Mid-Week Mid-Boss News Report 12.24.03

Welcome to the Christmas Eve edition of the Mid-Week Mid-Boss. No, you’re not in the wrong place. I’m still Lee Baxley, and this is still the best place to come for RPG news and views of the week. This is the new name I decided on after splitting the column into two separate parts. For those unaware, Mid-Boss comes from the game Disgaea by Nippon Ichi and Atlus, and if you don’t have this game yet, you’re doing yourself a severe dishonor. The game rocks, and you need it! Thanks to Matt Hardin for helping me go the Disgaea route with the name, though it took me a while to actually think of anything, but I like this one. If you consider Lucard and Bebito to be Laharl and Etna respectively, then I’m about like the Mid-Boss for the site, so I guess it fits.

Tomorrow is Christmas, Chanukkah is still going, and Kwanza is on the 26th, so there should be presents all around. I know Alex Williams got a good one (Japanese PS2) so everybody bitch at him because most of us don’t get one! Ah, I’m only kidding. Don’t bitch at him, just condradulate him. And I know the season isn’t about only presents, it’s about spending time with loved ones and all that. But presents are good! In fact, the best present I could get this year isn’t something that can be wrapped!

Speaking of which, I got that present on Monday! It was the job I had applied for. I’m sooooo happy, because the job is in a laid back environment, the people there are great, it’ll involve working with computers, AND I’ll be able to learn stuff! I’m so excited to be there, and I feel so lucky to have gotten it, and I AM really lucky. Not to say that I’m not qualified, but if it had been posted in the newspaper or something, I probably wouldn’t have gotten it because I KNOW there are people more capable than I am, but I’m a damn good investment for the company. I’m going to be cheaper than most specialists (starting at about what I made before, but it’ll improve over time), I’m a quick learner, and I have a good attitude about it, which means I’m WILLING to learn (in fact, I thrive off of it) and I will do the job well. So it’s good times all around. This is officially the best Christmas ever, and it isn’t even Christmas yet!

I want to thank all of my fellow members of the 411Games Kliq, Eric S., and you the readers (especially Matt Hardin) for your support and well wishes during this “hiatus” (as Cory put it) of employment. Thanks guys, it means a lot to me.

With that said, let’s get on with the news, and tomorrow have a blast! I know I will!

Gaming News

Asheron’s Call Aquired by Turbine
In what could be considered odd news, Turbine, the company who made the MMORPG Asheron’s Call, has purchased the rights of Asheron’s Call from Microsoft. I haven’t heard of a developer buying the rights of a game from a publisher, but it makes sense. Turbine is an excellent up and coming MMORPG creator who had been having financial trouble until recently. Though Asheron’s Call was very popular (second only to Everquest), the sequel wasn’t as well designed it seems, and isn’t near as popular. This may be the reason that Microsoft is willing to part with the rights to the franchine. Turbine is also working on two HUGE MMORPG franchises: Middle Earth Online (from Lord of the Rings) and Dungeons and Dragons Online. Both of these series are excellent places for an MMORPG, and along with Final Fantasy XI, I may be lifting my self-imposed MMORPG ban in the near future.
Credit: GamesareFun.com

Full Metal Alchemist Receives Silver Award
Though it’s not major news, anime/manga based action RPG Full Metal Alchemist by Square Enix has been reviewed by weekly Famitsu in Japan, and was given 30/40, earning it the respectable silver medal.
Credit: RPGFan.com

Sammy Causing Issues At Sega?
Now that Sammy is the majority shareholder in Sega, they are starting to make demands. This is exactly the problem a lot of people had with them merging to begin with. First of all, Sammy wants Sega to focus on the arcade business and start using Sammy’s Atomiswave hardware. They also want Sega to be more wary of what console games they release. Also, they plan on putting several Sammy executives in advisory positions within Sega.

