Double Agent
Nobody doesn't like molten boron! - June 15, 2001 - Chris Jones

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this column are those of the participants and the moderator, and do not necessarily reflect those of the GIA. There is coarse language and potentially offensive material afoot. That phrase has been stuck in my head for the past week. Don't say we didn't warn you.

This is the lull after E3.

This is the lull after E3.

This is the lull after E3.

This is the lull after E3.

This is the lull after E3.


(And yet I still haven't gotten across to you how damned boring news has gotten lately.)


Hi, my name is Bob, and I have a bootlegging problem...
Okay, I'll be out in the open here. The last games I actually bought was Lunar Silver Star Story Complete and Pokemon Silver. Later, someone got me a mod chip, and most games consisted of 2 blank CDRs and a trip to Blockbuster.

I have to warn all of you, don't do this. Not because it's illegal, not because it's morally questionable, but because it is a HARD TO BREAK addiction. Once you actually start doing this, your gaming world begins to break down into a gooey mess. Every single game looks so expensive at the store, you start saying "Hey! I can just copy it!" Then when you realize Playstation and Dreamcast are dead and look into a new console but most importantly new console games , you say, "Oh no! They're too expensive!"

I love Gameboy Advance, it's pretty and very nice to have on my desk right now. You know what ruined it for me though? All I can play are my old Gameboy Color games, why? I feel so bad buying real games now, so all the new games look even more expensive [although the $40 price tag isn't all that cool]

When I was younger, I didn't even feel bad paying $100 for Phantasy Star 4. Just don't bootleg, please, I don't want you to become like me and not have the ability to enjoy modern video games.

You know what's funny though? Copying PSX DVD games like Final Fantasy X or Xenosaga will cost as much if not more than the actual game.

So this is like one of those "don't smoke" public service announcements that run on TV, right? "This is your game collection on emulation." Sad, really...

Now that Sega is all third party, screw NES and SNES ports, though those owuld be great, but hey, how about some Genisis titles? Who wouldn't want a portable Phantast Star 4 or Shining Force? A new Toe Jam and Earl is sounding pretty sweet right now as well. Sega is apperantly all for GBA, if Chu Chu and Sonic are any clue, so lets see some harcore classic stuff. Maybe Landstalker, as that game ruled.

I'd also like to see some Virtua Fighter 2d action. And a cheap rework of Crazy Taxi, nothing wrong with that.

I also want to point out that GBC recieved a TON of PSX and N64 ports that were....watered down so to speak. GBA has enough power to pull of some of these cheesy reworks a bit better and a bit more enjoyable. If developers actually put soem EFFORT into the 16 bit reworks, we could see some nice stuff off of the PSX or N64(Super Smash Bros would rule harcore) done quite well, and the reviews I've seen for Tony Hawk seem to indicate this.



Interesting idea. Still, my objection from yesterday stands - given what Sega-as-third-party is capable of, wouldn't you rather they created entirely new GBA titles, rather than spending their time porting over old stuff? Your line about 2D Virtua Fighter nails the idea perfectly - VF is, at heart, a 3D game, and always will be. Rather than having some console Lite game, however artfully done, I'd rather have a new Sega fighting game created expressly for the system. But maybe that's just me.

Obsession is never pretty... *Chrono Cross/Trigger spoilers*

This may devolve into a rant, but I need to say this. I'm very concerned about Xenosaga's apparent departure from it's progenitor, Xenogears. From what we know already, not only is the new series of games going to "rewrite" the story of Xenogears, but apparently Namco is planning a replacement episode 5 (?!) in the series' timeline. This, I feel, is not only a bad marketing idea on Namco's part, but also an insult to Xenogears itself. I'm worried that, in an effort to embellish/rewrite/replace the original story to an excessive degree, both the sequels and the events of the original in hindsight will be unsatisfying. I cite Chrono Cross: The game writers bent over backwards to add onto and "re-interpret" the events in the original game, which was solid, meaningful and complete in and of itself. Because of all the hoops the plot jumped through for that purpose, A) the sequence of events in CC itself is nearly incomprehensible, and B) It renders many of the events of Chrono Trigger pointless, because Lavos wasn't "really" destroyed, according to CC. In short, I'm afraid this sort of thing is happening/will happen to the story who's telling began with Xenogears. The writers are trying too hard to add on to the well written, well-contained plot of the original game, and it won't be healthy for the games to come or for the memory of the original events.

