Mid-Week Mid-Boss

Well, it’s another week here, which means it’s time to talk about games and stuff. That IS why you’re here, is it not?

The past week was very busy and very stressful for me, but fortunately, this week is back to normal, so hopefully I won’t have to crank out any quicky columns for a while. I completed most of the major tasks that were set before me last week, so I’m happy about that, but I’m still working on this damned content management system out of php/mysql that is just way more than I have knowledge for, so I get to learn how to do it.

My girlfriend wishes Friday would hurry up, because that’s the day we’ll get Star Ocean. Well, it may arrive before then, but that’s when I get paid, so that’s when we can actually pick it up. I may take in some of my games that I don’t plan on playing any longer and trade them in for something else. Ya know, I played Pokemon Snap ($5 at Game Crazy, which is a bargain for a great game) this weekend, and now I have the urge to play Pokemon. So I may get Ruby or Sapphire. We’ll see.

Also, I will be participating in the World of Warcraft Stress Test whenever it starts, so you can bet your happy ass I’ll give you my thoughts on it. I hope it starts this weekend! I’ll play it 24/7 and give it a REAL stress test!

In the News

-In case you haven’t heard, Acclaim (or Ack!lame) is filing for bankruptcy. I’m honestly surprised it didn’t happen sooner. Simply put, they haven’t released a hit, or even a game I would consider GOOD in several years. Aggressive Inline to be specific. It seems like every game since that has been a pile of dung. Granted I haven’t played any of them because they didn’t LOOK any good, which may be the problem all along. And the games they had slated for release didn’t look all that great either. I played a demo of Red Star and it was nothing special. It was just a typical action game and I didn’t stay interested for more than 2 or 3 minutes.

Actually, the downfall of the company can probably be tracked to BMX XXX. That game had a lot of potential. It was, after all, made by the same people who made Aggressive Inline, so it certainly COULD have been good. No, not because it had boobies or anything stupid like that, but because of the irreverent nature of it. Some of the jokes in the trailers I saw looked hilarious. Sadly, the game was just poorly made. They focused on the boobies rather than trying to make it fun. And they failed.

And the experience tainted them somewhat. I don’t know if they just lost sight of what was GOOD, or if some supernatural force actually came down and cursed them or what, but they just haven’t done all that well in the past few years. What really surprised me was that they actually had 600 employees! I would have expected more people to realize the ship was sinking and find work elsewhere. Now they’re kinda screwed. Granted, not screwed on an Interplay level of screwedness, but still screwed.

-On the PC side of the spectrum, Half Life 2 looks like it’s about to be released. But don’t get your hopes up yet.

This past week, Steam started preloading Half Life 2 assets, which is to say that you can download parts of the game that will not change before it is released. This will, theoretically, speed up the process of getting the game itself.

Steam is a really good idea in theory, but does it work well in execution? The problem is that while the preload was occurring, a lot of people (including myself) had difficulties downloading it. It continuously said that the server was busy. This brings to mind the question, “What will happen when the actual game is released?” The ability to download the game on ship date, rather than waiting for the stores to have it, will be a treat, but what happens when the servers get busy? They’ll have to add quite a few servers for there to be enough for everyone. But they probably won’t do that. They will likely just let it be and let everyone get shut out.

In related news, it’s really up in the air as to when the game will actually ship. Previously, it was around the beginning of September, though most people expected it to actually ship mid-late September. Now EBgames has it listed for November 1st. To add to the confusion, some wiseass figured out Gabe Newell’s password on a HL message board (Gabe’s password WAS gaben, hopefully he’s since changed it to something not quite so retardedly obvious) and posted AS Gabe saying that Half Life 2 would go gold on Monday. He was figured out, but not before plenty of sites posted the news. And of course, in most of the retractions, they didn’t really want to admit they f*cked up.

So I guess we’ll have to wait and see when it’s released. Will it live up to the hype? Will it be better than Doom 3? Those are the questions most people are wondering now.

