12/26/2004

THIS JUST IN: the gamers-tavern website has recently started an IRC channel, one that you may access through various mIRC clients around the world. The IRC server that this takes place is rizon, and the channel name is, of course, #gamers-tavern. I hope to see countless of you dumbfounded visitors of my website in the channel, so that I may abuse my powers to ridicule you in front of the entire Internet (well, the entire channel...). Truly, this new channel means that the site is ever expanding its ever growing popularity. One day, friends, this site will be on top of the hill. No... it will be KING of the hill! Indeed! Yes!! Oh my!!!

It is quite common knowledge that I have not updated the site for many months, mostly (read: entirely) due to my own laziness. In other, more interesting news, ZSNES has recently and officially updated to version 1.40 final. Yes, I said final, as in the final release of 1.40 (no, this doesn't mean the emulator won't update anymore; it just means that this is the official release of 1.40 and there won't be any more WIPs or RCs, etc). Basically, this means that the best emulator in the entire world has updated a lot of stuff, and believe me when I say this, it updated a LOT of stuff. So much stuff, that upon opening and inspecting the emulator, you may notice an immediate difference. One of the largest differences is that you won't ever need graphic packs for such games as Star Ocean. This is truly great, especially for the lazy people, such as I! Ha-ha! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! H-a-h-a-a-h-A! Anyway, as if you didn't already know, http://www.zsnes.com is the place you should be. Immediately. Immediately, I say! Do it now!! Do it now, or regret it for the rest of your pitiful life. Other updates to this grand emulator includes... well, the ability to have graphical filters in the 32bit color desktop setting with a windowed resolution. Basically, this means: goodness. There are many other updates, and I can't even begin to tell you what they are, mostly because I forgot, but for the purposes of this conversation, I'll just say that it's too much to type (read: copy and paste).

I have taken this opportunity to finally update the emulator on the site itself. As for other site updates, I am quite sorry to say that you won't be seeing anything like that around here for a while. Why, you ask? Well... because I am one lazy bum. I do actually sort of intend to one day redesign the site and have an overall overhaul, but that time is certainly not now. That time is in the future... the far, far, far future. It's also not a completely certain statement, so there is a possibility that it may never happen. However, if it does, I will probably update the ROMs lists and such. Actually... I did update many things on the site, but chances are, you won't notice any of them. For one, I have updated the links section. I organized it, made it more presentable, and removed and added a ton of new links, so go check that out immediately, because there aren't very many other things to see here. As for the other update, I have pretty much completely rearranged all of the internal directory paths for my site, thus changing the address for pretty much every darn section of the site, meaning I had to edit a lot of links. Of course, the last update you won't notice. You will most likely notice absolutely nothing about it. Unless you are some loon who actually pays attention to the URL in the address bar while traversing sites (like me). So yeah, you won't notice these changes, and the changes are mostly for my personal convenience for the maintenance of this site (as if it even needs any...).

So yes, it has been a bit since the Nintendo DS has been released. So far, the only decent game out that I know of is Super Mario 64 DS, which is a remake of Mario 64, only with a ton of extra stuff to do. I have heard that in this remake, you start off controlling Yoshi, and as you go through the levels, you eventually end up unlocking the rest of the gang (which includes Mario, Luigi, Wario and Yoshi). Each character has several unique abilities, mostly just to make game play with them different and interesting, but also for a few certain extra parts in the game wherein you are required to use a certain ability to advance. In addition to several entirely new levels, there are also countless more stars to obtain (about 150 I think), all the while with new additions made to old levels. Oh, can't forget; the mini-games! There seems to be quite a few mini-games that you can play on there. I don't know why the game has them, but they are all pretty solid in the entertainment factor. Of course, there is also a subpar multiplayer, which has you doing all sorts of competitive nonsense. Other than that, though, the majority of it remains a Mario 64 remake.

There is also a new Metroid Prime game slated to be released for it. However, I have been recently informed by my superiors that the DS comes with a demo of the Metroid Prime game, so that you can immediately put that DS to use upon purchasing it. I am thinking that most DS carts will cost around the range of $20-30. The handheld itself is obviously $150.

There is great news for me. The news is, namely, that I will soon be acquiring a DS of my own. Soon meaning a few days from now, of course. This Christmas (oh how jolly 'twas!) I received countless gifts, and most of them included gift cards to various places. I managed to receive enough gift cards to form a formidable amount of raw cash, so with this new found power I shall rule the world... wait, I meant purchase a DS. Yeah, that's it. Don't worry about the other stuff. The stuff about becoming supreme lord of the Earth. Don't worry about it.

So I continue this exceptionally painful dialogue to extreme heights and such, etc. It is very cold in December; the Winter time. Even in hot areas, it tends to get rather windy. Windiness is not good for your health, and I highly suggest that whenever leaving your house, that you are severely clothed and protected from the frosting rays of the Winter goons. Don't want a frostbite in Texas now, do you?

