Mid-Week Mid-Boss v2.05

Hey yo. It’s another week, and I’m now one year older. Though I feel 10 years older than this time last year. I guess that’s the way it goes. I’m only 28 but sometimes I feel like 40 or 50. I need to get into better shape so maybe I actually live that long.

My birthday was a good one. Very gaming related as usual. You can find out what I got down in the “What I’m Playing” section. In addition to games, I got a lot of clothes, which is actually pretty cool because I need some variety in my work attire. I also got a free month’s subscription to Blockbuster’s online rental service, which I managed to fill up with a whole shitload of anime. So I may be commenting on that stuff in the future too. I also had two days off from work, which was nice, but I was also bored for part of the time. I guess I’m enjoying work enough to where I actually miss it when I’m not there. Just a little though. It’s always nice to have some off time though. Not to mention the fact that I only have to work 3 days next week. Life is good.

I have some bad news, though. I’ve decided not to write my game design essay thing I was doing. I realized after writing most of the intro that not only was it not any real information that wasn’t known to just about everybody, but it was just going to be too long and too boring, so nobody would read it all the way through. Hell, I was getting bored writing it. It was originally something I felt would be informative, but when I sat down and thought about it, there was no real information in it. So I scrapped the idea all together. I’m sure nobody really wanted to read it anyway, so don’t get too excited about the news.

Anyway, let’s get on to another week of gaming news and views and my television watching habits. Enjoy!

In The News

Square Enix has announced that it will be releasing two new Nintendo DS games. They aren’t unfamiliar games either. They are little games called Final Fantasy V and VI. To quell all the people threatening to cut off their heads, they claimed they have included special stuff to make it worth you shelling out $30 for a game you’ve already got on two other systems.
Ok, I’ll be the first to say that I probably will be a sucker and get these both when they come out. I’m dumb like that. I don’t understand why they are doing this though. Final Fantasy III is still in the works and hasn’t been released yet. And Final Fantasy IV is being released in December. That’s December HERE. So who knows, maybe these will be worth it, but probably not. And Squeenix will be laughing all the way to the bank. (Source: Games are Fun, RPGamer)

Namco has announced that it will be releasing a Tales Of game on the DS next year in Japan.
How’s that for no information. It’s good news though. Seems like the DS is the clear favorite in RPGs. Sadly, I don’t think the PSP will die anytime soon. (Source: RPG Fan)

Former Final Fantasy mastermind, Hironobu Sakaguchi-sama has announced that his company Mistwalker will be releasing a simulation-RPG for the Nintendo DS titled ASH (Archaic Sealed Heat). The progagonist is Queen Aisha, and her mission is to unravel some sort of mystery involving the eponymous flame.
Hmmm, the game sounds interesting. I’ll give it that much. Sakaguchi-sama is a smart man, and maybe this title will be good. And the description of simulation-RPG alone makes it sound intriguing. We’ll have to see what’s up with this one. (Source: RPG Fan)

Bethesda’s Pete Hines has announced that The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion will be released on the same day that the Xbox 360 launches, November 22nd, 2005.
I’m so happy to hear this. Oblivion was the one game I really, REALLY wanted to be out at the launch of the Xbox 360, and I’m glad it will be. So now November 22nd just needs to hurry up! (Source: RPGFan, Gamespot)

What I’ve Been Playing
As I said last week, I got a Gamefly subscription, and I gotta say, it’s an awesome thing to have. Blockbuster charges $8 for a week’s rental, and I’m really apprehensive paying that much because what if the game sucks?

I’m going to have to get used to staggering my Gamefly rentals. It takes about two days to receive a game, and if it takes 2 days for them to receive a game from me. They do have what they call Fast Return, which is nice. Whenever I ship a game back to them, the USPS notifies them that the game is on the way to Gamefly, so they go ahead and ship out your next game before they get in the other game. It shaves a day or so off the turnaround time, which is always a good thing.

This weekend, I finished playing and reviewing The Suffering: Ties That Bind. I didn’t get all the endings because I wanted to go ahead and send the game back and get something else. My brother finished Indigo Prophecy also, so that went back on Saturday as well. So looking at my “Q”, I’ll be getting Dead or Alive Ultimate next, and maybe Shaolin Monks (on Short Wait), Romancing SaGa (not out till 10/13) or something else.

Since I sent back my Gamefly games on Saturday, there would be a gap where I wouldn’t have anything to play for a few days, I went ahead and shelled out the cash to rent something from Blockbuster.

