Hello once again, and welcome to my little news column I have here on Fridays. The name is Alex Williams, and once again, I’ll be feeding you some news, along with a small dose of opinion. You know, like always.
If the column appears a little late, you can put the full blame on the Democratic National Convention, and the powerful speech delivered by John Kerry at the tail end. I’m sure you’ll agree that there are more important things than gaming sometimes, and this convention was one of them. And if you don’t agree…well, TOUGH. Gaming takes a back seat to stuff leading up to the 2004 election. Deal with it.
And to be honest, this speech is exactly what Kerry needed. He needed some time alone with the America people (if you can call a gigantic convention and many TV stations broadcasting him “alone”) to (1) introduce himself, (2) an outline of what he’ll do with the country, and (3) to clear up many of the misconceptions the Republicans are pinning on him. And he was able to do it without a hitch in my eyes. Sure, the Republicans will try and spin the speech as not focused enough on Iraq, or falling short in areas where it didn’t, but the message remains clear. Kerry is here, Kerry has ideas, and Kerry has the brainpower to work those ideas out, and modify them when problems arise. I may not be the most “politically involved” American in the world, but I know a winner when I see one. Here’s hoping he conquers the “Boy King” this November 2nd.
Oh, and to you Republicans, your angry hate mail will only get deleted if you send it. It’s not worth trying. Really.
But I’m assuming you didn’t click on 411MAX to read a political diatribe. You could’ve gone to Black for that. You came to read…here’s a shocker…THE NEWS! Well, far be it from me to disappoint you. So…um…what was that line again? Ah, yes…
ON WITH THE NEWS!
Konami: New DDR Extreme Info
You knew this was going to make the top story this week. Admit it. But what you DIDN’T know is that there’s already an official game preview that goes into greater detail than this tiny news report. So click above and inform yourself!
Why yes, I AM a shill for my own stuff? Why did you ask?
DDRFreak and DDRSpot)
Atlus: Five DS Titles In The Works
For those needing yet ANOTHER reason to go buy a Nintendo DS this winter, you now have five extra ones. Turns out that Atlus is fully supporting the unit, and here’s what you can expect (at least in Japan):
Shin Megami Tensei DS
Snowboards Kids DS
Choro-Q DS (Gadget Racers)
I know that someone named Alex is currently happy that Atlas is putting out a Shin Megami Tensei game on the new platform. Then again, there’s ALSO someone named Alex here that is currently happy that Atlas is putting out a new Snowboard Kids game. See if you can match the last names!
(Credit goes to Gamespot)
Atlus: And You Thought OUR Re-releases Were Bad…
So, do you like La Plucelle Tactics? Do you like it they way it is now? Well, Japan is going to get ANOTHER version of the same game with more stuff in it that you’ll never see. You should NOT be surprised.
The new game will have the subtitle “Hikari no Seijo Densetsu”, which translates into “Legend Of The Holy Woman Of Light”, and will contain new features exclusive to it, such as starting the game from the beginning at any time with your current power-ups in your save data.
Why is it that every time a successful game comes out in Japan, the game companies feel the need to re-release it within a YEAR with only a smattering of updated features? And WHY, oh WHY do WE never see these re-releases here in the states? Can SOMEONE answer me that? ANYONE? ANYONE? BEULER?
(Credit goes to Gamespot)
Square-Enix: Classic Titles On Nintendo DS?
It’s quite possible that Square-Enix is considering bringing some of their classic franchises to the Nintendo DS, including Chrono Trigger and the Final Fantasy games among others. And in Japan at least, fans can decided which get made.
When Final Fantasy I & II were released on the GBA, it came with a card fans could mail in with a list of Square games (no Enix games) that fans could fill out and send back with their favorites. And maybe, just maybe, SqEnix will make these titles for the Nintendo DS. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll see them as well.
And maybe, just maybe, I’ll purchase one…or not. Who cares about Final Fantasy, anyway?
(Watch the misguided hate mail roll in…)
(Credit goes to 1Up.com)
Sega: VF2 on PS2? Be Still My Heart!
It’s time for Japan to see yet another classic Sega title on the PS2 that we won’t! HOW NICE!
Seriously, on October 14th, Virtua Fighter 2 will become the next game in the Sega Ages 2500 series. For 2,500 yen, or $22 US, you’ll be able to play in two modes: The original VF2 from 1994, or the updated VF2.1 released in 1995.
Remember earlier when I said Japan gets all the cool re-releases while we get jack shit? See how it applies here? Doesn’t it just SUCK?!?
It’s times like these I’m glad I can lord it over people that I have a Japanese PS2.