Super Saiya-jin, the prince of all Xeno-whoresŠonce again.

CC's plot was somewhat disappointing, I'll give you that... but only at the end. For much of the game, seeing the general darkness and desperation that had overcome the original CT world was quite compelling, at least for me. Then again, I always did see most of the CT party as smug bastards who deserved to be taken down a notch...

At any rate, speaking as someone who liked, but didn't worship, Xenogears, I'll be more than happy if Namco can bring some coherence to the general mess that is the Xenogears backstory. It's true that there are a lot of people out there who see the games as being "well-contained", and presumably fairly coherent, but if you pay attention you'll find that most theories on what the game was really about are completely different. There seems to be general agreement that however good XG was, it was also a rushed product that didn't do everything it wanted to. If Namco can fix that with a new game or two, then I say more power to them.

Do I have to repeat the part about the lull?
Hey, Chris.. out of curiousity, I wondered if you saw anything to look forward to in this summer's titles. If you haven't bought Dark Cloud yet, well, it can be enjoyable, but is not much of an RPG. Arc's delayed to oblivion, and while most of us will likely pick up FFC, it's always nice to have a new experience. As of now, I'm really looking forward to Ico, but I'm probably alone in that...

At any rate, I'm really glad that I inexplicably haven't touched my copy of Panzer Dragoon Saga up till now...

machka drek

Until MGS2, no, there's nothing truly earthshaking that I'm looking for this summer... at least on the console side. One thing I will say about getting a GBA (and not ever having had a GBC) is that there's a lot of interesting stuff in the handheld world that's opening up, from CotM and Super Dodge Ball to MGS GBC and the three Game Boy Zelda titles.

Besides, after the deluge of titles we got last year, I'd think many people will agree that it's nice to have a break and try out one or two titles that got missed along the way, like Valkyrie Profile or the FFT rerelease.

This game is dark.

I have a GBA with CotM. I have a light accessory made by Pelican to help illuminate the screen. It helps *some*(better that nothing), but the game is still dark. So even WITH a light accessory I can't see it as well as I should be able to...... This all leads to the question:

"Why the F**K did Konami make it so dark?!?"

WHY? Did they not not run ONE SIMPLE playtest and see that the game was too dark to play comfortably? BAH!!! I want an answer, straight from the top. And not this "We brought down the contrast so it would atmosphere to the game" crap.... CotM is a wonderful game, but it would be that much more imminently playable if it weren't so damned dark. Why?

- Shake

BTW: CotM is great, but a remake of SMB3 for GBA would be incredibly awesome.

This letter segues into the next so well that I'll answer them both below.

Why did I have to print that this game is dark?
Is there a law that requires that people bitch about every new thing that comes out? "Waaaahh, the GBA is too small. Waaaaahh, the GBA is too dark." Well, maybe you're just too bitchy, did you think of that? People bitching about things like the GBA being dark and someone like yourself only publishing letters from people saying GBA is too dark isn't doing anything to help the system. The system isn't too dark at all, CotM is just a dark game. The GBA is the same as GBC in terms of light.

I know plenty of people that think GBA is just fine, but from the looks of your letters section, you would think everyone has a problem with it being dark because you don't publish any letters from people saying otherwise. I talked to someone last night that actually said they were thinking of not buying a GBA now because they had been reading your letters section and thought it sounded too dark to be playable.

