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rune factory (NDS) October 20, 2007

Posted by eatnorthamerica in farcical review bullshit, onanistic bullshit, things that are not quite things we know.
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My stomach consumed itself on the third day, right as I was coming up to Toytown.

I collapsed against the gates, and when I opened my eyes, a girl said; “Would you like my hoe?”

She said, “I think you look like a farmer.”

She told me her name was Mist, and that she thought I had it in me to do great things with soil and loam. She told me there was a spare hut I could stay in.

She gave me the hoe.

On the way to the hut she’d so kindly pointed out, I saw a young man toiling on the farm, skin beaded with sweat, breath heaving with exhaustion. He was chopping up a stump with an axe. His face was numb with exertion.

“Hey,” I said. 

“Rune,” he said. “Call me Rune.”

“Rune,” I said. “What do you do?”

“Once a day, I brush my animals,” he said, not quite meeting my eyes. “To each one I go. Hi-de-ho. I run my brush over their hides, their scales, their radiant hair.”

He paused; a flush peeped through his skin. His voice swelled and scurried on. 

“I raise my axe, three times per stump. It’s taken me a while, but I’m just a few bits of wood away from 2000. I don’t care if I have to start going down to the dungeons to get more wood, I can’t wait. I’m so close. I’ll have a bigger house, soon. And then Mist…” 

All he wants to do is chop a lot of wood and make a lot of money so he can finally buy that massive house he’s always wanted; the house that will let him move in the double bed he’s been lusting after for months; the bed that will let him move in the woman he’s been lusting after. For months. He’s been chopping wood for months.

You can’t get a real kitchen unless you’ve got a big house. You can’t get a real bed unless you’ve got a big house. You can’t get that girl who looks at you all special. It don’t matter if her lovemeter is maxed, she’s just another capitalist pig. Better start wood chucking, chuck.

Rune said he was waiting for the stumps to appear in his field again, overnight. With the dew and the strange glowing spheres that let him stay up later than any man I’d ever known. I figured if I wanted some monsters of my own to brush I’d damn well better get back to my own farm. Lord knows I could feel the axe handle in my hands already; Lord knows my palms were imprinted on the grainy wood. Lord knows I’d be chopping wood for the next few months.

“How about you?” he asked, scratching his chin.

I shrugged. “I’m just looking,” I said. “For a place to stay. For a while. Until I find something else.”

Next morning I talked to Mist again, trying to figure out why Rune liked her so goddamn much. 

“Ha ha ha!” she said, her face crinkled up into a smile. “Blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah.” 

I don’t know. To each his own. I wandered around the town, talking to the townsfolk, all of whom were politely repetitive. I met a girl out by the pier; she was hot, in a ninja kind of way. I got the feeling she really liked fish; she said, “I love fish.”

I tilled some land, sowed some seeds, got really tired, went to bed, woke up, got a cave pass from the mayor. I went to the dungeons. I smashed some monsters in the face with my hoe. I went to bed again. I woke up. I went to the farm.

I saw Mist standing in the garden again, and wafted a hello over to her.

“Ha ha ha!” she said, her face crinkled up into a smile. “Blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah.” 

I asked Rune about it, and he just shrugged. He wasn’t one for big talk, either. He just did his thing, and he did it well. Still, he said, it was frustrating that Mist said the same thing every morning when he greeted her. Hey, you can’t rationalise love.

“You try it,” he said. “You try talking to the rest of them. It’s creepy, it’s unsettling. But I love her. I want to marry her, man.” 

I listened to Rune. I talked to the rest of the townspeople. They didn’t say much; they never said much. I got into a routine with them, and we became closer, although we never really spoke. People talk small talk, sometimes minute talk, and this talk was infinitesimal talk.

The ninja-ish girl liked me, because I fished for a fish, and then I gave her a fish.

“I love fish. You are awesome,” she told me.

I gave her another fish.

“I love fish. You are awesome.”

It kind of went on like this for days, and then I stopped seeing her. It just wasn’t working out. I stopped talking to the townspeople, too. I stopped farming. I just went to the dungeons, chopped wood, mined for gems and metal, and bought myself a fridge. I bought a kitchen. I learned how to bake a cake. Life went on.

When I came back to the farm a few months later, Rune’s house was larger. Bigger. Better. I saw the silhouette of a woman through the foggy window.

Rune was standing by the gate, watching me.

“How are things?” I asked, watching him.

He met my gaze. He let his shoulders raise, briefly. He met my gaze, through the mist.

Inside, the woman, barely a girl, moved back and forth, dusting down the sheets, pottering to the stove.

What was there to tell him? He had it, his dream right there in his hands. Tomorrow he’d be brushing his animals, one by one, scraping hearts from their frowning faces. He’d gotten to the stage where they loved him just enough to water almost all his plot, but not quite. He’d said it gave him a little sense of purpose, watching the water stain those last three squares. Knowing that it, as so much else in his world, was ephemeral. That he’d be there again the next day, filling in a blank slate.

