Ultima: 1, 3-8, Underworld 2
Favorite of series: Serpent Isle
Favorite characters: Shamino, Dupre, Petra, Arcadion

Many moons ago, my ex-Mate came rushing in from our next-door-neighbor's apartment blithering about Shenmue. "You can interact with EVERYTHING! It's SO KEWL!!!!111one!"

To which I responded by dragging him over to the Designated Old Ultima Box and showing him how to bake bread in U7.

Have played bits of U9, now that I have a computer that can handle it. Not horribly impressed, had barely left Earth when I gave up on it.

And I still refer to Scintillus Academy in UW2 as "!Hogwarts."

The Sims: all expansions except House Party
Favorite expansion: Makin' Magic
Favorite way to kill unwanted Sims: Small doorless shed + fireworks
Favorite family: Star Ocean neighborhood, Bowman and Nineh

There is no such thing as a quick game of The Sims. You will sit down and say you're going to play for a few minutes, and then you will look up and see that several presidents have entered and left office while you have played. And if playing the game itself doesn't get you, making shit for it will. Exhibit A: Choo-Choo Bear.

Sims 2: just the base.
Favorite expansion: Have none yet, want Nightlife badly.
Favorite way to kill unwanted Sims: Fireplace + old newspapers for tinder
Favorite family: Silent Hill neighborhood, Room 302

Someday I will use the Sims 2 movie capture feature to make the UFO ending for Silent Hill 4. Someday.


Final Fantasy: 1-8, 10, X-2, Mystic Quest
Favorite of series: 7 and 10
Favorite characters: Cid7, Vincent, Tidus, Auron, Celes, Paine

No, I have not played FF9. No, I don't want to play FF9. Don't offer. I just don't give a shit about it.

No, I'm not going to play FFXI. Fuck online games.

X-2 was dumb and silly and God, I loved it. I like that it didn't take itself too seriously. Also, I love Paine.

I believe FF8 was a good game. I do not believe it was a good Final Fantasy.

And yes, I played Mystic Quest. I was poor and it was cheap....... oh, hell, I liked it. I admit it. I LIKED MYSTIC QUEST. It was short and stupid and mindless and the plot was lame and the localization sucked AND I LOVED IT. God help me.

Xeno: Xenogears, Xenosaga, Xenosaga 2
Favorite characters: KOS-MOS, chaos, Citan, Elly, Jin

I seem to remember that some many moons ago, Namco swore up and down that Xenosaga-era Shion Uzuki was in no way related to Xenogears-era Citan Uzuki. To which I say, my white ass. If Shion's special attacks don't convince you, look at fuckin' Jin.

Xenosaga 2 filled me with squee. From Jin being a badass to Albedo being alternately young and cute and grown-up and scary to Emeralda's Fucking Gear showing up as a random enemy encounter in the final dungeon to the ENDING OH GOD THE ENDING. It had a lot of dumb in it, yes, but damn the good bits made up for it. Yes, even beating up a cathedral. Yes, even chaos possibly being Jesus.

And... AGWS? EWS? Huh what? Fuck you, Namco, they're GEARS.

Suikoden: 1-4
Favorite of series: 3
Favorite characters: Jesus, too many to list.

Love series. Love having FIFTY BAZILLION CHARACTERS. Love side shit. Love finding Unite attacks. Love ducks. Love Geddoe. Love Queen. Love Aldo and Ted so very much. Love love love.

I haven't quite finished Sui4 yet. I have to say it's... not the best of the series. I hate pre-Viki sea travel. I hate post-Viki sea travel to places I haven't been yet. I hate not having access to a fully-revealed chart so I can find the fiddly little islands where all the particularly ph4t l3wt is. I hate the almost total lack of character development. I hate the four-person parties. I hate naval battles.

However: I love the minigames. Particularly the one you get by growing three mints or mushrooms in a row. Best minigame ever. EVER. I love the top game, despite a bad first impression. I love Ritapon. I love net fishing. I love the bath, particularly being able to a) see your characters in it again (mmm naked Aldo okay well shirtless Aldo uh excuse me) and b) being able to decorate it again, although I do miss the bath toys from 3. Still, hooray for Peeing Boys--I mean, Angel Statues. I love meeting characters and realizing that they may well be ancestors of other Suipeople we know and love. I love the confession room OH GOD THE CONFESSION ROOM. I love playing dressup with Snowe mmm pirate garb. I love finally seeing who the fuck Scholteheim Reinbach III was OH GOD VIKTOR IF YOU ONLY KNEW. I love the unite attacks, especially the little scenes when you get them and post-battle after they've leveled up a bit. I love Ted, and I love Aldo having a massive crush on him. Not the best in the series, no, but it'll do.

