Saturday, August 30, 2008

Just Wanna do Something Special for All the Ladies in the World

I let other things distract me again, but I'm back. Sorry, I was too cheap to pick you up any souvenirs again.

But now that I'm back, I suppose I should go ahead and first note that I did indeed somehow manage to win that "Teach Steve to Read" contest over at The Raleigh Quarterly, so that short story will be hitting the internet sometime in September when their second issue goes up. I'll be sure to note that again here when the day comes. (Hopefully I'll manage a good entry or two here before then, anyway.) Having been expecting to only finally become a published author for the first time sometime in 2009 at the soonest with my first novel - assuming I have any luck at all in finding an agent and publisher, anyway - this comes as a pretty huge surprise to me. And at this point, frankly, I'm still just trying to process the idea that I'm finally going to be published - going from dreaming to an actual literary accomplishment in reality such as this, however minor, is one hell of a step forward.

Anyway, onwards to the main focus of this entry. It's time to get political! Because I know you all haven't had nearly enough politics crammed down your throat in the past year and a half already, as America's kept its focus on getting rid of Bush - and it's impossible not to blame them - with enough eagerness to kill at least several small children if not expressed in appropriately reserved quantities.

The "liberal media," of course, was completely focused on the Democratic National Convention this past week, helping to deliver the important message that the progressive wing of politics is finally getting their act together, uniting as one, and preparing to undo the damages of eight years of George W. Bush, no matter what it takes.

Oh, wait, that's actually the last narrative the media was interested in telling. The convention opened with its first two nights headlined by (hopefully) future first lady Michelle Obama and former first lady/presidential bidder Hillary Clinton. Michelle Obama did an excellent job painting more of a picture of Obama's family life for America - something we're obsessed with as a nation, for some reason, since we want our politicians to be paragons of morality, living the kind of life that might give Normal Rockwell diabetes.

(Thus, the conservatives' excessive exuberance in jumping on John Edwards over his own personal scandal just weeks ago. I've met Edwards before, and he's certainly a likable enough guy, who's made a point of standing for some important things politically. While I do think he's been particularly foolish in hiding his infidelity from the public (When even New York Governor David Paterson has been open and honest about his own past extramarital affairs, no doubt especially important in his position after the scandal that brought down Eliot Spitzer earlier this year.), I don't think it's anything that reflects on him as a politician. He wasn't a spectacular senator for North Carolina - though I'd take someone like him over Elizabeth Dole or Richard Burr any day, both of them having been little more than mindless cogs in the congressional Bush administration enabling mechanism, and thus wholly unrepresentative of North Carolinians and Americans alike - but a scandal like this doesn't take away from his own political passions. Nobody goes out of their way to address the issue of poverty like that unless they truly care about it - poverty's not exactly a subject that has a history of winning votes in recent decades, even from the impoverished. The Bush policies of tax cuts for America's richest, shifting the tax burden back onto the middle and lower classes, actually worked better - simply because the very idea of a tax cut is winning, while talk of a tax increase (No matter who it's for, and the lower and middle classes are generally not the focus of tax increases.) can be a deathblow. The American people are not overly fond of voting with their brains, unfortunately - which also played a part in Bush's 2000 and 2004 victories. But in the end, the Republicans don't have a leg to stand on in criticizing a Democrat for infidelity - their own sex-related scandals, which we tend to see far more of, are often worse, looking at Larry Craig and Mark Foley in recent years in particular. And we've certainly seen Democrats continue on after personal scandals and do further good for America - looking at Bill Clinton in the last decade, and even further back, across Ted Kennedy's political career.)

Nonetheless, Michelle Obama reminded us that no matter how much the McCain campaign would like to disconnect Obama from ordinary people in Americans' minds (And let's be honest, how many "ordinary" people ever manage to become a presidential candidate, let alone make it anywhere of note in politics? Aside from the great Charles Doty, anyway.), he still has a background not so different from most of us, he's still a husband and a father, and as human as any of us. Michelle Obama also showed through her words - as she has through her public appearances in general throughout the campaign - her intelligence and strength as a feministic figure, and that she'd be a far better and more interesting first lady than our other main option. (And certainly more so than Laura Bush, rarely seen in public, and virtually never making any statements worth noting or reacting to. Keeping their women down, so to speak, seems to be something of a trend amongst the more conservative crowd - Cindy McCain certainly seems nothing more than a trophy wife as well. But then, the Republican party is noted for their consistency in more misogynistic political policies, and a general track record of oppression of the fairer sex.) After the 8 years of Laura Bush following Hillary Clinton, who herself has been a strong feministic figure as well, Michelle Obama is certainly someone we could be proud to have living in the White House as well.

Hillary Clinton went on to give the sort of strong speech the party - and America - needed to hear from her as well. You could get a sense enough of that she still would have preferred to have been the nominee herself, but she never made a point of stating or rubbing that fact in. She threw her full support behind Obama and party unity, behind progress and all the fields in which we need to focus on making progress and reforms after eight years of Bush and Republican regression. She outright slammed the idea of a McCain presidency and effectively encouraged her voters to get behind Obama, with the similar political stances they've had, given what an incredible mistake voting for McCain out of bitterness would be. And after all that, on wednesday, Hillary herself announced Obama as the party's official presidential candidate following the tallying of the delegates' votes. Another strong act in the name of party unification.