This all really pisses me off. Now, I’m not Sega’s BIGGEST fan, but I do like a lot of their games. And as an American gamer, this worries me greatly. If Sega focuses on the arcade business, it means that we’ll see less games in general over here, since the arcade business here is much smaller than consoles. Sammy also said that if its demands weren’t met, they’d go and buy more shares to increase its control. This all smells like a hostile takeover to me, and really is lowering the respect I had for Sammy.
Credit: GamesareFun.com

Sony Rumors
Two unconfirmed rumors regarding Sony here that will interest many gamers. First of all, Reuters is reporting that Sony is planning on dropping the price of the Playstation 2 console in the US to $129 in early 2004. This is good news for the folks who don’t have one and don’t get one for Christmas (or people like me who play it too much and it breaks). It’s now officially in the “too cheap to pass up” category, especially considering it works as a (substandard) DVD player. There are also reports that Sony is working on a version of SOCOM for its PSP (Playstation Portable) console. How the game will actually work, considering the PS2 versions are online only, remains to be seen.
Credit: The Magic Box

For the record, this was brought about by a column on Insert Credit called Hard Sells. The column is about a Teaching Assistant at a university with a Game Production class. Many of us would KILL to take this type of class, but most for the wrong reasons. I would personally love to simply because I’d love to work in the industry and have a hand in creating great games. Not simply to have my name in the credits, but to DO something and have it be part of a greater whole.

But most people who would (and apparently DO) take this type of class think it’s going to be about playing games. But oddly enough, that’s not the case. Well, not for the guy who writes Hard Sells. The labs that he runs are exactly the way it should be, but as he says, other classes involve people standing around the consoles, playing games on the expensive TVs they have. This saddens me, to be perfectly honest.

We need new blood. I’m not talking about only in the gaming industry, but in politics as well. It won’t be long before our Generation (I’m 26, so I think I’m technically in “Generation X”) will be of age to get in to politics. And I don’t know if that will be good or bad. I have largely stayed away from political matters in previous years, but as I get older, I’m growing more interested in it, and I can’t deny that your friend and mine, Eric S., played a part in that. But one thing I’ve noticed is that most of the people in office are so damn old. These are people that not only don’t know jack shit about our generation, but they likely don’t care either. We need some new blood, younger folks, to get into the political arena, and hopefully into Congress or even the White House. People that are more likely to care about OUR future. I mean, I don’t have anything against old people (for the most part), but I take great exception to having part of my paycheck taken out for social security, when I know for a fact it won’t be around when I get old. And I sure as hell won’t get my money back whenever they DO take social security away. So that means that I will have been paying for people who had no means to pay for themselves, yet I won’t get the same benefit when I’m older. That’s a completely different subject though, and way off tangent from my previous subject.

What I’m getting at is that we need younger people in the gaming arena as well. I know there are some, but there aren’t any masters. I’m talking about people like Miyamoto, Sakaguchi, Yu Suzuki, Kojima, Yuji Naka, the masters of video games today. Any hardcore gamer knows who these guys are, and even non-hardcore gamers should know who SOME of them are. I’ll give examples for each so THEN you’ll know them. Miyamoto did Zelda, Mario, and Metroid games. Sakaguchi started the Final Fantasy series. Suzuki made Virtua Fighter and Shenmue series. Kojima made the Metal Gear series. And Naka is behind the Sonic titles. So these men are responisble for many, many hours of excellent playing time.

Ok, so you aren’t impressed by all these Japanese guys. Here’s a few Westerners for you. Peter Molyneux (Populous, Black and White), John Carmack (Doom, Quake), Ken and Roberta Williams (founders of Sierra, King’s Quest games), Chris Roberts (Wing Commander, Privateer) and my personal favorite, Richard Garriott (Lord British himself, founder of Origin, Ultima series). I’m sure I left someone off, and Eric S. will bitch me out for it, but this is not meant to be a complete list, but simply an example of some of the masters in gaming. All of these people either have been responsible for virtually creating a genre, or making a game so popular that virtually EVERYONE has heard of it.

The point of all this is that these guys aren’t going to be around forever, and let’s face it, most of them have produced to the point of their work getting old. Yes, there are some that are still innovating (Molyneux with Black and White, Miyamoto with Metroid Prime, Naka with Sonic Heroes), but for the most part, these guys are tapped out. Look at John Carmack, probably the youngest guy on the list. He’s damn good at making first person shooters. Hell, he basically invented the genre, or at least made it popular, and now look at games. 25% of all games are FPS games. And they’re really getting old. I HIGHLY doubt the purty graphics of Doom III will be special. A bunch of the other PC guys aren’t really doing much of anything anymore.

We need some NEW masters. We need someone to jump out of the woodwork and make a game that’s so unique and different and fun that NOBODY will see it coming. It will happen someday. And I hope it will happen soon. Because lately, games have become less and less fun simply because you can say, “Hey, I played this game LAST year.” Games like Pokemon Channel are a definite step in the right direction, but that particular game, while fun, just doesn’t feel like a full game. We need something new and big, something besides more FPS titles and more cookie cutter RPGs. I want something SO different that you can’t even GIVE it a genre. Something that will create an entirely new one. Hopefully it’ll happen soon, because I feel that games in general are starting to stagnate.

