411MAX: News News Revolution (1.30.04)

Welcome to the news report that almost wasn’t!

As some people know, I’ve recently returned to the wonderful world of college classes. Which includes lots of reading, writing, and fair amounts of ‘rithmetic interspersed in between. As of Wednesday night, I became bogged down right from the beginning. VERY bogged down. Every class assigned reading of some sort, and I was afraid that I wouldn’t get it done. I even contacted Da Boss requesting a week off, which he immediately granted.

And yet you’re staring at a fresh new Friday news report as if nothing ever happened. Boy, if this is my definition of a week off, Pankonin’s never gonna give me one again!

Seriously, the reading didn’t turn out as bad as I expected, and plenty of it can be done over the weekend without any penalty. Plus, there are plenty of kick-ass stories all around I want to comment on. So I have time to bang out a news report after all. Go me! (I just have to learn not to panic.)

Anyway, I’d like to point out that there probably WILL come a time when I need time off here to get my school priorities in line. (School comes first before ANYTHING. Remember that, kids. Oh, and don’t do drugs.) So if there’s no news report in this slot on Friday, or someone is graciously covering for me, there’s your reason in a nutshell.

Well, introductions are meant to have ends to them, and this one is no different. ON WITH THE NEWS!


TOP STORY: New DDR Ultramix Song Pack Released

It’s official, people! KCEH has released the second song pack to Dance Dance Revolution: Ultramix! For 5 bucks, you get five new songs to play. Three of them are exclusive to the X-Box game, and can’t be played anywhere else. Wanna know what the songs are? Well, let me tell you!

Afronova Primevil 8 Bit
Americans saw this song first on DDR Konamix for the PS1. This Afronova remix is Cata rated on Heavy, and is a welcome addition to the other remixed Catas. This is the first time Primevil is getting the 60 FPS treatment on an American home mix. Hey, come to think of it, it’s the first time on ANY home mix! (It was also on JP 5th Mix home, but that ran at 30 FPS.) Also included is the updated banner that debuted on DDR Extreme Arcade.

Midnite Blaze U1 Jewel Style
This made it’s first US appearance in DDR Disney Mix on the PS1, and later on the PS2’s DDRMAX: Dance Dance Revolution. It’s a nice Eurobeat song, and is also a welcome addition. A good set of steps, a catchy beat, and a charm all it’s own.

Fire Dub Asletics
This song made its debut on Beatmania 7th Mix, and it’s new to the DDR series. It’s a slow, jazzy song, and only lasts 1:20. I was a bit skeptical when I first heard it, wondering how it would fair in DDR, but after playing it, my fears were solved. Think of it as a slightly faster Bag, and without the scrunched together arrows.

Something Wonderful L.E.D.
Another newcomer to DDR, this song first appeared in Beatmania IIDX 8th Style. Like the title suggests, this song IS something wonderful. It’s trance based, with a bit of a Celtic feel. There are LOTS of freeze arrows in the step patterns, and that trips you up on the later difficulties. I mean, I AAAed it on Light, yet I can’t combo it on Heavy. Yet…

Outer Limits L.E.D. -G
A third exclusive, it made it’s debut in Beatmania IIDX 6th Style. America, behold your first COMPLETELY exclusive 10-Foot song on Single. It starts at 85 BPM, then goes to more than QUADRUPLE in speed, faster than MAX 300 even. I would say that it’s slightly easier than the Max songs, but you still need the stamina in order for you to pass it.

(Credit goes to DDRFreak)


TOP STORY 2: Dancing Stage Unleashed Bundle Announced

Speaking of X-Box DDR, the European game Dancing Stage Unleashed has been announced to be part of a bundle with a dance pad. The pad itself is made by…oh geez, is THAT the name of the company? Are you KIDDING?…Okay…(ahem)…Thrustmaster.

Whoever named that company should be drug out into the street and shot.

In any case, DS Unleashed will have many features that Ultramix has. Online play, online rankings, and downloadable content. But considering the song list WILL be different, don’t expect you can connect Ultramix and Unleashed together for online play. They will be different mixes, after all.

(Credit goes to DDRFreak)


$99 For An X-Box?

According to analyst P.J. McNealy, Microsoft might pull a very risky maneuver in the coming year. He claims that both Sony and Microsoft will cut prices on their systems to $129.99 between now and E3, and after that, Microsoft will FURTHER cut the X-Box to $99.99.

