Mid-Week Mid-Boss v2.13

Hey yo. Well, it’s another week. And for the record, I’m tired of people telling me I’m nuts for not selling my Xbox 360 on eBay. I’ll tell you why I didn’t.

a) I hate people that buy something and sell it for inflated prices just so they can make a buck. It deprives others who REALLY want the system of getting one and drives up the value needlessly. It’s just an assholian thing to do.

b) I didn’t want to deal with it. It’s a big enough pain in the ass to deal with shit on eBay. It’d be my luck that I’d put it up for $2,000 and it wouldn’t sell, leaving me with a bill to eBay for the starting bid. Or even worse, I get screwed over by somebody making an illegitimate bid.

c) The reason I got myself the Xbox 360 was because in July, I started smoking again. I had smoked for 5+ years, and last November, me and my girlfriend at the time quit smoking. It was relatively easy then. Things were going pretty good in life, so I felt like I could do it. But then life started going downhill. Long story short, I broke up with my girlfriend and started a new job that I was REALLY unsure about all in the span of a week. Mentally, I was kind of depressed, and I started smoking again, which lasted a month. So I promised myself that if I quit again, I would get an Xbox 360. And I did. So in September, on the first day that Walmart.com had them available, I preordered one. So in essence, the 360 is my trophy for quitting. And I don’t want to give that up.

Next up, I’m hoping to have a trophy for losing over 100lbs, which will be a nice HDTV, but that one will be quite a bit more difficult to attain. We’ll see how that goes.

So anyway, check out this week’s column. I have a couple of new additions, so I hope you like them. Read on, true believer!

Square Enix announces Jump Festa Lineup
Every year, Square Enix holds its Jump Festa event, where they show off their upcoming games. This year, they are showing off: Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy XII, Front Mission 5, Kingdom Hearts II, Seiken Densetsu DS: Children of Mana, Slime MoriMori: Dragon Quest 2, Final Fantasy IV Advance, and Seiken Densetsu 4.

I fully expect all of these games to be released here in America, except for Slime Mori Mori: Dragon Quest 2. It’s one of those that’s probably too Japanesey for America. But anything is possible I suppose. We got Katamari Damacy, after all. The sad part about this is that I’ll probably get all of these games.

A couple of games are curiously not on the list. First off, as suggested by Games are Fun, is Crisis Core, the action RPG being developed for the PSP. Personally, I think it’s just as odd to not see Final Fantasy III on the list. I know that’s one game that a lot of people on both sides of the pond are anticipating. But who knows, they may have a surprise for us.
(Credit: Games are Fun)

[eM] -eNCHANT arM- Looks Pretty
You heard it here. This game with the really weird title looks really pretty. It’s on the 360, and it’s an RPG, so you bet your happy ass I’ll be picking it up. I hadn’t been excited about this at all because it’s by From Software. They’re responsible for such PS2 RPG classics Eternal Ring and Evergrace. Don’t remember those two? That’s because they sucked. But these screenshots for this new one looks pretty sweet. Check them out on Games are Fun and Gamespot.
(Credit: Games are Fun, Gamespot)

X-Men 3 Trailer Available
Ok, this isn’t gaming news, but I found it on Evil Avatar, so it’s good enough. As the title says, you can now view the X-Men 3 Trailer on Apple’s Website. Go ahead and check it out before I spoil it.

Did you check it out? No, I’m serious. Check it out now, asshole!

Ok, done? First off, I think Kelsey Grammer is going to be f*cking INCREDIBLE as Beast. He looks fantastic. And he’s perfect for the voice. Great casting job there. And holy shit, Phoenix is going to be in it. SWEET!! And a third Kitty Pryde. Hopefully she’ll be mad hot, because I’ve always had a Kitty crush. The only thing I’m iffy about is Juggernaut. He could either be really really cool, or pretty lame. Oh, and Angel looks good too. Overall, I’m getting excited about this one. Teehee. I’m a geek.
(Credit: Evil Avatar, Apple)

This is a new section. It may not be here every week, but it’ll probably show up every now and then. See, this section is a place where I will bitch about whatever. Usually it’s something I don’t want to fit into another section.

