Encore Extra Stage News Report 11.21.03

Welcome to Encore Extra Stage: Week 5! And I beat Berg’s prediction! I lasted more than a month!

Before we begin, I’d like to give a few shout outs. Why? It’s my column, and I do as I please!

First, happy, happy birthday to my sister, Mystic Fire! I hope she’s enjoying Mario Kart as much as I am waiting to play it again. But believe me, MK:DD is just the tip of the iceberg for you…

Next one goes out to Megami: Get Well Soon! It sucks having the flu, but I know you’ll pull through just fine.

And if the message got out to them, the last shout out goes to another Kliq I was a member of for a time: the HCC Anime Kliq. I miss you all up here at Towson, and hope to see you again this winter. (Yes, even George. HAH! I kid, I kid!)

Thus ends the shout outs, now starts the business at hand:

WE HAVE A CONTEST!!! And its the most awesome, kiciest-assiest contest on the Internet! No foolin’!

We’re giving away X-Box Live games for the next six weeks. All you have to do is follow the contest rules, and BINGO! You’re entered!

This week’s game is Crimson Skies: High Road To Revenge. Let me be the first to say that you MUST win this game. I have it myself, and its loads of fun. One of the best aerial combat games I’ve played. I just need to stop sucking online. Expect a full review as soon as I can type one.

I also picked up a little diddy called Dance Dance Revolution: Ultramix. Now that I’ve had an extended play with it, let me just say its…no, not yet. I’m reviewing that too, so you’ll have to wait until then.

Also expect reviews of Mario Kart: Double Dash and Tony Hawk Underground (X-Box) from me in the next couple of weeks.

Anyway, that was probably the longest introduction in EES history. Therefore, I will now say: Introduction Over. News: NOW!
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TOP STORY: Bad News For Canadian Ultramix Fans

This story somehow combines the two top things I’m covering in my columns lately: DDR Ultramix and the sucky gaming situation in Canada (Quebec, anyway). What are the odds?

Anyway, it appears that because of big mistake made by Konami, DDR Ultramix has been postponed for its Canadian release, and may possibly be cancelled.

It seems that Konami forgot to license several songs (Castles In The Sky, Shiny Disco Balls, etc.) for use in Canada. Because of this, it’s illegal to sell these games in Canada.

Man, the situation gets worse and worse for Canada. First the Quebec debacle, and now no new DDR? DUDE!

(Credit goes to DDRFreak)
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News PSX Specs

(Sigh) Okay, I’ll level with you. It’s late. I’m tired. The news is blurring together. So the next two pieces are taken using Bebito’s Phone-It-In Machine (TM). So, from Gamespot:

“In a recently-published interview, Kenji Matsuoka, the Sony worker who led PSX development, talked about the new console’s genesis. He also revealed a new corporate partnership, and speculated on future software-based upgrades for the PSX.

“Matsuoka revealed that the PSX that hits the stores in Japan next month will have one small difference from the prototypes displayed at CEATEC: a G-GUIDE logo on the front panel. G-GUIDE is the Japanese name for the electric programming guide that Sony has selected for the PSX. Produced by U.S. company Gemstar, the publisher of TV Guide, G-GUIDE will broadcast updated information to PSX consoles four times per day. Although Gemstar also offers this information as a download service, Sony decided to stick with broadcast delivery in the expectation that some PSX buyers would not have their consoles hooked up to a network.

“Gemstar also offers this electric programming guide in the U.S. and Europe; in those markets it is branded as TV Guide On Screen and Guide Plus+ respectively. Although there has been no announcement to date, it seems likely that the Sony/Gemstar partnership will extend to these markets when PSX sales start there.

“Matsuoka also spoke about the genesis of the PSX, and the reason why Sony decided to use the PS2 processor and graphics engine in its newest console. Matsuoka was involved with creating the Blu-ray Disc before being given charge of the PSX project, so his first inclination was to approach the PSX as an AV device rather than a gaming platform, and there was no internal mandate to use PS2 technology. However, according to Matsuoka, his team’s goal was to create “a GUI that would be easy to understand even for people that barely look at the manual,” and they decided that the PS2 processor was the best tool for this.

“The PSX team realized that they wanted their new device to have the same rapid processing capabilities and high usability of the PS2. To create the data-rich, highly intuitive interface that they envisioned, the PSX team needed a powerful processor and graphics engine, and they realized that PS2 technology was a perfect solution. According to the ZDNet article, this will allow fast searches and smooth operation even when the user is dealing with large volumes of media.

