Tag: promises promises
Honestly, today was the first opportunity I’ve had in a very long time to sit down and do up a blog post. Then I managed to contract terminal writer’s block and have nothing of any substance or value to provide to you folks. I apologize.
If I get the chance and the motivation to do so this weekend I’ll set aside an hour or so and give folks the rundown on how things have been progressing. In the meantime, I’m trying to figure out a way to integrate Tumblr into my content-generation routines, and coming up kind of short. What I have put up today, though, should go a long way towards alleviating my disquiet.
I have a lot to get caught up on here on the blog… Beyond Madness & Genius prime among them. There’s also the extreme flu I’ve had for the past two weeks, the coming start of the 2011 convention season (and it opens with a bang, let me tell you that), the announcement (and subsequent release, and further subsequent coveting by me) of the iPad 2, complaints about the bus schedule shakeup, rants about games and food, and just a general load of life stuff that needs to be addressed. With any luck this weekend I should have the presence of mind to get to it all.
But first, a complaint and and advisory. Most of you know I’m a rabid Pokemaniac, and when the fifth-generation games (Pokemon Black and White) were released last week I was all over them. I discovered, however, an interesting “freezing” phenomenon. When using the game’s instant-start communications tool, the C-Gear, starting it up in the field caused the game to mysteriously stop accepting button inputs. The game appeared to be communicating– the wi-fi light started flickering– but the screen didn’t respond at all. I just now learned through some forum posts that the only way to proceed was to touch the touch screen– which at no point are you prompted to do, in a bizarre break from Nintendo’s usually rigorous standards of always telling you exactly the next step. This isn’t just a bad oversight, this is an outright atrocious design flaw that should have been addressed weeks before the game hit North America.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the rest of the game, and I’m still of the opinion that this could have been the greatest Pokemon game to date. But given that issue, and the other things introduced in HeartGold and SoulSilver that are oddly missing here, that title is still firmly in the hands of 2010′s remake set.
Ciao, folks– hopefully I’ll get to you guys tomorrow instead of next month.
So now we come to my third-party wish list for E3, and it’s… noticeably shorter than the last time I did something like this. Probably because, due to mergers and other shakeups, there seem to be fewer big third-parties in the mix nowadays. Anyway, here goes:
Square-Enix: Due to mergers, this now includes Taito and Eidos… meaning really, anything goes here. Obviously we’re going to see Final Fantasy XIV (the new MMO) in a movie form, and likely playable as well (albeit probably not in English yet). Kingdom Hearts: Re:Coded is making the jump from DoCoMo– that is, mobile phones– to (I think) DS, and the biggest rumor is that a formal announcement of Kingdom Hearts 3 is in the cards. Eidos is probably looking to have Batman Arkham Asylum 2 playable, and from Taito I think we’re going to just see Space Invaders Infinity Gene DS/PSP and that’s about it. FF Four Heroes of Light is set for an October release in NA, so that’s going to be on the floor… really, though, what I’d like to see is Square going back to a couple of series they’ve dropped in the past and giving them another go-around. The Mana series can and should recover from the physics-wreck that was Dawn of Mana; and, with a decent number of Western studios on board, I think it’s about time we got a Saga game that didn’t suck. Oh, and aren’t we due for some more Chocobo Tales games?
Electronic Arts: I mentioned Rock Band 3 back with Microsoft, since RB and the XB are so closely associated in a lot of folks’ minds, but it’d be nice to see how Rock Band Green Day was received. Beyond that, a Mass Effect 3 preview, the next Burnout, and the standard Madden/NBA/(maybe the) NHL set, not much else is really “known”. I’d like to see an early build of Mirror’s Edge 2, perhaps, and if at all possible a continuance of Dead Space Extraction to serve as a companion to that upcoming game. What I would really love to see, though, would be how EA pushes integration between their Pogo online service and the casual games they release. Say what you will, but I liked Trivial Pursuit on the 360, and if it wasn’t so bloody expensive I’d have picked Scrabble over Words with Friends for my current iPhone
time-sink game; if there was an incentive to keep playing, like an achievement or communal wagering-points pool (like, say, credits that you could use in Pogo Poker or whatever), it would make the games that much “stickier”.
