Friday, September 3


That's how I describe my laptop now, after I dropped it (luckily while it was in a bag) a couple of days ago.


My beautiful, lovely, Powerbook...

It happened so fast. While fumbling with my backpack (after a checkpoint), umbrella and I.D., I lost hold of the WRONG thing and BAM... my bag fell to the floor. I couldn't believe it had happened, but it did. I picked up by bag and hurried up to the office. A quick look told me that the mac still worked, at least- the light on the front latch was on- but I had to look it over myself.
When I finally got to my workstation and took out the laptop, I was in for a shock.



I tried opening the laptop. For a second it didn't seem to open... but then, it did. My imagination. The screen went on, and it still worked. Perfectly. I looked for a disc to fit into the DVD drive... it still fit. The drive still ran. But there was that FRICKIN' dent. It's not huge, but you can easily see it. My poor, poor laptop.
I've already checked. The warranty won't cover it, and to have the casing replaced would cost at least 12K. That's a monstrously large amount to spend just for a little cosmetic damage. And there are other things to spend that money on. Like a certain comic anthology that I have to work on. Like a good pair of new shoes. Like food.
So I'll just have to take it and like it. Anyway, really, the laptop's still a gosh-darned lovely thing. Yep, it's dented, but then I guess it just fits ME better, since I'm not flawless myself. How's that for being cosmic? Well, someday, when I have to have the thing upgraded or overhauled, I'll be glad to spend the extra bit to have the casing replaced and have my partner perfect again. Someday. Really.

But for now I'm still aghast.

Tekken 5

Aside from DOA Ultimate and Mortal Kombat Deception heating up home systems next month, gamers will also be able to take on the latest King of Iron Fist Tournament. Tekken 5 has finally been announced for general arcade release by Namco in October. Following the release will be various tournaments to promote the game, as Namco has always been aggressive in supporting the arcade crowd with their releases.

What does this mean for us here in the 'ol RP? There are really few, if any, arcades here in Metro Manila that still update their games (though there really haven't been any new games anyway), but a new Tekken is BIG. I'm sure there will be a presence here, hopefully sooner rather than later. As for a home version, a PS2 release for the game is expected in 2005.
MAD about Fighting Games

Fighting games have changed a lot since the original Street Fighter, haven't they?

Unless this is the first time you've come to my blog, you probably know one thing about me at least.

I love fighting videogames.

One-on-one fighting is my favorite genre in electronic gaming. Even more than RPGs (which come at a distant 2nd), Survival Horror and Action gaming. Strategy games (RTS games) take up the rear. But nothing really turns my head like a Beat 'em up. A brawler. A martial arts fighter. Perhaps I was Bruce Lee in my former life. Or a ninja.
I guess it all started with Final Fight on the Super Nintendo. I saw the game in the mall one time and afterwards I just had a hankering to take control of Haggar or Cody and beat the crap out of evil thugs. FF wasn't a one-on-one brawler, so it was just a warm-up for the real fight, which began with Street Fighter 2. Now THAT was a classic. The ability to select from a large roster of characters with different styles of combat was, at the time, a new concept, and it totally got me going. From there on, it was easy. I was a fighting game fanatic, and in the years to come I would be an arcade enthusiast, actually making weekly rounds to the Major Arcades in the Malls for the latest game to bust into the scene.

The list of fighting games that I have played is looooong and winding, and there are loads of crap and true classics.

Of course, I have my likes and dislikes, my preferences and areas of interest, even in this focused topic. Fighting games for me have to appeal in several fields. Appealing Characters. If I had a dream job aside from Superstar Manga-Ka, I'd be a Superstar Video Game Artist, designing martial arts warriors and kick-butt femme fatales. You have to realize that fighting games show off characters who must capture the interest of players, and be taken to heart. Character designs comprise everything from a fighter's looks, personality, fashion and fighting skills. There's a fine line from a great design to a generic pugilist who'll get forgotten in a second.
Of course, a fighting game has to play GREAT. If appealing characters and graphics pulls players in, the fighting is what will make them stay. I've played literally dozens of fighters... only a select few have the action that takes you back again and again and again and again.
Finally, a fighter has to have a niche. A certain unique thing they bring to the table. Something the others just don't give. All the great ones have something, from out-and-out fighting strategy and depth, to fantastic characters and moves to sex appeal. A gamer has many moods, and great fighting games work to try and catch these moods as best as they can.

