411MAX: News News Revolution 09.30.03

“He used a cheat code!” – Homer Simpson, The Simpsons: Hit & Run

Hello once again, one and all! It appears that I haven’t been fired yet, so I’m here again with the news!

As always, I’m Alex Williams, and as always, I’m a DDR obsessed nut. I finally got to play the US DDRMAX2 on Friday, and I think you can tell from my review that it kicks all sorts of ass. But I’ll get into THAT later.

In any case, the Redskins WON again! We’re 3-1 right now! This is like, the most incredible thing that’s happened to us in a while. And yes, I’ll be the first to admit that we still need to be “awake” for the full game. I swear, we had a 20-3 lead, and let the Pats right back in the thing in the 4th quarter. But still, a W is a W no matter how you look at it.

But enough about my favorite football team and I. ON WITH THE NEWS!
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Advancing The Advance

You know, Nintendo doesn’t really have to do much these days to blow away their handheld competition. A mere blink of an eye banishes stuff like the Lynx and the game.com off to far off lands, never to be heard from again. (The NGPC doesn’t count now, considering it’s been re-released in a sense.) Now Nintendo blinks again, and this time, Nokia’s in trouble.

Over in Japan, Motorola going to help develop a wireless adaptor for the GBA. Yep, you heard right. GBA play without wires. Not only that, but up to FIVE people can play at once! All that’s really required is that the game you’re using needs to be compatible with it. So far, only the new Pokémon Red/Green remakes have been announced to be so.)

Assuming we get a release stateside, this is yet another nail in the coffin for N-Gage. Nokia has PRIDED itself on their wireless Bluetooth network for gaming. But the fact that their wireless service uses cell phone minutes is simply laughable. The GBA adaptor will require no such thing.

All we can do now is wait for the N-Gage to finally arrive se we can laugh at it. (No offense to Nokia as a whole, of course.)

(Credit goes to CNET News.)
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Free Pac-Man! Get Your Free Pac-Man Over Here!

Way back at E3, Shigeru Miyamoto revealed to the world his take on the Pac-Man genre? For those who don’t remember, it was called Pac-Man Vs. The game was revealed to be four players, and used the connectivity between the GBA and the GameCube. Basically, someone controlled Pac-Man on the GBA while the other players controlled the ghosts on the screen. Interesting, but how do Namco and Nintendo get players to bite?

How about offering the thing for free?

Yes, free. A Shigeru Miyamoto game is being offered for free.

Look, you can stop peeing yourself now. It’s cool, yeah, but it doesn’t require a new set of pants!

In any case, you can get this free game three ways:

1) Pre-Order i-Ninja
2) Pre-Order R: Racing Evolution
3) Buy Pac-Man World 2 at the new Players Club price of $19.99.

And bingo! Free Pac-Man Vs.! Incredible, eh?

Actually, it is. I’m not sure how the gaming public would have received this game if it were sold on its own. Now, since it is being bundled for free with THREE different offers, a lot of people will get to see Miyamoto’s brilliance in action!

(Credit goes to Games Are Fun.)
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We Announce That We’re Announcing An Announcement About An Announcement

Over at the Tokyo Game Show, Square-Enix announced that announcements about Final Fantasy XII will be made on November 19th. That’s it.

Yeah, this is a crappy story, but there’s only one reason it’s in here: November 19th is my sister’s birthday! Screw FFXII info, I’m scoring some birthday cake!

(Credit goes to Gamespot.)
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Some CONCRETE Square-Enix News For A Change

In a move that DOESN’T piss people off with announcing announcements, Square-Enix actually revealed three of its upcoming projects!

The first of which is the sequel to Final Fantasy VII. The thing is, it’s not a game as people originally thought. (Cloud’s been in enough games already!) Instead, Square is releasing a feature-length DVD movie called Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. All we know is that it takes place two years after the end of the game, and that Cloud has more hair. Other than that, I haven’t got a clue.

You know what would be hilarious? Another non-ending. FF just LOVES giving us non-endings, don’t they? I can almost hear the legions of Square fans groaning at this prospect. Heh heh heh…

In any case, the other two projects are actually worth getting excited about. And both of them involve Kingdom Hearts. (One of the few Square-Enix RPGs I really got into and enjoyed.) First, we have official confirmation of Kingdom Hearts II. Again, the main character will be Sora, and the supporting characters will be Donald and Goofy. I don’t know too much else outside of that, but if it’s anything like the last game, this is going too good.

