Thank God It’s Thursday News Report 05.08.03

Welcome! It’s Thursday, and you know what that means – The Thank God It’s Thursday News Report! I’m Bryan Berg and I’m here to report on the latest breaking news in the gaming world. So let’s get started.

Tetsuya Nomura, character designer for Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts, has recently spoken in regard to two rumored square projects.

First, Nomura claims that though it hasn’t been officially announced, there’s a pretty good chance of Kingdom Hearts 2. Disney and Square-Enix are said to be in negotiations, and things are looking good for the sequel.

Next, Nomura addressed the possible Final Fantasy VII-2. The proposed game would be a sequel to the classic FF7 that everyone loved. However, the game isn’t likely to be released. According to Nomura, the data that was used in FF7 is now unavailable. Therefore, they’d have to remake everything from scratch, decreasing the likelihood of the game ever seeing the light of day.

So, it all evens out for Square-Enix – good news on Kingdom Hearts 2, bad (or good if you’re Lucard) news on FF7-2. The game isn’t officially dead, though, so you never know.

Infogrames Entertainment will now be known as Atari. The company will be simply Atari in the United States, and Atari (name of country) everywhere else.

This is a good decision for Infogrames. People associate Atari with the 80’s, but it’s a household name, which is always a good thing. They can get inside people’s heads this way, and the name change can only do good things for the former Infogrames.

A company called Tapwave has announced its entry into the handheld market with its “Helix” system. The Helix is based on the Palm platform and will contain a Motorola processor. The system is capable of producing Playstation-esque graphics and 3D environments. The Helix should cost around $200-$300 and be available by year’s end.

What Tapwave did in developing this device is pretty remarkable. First, it polled Game Boy Advance users to find out what those users didn’t like about the GBA. Next, it went to the game companies to see what THEY would like in terms of hardware. This type of market research usually results in a successful product. It should be an interesting few months as we find out more about this system. At least we already know more about this than we know about “The Phantom”.

We can only hope that after the Helix finishes its run, we’ll be presented with “The Double Helix”. It’s catchphrase can then be “The Double Helix. It’s in your DNA.” Tell me that wouldn’t rule. It’d also go over the heads of about 90 percent of its audience. But at least us 10 percent would dig it.

Enter The Matrix
Infogr… er, Atari’s upcoming game, Enter the Matrix, has already stirred up quite a buzz among gamers. The game has already received 4 million pre-orders. It will be released on May 15th (the same day as the next Thank God It’s Thursday News Report is released) along with The Matrix Reloaded, the new Matrix movie that is sure to be a hot ticket.

I’m not a Matrix fan by any means. My brother just bought the DVD last week and he said it was great. But to me, the Matrix represents one of those things that people obsess way too much over and ruin it for people like me, who are forced to have ungodly expectations of it because of all the hype that fanboys place upon it.

Of course, this hype sold 4 million units before the game has even been released! Will the game be any good? Does it even matter? You could put out “The Matrix Takes a Shit” and it’d sell 4 million copies. The Beatles’ “Let it Be” album, released to terrible reviews after the band broke up, had 4 million pre-orders as well. Sometimes, all you need is hype.

That’s not to say Enter the Matrix will be a bad game, of course. We’ll all find out on May 15.

Electronic Arts has done it again. EA acquired the movie license for Superman, the movie that has fallen apart… well, faster than a speeding bullet. (HA!!!) The deal allows EA to put out games based on Superman comics and the animated series, so it’s not so bad. If the movie ever gets made, EA will be so happy that it might be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. (Rimshot!)

Lee Baxley takes the Gold with the Hump Day Otaku News Report. Lee’s a great guy, and he deserves better than last week’s Copper, so here you go, buddy. I wanted to make a Hell Week-Hump Day joke, but it just didn’t work out. Sorry. But I’m glad to see I’m not the only one broke on this site.

Welcome back, Ron Yip! Have a Silver for coming back. The SimColumn is back and just as good as ever. Ron’s managed to avoid the SARS epidemic so far, and you can read his thoughts on the Disease With The Stupidest Name Ever in the SimColumn.

The Bronze goes to Michael Blaszkowski for his review of Roller Coaster Tycoon for X-Box. Michael does some good work on Reviews, so give him a read. You won’t be disappointed.

Elsewhere in the Games Zone, Polecat has posted a review of Midnight Club 2, another of Rockstar Games’ titles to focus on illegal activity. Did anyone else notice that? Also, two new previews – one for Madden 2004, and one for this game called Voodoo Vince. The person who tells me his first thought upon seeing the title wasn’t “They’re making a game about Vince McMahon?” is the biggest liar on the face of the Earth.

On the subject of reviews, I picked up MVP Baseball for PS2 last week. It’s pretty neat. Look for a review of that in the next few weeks or so.

Non-411 Link of the Week
This isn’t the Link, but I’d like to give a plug to the nice people that created SPSS. Unlike Excel, which didn’t come with my computer and I don’t own, SPSS lets you download a free trial of the software. This trial is essential to my sanity – instead of spending hours at the Hofstra Computer Labs doing my Marketing Research project, I can do it from the relative comfort of my room. It’s far more convenient.