.hack: The whole damn series
Favorite of series: Quarantine
Favorite characters: Gardenia, Wiseman, Balmung, Helba

Okay. This game doesn't have much plot in each episode. The endings leave much to be desired. The English voice acting ranges from "okay" to "YAAAAAARGH!!!" Mistral...enough said. FUCKING SHORT.

However, I cannot put it down. The games may be short, but there's a lot of secret shit to uncover (i.e. new music and wallpaper for your in-game Altimit desktop, movies, FIFTY BAZILLION DUNGEONS--literally, there's an almost unlimited amount of Fields and dungeons to crawl. Oh, and Balmung. Who I suspect is played by a girl. And Wiseman, who I spent three games crushing on before the game revealed that he's, like, ten. Uh, where was I...oh. DVD packed with each game. Big badass optional bosses after the end of the game. Game does not end after you finish it; you can keep right on playing. .hack//SIGN flashbacks. .hack//SIGN characters in your party in Quarantine. And .hack//GIFT alone is worth the price of the entire series. It's great. It has hot springs, Balmung being a weepy whiny tool, Silver Knight being a fawning Subaru groupie, Subaru beating the shit out of Silver Knight two or three times, Mia molesting Elk, BlackRose and Mimiru being bitchy at one another, Helba's boobs, BT being a snotty bitch, Piros being......well, Piros, and Aura declaring that everyone involved is something that's bleeped out. On top of that, the art looks like .hack meets South Park meets Ren and Stimpy.

Also, the bonus dungeon in Quarantine, once I finally cleared it, made me weep like a girl. Yes, I had to use the Gameshark to finish it; it's fuckin' impossible without the 0% infection code. And honestly, I see no shame in using a cheating device with a .hack game. I mean, you spend most of the series trying to hack into protected areas and generally screw with the system; why not take it all the way? Who's to say Kite/Helba/Lios/Aura/Whoever couldn't write a damn patch for the bracelet and render Data Drain harmless to you?

Silent Hill: 1-4
Favorite of series: 2
Favorite Protagonist: Henry
Favorite Boss Critter: Pyramid Head
Favorite Regular Critter: The leg mannequins from 2
Favorite weapon: The beam saber from 3, and the chainsaw from 2.

I'm a big horror game fan. Why I never got Silent Hill when it first came out, I don't know, because it's my absolute favorite kind of horror. I wish I'd gotten into it sooner, because until I found Fatal Frame, it was the scariest damn series ever. And although Fatal Frame is scarier, it's scary in an entirely different way from Silent Hill. In fact, Silent Hill is scary in a way very, very few games have ever been.

The Silent Hill games don't have that many jump-shriek-wee-your-pants moments (notable exceptions: the hole in the wall you have to reach into in 2, and no matter how many times I play the game, that always gets me; the dead body falling out of the locker in 1, and the dead body falling from the ceiling while you're watching the one in the rocking chair in the funhouse in 3). What they do have is a constant low-level psychological creepiness that gets under your skin and stays there. Add to that the fact that in all four games, the protagonist is a J. Average Guy (or J. Average Girl in 3) who's probably never so much as touched a gun. And the weapons you do get in a normal playthrough are fair to middling. No grenades, no rocket launchers, no flamethrowers (unless you've played 3 a couple of times), no SDI hypercannon. And it's never been confirmed for certain whether the monsters you fight (which are, in their own right, the creepiest things ever) are real, or whether they're all in your character's head. In 2, the monsters seem tailored to the person they go after--Angela's daddy, anyone? How about Pyramid Head killing Maria... and killing her again, and killing her a few more times? Even the music is scarier. Akira Yamaoka is a genius when it comes to composing scary ambient music.

For me, the difference between Resident Evil, Fatal Frame, and Silent Hill is like the difference between The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Ring, and The Exorcist. All of them are scary, but some of them are better scary, and some of them are deeper scary. As for why I never really got into Resident Evil: well, I didn't care much for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, either.

I used to like SH3 more than SH2. After replaying both within a few weeks of each other, with SH1 in between, I changed my mind. 1 and 3 have The Silent Hill Story going, yes, and that's important, but 2 has the best standalone story, and some seriously deep shit going on that just does not get out of your head. Also, the leg mannequins are the creepiest thing ever. Ever. See, the radio doesn't start squawking until they move. And they don't move until you're right on top of them. More than once, I've been walking James down a dark foggy street... the radio is silent... I turn to the left and AAAAAAH LEG MANNEQUIN IN MY FACE!!!

