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Thursday, November 4, 2004

You Spoony Bard!

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Probably close to a year ago now, completely on a whim, I started a new game on Final Fantasy IV. (Though the SNES version is called Final Fantasy II, it's actually Final Fantasy IV-easy). I think I was up late at night with nothing to do, so I just started playing, and ended up getting to the watery tunnel beneath Baron Castle before stopping. I didn't really plan on playing through the game again when I picked it up, though, and I didn't play anymore after that.

Until last night, that is, when I started playing again. Funnily enough, the conditions were pretty much exactly the same; I was up late at night with nothing to do, so I decided to continue that game on FFIV that I had started months ago. I think I logged about three more hours of play time, during which I completely kicked the asses of Kainazzo and the Dark Elf. Those two bosses are so easy if you know their weaknesses. Heck, just getting through the Dark Elf's cave was harder than the Dark Elf himself.

So I played some more again just a bit ago, and did everything from the Tower of Zot through the Tower of Bab-il. The Tower of Zot always gives me some trouble, since even though it's not that big of a dungeon, you have so few magic points between Cecil and Tellah for healing, and enemies' attacks do a lot more damage in there than anywhere else previous to that. But at least you don't have to rely at all on Tellah's black magic for beating the Magus Sisters; that completely frees up his 90 MP to be used for healing, which is nice.

The next part of the game has to be the most aggravating for me, though. Not because of any amount of difficulty, it just annoys me. (And there's a small spoiler here, by the way, if you haven't played FFIV.) After beating the Calbrena and Golbez in the Dwarf Castle, Golbez's disembodied arm floats around for a bit and then takes the crystal, while Cecil and the group just stand and watch. At this point I can never stop myself from yelling at the screen, "Just stab the damn thing, you idiots! It's right there, just floating around! You've got a sword -- use it!" But no, Cecil just stands there, watches Golbez's arm take the crystal and disappear, and says something like, "Oh my, he took the crystal!" I swear, there is no reason why they should've lost that crystal, after they actually managed to beat Golbez.

So then you get to go through the Tower of Bab-il, which is fun because you've got a good party with a wide variety of attacks at that point. (Including a white mage, so you don't have to worry as much about running out of MP for healing. Yay!) Enemies can still kick your butt if you're not careful, but that makes it all the more satisfying when you pull off a victory particularly well. Kain's jump command is awesome if you're good at discerning when and against what to use it, and even Rydia's and Rosa's attacks can be useful when you know how to use them.

You know, for having a pretty simple battle/magic system, FFIV provides quite a bit of depth to the battles through party members' highly specialized abilities, which is something I really like about the game. Sure, you can't customize the characters at all -- you don't even get to choose your party members -- but I find that rather refreshing after playing other RPGs where either the game seems to get heavily slanted towards a certain ability (for example, FFVI with Ultima or Skies of Arcadia Legends with Vyse's Pirates Wrath attack), or where you can customize to the point of having an all-powerful character (such as with Cloud being both a really powerful physical attacker and magic user in FFVII). FFIV's characters are restricted to their specific classes, but they're dang good at what they do (well, except for Edward), and each is of very near equal use and importance as any other.

I think FFIV has become one of those games that I can just sort of randomly pick up at pretty much any time, anywhere in the game, and have fun with it while killing a few hours. And also, I think it's the first RPG to make it onto the list of games that I can do that with. I'm just hoping Square Enix will continue the trend and remake FFIV on the GBA or DS; or just release a port of the version in FF Chronicles, which is the true FFIV-hard that was released in Japan and features a better translation than the SNES version. I'd really like to play the hard version (without the horrible load times of FF Chronicles), after only playing the easy one for so long.

But anyway, I'll close this post by saying that anyone who's a fan of the FF series (and doesn't play them solely for the stories and graphics) needs to play FFIV. It's always been a favorite of mine in the series, and anyone that's passed it up in favor of the newer Final Fantasies is really doing themselves a disservice. Right now, FFIV is even giving FFVI a run for its money, after sitting behind it as my second place favorite FF game for so long. So stop putting it off, and play FFIV if you haven't before. ... Or else I'll send Shinmaru after you.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Addicted to Respawn Tubes

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The trial subscription for PlanetSide (an MMOFPS for those of you that don't know) that me and my brother were using ran out early Halloween morning; I haven't been able to play it for about two days now. ... So why is it still listed in my "Current Interests" table? Because I'm still exceedingly interested in the game. In fact, ever since the trial ran out, I've been wishing I could still play. As I type this, in fact, I'm listening to mp3s of the game's music which I copied out of the game's directory; you might say I'm a bit obsessed with the game right now.

