Mid-Week Mid-Boss v2.04

Hey yo. I’m back for another week, as usual. Last week my column was a tad bit late, and I don’t know why. But it was up, so no biggie. I’m going to be posting this one a little earlier, so hopefully it goes on the site earlier as well.

This past week was pretty good. Had a few semi-rough days at work, but not too bad. I’ve certainly had worse days. The week ended very nicely though, and I enjoyed my weekend, so I can’t complain.

Next week, on Tuesday, I turn 28. I know I’m still relatively young, but I feel old. And I feel older and older every single year. I’m hoping for a Nintendo DS for my birthday, with a nice game about puppies and another one about vampires, so wish me luck!

Also, on Saturday I saw Serenity. Don’t worry, no spoilers here. I thought it was a very good movie, and Joss Whedon paced it much better than I had expected him to, based on a couple of reviews. I expected to see a two hour long TV show, but ended up seeing a movie that managed to not only fit an abbreviated introduction to well established (and very well loved) cast, but also include elements of the show that everybody loved (the characters and the witty banter) and elements every action type movie needs (big explosions and a huge ass fight or two). After the end, I don’t know where they are going to take the franchise, but I do hope they continue it. It’s going to end sometime, but I don’t want it to end yet. Let them make their trilogy. Then let it end on Joss’ terms. UPDATE: The movie only made $10 million and was 2nd place to Flightplan. I don’t understand why people would see that considering how implausible and overdone the plot is, but oh well. Serenity will likely make most of its money in DVD sales anyway.

You know how I had promised a sort of game design essay type of thing? Well, that got kinda out of hand, and I’m going to have to put a lot more thought and work into it than I previously thought. I DO want to do it though, so I’m not going to scrap the idea, I’m just going to postpone it for a while. This week it too busy for me to devote time to it, so I’m going to work on it when I get a lull and can put more thought and structure to it. I’m taking two days off of work for my birthday, so assuming that I don’t have too much to do those days, I can work on it then. In this column, though, I put together a little feature about HD-DVD and Blu-Ray.

Anyway, besides that, it will be the same ole same ole, including some good news this week for RPG fans, and some cuts in my TV schedule to give me more time to play games. Check it out.


In The News

Seiken Densetsu fans, your time has come! Square Enix has announced it will be releasing not one, but TWO SD games. The first, Seiken Densetsu DS: Children of Mana, will of course, be for the DS. The other, and probably more anticipated, will be Seiken Densetsu 4, and will be for one of the console systems. Which one hasn’t been announced, but I’m betting on PS2. No other details are known at this time.
This is great news. The Seiken Densetsu series is one of those that many people love, even the typical Squeenix haters. Many people simply loved Secret of Mana and Legend of Mana, and from what I’ve heard, Seiken Densetsu 3 was incredibly popular in Japan, though sadly we didn’t get it in the states. Hopefully they bring over both of these games, because I think they’ll probably do better over here than the SaGa series has. (Source: JUMP Magazine, Games are Fun)

Nippon Ichi will be releasing a sequel to one of its most popular games ever, Disgaea. Scheduled for a 2006 release, Makai Senki Disgaea 2 will feature new characters, though the cast of the original will apparently be supporting characters (and knowing Nippon Ichi, hidden playable characters). The main character is Adel, who is out to kill Xenon, who turned everyone else in Adel’s world into demons.
I don’t know what to think of this. I love Disgaea, but why make a sequel to it that has different characters. Why not do something along the lines of Makai Kingdom? I’ll tell you why: money. They will sell Disgaea 2 better than a game nobody has heard of. This makes me wary of it though. I think Nippon Ichi has backed themselves into a corner and are grasping at straws to make a game that is greater than Disgaea. They shouldn’t even try. Personally, I think they should go off and do something entirely different. I love their SRPGs, but sadly, they haven’t really evolved that much, and they seem TOO alike. But that’s just my opinion. I still love the company though. (Source: Dengenki Magazine, Games are Fun)

