P4ER97 [Sony]
Jun 30th, 2009 by Dan

Vinny and Jeff battled the optional Maryuku strip club boss (a charred baby) with the B-Team and it looks like they’re gearing up to take on the Void Quest option boss with the A-Team.

Dragon Questing V Part I [GO]
Jun 30th, 2009 by Dan

Like I said I might do before, here’s a rundown of a game I’m playing to try and encourage me to make significant progress. Unfortunately, even if there were commercial DS capture devices available, I don’t really have the cash to spare for them anyway, so we’ll start our look in with words and I might snap some ugly iPhone shots if I really want to hurt your eyes. As a final warning, I’m going to be getting into plot points. Leave if you don’t want to read SPOILERS

This game hammers home the theme of family pretty heavily and it makes me wonder what might have been going on in Yuji Horii’s life to inspire him to create this deeply touching game. DQV opens with a fairly standard black background name entry screen as you choose the name of your hero. The next scene is of a throne room. There’s only one conclusion you can draw at this point, the guy pacing in front of the throne is the king. He seems stressed and he’s pacing. His name is Pankraz. Sancho shows up and summons Pankraz down to see his wife, Madalena. Her son lies on the bed beside her and they deliberate over a name. Pankraz thinks Madason would be a brilliant name for the boy, because he’s not very creative and thinks that since he’s Madalena’s son, he should apparently be saddled with what sounds like a woman’s name. Madalena thinks that perhaps he should be named Dan. Pankraz reluctantly agrees and holds Dan up, Lion King-style, to proclaim that his son will henceforth be known as Dan. Crisis: Madalena begins to cough; something is wrong with her. The screen irises on Pankraz and the new baby boy. Dan begins to cry.

Cue heroic music and iconic Dragon Quest logo over a castle in the sky.

If you’re only just now getting to DQV, as I am, this opening is awfully remniscent of Fallout 3. Consider the identical elements: you are born in the opening scene, there is a name decision to be made, and some sort of tragic accident seems to befall your mother. I think there’s a pretty strong reason for both of these games to begin almost identically and it stems from simple human behavior. There are fairly established notions of the kind of relationship that a single parent, especially a single father has with his offspring. It’s either the whole abusive, resentful, alcoholic view, which would be useless in this case, or the close, caring setup that we get in both of these games. What it says to the player is: these men are your only strength left in this world. You’d better try to do right by them. In Fallout 3, your motivations are driven by your need to find your father and, once you do and he is killed, to continue his life’s work to restore water to the Capital Wastelands.

DQV does things a little differently. Immediately following the title splash, you see yourself in what looks like a bed in a ship. You can tell that it is you in the bed, because the man in the wild purple robes is the very same one portrayed on the Toriyama-drawn boxart. You tell your father that you dreamed he was a king and he laughs it off. As you walk around the ship, you learn a two things:

1. Your dad, Pankraz, is the man
2. You guys travel. A lot.

The ship lands in Littlehaven and you’re told to go play. At this point, you’re level 1 and you’re just supposed to go wander around and hit up the world map. Here’s where I’ll leave my observations for today and we’ll talk some more about stuff next time.

(NOTE: I’d be remiss in not mentioning that this feature was at least partially inspired by the ABDN DQV review by Tim Rogers)

P4ER96 [Sony]
Jun 29th, 2009 by Dan

Didn’t get a chance to watch last Friday’s, but here’s today’s. Enjoy!

The King of Pop [Embedded Reporter]
Jun 29th, 2009 by Dan

Deep from the trenches, it’s time for your Monday video feature: Embedded Reporter.

The King of Pop has recently passed away. In his honor, MJ-themed youtube videos. Most of the official ones have embed disabled by request, so here’s a couple that are available.

P4ER95 [Sony]
Jun 26th, 2009 by Dan

Charlie Tunoku and the gang celebrated summer with some watermelon and found out that the mysterious detective Naoto began attending their high school. Most surprising of all, Naoto is an underclassman.

Bold Words [Game Overview]
Jun 26th, 2009 by Dan

Insert another credit, because it’s time for your weekly video game news and you’ve just hit the Game Overview screen.

They have to cut the price, because if they don’t, the attach rates are likely to slow”, he continues. “If we are being realistic, we might have to stop supporting Sony…When we look at 2010 and 2011, we might want to consider if we support the console – and the PSP [portable] too.

Those words were uttered by Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision, last Friday and made huge waves in the gaming world. For the big boss man of the largest video game company in the world to try and throw his weight around like this is certainly surprising.

Everyone agrees that the PS3 is too expensive. It’s a topic covered on almost every podcast and Sony knows it’s what everyone wants. Still, their console is expensive to make and someone in their company thinks that price must not be the limiting factor in their sales. Then again, the recently announced PSP Go was priced at $250, proving that Sony might not quite understand that pricing a new portable at the same price as the Wii (and higher than the Xbox 360 Arcade SKU) might not be the best choice to launch a system reboot.

