Tuesday, December 16, 2008

No good? Anime resurrection vitality!

So I want to put this post up on Facebook, but its a weird subject and I'm not sure if it would scare people too much. So instead I'm going to put it on here first, the thing nobody reads because I never post on it.

The subject of the post is an anime genre near and dear to my heart: Harem. This anime genre is the sympathetic man's ultimate fantasy: An average, but kind and well intentioned guy is inexplicably (Aside from the course of back story events revealed later and some convenient plot devices) surrounded by a variety of attractive ladies looking to be his one true love. The truly great thing about this genre is that, while naughty things may flit across the minds of the guy (Depending on the show) he would never do any of them because of his general nervousness around women and the fact that he doesn't or can't like any of the girls more than the other because either 1. He's fairly clueless, possibly to an unrealistic level. 2. He's too conscientious and realizes that if he chose one he would crush another. The ladies are representative of every possible type of love interest: Quiet, abrasive, studious, good at cooking, scandalously young, energetic, childhood friend, etc. etc. The possibilities are endless! Usually the show will have one girl who is the obvious choice for the main character, but sometimes its two (Tenchi Muyo anyone?) or in this most recent case 3! By most recent case I am referring to "Shuffle!" a show I've recently been watching on Hulu. Having just gotten through episode 7, its finally past the stage of introducing all of our vital young heroes potential prospects and presenting a case for why the three primary girls are so incredibly ideal while introducing two potential interests on the side whom both present themselves as unrealistic ventures, but deep down, you the viewer know that you could write a wonderful side story about their happy future.

Now, you the reader may be asking, "Okay, so I get the surrounded by women part. But what makes this better than some perverted/ridiculous reality show?" Ah, but I have not mentioned the most important aspects of these stories: Back story and "Our hero the problem solver". The first important aspect is that our hero has some past connection with the girl. Most commonly the hero encountered her at some point in childhood and made a very strong impression by playing with her when other people wouldn't, or by comforting her at a critical point in time. The variety is nearly endless especially since the supernatural or psychosis is often involved. This plays into "Our hero, the problem solver" Men want to rescue the woman they love from a problem, so the reason these shows are so popular with men (Thats right, romance for men) is that our hero is presented with a near endless supply of situations to either make a girl feel better or help her out a jam culminating in an episode in which he handles some deeply rooted problem finding its origins in the past. Now, this isn't always how things progress, for example the series Rumbling Hearts was a very difficult series in which the fellow is torn between a girl he loved and feels responsibility to love, and the woman he loves now. Solving a problem for one girl almost always hurt the other girl so it was an interesting turn in the formula, or maybe I just tend to watch too many of these shows from the same company?

Now you might be saying "Why is this guy interested in these girls at all? Aren't they a huge bother with all their problems?" Perhaps, but usually at least one of them takes care of him in some fashion by cooking for him or giving him a place to live, and really how cold would a guy have to be to turn down the sweet girls when they're so appreciative for his assistance? Plus, like I said, they're all interested in him, so they're all ponying for position in their own way, either by attempting to cook for him (In older shows, a classic plot point would be both girls try to cook for him, and both of them suck.) or some other kindness. The best part is they're adorably innocent, so none of them, except for the one whose characteristic it is to be aggressive, make any sort of perverse suggestions. Ah..... Its such a wonderful fantasy world. There are really so many facets to it.

Now you're probably worrying "Hey, you don't live with some warped sense of reality do you?" Ha ha, no no, I realized that the romantic situations that occur in these shows are utter fantasy many moons ago. That doesn't mean they don't have some good pointers though! Plus they're almost always entertaining, especially the ones from Kadokawa! (Shuffle, Air, Clannad, and my favorite Kanon). And, what was it my Philosophy professor talked on once, something like an emotional purging or something? Given my generally stoic nature I'm better able to release strong emotions into these scenarios due to the fact that interesting stuff very rarely occurs in my own life. If I released strong emotions into my everyday life, that could get messy! Oh, and I forgot to mention the whole Moe thing (pronounced Mo-ae) which is kind of a heavily nuanced thing. It literally means something like "To burn" and its basically some character that you support very passionately, generally based on some characteristic such as personality or attire. When they fall down you cry "Get up!" when they're downtrodden you cry "Don't give up!" and you cheer for their happiness! This is the purest aspect of Moe as I understand it.

Ah, now some of the ladies might be saying "Hmmm, I don't know about this ideal fantasy woman thing...." Oh ho, you think there aren't similar programs for women? Perhaps not so abundant, but I assure you they exist, and, at least in America, the women are far worse than the men. (Little known fact, females could very possibly outnumber males in the anime fan community) And don't try to BS me that women don't fantasize about the ideal man, I've met too many Jane Austen fans.

So, now this little writing is through. Will I post it on Facebook? Maybe, maybe not, I'll probably let it sit here for a while and see what happens. Maybe I'll come back and edit some thing, add some pictures. (Sure would help if I had my own frakking computer....)


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A week of confusion.

So, apparently this whole $700 Billion problem started last Thursday, and while its certainly not resolved yet, at least today on C-SPAN they clarified what exactly this whole mess is about, and then tonight the president gave a brief clarification in a format that people might actually watch. As one of the representatives explained it to Paulson "There are a small group of people inside the beltway and on Wall Street who understand what is going on. When you throw a $700,000,000,000 figure out to the general public without explaining yourself, thats when you get 85% opposition." I'm paraphrasing of course, but that was the gist of it and I thought "Yes, finally they'll clarify this nonsense!" And they did, sort of. I had to watch and read some more stuff, but it seems like (In case you don't know) all those nasty foreclosures and bad loans and other real estate garbage we've been dealing with for the past year finally reached a breaking point with companies like AIG and Lehman Brothers and Fannie Mae, etc. being the "First Dominoes" if you will. Its like one of those cool displays where 1 tips 2, which tips 3, and soon you've got this giant cool looking V in the middle of your lair. From my understanding, the government wants to buy a good chunk of the foreclosures and such (Thus giving these dying companies that glutted on real estate some money) and then sell them back later for more money. In theory it seems like a good idea, but there's no guarentee it will work, and if this fails we really will be screwed. If we don't do it, tthen it seems like a whole bunch of companies and banks will go under which will also hurt a lot of people.

So the way I see it, and I could be wrong as I'm no expert, is that we're definitely going to have problems if we don't do it, we'll definitely still have relatively lesser problems even if we do (Thats the great thing, it won't really fix the problem, oi) but there's a possibility that the money and strings attatched oversight of that money won't fix the problem. Or we could use a quicksand analogy: We could stay in the quicksand and hope we touch bottom, or we could grab this thing that looks like a vine, but might be a snake and either way we'd have to move around in the quicksand which is going to sink us faster before we can even try to grab it.

To modify a familiar phrase: "Damned if we do maybe damned if we don't."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Excuse me, Unlce Sam?

You want HOW much money to help these fools keep London Bridge from falling down? Uncle Sam, would you like to explain to me and 300,000,000 of my dear fellow Americans why we should keep London Bridge up? Because you haven't done a very good job of that. It seems to us like you and your friends are the only people that really use it. I certainly don't understand why we should be spending $700,000,000,000 to build a giant golden support beam that you say your friends aren't going to steal bits and pieces of a few months down the road because you'll watch it, but don't you have other more important problems to look at Uncle Sam? Aren't there some disaster victims in the south, some kids failing school and a myriad of other problems you need to watch but haven't really been doing a good job of? Oh, and isn't their that scuffle going on in a far away land that we need to watch, and couldn't this money support that since apparently we're supporting it anyway? Thinking on it, couldn't we basically buy enough food to feed everyone in the US, heck the world for a week or longer? Or couldn't we pay tuition costs for just about every student in the US? Couldn't we do a lot of things that make sense to those of us who don't walk up on London Bridge? Oh, sorry, that tastes a little like Socialism doesn't it? I thought it was just a "bailout" for more people or some sort of super-sized "stimulus package". My mistake.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


So I realize that I usually change the picture every time I talk about a new media item and therefore I should have put up a picture about Spore. BUT Fallout 3 is coming out in like... 3 weeks and I think it would great if I just left the picture from a month ago up there until it came out because it should be just that good. Of course it won't be because the gameplay demos always show just a snapshot and you don't ever get to the point with them where you're wishing they would skip dialogue because you've heard the same person 4 times, but it was from 4 different people (If you take my meaning) or when you get tired raiding the same cave or ancient shrine that looks like its made up of remarkably similar pieces to the last cave or ancient temple you came through, just in different order. Oh yeah, there's that same gate. Oh the same glowing pedastel in the center of the room. Oh, more wraiths, didn't see that coming. What I'm referring to are some of the problems with the generally remarkable game "Elder Scroll IV: Oblivion". This is a great game, BUT when you play it for well over 100 hours like I did you stop talking to average citizens because they all have the same talking points, you stop exploring caves because they all have mediocre equipment strapped to skeletons guarded by giant rats and trolls, and you only go into the ancient temples because they have those shiny artifacts that the one elf looking guy wants and getting them all earns you an achievement.

