411MAX: News News Revolution 12.26.03

Allow me to be the first to wish everyone here at the 411 the happiest National Returns Day EVER! Found an N-Gage or a copy of Tomb Raider in your stocking? Aside from questioning Santa’s horrible sense of humor, just dump the crap at wherever he got it from and get what you REALLY want!

As far as ACTUAL holidays are concerned, I hope that many of you had a Merry Christmas, and I wish all my Jewish bretheren a wonderful 8th night of Hanukkah. And to those who celebrate it, have a great 1st day of Kwanzaa.

In any case, my holiday has been kind to me. As Lee pointed out on Christmas Eve, I got me a Japanese PS2 for Hanukkah. I didn’t receive any games as presents, but in a wonderful coincidence, DDR Party Collection arrived at my house the same day! I bought the thing purely for collectors value, but now I could PLAY it!

Normally, this is where a rant would go about my horrible, horrible luck with DDR pads. Hell, the last working one I had started to act up the night I GOT the JPS2. However, Wednesday night, a Christmas miracle occured (the miracle being that it happened to a Jew), and I got a METAL DANCE PAD for Hanukkah! An honest-to-goodness, sturdy, responsive, METAL dance pad! I am a happy, happy boy.

That aside, I’ve also ordered DDR Extreme, and should be getting it by early January. Lets pray the new pad holds up with the humerous attempts at Paranoia Survivor I’ll be making.

But enough gloating on my part. It’s time to scrounge up whatever happened this holiday week, and…oh geez…doesn’t look like much…with everyone closed this week, there doesn’t seem to be much else out there. Looks like we get an abbreviated version of the news this week! So, ON WITH THE NEWS!
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Two Re-Releases Liquidcross WON’T Complain About!

Most of you already know that Mega Man Anniversary Collection will be making its way to U.S. shores by mid-to-late January. However, Capcom is going to add to more to the mix when they release Mega Man Mania this spring for the GBA!

This is going to be another compilation game, this time offering all five of the Mega Man games originally released for the Game Boy. All the games will can be played either in black & white or in color, and will include special artwork in a gallery-like mode.

I, for one, am pretty psyched. I never got the chance to play the Mega Man GB titles before, and now they’re ALL on one cart! I can’t wait!

In a related story, Liquidcross was seen doing cartwheels in an undisclosed location. We’ll have more details for you as they come available.

(Credit goes to Gamespot)
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Meet The New Dual Shock…Same As The Old Dual Shock…

A Sony rep recently commented on the development of the Dual Shock 3, the successor previous controller models of the previous Playstations. The controller will retain the same design that has worked in the past. One can only assume that means one D-Pad, two analogue sticks, four face buttons, and four shoulder buttons.

However, there will be some additions to the upcoming model. One is a “single trigger”, that will most likely appear under the right side of the controller. When I hear of this, I think of the famous “Z” button on the N64 and GC controllers, but nothing has been said outside of this comment. Also, wireless functions are being tested for this model.

No pictures have surfaced yet (as they will most likely come with the PS3’s “official” announcement), but we’ll keep you posted of new developments.

(Credit goes to Games Are Fun)
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Lawsuits To The Letter! Literally!

Gaming developer Mythic Entertainment has recently sued Microsoft for copyright infringement and unfair competition. It claims that Microsoft’s upcoming online game Mythica infringes on Mythic Entertainment’s name and trademark.

Trouble came initially when a 16-year-old male wished to preorder a copy of Mythica online, only to end up with 5,000 shares of Mythic Entertainment stock.

No, I’m kidding. Anyway, Mythic Entertainment does not want Microsoft to gain an unfair advantage in the marketplace by using the name “Mythica” to confuse the public.

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but “Mythic” is a developer and “Mythica” is a game, right? Who is going to confuse a gaming company and a game? Microsoft isn’t using a modified GAME name from Mythic Entertainment, so while Mithic has a point, I don’t see how they can win this suit.

(Credit goes to Gamespot)
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The PSX Ain’t Doin’ So Well

While the first week of PSX sales in Japan indicated the system was selling well, it was later reported that you could buy a system WITHOUT pre-ordering it first. This is a rarity in Japan, as systems usually sell out the moment they launch.

It’s also been reported that Sony pushed the release date up to increase their inventory of units. They did so to meet the demand after the first week’s sales, but the large amount od systems still stockpiled is a bit alarming.

An interesting tidbit is that the PSX’s main competition is…other Sony products. Sony is offering a DVD recorder called the Sony Blu-ray, as well as a personal DVD video recorder priced lower than the PSX.

So, if people can’t tell the difference between Sony’s own products, it means Sony has majorly screwed up here. More on this as it develops…or not develops, as the case may be.

(Credit goes to Gamespot)

That’s it for the news this week. It’s the holiday week, so it’s very hard to come by. In any case, onward to the other sections!
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ENCORE EXTRA STAGE WEEKLY NEWS RECAP

As little news as there is this week, I still set them to the tune of HAIKUS!

Midway opens site
For their game The Suffering
It’s got lots of stuff!

