Hump Day Otaku News Report 07.02.03

I’m starting this one on early, Thursday to be precise, so I can be sure to get it jam-packed full of goodies! Sorry to those of you who didn’t like my little vacation synopsis from last week. I guess I went a little overboard and didn’t realize that it would be so damn long.

As I said last week, I went to the dentist on Wednesday. The prognosis was as bad as I expected. All of my teeth are decayed to the point of needing massive dental work. Two teeth are so bad that they can’t be salvaged no matter what. The rest all need crowns or need to be pulled and replaced by dentures. Most people would think that sucks for a 25 year old, but frankly, I’m sick of these f*cking teeth and I want them gone. The problem is the money. Either way, it’ll be expensive. The dentures will be cheaper, and probably less painful in the long run, since they’ll knock my ass out to do the yanking. Ah well, everybody has to go through something like this sometime.

Now, let’s get to the most news I’ve ever posted!

Gaming News

Did I Tell You So?
A couple of weeks back, I mentioned something in my mark out moment that slightly irritated some people. I mentioned that since Square Enix owns a stake in Game Arts, that there’s a possibility that they would publish the next Lunar game. My two favorite readers and 411 Staffers Alex Lucard and Matt Hardin reminded me that Working Designs is responsible for the American success of Lunar, so it’s only fair that they get the rights to Lunar 3, which I agree with. It’s not a definite thing though, because Working Designs also made Arc the Lad popular in the States, and because of that, Sony decided to localize Twilight of the Spirits themselves. And it may or may not be related, but based on what was said at a Square Enix shareholders meeting, it appears that the RPG giant and Game Arts are in fact collaborating on a game. No other information was shared. It could be Grandia, Lunar or something entirely new. You can bet your happy ass that I’ll report it if something more comes to light on this.

Xenosaga Episode II
This comes from RPGFan, and I haven’t been able to verify it yet, but they are reporting that Monolith Soft has some job openings for work on their two major titles. One is the GameCube exclusive Baten Kaitos, and the other is Xenosaga Episode II. The kicker is that they are saying that the official subtitle of Episode II is Jenseits von Gut und Boese, which translates to Beyond Good and Evil. This may or may not be the title that it was rumored to have a few months ago, but I don’t remember. Either way, RPGFan is a pretty trustworthy site, and I’d like to think that they’re right on this one.

Front Mission History
RPGFan is also reporting that Square Enix has registered a trademark in Japan for Front Mission History. They have already trademarked Front Mission in the US, so this likely means that we’ll have a new Front Mission game in the near future. By the word History, it leads me to believe that it will either be a collection of the first 3 titles, or perhaps a prequel. Either way, I think it’ll be good. Yes, I’m a Square Enix whore, but I liked FM3 because it was like a mech version of Final Fantasy Tactics, and that’s a good thing. Plus it had the whole internet thing, which was really cool.

Nintendo v. The World
I’m not sure why, but this article bugged me. It’s some guy named Ross Rubin talking about how stiff the competition Nintendo will have in the portable game system market. Um, excuse me? Oh, this guy writes about wireless phones, that explains it. He basically says that with all the new opponents coming out, Nintendo doesn’t stand a chance with the way things currently are. Now, I’m not the best guy in the world to cover this since I only recently got a GBA SP, but I have owned an original Gameboy and a Gameboy Pocket, and I do write about games, and I do deal with cell phones WAY too much to be happy about it, so I’m a little qualified I guess.