I can honestly say that no huge publisher has tried to make such a statement as this. For Activision to outright threaten to stop supporting the system and essentially hold Sony hostage is huge. Will they ever make good on this promise? That’s where things get hazy. It’s clear that they must make more money on the platform than it costs to develop for it, otherwise they wouldn’t do it. So it would seem like a stupid business choice not to develop on the system. No, I’m pretty sure that Activision, the new Evil Empire, is simply trying to garner goodwill from gamers. “Hey guys, look at us, we want you guys to be able to buy this system for cheaper. We’re the good guys!”

After that suit over Brütal Legend, all I can say is you don’t fool me Activision.

P4ER94 [Sony]
Jun 25th, 2009 by Dan

After Teddy ruined our chances with the ladies at the summer festival, Vinny and Jeff continued to help Nanako-chan with her homework and learned a little something about the male platypus. It sure seems like life is returning to normal in Inaba. Is the killer truly behind bars?

Insomnia Review [Filmmakers Bleed]
Jun 25th, 2009 by Dan

I’m a huge Christopher Nolan fan, but I somehow missed out on his third movie, Insomnia, back when it came out in 2002. Now that I’ve seen it, I can now say that I’ve seen all but one Nolan movie, the sole movie that escapes me being Following, which he made in 1998 and is way indie. So, needless to say, I’m about to tell you all about how much I enjoyed this movie and why. Turn back if that’s good enough for you and just go and rent the movie. The rest of you, spoilers are coming.

The plot revolves around LA cop Will Dormer, expertly played by Al Pacino, who is sent to Nightmute, Alaska with his partner Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan) to investigate a murder. Why do LAPD need to be sent up to wipe up an AK mess? It seems that Dormer planted some evidence to force a conviction, causing Internal Affairs to come down on him and Hap, who presumably do this fairly regularly. Their boss sent them out there to get away from some of the heat. It also seems that Hap is on the verge of turning Dormer in to win immunity for him and his family. Things are tense. They get a lot more tense when Dormer accidentally shoots Hap in the fog and feels he has to cover it up, lest IA come down even harder on his ass.

It’s kind of a birds-eye view of the plot, but I think it’s good enough. The other main characters are played by Hilary Swank (the earnest, honest small-town cop), Maura Tierney (the proprietor of the lodge that Pacino is staying at), and Robin Williams (the murderer). There are a few other important parts, but these three round out the already brilliant cast and really contribute a lot to the movie. Robin Williams can be…overbearing in a lot of his parts, but he rightly plays this one with just the right amount of gravity. His character, Walter Finch, writes crummy detective novels and acts like you’d expect a murderer novelist living in Alaska to act. Quiet, calm, creepy, rational, and slightly manipulative. Swank’s Ellie Burr is just what you think she is. She idolizes Dormer and wants to be big time. She’s a touch too naïve. She can’t quite get the respect she deserves. Maura Tierney’s character just has a quiet dignity to her as you realize that she, too, is in Alaska to escape something, but, guess what, it’s not important what it is.

Insomnia is the movie’s title for a reason. See, in this part of Alaska, the sun never goes down during the summer months. Dormer, already having toruble sleeping due to his IA-related stress, is troubled even further by the perpetual daylight, causing him to go for six straight days without sleeping. While Nolan uses this to some effect, cinematically, I think that he could have gone much further with artistically expressing the exhaustion and stress caused by Dormer’s affliction. Some might argue that this would take away from the strength of the narrative and make it into a gimmicky movie, which is possibly why Nolan did not do this, since it immediately followed Memento.

Light plays a strong symbolic significance, as you might expect, standing in for the pervasive truth, while the fog goes and represents the lies and Dormer’s misdeeds. Since all of the movie takes place in the light, one would think that there would be no suspense or danger, but the exhaustion of Dormer is so well-represented and Alaska is so empty most of the time that there is actually an acute sense of claustrophobia in some scenes. One particular standout is when Dormer gets trapped underneath logs floating down a waterway. The logs keep him underwater and there is real fear from the lack of air combined with one of the few instances where light becomes scarce in the movie.

Nolan did a fantastic job with this movie, as he always does, but I can’t help but feel that this movie was a little too safe, especially considering some of the daring narrative choices that he’s made with Memento, The Prestige, and even The Dark Knight. I’m actually kind of surprised that this movie didn’t come before Memento, because of how normal it seems. That’s not to say that it’s bad, it’s definitely a top-notch, well-acted crime drama that’s worth watching. Rent it or buy it if you can.

Fixed? [Uncat]
Jun 24th, 2009 by Dan

New URL, new look (because the new URL broke my old theme), and all the old links should work. Let me know if anything is still borked and I can try and work it out.

P4ER93 [Sony]
Jun 24th, 2009 by Dan

The gang continues to celebrate the incarceration of the culprit and even decides to help Yosuke out at Junes for a week.

Summer vacation is almost up, but Charlie Tunoku knows how to make the most of his free time to up those social links. Time for the summer festival.

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