Retrograding 08.30.03

To be honest, I’ve got a crapload of writer’s block this week. As the other 411staff members can tell you I’ve been working my ass off to the point of burnout. Not only have I been getting a Fish! Convention ready for Sept 9th in Saint Cloud, but I’ve been doing a lot of heavy hitting shit behind the scenes for 411games in terms of PR and getting our respect levels up high than any of us thought we would get. The Squaresoft letter to me alone was worth the effort. :

Anyway, I had three different columns I was working on this week. One about the N-Gage, one about the Clock Tower that never made it to US shores, and the third on how advertising has changed within the industry with each console war. But I wasn’t happy with either. So hopefully a news style column will make the hurt go away, yes? Especially as I always seem to find to news the rest of the guys overlook (Ie: GAME BOY NEWS)

1. Happy Birthday PIKACHU!

NOA celebrated Pokemon’s fifth anniversary in America by releasing the sequal to Pokemon pinball this week. First of all, the first Pokemon pinball is by far the best pinball game out for any handheld system, with only Pinball of the dead coming close to the originality, innovation and sheer addictiveness of Pokemon Pinball. It sickens me to see people refer to Pokemon as a kiddie game when unlike every other franchise, Pokemon continually tries to reinvent itself. Pokemon. Pokemon Snap. Pokemon Pinball. Pokemon Puzzle League. Pokemon Trading Card. It goes on and on. Yes the mainstay of the franchise works the same formula, but unlike every other franchise on the planet, Pokemon was smart enough to expand before the core game got stale and bland like every other series out there.

So please, stop with the macho tiny dicked idiocy. Pokemon is not for kids. It’s not for girls. It’s just cute. Try the games and watch how incorrect the stereotype is. 38 Million copies of Pokemon have been sold in North America alone, and over 110 million have been purchased worldwide. You owe it to yourself to try the series.

And this week I’ll have a review of PP:RS out later this week.

2. New Dragon Quest Game!

Heaps of Slime Dragon Warrior: The Shocking Tails Brigade. The name alone should make you want to buy the game! Especially is Square Enix leaves the name as its literal translation on the US version. The name length rivals SSF2T:HF! And if you’re curious or just a total geek, the romanji title is Slime Morimori Dragon Quest: Shougeki No Shippo Dan. Again, how does the title alone not rock?

Obviously as you can guess from the title, it’s all about the Slime monsters that appear in all 7 Dragon Quest games, as well as in all the spinoffs. They’re the first characters you actually encounter in the game, with a wimpy 1 HP and exist as comic relief and cannon fodder. Except for King Slimes or Metal slimes. Ouch!

Unlike the usual DQ games, Heaps of Slime is going to be an action adventure game. A bit of a change from the usual RPG format the DQ games have, but it should be interesting playing as a slime.

Think it’ll come to the US? DQ games don’t perform anywhere near the sales rate insanity the series has over in Japan. Poor DW7. Still, with the combined might of Square and Enix, this game has a decent chance of hitting stateside. SOMEDAY.

3. Video Games Kill People!

Plucked directly from the Morning News in Arkansas:

‘Addiction’ to computer fantasy game may have led to child’s death

By Kirby Sanders

The Morning News

SPRINGDALE — Three-year-old Brianna Cordell died sweltering in a closed car, while her mother was engrossed in a computer fantasy-game, according to police.

Mary Christina Cordell, 36, was arrested Monday and faces a felony charge of manslaughter, said Brian Simmons, Springdale police spokesman. Cordell, who goes by her middle name, Christina, was being held in the Washington County jail Monday afternoon awaiting a bond hearing.

The charge is a Class C felony, punishable by three to 10 years in prison and a fine up of to $10,000.

Authorities said Cordell and her boyfriend, Eric Long, 21, may have been so fixated with the interactive game EverQuest that she neglected to pay adequate attention to Brianna’s whereabouts on Aug. 8, the day the child died.

“The preliminary results of the autopsy indicate death by environmental hyperthermia. This information supports the initial claim as to cause of death,” said Jeff Taylor, Springdale police detective.

