411MAX: News News Revolution 01.09.04

Welcome to Friday! The glorious day that is the dawn of a new weekend. A weekend of goofing off. A weekend of slouching about. A weekend of doing NOTHING…except playing games.

Things happened over the past week. Good things, as a matter of fact. For one, my DDR skills have improved far beyond what I could ever imagine. My AAA count stands at a whopping 258, spanning all five difficulties (Beginner, Light, Standard, Heavy, and Challenge). Some may say that AAAs on Beginner don’t count, simply because they are too easy. I say screw those people. You know why? It’s DAMN HARD to get AAAs in the first place. On ANY difficulty. You have to be PERFECT in every single step. In fact, it’s even harder on the “easy” songs simply because there’s too much space between each arrow. You have to keep an ear on the rhythm constantly if you don’t want to mess up.

Speaking of DDR, my import copy of DDR Extreme finally came in the mail Thursday afternoon. You’re lucky you’re reading a finished report today, considering that I’ve been going nuts on that thing and “rush unlocking” as much as I can. Expect an Import Connection Review next week on it.

In other, non-gaming related news, guess who’s returning to football coaching? Joe Gibbs. That’s right. JOE F’ING GIBBS! The guy who led the Washington Redskins to FOUR Super Bowl appearances and won THREE of them in his initial twelve year stay as head coach is coming BACK to make the ‘Skins viable contenders again. It almost made me forget there’s a Super Bowl at the end of the month. That’s how big an impact this right now. And I can assure you that at least HALF of the current NFL coaches have just shit their collective pants.

Actually, this DOES figure in to gaming. Why? Because when Madden 2005 and ESPN NFL Football 2K5 come out, they’ll both have CYBER GIBBS ON THE SIDELINES! COMPUTER-ANIMATED JOE YELLING AT PLAYERS AND CALLING PLAYS! These are football games worth keeping, my friends.

Anyway, you probably didn’t come here to read about fecal matter. (Well, considering some of the news stories these days, maybe you did.) You came to read about games! So, here you go. ON WITH THE NEWS!
Anything With “Final” and “Fantasy” In The Title Apparently Sell Well!

Square Enix U.S.A. recently announced that over 500,000 people have officially subscribed to their PlayOnline service. This fact can be solely attributed to the successful sales of Final Fantasy XI for the PC. Also of note is that there are almost a million characters on the PlayOnline servers.

The PlayOnline service launched in May 2002 in Japan and Octoboer 2003 in the US. They say the service is home to several entertainment applications, as well as communications, but you’ll probably agree that as of this moment, FFXI is the ONLY thing people are using it for.

On one hand, it’s cool to see SqEnix having such success with its online service. On the other hand, it’s because of a “bandwagon game”. Now, as soon as SqEnix comes up with something ELSE that uses it instead of riding FFXI’s coattails, I might consider these servers myself.

(Credit goes to Games Are Fun)
Sony Screws China

Remember a few months back when Sony announced they would release their PS2 in China? Well, after a delay, they have. The only problem is that they’ve only distributed units to the cities of Shanghai and Guangzhou. Originally, units were also going to be shipped to Bejing, Shenzhen and Chengdu, but had been cancelled for the December launch.

As of right now, Sony’s not giving an official reason as to why the launch has been played down so much. Unofficially, many believe this is due to cut down on the piracy issue.

I guess this leads me to ask this question: if you KNOW that there is rampant piracy in a territory, won’t you take steps to cut down on it? Maybe modify Chinese units/games a little more to compensate? I mean, Nintendo took steps to ensure their success against piracy with the iQue Player. It’s a customized console using unique media, complete with restrictions on what can be played on it and with it. Why Sony didn’t even ATTEMPT to do something like this is beyond me.

(Credit goes to Gamespot)
Obscure Info For New Nintendo Hardware

In the latest issue of Famitsu magazine, Nintendo has gone on record to say that their new hardware they are planning might work with games that are already out. That, and it WILL be revealed at this year’s E3.

Why does this sound like they are going to release the iQue outside of the Chinese territories? Oh well. Guess we’ll have to wait until E3 to find out what this mystery hardware is all about.

(Credit goes to Gamespot)
Wanna Know Who’s Workin’ For Midway Now?

Well, I’ll tell you! Aren’t you LUCKY?!?!?

Midway has recently hired both Robert N. Waxman and Jay N. Whipple III as new members of their board of directors. Waxman and Whipple both have finance backgrounds, and held major positions in various CPA and financial firms.

This adds to the list of Midway recent hirings, which includes plenty of all-star talent. Midway seems to be trying to turn itself around with all these guys. Let’s hope that it’s all for the best, though.

