Mid-Week Mid-Boss 08.11.04

Hello, and welcome to the first edition of the Mid-Week Mid-Boss here on Inside Pulse! Some of you may know me from my year long stint on 411mania, and my short lived return near the end, but I’ll give a little run-down on me for any new readers, and talk about the new direction of the column for everyone.

First off, my name is Lee Baxley. Professionally, I am a desktop support technician and web designer for a video game company. Yes, I actually do work in the game industry, so I know more about games than I should. Sometimes it makes me cynical about gaming, but I try to look past it and just have fun.

My column on 411mania started out as the Hump-Day Otaku News Report, and slowly evolved into the Mid-Week Mid-Boss News Report. Since my passions are RPG games and anime, I felt it only natural that I included both in my column, and that made it fairly successful for what it was. That decision made me some fans, but it also pissed of some people. Those people I could care less about. My column, my rules.

That being said, there will be a little change of direction for this column. Rather than be a game column that has anime as an afterthought, it will be whatever I want it to be. Some days, there will be no game news and it’ll be all anime. Somedays it’ll be half and half. It’s whatever I want. With this new site, there will be somewhat more freedom in aspect to the content. My column, my rules, no regrets. The games section itself is constantly evolving. A certain Alexander Lucard will probably return to his roots in this same section. We may also have a new name, as does the Nexus. Either way, no matter what our name is, we will be Kliq 4 Life.

Anyhow, with that said, let’s get started with the news. Well, wait, actually, there’s something else I want to say. There’s a possibility, a good possibility, of an entire anime sub-section being formed. If that’s the case, there was talk of me being the head of such a sub-section. Let me know what you think of that. Give me your honest opinion. Would you want an anime section? Would you not want me to lead it? Tell me the truth. If people don’t want me, I’ll gracefully decline to head the section, and maybe even give suggestions for someone TO head it. Let me know. Email me at flee@insidepulse.com.

Gaming News
Let’s see if I can get back into the swing of this thing.

Xbox 2 at CES 2005
There is speculation that the Xbox 2 may debut at next year’s CES convention. The reasoning behind this is that they made their 2001 debut at the same event. In addition, both Sony and Nintendo have promised that they will appear with their next consoles at the 2005 E3 show. So to be the first to show their console, they would have to display it at either CES or X04, Microsoft’s annual press event.

Regardless of when they debut, even if they’re first, they can’t possibly hope of winning the next round of console wars if they aren’t backwards compatible. Being first doesn’t mean you automatically win. Just look at the excellent Dreamcast for example. It was a great system with great games, but it died due to mismanagement. The only thing the Playstation 2 has over other consoles is backwards compatability. It is also the highest selling console. Look also at the Gameboy series. Backwards compatable to the beginning. That’s why the PSP likely won’t put a dent in the Nintendo portable machine. Backwards compatibility is very important, and it appears Microsoft doesn’t realize that.
Credit: Games are Fun

Square Enix Trademarks “Dawn of Souls”
Apparently, Square has trademarked the phrase “Dawn of Souls” in the US for several types of media, including video games. While this could very well be nothing, much like their trademark “Chrono Break” has been thus far, it could be the herald of things to come. This could be a movie, a game, a TV show, or any number of things.
Unfortunately, as with any other trademark news, there’s nothing else to report at this time, but you can be sure that we’ll keep you updated.
Credit: Games are Fun

Tales of Symphonia PS2 Details
Having not kept up very well with RPG news lately, I had either forgotten or never knew that Namco was making Tales of Symphonia for the PS2. Well, needless to say, they are. And my girlfriend is going to be pissed.

Namco has decided to add new features to the game for its PS2 release. The first feature is new techniques. No biggy. There will also be new events which will talk about the relationships of your characters better. Finally, and this is a doozy, there will be a Casino minigame that allows you to play cards to get rewards. My girlfriend will be SO pissed at this, since she’s already gone through the GC version once. Plus, her favorite part of most games is the casino area, if they have it. She even wanted ME to play through Dragon Warrior VII just so she could play the casino. She’s played that game like 3 times (all the way through) and that’s her favorite thing about it. I declined since I don’t like the game.

