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The Pages of Now & Forever (More or Less)

An Orgy of Jason's Thoughts & Rants (served hot and fresh daily)

9/22/05 09:29 pm - Things That'll Probably Never Change

#37. I hate Tetsuya Nomura.

Tomorrow: #38. My feelings on people who drive too slow in the passing lane.

9/18/05 12:17 pm - Great Comic Covers

Hey, you there!  Yeah, you.  Like comics?  Like cool comic covers?  Check this out, then!  Keep in mind it's only a short list but there's more to come!
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9/13/05 09:59 pm - Look! Look! I'm posting!

        Just a quick update as I have a few projects underway (including new articles!  Hooray!).  I'm...torn...on this image.  I'm not sure if I like it or not but what I can say I like is that I broke out of my usual style of coloring and tried something different.

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8/29/05 11:51 am - You are not Captain N

If you’re young enough to wear one of those 8-bit Nintendo controller belt buckles and not think you look like a total idiot you’re not old enough to remember actually playing the freaking system.  
 

It’s like that stupid “Roots” t-shirt with the NES pad.  I’m pretty sure roots ends with a z, too.  Since when did playing on a Nintendo make anybody cool?  I don’t recall being a gamer making me any cooler, especially after elementary school.

 

Somebody should make a shirt using the 3DO logo with the word Trippin’ beneath it.  Come on, that’s video game humor and rebellion at it’s finest!

8/26/05 09:30 am - Burning Bridges?

            I caught an article this morning about Midway “dropping” the NFL license of their Blitz games so they can be more extreme.  There’s a joke or two in that first sentence somewhere.  Anyhow, the article itself was stupid because Midway has no choice but to drop the NFL license since EA now owns the exclusive rights.  It’s also an article about Midway and Blitz which automatically makes it an uninteresting read.

 

            What was interesting, however, were the comments being made.  In particular those between Midway and EA employees.  Both parties were under the delusional impression that they make original and fun games but we’ll overlook that for now so we can focus on the even more insane rabble coming from Mister EA.  According to the corporate tool EA was god of everything ever because, and I swear I’m not making this up,  they get free snacks and sometimes free beer and games.

 

            The ironic thing is that the guy digging EA’s grave works for Tiberon (EA Orlando)…the very same Tiberon that I’m going to attempt to get a job with.  Will I be working with idiots like these?

             Oh God, I hope so.

8/25/05 08:23 am - "I'm looking for Sailors. Have you seen any sailors?"

            I pray that this isn’t some sort of hoax or poorly reported wishful thinking.  I question the article, reporting that Shenmue will receive it’s final chapter on a next generation system, because of a few reasons.  For starters I’ve never heard of the site the news comes from and all of their sources are “unnamed people close to Sega” which isn’t exactly reassuring as this could refer to the guy who walks by the Sega office every morning on his way to work at the Boring Institute of Inane Research of Crap No One Cares About.

 

            Secondly, it’s Shenmue.  I love Shenmue, almost disturbingly so.  It’s one of those games that you can lose yourself in.  The facts that it didn’t end, that it wasn’t well received, and that Yu Suzuki seemed to have burnt himself out producing this massive project pretty much meant we’d never ever see the game’s story completed.  Not to mention the ill-fated Shenmue On-line which was canceled not too long ago (thankfully).

 

            According to the article Shenmue 3 is practically completed and just requires porting.  Shenmue 3 will also contain the previous two games which would be incredible but seems like an awfully fanboyish dream to me.

 

            If it is true, though, it will actually give me my first reason to be slightly interested in the next generation systems.

8/19/05 10:48 am - Everything and Nothing

     Much to your relief it’s been a while since I last rambled on about anything and everything however there’s a lot of random crap out there that I simply must rant about.  Let’s start with the Xbox 360 and it’s hilarious, mid-90’s pricing.

     There is, of course, no reason to actually purchase an Xbox 360 on launch.  There are some neat games but nothing worth the $399 admission.  $399.  Oh you could get the basic set for only $299 however it lacks a the 20gb hard drive (individually sold for $150) which is pretty much required especially if you want to use your 360 to play all of those old Xbox games that happened to be big sellers (pretty much Halo and Halo 2).  I think the last system to cost even $300 was the Saturn when it was launched earlier than everyone actually wanted (see: “One Hundred And One of Sega’s Greatest Mistakes” which I just made up but someone should really write that).

            
     Mind you I’m still interested to see a couple of the launch titles (well, Dead or Alive 4) but it’s going to take a lot more than a cheeky fighting game to get me to shell out $400.

 

     Speaking of the Xbox I’m oh so tempted to mod mine.  I haven’t, of course, because I wouldn’t have the slightest idea where to even begin.  Thing is you can do some pretty slick things with the hard drive such as fully installing Xbox games which is good considering the majority Xbox units owned by people I know have rapidly dying CD drives (which stirs memories of the Playstation except flipping over the Xbox, hilarious as it might be, would probably destroy your disc).  So, anyone know how to mod this thing?

 

     Moving right along we have the Nintendo DS which if I wasn’t so close to moving I’d buy right now or at the very least contemplate and attempt to justify buying right now.  It is a Gameboy Advanced, has no territorial lock out (Urusei Yatsura will be mine), a pretty happenin’ emulation scene (nowhere near the potential of the PSP, however), and…and…Nintendogs.

     I played it a bit which roughly translates to "I spent about a minute messing around with it while rushing out of a store."  In those precious seconds, however, the little game on the gimmicky system charmed the heck out of me.  It’s so freakin’ cute!  Mario 64 DS (duh), Urusei Yatsura, and Nintendogs.  Three titles so far to justify my purchase.  Not too bad, really.

 

     Finally we have World of Warcraft, a lovely game that is in dire need of more friends.  *points accusingly at YOU*  Patch 1.7 will have a new dressing room option which sounds really quite silly and stupid but believe me it’s something that will save the fashionably conscience a ton of gold.  Essentially the window will let you preview items you click on from vendors, quest givers, and the auction house.  My characters will be the coolest looking heroes in all of Azeroth.


     God I’m so sad.

8/17/05 06:45 pm - Ota-KING!

    For those of you fortunate enough to go to Otakon this year be sure and keep an eye out for the following flyers.  Why?  So you can tell the people who are passing them out how wonderful they look and how they really should have paid the poor, struggling artist who created them.  Since you're already doing my bidding how about hunting down a Viz representative and punch them until they agree to bring the Urusei Yatsura and Area 88 manga back!

    Oh yeah, there should be a third flyer, too...but it sucks.  More on that later.  You know, when we're alone.

 

   

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8/10/05 03:56 pm - Crap, now I have to get one...

     Someone’s making an Urusei Yatsura game for the Nintendo DS.  All I know so far is that it’s probably an adventure game and Koda Kumi will be doing the theme song.  Not being familiar with the artist I visited her site where I learned two very important things.  For starters you can purchase an official and very pink Koda Kumi t-shirt with the slogan “Who’s hung like a bull?” on it which I swear to god is true.  Secondly she’s the vocalist for Final Fantasy X-2’s Real Emotion.

 

     I’m not quite sure what to make of all that but I suppose being the first UY game in over ten years I can’t really complain.  I mean, it could be a UY screen saver for all I care, I will own it.

 

     If I’m not mistaken the DS does not have any sort of territorial lock out.  Plus someone ported the ScummVM emulator to it which let’s you play all of the old Lucas Arts adventure games like Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle (minus voices, I would assume).