Of course, as the Daily Show and Colbert Report spent the week making light of, the media was having none of that. The only story the so-called "liberal media" was interested in telling was a tale of a party bitterly divided against itself, with an insurmountable chasm between Hillary Clinton and Obama supporters that would invariably assure a John McCain victory by a landslide in November. The media was far more interested in telling the narrative they'd prefer to be reality - that they'd prefer Americans buy into. Along, of course, with the usual insinuations that there must be no way America would be ready for its first African American president, and that the very notion of change - both in that regard and many others - would be too much. But if there's one thing America needs now more than anything else, it's positive, progressive change - and lots of it. If we continue down the current path, as a McCain presidency would take us, our future as a nation is grim. We'd start even more unjust wars (Though if you think on it much, there is almost never any such thing as a just war.), our economy would collapse, and we'd watch even more civil rights simply evaporate. Together, George W. Bush and John McCain represent a wholly self-destructive conservative nation where citizens' freedoms are limited and we exist in a constant state of war - amongst the worst things people could represent in both politics and humanity, and certainly going against the very spirit in which this nation was first founded. (As much hypocrisy as we had within the founding fathers.)

Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard in particular showed himself to be as much of a predictable conservative robot as he's always been in his televised commentary on female Obama and Clinton's speeches, simply blankly characterizing them as "generic." He gave Stephen Colbert some good material to satirize in and of that, being that he's amongst the many conservative pundits who will never even consider a kind - let alone honest - word about someone they don't agree with politically. (While even the Democrats have been acknowledging that you can't deny McCain's military service, no one beyond General Wesley Clark seems to have had the guts to publicly note that said military service does not actually make him at all qualified for the presidency. And while I've mocked him plenty himself, Mike Huckabee praised Obama for breaking the color barrier in the presidential race on the Colbert Report the other night, while also admitting that he still didn't agree with Obama on anything otherwise.) For a newspaper editor, Kristol doesn't exactly come off as overly verbose. Perhaps that's a testament to the extent of his conservativism, however, in demonstrating that he's too conservative to maintain and utilize much in the way of a varied vocabulary. But then again, no matter what Obama and Clinton said in their speeches those first few days, he would have found something negative to say about them. And though that's nothing to the conservatives' advantage in the grand scheme of American politics, even without Hillary as the presidential candidate or running mate, women are still taking center stage in this year's election.

Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and John Kerry all spoke over the rest of the week, delivering great speeches about where we need to go and what we need to do politically. (Kerry in particular having shown remarkable improvement in the accessibility of his public speaking over 2004.) Dennis Kucinich issued a great wake up call to America in his impassioned address - slightly cheesy in concept, but brilliant in all the truths he told. (And only when you've been a candidate and figure with no real shot at the White House, like Kucinich has, do you truly tend to have the freedom to speak the absolute truth about matters as he does.) And on thursday, prior to Obama's big acceptance speech, Al Gore gave a 15 minute speech addressing a variety of political issues, eight years of Bush, and wholeheartedly endorsing Obama, rallying the crowd and reminding America well what could have been - had we and the system not failed, in the true election results in 2000 being suppressed and George W. Bush taking office - and that he would've been a far better president than Bush ever was. We wouldn't have invaded Iraq, we would have kept our response to 9/11 to focusing on the perpetrators instead of entering this insane proclamation of endless war, we would have focused on going green as a nation actually properly responding to Global Warming, we'd be seriously working on implementing alternative energy plans in breaking our addiction to and dependence on oil, and our civil rights wouldn't be under attack - women being able to breathe more easily in not worrying about someone overturning Roe v. Wade one day or another, or trying to redefine various forms of birth control as abortion to further a literally dangerous regressive line of political thought.

Largely thanks to the ambitions of Hillary Clinton, women are one of the most critically important demographics in this year's election. But there's been a good bit of blowback as a result of Hillary's being neither the candidate nor his running mate. Personally, I suppose Barack Obama's choice in Joe Biden. In just about every way, Biden's strengths complement Obama's personal weaknesses as a candidate - which he's acknowledged in this choice. And as such, he's a far better running mate not only for Obama, but for America as a whole than Hillary would have been - even if Hillary would have likely guaranteed her supporters' votes. (As said votes should be guaranteed already between Hillary's supporting Obama herself now, as well as their politics largely representing the same things as Hillary's.) Joe Biden is an open feminist, who supports women's right to choose, as well as efforts to bring about true equality across the nation. As such, he's earned the support of feminist organizations as a vice president who would look out for women's interests in the White House while serving as an excellent adviser to Obama - filling the Vice Presidential role far better than Hillary likely would have, as Biden himself is certainly someone who would've made a great president too, had he done better in the primaries.

The McCain campaign, on the other hand, has been taking the low road rather consistently for some time now. One day - and many others - they try to use music by groups that in no way support him or his politics as their campaign song (And now we've got Jackson Browne actually suing the campaign for their use of one of his songs.). Then they try to sling mud the next, trying to paint Obama as nothing more than a substance-free celebrity, actually going as far as to try to compare him directly to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. (Not to mention that the Obama campaign actually had to go out of their way to create a website to dispel negative myths about the man.) Of course, Hilton herself ended up releasing a response to this at Funny or Die, which did a pretty decent job mocking McCain, with writing by Adam McKay. (Who wrote and directed Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and Step Brothers.) McCain plays on Americans' fears - and counts on fear votes, like George W. Bush did in 2004 - and makes constant gaffes in the media spotlight, as well as convenient mistakes about what he stands for. Such as his conveniently "forgetting" how much he's stood against birth control in the past last month. And even more recently, conveniently forgetting how many houses he owns and going on to give a ridiculous definition of what kind of money he feels constitutes "rich" He's shown himself repeatedly to be less than reliable in the mental faculties and completely out of touch with the American people, outright denying the American crisis we face. And he's gotten away with every mistake - far more than any candidate would otherwise - because the media and people (Disturbingly enough, looking at the close polls) love his image. That he's a "maverick." (When he's anything but - he's mostly been a rank and file far right Republican for most of his career, and he's only gotten worse in the Bush years.) That he's a war hero. (Who came away from his experiences frequently coming off as someone suffering from PTSD - which should be a major red flag - as well as a supporter of George W. Bush's baseless wars. And he's been very open about his intention to pursue further wars, should he be elected.) He may have served his country, but military servitude doesn't make anyone qualified - let alone "deserving," as he's treated - of the White House.

