Friday, October 24, 2008

anguished howls from the front office

[from: Bay Area News Group 23oct2k8, B3, "Watson hurts elbow in exhibition", Thompson II, Marcus]

This is going to be fun for Nelson, right, molding and shaping all the Warriors' young talent? Wrong.

"I'm uncomfortable simply because we have so many young players," Nelson said. "This is a situation where our team is very green. There are a lot of situations they can hurt you. And we understand that.

"A year ago, I knew exactly what I had," he added. "I had veterans who came in who attended to business. This year, we're different. We're green and growing. We've got a lot of development to do here with our younger players. I would prefer a veteran team, you know, an ass-kicking veteran team that would have a chance to win a title is what I deserve at 68, I would think. But that's not what we have here. We have a younger team that needs development, and that could be fun. I enjoy watching younger kids get better. Look at Wright. That guy took a year of training, and now he's able to play an NBA game."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The hell? Fat-at-Comicon. Part 2 (of 2).

Fat's second and final day of field note submissions from Comicon.
Mo Cheeks is eating
breakfast where we are.
10:51AM Sat, Jul 26

This guy walking by just
issued this huge belch
and didn't excuse
himself. Mo and I
exchanged disapproving
eye contact and
11:11AM Sat, Jul 26

Ben Edlund autograph!
'I'm a huge fan. I think
yer a genius.' 'Uhm. I'll
take it.'
1:02PM Sat, Jul 26


Friday, July 25, 2008

The hell? Fat-at-Comicon. Part 1.

Fat's in SanDiego at Comicon. He took the time to file some field notes.
Tshirt idea: got
9:42AM Fri, Jul 251

Caution: Seaman shirt
10:36AM Fri, Jul 25

Scott Shaw! and Sergio
Aragones booth to
Booth! I'm seriously a
little starstruck.
11:06AM Fri, Jul 25

Rom back issues. SO
yoinking these!
11:45AM Fri, Jul 25

Captain Sisko! Freaking!
1:54PM Fri, Jul 25

Venture Bros panel! Line
insane, am skipping it.
3:46PM Fri, Jul 25

Young woman
cosplaying as Dazzler.
Jesus wept. Not sure I'm
going back to-morrow.
5:23PM Fri, Jul 25


1 I responded to this:
Keep working on that
9:43AM Fri, Jul 25
because I didn't think it was very funny. Not that I thought it was offensive, just I think it particularly funny. Also, I had no coffee yet.

Fat wrote back:

Post it.
9:51AM Fri, Jul 25
Then, later, he "accidently" sent me this one…
DDT hated this joke,
but at Comicon, every
fifth shirt should read
'Got Asperger's?'
1:01PM Fri, Jul 25
To which I responded…
Well, that's funny. A shirt
by itself not so much.
1:04PM Fri, Jul 25
Because 'every 5th shirt' IS funny. Context!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

NBA Gaiden: Ben Gurion slouches toward Beth Lehem and buys her a drink

as the failing eyes of Stern David turn away, one thousand pointless voices strive to make a horrible joke about Brand Disloyalty

A prime tactic in Reviewieran praxis is the imposition of story on things perhaps not inherently narrative. Eventually--and it don't take long--that thing becomes so imbued with story-quality that it becomes difficult to partake of it without story. Which is why random NBA games between teams I'm not invested in are essentially unwatchable visual noise at this point.

Without context (backstory), the grace, athleticism, &c., no longer compels. Thus, we find ourselves languishing amongst Contradiction's Consequences:

turbulent stories being better than bland ones
and excellence/winning being bland
we prefer Bad Teams.

This Consequence befinds me in literal transition--from Portland to Oaktown--and DDT in transition away from the Blazers. Organizationally, they've become competent and aggressive, and in a crucial development, possess the resources to enact their visions! To put it another way:


I leave behind this Spurs-like assemblage I can neither fault nor care about.

My new position is perhaps more enviable, local to a Warriors team that bulletpoints like so:

  • not yet committed to its rebuilding status, as evidenced by blowing all their money on a guy just good enough to cost them ping-pong balls
  • 2 years ago, they posted the second-best first-round upset in league history
  • last year, they won more games than any lottery team in history
  • their coach, who's probably been doing this with mirrors, is on his way out
  • the rebuilding plan seems to consist of:
    building the team around the second-best Clipper of the last half-decade
  • BTW, the guy in charge of rebuilding? no longer an alcoholic, but now literally addicted to giving longish contracts to desperately replaceable NBA players:
    off the top of my head, Mullin's doled out 4 or more years to all of the following:
    Adonal Foyle
    Lil' Dun
    Troy Murphy
    Jason Richardson
    Derek Fisher
    Corey Maggette

Richardson aside, there's not a special player in the bunch, and even Richardson is a pretty pedestrian brand of special.

Whatever. The best part of the ride of a rollercoaster is the feeling of endless descent, the vertigo where friction yields wholly to gravity, and everything becomes inertial. Eventually, the Warriors'll bottom out, endure a series of sickening lurches, and clang to a halt. That'll probably be ten years from now, when I'll be ready to move again.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Balls Shot Off for a Cause

Animal Mother print (by d.d. tinzeroes)

It'd been a while since I watched any Kubrick, but recently I stayed up 2 late 1 night watching, of all things, A.I. on cable.

Frankly, I was shocked, SHOCKED! (I say) at the jarring transition from Kubrick's subtle, complicated meditations on robot ethics to Speelburgo's schmaltzly Pinocchio pastiche. The trauma was enough to (finally, I guess) make me realize, profoundly, the (totally obvious) detail + care of Kubrick's craftmanship.

I was quickly reminded of an article I had rushedly read regarding Full Metal Jacket at the library front desk during my college years. Said article detailed several scripted scenes which Kubrick never shot or chose to cut out of the final version of the film, mostly in direct reaction to critics' praise of Platoon.

Some rather painstaking internet research later, I was able to locate said article, key excerpts I quote hereafter, in the spirit of my previous bibliographic essay.1

1st up is a pair of cut scenes from the Parris Island sequence which, while not related to the "this-movie-is-not-Platoon" angle, do highlight what I'm talking about w/ Kubrick's killer instinct in dealing w/ ambiguities rather than holding the audience's hand in AI. In this case, in regards to Sgt. Hartman:
Two scenes were eliminated which would have made the drill instructor a monster: one where he nearly drowns Pyle in a bowl of urine, and one where he orders a recruit who has cut his wrists to clean up the mess he’s made before reporting to the doctor.2
One must confess, these 2 scenes would have been so over the top they would have made Hartman a bit of the cartoon, whereas instead his jocular language, while inducing giggles at 1st view, in fact are imbued w/ the meaty language of indoctrination to the ways of killing.

As interesting as this may be, the following selection is the 1 I have routinely semi-quoted whenever the conversation has turned to Full Metal Jacket in the last, oh, 8 years:

Kubrick during the year-long shoot stripped away the elements in his own script that made Joker someone with whom the audience could identify: his voiceovers reduced finally to four or five; the instinctive revulsion that impels him, in a scene that was either cut or never filmed, to kill an Arvin colonel who is murdering prisoners during the helicopter ride from Da Nang to Hue; and his death and burial, which would have concluded the film on an elegiac note – replaced here by the group-shot of soldiers singing the Mousketeer anthem that was originally planned for an earlier scene, after the assault on Hue.3

To sum:

1. Joker originally had more voiceovers;
2. Joker originally was to kill an officer murdering prisoners; +
3. Joker originally would have died at the end of the film.