Why am I so obsessive over a FPS -- a genre which I generally have little interest in -- though? Probably because the game is exactly what I like in FPS games; I mean, I've not played any other FPS that I've had this much fun with. It's an "MMO" (Massively Multiplayer Online) game with a persistant world where three empires made up completely of player characters wage all out war against each other in the fight to capture and hold various bases and facilities spread out on a number of continents. Other FPS's with online play have you in an enclosed arena with a few other people shooting it out, which I found fun for a while back when I played Quake II, but PlanetSide lets you fight alongside (and against) groups of hundreds of people. It's freakin' awesome, and craps all over every other FPS experience I've ever had.

And now I want more ... so why don't I just buy the game? Well, I'm thinking I just might do that. The game itself is only about $10, the expansion is only about another $10 (which I probably wouldn't actually bother with unless my brother wanted to chip in and pay for it), and the game comes with a month of free play time. So even if I didn't subscribe after the free month was up ($13 monthly fee, like pretty much all MMO games), that would still be a cheap price for a month of playing a game I really enjoy.

The main thing holding me back is my PC's lack of RAM. I've only got 256 MB, and after playing for a few hours at a time, the game starts to lag really bad; so much so that it renders the game unplayable, seeing as the framerate likes to drop to .2 fps whenever I get in a firefight while it's lagging like that. Now, that could be seen as a good thing, since it forces me to take a break every few hours. ... But when have I ever cared about those warnings in instruction booklets that tell you to take a ten minute break for every hour that you play? Never, that's when. If I want to play for eight hours straight, I should be able to, dangit!

So this begs the question of, "Should I buy more RAM?" I'd love to, but I'm afraid that I only have enough money to spare for one of two things before Christmas: More RAM, or Metroid Prime 2 Echoes. I mean, I think of how sweet it would be to play PlanetSide with minimal slowdown ... but then I think of how awesome Metroid Prime 2 Echoes is going to be. It's just one of those things that makes me go "ARGH!" And right now, I see no clear resolution to the problem, other than deciding not to get PlanetSide in the first place.

Oh, and If anyone happens to care, my character is Desbreko on the Markov (west coast US) server. As you can see from my certifications, I'd been specializing in anti-vehicular combat. (The Falcon Config MAX is the anti-vehicular one for the New Conglomerate). It's quite fun using the camera-guided Phoenix missiles, heh; that was my favorite thing to use, whenever I could get in a battle where there were actually vehicles other than BFRs being used. I swear, they made those things' shields too strong. When I can hit one of them with about 20 Phoenix missiles, along with other fire being poured into it, and it shows absolutely no signs of damage at all, something is wrong.

And finally, as desperate attempt to get comments (no, really, Shinmaru's the only one that regularly comments anymore -- I'm so lonely), I'd ask if anyone else plays PlanetSide on the west coast server. It might give me some more incentive to buy the game if there are some other "Otakuites" out there that I could meet up with in the game, you know? ... Though I suppose the meeting wouldn't be too friendly unless other people are also part of the New Conglomerate, heh.

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Sunday, October 31, 2004

Now Playing #64

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Game: Mario Party 2
Track: Horror Land
Time: 1:34
Size: 10.7 KB

Well, since today is Halloween, I thought I should put up a suitable midi. So, I give you the Horror Land theme from Mario Party 2, because what could be more horrifying than realizing that it's within the last five turns of the game and one of your friends is headed to the Big Boo to steal a star from every other player on the board to win the round? ... Well, okay, so maybe that might piss you off more than instill a feeling of horror. But I've had things like that happen to me in the game, and there was definitely a feeling of dread as I saw it coming -- right before the feelings of hatred and despair.