He says Nintendo needs to shape up in several aspects if they want to compete:
-Backwards compatibility needs to go away. Put the crackpipe down. Yes, optical media is where they need to be in the future, but for godsakes, leave in the backwards compatibility! That’s one of the best things they have going. Do you honestly think that the PS2 would have sold as much if it didn’t play PS1 games? That was one of the big selling points for me.
-Make 3D games. Why? Naming games such as Doom and Crazy Taxi as examples, he says that they don’t look good. Well, why the hell is that Nintendo’s fault? The GBA is some pretty sweet hardware; it’s just that most companies can’t get it right. Look at the PS2 again as an example. When it was released, people said that it sucked because of aliasing, but when companies develop well for it, it looks excellent (see FFX and Xenosaga). Portable systems SHOULD NOT have 3D games the likes of Doom. The screen will always be too small to see properly. Leave those games for PC and consoles, and stick with nice 2D sprite animations that we can’t get on consoles.
-More adult titles. I think this guy shops at Walmart too, because he talks about all the kiddie titles available, which is all Walmart carries. He doesn’t mention the Castlevania games, or any RPGs like Golden Sun, Lufia or Phantasy Star Collection, which appeal more to adults who played these types of games when we were younger. No, there aren’t any bloodfests or profanity-laden games, but that’s not necessary. It’s about a good gaming experience, and it’s harder to do that with the GBA, so I say stick with the simpler titles like they have been.
-Wireless capability. Ross says that Nintendo needs to go wireless, but doesn’t give any real backing to why. Nintendo isn’t stupid. I’m sure the next version of the Gameboy will be much more robust than previous versions. And the GBA SP was never meant to be a new version, but a different version of the GBA. It has no hardware improvements as far as playing games goes, and that was intentional. That’s the same reason that they didn’t add two more face buttons, like previously thought. Because then there would be games that utilized them, but couldn’t be played on the original GBA.

As for competition, I think Ross isn’t thinking straight. There are a total of two systems coming out that will “compete” with the GBA. The bigger of the two, Sony’s PSP, is just in the concept stages, and may not even pan out. The Nokia N-Gage, the other “competitor”, is almost out, but I feel will fail miserably. Yes, it has some big name game companies backing it, but their hardware leaves a lot to be desired. As Gabe from Penny Arcade discussed, it doesn’t make much sense to have to remove the battery to put in a new game. The design of the system itself looks pretty bad too. I can’t imagine someone actually using this thing, but then again, they apparently want only hip people to play it, and not gamers. Check out their homepage to see what I mean. Oh, and nice job with the total lack of screenshots for the games. I know I buy a game based on “Sonic Game, Action, Sega” and that’s it. Yea, it’s still a while away, but still, they don’t know how to market this shit. I don’t see why Sega got involved. Eidos and THQ, sure, but not Sega. Then again, we all know how good they think their own ideas are, so it makes sense.

Linux Blackmailers
As I’m sure many of you have heard, there is a group of people who hacked the XBox, making it able to load Linux without the need of a modchip. Now they are blackmailing Microsoft by saying they’ll release the information on how they did this if Microsoft doesn’t release an official Linux boot disc for the XBox.

Before continuing, check out this hilarious comic by Gabe (Tycho claims no responsibility) of Penny Arcade. You finished? Ok, I may not agree with that interpretation of Linux geeks, but it’s still hilarious. Anyway, these people doing this blackmail are pretty stupid, because if they release the info, it will also give information on how to make pirated XBox games without a modchip. That means Microsoft gets it’s lawyers out. In fact, their piracy division is on the matter already. These guys are so f*cked.

I don’t see what the point of this whole thing is anyway. You can put Linux on the XBox, big f*cking deal. And big deal about it not requiring a mod chip, they claimed they had to use solder to bypass the security anyway. These people need to get a f*cking life. I mean, if you’re going to crack open the case of the XBox anyway, just get one of those mod chips you don’t need to solder. Personally, I wouldn’t open the case unless it was broken and I was trying to fix it, because if it wasn’t broken and I opened the case, it WOULD be broken, and my warranty would be void, leaving me out a $180 piece of hardware. No thanks, I like my games too much for that and it was hard enough buying a new PS2 after I wore mine out. My OS’s belong on my PC and I don’t play games that don’t have the original disc with them, so I could really care less about being able to play non-legit XBox games or anything else in the system.