For starters, the 1st point was clearly cut to demolish similarities or comparisons between Modine and Charlie Sheen's character in Platoon. I see a similar logic to the 3rd point in regards to William Defoe's character in Platoon, as well. The 2nd point simply makes Joker to sympathetic to the audience, and paints the film in good/bad right/wrong terms which make the audience feel good abt itself.

Not that it matters, anymore. Since Saving Private Damon any movie with any wartime setting is basically 100% war-porn.


1 See Red Hot Flower of Hysteria, Oct. 3, 2007.
"Full Metal Jacket," by Bill Krohn.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Something Wicked Retahded This Way Comes...

K, so Fats [ed: It's "Fat"] sends me this the other day: “Still like the guy, but Garnett’s nickname should be Origami, cuz he folds so sweet.” I agree with the man about KG needing another nickname, because no one 32 years old should be called “The Kid” unless you have that obnoxious affectation I do of calling everyone “kid”. At least I have an excuse, because in my alcohol-addled haze I cannot recall the name of any but my closets [ed: I like "closets" intimates, but I bet this is "closest"] intimates & even then I’m batting about .406. (Let’s forget the time that I forgot my girlfriend of 5 years’ name when introducing her to old friends, especially since she won’t let me forget it still, these six years after we broke up). So, resolved that Garnett should not be called “Kid”; what then do we name this curious enigma? I like “Nigel” in homage to the observation the peerless Bill Simmons has about him: (Forgive me, because I’m not wicked clever with these progammy things so here’s the damn link old skool style:

My most frank answer is: who cares? I lost interest in basketball after the end of that great Cavs v. Celts series, because I knew that I had seen the 2nd best basketball I was going to see for the rest of the year – the best being that Washington v Cavs. series that was the most physical series I’ve seen since Daly had the Pistons enforcing the Jordan Rules. Lebron, like Jordan, was fearless about contact while taking it to the rack that you see in very few guards. Only Philly Iverson, pre-injury Wade and Ben Gordon come immediately to mind, but there are others though their numbers are few. I leave Kobe off this list not due to my animosity (Wow Fats, [ed: it's "FAT"!] we finally found a black player that I don’t like…although some might make the argument that a brother that speaks Italian is about as black as a White Chocolate Mocha, but I won’t touch that argument) but due to the fact that he never seems to really get any hard contact. Stern has his pinstriped goons protecting that cocksucker as if he had the cure for cancer. Shaq knows: he causes more than he cures.

At this point, it would be worthwhile to clear up a few things, about what I’m watching a basketball game for, because if you’ve bothered to give the game any thought, you’re in it for something more than the final score. Otherwise, why not content yourself with mere boxscores, as several of my more mathematically inclined but less knowledgeable friends do, and allow things like won/loss record and points per to color their entire view. In life, I do what I can to value the collective good & try to think half Marx half Spock: namely “from each according to their ability to each according to their need” and “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one” which is really Bentham and Utilitarianism, but let’s go with Spock since more people have heard of him and also he fits the forthcoming geek argument nicely. So why don’t we for the sake of convenience call this a “Star Trek” ideology. So, of course, the opposing ideology is the “Star Wars” one. Why? Because planets like Alderan are destroyed on a whim all for the sake of the personal transformation of Darth Vader from a Hitler-esque embodiment of fear & evil into a redeemed individual. Has all the trappings of the X-tian deathbed conversion & redemption. Star Wars is fun to watch, but think about if we’re playing along to bible rules: let’s say in the split second after Hitler pulls the trigger to end his own life, with that last second of consciousness he sincerely and fully repents and accepts Jesus etc., then he’s now in heaven, hanging out with Augustine, Mother Theresa and Joan of Arc. In society, (with the exception of certain diplomatic historians who endeavor to absolve Kissinger of his many sins) it is untenable to allow for these personal redemption narratives to trump the interests of the rest of society. That’s why regardless of the philosophical nature of intent or the will, we have to keep people who transgress certain norms away from the rest of us, regardless of whether they are truly accountable for the violence they commit. But “ubermench” redemption narratives make the best stories & that is part of the reason that I’ve seen Star Wars over a thousand times, but am indifferent at best about old Star Trek & would rather watch feces racing around in a jar than subject myself to any of the post-Spock & Shatner stuff.

Yeah, that’s nice Mr. Macajew, but what the fuck does this have to do with basketball? The team oriented game bores me to tears. I want great individuals to play their drama out on large scale, and soar or plummet due to their own grand wings. I want to see AI cross someone over and take it to the rack hard, even if he misses the damn layup, rather than watching 7 passes in a halfcourt set and then a Brent Barry 15 footer go in. Give me Lebron willing his way to the bucket through 3 defenders rather than having to watch Rip Hamilton come off of 4 picks in order to get a bucket. In short, even though the idea of a real life Ubermench is ugly and impossible (as Hitler and Bush have kindly demonstrated) that’s exactly what I want to see in sports. Great men who transcend the game so clearly that the laws do not apply to them. The Shaqs, the Jordans, the Lebrons, the Gretzkys, the Lemieux’, the Jerry Rice’s & the Walter Paytons. So maybe KG’s name should be “Raskolnikov”, because he’s always shown that promise to be that kind of superman, but never delivered. He goes so far as to kill the lady, but never without furious self doubt & the final realization that he is of that caliber, but not of that character. Simmons does a good job of pointing out why, so I won’t repeat that argument here, but it’s clear that KG has been the best player in the L for the past 10 seasons, but never has been & never is going to be that kind of hero. He’s Mr. Spock, but stuck in an X-wing fighter making the trench run, but won’t turn off the computer or use the force because not only is it illogical; it’s also just not in his nature. And that is why I have no interest in watching the Celts play the Lakers. As much as I hate Kobe, at one time he was that kind of player. Dropping 81 on a team puts you there. The kind of basketball the Lakers are playing now is Phil Jackson’s hippy shit about making everyone a contributor. When Luke Fucking Walton & Vlad Radmanovic are significant contributors, I don’t want to watch. When Sasha Vujacic has a roster spot, I know that this is basketball that is not worth putting my eyes on. And when Jordan fucking Farmar, that goddamned taxi driving down the street with both doors open, is mistaken for a PG, then I know that fair is foul and foul is fair.

-Bob MacaJew

Friday, May 30, 2008

Djinn of Nordic Descent

As is perhaps typical of that Fetishizer of the Facile, Lafayette "Fat" Contradiction has once again latched his attentions to (what I thought was) a mere side-thought in one of my writing. This times, it’s the (what I am now calling) Element of Display Distinction.
Also, display as a concept and a reality, including the elements of design and set-up (what kind of shelf? what order? etc), is a critical distinction which sets any sort of hobbyist collection apart from mere archiving (a mere matter of semi-accessible storage).1
Upon further reflection, I perceive a murky delineation on my part. I will now attempt to clarify.

The distinction at play is between collections where Display Elements are almost as important as the collection's content, and collections where Display Elements are not (in which case, elements such as accessibility are more important).

It’s the difference between a couple fistfuls of Genesis carts in a shoe box shoved under your tv stand, and a shelved row of games in cases with printed, color covers.

And let's face it: there's a whole breed of joyless collectors out there who buy Stuff and immediately store it in the attic, basement, or closet w/o ever removing it from its packaging. I feel secure in positing that Reviewiera is not habitat to this breed.

However, the degree to which the Display Element is present in a given collection easily falls victim to circumstance. After all, one cannot prominently and colorfully display games in cases if one has no cases. And, if one has cases, one has need of a color printer, and a resource for games covers from which to print, before she or he can have a games case with a colorful cover.

The short of it, then, is that I've further tinkered with custom Genesis cases.

