressed. All of the “hot chicks” in the game now look like they’ve been hit in the face with a frying pan instead of a spiked club. It is also rumored that a special controller will be included with the game. It attaches to the player’s wrist and prevents him or her from incurring costly damage to the television after being shocked and excited by experiencing firsthand one of Rockstar’s trademark innovations. All in all, this looks to be the best GTA yet, and is sure to sell millions of copies and receive perfect ratings in game magazines everywhere.

That is some powerful monkey. How this simian could have infiltrated the offices of one of gaming’s most beloved companies boggles the mind. Now in all seriousness, I didn’t have all the problems that at lot of people did with Vice City, but the fact is, NOBODY should have those problems. It just goes to show you how rushed the game was. Now, honestly, I liked it, but I could definitely see how a corrupt save game would ruin the whole experience, so please Rockstar, do plenty of play testing on the next GTA game. Us true gamers are the ones you want to impress, not the fickle casual gamers who just want to play the game to beat up people. The game is truly about non-linearity and open endedness, and we appreciate that, but we want the experience to be complete and not unfinished.


New Game Releases
* Ship Date – 6/9/03
Donkey Kong Country (GBA)

That’s it. One lousy game and it’s not even an original, it’s a remake. Oh well, I suppose it helps me prepare for some games coming out in the future. This month alone, we’ve got Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits and Unlimited SaGa coming out, both for the PS2. Both look really good and I hope I can afford to buy them!!


Props to my Homies! (aka Plugs)
We’ve done a little reshuffling here at 411 Games, and put a few things back the way they belonged. I’m going to reshuffle my props here a bit so I can actually link to more people.

Going back a week, we have Bryan Berg and his Thank God It’s Thursday News Report, where he talks about the government actually doing something good for the game industry, and a couple of dumb moves by Sega and Metallica. I’d also like to publicly apologize to Bryan for once again messing up his shit. First it was his name (twice) and last week I said his news report was Thank God It’s Friday. Sorry, man. I’m not picking on you or anything, but I’m just stupid. Thanks for the Bronze, even though you hate The Matrix.

The weekend saw our newest “news” reporter make his appearance, and it’s none other than Alex Lucard in his brand new Retrograding News Report. Don’t expect much news out of these reports folks, because Alex is a true writer and writes whatever the hell he wants! This week, he writes about the top 5 game licenses, and I agree with every one, with the possible exception of X-Men. The game as a whole was good, but it reminds me too much of Pryde of the X-Men (which I actually own on VHS). For some reason, I always enjoyed the Captain America and the Avengers game more.

Joseph Stanley fits in here somewhere, but I’m not exactly sure yet. Expect him probably next weekend with the return of his Weekend Wrapup.

Ron Yip returns to mete out his own particular brand of video game justice. Which is to say, he shoots down what fanboys consider to be sacred! Check it out in his latest SimColumn News Report. Oh, and he gets more stabs in at DBZ, you know, since DBZ sucks and all.

And how could I forget the incomparable Bebito Jackson, who has returned to retake his place on Tuesdays with his 411 Games Rumor Down-Lo. He’s got some great rumors that I had reported before, but packaged in his own special way, and some other stuff that’s just too funny to say. Oh, and I got to see his pee-pee!

On Thursday, we had two reviews of the incredible sounding Treasure shooter, Ikaruga. The first is a special Retrograding Review by the biased Alex Lucard and the other is a standard GameCube review by Alex Williams. Both Alexes give a well-written and very positive review of the game, which means that everyone needs to go out and try it. I used to love shooters, even though I suck at them, so these reviews make me want to go out and rent it. Both reviews are excellent, and I highly recommend you read them both. I want to publicly welcome Alex Williams to the site and say that he’s done a great job, and I can’t wait to read more.

Another newcomer to the site, Cory Laflin, has also impressed me with a job well done in his review of Evil Dead: A Fistfull of Boomstick. Being a big Ash fan, this game sounds like a winner after the travesty that was Hail to the King. Great job Cory, and again, I can’t wait to read more of your reviews!

Though not new, we haven’t been graced with the presence of Polecat recently, so it’s good to see that he’s still kicking out good reviews of games. This time, he reviews Primal, which didn’t sound that interesting beforehand, but it sounds pretty cool to me now. There aren’t many games where you play as a Goth chick, so to me that’s a plus.