7/25/05 04:42 pm - An Apple-filled World of Pain

     I just got done eating one of those once-baked apple pie things that cruelly come packaged in a wax wrapper that instantly adheres itself to the supposed delicacy the moment it leaves the store.  I’m not entirely sure why I insist on eating these things because they always make me want to swear off food forever afterwards.  Part of it, I suppose, is that my hunger is in love with the pie’s concept.  Juicy apple hidden by a thick, dry crust that’s lightly glazed with a mild sweetener?  Sounds delicious!  Yeah, well, it isn’t and you should go straight to hell for thinking it!

     
     For starters no matter what brand of apple burrito torture you purchase they all look like a rather old slab of raw chicken breast, complete with the little bits of fat that are next to impossible to cut off.  Still, it can be inviting because they also look particularly dry which would lead one to think that the inside must be full of juicy apple goodness to, logically, offset the almost impossible lack of moisture in the crust, right?  Yeah, if you wanted to a make a good snack.  Not the dreaded apple pie, however.  No no no…


     Biting into the pie usually ends anti-climactically for you almost always miss the now questionable juicy apple goodness.  For some ungodly reason it’s hollow…real hollow.  To the point where it could double as a purse or at the very least a way to smuggle small contraband across various boarders.  Further inspection is a mistake because it’ll only reveal the awful truth about the so-called apples: they’ve been diced into flat, microscopic  disks and there are hardly any of them in there.


     When I think of apple pie I think of a nice, flaky crust and big ol’ wedges of apple.  When Hostess and Entemann’s think of apple pie they think of a piece of dry, maggot filled biscuit that’s been dipped in caramel.


     To be fair the Entemann’s variety more closely resembles a pop-tart that’s missing the tart.  Or the pop.  Or whatever the part is that’s supposed to be the fruit-like substance.  Anyhow, this usually means that most bites will guarantee you some apple.  The apple is really horrible, of course, but at least you don’t have to deal with the sickly anticipation that you might bite into something with the consistency and flavor of worm vomit.


     Having said this I still eat them, every single time knowing full well that I’m going to regret doing so from the first bite.  Perhaps I just got a bad one, I’ll try to fool myself into thinking.  Maybe this one has actual fruit in it.  I’m such a sucker.


     There are other pies, such as cherry and banana, but I’m not going anywhere near those.  My desire to make myself ill ranks somewhere around my desire of pulling my finger nails off or talking in general chat in World of Warcraft. 

7/21/05 11:17 am - Sex & violence are not equal unless you happen to be a Klingon

     I’ve never really gotten into the Grand Theft Auto 3 series of games.  In fact it’s safe to say I’ve played GTA2 as much  as I have GTA3.  I could sit here and berate the game for hours but it’s really not worth my time or yours.  

     By now I’m sure you’ve heard of the ridiculous “Hot Coffee” mode which allows you to play a fairly desperate sexual mini-game with the main character and whoever his girlfriend happens to be.  Rockstar, the game’s developer, has kind of denied this being in the game with a dangerously vague public statement.  I may be giving them too much credit but I can not see Rockstar being so stupid and arrogant to think that no one would discover this on their own which leads me to believe they wanted this found.  But why?

     If Rockstar was trying to make some statement about the lack of balance between sex and violence in games you’d think they would have immediately owned up to the mini-games.  Granted they might be getting some pressure from Take-Two and its shareholders but you’d think they would have thought of that before having some guy with the mind of a fourteen year-old sit down and program a stupid, adolescent sex scene/game into the final product.

     Maybe it was a joke.  Okay, if it was you’d still think Rockstar would own up, publicly sack the guy responsible, apologize, and recall the game, releasing a new, cleaner version.

     Again, perhaps they’re making a statement by not doing that.  It just doesn’t seem that way to me because of how cowardly they’re being about this whole deal.  It’s especially odd of Rockstar seeing as how they thrive off of controversy. 
     
     One final thought: What if Rockstar and Take-Two did this as a method of opening the door to AO rated games.  Hardly any retailers carry those titles and with GTA:SA being such a huge seller perhaps they think retailers will consider stocking AO rated games now.  This would inspire other companies to release their own AO rated crap.


     The results of all this are still being finalized but so far we have GTA:SA being given a retailer-hated AO rating, Take-Two swearing to release a version without the code as soon as 4th quarter 2005, and the ESRB upping their ratings standards.

     To me this all sounds hilarious except the ESRB is still really stupid when it comes to rating games.  Ratings are still determined by a list of possible issues provided by the developer/publisher and not on the game itself.  Granted now the ESRB wants a list of any potentially naughty code in the game as well but they’re not going to check themselves or even actually play the game.
 

     I won’t get into a debate regarding why extreme violence is okay but poorly portrayed sex scenes are not because it’s just not that simple.  Let’s just say that if you want to have sex or nudity in your game try making it tasteful, at least at first.  Once American society is used to seeing it on a regular basis they’ll grow immune to it and then you can start to intensify their depictions much the same way violence has evolved in games over the years.
           

     Again, I could be giving them too much credit here.  For all I know Rockstar is composed of nothing more than a gaggle of middle-aged men with goatees and fourteen year-old minds giggling at penis innuendo and generally living up to the ridiculous basement-dwelling gaming nerd stereotype.


     Thanks, Rockstar, for making all of us gamers look like idiots.

7/18/05 02:47 pm - Victoly!

     Listening to the soothingly random melodies of Hayama Harbor’s Beat FM and attempting to avoid doing other people’s work I find myself thinking, “Jason, who are your favorite fighting game characters?”

     I tend to think to myself in third person just in case someone decides to make a movie using my thoughts it’ll seem more dramatic.

     I know this list would be impossibly long if I included all of the characters I like for comedy reasons such as Mortal Kombat’s color guard ninjas or Street Fighter Alpha’s Dan who was essentially designed to lose.  I also couldn’t include characters that just look cool like Basara from Samurai Shodown (or Samurai Spirits for you total wankers) who would twitch about the screen, laughing manically as he drove his chain-blade thing through the nether and into Rimoruru.  She deserved it, thought, what with her trying to replace Nakoruru and all.  Plus she had a pet ice-cube.  That's just taking the anime-stereotype of cute sidekicks a bit too far.

     So what are my choices based on?  Playability, looks, and level of bad-assness which I realize isn’t even a word so shut up.  Bad-assness, by the way, is allowed to override playability and looks but this only happens once and it’s at the very beginning so let’s get it over with now.

     - Shang-Tsung
(Mortal Kombat 2) -

     Mortal Kombat may be a silly, clunky game with digitized people running around in pajamas but it still, to this day, has one of the coolest gimmicks a character could ever have in a fighting game: the ability to turn into any and every fighter in the game at will.

     Oh others have tried but none have come close to Shang-Tsung from Mortal Kombat 2.  It was bad enough that he was a boss who could do this in the original but now he was playable and provided you weren’t playing the game on one of the CD based systems the player now had the power of becoming Sub-Zero and then Baraka, usually by accident.

     Why do I exclude the CD systems?  Because I hate you.  No no, that’s not true.  The truth is the early CD systems sucked at ram management and obviously a character that could become every possible character in the game was a memory hog so you’d either get load time during a match or simply be limited to only turning into your opponent and we all know how fun those Sub-Zero Vs. Sub-Zero fights can be:

     “So, we’re both frozen.”

     “Yep.”

     “We have been for a while now.”

     “Yep.”

     “Why are we even playing this pile?  Don’t we have better games?”

     “Time Killers?”

     “Never mind…the timer’s bound to run out soon.”

     The trick, and it could easily be done again (and better) was that every character that he could turn into was determined by a button combination such as Forward, Forward, Back, Back, Low Kick.  As mentioned before this stuff could be done by accident seeing as how all of the special moves in the game were of the same, stiff ilk.

