Double Agent
What it is - September 29, 2000 - Chris Jones

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this column are those of the participants and the moderator, and do not necessarily reflect those of the GIA. There is coarse language and potentially offensive material afoot. I really like this Car Talk radio show. Don't say we didn't warn you.

Time once more for me to start ranting about something of absolutely no interest except to myself - that's right, it's time for another installment of What Chris Is Listening To!

In this episode, we'll be examining Mark Knopfler's new album, "Sailing to Philadelphia". Knopfler, as some of you may know, was the lead guitarist and singer for the late 70's/early 80's rock band Dire Straits, but since then he's stuck more to scoring obscure movies and putting out the occasional solo rock/country/bluegrass record. StP is no exception, full of moody character study songs that are interesting on an intellectual level, if not a musical one. Let me repeat that for emphasis - there's nothing here that would interest 99.999% of this columns' readers, based on the musical tastes I've seen thus far. It's simply not that good.

Still, there are two or three standout tracks that are interesting to me - the opening song, "What it is" makes great music for long distance driving (a frequently underappreciated genre, I've found) as does "Speedway at Nazareth", an odd little rock song about a NASCAR driver with faint gospel undertones. And then there's the title track, "Sailing to Philadelphia", about Jeremiah Dixon and Charles Mason's journey to chart their famous line in the 18th century. I'm a little curious if this song was inspired by Thomas Pynchon's recent novel "Mason & Dixon", which dealt with the same subject. In fact, that curiosity was what prompted me to come up with Pynchon from out of nowhere yesterday.

So to recap, strange little CD, but with a few listenable bits that served to fill up this introduction, if nothing else.


Next up, Pokemon advertised on ER
Hey Chris!

I know I'm an entire day late, but here're (oooh! what awful grammar!) my comments on this whole videogames-are-marketed-to-kids debate.

First up, the first point on everyone's agenda is the media in which they're advertised. Called by name are shows like The Simpsons (like you said), Xena, Buffy the vampire slayer, Friends like EGM, PSM, GamePro. But hellooooo! These are the shows and mags that are most popular to people between 18 and 25 as well! What, you can't show off your new game during the most popular shows, not to mention videogame magazines themselves, just because some part of the audience is underage? I mean, I don't know about the USA, but over here in Holland these shows are time for the government to show safe sex ads, for instance, because they know their target audience is watching! Sheeeeesh... stupid misguided Americans (kidding! Don't send Sam the Eagle after me, please...)...

My other points have already been said by other people (parents' job parenting, firearms true evil, ratings should be enforced), so I'll shut up now... I'm sleepy...

Sir Farren, smashing his keyboard with his closing eyelids.

I can relate to this - while the GIA does not have any kind of demographic research on its readers, I suspect I'm very much in the same group as the abovementioned magazines and programs. I write this column with older gamers in mind - college students who have been playing for years, not to mention the occasional adult who might have a spouse, kids, a job and a mortgage, and yet still enjoys the occasional Square game. If high schoolers can get into it too, more power to them, but should I not even talk about Fear Effect because a few of my readers might be 12 year olds? Hell no, sez I, and if developers want to market their games in the most direct way possible - that is, by advertising on the shows that game players actually watch - then I say more power to them.

I must be a marketing plant from Sega
My God! Why are you so Pro-DreamCast? I mean I'm not anti DreamCast or anything (it has quite a few games coming out that will be filling my time around christmas), but it is quite clear to me that unless, a)Sony does something appallingly drastically wrong, and b)Nintendo does something appallingly drastically wrong AND c)Sega does something stupendously amazing, that the DreamCast's last year will be 2001. You simply have no one interested in buying a Dreamcast anymore and it is questionable if Sega can survive on the installed base that it has. I think that part of this is the worst case scenario mentality with the PlayStation2 and the DreamCast. The worse thing that can happen with the PS2 is that you spend $300 on a cool updated playstation and a DVD player. The worse thing that can happen with the DreamCast is that you spend $200 on a web browser. Not very equal. It's like in the stock market, because everyone expects Sega to crap out they will.