Since my initial foray involved my Genesis RPG stalwarts of Phantasy Star II and Shining Force, the next subject was clearly Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom. III, however, is lacking in appealing cover art, North American, Japanese, or otherwise. Undaunted, I searched for manual art, concept art, and similar peripheries (though not fan-art), and found success with the color cover of a manga spin-off.2 This became the centerpiece for the new cover, of which I'm quite satisfied.

Phantasy Star III

At some point in looking for Japanese cover art I had stumbled across the French Mega-Drive site Guardiana, which has a plethora of Japanese versions.3 Of particular interest was Gunstar Heroes, the Japanese version's manga-style cover of which quite accurately reflects the game's on-screen busy-ness. Ranger-X, a personal Genesis fave of mine, features the titular mecha in artful repose.

Gunstar Heroes, Ranger X

More recently, another bevy of Madden cases facilitated a simple "what should I make covers for?" projekt. Beyond Oasis is a game I really want to like, and really want to play, but every time I slot it up on the Genesis or the Nomad, I only dink around for a few minutes and then decide to do something else. Still, it was called Story of Thor4 in Japan and Europe, and I like the Japanese manga-style (again) cover art for it, so I made it a hybrid, keeping the N.American name intact.

Sonic & Knuckles is a game that I do, in fact, like. I just don't play it often. Generally, games which lack save points don't see much eyeball time w/ me. Which doesn't mean I don't like them. I just don't have the time laying around to make that kind of a push.5 The cover I cobbled together's mostly a less-cluttered Japanese version, w/ some text from the N.American release on the back.

Beyond Oasis, Sonic & Knuckles

Since I was already making covers for games I respect but don't play, and since the subject of Sonic had been broached, I figured the 1st Sega Genesis game I ever owned should have a cover & case of its own: Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the pack-in that came with the Genesis I presented with for Christmas '91 or '92.6 Sonic n' Tails are taken from the Japanese cover, and the back cover stuff from the N.American edition. The Japanese cover wasn't the best resolution so I ran it through a filter a few times and gave this, I dunno, cel-shaded look?

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

You may have noticed I'd developed a bit of a set style by this point: GENESIS big on the front, usually 90degrees CCW; GENESIS in white font w/ black background at top of spine. More white background than on the original covers. I figure this is more in line with the SegaCD/Saturn/Dreamcast style of spines/layout. Of course, I had to tweak my Phantasy Star II and Shining Force covers to fit this new style.

Phantasy Star II, Shining Force

Finally, most importantly, the new and expanded view from the shelf.

Custom Covers

Way better than a pile of carts shoved behind my PS1 and DC games.


1 "Hybridization," Feb. 22, 2008.
2 Or something like that.
3 Although, sometimes frustratingly, usually at a lower resolution.
4 To clarify: a Arabic-themed, or at least Arabic-inspired, action-RPG, with Djinnis, a very Sinbad-esque main character (poofy pants), etc., with the word "Thor" in the title, and no hammer to be seen anywhere.
5 S&K is also a rather fine (and successful) example of the proud Sega tradition of add-ons and peripherals. S&K is "stackable", with a game slot under a hood on top of the cart. You put S&K in your Genesis, and then you can put either Sonic 2 or 3 in the S&K slot and play those games with Knuckles. No one ever really talks about the implications of this I but I kinda figure it as the first instance of "new content" for a new game.
6 In typical teenager fashion I wrangled my parents into getting one, and then basically got bored and walked away from it, leaving my sisters to develop freaky brand loyalty to Sonic 2: I got them all the plug-n-play version of Sonic 2 two Christmas' ago, and then they preceded to blitz through the first 4 or 6 levels like they'd never stopped playing, oh, FIFTEEN YEARS AGO.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Six-Sided PokèHexagram

One year and a half (80+ hours) later, eight gym badges adorn my fanny pack, 92 balls tucked securely within. The path of Victory Road, I have fugging walked. Venusaur. Pidgeot. Gyrados. Persian. Raichu. Rapidash – the dread Six-Sided PokèHexagram, my daily bread.1

The Elite Four of the Pokèmon League, SOUNDLY have I beaten. TRAMPLED, even. No thrill of competition, no baited breath, no tooth and nail for me. Only a barely impeded series of knockout blows, leaving but the barest of scuffs on my beloved Pocket Monsters, and a pile of unconscious Elite Four Pokèmon, their trainers doubled over from the repeated gut punches I hath delivered UNTO THEM. I have, verily, thoroughly, BEATED IT.2

If Fat were here, and not in Oakland, he might comment that my recent Campaign of Completion3 feels a bit sad: for each game beated, a door of pleasure closes.4 I'd take it a step further: the Campaign of Completion is downright millennial.

In the Reviewieran tradition5, all things are possessed of a deeply autobiographical element. This element lends significant metaphorical context to objects such as molded plastic6 or video games, and also to books7, film8, music, even basketball9, so that the object's sum total meaning is greater than by itself.

There's nothing earth-shattering to this methodology, but it does allow us an escape trajectory from the usual decaying reviewing orbit. So, with video games, for example (frequently), typically noted merits and shortcomings such as graphics, control, story, whatever, are eschewed in favor of the number of hours spent drinking beers w/ Fat in his basement10, or whether the Missus likes distractedly watching the game while I play it, whether it possesses moreishness, or how it compares to similar experiences with other games. It’s a review which includes factors in no way dependent on the object being reviewed. It’s a purposeful celebration of the subjective.

In the context of the ongoing Campaign of Completion, Shenmue isn't just a fave Dreamcast game I finally got around to beating.11 It’s the crown jewel of the Greatest Dreamcast Goodwill Score Ever. 12 It’s the missus, great with child, snickering as she half-watched Ryu's fumbling attempts to find sailors.

Phantasy Star II, the Genesis component of the Campaign, was purchased online for cheap, on the condition that I replaced the save-state battery on my own13 (a process by which I lost all my save data – TWICE, the first time because the battery was not secured… securely enough, the second because the battery actually pooped out, so, yeah, I've gone through the first few dungeons on Mota two or three times). Its basically the only Genesis game I've ever put significant time into other than Sonic2, way back in circa 1993. It’s the game I texed my adoration of to Fat when I moonlighting as a boat worker last summer. It’s a game which appeals to me strongly enough that I've taken up the hobby of custom game cover design.14

Final Fantasy Tactics, the front of the Campaign of Completition least likely to be, uh, completed, has perhaps the weakest autobiographical links. I've owned this game since 2000 or 2001, when I played it frighteningly close to the end, then walked away from it entirely. This current round has advanced to the beginning of the fourth and final chapter, a route mostly walked during a five-week period where I played the part of Mr. Mom before acquiring my present job, firing up missions during the short periods that the kids slept.

Then there's our current topic: Pokèmon FireRed. This game was a gift, actually, from Fat hisself on the occasion of my 30th birthday. That was over a year and a half ago. As I recall, it was my 5th GBA game.

More generally, all four of these games represent the vanguard of my various gaming venues: Dreamcast, Genesis, PSOne, GBA. Beating these select games, thence, is heavily weighted b/c personally it represents a sort of moving on to the next level, rather than the previous pattern of losing focus and just purchasing another 3 games.

So, you see, the Campaign of Completion is about the end of an era.15 The games played become the stuff of legend, so that new games might stride the earth. And the display shelf(s) gains some more balance between games played, being played, and yet to be booted up.


P.S. Our 100th post!

