Monday, July 31, 2006

Hello readers!

And I really mean that! I'm not just saying it because me and Boss Nonnu were accosted by a legion of fans at a party on Saturday night. That's right! Two very personable and dignified young chaps told us, after meeting us for the first time, that not only did they read this blog, they actually enjoyed it! And I didn't even bring it up - they did!

I know!

I didn't bother trying to remember their names - I would only have embarrassed myself five minutes later, as I forget absolutely everyone's name the first hundred times I meet them. Instead I enjoyed their excellent jokes about syphilis. One of them even looked like a young John Travolta! Imagine that! John Travolta reading this blog!

I know!

I don't know why I'm so pleased. I bet literally hundreds of people read this blog. I mean, look how many exclams we use! More than anyone else!

I know!

I took a picture of them, which I'll post later. In the meantime, here's a teaser for my next STUNNING post about things that would blow the ass and mind of an ordinary blogger -

Coming soon - the DEFINITIVE Disgaea 2 review.

Pretty good, eh? And I didn't even get paid $12 for it. I don't care though, I'm still buzzing off my newly-found celebrity status. This must be what being in The Triforce feels like, only better looking.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Cloning Clyde

Cloning Clyde is AMAZING.

It's also a bit average. But for an average game, it's amazing. I think it's Live Arcade that does this to me. Maybe it's about the money being spent justifying an average game's escalation into brilliance. I really enjoy Cloning Clyde, and four-player co-up with mutants thrown into the mix and chicken kicking is maybe the funniest thing I've ever done, but having an axe fight in Animal Crossing DS is a pretty close second, which I think says a lot about the game's appeal.

It's definitely worth 800pts, though. Or however much I paid for it. I don't even know.

It's nowhere near as good as Disgaea 2, though. Obviously.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Warning: non-games post ahead

I have had lots of conversations with lots of people about martial arts. Many people with little or no experience in the field often believe they are right about many, many things that they obviously don't understand. I think this is something to do with the nature of fighting, and of the way many people need to believe they are badass in some way in order to feel good about their pathetic existence. I am obviously one such person, only instead of being wrong, I'm right. Some of these people attend an hour-long class in a gym practicing some system or another and then tell their friends "oh yeah, I do system X." These people will say things like "Thai Boxing is the most effective system for street-fighting" or "Tae Kwon Do is just kicking" even though they've never attended a class in either under an instructor who knows what he's doing (a rare commodity in London). And even if you've attended a class, you've still no right to comment on the merits of a system unless you truly understand it, which seldom happens in a class or two. Like Akira says, you're ten years too early.

These people are, by and large, normal, intelligent, rational people. So when they tell me with conviction that they're right and that I'm wrong, even though they clearly have no idea what they're talking about, I am often dismayed. I wish that wasn't so, since their view is so inconsequential, but the magnitude by which they are wrong is so great, sometimes my brain spasms from the conclusions they have reached. So, in an effort to cast a +5 banishment spell on these idiotic ideas I will put down here some stone cold facts that seem pretty fucking obvious to me, even though Real Actual People try to tell me otherwise, despite my having spent more than half a lifetime in training.

Fact 1 - all martial arts are offensive. This seems irrefutable to me. Someone attacks you, you break them, they stop attacking. The only purely defensive maneuver is to run away. I did read about an interesting system once that someone had created that consisted solely of moves that get your body into a position where you can run away. Now THAT was purely defensive. If someone is set on attacking you, the only way to stop them is to beat them down. I've never heard of anyone blocking their way out of a situation and I've not heard of any systems that consist of only blocks. And even then, that's attacking their limbs.

Fact 2 - the fastest way to develop power is not to refine your technique - it's to put on weight. Admittedly, the muscle kind is better than the fat kind, but really, either will do. Technique takes years, muscle takes weeks.

Fact 3 - there is no such thing as a purely soft art or purely hard art. All systems have aspects of both, but in varying degrees. Even Tai Chi has striking.

Fact 4 - it's not the system, it's the person practicing that determines the effectiveness of a fighter.

Fact 5 - the terms karate and kung fu refer to families of martial arts and are not systems in themselves in any sense other than as very broad categorisations.

Fact 6 - all striking systems are pretty much the same, at their core level. This is because the human body can only effectively produce force in so many ways. Spinning is one, straight line movement is another.

Fact 7 - not all fights go to the ground. Most one-on-one fights do, sure, but I've not been in, or seen, a one-on-one fight for a very long time. Going to the ground when you're outnumbered is effectively death.

