411 Games Rumor Down-Lo 05.04.04

411 Games Rumor Down-Lo 05.04.04

LOGIN NAME: BEBITO411
PASSWORD: SHINING OF THE HOLY ARK

ACCESSING…

(411 DOWN-LO ONLINE: BEGIN TRANSMISSION…)

Hi, I’m Bebito Jackson, and this… This is the end of an era, ladies and gentlemen. Behold it in all of its retarded glory. :p

Greetings everyone. I’m back! Your favorite rumor column is here once again to brighten up your lives with useless misinformation. *audience grumbles awkwardly* You guys DO know who I am right?? *more awkward grumbling* It’s Bebito Jackson! I write the Down-Lo!! *dead silence* Sigh… And this is my Rumor Monkey. *The Rumor Monkey steps out to a standing ovation.* Oh, you guys suck. All of you…

So why did I leave in the first place is what you’re asking, right? Well it was many reasons. For one, I no longer had the time/energy needed to write a weekly 15-20 page long rumor column due to health issues involving my family (i.e. the wifie; Bella Jackson). Since I hate it when writers go on and on about their personal problems, I’ll leave it at that.

For two, I also had a bit of a rebellious kick in me, in where writing for one of the “largest pop-culture site on the web” no longer seemed as attractive as it once was, due to what can only be referred to as “politics”. HBK knows the inner struggles I’ve battled to not rip off Ashish, Widro, & Pankonin’s heads and display them on spears in my back yard, setting them ablaze during family BBQs to keep the flies away. But of course, I’m just overly emotional (Zoloft anyone?), and after several bribes and being granted every privilege possible short of running the site itself… eh, I eventually came around. ;)

Probably the biggest reason for stopping the Down-Lo though, had to do with just wanting some change. I had so many things I wanted to do to improve 411Games at the time that continuing the DL would be more of a nuisance than anything else: I wanted to review games. I wanted to change the way the site looked as far as the inclusion of artwork and screenshots to make it look less like a blog page and more like an actual gaming site. I wanted to spearhead features. I wanted many things. And I succeeded at it all, even teaching the majority of the Kliq how to do some of it themselves. Heck, I became so involved that some people, even staff from other 411 Zones, started believing that I quit writing the Down-Lo to become head of 411Games. Which simply isn’t true, as our masco… err, figurehead… is still Chris Pankonin; and he does a lovely job as such. Yes indeed… *cough*

So why am I here now? Sigh… because I’ve been WORN DOWN. 10 emails a week. Give or take. 10 every week literally BEGGING for me to bring back the Down-Lo. And I stopped writing in September of last year, people. SEPTEMBER. Do the math. Thankfully it’s started tapering down as of the last couple months, but come on… how am I not supposed to buckle under that pressure?? Then there are the scary AOLIM conversations I’ve had with Down-Lo Devotees and some regular fans threatening everything short of suicide if I don’t return, rivaling the most disturbing Goth freakout conversations I’ve seen HBK have getting asked for the return of the VC. It’s gotten to the point that Lucard has to defend me every time I go on message boards because forumers and even fellow staff members won’t stop demanding the column back…

Now I’m not bragging. Far from it. As much as I’m known for tooting my own horn, honestly it’s genuinely disturbing to me that so many people read, let alone cared about some hack rumor columnist to the point that I’m on a constant guilt trip about not writing anymore, even from those inside the Kliq! I’m not Hyatte. I’m not Alex Lucard. I’m not Chris Pankonin Scott Keith. Why anyone even gives a crap is again, just disturbing. It’s disturbing because I can’t fathom my appeal being wide enough for people to covet something that hasn’t been around for over half a year; and it’s even more disturbing because I don’t like letting said people down. Some of the letters waiting in my inbox each morning break my heart. I mean, look at some of this stuff, people!!:

BEBITO! BEBITO! Come back! When are you going to write your next column?! It was one of the few things I looked forward to on the site! When my aunt died, your column was one of the last few things that was able to get me to laugh anymore. Where the hell are YOU?!

Man. I’m not gonna print his/her name, cuz I’ll assume that was semi-private. But do you see?! Do you see what I have to endure here?? But the straw that broke the camel’s back was when joking around with him one day after submitting a review that was more Down-Lo-ish than review-ish, Pankonin himself asked me to do one more column, just for old times sake. And how am I supposed to say no to that? Huh? He’s the masco… he’s the boss around here after all.

So fine. One more, for old times sake. Then I fade away into obscurity enjoying a happy retirement in the bosoms of my beloved Bella. That’s right: retirement. I’m done writing for 411 in all its forms after this. This is the swan song. The last hurrah. The final chance to take shots at Pankonin, talk about Sonic The Hedgehog and Shining Force, and pretend I suck. I couldn’t go out just writing some random feature or review. Oh no, we end how we began. With the Down-Lo, baby.

One word of warning. For those who’ve never heard of this column before, never read an issue of the Down-Lo, never yearned for the Rumor Monkey… this isn’t for you. This paradox reality you’ve mistakenly clicked on is unlike anything else on the site. And I’m not going out of my way to explain its intricacies for you. So go away. Press the back button on your browser and do yourself a favor because you’re not going to “get” what’s going on in here. This is a strange scary place full of crude humor, depravity, Sifl & Olly references, monkeys, unnecessary and totally random shots of T&A, ego centricity, general retardedness, semi-obscure video game references and above all the sweet nectar of my existence in that being truckloads of juicy misinformation commonly referred to as RUMORS. As for everyone else? Let’s do it. One more time…



(LOADING 411 GAMES RUMOR DOWN-LO 05-04-04… DISPLAY)

This is the Down-Lo.