“Using PS2 technology also had another benefit: it will allow PSX owners to add new capabilities through software modifications. This would not be possible if the console was built as a standard A/V device. The concept of building a machine around a well-understood processor and adding capabilities through software has its roots in the PC industry, but the PSX development team found it was equally applicable to A/V devices. The PS2 chip is powerful, and has also been the focus of intense cost engineering, so it was a natural choice for the heart of the PSX.

“Matsuoka mentioned CDDB capability as one likely PSX upgrade, and said that feedback from users would help determine what additional functions would be developed.
In response to a question about the release date, Matsuoka responded that Sony hasn’t named a specific date yet because the company is trying to get a more exact picture of demand. “Our biggest concern is retailers running out of stock,” he said, so the company is working to evaluate initial demand and make sure there is enough inventory when the PSX hits the stores. He concluded the interview by saying that production was proceeding smoothly and the device will be released in Japan before the end of the year as previously announced.”

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Majored in Video Gaming, Minored in Boggle

Also from Gamespot:

“High school students now have a legitimate reason for setting down their schoolbooks and picking up their joysticks: they’re getting ready for college.

“The University of Southern California, renowned for its film and television programs, will soon be offering degrees in another form of mass media–games. The Daily Trojan, USC’s official student daily, reported yesterday that three departments–the School of Fine Arts, the School of Cinema-Television, and the Information Technology Program–are working together to create a game-centered program inside USC’s School of Engineering.

“USC’s goal is to make a minor in game development and production available to undergrad students by fall 2004. Core curricula will include modeling, animation, programming, development, and production. “I personally hope our students will be creative thinkers and help develop the compelling video games of the future,” said ITP director and professor Anthony Borquez.

“While many art and design colleges have game-development programs, USC is one of the first major universities to offer an undergraduate degree in the subject. The Georgia Institute of Technology currently offers a PhD in digital media, while Southern Methodist University in Dallas recently began a 18-month master’s program in video game design.”

Yes, we’re light on the news again. So we’ll move right into…
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CHEAT!

Told ya this would be here today? Would I lie to you? Don’t answer that. Let’s go!

Today, we’re going to look at a game that was recently released for the X-Box, and is one of my favorites. Bet you can’t guess what it is!

DANCE DANCE REVOLUTION: ULTRAMIX (X-Box)

You were expecting Voodoo Vince?

Anyway, there are 9 unlockable songs in the game. Of which, I know how to unlock 7 of them. These methods come with help from DDRFreak:

Put Your Faith In Me -Saturday Night Mix-: Fail a song
MGS2: Mission R: Get an A or higher on a song
Gradiusic Cyber: Get a AA or higher on a song
MAX 300: Get a AAA on a song
Paranoia Rebirth: Get a C or higher on all three difficulties of Paranoia Eternal
Healing Vision -Angelic Mix-: Get a C or higher on all three difficulties of Healing Vision
Sana Morete Ne Ente -BLT Style-: Get a C or higher on all three difficulties of Sana Morete Ne Ente

It’s still a bit unclear on how to unlock Colors and Orion.78 -Civilization Mix-, but as soon as I know, it’ll be in the column!
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Encore Extra Stage News Recap

Onward with the HAIKUS!

Just a few this week
Time is running short for me,
And I need my sleep.

Ultramix is out!
But not in Canada. Man,
That just really bites.

Big N’s lost money.
They’ll need to increase their sales
Some more this quarter.

Phantom’s a PC.
No, really. I’ve seen pictures.
PC on its side!

The X-BOX II might
Not play X-Box I games? Gee,
Really stupid move.

DDR Extreme
In the U.S. in April?
Rumor, but good one.

Solid Snake will be
In that Dream Mix fighting game
Beating up Twin Bee

Latest Fantasy
Details released recently
I really don’t care.

And speaking of which,
Music station will play stuff
From those FF games.

New Platinum Hits
For X-Box were just announced.
Only Twenty Bucks!

N-Gage bundles now
In a really desperate move
By that Nokia

That’s it for this week.
Read the other news reports
For some more details.
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Special: Quebec – A Continuing Story

It’s funny, really. Offer support on a controversial issue, and people write essays for you. Actually, it’s really cool.