Most insulting yet? The announcement of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate today. She is no Hillary Clinton, let alone a Shirley Chisholm or Geraldine Ferarro. Is she qualified? You bet she's not. Which is especially funny considering all the time McCain's spent attacking Obama for his lack of experience, in his own choice to nominate someone with far less experience. The Palin nomination is nothing more than a slap in the face to America's women. It's McCain and his campaign saying "You're so stupid and angry over not getting to vote for Hillary that you'll vote for anyone with a woman on their side. Even one who doesn't represent you well at all." And that's exactly the issue with Palin - she's the diametric opposite of feministic figures in politics like Hillary Clinton. She's regressive, openly opposed to abortion, all for opening wildlife refuges to oil drilling, anti-same sex marriage, and has even outright vetoed Alaskan efforts to research alternative energy, being firmly in the pocket of big oil - essentially, while she regards herself as a feminist figure, as a prominent member of Feminists for Life, she stands for all the wrong things. A proclaimed feminist who doesn't stand for women's needs or interests, with intention of rolling back their rights - including reproductive rights - just like McCain. The far more incompetently run campaign of the two has made a terrible, horrifically unqualified running mate choice as an insult to the women of America in hoping to use bitterness over Hillary Clinton. Nothing more. America's women aren't stupid, like McCain and his campaign are now banking on - let's hope that shows in November.

In the end, we need to pay close attention and educate ourselves as citizens in America. This is the most important election since 2000 - and if you need a refresher, check out Recount, which does an excellent job covering what happened back then, as infuriating and disillusioning as it is - and the last thing we need is Americans making political choices out of bitterness, racism, cynicism, and so forth - essentially any excuse to not even take a chance on change. Taking on more of the same after eight years of George W. Bush would only serve the downfall of our nation - we have only two choices here in our ridiculous two party system, but this year the choice is obvious. To cynically elect someone who promises more of the same in distrust of someone who promises the meaningful change our country sorely needs, effectively giving up on things ever getting better, or getting behind that change and electing the right president, right senators, and right representatives we need to fix our broken government and get to work on undoing these past eight years of damage that the Bush administration and Republicans have inflicted upon America and the world. Too many lives have been lost, too many rights have been taken, too much damage to our nation on every level has been done - we can't afford to risk a McCain presidency. And to you, my female readers in particular, if you're even considering voting for McCain in losing Hillary as an option - especially after his nomination of Sarah Palin - please, please, both for your sake and that of all of America, take my words to heart.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Determination: Carving Out a Future

A first "normal" Spiral Reverie entry in a good while. Astounding.

So what's the topic this time? More on life, love, or even dare I suggest yet another video game entry? ... Well, no it's not that last one this time - rest easy, dear non-gaming readers who I probably scared off months ago after I stopped updating with any sort of consistency.

This time, it's all about the fine art of putting your foot down and rather than simply talking about doing something with your life, actually doing it. Naturally, at this point, you're ready to start protesting on the grounds of that I'm nothing more than a robot programmed to dance around for your entertainment and sometimes malfunction. But this time-traveling killer robot? He dances no more! (At least, not right this second.)

People love to run their mouths and prattle on about all the things they've convince themselves that they're going to do. I've no doubt come off that way enough myself. (Hah! I bet this guy doesn't even have a book in the works! No, italicized parenthetical text, I'm afraid I actually have been hard at work all this time.) But now? Concrete plans for that thing they call a future have begun to materialize. (Because one more year of living at home is going to be absolutely rough as is - having been living at home for over a year since I finished the last of my undergraduate college classes hasn't been the most wonderful of experiences either, with all the isolation that entails.)

Firstly, I've taken a first stab at a publishing opportunity, in entering the newly-started Raleigh Quarterly's "Teach Steve to Read" contest, a contest they started as a bit of a jab at Steve Jobs for a comment he made earlier this year about nobody reading anymore. I wrote a fairly sardonic, cynical short story, though I felt somewhat constrained by the 600 word limit. As such, I don't feel it's quite up to par compared to what could have been, had I not had to pare it down some to meet the length requirements. But I'll mention it again here if I do manage to win and get it published. Failing that, I'll probably submit something else at some point and see if they'd be interested in publishing any of my other short stories. In general, I really do need to get to writing more short stories once I'm finished with Project 27 Days (Which I'm almost to the home stretch in writing - the air conditioning issues the other week delayed my writing a good bit, so I'm expecting to finish the book by early September at this point now. The horizon draws nearer.) and find more venues for publication online. Every little bit of publishing I can manage would help at this point, in forsaking the pursuit of profit with those. (Though should I get the opportunity down the line amidst my novel writing and publishing, I'd certainly be all for releasing an actual physical short story collection with everything written by then.) In general, I need to start getting some recognition as a writer, and to make it clear to the world in getting my work out there that I am serious about this whole writing stories and reaching people thing.