Fact 8 - the assumption that some martial arts have no spiritual aspect to them, or that some are more spiritual than others, is wrong. Spiritual cultivation, for lack of a better term, is not something that you get taught straight away, or possibly even ever. It's a natural by-product of devoting yourself completely and utterly to any one thing. Martial arts practice tends to bing that out in people, so you find that strange spiritual dedication in the martial arts world a great deal, but in my experience you also find it in athletics, cooking, fishing, driving… in any sphere of human performance, really.

Fact 9 - training just once or twice a week is pretty much useless for anything other than having fun. In which case - I hope you're not in my class because you are bringing down the quality of the teaching, overall, since your casual fucking namby pamby needs are being catered for while I'm supposed to learning how to be badass. However, I acknowledge the merits of having people like you in my class, because it makes the prices of a class financially viable, which is in my interests. But if you're in it to actually learn a system, you are failing.

Fact 10 - none of it really matters anyway. Nobody really fights anymore, everyone has knives or guns and yes - a knife will probably fuck you unless you are AMAZING and the other guy is an idiot. Even if they don't have weapons, they will have friends. And nobody fights with honour, so it's all about surprising the other guy and getting in the first hit. Then it's over. And thinking about it, you don't really want to hurt anyone, do you?

Fact 11 - you should never go beyond 10 facts in a list.

Disclaimer - the author of this article is not actually much cop in a fight and has played more Street Fighter II than anything else. But he'll still take you on.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Things that Affectionate Diary loves

120 stars
100 coins
3 lives
Mid-level bosses
Head shots
Why am I so great?
You're ten years too early
Million-plus scores
Blogs about NGJ
You rock!
The Rule of Lefts
Character customisation
+4 frame advantage
Catching 'em all
Video Games
Computer Games
Angelus car
Max Chain
Quad damage
Defibrillator kills
Destroy the humanoid
Engine notes
Enter your name
Select star sign
Weapon shops
Over The Distance
Knife kills
Replays with lots of selectable camera angles
Wall jumps
Melee kills
Dark Assembly
Randomly generated
Space Michael
Lord Baal
C-C-C-Combo breaker!
Mission complete
8-way directional shooting
Ninja Dog
Yellow Solvalu
Ready Steady Go
Sniper rifles
M-m-m-m monster kill!
Welcome to violent city!
C4 jeep bombs
Now is time to the 68000 heart on fire!
Easily unlockable costumes
Night vision
Desert eagles
Kempston interface
Shots cannot hurt other players... yet!
Tango down
Load ""
Middleware physics
Ten Foot Toss
The beast Lu-Bu
Spectravideo Quickshot 2
Somebody's right on your tail!
MOS 6581 Sound Interface Device
Where might I find some sailors?
Competition Pro
Super Nashwan
Datel Action Replay
Rampant ninja related crimes these days
Euromax Pro
100 bananas
100-trick combos
3-hit combos
Yoho>low punch>shoulder ram>double palm
Levelling up
Brutal Deluxe
Oh! My Car!
Azura's Star
Tera Star
Omega Fire
Giga Heal
Nazi enemies
Winners don't do drugs
You win
You lose
Game over, yeah
Thank you for playing

Dark World 1-4

Insane levelling of healers!

Man! I'm still buzzin' off a fifteen minute blast of PURE MATHS.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Dr Mario

A video games addiction clinic has just opened in Amsterdam, according to the internet. And they can totally 100 per cent right to the bone fuck off.

What exactly is going on behind these doors to the poor children who, starved of love or social acceptance, turn to the only thing in their life that doesn't hold them down and shit in their mouth? Are they being robbed of the only thing in their life that makes life worth living in order to meet the accepted criteria for what we consider to be a normal healthy life? Where will they turn then? What will lift them from their lives of misery and the day to day humdrum existence of modern man? Books? Books are failing us. Isaac Asimov is dead, replaced by Dan Brown. The equivalent of Nippon Ichi being replaced by - ugh - Criterion.

When I was a young boy I turned to games to get me through life. Without games I would surely be insane by now. I would have easily qualified for the heaviest, most intense program at any clinic designed to beat the love of games out of the likes of me. Easy 16-bit software piracy meant I had every game, and I played every game. Super Sprint to Super Cars, Rampage to Rampart, Dungeon Master to Bloodwych, you name it, I sunk hours of my life into it. My mother barely noticed. As long as she was left in peace to hit the bottle or watch East Enders everything must be going fine. If not, here's the belt. Kids won't play with me in the street because my mum has at some point assaulted their mum. We're shunned, the only ethnics in town. There's nowhere to turn. I've read every book in the school library and there's nothing left to do. My saviour - a father kept away by a restraining order, with a healthy wallet and only twice a year to prove he loves his kids - brings on the games.