1 Grass, Flying, Water/Flying, Normal, Electric, Fire.
2 This being a peculiar penchant I like to call the "I have you now," wherein you over-level, either by design, mistake, or a combination, and then totally destroy a boss or final boss, therein not only beat the level/game, but, in a sense, beating the games own mechanics. Affectionary Diet thinks
all games should end this way, and I'm inclinationed to agreement.
3 A 4-pronged offensive: Shenmue, Pokemon, Phantasy Star II, Final Fantasy Tactics (PSOne). Shenmue was 1st to fall. Phantasy Star II is slated to be the 3rd.
4 Indeed, sadly, w/o Shenmue, the Dreamcast is considerably less… well, just less.
5 F
at once expressed an inkling to lay out some directional markers for what may or may not be considered CANON by the Church of Reviewiera. I thought about his inquiry on my way to work the next day, inbetween bouts of crawling the sewers below Merkovia in Lunar Legend. My feeling is that this quest, although interesting, is fundamentally flawed, perhaps, since, in Reviewiera, the supreme law of the land is Some Stuff Is Better Than Some Other Stuff. This tenet is tempered w/ the idea that That Stuff That Is Better is a completely subjective value judgment unique to the individual.
6 Like stikfas!
7 Like the cyberpunk movement!
8 Like Transformers!
9 Like the Warriors vs. Bucks!
10 The time we drank beers Fats basement (no specific cite availabe).
11 see: the Streets of Dobuita are Never Lonely.
12 see: I have a problem.
13 Fixing Phantasy Star II
14 Hybridization
15 Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation 2 kinda blows.
Make no doubt, its still the giant robot strategy game with colorful fight animations you know and love, but lets just say I now appreciate Final Fantasy's habit of not making direct sequels a little bit more. Taisen2 has a few new mechs, some new moves (Chain Attacks, which are fuggin' rad), some new mechanics (support actions broken out a bit more), some new characters, and the signature animations are either new or dressed up (also fuggin' rad).
But that's pretty much it. The story is even less interesting than the first installment's hodgepodge giant robo anime homage – an element underlined by the recycling of backgrounds for the story breaks.
Oh yeah, battle maps from the 1st game get recycled, too.
So, Taisen2's been languishing in my GBA Special Player since I beat (the rather disappointing and anti-climatic) Lunar Legend. Back in the workforce, I fired up Taisen2 a couple times during lunch, and quickly found myself wondering if there was anything else I needed to do (read: this game is boring as fuck). After bitching about it w/ Fat when he brought Palomcid over to visit Ivon, and also visiting Taggart Island (which necessitated me taking Taisen2 out of the GBA), I decided Taisen2 was going back in the box. And it was time to get back to Pokèmon: FireRed.
It was from here that the Campaign of Completion began.

Monday, May 19, 2008

it's a small world after all

Last year, I went me to some Pax.

Whilst there, I was most impressed by this young lady:

Apparently, I wasn't the only one, as the centerpiece of this year's ad campaign seems to be...

Eerily familiar!

Okay. I should go fix my abysmal resume.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Streets of Dobuita are Never Lonely


I'm on the fuggin' warpath.

I am in the midst of a four-sided multi-console pronged offensive.

Tired of dicking around, I shelved the (more) recently started stuff (Grandia1, Shining Force: Legacy of Great Intention2, Harvest Moon GBC, Hoshigami3) and went all out on the Really Quite Far Along crowd.

After careful but unnecessary preparations I made my run on the intimidating Ikuto dungeon in Phantasy Star II4, and, honestly, it wasn't as bad as I had anticipated. Got one last run away to complete it. This will leave me with merely Menobe, Naval and Noah to complete, all of which look considerably less complex in terms of maps (tho presumably more difficult in terms of the randoms). This front on the Genesis/Nomad secure, I pushed on into more daunting territory.

Quickly suffered a set back when I discovered I'd lost some crucial interest in Final Fantasy Tactics5 on the PSOne (I'm on the fourth and final chapter), but put it in a holding pattern and redoubled my efforts on Pokemon:FireRed, yielding punitive results: the 8th and final gym badge, a massive leveling grind to eventually beat the dogged Rival Trainer, and advancement to Indigo Plateau, the HQ of the Pokemon League. When not slaughtering Weezings, Grimers and Machokes, I put my non-handheld efforts into Shenmue, where I'd left off on the gripping forklift-operator/get-in-fist-fights-after-work-stage.6

I hadn't really touched Shenmue since the kids were born back in October so I guess I forgot how much time I'd put into to it. Like many others, I'd gotten stuck at on that goddamn "sneak into warehouse No. 8 in the old warehouse district to meet master Chen" stage on Disc 2, and had walked away from the game for a bit. I eventually figured it out7 and did the forklift thing but once you get that job the game takes away the joy of going to Dobuita during the day from you.

Instead, you wake up to yr alarm and then yr automatically getting off the bus down at the harbor and then yr automatically sitting on yr forklift revving the engine as you and yr mates get ready for yr patently illegal "morning race" around the docks (and you don't even gamble on it!). I guess walking all the way to and from work might wear some folks out but some sort of "Go to Directly to Work / Putz Around a Bit First" option would have been nice.

Anyways the Harbor forklifter segment feels considerably more, uh, I guess the term would be "action game on rails" (like rail-shooters, but with Shenmue): you wake/race/move boxes around/get a clue at lunch/move more boxes around/get in a fight at night, walk home, save, sleep, repeat.

To Shenmue's credit, just when yr starting to get a bit bored, shit seriously escalates. I don't know if its predetermined or if I just got lucky this way but on Christmas Eve (!) Nozumi gets kidnapped, you race a motorcycle to rescue her, fight like 8 and then 10 guys at once, and give Nozumi a ride home on the back of the hog while some ballad plays. Then you and Gui Zhang fight, and then the two of you fight 70 guys non-stop using a simplified version of the Virtua Fighter engine, but its like this totally awesome '80s action flick, 'cept w/o the guns, but totally with the quips! Then comes Ryu's best line in the game, "TAKE ME TO LAN DI!" after kicking Mad Angel ass all over the docks. Then there's some other shit but basically yr on the boat to Hong Kong.

But there's all these dangling subplots, and as awesome as the game was, I'm just disappointed because all that's left is to get Shenmue II on import. And then that's it. I mean, I can tell from the Shenmue experience that Shenmue II prob doesn't resolve all the shit left hanging from the first installment.

One regret, which I suppose I could use an old save-state to rectify.

Okay, two regrets.

First, I'd like to spend a day in Yamanose, Sakuragaoka, and Dobuita, respectively, just paying attention to the comings and going of their respective residents, taking in the detail. You pick up a lot of this detail as you plunge forward with the whole revenge-yr-father's-murder thing, but the clock is ticking, afterall, so I feel like I missed a lot.

Secondly, I hand drew a map of Dobuita at one point, based on the one posted at several points in that district. My intention was to label every building on the map, since every building has a name, whether it be the resident business or an apartment-type building.

Again, y'know, must-avenge-father's-death, kinda a priority.