Why the rush? Grad school, of course. Though I likely have even less chance of success at getting into the program I'm applying to than I do the Raleigh Quarterly contest (Though granted, given that the online magazine's only been going since April, I honestly have no idea how many submissions they're regularly getting already as a new online literary magazine - let alone the kind of quality I'm up against in regards to other submissions. I generally don't like to think of writing in a competitive sense myself, anyway, it's nicer to view all other aspiring writers simply as colleagues, all simply working towards the same goal.) I've set plans in stone to apply to UMass Amherst's Creative Writing MFA program for fiction writers and poets in October. The odds are stacked heavily against me, in their only accepting 20 studies of roughly 500 applicants each year. (It's one of the nation's oldest and best Creative Writing programs, and highly competitive, while it's said to be not quite as difficult to get in as a normal undergrad there, the school being Massachusetts' biggest and best public university. I'm striving for a much higher level school and an extremely tough to get into program, after having spent my five undergrad years at a very different - and ultimately much lower level in many regards - university.) As such, I really have my work cut out for me, and getting some of my work published would no doubt help boost my chances of getting in a bit, with such works a clear indication of how seriously I'm taking these literary aspirations of mine. I've just got to do my best and keep my fingers crossed that I'll be getting ready to pack up and move up north by this time next year. If not, I'll probably lose my mind down here. Living at home again loses its charm after having been home for over a year again, rarely hearing from most of your college friends, and never getting to socialize in real life, with what friends one is still in touch with living and working off in Japan now. The south's never been for me - I need the big shakeup and change in general in life that comes with such a major move in heading off to grad school.

I can't exactly keep all my eggs in one basket, so to speak, either. I still need to gather more information on northern creative writing grad school programs to apply to, while I work on writing and publishing more short stories. After having done a good bit of research though, finding a program that'd suit me anywhere is easier said than done, and working with the resources I've used - including an excellent Creative Writing MFA handbook for prospective grad students (By Tom Kealey, an alumnus of the UMass Amherst program himself.) - UMass Amherst has struck me as where I need to be.

I almost finished an application to Boston University's program earlier this year, but ended up not going through with it. I concluded that I didn't have quite the exact type of writing sample they'd need on the short notice they needed it on hand at the time. Then in reading a letter from the faculty to prospective students, I quickly discovered that applying would've no doubt been a waste of money in my case, as they'd outright cited the sort of story elements I've been working with as nothing they'd want to read. (Stories focusing on dreams and memories, specifically.) I can somewhat understand their feelings on those subjects - I can only imagine how many less-than-spectacular aspiring writers there are out there who think they're doing something brilliant after having their mind blown by one or both of a couple recent Michel Gondry films, while ultimately doing nothing unique or interesting with the concepts, simply feeling that dreams and memories are out there, vague enough concepts to somehow be brilliant literature in simply writing about them. But on the other hand, writing off people's works that use those subjects as parts of the plot seems a bit overly cynical and close-minded. (Not that I have much room to talk when it comes to cynicism.) Basically, what I'm saying is that there's still plenty of genuinely unique and original ways to use these themes - and that not everybody who works with them is necessarily a hack, as writing them off as such strikes me as a bit questionable, personally. (But then, the comment may have just been to note that they're sick of stories like that, and thus to discourage that sort of submission with applications. I can't pretend to know the Boston University Creative Writing faculty's biases and lacks thereof.) Working within the magic realism subgenre as I am with Project 27 Days, subjects like dreams and memories are ripe for appropriate use in the story. And for me, they play an important role in the framing of the narrative.

So ultimately, I've gotta make an impression on the panel of UMass professors evaluating applicants. It's high time I started carving out a concrete future - and that future? It's sure as hell not rushing into becoming a 9-5 wage slave and watching my soul leave my body in a matter of an hour. I'm not cut out for that, and after half a decade studying International Studies, more than anything else, I want to spend those three years in the program at UMass pouring my heart into improving my writing and becoming a writer worth reading. Whether anything happens with my unrequited love situation - as is highly unlikely - or not, I need to get out of here and start accomplishing things as a writer. I'll be turning 25 before I hit grad school either way, and I've wasted enough of my youth as is. Now is the time to take plenty of big risks, put myself out there, and try to really make something of myself before it's too late.

UMass certainly intrigues, as it feels much more like a "real" college than UNCC did, and there'd be a lot to overwhelm myself with in trying to make new friends in an area where i have no connections at all. (UNCC was primarily a commuter college, and most of its on-campus residents still left on the weekends - the campus was relatively isolated in Charlotte, and there was almost nothing to do on weekends. No student comedy groups, no student-run television station, nothing like that. Definitely issues I had with the school.) I'll have to get used to a new area, and carve out my niche of things to see and do for the next 3 years then. There's a lot more going on there, and while they let in most of their undergrad applicants, as I've mentioned I've got extremely daunting odds to face - I need to figure out how to catch their eye and make it into their top 20 so I can go there, but I also need not to focus on it and try too hard and force the writing sample - the writing has to come out and achieve quality naturally, whether I write something new for my application or look to something I've already written when I apply in October.

Their Creative Writing MFA program is an extremely high class and difficult program to get into, and I've actually never succeeded in any sort of competition against great odds - I always fail to stand out or measure up, making it rather stressful to think about. But I need to find a means of doing so and then some - I have a history of standing out with my writing next to people in more "normal" academic veins, as I did all throughout my undergraduate years, but I falter in the face of competition, and probably don't come off as anyone worth reading or noting next to the kinds of quality people tend to submit. (You're probably not going to try to apply for a highly competitive Creative Writing MFA program unless you're confident that you're producing something excellent, after all, no?) Not to mention, there's the individual professors' tastes in the sorts of literature that interest them - the question of the unknown and unidentifiable variables. You'd think they'd likely not just be interested in teaching someone writing the sort of things they'd want to read personally, but someone doing something different, who has a noteworthy personality to their writing or a particular unspecifiable edge that makes their writing crackle, and seem worth instructing to be a part of our generation's literary future. (Which I'm hellbent on making my mark on, simply wanting to write interesting stories that'd make people laugh, cry, think, and simply feel a whole range of emotions.)