-Fans of the series are probably aware that there will be a new Harvest Moon game coming to the PS2 in the not too distant future. And by “new” I mean “same game, different platform”. Natsume did this same thing with Harvest Moon 64, then Back to Nature, then Friends of Mineral Town. All the same game, but on a different platform, and FoMT was different, but only to accommodate the GBA. This time, they’re basically porting A Wonderful Life from the Gamecube to the PS2. Oh, and of course, it has updated features.

Why do companies feel the need to do this shit to fans? And before someone writes me, yes I know all about exclusivity contracts, thank you. I understand that companies are out to make money. I can understand the allure of signing a contract binding your game to one system for X length of time (usually 6 months or a year), but why the urge to make a game for one system, and then take a big steaming pile of shit on not only that release, but the poor saps (like myself) who bought it? The ONLY reason they add new features is to get the people who bought it before to buy it again. They do it in Japan as well, but they make “Director’s Cuts” of games, like they do with DVDs here.

Several companies have been guilty of this practice as of late. SEGA has released different versions of the Sonic Mega Collection, and the Xbox one appears to be the best of the bunch. Namco released Tales of Symphonia for the Gamecube, and now they’re releasing an updated version for the PS2. Capcom is doing the same with Viewtiful Joe. Tecmo has been doing this for years with their Fatal Frame series. Both 1 and 2 originated on the PS2 and then made their way to the Xbox with new features. And it’s a wonder that I don’t buy those games, since I know what they’re going to do beforehand.

In fact, it’s getting to be where I don’t want to buy any games at all! It’s very frustrating that I have to budget myself to only buy so many games every so often, and then to find out that they’re making a better version of the game I just bought. That’s why, simply put, I will likely not buy any more non-RPG games any more. Games like Fatal Frame can easily be completed in a week, so I can just rent them. RPGs don’t have the same luxury, so I’ll buy them, and if they come out with a better version, I won’t bother. It’s not like it’ll be worth spending the extra $50 on.

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.

Aug 30
Castle Shikagami 2 (P2)
Gallop Racer 2004 (P2)
Ms Pac Man Maze Madness (GBA)
Pikmin 2 (GC)
Wings of War (XB, PC)
WWE Day of Reckoning (GC)

Aug 31
Anarchy Online: Alien Invasions (PC)
Cabela’s Big Game Hunter Adventures 2005 (PC)
Carmen San Diego: Secret of the Stolen Drums (GC, P2, XB)
Mall of America Tycoon (PC)
Medieval Conquest (PC)
NASCAR Thunder 2005: Chase for the Cup (GC, P2, XB)
Rapala’s Pro Fishing (P2, XB, PC)
Spy Fiction (P2)’
Star Ocean: Until the End of Time (P2)
Street fighter Anniversary Collection (P2)
SRS: Street Racing Syndicate (GC, P2, XB)
The Guy Game (P2, XB)

Sep 1
Alpha Black Zero (PC)
Armored Core: Nexus (P2)
Banjo Pilot (GBA)
Conquerer’s Collection (PC)
EA Games Collection (PC)
Guilty Gear X2 Reload Live (XB)
Harry Potter Collection (PC)
Super Trucks Lite (P2)

Sep 2
Digimon Rumble Arena 2 (GC, P2, XB)

Release dates courtesy of Christian at Game Crazy. Ahh September is upon us…falling leaves, hockey season (maybe), and kids going back to school. Who else but parents wants to celebrate that? Game Crazy is having a Back to OLD SCHOOL Sale! Every first and second generation game including all Genesis, Super Nintendo, NES, Dreamcast, Playstation, Nintendo 64, Gameboy and Gameboy Colour game is Buy 2, Get 1 Free! It all starts this Saturday! So stop in and stock up on some Old School.

Christian’s Comments: Ah, the holiday release schedule makes its return. This the first time in a long while I had a page long release list. But I’ve got something else to say so I’m going to just list the biggies this week with no commentary. SRS, Star Ocean, NASCAR Thunder, Street Fighter, ESPN NHL, Pikmin, WWE Day of Reckoning. Now, onto a rant:

I recently received my copy of EGM for the month. I checked out the
cover, and there was a cover story on best places to buy used games. I
immediately turned to the “story”. Story was in quotation marks
because all it was was a one page blurb with a EB, Gamestop, Blockbuster and two internet sites that I’d never heard of before.