I've found that I prefer 3-D fighters that exhibit realistic animation. Nothing is as incredible as seeing a complex grapple, throw or move. I don't find blood or gore U.S. gamers seem to love that appealing- I identify more with the Asian liking of realism and grace. Gimmicks and touches like breaking bones that penalize gameplay, blood and damage appearing on the fighters onscreen and ripping clothes are just novelties. In the end it's all about one guy against another guy (or girl) and the clash of bodies.

My Top Ten Favorite Fighters or, the ten games I would bring into my Secret Bunker in case of a Mutant Plague.

Tekken (PS) - The original King of Iron Fist Tournament for the PSOne still has that great appeal for me. Yeah, the graphics are dated now, the characters look like marionettes and the moves are nowhere as many as in the later installments, but the original for me is still untouchable. And it's when Nina Williams really stood out as the original blone bonebreaker. I'll always treasure my copy of this classic. This was actually the first-ever fighting game I got for the PS. First is still the best, I guess.

Dead or Alive (PS) - I guess I have a thing for retro games. The original DOA home translation for the PSOne started my whole fascination with the Tecmo brawling babes franchise. Tons of unlockable stuff, the best animation on the console, sexy appeal and great fighting action that just can't be beat.

Soul Edge (PS) - the game from which the current Soul Calibur games originated, the Playstation original still stands as one of the best home-translations ever, with tons of unlockable secrets, great gameplay and still one of the best CG intro animation cinematic in fighting games. This goes right up there with PS DOA and Tekken.

Bushido Blade (PS) - an innovative and addicting weapons-fighter that featured potential one-hit deaths, this game had realism (a bit impractical in some areas though), great animation, wide-open stages to run around and fight to the death in, and, morbidly enough, pretty cool death animations.

Virtua Fighter 2 - I own the Saturn translation of this, perhaps for me the best chapter of the hardcore martial arts fighter. An arcade-perfect PS2 translation is coming, and my hands are itching to get it. The arcade version of VF2 is where the action really ramped up, the characters coolest, and the fighting hottest. VF3 is an unwanted, unpleasant memory. VF4 has the advantages of the latest technology, but VF2 still rules.

Soul Calibur (DC) - The one game that could be a reason to buy a Dreamcast. Top-notch graphics, animation, gameplay, extras... the only thing missing are CG cinematics and fluff, but this was weapons-action at its finest.

Street Fighter 3: Third Strike - The whole 'III' series of Capcom's flagship beat 'em up has always been under-rated, but I feel it's the BEST out there in terms of 2-D fighting. GREAT character designs (Ibuki RULES as the best and cutest ninja babe in videogames), a huge roster of varied fighters, flawless gameplay and the most fluid and cool animation EVER in a fighting game make this my absolute favorite 2-D brawler. All other 2-D games can go to Hell, as long as I've got my 3rd Strike I'm happy. Take a hint- I've already got a Dreamcast version AND the recent PS2 release, and I'm still waiting for the Xbox translation. Heh.

Dead or Alive 3 (Xbox) - The first DOA on Xbox rules as having the best graphics ever for a fighter (though it will be surpassed soon by DOA Ultimate), improved action over the dozen-or-so installments of the previous Dead or Alive 2, and some incredible multi-tiered stages that will get you going 'AAAAHHH!' once you throw someone out a window and into a hundred-foot drop. Plus it has Hitomi, the sweetest and hottest karate fighter ever in videogaming. Heh.

Tekken 5 (PS2) - the upcoming Tekken looks to regain the lost polish the franchise lost with the forgettable Tekken 4. It's looking great, actually.