1 As much as I adore Grandia, I've left it sitting for the time being, lest the list of Vested Games grow too large. However, I did spend an evening with it a few weeks ago, and am still thoroughly smitten. When the current Offensive of Completion is, uh, complete, Grandia's a the top of my list.
2 I was splitting Nomad time between Phantasy Star II and Shining Force fairly equally until deciding to Get On With It with PSII. Tactically, Shining Force had just kicked it up a notch by adding an enemy unit which fires a laser (!?) capable of hitting (and usually killing) the majority of active units (allies and enemies, non-discriminately) on the field in one shot. Jeepers!
3 As a quick aside, I have not found Hoshigami to be as mind-numbingly difficult as some reviews have led me to believe. I will confess that, as is to be expected of an Atlus title, the menu and command structure of this tactical RPG is rather counterintuitive, and it does do the Fire Emblem thing where characters can not be revived… but otherwise good old leveling at the "Tower of Trial," which exists specifically for the purpose of leveling, has made the battles thus far in the campaign challenging and interesting, but not impossible.
4 As I near the end of Phantasy Star II, I figured I'd maybe actually go back to playing it on the teevee rather than exclusively on the Nomad. Man, those 16-bit graphix and colors just take a beating when all blown up on the big screen. Immediately yanked the cart and re-fired up the Nomad. Contrary to most stuff I've read abt the Nomad, I've found that sidescrollers and shooters like Sonic, Streets of Rage 2, Gunstar Heroes and my beloved Ranger X all kinda suck on the Nomad. Too much of those games lie in the details, and I'm sorry, but I just have difficult seeing little stuff like the rings in Sonic on the Nomad screen. RPGs, on the other hand, which are usually poo-pooed as bad for the Nomad due to small text size, I've found to be excellent since speed, reflex and detail don't matter as much.
5 I initially purchased and got really really far in Final Fantasy Tactics back in 2001 or so, then, for reasons kinda lost to me, just stopped playing.
As I started the 4th chapter (for the second time), I realized that FFT's greatest strength is also kind of its fatal flaw: the job system. Now, I, for one, think the job system's the best, to the degree that is the primary source of moreish-ness which drives the game – the self-set goals to get character X to master-level Dragoon and character Y to master-level Geomancer and so forth is far more engaging than much-hyped but ultimately dry-as-fuck grand narrative (seriously, its retarded, unless there's some seriously mind-blowing gigantic twists in the finale I don't know about, but at this point the narrative's ultimate end seems pretty predictable to me).
But around the beginning-to-middle of the fourth chapter you'll probably have attained most of those high-level job goals, and are suddenly left with just the actual battles and the narrative, and while those high-level jobs sometimes allow you to fuckover the game, the game also still treats you like a little bitch a bunch with just ridiculous high-leveled bosses and such, all of which just leave me with a big case of "meh." I'll still give it another go.
6 I remember that rainy march day in 2007 well. I was supposed to meet Fat after work for a couple pints, but he was running later than me, so I hit the nearby Goodwill to kill time before heading to the pub. I
walked out that Goodwill with a Dreamcast microphone, 4-in-1 VMU, Phantasy Star Online, Soul Calibur, a Dreamcast Gundam game (which Fat bought off from me), and Shenmue, all for 4.99 each (or less, tho' I think they were all 4.99) in hand.
7 Got so frustrating I was forced to make a map, prob the 1st time I'd had to do so for a video game, like, ever.
Old Harbor District Map
'Course, then along came Phantasy Star II

Monday, March 31, 2008

Kainton School for Boys

Cube's troubled past.

I guess Cube and Palomcid were in juvey together.

Man, and you think y'know someone.... Ya learn something everyday, I guess.1


1 Contrary to recent events, I promise Reviewiera is not turning into an Animal Crossing site. For 1 thing, that's been done, wayyy better than we could evar hope to do. Its just, well, Animal Crossing, especially the shit the animals say, and the crap you can put in thier letters and still have them write back all excited, just really, REALLY appeals to that strange part of my brain where my "tastes" live. Its the same part that wishes Ryu would stay in Dobuita FOREVER in Shenmue.

Monday, March 17, 2008

After Hours in the Valley of Downs

So, Fat brought his lil' Palom Cid (and the accompanying town of Kainton) over so he could visit my town, Ivon (and so my darling Asa could likewise visit his municipality: Kainton). There was the customary exchanging of fruits, naturally, but we were mutually impressed with the elements of Animal Crossing opened up by visiting another player's town.1

Kainton, however, is not for the timid. Especially late at night.

Cesar sleeping issues

Cesar get on home

That Cesar is a persistent fella. It'll be awkward if he ever moves to Ivon....


1 What I recall finding of interest, in no particular order...
  • Animals show you letters the other player has written to them. Maybe not a big deal but all the jokes and what not you've written into your letters finally gets an audience! Same goes for the bulletin board and your diary.

  • After your visitor leaves, one of your animals will move from your town to the other town, and vice versa. So, Maddie left Kainton and moved to Ivon, and Dotty left Ivon and moved to Kainton. Their departing letters say as much, and I've since been asked to deliver items to Dotty in Kainton. The losses of Maddie and Dotty were mutually mourned since they were favorites of both of ours.

  • The custom catchphrases you assign to your animals finally have an audience (see attached photo above).

  • Kapp'n is lewd in different ways to different genders. En route to the Ivon island (Taggart), he queried Palom Cid if he'd ever spent the night in a Hyrulian prison. No joke.
  • Wednesday, March 05, 2008

    idolizing yr kills with Suda 51

    Ey!  Occupado!

    Two of the most interesting writers on these 'nets are Leigh Alexander and Alex Kierkegaard.

    Alexander says this:

    a glorious exercise in simultaneous reverence and irreverence

    Kierkegaard says this:

    This game fucking sssssssucks and I fucking hated almost every moment I spent playing it.

    Is this the garden of madness?

    Predictably, they're both talking about the same game: No More Heroes. As far as reviews go, Kierkegaard wins on points, mainly for the above sentence, perhaps the greatest opening sentence in the history of reviewing. On the other hand, Alexander is right: No More Heroes is an absolutely fabulous game. I just finished it, and turned right around and started a new campaign on Bitter (=hard).(1)

    I like long walks on the beach...

    Reviews abound for this piece, and I don't care to rehash them. I just want to heap a little praise on the best game I've played in 2008, and point out two things nobody seems to have mentioned much.

    Got something for you!

    The first is that while this is a savagely violent game, with blood fountains that'd make Samurai Assassin's creators blush, a lot of the boss battles feature genuine emotional content. Yr protagonist, Travis Touchdown, is a complete prick about most of these moments, which actually only adds to the feel. --I'm at great pains to avoid the dreaded SPOILER here, but I will say that the final cutscene of Holly Summers touched me more than any videogame moment in my career.(2) And there's a lot of laughs, as well: the game intro is presented like a movie, a Tarantino movie, actually, and there's a couple lines in it that brought forth my trademark gleeful cackle. Quite a few lines and gags brought this forth, all the way to the end of the game.

    The second is that the game is simply drenched in women. The plot is driven by Touchdown's (desire for a sexual) relationship with the delightfully batty Sylvia Christel. A couple of the best bosses are women, and the best cutscenes, pre-and-post-fight, involve these characters.(3) You buy your weapons from a contemptous Doctor Naomi, and if it's not clear already, this little game is going to inspire some seriously pervy cosplay.

    She can build (for) you.

    I suspect strongly that these two game elements are related.

    A couple other notes. There's a set of cat-interactions--not quite minigames--that I think are an explicit nod to Shenmue. Then there's a couple minor features that are absolute trademarks of Grasshopper Manufacture (Suda 51 & Akira Ueda, afaik), a couple features I am a HUGE SUCKER for. One is a whole lot of visual character customization.(4) Nearly 100 shirts, a dozen jackets and pairs of jeans, a bunch of belts, a couple pairs of sunglasses. I spent around 27 hours on the game, and a surprising portion of that was playing dress-up with Travis. Another killer feature is on display with the customization: huge inventories of items, many with flat-out-funny item descriptions. It's these little touches that make Grasshopper originals must-buys for this kid.

    Anyways, this game was thoroughly fun to play, and masterful at doling out rewards. I dunno if I'll play a better new game this year. If I don't, I won't be sad in the slightest.

    Play a sappy song.  Please.


    Well, admittedly I did start it up on continue mode, so that I have all the unlocked stuff. So it's still pretty easy.

    The emotional content is accessible because of a beautiful localization job--the script (translations) and the voice acting are both outstanding. The game is admittedly unpolished in some other areas, as every review proclaims, but the work in these areas is without fault.

