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draqq_zyxx The meaning of life is to be aware.
The breath of life is to remember.
-Self

Title: Stan Lee would be (somewhat) impressed
Posted: March 10, 2007 (10:38 PM)

I happened to (impulsively) borrow the DC Comics Encyclopedia from my Comicon-crazed friend, Christine (a woman, horrah!), and I flipped through the entire thing today. I knew about the Superman, Batman, Justice League, and Teen Titans (most any DC character shown on TV), but I never knew just how large the DC universe actually is. One thousand superheroes and villians filled the pages, and the encyclopedia admits that there are even more. As such, I had to revise my top 3 favorite DC superheroes to:

- Nightwing (a sidekick that actually succeeded on his own)
- Parallax (Green Lantern gone bad-ass)
- and Wildcat (trained Batman and Catwoman - 'nuff said)

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Title: Listen, Relationship!
Posted: March 08, 2007 (10:14 PM)
Excerpt from The Definitive Book for Body Language

Magentic Resonance Imaging brain scans show that women have between fourteen and sixteen areas of the brain to evaluate other's behavior. Men only have four to six areas. This example explains why, from a woman's standpoint, men don't seem to talk much and, from a man's standpoint, women never seem to shut up.
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Title: Mutant Turtles
Posted: February 28, 2007 (05:09 PM)
Most people who grew up during the same time as I did wanted to be one of the four Ninja Turtles. I think I was more Donatello, but I wanted to be Michelangelo back then. Something about nunchunks rock. Now I think Raphael is incredible bad-ass. But with TMNT returning this March 28th, I'm concerned over their relevance. In a way, their return on the silver screen is a gamble at rekindling nostalgia, as they have tried with multiple re-creations in both animation and video games. A part of me wants to believe that they will be successful all over again, albeit in CG-format and a thinner form, but the other part of me doesn't want the turtles to be worn out any further than they have already. It's just as I feel about all the hope about a FFVII re-make. But all this gamut of emotions is just in line with how I've been clean from fanboyism for more than six years. So any reservations about the turtles coming back are a part of being disillusioned from blind optimism. The turtles aren't really 'teenage' anymore.
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Title: Must Wii games use sensing?
Posted: February 24, 2007 (03:34 AM)
No, a Wii game should not use motion sensitivity by default; however, at the end of the day, only those games that utilize the Wii-mote in a sensical and thorough way will be marked as the best games on the console. Developers have to decide whether the sensing capabilities of the Wii-mote system would be good design, elevating what the game can be in a well-executed manner. Otherwise, it falls to being a gimmick and dumbs down the novel visual interface that the Wii exemplifies. Though I think that the Wii has a need for and has enough room for games that do not use Wii-sensing, the initial concept for any Wii game should at least explore it and ask whether the game ultimately complements the console.

Why create a game for the Wii if there isn't even a thought about Wii sensing?
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Title: Strategy Guide Mayhem
Posted: February 16, 2007 (05:23 AM)

The official Final Fantasy XII strategy guide is a monster. BradyGAMES wishes to take my game further, and 350 pages of color, which altogether is worth one penny less than twenty dollars, does just that. I usually use GameFAQs because it's free and because of my amazement that someone took the time to write so many ASCII characters. But color and graphics go a long way, and when I got my Collector's Edition for Final Fantasy XII (because GameStop ran out of normal ones) on the opening day, I wanted to do things "right." So I came out of the store one book heavier.

I didn't expect too much from this strategy guide, in part because it was an "official" guide, which I find dry in wording at times, and that I was partial to Versus Books. So finding that I had problems about the book wasn't a shock. This is not to say that it wasn't helpful when and where it needed to be (Balthier does have a Zodiac Spear because of it), but there were many places where it could have improved.

I have never understood why strategy guides don't have an index, especially for role-playing games of this magnitutde. Upon the first moments of opening the guide, my inner Final Fantasy fan wanted to scour for anything that said Ribbon (an ancessory that makes you immune to all negative status effects). Now, I'm all for the process of looking for something as a way to get engaged into the guide, as much as I did the game. Still, I don't want to miss an instance of the word 'Ribbon' anywhere in the book because I didn't read every word, and furthermore, an index is just a concise way to relay information.