Daniel Kaszor

Slight quibble - the Dreamcast will almost certainly get some kind of sales boost from the lack of PS2s this holiday season. Will that be enough to "save" the system? I don't know, but it can't hurt.

But the fact is, I'm not making any kind of long term statements about the survival of the Dreamcast. I'm not challenging the sacred conventional wisdom that Sega will be squashed like the main character in Frogger, lo those many years ago, and I'm not denying that Sony as a whole has done spectacular things with the PS2. But from a personal standpoint, I'm very happy with the Dreamcast, and believe I'll be even happier in the months to come. If they never produced another DC game after Dec. 31, I'd still think I'd gotten more than $200 worth of enjoyment out of my little square box. In contrast, I personally look at the PS2, at the games it has out in Japan already and the upcoming lineup, and I realize that I have absolutely no interest in the PS2 as it currently stands. If you want to get a PS2, more power to you, but surely I'm entitled to my opinion in the meantime, eh?

I'm sure Uematsu-san is relieved
It didn't suck as much as you guys said it did.

Given, none of the pieces really sound like the originals. (And I will admit that their rendition of Liberi Fatali is utter crap). But just because there was a definite midi-like sound to it doesn't mean it's bad. Sure some of the tracks are flat. But for whatever reason... I like the cd. A lot. It has its own quirky neatness.

So I suggest that people don't get too scared off by the negative review; if you're looking for powerful arrangements and true-to-the-game music, look elsewhere. If you just want a quirky interesting cd, this is it.


Ok. I'll keep that in mind... but I still think I'm gonna give this one a miss, thanks all the same.

I'm the first non-Brazillian to travel backward in time!

You honestly think the Simpsons is a kids show? Just because it's animated doesn't make it a kids show. Some of the jokes in there would fly right over a child's head. Hell, some of them fly right over my head and I'm 19 and very well read, I might add.


p.s. Mad props to you for calling *ugh* Threads of Fate, Dewprism. Dewprism is a MUCH better title.

I love The Simpsons. I think it's the greatest comedy in the history of humanity, and even though these past few seasons have fallen a bit in quality, I still watch it religiously. It is a smart show - any given 8 minutes has more brains than every live action sitcom ever combined. But it is a kid's show - look at the demographic reports on how many 9 year olds watch this thing (and remember, it's been on the air for longer than they've been alive) and tell me it's not. Heck, I started watching it when I was in 7th grade myself. However, the fact that it's a kid's show doesn't also mean that it's not also for adults, everybody from bus drivers to triple PhDs. It just means that if you advertise something on The Simpsons, you will hit nearly every target demographic you can imagine, including kids.

Do I know FF better than Sakaguchi?
" I'm glad you bought the Final Fantasy thing up, because I've personally never bought into this theory that even FFs are story oriented and odd FFs are system oriented. It's pretty bloody obvious that FFs are designed around putting three games on a system - the first a more standard FF as developers adjust to the system, the second an experimental FF, as the programmers branch out, and the third a showpiece as the programmers show off their mastery of the system. Take a look at FF 4 and 7, 5 and 8, and 6 and 9, and tell me it's not true. Even what we know of FF X and XI seems to back this up, although FF 11 may be a bit more of a change than we're used to."

What one perceives and what is official is completely different. The above, which you wrote, is what you assume from the evidence you've seen. What is official, as spoken by Hironobu Sakaguchi, is that even FF games are story oriented and odd FF games are system oriented. The exception is FF7 which Sakaguchi said was supposed to be equal in both story and system (whether or not he succeeded is up to debate of course). FF8 and FF9 both continued this even/odd tradition. Since FF11 is an online game and FF10 looks like FF8 on drugs, it seems obvious those two games will continue the tradition as well. Considering Sakaguchi directed and produced the Final Fantasy games, one would take his word over yours.

Your "1. standard 2. experimental 3. showpiece" formula applies to a lot of video game series. Super Mario Bros, Castlevania, etc. It's just traditional software engineering at work.

Granted not all of these game series were able to see 3 games on each platform. These were mostly relegated to the NES system.