Then the radio squawks. Gaaaaah.

And look, I don't care what you say, I think Henry fucking rocks. Yes, he does have a personality. Look around the apartment. Look at his pictures and stuff. More than once. Pay attention to what he says about them. And fercryinoutloud, watch the damn cutscenes. Boy's got plenty of personality. He just isn't in your face with it. It, uh, also doesn't hurt that he's hot, but NEVER MIND.

Metal Gear Solid: 2 and 3

I did not actually play MGS1, but I watched it played in its entirety and got hooked. So I got Substance for myself after the ex-Mate left. Love game, but kept waiting for Raiden to bust out with "But I'm not even supposed to be here today!!!" Waah waah waah. God's sake, Jack, shut up and do your damn job. Naked Raiden, I must say, was hilarious. I do have The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2, and having seen Naked Raiden from all angles I can say with certainty that they didn't bother making him anatomically correct. Wonderful game... but what the fuck was up with the ending? I think that was Hideo Kojima throwing up his hands and deciding hell with it, let's fuck with the player's head real good.

And then I got MGS3 and oh God it is so much better. Young Ocelot. Mrowrrrr indeed. I still say The Boss is a Mary Sue (oh god honey NO YOU WERE NOT FIGHTING AT NORMANDY WHILE YOU WERE IN LABOR). I love killing my own food. The ending was everything MGS2's ending wasn't--by which I mean "excellent." After the initial OMGWTFTMI reaction, this game throwing out canon gay most of us probably didn't want to know about made me laugh my ass off. And this time, instead of VR missions, you get SNAKE VS. MONKEY. The intro to that alone is worth the price of the whole game. And of course, you've got the Metal Gear standards. Cardboard box? Check. Crotch-grabbing? Check. Pants-peeing? Check, twice. Hot chicks with guns? Oh yes.

No, I don't have Twin Snakes. I have no Cube, nor do I particularly want one.

Magic Pengel

O...kay. Text localization: High Middle Engrish. Voice acting: "unremarkable" to "YAAAAAAAARGH!" Problem-solving skills required: minimal. Length: A weekend. Genre: Pokemon ilk, based on cute critters beating up other cute critters at your command.

The hook: you draw said cute critters. They start off with nothing but bodies and spikes. As you progress through the game, you can add heads and arms and legs and weapons and more colors and stuff. Ridiculously addictive. Nice music, mostly.

Kingdom Hearts

I admit, I did not think I would like this game nearly as much as I do. I only bought it because it was the only game Wal-Mart had that was anywhere near my "want" list, and I had a gift card.

I will say this only: I have known since I was four years old that Pinocchio turns into a real boy at the end of the story. This knowledge did not keep me from getting teary-eyed when said scene appeared in the closing credits.

I stand by my assertion that Ansem is really Akio from Shoujo Kakumei Utena. Purplish hair, hangs out at a place called The End Of The World, slinks around bare-chested. All he needs is a little red Gummi Ship to lounge on.

Katamari Damacy


May well be the best $20 I have ever spent on a game, EVER.

So if you've been living under a rock for the past year or so, here's what it's all about. You are the teeny tiny green Prince of All Cosmos. Your dad, the very large King of All Cosmos, who wears very tight pants to show off the Package of All Cosmos, went on a bender and got shitfaced and busted up all the stars in the sky. D'oops. So instead of taking responsibility and fixing it himself, he sends you to Earth with a little sticky ball called a katamari. Your job is to roll this thing around and pick stuff up with it. The King of All Cosmos then turns this ball of stuff into a new star. The more stuff you pick up, the bigger and prettier the star is. Also, the more stuff you pick up, the bigger your katamari gets, and when your katamari gets bigger you can pick up BIGGER STUFF. You start out rolling up thumbtacks and matches and shit, and then you move up to fruit and office supplies and then all of a sudden you're picking up punks on motorcycles and elephants and skyscrapers and entire land masses.

I do not have We <3 Katamari yet.


I can safely say that this is the most hilariously fucked-up game ever, and when I say it's fucked up, I mean that in a good way.

The voice acting is spectacular, the localization is almost flawless, the parts that are meant to be serious and sad make me sniffle, and the parts that are meant to be funny make me spit beverages onto my TV. Three words: stealable horse wiener.

Now, I normally hate TRPGs. Hate 'em. I gave up on FFT about halfway through because I hated the battle system. But Disgaea's is actually good, and you don't have to worry about, for example, the badass Geomancer you spent so many hours cultivating turning into a crystal and being picked up by a monster and becoming lost to you forever.

