Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children

Ok, before I start this up, if you’re a Final Fantasy 7 fanboy/girl, and refuse to believe that anything relating to the game can be wrong, just stop reading now. If you hate FF7 and are looking for a good bashing of the movie, stop reading now. Finally, if you don’t want spoilers, stop reading for the love of Odin. This review goes over pretty much every little nuance of the story (as weak as it is), so it’s absolutely loaded with spoilers. Anyone else may continue. And if you’re a hot chick, you may E-mail me some naked pictures of yourself.

As the title may have lead you to believe, I’ve now seen the Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children movie. What I have to say about it is pretty much irrelevant to how I feel about it, and the technical stuff here is more or less for me to nitpick and tell anyone who wants to see the movie (and doesn’t mind spoilers) what to expect. So let’s get the show on the road already.

The first thing I’m going to go over is the story. That shouldn’t take very long, since it’s the most bare-bones plot I’ve seen since Super Mario Bros (the game, not the movie). It starts off summing up what happened in FF7, and then goes on to tell you how people have become poisoned or whatnot by some mysterious force. Not long after, we learn that these people (all children, by the way) are sick because they have Jenova’s DNA or whatnot and the world doesn’t like them for it. Then these three dudes appear (with Jenova DNA of their own), bearing a resemblance to Mr. Oh-so-cool himself, Sephiroth. Turns out they’re looking for the remains of Jenova so that they can have a reunion of some kind. Blah blah blah. Cloud and company enter, cloud fights bad guys, Turks appear, say they want to help restore the world, secretly hold remains of Jenova. So stuff goes on, fight scenes happen, and the bad dudes take all the infected kids to a pool, brainwash them, and then attack the city. Leader of bad guys (forgot his name, not looking it up) summons goofy-looking Bahamut, kids become un-brainwashed, Cloud & friends defeat Bahamut. Rufus (Turk leader) reveals Jenova remains, bad guy leader gets them, Cloud chops them, bad guy cries, fight scene, bad guy turns into Sephiroth (Ooh! What a surprise!), more fight scene, Cloud wins, gets shot, come back to life, lame ending.

And that’s it. I should mention that the entire plot is completely obvious after the first ten minutes or so of the movie, so it’s not like you’re going to be surprised at all even if you didn’t read the summary. I mean, nothing at all happened, with the exception of Bahamut, that I didn’t see coming from a mile away. The tale was interesting to watch, but it was more predictable than a clock. But whatever, I’ve never been to worried about how good a plot is anyway. Unless of course, I’m reading a book.

Now while the plot is passable, there are a few things I have to pick out. For one, the brainwashing of the children was totally irrelevant. They did nothing but stand around mindlessly while they were brainwashed, and as far as I remember, the bad dudes never even mentioned using them for anything. But I digress, there are some bigger issues abound. Like Rufus, for example. When he first appears, he’s in a wheelchair, all cloaked as if he’s horribly scarred or whatnot. Later on, he hops off the wheelchair and throws off the cloak, revealing that he looks just as normal as ever. But he’s still got an eye-patch. Any guesses? Yep, it too gets thrown off, and under it is a perfectly good eye! Why? Why? There was no logic behind pretending to be crippled and deformed. Maybe he just wanted to fool everyone. But there was no real reason presented.

And the biggest issue I have with the movie is the entire Bahamut scene. Firstly, the leader of the bad guys takes the Bahamut materia and absorbs it into himself. The game had us believe that materia was clipped onto your armor/weapon or whatnot, and not that you’d absorb the damn thing and create a neon tumor. Then when the big dragon appears, he looks like a total homo, with stupid-looking armor and terribly designed wings. I swear, this incarnation of the King of Dragons does almost as much injustice to him as his FFX representation. And then to top it all off, the good guys start attacking it! Why would you attack a goddamned summon monster? Theoretically, they should just be able to summon it again. but that’s not even the worst of it all. Near the end, Bahamut flies way, way up to the top of a tower, and Cloud has to follow him somehow. Let’s see, what’s the best way to do this? Well the idiots that made this movie decided that each character from the FF7 game should fly in and throw him up a bit more. It’s impossible to describe this pile of shit scene with words, so I drew a diagram. and then, finally, Cloud actually manages to carve this gigantic beast – the most revered summon of like ever – right in two. Stupid, stupid, stupid. And Cloud wasn’t even using any materias. At least, I didn’t see any tumors of colour on him.

That’s pretty much all I found unacceptable there though. Otherwise, it’s only extremely nitpicky, like physically impossible fighting maneuvers and hair that was never meant ot look realistic. And to be fair, it’s time I said what was good about the movie.

Firstly, and most obviously once you’ve seen their first couple scenes, Reno and Rude make great comedy relief. Nearly every scene they’re found in is hilarious or at least will make you smile a little. then there’s the fact that Reno can crawl up walls like Spider-Man, which I found extremely entertaining, especially when Rude tried to climb up with him on one occasion and promptly fell flat on his back. they’re easily the best characters in the movie. I was never too big on any characters from FF7 (with the exceptions of Vincent and Barret), but if these guys played a role in the game at all similar to the one they had in the movie, I can’t believe that I missed it. Another thing that was awesome is Barret’s gun arm. In the flashback at the beginning, the gun was tiny and I made an angry note of that right away, but when he popped in later on, it was huge and shot like fifty bullets at a time. After rereading it, that sentence sounds unnecessarily phallic.

There were some other really cool things going on in the movie, like Cloud’s bike. the sides of the thing fan out, and reveal a rack of swords for him to choose from. And by the end, he’s used and lost all of them. The fight scenes were pretty fun, except for the fact that a few maneuvers that various characters pulled off were just plain impossible. And I’m not talking run-up-a-wall impossible here. I can accept a lot of over-the-top stuff, but they crossed a couple lines here. Other than that, though, lots of swordfighting and a cool fistfight with Tifa and one of the bad guys.

I’m sure there was a lot else that I both liked and disliked about the flick, but I can’t think of ’em at the moment, so I’m gonna wrap this baby up. Like I said before, everything I mentioned was for the sake of the review. None of it really impacts my final judgement. All things good and bad aside, I will say that this movie was a success on the grounds that I was entertained. That’s really all it takes for me to give something a good review these days. As long as I find a movie/game/song/what-have-you entertaining, chances are that I’m gonna end up giving it a positive rating. So the FF7 movie, although a lot of things about it made me angry, gets a solid A-. Somewhere between 85 and 90 on the percent scale. If I’d seen it in a theater, I wouldn’t ask for my $10 back. I would watch it again, but I surely wouldn’t buy it. It was much better than I’d anticipated (I expected very little. Video game movies are always the suck), but it wasn’t perfect. I’ll recommend it, just don’t tell me that it’s the best movie ever (not even in the top 50). I know it’ll be way overrated, because the game was, and those sheep that are Square fans (I personally like Enix a lot) will fall in love with anything that has Cloud or Sephiroth on it. Example: Ehrgeiz. That was one of the worst fighting games I’ve ever had the misery of playing, yet many loved it for its FF7 tie-ins. But now I’m way off-topic. Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children is worth your time. Go watch it. Just don’t ask me to talk about it any more.

