Hi. I'm Mike. This isn't updated often.

Month: March 2009 (page 1 of 2)

Does The PS2 $99 Price Point Affect You?

As of April 1st (being tomorrow), the PlayStation 2 will officially (and finally) hit that magical $99 retail price. As someone who owns two PS2s already (US & Japanese; my PS3 is the 40 GB with no backwards-compatibility), I initially thought this would not affect me in the least.

But then I got thinking.

At $99, that is an easy impulse-buy for the basement at the new place. We have been thinking and talking about where all of the systems are going to be arranged, and my current thought has been that the two PS2s will be hooked up to the big new TV in the living room via component. There are enough “current” games that I still want to get to (never mind ones I still want to catch up on) that it makes sense for me to keep the PS2s available for use in a comfortable way.

How about Dance Dance Revolution, though? I think the living room might not be the best place for the lovely Red Octane Ignition 2.0 pads (too much shaking around), but the basement sure works. I can easily see myself grabbing a new $99 slim PS2 to plop down into the basement on an old TV and stereo system. Suddenly DDR is always hooked up again, a mere flight of steps away, and is the first baby step toward maybe throwing an elliptical of our own and maybe some weights down there… yeah… that’s the ticket…

How about you all, though? Does the new $99 price point affect you in any way? Will you finally be graduating to last generation, picking up an extra one, replacing a broken one…? With over 140 million units sold, it sure is tough to imagine a gamer without a PS2, but I suppose it is possible.

Strange Image Comparison

This is something that could only come from my mind.

So I was browsing through my RSS feeds today and came across this article via Engadget talking about nanotubes, blood flow, power generation, and something about iPods. It was accompanied by the following image…


… which to me clearly translated into:



PSP Post of Peril (Total Hardware Failure)

You may have heard a little bit about this on the podcast, but now that the entire situation has been resolved and I have all necessary images (and video!) to go along with the story, it is time to share my experience. First up, however, you will need a little bit of back-history with my hardware failures over the years, if only to place the PSP in context.

The first thing to go was my SNES. It was a very gradual death, and was specific to only certain games at first (leading me to believe it was the games and not the system); for example, Super Mario All-Stars would play perfectly fine, but entire blocks of terrain would be missing in Super Mario World, creating impossible jumps and therefore halting any further progress in the game. DragonBall Z: Super Butôden 3 had character sprites that would show up normally at the very beginning of a fight, but then get stuck in their standing animation and slowly begin to hover up and off-screen. Trust me, I know… it almost sounds like a possessed system. I eventually realized it was the system, and a lovely new SNES from the wife a couple years later resolved all of those issues.

Around the same time, my own Nintendo 64 died for no particular reason. It would not power up, so there was no possible testing I could do. The wife stole hers from the parents’ place, and so that situation was easily resolved.

Followers of this site will remember well my experiences with my Xbox 360 and the non-RROD errors with the video/GPU/something frying itself alive (Parts: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 & 5), which I ultimately had to pay $99 out-of-pocket to have replaced.

Needless to say, I have not had the best luck in the world with hardware failures, but I certainly never expected my PSP to spontaneously brick itself beyond the point of even being able to hack it back to life.

The last time I remember using my PSP was on the plane ride back from our honeymoon in November 2008. It was not until the next month that I would try using the system again. Castlevania Chronicles had just come out as a downloadable PS1 game on PSN, and while I was busy converting over wedding footage to work on a video, I figured it would be fun to download the game to my PSP and play for a bit during batch conversions. Since it had been a month, the system did not turn on, and I assumed that the battery simply needed to be charged. I left the system plugged in overnight, and returned to it the next day to once again try to get it all hooked up to the PS3. Strangely, it still would not fully turn on.

Shortly before I sent the PSP back (more details to come on that), I took the following video detailing exactly what would happen when I tried to use the system. It did not matter if I had the battery in or not; it did not matter if the battery was fully charged or not; it did not matter if I was using the power adapter or not; it did not matter if the WLAN switch was on or not; it did not matter if a UMD was in or not; it did not matter if a memory stick was in or not.