Right, with that out of the way, what else do I have to talk about? Well, I suppose I could tell you how much the PSP sucks. You see, it has recently been discovered that the PSP's battery life will be immensely short. That, and the PSP is actually expensive, unless you buy it without all of the extra "features," which is what makes it unique over the DS in the first place. The only good thing that I can say about it at this point is how great the graphics are. They resemble almost PS2 quality stuff, at some points. Definitely better than the DS, but upon closer inspection, you notice it's the small resolution that makes it look so darn good. It is still actually better than DS, but not as good as previously thought (PS2 graphics on a handheld; that is just too good to be true at this point in time...). So yes, so far things do not look well for the PSP. Consider also, that the NDS has already sold several million worldwide in its very initial sales, so I assume that this is very good success and that things are moving along quite smoothly for Nintendo's new handheld. Sony will certainly have to come up with something absolutely awe-inspiring to knock the DS out of the water, and I await to see if such a thing will happen.

As for whether I may pick up a PSP or not, I am afraid I can not answer that question now. I'd like to, I'd hope to, eventually. The moderately good thing is that the PSP is still not available yet in my country (the UNITED STATES OF INTERNATIONAL INVASION), so I have time to see if there is a viable way of me purchasing it. To say that it won't have any interesting games is an outright lie; there are certainly a PSP game or two that has caught my eye. However, it is still a bit early to judge these things, for we do not have much game choices available for both the DS and PSP. The definite thing now is that the DS has been released and is doing better than expected; this doesn't look like another Virtual Boy "incident," contrary to what many were thinking before the DS' release.

In other, far less interesting news, I have gamed a many during this time of inactivity on the site. Yes, quite a many. I do not remember the order very well, and I will just talk about the games I've played as I remember them. First off is Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, which was available for all three consoles and the PC (!). I, of course, purchased it for the GameCube, because this is my absolutely most favorite system of all (I don't have an Xbox and my PS2 keeps having oddball hardware issues). Now, you may have played the older Prince of Persia games, and you may have realized that those games were awesome. I think I may carry those two games on the site, in fact (in the SNES section). Anyway, those games are exceptionally entertaining, and they essentially revolved around you climbing various ledges and doing various forms of realistic jumps to get around your surroundings. Indeed, it may not sound or look very interesting at first, but it certainly does once you actually start playing them. However, my experience with the first two games has been rather limited; in fact, I have experienced far more of the first Prince of Persia than its sequels. So now, we come to a time where third-dimensional graphics trump all and there is a brand new Prince of Persia game. Yes, I do realize that there are now two Prince of Persia games available (Prince of Persia: Sands of Time and its recently released sequel). However, rest assured; soon I'll be acquiring the sequel; most likely next month.

Now, to finally say something about Sands of Time. You play as the prince, of (I assume) Persia, and there are various unimportant plot points that take place at the beginning of the game, such as the prince being rather greedy in glory and honor. It goes something along the lines of there being a war going on, which involves the prince's army sent by the prince's father, and they invade enemy ground (a castle). While this is happening, the prince slips in, totally undetected (of course, I'm lying, considering you kill quite a few people to get there), and he finds a mysterious dagger, the... Dagger of Time!!! Yes, this is truly something amazing, and the Prince of Persia has found it deep within the inner bowels of the enemy territory (castle). At this point, I think they win the war with the opposing castle, plunder the treasure and women (one of these countless women is actually quite special and relevant) and return to their castle (I assume).

By this time, the king (the prince's father, obviously) wishes to impress the sultan (some fat guy who laughs a jolly laugh) with the Dagger of Time(TM) and The Sand of Time(also TM). So the Prince enters the scene, equipped with his trusty dagger, and everyone is compelling him to pierce the sands of time with the dagger of time. When the prince is about to do so, a woman from the crowd of stolen women speaks up and demands that he stops from doing such an act (special notice: she has a very shiny medallion on her necklace... very shiny; almost too shiny). The prince is unphased by this, and does not stop; oh no, he plunges forth, with all his might! He begins to penetrate the rough substance with his trusty dagger, and then all things known to be good suddenly fall apart; the Sands of Time suddenly takes over the castle, all the while turning its inhabitants to sand (magical sand, mind you). The prince is terrified by this, but also mystified: suddenly realizing that he is able to even think about this while the sand is consuming the people suggests that he is immune to the sandy effects of the magical sand... hm! It must be the dagger of time! It projects an aura that protects him from the evil magical sand. However... what's this?! The woman who spoke up from the group of women, the one with the exceptionally shiny medallion, has not disolved away into sand, either! Truly, this is mysterious.

So now you are suddenly separated and thrown into battle (I think, can't remember). Ignoring the battles for a second, considering they are, for once, not the main aim of the game (gasp!). You are the prince and you're trapped in your ruined castle, and there are occasional zombified enemies that get in your way. The most interesting thing about this, surprisingly, is that the main game play revolves around you traversing the odd designs of the castle. Or, the realistic designs; the prince travels along pillars, ledges, walls, poles, etc to reach areas that no normal human can. It's interesting to note that, for some odd, mysterious reason, you are not able to use any of the doors in the castle. This makes it so that you must always find another way to get to your destination; the Prince of Persia way!

Now ignoring how lame I ended that last statement, the greatness of this gaming experience is in all of the sort of "puzzles" they have which revolve around one simple thing: getting from point A to B. Yes, that is correct; your goal is to simply get from one area to another, or in some cases, figure out how to do it. The game is not open ended; you do not have the freedom to traverse to a great many areas at once. You mostly only have a single direction to choose at a time; a doorway at a far away place, or a hole somewhere, etc. The main focus of the game is getting to these destinations, which is the core and lifeblood of the game play. The castle is actually designed in a realistic way (most of the time, anyway...), so it is not as if everything has been placed there solely to make it seem as if you were trapped in a large puzzle box.