I guess what I'm getting at is, I hope they got this sort of feedback from other people and were able to take the past nearly 3 years to change it so that I'm not hearing the exact same person in 5 towns across a post-apocalyptic ex-metropolis. The game will definitely be good for the short term, the first play through I reckon will resemble how I felt on my first two play throughs of Mass Effect (On the third one you start to see where your decisions do and don't matter, and that a lot more really don't) but we'll see how the long term gameplay holds out... At least until Fable 2 comes out 2 weeks after.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Man I hate not having my own computer, its so inconvenient when you can't just download and upload whatever you want. Had I previously mentioned that my laptop died? Well, not died, but entered a state that using it was far more trouble than it was worth. So thats why whoever reads this thing has not been blessed with a new post in quite some time.

I got Spore, and its really quite excellent. Unfortunately I have to run it on a pretty old computer and so not only do I have to run it at minimum graphics settings (Which actually don't look to bad) but in the space mode things have a tendency to slow to a crawl or stop at really bad times. Yeah, being in the middle of a space battle where fast clicking is key and then suddenly your computer starts running 1 frame per 2 seconds.... Yeah, thats a problem. Especially when you're surrounded by 5 tiny agile ships that are constantly shooting you up! The only other gripes I have are minor: The tribal and civilization phase don't matter very much and are really only useful for obtaining some powers for the space stage, and the frequency that your own and other planets whine to you about being attacked gets old pretty quick, especially when you're in the middle of terraforming or something. Of course the true star of the game is the creature creator in which you can create a nigh infinite number of creatures. There are also several building and vehicle creators, but I don't find these as interesting as yet, because usually you're so busy playing the game to get your creature through to the space age that you don't feel like taking out the time to design 3 different buildings and 2 or 3 different vehicles. But in the future, after I've effectively conquered the space age, I may return and simply create some vehicles and buildings for fun.

But I definitely recommend it, though if you doubt its greatness you can always download the free creature creator demo at www.spore.com.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A dream?

Was it a dream? Or was it a terrible truth? No, I think it was a dream.

Anyway, I had a dream about some weird sort of cross over episode of Bleach and DBZ where Goku was attacking the Soul Society for some reason. I think maybe they had captured someone, or it could simply be because in my dream they were actually a group of bandits. Anyway, Goku was caught off guard and his powers were largely taken away along with his memories and made manifest into this weird man-wolf creature that was somehow more incompetent than Goku, but utterly loyal to this one member of the Soul Society. Goku meanwhile was put in with some of the lowly banditry, and it seemed like Goku still held some innate inkling that he was greater than he seemed, or at the very least he didn't act like the other bandits he was with. Then a scene opens on an underground store room and one of the higher up people is coming to check on the supply of "SPAM" or "Stuff Processed as Meat". Before he shows up though we cut to a scene of bandits in the store room counting food stuffs: "Er, we got some Bacon" "Thats SPAM" "And some Ribs" "SPAM" etc. etc. but off to the side Goku has found a pile of fresh produce and cold cuts and is making himself a sandwhich. And he's like "Hey guys, why are we eating that gross meat stuff? I'm making a great sandwhich right here!" And they're all like "What?! Hey, you can't do that!" And I guess they didn't get much water because next he was like "You know, once I was on an airplane, and this guy asked me something." All the bandits stop and ask "Eh, what was it?" Goku stands up and starts to break into a musical number like "Heeee asked me is I'd like some Waaater-" At which point the higher up bandit shows up and grabs Goku telling him to shut up. The bandit then takes Goku's sandwhich, takes a quick look around and leaves. And unfortunately my dream ended then but I'm guessing it then would have gone to some shot of the real guy in charge, who would be ironically short but unclichedly cool, and he would be thinking something like "Hmmm, looks like driving the Goku-ness out of him will be harder than I though...."

It was really great because it seemed like something Goku would have actually done in that situation... Not that any of my readers would know *Oh woe is me*.

Oh, and I leave you with a video that I also posted to Facebook which is probably the funniest thing ever created by The Daily Show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3JR_Fvpy9o

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Sorry its been so long since my last post, but my laptop kind of died and so I don't have my trusty favorites list to remind me to post on here.

A lot has happened since the Dark Knight came out (Seriously, that was last post). Lets see... I started playing Civilization 4, My brother got married, E3 came and went, Tarik got married, Nick Crew came to visit, Maureen got married, Georgia was invaded by Russia a little and there was that Olympics thing.

So, obviously I'm not going to talk about all of them, so of those I will touch on in order of importance...... I started getting back to Civ 4 with the Tutorial- .........



Okay, so the internet has failed me by not providing me easy access to the kind of comedic image I wanted to post after that *Siiiiiigh* I'll make up for it at the end with an amusing video link.

Anyway, obviously the most important event was my brother's wedding, but I think all the people who read my blog were either there or have already seen the photos on Facebook that I put up and while it was fun I'll just rundown the highlights in Haiku: Aisle Dancing fun::Chocolate Fountain Tasty::Karaoke laugh. There you go.

So then, getting back Civ 4- What? E3? Well, I guess it is slightly more important. I personally think that the most important announcements came from the Microsoft press conference such as: New format for Xbox Live featuring Mii like avatars, the ability to stream Netflix over Xbox Live, AND Final Fantasy XIII will have an Xbox release! Now, at the time I said that that news took away 70% of my incentive to buy a PS3. However I then watched the Sony Press Conference and changed that number to 40% because I was reminded of games like "LittleBig
Planet", other releases related to Final Fantasy XIII and other various games like a network game called "Flower" that looks really interesting. However it still doesn't have anything that would make me want to put down money BEFORE Final Fantasy XIII comes out, or mid-2009 to those who don't follow a Final Fantasy release based calendar system (We're almost in the 2nd year of the 11th era by the canonical calendar which I just made up). Xbox 360 on the other hand has a grand release schedule before this year is over: Fable 2 is the big exclusive gun they're packing this fall (I'd equate it to an AK-47 or the Shotgun Mel Gibson uses in The Road Warrior in terms of potency) with an exclusive coming through Square Enix from a notoriously good company (Amongst those in the know) called Tri-Ace called Infinite Undiscovery. Now, the Square Enix brand name and shiny graphics might get some people, but honestly its exclusivity potency is like sticking a dagger on the tip of the AK-47 (Meaning it might hit a few people, but not enough to make it significant). Now if they had some how gotten console exclusivity of Fallout 3 (Which they may have limited exclusivity of, I forget) that would have been like M16 with grenade launcher attachment (Which might be a gun in the game...). Imagine if you will: Elder Scroll IV type gameplay, but they've had 2 1/2 years to make it better. Add guns, explosions, radiation mutants, the ancestry of a PC RPG legend, and set it in Post-apocalyptic Washington DC. Now, add to that some sweet innovative gameplay elements and some nice n' bloody cinematic kill shots = Fallout 3. Like I said, M16 with a Grenade launcher attachment. So yeah, pretty much all my gaming dollars go towards 360 this fall... Well except for Spore of course.

Hmmm, besides that the Olympics have been good, and I think that Georgia-Russia thing is starting to be resolved before I even got to join the thousands of paranoid bloggers thinking it would bring about WW3.

Alright, now about Civilization 4, in earliest times of man's- What, we're out of time? B-but, Civ 4! They aren't interested?! -_-.......

Oh well, I found this amusing video. Apparently there's this thing on YouTube about "Starfox Vs. Link" because someone hacked the N64 Zelda game and stuck an Arwing in it that Link destroys with a boomerang. Anyway, this is a Pokemon battle based on that which is somewhat predictable at the beginning but gets better:

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dark Knight is the Brightest Dawn.

Or, something poetic like that. Basically Dark Knight is frickin' awesome and there is no good reason to not see it. You don't like superhero movies? This doesn't feel like a superhero movie at all, this feels like "What if Batman were real." In the last one, Batman Begins, it had some fantastic elements: Secret Ninja Clans, Fear Gas, the VERY dark city. In this, everything feels like maybe it could happen. And The Joker is amazing. Even if they bring the character back later, everyone will say "Eh, he's not as good as Heath Ledger." And not just because he died, because he's just that good. I mean, I guess if you have some strange aversion to Christian Bale, or if you ascribe to some form of pacifism that extends to viewing acts of violence... Those might be good reasons not to see it. But aside from that I don't see why.

Also, something else VERY exciting: The Watchmen preview! Freaking Awesome. It looks so good. I'm not sure what they're going to do with it.... I mean they pulled off V for Vandetta pretty well, but Watchmen has a lot of back story.... As long as they run it over 2 hours it should be fine.

What else.... OH, the new Terminator movie about the time between the end of Terminator 3 (Thank God it ended) and the time John Conner sends his father back to save his mother from Arnold the Governator in the first movie. It looks pretty good, I'm hoping that it redeems the Terminator series like Batman Begins did the Batman movie idea (Honsetly, Dark Knight is so much more realistic in my opinion, that it makes Batman Begins almost like one of the first two.... Which isn't bad obviously, but by comparison of realness to... Atmosphere? I dunno.)

And there was a preview for "Quantum of Solace" 007 movie. I have no idea what "Quantum of Solace" is, or where you get one (Same place you get a Goldeneye and an Octopussy I guess?) It looks good, though its sort of an actual sequel to the last one which is kind of odd isn't it? For the Bond series? Ah well.