TEKKEN 5: SOMEHOW STILL SIMILAR TO TEKKEN 2

Ugh. Tekken. My disdain for the Tekken franchise has been well documented. Sega creates Virtua Fighter. Virtua Fighter becomes hit with hardcore Japanese gamers, mastering every nuance of its deep fighting system. The gods smile down upon earth and are happy. Namco sees Virtua Fighter. Namco creates dummied down Virtua Fighter clone Tekken. Tekken becomes hit with casual North American gamers, because button mashing is easier than thinking. Gods puke up dead puppies.

And I can hear the Tekken fanboys yelling now, “Tekken takes strategy! A true Tekken master can’t be beat by the casual button masher! You suck Bebito!” Keep telling yourself that kids. Keep telling yourself that. Look, here’s how it really is. During the golden days of dark sweaty arcades, I recall seeing one individual in particular beat the bloody pulp out of all challengers at a Tekken 3 cabinet. Shmuck after shmuck stepped up, and they all got whipped and whipped good with egos bruised and many a quarter lost. The guy looked like he knew what he was doing; breaking fools off with all the finesse you’d think of a true fighting game guru. Of course everyone wants to challenge the King, so the long string of quarters strung along the top of the cabinet seemed never-ending. One of those quarters was Bebito’s. Now keep in mind people, I had never played Tekken 3. Previous Tekkens yes, but 3 never before, so I was less concerned with winning and more preoccupied with just trying it out. The guy looked down at the teenage version of me, literally sensing how “green” I was and prepared himself for orgasm in digital form. Then it happened. PERFECT! TWICE!! Eddie Gordo danced his way to back-to-back victories in my hands without a single scratch to the utter shock of the surrounding audience. It was like I destroyed their little world. I was considerably less impressed; after all, all I did was press the same button 20x in succession. Bored and disgusted, I left my winning game open for someone else to take and went over to the relatively less crowed Virtua Fighter 2 cabinet, and got beat by the usual suspects… but hey at least it was a good fight. ;)

Enough Tekken bashing. For today. Let’s pretend for two seconds that the franchise is still something relevant, as I bring good news for all you button-mashing fanboys! About 2 weeks ago, Japanese website Yamasa Slot World featured a flash teaser movie that had some not so subtle ties to a possible new Tekken title in the works. The flash movie showed what appeared to be glimmers of new CG based in the Tekken universe, and due to the deliberate vagueness, they promised more would come on April 28th. Well, April 28th has come and gone, and the site has been updated with a new flash teaser at the top of the page.

This movie is longer than the previous and shows CG footage of Ling Xiaoyu, Nina Williams, King, and a few other unknown characters. Tekken mainstays Jin Kazama and Heihachi Mishima are also featured in the background of the teaser. Cool looking stuff, but it still wasn’t a full-blown trailer or announcement of anything concrete. Those treated to that movie were once again told that more information (and presumably a longer flash movie) is promised this week… tomorrow actually… on May 5th.

Ok. Anyone with two brain cells can see what this is leading up to. Rumor has it Namco Japan plans to show a four minute long Tekken 5 video at E3. All this nonsense is simply the build up for it. Each flash movie is a little longer than the last, and wow, what a coincidence, it seems the next update after the promised May 5th movie will conspicuously land on the first day of E3. How much more obvious do you have to be here, people?

But the question remains, why on Yamasa Slot World? What the blood clot do they have to do with anything? After all, Namco could have thrown these babies up on their own web addy. Instead the movies are hosted on a Japanese slot machine website?? Well, it makes more sense than you might think, kids. Namco has publicly shown interest in developing new pachinko machines. With that being the case then, what better way to start things up than to work together with Yamasa Slot World to co-promote Tekken 5 AND a new Tekken-themed pachinko machine? Huh, huh, ya see. Makes sense, eh?

Bottom line? Despite the legions of “No comments,” coming from Namco’s camp, expect a Tekken 5 trailer at E3 with Namco revealing plans to expand into pachinko machine market.

Whoopie. Honestly both bits of speculation sound utterly boring, but hey, not all the rumors can be about the Shining Force III trilogy getting re-released on the GameCube in English, right?

DOWN-LO RATING: 7

YOU’VE HEARD IT BEFORE: EA IS GOING LIVE

“Electronic Arts is joining Xbox Live.” It’s been talked about FOREVER. It’s the never-ending rumor. Like Sega bringing Sakura Taisen to the US. Or Yuji Naka putting down the crack pipe that spawned Billy Hatcher and finally crafting another NiGHTS. Or Square developing a TRUE sequel to Final Fantasy VII. We hear about these things all the time, but never expect them to actually come true. Well that stops here apparently. You’ve heard about it by now; last week according to a report from IGN.com, EA and Microsoft have finally managed to agree to terms, which will see as many as seven Live-enabled EA titles released for the Xbox this year. According to the report, Madden NFL 2005, NCAA College Football 2005, NASCAR Thunder 2005 and NBA Live are the four sports titles on tap to include Live support in their 2004 iterations. Other EA titles likely to go online include Battlefield: Modern Combat, Goldeneye 2 and Burnout 3.

Why the supposed change in heart? Microsoft always had rigid control over their Xbox Live set up. Recent modifications Microsoft has made to their Xbox Live policies regarding publisher control is most likely the reason for EA’s sudden turn around. But to give you guys a rumor within a rumor, it’s speculated that they were offered other “special” incentives to bring their games to the Xbox Live family. A little cash passed under the table here, a little late night office “favors” there, if ya know what I mean.