The prince can climb stuff. He is very skilled in this department; he can even run on walls! Not just certain walls; virtually all walls! Yes, he can run on any wall so long as it is not oddly shaped (rare). This alone leaves countless possibilites in the way of getting to other areas, but that's not all. The prince can somehow magically attach himself to slippery pillars and trees. Somehow, he can even climb these pillars and trees; even jump from one to another. There are ropes, but also ledges. Those ledges actually do play a large role in the game; various times you will find yourself dropping from ledge to ledge, or just the opposite; climbing from ledge to ledge. There are also polls that you are able to swing from. The prince's ability to walk on walls is used in very interesting ways: you see, at some point in time, while dashing across a wall, you can jump off of it into a direction. This is used almost everywhere in the game for different reasons. I would say that it never gets old; I never tire of those run-on-wall situations.

Usually the main challenge you would have in this game is figuring out just what you should climb; pillars are not placed exclusively so that you can climb them. Castles have pillars, and this one is no exception. You do climb pillars, but not every pillar needs to be climbed, and figuring out which one you must climb is sometimes part of the challnge. There are various ledges; they come in many forms. This is probably the most challenging thing: spotting ledges you can climb. Usually a ledge is there so that you can use it to get to and from places in a very entertaining manner. Ledges aren't always immediately obvious to spot, so at times you may find yourself stuck. Usually this is because, when I say "ledges," this really just means a very small space that you either huddle across, or hang from. So it is not just restricted to those odd design decisions wherein the castle has a strip of brick extended from the wall, but also to other things such as the edge of a window or the above of a cell door. These are things that you don't immediately think about, so that is why you can sometimes find yourself stuck. The game itself is not very difficult, if you ever manage to get stuck, it is pretty easy to get yourself unstuck, in most cases.

Personally, I think what is more difficult are the battles. Yes, now I shall reveal to you the way the battles work. You see, the battles, they tend to occur every bit of the way. Whenever you finally reach that doorway (without the door), or that rather large hole in the wall, you usually come about several enemies who are simply frolicking about, minding their own business. This is when a battle starts, when you finally take out your sword. The enemies tend to gather around you, thus creating an exceptional crowd and flooding you with woe. Alone, each enemy is practically helpless. In numbers, you must watch your back and make good use of the Sand of Time. Oh, did I mention? You have the ability to rewind time (to a certain extent), so that, if you make a mistake in a puzzle or battle, you can easily rewind and redo it. However, you have a meter on the screen to show how much sand you have, so you can not do this infinitely; only until you run out of sand. To regain sand, you either kill enemies, or find sand upgrade things. The upgrade things eventually upgrade the length of your sand meter, thus allowing more room for error.

Going back to the battles, yes, they do tend to happen on occasion; usually right after or before you get to a set destination for the area that you are currently traversing. The battles mostly consist of an increasingly large crowd of enemies making sad attempts at killing you; only these attempts actually become fruitful once the crowd gets too big. Yes, the main way enemies damage you is by surrounding you with a large number of units. To counter this, you are given the freedom to lock on to different enemies in milliseconds; so quickly that you are able to hit one guy, then in less than a second hit three other ones, all with a single strike (no, you don't swing the sword once and hit three guys; you hit each one with a strike). Whenever hitting an enemy, they momentarily pause or get stunned, so that you have an opening to hit another while defending yourself from potential damage. You can only ever hit one enemy at a time, but the lock-on engine is created in such a way that you can easily lock-on to other targets and make successful attacks without even thinking. Even when attacking enemies, the prince has a fair amount of acrobatic moves to show off, such as bouncing off of a wall right into an enemy, or jumping over an enemy while attaching it, etc.

After an enemy takes several consecutive hits, it falls to the ground, effectively being knocked out. No, it's not dead yet; this is the point when you grab your dagger and stab it, thus effectively ending the enemy's life. Yes, this must be done with each enemy unit individually. Of course, that is precisely the challenge; trying to deal with each enemy on its own while being repeatedly beat on by surrounding forces. My main problem with the battles is that I would sometimes not switch to the enemy I'd want to hit, effectively costing me my life at times. On the whole, the battles are okay. They are not the greatest thing around, nor are they the best thing in the game, but they are certainly decent enough to enjoy. However, I have mostly found myself avoiding battles as much as possible, getting through each one only to reach the next area of climbing ledges and pillars.

Overall, I'd say that this game is definitely worth the investment of time that it offers. If you see this available at any store, I recommend you pick it up (however, due to it being a bit old, you may have some difficulty in finding it at stores). I have heard a very many things about the sequel, Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, such as the game focusing largely on the battles while pushing the other stuff to the side. This does not sound very pleasing to my ears, but I shall eventually pick it up anyway. I am quite sure it won't disappoint me too much.

Next up is Mega Man X8. I feel that it is imperative that I direct your attention to this area. Did you hate X7? We all did; it was a horrible experience fabricated by man. Convinced that the X series is doomed? Then, let me direct your attention to X8, the one to bring things back together. Yes, this game is actually good; actually worth playing. For one, the graphics have been vastly improved. While they are not the best the console has seen, they are far better than X7 (which resembled an N64/PSX game in graphics) and are formidable when going up against other graphics of today. However, the graphics are not relevant to what truly makes this game great, and that is the game play. They have returned to the 2D way of moving, namely, left and right. Despite the 3D graphics, it is similar to Smash Bros Melee in the way that you can only walk in a two dimensional space. Very rarely, while moving, the camera turns and you end up in a different direction, similar to Klonoa. It's a nice effect; I wish they had used it more often.

