Hump Day Otaku News Report 03.12.03

Hello, and welcome to the new 411 Mania! I know it’s been over a week since the official unveiling, but I wasn’t able to comment on it until now. Everyone (Ashish and Widro in particular) has done such a great job getting the site to where it is now, and the future is looking bright. Hope you enjoy your stay!

Hi, my name is Lee Baxley, and I will be your news reporter for Wednesdays from now on. You may know me from my role as 411 Games RPG reviewer extraordinaire (a role I shall continue, I might add, oh yes), but I’ll give you a little background on myself before we get down to the news. First and foremost, there are two things I enjoy in life above all else (except for my wife and my pets), and that’s games and anime. My favorite types of games are RPGs. This has earned me a reputation amongst my friends (as well as our own Alexander Lucard) as being a whore for Squaresoft games, because their games are the ones that got me hooked on RPGs. I have since grown and matured as a gamer, but I still hold a deep fondness in my heart for Squaresoft and I hope that one day they can return to their former greatness. That likely won’t happen soon, since the biggest releases coming from Square are Final Fantasy X-2 (which I will probably buy and enjoy on some level, but it won’t be a classic) and Final Fantasy XI (which I likely will not buy at all, making it the only domestic Final Fantasy game on a non-portable system that I do not own, except for Mystic Quest, which says a lot). I do have a lot of hope for Unlimited SaGa though. I also am addicted to Japanese animation and tend to buy way much more of it than I should. So because of these facts, I will likely include a decent amount of anime and RPG news, in addition to standard news.

Before we begin, I’d like to thank Chris, the head honcho here at 411Mania Games for allowing me to do this news report. It is a great honor and a privilege to be on a staff that is so talented and humorous as the one we have here. I’ve been a fan of the site since it’s inception, and have been a fan in particular of the great Bebito Jackson and the brilliant Alexander Lucard. From the news reporters, to the columnists, to the reviewers, it feels great to be a part of such a great family. And now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s do the news.

Gaming News

Onimusha 3 Gets Professional
Capcom held a press conference recently and a plethora of Onimusha information was doled out. One of the more interesting bits was that a Frenchman in the game will be played by and modeled after Jean Reno, of The Professional and Mission: Impossible fame (he was the smart guy who crashed the helicopter into the train). Personally, I think he was wonderful in The Professional, and that’s just a good movie in general. Also announced was a multiplayer fighting game called Onimusha Buraiden featuring characters from the series.

Metroid Primed for PAL Release
Nintendo announced that the Metroid Prime that will be released for the PAL format will have some added features, including a decent amount of speech and an increased difficulty. I had to post this one because it irritates the hell out of me. I’m tired of companies adding things to every version of a game they release. It makes me feel cheated because I pay $50 for a game for the PS2 and then it gets released on the XBox with additions. This example I’m using is Fatal Frame, but it has happened with many other games as well. I know it’s so that they sell more copies, but that doesn’t make it fair. It’s kind of like the DVD releases of The Mummy. They’ve released like 3 different versions, with each additional version having more and more extras. They’ve done the same with the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, but at least they ANNOUNCED they’d be doing it, so the people that wanted just the movie could get it, and the people that wanted the extras could wait a little longer. In addition, it just doesn’t make any sense why they’d release a new version of Metroid for PAL, when the primary region for Metroid is Japan and the US, which do not have PAL.

Kingdom Hearts 2 in development
As our very own Bebito Jackson stated, a Squaresoft employee has announced the development of Kingdom Hearts 2. Rumors began circulating about this since Kingdom Hearts was first released, because of a teaser at the end of the game. It was speculated that the sequel would be without Disney characters. While that much has not been confirmed, it is likely that the sequel will feature the same main characters, except it will be several years after the original (again, based on the teaser), which means it may very well be marketed towards an older audience, but that too is just speculation.

Space Channel 5 1 and 2 and Armored Core 3 coming to a PS2 Near You
Agetec has announced that they are going to release both Space Channel 5 and Space Channel 5 Part 2 for the PS2 in America. The original was released on Dreamcast with a lot of hype, but gamers just didn’t bite, so Sega didn’t think it was worth it to bring over the PS2 version or the sequel, but apparently Agetec thinks it’ll sell. Personally, I think the concept is cute, but I haven’t played SC5 so I can’t comment on the execution. Also, Agetec has announced that they will be releasing Armored Core 3 this summer, so mech fans get ready!