New Game Releases
* Ship Date — 6/30/03-7/1/03
Pirates of the Caribbean (XBox), Ape Escape 2 (PS2), Robocop (XBox)

Slow week this week, but then again, usually the first week in a month is. There were a couple of titles that were supposed to be released last week by Acclaim (or as Matt Hardin put it, Ack!aim (or something like that)). Both are $30, which means even the developer doesn’t think they’re good enough to sell for full price. Pirates looks really cool, but I dig pirate RPG type games (see Skies of Arcadia (kinda) and Pirates: Legend of Black Kat). I never got into Ape Escape, but a lot of people did, and here’s the sequel finally. And since Robocop is the only other release, here it is.

Props to my Homies! (aka Plugs)

Thank God It’s Thursday – Bryan Berg
This week, Bryan talks about Acclaim leaving Nintendo, Video Games in St. Louis, Nintendo’s Fusion Tour and why EA is kicking Sega’s ass.
On the note of Nintendo, Bryan disagreed with me and thinks that it’s a bigger loss that we expect. I’ll concede that point, but only in the fact that it may get other better companies to leave. It’s like I told Matt Hardin, Nintendo is going about everything wrong, like with the FF:CC memory card and bundle thing. Nintendo is hyping this game so much, and if it fails, Square Enix may pull the plug on their new relationship with Nintendo. They don’t NEED Nintendo, but they help Nintendo out a fair amount. I do agree that they need something big and exclusive, and I think that Namco may be a godsend in this aspect, because of Tales of Symphonia and Baten Kaitos, both GameCube exclusive and by teams that are proven to be quality RPG makers as well as innovators. I could be wrong though. Oh, and thanks for the compliments, both the Bronze Medal and the one about being an outstanding news reporter. I greatly appreciate it.

Friday’s Slice o’ News – Jeff Watson
It’s our newest news report! In his first report, Jeff talks about quite a few different things, including the next Oddworld title, new NES E-cards, and new content descriptors from the ESRB. I completely agree with what he said about the ESRB and the attempts to get game stores to act as parents. I had a discussion on the matter with my mother, who has always been the type of fairly open parent, and she was always of the school of thought where if she thought I was mature enough, she would let me see R rated movies and such. Hell, she bought me the Pet Semetary book when I was in 6th grade. Granted, I had a high school reading level at that age, but the point is that she knew what the book was about and knew the content in it and judged me to be mature enough to handle it. I didn’t understand everything in it at that age, like the bathtub-handjob scene, but I did later on. It’s a f*cking shame that parents expect everyone BUT them to deal with their kids. This encompasses games with the ESRB, TV, movies and the internet. Many parents just let their kids to whatever whenever and don’t want to worry about it. It’s no wonder there are so many f*cking school shootings, pregnant teens and druggies in the world today. It just makes me sick.

Retrograding Weekend News – Alex Lucard
Even though he claims to be “phoning it in” this week, Alex proves why he’s “411’s non-Scott Keith cash cow” by delivering yet another excellent column. In this column, he discusses the poor release of Star Wars Galaxies, Sony’s tour, Nintendo’s tour, the ESRB, and more. He also includes guest columns by 3 other people: LiquidCross who reviews MegaMan Newtork Transmission for the GC, Chuck Platt who writes about the Death of the Gamer Lifestyle, and Alex Williams who reviews Sega Arcade Gallery for the GBA. All are excellent and worth the read.

Gamer’s Hangover News Report – Cory Laflin
And we have another new news report! In his debut news column, Cory talks about the ESRB, a new cartoon on UPN about gamers, and has a soapbox session on genetically modified food. Though he had the same problem many of us had by forgetting to close an HTML tag (italics in this case), his column is very good, and with a name like Gamer’s Hangover, how could it not be great? Oh, and I don’t go to Trek Expos. I went one year, when Marina Sirtis was there (I had the hots for her at the time) but haven’t been since. It’s gotten much, much bigger since, but it’s almost too big now. I don’t do well in big crowds. I have a hard enough time in Walmart because I just want to hit most of the people there, which is why I go at 3am. I’m not normally a violent person, but when I’m around a lot of people, I realize what a sociopath I am. Anyway, Cory is da man, so check him out!