I could over-research each of the professors with ease, no doubt, with enough information on them being online to begin with, but I feel like that'd be a cheap and disingenuous way to approach things - I'm not merely looking to go there for the sake of going there. I have high aspirations and a great drive to write, and I just feel, intuitively, from looking into everything there, that it's where I need to go in order to further grow and nurture my abilities as a writer. I'll just have to beat out likely roughly 480+ others who probably feel the same way, haha. As such, it's impossible not to worry some. I just can't let it consume me - I have to do the best I can, and it has to come naturally, seeing as entry's entirely based on your 20-page writing sample. (Which is a weight off my shoulders, since I was worried my having been an International Studies major would disqualify me from a shot at a Creative Writing program. Fortunately, many schools seem to recognize that talented fiction comes from people from all walks of life. I'm not sure whether I'll be attempting the GRE again or not, but given that I've heard the actual software it uses runs in the same eye-damagingly bad resolution that their Power Prep software I installed does, I really don't like to think about it. It's not required, but it can be beneficial, and I need all the help I can get. I'm not sure I'd do well enough for it to be of any benefit though, either. Going by the approach in the Power Prep software, it's a heavily flawed test that largely grades the taker by all sorts of shit that frankly doesn't meaningfully reflect on an individual's intelligence. In th eleast, it's becoming less important in recent years as more and more organizations acknowledge how effectively worthless it is from an academic perspective and measure of an individual. The grad school application process is stressful enough in its high level of competitivity without that test.)

Looking forward to the future too, it's probably high time I worked on some renovations to this blog too, maybe see if I can put together an image logo for the title (Though I have little skill left in Photoshop these days, so making one that'd look decent and mesh with the rest of it'd be a challenge. Visual design is in no way my forte.), and while I like this gray-oriented color scheme, I know it's not exactly a popular look. I'm not very good at visual design and color combinations, so I need to come up with some color combination changes to make this place more visually appealing to readers as this blog gradually wakes from its slumber.

I'm not exactly interested in changing it to anything bright and hugely colorful, but I don't want it to be fiercely dark either - just something comfortable and neutral, if that makes sense. Anyway, to any readers or passers-by reading this, if you've got any suggestions on that front (Or as to how I can improve this thing in general), by all means, I'd appreciate the advice if you don't mind taking the time to comment.

That's all for this week. Hopefully this wasn't too dull or disappointing as first entries of this sort in ages go.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Once Again Belated: E3 2008 Games of Note

Yeah, this one's ridiculously late too. I got lazy that week and planned to wait until the next week. Then our air conditioning gave out and we had to wait about a week before we finally got our system replaced. North Carolina summers without air conditioning are, shall we say, less than pleasant. Anyway, late though it is, time to finally talk about E3 2008 Wii and DS games of note for a bit. The next entries'll hopefully be of more interest to you non-gaming readers - the few of you who still drop by here now and then - as I intend to get back to writing more regularly over the remainder of the year.


Captain Rainbow - Insecure as gamers are, the gaming community made haste to jump all over this game simply because of its name. (Something along the lines of "ZOMG NINTENDO'S CALLING US GAY!!11" From the same crowd, of course, that thought they were subliminally doing that with the Super Mario Galaxy cover. The online gaming community, by and large, is dominated by insecure teenagers and manchildren. You can't really blame Nintendo for trying to make gaming more appealing to the masses, rather than focusing on this crowd.) Personally, I'm looking forward to this adventure game from Skip, the dev team formerly of Love de Lic (Chulip, Moon, Lack of Love) best known for the excellent Chibi-Robo Gamecube and DS games (As well as the party game L.O.L. on the DS). The game itself seems to play very similarly to the Gamecube Chibi-Robo and Chulip on the PS2 (Both of which I highly recommend), telling the story of an unpopular children's television hero - the titular Captain Rainbow - and his adventures on an island full of cast-off D-list Nintendo characters with problems that need taking care of. With characters ranging from Birdo to Crazy Tracy (Or possibly Ness's sister Tracy from EarthBound, hard to say yet) from Link's Awakening to Little Mac from Punch-Out, the game simply looks like an extremely humorous adventure with lots of great classic Nintendo fanservice for those of us who grew up with their games.

Oneechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers - A surprise announcement from D3 just prior to E3 revealed that they would be bringing their cult cheesecake zombie franchise to the west on the Wii (And seemingly other installments to other platforms in the future as well.) in early 2009 as the series' official western debut. The series stars the bikini and cowboy hat-clad Aya and schoolgirl uniform-clad Saki, two katana-wielding young women who take it upon themselves to slay hordes of zombies whenever they rise up to threaten Japan. (As they seem to one way or another in each installment.) The series' appeal lies in the B-movie cheesiness of its premise between the zombie hordes and scantily clad women and its arcade style addictive hack and slash gameplay. Rumor has it that we may be seeing exclusive content in the western release as well.

Mega Man 9 - Recently announced by Capcom as a WiiWare exclusive to much fanfare, Mega Man 9 promises to bring us back to the series we grew up with and loved, bringing a full-on new NES installment to the series on WiiWare - a love letter to the Wii and fans who grew up with the original games. Inafune himself openly decried the so-called "necessity" of high definition in visuals with the game, and promised it would surpass Mega Man 2, the widely-regarded best game in the series. Confirmed for a September release, this is one to keep an eye on.

