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There's a storm in my teacup!

Well, in my dollar store mug.

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Structural integrity - a key asset to your foundations!
From the trip with myau to the ExCeL Centre to see the Game Stars exhibition, I have taken some interesting opinions in. The nicest part of the day was finally meeting her. I didn't pick the best of places to meet her, mind - I assumed the Docklands Light Railway was an above ground railway service - in fact, it is predominantly above ground. You can work out what happened by that almost ironic use of the italic tag. Still, we found each other at an above ground station partway along the route to the ExCeL Centre, and the good times rolled from there.

As for the games... I didn't expect to find so many interesting Xbox games in the pipeline, I'm actually glad I got the console now.

For the Xbox, the highlights were:
Prince of Persia 2 - it was strange how natural the controls felt after attempting the original on a PS2; while exploring sections in the demo it was obvious the game had picked moments you were meant to gawp at - but the trick worked. I really appreciated the crisper graphics and the little touches that the Xbox could do over the PS2.
Pro Evolution Soccer 4 - it felt so much nicer on an Xbox pad than the game ever has on PS2, too - the action felt a little more fluid, although the series still... has this feel of blandness that simulates realism. I'd prefer that over the EA Fifa series with its showboating and truly American style that ensures 0-0 draws are close to impossible, mind.
Outrun 2 - simply the most fun title at the show. I didn't realise how quickly time flew by while I played that. I also caused a reaction from myau when she saw me "complete" the game via most difficult route, and she also had some guy get upset at her due to her having several goes in a row at it. Pfft, as a decent Sega game at the show, us zealots had to rave over it.
Forza Motorsport - it featured some impressive physics and car damage at the moment, a Dodge Viper became a box on wheels after I raced with it. Once the collision detection is incorporated, that could be really very good.

For the Gamecube:
Tales of Symphonia was the only thing to really capture my interest, with an interesting battle structure that looks like it might be fun to experiment with. However, I've a plethora of RPGs to go through so I'll wait until I see that second-hand before nabbing it, I imagine.
Past that, there were nice Nintendo sequels - Metroid Prime 2, Paper Mario 2 and Pikmin 2 all looked interesting enough that I'll care more when they get close to being released, but I'm not overly excited for these titles like I expected myself to be.

On the Gameboy:
The new Zelda title didn't feel fun to play in the slightest, though it could have been the limited area I was stuck to, having to collect rupees and kinstones: the structure of excessive collecting made me feel like I was playing Starfox Adventures, a feeling I don't want to persevere with again.

Nintendo's big song and dance of the day was for Donkey Konga. Just not my type of thing. Looking at the controllers I have I note that excess peripherals that're required (even when offered with the game) seem to put me off a game. Never touched a light gun game past renting Duck Hunt, no fishing games, no Samba de Amigo, no Steel Batallion, no Donkey Konga interest. The closest I got to caring was attempting to get into Seaman, but getting irked with it within a week or so - and I expect that was only because the microphone was easily plugged into the controller.

The PS2 had surprisingly little that was unique to the console that was interesting. I can't think of a single thing that was on display for it that I really cared for.

Lastly, as the least important point about games shows: the lower-key the exhibition, the less women in revealing clothing there are, getting paid to pout and pose to intrigue the predominantly male gamers. As I only saw about five of these women this time, you can imagine how low-key the exhibition was on a global scale.

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Tales of Symphonia has a nice game system. It's apparently the best multi-player RPG of all time (not that the competition is particularly stiff in that area), and, having played it with two other people, I can definitely say it has a fun combat system. The only problem we had was the camera, which catered only to the first player. Thus, the first player always had to be a mage or a healer to keep the camera zoomed out far enough.

There also seems to be a lot of fun customization options -- characters can earn titles (such as "Master Swordsman" or "Genius" or "Turbo Waitress") which, unlike Skies of Arcadia, actually affect their stats. They can also set special passive abilities and advance up different skill trees and such, making for a simple yet interesting character customization system.

Most Final Fantasy games tend to err one way or another, in that either you have an amazingly in-depth customization system with the side effect that characters are more-or-less blank slates with no special traits of their own, or you have well-defined characters with only the most superficial of choices on your end. Symphonia leans towards the latter, but much more successfully than most RPGs I could care to name.

The plot, though, didn't grip me. It was non-linear, which was nice, but it seems like it was mainly a matter of "you can do THIS incredibly long sequence of events before or after THAT incredibly long sequence of events." Speaking of which, at one point, we had to sail to an island to get a statue to trade for a book to get the location of a tower to talk to a deity to access a unicorn to get a component for a healing spell. Not since Breath of Fire have a seen a task so oft-sidetracked.

Anyway, the plot -- you know those anime shows you'll watch if you come across them on TV, but you'd never bother with the DVDs? That's what I felt like when watching the game. The voice-acting is... more spirited than the worst crud out there, but still rather lame. Each character also has one or two gestures which they use incessantly when talking. And whenever they try to do something exciting without cutting away to an anime cutscene, they fail. Seriously, they have explosion effects that would look bad in a PSX game. Oh, and this:

Evil Man: [blocking a door] "You won't get by me!"
Main Heroine: [throws her chakram at him]
Evil Man: [moves two feet to one side to dodge]
Main Hero: "Good job!" [pause] "Quick, everyone, let's escape!"
[they all run through the door]

It's... as lame as it sounds. At least it's funny, though!

So. Excellent gameplay, below-average plot (what I saw, anyway), hilarious action cutscenes.

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