Now if you go and ASK EA and Microsoft about this supposed slip of the tongue announcement, they’ll flat out deny the report. Supposedly, this big announcement’ was expected on April 29th during EA’s fiscal report to their investors. But that’s come and gone and there wasn’t a peep out of anyone about it. So is it still coming?? Oh yes, true believers. It’s coming. Look for it all to come spilling out at E3. Two Wall Street analysts reported that EA titles would be Xbox Live compatible this year, and reps from other companies have stated that they expect to see EA jump on the Xbox Live gravy train this year as well. Everyone and their mommas swear on their first-born sons it’s happening, even unnamed sources’ within EA and Microsoft themselves. So yeah. It’s still coming. Just be patient, people.

DOWN-LO RATING: 7

TIDBIT: FULL METAL COMING TO US?

Here’s a tidbit for ya. Any Square Enix fans in the house? Bleh, I thought so. Then I’m sure you’ve heard of the PS2 action RPG Full Metal Alchemist, right? Good, cuz I haven’t. It’s one of those funky non-mainstream Japanese games that normally have no chance of a North American release due to it being… well, a funky non-mainstream Japanese game. But Square Enix apparently wants to change that, as rumor has it that they’re planning to bring it over to the US later this year. Reportedly, the US version will be renamed to Fullmetal Alchemist & the Broken Angel. Snazzy. Nothing official has been blah, blah, blah yakaddy smackaddy… but it’s on good authority action RPG fans will have another game in the pocket for late 2004.

DOWN-LO RATING: 8

PSO TRILOGY TO PS2? HOLY…!?

Rumor debunking time. Every once in a while something incredibly exciting, but yet utterly improbable pops up in the rumor mill. I believe it my civic duty to expose the truth on these charades and crush the hopes and dreams of those foolish enough to believe in them. Heh heh. Let’s have at it.

So you guys like Phantasy Star Online? I do. I’m not really into the whole online roleplaying thing, as I’ve seen it literally end marriages and turn already pale hopeless virgins into even paler, somehow even more hopeless virgins. But PSO grabbed me. Perhaps because it was the first console online rpg in the history of gaming? Perhaps I was just desperate for ANY kind of new Phantasy Star. Perhaps it was because I had just begun dating Bella, and her licentiousness prevented the unhealthy fanboy obsession with the game that I feared. Whatever. I dug it. And GameCube, Dreamcast, and Xbox owners have been digging it right along with me for years now. But PlayStation 2 owners? The shaft. And not just the regular shaft. The long sticky crusty one. Sure PS2ers are getting the Sega Ages Phantasy Star remakes… which to tell the truth is pretty freaking awesome… but the online lovin’? Nada.

But if one were to believe the rumors circulating, that draught could finally be coming to an end, with a bang no less. Supposedly, Phantasy Star Online Episodes I & II is indeed headed to the PlayStation 2. But oh no, it doesn’t stop there. The newly-released and highly praised by 411mania card battle game Phantasy Star Online Episode III will be bundled in the set as well, and even include some bonus scenarios for users who have already played the GCN version. Yup. That’s right: A Phantasy Star Online Trilogy. Popular speculation says that Sega makes it a surprise announcement at E3 in next couple of weeks and the game ships this winter just in time for Christmas.

It all sounds so, so sweet. But reality check time. The veracity of such a release is incredibly slim. Sega is done with the whole porting older games to consoles thing, instead focusing on creating higher profile all-new ones. Quite frankly, Sega has bigger fish to fry: Astro Boy, Altered Beast, Virtua Fighter Quest, Sega Rally 3, new games in the Shining Force series. Sega probably doesn’t even have any time to do ports. Plus the PS2 is already home to the wildly successful… only god knows why… Final Fantasy XI, whereas they had the genre pretty much to themselves on the GCN and XB. From a business standpoint it’s probably not worth the trouble.

Eh, but who knows? Sega’s actions have never had much to do with business sense, and honestly it would be cool to get all three games together in a trilogy. Let’s mark this under “unlikely, but keep a look out for it anyway because it’s such a cool concept”. Don’t rule it out. But please, don’t hold your breath.

DOWN-LO RATING: 4

THE CHINESE KNOW MORE ABOUT XBOX THAN US?

“Rumor has it that a Chinese website stumbled up on a secret blueprint detailing Microsoft’s plans for the upcoming successor to the X-Box console. Microsoft denies anything and everything; however, they also requested that the blueprint not be posted anywhere.

Because of this, there’s nothing concrete out there. But stay tuned to 411 Games for the latest on this breaking story. By the time you read this, odds are good that there will be a LOT more available.”
-Bryan Berg (Thank God It’s Thursday News Report 04.29.04)

Ahhh, now that brings back memories. Bryan would report something on Thursday, and I’d expand, dissect, and distort it on Tuesday. *wipes tear from eye* The memories…

So let’s take a look at this thing, eh. Here’s some of the more pertinent aspects of the supposed “XBox 2” as released from Chinese website GZeasy.com:

The block diagram shows a system architecture which had three 3.5Ghz CPU units, 256Mb of main memory, and a 500Mhz graphics chip with 10Mb of on-board memory.

The schematic also shows the system featuring two memory unit ports, with basic memory unit size being 64Mb, a 100Mbit LAN port and a hard drive – although it notes that it’s not been decided whether to build in the drive as yet.