In addition to Mr. McNutt’s background, I now have THREE HUGE points of view on the Quebec subject! These people didn’t have to go through all the time to research and write such elaborate pieces just to inform little ol’ me about the Canadian province, but did anyway. You guys, I commend you. You are the true fans of 411. A little psychotic, maybe, but still you guys are AWESOME!

Anyway, we continue the ongoing Quebec saga with an extra-long contribution by Serge Lévesque. (No relation to Jean Paul, as far as I know). Originally, I was only going to include part of it, considering McNutt beat him to the punch. But after reading it again a few times, this was too good to doctor up. So, Serge gets his 15 minutes of fame right here on Encore Extra Stage!

So once again, here’s a look at Quebec’s Law 101, and how it relates to the video game community there. This one’s longer than the first, so I’ll leave it up to you whether you want to scroll down or not. In any case, take it away, Serge!

The law that you spoke of, the article 101 of Quebec’s code of law, dubbed the “Chart of french language”, was adopted in 1977 in order to make french the official language used in government, law, education, commerce, communications, businesses and workplaces within the borders of the province. You see, before that, most businesses were run by englishmen, with frenchmen working under them. We even had the reputation of being North America’s “white n-word”, but I’m not going to talk of oppression or any bullshit like that. But with most of the businesses also came most of the money and most of the power for the englishmen, and though I wasn’t born at the time (in the womb actually), I believe the government back then wanted to change this situation, so the law was adopted.

How has the law changes things exactly? Well in the cases of the government and the logal system, not much. Most elected officials in Quebec’s parliament were frenchmen anyway, and the canadian constitution, written in 1867, guarantees a canadian citizen the right to a trial in either english or french, as per his liking. For education, this meant that french was to be the primary language used in all public schools, but there are workarounds (basically if your family received an english education within Canada, you’re entitled to one too).

For commerce, this meant the public signs debacle you may have heard of (“Sign Police”, though that 60 Minutes report exagerated on a few things), where all public signs are to be predominantly french. The law also states that a citizen of Quebec is entitled to receive service in french in any commerce / health institution located in the province. Now, I’m all for our education system producing youngsters that are able to fluently speak english (which it doesn’t do right now, those who become fluent in english are self-learned), but the fact is that a good portion of french canadians don’t cope too well with their second tongue, and this law was adopted for them. They can now walk into any store and understand the clerk (if the store is abiding the law), which wasn’t the case before. And hell, even if you are fluent in english, before the law was passed some store were even speaking only in an other language entirely (italian, chinese…). This aspect of the law roughly took 10 years to be implemented, because of all the mayhem it caused. A lot of people have bickered about the signs thing (including the chap who wrote you last week), they can bitch about freedom of speech all they want, what this really comes down to is that they want to keep their local stores to themselves, their community. They don’t want quebecers in their stores, that’s the real issue here.

Now for businesses, communications and workplaces, this law really hit a snag. You can just imagine being the president of a company in Montreal all of a sudden being told to produce quarterly reports in french, learn freanch to speak to your employees, etc… Though the law states that the language to be spoken in all workplaces across the province must now be french, this aspect was never really enforced because in reality you don’t want to alienate the companies that have a majority of englishmen. The problem was with those that had a majorly french work force with an english management. The french workers, who were used to be bossed around in english, now had the right to require to be abused in french (hey, if you’re getting talked down by your boss, might as well understand what he’s telling you, right?). Well, some companies adapted themselves (hired french management), some didn’t. This, along with the aspect of the law that affected commerce, indeed led to an exile. Though Montreal never ceased to grow thanks to immigration and exile from rural regions, a lot of companies moved to Toronto, bringing work and population growth with them. In the ’70s Montreal’s population was ahead of Toronto, from the ’80s on Toronto took the lead and never looked back.

Things took a turn for the ridiculous in the last reign in the house of commons of the Parti Quebecois, know to you as the separatists. They are the ones who originally passed the law, by the way. And since ’77 every time they were voted off the commons the enforcement of law 101 took a step back in the new government’s priority, only to be brought back at the front whenever they were re-elected. In their last presence at the helm (from ’94 to last April) they got their sights on applications of this law that defies any human logic (then again, they’re politicians, such a thing is expected).

