Monday, August 27, 2001 @ 23:29 (Japan Standard Time)

A hobbyist video gamer in the middle of Japan's gaming zone. Comments on console, PC, handheld and arcade games.
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2001-08-27 Mon

Final Fantasy X dissected

Hello Kitty + GBA

2001-08-08 Wed

Using the Linux Beta kit with Final Fantasy X

2001-08-06 Mon

Time Crisis, Final Fantasy X

Back in the States for a spin, GBA spin-trick

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Final Fantasy X dissected

Oh yeah... I spent 55 hours on Final Fantasy X (FFX, PS2, jp) already after 3 weeks of playing. Last weekend it was half of my waking hours! There's just so much to do, I don't feel restricted so much by the Japanese language. The rare item and enemy collecting (via "hokaku" weapons) is just so fun but time consuming. It's a little bit like Pokemon, in the collection part. It's funny though! Every time Auron, the guy with the big sword, swings, it's capture time. Then he says with the aloof, loneman air, "Ja na... Saki wa nagai, iku zo." ("Later, baby... That was long, let's move it.")

However, there are some things I hate about FFX.

First off is the weapon item screen. There is no sorting feature to it. When you've adventured your way through treachous byways, collecting a gang load of weapons from felled monsters, it's hard to tell which weapons you want to save and which weapons you want to throw away. It's not the same with regular items, where they give you a sort function. I've resorted to moving all the useful items to the front, delimiting the monster-dropped weapons from the useful weapons by putting the rarely used "hokaku" weapons between them.

Secondly, when you have more that 30 save games on a 8MB memory card, it takes for ever (5-10 seconds) for the save screen to appear. Oh well, I guess that's how it goes.

Third is the sphere board which is responsible for my party's level up growth. I've got two characters just blocked from improvement because the necessary item, "Level 3 Spheres" are so hard to come by. Recently I found an area just before Zanarkondo-jiin where I found a monster who dropped a Level 3 sphere after a battle. Looks like I'm "mining" there for a little while.

Fourth is just trying to get all the collectables together. I'm missing some Arubeido books and "Days of the week" items. Hm. It's such a pain "stealing" all the rare items necessary to beef up one's weapons and summoned creatures (shokan shita seibutsu).

Other than that, I can't believe I've spent this much time on FFX despite the full Japanese language. It's not as frustrating as I thought. 55 hours. That's not straight linear progression however. I must have spent 10 hours in various places just leveling up for the fun of it. For example, before you fight Shimoa for a second time after escaping capture, there's this long hall way populated with enemy robots with high Ability Points (AP), which is FFX's EXPerience points. Utilizing the in-fight character swap via the L1 button, you can get 8000-9000 AP per character from beating relative easy robots.

Running down each party member:

Yuuna, the summoner, is now equipped with a MP-walk recovery item (funny how it brings a new meaning to the term, "walk it off") and the 85 MP "Holy" offensive spell which does 9999 damage to normal enemies.

Tidus, the main d00d, is pretty lame strength wise, but he can steal and cast "Haste" on anybody. I don't know what else he's good for.

Auron, is the backbone of the party and also the lead "capturer". I've equipped his two-handed sword which came with the default "hokaku" with "evasion counter" ability. If he gets attacked, he'll serve up a "capture" attempt. Coupled with his 8000 HP physical attack, he gets 'em every time. BTW, you can "remodel" a weapon with the "evasion counter" ability if you save your "return home spheres".

Wakka, the wierd blitz ball player is the second-most physically strong character. He now has a magical and physical "counter" weapons. He also has the "armor breaks" and "mental breaks" that wear down high HP enemies easy. When the going gets tough, I turn to Wakka.

Lulu, the black-clad sorceress leads the black magic club in the party. I used her heavily in the early parts of the game, but now it seems she's less useful. She has the 55 MP "Clear" spell and MP-walk recovery item, but her spells rarely hit more than 5000 HP damage.

Kimari, the blue-skin it-thing with a sawed off horn, is my second black magic user. I regret making him so because both his physical and magically attacks are weak. The only redeeming aspect is that he seems to get a guaranteed "atari!" hit on that 999999 HP item-dropping enemy.

Rikku, the Arubeido girl-turned-teenager is my main source for rare items. She has the ability to steal during an attack, which gets me wierd things like "Moon's curtains" and "Electric bombs". These things are used in turn to apply rare but rarely useful abilities to items and summoned monsters. I'm slowly collecting "Chocobo Wings" in that "lightning field" from those cute green "Zaramandas" or whatever.

Speaking of which, there's a "Zaramanda ghost" in that "lightning field" that follows me around now. It's eerie. I'm minding my own business, trying to avoid lightning, when I see this greenly transparent thing streak around the screen. Heh.

Anyways, FFX is a fine game that has captivated me for hours. It's drawn me in just like Chrono Trigger.

