It’s Always Something

I just don't get it. Why is it that when there is a big launch week coming up, something has to happen to my systems? Remember how I went through "The Big One" last year right before the launch of key titles such as GTA: Vice City and Metroid Prime? And now it has happened once again.

This week, namely August 26th, is a key day on my gaming schedule. Not only will I have an extended weekend due to the Labor Day holiday, but we are in the midst of several critical launches: Aside from the obvious Soul Calibur 2 (which I have reserved for my XBox, a surprise since I never pre-order because it never arrives the day it is supposed to), but on the GameCube side we finally have an original title I'm looking forward to in F-Zero GX, and the PC will be launching Tron 2.0, which based on demos I tested at home and at the nVidia party during E3 looked stunning (even on my Radeon-powered Athlon).

Add two critical DVD launches in LOTR: Two Towers and Animal House: Double Secret Probation Edition and I'm set for a nice long weekend. Also getting my PlayStation2 import-ready so I can go an a long-term Bemani binger, consisting of both DDR MAX and DDR Konami, as well as finally getting my hands on an imported copy of Para Para Paradise.

PPP I have been meaning to play for a long time, because sad to say, when it came to the US, it was released mostly for California arcades. The closest arcade with PPP for me is in Chesapeake, VA, which is almost five hours away. That's too much of a drive for me, so going import was the only way. Lucky enough to find an imported copy for $80, including the unique PPP controller (consisting of five floor-based IR sensors used to track hand movements unlike DDR's floor pad), all I needed was to get the PS2 import-ready.

I knew a mod chip would cost too much (almost $120). I checked online for other options. There I came across an idea called the Slide Card, allowing me to trip the lock on my PS2's drive door, and using a CD called Swap Magic, I can boot any PS2 DVD I wanted, domestic, import, or backup. The only problem was, the Swap Magic discs I ordered online kept resetting my PS2 back to the Browser screen.

As a result, I decided to go back to some old friends of mine, the game gods at Starland who fixed all my systems during "The Big One." They told me they also did the Slide Card method and checked the Swap DVD I had. The disc ended up having defects (go figure since I got it online), but I told them to check over the PS2 for any problems.

When I got home, I knew that I couldn't work on my Madden league for a while, so I glanced over at my DVD case.

I should have known there that I was heading for trouble when I pulled out one of the review titles I had left to collect dust during my Madden and NCAA sabbatical. I tried it out a little bit when I first had it sent to me a month ago, but the constant in-game load freezes and small bugs turned me away. But with being pressured to do reviews, I thought that being without my PS2 would be the best time for me to get a review done.

Dealing with the same load game freezes that I had before, I decided to keep going. But it only got worse from there. When moving from one room to another, the game froze up with a black screen, so I just hit the reset button and started over. And then when I made a mistake that lead to an FMV scene, I tried to hit the reset button again. That's when the crap hit the fan"


I hit the power button several times on my XBox, and every time I did, I had no power whatsoever. I even tried different plugs, and inserting them into other outlets, and still did not have a sign of any power whatsoever. I could not understand why it is that a game can cause so much trouble.

The next day, I received my latest issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly (the one with SOCOM 2 on the cover) and it did a feature on buggy games. In it there was mention about how puzzling it is for a publisher's Quality Control department to allow titles to be released despite having some nasty bugs in order to make it to a specific shipping date. Now I know that I complain every time Blizzard delays one of their products, but now I see that it is for the best. Have you ever seen a Blizzard game corrupt your PC, let alone prevent it from turning on? No way. Other companies take note, please!

The only good news was that I got an email from Starland telling me that my PS2 was fixed, as the servos needed to be adjusted, so I figured when I went to pick up the PS2 I will have to drop off my XBox as well. I told them about the whole power failure story. In the meantime they did help me get my PS2 import ready, even providing me THEIR copy of Swap Magic which actually works, so in the meantime I can work on Madden, DDR, and PPP, with F-Zero and Tron 2.0 coming out as well.

In the end I'm going to be out at least $75 for Xbox repairs, which is going to hurt me, and my preparations for Soul Calibur II are put on temporary hold (yes I know I can get it for the PS2 or GameCube, but I want to play in HDTV. But thus be the perils I face in reviewing games. Trust me, it's not all enjoyment.

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