Next weekend the X-Files 2 comes out, and it should be rather good I think. I mean, it has David Duchovney, so thats all you really need to know I think.

Oh, on a final note there was a strange preview for a new "The Day the Earth Stood Still" with Keanu Reeves in it... It looks nothing like the original The Day the Earth Stood Still except that Reeve's plays a similar messenger alien type person and there was a snap look at a robot that looked like the one in the original. I dunno, we'll see I guess.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Last time on.... 24

Oh, wait, I don't watch that show. But I couldn't think of anything else good with 24, so there you go.

Anyway, I'm 24 now, or as of last Friday. I had a party- well, get together really, on Saturday. We ate pizza, played a little Rock Band, watched a couple movies (The Host and Southland Tales specifically). It was fun, but I wish a few more people had come as it was a group of people that I hang out with pretty regularly anyway. Not that there's anything wrong with, but it felt more like a normal movie night or something. Oh well, it doesn't matter. I'll tell you what DOES matter.

THIS is what matters. Yes, thats correct, the topic that might have 4000 comments by the time you read it (As compared to the usual 500-800 for a big story). Reading a scant few comments, it was pretty predictable: The PS3 owners were saying how this wouldn't affect their console at all because they are Playstation, 360 people laughed and jeered at this great blow to the PS3, and Nintendo people just kind of sighed as they sat off to the side with the console that is competing in its own private batttlefield... Against itself. So what is this great blow to Sony? What possible exclusive title did they hold in their posession like the Holy Grail of console sales? What else but Final Fantasy XIII. Yes, in a shocking upset, the Square-Enix rep at this years E3 event turned around as he was heading off stage as though remembering something. A trailer roles of largely new footage, ending with a shot of those few known characters from the new title and the industry shaking announcement that, for the first time ever, Final Fantasy would be released, not just on two consoles, but also in Japan, America AND Europe all on the same day. Sadly this means that 70% of my incentive to buy a PS3 (At its current price tag) is gone. However, as long as PS3 holds exclusives on FFXIII: Versus and Kingdom Hearts 3 they'll still have a pretty good hand... I just won't call until until they've raised the pot by bringing down the console's price.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Quad News Time SMASH!

Lets see, it seems like I had 4 things to write about, what were they...

Well, to start out with I finished the show Speed Grapher. At first I just thought it was an interesting look at the dark underside of the perverse corruption of the rich and powerful, but by the end I realized that it was about that AND being free from the corrupting effects of greed and money. Its kind of unfortunate that some of the monsters they threw in felt forced and unnecessary, but then it was the anime version, maybe the manga had better backstory for them. Anyway, very good.

Item number 2 is that I ordered and received my wonderful Nana Best DVD/CD collection that might be the best collectible for a fan of the anime version of Nana. The best part of my order is that I thought it was JUST the CD, but then I found out there was a DVD with. Whoa, it was really a great surprise, especially since I'm still not sure when the show is coming stateside.

While we're on anime, Anime Expo '08 was this past weekend. I didn't go, but I was reading some of the stuff associated with it through ANN. The most intersting item is definitely this: Fansubs - The Death of Anime?. Its an hour long panel discussion about the problems caused by illegal distribution and subsequent subtitling and then redistribution of anime. One of the most interesting statements was this: "We're seeing anime fandom and convention attendence steadily increase... And yet DVD sales are 20% lower than last year." The analysis of the problem is also interesting, something like "This wasn't a problem back when fansubbed material was hard to come by, like when you had to know a guy who knew a guy with a VHS tape. Nowadays you can say 'Hey man, go home a watch the new Naruto. Just click here and here and make sure you've got bitTorrent.' In other words, we've got a generation of anime fans who think anime is free." And thus why fansubs all over the net is a problem. But, until anime companies are bringing subtitled anime fresh from Japan to the states within a few days of broadcast through legitimate channels and in equivalent formats... Well, the fan who wants to keep up with the Jono-san's is going to have to keep tapping illegetimate sources. So right now people like Funimation, ANN, Bandai, etc. are focusing on educating their largely high school and economically ignorant fan-base on the fact that, yes, anime costs money to make, and if you don't pay for it then its going to stop being made.

My final note... Oh right I saw The Orphanage (El Orfanato) which was produced by "Pan's Labyrinth" del Toro. Its very good for a horror movie. Why? Because its doesn't rely on a lot of blood and gore. Its not incredibly scary really, to me anyway, but I think most people would enjoy it even if the ending is a little strange... Touching, but strange. I also saw Wall-E this weekend. As to expect with Pixar, very good. I liked that the auto-pilot resembled the HAL 9000 and the repeated revelations that they have a pool on the ship. My only complaint really is that its hard to understand the robot speech at times, but generally you don't miss anything too important.

Well, while writing this I composed two other posts on other forums, so I'm done with the internet for tonight.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Get outta here Uwe Boll!

Time for a real story! I had kind of suspected the it from some rumors a few days earlier, most revolving around a new enty screen to Blizzard's main site, but now Diablo 3 has officially been announced as of Saturday! It is 100% teh awesome. If it was coming out this year, the same year as Spore, the PC might overload from having two such awesome games debuting at the same time after such a long stretch of having nothing worthwhile except some strategy games and Crysis. Here, watch this gameplay video:


Isn't it awesome?! And, if for some reason you didn't watch the second one, they show that the bosses you can fight are HUGE (One guy gets his head bitten off!) and you can do 4 player co-op alla Gaunlet Legends. Seriously, it looks like they're playing Gauntlet Legends, but with Diablo 3 characters and abilities. How awesome is that? Oh, plus destructable terrain. See that loose wall next to the zombies? BAM! RumbleCrumbleCrashSplat! 15 zombies dead. Enemies crash through banisters and railings on bridges and ledges. Heck, the fact that enemies go flying at all is an improvement on Diablo 2, though its fairly standard for games now so I guess to be expected. Also, they're keeping the old 3/4 isometric view, which is a VERY good idea. Free Roaming camera works in some games, but Diablo wouldn't be the same if you had to manage a camera.

There's no realease date yet, but that's hardly surprising. As a final treat, watch this cinematic clip:


Friday, June 20, 2008

Holy Warped Reality!

So I'm still playing through Chrono Cross. I've finally gotten over obsessing about field advantage and just try to hit enemies with the opposite element, which actually works rather well. Well, except for stupid enemies like that Sun of a Gun (Actual name of enemy... Actually shaped like a sun) that have monstrous defense. But at least I got the "Holy Light" element from it, which totally killed a later boss.

As for whats happening in the story (Since I'm guessing pretty much everyone has either played this game or will never play it by this point) my character (Serge) has just switched bodies with the villain Lynx (Actually looks like a humanoid Lynx in a dark elaborate outfit). So now, returning to my original world, pretty much no one believes that I'm Serge (Surprise surprise). Though one aspect I do like is that the one person who believes you after a fair conversation is the main character's mother, I thought that was a nice touch. And after we convinced the village chief he decides to accompany us to a nearby town so we might actually be able to get something done. The story got a lot more interesting once the charcter switched bodies, before that it was a pretty standard "Lets get that bad guy!" adventure. Now they're throwing out all these questions about the nature of identity "How do you know you are you and that you are not really Lynx?" Its interesting fo' sho.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Right Stuf!

No, thats not a typo. I just finally decided to check out the best place to buy all things anime www.rightstuf.com . Seriously okay? I got 4 DVDs + a soundtrack CD (-Shipping) for the price that it would cost to buy 1 Anime DVD (+Tax) at Barnes & Noble or FYE or pretty much anywhere except Best Buy and anime speciality stores. I mean, with shipping costs the total was $40. $40! That comes out to $8 an item! Its hard to find quality DVDs for that price at a used DVD/CD store, and this is unopened product! Sure I have to wait maybe 2 weeks for it to get here, but I'm playing through "Chrono Cross" and "The World Ends With You" so its not like I can't wait. And its not like the DVDs I got were some ancient series that no one likes, the rather recent and well liked "Speed Grapher". So yeah, I was satisfied with that.

Speaking of Chrono Cross, thats my latest project in my "Play old RPGs" series. Firstly, the awesome opening can be viewed here for those of you unfortunate enough to have never heard of the game: Opening . Getting to it, as usual, there's more than I remember right off the bat, like just how many non-essential characters there are, and just how very non-essential many of them are... Its kind of sad. Like I'm really not sure why some of these people are joining my character's party. Like this exorcist priest type guy (Who is dressed like a Mexican wrestler) was sort of like "Hmmm, you are a spirit who is dead in this world. That interests me so I'll follow your group." Back tracking note, in Chrono Cross you travel between two parallel worlds with the split point being the main character's death ten years ago. Hence why he is a "spirit who is dead in this world". Its interesting. The other thing is the variety of accents, and how they aren't entirely complete. I think this one character is supposed to be Australian accented... But I'm not sure because there are British acents that are similar. Some of them just have strange phrases that they work in to sentences, like the giant living Voodoo doll (who joins you so this guy will stop wasting his life worshipping him) who puts "Boogie" and the suffix "-oogie" in strange places. And then there's the doctor who talks like a surfer dude, unfortunately even during serious conversations... And of course this is all text that you have to read and try to figure out how these people sound (Well, you could be boring and not I suppose, but like I said, boring). I'm still trying to re-adjust my mind to the gameplay. I keep trying to get myself elemental field advantage, which is accomplished by casting a successive series of spells of the same element. This gives characters you control of that element an attack advantage, makes enemies of the opposite element weaker, and strengthens any spell of that element. However, I keep on forgetting to cast more powerful spells in favor of elemental advantage, which ends up hurting me more than helping I think. It also didn't help that I had two characters with opposite elemental alignments in party which meant that field advantage for one made the other really weak. Since one of them was my main character... Well, Mojo moved on to other things. The story is at least as good as the early parts of Final Fantasy 9 so far, so I'm hoping it stays good.