Fun Facts:
-Several of the creators listed above can be found in the Urban Dictionary, including Yuji Naka. The funniest sentence on the page has to be when Yuji Naka is used in a sentence. when Yuji Naka lays off the shrooms and realizes what he has done, he will most likely create Sonic games that don’t suck dogshit.
Chris Roberts, the guy behind the Wing Commander franchise, and the same person that directed the horribly awful Wing Commander movie, is also one of the executive producers of the new Punisher movie.
-Richard Garriott RULES, and EA sucks for buying our Origin and f*cking the Ultima series to hell.

Christian’s Crazy Game Releases
Keep in mind, these are ship dates and are not set in stone. Game companies LOVE to push stuff back at the last minute, so don’t blame us if it’s not right. Also, since it is a ship date, it may take several days to arrive at your favorite store, depending on what it is, so please call before rushing over to pick up a game that may or may not have arrived.

Dec 21
Goblin Commander (GC)

Dec 23
Arx Fatalis (XB)

Dec 24
Deer Hunter (P2)

Dec 26
Ozzy & Drix (GBA)

Dec 27
Need for Speed Underground (GBA)

Release dates courtesy of Christian at Game Crazy. MVP Members! Trade in a PS2, Cube or X-Box title between Christmas and New Years and receive 20% off selected new titles! Some of our hottest sellers! See your nearest Game Crazy for more details!

Christian’s Comments: Not much this week, and no suprise there. So I’ll cut this short and just say I hope everyone has some Happy Holidays, and they get all the games they put on their Christmas list. Happy Holidays from everyone at Game Crazy!

Lee’s Comments: I’m surprised there’s anything at all this week! But not much to talk about. Arx Fatalis may be interesting, but I’ve played one game by that company (Dreamcatcher) and found it to be utterly dull and uninspired, but maybe this game will be different.

Links to the Past

Retrograding – Alex Lucard
A look back at the year in Retrograding. It makes me sad though that he had a lot of nice things to say about everything but me. That’s what I get for all those drinking binges, I suppose.

We Want Our Tea Back! – Misha
This week (well, last week, actually), Misha’s topic is inspiration. And he mentions two great comics: 8-bit Theater and Megatokyo! Those two rock! The only one he left out was the ever popular Penny Arcade.

Thank God It’s Thursday News Report – Bryan Berg
XIII, Console Sales Figures, and the PSX. Plus a commentary on screwing the customer. I tend to agree with that accessment. My very first console was the NES with the ROB robot. Yea Rob sucked, but it was SOMETHING. Newer Xbox and Gamecube consoles typically DO have a game with them, but that wasn’t how it was at launch. I can see them only coming with one controller, but I think it’s very unfair for a company to make a system and not include a game and memory card. I remember when I got my Playstation and Final Fantasy VII for my birthday. I played until the first save point when I realised that I didn’t get a memory card with it! I was pissed to say the least. At the VERY least, the game companies should include something where you can get a free game with any purchase of the system.

The Angry Gamer – Liquidcross
After disagreeing last week, I completely agree with Liquid this week! I much prefer the old 2D Mario titles, and the 3D versions just don’t do it for me. Especially Mario Sunshine. It just didn’t feel like a MARIO game.

411MAX: News News Revolution – Alex Williams
An Ngage exclusive game?! No f*cking way! You mean somebody made a game FOR the system? I know I talked about being open minded and always looking at the positive and stuff, but I don’t have much hope for this one.

Gamer’s Hangover News Report – Cory Laflin
Cory gives you some tips on how to have the least depressing Christmas possible. Listen to the man, he certainly knows what he’s talking about here!

The Gamer’s Conscience – Frederick Badlissi

Clap Hands It’s News Happiness Time! – Chuck Platt
Thanks for the present, Chuck! I think he’s doing a great job in his new role as a news reporter, don’t you guys?

Simcolumn – Ron Yip
Ron gives some holiday buying tips and gives us a look back at some exerpts from previous SimColumns from the past year. The man needs some love. Can you folks give him some love?

Well, it’s that time again. Time to bid adieu until next week. Oh, and since there is NOTHING happening in the world of anime (with the exception of a total of 3 releases this week), I’m not going to do an anime column this week. I will say that it will have a new name, even though I said before it wouldn’t. I’m a pathological liar. Anyway, enjoy the holidays!