Hump Day Otaku News Report 07.16.03

Welcome back to another week in my insanity. This week is somewhat special, because it marks my first foray into an anime PREVIEW, and I have a review to boot! Somebody hold me back, or I may get responsible and start throwing a whole buncha stuff in. I’ll raise you two anime reviews, a game review and an anime preview, along with the rest of my stuff. Nah, I’m not there yet. Someday I will, but not yet.

I’ve been playing Metroid Prime again lately. I didn’t realize how much fun it was before, because last time I completely obsessed about it and didn’t let myself enjoy it. Now, I have all the skills I learned the first time around, plus I’ve gotten a lot better in the process. Getting the Plasma Cannon and Spider Balling halfway around the f*cking planet? Did in one try without falling. Beating Omega Pirate? Got it on my second try, would have my first time, but I used the Plasma Cannon instead of Super Missiles. I am currently saved at my ship right before the fight with Meta Ridley and going down to meet the Metroid Prime. I didn’t beat it on my last game, but then again, I didn’t have all the expansions either, so maybe I’ll be able to win it this time.

I’ve got a lot of stuff on my plate at the moment. In addition to work (and more work), I have two GBA games to finish and review. Well, I reviewed one but haven’t quite finished it yet, and I haven’t even started on the other. I should probably look for a PS2 or GC game to review as well. At least I can rent those. It’s hard to find anime on DVD to rent, other than online. Oh well, let’s just get on with the news.

Gaming News
It’s been a slow news week here, so I’ll have to go to my usual stomping grounds for news. For the record, they are GamesAreFun, RPGFan and The Magic Box. Any of the stuff here came from one of those 3.

Tales of Symphonia Complete!
The latest in the Tales of series is complete! Though not that well known in the States, it has a pretty decent following in Japan, and their games have a strong anime influence. I for one am excited about the first Tales of game to be released on the GameCube, and hope that they decide to localize it.

Growlanser IV Details
Now, I haven’t played any Growlanser games in the past, and I won’t pretend to know anything about it, but I do know this. It’s an RPG series. Oh, and Working Designs is localizing Growlanser II and III. HOLY SHIT! If WD is involved, that means it probably rocks. And if it rocks, and they sell well here (which they will, it is WD after all), then it’s likely we’ll see Growlanser IV stateside as well, which can’t be a bad thing.

Is the Phantom a Phantom?
The time is drawing nigh. Infinium Labs is set to finally unveil their much touted (by them anyway) Phantom console, which they state will revolutionize gaming. On August 15-17, the Phantom will be on display at the Ultimate Gamers Expo in Los Angeles. So finally, we’ll get some reports of the most mysterious game system ever. Personally, I think it’s gonna be a lot of smoke up our asses. I guess we’ll see.

411 Newsbits
I liked doing this last week, and I can’t think of any more stuff to post here in the news.
-NFL Street: Sounds pretty fun, honestly. It’d be cool to play as oldschool players. But it wouldn’t surprise me if EA messed it up. I have been known to be wrong, though.
-Thailand Gaming Curfew: Not much to say that hasn’t been said except that if this shit happens in USA, I’m finally moving to Japan. Oh wait, I don’t play online games anyway. Oh well.
-DOA Bikinis: I thought this was stupid when it was released in Japan. And now it’s here. What is this world coming to? The funny thing is that these bikinis would only be bought by the people that played the game. And the people who buy the game probably don’t have girlfriends, because what girlfriend would let their boyfriend buy the game? I don’t know, this whole thing seemed like a big mess to me so I won’t say any more.
-Outrun 2: I wasn’t a fan of the original, but it was the first in a long line of excellent driving games by Sega, so if AM2 is behind another great racer, then I’m all for that.

New Game Releases
* Ship Date — 7/14-15/03
NCAA Football 2004 (All), XBox Exhibition Vol. 3, Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis (XBox, GC), Dinotopia (XBox, GC), Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (XBox)

This week wouldn’t be all that special if it weren’t for one game release. No, not NCAA Football. It’s supposed to be good, but I don’t care about playing as college teams, sorry. While XBox Exhibition would be cool (I’m a sucker for demos), it’s not THAT cool. And it certainly isn’t Aquaman or Dinotopia. TDK made two crapfests, err, make that “bargain priced” games. Seriously, who wants to play a game about the LAMEST DC character? The game I’m referring to is Star Wars: KOTOR! It’s Star Wars! It’s an RPG! It’s by Bioware! This game cannot possibly suck. I want an XBox NOW!!!

Links to the Past

Thank God It’s Thursday News Report – Bryan Berg
This week, Bryan talks about the PS3, the demise of Data East, NFL 2k3, Midway and NFL Street. He also wrote a nice commentary about wanting the grand things in life, which I agree with wholeheartedly. In addition, I really like his new plugs scheme. I always love reading those goofy quotes.

