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5821  Media / Anime, TV, and Movies / Guilty pleasures (the movie/TV edition)... on: January 14, 2008, 10:34:59 PM
When my 3 year old nephew was visiting and we were watching the Good Night Show on the Sprout channel, I was like "whoa, that Nina chick who hosts this programming block is hot!"  I've always liked PBS kids shows, but Nina gives me a guilty reason to watch that programming block.    

I think all of us have been guilty of watching stupid TV shows, stupid movies on TV, or cheesy music videos we normally wouldn't watch simply for eye candy.    

And if you want to talk about the ultimate guilty pleasure show, Baywatch.  Busty lifeguards in tight red swimsuits running in slow motion?  That's guilty pleasure fanservice viewing right there.  It's no accident that it's colloquially known as Babewatch.
5822  Media / Single-Player RPGs / where does this sterotype come from? on: January 14, 2008, 06:07:48 PM
I think women as mages (particularly powerful ones) has been part of legend and mythology for eons.  I'm not just talking deities like Kali (powerful, vengeful, frightening) but even characters in Arthurian legend like Morgan LeFay.  What was frightening about LeFay was not her magic, but her intelligence, her cunning, her ability to manipulate so many people.  And what about the witch hunts of yore?  "Witch" is typically female and I'll bet any witch that got hunted was feared for her intelligence and for thinking differently/more progressively.  And even real women in history such as Elizabeth Bathory who didn't wield magic as we know it, but delved into the dark arts, used intense manipulation to "put a spell on" nobles around her, and was probably regarded as some kind of demon.  Like many women in history, she was frightening because of her cunning.  

And in fantasy, what determines a good mage?  A high INTELLIGENCE stat.  So it goes back to a simplified delineation of man= stupid meathead and woman= capable of using her brain to manipulate arcane magic.  

And I ask, just because a healer may be physically weak, does that make a healer "weak" period?  I think not.  If I were to put myself into an RPG archetype, I'd totally be a support healer.  You can't have an effective entourage without one.  Back when I used to play PSO, I was always a healer.  I value a good healer over a tank any day.  And is "nurturing" a "weak" trait?  I don't think so.  Why should a woman or a man be considered "weak" if they're nurturing?  Doesn't it take a ton of strength to genuinely care for and about others?  

A topic like this could open up various cans of worms on the idea of gender roles in the past and present as well as gender roles in terms of different cultures.  And many gender roles we see in media like RPGs feel archaic or too cut-and-dry for some because in the reality of 2008, gender roles are not as clearly defined as they were back in the 1950s.

Ash- the idea of a female assassin is sexy in a way.  Why else is the "girls with guns" anime and manga genre as popular as it is?
5823  Media / Single-Player RPGs / favorite hero and boss from any game on: January 14, 2008, 10:10:43 AM
Strongest female antagonist in an RPG that I can think of is easily Maggie/Pandora in Revelations: Persona.  Maggie does things that not only piss of the characters, but will piss of the player as well (i.e. making you go through a 12 floor dungeon twice in a row.)  And since
much of the game takes place within the psyche of a suicidal teenage girl with abandonment issues, having to face physical manifestations of her own worst enemy- herself
is pretty heavy stuff.  Go figure, the other main adversary in the game (the Japanese version at least) is the Snow Queen if you take that branch instead of the Takahisa "Guido" Kandori branch.  Kandori's a pretty interesting villain in his own right.  

It's too bad the writing in the US version of Persona was butchered, but future MegaTen games released in the us such as Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, Persona 3, SMT: Nocturne, DDS 1-2, Devil Summoner Raidou Kuzunoha all have excellent writing.

Speaking of Persona, I really liked Maya Amano in Persona 2, both as a side character in Innocent Sin and the main heroine in Eternal Punishment.  I shared a lot of personality traits with her and since I used to work in publishing, I could relate to her that way too since her career is a magazine editor.  I like that despite what she went through in her past, she remained a cheerful and positive person and did not become an angry and belligerent harpy.
5824  Media / Anime, TV, and Movies / Recently Viewed Movies Episode 2: The Vampire Bites Back on: January 13, 2008, 04:31:33 PM
I just saw Bad News Bears on TV.  I'm talking the original 1976 version with Walter Mathau and Tatum O'Neil in her best role ever and NOT that piece of rotten garbage remake from '05, which was one of the worst remakes ever.  