Xbox Customer Service (Email)
As I think I said before, the only problem I’ve had with my Xbox is that the controller that came with the system has a button (the Right Bumper) that doesn’t always work. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s no big deal, because I got another one that is fine, but still, I’d rather have a controller where ALL the buttons work. So I emailed the Xbox 360 support group. Here is my email:
” I received my Xbox 360 a few days ago, and on the wireless controller that came with it, the Right Bumper button will occasionally not work. The rest of the buttons seem to work fine, so I was wondering if I could get the controller repaired or replaced?”

I thought that was a simple enough question, and straight to the point. I guess I was wrong. Here is the reply I got back:
“Thank you for your inquiry and interest in the Xbox 360. I understand you want to know if it can support up to 6 controllers. The Xbox can support up to 4 wireless controllers. It also will feature 3 USB ports (two in the front and one in the back) so there is almost no end to the various accessories and other pieces of hardware that will connect to the console and interact with it. The keyword here is versatility. The Xbox 360 was created to be maximized. It would be up to the game if it will allow as much players as the available resources can handle.”

Ok, my first thought was: “This is the perfect reason why outsourcing your customer support is a bad idea.” But that’s not nice to say. They could be located in America (however unlikely that is).

Regardless, DHL’s advertising campaign is all about how customer service is dead. Well, being in tech support and customer service (because my job IS both, really), I didn’t want to agree with that, but in many cases, it is true. Companies are so concerned with making a buck that they only give a cursory attempt at customer service, and ship all the jobs to a place where the people only barely speak English and work for cheap.

Now, what if the Xbox Email Support Team IS in America and can speak perfect English? What does that mean? I mean, realistically, HOW THE FUCK could they have gotten that I wanted to know about 6 controllers when I asked them to replace a broken one? I was prepared for them to send an email saying “Sorry, we can’t do that” but what I got was either that they didn’t understand my email, or even worse, they didn’t f*cking read it. I emailed back, saying simply “please read my email again”. I don’t expect to get a new controller, but being in customer service, I am very nice to anyone who does the type of work I do or have done, and at the same time, I expect them to actually GIVE customer service. I won’t tolerate if they don’t care about my needs.

Regardless, I expect that this story is probably over. I don’t expect to hear anything back on it, but I feel better about bitching, nonetheless.

Oh, and I received an email saying that my Xbox 360 Live Gold Membership for a year has FINALLY shipped from Walmart. Finally!

Well, as you can expect, I’ve played my fair share of Xbox 360 titles. The first game I got and played was Condemned: Criminal Origins, which I reviewed. One person didn’t really like my review of that title, and seemed to think that I sucked because of it. What a lot of people seem to think is that I’m not trying to tell you how to think, I’m just giving my opinion on the game. There is no right and wrong in game reviewing, people. We’re just a bunch of normal people, just like you, who like to write about our opinions. If you don’t like our opinions, then form your own. But people don’t kill us because you don’t like what we have to say. It’s a friggin game, and we’re supposed to have fun with them! And if we don’t have fun, then don’t blame us of all people.

The next game I got in was Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland. And while it’s interesting, it is typical Tony Hawk. Except that it’s been getting easier and easier it seems. The more tricks they add, the easier it becomes. Back in the day, before reverts and manuals, you had to do mad skills to get points. Then the reverts and manuals, then flatland tricks, and now it’s just sickly easy to get a lot of points. Don’t get me wrong, I like the THUG games, but they just totally went away from the series that everyone fell in love with. I don’t think they’ll ever be able to rekindle that either.

Next up was Project Gotham Racing 3. I’ll have a review up for that soon. To put it succinctly, it was fun, to a point. You’ll have to read the review soon.

Lastly, I played Perfect Dark Zero. And to be honest, I was completely disappointed. I guess I expected more out of Rare. I expected a fun first person shooter adventure. Unfortunately, the game is slow. The cinema scenes are jerky, and the cover system is just totally flawed. And I personally think it’s REALLY f*cking stupid how you have to shoot a guy three or four times in the chest to kill them, but if you pistol whip them twice, they’re dead. Or if you pistol whip from behind, it’s lights out. The graphics are good and all, but the game just isn’t any fun to me.