Friday’s Slice o’ News – Jeff Watson
Jeff is really starting to get a feel for his position, which is something that we all have to go through. Being a new guy isn’t as easy as it seems, because you have to create a niche for yourself so that you don’t seem like any other writer out there, but Jeff (and Cory as well) are both doing a splendid job. Keep it up guys!

Retrograding Weekend News – Alex Lucard
Since he’s the king of the news report without news, Alex has given us another fun filled column with tons of games I’ve never played! Sure, I played the Lunar bonus game that was based off Warlords, but I haven’t ever been into multiplayer gaming. It’s just never been my cup of tea, I guess. Oh, and while you’re at it, check out his Retrograding Mailbag where Alex proves, yet again, that his sack is bigger than the rest of ours combined. And as everyone groans at the poor sexual humor that Lee throws into his column, we shall move along.

Gamer’s Hangover News Report – Cory Laflin
Just like I said about Jeff, Cory too is fitting better and better into his role as the Monday guy. This week, Cory talks about game laws, NFL Street and Need for Speed Underground. So give it a read!

Rumor Down-Lo – Bebito Jackson
Our resident rumormonger does the unthinkable and gives a minireview of Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness. Poor sucker. I had actually planned on doing the same thing, but I doubt I would have lived through it. He also peppers the column with half-naked Japanese girls, so there’s always a plus.

Cheat! – Alex Williams
The other Alex is quickly becoming another of my favorite writers on the site, not only because of his excellent reviews, but also because of this great column. This week, he has cheats for Arc the Lad, Evil Dead, Midtown Madness 3, and more. He also has a mini FAQ on Sonic Adventure DX. Good, good stuff here.

Review of Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War (XBox) – Jeff Watson
While I’m not a big shooter fan (except Metroid Prime!), Jeff gives a good description of this game, and I’m sure if you like shooters, you’ll like this one.

Review of Lost Kingdoms II (GC) – Michael Blaszkowski
I really liked the first one in the series, and the second sounds even better. I need to rent this puppy!

Review of F1 Career Challenge – Cory Laflin
This game sounds like a stinker. That’s why I’m not much into racing games unless done right (see Gran Turismo 2). I didn’t like GT3 primarily because of the lack of changing your paint scheme when you get a racing mod. That was my FAVORITE part about upgrading cars.

New Anime Releases
* Release Date — 7/15/03
.hack//SIGN Vol. 3 (Regular Edition), Aura Battler Dunbine Vol. 1 (also w/ box), Eden’s Bowy Vol. 2, Geneshaft Vol. 2, GTO Vol. 9, Jubei-Chan Collector’s Set, s-CRY-ed Vol. 1 (also w/ box), Sailor Moon Season 1 Uncut Box Set

In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m a whore for ADV, Bandai, and Pioneer. I don’t have anything against other companies; it’s just that they produce better stuff. Most of these shows I know very little about, but I put them on here because either a) they have a box or are limited edition (Aura Battler Dunbine, s-CRY-ed), b) I’ve heard good things about them (GTO, Geneshaft), or because they are by one of those 3 companies (everything except GTO). I’ve only seen 3 of these shows: .hack//SIGN, Jubei-Chan and Sailor Moon. Of all of these shows, I’d recommend Jubei-Chan the most because it’s a hilarious show that will leave you rolling.

Otaku Previews
When I rented Unlimited SaGa, I also bought Issue 6 of NewType, the Anime magazine by ADV. Every issue comes with a promo disc with an episode or two of an upcoming anime, as well as some trailers. This issue had 2 episodes and 6 trailers, and I’ll preview them here.

King of Bandit Jing
This is a fun title that will be released next week. This first episode introduces us to Jing, so-called king of the bandits. He is very youthful, which makes people underestimate his abilities. To counter his calm yet confident demeanor, Jing’s partner Kir is a womanizer and a loudmouth. Oh, and he’s a bird. In this episode, the two go to the Capitol of Thieves in hopes of stealing what none other before them could steal: the Double Mermaids. The treasure is owned by the richest person in town, and he thinks that nobody will be able to take his prized possession, but Jing is out to prove him wrong.

The show is a humorous adventure that is very fun to watch. The animation is crisp and clean, but the style is fairly unusual. If I had to compare it, I’d say it’s a lot like RahXephon, as far as animation goes, which is a very good compliment. The voices are done by Monster Island, and though they aren’t as well known as Industrial Smoke and Mirrors, ADV’s other dub studio, it doesn’t mean they aren’t as talented. Each voice is very appropriate to the character and each character is a lot of fun. And the music is wonderful, from start to finish and everything in between. The last show I saw with music this good was Noir! The show is a blast, and I can’t wait to see more!
Anticipation: A

K.O. Beast
The episode of this show that appears on the disc is actually episode 4, and though I’d rather start with the first episode, this was all that was available, so I watched it. The show is about a group of people who can turn into beasts and have mecha called Djinn. The episode begins with our four beast heroes trapped in a cave playing Mahjong where the loser gets to be dinner. Once they are rescued from the cave, they realize that they need to repair their mecha, which were damaged in a battle with humans, but more importantly, they need to eat!