(Credit goes to Gamespot)
Windows To Further Control Your House

At the CES Tradeshow in Las Vegas, Bill Gates announced some interesting new software that will be compatible with the PC and the X-Box. Called the “Windows Media Center Extender, it will allow you to view images, movies, and audio clips from any computer (installed with Windows XP Media Center) to “any room in your house”. These files can be viewed (or heard) on a TV with a special set-top box, or an X-Box console.

To get this to work with your X-Box, you’ll need a kit that will come with a DVD, and a remote control. Using this, you can use many applications to view files and images directly from your computer, even if someone else is using it at the time.

Well guys, you all know what this means. Bill Gates is essentially allowing us to watch downloaded computer porn from any room in the house. No longer will horny teenage boys have to wait for their fathers to be out of the computer room to access his “secret directory”! They can just turn on their X-Box, plug in the remote, and three clicks later see Jenna Jameson getting double-penetrated by a girl with a strap-on and a midget! GOD BLESS GATES!

Wait, that wasn’t Jenna Jameson? Then who am I looking at now? Oh no…what did I just type? CRAP! I’m typing my interior monologue! And the Delete key doesn’t work! DAMMIT! WHY DO I ALWAYS SCREW UP THESE REPORTS THIS WAY?!?!?!?!?

(Credit goes to Gamespot)
Time To Please The GTA Fanboys! (No, Not That Way! Perverts!)

I gotta come up with better titles for these news bites. Seriously. Maybe I’ll have Chuck Platt personally named all of them one week.

Anyway, Take-Two Interactive recently registered three names with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, GTA5, and GTA6. Those who are currently looking for info on “Sin City” may be slightly disappointed, as Take-Two didn’t register anything related to “Sin City with the patent office. So, “San Andreas” just might be the subtitle to the fifth game in the series. (Well, sixth if you count the London expansion to the first game.)

Let’s just hope there are some new additions to the gameplay this time around rather than the same, stale stuff from GTA3 that migrated to Vice City.

(Credit goes to Gamespot)

And there’s the new for ya. Well, not all of it. It’s time for the 2004 debut of the…

Let’s see if the 2004 haikus are any better than the 2003 ones.

New Use for EyeToy?
Using for video chat?
Uh…it won’t work well.

Resident Evil
4 is now no longer a
GameCube exclusive

It will be released
On PS2 and XB
Later in the year.

Amazon UK?
Preorder Sin City? HAH!
It doesn’t exist!

Zelda Collection
Is now easier to get
Over in Europe

Beyond G & E
Has now been reduced in price.
We can thank Lucard.

Haitians still aren’t pleased.
They sill want damages paid.
From Take-Two’s accounts.

A brand new console?
Will be called the PGC
Well, it’s not Phantom!

Movie player is
In development for the
GBA. Yippee!

EA gives reasons
Why they won’t go Live. They don’t
Want to lose money.

Joe Gibbs will return!
I am such a happy boy!
Okay, back to games…

PSP’s release
Might happen in November.
We’ll see what happens.

PlayOnline is hot!
Has a lot of subscribers.
Thanks to crappy game.

Sony’s China launch
Delayed, then scaled back a bit.
Thanks to piracy.

GTA trademarks
Have been copyrighted, but
There’s no Sin City.

Confused by these things?
Read the other news reports
For some more details.

And that takes care of the news completely for another week. So, let us go straight to…

We start the year off with two brand new Sonic games. Here is some stuff for one of them:

SONIC BATTLE (Nintendo Game Boy Advance)

What better way to get some of the most beloved characters in Sega’s history together then to have them kick the crap out of each other?

Anyway, here are some things you can unlock:

Gamma (Character): Defeat him in Story Mode
Chaos 0 (Character): Defeat him in Emerl’s Story
Sonic Clash!: Beat Sonic’s Story Mode
Fly & Get: Beat Tail’s Story Mode
Mine Hunt: Beat Knuckles’ Story Mode
Speed Demon: Beat Shadow’s Story Mode
Treasure Island: Beat Amy’s Story Mode
Green Hill Stage: Beat Story Mode with all the characters

Also, there are some passwords you can enter in the Sonic Team Building when in Emerl’s story to gain “cards”. Here they are:

Sonic Combo: 75619
Tails Combo: OTrOI
Knuckles Combo: yU3Da
Shadow Combo: ArmIa
Amy Combo: alogK
Rouge Combo: AhnVo
Cream Combo: ZAhan
Chaos Combo: EkiTa
Gamma Combo: tSueT

(Credit goes to GameFAQs)

Today, I’m going to steal something from Bryan Berg and do a small mailbag this time around. I’ve always joked that it would be seventeen years before I got enough mail to do one, but lo and behold, I got a decent amount of mail this week! So, you get a mailbag, you lucky, lucky people.

We’ll start with a fellow who never gave us his name, but he writes:

D-D-D DDR!!!

Tell us all about your M-M-M METAL PAD!