Brianna was found dead in the front seat of her mother’s car at about 3:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the apartment complex at 750 S. 40th St. She lived in an apartment with her mother, 9-year-old brother and long.

And it gets weirder. This is from Gamespot.

Mary Christina Cordell faces felony manslaughter charges, according to a Springdale, Arkansas, police spokesman. A Springdale police detective stated, “We believe that on the day in question, Ms. Cordell was playing an Internet game, EverQuest, for a period of time exceeding two hours, during which she had no knowledge concerning the whereabouts of her daughter.”

According to, messages posted to a site run by a group called Spouses Against EverQuest under Mary Christina Cordell’s name suggested that the game was “addictive” and was in part responsible for her divorce: “I feel sorry that people get wrapped up into this and destroy their relationships. I just hope that one day they will wake up before it’s too late and realize they are alone with no real friends and their family is gone.”

Sigh. America scares me. Some people have addictive personalities. If it’s not a video game, they’ll get into something else. If a person is nuts and you deny them one outlet for their insanity it will appear in another way, like becoming Otherkin, or a furrie, or eating pillows in your local Macy’s.

And the thing is, the game is not to blame. The woman KNEW she was an addict. She KNEW she couldn’t stop playing and that is consumed her. She blamed the game for her divorce. Yet here’s the thing: SHE KEPT PLAYING. People, I know I’m preaching to the converted, but a game does NOT f*ck you up. You have to be f*cked up already and then find an outlet. And that’s what this crazy chick did. And someone died because she was nuts.

This is her mailing list! Rea dhow much she hates Everquest! How bad it is for her. How she blames it to be a virtual heroin. And yet she still kept on playing. Stupid stupid people.

There are more important questions to be asked other than ‘IS EQ evil?’ Like, ‘How did the child get into the car in the first place?’ ‘How could an 8 year old not be able to figure out how to open a bloody door?’ ‘Why did a known nutjob have custody of the kid?’ ‘Where were the people living with said nutjob?’ Shit like that.

I hate the mainstream media of this country. From Fox to CNN, news reporting has become only about the sensational. The ratings grabbers. And as such news is no longer unbiased fact reporting: It’s become Jerry Springer for the post college crowd.

This is why I buy the Wall Street Journal!


Okay. For those of you who don’t know, a week ago, Nokia bought the remains of Sega online game assets for their eventually bombing N-Gage. Now, I know. EVERYONE bashes the N-Gage. Except, because they’re crooked shills. But the system sucks. The cost sucks. And besides the Sega games, all the announced software sucks. It’s CD-I Handheld people. And I usually praise every handheld system ever made! I worship the Wonderswan! The NGPC! The Nomad and GameGear! So if I of all gamers am saying ‘The N-Gage is gonna die horribly,’ you KNOW something is wrong with a system.

But back to the topic at hand. The Wall Street Journal last week announced all bits of Inc are absorbed into Nokia. That includes SNAP, Sega’s Network Application Package.

Now all this is WONDERFUL for Nokia. Until of course the six months down the road when the N-Gage is nicknamed 3-DO 2.0. But for Dreamcast fans? Well here’s the shitter:

Come October 1st, online capabilities for the Dreamcast will no longer be supported. Which makes games like PSO 1 and 2 totally useless as they are designed for online play. So yes, Chuck is right. We are now in the age of console games that can’t be retrogamed. And that’s horrible. It’s why as much as I enjoy online games, I won’t buy any unless the can be played both equally on and offline. Touken Restuden 4 was one of my favorite games SIMPLY because I was able to play as my personal Jesus, Masahiro Chono online. I could play as Donovon Bane against some guy in Osaka in VC! But now that enjoyment is gone. Thankfully both games can still be played normally on the DC, but Matching Service ability rocked. And anyone who bought PSO is screwed because unlike the other online games, those are now piles of crap akin to Superman 64.

So BOO to Nokia for f*cking over Sega fans. BOO to Sega for stabbing their loyal fan base in the back once again. And BOO to the consumers who let the DC die.