I looked at his eyes — void as stars! — and bade him good night. He didn’t reply. We didn’t talk. It was the talk that came after infinitesimal talk; null talk. As I was walking home, I saw him as he’d been; bright eyes sparking as he talked about his dreams and hopes.

It was a week later that I moved out, just a hundred logs short of 2000. Spring was in season, the frigid morning air lapping at my neck as I meandered through the drowsy town, past my droning friends and loves, past Rune’s tidy farm. He stood in the middle of his plot, surrounded by a host of glowing orbs, just standing, staring.

I waved to him, but he didn’t see, and after a moment I began to walk away, down the road and out of Toytown, maybe to go home, knowing I wouldn’t be back.



Rune Factory has rather attractive graphics, but I got bored of it after four days and haven’t picked it up since. It is deeper than the other Harvest Moon games in that I stopped playing those after a cumulative total of four minutes. The townspeople have nothing interesting to say and do not even convey the illusion of having something interesting and possibly humorous to say, unlike, say, the idiot-looking animals in Animal Crossing: Wild World.

The dungeons, new to the Harvest Moon series, are reasonably entertaining and even slightly nethackish in that they respawn every time you go back into them and you feel slightly paranoid about dying. Which is a rare feeling to have in a modern game.

The chopping wood bullshit was probably the biggest factor that led to my giving up, as even with a megapowered axe it was still the most annoying and tedious task you could be expected to do six million times for fun. It is even more annoying than weeding in AC:WW. It’s a chore, but does it have to be so much like actual work?

Smashing monsters in the face with a hoe was moderately enchanting, though. For a time.


pink PSP, it’s October 11, 2007

Posted by eatnorthamerica in things that are not quite things we know.
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fucking hideous!!!

I want a PSP Slim, though (that isn’t one. these are). PSP Lite. Whatever. Not least because numerous cover-switching efforts have resulted in one of my recessed screwheads getting fucked; my analog stick is screwy and I can’t unscrew it to un-screw it. 


look at this bullshit!

At least it was company-sponsored. best: PSP Fat Free.

The loathsome DPAD of the PSP Fat is apparently no longer a total piece of shit. I modded mine by affixing some plastic bits to make the contact easier, but it still blows compared to the Nintendo Xpad.

KOTAKU SAY: “The D-pad itself does get a proper rehaul and finally feels like, well, a D-pad. It’s incredibly responsive and not mushy like the current iteration.

-Also, new PSP is equipped with enhanced feature to temporarily store game data from UMD, reducing load time during game play.”

I’m sold.

Dualshock3 controller looks like an evil mechanised crab.

Here are some pictures which look strangely similar to the pictures that I posted of Toronto when first I moved here. Right down to the spartan nature of my living room, although I think I forgot to post that.

 people getting owned by rain

people getting owned by rain as I watch from my balcony. mirth, people, mirth

spartan is a mindset

 spartan, not cheap

and some pictures that are just random as fuck

funnel cake sim

funnel cake sim


fucking awesome?


on masterchef tomorrow


like I will be, Torontonian institution Sam the Record Man is gone.

Look at that snow. I am leaving before that bullshit happens.

farcical review bullshit: final fantasy VII: crisis core is……… October 8, 2007

Posted by eatnorthamerica in farcical review bullshit, things that are not quite things we know.
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1.5/5 if you don’t already feel involved in the FF7 universe, 3.5 if you do.

Are you and the Final Fantasy VII universe involved? Do you like cutscenes? Really? You’ll probably like this game. Be warned; this is not a happy game.

The looping track on the official website is a wistful mix of yearning strings and pop beat that perfectly encapsulates the overall mood of Crisis Core. Here’s a shocker. Our hero Zack is actually likeable. He does his best to remain upbeat and positive despite all the nastynasty that’s about to happen to him. It’s like a big countdown to a whole lotta angst, except for a change our alter ego isn’t being a whiny bitch.

The game looks great. Kind of Kingdom Hearts-ish, actually. The pacing is mostly good, although the story’s hokey at times and most of the new characters feel rather mashed-in, including an utterly loopy antagonist named Genesis, who has a penchant for reciting lines from his favourite play and throwing apples at people. Still, it drags you along to the next stunning cutscene, to the next plot point, to find out what was going on behind the scenes. Then things get really weird and Zack starts to wish things would just start making sense. Maybe, like me, you’ll become Zack for a while, hoping a positive attitude will make everything all right, knowing deep down you’ll never succeed.

It’s kind of refreshing, unlike the gameplay. 