Um, yeah. I’m not even going to try to pretend to know what the blood clot all that was about right there. Go ask Eric S. or someone. But sources from people who are involved with Microsoft’s console development and who DO actually know what in world they’re talking about agree: that diagram is not an accurate reflection of the information they’ve received from the company about Xbox 2 – and could easily have been put together by someone with basic hardware knowledge from publicly available information about the forthcoming system. In other words, joe-shmoe virgin did it up in his mother’s basement one late sexless night after playing Everquest (Geez. Twice? I need to leave the online roleplayers alone.).

An expert who talked with Gamesindustry.biz had to say, “It’s not impossible that it’s a Microsoft document. But some of the figures seem very suspect, and the information included on the diagram looks to me like it reflects the available information about Xbox 2 rather than being a sensible set of information to put on a document for developers. There’s a lot of detail here about stuff you could just guess or which we already know from public announcements, like some performance information about ATI’s graphics chips. And then there’s some really surprising missing detail, like the twin-core architecture and a few other really crucial things which Microsoft has already talked to developers about but are missing from this diagram. I’d have to guess it was a fake.”

He’s not alone. Other developers familiar with the Xbox 2 architecture also voiced misgivings about the diagrams. “We’ve seen stuff about the cache on those CPUs from Microsoft, and this isn’t it.”

So there you have it. Secret Microsoft Xbox 2 tech document? Complete crap. Either it was an old internal document that was a work-in-progress, or it’s faker than a Bebito Jackson apology to Chris Pankonin after he’s stabbed him the back several times over. Sorry kids, it’s a phoney.

DOWN-LO RATING: 3

And that’s the Down-Lo.

Thanks to GameGossip, Gamesindustry.biz, and IGN for today’s stories.



SCREENSHOTS SO PRETTY YOU’LL SMACK YO MOMMA

How sweet would it be if we all went out and actually smacked our mommas after looking at these? Why don’t you all go try. And right before she goes to rip you a new butt hole, tell her Bebito Jackson said it was OK. She’ll totally understand. Trust me… *thumbs up, smile with teeth showing*

Astro Boy (PS2)

Ok. Imagine you took 1 cup Sonic, 2 tablespoons NiGHTS, an 8oz. bag Zone Of Enders and one pound insanely popular Japanese magna, then threw it all into a blender. Rather than the bluish purplish mess you’d think you’d see, this is what would pour out: Astro Boy. From the brain trust of late legendary cartoonist Osamu Tezuka, it’s among the select videogames coming this year that I’m truly excited about. And when I say excited, I mean schoolgirl about to be kissed for her first time by Johnny the star Quarterback on the 50-yard line during the big championship game’ excited. Sure there are tons of other “great” gaming experiences to be had this year, but for those who don’t know, I’m a Sonic Team whore. When Sega started consolidating its various development resources the game’s producer, Mineko Okamura, moved over from United Game Artists (Space Channel 5, Rez) to Sonic Team, taking the game right with her. And with that switch Astro Boy appeared on Bebito’s radar. The fact that it resembles a 3D version of NiGHTS mixed with Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando should get it on YOUR radar screen, even if you’ve never read a single issue of an Astro Boy comic. Expecting big things from this one, people. Keep a look out for the Kids WB Saturday morning cartoon to familiarize you with this baby just in time for when it drops later on in the summer. In the meantime, check out these hot to death screens.

Astro Boy: Omega Factor (GBA)

When will the relentless Sega praising stop? Never. NEVER I TELL YOU. But before you dismiss this as another Game Boy only-here-to-go-along-with-its-console-counterpart cash-in, know that Sega isn’t the only developer onboard. Hitmaker, creators of the crazily successful Crazy Taxi and Virtua Tennis series, are co-developing Omega Factor with none other than… Treasure. That’s right, purveyors of videogaming excellence, Treasure. The makers of Gunstar Heroes, Silhouette Mirage, Graduis V, and Ikaruga are teaming up with Sega to create a 2D side scrolling action game the likes of which we haven’t seen since the glory days of 16-bit gaming on the Genesis. It’s like an Alex Lucard …Bebito Jackson wet dream without the vampires and gratuitous Pikachu – Sonic The Hedgehog kinky bondage sex. Here are some pics to wet your appetite. And yes, believe it or not these were done on a GBA, not the Sega Saturn:

Shining Force: Resurrection Of Darksol (GBA)

.:Drool:. I had to do it. I HAD to show them. Improved graphics. A new card system. Three new characters. MORE TACTICS. Dear god, people. Let’s only hope they do remakes for ALL the Shining Forces, cuz this remake stuff is looking good. REAL good. It’s a great time to be a Shining fan. It really is. Not only do we have the Shining Force (GBA) remake, but also Sega just announced two, count em’, TWO new Shining games. Shining Tears for the PS2. And a BRAND NEW Shining Force also for the PS2. And I’ve never been happier. Seriously. So what if Amusement Division instead of Camelot is developing them. IT’S STILL SHINING FORCE. As long as Atlus doesn’t screw up the translation we’re good to go. Been a loooong time since I’ve been excited about videogames in general and this (coupled with Astro Boy) brought it all back. I mean, just look at these screenshots. Look at them! Doesn’t the nostalgia just come FLOODING back into your mind’s eye? Can’t wait. Can’t wait. Can’t wait. Can’t wait. Can’t wait. Can’t wait.

Screenshots courtesy of SEGA.



THE DOWN-LO SPOTLIGHT

Can’t wait. Can’t wait. Can’t wait. Can’t wait. Can’t wait. Can’t wait. Can’t wait. Can’t… oh, sorry. We’ve moved on.