Now I can imagine that an $80 price cut might be a bit hard to believe. Hell, I have a hard time believing it. But the fact is that BOTH Sony and Microsoft lost hardware sales during the last year. The X-Box sold 18% less, and the PS2 sold 49% less. Both seem to want to follow Nintendo’s lead, as they saw an increase in sales when the GC dropped to $99.

If Microsoft does go through with an $80 price cut, they’re going to be losing a TON of money while doing it. I mean, they were losing money on each X-Box sale when the system was $299.99. A massive price cut now WOULD cheapen the system, but definitely in more ways than one.

Of course this could all be a lead-up to the launch of the X-Box 2, which could happen as early as 2005. Kinda makes me wonder if Microsoft has much faith in its own system these says, though.

(Credit goes to CNN Money)


I Can Already Play These Games For Free…

You know that game Bejeweled? And it’s less popular partner Bookworm? Well, Majesco has decided that these games have a life on the GBA!

Never mind that I can find these games online at a number of different free sites. Never mind that I can play Bejeweled on several of my friends PDAs, including my father’s. Majesco wants me to pay $20-$30 for a game I can play for free right now!

Come to think of it, I AM going to play the game right now! Just to show them I don’t need to pay Majesco money! Hold on a sec…

Okay, I’m back. Got a bitchin’ high score, too. Won’t be as much as Majesco will lose publishing these games on the GBA, but it was pretty high.

(Credit goes to Game Spy)


Okay, Does EVERY Big GC Release Have To Come With A System?

Over in Japan, the Metal Gear Solid remake is getting some incredible extras to go with it. Konami announced that The Twin Snakes will be bundled with a limited-edition GameCube. It will be silver in color (with a FoxHound logo on the top), and have a special controller to go with it.

Also included will be a special promo disc that contains the original Metal Gear game released on the NES.

Geez, Zelda, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicals, Metal Gear…there’s too many special edition GameCubes! The next thing you know, they’ll start coming bundled with memory cards!

(Credit goes to Gamespot)

And that’ll take care of the news portion of this week’s column. (Much better than last week, eh?) Unfortunately, no haikus this week due to time constraints. So instead, we skip down to…


CHEAT!!!

Today’s offering comes from the best damn music game that doesn’t require an expensive controller to play it:

SPACE CHANNEL 5: SPECIAL EDITION (Sony Playstation 2)

Down! Down! Sweet, sly, sexy, that’s me! Down! Down! Dance, dance and shut his trap!

There’s only one secret, unfortunately, but it’s a pretty good one. In order to set the games to “auto play”, enter these codes during gameplay:

Part 1: Hold L1+R1 and press Up, Left, X, Left, X, Down, Right, Circle, Right, Circle.
Part 2: Hold L1+R1 and press Circle, Triangle, Square.

The computer will take control, and do all the moves for you. Now you can dance with the game and not worry about a game over! (That is, if you’re confident enough in your masculinity to attempt it.)

(Credit goes to GameFAQs)


PLUGS & SHILLS THAT PAY THE BILLS

Apparently, the Kliq Reward Points are a big hit! (At least with the guys who commented on them.) Therefore, they shall be continued.

Anyway, I’ve figured out what the exact “rewards” will be as points are accumulated between the Kliq members:

At 1,500 Points: Writer will become a Bronze Member
At 3,500 Points: Writer will become a Silver Member
At 6,000 Points: Writer will become a Gold Member
At 9,000 Points: Writer will become a Platinum Member
At 15,000 Points: Writer will officially become a super-secret, VERY exclusive Black Member, which includes a Lifetime Membership to the points system, and include all the exclusive benefits it offers, which includes access to the crisper drawer, and unlimited use of the mute button. (Whomever e-mails me with where that reference came from first gets an additional 150 points added to their totals!)

So, my fellow staff members will obviously be scrambling to earn as many points as they possibly can. I mean, use of the mute button is SACRED around here!

Now to be fair, I will not be giving myself points for my own reports, reviews, and the like. It wouldn’t be fair, considering that I came up with the Reward Points, and I’ve already given myself 100,000 points for coming up with such a kick-ass idea. (Thus propelling me to “Quadruple-Black” status.) So I have more than enough points to last me into the next century.

Anyway, onto the plugs!