I contacted my buddy Corey, who I knew had modded his own PSP. I was well aware that various hacks and mods could bring a PSP “back to life” if it had been bricked, and since I had not even attempted to mod my PSP, I figured it may be an easy fix. Corey mailed me his Pandora Battery, and I picked up a 4 GB memory stick. For those who do not know me, I suppose I should say that I was genuinely not interested in pirating games. If I was going to have to format a memory stick to do the mod, I might as well get a large-capacity one and be able to fit some of those PSN downloads on it. I know, I know… it sounds like a standard, lame, typical justification… but it is the truth.

I sat down on AIM with Corey later on and went through the process of formatting the memory stick, trying to get to the debug menu… trying to do anything. No matter what process we went through, the PSP still did the exact same thing as before. Over the next couple days, Corey would pop up with a new idea or twist on the process to try, but it made no difference. We ultimately concluded that the system did indeed spontaneously “brick” itself, but not in the traditional sense of “bricking”… it was a genuine hardware failure that even modding was not able to undo. I took very good care of the system, and even in my international travels it never really left my side or otherwise took any abuse.

By this time we are into January 2009. I had purchased my system back in March 2008 (to go along with the release of Crisis Core). While Sony offered a standard one-year warranty on new hardware purchases, I no longer had my original receipt… which Sony required in order to be covered under the warranty. Seriously? Who still has an original store receipt, never mind one that is still legible with the crappy paper and ink they use in those printers, up to a full year later…?

I opened up a ticket with Sony customer support on 03 January 2009. I explained my scenario and how I would like my system repaired and it should be covered under the one-year warranty:

I have a PSP 2000 series system which I purchased in March 2008. For absolutely zero apparent reason, it has “bricked”. I have no custom firmware, and have played a grand total of four games, downloaded two demos, and have tried Remote Play with my PS3. With or without the battery (and connected to power), the green light turns on for a couple seconds, the screen tries to light up, but nothing happens and it turns itself off. It is a completely legit system and setup, and yet as far as I can tell, I would need to provide a physical, itemized store receipt in order to obtain my appropriate warranty coverage. Being that this was nine months ago, that is impossible. Please provide information on how Sony will be either fixing or replacing my system under its warranty/coverage. Thank you.

I received the following response back (pasted below, typos and all):

Hello Michael ,

Thank you for writing us. Unfortunaetly with out the proof of purchase you are out of warranty. And there will be a fee of $89.

Ugh. Back to the drawing board for me. My next step was to stop down at Target (where I purchased the system), to see if they would be able to print out a receipt copy for me. While it was close to a year ago, I knew the exact date and price point for the system (along with other items purchased at the same time, namely Crisis Core and Patapon). I knew what their answer would be, but I was still upset to hear that I would have to get a copy from my credit card company. That meant another round of communication and waiting around, all while approaching that one-year cut-off.

I opened up a ticket with my credit card company, and shortly there-after received a letter in the (snail) mail saying it had been sent over to the appropriate investigative department and I would receive a follow-up within a couple weeks. While I once again sighed in frustration at the amount of time the process was getting delayed, I figured it would be worth it to go along with it and see what they would come back to me with. Honestly, waiting around and maybe getting a free replacement was better than being rash and paying $89 out-of-pocket.

I received another letter from my credit card company stamped 10 February 2009 with an attached “Sales Audit Copy”. This document showcased the exact date of the purchase, location, item name, and price. Fantastic! With documentation in hand, I attempted to open up a new repair ticket with Sony on 18 February 2009 (forgetting for a week that I needed to take care of it). I once again hit a brick wall when I tried to enter in my home address and the website would not take a single variation I tried (with the apartment, without, with the building number, without, abbreviating things differently, etc.). I noticed that their customer service phone line was still open for another hour, so I called them up and explained the situation. While the lady was very nice and I understand why she had to do so, I had to go through a process of testing the system with her (plug it in, take out the battery, etc.). Needless to say, I did not do a single thing she asked, and just replied, “It’s doing the same thing…” about three seconds after she asked me to perform another task. After a couple minutes of this pointless (but understanding) banter, she let me know that it sounded like what I said it was (no kidding…?!), and that if I had that “Sales Audit Copy”, they would send me out a box to ship the system back in and I would be covered under the original warranty.