Lost Kingdoms II (Rune II) and Giftpia Japanese Release Dates
From Software has stated that they will be releasing Rune II (called Lost Kingdoms II) on May 23rd in Japan. The original was the first RPG on the Gamecube, and had a very innovative card-based battle system. Oddly enough, Activision, who is localizing the game, has set the American release date at May 13th. It is very unusual for a Japanese game to be released in America first, but hey, it happened with Metroid Prime as well. Also announced was the release date for Giftpia, an alternative RPG (kind of like Animal Crossing perhaps?), which is set at April 25th.

Halo 2 in 2004
I’m sure you’ve already read it already just about everywhere, but Bungie has announced that the sequel to the highly acclaimed Halo will not be released until next year. I just wanted to say that this is a good thing, because it means that Microsoft is staying out of Bungie’s business, and Bungie is concerned with putting out a good product. Now if other companies would follow suit, then maybe we’ll see less of those rushed, buggy games.

New Game Releases
* Ship Date – 3/11/03
Sonic Advance 2 – GBA, World Series Baseball 2K3 – XBox, Aero Elite: Combat Academy – PS2, Mega Man & Bass – GBA, Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner – PS2,
World Soccer Winning Eleven 6 International – PS2, MVP Baseball 2003 – PS2 & XBox, MLB 2004 – PS2

There are too many baseball games for my tastes. The only game on here that interests me at all is Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner. I’ve never seen the anime or played the first game in the series, but I have played the GBA game, and it was very interesting. In addition, the graphics for The 2nd Runner look simply beautiful. I’m not a fan of sports games of any sort, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Winning Eleven series. I think it may be the most popular soccer game EVER in Japan, so if you’re in to that sort of game, it’s probably worth picking up.

New Anime Releases
* Release Date – 3/11/03
Chobits #1: Persocom, GTO Vol. #7, Revolutionary Girl Utena Vol. #5, Steel Angel Kurumi Vol. #5: Encore, Zone of the Enders: Delores i Vol. #3

These aren’t all the anime releases, but they’re the ones I’m most interested in. I already purchased Chobits (mini-review below). I’ve been collecting Utena and Kurumi discs for a while, and both are fun and interesting stories, so I definitely need to pick them up. GTO and ZOE are series that I’ve wanted to get for a while, but they’re relegated to the list of ones I WANT but don’t NEED. Keep in mind that the descriptions above are just a generalized genre and aren’t meant to be full descriptions.

Mini Anime Reviews
Each week, I’ll do a mini review on one or more of my favorite anime series or movies from my collection. I’ll try to review some of the lesser-known anime so that people may be enriched and hopefully enjoy anime like I do. I’ll probably also do some stuff that has just recently come out. Why? Because I can.

CHOBITS (Volume 1)
This is a series that just came out that I had heard so many good things about that I HAD to buy it. The story is about a farm boy named Hideki who moves to the big city to go to cram school for college. When he arrives in Tokyo, he finds that almost everyone there has a Persocom, which is like a robot/computer that is shaped like a human. They can be any size, but they all look like humans, and most are female. Since so many people have them, he really wants one himself, but cannot afford it. Lamenting over the fact that there are no Persocoms lying around to be picked up, he finds one in a pile of garbage. He takes the Persocom home and boots her up, and the adventure begins. Since all she can say at the beginning is “Chi,” he names her Chi and starts trying to teach her about life, while trying to work and go to school as well.

First of all, the story itself is somewhat cliché, but the way it is pulled off is very well done. The comedy in the show is basically non-stop. I’m not kidding when I say beware of drinking something while watching, because you may spit it out. I almost did more than once. Second, the animation is beautiful and the color was used very well. In addition, the voice acting is top notch. Done by the masters at Animaze (Cowboy Bebop, Hand Maid May, Xenosaga), the voices fit each and every character perfectly. This would be a good anime to pick up even if you’re just slightly interested in anime, simply because the humor and quality work done across the board. It’s not really for kids though, because there is a decent bit for mature themes and innuendo. There are several different versions you can buy: disc only, disc with a box to hold the whole series in, or disc with box, plus a limited edition stationary kit that has a pencil, eraser, and scissors. I got the stationary set just because I could. And you wonder why the name of the column has otaku in it.