     Regardless, he was a great character.  He had all of his own moves plus the hundreds of others available in the game.  So you can keep your Inferno, Edge Master, Twelve, and that Spinal guy from Killer Instinct.  Shang-Tsung is where it’s at.

     - Lilith (Vampire Savior) -

     Sure she’s kind of a clone of Morrigan and technically also a minor so many things about her should be quite illegal but she’s so cute!  She even skips when she’s being moved forward!  Her discovery of self awareness is a little disturbing (essentially “So this is blood?  I think…I like it”) but she controls so smoothly and giggles as she maims her opponents that any deep psychological issues she or the player may have are easily ignored.

     For the record I don’t use her special attack where her clothes burst off in a flurry of bats because I’m a pervert who gets his jollies off of the pixilated fan service of a character who can’t be more than 14.  It’s a good attack, I swear!  I feel like I have to shower having wrote this paragraph.  Thanks a lot.

     - Sagat (Street Fighter Alpha series) -

     Why in the world…HOW in the world did this man become a kick boxer?  Look at him!  Something terrible happened between Street Fighter and Street Fighter II.  In Street Fighter Alpha, the in-between game, Sagat was apparently experimenting with a dozen different flavors of steroids for he grew another four feet, his chest exploded into a mess of random muscles, and his hands were now larger than Cammy’s all to proud posterior.  He was still annoying, what with his little tiger fireballs that covered the crouching and standing positions, but the man could now seriously hurt you with an uppercut that hit multiple times.  If that’s not convincing enough that he eats punks like your for breakfast he had a super move called “Tiger Genocide” and any move with the word genocide in it usually means you’re going to lose even if you do manage to block it.

     Sagat also has a giant scar on his chest and wears an eye patch.  He chuckles and bursts into mirthful laughter once his opponents have been crushed into barely recognizable lumps of putty.  He simply could not be any cooler than this.

     - Cervantes (Soul Edge series) -

     Unless, of course, you were anything like Cervantes.  Pirate?  Check.  Undead zombie?  Check.  Possessed by evil demon?  That’s a check plus!

     From his beginnings as the boss with amazing Tilt-o-Whirl stage to the cinema that had him tearing his face off similar to Scorpion (hmmm),  Cervantes de Leon is no stranger to making opponents scream “cheap” in whiney, puberty-afflclicted voices.

     I can not express the (admittedly sad) euphoria felt by my good friend Aaron and myself when it was revealed that Cervantes would be in the Dreamcast port (remake) of Soul Calibur.  Little did we realize how much more incredible they would make him.  Aside from being fast, powerful, and a pirate he’s got a lot of variety so it’s always entertaining watching battles with him.

     It should also be known that I once won a tournament using him.  I won the (bootleg) Soul Calibur soundtrack which I actually already owned but it was a glorious victory for undead pirates everywhere.  Cervantes, I tip my hat to you were I wearing one.

     - Ivy (Soul Calibur) -

     Soul Calibur was an amazing game, almost totally rewriting  the slower paced, Virtua Fighter-like Soul Edge into a fast paced game with so much freedom and variety that anyone could pick it up and play.  Provided, of course, they did not play as Ivy.

     Ivy was slow, had very few combos, and had a very awkward weapon; a sword that would turn into a whip seemingly at random.  Those foolish enough to choose her simply based on her sexy outfit were in for a world of pain and humiliation.

     Once you learn how to play her though people will hate you.  Living off of the patented 8-way run technology Ivy annoyed everyone from a distance; stabbing, tripping, and whipping with her wacky, demon-forged sword.  She could pull you in from afar, run you through, and then kick you in the back of the head with her spiked heels, sending you tumbling over the side of the ring feeling stupid and used.

     Ivy featured a wonderful, anime-like dominating laugh and beady pupils which fit perfectly because she was insane.  She’s also the daughter of Cervantes.  Anybody related to Cervantes gets bonus points.

     - Astaroth (Soul Calibur) -

     Jeez, three characters from the Soul Edge universe and what?  One from Street Fighter?  I’m sure that enrages somebody but who cares, it’s my damn list.  Get your own so you can put all of the Akumas and Guiles you want on it.  Loser.

     Astaroth belongs on this list for one reason and one reason alone.  He’s a big slow character who I can totally kick people’s butts with.  I realize that might seem like two reasons but that’s only if you’re reading too much into an article about the favorite fighting game characters of someone you probably don’t even know.  Loser.

     Player 2 using the Player 1 weapon, that’s my formula for destruction.  A big, purple demon wearing a faceless mask, sporting what appear to be natural rock formations protruding from his back, and wielding an axe that is nothing more than a giant slab of metal attached to a large tree branch.  He will hurt you and make you cry.

     Very few fighting games make you really feel or at least flinch at the on-screen attacks.  Samurai Shodown does this quite well with it’s magic slow down and grotesque sound effects.  Soul Calibur uses sound, lighting, and, best of all, body language to express just how painful it is for Maxi to be struck across the face with the broadside of a giant axe.

     Coincidentally Astaroth also giggles a lot.  I’m starting to notice a small trend in my favorite characters having dark senses of humor.

     - Team Ikari (Ralf, Clark, Leona, Heidern, and I guess Whip) (King of Fighters series) -

     Who does SNK think they are kidding?  Team Ikari is nothing without Ralf and Clark.  Having survived their battle with generic jungle-themed troops and, um, space aliens, apparently the US Army or whoever decided that having them secretly enter a street fighting tournament would help them locate the current evil bad guy of the world.  You’d think it might be a little obvious to these evil bad guys seeing an elite squad of army commandos join the tournament you set up but they’re probably too busy printing out detailed copies of their plans to take over the world and methods of stopping them to pass out as promotional flyers at the afore mentioned tournaments.

     Anyhow, Ralf and Clark are brilliant.  Not literally, of course, which becomes pretty obvious when they first appear, striking Power Ranger like special poses or screaming for no apparent reason.  Ralf is definitely the cooler of the two, whipping out his bandana and screaming at it before each match.  Clark’s got sunglasses and a hat which I guess is cool if you’re an 80’s airforce pilot stereotype.  If there were a KOF yaoi doujinshi (which there are) starring Ralf and Clark (which should never, ever be) Ralf would definitely be the spastic little boy and Clark the tall, silent, brooding child molester.

     Signature moves for the two include Ralf’s amazing machine gun punch (think Fist of the Northstar except with strange explosions and fire) which he can do while moving across the screen without actually moving his legs and Clarks ten minute long suplex of death where he chucks you into the air for pretty much the entire match and then makes fun of your mother.  Yeah, I’m probably exaggerating that last bit but if you get caught in this thing that’s pretty much what it feels like.

     - Wan-Fu (Samurai Shodown 2) -

     Wan-Freaking-Fu.  He pretty much sucked in the first game being nothing more than a fat man from China with a sword which are a dime a dozen in fighting games (not really, but whatever).  Who could have known that replacing his weapon with a large stone pillar would make him so great?  Suddenly his attacks just felt like they did twenty times more damage (partially thanks to the game’s clever though quite possibly inadvertent use of slow down).  He’d smack you across the face with it, fling it down from the air like a blazing meteorite, or even whack his head against it to charge his super meter.

     I’m sure the pillar has some sort of story behind it, like it was taken from the castle of his ancestors and contains the remains of his late brother’s daughter who he accidentally killed while throwing his old sword around at random, however it doesn’t matter.  It’s a giant rock and he hurts people with it then laughs as if he’s reading from a cue card.  "Ha ha ha ha," he yells, pausing in between each "ha."

