Encore Extra Stage #6

Hello and welcome, all you crazy Friday gamers. Alex Williams here, bringing you various odds and ends from the gaming world, setting it on puree, and dumping it all over your laps. Tasty, no?

I must say that over the next couple of weeks, you guys should consider yourselves LUCKY that you receive a weekly column from me at all. No, that statement was not to promote my own arrogance. Simply the truth, is all, and here’s why:

(1) College life has just exited out of the “awkward beginning” phase and entered the “regular reading/writing to keep up and not fail” phase. Time is a more valuable commodity now than ever, and more of that time needs to be devoted to that diploma I plan on getting in about 15 months from now.

(2) Pokemon Leaf Green came out, and I ended up spending a whopping 39 HOURS in it in a seven-day period. The game had hooked me to a point where I just couldn’t put the GBA down. Of course, this has ALSO severely reduced the time I take to put out a column for you.

(3) DDR Extreme comes out next week, and contains a ton of new material I’ve never played, or haven’t played in a while. If you can’t figure out why this would take away from column time, you haven’t been reading on Friday’s much.

(4) Other site duties. I have quite a few reviews to write in the coming weeks, and some other cool features as well planned. If I miss a week on this column because of those, it’s only to get the important stuff out for you to read first.

And there be the factors that might keep me away from writing this. Massive loads of homework, combined with much-needed leisure delights. You know, a balance so I don’t go completely insane.

Getting to interesting stuff that happened over the week, you know that Orange Lounge Radio radio station I’m always plugging? Well, on their live show last Sunday night, I actually got the chance to call in and talk to them for about 3 1/2 minutes. The cool thing was I got something akin to a super-mini-interview, as they asked me where in the hell my “El Mullet” screen name came from, and allowed me a chance to plug Inside Pulse for being so good about plugging them. We also talked about Ultramix stories, giving compliments on their show in person, made fun of our Wrestling section…good times, good times.

If you want to hear a replay of that particular show, tune in on Thursday, September 23rd at 9:00 PM EST (6:00 PM PST). I called about 40 minutes into the show, so if you just want to tune in around the half-hour mark, that’s fine.

Anyway, onto this week’s business. And this week, I emulate another member on the Inside Pulse staff named Alex short of stealing his last name. Pokemon talk time!


IT’S ALL COMING BACK TO ME

Last Thursday, I finally got the chance to play Pokemon Leaf Green.

For the fourth time in a row, a Pokemon RPG has hooked me with it’s cute little claws, and refuses to let me put my Game Boy down.

Outside of DDR games, no other game I’ve ever played has ever hooked me in this manner. Even games that I would put “above” Pokemon on my favorites list, including the Lunar series and…well, the Lunar series. Wow, Pokemon in my Top Three Game Series list. Don’t that beat all?

But seriously, the re-release of the classic R/B/Y game is simply incredible. And for lack of better things to talk about this week, I’m simply going to dote on what I like about this game. And there’s a LOT.

The Help System: While a bit annoying for us veteran players as it will pop up every time we accidentally tap the L/R triggers, I am very impressed with the in-game tutorials. This system is absolutely PERFECT for those who are new to the game, yet don’t want to be completely spoiled by a strategy guide that tells them everything about everything. Take my fiancee, for example. She’s never played a Pokemon game in her life, so she basically had no idea of what to do, or how to do it. With the in-game help system, nearly all her questions are answered with a push of a button. Marvelous addition.

The Remixed Music: I expected remixed music, yes. But I didn’t expect them to be THIS good. I thought I’d worked it all out in my head as to what music went where, or how it would sound. But the WAY it was composed was much different than what I had pictured, and far exceeded my expectations. The remixed G/S/C tunes when you reach the islands are also a nice touch, as I really miss hearing them.

The VS Seeker: This is quite possibly the best invention I’ve ever seen in the Pokemon universe. Every 100 steps, you can challenge any trainer you want to a rematch just by having them on the screen. Combine this with an Amulet Coin and an Experience Share for quite possibly the most ridiculous combo to obtain money and EXP outside of going through the Elite Four over and over again.

Feels “The Same”: Game Freak made a VERY special point to limit the Pokemon you can see and catch during your main quest to exactly 149. (Mewtwo is exempt due to being and extra quest.) Even though the graphics and music have been enhanced, the programmers didn’t cheat and make non-Kanto Pokemon available in Kanto. Hell, you can’t even link up to games that HAVE non-Kanto Pokemon until you beat the game and go through a series of quests first. Not only does this lengthen the replay value of this game by 150%, but it keeps continuity in the Pokemon universe as well. It’s just incredible.