The Down-Lo Spotlight. Remember this old relic? My personal vehicle for interviewing celebrities and industry stalwarts, getting their opinion on a variety of gaming related topics.

Ok, so normally it’s just a bunch of hacks writing for 411Mania with me asking asinine questions about Toejam & Earl’s funkiness or me tricking Pankonin into believing the Wonderswan is really a Kitchen Aid home appliance. But none of that crap today. Since Widro outright admitted to me one late night under influence of hallucinogens that his “Hot Seat” segment is directly stolen from the Spotlight, I’m axing all staff interviews. Instead…

(DL SPOTLIGHT ON MICHAEL HAIGNEY: EXECUTIVE PRODUCER)

Recently I caught up with Michael Haigney, 4Kids Executive Producer on FoxBox’s hit Saturday morning cartoon series, Sonic X, for some quick Q&As. And yes people… Of course it was going to have something to do with Sonic and or Sega. Haven’t you all been paying attention? I’m 411’s official Sonic mark. And Sonic X is hands down the most faithful cartoon adaptation of the franchise produced thus far, so that warrants it attention. Michael and I chatted about the series’ success, a possible movie in the works, and the controversy of 4Kids translating for the US audience. Good stuff, and it pads out a column quite nicely. Check it out:

This is the Down-Lo Spotlight.

Bebito Jackson: After Sonic X’s first showing on the 24th of August last year, how well did the show do in the ratings? Would you consider it a success?

Michael Haigney: Well, even though Sonic is Sega’s classic character, he’s been around a while, and I don’t think any of us knew if younger viewers would be that familiar with him. But the numbers were great and have continued to grow. In most of the key demographic groups, Sonic is the Fox Box’s #1 series.

BJ: Are 4kids and the FoxBox planning to broadcast the full 52 episode series? Or is this dependant on Sonic X’s continued success?

MH: As of now, 52 episodes will be broadcast on the Fox Box over two seasons. But it’s possible there may be more.

BJ: Head of Sonic Team, Yuji Naka, has expressed that if things go well he would love to see Sonic X on the silver screen. What are your thoughts on the possibility of this, and would 4kids be interested in bringing it from overseas?

MH: That would be a Sonic Team decision, but we’d love to see Sonic tearing up the big screen.

BJ: Will there be any Soundtracks released for the series down the line?

MH: There aren’t any plans right now, but maybe.

BJ: Are there plans to release Sonic X episodes to VHS and DVD? And if so, fans of the series would like to know if there’s a possibility for the DVD to contain an unedited version with the original Japanese voice actors, perhaps with subtitles?

MH: Right now we’re preparing the first DVD release. Unfortunately, we don’t have the rights to distribute the Japanese dialogue originals, though.

BJ: Some are critical of 4kids US translations, claiming that they edit too much content out of their Japanese counterparts. How would you respond to such critics?

MH: There are many non-Japanese speaking anime fans who only like their anime with original dialogue and subtitles. They find anything else unacceptable, at best. I can definitely understand their desire for purity. But the Fox Box is producing these shows for a (generally) younger audience. It’s difficult or impossible for many of them to read subtitles and follow the action simultaneously. We also know that the original dialogue in these shows frequently contains cultural references, jokes and puns — verbal and visual — that would puzzle virtually all of our viewers. So we do change most of those things. And because the shows are on broadcast television, we have network standards and practices to satisfy, not to mention those of our sponsors. Most of the things we delete or alter have to do with questionable (to us) religious imagery, blood, use of weapons and violence. I’m not sure we would let most of those things air even if it were solely our decision, but it isn’t.

BJ: Was there ever any thought of bringing back Urkel to reprise his role as the voice of Sonic (as he did in previous series adaptations) when it came time to pick US voice actors? And was the person who suggested as such shot on site with extreme prejudice?

MH: I haven’t heard Jaleel White’s Sonic, but the idea never came up as far as I know.

BJ: Thank god. Thank god for us all. What prospective projects is FoxBox looking at bringing over from Japan to the US in the near future? Any series interest you in particular at the moment? Gimmie the Down-Lo.

BJ: Rumor has it that some girl-oriented shows are slated for the near future, and another animated series based on a well-known video game. So stay tuned!

BJ: Hear that people? We can look forward to the long awaited cartoon adaptation of Bubsy! Thanks for your time Michael. Anything you’d like to say to the legions of Sonic X fans and fans of other quality Japanese animation out there?

MH: Yes! Thank you so much for watching Sonic X and supporting all the 4Kids’ shows. Without you, I’d have to get a real job! Keep those cards, letters and emails coming!

  • You can check out the latest adventures of Sonic and his pals in their fight against the machine every Saturday morning on Sonic X inside the FoxBox (check your local listings for scheduling).
  • Special thanks goes to the most in-depth Sonic X resource available anywhere, www.sonicanime.net. Go there to find the friendliest gaming and anime fan community on the web.
  • BJ? Did anyone notice my initials are exactly the same as the slang for “Blow Job”?? I didn’t!! That totally sucks. And holy crap! The same thing goes for Bella!! No wonder she never wore that chain I got her with her initials on it… I mean just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you should advertise it.
  • For general information on Sonic X and other FoxBox related shows, be sure to either bug Widro or check out the FoxBox Official Website: HERE.

Tune into next week’s Down-Lo Spotlight, when Bebito interviews WWE Superstar, The Hurricane! That’s right; Shane Helms will be in the house divulging his opinions on his favorite video games, which of us is his favorite kliq writer, and even what he thinks of 411Wrestling! It’s going to be one for the books folks, so don’t miss next week’s edition of the Down-Lo!!*

*May or may not actually be another edition of the Down-Lo.