     - Jacky and Sarah Bryant (Virtua Fighter series) -

     Virtua Fighter proved to be a very difficult decision as far as who my favorite characters were.  Pai and Lau Chan were a close second, but Jeffery McWild and Wolf uh…Wolf somebody were also considerations.  Then there’s Kage, Aoi, and Vanessa.  Curse you, AM2!

     Jacky and Sarah beat the others, though, because of a few reasons.  Both are quite playable and possess some painful moves (such as Jacky’s back breaker and Sarah’s, um, nut breaker?).  Both also sport magical catch phrases.  For example:

     Jacky: “I’m faster than lightning”

     or
     
     “Yeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaah”

     Sarah: “Better run home to momma now.”

     or

     “haHahaAHAHAhahhaHA!”

     Jacky was also the arch nemesis of Kage when my friend Jay and I would battle to the death in old games of Fighter’s Megamix.  In the game’s story line he’s a race car driver seeking to help his amnesiac sister (Sarah, duh) who, coincidentally, is trying to kill him.

     I’ll also state right here, right now, that Sarah’s character model in the arcade version of VF4 is the best looking model in any 3D fighting game to date.  Seriously.

     So, that’s it.  You may be disappointed by the fact that there are only nine entries here but if you’re actually reading this list chances are that you are more than used to disappointment by now.

7/15/05 01:02 pm - This is heaven...

     To mix things up a bit I loaded a Japanese television station this morning while I took to my monotonous and demeaning tasks.  I’ve tried this before but apparently every channel features the same programming all of which doesn’t go past midnight.  Apparently the Japanese haven’t discovered the wonders of infomercials or M*A*S*H yet.

     The program that was playing featured movie trailers.  Actually it featured two hosts (male host and female "hai" host) who would drone on and on about a movie trailer while holding up a picture of the movie’s poster.  Eventually they’d show the actual trailer but I couldn’t help but wonder what the heck could they (well, he) be talking about for so long.

     Male host: “Well, that was certainly an interesting trailer, wasn’t it?”

     Hai host   : “Yes, I agree.”

     Male host: “You know what that trailer reminded me of?”

     Hai host   : “Yes?”

      
Male host: “This little poster for the trailer.”

     Hai host   : “Yes, I felt the same way.”

     Male host: “Sometimes I wonder to myself what babies taste like.”

     Hai host   : “Yes, so do I.”

     Male host: “Ha!  I knew it!  You’re just agreeing with everything I say!  In fact, your lips aren’t even moving!  You’re using a tape recorder!”

     Hai host   : “Yes, I felt the same way.”

     I think one movie was called Love, Divine or In Love, Divine or something with Love and Divine in the title.  It’s a simple story of a Japanese Christian priest questioning his faith when he discovers a girl getting drunk off of the blood of Christ.  I’m not making that up and I’m fairly sure that’s accurate.  Anyhow, he feels love for the first time but she’s a wild girl and they have troubles but then they get married at the end.  Yeah, the trailer kind of ruined the suspense for me so I guess I’m crossing that one off of my list.

     After about three hours of discussion they show another trailer for a movie titled The Doll Master.  Sure enough, that’s what it is.  Some creepy person making dolls and apparently killing people.  Kind of like Puppet Master except without Ms. Leech.  They started talking about this one, too, but I couldn’t take it anymore so I went back to my beloved by default radio station Beach FM.

     I had forgotten it’s Yellow Beat Friday which sucks because Yellow Beat always plays some pretty interesting music and I had already missed an hour of it.  I did catch that the past two weeks have been pre-recorded so next week should be the real deal.  I, for one, may personally puddle myself.  I wish they would stop calling me a yellow beatnik, though.  It’s just wrong on so many levels, not least of which is that they don’t actually play beatnik music.  Well, not much of it, anyway.

     Improve Your English is the final show of the evening and though it wasn’t as riveting as the last lesson I discovered some interesting things.  For starters I never knew the Monkees’ Day Dream Believer could be used as a teaching device.  Again, no where near as cool or obscure as last weeks Dancing Queen but I guess they have to tone things down every now and again.

     They didn’t really focus on a phrase rather just the first line of the song and only once.  I’m not sure what they were trying to prove with “Oh I could hide ‘neath the wings of the blue bird as she sings, the 6 o’clock alarm would never ring” but who am I to argue with a group that taught me not to be a stepping stone.  NO GIRL, NOT ME!

     Seeing this lesson fail to create even the slightest interest it was definitely time for Speaking Love in English.  This is Skank Lady the Wonder Slut’s time to shine.  “I’m in heaven” is the phrase but don’t be afraid to mix it up with “I’ll be in heaven” or go really nuts with “I’m in seventh heaven.”  It’s recommended that you can use these in strip clubs.  That’s not a joke, they seriously said this.

     All of this heaven talk was prompted by Heaven is a Place on Earth by Belinda Carlyle.  Skanky pronounced it as Heaven is a Place on Arse which I think would have made a great song.

     The lesson is closed off with what they call an ending phrase.  An ending for what?  A date?  A naughty encounter?  A successful separation of Siamese twins?  The phrase “this is heaven” is recommended but the thing is they never actually act out how you should use it, just when.  It’s like dating for robots or better still the "No time to lose" Monty Python sketch.

     Sadly the show quickly ended but not before a random lady screams “It’s fun!” at you possibly trying to remind / persuade you that learning English is a hip thing to do.  If only it was that easy…we can’t even get our own people to learn English.  Do you know where all bad grammar goes?  It goes to the internet forums where we all suffer.

7/11/05 02:30 pm - Respect and the Female Gamer

     Rachel and I have been talking a lot lately about a particular personality making her rounds in the trendy side of the gaming community.  Essentially it’s a woman in what seems to be a fairly early mid-life crisis exploiting the hell out of her looks and friends with photography experience claiming that she is an extreme gamer, if not the ultimate female gamer.

     Of course when you read anything by her or, god forbid, are unfortunate enough to catch an interview you’ll quickly realize that she has no authority to back up her claims and is just using generally accepted ill-informed opinions as a crutch to support and promote herself.

     She’s either fairly clever or truly an egotistical moron but the point is, partly thanks to gaming fansite IGN, she’s become somewhat of a celebrity and her opinions and god awful stereotypes are being heard.

     Far be it from me to deny someone the right to speak their opinion but right now it just seems harmful as her message is clear that female gamers are just like her (over sexed and with a mind rivaling a 13 year-old boy) or at least should be.  The message is, of course, going out to all of those people too young or simply dumb enough to believe it.

     She’ll fade out, ourse, but the whole deal has made me think about how ridiculous some of these supposed game journalism sites are.  I recently came across an ad for a site looking to build a female gaming team supposedly for journalistic purposes.  Here are the requirements:

     -Your real name
     -Your age
     -Your location
     -Type of game your best at
     -Type of game your horrible at
     -Favorite game title
     -Least favorite game title
     -A photograph (340x450)
     -A friend you feel might be interested in joining and their email (optional).

     Aside from the fact that there is nothing listed about having any sort of writing ability (after all, they’re just girls) they want a picture.  Why?  Do they ask for pictures of their male writers?
 
     Either the message is already there or it’s getting through.  Female game journalists don’t require ability or even knowledge rather they just have to look good or have clever photographers.

7/8/05 10:00 am - Thanks, I get that alot...

     Throughout the day I check in on the Hayama Marina (where their webcam is pointed) to make sure everything’s okay.  Sadly the great glowing tri-force has lost it’s power and a boat has been gone since yesterday but I’m confident it’ll be back.  Oh god I hope it comes back.