I decided to get The Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, since I’m a sucker for comic-book GTA-ish games (see also: Spider-Man 2). And it’s really pretty fun. I was never a big Hulk fan, but I gotta admit, it’s A LOT of fun being super strong, tossing people like they’re rag dolls. Sadly, it gets old pretty quickly. All the missions are either “go break shit”, “go break shit and bring an item back”, or “go break shit so that something else doesn’t get broken”. And all missions involve a bazillion enemies coming at you. I don’t recall playing a mission where I could actually take out all the enemies sent at me. I just usually completed whatever objectives I had and got out. It’s fun breaking stuff, but when they make it pointlessly difficult, it’s not as fun. Besides, can you explain to me how I can jump a mile, or jump down off the top of a 100 story skyscraper, and NOT be hurt, but I get shot by a cop, or get rammed by a tank going 10 mph, and I get hurt? Here’s how they decided to make this game: “Hey, Spider Man 2 sold really well and people say it’s a lot of fun! Let’s make a Hulk game like that!” Sadly, it’s not near as good as Spider Man 2. It feels like a cheap knockoff. It’s fun, don’t get me wrong, but they tried too hard to make it similar, without getting all the fun. The only fun stuff, other than randomly breaking shit, is the pointless silly challenges. Other than that, it’s not that fun in the long run. I definitely wouldn’t buy the game.

So that brings me to my birthday. Since I had 4 days off, my mom was nice and gave me my presents on Monday instead of Tuesday. And I got a Nintendo DS, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow and Nintendogs.

First off, the DS rocks. It feels right and overall seems like the natural progression from the GBA SP. I still don’t see why they made the GBA Micro. I guess just to cash in on the suckers who want something that “looks cool”. Yea, you’ll think it looks really cool when you’re f*cking blind from staring at the tiny screen for 10 hours.

I played Castlevania a lot, and since I’m not going to be reviewing the game for IP, I’ll give a basic rundown. Pretty much, if you liked Aria of Sorrow, you’ll like this. It’s a direct sequel in almost every way. The graphics are better and the sound is better, but overall, the gameplay is pretty much the same. The Magic Seals you have to use the touch screen for are kinda pointless, and I’m sure they were just thrown in to use the touch screen somewhere, but there are also points where you use the touch screen to break certain blocks on the screen, which is cool. But the Magic Seals aren’t too bad, just not that cool either. The coolest addition is the Weapon Synthesis, which allows you to use one of your monster souls you’ve collected to upgrade your weapons. It’s a really neat little feature. Overall, this game (so far) is easily on par with Aria of Sorrow. And it may even be close to being as good as Symphony of the Night. I’ll have to keep playing to see. But it’s a lot of fun. Thank you Konami for continuing to make 2D Castlevania games!!!

I haven’t played Nintendogs all that much yet. To be honest, it’s kinda frustrating at times. I’m just trying to teach my dog tricks, and she won’t get it. But the game is cute as all hell, and I’m sure that once I sit down and read more of the ingame manuals, it’ll be a lot of fun.

I also got a gift card for Walmart. It’s got a dog bone and says Happy Birthday, but I’ve already got Nintendogs, so I think I’ll get Trauma Center sometime this week. Hopefully I won’t kill anyone at Walmart. The urge is too great sometimes.

What I’ve Been Watching
This weeks marks the demise of another show from my list.

Lost – I’ve noticed a trend with Lost lately. I realized that my favorite parts of the show lately have been with Sawyer, Michael and Jin. And my least favorite parts has been with the people in the f*cking hatch. We still don’t know anything about the hatch. And what it leads us to is where we are now: the hatch is merely a stupid plot device. Desmond came in to the picture and is now gone. You won’t see him again. The computer in the hatch is another plot device. It’s a chain that ties them to the facility that is underground. They are going to keep hammering home how someone has to be there to type in the code and hit Execute. And either way, somebody will f*ck up and not type it in. Shannon or Hurley will be assigned to do it, and NOT do it, and the timer will run down, and then we’ll find out what happens. I like the show, and I like the characters, but I think this particular part of the story will lead nowhere interesting.

What IS interesting is the other 3 survivors and the people they were captured by. I think it’s safe to say that they are not the Others. We know, for a fact, that Michelle Rodriguez’s character was in the tail section of the plane, so it’s safe to assume the rest of the other people there were too. So perhaps they simply were not as well off as our more famous group of survivors. Hopefully they will start to focus on this group rather than the boring hatch bullshit.