If I hadn't had games in those days, I really don't know what I would be doing now. I might be in jail, like loads of kids I went to school with who simply had nothing to do with their lives in that small town. Or perhaps just at home, sat in front of the telly, waiting to die. But I'm not. I play a lot of games, sure - in excess of twenty hours a week, every week, but I also enjoy my life immensely. I enjoy learning, and pushing myself. Years of gaming have sharpened my mind and now I simply can't sit idly while things are going on around me. I need new experiences. I need to feel like I'm achieving something. I need to feel that sense of elation that only comes with the sensation of realising a degree of competence. That, in my mind, is living. And that, in my life, is still going strong thanks to my time with games.

If your child is spending 40 hours a week with games, be they 10 or 30 years old, ask yourself why. Is everything around them so bad that gaming is the best thing they have? If so, don't take it away from them. Give them something better. Sending them to a clinic to cure them can't help. It's not your child's failing, though it's maybe yours. And hey, it could be a lot worse. They could be out their face on crack each night, or robbing people in the street. There's plenty of that where I live now, and I can't help but think that if they all had Xbox 360s at home there'd be a lot less crime.

People need to live. Games allow that when often, families don't. I realise this is my experience, and it's just one of many, and possibly some kids need some serious help, but like with all other youth-problems there are more serious issues to deal with before the problem goes away. Gaming addiction is not a problem worthy of the resources being thrown at it.

Except WoW players, who are all fucked up in the head, obviously.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Diss Gayer Too

I sat in on Suki's lunchtime session today.


HOLY FUCK THIS GAME IS AMAZING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

However, I sadly doubt I'll do it the justice it deserves when I can get my hands on a PAL copy. I'll be fucking up zombies or racing sportscars around an Hawaiian island. As stupefyingly wicked as Disgaea 2 is, I know the flashy shit will pull me away.


The Dark World


HOLY SHIT THIS GAME IS AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Starting over

Last night I transmigrated five of my guys. For the Nippon Ichi uninitiated that simply means killing a character off and then reincarnating them at lvl 1, with rubbish stats and minimal skills. I keep all the sick gear I've been collecting/upgrading, though, and if I change the character type (which I did) then I get to learn all new skills but keep some of the old ones. How much I keep depends on how much mana I spent, a currency earned by killing things.

This resetting of characters is unique to Nippon Ichi games, as far as I know, and is the reason why a good levelling strategy is so important, since you will constantly be training key characters back up to whatever level of enemies you're currently fighting. Each time a character resets they come back stronger, but allowing your characters to reach high levels before resetting also gives them more skills to retain (and in some cases, base stat increases). So it's a constant balancing process. Do I transmigrate now? Do I wait another five levels? Will I unlock Giga Heal if I do another item world before I reset? The choice is made largely according to your fighting style, which is why I love Nippon Ichi games so much.

Whenever I speak to another Disgaea player of Makai Kingdom player and I ask them what tactics they're using the answer is always completely different. Everyone finds their own way to progress in the game. I love that. I love that the system is complex enough to allow me to do what I want, how I want, and yet the entire game is essentially just manipulating stats. I remember when Boss Nonnu told me that everyone he talked to about Oblivion had their own stories of what happened to them in the beginning of their game. I think it's like that, but with +900 on the geek stat.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

They fucked up Dynasty Warriors :(

Dynasty Warriors 5 Empires on the 360 is fucked. It's so sad.

I absolutely adore the series, being a bit of a newcomer. I started at 4. Thing is, once you get someone into it, they often like it. Give them a fresh character and help them through a story mode and they fucking love it.

The big problem is that is has all this extra tactical shit. I don't want that. In the first battle of a fresh save, you don't appear to pick up items or weapons from officers you kill. I don't want that either. THIS IS ALL WRONG!

What I wanted was a simple, bigger, better update to DW5.

It's a shame because this could have been the chance for Dynasty Warriors to get a much wider audience. The six months in the life of a new console is a fertile time for promoting brands. The general selection of software is restricted, so players will be more likely to try brands and genres they wouldn't normally play. It's worked for Hitman on the 360.

I was feeling pretty low at this point. I found out how low when I couldn't take my custom character into the story mode, which is fatally tainted with the strategy stuff. TEARS. I was weeping openly.