    No offense, Destroyman, but you just don't rate next to Shinobu, Bad Girl, or the SPOILER. Rest In Peace, Holly.

    Confidential to Suda 51: accessorizing is important. Changing belts and sunglasses is crucial, and I'm glad you built this in. (Jackets, shirts, jeans, anybody can do this--it's yr attention to accessories that makes us know you love us.) But's gotta be the shoes. I want to change Travis' shoes! Next game, you best make this happen.

    Okay, okay. The Eurogamer review is excellent. And it occurs to me that I was led to Alexander's work by the most interesting writer on Kotaku these days: Maggie Greene. Worth noting.

    Tuesday, March 04, 2008

    to-day in retail and radd

    So to-day I went Shopping. Not a big spree or anything; I was a hair manic, fought through it with a bunch of writing, then rolled on down to the mall for a bit. Not an exciting trip (because I bailed on buying myself a copy of Guitar Hero III), but I did score a new copy of Touch Detective 2 1/2. Fifteen wing-wangs! --I stalled out on Touch Detective a while back, but it's a far better series for me than the hideously overrated Phoenix Wright crap(com). Plus, when given a shot at supporting Atlus at retail, I usually will.

    The funny part of the mission was when I plopped down my copy of Ghost Squad. The register biscut said "you know...this didn't review very well.(1) It''s pretty short." I laughed at him. "It's an arcade game. Length is not the point."

    Now, for the uninitiated, Ghost Squad is a light-gun game. I'd bought the Wii Zapper a while ago, and found it a most acceptable accessory, and its pack-in game, Link's Crossbow Training, was great fun for the hour it took me to beat it, and the hour or two I spent on grinding away for better medals later. Mainly, though, the Zapper and Link's shooting-gallery hijinx made me realize how many glorious hours I'd invested in arcade light-gun games. Usually rail shooters.(2)

    At the moment, there are two of these gracing the market. One, as is clear, I bought. The other is the rather well-reviewed Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles. But, as I told the monkey at the store, "I'm about a hundred bucks into the Resident Evil series without actually liking any of them, so screw those clowns."

    The argument I wanted to make, but spared the poor retail minion, was "Dude. It's Sega. It's AM2. I think this'll be an okay purchase." Two and a half hours in, I still haven't quite beated it, but I'm dang close. And it's fun!

    Now. If you'll excuse me, I'm off to beat No More Heroes. After that, more Ghost Squad.(3)

    Check this out! This is the very store where I have picked up, by game and Metacritic score:
    Animaniacs: the Great Edgar Hunt 65
    Final Fantasy: the Crystal Chronicles 80
    Robotech: Battlecry 74
    Star Trek: Conquest 51
    and a couple other things. (Most of the handheld collection's in storage--preparing for the move. So I can't inventory the entire collection...)

    Sos you start sweating the fucking review scores? After I buy fucking Star Trek: Conquest? (Which, for the record, I thought was...sorta fun. Obviously unfinished and shipped early, but sorta fun.)

    Area 51 was probably my favorite, but the House of the Dead series was always good, and Sega cranked out a couple games with these GIANT fixed guns and HUGE screens that never failed to entertain the living bejeezus outta me.

    Look for my inevitable march up the leaderboards!! As a tribute to one of my loser buddies, my screen name is "Collision".

    Tales From... (Issues 1-3)

    The first issue of Tales From... opens with Leo at his favorite cafe. He is somewhat concerned but no longer really worried about the fact that he can see an anthromorphic manifestation of the archetype of Love, and is curious why she's crying into a bloody mary on the rocks. Leo is deeply "in tuned" to the forces of the universe and the human spirit, which is normally considered a noble and even saintly virtue. Leo finds it hellishly annoying, however, as being in tune with these Powers of Existence means being able to SEE them as human-like figures, who follow you around ALL THE TIME. Usually Leo ignores them.

    He's never seen Love cry before, though. But he'd seen lots of things he'd never seen before. He'd seen Chaos organize a utensil drawer. He'd seen Justice cheat orphans at cards. Still, asking Love why she was crying was a sharp violation of his Not Acknowledging the Powers of the Universe (hereafter referred to as "Powers of the Universe" or simply "the Powers") policy. So instead he kept working on his coffee and studying his self-hypnotization book (so maybe he could make himself just not see Love sitting there).

    Niveck the Ever-Bleeding commences Issue 2 by striding through the cafe door. Slopping onto the stool next to Leo's, Niveck describes to Leo in ponderous detail and thick sarcasm the morning's stroll and all the "bullshit aside glances" he received in progress: the "bitch" old lady on Union, the "cock-sucking" dog walkers on Hemlock, the "no doubt a pedophile" trolley operator near Ankeny, and, lest we forget, the "Nazi-fucking" priest near Foster. Such a torrent of profanity and vitriol was always almost enough to make one forget that Niveck had the poor luck to slowly secrete his own blood from every pore of his body.

    As a child, this didn't bother him too much on account of the spoiled attention he received on account of going to Catholic school. But the onset of puberty and the stern refusal of his female schoolmates to, as he puts it, "slip it up their skirts" led to his eventual expulsion. A few weeks was all it took for him to end up on the streets, where he did learned to defend himself (he's a dead eye with a semi-automatic pistol). Niveck enjoys Leo's company because Leo didn't even look up the first time he saw Niveck. Leo (mistakenly) assumed he was another archetype of some sort, and automatically Not Acknowledged him. Niveck immediately wanted to befriend this "chump with a wank haircut" because everyone patently Acknowledged him all the time. Leo was just glad Niveck was human.

    Leo told Niveck about Love sitting invisibly nearby crying soundlessly, and Niveck made a rather predictable but extremely vulgar suggestion about how Leo could make Love stop crying. Leo rolled his eyes and started to submit to Niveck his latest plan to Stop Seeing Things using self-hypnosis, but was interrupted when Niveck spotted the Rose spotting them through the window.

    Introduced in Issue 3, the Rose, or just "Rose" is a time traveler. 150 years from now he and his band of poet ninja resistance fighters had just slaughtered the very flower of the civil and military administration of the Char'r Empire which was occupying Earth. This moment was the endgame of a 6 year conflict of cat and mouse between the resistance and the Empire, the product of some good fortune for the Rose (he was banging an Imperial high priestess who let slip the big congregation) and untold hardship by the poet ninja army (they had lost 88% of their number since their uprising began). At the moment of his supreme triumph, a Char'r "geometry fold" had back-fired and Rose found himself in the present-day of Leo and Niveck.

    Initially Rose figured it was just a bad-luck accident but then found a note from his alien lover that something very important happened 150 years ago and that he needed to be there and make it happen. Rose personally thought Char'r Geometrical Mysticism was bunk, but curious signs and portents led him to think there might actually be something to it. Problem was, he didn't know what IT was, and thus was forced to meander about the city like a madman hoping for destiny or fate or history to carry him along.

    In the meantime he bored the holy hell out of Leo and Niveck recounting to them painstaking detail the Poet Ninja Army's struggle against the Char'r Empire. Worse yet, he pined extensively for his leather-skinned Char'r priestess - her isocelean eyes, her angled cheeks, her rhomboid breasts - which sounded to Leo and Niveck about as romantic as fucking a desiccated dead horse. The issue concludes when Rose remarks "what's that lady crying about?" at which point Niveck comments that he, too, can now see Love crying.