The Good Stuff:
  • Reno & Rude = HALARIUS!!1!
  • Pretty. Very pretty.
  • Barret’s got a frickin’ sweet arm-gun
  • Cloud’s bike is also frickin’ sweet
  • Action scenes are engaging
The Bad Stuff:
  • Story moves pretty slow, and is mostly irrelevant
  • Smells like fanfiction
  • The Bahamut tower scene
  • Goes too far over the top now and then

The Ten Greatest Games of 2004

It’s been a pretty good year for video games, especially for sequels. Games have gotten longer, harder, more prettier, and more innovative. At least that’s what I’ve been seeing. Many people tend to disagree with me about stuff and junk, but that’s not too important, because it’s time for Ryan’s opinion to shine! Yes, I’ve painstakingly picked out the ten games which came out this past year which have stood out the most. These games are the cream of my crop, the ones that make me happy to be an overobsessive gamer.

It took me a long time to think out the list, and there are a-plenty that didn’t make the cut, even though they so deserved such recognition. And even worse was putting them in order. When you want to rank something you love for nostalgia’s sake higher than a more deserving of the spot, it’s hard to make the call, but I did my best to put aside my obvious Nintendo bias and come up with a well-rounded list for all to gawk at.

There were some rules to abide by though. For one, I would not put a game on the list which I haven’t played. That was an obvious one, and narrowed down the list. Unfortunately, it also probably woudl ahve changed had I not gotten a job and been able to play a wider range of games. The second rule is that remakes could not be included. This caused Super Mario 64 DS, Final Fantasy: Dawn of Souls, and a couple other great ones to be cast aside, but it’s more fair that way (as they would have taken the top spots with no questions asked).So I guess now that I’ve made my objective and means of achieveing it clear, it’s about time I got down to business.


~ #10 ~
Kingdom Hearts : Chain of Memories

Our first entry just barely made it onto the list, as I played it just one day prior to writing this. Not to mention that it was only released just before Christmas. And seeing as how I’ve played very, very little of the game, it’s clear that it rightfully deserves to be on the list.

While I learned to enjoy the original Kingdom Hearts after playing it a couple times, I still haven’t gotten a chance to really get into it. So I figured since I liked it, why not check out the GBA sequel? My brother bought it, and after less than half an hour with it, I knew it was a keeper. The opening video alone is enough to sway anyone who has insecurities about the crad battle system. It’s simply amazing what Square-Enix was able to do with the so-called “primitive” GBA technology. And the battle system isn’t nearly as bad as the cards it’s bulit on might imply. It’s still a totally active battle system, just with cards in place of attacking moves. You can still run, jump, and roll as normal, of course.

And then there’s the plot. Basically, it takes place right after the first game (so I was lost, I never saw the ending to the first), and Sora is trapped alone in Castle Oblivion, where gain is loss, and loss is gain. It’s all very confusing at first, but after the cloaked stranger who greets you as you step into the castle explains everything, it makes a little more sense. How the game progresses is interesting too. Every door in the castle leads to a part of Sora’s memories, and each door is unlocked by using cards won in fights. Depending on which card you use, the area beyond will be different, and different numbers of Heartless will popluate that area. This is reminiscent of the world-building features of Legend of Mana and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, only much more in-depth.

Overall, it’s a first for the world of gaming, in that it makes very good use of an active card battle system, where many have failed before. Highly recommended, as will be all of the games on this list.


~ #9 ~
Mario Party 6

Another close call for thie list, as I only got to play it once before now, but boy did it leave an impression. Mario Party 5 is easily the greatest party game ever, with my two all-time favorite mini-games: Pushy Penguins and Fish Upon a Star. But Mario Party 6 also has plenty of it’s own charms. Sadly, I haven’t been able to explore all the features of the game, nor have I seen even half of the mini-games, but there is one key factor in why I put this one on the list: The Microphone.

Karaoke Revolution was probably the first game in a long time to use a mic (but that might change with the DS), but that was probably passed by the wayside, as I never heard anything about it after it was announced. But Mario Party 6 takes the mic and implements it in a great number of ways, and without overusing the thing, might I add. There are about five or so regular mini-games where you use the mic, and they pop up randomly when in Party Mode. All are 3-on-1, obviously, as you only get one mic. One game has you driving a huge war machine and shouting commands like “fire” and “bombs” in hopes of defeating your rivals, while another makes you shout at a herd of goombas to help them escape the wrath of your enemies. Since it’s not overused, it’s always great fun when a mic game pops up.

Aside from those, there is also a dedicated Mic Mode, where everythign aside from game setup is controlled by the microphone. One game is a parody of Jeopardy!, only with more Mario Party-esqe challenges like guessing the identity of a distorted silhouette or remembering how many goombas went by in a stampede of monsters. With 3 or four players, this is an excellent game, and even better since another player can ring in to pick up some rebound points if somebody gets their question wrong. Another game is a race to the finish, where you have to shout at your character to run, move upwards and downwards, jump, and several other things. Unfortunatley, this one is only one-player, and is a bit lackluster for anytone who might be stuck watching. There is a third Mic Mode game, but I damn well can’t remember it.

Mario Party 6 surely topples the first four, but it’s stillto be seen whether it’s got the right stuff to best old number five. In either case, it’s still an excellent party game. Just make sure you bring at least one other person to play with. As fun as they are, Mario Parties, like any other parties, get stale if you’re the only one attending.


~ #8 ~
Mario VS. Donkey Kong

Ah, memories come flooding in of good old Donkey Kong ’94, easily one of the greatest original Game Boy games ever. And with a scarce number of original Mario games being released these days, it’s nice to get a refreshing taste of something that isn’t quite a Mario game, but could qualify in a pinch.

It seems that Donkey Kong has had enough scrounging various island for bananas and has gone back to stealing things from Mario and climbing tall buildings. Just like it used to be. Only this time, he’s not kidnapped Mario’s girlfriend, but every one of his cute little Mini-Mario toys. Mario, being the money-grubbing businessman he is, decides not to just make a new batch, but goes after the big ape in an effort to save the precious toys. It’s back to the good old days of hopping platforms and climbing ropes and vines that we so miss.

Now if you’ve played Donkey Kong ’94 (which you really should have – it’s not one to be missed), you know that the objective is to find a key on each level and bring it to the door to progress. But wait. Ther’s more this time around. After you’ve found the key, you get taken to the second part of the stage, where you’ve gotta rescue one of the Mini-Marios. A challenge worthy of a plumber/toymaker/doctor/racer/etc? Yes indeedy. After 6 levels of this key and Mini-Mario collecting, you move onto a new type of level, where you must guide the little guys to the safety of the nearest toybox. These levels are usually very complicated and often involve many enemies and switch platforms. And getting all the Mini-Marios to the box is worth the effort, as for each one you save, you get one hit point for the next level – the boss fight wiht Donkey Kong himself.

The boss fights are pretty basic. You pick up and throw things at DK, and whoever loses all their hit points first is the loser. It get harder later on, when you’re forced to navigate lasers or block flying objects whilst attempting to smack the big ape upside the head with a barrel. After six worlds of this, you’re rewarded with… Hard mode. Finish those six worlds, and then you’re done. Maybe.

A secondary challenge for expert players (and I mean it, these are damn hard) is a score attack option. Each level has a set high-score, and beating that score will net you a star. The objective is mostly to move as fast as you can on the normal and Mini-Mario levels, and not to get hit on the DK battles. It doesn’t sound too hard, but once you get to World 3 or so, you’ll realize just why I noted that this challenge is for experts only. This provides a huge leap in difficulty from simply surviving until the last level, and is probably one of those thigns you’ll never want to have to do again after you’ve completed it. But you probably will, because it’s just so damn enjoyable.


~ #7 ~
The Sims 2

I honestly didn’t think I would ever own The Sims 2. That was until I played it, and I got a new computer capable of running it (perfectly, might I add). The original Sims was great at first, but gradually got boring, because there wasn’t much more to do than keep your sims alive. Somehow, though, they managed to do it. Maxis figured out a way to make me fall in love wiht the sims all over again. And this time, I don’t think it’ll just be another fling. This time, it’s serious.