Any 350-page guide should have one. Even short travel guides have one.

Maps, however, give more bang for their buck; the sheer quantity of info - directions, street size, landmarks, treasure chests, and entrances/exits - is generous and clear for the amount of time it takes to look at it. All the more reason to have an index for all the maps scattered across the guide. The side quest section for hunts is filled with snippets of where one can find the mark for a specific hunt, but there is no page number for where the full map could be found. Extending this, whenever a guide for a particular area refers to another area, the only way to find the appropriate area map is to just remember where it is (that is, if the reference is to an area that you have visited before). Paper doesn't have the advantage of search engines like "Find" under the Edit menu. An index would help relieve the reader from having to flip through unnecessary reams of text.

But not even an index is useful if the font size is about the wdith of a hair. Reading what items each space on the License Board activates (on pages 20 and 21) is an eye-squinting affair - such an eye-sequinting affair that they had to provide a blown-up detachable map of the entire board in the back of the book, a place usually reserved for a detachable poster of the game characters. Packing lots and lots of text in a small space is certainly important for a guide of any kind, but no one should need a magnefiying glass to read it.

Upon further inspection, the guide has a few specific problems that are surprising for a guide deatiling a high-profile game. First, the bestiary doesn't have information on status effects. Any advice on how to defeat monsters, difficult or not, should include this, so that no one wastes time casting a status effect spell until to see the word "Immune" emblazoned on the screen. Each monster in the bestiary also has a field for gil, but unless the enemy is human, nearly all monsters drop loot. So there's no reason to include a field for gil for more than 95% of monsters. No one needs to see the number 0 that often. Aside from a few other unfinished places, such as few "page (???)" marks, there are also no indications in the Gambit Shop guide of when Merchant Shops actually gain new gambits. I was under the impression that every gambit was available at the start. I was wrong.

But this isn't necessarily a bash on the Final Fantasy XII strategy guide. As many complaints I have about it, the guide does many things well and has helped me out of tight spot many times. But strategy guides haven't evolved much, apart from shifting the labor over to the internet. This guide in particular and most guides regardless of medium aren't spoiler-free. Turning the page shouldn't spoil the story, especially through a summary of a cut-scene, and it always startles me when the writers believe that a guide needs to go this in-depth to explain something or just to go that far in general.

Really, an index and a spoiler-free standard of practice are just severals ways that would make gamers want paper-form strategy guides more. It's about time that publishing houses like BradyGAMES expand the definition of strategy guides and what they contain. If that means selling official computer-enhanced strategy guides, then I welcome that change. Anything to make a book worth its weight.

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Title: The Virgin (Poem)
Posted: February 11, 2007 (03:09 PM)
The sandstorm furls your inner thigh,
beneath the flesh-giving navel,
the tart of the orange
on nude-smooth grains, squeezing
its juice on your Ivory
Coast. But the shoreline
is ebony, soaked in stains,
leaking the starch of hairy
sweat. So does the virgin
drench the aftertaste dry
with the gore of the swamp,
drinking disgust
for the wonder of life.
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Title: Is Thompson Cracking?
Posted: February 06, 2007 (01:46 PM)
Or has he already cracked?

So, after numerous infringements and heated flip-floppery, Jack Thompson is being slammed with a 40-page complaint by the Florida Bar. Having disobeyed judge's orders in Florida and Alabama (and who knows where else), he has probably violated more lawful rulings than a pimp in Vice City. I suppose some part of me is just tired of him and the other part of me is thrilled by seeing him struggle (my inner dominatrix on Zoloft).

I wonder how long it will be until we stop hearing his name. I'm already getting hives.
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Title: Naturally Lost
Posted: February 04, 2007 (01:16 AM)

I spoke to the stream, the silver sheen, and it screamed back in waves. I knocked on the tree, ancient and dry, and it shouted suicide.

I watched the riverbank of emerald grass swirl up my ankles, as the tree smashed the water into sunburst.

I closed my eyes. I closed my body. I waited for the water to coat my skin with metal.

But when I saw my clothes, myself now wet, I could not feel. The water ran down my eyes in shades. I was not the radiance nor the warmth I longed for.

I was naked frost.

I had slivered back into the earth. I had coiled into dust.