Dead or Alive Ultimate (Xbox) - this 2-disc compilation updates the DOA series for the Xbox library, with a perfect translation of the original Saturn Dead or Alive, and a better-than-DOA3/might as well be DOA4 remake of Dead or Alive 2. This is also a return to the fan-service unlockables of the original DOA home games, which is great. Bikini fights, anyone? Heh. This game is gonna rule.

Oddest-named Fighting Games

Eretzvaju (PS) - this 3D anime-themed brawler had cool, stylish animation, impressive magical attacks and a killer schoolgirl years and years before Go Go Yubari was ever even imagined. Pretty cool fighting action which revolved around a tournament and a powerful female end-boss/sorceress.

Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring (PS) - coming from Square, this run-and-fight game had some of the best graphics on the PSOne, and some cool fighting moves and character designs... which ironically were understated with the inclusion of popular Final Fantasy 7 characters Cloud, Tifa, Red XIII and Sephiroth as playable characters. Not a bad game, really.

Kakuto Chojin (Xbox) - the title means 'Fighting Supermen', which is ironic since this is a weak, mediocre fighter that started off as a much-hyped showcase game for the Xbox. In the end, it was just a tech demo at best... the fighting is shallow and repetitive after a while, the character designs are HORRIBLE and it all feels unfinished and rushed. This game also qualifies for the next category, which is...

The Cream of the Crap - There are TONS of bad fighters. These are worth mentioning...

Kensei: Sacred Fist (PS) - Konami makes great action games, but they just NEVER got fighting right. Their arcade venture Fighting Bujutsu had the looks, but not the moves, and this far-inferior home game just shows all the things I hate- boring and generic characters you have to work to unlock, as well as repetitive and shallow gameplay. A knockout combo that takes this game down for the count. PLUS, it also has in it's roster a character patterned after STEVEN SEAGAL. Now, if that isn't a sure sign of a crappy game, I don't know what is... Heh.

Stake (Xbox) - an Xbox game that can't even stand to the standards of even mediocre PS One fighters. Almost unplayable, with lagging gameplay and mechanics that just don't work. The only good thing about this game are the character art, which apes the much better Capcom game artworks. That, and the way the announcer says "Stake" at the game's title screen, which makes me feel hungry.

Tao Feng (Xbox) - hyped up to no end as the baby of John Tobias, one of the creators of Mortal Kombat, with characters that bruised and clothing that got torn as the battles wore on. Despite lots of T&A, it all boiled down to a game that just played as stiff as the badly-named characters, with a badly-written story of martial arts gobbledy-goo as the reason for all the action. AND it has an voiceover who suspiciously sounds FILIPINO...

The fighting genre has, sadly, declined quite a bit after the peak of interest in the mid-nineties. These days, new brawlers are usually installments of the stronger, popular franchises. The ability to go online is something being hyped and may just bring fighters to the fore again. But for me, fighting games wll always be tops, and really, while having a second player is cool, my best opponent is myself- trying to constantly improve and just enjoy the fight for the fight itself.

WHEW! That's that. Quite a long post, actually... I guess it's just a way of taking up time as I wait for the next wave of brawlers to arrive. Sigh.

It's been barefly a day or two after pay day and I've already spent a bundle, thanks to the early deposit of our salaries and to the shizload of new stuff I just had to buy at Comic Quest. Yep, I'm pale from loss of blood... Aaaah...

Not one, but TWO darn issues of Official Xbox Magazine were on offer- the regular issue (which contains previews of the upcoming Halo 2 and other hot games) and the Holiday Preview Guide that adds a bit more info and pics. Irritatingly there are pitifully few new pics of my long-awaited Dead or Alive Ultimate- really just ONE new picture (but at least it has a bikini-clad Hitomi). BAH. Anyway, it'll make for good game reading. Also lightening my wallet are the newest issues of Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePRO and Animerica. On the comic side, new issues of Fallen Angel, Blade of the Immortal, Street Fighter, Justice League Elite and the first issue of Fathom: Dawn of War. But of course, the crowning glory of the haul is the third issue of Suikoden III. WOOHOO!!!
On the actual gaming front, I finally got a copy of the 3-D KOF game, King of Fighters: Maximum Impact. First impressions- the graphics are pretty good, though not on par with the biggies (DOA3, VF4 and Tekken). The gameplay is quite close to the 2-D KOF games, in terms of moves and animations. However, there are the expected hiccups, such as abusable moves and combos, and an extremely CHEAP end boss. I'll post a more in-depth review once I log in the hours.