SORCERER HUNTERS (full series)
This is the type of anime you hear very little about, and when you see it, you wonder why not everyone is raving about it. In essence, it is a fantasy adventure series set in a world where evil sorcerers are taking advantage of the weaker normal people and doing generally bad things. Enter Big Momma and her group of Sorcerer Hunters! There is Gateau Mocha, the standard strong man. There are the lovely sisters Chocolate and Tira Misu, who transform into even lovelier (and naughtier!) sisters. There is Marron Glace, a powerful mystic. And then there’s the leader, Carrot Glace, who’s a guy! Sure he may not sound like the best leader, and he isn’t. When he’s not trying to avoid Tira and Chocolate (both who WANT him), he’s out hunting pretty ladies. Yea, it doesn’t make much sense for him to chase after women when he has two that would give themselves up for him, but I guess that would take all the fun out of it. Sure, he has a secret power, but still he’s just a typical pervert.

The whole series is about these four hunting sorcerers who are doing evil deeds, and while that may sound serious, a good majority of the show is comedy. All of the characters are simply hilarious and all have personality, Carrot in particular. There’s even some innuendo of a relationship between Marron and Gateau, who are both males, that is pulled off in a way that is so amusing.

Near the end of the series, there is much less comedy, and more drama, but by that point, you’ve already fallen in love with the characters and want them to succeed in their mission. In many of the anime series out there, you can feel cheated at the end because either they leave it totally open ended or it is handled so poorly that you have to say WTF? Evangelion is an anime that had such a great story, but the ending of the series ruined the whole damn thing. Sorcerer Hunters, however, has an excellent ending. It’s the type that actually completes the story and doesn’t leave you hanging, yet makes you long for more. I’d recommend this series to almost anyone, but not everyone because it is more mature than some anime, mainly because of sexual innuendo. It’s a fun ride. And you can’t beat the value. It’s a 26 episode series and is available on 4 DVDs, which is unheard of. There aren’t many extras, but having that much anime on 4 discs is well worth it. PLUS, RightStuf is having a deal now where you can buy all four DVDs for only $30. Click HERE to order.

Props to my Homies! (aka Plugs)
Check out the ever awesome Bebito Jackson and his rumor monkey in the great 411 Games Rumor Down-Lo. Even with people trying to copy him and get him fired, he still churns out the best rumors you can find anywhere.

Then check out Ron Yip’s SimColumn News Report. It’s always a great read, and helps make Mondays bearable. By the way Ron, I’m still doing reviews, and I don’t mind the dunkings as long as the toilet has been flushed beforehand.

Make sure to read the guys that come after me in the week: Brian Burg’s Thank God It’s Thursday News Report (thanks for the Bronze medal; even though I have to share it, I appreciate it), and Chris Pankonin’s 411 Games News Report. Chris has been doing such a wonderful job here at 411 Games and deserves a lot of praise. Oh, and how could I forget the weekend king, Joseph Stanley, and his Weekend Wipe-up? The guys here are so great and it’s an honor working with everyone.

Rantmaster Mark reviewed Disaster Report, a game about surviving a large-scale disaster. I’m not big into survival type games (though some that Lucard mentioned sounded cool), but this one is so innovative and different that I have to rent it, if I can find the time. Oh, and I didn’t think it would be released in the states either.

Check out Reno’s reviews of Guilty Gear X2 and Galerians: ASH. I’m not big into fighting games these days, but GG: X2 is one game I definitely want to play. I’ve always enjoyed 2D pixel fighters over 3D fighters for some reason, maybe because they felt quicker and 3D fighters.

And for some shameless self-promotion, check out my review on the game Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht. It’s a fantastic game, and even people who don’t like RPGs may get a kick out of. Hey, the game even has the vote of approval of our own Bebito Jackson and Alexander Lucard. Hey, if Alex likes it, it can’t be bad, right? Oh, and thanks to Ashish for fixing the formatting issues in the review. I greatly appreciate it!

Speaking of Alex, where the hell are you? First you post too much, and now you don’t post enough! Hurry up and post something so I can plug it!!

Well, that about does it for my first news column. What do you think? I’d LOVE to hear from you, if you want to comment on the report or just want to chat about games or anime or whatever. I think I like the format that I’ve chosen, but I may change it. Who knows? Also, please forgive any formatting issues that may arise. This is my first news report and I’m using a different method to send it in, since some of my reviews were showing up so oddly. So click on that little link down there to shoot me an email. Thanks for reading, and come back next week for more fun game and anime stuffs!