MY OUR READERS ARE AWESOME AND I’VE GOT PROOF!

Since there’s been no feedback for the Down-Lo lately, seeing as their hasn’t actually been a Down-Lo to back the feed, we’re going to take a look at letters in response to one of our most popular staff features: Dreamcast: Sega’s Last Scream. 411’s tribute to one of the greatest dead’ consoles that never “should” have died. Click the link if ya haven’t read it for one of the greatest pieces of writing on the site not named Retrograding or The Gamer’s Conscious. Yeah, I know. The feature’s been around for quite some time, but hey, you guys would get bored looking at letter after letter of “Bebito! Bebito! Come back to us Bebito!”. I mean I never do… but I digress.

Apparently the DC Feature was universally loved, as is usual when the kliq comes together to jointly do… well, anything… generating ludicrous amounts of your emails. Couldn’t include all of them, but why not take a look at a couple…

IT’S ALL SEGA’S FAULT!!

Bebito,

just wanted to say I’m really enjoying your Dreamcast feature …however I just wanted to add a reason for why the DC failed (moreso in the UK and Europe).

As well as the reasons you have stated, from my personal experience one of the biggest (if not the biggest) factors in the Dreamcasts demise was due to SEGA mishandling of previous consoles.

Gamers lost confidence in SEGA. In Europe, the Master System and Genesis (MegaDrive) were great successes. SEGA were more popular than Nintendo, sales were high and everythings was rosy. However, for reasons unknown, SEGA decided to make a series of terrible business decisions.

The first one was to release the Mega-CD – a piece of kit that added very little to the existing MegaDrive and proved to be an expensive failure. Certainly in Europe it was not a success at all.

Then comes the “piece de resistance” – the 32X. It has been proved time and time again that console owners are reluctant to buy “add-ons” yet SEGA did not learn from the abject failure of the Mega-CD… and released the 32X …the mushroom shaped enhancement.

Despite the fact SEGA had announced the development of a new 32-bit system
codenamed Saturn (although wasn’t it called Katana or Dural at first??), they released the 32X – and then wondered why it never sold…

And so onto the Saturn. It’s my personal opinion that it was released too early. SEGA tried to get the jump on SONY, and ended up releasing a technically inferior machine. After the success of the MegaDrive, it’s amazing how SEGA managed to throw it all away, but they did. After competing for a short while (and amazingly introducing Lara Croft to the world) it was soon pulverised by the SONY Playstation…

Once again SEGA decided to try and get the jump on the competition and release the next generation of console early. Problem was, much like the Saturn, the DreamCast was released when potential customers had heard about the new more powerful PS2… SEGA just never seemed to learn from their mistakes.

Ultimately, a series of inferior machines and pointless add-ons destroyed any hope SEGA had of maintaining a customer base in Europe. Too many times loyal SEGA customers had been bitten in the arse when buying previous SEGA machines. SEGA had lost the trust of gamers and that is probably the mjor factor for the DC’s failure in Europe.

Anyway, just thought you might be interested to hear a fellow DC fan’s
perspective. Keep up the great work.

– Brad


One thing that seems to be agreed upon in many of your letters is that you thought we didn’t criticize Sega’s past console blunders enough. Honestly, the thought did come to mind. But it would have almost felt like beating a dead horse after we pointed out all the R&D mistakes, all the marketing slip-ups, all the missed opportunities creating games hardcore Sega fans wanted… We brow beat them enough and to go on and on would have undermined our feature’s objective. Which was to look PAST all that, and to take the system and the games for what they were on their own.

Ya know Brad, I don’t believe Sega released the Saturn too early. They just released it sloppily, without any fanfare or advertising. In the US most didn’t know the system was even out until they went to the store and saw it sitting on the shelves. Jumping ahead of your own release date without telling the general public ranks right up there eating steaming yellow snow as smart things to do. So in a “way” they released it too early, but not in comparison to the PSX.

And the Saturn wasn’t “inferior” to the PSX really. They simply had different strengths. The PSX was MADE for 3D but handled 2D like crap, The Saturn struggled with 3D but was a 2D powerhouse. Play the Saturn version of X-Men Vs Streetfighter compared to the PSX version and see what I mean. Of course 3D and mainstream gaming took off, so of course the Saturn would “seem” inferior because gamers no longer wanted what it was good at.

As for the add-ons? Yeah, I admit the 32X sucks harder than the Down-Lo (HOY! Old-school Down-Lo reference, baby!), but you’ve got to give the Sega CD some credit. Sure it died a death it deserved to die, but any system that brings us a Shining Force, two Lunars, and the greatest 2D Sonic The Hedgehog ever made deserves some respect.

Real quick. This letter gets BebitoPoints for calling the Saturn by its African’ names: Dural and Katana. Man, I remember actually being worried that one of those would be the final label. Although Katana wouldn’t have been THAT bad.

Ok, no. Not really… I can’t back that up.

STEWIN’ A HOMEBREWIN’

Wow. That was one of the best things I have read in a very long time. I recently got back into the DC when I decided to give a go at the whole emulation thing… which is one thing you forgot to mention, as well as the homebrew scene for the Dreamcast that is growing larger and larger every day. Beats of Rage is awesome, and all of the other homebrew programs out there such as an MP3 player, Divx player, and VCD player just rock. Anyway, my hat’s off to you: thanks for bringing this to other people’s attention.

