The Gamer’s Conscience 12.15.03

Oh man, is my head gonna roll for this one!

But before I open the proverbial floodgates, leaving my feeble academia-inflicted mind open to the barrage of madness that will no doubt soon run the gamut, I must say this: outside of biological vices both chemical and bi-partite, there is no greater feeling of relief than to be done with finals. Let me tell ya- after 10 straight weeks of discussing Semitic identities, deciphering Mediterranean languages and their accompanying glyphs, AND having to listen to history regarding the Abbasid and Umayyad caliphates from a monotone Ben Stein-esque professor dressed like a crocodile hunter, there is NOTHING on the face of this (or any other) world to bring me a bigger satisfaction than finally being able to sit down with good friends, good times, and perhaps most poetically befitting this lapse of school, play some damn games!!!

And what a glorious time this will be. By the time this hits 411, I will be well into my first stress-free Monday since God knows how long. With two parts reckless abandon and three parts ignorant glee I will wake up, only to find my index finger staring down the power button of any of the game systems I’ve been fortunate enough to have. I will then press that button, with all the rage of an incarcerated gangster rapper, and proceed to enter a digital bliss not experienced since that one random-ass fool from The Lawnmower Man. Indeed, there will be time for subsistence and copious amounts of social contact. However, as predicated by Jah or some other benevolent higher power, perhaps that of a divine Christopher Walken, I will again sit down to a game and proceed to bleed nothing but sloth. Feel the burn, fool!

However, seemingly with all of my dramatic endeavors and comebacks to the game, I find myself lost on the notion of which individual game to take down. Granted, Final Fantasy VII will be in effect come the 22nd of this month- but between now and then, I’ve got a week to kill. An entire week to sit down with one of the now quasi-infamous unopened games that have become such a light-hearted point of contention. Yeah, the time has come to get one of those 16 games-

“Wait-wait-wait-wait-WAIT! Fred, WHAT IN HIGH HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? What on Earth happened to that earlier figure? You remember- you said NINE games, right? Right? EH?

OK! OK! Enough with the implicitly Canadian sentence endings! I’ll spill the beans. Just grab me that tissue box first!

It appears that, over the past year of nearly non-stop school, that figure of 9 games, which of the initial press time was correct, has inflated itself over two thirds past it’s former quantity. Now, either my small family of unopened games is trying to cheat the US welfare system, or a certain deity/giraffe offered a deal that this columnist just couldn’t refuse. And upon reviewing my history with the Toys R US mafia! the latter is no doubt in effect. That, and when all of those are purchased at less than 25 bones apiece, well, you begin to appreciate the economics of it all. Damned sweet, sweet sub-market value-priced games! oh, man.

But I digress. You see, it’s now time to rectify these misgivings of fate- these “mistakes,” if you will. For as all that time has passed, and these games piled higher than Bobby Brown’s chemical vocation, I now have an opportunity to immerse myself in one of the following games that I will lay shortly in a compact-yet-concise list. And unlike Bobby, I want your intervention- I mean help.

That’s right, friends. In a WW2-Uncle Sam type fashion, I WANT YOU to tell me which of the following 16 games is fit for play time, first and foremost. I’ve been out of the game for so damned long it’s not even funny- and out of knowing who has the good tastes here, I seek your informed opinions. Now, based on the titles, there might be some differences of taste that abound; you’re just going to have to live with it. What I’d like ya to do is to give me one full recommendation for just ONE game, and if you’re feeling it, you can put some ‘honorable mention’ type stuff in there as well.

The game that gets the most ‘votes’ will be played- on my honor- for at least an hour a day for this coming week, probably something like two. A diary of sorts will be kept, and will be the subject of the following edition of the Conscience. Sounds like fun, eh?

The games appear in no real set order, and span across 4 systems. So with all of this in mind, lets bring out the games!

Jak II (PS2): Praised by guys named Bebito, and claimant to the funniest PS2 commercials in recent memory, Jak II seems like a fun ride. I’d really like to play the first one beforehand, but something tells me that I’d enjoy the adventure of a smart-ass cat and the love child of Spock and Mr. Miyagi. That, and this whole “Dark Jak” thing looks like it’ll kick a lot of ass.

Xenosaga (PS2): Spiritual prequel to the only RPG to this day I think is worth any damn, I’m looking forward to Xenosaga for getting me my semi-annual infusion of religious overtones and giant robots. The way I figure it, I should probably get this one out of the way just in time for Episode 2, for chronology’s sake. Won’t somebody think of the order?!?!?!?