Finally, I watched Pan's Labyrinth and Silent Hill last night. I hadn't watched Pan's Labyrinth from the beginning before, and I liked it SO much more now that I've seen the beginning because I didn't realize that they had set up the fairy tale aspect from the beginning. Before I came in on the part near where the guy's face gets smashed in, so I thought it was just a story of a girl escaping horrible circumstances through a fairy tale. The beginning TOTALLY changes things. Speaking of beginnings, Silent Hill's first 10 minutes sucks. Its so bad. I always end up liking it by the end because it gets better as it goes (By which I mean, more Silent Hill-y), but I've decided that you should start watching the movie from the gas station scene before they get to Silent Hill (I'd say later, but then you don't know who Sean Bean's character is so much). The parts before that, especially the opening scene, feel like they were added for the stupid audience member who needs to be told verbally why they're going to Silent Hill in the first place. Actually, something I was thinking while watching was "This is such a fan movie, I'm not sure why someone who hadn't played the games would watch this." I mean, its kind of like the Final Fantasy VII movie: There is something there for the non-fan, but its for the fans. The non-fans will be treated to the wonderful monsters and awesome world transitions from the games, but they won's pick up on the music from the game, the copied camera shots and other general references. Though I do want to show someone the movie fresh, from the gas station scene and see if the opening scenes are even necessary, because they feel like something a studio executive told them to add.

Well, I've spent enough time on this post. Off to Chrono Cross.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

You stand before the final dimension...

Okay, thats another Final Fantasy down, lets keep things a rollin' here. In other words, I just finished Final Fantasy IX and will thusly either move on to 10 or maybe slip to the side and try Chrono Trigger instead... Hmmm.... Well, either way I'm watching Battlestar Galactica Season 3 first since I'll burn through that in like.... tomorrow. I am a hardcore marathonner my friend, just not the running kind. I spent all day Sunday burning through extra stuff on Final Fantasy IX, I'll spend.... Well, maybe not Wednesday. Thursday is gonna be all abouts the BSG, basically whatever is left over from Wednesday.

Anyway, getting back to the subject at hand: I beat Final Fantasy IX and am coming to the conclusion that I'm really liking all these games. I mean, for a time I had it held in my mind that Final Fantasy was generally a notch above most everything else, but after just playing through 8 and 9 again.... Just so good. I'm starting to come to the conclusion that I'm going to have to start making note of the games' flaws because comparing high points is too difficult. Which one has a better story? Psh, very difficult. I can tell you that VII is my favorite, but thats because I love the characters and world its set in. VIII is a hands down romance set against a saving-the-world backdrop, and I thouroughly enjoyed it. IX I finally understood this time through, there was so much I had forgotten or just not understood the first time through... Though the ultimate final boss, while very impressive, is rather random. Hey, one difference between Stephen King and Final Fantasy? Final Fantasy knows how to do an ending to a long tale right (Which I hear Mr. King doesn't)... Though VII's coulda been longer. Seriously, so much of my satisfaction with IX came out in this ending part. Sure my Zidane, Garnet, Freya, Amarant party was flippin' sweet at that point, and the battles were truly epic, but the story aspects and philosophy concepts they throw at you in the end... Its good but maybe a little over the top. Final scene? Perfect ending. And, of course, Crystal theme at the end. Interesting note, near the end there's a tripped out version of the Crystal theme playing. Weird eh? Well, not really considering the last area I guess.... But thats beside the point. My one great complaint against IX is its ability system which, at times would require that you equip inferior equipment for a long period of level grinding, just to gain one ability. Did you always need that ability? No, but you'd be kicking yourself later for not getting it. Oh, and then some of these abilities you have to equip. So even if you spend all that time learning them, you don't really get to use them unless you have the crystal points to equip it. *Sigh* Oh well. You get a high enough level and it doesn't matter so much, but its still something that I'm glad has yet to be repeated.

I think I will do Chrono Trigger next just because I'm afraid that 10 will some how betray my memory of it, and I know that Chrono Trigger is good... And I have an early save file of it that I found so I can skip the parts that I've played 10 times before in my previous efforts to replay it. And I've been enjoying giving my little PSOne a work out since the PS2 has been somewhat iffy as of late.

Well, they're going to start tiling my room tomorrow so I guess I better sleep or something.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Dangerous Days

So I just got the Blade Runner 4 disc special Final Cut... Thing yesterday. For free mind you, thanks to our wonderful buy 2 get the 3rd free DVD sale. So I watched the movie through and they did change some stuff, and all of the changes were definitely for the better. If you've only ever seen the original theatrical release, well, its hugely different from that. But if you're someone like me who has largely watched the Director's Cut, there are still some differences you will be able to notice I think. Longer shots with Edward James Olmos' character Gaff for instance with his wonderful made up language (Which he made up almost entirely by himself according to the special features disc). And they finally fixed the bird scene! Yeah, you know what I'm talking about, the one tiny scene in the film that sticks out like a sore thumb of "Oops, we forgot to finish this properly". So much better now.

So after I watched the movie I decided to watch the special feature disc, which, I didn't realize sticking it in, was 4 hours long. But it was very interesting. Like even the parts I didn't think I was going to find interesting like the set design and stuff was really interesting. The most interesting stuff was the different forms the story took and some of the scenes they didn't include. For example one of the original opening scene ideas that came about was somewhere entirely outside the city that Harrison Ford's character, Deckard, went to in order to "retire" an older model replicant that was living on a farm out there. And it sounded interesting, but by comparison to the movie they finally made.... It would have felt completely different. Like it would have been about the detective who "retired" Replicants, whereas the final version was about that, but also about a vision of the future and the questions about synthetic life and what makes us human. Yeah, so very different original concept. They had also originally intended to cast at least one of the two replicants who you hear about dying but you never get to see. They were going to use a girl who had tried out for Priss, but was too slight to fit the bill of someone who could believably fight Ford. So they were going to have a sort of death scene for her, but time and budget constraints denied the possibility. I'm not sure if it would have helped or hindered the film in the end actually. Apparently one problem was that people didn't get it, which is a big reason the original version had the weird sort of film noir voice over. Its good for the first time you watch it if you aren't in to deep or artsy movies, because it helps you understand what is going on (Like a tutorial mode for a video game). But after you watch it through once with the voice over, I'm not sure why you would watch it like that again, especially since the ending is completely tacked on and different. And really the only voice over bit that I ever remember being useful was the comment made about Gaff's gutter speak or "City Speak" to explain that this guy doesn't speak English, he speaks a weird mash up of languages. I have a feeling that I'd be as frustrated with it as Harrison Ford and the other people who were nay-saying it in the documentary if I watched it through again with the voice over.

Oh, I'm also like 10 times more impressed with the visual effects and such after watching the documentary and realizing nothing is digital. I had forgotten that it came out in 82. It doesn't look like it came out in 82. Also, the visuals are probably better than you could get with CG anyway. You know how it is, you can always tell that something is CG. Matte paintings all the way my friend. Ha, I remember seeing some in Halo 3 and being like "Yes, a painted background! Awesome!" Probably the main reason why I like Final Fantasy 7 and the other 2 late 90's Final Fantasies is that they use paintings as their backgrounds a lot. It just has a detail that you almost always lose with full 3D games. I mean, nowadays we're getting to the point where surroundings are that detailed, like I expect FFXIII to totally floor me visually, but I will always have a spot in my heart for matte paintings... Or entire set paintings. But anyway, the point I was trying to make was that a whole heck of a lot of what was possible with Blade Runner was made possible because of matte painting and a really skilled modeling crew.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is.... You should watch the final cut of Blade Runner. I dunno, NetFlix it or something.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Beware the Stroper! (It rhymes with Groper!)

So, two things are rather recent for me to write about: Samurai 7 and Final Fantasy IX (or 9 for you sorry folks who can't read roman numerals).

Firstly, Samurai 7 is an anime series based on Akira Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai". Its a rather good anachronistic telling with real-type samurai juxtaposed to giant robots (In the role of the bandits). Basically.... Think of a "The-long-way" telling of the Seven Samurai where they're still protecting an Edo-era rice producing village but the town they travel to in order to find Samurai is Steam/Cyber-punk as is much of the technology outside of rural villages... And the bandits are giant robotic beings... So far as we know. I only have the first two discs right now, so I'm not sure how they'll end it exactly, but I'm betting on a plot twist involving the bandits as "The enemy is not what they seem!" tends to be a common anime plot twist when dealing with large foes that don't directly interact with the heroes (And sometimes even when they do!). Anyway, its good, Netflix a disc or something!