Keepin’ the DC scene alive.

-John


Lots of you guys who wrote in are into to homebrewin’. I didn’t realize how many of you hackers were out there still creating your own games. My hats off to you as well then, John. You’re keepin’ the DC scene alive right along with us. Glad you enjoyed it.

NOW I’M A BELIEVER

Hi

Just wanted to say that I really enjoyed the Dreamcast. Sega’s last scream feature. I never got a dreamcast because I was lured away by the evil playstation, but you have persuaded me to go and and buy one now. I went to my local Gamestation (Not sure if you have those in America, im from England.) and picked up a dreamcast with 5 games (Chu Chu Rocket, toy racer, Mr Driller, Space channel 5 and sega bass fishing,) for 45 quid! Thankyou thankyou thankyou for showing me how good the dreamcast and sega are! I am forever in your debt.

–Chris


Ya see, now THIS is why we wrote this thing. If we could convince one guy… even if it was only ONE guy to go out, buy the system, and try the games… then we accomplished our mission. Then all the words and toiling were well worth the while. I’m just as happy for us as for you Chris. You’re not alone in your sudden eye opening. Enjoy your newfound love of the Sega Dreamcast, courtesy of 411games. :)

DON’T BLAME ME

Nice dreamcast tribute. Just broke the old girl out yesterday for some 2d fighting and Ikaruga.

But don’t blame me. I bought my Dreamcast April 2nd 2000

32 games

You CANNOT forget to mention Shenmue in your tribute

— John Weston


That was the best thing about doing the DC tribute. All the Sega fans I’d ever want to meet came out of the woodwork. And wooo, there sure are a lot of you. Guys like John here, who appreciated and still appreciate the ludicrous amount of fun to be had from Sega’s consoles. Heck, before I got this crazy idea in my head to retire’, I was gonna strong arm the kliq into a Saturn feature (taking the DC Feature’s place as my favorite piece of writing on the site). Because all of mankind knows the greatest Sega system ever created was the Sega Saturn.

Heh. Glad you enjoyed it, and don’t worry John. Nobody blames you. But hmm… you didn’t buy the system on launch day? Naughty, naughty. But a library of 32 games makes up for it. Almost… ;)

COME BACK TO US!!

Dammit man! I know you’re busy, but can’t you at least put out a column a month? Something to look forward to? I miss the Down-Lo!!!!!

–Prufrock0220@aol.com


Whoops! Now how did that get in there…

ARMADA? REALLY??

This column better have Armada in it somewhere!

*shakes fist menacingly*

— Diesel


Wow. Armada? EW. But you weren’t the only one who said that. I had no idea how many people actually LIKED Armada. Trust me “Diesel” (my lawyers will be contacting you for copyright infringement), if anyone in the Kliq had given two craps about it… I STILL wouldn’t have allowed it in there. I mean that straight from the heart. ;)

GET A LOAD OF THIS

I just finished reading today’s installment, an I have a few insights I’d like to share.

I bought a Dreamcast in December, 2001. The main reason I bought it was for it’s use as a cheap internet appliance. Of course, if I was lucky enough to find some of the games I was interested in, that would be okay, too. I admit that before the birth of homebrew software and emulation, I didn’t think much of the DC, mainly due to the design and software decisions Sega made poorly, and I still feel that these flaws
contributed to the stillbirth of the system.

1. If you are putting in a laser that can focus to DVD track density, which is what the high-density sections on the GD-ROM discs are, then it’s not very bright NOT to include an MPEG-2 decoder as well. I was working in electronics sales when the DC and PS2 were announced and launched in japan, and in Video Rental when the PS2 came out in North America, and one of the prime factors in the public eye of the success of the PS2, and the failure of the DC, was DVD playback. Here in Canada, new systems launch at about $400 to $500, so if you want to sell well at launch, you need to give bang for the buck. The fact that it really wouldn’t have been costly or difficult to include the capability makes its exclusion a huge mistake.

2.If you are going to have all the games support force feedback, build it into the damn controller! Nobody wanted to pay $25 extra per controller for something Sony built into the Dual Shock for free. Including it also would have made the 2-slot design on the controllers a lot more functional, as you can’t have port 2 devices like the Game Shark or the microphone unit plugged in if you want5 rumble, and that
means, at best, that you need to have extra controls plugged in to use the Game Shark, or that you couldn’t have chat and rumble at the same time for Alien Front Online!

3.More about the controls. When creating the successor to the Saturn, which had a great control pad (In Japan, or the second generation U.S. Pad) to begin with, followed by the NiGHTS control pad, going with fewer buttons on the DC control was retarded! I have played games that ranged from mildly annoying to unplayable, simply because the control just didn’t have enough buttons. A second analog stick wouldn’t have hurt either. Slave Zero would have rocked with a 2-stick control pad. I had such a hard time controlling that game that I sold it after a week of trying to play it.

4.The VMU was a cool idea, but they really should have designed it to use AA or AAA batteries. I’d love to play Chao Adventure, but I’m not paying $10 a week for the 2xCR-2025 batteries to power it! Going with AAA batteries wouldn’t have changed the size of the unit by much, and would have encouraged gamers to use the VMU as it was intended.