Anyway, why is it that companies feel the need to do this shit? I love Namco to death, primarily for Xenosaga, but what’s with the urge to add stuff? Fuckers, is it not enough for me to pay $50 for a game ONCE? No, you have to go and make me pay $50 AGAIN. This is worse than Maddens every year. It’s almost as bad as DVDs being released with a few new features. Gah. The sad part about all this is that I probably WILL pay $50 again. If they were nice, they’d give you the ability to send in your UPC or something and get $10 off the next game.
Credit: RPGFan

New Shining Force Titles
Sega is bound and determined to bring Shining Force back to the forefront with several recent announcements. Much like Square is doing with the Front Mission series, Sega is reviving the franchise and hoping it will gain a new following.

They released Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon earlier this year, and announced plans to make a PS2 title called Shining Tears, which appears to be an action RPG, and will be released in Japan this winter. In addition, they are making another PS2 Shining Force game. Not much else is known yet, other than that it will be released in Japan next year. Due to how close it is to the release of Shining Tears, I’m betting it will either be a new title that will be true to the original Shining Force roots, or a compilation. I’m leaning to the latter, just because I want to be able to play all of them.
Credit: RPGFan

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.

August 9
Alpha Black Zero (PC)
Madden 2005 (CB, P2, XB, GBA)
Madden 2005 Collector’s Edition (P2)

August 10
Chessmaster: 10th Edition (PC)
Political Machine (PC)

Release dates courtesy of Christian at Game Crazy. Purchase your copy of Madden 2005 at Game Crazy and get over $200 in free coupons. Great deals on games and accessories for your Xbox, PS2, Gamecube and GBA with some coupons valued up to $50 dollars. Hurry and get your copy today!

Christian’s Comments: There’s only one big game coming out this week and that’s Madden 2005. I took a play of it on Aug 9, and just picking up and playing it, it seems ALOT faster than last year’s. It’s feels like I’m playing Blitz. We did notice that the commentary was basically the same as last year’s with the same lines being used over and over. I heard the same line two plays in a row. I haven’t gotten into Franchise mode yet, but just for picking up and playing, or playing with your buddies in the same room or online, save the $30 and get ESPN NFL 2K5. On the PC side, if you’re politically inclined at all, grab Political Machine. That looks like Sim Politics with cooler art…Also, a slight bit of news, it looks like Sega’s Altered Beast that had a kick ass looking video at E3 has been cancelled. Stay tuned to Inside Pulse Games for more details on this…

Lee’s Comments: Thanks as always to Christian, who returned to help me out with this. As you can see, we have added PC titles to the mix. Like I said, the Kliq is evolving, and there will be more PC stuff to come from us. Just you wait.

Anyhow, I have to agree with Chrisitan. Madden really isn’t worth the money. You’d be better off getting ESPN, because not only is it a better game, and has better features, and more fun, and everything, it’s even cheaper, on top of that. Political Machine looks interesting, but I’m a fan of sim games. Alpha Black Zero may have been pushed back, but it’s a typical shooter game. Nothing big there.

Anime/Manga News

This week is pretty much gonna be reviews only. But one thing I want to mention is that Star Ocean EX has been licensed by Geneon. I watched the fansubs of this a while ago, and thought it was a really good adaptation of the game (Star Ocean 2 for the unawares). I’m eager to see who they pick for the voice acting, and I’ve already pegged Crispin Freeman as Diaz because he’s PERFECT for the part.

Anime Review

Ok, there won’t be a whole lot of structure to this because I’m doing it quickie like. Hopefully next time I’ll have some sort of scheme like I used to. I would have used that one, but I realized how it didn’t work that well for anime. So we’ll just go with the flow today, and make something up later.

Comic Party
Studio: The Right Stuf International
Discs: 4
Length: 13 episodes
MSRP: $99.99

Ok, so I went to Suncoast to look for the last disc of .hack//SIGN, which I still need to get the limited edition for, and they had this title in a boxed set, so I picked it up.