So there are actually two Links this time around, and they both have a common theme. The first is If you’re a Mets fan, you’ll love this site. Here, you can purchase shirts such as “Trade Benitez” and “Cedeno Cucks”. You might be wondering why fans of a team would want to slander their own team. Well, just be glad your team isn’t in last place with a $120 million payroll.

Breaking News: Now available at… the “Cut Sanchez” t-shirt! Sometimes you’ve just got to laugh at your team.

If you knew about the first link already, you’re a diehard Mets fan and so you probably know the second. Good old The author of the site is right – about EVERYTHING. Unfortunately, firing Steve Phillips today would mean nothing for the immediate success of the Mets, as they’re still saddled with ridiculous contracts that will hamper the club for years to come.

CD of the Week
The only CD that’s been in my CD player for the past week was a CD I created of songs that I either like a lot, or would eventually like to cover. Here we go:
Genesis: Land of Confusion
Joe Jackson: Steppin’ Out
Grateful Dead: Touch of Grey
Paul Simon: Kodachrome
Squeeze: Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)
Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind
Procol Harum: Whiter Shade of Pale
Four Tops: Bernadette
Billy Preston: Nothing From Nothing
Bad Religion: The Dichotomy
Bee Gees: Too Much Heaven
Dr. Dre w/Ice Cube: Natural Born Killaz
Garth Brooks: The Dance
Pretty eclectic mix, I guess, but it flows well. If you haven’t heard any of these tunes (or don’t recognize their names), download them and give them a spin.

Commentary of the Week
After much deliberation, I’ve decided to hold off on the sequels bit until after Finals and make it into a separate column. It’ll allow me to devote more time to the subject and highlight the material more closely, rather than have it be at the bottom of some news report.

Today, I want to explore the debate over a pretty interesting subject – what counts as a “Video Game”?

You’ve all played Solitaire on your PC. You’ve played a little Minesweeper and maybe even Hearts, if you’re ambitious enough. Odds are good that you’ve logged into Yahoo for some Pool or Bingo. Yet, if you’re asked what you’re doing in the middle of a heated game of Super Collapse, you’re probably not responding with “I’m playing a video game.”

The obvious question is, why? What separates these games from the ones you play on your Playstation 2? How does playing Tetris on 411 differ from playing Tetris on your Game Boy?

The first thing that might come to mind is that you pay for your video games while all you need to play on the computer is a User ID. That’s a pretty valid point, but it doesn’t really do the trick. You can play NHL ’97 on for free, and that’d be considered a “Video Game” by just about everybody. Though it’s pretty obvious that the game means more to you after you’ve paid fifty bucks for it than some free game online.

Which leads us to the next point(s). For illustrative purposes, let’s take one game that’s a “Video Game” and one that’s generally not thought of that way. For the latter, we’ll use The Copter Game, the very popular game on 411. You can imagine any flight sim you can think of as the “Video Game”.

Right away, there are two significant differences. First, your flight sim has missions built into it. That is, you have different goals and a deep storyline to delve into. The Copter Game involves you avoiding rocks in your way. Not exactly a Final Fantasy-esque plot, eh? You might get bored of The Copter game in 30 minutes or so, while that flight sim could last you for a month because of all the different looks it gives you.

Next, there are major differences in how the games are played. You need exactly one button to play The Copter Game. Your flight sim, on the other hand, is far more complex. If you’re a dedicated fan, you probably have some sort of joystick apparatus that will make gameplay more enthralling and life-like. The flight sim is deep; The Copter Game is only what’s on the surface.

This still doesn’t answer why 411 Tetris is different from Game Boy Tetris. That’s got more to do with the presentation than anything else. The Game Boy version of Tetris is sold for a profit. Its intention is to satisfy your appetite for the game over a prolonged period of time. On the other hand, the version of Tetris you find on this site, or on any other site that hosts puzzle games of any kind, doesn’t strive to please you over the long-term. It makes no bones about it, either. The game is just something to keep you occupied during down time at work – both you and the website know that. It’d be redundant to make the game anything more than that.

However, that doesn’t make 411 Tetris any less of a video game. A less involved one, perhaps. But anything that involves a screen and hand-to-eye coordination is a Video Game. Yor’re really doing the same thing, only one forum allows you inside while the other is only for a limited time.

Which is better – the game you pay for, or the game you play on Yahoo? That’s for you to decide. In the meantime, don’t think of Text Twist as “some stupid little Yahoo game”. It’s a video game, just like Halo or Vice City or what have you. The differences in these games are beyond obvious, yet they all share one thing in common – they are video games. Whether they’re free or not, simple or complex, they’re video games, and we should be glad to have access to so much great content in the many media forms available to us.

Another Thursday, another news report. This one’s done. I’m Bryan Berg. Thanks for reading, and Thank God It’s Thursday.