Is it the RedOctane metal pad? A $200 investment that I can only dream of affording? Anyways I’m glad Jewish Santa was good to you.

No, it’s not a RedOctane pad. I don’t know the brand name, but it’s got the “Cypher Games” label on it, so I guess it’s that company.

Anyway, there are six buttons on the pad itself: Up, Down, Left, Right, and the X and O buttons. The entire thing attaches to a “control box” that has the Start and Select buttons. Also, the entire thing is surrounded by a big metal frame, complete with a thin foam backing to keep the screws and such in place. I’ve had the pad for three weeks now, and aside a slight hiccup from misplacing my foot on the Up arrow, it’s been holding up VERY well. Let’s hope that it continues this trend!

Continuing on the DDR trend, we have a guy who I know only as “Mike” who writes:

Good lord.

Okay, here’s the thing, I strolled down to my local arcade, since I hadn’t been in a while, they got a lot of the same games they’ve had for like, the last few months.. No biggie, right?

Then I see this crowd around a game. I go over there.. Low and behold:


I was watching people play it.. A couple of younger Asian women, they made it look SOOOOOOO easy, dude!

So I wait, and wait, and wait, and WAIT until **EVERYONE** is gone – since I just KNOW I’m gunna look like a doofus on there – and hop on.

Good lord. That thing is hard.


Yes, there are many, many songs on the Extreme machines. 241, to be precise. That is a lot, yes. But most of the songs are ones they’ve brought back from previous mixes to create one HUGE uber-mix that might be the last one. (Well, the last we see in Japan for a while, anyway.)

The home version isn’t much different, actually. There are 111 songs on that bad boy. 40 from previous mixes, 60 new songs (including Bemani transplants), and 11 home-version exclusive songs. (We saw seven of these on MAX2 USA two weeks beforehand.)

Anyway, don’t feel like a doofus when you get up on that stage. EVERYONE looks like a doofus playing that game, no matter how good they are. Myself included. If anyone makes fun of you, they’re just douchebags who can’t step on arrows in time to the music to save their lives.

Matt Hardin wrote to me in response to my phony predictions for 2004. Most specifically, the one relating to Donovan McNabb:

You are hereby NO LONGER FUNNY~! *HISS!*

Really? I was funny before? That’s a new one!

I wrote back to the guy explaining that I really don’t have anything against McNabb. It could have been any NFL player in his place for that bit. I just ran off the Madden curse, and he was the first name I came up with. His response:

I know, I know, it’s just that McNabb just broke his leg, like, last season, and the last thing the Birds need is to lose him again. I wasn’t really offended, but you could’ve used someone like Peyton Manning… damn goodie-goodie never moves from the pocket, but he never gets hit either. Go fig. Anyway, no more jinxing the Eagles…they’ve done a good enough job of it themselves these past two years (check out this year’s injury report if you don’t believe me) >_< If you wish, you may apologize in haiku ;-)
Anyway, no hard feelings, seeing as they’ve got a week to let the jinx wear off before playing again.

He also sent me a jpeg with the Eagles logo on it. Such a nice boy.

Again, I have nothing against Donovan McNabb (eventhoughIhatetheEagleswithabloddypassionandIwant
liketheCowboysandtheRavensJoeGibbsrules) LET’S SEE THAT JINX WEAR OFF! HAH!

No hard feelings, right? Heh. (I can be so FAKE MEAN when I want to!)

Anyway, onto the other letters. This one is in response to my Magic The Gathering: Battlegrounds review:

6.0? Really? Kinda depressing. I won the game in your giveaway… I like it. I agree that you shouldn’t be forced through the single player mode.

Hey, if you won the game, congrats! And if you like to play it, more power to you. The review was just my opinion of the game. Nothing more, nothing less. You can let it influence your purchase or not. I guess it’s just not my cup of tea.

Finally, we come to my favorite letter of the mailbag. We have someone DEFENDING the N-Gage! Let’s see what Benjamin Szymanski has to say:

All of this N-gage bashing is beginning to tick me off. I love your site, and for the most part it is informative with a splash of humor without being too pretentious (except for the anime guy). People in the internet or review or game industry or whatever you want to identify yourself as need to realize something that you have’nt gotten a grasp of. The N-Gage is first and foremost a CELLULAR PHONE. It is not a “game system”, it just happens to be a cellular phone that plays very advanced graphic games. Unlike normal phones that can maybe support “asteroid” at best. I believe the reason for flagging sales is not the fact that it sucks, because for a cell phone it is amazing. To have a 3d game system, an MP3 player, and a cellular phone all in one at that size is incredible. Unfortunatley technology costs money. It is expensive, you have to be 18 to sign a service agreement to get one, and there is only one company in america that has the rights to sell it which is T-mobile, the company with potentially the weakest coverage area. That being said all these things add up to the thing not selling well. So while the blame can go to Nokia for picking a crappy service provider, not making it availible to all companies that work off of GSM technology, there is really nothing wrong with the device itself. It’s an AWESOME CELLULAR PHONE. But its not a good game system. Feel free to post this or my e-mail I would be glad to defend it any day.