Dead Rising: Chop Til You Drop - A major megaton announcement from Capcom came in Dead Rising not losing its Xbox 360 exclusivity to the PS3 as expected (When it frankly would've made little to no profit on the platform anyway.) but to the Wii with Dead Rising: Chop Til You Drop. Effectively a remake of the first 360 game in an overclocked Resident Evil 4 engine, Capcom promises up to - if not over - 100 zombies on screen at once (Not quite the sea of zombies in the 360 original due to hardware limitations, but nonetheless an overwhelming horde at all times.), more and new types of enemies in addition to more enemies in general, and the same vast Dawn of the Dead style mall environment in which to combat the zombie hordes with whatever you can get your hands on. (The gun controls should be vastly improved as well, considering their brilliance in Resident Evil 4 Wii, while Dead Rising's on the 360 were very awkward and clunky at best.) the visuals are also on par with the 360 original's - as they hadn't pushed the 360's hardware much to begin with anyway - making it one of the best looking Wii games to date. With more content overall, Dead Rising: Chop Til You Drop serves, with Mega Man 9, as a shift in Capcom's third party treatment of the Wii to taking the platform far more seriously, giving fans the sort of core-market-oriented games they've been dying for.

The Conduit - Another of the most highly anticipated Wii games to date, High Voltage is developing a Wii FPS that promises to be the Wii's first truly killer release in the genre, and a strong response to the PS3's mediocre but hugely hyped Resistance games and the Xbox line's vastly-overrated Halo series. Admittedly, I'm not a big FPS fan myself, so I'm not going nuts over the game, but it's regardless a major and long-overdue third party game in a genre the Wii's needed more of (Especially compared to the other two, overrun with awkward FPSes using traditional controllers as they are, considering that the Wii controls allow you to do much more with the genre than traditional controllers can.), and given High Voltage's extremely strong Wii track record so far, The Conduit's a game to absolutely keep an eye on. It looks gorgeous, and the gameplay certainly looks fun and promises to answer to Wii-owning FPS fans' long-untended needs.

Tales of Symphonia 2: Dawn of a New World - Namco has confirmed the long-awaited sequel to Tales of Symphonia on the Gamecube for a Wii release this fall. Though this JRPG (With the series' much-beloved action-oriented battle system) has drawn some advance criticism - a) the original game's cast only return as guest characters who can't be leveled or have their equipment changed, b) there's only two new playable human characters and your other two party slots are filled by trained monsters you collect, c) the overworld is a point and click map instead of a full globe to walk around on, and d) Nintendo isn't handling the localization, and as such, the original voice cast isn't reprising their roles. All valid complaints, but none of them make it a bad game, certainly - just a different experience befitting the new world that came of the original game's ending. As a fan of the series who thoroughly enjoyed the first Symphonia installment in the Tales series, I'm certainly looking forward to Symphonia 2. And with the series director having confirmed that the next main series Tales game (Of an epic scale comparable to the first two games in the series, Phantasia and Destiny.) to be a Wii exclusive, the Wii's seemingly become the series' main home. (Defying Xbox 360 expectations with Tales of Vesperia hitting that. Though ultimately, JRPGs don't sell particularly well on that platform - or the PS3, for that matter - and given that Vesperia isn't beyond what the Wii can do on technical levels, a port of that to the Wii down the line wouldn't be a surprise.)

Spore - In addition to its hotly anticipated PC release, Will Wright's first new franchise since The Sims, Spore, is coming to the Wii and DS as well. And in general, it looks similarly addictive and engrossing, the game's visuals nothing beyond what the Wii hardware can pull off - likewise with its online focus. (There's much to be confident in, given Electronic Arts' more-than-competent handling of online play on the Wii so far with Medal of Honor Heroes 2 last year.)

Arc Rise Fantasia - While not actually shown at E3, Marvelous unveiled Arc Rise Fantasia recently in Japan as another major exclusive JRPG coming to the Wii - and no doubt coming westward in 2009 - with character designs by the artist responsible for those of Eureka 7. From the Famitsu scans posted online so far, it looks intriguing.

Little King's Story - Another Marvelous/Xseed showing, Little King's Story another of my personally most-anticipated Wii games. In this adventure/RPG/real-time-strategy/life sim game, you play as the young sickly boy Corobo Bread, who comes across a magic crown that makes him king of the area. Setting out as king and supported by a variety of literary-inspired characters (Including heavy influences from The Little Prince and Don Quixote.), you build up an eventual globe-spanning kingdom as Corobo, with each of your kingdom's residents having names, jobs they attend to daily, their own needs, routines to follow, and development. The game crosses numerous genres and has a very strong development staff behind it - including members of the Harvest Moon team. An absolutely fresh game to look forward to in Winter 2008.

Rune Factory Frontier - Yet another Marvelous/Xseed game due out in early 2009. A follow-up to Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon on the DS, their action RPG spinoff of the popular cult Harvest Moon farming sim series. With gorgeous, inspired environments, a good cast of characters, and much exploring to be done - farming and adventuring to be had alongside the usual pursuit of a spouse. Marvelous's offerings in the west through their new partnership with Xseed are quickly making them one of the Wii's strongest third party supporters. And given Rune Factory's use of Nintendo WiFi for a few online features on the DS, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a few online features in the Wii installment as well.

Sim Animals - EA only showed this non-gameplay trailer of their essential Wii/DS answer to the Xbox 360's Viva Pinata games, an effective Sims style game focused entirely around animals in the wild. From the short trailer and details revealed so far, however, it looks to be an exciting and worthwhile title. EA has certainly been picking up the pace on the Wii and DS - certainly something nice to see, given their often questionable history in the past.