It’s got a nice sturdy box with 4 discs. The discs were all individually wrapped, which was odd, but there was only one security device in one of the discs, which is unusual. Each booklet contains a good chunk of info on extras in the series, including some translation notes and full color pictures of the scene in question. That was nice to see. The DVDs themselves all had good and easy to navigate menus. The only complaint is that navigation is somewhat slow. We watch shows with the dub on, and the default was subbed, so we had to switch that, which took longer than it should have due to the slowness, but that’s the only problem we encountered.
Presentation: 8

The animation of the show is pretty good. The characters are colorful, but there are a few characters that seem too similar visually. The voices were all pretty good also, but not spectacular. The standout has to be Zoe Fries, aka Jessica Calvello, the first voice of Excel, as Eimi Ohba, a very Excellish type character. Hearing her call someone a stupid panda or saying that she’s super pissed made me laugh out loud every time. The rest of the characters worked well, but didn’t pop like Calvello did.
Animation/Voice Acting: 6

The story is this: Kazuki and his best friend Mizuki (she’s female) get dragged to a fan-comic (aka doujinshi) convention by their quite insane friend Taishi. While there, they are separated and Kazuki ends up helping a comic artist sell some comics. It is there that he falls in love with the fan comic world and decides that he too wants to write a comic.

The basic jist out of the way, I think Comic Party is a great series with a lot of potential. It had some good characters that could have been a lot of fun to watch, but they simply didn’t have any impactful relationships. Sure they occurred here and there, like the two guys would have a touching buddy moment or something, but it just didn’t work for me. The series is one where it walked the line between being a comedy and a romance, but it never figured out what it wanted to be, so it ended up being boring in both respects. It wasn’t as funny as it could have been, and it wasn’t as dramatic as it could have been. It was unable to draw any emotions from me, and it certainly wasn’t from lack of trying. The stories just weren’t there. There were plenty of characters, and almost too many for this short a series. Perhaps if they had cut it down somewhat, they could have done more with it. Instead, you get a series that tries too hard, but not hard enough at the same time, and 13 episodes ends up being too short, yet at the same time I couldn’t wait for it to end.
Story: 4

Personally, I was quite disappointed with this series. It had so much to offer, but there were so many missed opportunities. It certainly could have done much more. As for what was done on this side of the ocean, TSRI did a great job on their end, and I couldn’t ask for anything more. The translation notes were great and very appreciated. They’re one of the groups that is For Fans, By Fans, and it shows.
Overall: 6

Da Capo
Fansub Group: Soldats (soldats.net)
Length: 26 episodes

This is a series that my girlfriend downloaded for whatever reason. She has a knack for picking good anime, so she probably knew which one to get.

There’s no box or anything since this is a fansub, but I’ll give Soldats props for kicking ass yet again. The only complaint I had is that sometimes the text was in italics, and that’s hard for me to read, but it’s not their fault I have bad eyes. I don’t know if it was translated well, but everything made perfect sense and there were no spelling or grammatical errors that I saw.
Subbing: 9

The animation was spectacular, especially considering that I was watching it full screen from a Divx encoding. There was a little artifacting here and there, but nothing major. The characters were all designed well, and there is little problem telling anyone apart. They went with a more realistic character design, so there aren’t many people with weird colored hair or anything. Good job all around.
Video/Animation: 7

The story is one that’s hard to explain, but I’ll give it a go without spoiling anything. Our primary characters are Jun’ichi (male) and Nemu Asakura (female), who are siblings but not. See, when they were both young, Jun’ichi’s parents took in Nemu after her parents died. So Jun’ichi adopted her as his little sister, even though they were in the same grade. Anyway, the story is basically about these two siblings and their wacky (and mostly female) friends. It’s really crazy and silly and it makes you love all the characters and their wackiness. There is a little romantic innuendo thrown in here and there, but it’s mostly just wacky. Then Episode 15 is a summary show, and after that, it completely switches gears. It goes from a full blown comedy to a full blown drama. It’s a very big and obvious change and the weird part about it is that it WORKS. The comedy part gets you to know these characters and love them when they’re crazy, and then BAM, you grow to love them for other reasons. I can’t imagine why this sudden and abrupt shift worked, but it did.
Story: 8

I love this show. Everything about it was great. I highly recommend downloading it. At first I was afraid that it would turn into a typical harem show, but it never felt like that. They did a splendid execution of the show, and I hope that it gets licensed in America. I’ll certainly buy it, if only to see it dubbed.
Overall: 8

Yea, this column was short, and devoid of original content, but I showed up. I’m still trying to make decisions on things, and ran out of time, which is why this is sort of thrown together. I’ll try to make things better for next time. For you new guys, tell me what you think? Click the email link below. And read everybody else on the site. Anyway, peace out.