(Credit goes to Gamespot)
And with that, my news reporting comes to a complete close
. No more shall I be forced to scour web page after web page for decent-to-useless tidbits of information gaming related, and commenting on them for your amusement. The shackles are OFF! I’m FREE! FREEEEEEEEE! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!…Well, for this week anyway. (THOUGHT I WAS GOING SOMEWHERE, DIDJA? DIDJADIDJADIDJA?!?)
Whew…all this “exclusive-to-Japan” stuff is putting me in a foul mood. It’s making me think of all those games in the past that I wanted to set ablaze in some kind of pagan ceremony worshiping some ancient God with hooks for hands. Including one in particular that makes me claw my eyes out every time I see it. So, now’s a good as time as any to bring up another rendition of…
COMMENTARY: This One Goes Out To The One I Hate (Volume III)
Every once in a while, a certain game appears on the store shelves. The game has a certain…quality, that je ne se quas, to it that distinguishes itself from the others. Its this quality that makes the game sit on the same store shelf for months at a time, usually separated from the rest of the games, that makes it stand out. That makes people take notice. That certain quality, of course, is badness. Horrid, horrid badness.
And its that particular game that usually gets torn apart by all those who play it. And it’s a game where EVERYTHING is bad. The graphics. The music. The sound. The gameplay. The controls. I mean JEEZ, what were the developers THINKING when they created this game? Were they even THINKING to begin with? Are you sure they didn’t hire a one-eyed monkey hanging from a balloon to come up with this stuff?
No, wait, scratch that. A one-eyed monkey hanging from a balloon would have been a better choice to go with when developing THIS atrocity.
So for this week, I HATE…
FINAL FANTASY VIII (Sony Playstation)
And surprise, surprise, I pick a FINAL FANTASY game to harp on this week! And I’m sure that I got angry e-mail already due to the mere teaser you saw when you clicked in here. Fucking SqEnix fanboys…
Now that isn’t to say I hate Final Fantasy as a series. Yes, there are plenty more RPGs out there that are worth my time. Yes, Final Fantasy is mediocre in comparison. However, I can honestly say I had fun with several of these games. I’m legitimately liked FFII, FFIV, and FFV. FFVII had a horrible story, but the combat system was decent enough to keep me playing. And FFIX was a fairly enjoyable game as well.
But FFVIII…oh God…looking at this thing makes my eyes bleed. Hearing the mere name makes my ears bleed. Playing the game for more than 10 minutes at a time is enough to induce coma seizures. This game is so, unbelievably…BAD…that every copy must be tracked down, piled in a gigantic crate, boarded in a NASA rocket, and shot straight into the sun where they’ll liquefy into a state that will never harm another human being again. Of course we SHOULD do that, but we all know that the sun will reject it, sending it BACK to the Earth in a gigantic flaming ball of death that will wipe out all life on the planet. So we’re stuck with it.
I mean, where do I BEGIN?!? The horrible story? The horrible characters? That f*cking card game? The worst combat system ever created for an RPG EVER?!?!? It’s hard to pick a spot to START, let alone talk about it!
Okay, we’ll start with the characters. First we have Squall, who’s the most inept pile of flesh I’ve ever seen make his way into a video game. The guy has NO personality, mopes all the time, and has coined “Whatever” to be an official catch phrase. And he’s your MAIN CHARACTER. Meaning he’s there for the long haul. He’s either going to bore you to tears for the entire game, or make you pull your hair out as everyone and his brother tries to get him to friggin’ EMOTE ALREADY, and he’ll have none of it. Way to get people on your side there, buddy.
Then you got Rinoa, who’s this free spirit that’s being forced to become Squall’s love interest. And MAN, do these two go together like gasoline and a lit match or WHAT? Every time these two are alone together, Squall is the most depressing, mind numbingly morbid guy you could meet. Rinoa does EVERYTHING to get him to show some emotion, but Mr. Robot doesn’t even crack a smile. And we have to deal with THIS all game as well. Failed attempt after failed attempt we see this. Rinoa is so HAPPY and GLAD she’s got this shitbag all to herself, and the guy is probably thinking “If I chew my arms off to get away, would she notice?” And then end up together happily in the end. What…the…FUCK…
And finally, we have four other people seemingly thrown in at random for no reason. There’s Quitis, whom to this day I STILL haven’t figured out the relation to Squall. Is she his schoolteacher? His friend of the same age? And old girlfriend? Squaresoft, WORK WITH ME HERE! Then there’s Zell who’s supposed to provide the comic relief, but no laughs came. I wonder why that is? Then we got Selphie and Irvine. I have NO CLUE why they even EXIST. They just SHOW UP, with little-to-no back-story, and we have to automatically accept them as equal members of our party? I’m sorry, but I must have missed the part where Square imputed that text into the final game build, ’cause I don’t see it.