Invasion – I made it through about 15 minutes of Invasion this week before I realized how poor the writing was. The premise of the show is so-so at best. The acting is very iffy. But the characterization is simply awful. The character likeability ranges from “I f*cking hate that guy” to “I don’t give two shits about that guy”. The characters were so boring and one-dimensional that live or die, I could really care less. And I started liking most characters less and less as the show went along. So, as (un)sad as I am to say it, this show gets CUT.

Ghost Whisperer – You know, this week proved to me why I had misgivings about this show. And I can give them to you in 3 words. Jennifer. Love. Hewitt. She cannot act to save her life. Case in point: her flashback scenes where she was supposed to be younger. They threw her in “younger looking” clothes, had her talk in a higher pitch, and gave her braces. Whatever, it’s obvious she’s the same age. Either way, her acting was awful in this. When she realizes her grandmother is dead and she’s talking to her ghost, it damn near makes the show come crashing down. But it recovered well enough.

See, that’s the blessing and the curse of this show. The show itself has good writing. And while the acting from the rest of the cast is decent, JLH just sucks. Fortunately, most episodes don’t have her emoting much, and she just ends up being a telephone between the ghost and the loved one. I suppose it’s too much to ask that they replace the star?

Threshold – I’m really liking this show. The tone of every episode is so completely different. Not drastically so, but enough. After the first week, where they found out that the signal had been heard on the plane, I was worried that they were going to basically stretch the series out ad infinitum, but in the past two episodes, they have captured one of the original infectees, and killed another. That leaves like 4 remaining ones from the original boat. Still, good stuff, and it shows just how human everyone is. Now, how about hooking me up with some of that signal shit so my eyes can improve and I can get better at games! Speaking of hooking up, it looks like my dreams of Sin City Booby Chick hooking up with the Dwarf are slim to none. Damn you Mercenary Guy! I’m gonna have Data and Nerdy Guy beat you down, or Preacher Dude from Alien 3 cap you or something. Yea, then we’d have a show!

TNA Impact – TNA has a good chance to reinvigorate my love for wrestling, just like WCW did back in the day when it was in the lead and the NWO was going strong. A lot better chance than WWE does anyway.

I like what I’ve seen of 3 Live Kru. Konnan and BG Games aren’t that great of wrestlers, but both are good on the stick. Ron Killings is a good wrestler and pretty good on the mic as well, from what I remember. This was another great opening match. Well, the match itself wasn’t great wrestling-wise, but it was nice to see a little tease at the New Age Outlaws reuniting, which probably won’t happen, but there’s nothing wrong with teases. The next match was another X Division 3-way. Do they just have too many people in the X Division. I just don’t like 3-way matches. They never are that interesting to me. But I wouldn’t mind seeing the Ultimate X match at Bound for Glory if I can manage to see the PPV.

This Abyss guy doesn’t do much for me. He just seems like a bigger version of Mankind. Like a cross between Mankind and Kane. And the AMW vs. Team 3D Match was pretty good to start, but the momentum was lost with the commercial break.

I want to note two things: these matches have been too predictable. It’s too obvious who is going to win. The only match I didn’t pick the winner on was the last match, and that was because I PICKED a winner. Actually, technically, I WAS right, because 3D won by DQ. The other problem I have is that the music is too generic. A few themes (Jeff Jerrett’s is one, of course) are somewhat distinctive, but most are too similar sounding. But overall, it’s still very enjoyable.

Sunday, Monday
NFL Football – Ugh, it was a shitty, shitty football week for me. Just no good at all. Miami lost to Barffalo. I could hear JP Losman crying because he may not ever get his job back. That’s what happens when you screw the pooch. And the Eagles got creamed by Dallas. They just weren’t playing like themselves for some reason. The defense was like a f*ckin sieve and the offense just wasn’t all there. McNabb was hurting, sure, but I don’t think that’s the problem they had. They were just playing like shit overall. Bleh, what an awful week.

My Name Is Earl – I really like how inventive they’re getting with the show, like how he couldn’t find a pen to mark her name off because karma wouldn’t let him. I was talking on the phone during the last 10 mins or so, but I got the gist of things. The ending was great. And how f*ckin classic is it that they were in a Quick Stop at the beginning? I doubt it was THE Quick Stop (the one from Clerks) but it could have been for all I know.

