Mid-Week Mid-Boss News Report 02.11.04

It’s me again! Didya miss me? Didn’t think so.

Anyway, this week, I am actually starting this on the weekend, like I always used to. Hopefully, this time I can get everything in EARLY for once, and we won’t have any posting issues, like in previous weeks. If there are, I’m sorry, but I’m trying my best to get it done, I promise.

UPDATE: Well, I f*cked up. I had the report almost completely done, but had stuff to do. I built a computer for a friend on Monday, and spent most of Monday night trying to get it to work, only to find out it was a minor detail that the motherboard manufacturer neglected to mention, and I didn’t think to check.

So then on Tuesday, I set the computer up for my friend and showed him most of the stuff I put on there for him, since he is pretty computer illiterate. Did I make a mistake by giving him by business card and telling him to call me with problems? Probably.

After that, my wife and I went to Walmart and ended up staying there for an hour and a half. We didn’t spend much, then again, Walmart’s game selection has gotten worse. They didn’t have two games I wanted (Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel and Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2), but I did end up getting Battlefield 1942 FINALLY. I also got a cool West Coast Choppers shirt. Eric S. will probably hate me for saying this, but I’ve become a big fan of American Chopper, as well as American Hot Rod and Monster Garage. It’s a guilty pleasure, what can I say.

And on top of that, my foot has been giving me problems. I don’t know if I’ve said it before (since I said that, it’ll probably turn out that I’ve said it no less than 5 times) but I have a bad ankle, and it’s been bad for years. Well, due to the amount of walking I do at work (as a desktop tech, I get a lot of people saying that their shit is broken, so I have to follow them to their desk and fix it), my heel has developed major problems. I think it’s a stress fracture. And now walking is very painful. And that’s with my new padded heel supports and heel brace. Unfortunately, I’m the type that won’t go to the doctor unless I feel like I’m dying, but this is getting old fast.

Anyway, because of all that stuff, this is going to be a light edition. I said I wouldn’t do it, and it’s late anyway, but to be honest, I’m really f*cking tired right now. So there won’t be any reviews this week, and very few graphics. Everything else is in though, so I hope you aren’t too disappointed.

Gaming News

Front Mission 4 Headed Stateside
In some of the best news I’ve heard in a while, Square Enix has announced that they will be releasing the latest in their popular mecha strategy RPG series Front Mission 4 in North America. And we don’t have to wait long, since it’ll be released in June. Apparently the quick release is because a lot of the dialogue in the original was recorded in English. This is excellent to hear because the Front Mission series is one that Americans aren’t too familiar with, but is a great series nonetheless, and one that Square is going to be focusing on. It’s nice to get more marquee titles out of them other than Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts. And hopefully this means we’ll see American releases of Front Mission History (the collection of the FM1 Remake, FM2 and FM3) as well as Front Mission Online. I can’t wait!
Credit: Games are Fun

Monolith Soft is Hiring
One of the biggest up-and-coming RPG makers in the business, as well as makers of the Xenosaga series and Baten Kaitos, Monolith Soft, is currently looking for a few good people. They are looking for a producer candidate to help in all aspects of game development, as well as a system administrator to administrate their networks. You know, I could do the latter! That’s basically what I do now. Too bad I don’t speak any Japanese!

Speaking of Monolith Soft, there is a preliminary release date for Xenosaga Episode 2. We’ve still got almost a year to wait, since January ’05 is the date so far, but at least it’s something. Then again, they could pull a Star Ocean 3 and keep pushing it back.
Credit: RPGFan

Drakengard News
Two bits of information regarding Square Enix’s next RPG release for the Playstation 2. First of all, Squenix USA has updated their official Drakengard website with more information about the game, including the story, battle system, characters, and screens. You can visit the site HERE.

Also, there is word that if you preorder Drakengard from EBGames or Gamestop retailers, you will receive a demo disc for Star Ocean 3 and Final Fantasy XI. There is no word of this on their respective websites, so it may only apply at their retail stores. Also, GAF is reporting that you can enter the coupon code “DRAKEN” at EBGames.com to receive free 3-day shipping on the title, but that expires after February 14.

Personally, I think this game looks pretty sweet. Sure, some may complain that it rips off Panzer Dragoon, but if you’re going to rip off a game, there’s a lot worse games to steal from. I know that I’m going to preorder the game now, if only for the demos, but the game itself looks to be worth it, plus it’s only $40.
Credit: Games are Fun

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.

