411MAX: News News Revolution 3.19.04

Well hello! Again! It’s me for the SECOND time this week after covering Lee on Wednesday! And don’t you guys worry, today’s column WILL be longer, considering I got my OWN format back. (No offense to Lee’s of course.)

To begin with, congrats to Chuck Platt, John Borreson, and Richard E. Mimms for getting the SeaLab 2021 reference back on Wednesday. I said I’d put your names in here, and I’m a man of my word! (You know, it’s a shame when you get more e-mail for someone else’s column than you do for your own. But I digress.)

Next up, a little something for Eric S.: I’m fully aware that the makers of PC games do offer free downloads for their games, but very seldom do I see them labeled as “expansion packs”. I’ve seen patches, levels, and other things to update games, but they are usually not called expansion packs unless they have a price tag affixed to them. So I was legitimately shocked to see an “expansion pack” with a ton of items included that you could download for free (legally). Or maybe I’m completely out of the loop in regards to the PC scene, and maybe that’s true. I’m a console gamer 80% of the time, unless I feel up for a game of Morrowind or Riven.

And with that, by the time you read this, I’ll be on Spring Break! YES! No school for a WHOLE WEEK! Time to get drunk and flash my nipples at parties! (Although I never get a favorable reaction to them, like some of the girls I know.)

And now, it’s time to go to the news sto…HEY! Stop thinking about girls flashing their nipples and PAY ATTENTION! PERVERTS!

(Ahem) And now, it’s time to go to the news stories, what I ASSUME you came here for in the first place. Well, far be it from me to disappoint you. So, ON WITH THE NEWS!


Kingdom Hearts Sells 4 Million Copies!

In a story that really should surprise no one, Square announced that Kingdom Hearts sold a ton of copies. In fact, they sold over 4 MILLION copies worldwide. It breaks down like this:

–USA: 2 Million
–Japan: 1.2 Million
–Europe: 820,000

I say good for the game, because I genuinely enjoyed going through it. I never saw Disney so dark in my life!

(Credit goes to Gamespot)


I Cast “Magic BFG Missile” On The Darkness!

I swear I’m not making this up. Swear to GOD.

With Doom 3 on the horizon, it’s been announced that Fantasy Flight Games will make a board game based on the Doom series. Included with the game will be boards where you can create random maps, plastic miniatures of game characters, various weapons from the game, and oversized dice.

That’s about three steps away from being a full-fledged pencil-and-paper RPG.

Oh crud, I can see it now. Nerds circled around a kitchen table after high school, drinking Mountain Dew and eating Cheetos, creating chainsaw-wielding freaks of nature and battling zombies in fan-created dungeons. (“Galstaff, you enter the door to the north. Theirs a snarling beast ahead of you.” “I cast my CAHINSAW OF DOOM!”)

Excuse me while I go weep the corner.

(Credit goes to Gamespot)


Mario 64 To Be DS Portable?

If this becomes true, get ready to shit your underwear.

Various sources in both the U.S. and Europe are claiming that there are a few Nintendo DS development kits floating around the industry…complete with a two-level demo of Super Mario 64 running on it.

Yes. Super Mario F’n 64. On a portable system.

To some, it may not be THAT surprising, considering that the “rumored” DS specs are pretty close to that of an N64. But to others, this may be one hell of an announcement, proving that the two-screen DS could very well be a humongous force in the handheld market.

On the other hand, where does that leave the GBA? I mean, if this is true, and the DS is more powerful, how will Nintendo’s flagship handheld fair after the release? Perhaps the GBA will be used strictly for 2D development, while the DS will be reserved for more 3D endeavors? I don’t know…but that still doesn’t change the fact that a portable Mario 64 would be sweet. And it would. Admit it. No matter WHAT happens, portable N64 games would rule.

(Credit goes to Spong.com)


As If Crystal Chronicles Wasn’t Enough…

You know, the Japanese press can be a real good thing sometimes. Why? Because they managed to leak that Square Enix is planning on developing a brand new Final Fantasy game for the Nintendo GameCube!