Johto Pokemon: Of course it’s ALSO amazing that you can catch Pokemon from the Johto region when you do beat the game and head out to the islands. Mixed in with the super-high level Kanto Pokemon are some smaller-level Johto guys that are easy to catch, and round out your newly acquired Nationdex quite nicely. It’s also the only way to catch Unowns. And there are two more of them to find! I’m happy.

Complete Pokedex?: Nintendo is slowly but surely allowing us to catch all 386 Pokemon. First they release R/S on the GBA with 200 Pokemon to catch. Then comes the Pokemon Colosseum bonus discs. America gets Jirachi, Japan gets Celebi. (And from the looks of it, both can be imputed in a US game. Ask Lucard.) Then Pokemon Colosseum itself comes out, which allows you to snatch up a number of Johto-exclusive Pokemon. And now these game arrive, with not only all the Kanto Pokemon, but methods to obtain the up-until-now uncatchable Lugia and Deoxys. So if you’re a savvy character, you can fill your Pokedex up to 385/386 Pokemon. Now, if only Mew were available outside of Nintendo…

Oh, wait! Already taken care of!

And that’s just a small sampling of what I’m drooling over in this game. It’s just THAT engrossing, and THAT much fun.


I GOT MAIL?!?

And the mail keeps coming! Maybe after a few months, I’ll be able to print FOUR E-MAILS A COLUMN!

The first comes from release date contributor Christian:

Hey Alex! Christian @ Game Crazy here.

Good column this week and yes that is a very dumb game.

I have some info that you might be interested in. I was looking at the Silent Hill 4 The Room soundtrack that came with the pre-order of the game. On it, there’s a tune called “Your Rain – Rage Mix”. It says it’s from DDR Extreme.

Now, I don’t know if you have this on the list of songs or not, but I thought I’d let you know. It’s actually quite good.

Christian wishes to challenge me on DDR knowledge. This is something no mortal man should ever do, and here’s why:

Yes, I’ve known about “Your Rain (RAGE MIX)” for quite some time. We first heard about it all the way back at E3, when it appeared as one of the songs on the 11-Song demo. Back then, we didn’t know what it was from, until we heard that Silent Hill 4’s main theme was a little diddy called “Your Rain”. So we now know it’s a SH4 remix.

And yes, I knew it was a preview track on the SH4 bonus disc for a while now. In fact, even before the track list was released, one of the Konami reps confirmed the “(RAGE MIX)” to be on the soundtrack. And not only did it make it on the SH4 disc, but its ALSO on the DDR Extreme music sampler that’s being sent to those who preordered the game.

And yes, I’ve heard the song before. It’s on two different soundtracks, AND was previewed several times over on Orange Lounge Radio for a couple of weeks. And if I’m not mistaken, it’s being included in the normal song rotation as well. (I could be wrong on this fact.) So, long story short, Your Rain (RAGE MIX) has hit the market with FORCE, and you have to be deaf if you haven’t heard the song in the DDR community yet.

Our next letter doesn’t pick up on my sarcasm on my comments on emulation last week, and also says stuff he might regret later:

Personally, I fail to see how pirating a game on a console that hasn’t even been sold in the last 10 years or so does anything to Shigeru Miyamoto’s salary. As far as I know, The Big N doesn’t get a cut on used game sales, and that’s really the only way you’re going to find Super Metroid (or any Super NES game) these days.

You may say emulation is BAD, BAD, BAD, but, from my POV, 8 years after my SNES gave up the ghost, and 13 years after my brother decided to sell off our NES to his friend while I was at school, I’m still enjoying the games I grew up with, as well as discovering new gems that either were not released in wide distribution, or not released AT ALL because the elitist Japanese game companies thought we wouldn’t “get it”. And I’m really not hurting anybody while doing it (hell, my local game shops don’t even carry used SNES and NES stuff anymore, so you can’t even argue that I’m hurting them). To me, this can only be a good thing.

(Name withheld for various reasons)

Number one, I was mostly kidding about Shigeru Miyamoto’s salary. It was just a FAR FETCHED example of what could happen when games are pirated. Number two, despite how you feel about the issue, or how much you enjoy the games from 10-15 years ago, let me make one thing perfectly clear…

WHAT YOU ARE DOING IS ILLEGAL!

Now, emulation is a tricky subject, I’ll grant you that. There are conditions here, and loopholes there, and yadda yadda yadda. So here’s the short version: You are only allowed to emulate console games on your PC that you currently own legally. You MUST have the original cartridge/CD/DVD to do this. If you do NOT own the game in question, you can only use the ROM for a 24-hour evaluation, and by then it must be deleted. From the sound of things, it looks like you’ve kept these ROMs for WELL over 24 hours. Therefore, you are breaking game company copyright laws.