Feb 10
Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles (GC)
Metroid: Zero Mission (GBA)

Feb 11
Champions of Norrath – Realms of Everquest (P2)
Lupin the 3rd (P2)
Unreal II – The Awakening (XB)
Wrath Unleashed (P2, XB)

Feb 13
Air Force Delta Strike (P2)
R-Type Final (P2)
Yu-Gi-Oh World Champ Tour (GBA)

Release dates courtesy of Christian at Game Crazy. February MVP Event! The hottest games are coming in 2004: Gran Turismo 4, Grand Theft Auto, Halo 2, Half Life 2, Metal Gear Solid 3 plus many more! So MVP Members, come in today to Feb.22 and receive a free gift with your pre-order! Limit 1 per MVP Member. See your local Game Crazy for details!

Christian’s Comments: This week is the best week of the year so far for releases. There’s something for everyone for all systems. FF:CC, Metroid, R-type, Unreal II. This is a good week for gamers. My pick for game of the week? It’s close, but I’ll have to say Metroid with R-Type Final coming a very close second. They both have the same price, so it all depends what kind of shooter you want.

Lee’s Comments: This certainly IS a big week. One of the big ones that Christian didn’t mention is Champions of Norrath, which uses the Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance engine, and is even by Snowblind, the folks that did the original BG:DA. You can bet Lucard will probably pick this one up because of it. Anyway, I have two picks of the week: Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, because from everything I’ve heard, it sounds like a sweet multiplayer game, and it’ll be great to be able to actually PLAY games with my wife for once, and second is Metroid: Zero Mission, which looks to be a splendid “reimagining” of the original Metroid title. Sweet stuff. It almost makes me wish I had some more time to play games!

Video Game Commentary
I got a chance to play Metroid: Zero Mission, and after playing it for a while, I’m convinced of one thing: Nintendo focuses on the wrong franchise. What I’m referring to is their “mascot”. You know, the plumber guy. Personally, I think he’s the worst mascot ever, and ever since the NES days, they’ve been putting so much emphasis on him as their big guy, rather than some of their other big franchises.

There have simply been too many Mario games released lately, and have any of them REALLY been all that great? I know a lot of people didn’t appreciate me ripping into them for Mario Golf on the Gamecube, and I understand that. I hear it’s a great game, but is it REALLY all that different from the original? There’s also been Mario Kart: Double Dash and Mario Party 5. They have 5 of these things? Damn, they’re cranking them out like they’re Survivors or something. And Mario Tennis is being developed for the Gamecube as well.

Nintendo has 3 other big name franchises that simply don’t seem to be getting the love from the big N that they give to Mario. I’m referring to Pokemon, Zelda, and of course, Metroid. Pokemon is Nintendo’s second favorite, and despite the core titles (Ruby/Sapphire, Gold/Silver, Red/Blue, etc) may be overdone somewhat, but they do release totally unique games like Snap, Hey You Pikachu, Channel, and Colosseum. But Pokemon isn’t one of the series they NEED to focus on. They need to give more props to two other series that helped make them THE gaming powerhouse back in the day.

I remember back when I got my NES, I got the version with Duck Hunt and Gyromite with that stupidly awesome robot, ROB. My parents also got me Super Mario Bros separately. And I played it for a while, but I never really enjoyed it. That’s right, I did not like the original SMB. I still got SMB2 and 3 when they came out, and liked them a lot more, but it was still the same basic thing, only with more “stuff”. Anyway, I got two games a little after that which REALLY made me love gaming. The original Legend of Zelda and the original Metroid.

Both were pretty unique for their time (to me anyway) and I throroughly loved them. I also got Kid Icarus around the same time, but sucked at it so hard that I never enjoyed it. But I have very fond memories of those two games. I’ve since played every Metroid game since, and loved each. Nintendo has kept the gameplay excellent and fun, while adding something to each new version and keeping to the same core principles of exploration. While Zelda has been a little rockier with me, I still love the series as a whole. For me, Zelda is a little like the Star Trek movies. I’ll love one, then hate the next. I loved the original, hated Zelda II. Loved A Link to the Past, didn’t really care for Link’s Awakening (though it was OK). Liked Ocarina of Time, hated Majora’s Mask. And that came around to Wind Waker, which I liked a lot. Maybe the next one will break the cycle.

But here we have two series that I have very fond memories of, and I love them both infinitely more than any Mario game. Am I the only one? I seriously doubt it. But I think Nintendo should either focus their “Mario” energies on one of these other series. Or at least make any of these silly games have characters from games other than Mario games. I wouldn’t mind golfing with Link or driving a Kart with Samus. They did it with Smash Bros after all.

Anyway, I’m just rambling here. The reason this all came to mind is that Metroid: Zero Mission is easily the best remake of a game I’ve ever seen. Yes, it is a remake. But it feels like an entirely new game, while at the same time, bringing back all these fond memories from my childhood. Much like Super Metroid did. And I also think back to Metroid Prime, which is so surprisingly good that I’m starting to froth at the mouth in anticipation for Prime 2. These are games that really get me excited about playing games! The same goes for the Wind Waker. It’s so different and new, yet so nostalgic at the same time. Does Mario Sunshine bring any of these feelings out? No, not a one. I couldn’t finish it because it simply wasn’t fun. I’m not the least bit excited about Mario 128 either. The series stopped being enjoyable for me after Super Mario World. The first game for the SNES, and none others have been that fun to me, not even Mario 64.