Two pieces of Halo news. First off, a Halo character (not Master Chief (still the stupidest video game character name ever)) will be a secret character in Dead or Alive 4. Second, Peter Jackson’s production company will be executive producing the Halo movie.
First off, for those unaware, I don’t like Halo. I think it’s vastly overrated. I think it is merely a passable shooter and is only popular because the original was the only shooter at a time when there were none on the Xbox (or any good console ones period for that matter). But compared to PC shooters, it’s merely mediocre. So as for the first piece, I don’t care. For the second piece, I don’t really care either. The only reason this is in here is because I needed news, and because Peter Jackson is awesome and WETA will be tapped to do effects on the movie, and they pretty much kick ass (though I’d honestly rather see the live action Evangelion). (Source: Games are Fun, Evil Avatar, IGN)

EA is making a new game called Superman Returns: The Videogame. It will be developed by EA Tiburon, who is best known for making the Madden series.
Ok, first off, wasn’t the last Superman game a disaster? Maybe there has been one released since then. Second, has EA ever released any good comic based games? Third, isn’t Tiburon the company that screwed Madden PSP royally? In all fairness, the world could use a good Superman game. Will this be it? It’s possible, but I doubt it. (Source: Evil Avatar, Team Xbox)


Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD
One of the biggest media format wars is on the horizon. Unlike those of the past, like Betamax vs. VHS and DVD vs. DivX, there does not appear to be any clear-cut favorite winner in this war. Both sides have quite a few big name companies backing them up. I’m going to take a look at both of these formats and see how they input we consumers.

First, the facts. Both of these new formats are basically an evolution of the existing DVD specification. Blu-Ray (developed by Sony) and HD-DVD (developed by Toshiba) use a blue laser to read the disc, rather than a red laser like existing CD and DVD technology. Both have capacity improvements over existing DVDs, which will allow more storage space, and in the case of movies, the potential for an even higher definition picture than is possible with current DVDs.

Both formats are going to include something else as well. Both formats support a specification called AACS, or Advanced Access Content System. This provides not only a copy protection type scheme, but also a way to (legally) copy your movies or content to other devices, like copying a CD to your MP3 player, something which is technically (and stupidly) illegal in the US.

When the dueling formats were announced, I considered myself to be an avid supporter of the Blu-Ray format. Then again, I probably would have been considered a Sony fanboy at the same time, and wouldn’t have argued with that label. Fast forward a to the present, and I’ve recently been accused as a Sony hater and a Microsoft lover. And I’m also finding myself to be leaning towards HD-DVD in the media conflict.

Prior to the past week or so, the only item on the list of various features of these new media formats was the size. The Blu-Ray could hold 25GB single layer and 50GB dual layer, and the HD-DVD could hold 15GB single and 30GB dual. Bigger equals better, right? All I could think about was how many episodes of anime could they cram onto a 50GB disc as opposed to a 30GB disc. Welcome to the real world. There haven’t been any 50GB Blu-Ray discs produced outside of a lab environment, but HD-DVD has made quick improvements and can now manufacture 30GB dual layer discs. In fact, they can produce a disc that is HD on one side (holding 30GB) and a regular DVD on the other side, which can be viewed in a current DVD player. Blu-Ray backers have noted that their format can do that as well, but I hadn’t heard them hype that feature until recently.

These are just a couple of reasons why Microsoft and Intel have recently announced their support of the HD-DVD specification. In addition, HD-DVD extends the AACS specification to do what they call “Managed Copy”, which gives you the ability to copy the DVD to your hard drive or portable device for viewing on the go or in other parts of your home. In fact, it is a requirement of the HD-DVD specification that you are allowed to copy the discs to your hard drive in the case of computers. This is apparently the primary reason for the backing of the two computer powerhouses. Both have home theater-type PCs (Microsoft’s Windows Media Center Edition and Intel’s Viiv, which has yet to be released) which would benefit from the ability to copy the DVD.

A week ago, Sony had a marked advantage in this battle, thanks to the backing of some big movie companies. Now it has no such advantage. If Toshiba is leading, then it’s tied at the very least.

And now that I have read more, HD-DVD is sounding better and better. In the long run, it may not hold as much data, but supposedly it will be easier to change existing DVD manufacturing plants over to HD-DVD, which may (but not likely) means the discs will be cheaper than Blu-Ray discs.

Toshiba has announced that it won’t be releasing HD-DVD players until next year, and Blu-Ray will supposedly be debuting in the Playstation 3, so in all likelihood, the real battles will begin next year. Since both sides are stubborn, I don’t think they’ll work together to make a compromising solution, so both will probably come out strong, and then one will fizzle out. This certainly won’t be a definite victory like DVD over DivX or VHS over Betamax. So I’m gonna wait before putting any money on either.