Fatal Frame: 1 and 2
Favorite of series: 2
Favorite ghost, if you can call something that makes you wee your pants and gives you nightmares a "favorite": Blinded from 1, Fallen Woman from 2.

Easily the scariest series ever. See, in the Silent Hill games, your protagonist is an average Joe with a selection of crummy-to-mediocre weapons, up against creepy monsters that may or may not be all in his or her head. In the Fatal Frame games, your protagonist is a small Japanese girl with a CAMERA, up against ooky Japanese ghosts. And Japanese ghosts, as you may be aware, do not play by the same rules as Western ghosts.

The first one is the first game I've had to break down and buy a Gameshark to finish. The second was much easier, with the notable exception of the Kusabi (yaaargh!) and Sae (YAAAARGH!!!) and THAT DAMN CREEPY GIRL AND POSESSED DOLL DUO (YAAAAAAARGH!!!)

These games will take perfectly mundane things and make them scare the shit out of you for weeks afterward. For example, while I played 1 and after I finished, if I happened to see a rope lying on the ground, I gave it a very wide berth in passing. Now, with 2, it's dolls (which can already be kind of creepy to begin with) and pinwheels and butterflies.

Making the Kusabi MAH BITCH at the end of 2 was very satisfying.

Fuckin' Japanese ghosts.

Favorite level (visuals): Area 5
Favorite level (music): Lost Area

In my humble opinion, the greatest shooter ever. Possibly one of the greatest games ever, period. Definitely one of the most original. And I hate shooters. No, really, I hate them. I liked Lifeforce back in the NES days, and I kind of liked Einhander until it pissed me off, but the rest I've tried just haven't done anything for me. Rez is, simply put, bad ass. Although I don't really think the Trancemission is worth the trouble of unlocking.

Tekken: 2-4
Favorite of series: 3
Favorite characters: Kunimitsu, Hwoarang, Christie, Lee/Violet

Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter used to be my fighting games of choice until MK tried to be Tekken and went 3D and lame. And by the time Street Fighter learned to count to 3, I'd lost interest. How many versions of Street FIghter 2 were there!? I think I quit buying the damn things after Turbo.

Tekken has some of the best endings ever. Kuma's ending in 4 made me howl, and Mokujin's in 3 was priceless. Hell, Mokujin in general (and Mrs. Mokujin, with a freakin' flower growing out of her head) was priceless. Tekken 2 also has the distinction of having the best non-girly female fighting game character ever: Kunimitsu. Hell, I didn't even know Kunimitsu was a chick until I played the game in my nice quiet living room where I could hear her.

Which begs the question: why do I like bouncy bouncy Christie so much if I am such a raging Kunimitsu fangirl? Well, uh, because she kicks ass.

Hwoarang I like not only because he is hot, but because he is a tae kwon do dude, and being a tae kwon do dude myself, I have to like him. And, yes, he's hot. Moving on.

I've always liked Lee, the evil (and hot) little shit, but his ending in 4 just clinched it. I won't spoil it for you, but I will say he had it coming.

My only real gripe with the Tekken series deals with 4. Namco, there were many, many, many Tekken characters whose butts I would have liked to see. HEIHACHI WAS NOT ONE OF THEM. DO NOT EVER DO THAT AGAIN.

Mortal Kombat: 1-3
Favorite characters: Sonya, Kitana, Sindel

Oh, Mortal Kombat, what happened to you?

One of the things I loved about the first three games: after the Ermac urban legend sprang up around MK1, Tobias and Boon put him in MK2. After the Animality urban legend sprung up around MK2, Tobias and Boon put them in MK3. They listened to what the fans were saying about the games, and fed them accordingly. There was one they didn't put in as such--someone once fabricated some very elaborate fake screenshots of a "secret character" named Nimbus Terrafaux, complete with fatality move (and this was in the time before Photoshop was readily available to the general public, not to mention pre-Internet, so this was one hell of a feat back then)--but Jax sure did look like him.

And then MK4 came out, and it was greeted, at least in this neck of the woods, with much the same reaction folks had to the MK: Annihilation movie: oh my fucking god what the HELL are you DOING!?

This may well have been the most enjoyable arcade experience ever for me. Nothing quite compares to being a girly girl, wandering up to a Mortal Kombat machine, popping in some quarters, picking a girly girl character, beating the piss out of the manly man character being controlled by the manly man on the other stick, and then, to add insult to injury, HAVING YOUR GIRLY CHARACTER DECAPITATE YOUR MANLY OPPONENT WITH A FAN. It was great, I tell you.

Book, movie, and anime sections forthcoming.


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