Looks like Fallout 3
Be released January
Post-nuclear fun!

Have a steering wheel?
Won’t do JACK in GT4.
Get a new demo!

Chinese PS2
Was delayed for some reason.
Guess you have to wait…

Don’t you talk about
Fight Club. Also don’t mention
This bad, sucky game.

Well, it’s not out yet,
But my expectations are
Really not that high.

Old Square games are out
Again with lower prices!
I WILL dance a jig!

Turbine just got back
The rights to Asheron’s Call
From ol’ Microsoft.

Famatsu reviewed
Full Metal Alchemist, and
Gives it an award!

My God, Sammy sucks.
Trying to change Sega now.
Goodbye, days of old.

PS2 price drop?
Effective starting in ’04?
But, I got two now!

Take-Two makes money
But then, their stock just goes down.
What the heck happened?

PSX problems.
It’s largest competition?
Other Sony things!

It’s the Mania!
Not 411. Mega Man!
On the GBA!

The new Dual Shock 3
Will be like the old Dual Shocks,
Just with some changes.

You a bit confused?
Read the other news reports
For all the details!

And that takes care of everything news-related this week. Now, lets get to some FUN stuff!

Stuf like…
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CHEAT!!!

This week, we take a look at Cory Laflin’s latest addiction, and mine:

PROJECT GOTHAM RACING 2 (Microsoft X-Box)

Here’s the little easter egg that will make you foget there’s an actual RACING game on this disc.

To play a special hidden game, first enter the Garage when looking over cars. Once you’re in the garage, enter Walk mode, and search the place until you find an arcade machine. Press A when you’re close to it, and you’ll be able to play “Geometry Wars”. It’s loosly based on Asteroids, but with Smash TV style controls.

I swear, I spent a f*cking HOUR in this thing when I first found it.

(Credit goes to GameFAQs)

And because you’ve all been such GOOD boys and girls (cough), here’s a bonus game for ya:

FINAL FANTASY X-2 (Sony Playstation 2)

Square Haters, please quiet down. (That means YOU, Lucard.) It’s just a cheat!

Anyway, use this method to get a bonus ending cinema. Straight from GameFAQs:

First you’ll have to meet with Maechen at Guadosalam in Chapter 3. You’ll find him when you meet up with Logos and Ormi in the same area. Next you have to get the ”whistling” scene with Yuna at the end of Chapter 3. When you’re alone in the Farplane, move Yuna around and continually press the X button. You’ll hear whistling. That means you have activated the event. Next thing you have to do is get an Episode Complete in Luca during Chapter 5. All you have to do there is visit the location where Tidus taught Yuna how to whistle. Next, get an Episode Complete in Besaid. Finally, once you have beat the game, keep tapping the X button to get the ending.
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COMMENTARY: The Import Review Connection

Now that I’ve gotten a Japanese PS2, I’ll be able to offer reviews on the import titles I get from time to time. They’re not going to be as elaborate as the main reviews, but it’ll give you enough to know exactly what you’re getting in a game.

Don’t expect these often, though, as the domestic reviews come first. But anyway, to kick things off, here’s the ONLY import game I have at the moment:

DANCE DANCE REVOLUTION: PARTY COLLECTION

Like you’re surprised.

GRAPHICS

Like most DDR titles, the graphics are pretty secondary to the main action going on. The interface itself is HEAVILY based on the Extreme engine, only with some pallate changes and different graphics to make it look different.

The characters that appeared in the DDR Extreme home version are all back, including two new ones. Also, they are accessible from a menu after you select your play style and difficulty. The only thing is that outside of the new characters, they look exactly the same as before. Nothing different here.

Score: 8/10

MUSIC/SOUND

Before we go on, I should inform you that this is NOT meant to be the next DDR game that comes after Extreme. This is more of a collection of older songs meant to get new people into the game. You can tell this immediately by the song list. Nearly all the licensed tracks included appeared on the first four mixes, with only a few stemming from 5th Mix and beyond. Stuff like Butterfly, Dam Dariram, Rhythm and Police, and Moonlight Shadow all return, as well as Wannabe, which premiered in Dancing Stage Fever.

The KOs included are also throwbacks to the older games. Brilliant 2U, B4U, and Look To The Sky are all back, as well as other old favorites. Also included, however, are five completely NEW tracks that must be unlocked first. Freedom is a new track by Be For U, and quite possibly the best they’ve done so far. Can Be Real is a cool disco-esqe tune that also doubles as the Information Mode music. I Need You (Insideout Door Mix) is a remix to the original that debuted in MAX2 USA/Extreme JP, and has excellent steps. Stars (2nd Naoki Style) came off of Pop’N Music, and is a pretty nice Japanese vocal track. But the one that everyone is talking about is Paranoia -Respect-, a 300 BPM remix, and the 10th of the series. It is by far the best sounding, and contains some tricky step patterns, but is an easy 10-Footer for the most part.

All and all, the song selection is top notch, and the new material is great, but there’s not a lot here to entice the veteran players who have these songs on previous mixes already.