The Office – Another great episode that had some hilarious moments. Dwight in his car blaring Everybody Hurts was awesome. And of course we’re witnessing Pam’s jealousy over Jim’s fling. Pretty much anything Jim does is golden. He rocks.

I did a review for The Suffering: Ties That Bind, and I think it turned out pretty damn good (the review AND the game). There is a lot of comparison to the original, but that’s to be expected. Check it out!

Lucard’s Nyogtha for this week focuses on vampires, errrr I mean vampYres. They’re the ones who THINK they’re vampires so they drink blood and weird shit like that. Yea, you probably know some like that too. I think everyone does.

In his latest Gaming Zen, Tom tweaks the column a bit and decides to STEAL MY SHIT! I’m just kidding, I agree that having a section like “What I’m Playing” is a good thing for all of us. Since each game has only one review, and Tribunals are pretty rare, this gives a chance for us to give our opinions on games. I like to comment on every game I play. I’m just weird that way I guess.

Basilio has A Case of the Mondays and this one is all about Lost. It’s too bad that I totally disagree with him on “answers” being in this episode. That episode had only one answer: there are survivors from the tail section. Other than that, there were no answers, only more questions.

Michaelangelo posts this weekend’s Box Office Numbers. Serenity dropped to number 8, which is disappointing, but Mike is DEAD wrong on chances for the franchise continuing. DVD sales are going to be off the charts. Firefly is CONSISTANTLY a top seller on sites that sell DVDs. I can’t imagine that Serenity wouldn’t be the same. So maybe they’ll slash the budget some and make it direct to DVD. They could continue the series indefinitely that way. I’d be all for it. Is the franchise dead? Hell no.

It takes Rachael a long time to get to the point in her column about fashion. Too bad she neglects to mention a few things about black. Namely, those of us who have incurable dry scalp conditions. I don’t wear black very often, but I wore a black shirt on Friday and constantly had flakes on it. I’d wipe them off, and about 10 mins later there’d be more back. And yea, black doesn’t stain, but if you’re wearing black for THAT reason, you have other problems you should be dealing with.

I had a long rant written up lambasting David Jaffe (the egotistical guy behind God of War) who was ranting about how used games and rentals are killing the industry. Now, IP’s own O’Reilly is basically saying the same thing in his latest Pulse Cannon. I killed the Jaffe rant, but here are my thoughts, minus the expletives and insults that were in the aforementioned rant: Simply put, the reason that rental stores exist is SO we can try games. As O’Reilly mentioned, it sucks paying $50 for a game only to have it suck and you be stuck with it, so your only option is to sell it used to get back SOME of your profits. Unfortunately, O’Reilly kinda contradicts himself by saying we SHOULD by more games rather than rent. The problem with the industry has nothing to do with rental stores or used games, it has to do with quality. I have a hard time buying games on faith. I spent $50 each on Star Ocean 3 and Radiata Stories, both bought with faith on the Tri-Ace name alone, and I feel ripped off because both games sucked. I will not buy a Tri-Ace game on faith. I will rent first. I was fooled twice by them. Shame on me. Not gonna happen again. If people like David Jaffe wants to see less rentals, then make more quality games. And not just part of the game, the WHOLE game Jaffe. Don’t throw in a level that is ridiculously frustrating just to make it “hard”. That’s a great way to lose a potential buyer.

Oh, and another thing O’Reilly was wrong at was the ability to pirate games for the Xbox. Unless something has changed, you still need a mod chip or something of the like. The Dreamcast is by far the easiest system to pirate games on. You could download a game and burn it to a standard CD and pop it in and play it. It took some effort on the side of the people who made the illegal copy, but no effort is required on the person playing the game. The problem is that some people blame piracy on the downfall of the Dreamcast. They’re the same people that blame P2P networks for slumping music sales, when the real reason is the same. The Dreamcast didn’t have any real killer games (for me anyway) until after it was dead. Skies of Arcadia, Grandia 2, and Record of Lodoss War didn’t come until pretty late in the life cycle. Sega had already pretty much thrown in the towel at that point. I can pretty safely say that the Dreamcast helped me realize I shouldn’t be a fanboy for any one system though, because the more the merrier.

Well, that’s it for yet another week. I hope you enjoyed the column. If you didn’t, well, I guess that’s too bad. I’m going to go back to playing my games now, thankyouverymuch. I’ll see you next week though with more of the same ole shit. Auf Weidersehen!