The Bad News Bears is probably one of my favorite sports movies of all time.  The kids have so much character, and that great dialogue... man, with all the political correctness baloney (bologna= lunchmeat, baloney= BS) nowadays, there's no way they'd make a movie like The Bad News Bears any more.  Who couldn't like that little spitfire Tanner and his foul mouth?  The frustration the kids felt and the way they expressed it felt real to me.  

One thing I really like about the movie is that there's no real good guy or bad guy.  Everyone is a flawed human being and they make no bones about their flaws, Buttermaker especially (he's certainly not a likeable character, but he's genuine.)  That's what gives the movie heart and depth.  

Definitely a classic in American cinema as far as I'm concerned.
5825  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Azure Dreams.. any good? on: January 13, 2008, 04:06:08 PM
And no one's mentioned that even for its time, the graphics in Azure Dreams were an eyesore?  Retro graphics are one thing, but Azure Dreams just looks a complete mess.  It's almost painful to look at.  

It doesn't help that, as mentioned before, the game itself is a complete mess too.  You couldn't pay me enough to play that pile.
5826  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Popolocrois... PSP on: January 13, 2008, 03:57:43 PM
Maybe it's because I'm playing it with one of the newer PSPs (the silver one I got with the Daxter bundle) but the loading is pretty unintrusive.  Sure there's brief loading to battles and between locations, but it's nothing I haven't seen before in 2D RPGs for the PSone.  But, yeah, loading times on the newer PSPs are shorter than they were with older PSPs due to hardware upgrades.  

Nutshell: PoPoLoCrois is like a Mello Peep candy.  It's teeth rottingly cute, but doesn't have much of a taste.  It's not a bad game, but there are plenty of better PSP RPGs that could have been brought over from Japan.
5827  Media / Single-Player RPGs / GOTY? on: January 13, 2008, 10:04:07 AM
If we're doing biggest disappointment of 2007, I think you all know what mine is: Monster Kingdom: Jewel Summoner for PSP.
5828  Media / Single-Player RPGs / GOTY? on: January 12, 2008, 03:59:44 PM
So what would others have picked as their Game(s) of the Year 2007?  What are other peoples' top fives and why?  

My honorable mentions:
Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles (PSP)- A remake of Rondo of Blood; the original Rondo of Blood; and a retranslated Symphony of the Night with new English voice acting, the option for Japanese voice acting, and more Maria in all the games?  Sold!  Best value for any PSP owner's money since you can't really go wrong with two of the best Castlevania games ever.  By default, this should have made my top 5 since I adore SOTN, but I wanted to spotlight new titles over remakes.  Plus, I wasn't fond of having SOTN as an unlockable instead of accessible from the get-go, because Rondo is quite difficult.  

Naruto: Path of the Ninja (DS)- This was my pleasant surprise for 2007.  I never expected a Naruto game to be as good as this one was.  The story, writing, and characters are what really did it for me.  I couldn't believe that this brief game showcased more depth and development in its cast than many big name RPGs.  

Piece of Wonder (PC)- Ahh, Hirameki's swan song.  This strategy-RPG/love-adventure hybrid is far from a fantastic game, but it is the closest thing to Sakura Taisen that US audiences have ever seen.  Both the love adventure and SRPG components could have been tighter, but the game was fun and added some nice interactivity to love adventures.

Super Paper Mario (Wii)- That beautiful parody sequence of dating sims/love adventures is enough for me to honorably mention this game.  We need more satirical love adventures and dating sims with nerdy lizards.
5829  The Rest / General Discussions / POLITICS: I like Ron Paul on: January 11, 2008, 04:01:17 PM
Well, it looks like I won't be voting for Bill Richardson in the primaries.  He was IMO the best candidate out there, but he's dropped out of the race.  Too bad because he has impressive experience in all areas a president needs experience in.  I've heard rumors that Fred Thompson may be dropping out too.  