Oh, and I'd like to say that I own Mario Party 2, but it's the only game in the series that I have. The game looked like a lot of fun when I read about it in Nintendo Power, so I picked it up, and it turned out to be well worth the money. (I avoided the first Mario Party because of the infamous control stick twirling mini-games that gave tons of gamers blisters on their palms.) But everything in the series after that has just sort of bored me; there's been a serious lack of innovation for the amount of games in the series, if you ask me. One of my friends bought Mario Party 4 when it first came out, but I just couldn't take the game at all seriously when I played it with him, like I did with Mario Party 2. It just wasn't fun enough, because despite there being different mini-games, it all felt the same, and I had grown pretty bored with Mario Party 2 by then.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Where the Line between Fact and Fiction Is Blurred

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No, the subject isn't talking about the many debates held in Otaku Lounge; it's refering to the DailyOtaku. I "published" a new article yesterday, so be sure to take a look. And if you've never read any of my DailyOtaku articles before, trust me, you're missing out on some hilarious stuff. (I'm not just bragging about my writing, either; the replies I've gotten in the thread prove that.) So go, read, laugh, and wonder about how much of the articles are actually true.

In keeping with the "tradition" of the DailyOtaku, this latest article was completely spontaneous. Yesterday morning I was in the kitchen, making coffee and thinking about the Newbie Lounge after seeing yet another person ask in the Suggestions & Feedback forum about why the Newbie Lounge was deleted, when suddenly the thought hit me: "That would be a perfect subject for a DailyOtaku article." So immediately -- by which I mean, "after the coffee finished brewing" -- I sat down and began the write.

It's strange, but there's something about writing DailyOtaku articles that just feels really good. (And I'm not refering to the Master Sword incident that started the series of articles, you perverts.) As soon as the thought of using the Newbie Lounge as the subject for my next article entered my mind, the gears of thought started to turn, coming up with ideas about how to turn it into something befitting the DailyOtaku; I barely ever had to stop to think through things while writing. ... Or at least not compared to when I write most other things. Everything just sort of flowed, the progression of the article from start to finish felt natural, and writing it was highly enjoyable.

That was especially nice after being disappointed with my third article, the one before this. It wasn't so much that I was disappointed with the end product -- I think it came out pretty well, and people seemed to like it a lot -- but it felt a lot more forced than the first two and now this latest article. Or, in other words, it didn't have as much of the spontaneity that makes DailyOtaku articles so much fun to write. I remember I had to keep reminding myself to make the article humorous and fitting with that "DailyOtaku feel," which detracted somewhat from the enjoyment of writing it.

Oh, and I wanted to mention something that occurred to me after reading the replies to this latest article. Serraph-Angel said, "I love the way you make it feel like your reading a real tabloid or magazine article," which I find a bit amusing. Because the thing is, I've never read any tabloid papers, I rarely read the newspaper, and the only magazines I read are gaming ones. So it occurred to me that I really have no idea why I seem to be so good at that style of writing, when I've had very little experience with it.

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Sunday, October 24, 2004

Now Playing #63

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Game: Perfect Dark
Track: Chicago
Time: 2:39
Size: 12.6 KB

You know, Perfect Dark is, so far, the only first person shooter I've liked enough to buy. (No, I don't count Metroid Prime as a FPS.) Mainly for the multiplayer, since I rarely play the solo missions, but getting a few people together and setting up a few simulants for an eight way free-for-all deathmatch is lots of fun. Or playing co-operative mode through the missions is fun when your partner doesn't decide to be an idiot and blow himself up a lot. Which sucks, because then the bugger takes half your health to respawn.

Out of the solo missions, though, the Chicago level has always been one of my favorites, and it also has my favorite music. Sneaking around and popping people from behind is always fun, and how often in games do you get to send a car to crash and explode for a distraction? And then slapping that guy down at the start of the level and stealing his magnum is also funny. But I still think you should've been able to get something like a hidden rocket launcher that would take down that stupid police robot.

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Saturday, October 23, 2004

You've Made Me Wild Like You

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Well ... it's finally over. Ranma , that is. I'm not sure how long it's actually been, but it feels like months since I sat down and watched the first episode of the Ranma anime. Since then I've watched all seven seasons of the anime, the OAV, both movies, and now I've read through all 38 volumes of the manga.

It seems strange to finally be done with the series, after it's provided so many hours of ... well, not just fun; it's done plenty more than make me laugh. It's one of only a few entertainments that has evoked pretty much the full range of emotions, which is something pretty memorable for me. So even though I was annoyed about not getting a conclusive ending from the anime, I'm almost sad that I finally have gotten a proper ending in the manga. Sort of like when you finish a good book, but you don't really want it to end.