Capcom: Here’s an interesting case. The company clearly is in dire straits after a handful of big bets went south; Dark Void and Bionic Commando bombed badly, and their only real breadwinners of late have been sequels (Resident Evil 5, Monster Hunter Tri), remakes (Super Street Fighter 4, Mega Man Zero Collection), and licensed games (Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom). That said, it’s hard to feel too bad for them when they have a license to print money on the way, one named Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. The thing is, what are they going to do after that? For that matter, what do they have lined up until that hits? Lost Planet 2 just came out to admittedly underwhelming response, and Dead Rising 2 is in the wings, so we’ll see all of those on the floor. Beyond that, this is a wild card. All I’m asking for– since you won’t give me Mega Man Legends 3 (come ON! The Wii is the PERFECT machine for it: low costs, strong install base, and it’s quirky enough that it’d fit just fine on the console!)– is a couple of surprises that aren’t of the “surprise, we’re cancelling yet another interesting and original IP in favor of another crap-ass Mega Man Star Force .EXE whatever game that nobody gives two rats’ asses about” variety. (But seriously, MML3 on the Wii. Search your feelings, you know you want to.)
Konami: If the rumored Pop’n Music redemption game shown on Bemanistyle is true, and you build enough of them to get one within 50 miles of me, all is forgiven. This really is your last chance vis-a-vis Bemani, as I’m tired of being strung along and stung again. Make it right and I’ll drop my grudge. As for your other series of interest, Metal Gear Rising had better be more than just a teaser trailer now. Beyond that, I couldn’t honestly care less about what you bring to the table.
Activision: See above, except without the “you have a chance to get back in my good graces” bit. I’m only keeping DJ Hero around because of the whole collector’s aspect. Once DJ Hero 17: Now With Music Someone Might Actually Want To Play comes out, I might put the first one back in the 360.
Namco Bandai: Okay, guys, seriously. You were joking about the whole “we’re blaming our poor performance on piracy and other people’s shovelware” thing, right? You have to have been. I mean, you could easily make up for lost money by, oh, I don’t know, bringing out Tales games in North America (Europe is close, really, but you’re still on the wrong side of the Atlantic), or maybe not licensing off anything that might sell worth half a crap (it’s called “outsourcing the localization and then publishing it yourself”, guys, you might wanna look into it– ask Sony about it w/r/t Wild ARMs 3). Really, anything at this point would be a blessing. By the by, I still haven’t forgotten how subtly you announced that Xenosaga 3 was coming, back in 2006. That’s about the only thing keeping you off my hit list… that, and you didn’t mess up Klonoa. Impress me again, guys. Please.
Atlus: Okay, so full disclosure blah blah Super Robot Taisen site blah blah they paid me once. That was four years ago and I haven’t seen a dime since, mostly because they haven’t owed me one. I’ll wager, though, that I’ve paid them back in full since then with all the good games they’ve brought out, so I’m excited to see what they bring to the tables besides Trauma Team, a few quirky niche games, and maybe, just maybe, The Lord of Elemental. Okay, so really all I want to see is The Lord of Elemental, so make it happen.
The Niches: We’re not likely to see big booths from these guys but they can still announce stuff now, so here goes:
XSEED: After a fantastic job with Ragnarok DS, how about you follow it up with Maple Story DS? Hell, it doesn’t really matter, anything you guys pick up turns to gold anyway.
Aksys: You’re the second coming of Working Designs, and I love you for it. Good on you for following Capcom’s lead for BlazBlue Continuum Shift, by the way… now how about some more downloadable titles?
NIS America: Just that we got Disgaea Infinite was a pretty gutsy move, so that’s good to have. I am curious though if you’ll formally announce Prinny 2 for NA– if you do, you totally have to call it “Dawn of the Great Underwar”. Because… yeah.
Disney/Buena Vista Games: Please, PLEASE patch Split/Second. Oh, and more stuff from Tetsuya Mizuguchi, please.
Overall, I think this is going to be a pretty good E3. Given how quiet every company’s been of late, it’s certain to be full of surprises, and even though it might give me grief, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Some days, folks, it feels really good to just not accomplish much of anything productive. I spent most of the day giving the OSX version of Team Fortress 2 a run for its money (the verdict: Valve still half-assed the port but at least it runs without crashing), did some model construction for my Imperial Guard army, and got to thinking about E3 a bit more in-depth. In years past, I’d made up a list of the companies I followed and what I wanted to see out of them. This year, of course, is no different.