Then there’s Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories for the GBA. Not much is known about this title either, except it will most likely contain the same characters from the first game, and that the proposed release is sometime before Fall 2004 in Japan. Lucard may kill me, but I’m looking forward to these titles greatly. Of course Lunar will ALWAYS be my favorite.

(Credit goes to RPG Fan.)
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Lost in the Translation

Well, it appears that Sega’s female ninja game Kunoichi will be receiving a name change in the US. Behold the new, yet slightly less popular, Nightshade!

I have no clue why Sega did this. Shinobi came over as Shinobi, so why not Kunoichi? Oh well, that’s Sega for you. Questionable decisions, yet kick-ass games.

(Credit goes to GameFAQs)
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Plugs and Shills That Pay the Bills

A better name for a plug section? I think so. So, here we go!

News You Can Use

Hump Day Otaku News Report — Lee Baxley
The Bad Guy. He pulls out a good column with TGS news, and a quick explanation on why we did the F’N AWESOME GAMECUBE FEATURE! Trust me, we are NOT whoring ourselves out to Nintendo. We’ve simply given you ten reasons why you should have one in the coming months. Right, Mario?

MARIO: That’s-a right! Momma-mia!

Good. Lets move on…

Thank God It’s Thursday News Report — Bryan Berg
The Game. He gives us insight on Nokia’s latest marketing ploy, gloats from Nintendo’s GC price drop, and lends a few more insights about the Dreamcast. Now lets pray he doesn’t take a few months off to film a movie. WE NEED HIM!!!!!

Gamer’s Hangover News Report — Cory Laflin
Our Monday Man, Cory laughs at EA, laughs at the Mac, laughs at Voodoo, and makes ME laugh in various places. Was it his intention? Who knows…

Reviews You Can Use

Starsky & Hutch (PS2) — Chris McCarver
A driving game based on an old 70s TV show? Boy, when you reach for ideas, you REALLY reach for ideas! Check out the review and see if it’s worth a purchase.

NFL Fever 2004 — Chris Pankonin
Vinnie Mac is back with a review of the X-Box Live enabled football game. And from the looks of it, it’s not half bad. Check the review for the low down on it.

Columns You Can…uh…Use

The Angry Gamer — Liquidcross
The Hurricane. Liquid proves to the world this week that we are not Nintendo shills. He claims that Nintendo is being “arrogant” when it comes to the handheld scene, and that Sony’s PSP will completely overtake the GBA this way. Again, I must disagree here. The GBA will not die overnight once the PSP is released. The fact is that the word “Game Boy” is a household name now. Over 150 MILLION units of the Game Boy and its successors have been sold. We can assume that at least 90 MILLION of these units are still in working order and used on a daily basis. How many PSPs have been sold right now? Zero. How many will be sold in the next few months? Zero. Nintendo’s got the advantage in numbers, and I’m sure they have a few tricks up their sleeves in regards to the PSP. And besides, with the Game Boy lasting as long as it has, the Big N has earned the right to be a bit arrogant. (And no, I’m NOT a Nintendo shill!)

MARIO: That’s-a right! Yip-eeeeeeeeee!

Retrograding — Alex Lucard
The Heartbreak Kid. Ol’ Lucard is pretty ashamed to be a gamer these days. Not because of the games, but because of the people dubbing themselves as “hardcore” and flaming us for no good reason. Look guys, we all have opinions. But this doesn’t warrant unneeded name-calling, verbal berating, and VIRUS sending. Honestly!

The Gamer’s Conscience Mailbag — Fredrick Badlissi
Freddy’s got an entire mailbag full of responses to his last column. I put my own thoughts on the subject here for those who are interested.

MARIO: That’s-a ri…

SHUT UP, YOU STUPID PLUMBER! How the hell did he get in here anyway?!?
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Commentary: Factions In The Revolution

I was running a bit low for commentary ideas this week, so I’ll just fall back on talking about my all-time obsession: DDR. So folks not in the know, you may want to skip this part…

As we all know, DDRMAX2 was released a week ago. And on the DDR message boards I go to daily, everyone and his brother has a different opinion on it. The song list either R0X0RZ or is SuX0RZ. Konami are either geniuses, or lazy dumbasses. Everyone’s got his or her own take on the game, and it drives me nuts. Especially all the stupid negativity.

Now don’t get me wrong here. Even though I love this game to death, I respect the opinions of those who don’t think the same. If they love it, cool. If they hate it, I don’t agree, but cool. Negative comments I can live with.

Negative comments out of IGNORANCE, I can’t.