The same type of thing happened with N64. Some journalists bitched about things that really weren't significant, like not having space to put a billion CG movies onto a N64 cart, then that caused more people who normally wouldn't care to bitch about it, then eventually it turned people away from the system, which in turn made developers do the same.

I'm not trying to say that CotM isn't dark, it is. But you have to realize that the manner in which you're choosing which letters to publish is doing a disservice to the system by making it look like the system itself is too dark to be playable.

Brian Ewing, Lord of the Dance

First off, I don't feel any kind of responsibility for "helping the system." I said I bought one, I said I've enjoyed it, but I've also said it's dark... which it is. I'm not technically (or even practically) a journalist, but I don't think it's out of line for me to present the truth about something as I see it. More than that, bitching (and praising) games in general is what this column's all about, and that's not changing anytime soon.

On the other hand, I'll grant you that the system works pretty well under some circumstances. When Circle of the Moon is properly lit, it looks gorgeous, dark as it is. The game is wonderfully detailed and expressive, and it looks just like a Castlevania game ought to look. But I think Shake has a point - this game probably looks and plays incredibly on a developer monitor, but there are real issues with playing it on a GBA in many lighting conditions, and that's a problem that should have been caught in playtesting.

But CotM is just one game, and the two others I've tried (Mario Advance and F-Zero:MV), have played fine in normal lighting conditions. Overall, the GBA's an excellent system, and I strongly recommend it to just about anyone.

An... interesting... solution
My problem with the GBA isn't necessarily its SIZE but its lack of grip. There's nothing to hang onto! So I decided to take the matter into my own hands--literally.

I made my own homemade GBA grip mechanism! In ten minutes, I transformed two M&Ms Minis containers, two rubber bands and a toothpick into a grip for my wonderful little plastic chunk of fun.

The pictures along with the necessary commentary are available at the following URL!

And these were taken in my SISTER'S room because that's where the camera software is! I certainly don't have Christmas lights in my room! Ahah. Mmkay, you have a nice day now.


Sir, I salute your ingenuity, and I'm sure your system plays well when all's said and done.

But, for the life of me, I can't stop seeing it as some sort of "GBA-as-half-naked-sumo-wrestler" costume.

I think you're worrying about this a little too much, NC...
Chris. Dear, sweet Chris. Oldest and bestest and wisest. knew I was female, right?

...RIGHT? *Narrows eyes*

- Negative Creep

Yes, NC, I knew you were a girl, mostly because I remember you sending in (sometimes unpublished) letters whenever women-in-gaming topics came up.

But I think you're worrying about this a little too much. Case in point, your new message boards title: you do know that a "brogue" is a type of Irish accent, and not a person, right? Unless you're trying to say you're some from of inebriated footwear...

Yo Chris!

I've always wanted to be kshocked by video games. I've been playing for over ten years, and now most things are getting old. Gameplay and storylines are getting constantly copied and ripped off. The only way now to keep me entertained is to throw some kind of surprise event out of left field and make me jump out of my seat, shit my pants, and say "Oh my fucking God!"

Now here's the topic: What was the moment that shocked you the most in a video game? It could be some surprise monster in a REsident Evil game, or it could be an incredible plot twist in an RPG. I have a one of my own, but I'll hold off on saying it until this actually becomes a topic.

-Kung Fu Dude, who is shocked to see Chris as the centerfold in Playgirl

Good topic, KFD. In fact, it's good enough to be tomorrow's topic. And speaking of tomorrow...

(And no, I didn't appear in Playgirl.)

Closing Comments:

Drew Cosner doesn't love you anymore.

Why else would he have taken off for Japan for the summer, without so much as a by-your-leave?

Nope, he's gone for a few months, and in the meantime the incomparable Nich Maragos will be covering the weekend columns, although you may see a few other staffers pop up from time to time. You've got your topic, so away with ye, and I'll see you Monday.

-Chris Jones, needs crab rangoon, stat!

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