Monday, March 26, 2007

Nasty spring weather

-I wasn't really prepared to hear Marshall Rogers had died. The first superhero comic I collected, rather than bought only when the cover looked interesting, was the 80s/90s version of Silver Surfer. So Rogers (along with Steve Englehart) was a somewhat seminal figure in my development as a comics reader. In recent years, I've come to think of him mostly as the artist on the greatest run of Batman in the history of the character. Sad news.

-I know that I'm not really in a position to criticize someone for this kind of writing, but I had a hard time following Rob Vollmar's review of Ode to Kirihito. This passage in particular had too many clauses (or is that phrases?):

More damning is the frequent use of coincidence to bring the plot around to where you know it’s going, some three hundred pages before it gets there. This sense of expectation is more forgivable when brought about by a clearly articulated motivation of a major character by virtue of their actions but too often in Kirihito, Tezuka goes back to more primitive devices that don’t deliver the same sense of satisfaction.

On the other hand, it's a useful review and I think I agree with Vollmar's conclusions. Did I miss all the initial reviews, or did it actually take a few months before people started reviewing this book? I think I only remember one mention of it in the Best of 2006 edition of the Comics Journal.

Related: this sentence from Tom Spurgeon is no picnic either:

This is an interesting issue to me because I do think there are comics that are like that because of market pressures or failure of ambition on the behalf of a creator or creators, but I also think there are artists who create surpassing works composed of building blocks restricted to the surface elements of comics.

Is he talking about cartoonists who emphasize form and craft over literary content? Reading this sentence makes me feel dumb, and I'm really not that dumb.

-Isn't this the sort of post one of the animals usually makes? Is the dog spoken for? Maybe a "Prescriptive Pooch" or something like that?

-I discovered yesterday that, for a brief time, we had three distinct brands of split peas in the cupboard: Jack Rabbit, Shur-Fine, and Goya. And I'm pretty sure there's another variety sold at the supermarket where we bought the other three packages. I'm not sure if this reveals more about the dried legume industry or the particular grocery store at which we shop. Also, I can strongly recommend this split pea soup recipe.

-As long as I'm talking about non-comics things: Devil Summoner is a lot of fun. I really, really like these Shin Megami Tensei games, especially the ones involving demon fusion. For those who have played it, is Demi-Kids worth the effort of tracking down? (I haven't played either Disgaea, but I really don't like tactics games.)

-A defense of body odor in gaming conventions. The thought of being forced to attend a gaming convention puts my fear of forced attendance of a comics convention in perspective.


Lowell said...

I've heard the Demi-Kids games are more Pokemon than anything else. Of the SMT games I've played (I think four out in the States now) I think Nocturne is the best for atmosphere and playability. You might also like Persona 2 for the PS1 which is a truly strange game. More strange since it is half of a pair, but they didn't release the other half in the States.

Have you tried the Shadow Hearts series? I mention it since it has a bizarre alternate historical setting that seems a little like SMT.

If you don't like tactics games, you probably won't like Disgaea. It and the other like games from NIS (Makai Kingdom, Phantom Brave, La Pucelle) are games for those who love that genre-- several hundred hours worth of side-missions and battles in all of those games. The humor of the settings and stories make them stand out, but even though I like tactics games I sometimes find those games a little too intense.

Alicia said...

Bear in mind: Pokemon is essentially Game Freaks stealing the basic old Megami Tensei play mechanics and kiddifying them. Play one of the SNES Megami Tensei games that predates Pokemon, and you'll find that they are essentially the same game... Shin Megami Tensei just has a far more compelling plot and a host of gods and devils to use instead of marketable little critters.

Demi-Kids is just Atlus making a kid-friendly Megami Tensei. They're okay, but not as fun as the PS2 titles they've been releasing lately. You'd probably enjoy Persona 3 more.

Dick Hyacinth said...

I have Persona 2, and I've played probably about 10-15 hours into it. I kind of forgot about it when we got our 360--Dead Rising was much more enticing, I'm afraid. I should go back to it at some point in the future. I've never even seen a copy of Persona 3 for sale, so I can only imagine how much it goes for. I think I paid over $30 for Persona 2.

So would anyone recommend fan translated roms of the SNES SMT series? Are there such things?

Thanks for the advice.

Lowell said...

I didn't realize that Pokemon lifted from SMT.

I think Persona 3 is out in Japan but not yet in the States.

Jacob said...

I think there's a fantrans of a few MegaTen games. I know I've seen an English version for Kyaku Megami Tensei for SNES and a trans of Soul Hackers for the Saturn.

The first Persona is also worth looking at, as is the obscure spin-off on the Gameboy Color released in the US as Revelations: the Demon Slayer. They aren't as good as other MegaTen games, but they're alright.

And the Shadow Hearts recommendation is seconded here...especially if you play them in order. There are three PS2 Shadow Hearts games and a PS1 prequel called Koudelka.

Alicia said...

Shin Megami Tensei 1 and 2 have been fully fan-translated. The translation is good (I worked with the translator on another project for a brief period), although the actual text hacking is a little wonky. Still, you'll be hard-pressed to find fan-translators who do better or more consistent work than AGTP.

Playing them is very worth the time investment for a fan of the later Shin Megami Tensei games released in English. SMT1 and 2 are considered all-time classics, and so the PS2 SMT titles reference them regularly. In particular, SMT3's plotline references the events of 1 and 2 obliquely but definitively in the endgame, and there are direct references in the end of Devil Summoner.

Persona 3 is an upcoming Atlus title, they're telling us to expect it during Q3 2007 sometime (probably summer). But the release date has been sliding around ever since it was announced at the last E3, probably because Atlus is publishing so much these days to be such a small company. It's supposed to be a good game, better than Devil Summoner but not quite as inspired as Persona 2 in its original form.

Dick Hyacinth said...

Cool. Thanks for all the help. I hope that my downloads of SMT 1 and 2 will work--SNES9X is giving me a "bad checksum" message on the title screen, but the games seem to be working okay. I didn't have any problem with a fan-translated rom of Sweet Home, so I guess we'll see.

Didn't Konami (or the company that own them) buy out Atlus, or am I imagining that?

Alicia said...

Konami Japan owns a certain amount of Atlus Japan stock (or did when I last checked). Atlus and Konami American's branches are, I believe, wholly distinct.

Anyway, glad things worked out. Yeah, the ROMs always complain about a bad checksum, but otherwise work just fine. Enjoy SMT1's barely-extant graphics!

Anonymous said...

hi, i revel in the fact that there are actual fans out there. for me shin megami tensei is an obsession. i'm currently playing persona 3 and have every stateside released copy of the persona series as well as the raidou kuzunoha game. my problem is that i am in fact a newb when it comes to playing fan translated games. i use snes 9x for all of my must have old school super nintendo fixes. thank you internet... but anyway i downloaded a rom of the snes remake of the first mega ten and cannot get the bastard to play in english. any help would be appreciated. also i'm retarded when it comes to dos. my email is if anyone reads this and would like to send me a little help... just don't send me an email bomb. i have patience and i don't mind waiting for a reply. this is just a single plea for help from a loner that wants to see the truth. thanks.

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