Here is what I received for a box in the mail. The plastic wrap perfectly covered up the box with one address label (TO me) fully covering the one on the box itself (FROM me):


After going through a send-back/repair process with the 360, I was pretty familiar with what I found inside the PSP box:


The system fit very snug in between the flat layers of foam and the surrounding buffer. The one-page print-out gave rather simple instructions on how to package the system inside (and not to include any games, UMDs, memory sticks, batteries, etc.). All I had to do was toss it in and bring it to a UPS store!

Of course, since I was in no real rush to play anything, it took me yet another week to remember to stick it in the mail to Sony. Heh. Cutting it close, Mike…!

On 16 March 2009, I received an e-mail from Sony letting me know that they had sent back a “PSP – DAXTER PACK” to me, and gave me a tracking number to follow along with the shipment. Two days later, and all the way from Texas, my shiny replacement PSP had arrived. The box was exactly the same size as the original one they had sent me, and clearly labeled that it was a PSP-2000 (which is what I had sent them):


The contents of this box were slightly more interesting than that original box, though:


I fully expected to just see a PSP sitting in there, so I was surprised to see a nice little soft slipcase for the system.


In addition to the slipcase, there was also a white strap and a cleaning cloth. I really had no use for those other two, but I was still pretty happy about the slipcase. I had purchased a hard plastic container to keep the system in for traveling and general protection, but this soft cover was pretty nice. The PSP itself was somewhat of a hoot:


Yep, that’s a PSP in a zip-lock bag, just hanging out. There was a new screen protector over top the system, but the bag was just a riot to me for some reason. After taking the system out to examine it, I could tell it was a complete replacement rather than just a repair. I had a slight knick on the center/right of my screen which was not on this system, so that right there pretty much sealed it. It seemed like a brand-new system, with the only hint otherwise being the giant sticker across the back:


So there you have it. I would say it was an exciting process, but considering how many times I forgot to send something out, I think that speaks volumes about how much I truly cared. Please do not misunderstand; the PSP is a fantastic little system with a gorgeous screen and plenty of perfectly fine games to play on it, and I really wanted to get it back so I could continue toying around with the PS3 connectivity (and one day do a “New Game +” on Crisis Core).

Had this happened to my DS, though? I would have been at the store five minutes later buying a replacement.

Adults Can’t Play “Animal Crossing”…!

One of the biggest stories going around the blogs today is a bit of fantastic “journalism” by ABC 17 News with the following specific quote by investigator Andy Anderson (as taken from Game Politics) really striking a nerve:

“There is no reason an adult should have [Animal Crossing: City Folk],” says Andy Anderson, Mid-Missouri Internet Crimes Task Force.

Wow. The wife and I were utterly enthralled by the “first” (yes, I am aware of the Japanese Nintendo 64 version) game on the Gamecube… at least until I beat her in paying off my mortgage, and we realized there was no end-game beyond that. I then found myself completely absorbed into my Wild World on the DS trying to catch all of the fish, pay off yet another mortgage, keep my neighbors from leaving town, etc.

I have not had a chance to get into it with some City Folk, especially since nearly all reviews state that for its third (fourth) iteration, Nintendo has not brought anything new to the table. That does not mean, however, that I suddenly feel that adults have no reason to be playing these games, and should somehow come under suspicion of perverted wrong-doing for doing so.

Yes, the point of these stories is to frighten the begeezus out of parents. Yes, mainstream media almost always gets it wrong. Yes, Animal Crossing is a cutesy game. Yes, you should be worried if someone misses a real-life mortgage payment because they are busy fending off Tom Crook Nook.

But seriously? They’re a pedophile if they play Animal Crossing…?

Anderson says adults playing “animal crossing” and similar games are likely doing it for the wrong reasons.

Those parents who Nintendo originally marketed the game to so they could trade messages with their children in the off-hours while one’s at school and the other is home or at work? Bad, bad, bad people.

Sound off, everyone.

(Also, yes, I’m changing around the look of the blog. It is nowhere near finished, but it is a start. Additionally also as well too, more Street Fighter writings to come as promised.)