As of right now, however, details are still scarce. We have NO IDEA if its a sequel to FF: Crystal Chronicles, or an entirely new game instead. In whatever case, perhaps E3 will shed a little light on the subject. Other than that, stay tuned here for any future developments.

(Credit goes to Spong.com)


Unreal Championship 2 Announced

Just because I can’t stand FPS games doesn’t mean that other people can’t. So for those who are interested, Microsoft Game Studios are officially developing Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict. Included will be the same melee combat you’ve come to expect, as well as 3rd-Person perspective, and new character combinations. While not much else is known about it now, one can assume that E3 will hold some answers to it.

We can expect this baby around 4th Quarter 2004.

(Credit goes to GameSpy)

And there be your news fix for the week. For right now, however, I feel like doing something I haven’t done for a while: look at something broad and try to make sense of it. So, here’s my…


COMMENTARY: Where Has All The “Fun” Gone?

Remember when games used to be “fun”? I do.

I remember when I would wake up at 6 AM on a Saturday morning when no one else was up, sneak to the family room to not wake anyone, and plug in Super Mario Brothers on my trusty NES. Of course I’d start on World 1-1, which I had played hundreds of times, but I didn’t care. I could play that level for hours, and hours, and hours, and never get sick of it. I just couldn’t. I was having way too much fun stomping on Goombas. Who cared if I got to the eighth world or not. I didn’t.

I was having “fun”.

You can’t say that about games nowadays.

Instead of playing for pure entertainment, we put that on the back burner as we play for “other” things…

Pretty Graphics: The looks of our games have changed so much. Twenty years ago, all we had were tiny square dots that when put together the right way, formed a picture of our main character, or our enemies, or a power-up, or anything else we might need, really. Now, everything has to be detailed to the nth degree to even be ACCEPTED by the masses. Who cares what the game is about! As long as the graphics are beautiful, we can ignore the horrible control scheme and shoddy level designs, right?

Today, we play to see vastly detailed environments, realistic characters, and only the most voraciously beautiful women…not strictly to have “fun”.

Watch Movies: While this goes in league with the graphics, there’s enough to it to separate it into its own category. Games these days need a storyline. ALL of them. Even your platformers where all you do is jump and kill things need about 50 cut-scenes going into a complicated plot when all you want to do is jump and kill things. A story that you like can even whisk you through a substandard-mediocre gaming experience! You cuss out the game with loud obscenities as you play, but when that cut-scene appears, you turn up the volume and stay put.

Today, we play games to bear witness an engaging story…not strictly to have “fun”.

To Improve Oneself: There are certain games out there that will rank you on your progress. Your first time through, you probably won’t fulfill the conditions needed to get that “A Rank”, or “100% Complete”, or however you’re ranked. So, you end up playing through the same spots over and over again. You may play that spot 100 times, slowly but surely getting sick of it in the process. But that grade…that grade. It’s the only reason you’re still playing. To get that one grade that PROVES you’re the master of a given level. And once you FINALLY reach it, and see that “A” or “S” on the screen, you have a good feeling about you…for about ten seconds. Then you move right on to the next stage and lather, rinse, repeat.

Today, we play games to prove our worth to ourselves…not strictly to have “fun”.

To “Finish” the Game” Back in the olden days, finishing a game was a badge of honor. We didn’t have the fancy “save points” to help us along. Heck, not every game even had passwords in them. If you beat the game, got the ending screen, and sat through the credits, you the man. Not so today. Now, we have so many things to keep track of our progress, and the save feature allows us to continue from wherever we please. And with even “Game Over” screens becoming more and more rare, we have an increasing desire to finish every game we come across. Entertainment takes a back seat as we focus on getting to the end of the game. We dedicate our time and energy to defeating hordes of enemies and bosses, no matter how difficult, in order get to the end. And if at first we don’t succeed, we try, try again. We get sick of trying often, but that doesn’t stop us from going and going.