As usual, in this installment there are 8 robots to kill, and Sigma awaits you at the end. There is absolutely no effort put into resolving age old plot holes or any of that, so don't get your hopes up to something of that magnitude. It is just some new nonsense about "new generation reploids" or whatever, with the origins of Axl being the main spotlight. No, you still don't find anything out about his origins, but you may later, if they continue to create games in the X series.

The levels are entertaining to play through (all save for a few, which are reserved for long bike rides; usually those are more entertaining, but this time around, that is not so). X, as usual, starts out extremely weak and useless, but soon becomes the strongest entity in the galaxy upon obtaining his full armor. Zero is decent, although his saber is a tad bit weaker than before. The biggest disapointment I had with Zero is his dash. The other two characters have a fine and dandy dashing ability, but Zero's dash has been made much less useful. This confuses me; I don't know why they did it, but whatever the reason is, Zero always had around the same dashing ability of every other playable X character, so I do not see why this has to change now. Basically, his dash is too short; you must press it far more rapidly than the others if you wish to pass a lot of ground in a short amount of time. Other than that, the game play is fine and entertaining.

Axl starts out as the person you would most likely choose over X, although not always. You see, X's fully charged buster attack covers so much ground and range that it is almost an entire wipeout of the screen. Of course, this is the only redeeming factor X has in the beginning. However, upon receiving his various upgrades and armor, X can even become mightier than Zero. As usual, Zero's game play revolves around getting up close and personal with your enemies, slicing them right up the butt. In this installment, Zero can obtain weapons that are hidden in a few levels. Most of his weapons are rather useless, save for two: the glaive (similar to a long spear), and the one he receives upon beatig the game; the Sigma Blade. You can grab the glaive early, but Sigma's blade requires you to beat the game, thus not really becoming useful unless you wish to make use of a New Game +.

Oh yes, this one has the New Game + feature, wherein you pretty much keep every upgrade, armor, and weapon (except for the boss' weapons, which is only really harmful to Zero) while starting the game over. I'd say this is a fun feature to have in a Mega Man game, since it can be entertaining for a solid 30 minutes to go back and beat the levels with your newfound uber equipment. Oh, and for those of you who are unaware; Axl's first appearance took place in Mega Man X7, the atrocity that should have never graced us with its darned presence. Axl appeared there, and was playable. He replaced X until you unlocked him (ironic that you do not start with the star of the show), then after unlocking X, Axl's point of existence is reduced to absolutely nothing. X completely dominated Axl in X7. So sad that the game was horrible. It made use of third dimensional movement, IE, moving in all given directions at a time. It would switch between this and 2D movement at times. However, I can assure you that the 3D movement definitely did not work. X7 was horrible, and I had thought that, after it, the others would follow, until the series was no more.

However, with the arrival of X8, I am suddenly filled with newfound hope. The engine is very refined and polished, which I greatly appreciated. You can buy upgrades for the three main characters in the form of chips in a lab menu, where you can also save your game and return to the Maverick select screen. The currency you use are "metals;" you use such metals to purchase chips at the shop to upgrade your heroes. Such chips include stuff like health upgrades, offensive upgrades, defensive upgrades, etc. These upgrades are not like X's armor; they are far weaker and do not visably show.

So in the end, X8 is indeed just an average Mega Man X game. I would say, though, that it is an average Mega Man X game done right, so if you enjoyed the older X games, such as before X7, then I highly recommend you pick up X8. However, X8 does not, in any way, compare to such greats as X1, X4, and pretty much everything inbetween. Oh yeah, Vile appears in X8 (Vile first appeared in X1, then he returned for a second appearance in X3), although the game doesn't really acknowledge him much. I mean, the guy hasn't shown up since X3, and we killed him two times, so I'd think there should have been an explanation somewhere. Of course, Vile just pops in and decides to fight you for the fun of it: "hey guys, I'm back from the dead again and ready to get my butt kicked!"

Then there is Mega Man X: Command Mission. Yes, I actually did the horrible thing of purchasing this game, and I regret every cent I spent and every second I wasted on this horrible piece of garbage. This game is so horrible that it doesn't even deserve a mention on my site. However, I usually put games that I greatly disliked out in the open, to warn others of the horrendous horrors ahead. This one, though... I just hate it. I hate it a bit too much. So much, in fact, that I really don't feel like talking about the actual game.

So the game's plot revolves around a mission that the three heroes are sent on, X, Zero, and Shadow (some background reploid that betrays you in the first mission, but with a name like that and the especially evil looking expression on his face, I can't honestly say that I was surprised), wherein a rebellion rises to take down the government, and they use "supra-force metal" to power themselves up to... higher levels. Their leader, Epislon, is some guy who is an exact copy of Sigma. Well, not really; not in the plot's sense. However, he looks PRECISELY like Sigma, only he's not. I am afraid to say that, Sigma is not in this game. There's a guy who looks like him, but he isn't here. This actually made me sad, as ironic as that is, considering I got really tired of Sigma after a while. However, due to how bad the game was, I had hoped that the original characters would somehow magically improve the experience.