People Hear What They Want To Hear

I came across the following video on YouTube the other day while going through the referrals for website traffic on Daizenshuu EX. The description is basically nothing more than a link to my site, and the title certainly caught my attention (“TRUE DRAGONBALL FANS WOULD GO SEE DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION”), so I figured I was in for a doozy.

While I don’t think MadThad0890 quite explained what he was trying to say all that well, I think he’s fighting the good fight in one respect, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the live-action movie.

Enough with this “not a true fan” nonsense.

While I have zero interest in FUNimation’s English dub of the series, I do not see this upcoming live-action movie as becoming a huge part of my extended fandom, and (insert a whole bunch of other things here), like MadThad says, that doesn’t make me or anyone else “less” of a fan. We’re all on equal ground. We’re all a bunch of people on the internet getting together and talking about a series that, quite frankly, next to zero of us have had or ever will have any stake in its production or even its further success. We gain nothing from it even existing, beyond perhaps our own continued friendships and camaraderie.

I may have been running my site for well over a decade (including the podcast portion for over three years), but that does not make me any “better” or “more” of a fan than FUNimation’s self-described nine-year-old born every day that pops in an edited, dubbed-only DVD to watch Broli smash up some folks. It certainly makes me a different kind of fan, and I don’t see myself being able to hold a sustained conversation with said nine-year-old, but I’d argue that his (or her!) excitement in watching a crappy action scene in one of my least-favorite animated DBZ movies genuinely rivals my own excitement when, say, a new $200 music boxset is announced.

You’re probably wondering what the title of this post has to do with anything, though. That’s a great question, so let me explain.

I think MadThad is trying to justify his own position by using us as “evidence” without actually understanding our “position” (if we even have one), and is basically reading and hearing what he wants to read and hear.

They don’t support the movie at all. At all.

Now that’s just not true. Especially when you listen to my review of the “Junior Novel” and Julian’s review of the movie on Episode #0168 of the podcast, you will hear that while we think of it as an entirely separate entity… and quite an absurdly ludicrous one, at that… I wouldn’t really call that not “supporting” the movie “at all”. As I’ve mentioned time and time again, I would love for there to be a live-action DB movie that is done fantastically, respects the source material, takes its own necessary liberties, introduces the franchise to a whole new audience, etc. Unfortunately, it sounds like Evolution is not going to be that movie, so while I support it in theory, now that I think about it, maybe MadThad actually is correct in saying we don’t support this movie.

But if I recommend going to see it just for the sake of seeing how much of a spectacular disaster it is, is that considered “supporting” it? It sounds like it’s nowhere near the level of The Legend of Chun-Li in its terrible-just-terrible state, with Evolution being more along the lines of having fun with how terrible it is.

You know what? Just like in the first podcast episode of WTF EX when Jeff and I couldn’t come to a conclusion after an hour-long discussion, I think the process of writing out this blog entry has thoroughly confused me… and I’m the subject of debate, here!

Long story short, as I’ve noted over on our message board, I think what the DB web community has always needed, continues to need, and will always need… is exactly what shônen is all about: we need friendship and understanding in an open forum. I’ve been around long enough to see every single name in the book thrown around, every half-thought-out argument tossed in as evidence or proof, and thousands of fans come and go. If we’re going to make it another 25 years, we’ve gotta stop telling each other who’s the bigger fan…

… because if you’re the one saying that, there’s a good chance you won’t be sticking around with us. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

More Activision Insanity

At the risk of beating a dead horse, I just wanted to post up another bit of absolute insanity regarding Activision and their asinine decisions with the Guitar Hero games and DLC.

According to this preview of Guitar Hero: Metallica by Destructoid, the game does not support any DLC, including the Death Magnetic album that was offered pre-World Tour. You know… the Metallica album DLC. That you would assume could be played in… oh, I dunno…  their own game featuring Metallica. Nope, instead you get a mere three of the album’s songs included in the new game on-disc.

For DLC that was actually for Guitar Hero III and forwards-compatible with World Tour, this is perhaps the most ridiculous decision yet I have seen out of them.

Thoughts On Donations?

This is a subject I am heavily conflicted on.