Like I said, in the original game, your only other real goal besides keeping the little guys alive was to get them to the highest job level. Which was nearly impossible. Unless you could stop time, becasue those damned skills took so long to build after level 3. But in The Sims 2, there are plenty of side objectives and “mini-gmaes”, like gettign your children into private school, and the whole Wants anf Fears deal. And let’s not forget aging and genetics. That opens up whole new worlds for sim breeding. Unfortunately, the developers had the humanity to stop us from letting them inbreed. It sucks, cause now I can’t get the super golden sim which can travel to all points on the world map. (FF7 joke, people)

So what is this about Wants and Fears, you ask? Well I suppose I could take some time out of my busy schedule to clue you in a bit. You see, each sim has an ambition. Be it an ambition for riches, knowledge, love, or just to grow up, every sim has one, and it affects which things the sim wants in life. For example, my sim has a “faimly” ambition. Therefore, his Wants will be along the lines of “have first kiss” “get married” “have baby” and “play with sibling”. His Fears on the other hand would be things like a death in the family, or being rejected for a marriage proposal. Each ambition has it’s own set of Wants and Fears, and set point values for each. So when a sim completes one of his greatest Wants, his ambition meter with go through the roof. And when it gets full enough, he would receive the fabled Platinum Mood, in which he’s happy all the time. So really, you don’t have to take care of your sims’ needs in this game, you just have to fulfill their wants.

Finally, the sim editor in this game is waaaaaay better. I probably didn’t use enough a’s to get across the true greatness of it. Rather than simply selecting a head and body for your sim, you can customize every tiny detail of their heads. If you’re really good, you could proabbly make one that looks exactly like you. You can also choose outfits for several different occasions, what makeup they wear, how much stubble they have, and you even get to set up the preliminary family tree when you create a family. Me, I love character editors, and that alone will last me ages. So have to say, if you still enjoy The Sims, don’t get The Sims 2, becasue it’ll probably be the death of you. However, if you’re looking for a deeper sims experience, this will be right up your alley. As long as your PC can take it. Fortunately, by today’s standards, it doesn’t require that much.


~ #6 ~
Viewtiful Joe 2

Easily my favorite new(er) series, Veiwtiful Joe has a hell of a lot going for him. First of all, it’s undeniable that the game is packed with style. From Joe himself, who goes to unearthly lenghts to impress his audiences, to the game itself, with it’s over-the-top movie motif and beautiful cel-shded graphics, Viewtiful Joe 2 takes the bar which the first game set, and raises it right to the top (or bottom, if this happens to be a limbo competition). It was hard for me not to put this closer to the top, but as great as it is, the others certainly show that they deserve their spots.

The biggest addition to the game is the whole new level of gameplay: the addition of Joe’s girlfriend, Silvia, to the mix. The brings along an entirely new way to play with her twin guns and exclusive VFX power, Replay (which kicks serious ass). You can interchange between the two heroes at any time, and they can even team up for several different super attacks. The blissful 2D beat-’em-up gameplay from the first returns with few changes, but as they say, don’t fix what ain’t broke. Me, I love simple games like this that you can blaze through in a couple days more than long drawn-out adventures, simply because these ones turn out to have the greatest fun potential, enabling you to play through over and over. And let’s not forget the various dificulty levels to fight your way through, plus the new challenge mode entitled “The 36 Chambers”, which are unlocked as you complete certain criteria in the main game. All of this, of course, is governed by the inhuman difficuulty level that makes Viewtiful Joe the first name to pop into your head when someone asks about a hard game.

But the gameplay is certainly not the only thing the game has going for it. Sounds a little weird saying that, but whatever. Remember how The Wind Waker was a pleasantly funny? Viewtiful Joe 2 is positively priceless. The first game had it’s one-liners for sure, but 2 takes the foundation it built and will have you rolling on the ground at least every second cutscene. For example, when you start level one, Joe notices Silvia has new clothes, and she respons that you can do whatever you want in Movie World andf that Joe should give it a try. The resulting scene is possibly the most intentionally hilarious moment in video gaming ever. Of course, the fun doesn’t end there.

The bosses deserve their own damn paragraph, since they’re such a prominent part of the game. Not only do they pose a huge challenge to players, but their characters are easily worth mention, just like in the first game. The first boss, Big John, is an over-chibied T-Rex that keeps coming back throughout the story in different costumes claiming to be a different character each time. Flinty Stone, the huge stone idol boss, has one of the most amusing cutscene dialogues with the heroes ever, and the final boss (whos identity is obvious after the intro cutscene) is rather cool. Plus once you’ve beaten him, you realize that he’s actually quite a good guy, just taking the wrong route to his goals. Probably a few more spoilers there than you’d care for, but it’s all pretty predicatable. Capcom’s never exactly been one to forge a tale of wonder and surprise.

Duh. I love the game. You’d probably love the game if you had any taste. It excels in every area the first one did, and adds some excellent things (like a stage select), while giving up a few (no hidden characters…). But everythign levels out, as the extra characters didn’t add that much to the first game. I just wish they’d give us the good quality version of the “Viewtiful World” music video. The warehouse version is good and all, but I like colour.


~ #5 ~
MegaMan Zero 3

I’ll start by saying that the Zero series is probably the best of all the assorted MegaMan series. It takes the standard X formula, makes it a little faster paced and more difficult, and then tacks on Zero as the main hero. Not to mention that it’s got a semi-coherent story, unlike that of the later X games (everything worked up until X4, then it went to hell). The first game was an excellent starting point. It had a reasonable difficulty level, and was a ton of fun. I must’ve played through it at least seven or eight times. The second, however, took the difficulty curve and made it steeper than some kind of really steep thing. The first level is acceptable, but after that, the holes, the spikes, the bosses. It was all way too hard. I did manage to finish it after a good year though. And enjoyably enough, MegaMan Zero 3 finds the perfect niche between the first two games and is just what the doctor ordered. Hopefully the fourth (which is now confirmed) will keep up the good name of Zero.

The reason the first games were hard was simply that getting the best things and special abilities required you to go through the entire games without using any Cyber Elves (which have various effects like restoring life and eliminating some traps) or getting killed, and you had to do it fast too. All this becasue you had to keep a steady A or S rank to achieve all the secrets. But Zero 3 saves you a little trouble. Whereas the first two deducted rank points for any Cyber Elf use, 3 lets you equip any two Satellite type (non-perishable) elves you like without any penalty. However, Fusion type (one use) elves still incur point loss. So you could, say, increase your life bar to give yourself a foothold and a better chance of surviving with a good rank. The levels are still unforgiving as ever, but the bosses are slightly toned down to a point where you stand a chance even if you don’t possess their weakness.

And of course, with every sequel comes new features! This one brings about a chip collecting feature, which provide you with character/story information, Cyber Elves, and sometimes even upgrade chips. You see, Zero can equip various chips to his head, body and feet to give him special abilities. Some of these abilities include being able to jump on water infinitely, reduced wall-sliding speed, quick weapon charging, or life regeneration. Body chips hold the elemental properties of the Element Chips of games of old, and also some other, somewhat less important properties. It goes without saying that you can only equip one of each chip at a time, but if you manage to find a secret boss and defeat him, you can acquire an Ultimate Foot chip, which is ovbiously an all-in-one deal.