Maybe you like playing safe, simple games; maybe your idea of the perfect game is one where you just have to hit attack and occasionally heal, or cast a magic spell. Mine isn’t. I like the concept of an action remix of VII.  See, Crisis Core kind of pretends it’s an action game, but maybe you won’t like because it’s not safe enough; maybe you won’t like it because it’s not dangerous enough.

The game doesn’t break free from the mould VII cast; you run around, fight battles, get story. It’s different in the details. They polished the edge off the slick but shapeless mass that’s the ubiquitous combat system. What we get is VII‘s active time battle system playing groupie to Devil May Cry, popping out this hybrid horror on her back in a ditch.

In combat, you cycle through attack, materia and items with L and R. Circle activates the command you pick; press it in standard attack mode and Zack will run forward and hit the nearest opponent. It’s not the most rewarding of moves. Sometimes you’ll dodge, mostly you’ll be hitting circle over and over again, limited by the timing of the slash animation, broken by the automation of the system. That’s your action button right there. No jumping, no combos. No more linking materia together like you could in VII, just tonnes and tonnes of limit breaks.

In previous FF incarnations, we were rewarded with special attacks for powering up our limit break bars, maybe by taking hits, or going into low health mode. Something reasonable, anyway.

The limit break mode in Crisis Core is completely random.

On the top left of the screen, three dials spin constantly. Occasionally they expand, fill the screen, and eventually come to a stop, all on their own. The game rolls up special moves and summons for you; some are cute, a pat on the back for following the FF franchise.

You’ve got cutscenes in your combat.

Crisis Core dismisses your input as a player of games; doesn’t trust you to hit a button or let you pretend you’re calling a bunch of slots. Shouldn’t videogames be an interactive experience? Is this really what people want?

I run through endlessly bland missions, limit breaks interrupting me every quarter-minute. I find a curse ring. It deactivates the slots. Jackpot! Then I remember. The only way to level up is via the limit BS. I consider cursing myself anyway.

I start wall-hugging to avoid the random combat. A box bumps Zack out into dangerous ground, into a chain of irritating random encounters that buffet him around. We end up further back than we were. The dials spin.

Onward ho.

Sometimes the camera rotates 360 degrees, mostly it won’t. It’s like what they must have done to the designers; blinkered their vision. You have to wonder; why risk making these spin-offs different at all, if what they really wanted was to play it safe?

Zack is waiting. I soldier on. 

You can access missions from any save point, short missions that are quite perfect for the portable nature of the PSP. Not a bad idea. Squeenix could have created a variety of mission types that would have been interesting and different and maybe even fun to play through, but no; you’ll be doing the same thing repeatedly — run around, be harassed by random enemies, find treasure, kill the boss.

For over two years, their designers had to have been doing something while their hi-res art team was knocking out slick hyperpoly renders. It’s as though they aspired to be different and got scared halfway. By what? By whom? Who were they trying to please? Ain’t nobody getting offa this train.

VII‘s lovingly pre-rendered Midgar, now there was a city with soul, a Dickensian sprawl of misery and squalor. With a lot of cleverly-lit doors you could investigate if you chose to. Hell, if you wanted you could steal 5 gil from a child’s set of drawers as he slept, and come back later to watch him crying, and damned if it didn’t make you feel a little bit like a prick.

In comparison Core feels kind of dead. Yeah, VII‘s cutscenes look downright shonky in comparison, but VII‘s a richer experience by far. It’s rough around the edges, but the roughness makes it pretty sharp in spots. Ten years down the line, we’re at the opposite situation; we’ve got all this power and we’re not using it right. Time to disembark.

You, you doubt me, you who have yet to run through a bunch of square rooms that look exactly the same. You who have yet to run through these rooms seven million times.

Very inspired level design. And yet: I actually like the game despite all the bullshit you have endure to get through it.

Bursting through blandness, moments of beauty surface; Zack runs past the Junon nuclear sunrise, down the gleaming Shinra Building stairs, through the eerie Nibelheim gloom and it’s nostalgic, a throwforward to times that get only darker. It’s a nod to you who played VII when you see familiar faces, old but young. Still, there’s always this ominous sense of dread, this looming certainty that everything’s going to go up shit creek.

It’s the fascinating thing about this game; there’s no hope, it doesn’t matter what you do, yet Zack’s still trying. He doesn’t know. We’re drawn to tragedy, and stuck in a game like this, Zack’s tale is replete with it. His story is a black hole of misery, and he beckoned to me; fell to his knees and begged keep playing.

So I did.

Square had pretty grand ambitions, tossing up the formula of Final Fantasy VII and trying to shake out something new. It’s hard not to think they should either have played it completely safe, or gone all out. It’s a little sad, thinking about what could have been.

It’s quite possible you’ll like Crisis Core. It’s a cakewalk down memory lane, ends quite tidily, if depressingly, comes full circle and wraps beautifully into the original game. Just as you knew it would. Play it for Zack’s sake, play it for him; like the gameplay, he never had a chance.