Right, except I'd still argue that design goal or not, the even/odd system has not panned out in hardly any of the recent FFs. As you say, FF7 was supposed to be a balance, and since I see about equal parts praise for the plot and bitching about the Materia system, I'm inclined to believe it. FF8, on the other hand, was at least as system oriented as it was plot oriented, if not much more so. Admittedly much of the system work involved getting rid of some system mainstays (armor, traditional experience and cash systems, MP) but still, it was a very experimental game in the system sense. I haven't played FF9 yet, but what I've read has suggested that getting back to the storytelling roots of the series was the driving force behind the game, not experimenting with new battle techniques. I'll take actual evidence over stated intentions every time.

And besides, Castlevania aside, most of the NES incarnations of series like SMB, Mega Man, and Ninja Gaiden did not follow the standard/experimental/showpiece pattern, especially when you look at the actual SMB2 rather than what the US got.

Cash and carry
I totally agree with you on the PS2. For a long time I didn't care at all because the release date was too far off, then for about a week I really wanted one and tried to find somewhere to reserve it but no one would, and then I just stopped caring. I know I'll get one eventually but I'm just not excited about it at all. The fact that the next FF is on it just annoys me more, that I'll have to buy a new system within a couple weeks of its release date to enjoy it. I really miss the days before year-in-advance pre-orders. I got my SNES the first day it was released. Walked into EB to look around, they had a stack of them on the shelves, and I went home with a new system. Now I think the last time I bought anything there was my copy of Zelda that my $5 deposit wasn't enough to give me one on the first day. <sigh>


The good news is, even if you do buy a PS2 for FF, the price will have gone down some and you won't be shelling out $300 for a fancy DVD player. In a way it's like my experience with the original PSX - I didn't get one until the day I picked up FF7, and don't particularly regret it since all the games I've wanted to play have been released after that date.

And impulse purchases rock, no question. There's nothing like walking into a store, realizing something incredibly cool is on their shelves and dropping a load of cash to possess it ASAP. I only wish I had more disposable income so I could indulge in the practice more often.

Market me, baby!
I was definately marketed to, and with good reason. The whole reason I bought Nighmare Creatures 2 was how violent it is. It is REALLY violent for those who have not played it. They are trying to reach people like me, and apparently succeeding. I like violence. Fake violence. I think most people do. Is that wrong? No. Can we change that? No. So why not market to the minors who buy it? Just because I laugh when I behead a zombie and proceed to whack at the corpse repeatedly doesn't mean I'm going to do that in real life. Market to me, I want it. The idea behind marketing is to get your product in front of those who will purchase it, namely me.

Just to try to sound relevant, I'll tell you a little something about Joe Camel. One, he was SO blatently targeting minors that he deserved to be destoyed. Why? Because thats encouraging kids to do something that harms themselves and is illegal. What does watching a head explode in a game do? It makes me chuckle, but thats about all. Am I hurting myself by laughing at this? No, maybe desensetizing myself, but I really don't think that's nearly as harmful as, oh I don't know, lung cancer? Is it illegal to watch violence on TV? Duh.

In conclusion, Violence in games tageting me = Good. Cigarettes targeting me = Bad.


Right... except who's to say that you wouldn't find a zombie decapitations amusing if you hadn't been marketed to your whole life? Riddle me that, Batman.

I know this because Pikachu knows this
The first rule of Poke-fight club is: You do not talk about Poke-fight club.

The second rule of Poke-fight club is: You do NOT talk about Poke-fight club.

The third rule of Poke-fight club is: only two pokemon to a fight.

The fourth rule of Poke-fight club is: One fight at a time (that mean's you, Pikachu).

The fifth rule of Poke-fight club is: If your opponent goes limp, taps out, yells "Pika pi!" or "Squirtle squirt!", the fight is over, and you must return to your poke balls.

The sixth rule of Poke-fight club is: No shoes, shirts, or Official Pokemon League baseball caps.

And the seventh and final rule of Poke-fight club is: If this is your first time as a Pokemon master, you gotta catch 'em all.


"James had bitch tits."