    Friday, February 22, 2008


    A Sega Nomad became a dear part of my life over the holidays. Yah, the battery life is as short as you've heard - abt 5 hrs w/ (six) alkalines, and although a disappointing 2 or so hours w/ NiMH rechargeables, well, at least they're rechargeable.1

    Phantasy Star II's been getting the lion's share of play on the Nomad. This is contrary to what I've read in some places: that RPGs don't look great on the Nomad and are hard to read. I think it looks fantastic, and if you're having trouble reading it the screen on yr Nomad is either dying or something, or you need glasses.2 'Sides PSII, Sonic Spinball's gotten some semi-serious time, the big No. 2 is the recently acquired Shining Force[: Legacy of Great Intention].

    Shining Force is a vintage tactical RPG, which I adore. Menu and item management are pretty minimal, but the story advances quickly and battles don't take more than the occasional 2nd try (so far). Beloved by me features also include:
    (A) When Max, yr main character, dies in battle, the battle's over, which kinda sucks (the battle continues if other characters are slain), but the party doesn't lose any acquired experience (or gold, I think) from the failed attempt. This is why a 2nd attempt will mostly likely always succeed.
    (B) All the members of the Shining Force are recruited in the town maps. This is not an entirely unique feature (you can do it 108 times in Suikoden, for example), but I must confess it is charming. Most refuse to join up at first, of course, then change their minds after an event or some such.
    Anyways, I've been on the warpath in PSII, getting off that god-forsaken rock called Mota and finally reaching the alien world of Dezo, an experience which fills me with strange feelings. Wonder? Glee? Holy shit! Am I having FUN?!?

    Having been hitting the Genesis collection so hard lately, my mind wandered to the old conundrum of my lack of Genesis games which come in cases. Great sites exist on the 'nets for downloading covers for yr Genesis (or SNES or NES) cartridges, but I was perpetually held up my the lack of the cases themselves. You can mail-order some, but they're kinda stupid expensive: like a buck per case, but plus 2 bucks S+H. Eff that. So the last time I'm at CDGameXchange, I look at the Genesis section and note 3 sports games, each w/ their case, for a buck each. "I just need the cases," I explain to the clerk as I throw down my ones and scurry out the door.

    About 3-4 hours on the GIMP later, I can't stop looking at, or picking up and holding, these 2 beauties...

    Phantasy Star 2 + Shining Force 1 custom cases - front

    Of course, I had to make hybrid covers w/ the Japanese art on the front and the North American art on the spine and back.

    From the angle that matters the most: the view when on the shelf...

    Phantasy Star 2 + Shining Force 1 custom cases - side

    I really can't emphasize enough the smug satisfaction that comes w/ clicking yr copy of Shining Force into a colorful case designated as the case which holds Shining Force. Also, display as a concept and a reality, including the elements of design and set-up (what kind of shelf? what order? etc), is a critical distinction which sets any sort of hobbyist collection apart from mere archiving (a mere matter of semi-accessible storage).


    1 However, I really need a different charger. Mine only holds 4 AAs at a time, and supposedly takes "overnight" to recharge. Which is true, if "overnight" is 24 hours. I need one of those 8-battery 45-60 minute powerhouses.
    2 Besides, don't 16-bit graphics always look just a bit sharper when viewed on a tiny screen?

    Saturday, February 02, 2008

    Good to be back home in the pubs with the people that you love

    Fat got me a 'Cube for xmas. With a Gameboy Player.1

    I never had a 'Cube before, so it was purty kewl. Especially w/ the Wavebird controller.

    I've dinked around w/ some of my GBA games on the GBPlayer, but basically I went out and immediately got myself a copy of Animal Crossing.2

    I don't claim to be a great "player" of Animal Crossing. Many places have been around longer than my pissant village of Ivon. Fuck, one resident (one of the chickens) has already left town. And I still can't consistently write letters anyone fuggin' understands!

    But. BUT. I can design the hell out of patterns. I got on that right off the bat.

    So it was pretty awesome to be wandering around the green the other day and find Pecan the squirrel, who seems to always have a "headache" in the morning, wearing my Dreamcast Swirl shirt!

    Pecan in DC shirt

    Then, I find not one, not 2, but three neighbors rockin' my Ms. Pac-Man shirt!!! Here's Dotty wearing 1 after a long night in my basement drinking JD & talking Blazers & Roy & Outlaw.

    Dotty in Ms Pacman shirt

    Nothing groundbreaking (the newer designs - those might be earth-shattering), but noteworthy on how we roll here at Reviewiera.


    1 Just to make note, so it doesn't seem like he lavishes gifts on me w/ nothing in return, I got him a NeoGeo Pocket Color w/ 18 games for his birfday. Retro consoles & handhelds: the gifts that keep on giving.
    2 In no small part due to this.

    Thursday, January 24, 2008

    ain't never gonna happen, but

    Maker of Amazing Games Tetsuya Mizuguchi drops a lovely interview, mostly about the new port of Rez. (I've been trying to score a Dreamcast version of Rez for a long time.) At the end, he declares:

    If I had a reason to remake Space Channel 5 on the new platforms, I will do that.

    SC5 was the first game I bought for my Dreamcast; a month or so later, it was the game that sold DDT on the console. It's the one rhythm game I haven't yet beaten, and believe me when I tell you I'll play it on any platform Sega/Mizuguchi graces.

    Kotaku pointed this interview out.

    Wednesday, January 23, 2008

    shmups make Fat insane: an introductory appendix

    An oddity I ponder occasionally: the most worthwhile writing on gaming tends to come from the UK.(1) In recent times, the estimable Eurogamer grants its favored titles the label "moreish". This might be the most game-useful label I've yet encountered.

    And the most moreish title since, probably, fucking Tetris would have to be my newly-acquired Geometry Wars: Galaxies (DS).

    Now, what it means to be moreish in my mind is that when you fail, you still want to play more.(2) It's the arcade sensation par excellance: the game kills you, but you still feel you can beat it, and you shove another quarter down its maw to demonstrate same. I knew GW:G had this quality a couple hours after I bought it, a week ago: I was down the coffee shop, and I fired it up. Two hours later, I hadn't shifted, my thumb was killing me, and my eyes were absolutely fried, since I hadn't been blinking.(3)

    GWG plays sorta like Robotron, in that you can shoot in any direction whilst you move in any direction. And it looks a lot like Asteroids, in that the backgrounds are mostly black, and the figures are mostly vectorish. (Single-color lines.) Aesthetically, then, this game is possessed of the rarest quality in the medium: beauty.

    Game's simple: you pick a galaxy, then you pick a world, then you fly around. Some worlds are largeish, some tiny, some square, some ellipticalish, and so on. Critters show up, a wide variety, generally en masse, and you shoot at them, killing them afore they touchkill you. You kill them, they blow up. The fragments they leave, you can collect, which helps your score, and helps your gun shoot better. So, better you kill, better your killing-gun gets.

    Also you have a little buddy--a "drone"--and before you enter any world, you get to pick what she's gonna do. She can gather up the fragments of felled enemies ("geoms", the currency of the game), shoot enemies, circle around yr craft in circles of varying speeds and sizes, shoot stuff, and so on.(4) Eight options in all.

    The critters have a lot of different forms, and every form has a different behavior. Some chase you, some move in patterns unrelated to your craft, some wander toward you while avoiding your fire...some chase you fast and force you to fire on them from odd angles. All of them can kill your sorry ass, and at some point, you will grow to hate each and every one of them.(5)

    The game's mostly a score game. Every world has a set of medals, attained at certain score thresholds. At the moment, I crave a gold on every world. I've played 14 worlds, and have 8 golds (6 silvers). I have 43 more worlds to unlock. And conquer!!(6)

    And if I hated myself, I could connect my 'loved little grey brick to the 'nets and access some leaderboards to realize and reenforce how shoddy a videogame player I really am. But for the next coupla weeks, I'm just blasting baddies, hoovering geoms, and absolutely loving Geometry Wars.