Axl is a very dumb character. He was brought in as a playable entity in X7, and I say that is a very dumb decision. Axl's personality is garbage, his design is plain and stupid, and... I just don't like him. I don't really want him WITH X and Zero. It had always been only X and Zero on the job, no dumb kid with them. As an actual character in the series though, in the game play sense, he isn't that horrible. Yes, I say this for all games except X7, wherein he was a useless character altogether (which is why I hated him far more then than I do now). Anyway, back to Command Mission. So yeah, the plot is basically X and Zero have to defeat the rebellion, which consists of a bunch of robots that power themselves up with "supra-force metal" (mind enhancing substances). There is also the resistence, meaning they are a city trying to resist the rebellion (the rebellion is rebelling against the main government, which is who X and Zero work for). So basically, there is a city that consists of several islands, titled "Giga City," and this city exists exclusively to study "force metal," or whatever. So this city gets overrun by the rebellion and you join the resistence in an effort to suppress and eliminate the other team. There is only one actual "town" (IE, safe zone with shops, etc) wherein you can make occasional purchases and such.

Oh, did I mention that this game is an RPG? Well, I'm mentioning it now: it's an RPG. The idea of a Mega Man X RPG does sound exciting at first, but if you've already heard my explanation thus far, you are already probably realizing the effects of this horrible stench. It is the stench of trash. Moving onwards, you first rescue a small portion of Giga City, specifically Central Tower, and then you make this your base (IE, the only town in the game). In this place, you can buy, talk, and teleport to the other islands. The other islands are where the rebellion are, and you are sent to each with a particular mission in mind (it doesn't really matter, considering all you really do is get through a horrendously dull dungeon crawl and fight the boss at the end), such as "destroy the weapons plant," "stop the enemy technology advancing plant," "destroy the enemy supply factory," and my absolute favorite: "raid the enemy's base for no particular reason." Yes, most of the areas you go to are simply labs and factories. Now, in your mind, when I say "factory," you may be thinking factories in the sense of Sonic, wherein they have beautiful and interesting level design. That is not so here. Essentially, the first dungeon you see in the game? That's what you see for the rest. Yes, every darn dungeon is a carbon copy of the very first, only with a different palette. The first consisted of small passageways and corridors and... is generally boring and extremely dull. The second is the same thing, only with a different color. You can see where I'm going with this, and I can honestly tell you that the dungeons barely change throughout the course of the game.

Yes, there are more characters than X and Zero. There are actually around 6 or 7 playable characters, all whom can join your party. Most of them are rather forgettable and are generic RPG cliches with no personality or relevance whatsoever. A ninja/thief robot joins you, simply because every RPG game needs a ninja/thief. Axl joins you as well, and most people would wind up with the ultimate party of X, Zero, and Axl. It is quite ridiculous how late in the game you actually obtain Zero. You start out with him, but then he suddenly "dies" (you think he dies, but in reality, he was just badly injured and misplaced), then you spend a pretty good chunk of the game without him. Around the last few final missions, Zero suddenly returns and joins your party.

Anyway, so far, we have determined through my writing two things: the plot/story sucks, and the dungeon crawling sucks. What's left? Menu management and battles. Why would I say menu management? Well, in this game they threw a bunch of ideas that could potentially work, and if they worked, they would have been awesome. However, all of these ideas were poorly done, so they tend to be terrible, as is the rest of the game. One such example is that you take command of a treasure hunting group; you send groups of little robots (three in each group) to various locations you have explored already. After a certain amount of time passes, these robots return and report in with the goods they have found, occasionally gaining levels. This could have been a pretty nifty side quest idea, but it's so bad that you probably won't ever bother with it (however, I actually kept doing it all throughout the game).

Right... now I shall speak of the battles. Remember what I stated about "potentially good ideas, but poorly done"? Well, you can consider the entire battle engine to be just that. The way the battles are set up, what you can do in them, etc; all of these things sound like good ideas on the drawing board. However, when you actually play the battles, it just doesn't feel fun. It feels overly terrible and half-baked, which is what it is. At first, you are tricked into thinking that your characters can do a lot of different things in battles. For one, you can attack three times with one guy; every character has a "main" weapon, and two sub weapons. The "main" weapons can only be equipped on certain characters (for example, only X can have the buster weapons), while the sub weapons can be equipped on anyone. However, I'm sad to say that pretty much all of the sub weapons are almost entirely useless. They tend to not do much damage, their effects tend to not work often enough in battle, etc. The sub weapons were not only for damage, oh no; sometimes they were defensive, as in, they put up defense barriers. They would also occasionally offer other effects, such as powering up your main weapon attack (this particular sub weapon is actually the very best in the game, and the only one worth using). You see, this sounds like a good idea, and I am not saying it can't be. Yes, this is a good idea, and it can be something wonderful. Too bad Capcom felt the need to ruin it with a horrible attempt. That last statement I made can easily sum up the whole thing with the battles, but I am compelled to tell you more.

Each character's main weapon damages in different ways, and you can use this to your advantage for certain enemies. There are combat attacks (close range melee) and shot attacks (long range). Armor protects only against combat strikes, and the shield statistic protects against only shot strikes. So some enemies are weaker to shots and some are weaker to combat. You would have more of a reason to switch between characters this way, seeing as how some characters use shot attacks, while others use combat. There are actually quite a bit more of combat type characters than shot type characters. Oh yes, you can also switch between characters in battle, for absolutely no cost! Now that sounds absolutely wonderful, except the battles are so outrageously redundant that you won't really care.