Thank god SVC: Chaos won’t be an online game.

The small amount of good news is that you can keep playing DC online games until 9:59pm EST Sept 30th. If you actually paid money for a Hunter’s Liscense in 2.0, your credit card will be refunded.

I have to admit, I’m blowing this way out of proportion. After all, Sega allowed the online ability to stay up when it was supposed to be cancelled six months ago. They did try to appease the fans as much as possible. And I do thank them for that. I just wish Nokia would have kept the servers running and treated Sega fans with as much respect as they were used to. And considering Sega fans are the ones Nokia is trying to reach, they’ve already leapt out of the gate with a figurative kick to the genitals. Nice one Nokia.


Well, hell? What else would you expect from me? But see, I have a reason for this one.

Now, you all may have noticed my total corruption of Lee into a Persona mark who will most likely by the other Persona in English and become even more of a zombie to this great series. And of course Charles Platt enjoys it as well But now, I have Alex Williams running around in search of a copy of this game to boot. Now if only I could get Bebito to buy the game and see it’s glory. Then all of the RPG fans at 411 would be able to do a huge ‘I LOVE PERSONA’ Feature. HINT HINT.

But coming October 7th, is a huge step for Persona fans. You see the parent series of Persona, SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI is hitting US shores for the first time! Okay, Revelations: The Demon Slayer doesn’t count as it is so terrible I refuse to admit the game exists. Much like Sakura Taisen Online.

But yes, the Pokemon Parody style games that are DEMIKIDS come to America in English in two months, I know I have BOTH the light and dark copies preordered and I beseech you all to do the same. It’s SMT! SMT!!!!! Okay, well it’s really more a side story/spin off in the same vein Persona is, but it’s MEGATEN regardless baby! And thus you have to get it.

Besides, it’s Persona Pokemon! It combines my two favorite current franchises into one twisted as f*ck game. Even VG stores are promoting Demikids as a Shin Megami Tensei game. Which surprises me as that would be like promoting Jim Hellewig and Steve Borden to wrestling marks. Or maybe it just means SMT is growing in popularity and even casual gamers are wondering what the fanatical devotion to this series is all about!

I do have to complain about the name though. I mean, Demikids? I wish Atlus USA had left it: Shin Megami Tensei Devil Children: Fire and Ice. But that whole word ‘Devil’ would have freaked overly religious types out.

Oh, and when you do order them a word of advice: Play Light before you play Dark. They’re entirely different games in terms of the fusion systems and difficulty. And Dark will involve a lot more profanity on your part when you try to beat it.

And Yes, I do know this is neither news, or new. It’s nearly 5 months old, but I figure I can never harp on the greatest of the SMT series enough. Especially to those of you who have never played it. GO ORDER THESE GAMES NOW!

See the Official Demi Kids page from Atlus!

6. Weird CNN News Article

CNN reports although they lost out on the chance to do the graphics tech for the next MS and Nintendo Console, Nvidia may be doing the tech for the PS3.

Sigh. Isn’t that always the way? The Sony system will once again be the worst out of the next gen consoles in terms of power and ability, yet it will still most likely have the first first party support and fanatical fanboys. Arrrgh.

7. Quick question

Anyone still using the E-Reader for things other than Animal Crossing? I never hear of ANYONE doing anything with it! Especially with the new Mario Party cards?

Take hope E-Reader fans, and the end of October sees new Pokemon games and Super Mario Advance 4 cards coming out. Yes, Super Mario Advance which is actually SUPER MARIO BROS 3: The only Mario game Alex can stand for long periods of time!

That has to put some life back into the e-reader. Or kill it dead completely. Let’s see what happens.

8. Alex hates Plagarizers!

You know I’ve been posting on the weekend instead of Friday lately. I could say it’s because I’m busy with my new job. It’s true. But it’s not the real reason. I could say it’s because I’ve been doing a shitload of behind the scenes stuff with lots of publishers. Again true, but it’s not the case.