Get english terms out of garages: when we’re talking about car parts in Quebec, we’ll use the english terms. It’s been this way ever since my dad can remember, his dad can remember, heck probably since cars were invented. We don’t call mufflers “silencieux”, windshields “pare-brise” and gaskets… hell I don’t even know what a gasket is called in french! But these geniuses, obviously never having worked on a car in their lifetimes, got dead focused on bringing french into garages. They spent millions in pamphlets, posters and whatever. They were laughed out by all garages owners across the province and the plan fell faster than Paris Hilton’s pants.

So with the previous plan a failure, what do they do next to save face? Computer softwares! Now they want that every computers running in the province be installed with softwares that are in french only. Oh, those english businesses must love that one! Great, more reasons for them to move to Toronto (sarcasm). And in the same wind, they told the companies how to apply the law to e-mails, since they were not around when the law was passed. These idiots would want every e-mail written in the province to be in french! It’s pretty scary how these guys are hell bent on imposing french where common sense would leave it out, especially in this era of globalization where such moves are down right bad for business. It’s like they’re doing their best to keep foreign businesses out of here. I can’t understand for the life of me why EA opened an office in Montreal, but they’re certainly the exception as most companies are moving out.

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Video games have been an issue since they went mainstream, so ’97ish. If the government had their way, every game would have to be translated to be playable in french, or else it could not be sold here. The companies are obviously not interested in putting that extra work for a 7 million population (of which, what… a few hundred thousands are players, at most). But while I understand the developpers to be reluctant to do so, some games DO come out with in game translations, and such an attention is always welcomed here. Kudos to the developpers that give the extra effort!

So around 2 years ago, a compromise was reached. The games sold here must have packaging, instructions and warranty cards in french. That’s the deal. Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft all agreed on this, but for the last 2 years things have moved rather slowly. We are beginning to see some translated packages and instructions, but most games are not translated. I think the process of translating games moves too slow to the liking of the “Quebec’s Office of French Language” (basically the enforcers of law 101), and to that effect they will meet with the CIDSA (Canadian Interactive Digital Software Association) on November 26th to address the current situation. BUT NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE YET. Where you (Games Are Fun) claimed that stores got rid of a lot of their inventories, that’s complete bullshit. There are still as many games in stores today that there was six months ago. And haven’t seen any report in the local news about how we’ll soon be deprived of all those games. So when you mentioned the news I was kind of surprised, since if anyone would know this news first I hope it would be us. We’ll see after the 26th, but the situation doesn’t scare me. What, they’re gonna empty the shelves before Christmas? Yeah right!

Oh man, that was awesome. Long, but awesome.

Anyway, I still got Quebec material for next Tuesday. And if you have anything to say on the subject, I’ll still print it. But I’m going to retire the subject next column, so get your thoughts in quick! Let the world know you’re pissed, Quebec!
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Plugs & Shills That Pay The Bills

This week’s got your favorite 411 staff members writing your favorite columns! But I’m running low on time, so the plugging goes quick. Let’s roll!

News You Can Use

411MAX: News News Revolution — Me, Myself, and I
The last part of the Spike Awards preview, and a Quebec lecture included.

Hump Day Otaku News Report — Lee Baxley
RPG News, and Anime Tidbits. Gotta love this guy. In a strictly plutonic way, of course.

Thank God It’s Thursday News Report — Bryan Berg
Video Game study #45,372 reported, and a Fantasy Football look. I feel good for outlasting his burnout prediction!

Reviews You Can Use

Double Dragon Advance (GBA) — Alex Lucard
Great game, bad marketing. Lucard says that in about 1,000 more words than the first four.

The Simpsons: Hit And Run (XB) — Alex Williams
Two months overdue thanks to school and shit, but its here! Nice game for the Simpson’s fan.

Columns You Can…uh…Use

Retrograding Mailbag — Alex Lucard
He answers your mail again! Aren’t you glad he takes his valuable time out to read YOU, just as you read HIM?

We Want Our Tea Back! — Misha
Our imfamous Brit talks about “humour” in our “videour” games. Nice read!

The Angry Gamer — Liquidcross
LC continues his Mega Man series, and focuses on the Mega Max.exe series. Go read him!
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Parting Thoughts

Well, like I said earlier, I beat Bryan Berg’s prediction of burning out after four weeks. Instead, I’m burnt out after five.

So next Friday, the EES will take a week off for me to recover, recharge. and spend Thanksgiving with my family. But fear not! Berg himself will be covering for me, and laughing all the while at my burnt-out, unconscious body.

So until next time, WIN SOME X-BOX GAMES!

Alex Williams