It should also be noted that the first two Zero games, while excellent in gameplay, had a terrible narrative. The story wasn’t so bad, as it did make an unexpected amount of sense, but the translation job was atrocious. Capcom is pretty notorious for this kind of thing, so it’s more excusable than if a more illustrious company such as Nintendo has pulled something like this. Zero 3, on the other hand, is rather clean. Spelling errors are minimal at most, and everything makes sense, whereas in the other two games a lot fo the time you had no idea what the characters were trying to say. All this, and at the end, there’s a really neat plot twist, and a very cool final boss battle.

Without a doubt the greatest of the Zero games, MegaMan Zero 3 satisfied my cravings for a game featuring Zero that ahd a reasonable difficulty level. Worth picking up if you like any of the older MegaMan games, but yearn for a little more speed and intensity.


~ #4 ~
Feel the Magic XY/XX

The only Nintendo DS game on the list, and at such a high placement to boot. Feel the Magic XY/XX is what I feel to be the most original game ever to be made. Okay, maybe second to WarioWare, but other than that, most original ever. And the fact that Sega is behind it is the icing on the cake. You know just by that fact that it’s bound to be bizarre and a ton of fun. And boy, that certanily couldn’t be more true.

Sega obviously had one hell of a time playing with all the DS’ features and doodads. Those being the dual screens, the touch screen, and the microphone. Feel the Magic runs in the same vein as Wario Ware: Mega Microgame$, but changes the idea just enough so that it’s not just a blatant wannabe. While Wario’s games were super-simple and lasted about 5 seconds at most, Sega has created much deeper games (sort of), which can take quite some time. Some, like Parachute are simple and change lenght depending on which level you’re on. Others, particularly the boss games, are very drawn out, have several stages, and can take at least a minute or two to complete.

Every bit of the DS’ functionality is pushed to the max in this game. Everything but the wireless linking gizmo. There is no multiplayer, but it’s not such a huge loss, as the single player game is more than entertaining enough to captivate you for a while and keep you coming back for more. The touch screen is the only thing you use to control the game, aside from the start button, which is used only for pausing. Some games require tapping, others need you to drag the stylus along a precise line, and others yet will have you use it to colour in various shapes while avoiding falling people. And then a few of them use the built-in microphone. One game, for example, forces you to yell at the thing to get a girl’s attention due to a marching band that separates the two of you. Another places you on a yacht, and you have to blow into the mic to fill the sail and float over the shark-infested waters.

It’s a great game, even though it is a bit short. the high difficulty level should offset that. Sadly, there is a rather imposing problem with the game. You see, a lot of games require a precise hand, and this makes it so that it’s not totally accessible to everyone. While anyone can master a simple controller, pushing a pen across a screen in an almost perfectly straight line in a short amount of time isn’t exactly an easy task. And then another game requires you to move the stylus back and forth in a rather violent fashion, for about a minute or so straight. It’s a terrible strain on the wrist, but at least it’s only in one game. Despite the couple unsavory games, it’s a great game with plenty of features. Stay tuned for a full review as part of this year’s Christmas extravaganza.


~ #3 ~
Pikmin 2

Good old Pikmin 2. I loved the original back in it’s day, and since the sequel had so much more to offer, I figured that I’d just give myself the green light and pick it up right away. Ryan: 1. Conservativeness: 0. It was so damn worth my moneys that I can’t explain it in words. Pikmin is such an addictive game that I still feel bad for mot buying the first one, even thoguht it’s at a nicely discounted price now. In any case, time for some reviewing!

The first thing you’ll notice when playing is that you control not only Olimar, but his partner Louie as well. This gives you some neat multitasking abilities, but would be much more efficient if you didn’t have to watch your Pikmin like infants. The babysitting factor really holds back the true potential of having two captains. If the currently uncontrolled captain would defend your horde automatically rather than sit and wait for you to do something. But in any case, there is a better addition: the two new Pikmin types! Though you can only get them by sacrificing some of your other Pikmin, they are very useful for solving many of the intricate puzzles that the brains of Nintendo have set forth. The White Pikmin have super speed and can detect buried treasures, as well as poison any foolish enemy who makes the mistake of eating one. The Purple Pikmin, though, are terribly slow, but can stun enemies when thrown, and are ten times as strong as your average Pikmin.

New to the game is an absence of a time limit. You can fool around for as long as you like and never have to worry about your days running out. The day timer is still there though, so you still have to make sure to round up all your Pikmin before sundown, lest they be stuck on the surface and be eaten by the night prowlers. As another way to extend your treasure hunt, Nintendo has added in a bunch of huge dungeons. There are four maps to explore, and each is home to somewhere between three to six dungeons. And these caves are just full of great goodies to collect. The items you pick up are also of minor interest, including things like bottlecaps, boot wax, fruit, and even a ROB (Robotic Operating Buddy. Old schoolers know the score) head and blocks. Plus, there’s this really freaky baby head that blinks as your Pikmin haul it back to the ship.

The enemies in Pikmin were pretty ferocious, but the new ones can strike fear into the hearts of even the most well-traveled gamers. There’s this one bug that fires off rocks, but not just normal rocks. Oh no. They’re homing rocks. And another, my sworn rival, is this fish-tank thing that is totally invulnerable from the front and shoots bombs that usually just scatter Pikmin, but will end up killing them when you really need them to survive. And on top of that, he’s usually perched on some godforsaken spire that only Yellows can get to the top of, and surrounded by other enemies, effectively creating an almost impassable war zone.

But clearly, the high point of the game is multiplayer. You can only go two-player in Challenge and Battle Mode, but it’s still great fun. Besides, you’ll usually need two people to get perfect on the challenges. I just wish I had a clone of me to play with, or at least have one of my brothers get good at the game so that I could have an effective partner. Currently, they just wind up killing more Pikmin than they save. Oh well.

 

~ #2 ~
Metroid Prime 2 : Echoes

You knew it would be here somewhere, right? Like I would let a game this great just slip through the cracks of my “best games” list. But it’s not at number one? Well, there’s a big surprise lurking down there, at least for those of you who didn’t scroll down and skip all the words, just so that you knew what games I chose. Anywho, Metroid Prime 2 = the shit. Prime was excellent, but it did have a few failings, particularly the stupid X-Ray and Thermal visors. I never liked those, as the power-ups they could locate were few and far between, and without a guide, you’d have to check every damn wall in the game to find the secret stuff. It was tedious and not fun. That’s why I never earned 100%. But Echoes, now there’s an almost perfect package.

First off, the story. Other than the newer ones, Metroid has always been light on story, heavy on gory, as a certain mutant turtle might say. But Echoes goes way beyond what even Prime put forth. Granted, Prime’s storyline was optional, as it was all in scanned objects, but it was still rather simple. Whereas in Echoes, there are tons of cutscenes, and even direct interaction between Samus and another character. While it’s not actually dialogue, as Samus is one of those silent heroine types, it’s still mostly unseen in the Metroid series. Tycho of Penny Arcade put it perfectly when he said “How Retro manages to make Samus Aran – a character who never talks, and who isn’t really seen until the end – so engaging and even human in that Chozo suit is a feat of digital puppetry. … Myself, I would like a much more elaborate story – revelations, twists, and genuine dialogue. I think it could really work. Back to Echoes, though – that’s a sign of a game that really got its hooks in,…. Highly reccomended.”