The fact of the matter is I refuse to post on the same day as Stinkypants Nofriends because he’s a f*cking gimp and the thought of having anything in common with him soils my good name and my ego. We’ve tolerated plagiarizing and bad coding and just sub-par writing for far too long. Everyone deserves a chance to hang themselves and as the self appointed asskicker for the kliq it’s my job to kick the chair out from under his feet.

Don’t go away mad Queef. Just go away. And let Alex Williams or Freddy B. Have your spot.

9. Clipped from the BBC

Christ, I know most gamers will only get their news from VG sites instead of actual newspapers or news websites, and thus they lose out on actual behinds the scenes and marketing info. When was the last time you saw EGM or Game Informer cover something like this:
The next generation of consoles could shake up the games industry, with a game costing tens of millions of dollars to develop, say experts.

Making a title for the successors to the PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube could run into $20 or $30 million, game developers meeting in London were told.

But the price of a game in the shops is likely to stay the same.

It could mean many smaller software firms going bust or joining forces with other small companies.

Rising costs

Software companies have found the transition from one generation of gaming platform to another difficult, hitting sales and raising development costs

“We are very scared about the potential cost of PlayStation 3 games,” Jez San, Chief Executive of Argonaut Games told the Games Developers Conference being held in London.

“Retail prices are not changing but the costs of development are increasing.”

“This explains why the games industry is going through a consolidation this year. Consolidation is inevitable.”

And he had an ominous prediction for the audience of game developers gathered at London’s Earls Court conference centre.

“We have maybe 500 small development studios at the moment. We could have just 50 in two years’ time.”

“The market has grown up. There’s no market for bedroom programmers anymore,” said Mr San, who started off as one himself. “You won’t make any money.”

His comments were echoed by other industry figures who are preparing for the next generation of consoles to appear in the shops in two or three years’ time.

“It is going to be a huge challenge dealing with the next generation of consoles,” said David Lau-Kee, Chief Executive of Criterion Software which is behind titles like Burnout and Airblade.

Wanting more

The new consoles could have up to 1,000 times more processing power than current models and benefit from enhanced video and audio systems.

“There are enormous technical challenges ahead with the new consoles,” said Jez San of Argonaut. “And it is not just about content.

“Consumer expectations will be higher. They will want games that look and play better on the PS3.”

It means the people making games are going to produce better and more advanced titles which are going to more time and money to develop.

“Games that take four or five years time now could take 10 years to develop,” warned Ian Shaw, chief technology officer with games giant Electronic Arts.

He said the games industry had to become more efficient in the way it created games, looking at faster ways of turning an idea into a compelling interactive experience.

The Game Developers Conference Europe runs at London’s Earls Court conference centre until Friday.

It is part of London Games Week, which brings together a range of industry and consumer events around the capital.

I swear to god, if I get even ONE email that asks how the above story pertains to US gaming, I will fill their inbox with spam.

Seriously though, I don’t know where the rest of the staff gets their VG news from, but I now Is the first place I hit every time I want some unbiased, fanboyless MEATY news on the industry. You’ve all been advised.

Plus if you want a stark difference between US and UK gaming and how bloody long the Brits have to wait to get games we take for granted, click on all the London Games Week links on the page! TOTAL Shock-o-Rama for you all living of the west side of the Atlantic.

9. What the Fuck is London Games Week?

Think of a second rate E3 but with horrible teeth and people that actually believe Eidos makes good games.

10. Closing up this Week’s Column.

Yeah I know. News reports and I do not get along. They’re too dry for me to do with my usual level of insane energy and manic babbling. Still, I had to do a column this week, and it was either give you guys a crapload of news you normally wouldn’t find on this site or stare at my screen and swear for hours while Tenchi Universe plays on in the background. And as I’m a firm believer in sticking to your commitments…well this is what you get! Hopefully something good came out of this column.

See, I hate when a column gets a response like last week’s SNK one. To get public praise from such places as, a thank you email from SNK Playmore and to have my inbox crowded with letter from psycho KoF fans, well it makes the follow up that much harder to do. At least next week you KNOW you’ll be getting a column better than this one.