Rumor Down-Lo – Bebito Jackson
This week, Bebito talks about Treasure and Konami becoming friends, Yu Suzuki and some cool rumor translation from Famitsu. Memo to Bebito: Tokimeki Memorial is probably the most popular dating sim in Japan. Sadly, regardless of what was said, we will probably never get this game in the states, and if we do, I will be a very happy camper! Dating sims are one of the two genres (Bemani being the other) that Americans get screwed out of time in and time out. Unless you consider not getting mahjong games being “screwed out” of something. Oh, and Bebito rules, don’t you forget it.

The Gamer’s Conscious – Frederick Badlissi
We don’t hear from Frederick that much these days, but whenever we do, he’s got something good to say. This time, he talks about SNK vs. Capcom: Chaos, and how the MVS for the arcade game costs $1850, and how this affects arcades. Personally, I think that price is insane for an arcade game, especially since arcade games aren’t a whole lot better than console games are, as far as technology goes. I was never that big on fighting games to begin with, and they don’t make any more of the types of games I used to cherish, which is to say the multiplayer coop type (TMNT Arcade, X-Men, Final Fight). Also, Frederick proves how much he rules by giving props to easily the greatest feat of American animation ever: Transformers: The Movie. Yea, there were plot holes, and the ensuing Transformers TV shows sucked for the most part, but the movie RULED because it was one of the first American cartoons where everything wasn’t all hunky dory, and main characters DIED. They tried to copy the success with the GI Joe Movie, and though it was pretty good, nobody died and everything WAS all hunky dory at the end.

Review for Sonic Adventure DX: Director’s Cut (GC) – Alex Williams
One of our newest and greatest reviewers, “the other” Alex, has come to us with a brand new review worthy of being read. Alex proves why he is possibly the best reviewer we have now by giving you not only a great description of the game, but painting a picture of the game that gives you a great idea of what it’s like before even playing it. This guy is great, and even if you don’t like Sonic, you should read the review.

Preview for Sonic Heroes (all) – Bebito Jackson
Mr. Rumor Monkey’s Bitch gives us a sneak peek at the next generation of Sonic titles, and honestly it sounds a lot better now than it did before. Previously, I had thought something along the lines of the fact that it was going to be a copy of Lost Vikings, but I take that back now. It sounds like it will be a classic Sonic game with a lot of innovation. The ability to play with multiple teams sounds really cool. This sounds like a game I could get into when it comes out.

Review for Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits – Lee Baxley (that’s me)
Yes, yes, I finally got off my ass and reviewed another game. In short, this game is quite worthy of the name Arc the Lad, and though it doesn’t feature characters from the original two games, it still upholds the tradition and legacy of the series. And though Working Designs didn’t localize it, Sony still did a wonderful job of translation and voice work on this one.

Review for Evil Dead: Fistful of Boomstick (XBox) – Jeff Watson
Our new Friday reporter shows up with another review, this one on the newest game featuring Ash. Yes, this is the same game that Cory reviewed not too long ago, but this is for the XBox. So come on guys, the game is only $20 for both PS2 and XBox, but the XBox version is probably better graphically, so it won’t hurt your wallet either way.

Commentary: This is Why I Don’t Watch/Read the News
Now, I don’t normally do this kind of thing, but after reading more and more about it, some of the stuff I’m hearing is making me f*cking sick. This commentary contains discussion of politics, sodomy, and gay rights, so if you have a problem with any of this, skip this section.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t keep up with current events very well, and this is because everywhere I turn, something pisses me off and makes me want to move to a different country. Yes, this is a personality flaw, because I shouldn’t just hide my head under a rock, I should do something about it. But either way, this is what’s pissing me off right now.

As I’m sure most of you have heard, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law making sodomy illegal. Personally, I think this is a good thing, because sodomy is something that should be completely legal between consenting partners, and the government has no f*cking right to make it illegal. The stupid thing is that every time it’s mentioned, it mentions is like it’s something to do with gays, and while striking this law does benefit gays, sodomy isn’t only practiced by homosexual males. There are plenty of heterosexual couples who practice it as well, and if not that, they at least would like to try it once. I mean, it’s that person’s poopshoot that’s getting hurt, and no one has any right to say they can’t except for them.