Secondly, I've been playing through Final Fantasy 9 and am already on the 3rd disc. Now I will tell you up front, right here, that anyone who says they love FF9 but hate 10 with a main reason being "You don't get to even use a world map till late in the game, its so linear" (Which I've never heard, but I'm sure some fool has made it) has NO point to make. I just got to disc 3, about 25 hours in, and feel like I'm not being led around for the first time all game, like I actually have a realistic choice of where to go and what to do. Sure there were some minor instances here and there earlier on, but the first continent you're on is constructed in such a way as you can't go very many places EXCEPT your next destination... Which I don't really have a problem with, but I know that something a fair number of people try to pin on 10 is its lack of world map exploration, and I say "Good Riddance". World maps have a nice nostalgia to them, but they are ultimately impractical now that we have the technology to render actual levels all the way inbetween towns and such. Speaking of impractical things: Tetra Master. I don't know if I mentioned the card game in Final Fantasy 8, but for some reason I remembered this one's being better... Well it isn't, its an inconsistant random mess that is kept intentionally vague because I don't think the creators fully developed it properly! The problem comes when two cards have to "Battle". You can have two cards with the exact same values attack each other, and some unknown background factor affects the numbers that actually come into play. AGH!! Thankfully I read something that said "Yeah, the card game will never really win you anything." Thank goodness, because I'd much rather waste hours on a worthwhile mini-game like "Chocobo Hot/Cold" in which you hunt for treasure with the aid of everybodies favorite yellow bird:

Isn't it adorable? You know what isn't adorable? The Stroper, an enemy in the Lifa tree. I would describe its appearence in detail, but women visit this site... I hope. I will say that it is a blatant tentacle monster, which you will either understand or not. I've noticed that a LOT of the enemies in this Final Fantasy are kinda... Odd. For instance the enemy that seems to based on an ancient Japanese horror monster, and the Snake woman who is ironically ugly to contrast the fact that in the old SNES final Fantasies she was quite hot. *Sigh* I guess that Square was just making a giant series of references to its older games with this one since, based on an FAQ I read, there are more references to previous games in this Final Fantasy than any other, which I can believe. But anyway, I was talking about mini-games. The Choco Hot/Cold is so much better a game because 1. Its fun. 2. There is serious rewardage when you find the treasures. However I'm not sure I'm going to indulge too much because I kind of want to get through the game and move on in my rampant replaying of Final Fantasies past which I've kind of decided to just go ahead and do: Play all the Final Fantasies that I haven't played through more than once. I've played 4 enough that I'm not going to play it again, but I need to play 6 again, and I'll try to bring myself to play 5 though of the ones I have played its currently my least favorite. Also 10 which, I may have played through twice, or maybe I just did it once and then watched someone else do it a second time. Heck, its skill system beats 9 at least, which I really am not a fan of because you have to let equipment sit on your characters until they get enough Ability Points to permenantly learn it, so you have super weak armor sitting on your high level character that wasn't able to learn the skill early on because the game forced you along a certain plot line where only the main character was playable for a while...... They just better be glad I really like the art style and music and am liking the story because nary but the core Final Fantasy gameplay goodness aspects am I liking of the combat... Worst limit system ever and the turn meter fills...so....freakin'....slowly.... Oh well, its still fun, and some people will try to convince thats all that really matters.... When its cheap or free they are correct, so with a game that you bought 8 years ago I guess it applies too.

In other good news, tomorrow I'm going to buy the Blade Runner 4 disc set, the Criterion Collection version of "The Seven Samurai", and Season 3 of Battlestar Galactica. Why such a big purchase? Because for the entire month of June all DVDs are Buy 2 get the 3rd free. As my manager said "I spend $500 easy." I won't spend quite that much, but I do plan to take advantage of the deal at least once more this month. I'll see how much more I can spend after Ninja Gaiden 2.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Final Fantasy VIII Finito

So I just finished playing through Final Fantasy 8 for the 2nd time, SO much better than I remembered. Story made a lot more sense, as did the combat system which, as I explained last post, is very strange.

My final battle was always very dramatic because I had forgotten that when you start your battle with the final boss the party is randomly selected. So my carefully honed party of three had an ill-prepared member thrown into the mix and sudenly found itself in dire straits. Needless to say it went down hill from there, though I made a valient last stand as main charcter Squall dealt a finishing blow to the 2nd of 4 forms you must combat, only to succumb to the irremovable Doom status at the beginning of the 3rd form. Tragic, and yet Epic. Of course I then spent 30 mintes re-Junctioning the various GFs to different supplementary characters (Irvine, Zell and Selphie, also known as the comic relief team) only to enter the final battle a second time with all thee of my best best characters. I was happy yet slightly frustrated that my beautiful re-Junctioning was for naught. The first form passed quikly as I dealt a punishing blow with the ultimate GF "Eden" and a few deft blows from Squall's nigh ultimate Gunblade quickly dispatched the minor menace. Then it was onto Griever, a GF under Ultimecia's control that has a fortunate weakness to Holy (And I a fortunate surplus of Holy spells to Triple cast, along with the use of the GF "Alexander") So before too long he curled up into a little ball, but then Ultimecia is all like "I'm gonna combine my power with his" and she does, so I'm all "Yeah, well, eat Eden!" So, I started to summon Eden, but got interdimensionally pimp slapped and she took out Eden in a single attack! I wasn't taking that, and after a little thinking I determined "Aura time..." So I slapped Aura on Quistis and tried a few things til I discovered that Aqua Breath was doing 9999 damage. So basically, I beat her down with a giant squirt gun. I felt vindicated. But.... The fight was not yet over. The true form of Ultimecia arose from the darkness of a Space-Time void to confront my party. Changing tactics yet again, I stuck Aura on Squall and Rinoa while leaving Quistis to Triple Cast Curaga. Why? Because Ulti had this nasty little move called Hell's Judgment that knocks everyone down to 1 HP. Didn't do me no trouble though, just kept whaling on her with Squall's Renzokuken (Multi-Gunblade hit combo with a powerful finisher on a perfect, which ain't hard to get) and Rinoa's attack combo with... Her dog (Don't ask me why, all I know is that she's got this move "Wishing Star" that has run out of bubble gum if you take my meaning, and she conveniently did it ALOT.) So this poor defenseless final boss basically had no chance, though I was a little disappointed that she didn't last at least long enough to finish her little mid-battle speech. She ended on "And..." So I'm left wondering "And what? And remember to brush your teeth? And remember to be excellent to each other?" The world may never know.... Unless they just google it.

So yeah, lots of flashy explosions and escaping from compressed time, happy ending finale. Now I'm going to play through Final Fantasy IX. I've actually already started and am remembering all sorts of stuff I'd forgotten about it. Maybe the identity of the Final Boss will make more sense this time....

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Long time no post.

So, I haven't posted anything in almost two weeks, so I thought I should. This is probably largely due to the fact that I still can't really move back into my room entirely because that would simply mean moving stuff back out again once its decided when and whether we're getting my room refloored. Its not really a big problem since I can still use my bed, its just inconvenient. But, thats what happens when the power goes out after its been raining for a day and a half, thus making the sub-pump inoperable, and then your basement doesn't really flood, but just enough to totally ruin the carpet. *Sigh* Oh well.

I've been re-playing Final Fantasy VIII recently because I haven't played in about, oh, 8 years. I definitely understand its system better this go around, but its still a pretty odd system. Basically its such an odd system that it turned off a lot of Final Fantasy fans and most will say to this day "Its great in the graphics and music, and I like the story, but what were they thinking with the game mechanics?" Too explain the strangeness of the system to those not familiar with the series, imagine if normally your character could attack, cast spells that he learned or bought with a set number of magic points, summon magnificant creatures to devestate your foes, and you could choose which spells and such you had equiped along with weapons, armor and accessories. Y'know, normal gameplay. In Final Fantasy 8 unless you equip yourself with one of those summonable creatures, all you can do is a normal attack, which quite frankly is a really weak attack. You don't learn spells, you draw them out of enemies and little magical fountains that replenish after awhile, and then you very rarely use said spells in combat aside from healing spells, and really the main purpose of the spells is to use an incredibly strange system in which you equip various spells through your creature (or creatures) to boost your character's stats. Also this generally takes the place of any purchasing of armor or accessories you might do, especially considering that you can't purchase any armor or accessories. You also don't purchase new weapons, instead you collect random junk that's dropped by or stolen from enemies and take it to a shop where they "Remodel" your weapon. So yeah, really weird right? I mean, as a fan of innovative gameplay I appreciate it nowadays, but I totally understand why fans were unhappy after coming off of 7 games before that had kept largely the same system in place. The story, music and graphics are still outstanding for the time though.

Anyway, I'm off to Austin Grill for dinner and then the midnight showing of Indiana Jones later.

Ja ne.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The long overdue Mass Effect Review

I don't know why I've waited so long to review this game: I bought Mass Effect when it first came out, played through it at least four times, and generally enjoyed even the replays as repetitive as they became. Even having not played it in a couple months now I can still remember how excellent it is.