The next thing that makes the characters different are their special action trigger abilities. Each character really only has a single action trigger ability, and they are similar to the limit breaks in the Final Fantasy series, but also similar to Paper Mario's abilities in the fashion that you press buttons in a certain way to boost the power of the ability. Surprisingly, most of the characters have an entirely useless action ability, making things pretty stupid when you are in a situation wherein you have many action trigger abilities to use.

The next two aspects of the battles are actually similar to an RPG series that isn't very populor (for good reason, too): Wild ARMs. The Wild ARMs series is largely mediocre, but nonetheless they are playable RPGs, especially when you are craving for an RPG, but do not have any on you to play. So, the characters each have a "WE" meter, which recharges during battle. For every action you take in battle, it wastes a certain bit of WE (except for the main attack, defending, using items, and healing). Sub weapons are one of the main things that drain WE. The next thing are the action trigger abilities. This is exceedingly sad, considering both of these things are largely useless or pointless. So when your guy finally reaches 100% WE, you still don't really have any worthwhile things to use it on.

There is a "hyper mode," which has your characters transforming into beings of extensive power. Only X really changes through this; the other characters simply gain more strength and perhaps defense. X, however, gains more HP, strength, defense, new sub weapons, AND a new action trigger ability that is largely overpowered (this single ability can take down any boss in one hit, given the right circumstances). I'd say X's hyper ability isn't so bad, considering he is actually a lot more useful then. However, every other character isn't that much more useful during hyper mode, except for the boosted strength they receive (which can easily be done by a cheap item). So hyper mode is also useless; what is the world coming to? Hyper mode can be such a great idea; in fact, I'd say it was actually done far better in Wild ARMs 2 (it wasn't known as "hyper mode," but they had pretty much the same thing with one of the characters), which is pretty pitiful considering how mediocre that series is.

So this pretty much sums up the battles: a bunch of ideas that had the potential of being grand, but were so useless or poorly implemented that they tend to be not worth using or even thinking about. This, as I have said countless times, sums up pretty much the entire experience. A Mega Man X RPG does certainly have potential to be something good, but only if they try making it so. Mega Man X: Command Mission is horrible. No one on this Earth should have to live through such a painful experience.

I am getting rather tired of all this typing. I shall grant those of you who have read this far a delicious cookie. Well, I'm actually lying about the cookies, but I'm not lying when I say that Viewtiful Joe 2 sucks. Hm, well, to say that the game is horrendous may be stretching it, but it is largely mediocre, especially when compared to its amazing predecessor. Viewtiful Joe (the first one) was an amazing game, from its unique presentation to its old school-ish game play and wonderful bosses... the game definitely deserves some recognition. However, I questioned whether or not it needed a sequel. Viewtiful Joe was too unique, in my opinion, to have a sequel. Somehow, I had a pretty bad feeling about the sequel. Ignoring all of this, I grabbed the game hoping that my uneasy feeling would be wrong, but alas... my uneasy feeling predicted the exact outcome of this.

Viewtiful Joe 2 is mediocre, and does not compare to the original in almost any way. One of the greatest things that the original did were the bosses, and the sequel completely ruined that aspect of the game. Also, the game actually lags in quite a few places (slow motion combined with lag isn't really that great). The levels themselves aren't that bad, but a lot of them are pretty dull and uneventful. They revolve around lame and simple puzzles far more than interesting enemies. The dialogue was bordering on the offensive with how shabby it was. Joe no longer would say witty lines and the bosses did not have interesting and quirky personalities. Now it was all awkward and moronic. I think the same voice actors still do Joe and Sylvia, and those people did a great job in the original. I am guessing it is not their fault in this case; the dialogue just sucked so much that they didn't have the strength in them to make it sound any better than it already was. Quite frankly, I don't blame them. The lines are not funny, do not advance the plot, they... don't do anything except make the scene longer. Overall, Viewtiful Joe 2 is not entirely horrendous, but it is pretty mediocre and is nowhere near the quality of the original.

Another game that I have recently beaten is Metroid Prime 2. There really isn't much to say about this one, except: if you enjoyed the first, you will definitely enjoy the sequel. That really is all there is to it. However, I shall go into further detail to give you a general idea about things. For one, I need the audience to know that this game is a quality one (just like the first), and deserves to be purchased by many people. Now, moving on.

Samus crash lands onto a planet called "Aether." I don't particularly remember why she went there in the first place, but by descending into the atmosphere, a shocking pulse of energy hit her ship, thus crash landing her to the surface of Aether. With that out of the way, you quickly realize that Samus has most of the upgrades from her last adventure (except for a select few). Upon exploring the planet, you encounter Metroid Prime, whom, if you remember, took the form of Samus' Phazon suit at the end of the last game. This encounter brings about the damage of your suit, and Samus ends up losing every single one of her upgrades. Now she has crash landed alone on a mysterious alien planet with hostile life forms at every corner, and darn near every feature of her suit had been removed due to critical damage. Just great, eh?