5.Better QA testing on 3rd-party games. Over the course of the DC’s life, 3rd-party releases were known to have problems with anything from glitches in gameplay to complete incompatibility with certain production runs of hardware. I went through 3 copies of Blue Stinger before I got one that would boot on my system! Sorry, but that kind of shit after the Saturn and Sega CD is too much to ask the public to overlook

6.Another holdover from the days of the Genesis: Sega being too damned dumb to release their own games in North America! On Genesis, it was RagnaCenty and a bunch of non-FMV Sega CD titles (In other words, games people would actually want to play), on Saturn it was Shinobi:Legions (Hey, let’s license one of our flagship series to a company that has lousy distribution and marketing worse than our own!
That’ll make us SO much money!) and on DC, while not being a AAAA title, Blue Stinger was a decent survival horror title at a time when they were hot.

7.Not bringing high-profile European titles to North America. At least, not on DC. See Headhunter.

8.Involving Microsoft in the console’s design and software. I have had a lot of crash glitches is Windows CE games for DC, even more than I have encoutered in homebrew stuff. Not to mention, it is somewhat suspicious that the DC was terminated shortly after XBOX details were announced, most of the anticipated DC titles were shiftd to XBOX, and what was to be Sega’s “So long and thanks for all the fish!” to all their fans on their last system, Shenmue II, was cancelled on the North
American DC, effectively giving their staunchest supporters the finger! I don’t wear a tinfoil hat, but I think I smell some backroom dealings there.

Although those things irk me, I love my DC. I have some great games, and I wish everyone would make their machines readily VGA compatible. I just wish Sega hadn’t had their heads so far up their asses on so many things. I used to be a Sega die-hard, but they just didn’t seem to want to survive in the North American market.

— Darcy Parker


Pfft… *stifles laughter* Woooo. Now I’m a nice guy. I don’t like saying mean things to people not named Chris Pankonin. But I see several things wrong with what’s written above. Fortunately, that’s what every gaming staff has an Alex Lucard for. I mean SOMEBODY needs to be brutally honest, right? Right. So take it away HBK.

Alex Lucard: Armada? EW.

Bebito: No, no, Alex. The letter AFTER that one.

Alex Lucard: Ah. Wow Darcy Parker is quite the idiot.

Bebito: Yeah, I know! Err… I mean. Now why in the world would you say something judgmental as that?

Alex Lucard: Let me break it down for you, BDC.

Bebito: Ok.

Alex Lucard: 1. DVD playback? Yes, THAT’s why people buy video game systems. Well…idiots anyways. I got the Gamecube and an all regions Panasonic DVD/CD/MP3 player for the same price as an Xbox/Ps2. Seriously, it’s called video game console not, 3rd rate DVD player.

Bebito: Ouch.

Alex Lucard: 2. The guy wants his game shark plugged in. Wah! Poor wussy cheaty boy. And you know, in a game like Alien Front Online, you do NOT want the rumble feature.

Bebito: Must your words be so cutting…? *shaking head*

Alex Lucard: 3. Someone wants MORE buttons on a controller? Again, it’s like the guy is trying to say every idiot comment on the planet at once.

Saturn joystick WAS the best though, tis true. But there’s a reason Xbox modeled their controllers after the DC ones, because everyone liked them. Except dumb ass here.

Bebito: I am shocked and appalled! Please excuse this coarse language folks.

Alex Lucard: 4. 10$ a week in batteries for the VMU? Was he ONLY playing the VMU? My batteries lasted for months! And you can tell this guy never used a Game Boy.

Bebito: My VMU batteries still work actually. But that’s not reason to be insulti…

Alex Lucard: 5. Wait. Hold on. Better QA? Okay, now the guy is just living in fantasy magical land. Damn near every magazine talked about Sega’s anal Quality control back during the days of the DC and Saturn.

Bebito: Dear lord man. Can’t you say anything nice??

Alex Lucard: Well, his #6 is true.

Bebito: Ok. Thank you.

Alex Lucard: 7. Holy crap this guy is an idiot! No Euro support? They’re still releasing games for the DC in Europe! The internet function in Europe still works! THEY GOT MORE GAMES THAN NORTH AMERICA! What a f*cking Choad.

Bebito: Sigh…

Alex Lucard: 8. I have two DC’s for LAN play. And most people I know have them. A DC crash? Only if he f*cking dropped it out a window or tried to make it drink beer.

Holy shit, why do these idiots come to 411, Bebs. Seriously?

Bebito: Now, now, Alex! Not all of our readers are like that. Why, just check out this next letter…

OH LORD…

Wait..is there a reason you keep saying PS2? I guess there could have been some screen shots in 1999 but it was still 3-4 years away, and how the hell did it out sell PS2 if it wasn’t evne out you goober?


Bebito: …

Alex Lucard: Did he just say the PS2 was 3-4 years away in f*cking 1999, Bebs?!

Bebito: …

Alex Lucard: THIS is our audience??

Bebito: Um. Maybe I should just skip the rest of these and uh, yeah…



PEACE OUT YALL

Hmf. This is as good a place to stop as any. I didn’t really try to setup some mind-blowing end-all finale column here. I just wanted to do the usual shtick. And to tell the truth, it was rather fun. I forgot how liberating a feeling writing the Down-Lo was to begin with. Alas all good things come to an end, several times over apparently. ;-) Hey guys, thanks for liking these ramblings of mine enough to keep me around for a good year and a half. Absolutely loved it. Best of wishes to the entire 411games staff, and hope they continue to be what is in my humble opinion the best gaming site on the web. Much love to Widro/Ashish, Pankonin, the kliq, and especially the readers. Peace, guys. I’m out.

No… I mean it. For real this time. I’m out.

Really! I mean it. No more Bebito.

Right. So, see you guys next week? Ok, cool… ;)

SIGNING OFF…

(411 DOWN-LO OFFLINE: END TRANSMISSION…)