Anyone catch any of the South Carolina republican panel stuff?  As much as I dislike Ron Paul's policies, I must say when he's in a debate or panel discussion, he is the voice of reason.  I liked when he said that with everyone's buzzword being change, he called everyone out on whether change to them means just tweaking what's already in place or just completely cleaning house and putting something new in there.  

I can see Ron Paul support increasing, but I still predict it'll be McCain vs. Romney for the Republican ticket.  

I don't like how the media is spinning things.  Since when was experience a bad thing?  The media is trying to spin things as if those candidates with experience cannot bring about change.  I think it's candidates with experience who know what's going on can bring change.  America is going through some rough times and I want a leader in charge who actually knows what s/he is doing.  I don't want a drinking buddy or rock star, I want someone who will run the country efficiently.  

I'll be voting for Clinton in the primaries.  I'm still not impressed by Obama.
5830  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Worst Hero & Villain on: January 11, 2008, 10:15:30 AM
Pat, I disagree with your read of Necron.  For me, Kuja could not be the final boss because even if he dies, Terra would still chow down on Gaia, like how Unicron or Galactus eats planets since it is a conscious being.  So to me, the party still had to kill this worldlike planet-devouring entitiy and Necron was like the core of it.  All that jibberish Necron said?  I thought it was just stuff to try and make the predator intimidate the prey for an easier kill.  But it backfired.

When Zidane defeated Kuja, he saved Kuja.  When Zidane and company defeated Necron, they saved their home world of Gaia.  Even at the very end, Necron decides, "okay, this prey is too strong for me to try to kill and eat.  I'd better move on to an easy prey planet to eat."  

In any case, this is how the final battle against Kuja should have gone down: http://mooncalf.org/library/parody/eikosboyfriend.html (EDIT: This is probably my favorite of Mooncalf's parody fics.  Be warned, other fanfics on her site are NSFW.)  

And I think the fact that Tidus is a jock is what divides people on him.  But to me, that protagonists like him and Squall evoke such strong ire out of people makes them appear more "real" because let's face it, not every hero is likeable and we often do not get to choose who our heroes will be (I'm talking in real life as well as fiction.)  But you know, as much ire as Tidus and Squall may draw, you can't deny that they are memorable protagonists.  They remain talked about for years after their time.
5831  The Rest / General Discussions / Characters in stories. Is it better if they're like us? on: January 09, 2008, 08:10:44 PM
In some of the character threads in the console RPG section, there is debate about some RPG characters.  This leads me to this topic which is about lead characters in all forms of storytelling be it video games, books, movies, TV, etc.  

Do you think that if a characters is very much like you or someone you know it makes him/her easier to relate to and sympathize with?  Does it work in reverse and backfire as well?  In what ways does each phenomenon manifest itself with you.  Do you prefer if a lead character shares a lot in common with you or if s/he does not?  Do you feel more connected if a character reacts to situations the same way you would or does it feel old hat and you prefer a character unlike yourself who reacts to situations in a way that you wouldn't?  Is that why we tend to like badassed characters because we're too timid and wish we could be that badassed?  Would you avoid or be drawn to a story where the lead character portrays an archetype that you most define yourself as?  

I'll take Squall from FF8 as an example.  I liked him because he was a well-developed case study and his disillusioned attitude, putting on a front to others, and his penchant for spouting soliloquies in his bedroom to make sense of life could totally describe me when I was 15 (though where Squall put on an "I don't care" front I usually put on a cheerful front.  I like his portrayal because  I could relate to him more readily than I could to other protagonists.  On the other hand, people dislike him for that reason to.  Is it because it reminds people of who they were as youths and it's not something they wish to be reminded of?  Is it because some people were reminded of the kinds of folks that did not like back in their youth?  