Dramatic Posing

The game starts by either choosing a prefabricated character (Boo..) or customizing yourself a character from fairly extensive character creation tools (Do it!). I personally believe that the voice actress for the female Cmdr. Shepherd is superior to the voice actor for the male version, and thus would recommend having a female character. Also, unlike some games where character customization is a useless chore (I'm looking at you Oblivion!) in this game your character will actually be getting a lot of face time, so make sure you like their looks. The other options for your character aside from look is their class, of which there are 6 with varying levels of proficincy between the Soldier, Engineer and Adept skills. You also get to choose your character's backstory which comes into play through various conversations and even some optional missions. Getting back to the classes, perhaps one of the biggest factors in play when choosing between classes for a new player to the game is that only classes that are in some way Soldier class influenced can use weapons other than a pistol and equip armor above Light. While for a more advanced player the skills you receive from an Engineer or Adept can more than make up for these, as you are still learning and especially if you come from an FPS background, it is in your best interest to choose a character with some soldier influence or you may not enjoy the game entirely.

The radial conversation selection gets the dialogue to flow quickly while still allowing the player to control the direction of things.

The next aspect of the game you will come in contact with is the generally very good music and voice acting in the game. Sure some of the background music for common areas can get repetitive, but none of it is grating. And the voice acting for all the main characters is quite good. Captain Anderson is voiced by the fellow who voiced the Arbiter from Halo 2 & 3, and the aforementioned female lead has numerous voice credits including Naomi Hunter and Emma Emmerich from the Metal Gear Solid series (Also Prier from La Pucelle, but fortunately not too many people know about that game...). Seth Green is even in the cast as the smart mouthed pilot. Connected to voice acting is the innovative conversation system. Those who have played Knights of the Old Republic or Jade Empire may be familiar with the variety of conversation options that Bioware generally presents the player and their ramifications upon the game's morality meter. In Mass Effect there are two meters reflecting your personality: Paragon or Renegade. These fill based upon your actions, and the increase of the meters will open the ability to purchase associated abilities which grant advantages in dealings with merchants and open options in conversations to turn difficult situations too your advantage (Though, perhaps it makes some situations to easy?). The game also features rather smooth flow of conversation and a radial selection menu for your answers which sure beats the menu selection style of previous titles. Oh, and something else interesting is that the conversation option isn't exactly what your character says, but more the attitude they will be taking towards the remark or situation.

The Alien races of Mass Effect + Humans

The graphics are both good and sometimes a let down. To be sure the character animations and appearance is top notch as are many environments. However, I often felt the areas tended to feel somewhat desolate or lacking in fine details. Also there is a tendency to be some texture issues alla Halo 2. They usually fix themselves in a second or two and may simply be an attempt to bring up scenes more quickly, but when the rest of the game looks good, even small problems are off-putting. Perhaps the greatest flaw in the game is the understandable, yet regrettable repetitiveness of optional mission environments and their general lack of satisfying conclusions. For example, there is one optional quest involving a corrupt secret organization, but after you reach the end you don't really learn that much, nor does it seem to have much effect on anything. But since BioWare is thusfar living up to promises for Downloadable Content, I will hope for expansions on this and other stories... But I was talking about graphics. Not the best on the console, but the characters really do shine (And not because of over abudance of lightbloom!).

Taking out sentient machines has never been easier thanks to Armor Piercing Rounds!

So what about the meat of the game? I think some people complain about the combat, but I personally find it very usable and fun (Biotic power lift is awesome fun). If it was meant to be purely a Shooter then I would say it has problems, but given that it is an RPG with shooter style combat I say it works well given the real time nature and the easy integation of Biotic and Mechanical powers. Oh, in case you're scratching your head, Biotics are sort of like the Force, but they don't harness the fabric of the universe. Another aspect of the game is the travel to other systems and planets which is one of the most interesting aspects. Travel to a new system, survey most of the planets to earn money and experience points and then land on the one or two planets that have some sort of a mission on them and roam around in your awesome land roaver which CAN take damage and you can engage enemy forces in. Some pretty epic battles against your main foes, the Geth, take place in this vehicle. My only complaint about the roaver is you can't upgrade or customize it. Its firepower and armor seem to upgade as your characters level up and its radar range increases, but besides that its pretty much the same vehicle you start with. Speaking of leveling up, the ability system is pretty versitile. Early in the game you get a lot of points with each level up allowing you to spread between some options and experiment and therefore letting you decide where you want to focus later when you get fewer points. For example, if you're a soldier maybe early on you aren't sure if you want to specialize in Assault Rifle, Sniper Rifle or a Shotgun so you spread points betwen the three. Later on you realize that you're using the Sniper Rifle less often, delegating the task to a team mate who specializes in the combat form, and so you put more points in Assault Rifle and Shotgun. You also control ability point allocation for your team mates... Or you can just do the auto level up, but thats rather boring isn't it? As is standard for an RPG, you control the equipment of your party, altering and upgrading weapons and armor. However with this game you can modify you equipment with, well mods. Things like armor piercing damage to really hit the robotic enemies, or adding additional force to the shot to increase the chances of knocking an enemy down (Which is more useful than it sounds). You can also obtain implants to boost your Biotic or Mechanical skillz. This video clip shows a good idea of the Vanguard class, a combination of Soldier and Adept: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbGipe1rRhg

My Renegade Commander: Totel

Finally, the story is just awesome. There hasn't been a Sci-Fi movie with a story this good in a daggon while, and while I can't really speak for the literary community, I'm guessing the narrative would pique their interest. The universe itself is vast and rich with data files on the different races in the game that are well worth the read (Though, I'm a setting nut, so I really dig background info). Unfortunately I don't want to give away to much story so I can't tell you too much except to say that the game starts you on a mission to test your abilities as a candidate for an elite group and you experience something on that mission that sets you on your path to save the galactic civilization as you know it. So its not really a cliched "Farmer to Hero" story, you start as a skilled officer who would likely be a hero or, depending on the background you choose, may be considered one already. And hey, no amnesia plot device so thats a plus right? Aside from the main story, which is rather flexible in how you unravel it, there are a number of side stories that you encounter along the way, the best being on planets where main plot stories take place of course, but even on my fourth time playing through I managed to find a new way to take one of the flexible mini-storylines. Another BioWare staple is interaction with your team mates between missions. These conversations are well done and, if nothing else, help further flesh out the interesying universe. Also you can pursue romance with certain character, though to save some readers the trouble, I was diasappointed that no romance can be pursued with Tali (Ah my beuatiful cyborg looking woman, why is our love not meant to be?). One of my main wonderings about the story is the promised carry over to Mass Effect 2, and I wonder if the romance will carry over or not. Obviously things like "Were you Renegade or Paragon at the end?" will matter, and other key elements I won't disclose.... But what about those little things? Will the developers care whether I retrieved Wrex's familiy armor or not (And more subtley, whether he was there when I got it back or not)? We'll find out I suppose.

If you own an Xbox 360 you should buy this game just to have it in your library if for no other reason, and its also available for PC now and I've heard they made some enhancements to make it work better with the PC. Obviously I think you should enjoy it. The only complaint I can lay against it aside from the few I have already is the dang slow elevator ride inside your ship. Sure its a realistic lift elevator, but still... Really tedious. Its not like it has interesting conversations or news casts running like in the Citadel elevators.

So, final tally:

+Great voice acting
+Great textures on the characters
++Storyline is awesome
+Enjoyable character customization
+The female commander
+Lift Biotic is awesome

-Some texture loading issues
-The story loses something after you've played through once and alternative options can feel hollow
-Repetitive optional mission environments
-No romance with Tali
-Frickin' slow elevator on the ship

=Combat system that some people complain about, but I think works well.
=New Game+ characters can't earn achievements.
=Music great in some places, but very forgettable in most common areas.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ah... 4 hour YouTube romp.

So I just spent close to 4 hours on YouTube. After some simple stuff I stumbled on this, as usual, several months old phenomenom of 2 Girls 1 Cup Reactions. Fortunately I saw enough reactions to save myself from the horror of the actual video, for instance this one which clearly instructs you to never under any circumstances watch the video. At the same time it gives you enough of an idea so that your curiosity shouldn't get the better of you.

After that I was in YouTube mode, and what YouTube mode is is the state in which you start to look up clips to things you never would have thought of looking up under normal circumstances. For instance, after I was done with ^that^ I moved on to Star Wars where I watched old auditions by Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. There was also one with Kurt Russel who would not have made a bad Han Solo. However THE most interesting part was that they were using old scripts that were a lot different from the final scripts, so you had the ravaging of Organa Prime where "What little is left is totally contaminated with radiation." and the fact that "The royal family has mind control" You also got a much better feeling, I thought, of the whole rebellion against the Empire side of it. As a kid I was definitely too entranced by the Sci-Fi to stop and think about what was actually going on and ended up thinking "Okay, there's a side called 'Rebels' and a side called 'Empire'." without really connecting "Oh, they're actually rebels against a galactic Empire, its not like a group name or something." and the old script seemed much more emphasizing that "Hey, there's an oppressive empire and we need these plans to succeed." (By the way, thats what Episode IV is actually about in case you may have missed that.) Also, Leia didn't seem as tomboyish and aggressive. After fiddling around with that for a while....