Yet another newbie, Jeff Watson, chimes in with his opinion of href=”http://www.411mania.com/games/reviews/article.php?reviews_id=1214″>Enter the Matrix, but this one is for the XBox. It sounds the same as the PS2 version, but with better graphics, which is a good thing. Welcome to the show, Jeff!

And finally, a big welcome goes out to our newest columnist, J.J. Sexton. In his column titled Full Circle, J.J. discusses what a merger between Sega and Electronic Arts could mean to the world of sports games. He makes a lot of valid arguments and what he says makes a lot of sense, even to someone who hasn’t played a sports game since NHL 96. It’s a good read, and highly recommended.

Wow, over a full page of props. Boy, it’s a good time to be not only a 411 Games reader, but it’s good to be a staffer too. We’ve got a great bunch of writers here, and I feel like a giddy schoolgirl when I write. Ummm, I think I have issues.


Anime News
This isn’t something I do too often, but there were a few important things that happened this week, so I feel I have to share them. For a more complete listing of news for anime, I suggest you visit Anime on DVD since they rock at what they do.

Viz Does Good
I’m sure if you’ve read my report before, you’re aware of my dislike for Viz. They get some really good licenses and then don’t treat them with the respect they deserve. A good example of this is Ranma. It was the first anime I saw and it’s largely responsible for my addiction. Viz has released 5 seasons of Ranma on DVD so far, and while they LOOK good, the boxes are very poor (I’ve had to tape several together so they don’t fall apart) and there is little to no extra content on any of the discs. That complaint is pretty common for Viz releases I’ve gotten since they don’t try to get extras on their discs. Then there’s Inu Yasha and the whole 3 episode travesty (100+ episodes, 3 episodes per disc equals an upwards of 33 discs).

Anyway, enough bitching. Viz has done a few good things, and I’m here to share this miracle. First, they have announced that they will be releasing box sets for Seasons 6 and 7 of Ranma, which had before been available as singles. It is unknown whether or not they will repackage them or compress the amount of discs there are. For the singles releases, there are 8 discs each for seasons 6 and 7, so hopefully they will pack the discs with more episodes, and get it down to the standard 5 discs like with the past few seasons. I don’t care about cutting costs so much as saving shelf space.

Another good thing they have done is license Hana Yori Dango, a popular Japanese anime and manga, of which they licensed both. Hana Yori Dango is a shoujo, which is to say it was originally designed to interest females rather than males, but that doesn’t mean men can’t like it. Shoujo anime and manga tend to revolve more around romance and love than action or anything else. The unfortunate thing about Viz licensing this show is that they decided to translate the title. So instead of Hana Yori Dango, it’s Boys Over Flowers. They should have taken Pioneer’s lead with their releases of Ai Yori Aoshi and Haibane Renmei and left the title untranslated. I think ADV will do the same with their release of cult favorite Azumanga Daioh.

Anime Download that is Completely Legal
Online anime retailer AnimeNation have gone on to found their own anime studio in America, called AN Entertainment. Their first license is the relatively unknown show Risky Safety. It is a kawaiiiiiiii (cute) looking show starring an angel apprentice named Safety and a demon apprentice named Risky. Their work on the show so far looks to be spectacular, with our good friends at Bang Zoom Entertainment picking up the dubbing duties. English voices include favorites such as Michelle Ruff as Safety, Sandy Fox as Risky, and Wendee Lee playing some other characters.

The coolest thing about this release is that with their experience as AnimeNation, AN Entertainment realizes how important an online presence is to an anime studio these days. So with that in mind, they have released the first episode of Risky Safety online for download. The download weighs in at a little over 26MB and is in Quicktime MOV format. They had the forethought to include both the dubbed and the subbed version. Click HERE if you want to download. Personally, I think this is an excellent idea, and I wish all other anime companies would do something similar. ADV had a good idea with Newtype magazine and their DVD with an episode of a show every issue, but it’s hard to justify buying the magazine just for the DVD. I think the production values are excellent, but it focuses too much on anime in Japan, and barely glosses over anime in America. Plus it is highly irritating how they tried to be “authentic” by making you flip pages in the direction the Japanese do, by flipping pages left to right, since the Japanese read right to left. But they f*cked it all up by making you flip a page, then start on the LEFT page and then read the RIGHT page. It’s not like in manga where you read the whole thing the way it was meant to be. Sigh. Keep in mind, it’s been several months since I’ve bought one of these, so it may have changed, and if it has, please tell me, because then I will get a subscription.