Ever since the dawn of Daizenshuu EX (and VegettoEX’s Home Page and Ultimate DBZ Links Page before them), I have done anything and everything in my power to keep things as “real” and “transparent” as I can with the site. I have never asked the community for anything, and do not expect anything in return for running the site. There have been plenty of generous “donations” over the years (for example, our buddy godofchaos has been hosting the podcast for us free of charge, and we’ll be porting over the forum to his server in the near future; many years ago our old buddy Scott, or SREDBZ, used to host our website for us). We’ve even had prize donations for website contests. These have always been unsolicited, mean the world to us, and make the community a better place.

I’ve had people ask about monetary donations in the past, but I’ve always struck them down. This is for fans, BY fans, gosh darn it! Things are a little different now. I’m not a 16-year-old punk kid starting a links page. The wife and I are lucky to be two educated adults with full-time, well-paying jobs, but there’s no denying what the current economic situation is.

Time to be a little realistic. Especially with our first home purchase entering the picture, one can’t help but wonder what a couple extra bucks would mean.

There are new guide books coming out. There are new CDs coming out. Shipping from Japan ain’t cheap. Equipment could use replacing and upgrading. Thinking about trying some new conventions.

Despite never having done so in the past, I’m seriously considering putting up a PayPal “Donate Now!” button over on Daizenshuu EX. Part of me feels… ya’ know, so what? Tons of other websites, blogs, and podcasts do this (including some of my favorites). I even paid for a premium version of a podcast for a while before it unfortunately passed on, and I didn’t think twice about supporting it. I tossed a couple bucks over to the CO-OP guys right after they got laid off from 1UP.

The other part of me freezes up and feels like a total sell-out. It goes against everything I’ve tried to do in the past. I feel like we are in such a (comparatively speaking) great, financially-secure place… what right do I have to ask anyone for anything, even indirectly like this? What reason do they even have to take me seriously?

So I guess that’s what my question is. What reason(s) do you have for even taking such a request seriously? If you saw that button pop up, how would you feel? How do you think the rest of the fanbase and community, the ones who don’t take the time to respond but are just as important, would feel? What would you like to see done with any donation you may or may not make, regardless of how little or grand it may or may not be?

I’m definitely waiting to hear your responses. It’s not as important or dire as I think I’ve made it out to be, but your thoughts and responses are genuinely welcome. I’m going to cross-post this on the Daizenshuu EX forum (there’s obviously a larger reader base there right now), but please feel free to leave blog comments. If you would rather privately send your thoughts, go ahead and just send them on over to

Thanks so much, everyone!

“Daizenshuu EX” In The Media

OK, so “media” is somewhat laughable when you consider the source this is coming out of, but let’s be honest… seeing your site mentioned in print, no matter what that print form may be, is a pretty awesome thing.

We are cleaning out a few things in the apartment as we get ready to eventually move into the new house, and I have been pulling together all of the various magazines I have sitting around. I came across this:


Back in March 2001, an issue of Beckett DragonBall Collector had a two-page column called “DBZ Online”. It was mostly a feature about FUNimation’s official DBZ website, but the very end of the column had a little box for other (fan-created) websites that fans could visit. Lookie, here! What’s that second site listed…?!


Again, it’s laughable when you consider the source and the companion link (“Da Black Gohan”? Really? This is where you want to send people?)… but you can’t help but smile to see your stuff given some attention somewhere.

These Beckett magazines were always of dubious quality, even though a couple halfway-authoritative people signed on to do some translation and writing work. For example, in this particular issue, Greg Werner (of The Ultimate DBZ Info Site) wrote articles about DragonBall GT (two years before it would be mentioned by FUNimation in the US) and a follow-up translation of the timelines featured in the daizenshuu and Perfect File books.

Long story short, it was great to find the magazine again and get a decent scan up online so I won’t lose it. I wonder if the people on Wikipedia working on the DBZ articles will now consider Daizenshuu EX a credible source since it’s been listed/featured as an authoritative reference in a media source. *insert snarky smirk here*

They Just Don’t Get It (Let Me Play My Music!)