Darn, that's a lot. No wonder I'm drained. Well, lots of stuff to enjoy over the weekend. Goodies, goodies, all for me! Hoho!

Wednesday, September 1

Upgrade Complete

Like in some RTS, I finally was able to improve my phone's memory. Since my 7610 supports only the newly-introduced Reduced-Size Multimedia Cards (RS-MMC), it was HELL to find them in any of the usual malls and shopping centers. After several weeks, a 128 MB RSMMC finally appeared, but to someone who has tasted the spacious capacity of 256 MB memory cards (with my now long-gone 6600), that just wouldn't cut it. Well, eventually I gave in but it's just not the same. Budgeting space and having to compromise my videos and files was a chore.

But I finally found a solution online, from the Buyncell Forums, which was referred to me by my brother. I was able to contact this shop in Binondo, Manila that has memory cards and digital medium in the plenty- AND it has 256 MB RS-MMC Cards in stock, and at a price that's lower than the 128 MB cards in the malls! WOOHOO!!!
Of course, it WAS in Binondo... which is pretty much another world for me. Thankfully they deliver, so I was able to have my upgrade delivered to me right at the office... How's that for service?
Well, what can 256 MB mean to me? Well, I can carry around a whole MOVIE along with lots of other video clips, or up to six 25+ minute episodes of anime or whatever show I want. Of course, short features are preferred to full-length films since it really isn't good to stare at a small screen for extended periods of time... Recommendable loads include episodes of The Animatrix, or the Clone Wars cartoons (which come in at about 3 minutes a chapter), short OAVs and good single episodes or series debuts like Scrapped Princess. Having a theater in your pocket is a great way to beat boredom almost anywhere.
Just gotta remember to keep my battery charged. Always.

Monday, August 30

Anime Hits and Misses

Kai Doh Maru by Studio I.G. left me feeling... blah.

Yesterday, I was looking through the anime stockpiles and selecting stuff that I could convert to mini-AVIs that I could load onto my phone (which I'm upgrading with a 256 MB memory card soon... WOOHOO!!!). I've already gotten several anime episodes converted which I love to watch- the Ranma 1/2 OAVs, the first episode of Scrapped Princess and Louie the Rune Soldier, Sakura Wars OAVs, Gunsmith Cats and a gaggle of Aeon Flux episodes (which I acquired thanks to Buddha (Thanks, Andrew!).
Looking through the anime I've bought and NOT WATCHED AT ALL for the past few MONTHS, I was finally able to view some and comment on...

Kai Doh Maru is a not-quite-an-hour-long feature from Studio I.G., which is responsible for the Ghost in the Shell movie (and it shows since the main character looks like a much younger Motoko Kusanagi). It's set in Feudal Japan and is the story of a girl named Kintoki who is saved and adopted by a group of warriors known as the Great Four. She grows up to become one of the warriors, and they fight to keep the peace in a strife-ridden province of Japan. Kintoki seems to be doing well for herself- she's skilled (well, supposedly... but you never truly see her fight well at all) and is quite attracted to Raiko, the member of the Great Four who actually saved her life and is now her comrade. But that happy status quo will not last since a mysterious, mystical band of rebels is coming with Kintoki AKA Kai Doh Maru in their sights.
The animation of this feature is pretty unique- the animators seem to be emulating old Japanese artworks and prints from the era, which is fascinating... but the overall look is so washed-out and bland that you just have to question WHY they did it like that. Plus, there are some parts that look like CG backdrops from some Playstation game. Gah.
On the writing side of things, the story is vague and leaves a lot unsaid, especially how the story actually ends (though I suspect it ends badly). On the other hand, the action is pretty good- short but intense. Anyway, Kintoki herself turns out to be a pretty weak character in both physical and mental aspects, especially towards the end where she just seems to fall apart. I can't really recommend this anime and it just left me... blah. Maybe it will get better with more viewings, but... nah. I'm not touching that one again.