I’ve seen so many stupid reasons as to why people hate the game, its mind-boggling. Not enough Japanese songs. Song X and Y aren’t on it. Konami was lazy. All unsubstantiated, and all I just can’t understand.

So allow me to shed some light on this situation, and bring up some of my favorite points.

(1) KOA makes bad mixes compared to KOJ mixes.

This one makes me laugh because these people don’t know the whole score. Konami of America has NOT directly developed a PS2 DDR home version. Konami of Japan developed each one. Not only that, but each version was play tested by Japanese players. Don’t believe me? Check the back of your MAX2 (or MAX1 and Konamix) manuals. There are no American names under the development section. KOA is only in charge of obtaining licenses and localization. So if you’re going to blame ANYONE for the state of American DDR, blame KOJ.

(2) MAX2 doesn’t cater to the experienced player. It’s not challenging.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are a LOT of easy step patterns. However, saying that there is no challenge in this mix is like saying the sky is orange. Plenty of songs have been included to provide challenge to new AND experienced players. So Deep, Afronova, Radical Faith, Kakumei, Xenon, ALL the Challenge remixes, MaxX Unlimited, and a few more I’m sure I’m forgetting. Add to that the Ultimate 12 Nonstop Course that puts all these songs TOGETHER. THEN slap Endless Mode on top of that, and the challenge meter comes off the scale! Sure, you may have played these songs already on a Japanese arcade machine, but lots of other people haven’t even HEARD these songs. And if you mastered all these songs anyway, you have to admit that they are some of the hardest songs to ever grace DDR in the first place.

(3) Konami should have made our exclusives harder. I don’t wanna go into Edit Mode and make hard steps for these songs.

So what you’re saying is that Konami needs to cater to YOUR every whim and make step patterns so impossibly hard that it will drive beginners away and only satisfy YOU?

To be honest, I like the direction this mix took. Your exclusives are not TOO easy, yet they aren’t too hard. In fact, these steps are FUN. I’m having a lot more fun on these “easy” songs than killing myself on harder ones found on the DDR arcade machines. I mean, when you look at the later Japanese mixes, the difficulty had been skewed heavily towards the veteran players. This American mix allowed KOJ to take a step back and develop fun steps that EVERYONE can get into.

And to those who don’t want to make harder edits to challenge themselves? Oh, go cry me a river. That’s what Edit Mode is FOR. So you take 10-20 minutes out of your day to create an edit. Big deal.

(4) There are too many repeats.

There are a lot of repeats on this mix, yes. Out of 69 songs, 21 of them have been seen in America before. However, 13 out of the 21 repeats featured have not been seen on the PS2 yet. So, 61 out of the 69 songs have debuted on the PS2 for the first time. And 48 songs are brand new anyway. And hey, 48 new songs is nothing to sneeze at. Konamix only debuted 45 songs, and they were ALL Konami originals. The 48 included on MAX2 include KOs AND licensed tracks. Plus, the repeats allow us some COOL Nonstop courses.

(5) Konami was lazy when putting together this mix.

Lazy? LAZY?!?!? That’s the most unsubstantiated, ignorant…

Hey, you know what? Konami WAS lazy! I’m sorry I ever doubted you!

I mean, they ONLY put in 21 licensed tracks! So what if it’s more than DDR USA and DDRMAX1 combined! They should have gotten MORE! And what’s with those music videos? Talk about lame! They should have taken the time and effort to loop more generic background movies together for these songs!

And what’s with Nonstop Mode?!?!? ONLY 20 COURSES? That’s an outrage! And extending the length of Nonstop to 10-12 songs is barbaric! And I’m SURE they just threw the Custom Nonstop feature together. I mean, what’s WRONG with them?

And ONLY 15 “exclusives”, with ONLY 10 of them being licensed? Boy, Konami should have bent over BACKWARDS to accommodate us! Instead, they give America something for EVERYONE. Cheap bastards.

Okay, the sarcasm is done. Konami was nowhere NEAR lazy when this mix was put together. They’ve included a variety of so much that it’s scary. And they manage to pull off a perfect balance of catering to players old and new. And if you still hate the mix after this little education, then I’ll shut up about it. But please, try to know what you’re talking about before spouting off at the mouth.
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Parting Thoughts

Whew. I’m glad I got that out of my system. Its been building up all week.

Check back the rest of the week for the 411 All Stars on news duty. We got Lee, Brian, and Cory on news duty, and Chuckie, Liquid, Lucard, and Freddy bringing up the column end of things. They all rule. End of story.

Until next time, learn all the techniques in VF4: Evolution and see if it doesn’t take you a month.

Alex Williams