I moved on to anime, specifically looking to see if there were any AMVs (Anime Music Videos), or MAD Movies as they were originally called in Japan (See, you learn stuff on my blog... Useless, useless stuff), for a particular anime called Kanon, specifically the 2006 release since the 2002 version was, well, not as good. Anyway, of course they eixisted, as though I should doubt for a minute. This led, of course, to looking up AMVs to a similar series called Clannad with similar concept and the same director, Tatsuya Ishihara (Also directed Air, which is also excellent.). And OF COURSE this led to me looking up video clips of the original PC and PS2 games which both series are based on. I really wish those games were localized, because as good as the series is, the game is better. Anyway, after I looked up the deeply emotional heart rending end scenes from the multiple ending game I thought "Hey, wasn't I looking up AMVs and MADs?" so I continued with that, discovering that MADs are generally superior to AMVs, probably because they've been around longer. THEN came the fruition of my journies, I came upon that which can only exist in the online anime culture.... Fear it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AK2QUjt7jXI and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjHIn-hU8ro and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_e1lB6j6lM (Which is basically the difference between an AMV, in the case of the second, and an MAD in the case of the third). In case you want to read an explaination before watching, basically the first one is the second opening to the Death Note anime which is pretty notoriously over the top, psycho, crazy... Yeah. But instead of the soul shattering hard core death rock it normally has they play the upbeat intro to Lucky Star, which, aside from Evangelion, Elfen Lied and Nadesico, probably has the best intro ever, and I might be willing to move Nadesico down a slot to give it a top 3 spot. The next two are adaptations of the Lucky Star Intro animation to the music from the Death Note Intro music.... Yes, and if you've now watched them, good for you. While I was writing this I actually watched several other parodies of the Lucky Star theme including one in which someone actually made original animation of Kingdom Hearts 2 characters and put them in a custom variation of the opening, it was rather impressive.

Anyway, I've geeked your brains to new levels I'm sure, or at least new directions. To help you recover I provide this final, semi-classic video which I hope makes you Feel Great.

Monday, April 21, 2008

So... You wanna go in John's hatch?

If the joke for the first season was "Would you help Jack off the island?" the second season jokes involve anything with the term "John's Hatch" or "Locke's Hatch". If you don't get those, you obviously haven't been watching Lost, which I just recently finished season 2 of. Honestly, I'm not sure how people watch this week to week instead of altogether on a disc, it must be maddening. People come up with all these theories, I'm sure, because they can't just put in the next disc and find out. By the way, I'll probably be discussing some


So, y'know, don't read this if you haven't watched Season 2 yet.

Honestly, I thought the two coolest things in season 2 were the first time you saw the timer run out and the tiles started flipping red and black with heiroglyphics and you're like "Holy crap, that is not good." and the black light blast door wall message... Which, by the way, you only see once! I wanna know what was written on it!

Now then... Having reached the end and realizing that we did learn a good bit about Dharma and seemingly what they do here, clues at least, at the same time I realized "Oh, there are sort of several issues that were kinda cast aside for this season." Like, oh right, that freaky black smoke that didn't attack Echo? I'm personally going with a theory that its some sort of physical manifestation of the pent up anger and psychosis from many of the cast and island inhabitants. An island spirit brought on by the islanders if you will. Thats why it killed the pilot, there was some sort of subconcious animosity towards the screw up who crashed the flight. Recently its not going after anyone because there's equal animosity on both sides, and not for a particular person.Also, I did some research into "108". Besides the obvious fact that the other numbers add up to it, its also linked to a lot of the Far Eastern religions... Like, pretty much all of them except ancient Shinto (Since modern incarnations borrow some from Buddhism). It is, in fact, linked to Dharma, and the "Dharmic Wheel" (As a friend called it) which is uses as its symbol. Basically, 108 in the far east is kind of like 12 over here, its a number that you would probably pretty quickly link to having significance. HOWEVER! I think its entirely a distraction. Why? Because Evangelion did the exact same thing! They stuck in a bunch of Western religious symbolism that ended up not being anything but cool cultural aesthetic. In other words, the story behind the 108 is simply that the creators of Dharma were like "Oh, Dharma is linked to 108, so will set it up so its every 108 minutes." Thats all there is to the number 108... The other numbers? Probably, again, just there to throw you off. 42 is important to Hitchhikers Guide fans. 23 could be linked to Psalm 23 which is quoted by Echo and Charlie. The others I don't know because I honestly feel they are too general and too slosely related to each to be a specific thing, but I'm sure they'll work them into the series mythology. Anyway, ultimately I don't think the numbers mean anything except that events linked to the island will continue to have those numbers pop up, because the producers know people will be distracted by them.... Distracted from the truth. The truth is my friends that I've already figured it all out! I compared the distractions to Evangelion earlier, and that is the truth in itself. The island secretly houses a geo-front beneath the soil where there are giant mecha that need CHILDREN to pilot them, hence why they kidnapped the children! However the mecha (Which there are 108 of, again, to throw you off) are not going to save the world: the Dharma initiative is going to use them to enslave the world! They aren't the good guys... They're the very bad guys. Yes this is the truth of the series, and it shall be until it is utterly shattered by Season 3.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hide under Kindling

So, I started watching Season 2 of Lost. So far I'm liking it a lot more since the plot is actually a lot more about the island and what the crap is going on, and less about introducing the 15+ characters, who have a tendency to die once you learn all about them. People still need to lighten up, but y'know, I'm wondering if that will ever happen and am thinking "No, not really." But anyway, thats not why I'm writing...

I was watching Lewis Black's "Black on Broadway" show and reaffirmed that he is a rather wise but very angry man. He shared some deep insights like the fact that, 10 years ago, you would safely think, even on your worst day, "Y'know, todays gonna suck. But at least I'm not gonna get smallpox!" I'm not saying its something people should worry about, but back then nobody would have even considered a smallpox bio-weapon a threat (And by "nobody" I mean everyone outside of that guy they kept on staff "just in case" and the conspiracy theorists). He also shared his thoughts on freakin' disgustingly rich people at the top of corporations who just buy stuff they don't use or need and how incredibly stupid they are. Do you know why everyone knows who Richard Branson is (Head of Virgin for those outside of everyone)? Because he does crazy and weird stuff with his money, like doing a "fake" April Fools Day Mars Mission application with Google. He's so crazy, he might actually do it someday. He threw water on Stephen Colbert in an interview. Mr. Black's idea was to have someone constantly attending to cleaning his balls. Crude yes, but he said y'know: pay this person very well, great pension, health insurance and all, and their only job is to make sure his family jewels stay sparkly. And the reason was this "As you're walking along the other CEOs say 'why, who is that?' and you say 'Who is that? Why, my personal ball cleaner. What'd you buy, another car? HAHAHAHA!!!'" I guess my take away was that the world would be a better, or at least more interesting place, with more eccentric billionaires. And by eccentric, I don't mean the guy who bought a $16,000 patio umbrella holder. Thats not eccentric, thats just stupid. My new Ford Focus cost less than that! Well, its about 6 months old now, but its new. He spoke on a number of other issues like nutrition facts on water, and where was the water with fat in it? Why is our terror system color coded? And the age old question of how a little wooden desk was supposed to protect school children from a giant nuclear fireball, and the added question of "What the crap are they suposed to do after surviving, go out and melt on the jungle gym?" Yes, yes, .....yes. I'm done with that now.

The final thing is, I'm starting to get tired of the incredibly, astoundingly stupid and unpredictable AI in the Call of Cthulhu game. I'm starting to remember why I stopped playing it.... But I'm gonna try and get through it this time, at least get out of Innsmouth. Oh, just so you can share in my astonishment at the enemies stupidity... I snuck up behind two Dagonites and shot one in the head with my very loud six-shooter and the other... I, I can't properly recall.... He either did nothing or turned a little and gurgled "Wha was that?" Its hard to remember. The other frustrating thing is that the game tells you "Y'know, generally the best way through a combat situation is to sneak by it." but it very rarely gives you that oppurtunity! Its either a situation where you HAVE to sneak past or you'll die a hail of gunfire or you HAVE to shoot your way through and run like the wind cause your aim sucks. Ugh, give me Arkham Horror any day.

Blarg, and now I have to get up in 5 hours for church, not that I'm even tired right now... Oh well.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Little Lost

So I watched all of Season 1 of Lost (I know, I'm finally catching up right?) and, while good, there are some major gripes I have.

1. Too many characters are emotional powder kegs. I realize these people just met a month-ish ago, but they find something out or do some little thing and its all storming up to them and either instant fist fight, or hardcore tongue lashing. Especially Michael whose character description is "Angry Black Father with Engineering skills" the guy is NEVER mellow. Not that Dr. Jack is much better with his constant "I'm the hero, I have to save everyone and can't rest!" attitude. Seriously, I'm not sure when the last time is that I called characters in a show overly emotional idiots so often. Though maybe thats because my personality tends towards stoicism.

2. While realistic I suppose, I found some of the mundane personal problems kind of tedious. Not all, but just the fact that EVERYONE has them and they constantly come up, so some of them stick out as annoying.

3. Too many things are suspect. You get to the point where if ANYTHING happens you start guessing at its meaning and generally one of your ideas (sometimes your only) is right. I guess towards the end of the season, I got tired of being able to predict when something was going to go wrong. I'd share my insights, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it but is going to... Even if they will probably be able to guess what's going to happen.