Then again, it’s not like any of us have any say in it at the moment. It’s all big companies who will do the deciding for us. Just like with Betamax.


What I’ve Been Playing
I’m not playing anything for fun this week, unfortunately. I worked hard on Indigo Prophecy and was able to get through it for a review.

I also rented The Suffering: The Ties that Bind and am working on it for a review as well.

Besides those two, I don’t expect to play any non-reviewed games until after next week. Though I will announce that I have signed up for Gamefly, since I had been having a hard time figuring out what “fun” games to rent at Blockbuster. Plus you can rent DS games there as well. So hopefully I can actually play some games for fun!


Xbox Demos
I did, however, pick up the November issue of the Official Xbox Magazine. You know how I loves me some demos. Here’s what was in this issue:

Star Wars Battlefront II – I didn’t like the first one of these at all, and I find it VERY hard to believe that it is the “best selling Star Wars game of all time”, especially compared to greats like KOTOR and X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter. I guess there’s no accounting for taste. Anyway, this one is better, from what I played. It’s still a total Battlefield ripoff, but they’ve added a couple of new features. Once you get 15 kills, you get the chance to play as a hero type character, like Obi-Wan Kenobi or Darth Maul, and can control them for 3 minutes, when you have to go back to a regular fighter. They’ve also added space combat where you can hop on a fighter, fly around shooting down ships, and then fly into an enemy ship and attack. This was ok, but not great. I don’t see why they just don’t make an update to X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter since that is probably one of the best Star Wars games ever made. Then again, space sim games (like Wing Commander and X-Wing) aren’t popular anymore.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted – I’ve never played a NFS game. It just never called to me. Gran Turismo, and then Burnout 3, always filled my racing game void. This game isn’t really special. If you want to pretend like you’re doing illegal street racing, then I guess it’s for you. It doesn’t mean anything to me though.

L.A. Rush – Ugh, what crap. The graphics are awful, and the slow motion when you crash is like Burnout, except like, not cool. Skip this game.

Land of the Dead – Speaking of awful graphics, this game was total shit. It’s the first game based on George Romero’s work, and this isn’t the way to make a first impression. The graphics look a lot like the graphics from Quake, and there’s even more clipping than Quake. It didn’t help that it took about 3 hits to kill my guy and I shot a zombie in the head at point blank range and it didn’t die. Avoid this game at all costs.

Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects – Blech, another EA game. I knew going into this that it wouldn’t be a good experience. And I was right. EA has no originality, and they made a shitty character named Johnny Ohm (amongst others) who is basically Electro. The graphics are pretty good, but the story just looks retarded, and the fighting is useless. You have ONE FUCKING ATTACK BUTTON. That’s it. Marvel, you are SO f*cking stupid to let EA ruin your fighting franchises. Capcom did so much for you in the video game field, and you let EA take a stinking, smelly shit on that. EA is good at taking shits.

NCAA Football 06 – I’m not a big college football fan, despite the fact that I’m surrounded by many OU (that’s University of Oklahoma) fans here. So I couldn’t get into this game. The players have no names, so you’re just playing as teams. And I never really enjoyed EA’s football game controls, so it just never clicked with me. But I realize that there’s a lot of people who like this game, so I won’t knock that. Buy this one instead of Madden at least.

The Suffering: The Ties That Bind – This is the same demo as last month’s issue, the theater area. I don’t know why they bothered putting it on here again.

There were also some movies talking about Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland, which I’ll get but I don’t know what to think about it yet. It’s one of the 3 I’m getting with my 360, so hopefully it’ll be worth it.


What I’ve Been Watching
I’ve been having a hard time finding time to do things other than watch TV during the week. I’ve got games I haven’t been able to play enough because of it, so I decided that I simply would have to do something about it. So this week, I’m making my first cuts.

Wednesday
Lost – Now, THIS episode is what the season premiere should have been. The flashbacks in this episode sucked, but the present day stuff was infinitely better. Next episode, we get to see the introduction of Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as apparently one of “The Others”. And we get to be re-introduced to Michelle Rodriguez’s character, who was in seat 42, which was the tail of the plane. It makes me sad that the first episode of the season sucked so badly in comparison to this one. This one had the action and suspense that the other lacked. No sense in bitching about it though.