IGN has put up an interview with Paul Gadbois, producer at Beedox, the company responsible for developing Guitar Hero Greatest Hits in conjunction with Activision. This “new” game is not really a “new” game; think of it as a compilation disc of songs from previous games. That sounds like a fantastic idea in theory, especially since they note that songs that were previously featured as cover versions will now be updated to their master tracks, and all of the songs will be playable as the full band (vocals, guitar, bass, drums). There were a lot of songs in the first two games that I would love to see come back in playable form in the updated game engine, so you can imagine my disappointment as I kept reading.

IGN: Will downloadable tracks purchased for Guitar Hero World Tour work with this disc? What about GHTunes songs?

Paul Gadbois: Guitar Hero Greatest Hits (working title on PS3/PS2) will support the entire library of downloadable user-created songs from GHTunes and players can once again create and publish their own songs from the Music Studio. Currently, downloadable songs for Guitar Hero World Tour will work with that title only.

And it only continues to get worse:

IGN: Will there be any way to purchase this disc and import the songs into Guitar Hero World Tour (or vice versa) to have all of the tracks accessible at once?

Paul Gadbois: The 48 songs in this game will all be instantly playable and are designed to be playable off the disc only.

Excuse me? It is clearly using the exact same game engine and infrastructure from World Tour if it will be fully interoperable with the “GHTunes” library and service, so why on Earth will downloadable content for that exact same game engine not be accessible in this new game…?! I gave the jump from II to III a free pass when the previous game’s DLC would not work with the newer game, since a new company was picking up the reigns and developing from scratch. I was slightly miffed that World Tour would not import (even as guitar-only) the DLC from III, but I got on with my life.

This, however, is just another concrete showcase of how Activision views you as a consumer, and how lost of a cause they are for progress.

Here comes the inevitable Rock Band comparison you were waiting for (ignoring the Wii version of the first game, and all PS2 versions due to technical limitations):

  1. DLC purchased during the time of the first Rock Band is fully usable in Rock Band 2 the same way as it was in the first game.
  2. All DLC, regardless of when it is purchased, works in both Rock Band and Rock Band 2.
  3. The (near) entirety of the first Rock Band can be exported to your console’s hard drive for play in Rock Band 2, without the need to switch discs.
  4. While AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack is a retail, disc-only game with its own gameplay, the music can be installed to your console’s hard drive and then used within the traditional Rock Band games.
  5. The upcoming Beatles game has just been given the name The Beatles: Rock Band, hinting at some type of interoperability with Rock Band games, and essentially confirms interoperability with instruments.

Sure, World Tour finally opened up interoperability with Rock Band instruments (and would even adapt the drum note-path from 6 to 5 notes when used with the Rock Band set), but that’s about the extent of the consideration I can speak to. There’s a reason why World Tour rarely gets popped into my 360. There are several reasons, actually, and I think you can infer anything I have not already touched up.

This lack of DLC interoperability is the modern example of what many of us were doing several years ago with Dance Dance Revolution simulators like DWI and Stepmania. Despite owning every single American PS1 & PS2 DDR game and a plethora of the Japanese releases, I found myself hooking up the pads to the computer to illegally play copies of songs that I otherwise would have to switch back and forth between two consoles and dozens of games to play. Want to do “Boom Boom Dollar” followed by “Cowboy“? Sorry! It would not surprise me one bit if some of the Harmonix folks went through this same process, because once you have all of your music at your fingertips (also see: having an iPod versus a portable CD player), you never want to go back, and it’s unfathomable to even consider going back to such an antiquated method.

At the end of the day, however, it all comes back to revenue for the game developers. Rock Band 2 did not quite hit sales expectations, while the Guitar Hero brand continues to perform incredibly well (especially on the Wii). Does this mean all that nonsense about interoperability, consumer consideration, games as a platform, etc. means absolutely nothing? Are they just the incoherent internet whines of a select few?


So I saw via John Davison’s Twitter feed that What They Play was giving away beta keys for Ether Saga Online, a free-to-play MMO based on Journey to the West. If you know anything about me, the latter-most part of that description would be enough to get me to sign up.

I downloaded and installed the game this evening. This was the first time I’ve ever laid eyes on any MMO for longer than two seconds, and the first time I’ve ever actually personally played one, myself.


WTF is all this…?! How can anyone make sense of this kind of screen? I’m so lost.

Back to quarter-circle-punch for me.

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