Microsoft: Obviously Project Natal’s full reveal is the big push from MS this year, but at the same time I’m pretty sure they’re not the kind of company to ignore the non-Natal aspects of the Xbox 360. More to the point, though, Xbox Live has been set up for some sweeping changes in the past few months, now that Xbox 1 support was killed off. I’d anticipate hearing about a “Late Summer Update” that will offer a huge amount of advanced functionality such as clans/guilds, tighter integration with online utilities like Youtube and Hulu, and the reveal of the first fully-integrated 360/Games for Windows/Windows Mobile title. In terms of games, MS hasn’t been too shy about its reveals, so there’s not much to guess about besides Halo Wars 2, timed exclusivity for Rock Band 3, and two or three new Xbox Live Primetime games to debut this fall alongside Season 2 of 1 vs 100. If I had to ask for one out-of-the-blue thing, though, I’d love to see some of the niche bullet-hell shooters come to North America via Games On Demand, but the odds of that happening are so low as to not be worth mentioning.
Nintendo: Hoo boy, this one’s tricky. Of late Nintendo has kept absolute silence about their upcoming releases until they’re all but ready to be put on sale, so literally there’s no spoiled surprises or leaks. The premature revelation of the 3DS was, though, a leak, and I’m still unclear as to why and how that happened. Even then, the device is still a nearly opaque mystery, and as a result it’s hard to gauge what’s going to be done with it on the show floor. We’ll probably hear a NA release date of early 2011, if not (the fantastically unlikely) holiday 2010. The Big N always has a good showing for its games, and we’re likely to see final trailers for Metroid Other M and… uh… I did say this was going to be tricky. Golden Sun 3 is probably going to be playable; I’d be surprised if a classic IP didn’t make a debut this year being handled by a North American studio (the perennial favorite has always been Kid Icarus, but my money’s on Battleclash or Startropics); and a gleaming Master Ball says there’s going to be an English-language release date for Pokemon Black and White as well as at least two other spinoff games to get us by in the meantime (three, technically, since one of those “games” is going to be a new Mystery Dungeon matched pair). I continue to hold out hope that there’s going to have been some breakthrough to let Mother 3 come out, but to no avail; instead I’m going to root for a new (as in, not-a-remake) Fire Emblem game.
Sony: This also is tricky, but not because of obscurity– quite the contrary, Sony has blasted out everything they can as soon as they can, so there’s nothing left really to reveal. I have to admit to a bit more interest in them lately after how much I genuinely did like LittleBigPlanet, and how many of the classic, hard-to-find RPGs have made it onto the PSN service of late. Then again, the shenanigans they’ve pulled with the PSP Go, the removal of features from the PS3, and their stubborn refusal to let the PS2 finally die still remind me that this is the ever pragmatic-to-the-point-of-shortsightedness Sony we’re dealing with. Playstation Move is their big push to counter MS’s Project Natal and the Wii’s… well, the Wii; to be unusually witty, it doesn’t move me in the slightest. The PSN is likely to go into a tiered paid-or-non-paid setup similar to Xbox Live, but multiplayer play will be free on most games– that is, ones that are older than six months; players without the paid option will instead get a fixed number of online hours a month in those games. There’ll be a timed exclusivity on the next Guitar Hero game(s); the video store will offer movie downloads from Sony Pictures day-and-date with the DVD/Blu-Ray release; and the first hintings of the next Playstation console will be grumbled late in the show (but quietly so as to not look like giant flaming hypocrites in the face of their “ten-year” claim for the PS3). As for games, your guess is as good as mine; the only one I really care about right now is LittleBigPlanet 2, and that’s a confirmed go. If we could get more than one PS1 Classic every couple weeks, though, that’d be nice. I might even keep the machine in its standby mode then instead of all but unplugged.
Valve: I’m putting Valve here because, like it or not, they’re to the PC gaming world what MS or Nintendo are to their respective consoles. Despite my initial and ongoing misgivings, Steam’s transition to the Mac has been the checkmate move over MS’s Games for Windows Live initiative for control of the major PC market. Now, they need to go the extra mile. I expect we’ll see the Engineer Update for TF2 come in, preview movies of Portal 2 and Half-Life Episode 3, and a couple new campaigns for Left 4 Dead 2 (okay, that last one is probably going to just become Left 4 Dead 3, prompting bitching all over again). But the big news will be that Valve has struck a deal with Cydia or some other port house to greatly accelerate the parity of the Windows and Mac libraries, and will (again, counter to my expectations) maintain the “buy once, play anywhere” policy for games ported in this manner. It’s worked out well enough for them so far, judging by how many earbuds I’ve seen on characters in TF2 today. What will never ever happen, though, is that Valve, MS, and Apple struck a deal to get a version of the GFW Live client running native on OS X; I guess that means I’ll be dual-booting to get my Dawn of War II fix.