I had become the it that speaks, that speaks, wandering off the baby's breath.

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Title: PIN-hole
Posted: February 03, 2007 (02:37 PM)

As my friend and I walked out of our dorm rooms ready to head off to the movie theatre, I peered into my wallet.

One five and five ones. Certainly not enough for a ticket, a quick bite, and a cab ride.

I frequently go to the ATM at my university's snack shop when I'm running short, and since it was on the way to Broadway (the hive of yellow and black taxicabs), it seemed perfect. From the back of the line, I shuffled my feet until I reached the stall and dipped my Citibank debit card into the slot. Then I pressed in my PIN.

And it hit me. A four-digit long password. #-#-#-#.

My checking account and savings account, the place where I store my hard-earned cash, is protected my four characters. Worse yet, each of those four characters have just ten possibilites for a total of a measly ten thousand possibilities. More than several websites, including the official Citibank website, force you to create passwords with strong alphanumeric chains.

Why haven't banks done the same, especially in an industry that demands security? Sure, if a thief wanted to steal your PIN, let alone your identity, there are sophisticated hacking techniques to do so (and also looking in your trash). But at the very least, enforcing stronger passwords would prevent possible thieves from being able to just look over your shoulder and remember where your finger was in four locations.

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Title: Gaming Potpourri - Forced Shorting, Men in Ads & Female Black Knights
Posted: January 31, 2007 (08:38 AM)
- Sony is deliberately shorting the supply of PS3s to create buzz.

Are you insane? Why?! There are so many better ways to create buzz - like a controversial ad. If Sony is truly guilty of this, it's an extremely poor decision and something that Sony (despite its recent slump) probably isn't doing and something I would be very surprised to see as truth. The number of people this would offend, the profit risks... I mean, who wants to start last in the console war? Why would Sony, with how much it has already invested in production, marketing and above all - time - even think about shorting the PS3 supply? No. Just no.

- Women who game either don't read gaming magazines or advertisers aren't catching on.

Flipping through an issue of Game Informer, the advertisements struck me. Most non-gaming related ads were things like Bowflex, Get Milk? (with a basketball star leaping in the center of the page), John Cena (as an ad for Marine), abovetheinfluence (with male characters), BOSE (with two men staring at a computer screen), and the U.S. Army Reserve (where each soldier in the ad was male). Sure, every now and then there are some ads about buying 5 DVDs for a dime or something, but by and large, the ads are projected towards a male audience. I'm not sure if this is particularly wrong, since if men dominate the mailing list of gaming magazines, then sure - what's the problem? But I wonder whether women, at least in America, will ever be as involved as men in gaming culture - and if it does, whether the advertising will become more gender-free. Perhaps, gender inequality in games is just a constant.

- A picture of a female black knight with a ponytail slit coming out of back of the helmet.

First off, this is rad. But how does someone put this on? Ponder, ponder. Does a girl furl her hair in her hand and then put the helmet on? But then, how does she get her hand out of the helmet? Does she just pull her hair from the slit in the back of the helmet? But then, how does she fit her hand in the slit? Ponder, ponder. Would a woman really wear such a ill-designed accessory?
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Title: Death of console/PC gaming
Posted: January 26, 2007 (11:57 AM)
This issue reeks with the scent of system wars. One side believes that console gaming will be the wave of the future and that PC gaming will never catch up. They declare that not many people in the future will want to fiddle with PCs. The other side believes that PC gaming has proved its worth and that console gaming will fall by the wayside. They declare that consoles rely on the marginal increases in graphical improvements and that this will eventually become next to nothing. It seems like death is knocking on both doors and neither side will open their door until the other one opens theirs.

But this isn't life or death. Asking which side of the controller will die is like asking ambidextrous gamers whether they would like to cut off their left hand or right hand. Left-handed or right-handed people will probably cry that their other hand is not as useful, but that's just the point.

(And if you are complaning about me not specifying which side is the right hand, which 90% of people have as their dominant hand, then you're probably one of the people waving your death signs.)

Gaming has always had two hands, and it's silly to believe that the future is just waiting to amputate one of them. Just on the basis that specific genres require different user interfaces and user inputs, there are just certain games that work better on the computer and some that work better on the console. Some people also just like fine-tuning their machine while some don't. There's enough room and enough reason for both PC gaming and console gaming to continue.