Gungrave (PS2): Looks like Gungrave is the direct antithesis to academic thought- that is, instead of investing neurons and broken down starch into looking for keys and talking to a variety of NPCs that look like they came out of David the Gnome, I could just as easily let a few rip from a couple of pistols and an f-ing coffin. Now that is badass.

Castlevania: Lament of Innocence (PS2): The more cryptic the titles get, the better the reason to sit down with the Belmonts for some fun hack n’ slash. Once again at odds with the living undead, this game puts the storyline in a space with a Z-axis more respectively than what I’ve heard regarding the N64. Seems rather stylish too.

Virtua Fighter 4 (PS2): Seems like this is the one that all you blasphemous 3D fighting heads really love to love. I’ve got no qualms with it, or else it wouldn’t be on my shelf. I just need some convincing to get it out of it’s wrapping, that’s all. Hell- is this really the game that could sell me on 3D fighters?

Twisted Metal Black (PS2): The best one since part 2, eh? I recall seeing it in action at a friend’s house and being subsequently blown away by it’s presentation. My only real problem with it is that they don’t play back the entire Rolling Stones single till the end of the game. Should that in itself be enough motivation?

Tekken Tag Tournament (PS2): I’ll be honest- I used to play this one when I worked for an independent game store some time back, and it wasn’t that bad. Gets my nod for best use of a panda in a video game, not to mention the uber-cool Yoshimitsu. But 3D fighters were never really that great to begin with. More of a piece to pass time with friends, if nothing else.

Onimusha 2 (PS2): The first Onimusha kicked so much ass, I decided to order this one when it hit 10 dollars at EBGames a while back. However, despite my curiosity, I just can’t bring myself to shredding the thing open. Perhaps your opinion can sway me!

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (PS2): No doubt about the massive hype, but from what I saw and read, the hype is justified. Sucks that they had to edit out a part that included a set of building that looked too much like the Twin Towers, but alas- the quality is still there.

Devil May Cry (PS2): Before Capcom mucked up the second one, there was this testament to what I’ve been told is a great damned game. This fool kills demons with twin pistols AND rocks white hair before his time? All well and kick ass, but should this be first to be opened?

Magic: The Gathering: Battlegrounds (XBOX): I have stoner friends addicted to the card game. I have sober friends whose prior affiliation can’t be determined on faith alone. I received this one from the latter group. Those of the former group really want to rip into it. Thus, this title will not only amuse me, but will amuse me vicariously through amusing my stoner friends- but only if this one is shown love.

Metroid: Fusion (GBA): A 13-dollar reason to take out my copy of Namco Museum and kiss Ms. Pac Man goodbye. Prior outings with Samus have been fun, no doubt, but how can this one measure up?

Legacy of Kain: Defiance (XBOX): Honestly, I have no idea why I’m including this one here. Call it a fluke of the system at hand, but this one is getting love as soon as the full 5.1 is in effect. Till all are one indeed.

Soul Calibur (Dreamcast): Once again, a 3D fighter I’ve heard mad respect about, but I just haven’t the gull to sit and button mash. Convince me otherwise, and perhaps the franchise will have a devout convert.

Sonic Adventure 2 (Dreamcast): The first one kicked a lot of ass, so why wouldn’t this one? I guess this one is in the shrinkwrap only because I thought of selling it a while back. But it’s been here too long, and I’m too curious. But am I that curious? Hmmm!

Gunvalkyrie (XBOX): Robots and a 10 dollar price tag sold me on this one a while back, and I’ve heard mixed reviews. But Sega hasn’t done me wrong yet, so I’m willing to give it a try before eBay or some random trade.

And that’s it, my friends. The cadre of 16 games, and only ONE shall be extracted from the crypt to get some gaming love. I could just as easily just choose one at random from the pack, but it just wouldn’t be as fun. Besides- you guys are the ones with excellent tastes, exemplified by reading 411 Mania’s Game section. Thus, I put the fate of my gaming progression in your hands, as you sirs and madam (I’m optimistic here)- YOU can influence the course of history for one gamer in relapse.

Supporting your neighbor’s habit- that’s the Gamer’s Conscience.

My apologies for the prior week’s absence, but when finals call, you’ve gotta accept the charges. Regardless, you’re gonna want to stick around 411 for the week, as my gaming compatriots bring you news and insight you just can’t get anywhere else. And now, more than ever, feedback is direly appreciated. Just think about it this way- not only are you refining my list, you’re also preaching your very own specialized gospel regarding a game of your choice! The congregation awaits!

Until next time!