News You Can Use

Gamer’s Hangover News Report — Cory Laflin
Cory covers more game news in a day than most of us do in several weeks. Therefore, he rules. Plus he gave me Pimp Boots. That’s good for an extra 25 Points this week! (Yes, bribes work on occasion.) Also, he covers Colin McRae, Acclaim, the Phantom, and the Nintendo DS.
Reward Points: 125 / Total: 400

The As-Yet-Unnamed International Tuesday News Report — Misha
Misha just keeps getting better and better with each column he does. After being absent from last week, Misha takes the reigns of the Tuesday News with FIRE! Those of you looking for European gaming news, he’s your guy. He’s got PSX upgrades, Puyo Pop Fever, and EyeToy stuff covered.
Reward Points: 100 / Total: 300

Mid-Week Mid-Boss News Report — Lee Baxley
Lee and I are both united in our quest to bring more Bemani games stateside. You all know my take, but why is he? I think it’s because you can rearrange his last name to spell “Y, B Alex”! Then again, maybe I’m thinking too much. Lee’s got Xenosaga II stuff, Dragon Quest V stuff, and the latest gaming releases.
Reward Points: 90 / Total: 415

Thank God It’s Thursday News Report — Bryan Berg
Bryan and I have slowly and steadily increasing our fandom of each other lately. He says I rule, but he rules MORESO! He’s got probably the best “business” eye on the gaming world that I’ve ever seen. Check it out again this week when he covers GTA, the Nintendo DS, and the other odds & ends.
Reward Points: 130 / Total: 480

Reviews You Can Use

Project Gotham Racing 2 (XB) — Cory Laflin
I was looking forward to this review for a while now. I wanted to justify why exactly I loved a realistic racer so much (especially by Microsoft), and Cory helped me do just that. Top-notch review here, and highly recommended.
Reward Points: 100 / Total: 500

Curse: The Eye of Isis — Alex Lucard
Another average, mediocre game that has pretty graphics that help disguise the fact a little. Lucard hits the nail on the head with this review.
Reward Points: 80 / Total: 440

Mario Party 5 — Matthew Yaeger
Another one of our freelance reviews, Matthew looks at the Mario game that got lost in the shuffle thanks to Mario Kart. I’ll agree that it’s a bit lackluster in comparison to the last game, but you’ll play it for the new mini-games. And ONLY for the new mini-games.
Reward Points: 50 / Total: 50

Columns You Can…uh…Use

Retrograding MAILBAG — Alex Lucard
Lucard answers more of YOUR mail. And I agree that he should have given more attention to Root Beer Tapper. One of the Top 3 games on the Midway collection. (The first two being Joust and Smash TV.) SHAME, Lucard!
Reward Points: 75 / Total: 515

The Gamer’s Conscience — Fredrick Badlissi
Freddy talks about music soundtracks from the days of yore, and links us to a website which has midi remixes of them. I love retro stuff, and Fred has made me feel right at home. And yes, Castlevania III ruled all.
Reward Points: 100 / Total: 400

The Angry Gamer — Liquidcross
LC’s negative rant THIS week deals with ideas as to how make online gameplay better and more accessible to Joe Everygamer. Never mind that I’ve never even HEARD of Joe Everygamer, but I’m sure he’ll be pleased with the attention.
Reward Points: 75 / Total: 275

Absentees

Chuck Platt
Chuck takes off a week, and I don’t blame him. I nearly blew this week off myself. However, he still gets points. Why? He’s MY FAVORITE WRITER, and he’s sending me a Master System with games. He rules.
Reward Points: 50 / Total: 400

Bebito Jackson
No new stuff from Bebito this week. Like you’re surprised. *BONK* HEY! Who threw that?
Reward Points: 0 / Total: 310

Chris Pankonin
We don’t have a new sports title to review. So no new stuff from Da Boss. But, he offered to give me the week off without question, so he’s deserving of some lovin’. (Not THAT kind! Perverts!)
Reward Points: 25 / Total: 225


PARTING THOUGHTS

Some week off, huh? Come to think of it, I haven’t taken an official week off since early July. I’ve been pumping out content at least once a week for half a year, now! Week off my ass!

Anyway, the Sonic Battle review should come next week. And as soon as the Intellivision collection decides not to be pushed back anymore, I’ll review that too.

Until next time, catch me on X-Box Live. I’m Tuxedo Alex 3333 for those who have forgotten.

Alex Williams