Now, before I move on to my next point, I want to say that though I am not gay, I have no problem with gay people. In fact, there are some people that I am close to that are gay, and it doesn’t bother me in the least. Why should it bother me? They’re people to. We’re all f*cking human here, really.

As a backlash of the Supreme Court ruling, the Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist stated that he was going to support a bill to be introduced that would ban gay marriage. He goes on to say that he feels the ruling was flawed because it went against what he feels is right. He apparently feels that anyone who is gay is not a human and cannot love. This really just makes me f*cking sick, because here is some asshole that is the head honcho in the Senate who is trying to dictate how people live. This is one of the many reasons why I hate the US government. I’ll put it in a little more detail here.

First: Politics. The word reeks of scheming and underhanded tactics. The fact that there are two sides in our own government (Democrats and Republicans) who are constantly at war with one another doesn’t make any sense. How can we honestly call ourselves the UNITED States of America when our own f*cking government isn’t even close to being united? If you think about it, it really is a war within our own nation. Elections are battles, and the side that wins the most elections wins. It’s just flat out stupid.

Second: Representation. Our country was founded on the principle that elected officials will determine what is best for our country. While that sort of thing has worked for us in the past, is it really helping us now? Personally, I think that any sort of thing that effects me as an individual should go to a public vote. The gay marriage thing should definitely go to a public vote. Why? Because it may pass. It probably wouldn’t, knowing our bigoted country, but who knows. My point is that something like this should have a chance. The point is that the people that are elected from my state do NOT represent me, because they do not know me and don’t give a shit about me or my life. They make promises when running for election, and then when they get elected, they actually follow through with a few of those promises so you think they aren’t the lying bastards they are, and then forget the rest. Besides, even if I did find someone I did agree with, they wouldn’t get voted for because I’m in a traditionally Republican state (Oklahoma), and I’d vote for Democrats or other parties because I’ve never seen a Republican up for office that I agreed with except for John McCain.

None of this really matters, I suppose, but I don’t feel it’s right for someone who is at least 30 years older than I am to represent the youth. I don’t feel it’s right for someone like this Frist guy to basically say that gays are an abomination, when they’re human like the rest of us. I’m sure the guy is a racist too. If not, well, he’s got a screw loose somewhere and deserves a good ass kicking.

Anyway, I’m done. Enough ranting from me. I realize this may very well piss a lot of people off, including fellow staffers, but I had to get it off my chest. If you don’t agree with me, fine. You can even write me if you want. I reply to everybody, and I could use some hatemail. I apologize if I offended anyone with this article. It was never the intention.

New Anime Releases
*Release Date — 7/1/03
Angel Links Collectors Set, Corrector Yui Vol. 1, El Hazard: The Alternative World Box Set, El Hazard: The Wanderers Box Set, Maison Ikkoku Box Set 1, NieA_7 Box Set, Sol Bianca: The Legacy Box Set, Zone of the Enders Vol. 5

Welcome to BOX SET WEEK! Can’t really comment on any of these since I’ve never seen them. I know Angel Links is a spinoff of Outlaw Star, but it doesn’t look that interesting to me. El Hazard is supposed to be pretty popular, so these sets will give me a better chance to check it out. NieA_7 is by the guy who does Lain and Haibane Renmei, and is pretty interesting sounding. Maison Ikkoku is by the person who does Ranma, but it appears to be more shoujo than her other works.

My Collection
As always check out my collection, and if there is anything you want me to review, just tell me.