     Anyhow, Friday nights on Beach FM are something special, apparently.  First there’s a two hour program of music called Yellow Beat hosted by an exceptionally flaming male DJ who only speaks in Japanese and an unlawfully young sounding female DJ who speaks in a slow, Resident Evil-style English.  The show itself is actually really cool despite the bizarre beatnik overtones, being a random mishmash of songs from all over the world that are actually quite enjoyable.

     After Yellow Beat there’s a program called, and I need you to think this is being said by the Monty Python crew, Improve Your English.  This is the most brilliant piece of radio programming ever were you to mistake the definition of the word brilliant with stupid.

     It’s hosted by one guy and two women.  From what I can tell the guy’s role is that of Mr. English, omnipotently spewing forth his knowledge of the alien language.  We’ll call the first woman the hai girl because that’s all she does.  Mr. English will say something and not two words into his sentence she’ll bust in with half-a-dozen hais.  I’ve noticed this a lot in Japanese programming.  News shows in particular where there are two anchors, male and female, and the woman’s primary role is to sit there and agree with whatever the guy is saying. 

     Anchor Bob: “In today’s news…”

     Anchor Jill: “Yes.  Yes.  Yes.”

     Anchor Bob: “umm…a massive earthquake…”

     Anchor Jill: “Yes.”

     Anchor Bob: “ravaged southern Japan…”

     Anchor Jill: “Yes, yes.  Yes.”

     Anchor Bob: “killing thousands…”

     Anchor Jill: “YES!  Yes.”

     Anchor Bob: “including Jill’s family.”

     Anchor Jill, looking rather sad: “…Yes.”

     The second woman’s job seemed primarily to giggle and then admit in English that she’s a slut.

     But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Today’s lesson begins with the ever important English phrase “dig in.”  Examples of using “dig in” in everyday conversation include the threatening “you had better dig in” and the strange “I have to dig in my homework today.”

     The learning of this phrase is justified with the use of the song Dancing Queen by someone I don’t really care enough about to spend the effort to look up.  They then study various lines from the song including “you can dance,” “you can jive,” “having the time of your life,” “see that girl?,” “watch that scene,” and “diggin' the dancing queen.”

     Far be it from me to criticize learning a language from unorthodox sources (see: anime) however this song doesn’t even make any sense in English, not to mention no one has used the word “jive” since the 70s, so trying to decipher just what “diggin' the dancing queen” means is kind of futile.  Plus she's not really saying "dig in" but "digging" which kind of ruins the whole lesson.

     Moving right along we get the second most important English phrase you could ever know and should repeat many times upon meeting your first English speaking person, “you are a great lover.”

     Mind you the definition of “lover” can be a little vague as it could simply mean a girlfriend/boyfriend or, a bit more scandalous, someone who’s sole function is to, um, do stuff.  Like, naughty stuff.  Sex, okay?!  There, I said it.  Are you happy now?  Anyhow it all depends on the context, really.

     How should one reply to this?  Oh I am so glad you asked.  “Thank you,” you should say, “I get that a lot.”

     Wow.  If my lover replied this way I might think it’s time to consider a new lover, perhaps one who isn’t as much of a player, or at least get a medical check up.

     The show ended with before and after versions of English phrases spoken with a Japanese accent.  “Sank you berry muchu,” for example, becomes “thank you very much.”  Huzzah!  Of course, after this is done the hosts sank us berry muchu for listening.  They really should dig in there own lessons more.

7/5/05 02:37 pm - Beach FM

     From over a day in the past I sit here listening to the future; some tomorrow,  3:15 am.  I realize I’ve probably just screwed up the space-time continuum but oh well, things happen.

     My CD drive at work has died which had forced me to seek alternative methods of keeping sane.  A long time ago when the World Wide Web was still new and fresh and I was very much a virgin in the ways of the internet for animated GIFs would fill me with glee I did a search for Japanese radio stations.  I found one, Beach FM.  It was a jazz station complete with web cam out of somewhere in Japan.

     Being years ago I figured maybe if I looked today I could find a million different stations with all of the latest, wacky Jpop.  I found Beach FM.

     That’s not entirely true.  I did find one channel that claimed to be “adult contemporary” but was looping a single song from what I swear had to be an early-90’s CD-based video game.  I also found a multitude of Japanese news and talk stations that are, for some reason, in Japanese so these weren’t all that.

     So Beach FM at 3 am (Japan time) it is.  No commercials, no DJs, just lots of old, OLD smooth, easy-listenin’ AMERICAN songs.  The web cam is still active and even producing much better footage than I remember.  Granted, it’s 3 am so all I see is a giant, green-tinted spotlight, or possibly the triforce, and its reflection on what I can only assume is the ocean.  Everything is black.  Again I am reminded of early CD-based games.

     The funny thing is it’s actually pretty relaxing despite being the type of music you’d expect to here in the background of a movie supposedly set in the 40s.

     Here’s to you, Beach FM.  When I finally make it to Japan I’ll be sure to stop by to let you know that I’ve listened to you a couple times within at least a period of ten years and both times I was amused.

6/30/05 10:13 am - Rachel

     A little over three years ago I met this hauntingly cute girl named Rachel.  We would become good friends almost immediately and hints of something more would present themselves over the following few months.

     Of course, at the time I was rather oblivious to all of this.  My senses and emotions had been sterilized by a downward spiraling relationship that I had put myself in for years prior.  The small group of friends that I became close to (the Collective, we called ourselves) had helped me tremendously through this difficult period of my life and I will always be thankful though we all have now gone our separate ways since college.  Well, almost all.

     Rachel and I had become very close without me even realizing it.  My heart was feeling love, true love, for the first time ever but my mind would either try to ignore it or simply just not understand.

     Then one night she told me something that I have never forgotten.  She told me that she liked me for who I was, that there was nothing she would want changed because then I wouldn’t be myself.  That’s when my mind finally understood or possibly even let me understand what my heart had been feeling for quite sometime: I loved Rachel and she truly loved me.

     There are many definitions for love depending upon who it is in relation to.  The love I feel with Rachel is incredible.  It’s about trust, honesty, respect, and genuine concern for one another.  It’s about sharing feelings, having fun, and unconsciously bringing smiles to our faces when we think of one another.

     Sometimes I feel bad and even a little guilty when friends tell me about problems they are having with their significant others.  Rachel and I have had misunderstandings but I honestly don’t remember a time when we ever fought aside from who gets to buy the other dinner.  Being a giant nerd I was going to bring up a World of Warcraft example but even there we’re amicable (and we’ve found some really nice items while questing together, too).

     All of the above and more of my personal feelings that are none of your business, thank you very much, contributed to this decision: Rachel is the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with.  Honestly I think we both have felt the same way for each other for quite some time but I wanted to make these feelings a more vocal, permanent promise.

     After months of planning and waiting the day came.  We were visiting Disney World for the second time together.  The first time, over a year ago, was amazing.  Toward the end of an exhausting day we were on our way to reserve a spot in some ride’s line when we were ambushed by a fantastic display of fireworks.  We were away from the center of the park so we were essentially alone marveling at this spectacular display.  We held each other the entire time.  I don’t remember if we said anything or not as we were both so unprepared for the display and the mood.  It was simply wonderful.

     I wanted that moment to be just as or even more special than last time.  All day I fought a nervousness in my stomach waiting for the evening to come so that the display would start and I could ask for my love’s hand in marriage.