Score: 7/10

GAMEPLAY

Have you played DDR Extreme in the arcades or at home? Than you’ve pretty much know all the options in the game. Five difficulty levels are present (Beginner, Light, Standard, Heavy, Challenge), and all the mods are included, as well as Nonstop and Oni modes. There aren’t as many courses as there are in Extreme, but that’s to be expected given the limited song list. Endless Mode is also included, but needs to be unlocked first.

(As a side note, nearly all the Oni courses included here share the same names and banners as the Nonstop courses found in MAX2 USA. Something tells me this wasn’t a coincidence.)

In a surprising move, there is a slight tweak regarding the Extra Stages. Every so often, when you unlock a brand new song, you’ll play THAT as the Extra Stage. You can change the difficulty to anything you want, but you have to play it. The Extra Stage modifiers are Reverse / No Recover, but no speed mods.

Other than the Extra Stage change, everything works the same way as it did in Extreme. No surprises, and not much new.

Score: 7.5/10

MISCELLANIOUS

The main thing that you must know going in with this version is that it was designed for beginners in mind, and not so much for the veterans. Looking over the 47 songs included, it’s a good selection to introduce players into the game. Not only are so many classics included on one CD, but the mixes they’ve originated from are long since out of print. Those just getting into the game in Japan would not be able to find the majority of these songs for the home market without this mix.

Also for beginners, the game is being sold in a bundle with new Konami soft pads, much like the MAX2 USA bundles over here. The difference being that they are being sold in collector’s buckets. Yes, buckets. Don’t ask me why, but they’re in buckets. Maybe its to attract new people? I dunno…

Score: 8/10

THE VERDICT: I personally love this game, considering there’s so many songs I like in one place. But the veteran players out there might not feel the same way. There’s not much thats really new here, with the exception of five new tracks, two new characters, and a graphical facelift. But this is a great way to introduce new players to the game. And if you’ve never imported DDR before, this is a good way to start out. You get a “best of” song list, as well as some interesting new tracks. A buy for collectors, but veterans may pass it up.

Final Score: 7.5/10
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Plugs & Shills That Pay The Bills

The hits just keep on comin’, even during the holiday rush!

Top Billing

Top 10 X-Box Live Games Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3
Here’s a little diddy that we created to show everyone that the X-Box Live service ROCKS! Seriously, these ten games are ones that the staff couldn’t put down. (Well, those who have Live, anyway.) I myself contributed 40% of this feature, so those who read me HAVE to read this! Do it, or I’ll stop haikuing the news!…Wait, do I hear cheering? Nah, must be the wind. Yeah, the wind…in my basement…

News You Can Use

Gamer’s Hangover Report — Cory Laflin
Cory admits to his PGR2 addiction (Welcome to the club, dude.), gives us some tips as to how to deal with the holidays, and hands us a smattering of news to boot. Believe me, if I had access to the Pimp awards, he’d be getting his fair share from me every week.

Clap Hands, It’s News Happiness Time — Chuck Platt
MY FAVORITE WRITER is back and BETTER than ever this week. Aside from Magical Happy Donuts and easily impressionable 12-year-olds, he recaps the Lucard/Jackson DREAM match we’ve been waiting for. He also hands out presents to all of us. My present to Platt: a better working set of pipes to get better scores in Karaoke Revolution.

Hump Day Mid Week Mid-Boss News Report — Lee Baxley
Dang, old habits die hard. Wednesdays get a new column name as Lee delivers a good one. He talks about the dire need for those of us younger generations to be in power, and gives us each week’s gaming releases to boot. And for the record, the “exclusive” N-Gage game is being developed BY Nokia. Which is why a manimum of three copies will actually be sold nationwide.

Thank God It’s Thursday News Report — Bryan Berg
Bryan covers Take Two’s troubles and the PSX debacle, and gives his picks for the 411 Year End awards. While I may not agree with everything listed there, he gives spot-on opinions and all the right reasons. But why he classified WWE Smackdown as a FIGHTING game remains to be seen.

Reviews You Can Use

True Crime: Streets of L.A. (XB) — Chris Pankonin
Da Boss gives us what he thinks of True Crime. Is it the same as what YOU think? Read and find out!

Links 2004 — Cory Laflin
It’s the debut of the Links franchise on a home console, and Cory’s got the official 411 look for it! See how it stacks up!

Columns You Can…uh…Use

Simcolumn — Ron Yip
Uh…um…who is this guy again?

We Want Our Tea Back! — Misha
Misha gives us a gaming year in review…in the UK that is. Actually, it’s quite interesting to see a gaming year from another country. Definitely worth checking out.
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PARTING THOUGHTS

And that’ll do it for this week’s edition. Come to think of it, this is the last column for

2003! CRAP! I should have done something New Years related! Oh well. There’s always next week.

Hopefully, there will be more news coming next week as well, but I wouldn’t bet on it considering the new year is fast approaching.

Until next time, cower in fear of my WORKING METAL DANCE PAD! Please? Aw, come on! Just a little? Eh, you’re no fun.

Alex Williams