I looked down at all their categories, and Game Crazy had every one of
them beat. MVP Card (BTW Lee, it’s $19.99 for a year and you get 10%
off all used games and accessories, 10% extra when you trade them in,
and access to MVP Bonus Days every Mon-Thur, and access to MVP In-store
tournaments), credit, selection, we had them all beat.

Except in one category: How much advertising we purchase in their mag.
Gamestop had 3 ads, EB had 3 ads, and Blockbuster sponsors their
hottest rentals list, plus had one ad. And the kick in the scrotum was
two pages later, Game Crazy had a nice two page ad.

The “story” made it seem like Blockbuster, EB and Gamestop were the
biggest and the best of the bunch. Blockbuster has only started their
games area in response to the overwhelming success of Game Crazy. But
if you pony up the bucks, “news” magazines will do a story on you. Not
on what is best for their readers, but what is best for their bottom
line. Nice job EGM…thanks for letting us know we take your opinions
with a grain of salt from now on. When you feature something or review
something, this will always be in the back of my mind.

Wow, this was a long one, so I’ll turn it back to Lee…

Lee’s Comments: Sheesh, talk about column hijacking!

September is going to be a pretty big month gaming wise. As is November. Anyway, this week we have some huge releases. We have Pikmin 2 (on a side note, have you seen the commercial for this? HILARIOUS!), ESPN NHL, Guilty Gear and of course, Star Ocean. Plus there’s that stupid Guy Game that will sadly sell like mad. Sad because each person that spends money on it will not only be a lameass, they will also be spending money to perpetuate a stereotype they helped create. It goes with the whole Bloodrayne in Playboy thing. The more money that goes into these companies selling this shit, the less sex you’re ever going to have.

Links to the Past

Eric’s Tuesday column isn’t up yet, so here’s a link to his last Wednesday Daily Pulse. Why? Cuz I can. And I have to. Or he’ll kill me.

Pulse Cannon – O’Reilly returns with another week of the games he’s playing!

Rapid Fire – Berg gives us a heads up as to what will make the next gen systems successful.

The Angry Gamer – Liquidcross talks about the whole silly Playboy thing. And he’s right, dammit!

Encore Extra Stage – Williams loves Konami and hates running out of time. I love Konami too, and I’ll love them lots more if they bring Tokimeki Memorial, Guitar Freaks and Drummania to North America! Then I’ll send them a whole f*ckin cookie factory.

The 10th Art – Parfitt talks about the conundrum of having 100 hour games where you get your money’s worth, but take forever to finish while having a fun 3 hour game that seems like a waste of money. At least that’s what I got out of it.

From a Gamer’s Basement – Angeloni talks about how console gaming has all but destroyed arcade gaming. He’s exactly right, but there are still some great arcades (like Funhouse here in Tulsa) that seem to be going strong.

The Daily Pulse – Lucard wants to help you (and me too!) save money. So I think I’m going to do what he did! Though with not as many games.

Gamer’s Hangover News Report – Laflin talks about the wrestling games that started him down the road of…um, wrestling gamedom.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Video Games – Misha is a cheap bastard and wants to get hits by putting the word NUDITY in his teaser. In other news, if it scores him extra hits, I’m gonna try it myself!

Only one review this week, it seems:
Doom 3 – Alex Lucard
He was a lot nicer to it than I was. Though his final thoughts on it were CLASSIC. On a side note, I actually reviewed the game first, but Alex is coolerer than I am, so he got the nod.

Oh, and check out Williams’ Metroid Prime 2 Preview, which is quite spiffy! And also Lucard’s interview with the developer of MISSING. Great read.

And now the end of the column. And with it comes an announcement I didn’t want to make. Due to unforseen (or perhaps forseen) circumstances, I will be leaving this site for good. It’s nothing bad with anyone on the site. They’ve all been great. This is all real life. And that’s more important to me than this site. It’s been a lot of fun. Thanks to all the readers.

And for anyone wondering about the anime section, well, it’s not in my court anymore. I’m sure someone better will take it over. Thanks, and have fun.