     We rushed to our spot and began watching the fireworks.  The little cricket was going on about wishes which I had forgotten about but found ironic considering what I was about to do.  I told Rachel how much I loved her and asked if she really wouldn’t mind spending the rest of her life with me.  This is something we always ask one another which probably drives the single people crazy but whatever…my point is she wasn’t surprised.  I asked her if she wanted to make that a promise.  I think that’s when the surprise started to sink in.

     Dropping to one knee I presented a ring to Rachel as she backed up, tears already coming out of her eyes.  I asked if she would marry me and she replied by tackling me on the ground and saying yes many, many times.  Being June there were quite a few more people than the last presentation so we inadvertently had an audience who was vocally touched by the moment;  I hadn’t even considered that there would be people around when I did this.

     So, yeah, I’m engaged.  I’m engaged to the most wonderful woman in the world.  The nice side of me wishes that all of you find someone just as special but the mean, mocking side of me knows you won’t because I already have.  Ha-hah, suckers!

6/29/05 08:43 pm - Cancer

     I like to think I have a pretty good, if not bizarre, sense of humor.  I also, reluctantly, accept the fact that I am a big nerd justified by the fact that I owned Radiant Silvergun well before people decided it was the greatest shooter ever.

     I state the above because after watching the Leroy Jenkins World of Warcraft fan movie I feel like an unknown force just punched me in the stomach.  I feel like I have to take a shower in napalm, that’s how mind numbingly unfunny it is.  But people find it hilarious.  Perhaps because his battle cry was his name or, even simpler, people are really, really stupid.  To our species’ credit when I say “people” I really mean “people who post on the World of Warcraft forums” which I suppose speaks volumes.

     People find dumb stuff funny.  I accept this.  I’m guilty of this.  This wasn’t dumb or funny.  It wasn’t even funny because it wasn’t funny, like a really bad movie.  It was just kind of there, like watching a video of the server going down or of the login screen.  I promise you the game is way better than this and the video is certainly not a general representation of the population.  At least, I hope not.

6/17/05 01:25 pm - The Fear of Fan Service (or “How the Mainstream killed Manga”); Part 1

     I remember thinking how manga could save the comic industry here in the states.  Not that the industry needs particular saving, really, but perhaps a revitalization.  A sequential art form that can show this country that comics can be so much more than the stereotype they’ve turned themselves into.  Comics can be about anything and read by anyone.

     With the rise of Tokyo Pop and the overall dominance of the graphic novel shelves manga is bigger than it ever has been in the states.  Even publishing giants like DC have their own manga line that features actual Japanese stories written and drawn by Japanese creators which leads one to believe that maybe now they’re starting to get it.  I’m not saying it isn’t possible to learn from manga techniques and incorporate them into western works but none of the larger companies ever really got that and decided that poor emulation was simpler than thought out assimilation.

     But I digress; the companies are learning.  As they gain exposure, however, they are becoming increasingly weary of problems that could happen.  We’ve already seen “rated” manga which is understandable because yes, there is a difference between Berserk and What’s Michael.

     As an aside I’d like to point out that to this day I’ve only ever seen one parent actively participate in selecting manga with their children.  As simple as it was it was an awesome sight:  A father, probably in his mid-40s, discussing with his kids which issues of Sgt. Frog they’ve read.  Did you catch that?  They read the manga together!  Any fan service or non-American things that may happen can be discussed and explained right there!  No shocking discovery or 6 o’clock news segments about What Filth Your Kids may be Reading.

     The latter, of course, is what the companies fear.  It’s not the only thing but they don’t want to paint themselves as porn peddlers to children.  Hilariously enough there’s probably far more yaoi on the market now than H manga.  I bring this up because the comic, and American, definition of sex begins with nudity.  The mainstream doesn’t know how to handle nudity so many of the companies are simply choosing to censor these bits instead of allowing (or forcing) the mainstream to adjust.

     The law is another contributing factor.  It doesn’t matter if the character is 130 years old; if they are nude and in a manga they most likely look like they’re 14 except really well endowed.  Yes, I’m generalizing.  We’re looking through mainstream-glasses, now, so we need to generalize.

     Where does this leave us?  Who knows.  We’re being exposed to more and more manga which is good.  More and more manga is being cleverly censored which is bad.  Kind of.

     The American mainstream isn’t ready for nudity.  Violence we can deal with.  That’s been totally covered.  Despite various school shootings fictional violence continues to flourish.  So really, what are the consequences of nudity?

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6/14/05 10:00 am - Jason; Friend of Turtles Everywhere (Except the Virtual Ones)

     This morning I chose to wake up later than I usually do but earlier than I usually do when I choose to wake up later.  I also chose to skip a shower as I was curiously awake (and I smelled fairly fresh).  This all made it possible to leave simultaneously with Rachel which is pretty rare but really, really great.

     So off I go with my morning going fairly well.  Knowing that traffic’s going to be hilariously awful on the highway I decide to take the highway anyway.  On the road that leads to the great granite trail of inertia I saw something in the middle lane that was kind of moving.  First I thought it was a hefty chunk of trash in the street, but as I got closer it was quite obvious it was a huge turtle!  In the middle of a busy road full of careless drivers!

     Without thinking too much I pulled half heartedly into the back entrance driveway of a strip mall, flipped on my hazard lights (I parked across the drive way), and ran back to the turtle in the road.  Thankfully we were both ahead of traffic so I had time to pick him up (heavy little guy) and run him to the ditch over the curb in the direction he was slowly heading.

     Naturally he hid in his shell and remained there even after I set him down.  Still, it was a relief just to get him out of the road.

     As I went back to the car, happy with my little rescue, I thought about all of the unusual things that happened this morning, small as they were, that would have prevented me from rescuing this turtle had I done even a single item the same as always.

     Fate or coincidence, I was just really grateful that I could help him.  It’s at least got to make up for all of the turtles I’ve been helping Rachel hunt in World of Warcraft.

6/1/05 03:11 pm - The Legend of Lawsuits

            I said a while ago that South Korea would eventually be a powerhouse for game development.  I still stand by that as their ability to emulate and improve never ceases to amaze me.  Check out Wiki, a MMORPG that looks exactly like Zelda: Windwaker.  It’s not trying to look like it…it is Zelda.  It’s not, of course, but it is.  Confused?

 

            How could you possibly resist creating a character in a universe that looks like Windwaker?  It’s so painfully cute!  I don’t know if they’re using the neat smoke and water affects but I would bet money that yeah, it’ll be there only somehow better.

 

            Check out some of the other games while you’re there.  Sun, for example, looks incredible.  It puts the supposed “realistic” MMORPGs to shame.  It’s not terribly original but good lord does it look a whole lot nicer than anything coming out. I would guess, however, that it would probably play a lot like Guild Wars in the sense that it’s not quite massively multiplayer.

 

            If I only had the slightest interest in living in South Korea I might start trying to send portfolios there.  That’s not true…I know nothing about South Korea; living standards, the language, the economy, the possibility of being invaded or blown up by North Korea…all I know is that their gaming industry is really starting to rock.  That and most animation companies farm their stuff out to there.

 

            Hmmm…

 

5/21/05 04:10 pm - Revenge of the Freaking Sith

     I never thought I’d feel myself emotionally drained by Star Wars.  I mean, it’s Star Wars.  It’s the type of movie that you can forgive the bits of bad acting and silly lines because it’s just a whole lot of fun to watch.