My Collection

New Shows Added This Week: Sugar Vol. 2

Main Shows I Need: .hack//SIGN Vol. #2, Ai Yori Aoshi Vol. #2 and #3, Noir Vol. #3 and #4, RahXephon Vol. #2 and #3, Ranma ½ Season 5 Box Set, X Vol. #5

Mini Anime Reviews
I just got one show this week. After the dentist, I won’t be able to spend much money on anything, much less anime, but I’ll try my best to do reviews every week. This release is something I bought with Replay certificates from Suncoast, so I didn’t spend any real money on it.

Sugar is a kawaiiiiiiiiiiii show about a snow fairy apprentice named Sugar and her exploits to find a Twinkle. With her human friend Saga, and her two apprentice friends Salt and Pepper, they search far and wide for the only thing that will allow the magic flower to grow.
Synopsis: In Episode 5: The Elder Arrives, Sugar and her buddies keep searching for a Twinkle and try to get help from their Elder, but he only wants Ginger (an adult snow fairy) to go out on a date with him. Episode 6: I Couldn’t Say Sorry is about Sugar and Saga’s relationship. Sugar wants to practice to be a better snow fairy, but her music annoys Saga, so they have a big fight, and due to a misunderstanding, Saga tells Sugar to leave forever! This ties directly into Episode 7: Heart Joining Melody, where Sugar decides to join up with some bad snow fairies. Fortunately, Saga and Sugar make up and everything is back to normal, meaning they still fight all the time. The last episode on the disc, Episode 8: The Shape of Dreams, is a stand-alone story about Phil, the burgeoning inventor who is trying to create an aurora. Salt doesn’t like this one bit, thinking that auroras are meant to be created by snow fairies, but he and the other two apprentices help Phil with his project, even if he doesn’t know they helped.
Animation: As per usual, the animation is top notch. Everything is crisp and clean, and there are no complaints here at all. Kudos for the use of color; it is everywhere and it all looks so nice and cheery.
Voices: The busy folks at Bang Zoom produced yet another high quality dub here, as per usual. All characters are portrayed excellently, and there isn’t a voice that seems out of place. Reba West and Michelle Ruff (voice actors of Sugar and Saga respectively) play their roles so well, and they go together excellently. If I had any single complaint about the dubbing, it’s be that Pepper’s voice actor, Lara Curci, doesn’t seem that confident in the role. Then again, it appears as if she is relatively new in voice acting in general, so that may be the cause.
Packaging/Extras: This is a 1 disc release in a standard white keepcase. The front of the cover features Sugar, Salt and Pepper, and the back has the standard screens from the episodes and a few other character shots thrown in. In the case, we have a nice picture of the three main snow fairies with an ad for Sugar merchandise on the back. There is also a postcard featuring the same picture as the front cover. The insert has that same picture on the front, and on the inside has an interview with the creators. The disc only has a few extras, this time being a textless opening, the original Japanese opening and character profiles.
The Verdict:: B
Even though the show is good, it’s just hard to like some of the characters. Saga, in particular, is really kind of a bitch sometimes. She and Sugar are friends, but she can be so self-centered. Sugar herself seems this way occasionally. I know that’s how people are in real life, but you’d think Saga could lighten up a little. Anyway, the show is a very good show, and is especially good for children, because there is no objectionable material to be found. If you are an anime fan, and want to get your children started young, this is the show to go with. There are other shows out there (namely Card Captor Sakura) but this is very easy to understand and teaches you about love and friendship. There are other KAWAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII shows coming out soon. Risky Safety will be out in less than a month and Pita Ten and DiGi Charat will be out sometime this year or next. Keep an eye out for those too!

Well, we’re at the end of this week’s column. I just realized how wordy I’ve been getting on some of this stuff. I mean, the props area is two pages by itself, and then I go and rant, and there’s the anime review. Some days I just go overboard, I guess. Be lucky I didn’t do the Lufia: Ruins of Lore (GBA) review I was planning on. It’ll wait till next week. I hope you like the column, and as always, if you didn’t like it, email me! I love to hear from you guys, but only a few people write! So shoot me a letter, and I promise I’ll reply. Thanks and enjoy the upcoming holiday! Don’t drink and drive, and don’t blow your hand off with a firecracker or anything. Enjoy!