If you'll notice, I've moved Ranma above Ah! My Goddess over in the "Favorite Anime" section of the sidebar. I didn't think anything else would top my liking of Ah! My Goddess, but Ranma has managed it. The sheer length and depth of the anime/manga by itself is enough to warrent a high position on my personal favorites list, and the multitude of likeable characters all woven together into a funny and charming story really tops it off. I haven't seen a whole lot of anime (and Ranma was the first manga I've read), but out of everything I've experienced so far, Ranma has by far provided the most entertainment.

But I'll stop gushing about Ranma ; I think that's enough for now. I might write up some specific thoughts about the manga in comparison to the anime later, but not now. I just felt like writing this, right after finishing up the manga, because I'm still in "obsessesion mode" and I decided to subject anyone that reads my posts to whatever the heck would come out when I sat down at the keyboard to write about Ranma .

... So, was it good for you?

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Friday, October 22, 2004

What, again?

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Yeah, okay, so you know that post just before the one before this? The one with the mindless rambling? Well, expect more of the same; aren't you excited to continue reading?

I've been playing Super Smash Bros. Melee again, after completing Metroid: Zero Mission. Again, the play sessions where I rack up 255 KOs using no one but Marth are back, and I'm still improving with him. And then, of course, I usually go on to rack up another 255 KOs using various other characters, heh. (255 is the max for what the game will display on the vs. mode character select screen.) I mean, I can't just desert Link, Samus, Ganondorf, Roy, Dr. Mario, Falco, Pikachu. ... Okay, so the list goes on for nearly all 25 characters, since I use most all of them at least every now and then. But you get the point.

There's two main things I've been practicing during my recent time with SSBM, and those are L-canceling (tapping L when you land after doing a mid-air move to quicken recovery time) and effectively using Marth's down+A air attack. They kind of go hand-in-hand in some cases, though I'm really trying to get good at L-canceling all the time. And the main thing I'm trying to get good at with Marth's down+A air attack is using it to knock someone quickly down and out of the arena while avoiding falling off myself.

The main problem with Marth's down+A air attack is that, after you execute the move, you've got about a full second of recovery time before you can do anything else. So, say you use both your normal jumps to jump out from over the platform, then use down+A to knock your opponent down into the pit while they're trying to jump back to the platform. Sounds like an easy KO, right? Well, that full second of recovery time means you're then left falling, out away from the platform, and you've got nothing but your up+B jump to use to get back after you finally do recover. And by that time, I'd usually have fallen into the pit for a -2 SD, which not only negates the point I got from the KO but also makes me lose one more point. (I play with self destructs set to -2 for exactly this sort of reason, ironically enough; to discourage cheap-ass suicide moves.)

So the trick is managing to jump out and hit them down into the pit while only using a single jump, which lets you stay close enough to the platform that you can just fall back and land on it or at least have enough time to jump back to it with your other jump and up+B move. And that's quite a bit harder since you don't get near as much range with a single jump, meaning you have to have better timing, along with the fact that your opponent is likely going to be, or will shortly be, executing his or her up+B move. But, after countless cries of "Argh! Jump, dangit!" while falling to -2 suicide deaths, I'm learning to really use the move effectively, and I can't wait till I get an opportunity to try it out on human players.

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Sunday, October 17, 2004

Now Playing #62

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Game: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Track: The Great Sea Is Cursed
Time: 2:18
Size: 41.8 KB

For a long while I couldn't find any good The Wind Waker midis, but I checked back at vgmusic.com yesterday and they had some more, so I yoinked this one. And while it's not my favorite song in the game (I'm not sure which is, really), I've always liked this theme and thought it a shame that you only get to hear it for one short period of the game. (That would be the time between first arriving at Greatfish Isle and the time you meet Jabun, by the way.) I've always thought there should've been a lot more stormy weather in the game after that point -- as in actual breaking waves, not just crests and troughs, as well as strong and changing winds -- and that this music would've been a good fit to play during storms instead of the normal ocean theme. Would've made sailing a lot more interesting if you'd had to deal with real weather.

You know, I'd never really thought about it too much, but weather effects in Zelda games have always really interested me and I've wished in the back of my mind that weather was made more use of. Even just little things like how on the evening of Day 1 in Majora's Mask, that Goron will mention that it feels like rain tomorrow if you take his room in the Stock Pot Inn and he's stuck outside, and then it actually does rain on Day 2. (Somehow, I get the feeling that no one else will know what I'm talking about for that example.) ... I've always liked things like that, and the Song of Storms in OOT/MM and the wind effects in TWW are especially neat. I'd really love it if more weather effects were put in the new GCN Zelda in development; ones that actually affect gameplay, that is, not just flashy graphics.