     This one, though, left me in awe.  I’m fresh from it so give me sometime before I begin picking it apart but right now I feel vindicated.  If there’s one thing that bothers me about stories I love it’s when the bad guys turn into wimps.  Star Control 3 turned the Ur-Quan, a genocidal, xenophobic race of twenty foot long caterpillars who managed to conquer the entire galaxy, into subservient allies.  Most of Star Trek: Voyager turned the Borg, the once unstoppable, mindless horde bent on nothing more than enhancing their own race by assimilating others into themselves, into free-thinking, double-dealing drones that could only cause fear in people with pacemakers.

     Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, however, turned Darth Vader from “menacing tough guy” to “really freakin’ powerful, evil, and messed up badass.” 

     Brilliant.
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5/19/05 01:43 pm - ACME

     I swear with all the crap coming out of E3 if Capcom doesn’t release this stateside I’ll be one cranky old fart.  Well, crankier than I already am, that is.  I’d buy it simply based on the box art alone.  I’d probably have to import the beauty that is this Saturn control pad for the PS2.  If anything it’s further proof that the Saturn pad was the greatest game pad ever…at least when it came to 2D fighters.

     Still, you gotta love Sega.  Here’s the right way to use the pad and here’s the wrong way.  Personally, I think the wrong way is awesome.

     …

     Actually, I’m tempted to just get that controller and one of those devices that allow you to hook up multiple console controllers to your PC.  Then I could actually play some of those…umm…emulated games.  That I own.  Hey, I own Vampire Savior and Night Warriors for the Saturn so none of your lip!  It was called Night Warriors, wasn’t it?  I guess it makes more sense than just Vampire 2.

5/17/05 03:48 pm - The Era of HD has begun!

     I’m currently watching the Microsoft E3 press conference.  I’ll give you a live write up because there’s not much else to do except sit here and look miserable.  It’s pretty hilarious (the conference, not work).  Kim just appeared and is telling us that she’s going to show us the future of gaming which involves her controlling not only her games but also her friends.  Kim sounds like a great person.

     I’m skipping ahead…it’s getting worse.  Currently a guy with no chin is telling us, surprise, that now he’s going to show us the future of gaming.

     Peter Moore looks like a con artist or a loan shark.  Definitely a greasy bad guy of some sort.

     Xbox 360.  Still a stupid name.  Xbox 360 will define how people play.  Games.  And have fun.  That’s exactly what Chinless said.  Not the stupid name part.  That was me.  He’s now touting Halo 2’s prowess which I can’t argue.  I just wish the game was better.

     Applause.

     Xbox is setting new standards with new games such as…Dead or Alive?  New?  It was a Model 2 game back in, what, 1995?

     Ah, finally, looking at new games.  New games for the Xbox, that is.  Half-Life 2.  A bunch of sports games.  A lot of Dynasty Warrior-type fighters.  It’s funny, you can tell which games are Xbox exclusive because no matter how lame they might be at least they look really nice.  And a bunch of first person shooters.

     "What a fantastic line-up of games,” Chinless says.  Idiot.

     Ah, there, he said it.  Xbox 360 will be backwards compatible with the top selling Xbox games.  Madden fans need not worry!  Jet Set Radio Future fans are pretty screwed…but I guess that was a given, really.

     Crap.  The more I think about it the more I want a new Jet Set Radio.  That’d be wonderful.

     Xbox 360 will be out this year in the US, Europe, and some country called Japan.  The Xbox 360 was built with a dream, says he.  The dream was pretty crappy.  Something about converting thought into market leadership.  I don’t know, it didn’t sound all that great of dream.  Certainly nowhere close to, say, Martin Luther King’s dream.  Ooh, Dead or Alive 4.

     Dead or Alive 4 looks very, very pretty.  The screenshots that have been floating around really don’t do it much justice because, being screenshots, they’re very static.  For the most part there is a lot of movement in the game…something is always happening.

     The new female wrestler is, by far, my new favorite character.  She bounces.  Well, everyone bounces, but I mean she’s constantly hopping and dancing around…kind of like Elena from Street Fighter 3: Third Strike.

     Bass just got hit by a car.  That was pretty amusing.  Are they still using CG?  What a waste!  You’d think as pompous and arrogant as Itagaki is he’d stop using the lame CG cinemas.  Even DOA2 was gorgeous enough to justify real-time.

     The sad thing is now they’re showing these wacky, action-platformer CG cinematics about Ryu casting fireballs at giant robots or something and Hayate slicing through a dozen armed guards and dodging lasers.  That’s not in the game so why are you showing it?  This goes against a statement Itagaki made about fighting games trying to be too much (see: Tekken and it’s Force mode).

     Oh well, enough of that.  Now a bald guy, J Allard, I believe is his name, is telling us that there will be between 45 and a million games released by the end of the year for the Xbox 360.  I am, of course, exaggerating but I do this because never in the history of gaming has any company ever been even close to right on this particular statistic.  I could be wrong, but I don’t feel like checking my facts right now.

     Whoa.  Things just got weird.

     Okay, Alucard here is explaining that 30 years ago 2D games were born and families gathered ‘round TVs to play.  The number of people were in the tens of millions.  Then came 3D games and suddenly we’re in the hundreds of millions.  Going to 3D, says Alucard, narrowed the audience (going from 10 million to 100 million doesn’t really count as narrowing but whatever, baldy).  Now, in order for apparent world domination, we’re going into the HD era.

     Exactly.

     There’s the second dimension, the third dimension, and the…high dimension?  Talk about narrowing your audience.  Let’s see what else he as to say.

     The HD era is about connecting to your community and personalizing your experience.  It’s about unleashing the creative power of human energy.

     I’d like to make an aside and mention that both 2D and 3D do the above but HD does it shinier.  There, my speech is WAY better than the son of Dracula’s here.

     One BILLION people.  That’s the goal of the HD era.

     Light, unemotional applause.

     The 18-34 year-old male is the backbone of the industry.  I can’t argue this but I really, really want to.  How damning is that statistic?  This is why games like Grand Theft Auto are popular, people.

Xbox 360 will push gaming back into the mainstream.  Push BACK?  Where has it been these past eight years?  I should pay attention more.

     The more I watch Alucard the more I realize he looks and even sounds like a professor I had in college named Ted Stern.  He was a mean, spiteful little man but brutally honest and an excellent teacher.  I heard he made a couple people cry but this wasn’t terribly uncommon in the Sequential Art department.  Yeah, Stern was cool.  You could never tell if he was joking or not which made him really scary but because of this you couldn’t impress (and by that I mean suck up to) him the way other students would to other teachers (on a side note, all of our professors were really great people but I despised the idol worship some of them promoted).  It was funny to watch people try, though.

     Anyhow, let’s see what Ted’s (yes, I’ve changed his name again) is talking about now.  Jeez, listen to this guy.  It’s just a freakin’ game system!  The way he’s talking about it you’d think it was Jesus with controller ports.

     Good, they’re explaining why they chose the name 360.  It’s because the player is always at the center of the stage.

      


     What?

     Anyway, they’re showing the wonders of the HD era which involves being able to pull up little windows while playing a game to see who else is online.  Microsoft has, of course, done this before except then they called it multitasking.  I haven’t once heard it used this speech.

     Ted’s now sitting down on the stage (performing a 360?).  I think he just has to go to the bathroom.

     Here’s the big deal about HD.  It’s AOL.  Hooray!

     The hardcore gamer is the person who wants to crush everyone online.  Casual is somebody who doesn’t really play games.  Hmm…what would I be, then?  Casualcore?  Hardsual?  Their example of the casual gamer, by the way, is a girl.  Woo-hoo stereotypes!