I’ll go over third-party developers tomorrow.
Work is heating up. By heating up I mean I’ll be lucky to sleep in the next week and a half. I’ve already had to cancel every single leisure or side-project activity I had planned, and it’s still not enough. So I have to put the posts on hiatus for the time being. I don’t even have enough time tonight to get Bailout together for the next two weeks. No further information is available. Deal with it, because I have to.
….I hate the fact that I had a missed post yesterday, but not nearly as much as the fact that I don’t have anything worth talking about tonight, either. With any luck I’ll get some rest and have a real post tomorrow night… assuming I don’t lose track of time with Steam for the Mac (and assuming Valve actually delivers on their “buy-once-play-anywhere” plan which I still adamantly believe is a blatant lie).
Sorry, but that Game Clear notice is about all you’re getting from me tonight in terms of content. Kinda tired, but hopefully tomorrow I’ll have something substantial, if for no reason other than to keep this week’s content-to-days ratio over 50%.
No big long intro this time– just going to get into the anime caplets and leave the discussion for later. So…
The Story of Saiunkoku: (Madhouse, 2006; Geneon/Funimation 2007-2009)
If He Is My Master is pure fanservice, then Saiunkoku is “brain service”. There is absolutely nothing sexy, nothing action-packed, and nothing palpitation-inducing about the first episode of this series. That, of course, does not preclude it from being enthralling, fascinating, and just the slightest bit funny. While the concept of a period drama is not exactly unknown among live-action Japanese television, it’s exceedingly rare for anime, especially anime that gets any sort of English-language release. I can see why Madhouse did it, though, and it lies in the simple yet deceptively descriptive phrase, “scenery porn”. This is a gorgeous series. Shuurei herself, the main character, is interesting as well: she’s far from the stereotypical shrinking-violet type. At first I found her to be a little too perfect to be believable, but it was about that time that I caught on that her good-girl act was merely the social facade she was expected to wear, and that she’s written more or less realistically underneath that. I can dig this series.
Kaleido Star (Gonzo, 2004; ADV, 2005-2008)
Around the time Sora started blazing her way through the generic American city after the thief, I started to realize what kind of character she was, as well as what kind of series KS could have been. I was getting a decidedly Excel Saga vibe, until she hit the audition and got shut down. I understand it was an establishing moment for Layla’s character, but the whiplash was just a little too much to reasonably take. It got completely turned around just before the commercial break, to the point where the whole series is completely unpredictable. The floor show worked out to be as awesome as it’s been hyped up to be, and it’s one of those things where I think Gonzo just likes making things great only to crush the characters and the audience as well. And then it got really weird when Fool showed up. I wish I had confidence in the fact that it would end well, but this one episode casts all that in doubt– normally compelling, but here… irritating. Either due to Kalos’ seeming omniscience, Layla’s obsessive bitchiness, or Sora’s crippling underconfidence, it just grates for some reason. As a direct result, I’m uncertain on if I’m going to move it up on the list at some point. This leads me into a side tangent I’ve been thinking about… later. Much later.
When They Cry (Studio Deen, 2006; Geneon/Funimation 2006-2009)
Here’s my problem with spoilers. They can make enjoying a series like this one extremely difficult. I know where the series is going, so this first episode where things are relatively silly is almost impossible to take at the face value that it’s being presented in. Funny thing is, though, When They Cry opens with probably the single bloodiest two minutes of screen time that I’ve seen since Elfen Lied. Nominally, not a problem. I can handle a little guts an’ gore. The problem is that, because I’ve read the manga, I know that that intro is just the tip of the iceberg. Given the fact that I don’t deal well with horror, and especially not psychological/paranoia stuff, I’m probably gonna have to double-bill this with something far, far further up the “light and fluffy” scale. Oh, and for some reason, Keiichi’s English-language voice actor doesn’t really sound right to me. I always thought his normal voice was a little less overstimulated while reading it, and this just doesn’t seem to fit his established character, let alone my preconceptions.
