Well that's a funny looking strike!

It's no secret that I hate most modern video games. Lately I have played three games that show what is right and what is wrong with video games today.

First off, let's talk about Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles. This game has an extremely low frustration factor, not only due to its simplified gameplay mechanics (three character attributes, infinite magic casting, that sort of thing), but also due to its amazingly forgiving treatment of death (at least in solo player mode). When you die, you're presented with a short game-over screen, and then you can jump right back into the action. The time between dying and getting back into the game is usually on the order of 1-2 seconds, making it really easy to spend an hour or more fighting the same boss over and over without noticing how many times you've died.

While I have a few issues with the lack of instant teleportation, too few inventory slots, and non-interruptive game events, for the most part the gameplay is nice and smooth, like a tiny glass of hot sake. This game gives me hope for games of the future; games that put gamers' fun before developers' crapulence.

Juxtapose this game with the newly released Ninja Gaiden for the Xbox and you will find much of what is wrong with the mindset of many game developers today. This game is a technical and artistic achievement of astounding proportions; I don't think any game up until now has had this level of graphical splendor and yummy goodness; being a (virtual) ninja has never been so much fun.

However, if you fail to live up to the level of excellence expected from you by Team Ninja, you will feel the harsh punishment meted out to those not worthy of Ninja Gaiden's greatness. From the beginning of the game, the player must endure many trials to experience the golden nugget of fun. Failure is dealt with in a fashion most frustrating, starting with a non-existent checkpoint system, multiple repeats of the same area (due to lack of a good checkpoint system), to unforgiving boss fights, more multiple repeats of the same area, and ending with an excruciatingly long reload process when you die. In other words, this game has a very unforgiving learning curve, and almost goes out of its way to make your life miserable if you suck. It reminds me of those stupid games you play where everyone knows the rules except for you.

Naturally, such a hard game has the gaming press falling over itself in praise of such a "hardcore" game. Gamerankings currently has Ninja Gaiden running at an approval rating of 92%. I wish game critics reviewed games with a magical switch that would randomly cause game death every few minutes so that they would experience what the rest of us do: the harsh experience of game over. Maybe then we'd get games that are fun to play, no matter how good or bad you are, rather than games that you have to have the manual dexterity of a god to enjoy.

Fortunately for everyone, neither of these games have the same crack factor as Warthog Launch. I'll let the experience speak for itself.
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    contemplative contemplative

Deja vu

Did anyone else see Angel last night? Right at the end, it looked like a live-action version of the end of Xenogears.
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    amused amused

Captain vegetable

I came up with an alternate section for me in the Captain Vegetable song. Enjoy! :)

My name is Matthew
I don't like you
And I'll avoid you whenever I can
If it's you there
I'll be elsewhere
I cannot stand
The look of you
It makes me want
to run and puke
And stab my eyes until I cannot see
You suck... but wait!

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    artistic artistic