Fragile: Farewell Ruins of the Moon - Another JRPG not shown at E3, but given Namco's track record, its western release is undoubtedly a sure thing. Set in a post-apocalyptic Earth setting, as young Seto, you explore a vast, barren, atmospheric world. Looking easily as gorgeous as an Xbox 360 game in terms of character designs and models, with breathtaking environments and impressively mood-setting music, it's one of my most anticipated Wii games to date.

Spyborgs - Bionic Games' oft-misunderstood Wii debut. Gamers expected them to unveil something violent and M-rated. But with numerous seasoned former Insomniac employees involved with th company and the game, we're seeing a very intriguing and comical adventure game coming from Capcom here, taking inspiration from cartoons and games like Psychonauts. That said, Spyborgs looks like a lot of lighthearted fun. The market can always sorely use more games driven by a sense of humor.

Fatal Frame IV - The latest installment in Tecmo's notoriously terrifying survival horror series about ghost photography and combat was directed by Suda 51 of Grasshopper Manufacture (Killer7, No More Heroes, The Silver Case, and Flower, Sun, and Rain) fame, and is now being co-published by Nintendo. (And as such, the game has gotten some Nintendo fanservice content in the form of costumes exclusive to the game.) I just hit at the end of July in Japan, and will likely hit in the west sometime in 2009, since all the other games in the cult series have crossed the pond so far. Given the series' track record of quality and Suda 51's brilliance as a director, Fatal Frame IV could very much be a survival horror game not to be missed. And with Nintendo co-publishing, there's a good chance that it won't be near-impossible to find a copy of this entry in the series, unlike the others.

Castlevania Judgement - Widely slammed so far for being a fighting game instead of a new 3D Castlevania adventure game (In the vein of the PS2 installments, which were fairly mixed experiences overall) or a new 2D WiiWare installment (As fans have been begging Koji Igarashi for, and he's since hinted at may happen depending on how well Mega Man 9 does.), I'm waiting on further details before I pass judgment myself. The Wii crowd loves to jump to conclusions - especially when a game falls off the beaten path - particularly skewed to the negative. This interesting fusion of the Castlevania series cast with Power Stone series style action certainly has my attention, though.

Wario Land Shake It! - Nintendo's biggest core-market-oriented showing of E3 was the rather gutsy return of Wario to full gorgeous 2D in his upcoming platforming adventure this fall controlled similarly to Super Paper Mario. It looks to capture well the magic of the portable installments in the Wario series with some of the most impressive 2D visuals in a console game to date.

Wii Music - Not exactly a competitive game like Guitar Hero or Rock Band, Wii Music's gotten some rather mixed reactions so far. (Including a lot of angry "core" gamers throwing fits over its simply being a fun, relaxing pick-up-and-play music game.) Conceptually though, it's well executed and certainly looks like a lot of good, simple fun, so it should be worth picking up. Admittedly, I'll probably wait for it to hit bargain bin prices though, myself, with my priorities lying elsewhere.

Call of Duty 5: World at War - Like The Conduit, another likely killer FPS on the Wii. This time around, the Wii seems to be getting a rather equal release compared to the 360/PS3 version, with quality online play, simply trading visuals quite on the others' level (Though it's still technically quite nice looking on the Wii.) for far superior controls. Between this and The Conduit, Wii-owning FPS fans have a good bit to be happy about.

Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party - Those lovable screaming Rabbids are bad for a third party gaming run on the Wii this well as well. More goodness for fans of the series.

Animal Crossing: City Folk - People are, predictably, already complaining that the graphics don't push the hardware. (Though as a franchise, Animal Crossing has never been about putting technical prowess in the graphics. It's all about the social interactions and relaxing atmosphere.) As far as I'm concerned, it's easily Nintendo's game of the show.

Major Minor's Majestic March - The PaRappa the Rapper series creator and director's first music game beyond that series, having had to leave PaRappa behind in Nanaonsha no longer developing for Sony platforms. Rather than playing as a two-dimensional rapping puppy with plenty of unintentionally hilarious lyrics, this time around, you play as some sort of cat-like animal leading others in a marching band through various environments in this unique rhythm/music game. Impressions by Rawmeat Cowboy of GoNintendo were that it was disappointingly repetitive at E3, but hopefully it'll be improved a great deal before release. Either way, as a PaRappa fan, I'll be picking up the game when it gets cheaper down the line.

Wii Sports Resort - Wii Sports Resort is planned to be packed in with the Wii MotionPlus Wii Remote expansion to allow 1:1 motion controls. And from what they've shown of it so far, it should be more of the same kind of fun we got out of the original Wii Sports game packed in with the console itself.

SPRay - This Mario and Zelda-inspired Wii adventure from Tecmo looks promising. The character designs remind me a bit of the Dragon Quest series.

Lost in Blue - The first Wii installment in the cult DS island survival sim series, Lost in Blue, is definitely very visually underwhelming. But gameplay-wise, it looks to make up for that well with the same sort of addicting day to day survival activities that made the DS games so addictive.

Mad World - Yet another of the many strong core-market-oriented third party games coming to the Wii that Nintendo fans online love not focusing on in lieu of simply complaining about everything Nintendo does in regards to the core market these days, sadly. Published by Sega and developed by Platinum Games (Formerly Clover, the developer behind Okami and the Viewtiful Joe games), Mad World looks to potentially outdo No More Heroes in terms of sheer graphic violence - continuing the Wii's trend of being the platform with by far the most violent games of this generation. But like No More Heroes, it also retains a strong sense of playful, twisted humor rather than taking itself seriously. As unappealing as a black and white action game about slaughtering with a chainsaw might sound conceptually at first, Platinum Games is doing a great job in putting together an immensely fun-looking product.