Oh, wait, there’s that idiotic twist in the middle somewhere that EVERYONE GREW UP TOGETHER, but EVERYONE FORGOT ABOUT IT! WOW, Square couldn’t think of a decent INDIVIDUAL backstory for everyone, so they decided to come up with something LAME and CONTRIVED! And it was all because of the summon-spells that you need to wait ten minutes before they appear, and ANOTHER ten minutes before they leave. Damn, is there ANYTHING those long-ass spells don’t ruin?
Nope. In fact, they ruin pretty much EVERYTHING in this game, including the “innovative” combat system that was probably crapped out during a 15-minute drunkin’ stupor. Its all part of the fabled “Junction System”, a gameplay mechanic SO IDIOTIC that whoever invented it should be drug out into the street and shot.
How does “Junction” work? Well, you take one of the game’s infamous “summons” (now called “Guardian Forces”) and “junction” them, or give them, to a character. And with them, you get specific abilities and such. Sounds good, right? Wrong. The guardian forces have to “like you”. And that’s based on a number. The less they like you, the longer they’ll take to appear if you decide to summon them. And if you do, be prepared to go and get a sandwich, because they take A TRILLION YEARS to finish their animations. And there’s no way to skip them. THANKS, SQUARE!
But that’s not ALL you can junction! No, no, NO! You ALSO have to junction magic spells to increase your stats! And to make things even MORE unbearable, you don’t have any magic points at all! You have to “draw” your magic from various locations. And every time you “draw” magic, you get a certain number of times you can cast that spell. But if you JUNCTION a spell to your stats, and if you CAST it, you make yourself weaker. JOY! And it turns out you can’t draw magic from the same place again, because you need to wait 18 years for the damn magic to replenish itself! And the draw points are spread out all across the world, making magic nearly useless and virtually inaccessible! RAPTURE!
So since you can’t use Cure on yourself to keep your health up, you can ASSUME that items like Potion would be easily attainable? If you guessed “Yes”, you obviously haven’t been paying attention to the horribleness mentioned above. No, items are even harder to obtain then magic! And why is that? Well, monsters don’t drop money anymore! Instead, you are offered a “salary” that shows up from time to time with random, paltry amounts. And the thing about your salary is that it doesn’t increase as you progress through the game. Nosiree, Bob! Instead, you have to keep fighting monsters over and over in order to keep your salary at the level at it is. If you kill enough, you won’t get penalized. Hell, you might even get promoted if the game glitches up every once in a while, but more often then not, you’ll end up not killing enough monsters, and the game will demote you and decrease your salary. Nope, can’t browse around towns, or kill time with the mini-games! You have to KEEP KILLING MONSTERS AD NAUSEUM, or else you won’t get paid highly, and you’ll have less of a chance to stock up on the items you need. And good luck in finding quality items out there in the wilderness. There aren’t that many.
In fact, there aren’t that many items out there PERIOD. In order to actually GET some quality items, you’ll have to perform probably the WORST task ever developed in an RPG, and the worst trend I’ve seen in RPGs today: play a card game.
The game is Triple Triad. The game looks simple, but actually contains a boatload of rules that keep changing without you knowing it. And you’ll end up losing about 95% of the time you play. So you can ignore it, right? NOPE! You can’t ignore this game! You NEED to keep playing and find ALL the hidden cards so you can transform them into items LATE IN THE GAME! That makes hundreds, if not thousands, of wasted card matches, and hours upon hours of wasted time just to get the ONE card that will munchkin you 100 Megalixers. Horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE concept. You should NOT make a mini-game an integral part of the main game! It’s CRAP!
And with all this junctioning, and salaries, and item whoring, what do you end up killing the last bosses with? The “Attack” option. All that work just so you can NOT waste all the magic you acquired and NOT call the summons out to do your bidding. That’s pretty much all you can do at the end of the game without losing stats from somewhere. It’s criminal, and oh so wrong.
And this is what Squaresoft called “innovative” gameplay. Now as a rule, I have no problem with innovation. Changing the gameplay of a long-standing series usually provides a breath of fresh air, and something new for players to try. But when you put all these things together into one package, things become so f*cking frustrating that you’ll want to stick your face in a blender and set it on “puree” before EVER catching a glimpse of pussy-Squall and air head-Rinoa trying to be intimate on camera and failing miserably.
GOD, do I hate this game. It’s disappointing on so many levels, and chocked full of EVERYTHING you shouldn’t do in an RPG. This thing is a living, breathing example of how NOT to do things. Its why we haven’t seen ANY of these moronic concepts since.