Despite spending all that time with FFX, I bought Devil May Cry (DMC, PS2, jp) on the day it came out. It didn't come with anything specially, so I felt very disappointed. I proceeded to put the game in the PS2. The one thing that cemented in my mind the b-movie horror flick atmosphere is the "Let's rock, baby" that Dante, the main d00d, says in English. I half expect Bruce Campbell to rip out a chain saw or something. ^_^;

Action is gory and in-game cinematics even more so. For example, right before Dante gets the Alastor, his big sword and main weapon, it impales him in the sternum and pins him to the ground. Dante regains his strength and pulls himself free from the sword by rising through the shaft of the sword and through the hilt. It would be really disgusting if the polygon collisions weren't so evident. But I still get squimish just thinking about it.

Weapons are killer too. I thought I had the shotgun had oompfh, but now I got the grenade launcher (== Quake's rocket launcher) and now I'm playing with power. Slice them up, then toss a grenade into their... ahem... So this is what they call the air combo in the Resident Evil/Biohazard genre.

The more you continously slash with the Alastor, the more red orbs (credits) you can get. Simultaneously, you see text indicating your badness. Progressing from "Dull", slashing continously gets you "Cool", "Bravo", "Awesome" and finally "Stylish!" messages, no doubt influenced by Capcom's 2D fighting game status messages. Using a gun weapon though, interrupts the hack-n-slash rhythm, so if you're collect red orbs, don't use the grenade launcher or other slow reloading weapons.

As soon as I get bored with FFX, I'm moving straight onto DMC. Stylish hard action. No doubt.

BTW, I'm not playing that Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 (GBA, us) much lately. Nor am I racing around in Mario Kart Advance (GBA, jp). Just too much to do, I guess.

I am getting around to inventorizing my games. Unfortunately right now, I'm doing it via Excel 2000 spreadsheet. It's just the easiest way for me to input and quickly search for the items. When can I synchronize it to my Postgres DB? Hm. Probably after I figure out how to use Postgres in Linux. Etc etc.

Hello Kitty + GBA

(This should have an entry date of 2001-08-10 17:06) And then I turn the page on the Weekly Famitsu and see...

Hello Kitty Gameboy Advance, due out 2001/10/26. I'm way there. I don't know, Hot Pink? It's probably better than the Celebi Green that I'm toting around.

An extra 20! tracks in Mario Kart Advance (GBA,jp)! Um, I better collect 100 coins in the special race (50 cc even) and quick! The tracks are from the SNES version. This extra totally blew me away; I wasn't expecting it. (Do you even know the proper use of a semi-colon?)

I'm stuck in the Blitzball match in Final Fantasy X. What the heck, menu-based action sports?

Using the Linux Beta kit with Final Fantasy X

Happy happy joy joy! ^_^; I was able to utilize the PS2 Linux Beta kit's HDD unit for Final Fantasy X (FFX). Here's what I did:

I had to connect the Playstation 2 to my monitor directly. Trying to pass through the VGA signal using the upscan converter didn't work. Also, one can't play games using the VGA adapter. One really has to connect two adapters (consequently, a monitor and a TV) to avoid cable swapping.

Then I booted up the Linux Beta Kit DVD and proceeded to use ps2fdisk. The linux installer looked similar to RedHat 6.x, I wonder why. At the point where ps2fdisk asked me what kind of partition I wanted to make, I was presented with 3 choices, Linux native, Linux swap, and LVM. This is in contrast to what Disk Druid, another partitioning program, asked me. Disk Druid presented DOS <16M, DOS >16M, Linux swap and Linux native. Hm, mysterious. Anyway, I selected LVM for the 8 GB partition and left the rest of the disk empty. After the partition table was written, I hit the reset button on the PSX2 front panel, swapped video cables, and put in the FFX disk.

FFX noticed the HDD as initialized, and proceeded to install the game data. It took probably 10 minutes for it to install... How big is a DVD-ROM, double-layer, anyway? During play, load times for battles seemed faster and video switched from movies to in-game rendering seamlessly. Great stuff.

Now the next step is figuring out how to best partition the 40 GB HDD for both Linux and game caching, or if using a "Linux" partition for game caching is possible. Or maybe I'll just search a Japanese news site.

On the FFX gaming front, I finally got to an area where I can level up as much as I want. I've been trying to correct the mistakes I made on the Sofia board, but I'm running out of the right kind of Sofia chips/units. I'm up to 5 hours of clocked gaming now, a half hour of it spent at that area. I was also reading a magazine article about FFX, which showed a later area where you can buy the pre-rendered video clips. That is great, I don't have to play the game again to watch the CG.

Time Crisis, Final Fantasy X

I am a gamer. ^_^;

Recently I had this craving for Time Crisis 2 (arcade,jp). I searched high and low. First stop was the basement arcade under Gamers in Nipponbashi. It was only 100 yen per play. Yeah, cheep. 4 lives. Then continuing on to Kobe on a different day, they had Time Crisis 2 at Sun Plaza 2nd floor, for 100 yen per play, 5 lives. The difficulty was really turned up. I really hate guns that aren't calibrated, though.

I was thinking I should pick up another GunCon (PS) for PlayStation. I saw that Time Crisis: Project Titan (PS,jp: Time Crisis 1 and 1/2) was out. And then I happened upon the gun controller for the DC at only 1500 yen at Sofmap. Then I said, what shooting games are there on the DreamCast? None, really. Virtua Cop 2, The House of the Dead 2. No other games come to mind, so I didn't get the controllers.