This is another new section that will hopefully have something every week. One of the big draws of Xbox Live is the ability to download “arcade” games, some of which allow you to compete against other people on Xbox Live 360. Another big draw is the classic arcade titles that have been released for the system. I won’t be talking about those tonight though. I’m going to be talking about the free Xbox Live title that comes with the Xbox 360.

Hexic HD
Hexic is a puzzle game that is unlike any other I’ve played before. Well, it is somewhat similar to Bejeweled, but different at the same time.

See, the way it works is that you have a screen full of gems. You can see how they are aligned here. You can grab a group of 3 adjacent gems and rotate them. Your goal is to make a group of 3 like gems, which will make them disappear. Gems will keep dropping in, and you keep making them disappear. Occasionally, gems with stars on them will appear. If you make a clump of 3 star gems of different colors, it will create an explosion that will destroy all gems around those 3. If you make a clump of 3 star gems of the same color, it will destroy all gems of that color on the board.

There are several gameplay modes: Marathon, Survival, and Timed. Marathon is probably the “main” mode. Every stage gives you a certain amount of blocks to destroy to proceed to the next mode. As you progress, the game introduces bombs, which is really the only way Marathon mode can end. Each bomb is of a certain color, and you must destroy them within a certain amount of turns. If you don’t, it’s game over. Survival requires you to keep destroying blocks until you can’t destroy anymore. When you reach that point, it will seal off all the remaining blocks and move on to the next stage. Sealed blocks must be unsealed or destroyed before they can be moved. There are only 50 stages, so once you complete it, you get scored on how well you did. And lastly is Timed mode, which is just that: timed. You have a time limit and must get the requisite amount of gems destroyed before your time runs out.

The game itself is fun and surprisingly addictive. Survival mode is pretty easy, and I was able to complete it without a problem. But Marathon and Timed are more challenging. Thing get especially more interesting when you start trying to get Starflowers (where you enclose one color gem with a circle of 6 of another color), Black Pearl, Black Pearl Clusters, and Black Pearl Flowers.

Overall, this is a really fun puzzle game that is worth paying for, but you get it for free with the system. Oh, and the music is some of the best I’ve heard in a puzzle game. But if you don’t have a 360, you can play a wimpier version here. Otherwise, if you have a 360, you have no reason to not play this game, unless you simply don’t like puzzle games, at which point you suck.

For the past few weeks, I had promised to watch Aquarian Age and review it. And surprisingly, I finally have! Call it a slow gaming weekend, I suppose.

Aquarian Age: Sign of Evolution
Based on a CCG of the same name, Aquarian Age is the story of magical and mystical beings fighting in secret over the fate of mankind. There are several warring factions of people, all who can transform into forms that cannot be seen by regular humans, so that their battles are invisible to the average person. At the center of the conflict is Yoriko Sannou, who just so happens to be the most important figure to two of the factions. She has had the path of destiny laid out for her to either be the good leader of the Ariashiki faction, named Benzeiten. Or she could become evil, and become the most powerful of the Darklore faction and go by the name Sarisvati.

Things get a little more complicated when the man that Yoriko loves, Kyouta, hits the big time as a musician. He draws the attention of all the factions; some want to recruit him and others want to destroy him. And he just wants to be a musician and be with his friends. But he soon realizes that will be very difficult.

I know that was a piss-poor description, but it’s the best I can do. The story is REALLY convoluted and moves very slow, especially for the first disc, which is odd since it’s only a 13 episode series. They probably could have fit it all into a 2 hour movie and it be about as understandable. Confusing is an understatement, since there are 6 factions with different members and each faction has different relationships with one another. There is a little map in the booklet with disc 3, but that sort of thing shouldn’t be necessary.

The only reason I got this series (other than it costing about $15 for the whole thing) was that Yuki Kajiura did the music. She’s the genius behind such great scores as .hack, Xenosaga Episode 2, and of course, Noir (only the greatest anime soundtrack of ALL TIME, no hyperbole). Sadly, her talents aren’t used to their fullest here. Most of the music in the show is the songs (or song) that Kyouta sings. Yuki has at least one or two pieces in the series that are played pretty frequently, but I couldn’t really pick out any others. Sadly, she had no hand in the opening or ending, which isn’t surprising since they are of a standard far below Yuki’s.