Today, we play games to just get the damn thing over with…not strictly to have “fun”.

To Unlock Everything: Since when did companies start shipping out games with only 40% of it available to you at the start? Nearly every game has something “locked” inside it that we have to “unlock” by fulfilling certain conditions. And damn near ANYTHING can be locked in a game. Characters, cheat codes, weapons, endings, extra cut scenes, teams, logos, players, armor, levels, voices, movies, trophies, mini-games, extra games, classic games…the list goes on and on. And we constantly play the crap out of these games just so we can say we unlocked everything. It could take hours, days, weeks, or even MONTHS of grueling work accomplish, but we MUST get those final rewards.

Today, we play games to make everything finally available to us…not strictly to have “fun”.

To Be Better Than Others: You’ve taken a game and become quite good at it. You know every move inside and out. You know how to run the ball, perform the combos, sniper the enemy, etc. with extreme precision. You are the man. The master. THE legend…at least, until you play against someone with equal or better skills. You face off against these warriors in pitched combat, bringing all you’ve got to the table. And hey, you manage to win! But it’s not enough. You’ve only shown your “1337 skillz” to one person. You have to take on more. And more. And MORE! You HAVE prove your worth to all those around you. You HAVE to make EVERYONE know that you are the master. They must WORSHIP your skills, no matter how many tiring battles it takes, online and off.

Today, we play games to prove our dominance in a competitive world…not strictly to have “fun”.

It’s amazing that we have ANY fun playing games in the first place!

So I ask all of you…where has the fun gone?

What happened to the times when you can pop in a game, lie back on your couch, and RELAX? When you could drift away into a world of gaming nirvana rather than frustrating yourself from not timing your button presses right?

What happened to the days when finishing the game didn’t matter? When going through the level after level held as much significance, if not more, than watching the end credits?

What happened to friendly competition when your social status wasn’t on the line? When you could lose 50 straight matches of Street Fighter II: Championship Edition and still shake hands with your opponent rather than walking off in a huff?

I ask you…nay, I implore you…where did the fun go?

Why did the fun go?

And what can we do to bring it back?


PLUGS & SHILLS THAT PAY THE BILLS

It’s that time again. Yessir, time to hand out points to the Kliq members (and in some cases, Eric S.) who earned them. And this week, we have our first three reward recipients! Who are they? Well, stay tuned to find out!

News You Can Use

Gamer’s Hangover News ReportCory Laflin
Yes Cory, “Size of A Cow”. It’s a pretty decent song, actually, having heard the Unleashed cut of it. Anyway, Cory covers Homeland Security games, Tekken, Activision, and HOLY CRAP! Cory “Dark Horse” Laflin has surprised EVERYONE and just edged out Berg and Lucard to become the FIRST BRONZE MEMBER of the Kliq Reward Points System! Hot damn! Scroll down to pick up your reward!
Reward Points: 115 / Total: 1510 Bronze Member

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Video GameMisha
Misha’s got FFXII, Tekken (again), Harry Potter, and an old UK show called Knightmare. Pretty cool stuff for the week.
Reward Points: 95/ Total: 1075

Mid-Week Mid-Boss News Report?Me, Myself, and I
You know, it still feels weird seeing my name attached to this report for a week. Well, no matter. I cover some RPG and Anime news that Lee is so famous for, and include my thoughts on the events from Wrestlemania XX. It’s a condensed report, but Lee approved, so that’s all that matters, right?
Reward Points: NA / Total: NA

Thank God It’s Thursday News ReportBryan Berg
Bryan’s back on AIM, and it’s all good. Plus, he covers price cuts across the board, the Nintendo Joyspot (No, not G-Spot! PERVERTS!), and introduces his upcoming analysis on the future of gaming companies. And not to be outdone by Lucard, he’s the SECOND to become a BRONZE MEMBER! And he has less space to scroll down to get his reward!
Reward Points: 120 / Total: 1540Bronze Member