And, uh, yeah. ... So there's some random thoughts about weather in the Zelda series. ... I should really channel these sorts of things into more articles instead of just rambling about them on here.

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Friday, October 15, 2004


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Not much been going on lately. But hey, there's always something I can bring up and ramble about, so I'll do that.

Work is progressing slowly on Rupee Shards, so there's not really much to tell about it at the moment. I'm still working on graphics, which so far has mainly just involved trying to come up with decent ideas for the header graphics. Though I think I finally came up with something last night that could look good, so I'll be trying that out sometime soon here.

Graphics have always been my least favorite part of web design, so I guess that's why I'm being so slow about getting the header done. I like working more on structural layout, despite the impression you might get from all the ranting over IE's stupidity that I sometimes do when working on layouts, and the layout of things on the pages. And true, graphics work is another of my hobbies, but I usually only do it when I'm "inspired" with an idea for something; I find it hard to pull together anything decent from out of nowhere. So, another reason why I'm being slow.

My interest in Final Fantasy Tactics has sort of stagnated, also. I haven't played the game in over a week now, while I ended up playing through Metroid: Zero Mission yet again a few days ago. (That makes four times altogether now: 1 hard mode playthough, 2 normal mode playthroughs, and 1 easy mode playthrough.) The main thing that got me playing again was when my brother started a new game and found this awesome trick that I had to try out for myself. And though I've since gotten 100% and beaten MZM, I still haven't picked up FFT again. I figure I'll pick it up again whenever I feel like playing an RPG and not worry about finishing it before I get Metroid Prime 2 Echoes in November.

But what was the trick in Metroid: Zero Mission that got me playing again, you ask? Well, you know how you can do consecutive bomb jumps to propel yourself pretty much as far upwards as you can go, so long as you can keep the timing right? My brother found (completely by accident, funnily enough) a way to do that ... only diagonally. So, combining the wall jump, bomb jumping, and diagonal bomb jumping, there really isn't anywhere that you can't get to which isn't blocked off by things like power bomb or Speed Booster blocks. An example would be the fact that I was able to get the Varia Suit before ever leaving Brinstar, letting me completely ignore the acid in the Kraid area and also making it so I didn't have to go back for it after getting the High Jump in Norfair.

And ... I don't feel like writing anymore. I think I'll look for some Zelda: Majora's Mask remixes on OverClocked ReMix instead. It just occured to me that I don't have any, which is a shame, since MM has some good music that could be remixed really well. Hopefully there'll be something good.

It's a sad day when OCR doesn't have a single Majora's Mask remix. And that day is today.

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Sunday, October 10, 2004

Now Playing #61

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Game: Final Fantasy III
Track: Cute Little Tozas
Time: 1:04
Size: 8.21 KB

First of all, I'd like to say that my main reason for putting up this midi is to cause Alan undue psychological damage. Just so you know.

Final Fantasy III (the real FFIII, not FFVI that was releaed on the SNES as FFIII) will finally be released outside of Japan; Square Enix has announced that they're going to release a remake of it on the Nintendo DS. But I'm wondering what features they're going to be making use of with the DS. Obviously the two screens, of course, but since it was originally a Famicom (aka the NES outside of Japan) game, I don't really see how they could make much use of two screens -- or any of the DS's stand-out features -- without drastically altering the gameplay.

My guess is that whatever they do is going to be boring or gimmicky. (Such as having the menu on one screen and gameplay on the other, or letting you use the touchscreen for stuff that you'd otherwise do with the control cross and buttons.) But then again, they may surprise me and come up with something fun and interesting, which is my hope. Though either way, I'll probably end up getting the game eventually just so that I'll finally be able to play FFIII without having to get a crappy translated ROM.

Oh, and if you're wondering why I didn't talk about the midi at all (other than the fact that it's meant to torture Alan), it's because I know nearly nothing about it. Heck, I don't even have any idea what a "cute little Toza" is. Like I said, FFIII hasn't ever been released outside of Japan yet, and I don't care to play a translated ROM. But if you really care to find out about FFIII and the things in it relating to this song (which I don't), I'm sure you can find something with Google.

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