And I might as well get in the other one now too, as I’m getting quite tired of this wrtiting process and need some good filler that basically says what I would be saying. Again, from Tycho “Metroid Prime 2 has some of the most solid gaming moments this year. It’s the kind of game that makes you pine immediately for a sequel, wishing you could just… I don’t know, flip the disc over inside the machine and obviate the anticipation phase altogether.” It’s so very true. I want to keep playing, but they keep telling me the game is over. I went back, found all the secrets (as none were hidden in invisible caches), but still I yearn for more. And beat hard mode. And damn was it hard. A lot fo the bosses in this game are actually quite tough. There are even a couple that are fought entirely with the Morph Ball. Oh, and speaking of Morph Balls and such…

The new powerups in this game are awesome. Some, solely on their aesthetic merits, while others for the fact that they allow you to kill enemies by jumping into them. The new suits are pretty cool, particularly the Dark Suit. They wouldn’t be useful in any other game, as all they do is lighten or nullify the damaging effects of being present on Dark Aether, but at least the Dark Suit looks cool. Light Suit, on the other hand, I think looks like a piece of crap. I dunno. Just don’t like it. The Screw Attack is a lot of fun to play with after you’ve mastered using it, as you can just pop enemies with a single jump rather than shooting them over and over. Hmmm.. what else… Oh yes, the new beams. The Dark and Light beams are pretty much the same as the Ice and Plasma beams respectively. I would say that the only difference is that they effectively kill enemies of the opposite alignment, but that rings true for the other pair as well. The Annihilator beam is awesome though. It kills everything real good, and seeks like there’s no tomorrow. Dries up your ammo supply real fast, but it’s fun while you’ve got it. And finally, the new visors. The Dark visor is essentially a mix of the Thermal and X-Ray visors, only you can still see well with this one. And then the Echo Visor. It’s mainly used for solving puzzles. There isn’t really any good combat use for it. Only one enemy is sonar-based, and it’s near the early stages of the game.

Other things worthy of mention include Dark Samus, who will clearly be a major player in Metroid Prime 3. Aslo notable is the multiplayer mode, which isn’t great, but is rather fun. Until your idiot friends decide to just stay as Morph Balls all the time. Maybe it’s because I’m not a huge fan of the Morph Ball. I just prefer shooting to rolling. But I also prefer rolling to driving. Anywho, awesome game. Has to be to make number two.


~ #1 ~
Tales of Symphonia

I hope you’re shocked. Not only is my favorite game of this year not by Nintendo, but it’s also an RPG. An unconventional RPG, yes, but an RPG nonetheless. I love Tales of Symphonia and everything about it. There is no realy downside to the game. It’s fun, it’s engaging, it’s got multiplayer, and I’m gonna burn the (four disc!) soundtrack as soon as I buy some CD-Rs.

I already did a full review of this one in the blog a couple months back, so I don’t think I really need to explain everything again, but I will go over some of the highlights, just for the sake of you lazy fools who can’t remember. Number one, the battle system. Active battling in an RPG? Hooray, it can hold my attention! The fact that it very much resembles Smash Bros can’t hurt either. Plus, you can plug in more controllers so other people can play as your party members. Good call on that one Namco. I’m happy when other people can cast spells when they need be cast, and not just soak up all my TPs. But, if you’ve got noone else to play with, you can always just command them yourself, what with all the commanding options you’re given.

Also good: the game is really long. Almost too long. And there are like seven points during the game where you think it’s going to be over, but it never is. Until the end. And even if the two-disc adventure isn’t enough for you, there are plenty of sidequests, just like any good RPG. And just like any good RPG, most of them are only accessible near the end. But of course. It’s not like you could do the sidequest for the ultimate weapons right from the start. What fun would that be? (I mean, the game is a little too easy as it is.) And when you’re done, you can play through again on hard, with upgrades an such you can buy with GRADE points you earn during the course of the game. If that’s still not enough, give Maina mode a whirl. I tried it once, got my ass handed to me in the first battle, and gave up.

The story is so-so, starting pretty run-of-the-mill, and getting more interesting right at the end, rather than gradually throughout the whole game. Clearly, I love the music, as I was even considering legitimately importing the soundtrack, until I found the torrent file for it. As much as I’d like to have a real copy, it takes so long to get my cash to my PayPal account, and then the shipping makes it cost so much more, it’s just not worth it for a cheap, impatient guy like me. If I could find it at the local music store, I’d pick it up in a heartbeat, but it just don’t work that way with game soundtracks.

So yes, this is the best game of 2004. Don’t listen to what anyone else says. You can disregard most of the rest of the list if you like, but my number one is absolute.

I guess that’s really all there is to it then. I just wish I could have had more than ten spaces. There were a lot of good ones out there, and I didn’t even get to play a lot of them. Had I not picked up a couple last-second, the list may have been different. You don’t know how bad Boktai 2 deserves to be on there. And I bet you were pretty surprised that both MegaMan X: Command Mission and MegaMan Battle Network 4 were missing. To tell the truth, neither was really that great, and I already told you that I’d try to be as non-biased as I could. What about Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and Donkey Konga? And what about any games not on a Nintendo system? To be fair, The Sims 2 is a PC game, and Viewtiful Joe 2 is also available on the PS2. See? I was good. At least I tried. Well, I guess we’ll just have to see what happens next year. So far, we’ve got Resident Evil 4 and two new Zelda games to look forward too, plus the new generation of consoles near the end there, so it’s going to be anything but boring.

The Dick Turtle Surprise Bag!

I’m sure that everyone has seen a surprise bag sometime in their life. They were a very common item in the candy section at dollar stores, and I’m sure that they’ve been other places during their lifespan as well. I know that lately the surprise bag population is starting to dwindle, as I’m seeing less and less of the things every time I visit a buck store. In fact, I haven’t seen any in town for the longest time, and the only place I’ve seen them in the last 5 or so years is at the Bargain Shop out in Lac du Bonnet. And even there they don’t restock the things.

So while we were out there this past weekend, I made it a point to go find one. Sadly, the Nintendo Surprises are totally extinct, and even the Nintendo gum packs are gone without a trace. So I had to settle with one of the lesser brands of surprise bags. I had two choices at hand, one was a pack of random “fun size” candy packs, but the bag displayed what would be in the pack, and that just totally kills the surprise. So, I went with my second, less sanitary-looking choice.

Holy crap, does that look like a poor-ass grab bag or what? Here are a few close-ups, just so you can further absorb the crap that is Dick Turtle’s Surprise Bag.


Firstly, what the hell kind of character is Dick Turtle? Aside from the obvious attempt to rip off the old Ninja Turtles (which raises further questions about how old this thing is), he doesn’t look a thing like a turtle. Who names a turtle Dick? And why would any Richard want his name to be shortened to Dick. You have Rich and Rick, two perfectly good nicknames. But Dick? Come on. Thta thing on his back doesn’t even look remotely like a shell, and instead looks more like air tanks or something of the sort.

And then we get to the bottom of the package, which has promises of cosmic candy, toys and novelty. For some reason, I think that I’m going to be disappointed with what’s inside. I mean with a package like the one above, how good could the contents possibly be? And what are the chances that they’ll be “cosmic”? Why does Dick Turtle have rockets for feet? Since when did turtles need or even want to go to space? At least that kind of supplies reasoning for saying that the stuff inside will be “cosmic”. Turtles are nature’s D student (according to Stewie, anyway), so there’s no way that NASA would accept them. He must be working for those greasy Russians.

The back side isn’t much better. It’s just got Dick Turtle in his usual pose and a list of ingredients. The biggest problem with it is that it’s supposed to contain various crap, and they’ve gone ahead and given a list of ingredients. I guess that most candy is pretty similar in composition, but I’m sure that not all of it is made with the exact same substances. Also on the back is a small note that says “Minimum: candy 20G – 1 toy”. Well that just fills me with hope for what’s going to be in here. I guess it’s time to take a gander inside.