Man, oh man. There are so many things wrong with this, I don’t know where to begin. Wait, yes I do.

1) If the N-Gage is a cell phone foremost, why is it being marketed as a handheld console first, and a cell phone a distant second?

2) If the N-Gage is not a “game system”, then why does it play cartridge-based games? And for that matter, why is it sold in most gaming stores?

3) T-Mobile is not the only service provider. AT&T also promotes it. Yet it’s still doing horribly in sales. Think about that.

4) If it’s such an “awesome cell phone”, why can I buy something for a THIRD of its cost or LESS that does the EXACT same things other normal cell phones can without the gaming aspect?

I will agree with you on one point: the N-Gage is not a good game system. Which is what it is being marketed as. And as far as the cellular capabilities go, have you ever SEEN how you talk with it?

Thanks to Bryan Berg and Misha for their support on this.

And thanks to everyone who wrote to me, whether your letter was included or not. It is appreciated very much. And if it seemed that I bashed you, don’t take it personally.

And that’s it for the mailbag! Tune in May 2007 when I have enough letters for another one!

Here’s the best of the week gone by…

News You Can Use

Gamer’s Hangover News Report — Cory Laflin
Cory talks about possible video chat capabilities of the EyeToy, the nonexclusiveness of Resident Evil 4, and…needs to get his bathroom finished. Let it be known that I look forward to his upcoming MST!

Thank God It’s TUESDAY News Report — Bryan Berg
Chuck Platt had to take the week off due to personal reasons, so Berg pulled a double-header this week. He covers Amazon.UK jumping the gun, Beyond Good & Evil’s huge price drop, and the GTA/Haitian lawsuit. Bryan rules this school for going two days this week, and I salute him. Even though he can’t actually SEE me saluting him all the way in Maryland.

Mid-Week Mid-Boss News Report — Lee Baxley
The former Hump Day writer talks about a new console in development, an upcoming GBA movie player, and why EA won’t develop games that use X-Box Live. He also has a gangbusters commentary on loving what you are doing, and having it show in your work. I certainly hope that my love for these reports are showing through.

Thank God It’s Thursday News Report — Bryan Berg
Bryan’s back on his original day and time. His topics include the Phantom, holiday sales, and the PSP release date. And sorry for stealing your mailbag idea. I actually had enough current e-mail to put one forward, and figured I’d try one out. Don’t hate me!

Reviews You Can Use

Top Spin (XB) — Bebito Jackson
Bebito’s back again with a review of one of our giveaway games. And man, I’m half tempted to trade some stuff in for it. I guess I’ve always been a closet tennis lover, seeing as though I LOVE playing tennis games when there’s nothing else to play.

Magic The Gathering: Battlegrounds (XB) — Me, Myself, and I
Another one of our giveaway games. You saw what I gave it in my mailbag. Now find out why!

Beyond Good And Evil (XB) — Alex Lucard
I feel for this guy for going though such horrid camera angles. We’ve all been there at some point or another. I think…

NBA Inside Drive 2004 — Bryan Berg
Have we sold out to Microsoft without my knowing? I mean, it’s ALL X-Box reviews this week! Anyway, Berg’s back AGAIN with a top-notch review of the game. I can’t say this enough: GO READ HIM!

Columns You Can…uh…Use

The Gamer’s Conscience — Fredrick Badlissi
Freddie’s gaming nirvana had turned a COMPLETE 180 in less than a day thanks to a single glitch. That reminds me of my initial run with Morrowind on the X-Box. Thanks to constant lock-ups, I had to trade in one of the most engrossing RPGs I’ve ever owned. Luckily, it’s running fine on my PC now.

The Angry Gamer — Liquidcross
A short outing where LC pisses on everything that might be cool for the year. I might have to agree on the PSP, at least for now, but just give things a fighting chance!

We Want Our Tea Back! — Misha
Our last plug goes to Misha, where he covers the latest UK gaming news. I must say that he has come a long way since his beginnings here at 411. His columns have seen incredible improvement since his debut, and now have a great direction. I’m willing to bet he can only get better in ’04.

Well, it’s time I let you guys go and let you enjoy your weekends. Lord knows I’ll be tearing up the dance floor with Extreme (if only to fill up the MONUMENTAL high score list!). Again, expect a mini-review next week.

Also, keep an eye out for my review of Space Channel 5: Special Edition. And maybe even Sonic Heroes if Bebito decides not to do it.

Until next week, marvel at the glory that is Joe Gibbs. MARVEL, DAMN YOU!

Alex Williams