As always, the game revolves around Samus exploring various areas on Aether, trying to find an upgrade or two and then deciding where to go next. Eventually, after finding a few upgrades and clearing out some enemies, you find an actual friendly and intelligent life form. I forgot what the name of their race is, but they are similar to the Chozo, only, you know, they're not the Chozo. It's a different alien race with similar abilities and likeness to the Chozo. So anyway, the alien you meet happens to be the "leader," or a very important figure for this new alien race, and he speaks to you about their current situation.

The situation is *takes a deep breath* a mysterious meteor hit Aether, then things got distorted to the point of a dark version of Aether being created in like an alternate dimension. This will be referred to as the "dark world." Essentially the dark world got created when a meteor crashed into Aether, now out from the dark world came out the Ing, an unintelligent race of dark beings that terrorize the peaceful alien race on Aether. The peaceful alien race fought against the Ing with all their might, however, they failed and lost the war. The last few of the peaceful alien race all gathered up in a protective building, and went into hibernation. The leader is the only one who isn't in hibernation; he protects the building from enemies, hoping that one day, a hero would come (of course, that day has come).

Samus arrives, the alien chief explains the situation, and then tells you that the dark side of Aether has stolen the other side's "light" energy power (don't ask me what the dark world wants with light, considering that kills them...), so because of this, the real Aether's power is weakening and soon, the planet will explode or something. So it is your job as Samus to infiltrate the Ing's lair, which lies in the dark world, and retrieve Aether's "light." Once you collect all of the light, the dark world will slowly fade out of existence, and the Ing along with it. Aether has several temples (around four, I think); each temple is empty and barren in the light world. However, in dark Aether, these same temples (dark Aether is basically a reflection of Aether, only in darkness; essentially the dark version of the same thing) have the stolen light, which, oddly enough, is powering the dark world and helping it stay stable so that the Ing can continue devouring the planet. You go to each temple, retrieve the power, then return to light Aether and reestablish the power in all the temples. This is your actual mission and what you must do. It is sort of similar to the Zelda series, but still vastly different. Despite that, the game is still pretty much the same as its predecessor, if not a bit more complex.

There is one major complaint I have, and it's regarding the beams. All beams except for the Power Beam require ammo. Yes, that's right; you require "beam ammo" to use other beams. This is really stupid, especially considering that you have missiles for that. The beams are supposed to be a group of weapons to use when you don't feel like wasting ammo; that's how it has been in every Metroid game. However, it appears they felt that the light and dark beams would be a bit too overpowered when used in the respectively effective areas, so they put a limit on the ammo. In my experience, it usually isn't even worth it to waste beam ammo to exterminate most enemies. One, because beam ammo is far more difficult to come by than missile ammo, and two, it doesn't kill the enemies that much faster than, say, the Power Beam or missiles. Fortunately, the Power Beam is still free of ammo restrictions. However, the final beam you acquire is absolutely horrible. It is weaker than both the light and dark beam, occasionally weaker than even the Power Beam, and it wastes 1 light beam and 1 dark beam ammo at the same time. The only redeeming factor for the final beam is that it homes in on targets, and that it gives the potential chance of the enemy dropping either light or dark beam ammo.

Oh, and get this: to receive light beam ammo, you must kill enemies with the dark beam. To receive dark beam ammo, you must kill enemies with the light beam. Now, I don't know nor care if the development team felt particularly clever for doing this, but this does nothing but make the beam ammo even more scarce than it already is. So you'd be using the light beam in dark Aether, because the Ing are dark entities who hate light, and then you run out. So now you switch to the dark beam, and start shooting darkness at the darkness. Just think for a second how stupid that is. You are fighting the darkness with more darkness. Great.

Also, they practically copied every beam in the first game and put it in the second with different colors. The first Metroid Prime had the Ice Beam, Wave Beam, and Plasma Beam. The sequel has the Light Beam, Dark Beam, and Annihilator Beam (it's a beam that has both light and dark, only it's way weaker than the others...yay, I am sure this will come in handy). The Annihilator Beam uses the Plasma Beam's gun design (Samus has a gun arm, similar to Mega Man. The gun arm changes when she switches beams...), but the shots are actually entirely new. The Dark Beam uses the Wave Beam's gun design, but the shots are from the Ice Beam (it even has the icy effect of freezing enemies... don't ask me how darkness freezes people). The Light Beam looks like the Ice Beam gun, but uses Plasma Beam shots and has the same burning effect of the Plasma Beam, only this beam is way weaker. So yeah, the beams are probably the least unique of most the upgrades.

However, there is one new upgrade, and it is, by far, the best in the game: the Screw Attack! Yes, this time around, they have brought in the Screw Attack. I have always wondered just how they would get this upgrade to work in an FPS view, and more importantly, in a three dimensional space (the original Screw Attack could jump infinitely and go anywhere, so that obviously can't work in 3D... they would have to severely limit it to the point of the thing sucking), but they did it. They managed to keep the awesomeness of the Screw Attack, while reasonably integrating it into the new game play. It can even hurt enemies, too. When you do it, the game switches to third-person view, and you get to have Samus jump forward continuously. While you can not gain height this way, you can go forward to great lengths, and cross large pits. There is a limit to how many jumps you can do, but the limit is large enough to allow for some serious fun. Also, if you fly into an enemy, it damages them critically, so that's awesome. Overall, if you thoroughly enjoyed Metroid Prime, you will definitely enjoy its sequel, Metroid Prime 2.