Sonic Unleashed - The Wii version of the multiplatform-release Sonic Unleashed looks like a great deal of fun too, as Sonic and The Secret Rings was. I'm looking forward to the return of the A-life system with Chao-raising as well.

Sonic and The Black Knight - Actually recently unveiled after E3, Sonic and The Black Knight is a Wii-exclusive follow-up to the Arabian Nights-based Sonic and The Secret Rings, this time focused on Arthurian legend, with a great deal of RPG-esque content (Not unlike Secret Rings), which should lend the game a great deal of depth and make it a very complementary release to the upcoming Sonic Chronicles on the DS. Sega's been doing an excellent job with Sonic the Hedgehog games on Nintendo platforms as of late.

Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility - This game marks the Wii debut of the Harvest Moon series (As new installments go, at least, the very original game on the SNES having hit the Virtual Console a few months back.), and it looks absolutely gorgeous and atmospheric - like a fuller realization of the A Wonderful Life games on the Gamecube (And the PS2 port of the first one), which looked beautiful, but sorely lacked in substance. (If you pick up any one last console Harvest Moon from this past generation, make it Magical Melody on the Gamecube.)


Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia - The much-loved 2D Castlevania action-adventure series continues on the DS with Order of Ecclesia being its latest installment, starring Shanoa, the series' first lone female protagonist fighting Dracula in a very long time. The series has a top notch track record with this directorial approach from Koji Igarashi, having taken the series in this RPG-influenced direction started with Symphony of the Night over a decade ago. Order of Ecclesia'll be one not to be missed.

Viva Pinata: Pocket Paradise - Rare brings their well-regarded post-Nintendo life sim series, Viva Pinata, to Nintendo audiences at last on the DS this fall with Viva Pinata: Pocket Paradise, an effective portable remake of the original Xbox 360 game with several new pinatas brought in from the forthcoming 360 sequel, which also looks to be quality. As a life sim fan, I'm looking forward to this one quite a bit.

AWAY Shuffle Dungeon - One of E3's DS surprises, a DS dugeoncrawler developed by Mistwalker and picked up for western release by Majesco Entertainment, which has continued to carve out an interesting niche for itself on Nintendo platforms as of late.

ASH: Archaic Sealed Heat - One of the largest and most gorgeous DS games yet. It wasn't actually shown at E3, but it has been confirmed for a North American release at some point, with an ESRB rating of E10+ already announced. At this point, it's just a matter of waiting for Nintendo to nail down a date for this highly-anticipated hardware-pushing Mistwalker DS strategy RPG.

Tales of Hearts - Also not shown at E3, and only just recently announced in Japan. I can't say I love the more "realistic" Final Fantasy style approach to the cutscene FMVs, but the core game very much looks like the Tales series gamers have come to know and love. Namco has yet to release any of the Tales DS games in the west - outright stating that Tales of the Tempest and Tales of Innocence wouldn't be seeing the light of day here, but perhaps Hearts will have a shot at breaking that trend.

Elebits: The Adventures of Kai and Zero - In an odd turn, rather than following the original directly in terms of gameplay and style, Konami's opted to make the sequel to Shingo Mukaitoge's Elebits on the Wii an adventure game on the DS. There's not much information on it available yet, but as a fan of the original, it's certainly intriguing.

Chrono Trigger DS - Yes, we're never going to see Chrono Trigger on the Virtual Console, sadly. And personally, as they're no doubt going to retranslate the game, Ted Woolsey's original translation will be sorely missed. (As his was in Final Fantasy VI Advance.) But I am looking forward to being able to play Chrono Trigger on the go on my DS, with new content being added. (Which is suspected of being the Singing Mountain area of the game that was never included in the original SNES release, though designed.) As one of the best RPGs of the 16-bit era, anyone into the genre who hasn't played it owes it to themselves to pick this version up when it inevitably comes west.

Flower, Sun, and Rain - Suda 51's masterful Groundhog Day style hitman PS2 adventure is finally coming west (With a North American release also confirmed at E3) on the DS. A game to jump on for any fan of Killer7 and No More Heroes. Stylized as hell, as you'd expect, with a brilliant narrative, and it represents the first PS2-to-DS port we've seen. (Which largely works out because the actual visuals themselves don't take too much hardware horsepower. And by DS standards, the environments are impressively vast and immersive, in full 3D.)

Populous DS - Having grown up addicted to the PC and SNES versions of the original Populous, I was ecstatic to learn they're bringing the DS Populous - which returns to the series' roots after sequels had strayed from them - westward.

Moon - A new DS FPS by Renegade Kid, the dev responsible for Dementium: The Ward. It looks like an extremely atmospheric experience.

Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood - Bioware makes their Nintendo platform debut in working with Sega on Sonic Chronicles, Sonic the Hedgehog's first full-on venture into the RPG genre, due out this fall. Given Bioware's strong track record as a western RPG developer, I have high hopes for this one.

Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness - Due out later this month, Island of Happiness looks to be the first Harvest Moon DS installment worth picking up beyond the Rune Factory spinoff. The setting and society building aspects on the island bring a great deal of additional depth and variety to this wonderful cult series.

Kirby Super Star Ultra - And lastly, the reason we're not getting Kirby Super Star on the Virtual Console either. Unfortunate, but in the least, this new DS version looks even better with its new content. Another Kirby classic.

I'm pretty sure that just about covers everything I felt was worth noting. I might have missed one or two things here or there, largely because I took way too long to get around to writing this, but hey, despite the delay, maybe this'll come in handy to somebody someday. Watch this blog for more upcoming posts on a variety of subjects! (Astounding!) It'll be coming out of hibernation soon as I move towards finishing Project 27 Days.