Princess Tutu (Hal Film Maker, 2002; ADV, 2005-2006)
Okay. I stand corrected. THIS has the Excel Saga nature. I have to admit, though, that hearing Chris Patton’s voice coming out of Fakir was pretty much the point at which I started to really enjoy it. When it happened the second time I knew there was more to this than what it appeared to be. The story is steeped greatly in fantasy, to the point where having a cat for a ballet instructor is only a minor and temporary astonishment. Like Kaleido Star it’s a series about performance arts, meaning the animation is going to be gorgeous (when it’s not cracked-out), but the writing here drew me in and got me far more excited to let it go forward. And the fact that the English dub cast works perfectly is just an added bonus.
The Slayers Next (TV Tokyo, 1996; Central Park Media/Funimation, 1998/2007)
So this is where one of my favorite opening themes comes from! It’s been about a year since I finished up watching Slayers, and the thing is that the characters are among the best-loved in anime for a very good reason. While the DVDs are based off the original VHS masters, the whole thing still radiates the kind of charm that’s still rare to find. In terms of the story, it’s presented as being a matter of an irresistible force (in this case, Lina and the gang) meeting an immovable object (Martina). The gleeful, uninhibited ridiculousness was a great change of pace after, well, everything up there. It’s high on the list now, too.
Ah! My Goddess Flights Of Fancy (AIC, 2006; Media Blasters/ADV/Funimation 2007)
First off, explain to me what a Norse goddess is doing playing Scottish bagpipes. I’m not complaining, I’m just trying to figure out the connection. Anyway, if it was a long time since seeing Lina last, it’s been even longer since I sat down with the first season of Ah! My Goddess. I had collected the whole set during the Cleveland occupation (and subsequently lost it…) and watched it then, but I just never got around to season two until now. It’s probably weird, then, that the only thing I can seem to think of while watching is Tales of Vesperia. Seriously, I can see elements of the same character designs in everybody (no surprise, as the Tales series regularly employs Kousuke Fujishima as an illustrator– again, totally not complaining). As for the story, well, it starts with the Father of all “where’s my daughter” calls and just goes from there. Again, it’s one of the most classic manga tales, and its animated adaptation here is very deserving of its praise.
In the end, despite the fact that it was designed to narrow down the list of what I wanted to watch, the Rush to Judgment only wound up getting me to simply reorganize the list. Nothing really got eliminated, just pushed back. That was one of the outcomes I was sort of expecting, though: I know my tastes, and very seldom will I pick something absolutely wretched. It has been known to happen, of course, but those times are exceedingly rare. Anyway, the bottom line is that I’ve managed to get a pretty good queue set up, and barring any must-see shows popping up between now and August (if I’m lucky), I think I’m about set.
So: the mafia, some mages, a wolf, a Western, one graceful duck, four odd ducks, a maiden’s tale, a tale of maids, a fire drill, a girl of fire, a trip to the skies, a trip to much friendlier (ahem) skies, fear and loathing, and a well-earned happy ending. What a list…
I’m just now getting to start the Rush to Judgment Part Two, and as a result I’m going to have to delay the post until tomorrow. We’ll get to it, I promise… maybe we’ll even have six episodes to talk about.
Frangible Time Update: Finished Episode 3 tonight, bringing the word total up to 46.1K. I’m giving myself a one-day mulligan due to illness to hit the 50K line, but that means I need to re-work my outline for the next episode to match the great heaving plot twists that have been introduced over the last two episodes. On the one hand I love it when my characters derail my plot like this; on the other hand, it irritates me to rewrite stuff I thought I had planned out.
Like the above says, the illness and trips taken over November made writing… problematic at best. However I’m on track, doing better than I expected to (I honestly didn’t think I was going to get even this close to 50K by the end of the month), and overall I’m very confident I’ll be able to finish the story before the 1st of the year. Well before the first of the year, in fact, because I have two episodes planned out (loosely) already, with just a single episode in the middle to conjure up based on the pre-existing plot. I may have mentioned that FT is a very different story, thematically, than what I’ve done before; what I’ve written tonight pretty much seals that, I think. You guys probably won’t see it until June or so. Just take my word for it.
One other thing. Remember how, years and years ago, I said that writing fan fiction prepares you for being a real writer in that you get to work with themes and concepts applied to characters you know? Yeah. Tonight validated that, too.