New Anime Releases
* Release Date – 6/10/03
Full Metal Panic Vol. #1 (also with artbox), Gatekeepers 21 Vol. #2, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Vol. #1, Ranma Forever Vol. #7, Saiyuki Vol. #2, Sugar Vol. #2, Voices of a Distant Star, Wild Arms #4

This is a decently big release week. The only thing that I NEED to get is Sugar, since I’ve already started that collection, but Full Metal Panic isn’t far behind. Gatekeepers 21, Saiyuki and Wild Arms are shows that are by good companies (Pioneer and ADV) and have boxes for them, plus I’ve heard good things about them, so those too are some I want to get. JoJo and Voices are a couple that I’ve heard very little about, but everything I have heard is good, and as for Ranma, I’m waiting for the box.


My Collection
As always check out my collection, and if there is anything you want me to review, just tell me.

My Collection

New Shows Added This Week: none, I’m poor

Main Shows I Need: .hack//SIGN Vol. #2, Ai Yori Aoshi Vol. #2, Noir Vol. #3, RahXephon Vol. #2, Ranma ½ Season 5 Box Set, X Vol. #5


Mini Anime Reviews
I’m just going to do one review this week due to time constraints, since I’d want to rewatch whatever I reviewed. But it’s a good one, so enjoy!

GESTALT
A while ago, I talked about and reviewed a show that only had a couple of episodes and then was never heard from again. This week, I have a show with a similar fate, but it’s even better.
Story: In a world of sorcery and ancient magic, a youthful priest named Olivier leaves his order on a quest to visit the island of G, which is short for Gestalt. No one really knows what exists on G, so many believe the island is cursed. On his way, Olivier stays at an inn and performs a miracle for the townsfolk by making flowers bloom on a tree, the innkeeper gives him one of their slaves, which also happens to be a beautiful young girl named Ohri who can only communicate by use of RPG-style text boxes. Note: in the Japanese version, she was totally mute and had no such means of communication, unless of course, the text boxes were removed in the American version. It is not until Father Olivier dispels the silence on Ohri that he realizes that she is a very powerful sorceress. And the two travel together on the way to the island of Gestalt.
Animation: Released in 1997, this show doesn’t have the incredibly high standards that many shows of today do, but despite that, it is animated quite well. The animators used a vast variety of colors for the release, and the many different colors of hair are really a treat to see. Olivier’s hair is a light green color, and Ohri’s is a deep pink color, and both are accented very well by their clothing. The character designs are really well done.
Voices: If there was a negative to this show, it would be this area. The dubbing is done by our good friends at Bang Zoom, and although the quality is not the same as their later releases, it is still a good outing. Lex Lang (Zagato from Rayearth) does a great job as Olivier, and although it took a bit of getting used to, Wendee Lee (Fay from Cowboy Bebop) plays Ohri very well. The only bad choice I could think of is Sandy Fox (Sumomo from Chobits) as Suzu the dark elf. She plays the voice well, but it just doesn’t fit. I’d expect a more regal voice for a dark elf, but instead hers ends up being annoying, rather than cute like it was in Chobits or Please Teacher. But I suppose the character is supposed to be annoying.
Packaging/Extras: Media Blasters, under their Anime Works title, were the ones to release this show in America, and they’ve never been known for their extras or their packaging. So I guess this negative would be a lot more negative than the voices. The case is a standard black keepcase, and the cover is a picture of Ohri with Olivier’s face behind her. The back features some artwork and screenshots of the characters and describe the show. There is no insert for the case. And the only DVD extras to be found are trailers (which EVERY show has) and an art gallery (which most do, these days).
The Verdict:: B
There are several reasons why this show didn’t receive a higher grade. First and foremost, there are only two episodes. Apparently, it didn’t sell well originally, so no more shows were made, which is sad considering that the RPG company Enix co-produced it. The show features a lot of RPG elements, but I was never able to see if a game was produced for the show. Overall, the show was excellent, with a great story, and great animation. The voice acting would have improved as well, if it had been given a chance. The show features a lot of comedy and a fair amount of drama, and could have turned out to be a top-notch show if it had been continued, even for another disc or two. Two episodes were not enough, and after you get hooked on the characters and want to see more, you feel very let down. Otherwise, this show could have gotten an A. The only other reasons it didn’t score well were the extras and the minor gripe about the voices.


Well, that’s another week in the bag. Expect more goodness next week when I review Final Fantasy Origins (that’s FF I and II) and if my girlfriend lets me buy some, a lot of anime! Have a good week!