I’ll give Nintendo credit for making good games and trying their best to make something unique, but please, slow down on the Mario stuff, and either focus your efforts on another franchise, or hell, build a new one. Mario is lame. Mario has been lame for a long time. Link and Samus are COOL though. And if you’ve read this far, I’m sorry about the rambling, but a hundred thoughts running around at the same time aren’t that easy to coalesce into something coherent.

Anime/Manga News

Dark Horse Comics to buy its Manga Translation Partner
I would say that Dark Horse is officially getting serious about manga, considering the fact that they have bought out Studio Proteus, the company that has been doing manga translations for them. This is a good thing, because Dark Horse is a big name in the comics industry, and the more serious they are about manga, the more likely that it will continue to rise in popularity in America.

It should also be noted that Dark Horse also publishes Hellsing in America, and will be publishing future volumes of Megatokyo, which is one of my two favorite web comics (along with Penny Arcade, of course).
Credit: Anime News Network

Anime/Manga Press Releases

Astro Boy to get Cine-Manga Treatment
As usual, from the horse’s mouth:
TOKYOPOP Inc. and Sony Pictures Consumer Products are proud to announce their latest joint endeavor–a jet-fueled Cine-Manga(tm) version of Astro Boy, one of Japan’s most iconic anime titles. The same team that brought Jackie Chan Adventures from television to the printed page is working together again to bring Astro Boy’s all-new adventures to a portable paperback format. Astro Boy, produced by Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan and Tezuka Productions, airs on Saturday mornings on the #1 kids’ network, Kids’ WB! Debuting this August, the Astro Boy Cine-Manga will capture all of the onscreen action for readers with digital images taken directly from the animation. TOKYOPOP’s growing line of Cine-Manga–essentially television to go–is
already sold by retailers throughout the U.S., including major booksellers and mass merchants.

I’ve never been a big fan of Astro Boy, or many shows from that era for that matter, but I’ll have to admit, the Cine-Manga concept intrigues me somewhat. From what I gather, they take screenshots from the shows or movie, and intercut dialogue, so it’s essentially like some types of children’s books I remember as a kid. I don’t know if the story is condensed in these any, but knowing Tokyopop, they will likely be very high quality. Apparently, Tokyopop has done many other Cine-Manga titles, though most are of shows that I despise (Spongebob Squarepants, Kim Possible, Spy Kids, to name a few) but they did do one on Akira, so I may have to check that one out just to see how they pulled it off. This type of “manga” is undoubtedly marketed towards more of a mainstream audience than traditional manga is, but I still think it could be interesting if done properly, and if any company can, it’s Tokyopop.

I Dream of Mimi Remastered
The Right Stuf has announced that in April, they will be releasing a remastered version of the adult anime, I Dream of Mimi, which is also known as Buttopi CPU. It’s an odd series about a boy who unknowingly buys a robot girl computer that does everything he wanted in a computer, but she needs to be upgraded, and to upgrade her, he has to, well, you know. It’s hentai, use your imagination. Anyway, TSRI will be including a trailer, outtakes and an art gallery on the disc.

Tokyopop’s August Manga Deluge
On August 10, Tokyopop will be releasing the first volumes of 6 new manga series in America. They are: Tramps Like Us (romantic comedy, drama), Abenobashi: Magical Shopping Arcade (parody), Warriors of Tao (sci-fi action adventure), Et Cetera (action adventure), Dream Saga (romantic fantasy), and Instant Teen: Nuts Like Us (romantic comedy).

Anime Releases

Release Dates provided by Anime on DVD. See past releases at my website.

February 10, 2004

Black Jack Vol. #1
Central Park Media
Fobia (H)
Anime 18
Initial D Vol. #3
Kiddy Grade Vol. #1
Kiddy Grade Vol. #1 (with artbox)
Legend of the Dragon Kings Vol. #5
Central Park Media
Legend of the Mystical Ninja Vol. #2
Pokemon: Journey to the Johto League Champion Vol. #7
Sacrilege (H)
Anime 18
Spirit Warrior Vol. #3
Sugar Vol. #6
Vanilla Series: Love Doll Vol. #1 (H)
Critical Mass

Note: In the above table, TSRI stands for The Right Stuf International and ACS stands for Robert’s Anime Corner Store. (H) means Hentai, so Adults Only on those!