I bought a gang load of games on Saturday: Pokemon Stadium Gold/Silver (N64,jp), PC/PS2 memory card reader via USB, L No Kisetsu (PS,jp), Action Replay CDX (DC,Europe), and of course, Final Fantasy X (FFX, PS2,jp).

When I finally tried FFX with the hard drive from the Linux kit, I had a problem. FFX reported that the drive was unformatted. F#qK! What does this mean? I have to get the driver DVD from Sony? Um, what are the chances that this driver DVD will be sold individually. Well, I guess I have to try the ps2fdisk on the PS2 Linux install disk, DVD Rom. But first I have to change the video cabling in the back... What a pain. Well, FFX is pretty, but jarringly blocky in parts. I don't know, after seeing the Final Fantasy movie, I must be spoiled. And besides, reading all that Japanese is pissing me off. shifea? shin? At least the subtitles help me understand what is being said.

I bought that L No Kisetsu (PS,jp) for two reasons: (1) it has that girl Yukie Horie that also acted in To Heart as Multi, (2) it is the prelude/related work to Missing Blue (PS2, jp) which is another game I've been keeping my eye on. I've got other love-sim games waiting for me: Comic Party (PC,jp), True Love Story 3 (PS2,jp). I've been looking at other games such as Comic Party (DC,jp)... I should really make a pending game schedule. There a lot of games I've bought I still haven't opened or tried.

I bought the Action Replay CDX (DC,Europe) because I bought some games from the US, such as Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 (DC,US) and Sword of the Berserk (DC, US). (BTW I finally saw Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 (PS,jp) at Softmap as a domestic product.) I had to use the Slot A card slot 2 as the dongle slot. Tony Hawk PS 2 rocks on the DreamCast! But I couldn't get the same tricks out of Elissa Stemmer. More experimentation is needed here. Can I just take out the controller and substitute another? That would be a step forward.

I've just got so many other things pending that it's a fricken' job, it's ridiculous... I've got the GBA mobile phone adapter on order for Mario Kart Advance (GBA,jp), Serious Sam (PC,us) and Revolt (PC,us) are waiting... Even that Unreal Tournament "Olympics" Mod is something I'm looking forward to.

Back in the States for a spin, GBA spin-trick

Well, my trip back to the states was fraught with driving peril. I forgot how bad traffic gets. In between driving from San Diego to Los Angeles and back I think drove about 1500 km, or about 220 km/day, or two hours driving on the highway every day. Heh. The ultimate driving game.

I gave my sister my first Gameboy Advance. I took off the front screen polarizer. It makes it very dark anyway, but the gummy sticky stuff lining the screen was still on there. I also gave her the Final Fight One (FFO) game. I beat the 2000 character beatdown limit, so it should be very easy for her to play. I think I'll wait for the sequel of FFO to come out to get FFO again.

I anticipated getting that newer Gameboy Advance (Light Green) and I finally collected it on Tuesday evening. Damn delivery people, get there when I'm there! Then I proceeded to rip open my copy of Mario Kart Advance (MKA, ohboyohboyohboy) and proceeded to play the best Kart experience yet. I thought Konami Wai-Wai Racing (KWWR) was killer, but MKA takes the cake. Bright, colorful, sharp, with characters I care about! Hee hee. I pick Kinokopio (Toad) all the time, just b/c he/she is cute. But I think I need to pick a better character to advance in the game, since Kinokopio's strengths are only in acceleration. Picking Toad in Super Mario Advance doesn't translate well in MKA.

And then I see that you can download ghost trials when you use a mobile phone adapter. Sweet. But at the same time, scary. I just want to download the ghosts' data but it will cost me money, 10 yen a minute and registration. Why can't they just come up with some kind of ethernet adapter?

But I always come back to Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2... My gosh I just figure out how to do Elizabeth Steamer's Madonna Grind. You have to key in the sequence just before you land on something grindable. Acutally this is a duh! point because you can't change grinds without stopping the grind you're on. So now I'm hitting 220,000+ in the New York map. Yeas! But to get 00, I need to get 250,000 points. I'm getting close, just gotta make less mistakes. Funny thing about grinding... You can accelerate from it if you do it correctly and land "perfectly".

Boneless + Wall-ride + FS 50-50 + FS Boardscrape + 180 Kickflip + Gate Gap + 180 Kickflip + Madonna Grind + 180 Kickflip + Nose Manual + 180 Flipkick = 24000 points? How did I get 64000 again?

More on my U.S. game-collecting experience, later. (But probably never.) Good god I wasn't gaming for a whole week. Oh maybe except for that time with Time Crisis and that light gun. Point Blank 3? Oh well, get me another gun. Dave and Buster's? Yeah I'm waiting for Time Crisis 2 (PS2-jp). Six Flags? Well I wasn't the one dancing on Dance Dance Revolution.

Ah the perils of being a collector, collecting everything. Perils it is. Ah life is crazy. I need to save. Money that is. Some where, some time, my money is gone.

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