In fact, the game is SO bad, that half of our staff here hates it! These guys were chomping at the bit to offer something to this massive hate party.
Of course, Alex Lucard hates it…
[I hate] Everything. That’s pretty much it for me. The annoying card game, the terrible characters, the mind numbingly bad plot, the gameplay make other FF games look good. It’s all vile.
And we shouldn’t be surprised that Liquidcross hates it…
FF8 blows. Shitty character development, overdone clichÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â©d story, too much whining…
I think there was more, but I don’t think that pulling one’s pants down translates very well into text.
And finally, new guy A.J. Angeloni had this to say…
Where do I begin?
FF VIII is the only Final Fantasy game prior to the PS2 era that I have not beaten. Not because of difficultly (like any FF game ranks highly in the challenge department anyways). No, no, this game did to me what no other game ever has: made me stop playing it due to sheer horribleness. Usually I can trudge through even the worst of games, but not here…It just couldn’t subject myself to it anymore. If I sat here and pinpointed everything that is wrong with this game we would be here forever…But just to name a couple (since I can’t just let if off that easily).
The Junctioning System – I HATE this system. Everything about it was just annoying, and wrong. Some called it innovative. Maybe so, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was still a steaming pile of crap. I’m all for new innovations in my RPG’s, and welcome them, but when this is the result the old adage holds up: “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.
Summons/Guardian Forces – I won’t lie…I was impressed the first couple times I saw those nifty summons…But by the 100th time I was on the verge of passing out from sheer boredom. But maybe I’m the idiot here. Square obviously was on the mark when they made it so that we had to sit through 206 minutes of summon animation every time we used them. What was I thinking? I don’t want to PLAY the game, I would much rather just sit and watch repetitive things as often as possible.
And there are so many more reasons…But just writing about it has a bad taste in my mouth, so on that note I think I get back to something more worth me time. Like perhaps watching grass grow.
There you have it. Horrible game, horrible story, MASSIVE waste of your time. And I played it in its entirety so you didn’t have to. But you probably already did, so I feel your pain.
And there’s another game that I HATE! Only pick this one up if you are on a suicide mission.
PLUGS & SHILLS THAT PAY THE BILLS
The staff here is MEGA AWESOME! In fact, they’re all GODS in comparison to the piece of shit mentioned above.
News You Can Use
Gamer’s Hangover News Report — Cory Laflin
Cory’s got Atlus on the brain, including Doom III stuff and Driv3r stuff. He also goes in depth about the Kansas City Chiefs, including giving a rundown of the starters. It also was the first time I saw that Shawn Barber is no longer a Redskin. Damn…I liked Shawn Barber…
The Casual Gamer’s News Report — Matt Yeager
This is Matt’s last news report, and he deserves a round of applause. He did an excellent job of filling in for Baxley when he took time off, and was a very enjoyable read. He also thanks Eric S. for pimps, which probably makes me the only News Report guy that gets glossed over week after week by that guy. That settles it. I suck. ERIC S. DOESN’T LOVE ME! *sniff*
Thank God It’s Thursday News Report — Bryan Berg
Bryan doesn’t like the final design of the Nintendo DS, especially the part where the Power button is on the face of the unit. It may not be that bad, though. It may function like the NGPC power button, where you have to hold the button down for it to power off, so an accidental pressing won’t do you any harm. Then again, I could be wrong, and every game I play will be subject to random black-outs…
Views You Can Use
The Angry Gamer — Liquidcross
Liquid discusses the Neo Geo, a system that has only recently been discontinued, but home to many excellent games. I consider myself lucky enough to have played on a Neo Geo before thanks to my Uncle several years back, as well as several times last year in college with friends. Good times. Good times.
Reviews You Can Use
Front Mission 4 (PS2) — Lee Baxley
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords (GC) — A. J. Angeloni
MISSING Since January — Alex Lucard (PC)
Tales Of Symphonia (GC) — A. J. Angeloni
Previews You Can Use
Tony Hawk Underground 2 (Multi) — Chris Pankonin
Dance Dance Revolution Extreme (PS2) — Me, Myself, and I
This Week’s Farewell
By Alex Williams
And as we close out another week,
Some parting thoughts, so to speak.
Here we stand, the gamers few,
In 411, so tried and true.
So many times, we play and play
Having fun along the way.
Shooting terrorists, beating bosses,
Undertaking wins and losses.
Can we, as gamers, stay on top?
Kicking ass until we drop?
Sure we can, as we always strive.
HAving the time of our lives.
A quick, inspirational poem to close out the week. Nice, isn’t it?
I’m sure I’ll be back again to deliver to you my best efforts. You know where to find me.
So until next week, try not to get TOO sucked into your favorite game. It isn’t healthy!