Greetings. For the last few weeks I’ve been writing about anime that you, an anime fan, should know. This week, in celebration of St. Valentine’s Day, I offer a twist on things. First off, rather than discussing an anime you should know, I offer up an anime series that most people will never have heard of. Secondly, it’s not a romance, but one of the most violent anime series’ that I’ve ever seen. With that being said I give you….

Anime Towards the Future!

2003 saw many manga titles become anime. Mohiro Kitoh’s Narutaru was one of them. Originally it began as manga in 1998, and has seen American release in Dark Horse Comic’s Super Manga Blast! as well as trade paperback under the name Shadow Star. The series is short, complete in 13 episodes.

When I first saw the opening, I didn’t know what to think. I was reminded of another series I had found ULTRA MANIAC. With a title like that I expected blood, guts, and violence… instead I got cute witches in high school. Narutaru is the opposite though, happy pop-music intro, very serious anime.

The main character is a young girl named Shiina who discovers a creature… a dragon. Born from stars, these “dragons” have come to Earth and bonded with certain humans. Shiina and her dragon, Hoshimaru, meet other children with dragons in the course of the series.

Each of the supporting characters has some kind of problem. No one really thinks of themselves as evil, and we see this in Narutaru. A group of kids want to kill everyone on Earth except the strongest people and “start society over.” One teenager wants to leave him seed on the world. Oh yeah, and there’s a witch with a dragon broomstick.

The series deals with some very mature issues: teen suicide, pregnancy, death, mortality, right and wrong… you name it. This is one of the most serious and violent anime series’ ever. Not something to watch if you’re squeamish.

As for the anime itself, the animation style is very well done. The character design and presentation are beautiful. The music isn’t anything too special, but it is great as setting the correct mood for a the scenes. Overall, a decent production.

Well, I hope that you’ve enjoyed this glimpse at a recently new anime in Japan. Hopefully it will see American release sooner rather than later. To conclude, I’ve included a picture of a stuffed Hoshimaru that I made myself.

Links to the Past

Eric knows wrestling. Eric also knows politics. If I were amongst the cool crowd, I would say that Eric is the “shizzy hizzle”, but since I’m not cool, I’ll say that he’s a great read for anyone who considers themselves a thinker in any way.

Thank God It’s Thursday News Report – Bryan Berg
Hope this one is in sooner, Bryan. Which it should be! Bryan talks about Nintendo missing their lofty goals, Take-Two screwing up, and games becoming brands. Whatever happened to games being made because they were fun? Oh, already did that commentary.

The Angry Gamer – Liquidcross
Liquid asks some very good questions about the Nintendo DS. Do gamers need a second screen? Nope. Does Nintendo need a third console? Hell no, especially not one that will potentially eat into the profits of their best selling (the GBA) console. Time will tell if this thing is a good idea or not.

411MAX: News News Revolution – Alex Williams
Alex is now a NORWEGIAN ATHLETE. And this week, the NORWEGIAN ATHLETE gives himself a new format, which is to say he’s going to do a recap week in addition to his DDR stuff. So read the NORWEGIAN ATHLETE or DIE!

Retrograding – Alex Lucard
It’s 30-28 in Alex’s top 30 RPGs countdown! This is really great stuff, so check it out. And regarding his question about Slayers 4, I couldn’t find any information, but I tend to think that they were just trying to find a catchy title for a song (it’s on a Slayers OST), and maybe to get people wondering. But I haven’t heard of anything else about it.

Gamer’s Hangover News Report – Cory Laflin
Cory talks about this Simmons guy that I’d never heard of before he talked about him before, and he also hits on the marriage of Marvel and EA, THQ, the Kasumi pillow, and the EA European football game.

The Gamer’s Conscience – Frederick Badlissi
Fred has a fever. And the only cure is Dr. Mario. And more cowbell.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Video Games – Misha
I’m glad he picked a name for the column, because it makes my template happy. He talks about Miyamoto’s recent interview (including a nice dissection of the interview), Sega’s announcement to develop for the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP (then again, they develop for the Ngage, so they will officially develop for any platform known to man now), virtual pets (dammit, my wife has gotten hooked on these Pocket Neopets toys!), and a purty PS2 (that we Americans don’t get).

A Thumb to the Eye – Chuck Platt
Chuck not only bashes NFL Street, but he also gives some loving to Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2. You know, I really need these games. I’ve heard nothing but good about anything using this engine. So I’ll probably get at least one of them (BG:DA2, Fallout, Champions of Norrath) sometime in the near future.

Hopefully, HOPEFULLY, I’ll finally get myself back on track. In the very near future, I’ll be able to build myself a nice computer so that I can’t use the “my wife was on the comp” excuse anymore. Hopefully, I won’t need to apologize for this being late anymore (especially to Chris and Widro, who have to deal with it more than anyone else). Keep your fingers crossed.