The series was done by ADV, so of course they used their in house dub studio Industrial Smoke and Mirrors to do the voice acting, and as usual, it was good. Monica Rial plays the part of Yoriko, and it’s really a departure for her. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like the fits the part at all, but at other times, she’s perfect for it. It’s really odd. Chris Patton plays Kyouta, and he does a good job as well. But overall, this cast just never seemed to FIT their roles as well as other shows. And it’s not surprising. On disc 3, there is a video of Monica being explained the premise of the show right before starting to do her lines, and the look on her face was like “ok, I’m hearing your words but it’s not sinking in”. That’s not her fault, it’s the fault of the content. The story is too broad and loose to really tell a good story in 13 episodes.

The art design was really good though. The art style is a little off what I’m a fan of, particularly the hairstyles of some of the female characters, but it was still good. The colors were what really stands out though. Everything is so vibrant and great looking. One thing that irks me is that most of the battles between the factions are done by showing colored bars smacking into each other. It looks really lame. I don’t know if they made it to be a show for kids or what, but it just is boring. I’m not asking for blood or anything, but it’s just nice to see somebody punch somebody else. It gives a much greater sense of conflict. The fights that are in the anime look like a rough game of pattycake.

Overall, the show was a pretty big disappointment. I’m not too let down though, because I DID only spend $15 on it. There just really isn’t much to make it interesting. It’s the slowest 13 episode series I’ve ever seen, and I couldn’t WAIT for it to be over with. And the best description I can think of is that the show is like X mixed with Full Moon wo Sagashite, rolled up in a ball and stuck in a blender. It just wasn’t good at all to me.

Overall: D

I also watched an…interesting. show anime that I’ll talk about.

Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan
This anime is pure f*cked up. No two ways about it. Just f*cked up. What to know why? The translation is “Club-to-Death Angel Dokuro-chan”.

Basically, the story follows a young man Sakura. He is your typical Japanese 8th grader. He goes to his Junior High every day and has a crush on a girl named Shizuki. One day, an angel shows up and starts living in his room. No explanations why. And apparently his parents don’t seem to mind.

The weird thing is that this angel wields a mighty club called Excalibolg (an amalgamation of Excalibur and Caladbolg), and tends to kill Sakura a lot. In fact, the first few minutes of the show has Sakura walking into his bedroom, and Dokuro-chan changing into new clothes. He sees her naked body, she freaks out and literally tears his head off. It’s good that she has the magical ability to bring him back to life. Still, it’s no fun being killed.

Basically, the show would SEEM like a kiddy show about an angel, but that’s what makes it so wonderful. It’s one of the most perverse shows I’ve ever seen. Not only because of the sick amounts of blood (all coming from Sakura), but also just the f*cked up perversion that comes out. Even the intro explains how Dokuro-chan likes to beat you up, tie you up, and cocktease you, all because she loves you.

Really, the show is simply hilarious and deserves a watch from those fans who are into f*cked up anime. It’s available for download on Fansub. It hasn’t been licensed in America, though it should be. They could fit the entire series on one DVD (there are 8 episodes, but they are only 15 minutes each). You can download it yourself HERE. I highly recommend it. Pipiru piru piru pipiru pi!

Overall: B

Oh yea, I’m finally going to be getting Noir Volume 6 in soon. Which means I’ll be finished with it! Woo hoo! So I’ll probably watch it sometime and give it a review. I saw it before it was licensed, when it was a fansub, but it’s a different story when it’s a DVD with dubs. This is my favorite show, but it’s dubbed by ADV, so I’m sure it will be good. Expect that soon.

I saw this movie was coming out this week and I said, “Eh, what the hell, I’ll rent it.”

Sky High
Everything I had seen of this movie made it look totally lame. I expected it to be an X-men ripoff. And it kinda was, but it wasn’t so bad I guess. Everybody I heard said it was better than they expected, and that’s pretty much right.