Let’s use the game Metroid as an example. The NES game Metroid was originally released in the mid-late 80’s by Nintendo. Nintendo has the right to publish this game on any system they see fit, and they HAVE. Once on the NES, once on the Gamecube as an unlockable bonus on Metroid Prime, once on the GBA as an unlockable bonus on Metroid: Zero Mission, and once again later this year on the GBA as its own separate cartridge.

Now, you have all these options Nintendo gives you for you to play Metroid. However, you chose to download it illegally. This probably affects your decision to purchase other Metroid-brand games that contain the original Metroid in it. Especially the stand-alone Metroid coming to the GBA. “Why should I pick the GBA game up?” you ask yourself. “I have the NES ROM I downloaded for FREE!” And so while you are playing the game for free, a GBA Metroid cart sits on the shelf. NOW you are taking money out of Nintendo’s pocket. And THAT’S why piracy is BAD, BAD, BAD!

Again, everything is a situation. I will freely admit to owning a Genesis emulator, and several ROMs of Sonic The Hedgehog games. HOWEVER, I also own a Genesis system (two, actually), and each and every cartridge I downloaded the ROM for. I even own Sonic Mega Collection on the Gamecube, and several PC titles with the same games included. I’ve paid for my games. Therefore, I am perfectly within my legal rights to download those specific ROMs.

On the other side of the coin, however, I DON’T have an SNES. I NEVER owned one, and never owned an SNES game. Therefore, I can’t make use of SNES ROMs. Believe me, it KILLS me that I can’t play SNES games regularly. I missed out on a great system over ten years ago. But it still doesn’t make it right. Especially if the popular SNES game I download is suddenly announced for a re-release on a newer console. Then it’s ME who’s playing games illegally.

So there’s my expansive stance on the issue. While I agree that emulation is the “easy” way to relive classics, it BY NO MEANS gives you the right to steal.


RECENT DDR AAA ACCOMPLISHMENTS

I will GLOAT UNTIL THE END OF TIME! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

#859 — Little Boy (Boy On Boy Mix) — Standard (6) [MAX2JP CS]
#860 — Burning Heat (3 Option Mix) — Standard (5) [MAX2JP CS]
#861 — Meaning of Life — Light (3) [ULTRAMIX]

I fully expect this section to explode two weeks from now. Be prepared to scroll a LOT to skip it.


PLUGS & SHILLS THAT PAY THE BILLS

The Games Staff continues its “awesomeness streak”. Do yourself a favor and experience it for yourself:

Views You Can Use

The 10th ArtBen Parfitt
Ben recently quit, so I can stop pretending to like him. No, seriously, I wish him luck in his future endeavors.

The Daily PulseAlex Lucard
I probably did him proud this week by slobbering all over Pokemon this week. In two weeks, DDR Extreme gets this treatment.

Gamer’s HangoverCory Laflin
Cory keeps harping on how ESPN 2K5 is better than Madden 2005, even after the issue is long since past. He’s 100% right, you know.

From A Gamer’s BasementA.J. Angeloni
A.J. compares video game history to the world’s history. Quite an entertaining read.

Pulse CannonMichael O’Reilly
Mike checks in with impressions on ESPN NHL 2K5, Street Fighter Collection, and Psi-Ops.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Video GamesMisha
A bit late this week due to technical difficulties, but still the same ol’ Misha. He’s got some news bites and release dates comin’ at ya.

Rapid FireBryan Berg
Bryan touches on “gaming burnout”, which kinda goes hand in hand with my argument a few weeks ago about how time is short for me lately. I get burned out in life, and have no real desire to pick up a controller sometimes. He also gives me the best compliment ever, and I return it with a dignified “Ditto”.

The Angry GamerLiquidcross
LC says simplicity is awesome for games. I agree mostly, simply because games are becoming WAY to complicated. However, some games need to be fleshed out in order to hold my interest for more than a week.

Feature-licious

Showdown – R&C III VS Jak III — Bebito Jackson and Me, Myself, and I
Bebito and I compare and contrast Ratchet & Clank III: Up Your Arsenal and Jak III coming up this fall. Much blood was spilled over this. Long story short, Bebito has a new Clank-parts hat, and I have a new Daxter-skin rug.

Outside The Box

Orange Lounge Radio, of course, gets an auto-pimp for being oh so very kick-ass week after week. Now if my Internet would KEEP THE FUCK UP so I can listen better…


FINAL WORDS

A bit on the short side, yes. But I had my piece to say, and I said it. You can’t expect a Cookie Commentary EVERY week, you know.

Next week, DDR Extreme comes out. If I’m mysteriously absent next week, you’ll know why, although I don’t plan on it.

And before I forget, a very Happy New Year to all my Jewish brethren.


Alex Williams, The Norwegian Athlete