     Here we go.  Talking about the marketplace.  The place where you BUY freakin’ VIRTUAL CONTENT!  Oh my god, it gets worse.  I need to pause it for this.  Listen to this example and cringe: I could design a skate park in Tony Hawk and a sticker for your board and SELL THEM ONLINE.  FOR MONEY.  It’s a legal nightmare.  It apparently targets the casual gamer, however.

     Do I see it working.  Probably.  Do I want it to work?  Not at all.  That’s just awful.  Awful, awful, awful…

     Xbox 360 will have video chat.  You don’t have to only hear that annoying punk on the red team, now you can SEE him!

     I missed a joke.  Something about being able to hook everything known to man up to the Xbox 360 including competitors hardware.  People clapped and wooed but really now, I don’t think Sony camcorders are direct competition with Microsoft video game systems.

     It’s also a DVD player.  You think?

     You can go on-line and order movies and music.  Essentially it’s a cable box with e-mail.

     That’s odd.  I just got a message stating that due to the proprietary information of the following content the broadcast has been temporarily suspended but will resume in a few moments.  I can only assume he’s now taken off his pants and is performing very lewd acts to the machine.  Just another possibility in the HD era.

     Ah crap, cancel that.  Apparently it was just Bill Gates making some bad joke.  I think it’s funny enough that he was removed from this portion of the broadcast.

     The message being sent is that the Xbox isn’t about gaming…it’s about marketing and style.  He’s talking about face plates right now.  Custom face plates for the freakin’ box.

     Yay, it’s Peter Moore.  I can’t quite get his accent.  Kind of British, kind of drunk.  He’s talking about Zen and running right now.  Who writes this crap?

     The controller is an extension of your body, a gateway to the Zen of gaming.  Make him stop.

     Finally, more games.  Maybe.

     Lost Odyssey by good ol’ Hironubu Sakaguchi.  The man who gave us Final Fantasy: The Movie.  Thank god, for a moment I thought they might actually show game play.  Nope, not here!  We’ll show you CG movies that give you no idea of what the system is capable of, thank you very much.

     People applaud.  They’re stupid.  Maybe the felt the Zen.

     Every Xbox 360 will have HD support.  Every game MUST have anti-aliasing.  2D is dead, you cretins.  Get over it!  HD FOR LIFE!

     Project Gotham Racing 3.  Or 4.  I don’t know.  It’s a racing game.  Not exactly the most difficult or creative concept in the gaming industry.  Yes…we are being shown cars racing on a street.  Perhaps I should be excited over the level of detail on said street but come on, it’s just a racing game.  It’s not even like Outrun where the object is to impress your girlfriend.

     Changing gears, says he, we have…Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 3.  You know, even with the highly inappropriate techno music blasting through the demo the game still looks really, really boring.  People seem impressed.  Must be more of that Zen thing going around

     Sports!  Visual Concepts NBA 2K6.  It has a hip hop soundtrack.  It looks like basketball.  The jerseys are actually separate models from the players.  It’s still basketball, though.

     Perfect Dark Zero from the we-paid-to-much-for-this-company Rare.  Essentially they’re trying to not only replace Halo but also Golden Eye.  Oops, too bad you won’t get to see it because we’re going to show you Kameo instead; the game that was a Gamecube exclusive then an Xbox exclusive and now, apparently, an Xbox 360 exclusive.  It won’t sell.  Maybe I missed the Perfect Dark Zero preview.  Hmmm…

     Call of Duty 2.  Don’t care.  It’s a historical shooter that looks just like every other historical shooter.  They all look like Saving Private Ryan.  Yeehaw.

     With the possible exception of Dead or Alive 4 (and that is certainly debatable) I haven’t seen anything that would really blow me out of the water and convince me that this is, indeed, the next generation of gaming.

     Marrowind, according to Peter Moore, was one of the best selling RPGs ever for the Xbox.  I agree, seeing as how the system has only had a total of five actual role playing games, four of which did not come out until quite a while after Marrowind was the ONLY RPG available.

     Holy crap.  This is what a next generation game should look like.  It doesn’t have much in the way of aesthetic but it still looks gorgeous.  Elder Scrolls IV looks amazing.  How will it play?  Like Marrowind, I’m sure.  So if that’s your thing, go nuts.  Patrick Stewart did the narration for the promo.  I like Patrick Stewart.

     Of course, Peter is going off on how amazing it’ll be to have and RPG as a launch title.  He doesn’t realize that it’s a long, complicated RPG and not a fruity, angst-filled teenage-aimed Japanese RPG which, in fact, would be a big deal.  Someone should probably tell him.

     Gears of War or something uses the Unreal 3 engine.  The Unreal 3 engine is also very next generation and very pretty.  The game itself doesn’t look to exciting but whatever.

     Now I’m just disgusted.  Moore began this little speech about how great companies such as Sega, Namco, and Atari (questionable) are part of the Xbox team but there’s one, one company that outshines them all.  One that is responsible for such industry evolving titles like…Madden.

     Yes, he’s talking about the borg-like collective of repetitive game publishers, Electronic Arts.  Oh look, they even invited a president from EA.  I hate him, too.  He’s telling jokes.  I hate him more.  They just brought on a giant football player from the Oakland Raiders.  I want to stab this man, now.  The Oakland raiders will revolutionize the gaming industry.  They’re adlibbing.  It’s really stupid.

     I’m starting to miss Trip Hawkins.

     Mr. EA is failing to mention that every single game the release on the Xbox will be released on every other system known to man.  Oh yay, they’re about to show a montage.  I may need to change my shorts.

     Why are they going to call the Godfather game “The Godfather: The Game?”  Why are they even making a Godfather game?  Also why do all the soccer players in FIFA look like nazi soldiers out of uniform?

     Most of the footage looks like cinema.  I would be surprised if it wasn’t.

     Ah, here we go.  Need for Speed: Most Wanted seems to be the only actual game play.  It doesn’t look that great.  Not bad, but not great.

     They’re applauding again.  Maybe they’re drunk.

     EA-Man says there’s more of where this came from.  Thanks, EA!  We know!

     Moving right along, Square-Enix will be publishing Final Fantasy XI for the Xbox 360.  This is pretty big news, actually, despite them making the game seem more exciting than it actually is.  If they can get Square-Enix exclusive games that are good they’ll be rocking.

     The president of Square-Enix is and speaking.  His English is extremely entertaining.  I don’t have a clue what he’s talking about.  He does sound exceptionally liquored up.  I think he’s talking about making games for the Xbox 360…he’s obviously reading at gun point, too, because he’s praising the Xbox as much as Stern was.

     Anyhow, here’s the…wait, wait…he wants to share with us what he thinks the future of gaming will be like.  This is going to be awesome!  Anyone remember those hilarious Play Online commercials a few conventions ago that also showed us the future of gaming?  You know, the one where a boy and girl meet in Final Fantasy XI, fall in love, get married, and then, presumably, get divorced after they realize how stupid they were to marry a random stranger in a video game?  This should be great!

     Oh, never mind.  It’s just this real-time demo of a giant, fantasy city.  Looks a hell of a lot better than that stupid FF7 tech demo.  Just as short, though.

     AH!  The chinless is back.  By now my mind is pudding so I’m not even pretending to care about what he’s talking about.  He’s using “digital entertainment” a lot.  They have the passion and the products, they say.  It’s on, they also say.

     Oh, what’s this…last minute game footage?  Quake 4?  Lots of stuff we’ve seen before?  A lot of multi-console ports? Nazi soccer?

     And that’s it.  That’s the future of gaming.  Two, possibly three games that actually look like they’re next generation and the rest…slightly updated versions of games we’ve been playing.

     And, of course, digital entertainment.

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