Burn Up Scramble seems to be the latest incarnation of the girl-power supercop series, Burn Up. Typically, this series is all about an all-female police unit led by a crazy blonde named Maki. What sets the past series apart from this latest series is wild, interesting character art, loud action and fan service. Scramble however just TURNED ME OFF in the first few seconds of the first episode. I can't describe it... the show just looks so generic and bland and totally without any character at all. It was so bad I just stopped the player, took out the disc, put it back with the five or so other discs of the series, and place them aside for later disposal.

Sakura Wars: Ecole De Paris is the latest OAV based on the Sakura Taisen franchise. This time, the action shifts from Japan to Paris, where the Parisian branch of demon-fighting babes is being put together. The members include Erica Fontaine, a machine gun-toting convent girl, and Glycine Bleumer, a young aristocrat, young circus performer Coquelicot and shy Japanese girl Hanabi Kitaooji. Also featured is Lobelia Carlini, a notorious thief who may or may not be totally human since she possesses some superhuman abilities.

The Paris girls are interesting, though comparing them to the more popular Hanagumi Kagekidan is inescapable. Erica is more or less Sakura Shinguuji with a gun and more air in her head, while Glycine is Sumire Kanzaki without the prima donna attitude. Lobelia, with her platinum blonde hair and glasses is a refreshing sight, and her character's pretty intriguing. All in all, it's a pretty cool show, with fairly good animation. Fans of the Sakura Wars anime would do well to take a look at this OAV.

Whew! That's that. And that's only the tip of the anime stockpile... Damn I really have to start watching the stuff I buy. Heh-heh...
Made in China

Remember the cool BB-pellet Assault Rifle I posted about a couple of months ago? Well, it's broken. Don't know how that happened... I just put it on display in The Sanctum, just below my anime collection, and just let it hang for a couple of weeks. Well, I picked it up yesterday and cocked it up... and it wouldn't cock. Something had gone wrong with the internal mechanism, and it the things that should click inside just won't click anymore, so now it's useless as a pellet-firing pseudo-weapon. Yeah, it still looks cool, but it's all for show now. No more bark or bite. And I swear, I never dropped it, got it damaged or anything. The last time I touched it, it still fired fine.

Quality craftmanship right there. BAH.

Sunday, August 29

Streetfighter RPG


Over the weekend I made perhaps one of the odder purchases I've done in the past few months. At one of the anime/toy shops I frequent I bought Street Fighter: The Storytelling Game. Yep, you read that right... an RPG based on the popular fighting game franchise from Capcom. Wanna play as Shotokan master Ryu or Ken? As kung-fu kicking Interpol agent Chun Li? You can with the SF RPG.
Actually, this really isn't new... in fact, this game came out perhaps up ten years ago... when Street Fighter popularity was on the rise. Among the many swags and merchandising crap that was released was an actual RPG, which should fulfill the dreams of SF fans who want to get deeper into the Capcom world than just playing the actual videogames.

Anyway, I got the main rulebook, Streetfighter: The Storytelling Game manual, the Player's Book, a Storyteller's Screen and a couple of supplementary modules- Secrets of Shadaloo (which reveals the facts behind the evil M. Bison's cartel... Oooh) and Perfect Weapon. I bought them all for a song, really... the anime shop guy has had the stuff in stock FOREVER, and he just wanted to get rid... ahem, find a better home for them. Well, SF fanatic and gamer that I am, I adopted them. Better than getting a stinky dog, I say.

So, what am I going to do with a set of Streetfighter RPG books? Well, I certainly won't be asking the gang to get together on weekends to fight the forces of Shadaloo... I just bought the stuff to read, to look at the crappy US artworks, to laugh at the absurdity of it all and just put them along with my other otaku material. I love this stuff. Heh.