In a last ditch attempt to prevent an imminent suicide, I gave the Free Mode a last go and after some cajoling, managed to bring my character to the battlefield.

Then, everything became wonderful. I was my custom character, but fighting with all the fury of the beast Lu Bu. Being able to assign any character's moveset to your creation is a stroke of genius.


It's still fucked, though.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

On scarves

Big scarves are fucking COOL. Viewtiful Joe had one, Shinobi had one, and now Adell has one. Kind of. I mean, Adell's is actually a tie that's huge but it goes round his neck and they're all from Japan, where the words for scarf and tie are the same, probably, so I'm basically right.

Japan is fucking brilliant. All the girls are 12, or dress like it, everyone can ninja and they make games like Disgaea 2. If Disgaea 2 was made in the States it would probably have the AWFUL American dialogue that they've added as the standard, and then the Japanese would add subtitles, so I would have no choice but to listen to Adell's re-imagined fucking awful whining voice. As it is, thanks to Beat Takeshi I can listen to them all in glorious Japanese. With English subtitles so that I can pretend I'm there with them, crushing monsters and calling for pizza on my cellphone. I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've been able to call for pizza on a cellphone in a Japanese turn-based strat-RPG, which is another reason why it's better than Final Fantasy III.

There's also a flying frog thing that has split personalities and tries to hump chicks. The frog's name is Tiki or something. Hey Tiki, why are you walking funny? Because you have frog's legs? Don't say anything, everyone will want a fly in their soup!

Or something.

What I did at lunchtime

So I went to the item world at lunch and I used my cellphone to call for pizza and instead the 38th Hero from Earth, a prinnie, totally flew in and KICKED SOME ASS for me and then I went to the 10th level to fight the boss and I fought him and killed him and then it took me to the specialist village where I met another prinnie who is now playing hide and seek in the item world with me and then I bought some hard liquor to make the councilors who are opposed to my proposal drunk so they would vote the wrong way when I try to make a strange old man and then I got out of the item world and pressed three switches in the hub but didn't unlock anything but I know something's going to happen soon so I'll keep on trying to press different things and trying different stuff and talking to people and I'll find something brilliant I just. Know. It.

Guitar, Herro!

So I got an Epiphone G310. It's modelled on the Gibson SG, the guitar replicated in the Guitar Hero controller. It's completely black, though I'm told changing the scratch plate for a white one is a piece of piss. I'm going to learn to play not because I'm having a mid-life crisis, thank you, but because playing the game has imbued me with a newfound sense of appreciation for guitar music.

Although that sounds stupid coming from someone approaching their 30th year, it's actually not that surprising. I've spent most of my life deeply entrenched in the dance music scene. I've been as niche as I can possibly manage, refusing to listen to only very specific sub-genres of dance music. As a result, I've really not heard any of The Who's music before. I didn't know any of the groups behind the songs in Guitar Hero beyond David Bowie and Franz Ferdinand. I actually hadn't listened to ANY of Jimi Hendrix's amazing guitar work till now.

That my musical epiphany has been brought about by a video game shouldn't really surprise me. How else was something going to penetrate my ultra-focussed life? It wouldn't be the first time a video game has changed my life either - when PGR came out I found myself driving round London endlessly, revisiting parts of the city I hadn't realised I missed as much as I did. Shortly afterwards I moved back to London.

And I'm going to be amazing on guitar. I have to be. I won't settle for anything less. Not just because of my strong competitive streak, though I'm going to capitalise on that and revel in my need to win. I'm going to dedicate myself to the process of mastering this instrument, however long it takes, because to do anything less would be to disrespect the music that I've found and the passion that has found me. I'm told it's the journey we make that's important, not the destination. I think that applies to this.

Monday, July 03, 2006

More scores

Makai Kingdom style easing in - 7 out of 10 (with Disgaea being 4 out of 10)
Hub world graphics pointing towards something mysterious and sexy to come - 8 out of 10
Interface - cleaner out of 10 but also less detailed out of 10
Lead character - big scarf out of 10
Plot - largely irrelevant out of 10
Overlords - definitely getting conquered out of 10
System changes - Disgaea out of 10
Hours played so far - 4.5 out of 200

Disgaea 2 - the definitive review

Graphics - 1000 out of 10
Sound - 1000 out of 10
Playability - 1000 out of 10
Lastability - 1000 out of 10

Overall - 10000 out of 10

I'll update this review with some words once I've played it.


Disgaea 2.