May 23rd, 2007

Webmaster of SMPS, Pat has ORDERED me to post his review of the latest installment in the .hack// series, .hack//G.U. - Vol.2//REMINISCE. Well let me tell ya what I said to that...I says, "Pat," I says, "You can go FUCK YOURSELF, BUDDY!" Well let me tell ya he didn't like that one bit! He ran to his room crying faster than I think I've ever seen him go. Mascara teardrops all over my fuckin' carpet now too. God damn crybaby.

First submission for NES Week made it in this week, so because I hate doing things for this site myself, keep your shit coming. You'll be internet famous! Your name plastered on the front page of a site that 3 people read!

So, since I don't have much else to post to the site about lately (The Red Star review is coming...), I figure I'd run over a few things I've purchased over the past couple weeks. Disposable income? You bet your ass fucking ass!

Megadeth - United Abominations  

After ALMOST getting it right with 2004's The System Has Failed, Megadeth returns with an obviously over-political album. I know it's sort of the big thing for mainstream bands to be political now, and though I am rather sick of it, I can let a few through to grace my CD player every once in a while.

Mustaine's political message here isn't veiled in the slightest. He's pissed about it all and he's gonna just let us know about it. No beating around the bush here with song titles such as, "Washington Is Next!," "Amerikhastan," and obviously the title cut. I'm all about getting your message out there just as much as anybody, but what still matters most to me is how it sounds, and they've done one hell of a job here.

From the get-go, "Sleepwalker" kicks you in the face for almost 6 minutes ending in a bit of a wimper with the cop-out fadeout. Washington Is Next! is another great up-tempo cut with lots of great riffs, soloing, and a great chorus that just gets stuck in my head. The album stays fairly up-tempo throughout, which is great since these guys' last few albums have felt really sleepy in places. The only blemish on an otherwise spotless album, is a new recording of 1994's "A Tout Le Monde," which just feels so unnecessary and sounds out of line with the rest of the album.

Megadeth is a band that sounds completely rejouvenated (most likely due to the lineup shuffling over the years) and back at the top of their game. It's not another Peace Sells... or Rust In Peace, but what matters is that it's a damn good album that dabbles in a mixture of older territory without feeling stale.


Rozen Maiden Special Edition vol 1 + Artbox  

Rozen Maiden is a [REDACTED]gy little anime about a boy who's so much of a recluse he refuses to go to school. All he does is stay in his room dicking around with his computer, ordering mail order items online and shipping them back before the trial period ends to get a refund. It's an odd fuckin' hobby, but I watch little [REDACTED]gy doll shows, so I don't think I have much room to talk here.

The fun starts when after filling out a mysterious form and placing it in his desk, a big ass suitcase ends up in his room containing a little (annoying, bitch, slut) doll named Shinku who, pretty much decides she's gonna take over his life. Since this guy's a total pud, he just lets her and they go on super colorful adventures.

All harshness aside, Rozen Maiden is a good show I shunned for quite a while before giving a chance. The story and characters really grow on you, and though they all seem to cover every aspect of moe moe moe moe moe Japanese girl syndrome, they manage to pull through that nonsense.

I was always impressed by the artwork in the show, especially the dolls' various unique dresses, and everything looks damn smooth here thanks to a very good transfer. The lack of a 5.1 track was a little disappointing, but not the end of the world. The dub, though far from perfect, is pretty stellar. My only real issue with it is that Suiseiseki's voice doesn't fit at all. Everyone else is as close as they could probably get. Some odd lines of dialog here and there too, but nothing to bitch a fit about. I did find myself going back to Japanese audio + subs though, just because it's what I was used to listening to.

Volume 1 covers the first 4 episodes of the series which is a good introduction to much of the main cast. Not too much of the bigger ongoing plot is laid out here, but it is vaguely hinted at a little over halfway through the volume. Those who want a little more may wanna wait for Volume 2 to come out in another month or two.

I'll also note the spiffy faux-velvet artbox. The box is very very RED and soft, with some very nice golden trim for the Rozen Maiden logo and two very nicely done shots of Shinku and Suigintou covering both sides of the box. Not really what I expected, but it is a nice looking piece that'll hold all 6 volumes (seasons 1 and 2) once they're released. I'd have preferred something that resembled the case that the dolls sleep/fly around in, but this works too.

The big bummer is the lack of any real extras here other than a clean opening. I'm sure they could have squeezed something else on there, but oh well.

Not a bad package, but then again Geneon really does take good care of their shows.