Invasion – I really don’t see where this show is going. I mean, besides the obvious invasion of the body snatchers type of thing, there’s just too much that doesn’t make any sense, and that’s because there is no sense to be made. I like the park ranger, and his wife isn’t too bad, but I still don’t like the untalented little girl or her dumb mommy, and the show just isn’t working for me. I’ll give it another episode before deciding to cut it or not.

Thursday
Survivor – They did another “everybody but one person is blindfolded, and he leads them all to pick up shit, then they take off their blindfold and put together a puzzle, and the only good part about this is people getting f*cking nailed in the head” challenge. Woopdie do. I don’t give a shit about either tribe, and here in Tulsa, the local CBS channel keeps talking about “Tulsa Native Blake” who is not only a f*ckin pussy, but he doesn’t give two shits about Tulsa (hense the big TEXAS on his chest). Brianna got voted out. And I’m 3 for 3 in picking who gets the can at tribal council. Fuck it, Survivor sucks this year. It gets CUT.

CSI – This show used to be one of the few shows I’d watch, but there isn’t anything new anymore. This episode was trying to be very stylistic and showing how everyone, even the rich and the poor, are the same in death. Blah. I’m still pissed about the blatant bait and switch from last year. I think this horse has run as far as it’ll go. I won’t be there to see it. It’s getting CUT.

That frees up my Thursdays.

Friday
Ghost Whisperer – This episode was a relatively good one. Not as good as last week’s episode, but it tugged at all the right heartstrings, and the annoying little kid wasn’t so annoying at the end. I think this show is growing on me.

Threshold – Not to knock this show, but every week they keep increasing the amount of potential alien infectees. First it was a total of 7 that were on the boat, then it was those plus a bunch of people on a plane (with the risk of becoming more thanks to the internet, which I think was averted). And now with the new revelation, it could be more people over time. Still, great show. Didn’t like Sin City Booby Chick’s hair-do at the end of the show though. At least she changes it unlike Rat’s Nest Lady in Cold Case.

Didn’t watch Numb3rs again, so I guess I’m done with that.

Saturday
TNA Impact – I haven’t seen much TNA (or wrestling, for that matter), but I’ve always been rooting for the little guy, even if I’ve heard there’s too much Jeff Jerrett. Anyway, I figured I’d watch this episode, since it was their debut on Spike. May as watch Raw as well. Anyway, the show started out a little slow. Well, the AJ Styles match was good, but the Monty Brown match was kinda boring, and so was the 3 Way. Then things started to pick up more. It didn’t get really good until “Team 3D” came in and cleared out Team Canada and they 3D’ed AMW. Their shirts were classic, with the middle finger saying “Trademark This!” Nice touch. And Big Sexy on top of it. I know he’s an oaf, but I still love the big guy. I miss the Outsiders *sniff*. I outta call Big Kev and see if we can reunite. At first I was on the fence, but I’ll watch next week. Some of the guys look pretty fun, even if they suck.

Sunday
NFL Football – None of the games this weekend really jumped out at me. I was upset by the losses of the Patriots and the Cowboys, but happy with the awesome come from behind victory from the Eagles. McNabb is a helluva player. Hopefully he gets well and can kick some ass while healthy, though that will be next year at the earliest. And I laugh at the Lions and their misery. I have never liked the Lions, not even when they had a little guy named Barry on their team. They have always sucked in my mind, and don’t deserve to have beaten the Bucs. Maybe that makes me an ass. But that’s how I feel.

Monday
WWE Raw – I’ve witnessed many of the defining moments of WWF/WWE over the years. My first episode of RAW was the episode where HBK got booted from DX, and Xpac debuted, and it marked some of the best times of that stable. I saw the start of the Invasion (which was REALLY f*cking cool at the start) on RAW and Nitro. And I saw when HHH returned from his quad injury as an incredible face, and then quickly becoming one of the most hated Heels ever. So I figured, as I usually do with big events, I’d tune in and see how the sport is going. Who knows, maybe I’ll get hooked again.

