Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What will we do 2nite?

I recently purchased a new laptop, so I can now update my blog from away from my desktop. It's not that impressive, but screw ya', jerk. To make up for my lack of ability to think of new content, I will post my new reviews for the new 'versity paper.

Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories (PS2) review

I really hate it when I find something really cool, and it’s already disappeared from the face of the Earth, preventing me from ever enjoying it to the fullest. After a few bad situations where I procrastinated, and so a number of games and DVDs became out of my reach, I decided from then on that I would make sure to get what I want before it’s too late. Among the major things whose bandwagon I missed was a PS2 title called Disgaea and its fellow Nippon Ichi-developed brethren (including La Pucelle, Phantom Brave, and Makai Kingdom), and so when I heard it’s sequel was coming, I made sure I was there to get it the day it was released (which was also in limited numbers, much like it’s predecessor).
For the uninitiated, Disgaea 2 is a strategy-RPG, basically chess with 100% more exploding penguins. Fans of Final Fantasy Tactics will likely feel at home, but there are number of small elements thrown into the mix (including panels with different effects, combo attacks, and strategic use of throwing friends and foes) that give a tad more complexity to the game. If you’ve never touched a Strategy-RPG before, Disgaea might not be the best place to learn the ropes of the genre, but once you got some experience, by all means track this sucker (and you will have to look hard, what with the limited quantities and all.)
These things have stories now, don’t they? Well, Disgaea 2 is no different, and all those worried that they need to play the first one to understand what’s going in the sequel will be happy to know that this is more of it’s own thing (although reading about Disgaea on the Wikipedia might be a good idea, as Disgaea 2 still likes to throw in references to it, and a few major characters reappear, but as of yet I haven’t seen anything that distracts from the main game.) The plot has the main character Adel’s village cursed and transformed into monsters. In a last ditch effort to reverse the curse, Adel’s mother attempts to summon the demon overlord who hexed them, but instead conjures up his bratty daughter. Adel is then charged with using the Overlord’s daughter to find and kill him, thus removing the curse from his village. Along the way, they meet many bizarre characters who assist, deter, or just report parts of your quest on the news. The story is punctuated with full voice acted dialogue that can be quite humorous.
The main game has around 13 chapters to its story, each separated into a few battles. When you aren’t journeying ahead, there are a few side quests to keep you busy. Entering the Dark Assembly allows you manipulate demonic politics(by bribing senators, getting them drunk, getting them un-drunk, waking them up when they fall asleep, or if those don’t work, kicking the crap out of them) so extra things become available to you. Every item you obtain can be upgraded by entering the little universe within it (there’s a first) and traversing the seemingly never ending levels fighting increasingly tough enemies. There’s also a few alternate endings and other little goodies you can unlock by being persistent and trying out different things in the main game.
Graphically, Disgaea 2 is still 2D characters on 3D backgrounds, neither of which really push the PS2 to its limits. Even so, there are some cool looking attack effects thrown in for your amusement. It’s just so satisfying watching your characters perform a 1000000+ damage team attack (which is entirely possible in this game.)
It’s a real shame Disgaea 2 can’t be enjoyed by everyone because of its low distribution. If you see a copy of this game on the shelves of your local game merchant and you have an interest in turn-based strategy or demon penguins, don’t be afraid to pick it up. This is the kind of game that can steal many, many hours of your life. Or, if it doesn’t, you could probably make a pretty penny from selling it on eBay.

Babyshambles: “Down in Albion"

I really didn’t know what to expect when I made the foolish decision to review a CD from the pile that sits in a cubby hole in the Quill office. I made sure to choose the one that looked the least metal or rap (metal and rap fans should thank me for this), and so I ended up with Babyshambles. I’ve never once encountered this band before, but trying out new things is something reviewers should do, I guess.
According to the press release that comes with the CD, Down in Albion is the band’s debut album, contains their UK Top Five ‘Fuck Forever’(UK Top Fives are far more interesting than those in North America, it seems), and was produced by Mick Jones of The Clash. Did these instill any additional expectations in me? Not really, I was only hoping this CD, and this band, were not soul-crushingly awful (although finding a band like that would inspire an entertaining review for you guys). I am happy to report that Babyshambles has made a relatively pleasant musical excursion.
Down in Albion starts off with a fairly catchy tune, and the rest of the songs follow suit with the same variety of ambient alternative-rock, with the exception of the tenth song, Pentonville, which sounds like an African folk song. I have absolutely no idea why they would put a song that sounds like African folk on their CD, but I liked Pentonville, so it’s really more of a curious inquiry than any sort of criticism. I really can’t think of a particularly painful song on the album, it’s consistently enjoyable, breezy listening.
I guess that is my biggest problem with Babyshambles: while their CD is completely fine, it never really connected to me in any way. Listening to the album a few times, I could never find anything that stuck out and said “Aren’t I revolutionary and excellent!” There really wasn’t anything that made me want to download all their stuff, go out and buy everything with their name on it, or even to anticipate what they are planning on doing next. If I ever encountered one of their songs on the radio (which I never expect to, what with songs called Fuck Forever and the like), I wouldn’t turn the dial, but, as I said, I wouldn’t go out of my way to listen to it, either. It’s probably a personal taste thing, and I can definitely see this band having a fan base (which it probably already does, I just don’t feel like checking), just don’t count me among them. Do I recommend this album? I think it might be worth a look if British alternative is your thing, but you might want to seek out their singles first.
On a related note, I read in the newspaper a couple days ago that Babyshambles frontman Pete Doherty (formerly of The Libertines, a band I haven’t listened to, but that may change soon) recently got off a charge of possessing heroin, cocaine, AND crack cocaine. Afterwards, the judge complimented Doherty for one of the band’s songs (The Blinding, not found on this album). Now, his music is all well and good, but is it really worth a “Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free” card?

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