The story focuses on Will Stronghold. His parents are the greatest superheroes in the world, but he has a problem. He hasn’t got any super powers! And on his first day in high school, called Sky High (since it is actually IN the sky), his secret is revealed, and he is marked as a sidekick (whereas the “cool” people are heroes). So, as is expected, he develops his super power (super strength, just like his pappy) and is immediately accepted as a hero, and therefore pretty much abandons his friends in the sidekick class, including the girl who so desperately wants him but he’s too stupid to know it.

It really ends up being your typical high school movie, with a twist. Sometimes it’s a good twist, and other times, it’s rather lame. The story overall is pretty predictable, and while they could have made it more interesting if it was edgier, it was as tame as a “teen” movie you can get. It is by Disney, after all. John Hughes this ain’t. Despite the rather good soundtrack of 80’s cover tunes.

So what it really ends up being is cute. It’s not really GOOD, per se. How can it possibly be good with acting this bad? There was some truly masterful casting done on the adults though. Fuck the “star adults”. Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston suck. I’m talking about Bruce f*cking Campbell, bitches. What about Kevin Heffernan (Rod f*cking Farva!!)? Still not satisfied? How about Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald? 2/5 of Kids in the Hall?! While none of those have particularly huge roles, they are all (Heffernan and Foley particularly) great.

So all in all, it’s not a bad flick. Bad acting aside, it’s pretty enjoyable I guess. Kids will like it because it’s funny, and adults will catch some of the silly homage to comic books and stuff. It is worth a rent, but not really anything more.

Overall: C

This week’s episode of LOST was pretty good, I suppose. It was nice seeing the flashback of Kate. I amazed my family at my skills of prediction. When we found out last season that Kate had done something bad, I said “she killed her dad”. When she helped her dad in when he was drunk, and he said “what’s that smell” I said, “it’s gas” a second before they showed the stove. Then when she walked out of the house, I said “BOOM!” And while my mom and brother were looking at me funny, the house exploded. The only thing I got wrong was that I thought her dad had molested her. So if she reveals later that he did, I’m the winner.

Anyway, other than that first part, the flashbacks didn’t give us much information. They showed the horse, yes. And they threw in the swerve that TOTALLY didn’t matter (who she thought was her dad wasn’t her dad even though everybody thought the guy she killed WAS her dad, so it was just a shitty setup for a swerve). And we got to see the missing footage from the reel of film, which was a TOTAL letdown. It’s like 3 minutes of “don’t use the computer!” Then of course, Michael uses the computer. And is Walt the ghost in the shell? Maybe so. We won’t f*cking know until JANUARY. Argh.

Oh, and I decided to give RAW another shot, since I had heard about Joey Styles coming in and replacing JR. Man, he gives the show a shot it so desperately needed. Now they just need to replace the King. It was also to see the nice firing of Bischoff. Hopefully they WILL bring in Shane-o-mac since he’s probably my favorite guy they have. Oh, and nice touch with the reunion of sorts with HHH and Steph. I also liked the Cutting Edge, even though the first half (when it was just Edge and Lita talking) was dreadfully awful. Has Copeland gotten worse on the mic? Either way, when Hayes and Slaughter came down, they kicked it up a notch. It was good stuff. Oh, and I liked how King called out Foley on his cheap pop. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard that phrase used on air. Overall, it was a decent episode, except of course the women’s match. Ugh, talk about awful wrestling.

O’Reilly’s Pulse Cannon for last week and this week.

My review of Condemned, which drew such ire from a whole one person.

My other 360 review of the week: Project Gotham Racing 3, which is a lot better that Condemned.

From Russia With Love courtesy of O’Reilly.

Smackdown vs. Raw 2006 from Mark the new guy, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite reviewers.

Blitz: The League from Widro. He was a lot nicer to this game than I was. But still gives it what most people would consider a bad score.

Nyogtha is all about Will O’ Wisps. Never seen them myself, except when I get hit on the head really hard.

Go Nihon is about Japan. Japan > America. ‘Nuff said.

Only one Wrestling column is worth reading. That column is by Eric S.

Well, that’s it for another week. Be safe, and have fun and all that jazz. Seeya in the next Mid-Boss. In the immortal words of Kip, “Peace out!”