Is this a warning not to take anything that’s inside this bag? I certainly don’t know Dick Turtle, or who put this compilation of what is probably going to be crap together, so I should probably just toss it all out right now. I wonder if Dick Turtle thinks that accepting advice from strangers is okay? But… Wait a minute! Something is wrong right here! It seems that
Dick Turtle may not be exactly who we once thought him to be!

A ha! I knew taking candy and toys from him would be a bad idea. Dick Turtle is actually a space pirate! That slick bastard thought he could sell his crap by taking off his shell and eyepatch and putting on a happy face, but now I’ve seen the real Dick Turtle, and I’m not going to fall for any more of his trickery! But seriously, who the hell made this? Their character has no continuity whatsoever except for that he remains the same species. And I never quite believed that he was really a turtle in the first place. Let’s just hope the rest of this bag o’ crap is as good for reviewing as the bag itself.

On the opposite side of Dick’s advice card is a small maze that I definitely don’t have the attention span to complete. In fact, I don’t have the attention span to write a whole paragraph about it.

The first thing that I grabbed from the bag after that card was this little piece of candy. As you can read on the wrapper, it’s a “Yolk um’s” candy. I have never heard of this candy before, and therefore am surprised. There you go, Dick Turtle. Your bag was a complete success. You surprised me. It says that it’s cream filled, and it doesn’t look like the type of thing that should be cream filled, so I’m not going to eat it. I’ve eaten many a cream filled object, and I’m sure that this one will be a let-down, since I’ve only ever seen its kind in a Dick Turtle surprise bag. Of course, it could be a really popular candy that I’ve never heard of, but I’m better off safe than sorry.

Next up is… a shitty piece of plastic shaped vaguely like vampire fangs. I don’t think any one could review this, so I’ll just take a picture instead.

It was a good movie. I know my representation is a little inaccurate, but I wanted to make the reference. Anyhow, the teeth had a strange taste to them, and I now have a strange rash on the inside of my top lip. I guess this is one of those times where you have to suffer for your art. I should probably have dusted off the hat first, too.

You see, there was an alien head ring and a small toy hockey player, and there was no way I could review them both separately, so I forced the ring on to hockey guy’s head. On the upside, the alien ring was certainly of a “cosmic” air, so the bag wasn’t totally wrong. On the downside, I was feeling the bag before I opened it up to try to tell what was inside, and that hockey guy felt a lot like one of those awesome mini-ninjas. I was so disappointed when I learned the truth.

And the last thing in the bag is… A coffin? Could this be an omen of things that will happen should I eat the rattling stuff inside? Hmmm. Now that I examine the coffin more closely, I can see that there is something written on the top. Just gotta take off the sticker and…

Oh God! It says Mr. Bones! It’s gonna be full of crappy pizza! Augh!

That’s all I’ve got. Sorry.

Inside the coffin was a bunch of candy pieces. And they were some kind of old-looking. They were supposed to be coloured all rainbow-like, but they were also covered in a thick, white dust. I assume it was simply sugar, but you can never bee to careful when dealing with possibly-decades-old candy. There was one really cool thing about them though.

The pieces were all shaped like bones and such, and could be pieced together to form skeletons. I didn’t have quite enough pieces, and they crumbled to dust at the touch, but I did arrange them as if they had been locked together into proper shapes. Well, as proper as you can get when putting small candy bones together. I wasn’t going to eat these things either, because they didn’t even bear the telltale smell of candy, and I wasn’t about to put any other foreign objects in my mouth after the fangs.

That’s all that came in the bag, and I can’t say I’m impressed. Surprised, but not impressed. The candy was old looking and probably poisoned, and the “toys” were boring and common. I still wish I hadn’t put those fangs in my mouth. I’m also pretty pissed at how they totally changed their mascot halfway through the bag. But I guess that it’s not exactly made for people like myself. It really is more of a children’s novelty. In the end though, it made some great review material. There really wasn’t a lot to review though, so I thought I’d add in a little bonus material.


It’s not much, but I was making a bunch of characters on my brother’s “Smackdown: Shut Your mouth” game this weekend. It’s not only a great way to while away the time, but it also satiates my need to create. I made a lot of them and decided that since I did pretty good jobs on the ones based on real characters, I wanted to show them off a little. So I took some screencaps and here they are. Make sure to click on the pics to see some more stuff.

You see? I’m good at making stuff. The only one I’m not totally happy with is Vivi, because I wasn’t sure exactly how he looks, so I kind of had to make it up as I went. Overall, though, I’m very happy with how well I think they all turned out. The article here was a little shorter than I’d hoped, but I didn’t have that much material to work with. I can’t just ramble on forever about five pieces of crap and a plastic bag like I can with a game. Oh well, no biggie.

In the end, I’m just really happy that I’ve made it to 1000 hits. I thought 500 was pretty damn big. And the fact that the site is almost two years old is just the icing on the cake. I never really figured that I’d care about the site longer than a couple of months (just look at Quest for the Cube), but I’ve made it a lot farther than most personal web sites do, and I’ve even had some people who don’t know me e-mail me with compliments. Hah, I guess this December, I’ll have to throw some kind of celebration event. But that’s something to think about another day.

Duck and cover

Sorry I haven’t been updating at all lately. In all honesty, I haven’t touched the computer since Sunday other than to see if my joystick would work on it. I’ve been totally absorbed in Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life and I’ve also started replaying Final Fantasy 8. So I’ll probably have the third Disney World thing done by Sunday. Of course, it often takes an extra day, so you should be expecting Monday. I’ll even start it now to soften the blow come the day I decide to finish and post it. Other than that, I really don’t have much else to say. And so ends another news post.

~Ryan out.

All night long

I’ve been playing Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles for about 3 days straight now. Well, not including school time of course. I imagine that statement itself tells you what I think about the game. Heck, I’d be playing it now, but my GameBoy is recharging and I’m too damned lazy to re-hook up the GameCube to my TV. If you saw my setup, you’d understand why. But anywho, I might be putting a little something up in a while, and the comic may be starting sometime in the near future. All I need to do is redraw a few more strips. Demand is getting high, and I just can’t disappoint the fans. Later in the month, I’ll be finishing the 6-pak review, and I’ll be getting another guest article pretty soon. I guess what I’m trying to say, in a roundabout way, is use the forums more. They’re pretty dead as it is, and there’s no reason for that to be.

~Ryan out.

Back in time

This is the first news post of February. There probably won’t be very many after it. There is gonna be a lot of gaming going on when I get Crystal Chronicles and my Zelda Collector’s Disc, so like I said at the end of last month, don’t expect much for a while after the 10th. 3 days left… I haven’t been looking forward to a game this much since the Wind Waker. I guess I was pretty hyped for Viewtiful Joe, but not so much that I was counting the days. After that period of gaming though… I won’t be getting many games unless I just trash the idea of buying a digital camera, which I don’t want to do. In any case, I might have a mini-review up tomorrow or Monday, and then it’s all up to fate. And that’s it for toady. Have a good night, and the new Astro Boy show isn’t all that good.

~Ryan out.

Lazy

Ah, January sure was a productive month for me. I finished the first half of my last year of high school, and I did a lot of work on the site. I got more than a week’s worth of vacation, and I preordered Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles and got a free GCN-GBA link cable. I’ve got a few articles lined up, and sadly to say, they’re all video game reviews. I guess I could do the Squirrel Game… but nayforth and such and such. I’ll have at least one done this week, and then I’ll probably be taking a while off when I pick up FF:CC. I know I had another good idea, but I just can’t remember what it was. Maybe a few mini-articles will be on the way as well, it’s hard to say for sure. All I know is that I’m gonna enjoy the fact that Februaury is gonna be a very good month for slacking off. So I’ll see you around, but probably not very much.