Black Lagoon DVD Vol 1 + Limited Edition Collector's Tin  

Black Lagoon is an anime that was clearly made with the Western world in mind. I don't think I've seen anything much like it coming out of traditional Japanese anime. This show's as gritty as they come and very unapologetic about it.

Rokura Okajima is a bit of a dissatisfied Japanese office worker whose life is completely turned upside down forever when he's kidnapped by the Lagoon company, a band of mercenaries/pirates who take on all sorts of dirty jobs. Through a series of rather unbelievable, but completely entertaining events he eventually finds himself the newest member of the outfit. The fun really begins when "Rock" (as he's affectionately referred to) begins to dig deeper and deeper into the lives of his new friends, especially the hot-headed (and hot bodied), trigger happy and always profane dual-gunslinger Revy.

Black Lagoon doesn't carry much of an ongoing story. The show alternates between small 2-3 episode arcs and one-off episodes to get the job done. It's a little off-putting to those that prefer ongoing plots, but the entertainment value helps keep things fresh. The four episodes presented here do a bang up job of showing you exactly what the show's about and setting up the various main characters' roles within the world.

Show fuckin looks great. Bottom line, really. As with Rozen Maiden, the transfer is gorgeous and action scenes are absolutely slick. The 5.1 mix is fucking fantastic and really helps bring home all the gunshots and explosions. You absolutely must watch this show in English 5.1.

Speaking of English, the dub is, again, pretty damn solid. The cast sounds just as I'd imagined them sounding in English other than (very disappointingly) Revy. I much prefer her deeper and cold sounding Japanese voice, but the English actress has her own interpretation of the character and still manages to do a decent job. Localization of dialog seems a bit more natural since the show is clearly geared for the Western types. Do listen to the Japanese track at least once for the crazy amount of ENGRISH you will hear. Good stuff.

The collector's tin mimics a normal DVD case with 4 places inside that hold the 3 volumes of the first season and and the special features disc. The artwork is very simple and gets the point across. A 15 minute interview with the creators of the English adaptation, a few Japanese promos, and a music video for the opening theme help round out the extras included. Not a bad haul for $29.


Jesus fuckin Christ that's the most I've written for my own site in AGES it seems. And only 2 people read it.



Touhou Fuujinroku Mountain of Faith First Impressions
May 21st, 2007

This past weekend a little convention was held dedicated almost soley to all things Touhou. That strikes me as a little ridiculous and is quite an indication as to the following these games have over there. One crazy drunk little Japanese guy gets all the attention in Japan for one whole day to show off his new game as well as other games being developed by other people.

This event included the unveiling of his newest entry into the "You're Gonna Die Lots And Lots" genre of shmups, Touhou Fuujinroku Mountain of Faith. The TENTH direct game in the series (There's a couple spin-offs by other publishers here and there.) Apparently they passed out demo discs which were quickly ripped and probably uploaded to torrent sites net-wide right there at the convention center.

I managed to get my hands on a COMPLETELY LEGAL copy of the demo/beta and have spent the last few days digging as deeply as I could into it.

First off, for a demo, there's a fuck of a lot here. Three (of six total in the final, not counting Extra mode) stages are playable on EVERY difficulty. That really struck me as quite generous and strange, since when I get around to buying the game when it's released, I'll have already played through half of it, assuming the game doesn't see any huge changes over the next few months.

There are only two confirmed playable characters, which may be a bit of a downer to those used to the hefty cast of PCs in Imperishable Night, Perfect Cherry Blossom, and Phantasmagoria of Flower View. So, I hope you like Reimu and Marisa. Both characters have 3 different shot modes offering you various ways to play. As your character powers up, she gets Options (Hello...Gradius fans?) which have varying effects when you enter focused mode depending on the shot type you chose. There seems to be a bit of inspiration from Gradius V's system here on a few of the shot types. All offer a unique way to approach the game, but admittedly don't feel as varied as they should be. Kinda drives home the fact that, "Yep, there's only two characters."

So how's it play, Polly?

Mountain of Faith is a much faster paced game than any of the previous Windows installments. Where Imperishable Night feels very slick and refined, this game feels very loose and imprecise at times. Granted, that last part is likely me just needing to get used to the new feel, but it doesn't feel like anything else in the series. Enemies constantly rush in and fire off quick bursts of bullets that have a lot of accelleration to them but slow down not even a second after they're fired. Makes getting up in enemies' faces during stages quite a challenge. Boss sprays are pretty much the same way, but you're probably not gonna be sitting beside them firing anyway.