The only other recent game that I've played and can remember is Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes. I had this game on my shelf for ages, but never quite got to it. That all changed recently, however. I have heard from many of my professional sources that the Metal Gear Solid series is definitely one to check out. So I decided to pick up the remake on the GameCube one day, and decided to eventually try it out. Then it got shelved to make way for countless other games I decided to play first, and, well... here I am now. So I finally got it out and threw it into the 'Cube to give it a play. I was left with a very different, but interesting and enjoyable experience.

Metal Gear Solid is, at its core, a stealth game. It usually has you as Solid Snake (code names are populor here) silently infiltrating the enemy base (usually terrorists) while avoiding all detection whatsoever. The game has a huge emphasis on how you are completely powerless when against a group of soldiers, so that you seriously have to watch yourself and try not to be detected by enemy soldiers. When they find you, it's usually two options: you quickly run and find a new hiding spot, or get obliterated. You can indeed kill other soldiers, and it is sometimes encouraged or required, but when they've found you, it's usually better to start running, considering they are sending an infinite amount of soldiers after you.

As bad as it is, with you being the only one doing the mission, they even have the nerve to send you in unarmed! Yes, that's right... you don't even start with a weapon. You start with almost no equipment; all of the various guns and gadgets you later acquire are found in the area that you are sneaking in. So the purpose of the game is to sneak in, rescue hostages, spoil the terrorists' plans, etc; that kind of stuff. There are governmental conspiracies thrown in, a load of plot twists, and an overal engaging story experience. Yes, that's right: a game of this type has a story and plot that can rival any RPG. In fact, I'd say it easily surpasses most of the recent RPGs. I was not expecting any plot at all; I simply expected a game with guns that you use to shoot people with, similar to the FPS games most Americans seem to enjoy. However, this was not the case; I was clearly off on this one. While you stealth along each area, you find items, weapons, and gear, while also having the opportunity to witness the ever twisting plot. Right, now I'll inform those of who have no clue how this game plays. Know that this is one of my first actual "stealth" game, so my experience with these games isn't on the high side and many of the things I say will reflect this.

You are Solid Snake in this one. A terrorist group takes over a nuclear dismantling facility, and they are arming themselves with a nuclear warhead that is pointed towards the United States, Washington. They are making demands, and if they don't receive these demands, they are threatening with a nuclear strike against Washington, DC. So they (the U.S. government) decide to do this in a one man job fashion, and they send Solid Snake. There's a lot of other small details that I am of course skipping, but these are things that you will have to find out on your own as the game unfolds.

Thus, you do such wonderful things as breaking the necks of your foes (usually the only enemies are soldiers who are monitoring an area of the base), sniping them from afar, but mostly you sneak by. Upon killing an enemy, you must immediately hide the corpse, or nearby units can check up on the guy and realize there is someone attacking them, which makes them initiate a "warning." This is the same thing that happens when someone outright spots you (because you walked right out into the open, you idiot). When in this condition, your radar map thing vanishes, and every soldier on the base is alerted of your presence and makes some attempt at securing the areas around you while the attack team tries to take you out. At this point, you are usually surrounded and being chased by a ton of guys with powerful guns. Of course, even when this happens, there is a means of escape: quickly run through the crowds of soldiers and try to cut as many corners as you can to find a hiding spot. In many areas throughout the game, there are ideal spots for hiding, and you should always select these spots when in trouble. You will now notice that the "warning" bar is decreasing, and may change to a green, "caution" bar, which means your map is back, but the soldiers are still being cautious and wandering areas they don't usually go to. Once this second bar empties (it takes a bit), everything returns to normal, and you are free to give sneaking another chance. However, at times it is just faster to plunge yourself into the bullets and die, rather than going through the entire warning and caution phase. It can indeed be fun to go through those phases, like how it's similarly entertaining in various GTA games to run from the cops when you have several warning stars.

The soldiers are not that stupid, and are alerted by many things, such as sound. Shooting a gun at one guy isn't ideal when there are countless other guys near by, since they will probably hear the gunshots. This is where the silencer comes in. The silencer is an attachment which you put on the SOCOM gun, and the M9 already comes with one. Having a silenced SOCOM means that you'll be able to shoot your foes while their friends are entirely unaware of what is happening. As for breaking their necks, this is good to do when you are sure of the enemy's movements, since this requires no ammo and is also mostly silent, thus not easily detected by the enemy. There are various weapons and tools, such as grenades, rocket launchers (rocket launcher in a stealth game, you say? Yeah, I know, it's crazy), pornographic magazines (used to distract your foes), etc. You can even hide under a box to fool the enemies (although if they walk into the box, they'll check to see what's under it). I say the game is good fun, and the plot is certainly something favorable.

This is it, folks; the ending to this particularly long ramble. I am rather tired and am afraid that I can not continue this particular rant much longer. I require sugar. So... as for any future updates? Don't get your hopes up; I doubt I'll be returning to this dump of a site anytime soon. I'll be around, though... around playing such games as Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, ICO, Mario Party 6, perhaps the latest GTA, and many other games. Some very fortunate news is that I have officially confirmed that I will be grabbing a DS soon. Soon as in, a few days from now soon. Yes, indeed, I am quite excited about the DS. The game that I am aiming to get first is Mario 64 DS. Hm... I hope I didn't already mention this previously somewhere in this update. Bah, who cares. I certainly don't.

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