~Ryan out.

(Happy b-day to a special girl. You don’t know me yet, but you’ll love me when you do!)

2003 Birthday Bonanza!

The birthday. The one thing that’s entirely impossible to avoid. You can wish it to go away, not believe in it, or hate it, but it’ll always be there. Like those damned reality shows, some people love ’em and some people hate ’em. Some are more important or despised than others are, like the 18th/21st and the 40th respectively. All in all though, it’s just another day of the year, but now you have an excuse to pig out on cake.

Recently, (now almost a month ago) I had my 17th birthday. I personally don’t love my birthdays, but I certainly do enjoy when they come around. Christmas in September if I do say so myself. Actually, it was Gabe from Penny Arcade who said that, but I agree. I’m not big on getting the whole “OH! Happy birthday Ryan!” thing from everyone, and fortunately most people forget or just do it in a calm and civilized manner. I don’t really want to be made a big deal out of. I just want new stuff. 😀

The presents are easily the best part of any normal middle-class or higher child, and in the eyes of the law, I’m still a child. Sadly, everyone expects me to act all grown up and stuff since I’ve only got one year until I’m an adult. Screw that! People often give me odd looks when I say what I want/got for my birthday, as I have a tendency to like stuff that’s better suited for my younger brothers. But I figure if one of ’em is gonna act older than his age, I can act younger. So, to get to the point, I’m gonna show you just what I got for being able to survive for 17 years.


Like I said, I’m partial to stuff that I should have been doing 10 years ago. Sure it’s not socially normal, but I’ll be damned if I’ll ever conform to society’s standards. Yes, I do still play with toys, of course I play video games often, and so forth. I’m not afraid to admit it. Hell, I’m putting this info up for all to see, so judge me if you wish, but why should one be judged for what one is passionate about? It’s not like I really have a reputation or anything to lose, so here goes!

So my first example is a little bit more normal than I’d made it out to be. No biggie, we’ll get to the good stuff in a while. CD-R’s. My conscience pointed out that contrary to most of my other stuff, there were no age suggestions on the box. I felt a little like Milhouse, but I quickly pushed the annoying little voice to the back of my mind and out of the way. I suppose there’s not a lot I can say about these, they’re not really all that exciting. The only downside was that by the time I got them, my hard drive was long dead, so they were all but useless. As I write this, I’ve already created two music CD’s and have 18 remaining. Sadly, the Rockman.EXE episodes they were to hold went down with the hard drive. Oh well.

Ah! There’s an interesting point! It looks like I also got a couple Big Macs! Score! There’s only one problem. I don’t like Big Macs. I guess I could try to sell them off. Does anyone know how much a Big Mac is worth? I’m sure that I would if I could get a job at McDonald’s, but I know now that no company in the world wants to hire me. Sigh. I guess the best thing to do right now would be to press on and try to forget that I’m a failure.

Now I’m sure that all of you know how I feel about this game. If you don’t you either skipped the article, you’re reading them out of order, or you’re new to the site. But to expand upon that review, now I’ve played much further into the game. The Campaign mode is great, allowing you to choose (to an extent) which order to play the missions in. They’re also a lot easier to get S-Ranks in, but rather frustrating if you’re looking for a 300-point finish. The VS mode has expanded a bit, and will take hours upon hours to get gold on, unless you play cheap and just play as all the players. The War Room is mostly the same as the first, but all the missions have different CO’s to face off against, forcing you to change your strategy. And of course there are a few new maps. Color Edit mode still sucks, and the Neotank totally rocks. I think that’s all I needed to cover.

This is the crown jewel of my birthday treasure. If you didn’t know, I absolutely adore MegaMan games, all of them. With the only exception being RockMan.EXE for WonderSwan, since I haven’t played it and I heard it’s really, really bad. And the Battle Network games are quite possibly the best of them all. They’re long, fun, and amazingly, they have pretty damn good stories. BN3, in particular, is at least twice as long as BN2, but most of it is chasing wild geese, and less navigating through boss levels. Actually, there are only 3 or 4 real levels in the game, the rest is just out in the regular Cyberworld. But, there are a lot of bosses, and of course mountains upon mountains of battle chips. Most old, some new, the battle chips are the life of the game, as they are your main weapon, and the thing that makes the game so damn long. I might review this one in the future, as it is mind-bogglingly huge. My brother has had the White version since July, and he still hasn’t finished it. But enough about this, let’s get to the next one.

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is the only gift that came close to usurping MMBN3 as my favorite. I got the PSX game for my b-day last year, and I loved it but was never able to finish it due to the enragingly high difficulty level. I don’t even think I made it halfway through the game. Luckily, FFTA is just right in the difficulty category. It’s got that kind of aura that makes you fear the next battle, but come out saying “that was almost easy”. Plus, I like the Item Skill (a la FFIX) system better than the old Job Point system. The Judge system is great, and really forces you to think about what you’re doing, rather than just creating 6 Black Mages and using Thundaga on everything. The link capability is also pretty good, as it pits both players against a common enemy, so I don’t have to suffer through my friends’ dance of “Wahahahaha! I beat Ryan!! In yo face!”. Really. I seem to be regarded as the best gamer that most of my friend know (some call me “The Master”) and they really go overboard when they win. In conclusion, I might have to review this too.

Like the CD-R’s, there isn’t a whole lot I can say about the GameBoy Advance GameCube Link Cable. If you couldn’t tell by the name, it’s the thing that you use to activate the connectivity features between the GameCube and the GameBoy Advance. The feature is kind of like the Pocketstation or the Dreamcast thingies, but good. And now that Sony sees how much Nintendo is cashing in on the feature, they’re releasing some PSP thing. I don’t know what it is, but I’m sure it’ll suck.


So as some of you may be aware, I already have a GBA/GCN link cable. So why exactly do I need a new one? As you can see in the diagram above ,the first cable I had was indeed a third-party cable, and when applied to the GBA SP, it pressed in the L and R buttons, causing mucho troubles. But now that I have the official Nintendo cable, all my troubles have been sent out the window. Possibly to the Island of Doom in my Animal Crossing game. Or did I call it Skull Island? Hmmm. I guess some things we’ll just never know. Or I’ll go to find out and you won’t know because there’s no way I’m gonna report back later. End paragraph.

Ah. This is my new pride and joy. You are now seeing what is possibly the coolest flashlight ever. Why? I don’t know, but I think it’s pretty damn cool. Oh, you wanted to know why I got a flashlight for my birthday? It’s quite simple. My dad always gets me some kind of tool, and this year I was looking at a particular circular saw, but apparently I don’t need a circular saw, and this was the next best thing. So now I have this really big, really cool flashlight. On the downside, I have no properly sized batteries, so I can’t use it. I guess that’ll be my Christmas present.

You have no idea how long I’ve wanted this CD. Actually, I don’t know how long I had wanted this CD. I guess it had only been a few months at the most. For a while, the Ataris have been one of my favorite bands, and I would much rather have the legitimate copy than just burn it. So now I have it, and I absolutely love it. There are some really great song on it, such as “So Long Astoria”, “Boys of Summer”, and the remastered “I Won’t Spend Another Night Alone”. I suggest for anyone to get it, even if you don’t like the whole punk music thing. Actually, forget that, as the “punk” category seems dependant on the opinions of the listeners, and not really up to the officials. It’s very confusing to me. In any case, the Ataris rule.