The four difficulty levels are still here and are quite a ramp up from what I feel older games may have handled a little more smoothly. The jump in difficulty from Normal to Hard is almost astonishing. I'm too much of a pussy to even think about Lunatic at the moment...

The powerup system has been reconfigured a little bit and your bomb counter has been completely eliminated. But fret not, there are bombs to save your ass should you end up suffocating at the bottom of the screen. As you collect power up icons you'll gain a small amount of power from each. On a level up you'll receive one Option floating with your character that you control, all the way up to level 4 where you'll have a full arsenal. Your max power level is 5. When you use a bomb you lose one power level and one Option. Powering up to Level 5 grants you one free bomb without losing your Options. When your power level goes under max, enemies begin to quickly drop powerup icons again, so you shouldn't feel too bad about bombing to save your ass unless you're holding out for Spell Card bonuses against bosses. Needless to say, this new system is very hinged on how you balance your power levels and panic-bombing making for some nicely strategic thinking. I should also note that defensive bombing (bombing exactly as you die to save a life) is damn near impossible to pull off this time around. It's there, but the timing to pull it off is insane. I've managed it once by complete accident.

Speaking of Bombs, sadly they no longer appear to come in the form of Spell Cards like bosses use. It's now about as dull and boring as any ol' smart bomb in any other shmup. Very disappointing, but I'm hoping since it's a demo that perhaps this is a placeholder bomb.

The scoring system is quite a bit simpler than previous installments from what I understand of it right now. At the bottom left portion of the screen is the Faith Meter. This is basically the big scoring mechanism of the game, but it's not as brutal as Perfect Cherry Blossom's Cherry Points meter. The meter starts and never goes under 50,000 and as it's raised it also continues to count down back to its default value. You collect green Faith icons to bump up the meter's total. Blue point icons from the previous games help keep the Faith Meter from draining away precious points, and believe me they fuckin drain FAST. This also forces you to play strategically in scoring and just grabbing every Faith point you see as quickly as you can. When enemies aren't flying in at you, you aren't scoring points, and when you aren't scoring points, the Faith Meter drops. So a key part in scoring a lot of points deals with how well you balance killing enemies and how low on the screen you want to grab the Faith and Bonus points that they drop to keep your meter as high as possible.

The game has an overall Autumn-ish feel to it in every way. The visuals of falling leaves create a very pleasant, if very unfinished looking, backdrop for the action going on. Character and enemy sprites are a bit more animated and sharp looking, a-la Phantasmagoria of Flower View's visuals. The character cut-ins are still here, and look a tad frumpy in places, but art has been known to change in the transition from demo to final in this series. The audio package is pretty solid, but the tunes just aren't grabbing me the way previous games' music has.

Overall, I'm a bit torn on what I think about the game as a whole right now, and it wouldn't be fair to judge that based on a demo that's labelled as 'version 0.01a" anyway. The things that bother me presently don't do so because they're bad, I think it's just because I'm not used to them yet. There's odd bugs here and there, and some things still need to be balanced, but the game is looking to shape up into another one the fans will enjoy.

We'll find out in August-October'ish...

More clicky images below.


May 16th, 2007

Pretty Patty, ya know, the only one who does shit for this fuckin site anymore, graces us with the latest installment of his (now appropriately named) series of articles on the Final Fantasy games. Final Fantasy IV (or II to those of us who are better than you) is the latest on the chopping block, so go have a read, because God knows you ain't here for anything I'm doing anymore.

PS: This is what a portion of the alphabet would look like if Q and R were eliminated.

PSS: NES it! Need shit!


We Got Shrine Maidens!
May 5th, 2007

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Mmmmm mayo... Actually, I'm not that big of a fan of mayo. About the only time I'll eat it is on a turkey sammich. I could really go for a turkey sammich to be honest, but I don't have any turkey at the moment. And it doesn't quite work on that lunch meat shit either. It's gotta be a nice freshly cooked turkey...well actually I prefer the turkey cold on turkey sammiches with the mayo... I'm sure this is all very intriguing!

So, yeah I've not updated in fuckforever, so I decided to tonight with a review of Imperishable Night, a fuckawesome Japanese shooter for the PC.

To my regular contributors, and aspiring noobies alike, I'm giving 2 months notice now. At this time I will begin accepting articles, reviews, whatever for this year's NES Week which will be during the first or second week of July (I haven't fully decided yet.) So if you're looking to contribute something, you have PLENTY OF TIME to get it to me in advance.


After I review the content, I will get back to you and let you know if I'll be using it or if some fixing is needed.

So, now you got plenty of time. Get to crackin! I don't update this website anymore so SOMEBODY HAS TO! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!


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