Before I talk about RAW, I have to comment on what was on before it. I had nothing better to do, so I decided to watch the last 40 minutes or so of 2 Fast 2 Furious. And I can’t believe that this movie was made. I mean, I know that there are people here who love tuning their cars and spending ungodly amounts of money on it and stuff. And I know that some guys would rather make love to their car. But anyone who liked this movie has some severe mental retardation. The acting was awful. The premise was stupid. And I feel much, much dumber just having watched it. Sadly, by watching RAW now, my IQ is rising back up towards normal levels. *sigh* What a sorry sack of shit movie. Anyway, on to RAW.

RAW had some nice moments. The Ironman match was cool, but just wasn’t all that interesting to me. The McMahon/Austin scene was pretty good. The stunner on Vince was obvious. Shane-o-mac coming out was a surprise, but the stunner on him wasn’t. Neither was the arrival and subsequent stunner on Stephanie. Though, I have to say, she looked particularly hot with the hair and business suit. Any potential arousal was quickly dashed the moment she opened her mouth, though. And of course Linda was going to come out. And I figured she would either get stunned or drink beer. I didn’t expect both! Even though the stunner was horribly botched. Still a fun scene though.

I liked the Edge/Matt Hardy match too. I don’t remember Lita looking that good before either. Then, yet again, any sort of arousal is lost when they show the team of blonde bimbos. Even worse with Mae Young. I see some things never change. Speaking of never changing, why was I not surprised when HHH turned on Flair. Anytime he returns from an absence, he is a face, then he does something awful and becomes a megaheel again. All I can really say about it is damn, Flair was bleeding a lot. Then after the commercial break and there was more of a beatdown, it was like, “Ok, Jesus, we get it, HHH is evil. Give it up!” The legends feature didn’t do much for me. I don’t know Conway and I didn’t know most of the people in the ring. On a side note, Jerry Jones (Cowboys owner) looks really REALLY old. Like “I’m gonna die in a couple of years” old. Back to RAW, I can’t believe they are still doing bra and panties matches. (I should note that while the rest of the matches went on, I really lost interest and decided to work on finishing up as much of this report as possible). The Smackdown thing was obvious. They were running out of time and needed to cut it somewhere. Hogan vs. Austin. I can’t imagine that would be enjoyable. Two old men, neither very good wrestlers, and one almost literally on his last legs. And the outcome of the “main event” wasn’t really surprising now, does it. And another RAW vs. Smackdown fight. Blah, boring. Yea, nothing changed in the years since I’ve seen WWE. It’s the same crap.

Tuesday
My Name Is Earl – This episode was the least amusing of the 3 released so far, but it was good nonetheless. It was also very touching. Jason Lee is still a god though.

The Office – Arguably one of the better episodes this season. Dwight fans can be happy because he was heavily featured this episode. Funny, funny stuff. NBC really needs to pick this up for more than 6 episodes this season!


Linkage

My offsite link of the week is to an interview with Richard Rouse III, writer and creative director of The Suffering: Ties That Bind. It’s a really good read, so I recommend it.

If you see ANY movie this week, see Serenity (reviewed here by Brendan Campbell). It’s not the greatest movie ever, but if Whedon planned for there to be a trilogy, then by Jove, prove to Universal that it deserves a trilogy!

Lucard linked me, and I’m returning the favor. Well, I link him every week anyway. This week, he teaches us how to make a real life zombie. Too bad most of the ingredients are insanely hard to come by, so I don’t think he has to worry about the FDA.

Eric probably hates the state of wrestling as much as I do, yet he watches it every week, whereas I’m not going to watch RAW next week (though there’s a good bet I’ll watch Impact).

Kaye went to Botcon, lucky bastard. Then again, I’m not really into Transformers anymore, just the G1 stuff and Alternators. I want the new Prime though!

I rented Sin City this past weekend, and to commemorate my second viewing of it, PK showed off some Sin City figures. Ok, that’s not why he did that. But they’re cool anyway.

Speaking of cool, I liked Indigo Prophecy. It’s one of the most innovative games I’ve played this year. Check out my review to see what I liked about it.

Ya know, Gloomchen is really growing on me. She likes Phil Collins, so do I. She doesn’t like the Doors, neither do I. But I love The Who though. She also makes mention of the Juggalo Nation, which nets her some more points. She’s rackin them up!


Well, that’s it. Another week has come and gone. Come back next week when I’ll hopefully have that game design feature done. If it gets too much out of hand, I’ll have to either break it up into pieces or just ditch it all together. Hopefully, it’ll be the former.