    (1) Favorite examples would be:
    UK Resistance, the English Wizznutzz, somehow capable of moments of real beauty;
    Eurogamer, the only review site whose workers actually like video games;
    Affectionate Diary, which realizes many of my ambitions for this here site. (So far as this here site pertains to games.)

    (2) I mean, it's not just "I like this and want to keep playing". Moreishness has to do with the response to failure, I think.

    (3) My verdict: Instant Classic. This was confirmed later, when I began to explore its multiplayer with Canada. 4 times in the first 5 minutes of play, I heard him mutter "Oh, yeah. I could get obsessed with this."

    (4) So far, I've only unlocked half of the drone behaviors. Each has seemed useful in varying worlds--one minor complaint about the high scores list is that no mention is made of the drone (behavior) you choose. This is likely deliberate, but it's still frustrating. If I've only had success on Sureis (my Waterloo) with a Collect drone, I'd like to know it! I don't want to keep using a Sweep drone!! Throw me a fucking drone bone, developers!!

    (5) Couple nights ago, batt'ling for living-room supremacy with Canada, I mentioned the rather brilliant comic series. It's sorta a Battlestar Galactica, in which the blue-diamond beasties--Viagrons--are presented as peaceful explorers. They percieve the human crafts as a threat, and mobilize against them, as the humans send out ships that are heavily armed, very fast, and essentially without armor. It's a good series; well worth a look.

    (6) If somebody gifted me the Wii game, there'd be another 7 worlds to unlock on my DS cart. This...seems unlikely.

    Friday, January 18, 2008

    I leveled it !

    Wanting to fire up the teal GameBoyColor my little sister had willfully disowned, but only possessing her carts of Ms. Pac-man and (an nonfunctional) Super Mario World DX, I snagged the Dragon Warrior I + II comp for 10 bucks.

    As I mentioned in passing last time, Dragon Warrior (I) was 1 of those rented-for-the-weekend NES system and 1-3 games experiences from the early 90s. For reasons I cannot remember I had in my possession a copy of Nintendo Power featuring a walkthru or a map or something for DW, and, thinking myself clever as these "D 'n' D" sort of matters, attempted to fetcheth myself the legendary hero (and blood relative) Erdrick's ("Loto" in this restored GBC version) legendary armor from the ruined village of Haukness.

    'Course, as experience w/ Phantasy Star II has now thoroughly schooled me, the challenge of these reptilian RPGs lies exclusively in the LEVELING. Leveling for experience and leveling for cold hard cash.1 To further "challenge" (and frustrate), while the random encounters are somewhat frequent, the rewards tend to be low - enjoy wandering around for 3 hours!2

    So... Dragon Warrior handed my ass to me on a platter when I was 14. I would gloat how the tables had turned this time around, but the GBC version's been tweaked so leveling's not quite so much the grind.

    The result's that you can beated Dragon Warrior in prob 10-12 hours. There are only 2 dungeons and they too have been easy-fied.3 I even made significant progress with DW regulated to the video-game equilivent of bathroom reading. Next thing I know, I'm all like 'hey I have ALL the items & all the spells', and, with little else to do, I hit up the final dungeon.4

    So, yeah, the world of Dragon Warrior is set to right. Despite the easiness, it was still more fun (and more difficult) than Lunar Legend.5


    1 See also, Adventure Log, No. 3.
    2 I will!
    3 As I have learned from playing Phantasy Star II on the original Genesis cart, these old-school RPGs derive their difficulty from
    (A) Random encounters that don't net you large EXP rewards in exchange for the time vested to run into these same encounters in the first place. Even moreso w/ Gold. The lack of monetary rewards is so slim and the cost of equipment so high that the acquiring of capital quickly becomes the central herculean task of the game, w/ leveling a convenient positive byproduct of income.
    (B) HUGE dungeons that are not, like more modern RPGs, essentially rudimentary puzzles, but rather infuriating complex mazes akin to those paper placemats you colored on at the family restaurant as a kid. Littered w/ random encounters, the dungeon crawl becomes a death march - a slow calculated-risk slog to see if the party can reach the end of the dungeon w/o running out of healing spells or potions.
    .In the easy-fied GBC version of DW1, random encounters net you either more exp or gold than usual, so leveling & income collection rewards come at less effort (or with less annoyance, depending on how you look at it).
    4 DW1 has, like, 2 dungeons of any consequence in them. 1 of these is the final dungeon and the other one I sorta stumbled around 'til I found what I was looking for.
    5 I Beated It!

    Saturday, January 05, 2008

    like a airborne primate savior hanging ten

    For reasons, I needed a bit of retail to-day. (This naked preacher will play.) Unfortupredictably, I'm broke-broke. This offers, though, a shot at the kind of big game hunting DDT talks about now and again.

    So at my Goodwill I surveyed the scene: busy! Like...crowded. Cluttered, a competitive landscape. I've spent my life in public; I pass through clots of people like a ghost, they don't even notice that 200+ pounds of natural man has just brushed on by'm. (Unless my bag o' tricks snags up'm.) (This naked preacher will play.)

    Up the front of the cluster at the case, I see the detritus of the gamer's holiday upgrades. Like sherds of cocoon-husk, there lie two XBoxen and another GameCube. (The GCN has doubled in price from the one I scored for DDT t'other week, and this one of course failed to feature the GameBoy Player.) One can fairly imagine the dewy wings of the newly 360-enabled, or the soaring arcs of a lad now possessed of an Wii, these creatures freed from the iron (-age) shackles of outdated leisure technology...

    pretty tied up

    Me? I wallow in those shackles; I'm pretty tied up.

    Fat finds two Star Wars games for the GCN: Rogue Squadron 2, prolly good enough; Clone Wars, prolly abysmal. It's moot, tho', cuz some reprobate yoinked the effing disks! But there is a thing, Burnout, racing game with bigtime crashy action for a hamilton's worth o' wing-wangs, so I snap'er up. Idly I crack open the case of the Wind Waker, and befind a memory card!! I swop it into the Burnout case and flee.

    Back of the store is the hinterlands of electronics, where unbagged, incomplete product sits, cheek to jowl with all manner of 'lectrical miscellany. PS2, yup. PS, sure. Controllers? Cables? Not so much. Guess this is a wasted rummage thru the provinces--hey, what now!? Boxed Dreamcast Controller?! You BETCHA!

    A swoop through the book section nets me a coupla gag gifts:
    Able Team book for Collision
    Dianetics book for Canada.

    Oh! Strategy guide for the (aforementioned) Wind Waker, which I have enjoyed, here and there (it's beautiful and rich with charm, but I'm nigh-immune to the Zelda formula, it seems) but got stuck on the second challenge in the first dungeon, and quit. Since the lovely young lady who rang me up guesstimated the price of the guide at half a wing-wang, I couldn't--didn't--turn it down.

    Can't wait to browse that semi-licit ('licious!!) memory card.

    Thursday, January 03, 2008

    one tragedy

    I was just writing a personal email. I was struggling with the content, as the note was to somebody important to me, so I wasn't paying much attention to the form, and I was paying zero attention to my touch-typing little hands. I finished the unsatisfying email, and let it sit there for a while. I played around in my browser's other tabs, grumping to myself over the lousy text I'd just produced.

    Then I realized I had something left to say! Quick as a Dreamcast's loading screen, I flashed back to the hotmail tab, and began to type in a Post Script. Only. Did my traitor hands type "P.S."?

    They did not. I began that section by typing PS1.

    I feel shame.

    I go, now, to play outside.