Hmmm, those are the big ones. I guess basically I'd say I like Battlestar Galactica a good deal more. For instance, I'm planning on watching the rest of Lost, but I'd never buy it, whereas I plan on eventually buying all of BSG.

So now that I'm done with the first season I guess I'll be trying to borrow the second, in the meantime though I plan to get some missed game playing done.

Oh, something fun I discovered tonight at B&N, they have Neon Genesis Evangelion soundtracks on the little listner thingies (aka RedDot System to those in the know). There's something very interesting about standing in the empty music department listening to 30 second clips of "Cruel Angel's Thesis" and other tacks from the show. Sadly not many other series share its privelaged status.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Battlestar Galactica (Or BSG for those in the know)

What?! Who said they don't know Roman Numerals? What an uncultured society we live in. Speaking of uncultured, a lady today inadvertantly said that she felt the B-52's were in some way contributing to the violent youth of today. I was so stunned by her blatently ignorant and narrow-minded sentiments (As nice as she may have been) that I could do little but hand her her bag of merchandise as she left. I was totally unprepared for such a statement.... Just like I was totally unprepared for this. Oh B-movies.... Were you spawned from Grindhouse? Yes, yes you were. Anyway, onto more cultured topics.

Battlestar Galactica, how did you manage to go from a quirky cliched 70's cult classic Sci-Fi show to become a frakking masterpiece of dramatic storytelling? Is it the "documentary style" camera work with space battles appearing to be shot by a real camera rather than being viewed by an omnipresent eye? Is it the incredible plot twists around every bend? Is it the times when you ask the questions that can only be asked by Science Fiction and Philosophers (My favorite always being "What is the line between man and machine?")? Maybe your amazing cast? Perhaps your amazing musical scores starting with the sorrowful tone of your opening followed with the primal rage kind of energy that is poured into the preview scenes that follow it? Your vast realistically flawed character roster? Gaius Baltar? Bill Adama? Starbuck? Carrying over the term "frak" from the original? Hmmm, I'm going to go with a combination of all of these.

Honestly the only reasons I can think to not like the show are: 1. You absolutely hate sci-fi, like as a religious conviction. 2. You hate good television. 3. You can't stomach violence, sex, and faux profanity.

Further info:



Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core

I have just finished Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core. I honestly am not sure what someone who is not a die hard fan of FFVII would think of this game... Pretty cinematics, interesting story, weird/simplistic gameplay maybe? Even someone who just played through the first game once and thought it was pretty good. Oh, for those reading this but are not "In the know" as it were, Final Fantasy VII was released back in 1997, Crisis Core is part of a project called the "Final Fantasy VII Compilation" which, it seems, primarily is releasing a series of games and other products to fill in the questions people have about Final Fantasy VII. The movie, FFVII: Advent Children, was the first entry and expanded on the story in the game by showing the world as it stands two years later (And shooting down the odd theory that humanity was destroyed at the end of VII) while also telling a rather good story. Of course, the funny thing about it is, as the director himself admits "I'm not sure what someone who never played FFVII would think of it." I think they would be impressed with the visuals and find the characters cool, I'm not sure how well they'd follow the story outside of "Okay, he's the bad guy, he's the good guy, and the good guy has some sort of inner struggle that he's dealing with." The movie does come with a digest version of the Final Fantasy VII game's story told through a series of short clips of dialogue and cinematic sequences, which could catch you up to speed, but playing the game is the best way to know. The other aspect of the compilation to be released stateside is Dirge of Cerberus, an action title focusing on ex-Turk, Vincent Valentine. A very cool character, and it introduced us to Genesis (If you collected all the G Reports that is) who is prominent in Crisis Core. Sadly the actual game part of Dirge of Cerberus was found somewhat lacking, which even I will admit. It was entertaining for a while, but I reached certain points where the level design was so utterly dull and the shooting so repetitive that I just wanted to skip to the next story point (Which were generally good or interesting). Ah, but Crisis Core, Crisis Core is a wonder to the fan such as I. Firstly, it reveals the story of Zack Fair, a character who is scarcely mentioned in the original Final Fantasy VII, but is actually nearly essential to understanding the story entirely (I'm guessing portions about him were cut due to space issues). So playing this game fills in SO many gaps. At the same time it introduces new questions, primarily these two "When is the Playstation 3 full blown Final Fantasy VII remake coming out?" and "When is the sequel where you have to face Sephiroth and Genesis coming out?" So, maybe they aren't so much about the story, but they are important questions. OH, huge question answered as to "What is Aeris looking at at the very beginning of the game?" Not a fountain as we have previously thought, actually a leaking Mako power system!... Okay, maybe not so important to you, casual reader, but this was a profound revelation for me. There were many other things that were very interesting: The "Loveless" play is mentioned more indepth, the nature of Sephiroth's origins are further unveiled, Aeris' relationship with Zack is fully fleshed out so you no longer have the Tifa-Cloud-Aeris love triangle question (So much fanart now irrelevent... Well, except its still fun!). Also, just seeing old scenes from Final Fantasy VII told with realistic characters, and they adequetly recaptured camera angles to reflect the old 2D shots in a number of cases, it was great. And if you're playing, don't think the game ends after Nibelheim, oh no, its a good 3-4 hours of gameplay after that. Hmm, I guess one serious question I have is whether the creators had all this in mind at the beginning, like all these story elements. The part that has always felt added on to me has been Genesis because he isn't mentioned AT ALL in the original game, like not even hinted at. I understand why he's in the story as it stands now, but I just wonder if he was originally planned to be in there.

As to elements other than the story, the combat is pretty fun, though you can fairly quickly get to a point where you overpower the enemies in the normal play mode. However, there are a goodly number of side missions with challenges that are quite difficult, some especially if you lack Death protection (And by that I mean immunity to the instant kill spell "Death"). Some end up more of a filler chore, while others are an interesting challenge, yield a useful item, or are somewhat humorous, such as run-ins with a young Yuffie. Also you'll want to do some of them at least, because otherwise you'll be stuck with two accessory slots, and you'll really want all four. Another interesting aspect is the Materia Fusion system. Materia is a type of crystal that grants magical powers or other nifty enhancements. The Materia Fusion system allows you to Fuse any two materia into a new materia (Though it may be exactly the same as one of the old ones, so be careful). I need to find out how to fuse some really cool stuff and see if Ultima is doable.... Anyway, the final gameplay innovation is the DMW, or Digital Mind Wave (I think Digital Memory Wave would be more accurate personally). The way it works is that, as long as you have SP (Which is nigh unlimited) these three slots keep on turning slot machine style. They stop and re-start and have a number and picture on each slot. As its slowing down, if the two images of the sides match, it'll pause the action and pull in close on the DMW. Then you hit the X button and it'll either stop on the matching picture, or it won't. I don' think you really have to much control as to whether it does or doesn't. If it does match, then you will deploy an associated special attack called a "Limit Break" (Yes, they returneth). Of note are Aeris's Healing Wave, Cloud's Meteor Shot, and Sephiroth's Octaslash (Thats why he loses you see, shy of Omnislash). Sometimes it'll switch over to a Summon set or Fun character set. The summon set will unleash one of 5 summons, as you collect them, in awesome cinematic form (Ifrit, Bahamut, and Odin are pretty faithfully recreated aside from being more awesome). Fun characters are like Chocobo, Cait Sith, Tonberry, etc. Oh, nice thing about the summons? You can opt to skip their animation after you've seen it. They be shiney the first time you see them, but the same one five time in an hour can get old.

Ah.... I guess thats it for now. I'll put up some Final Fantasy related pictures soon I think.

Monday, March 31, 2008

A photographic series

So a series of photos I'm calling "I'm bored, here's my room." that I started by posting some pictures of me hanging out in my room on Facebook continues now with me posting some pictures of some of the many vistas in my room. Firstly we have the bottom of my coffee cup:

The lesson here is, ponder not what is gone, lest you think ill of it. So you aren't too horrified, I put some ice cream with some bits that didn't melt in it. The color is the fault of the lighting. Anyway, to more appetizing things:

Is it sufficiently geeky? Wait, the coup de grace:

Death Note and Nana are probably my favorite manga (mahn-GA by the way, not main-GA)series... Maybe also Full Metal Panic, but I think I like the anime better in some regards. Interesting thing about Death Note and Nana is that they're probably polar opposites in terms of genre. One about a high school student aspiring to become a god of justice through a death dealing notebook, the other about two 20 year old women with the same name and opposite character traits who move to Tokyo and share an apartment and go through life and love together and apart.

While I have your attention, I'm going to recommend 5 Centimeters per Second. I got to see it on the medium sized screen (As opposed to the big screen or the small screen, which it was neither) at the Kennedy Center and now I have the DVD... Which I haven't watched yet because I'm busy writing this blog and playing Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, which in addition to Final Fantasy Tactics, Lumines and Valkyrie Profile make buying a PSP worth it in my book. Well, unless you're one of those cheap-skate quasi-pirate emulator people. Anyway, NetFlix 5 cm per Sec. or hit me up for a borrowing. If nothing else you can marvel at the artistry.