In the interests of beating a perfectly ok one-line joke into the ground, I have to admit I was thinking of something a little different - Ash as the bored yuppie trainer who was dissatisfied with his complete pre-pakaged collection of Ikea Pokemon, and Pikachu as the skuzzy Tyler Durden charater. Misty could be Marla, and Brock could be... I dunno, the blonde guy or something. I like your take on things, but I better stop obsessing on it lest I end up writing some comically inept fanfic on the idea.

Perpetuating the horror
Despite what IGN Xbox claims, Konami hasn't confirmed it as such. Various other sites have made the same claim as IGN Xbox, while others have claimed it's officially confirmed as an MGS1 port. Given the obviously contradictory claims floating around (and the fact that IGN Xbox is less than unbiased to say the very least), the only logical conclusion is that everybody is full of crap & Konami hasn't confirmed anything about MGS X other than that there will be a game with that title. So kindly do not perpetuate IGN Xbox's delusions.


Setting aside completely who said what, let's think about this rationally for a second. On the one hand, we have MGS2 in development, which is a completely 3D title built for a next gen system. And as numerous high quality ports have already shown, it's not terribly difficult to port a 3D game from one system to another, provided the hardware's powerful enough to take an emulation hit. Both the X-Box and PS2 certainly are.

On the other hand, we have Kojima, who's so protective of his games that he refused to have a Snatcher PSX translation made unless he was part of the team, which he couldn't be because of time constraints. Now, I can't see a straight X-Box port of MGS 1 selling unless it had significant extras, and I can't see Kojima taking time out to help remake a game when he's designing the sequel. So what are the chances that MGSX is anything other than a port of MGS2? I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

Well, at least they're not shooting you in the streets...
Hi Chris,

A lot of people are complaining and bitching about the fact that to buy M-rated games, you need to be at least 18. And the US government deciding that violent games are marketed to people who aren't supposed to play them.

To these people all I want to know is why you're complaining. It's nothing compared to the Malysian government considering banning ALL video arcades because they promote "social ills" (their favourite reason for doing anything).

TC (Rinoa's one and only)

This is kind of an odd take on things, from my perspective. It's like saying, "well, they're only beating you up and taking your money, it's not like they're stealing your girlfriend and shooting you in the face." Certainly it's a relief that I'm not being shot and that the arcades are still open, but that's not an excuse for the government to even start thinking about censorship.

*Deep, mechanical breathing*
So, I take it we might opt for Bill's XBox over the PS2, huh?

<takes a moment of silence to reflect on DA turning to the darkside>

I don't get the bitching and whining about the PS2.

Something akin to what's happening for the US launch happened in Japan, so anyone in their right mind should have figured seven months or so ago that the only way to get the PS2 at launch was to pre-pay for the whole thing well in advance (ownership is always the best claim one can make)... I ordered mine in April from EB, and have received their confirmation this week that it will be on my doorstep on October 26 (yeah, like I'd get on a line like the rest of the peons)...

If that doesn't turn out to be the case, I've already made sure that American Express will side with me on this one...because if I have to sit there and wait for the FedEx guy only to be sorely disappointed, and waste half a day in the endeavor, someone besides me WILL have their day ruined...heh...

Princess Jemmy

Jeez, Jemmy, you're so melodramatic. "The darkside," hah. The way you talk, you'd think this nifty mechanical hand I just got was a symbol of evil or something...

Case in point, I don't remember that there were such drastic cuts in the number of units shipped in Japan during the launch over there - far from it, Sony shipped a record number of consoles opening day, and yet we're being provided with half as many boxes for a much larger and far more spread out population. It is true that anyone who was serious about getting one opening day should have preordered in March or April, I can't argue that. But when you consider that people who preordered over the summer were being told they might not get one until March 2001, and that that was before the ship estimate fell from 1 million to 500,000 units, I personally stop wondering if the system is overhyped and start taking it as gospel truth.

And besides, if the system is really cool right out of the box, I'll just swallow my principles and whine and plead to go over to a friend's house and play it there. I'm not proud.

Closing Comments:

It's the weekend, which means freedom for me and letters for AK. I'll return Monday, so flee whilst you still can. Later folks.

-Chris Jones, "Come on Jemmy, just let me play one round of Tekken! Please?"

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