Reviews You Can Use

Phantasy Star Online Episode III: C.A.R.D. (GC)Liquidcross
I swear, the next game that comes out that’s based on collecting CARDS and designing DIGITAL DECKS will be DECIMATED…unless they come out with a Pokémon TCG update where you can scan the e-Card game into the cartridge. That would sell MILLIONS!
Reward Points: 80 / Total: 1040

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles (GC)Misha
I may not pick up this one simply because it requires more than one player to have fun. And considering I’m away from my GC for more than 5 days a week, it would be $50 in wasted money on my end. Still, Misha seems to like it!
Reward Points: 75 / Total: 1150

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (XB)Matt Yeager
YES! The hero would rather screw his chick than save his people! Now I MUST play it! Seriously, this is Yeager’s best review to date, and is quickly becoming one of our best reviewers. (Hmmm…better watch my spot…)
Reward Points: 90 / Total: 315

Wallace & Gromit: Project Zoo (PS2)Bebito Jackson
WOAH! Bebito WROTE something! Holy crap! Again, seriously, Bebito show us how it’s done as he reviews a game based off the famous claymation pair of Wallace & Gromit. How does it fair? Read on!
Reward Points: 85 / Total: 505

Drakengard (PS2)Lee Baxley
While he may have taken a news break this week, Lee still delivers with his review on Drakengard. Now here’s a game I might take a look at soon. All I gotta do is kick ass and take names!
Reward Points: 80 / Total: 1185

Dead Man’s Hand (XB)Alex Lucard
It may be a first-person shooter, but it’s apparently a funny one. I mean, how many other games can you find with a Mexican named “Dirty Sanchez”? And even though Lucard has no Retrograding this week, he still earned enough points to become the THIRD BRONZE MEMBER! Your reward awaits, oh namesake o’mine.
Reward Points: 75 / Total: 1560Bronze Member

Columns You Can…uh…Use

The Angry GamerLiquidcross
A mailbag on last week’s NES difficulty column. Ah, memories of the past. Good times. Good times.
Reward Points: 90/ Total: 1130

Opinions, Etc.Eric Szulczewski
Eric has been so kind to plug me in his last column (considering Baxley was gone) that I want to return the favor. I also believe its the first time he’s plugged me off-section, so it feels kinda cool. So he doesn’t have to worry about his standard weekly Games exposure going away, just being pushed back a little. Trust me, the guy is an entertaining read, and worth every joke we makes against Governor Bush.
Reward Points: 125 / Total: 250

Absentees

Fredrick Badlissi
Total: 555

Chris Pankonin
Total: 410

Chuck Platt
Total: 1110

AWARDS

Behold, the first EVER recipients of the REWARDS portion of the Kliq Rewards Points! All three of these writers have surpassed 1,500 points, thus moving them officially to Bronze Membership! These guys all offer quality writing on a weekly basis (and do a ton of it to pump up their totals). So give it up for the rewards:

Cory Laflin: Bronze Member

Bryan Berg: Bronze Member

Alex Lucard: Bronze Member

Cory, Bryan, and Alex, you are free to take these awards and display them in your columns whenever you wish. You will also be recognized every week with the “Bronze Member” designation when your point totals are displayed. You also should be getting eggs in the mail soon, containing a lifetime supply of fish sticks, and your very own The Cheat!

Congratulations, guys. You’re on your way to that crisper drawer!


PARTING THOUGHTS

And so, another one of our WONDERFUL Fridays come to a close. Why are Friday’s so wonderful? Because I’M HERE! THAT’S WHY! (That ought to help my low self-esteem a bit, huh?)

Stay tuned next week for my full review on Scooby Doo: Mystery Mayhem! And I don’t even LIKE Scooby Doo! That should be a hint to its overall score… Also, there should be a MTX: Mototrax review coming soon as well.

So, until next week, marvel at our Kliq Award winners. MARVEL, DAMN YOU!


Alex Williams, The Norwegian Athlete