This show is a very silly affair that doesn’t ever really take itself seriously. The animation style and silliness reminds me a lot of Knights of Ramune, except without the ecchi-ness. The animation is a drawback for me, because it seems pretty outdated (early 90’s?) , but like a good video game, the animation doesn’t distract that much from what appears to be a good story. The voices are all appropriate for their characters, and all the main characters are likable. Overall, this show looks like a pretty fun adventure. It’s an OAV with only two discs, so it’s not a big commitment either. I may pick it up soon.
Anticipation: B

Aura Battler Dunbine: I previously said that I hadn’t heard anything about this one, and after seeing this, I’m not impressed. The animation is too old school for my liking.
Najica Blitz Tactics: A pantyfest along the lines of Agent Aika. Doesn’t look that great. Reviews may tell me otherwise later.
Voices of a Distant Star: Suffers the fate of trailer not giving any information. I’ve heard it’s good, but it looks like just another mecha anime.
Comic Party: The animation looks good, and the show looks fun. Don’t know much else about it though.
Dangaizer 3: I can’t really describe it other than a female Gundam show, or a more mature Rayearth.
His and Her Circumstances: It’s supposed to be really good, but from the trailer, it seems the animation is very grainy. I hope that it’s just a technique used for the trailer, because it’d be a shame to watch an anime that’s five years old which has grainy animation. Not like it matters to me. I’ve got 3 discs, and there’s only 2 left, and then I can actually watch it.

Mini Anime Reviews
Sorry I’ve been slacking on these lately, because I have plenty of stuff to review, but with most of it, I’ll need to rewatch it to review it well. But this week I have something I haven’t watched before.

Tying into the Matrix movies, this release is actually 9 short films by popular animators such as Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop), Peter Chung (Aeon Flux), Yutaka Minowa (Ninja Scroll), Mahiro Maeda (Blue Submarine #6), and Square Animation (Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within).
Story: Since it’s 9 films, I won’t go into the stories of all of them, but each of them either directly or indirectly ties into the Matrix series. Final Flight of the Osiris is probably the most important, because it details how the Osiris found the army of Sentinels drilling to Zion. Program is about another hovercraft crew, and Beyond is about a person who is still in the Matrix and finds a house wherein the Matrix is flawed and physics means nothing. Overall, the stories are all pretty good, and the tie-ins with the series are really cool.
Animation: This area is a mixed bag because some animation is really good, while some is poor. Final Flight, Beyond, and Detective Story are all very, very well animated, from the character designs to the colors used. Detective Story is all in black and white, and it’s got a very old-fashioned, gritty feel to it. On the other end of the spectrum, we have World Record, which has quite possibly the worst animation I’ve seen in a long time. The characters just all look stupid, and it’s really ugly. In addition, they ruined the style of the agents by giving them trenchcoats and making them look more like the heroes in the Matrix series than the villains.
Voices: The voice actors did a good enough job, but it wasn’t anything really worth mentioning. One thing to note is that when an actor from one of the movies appears in the Animatrix, they play their own voice.
Packaging/Extras: Well, the case is a standard Warner Brothers snapper case, which means it sucks. Nothing special about the case except that it looks ugly when compared to standard DVD cases. There are a few extras on the disc, including several “Making of” features and some commentaries. While that’s pretty nice, it’s also nice to get a good case, so I don’t see why Warner doesn’t get their collective heads out of their asses and get with the times.
The Verdict:: B+
This grade would be an A if not for 2 things: the case, which I already bitched about in detail, and World Record. It stood out like a sore thumb. In a disc full of good and great short films, World Record was the fly covered dungheap that nobody wants to see. The best on the disc (Beyond, Kid’s Story and Detective Story) don’t directly tie into the movies we’ve seen, but they are the most artistic and well thought out stories on the disc. Final Flight and the Second Renaissance Parts 1 and 2 are only there to tell the story of the Matrix, but likewise, the animation quality is superb. Program and Matriculated both have high quality animation, but their stories aren’t as great as the others. And we all know what I think about World Record. All in all, I’d say that you’re missing out if you don’t have this. Since it’s by Warner and not an anime company, it’ll only cost you about $20 (or less), so you should pick it up, especially if you’re a Matrix fan.

Well, another week is behind us. I’m tired, so I’m going to bed. No promises on what’ll show up next week. I may do a review of something I already have, or I may go out and spend $400 on anime. I’m kooky like that. It’s no wonder I’m poor. Enjoy the week folks.