Now we’re at the point where any cool points I had go straight down the crapper. Sure, you can say that they’re toys, but I love Ultimate Muscle. It’s one of my favorite TV shows, and one of the only animes that I like. It’s just kind of the fact that most animes suck. Maybe it’s because they’ve got some kind of secret joke that I’m not in on going around and I don’t get it, or maybe it’s because they’re just too damn boring. You can only have teenage kids getting into hilarious situations so many times, then it’s not so hilarious anymore. And don’t even get me started on Dragonball Z. I think the reason I like UM so much is that it’s a rather obvious spoof of DBZ and the WWE, two things I dislike with extreme prejudice.

Look at them all! They’re all there! Well, they’re not all there, and some are there more than once, but you know what I mean. Within each package are 15 micro wrestlers, and I got 3 packages, so that means I’ve got a total 45 pint-sized plastic people hanging around my room. But seriously, I got at least 1 of all my favorite characters, including Kid Muscle, Checkmate, Ninja Ned, Jaeger and Cranky Doodle. I just like Cranky because he has a funny name. There are also Skull Duggery, Tyrannoclaw, Hanzo the Horrible, Eskara, Kevin Mask, Robin Mask, Terry Kenyon, and a whole bunch of other little guys. There are a couple I wanted but didn’t get, specifically Dik Dik and Meat, but you take what you get. But wait, there’s more…

Coloured micro wrestlers! Sure they’re a bit off the trend of single coloured characters set by the original M.U.S.C.L.E line, but I’m not complaining. Look! I even got TWO coloured Kid Muscles! And a Checkmate!! Checkmate! Also among the group are Tyrannoclaw, Terry, and that stoplight-guy-whose-name-I-can’t-remember, but they’re not as important. Kid Muscle! Yeah! You say I’m a freak because I get excited over toys? If you can’t get excited over toys anymore, you’re dead to me. You obviously have no sense of fun left in you, it’s been all pushed out by that false sense of maturity. What a horrible way to live.

Oh, it just gets better! Look, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! They’re back and ass-kickinger than ever! Now I love my parents for getting me these, but there are two problems. 1) They’re the mini-sized toys, a.k.a. the parent’s cheap way out. This also applies to the UM figures. I’d rather have had a big Kid Muscle than all those tiny ones. 2) Notice something missing. Yup. I only got THREE of them. To those who don’t adore the teenage ninjas, there are four in total. That means one is missing. Raphael just happens to be my favorite of the four, and he’s not there. Fortunately, my mom was able to find him somewhere last week, so now they’re all there again. So really, number two is no longer a problem.

Of course, most people will associate birthdays with getting new clothes. I certainly did. Though like most years, I liked every article of clothing that I received. My only complaint is that new jeans always have really tight pockets, and it takes forever to wear them in. Other than that it’s all good. Not pictured above are some socks, boxers, and a pair of pajama pants. I was originally gonna pose in the boxers, but I thought it would be unfair to the male readers, since there are no females who read my site. At least not that I know of. Or at least not without being coerced into reading it. So if there are any girls reading, just try to make a mental picture. You know you waaaaaant it.

This is my new bling thing. Or at least that’s what people keep calling it. I don’t get it. It’s just a watch. A rather nice watch, but a watch indeed. Sure it doesn’t have all sorts of fancy lights and dials like most watches do nowadays, but it certainly is nicer looking than any of them. It makes me feel just that much richer. Of course, it doesn’t accord the classiness that a pocket watch would, but that’s why I’m gonna get the jewel-encrusted zippo and the top hat. But for now, I’ll just settle with looking richer than everyone else looks. If, of course, the aesthetics of your watch determine how rich you look.

And then there’s the runoff. Or the people who either are too lazy to go pick out a gift or think that I would do a better job of buying something I want than they would. Of course I appreciate the pile of money as much as the actual gifts. I just think it would be better for them to buy me something I need, like more clothing, than giving me money knowing very well that I’ll spend it on a video game I don’t really need. But I’ve actually been pretty restrained with my spending this time. I only bought a couple things…

Some people may not be able to justify spending $40 on Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge, but I can. If you know me, you know that I absolutely love the B-K series. I almost cried when I heard that Rare was taking them along in their move to Microsoft. And it’s very, very hard to make me cry. In the end though, it’s a wonderful little game. Perhaps too easy for the first couple levels. But it gets tougher as it goes. The part I’m most unhappy with, is the music. Not that it’s bad, but the only song from the 64 games is the Spiral Mountain theme. The actual Banjo-Kazooie theme is nowhere to be heard. Nowhere. Oh well.

To compensate for the lack of great music in BK:GR, I bought the new Disturbed CD, “Believe”. But for the sake of realism, I originally set out to buy only the CD, but when I saw that BK:GR was actually out, I couldn’t resist. So obviously I like Disturbed. They’re up on that level with the Ataris. Sure they’re a little less wholesome than most of the bands I like, but I do love the metal. I burned their first CD, and then said to myself, “Dude, you’ve gotta buy the legit stuff from these guys.” It just sounds so much better when all the songs are the same volumes and there aren’t any CD burner-induced skips. My favorite song on the CD is probably “Darkness”. It’s the only slow song on the CD, but it’s got this allure that makes you like it even if it’s in a completely different direction than the rest of the album. Oh yes, and I recently bought Soul Calibur II, but now isn’t the time to talk about that (Hint hint).

And finally, my most favorite possessions in the world, my Hulk Hands. After I read the article on X-E about them, I knew I had to have them. And now I do. I actually got them a couple weeks before my birthday because they were so big and noisy that my mom couldn’t find a suitable place to hide them. I love them so much, I wore them for about a day straight after I got them, and I play around with ‘em almost every day. I was going to bring them to school, but after my Halloween costume idea fell apart so I didn’t and now that’s what they’ll be for. Unless I can get up and find me some boxes anyway. I just need to buy the Spider-Man Night-Vision Goggles and some kind of funny hat and I’m set. The greatest thing about the Hulk Hands is that…. well, they’re Hulk Hands. What more do you need?


So that’s everything that I got. Seems more like the gift roster of a ten-year-old. But it’s what I love, so as I said before, don’t judge me because of what I like. I don’t judge you for liking cars or computers or skateboards, so don’t judge me for liking toys. The best part is that it’s kind of nice to have to juggle between games. That way I don’t pull a me and beat them within a week. The only thing I didn’t get that I wanted was Aggressive Inline for GameCube. I’m usually not a big fan of the skating games, but AI and the Tony Hawk games are great. Plus, AI has the absolute best soundtrack ever. Not only is it almost all bands I adore, but I can put up with every song on the soundtrack, unlike the Hawk games, where I have to turn off half the soundtrack. I did see it for $30 though, so I might go pick it up. But I can’t, as I promised not to buy any games other than Viewtiful Joe until 2004. Oh well. Again.

So I hope you’ve enjoyed this article. It’s not all too funny, but as I’ve stated in earlier articles, that’s no longer my aim. I just want to review stuff. Or make fun adventures with action figures. Notice how there was no –ny on that fun. I know this article took me way too long to write, but it’s just because I was half making up excuses for procrastinating. But now I’ve got a lot of new things to review, so it’s working out for the best. I’ve even got some err… “original” ideas. But I guess that it’s hard to be original these days, what with pretty much every idea already done. But hey, I still don’t have a following, so nobody will care what happens. With all that said, it’s time to end. Seeya next time.

~Ryan