Nutshell: If a main character is like you, does it draw you in or turn you off?  Why?
5832  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Star ocean 4 on: January 09, 2008, 07:53:25 PM
I'm mixed.  Yes, the floating islands is cool in that Zeal kind of way (I refer to Zeal from Chrono Trigger) but though it starts out with awesome sci-fi stuff, it ends on a floating island world that's a staple in many fantasy RPGs.  I hope this installment makes good on its promise of multiple worlds because I'm sick of Star Ocean teasing us with a promise of cool sci-fi then sending us off to a backwater podunk planet for the entire game.
5833  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Best secondary characters... on: January 09, 2008, 09:49:18 AM
When it comes to most any story, I always find the sidekicks and villains most interesting.  

Junpei in Persona 3 has emerged as one of my favorite RPG sidekick characters ever.  The guy is just totally cool and believable too.  I think we all know (or maybe are) someone like Junpei.  Where a teenage boy with the kind of insecurities and defensiveness that Junpei has could be written really really badly in an RPG, Junpei is so well-written that he's endearing rather than annoying.  And it helps too that his voice actor (I can only speak for the American VA) put forth one of the best performances I've ever heard in voice acting, period.  

Persona 3 had one of the best ensemble casts I've seen in an RPG, but Junpei was easily my favorite.  

I think anyone who's played Xenogears has to give it up for Citan.  Not only is he the absolute best buttkicker in battles, but he's an incredibly deep and complex character.  Throughout the journey, I went through every emotion regarding Citan.  There were times I loved and respected him, there were times I hated him, there were times I was "WTF?" about him, everything.  I think he's one of the best J-RPG characters ever written.  Another thing that I like about Citan is that he's a well-written adult character.  You don't find those very often in video games.  I thought Persona 2: Eternal Punishment had well-written adult characters as well.

And if I had to pick a best ensemble cast in a video game, that easily goes to Ever17.  Every character is deep and plays a strong, vital, and important role.  But even among the ensemble cast, it's no surprise that the runaway favorite character among both Japanese and American players is Tsugumi Komachi.  I could talk about how awesome a character she is, but I'd be giving away massive spoilers.  She is an extremely deep and extremely tragic character.

EDIT: As for secondary villains or lackey villains, I'd have to say Ratchet from Thousand Arms.  She was so over the top and annoyingly adorable as well as adorably annoying.  Pity Meis couldn't date her.  I wanted Meis to date her.  She seemed like she wanted to flirt more than fight, she talked like Cyndi Lauper, and as Nelsha pointed out during their insult war, her hair looks like two oversized shrimps on her head.  

Thousand Arms did many things wrong as a game, but one thing they did oh so right was the absurdly over-the-top characters who never took themselves seriously.
5834  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Worst Hero & Villain on: January 09, 2008, 09:38:55 AM
If anyone read my review of Contact for the DS, you'd see that Terry is the first protagonist I can think of that sucks.  Other mute protagonists have personality and some substance to them but he has none of these things.  I'll take a spiky haired, soliloquy-spouting amnesiac over some paper doll cutout with less personality than cardboard any day.  Even an unlikeable personality is better than no personality at all.  

Case in point: I hated Shion (Xenosaga) with a passion and Rinoa from FF8 as well (though nowhere near as much as General Mortars did.)  Both Shion and Rinoa are completely useless simpering weenie chicks.  But I endured Shion in three Xenosaga games and Rinoa in two playthroughs of FF8.  Contact?  One playthrough (I think it was 18 hours) and I was done.  Those 18 hours with Terry were more painful than the greater number of hours with the aforementioned weenie chicks.  See, I found it fun to love-to-hate Shion and Rinoa because they at least had something (even if it was a something I strongly disliked.)  Whereas with Terry, he had absolutely nothing and I was just completely bored out of my mind with him.  

FF8's villains were terrible for similar reasons.  They were all tacked-on, cookie-cutter, paper doll villains that didn't do a darn thing.  After such a strong villain like Sephiroth in FF7, having a handful of super weak, tacked on villains with zero substance in FF8 was disappointing.  The writers put so much effort into fleshing out and developing Squall as a case study that the lack of effort put into the villains and most of the other characters was apparent.
5835  Media / Anime, TV, and Movies / Recently Viewed Movies Episode 2: The Vampire Bites Back on: January 08, 2008, 04:34:45 PM
Last night they were showing "From Russia with Love" on TV.  I watched it.  Still my all time favorite James Bond movie.
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