I for one would like to keep both of my hands, thank you very much.
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Title: Conviction
Posted: January 23, 2007 (04:19 AM)
Up
one way.
Yellow light,
red.
I will stop you.
Dead like glue.
Suddenly
right-side.
Red light,
green.
I will straighten you.
Down my street.
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Title: That Annoying Is Memorable... Is Annoying
Posted: January 16, 2007 (12:45 AM)
I remember stupid commercials. So, so many stupid commercials. They don't make me want to buy the product, and if they were banking on me subconsciously remembering the product as I shuffle through the supermarket, I probably subconsciously remember the stupidity. That's annoying.
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Title: Anime, Anime, Anime!!!
Posted: January 13, 2007 (07:01 AM)
Cowboy Bebop was the first anime to demand my respect. Ever since, I have searched high and low for something that matched its brilliance. I would rent anime after anime at Kim's, Columbia's own local rental store (that oozes with film majors and alternative musics). Having finished most of the popular animes and returning Record of Lodoss War (a little more than average anime, but everything that the animated Dungeons & Dragons should have been), I shrugged my shoulders and decided to look at Top 50 Anime websites - apart from AnimeNfo.com.

Following animenewsnetwork.com's top ratings, I surfed YouTube (that place is wonderific) and found english-subs of two fantastic animes that I think finally rival Cowboy Bebop: Monster and Death Note. To be honest, Death Note is the more intense of the two. Though Monster tells the story of a doctor gone mercenary detective, anything about Death Gods usually wins by default. Death Note's examination about a notebook that kills people whenever a name is written in it seals the deal with chilling effect. Coupled with compact and smart writing, watching three episodes of Death Note feels like watching seven episodes of many other animes. The series isn't finished yet, but I still recommend it without any reservations.
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Title: Final Fantasy III - Review
Posted: January 11, 2007 (11:35 PM)
I took the opportunity that honestgamer posted here, and posted a 400-word review for Final Fantasy III (DS) over at the submission forums at hardcoregamer.com. I hope it's good enough to see me through to print, but we'll just have to see. *Fingers crossed*

Have any suggestions or comments?

--------------

Dressing a boy in a suit usually makes him cuter but that doesn't make him any more mature. Square-Enix fashions Final Fantasy III (not to be confused with Final Fantasy III for the SNES) in much the same way, giving this game released in Japan for the Famicom a 3D graphical facelift and an English translation, without altering much of its original simplistic gameplay. Re-released classics like this can turn you into a nostalgic romantic or an under-whelmed critic, and ultimately, your love for this retake depends on how well you can bear and how young-at-heart you are with old-school RPGs. Still, there is certainly more here than just another rehashed port.

Old-school elements appear right away. The story is simple: four Warriors of the Light must gain the power of elemental crystals to save the world from darkness. Dialogue is straightforward. Characters show mere snippets of personality. You move from town to town, spending money to the last gil and following plot elements that are as fleeting as the next. Random turn-based battles occur frequently, and dungeons don't have save points, so getting killed by a boss means meeting your head with the wall of dejá-vù yet one more time.

Fortunately, an air of light-heartedness breathes a lot of charm into this brisk adventure. Nothing here, including story and gameplay, is pretentious, and the persistent battles in dungeons, forests, lakes, mountaintops, and other-worldly dimensions are just a part of the ride on this pleasant and steady romp to the end. Serving as interesting pit-stops, guest characters will occasionally join your party, and the job system allows your pint-sized heroes to change between various classes. From the armored knight and the swift ninja to the adept sage and the potent summoner, your party can adapt to different enemies and environments, as you discover which jobs (and which adorable costumes) best suit your style.

Now that every Final Fantasy has finally reached American shores, we can see how RPGs have progressed this past decade, but Final Fantasy III isn't about evolutionary complexities. It is about having a merry trip down memory lane. One can carp on how the game doesn't utilize the wireless, top screen, and touch-screen capabilities of the DS, but no one likes a back-seat driver. Just look out the window and enjoy the sights as any kid would, regardless of whether you're mature or not.

Rating: 4 out of 5
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