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Old 11-17-2006, 01:18 AM   #91
Joe Redifer
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dood i don't want the official playerz guide cuz there is gameFAQs. now gimme the cart! YOURS TOO! The rom is gud software now gimme! I just checked my mailbox and it wasn't there.
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Old 11-17-2006, 01:20 AM   #92
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Dud, check itr. your be gettin' a n all new mix cd in da mail reel soon ! Fo shizzle!
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Old 12-08-2006, 07:27 AM   #93
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Final Fantasy XII (2006 - PS2)


*Cover above is for the Collector's Edition package*
Released 03/16/06 (JP), 10/31/06 (Regular and Collector's Edition - NA)

Director: Hiroshi Minagawa and Hiroyuki Ito
Producer: Akitoshi Kawazu and Youichi Wada
Music: Hitoshi Sakimoto, Nobuo Uematsu (Main theme and Composer of "Kiss Me Goodbye," the main song of FFXII)
Story and Concept: Yasumi Matsuno


Graphics: A-
Sound: A
Story: B
Gameplay: B

Overall Score:
B


The face of Final Fantasy sure did change after the release of the Playsation's Final Fantasy VII in 1997 (Yes, it's been neary a decade people). Final Fantasy games went from being a cult game to a serious platform seller, capable of destroying the competition (see N64). However, has the Final Fantasy series become a victim of its own success? I'd say yes. Since VII, each game has not really strayed from its 'roots.' And by 'roots' I don't mean the series 'roots,' but the 'roots' that made Squaresoft millions in revenue.

But FFXII does something that I, personally, did not see comming. FFXII strays from the mold. There is no singlemost main character, dispite the story being told mostly through Vann's perspective, there is no sappy love story, there is no emo main character, there is no loud obnxious anime girl, and lastly, there are no random battles.

Every game that takes a gamble deserves a solid look. And this is one game that does, indeed, take a huge risk in a series that has become complacent with its own success.

Besides, the Collector's Edition package is the nicest package to ever be bestowed upon a videogame.



A (poor) screenshot of the opening montage

Story
It all starts with a marriage, an invasion, a betryal, and a suicide. Princess Ashe of Dalmasca marries Prince Rasler of Nabradia. Then the Archadian Empire invades Dalmasca. Then a prominent soldier, Basch, betrays Dalmasca by assassinating their King. During the invasion, Prince Rasler is killed and in responce, we learn that Princess Ashe has taken her own life. Now Dalmasca is under Archadian rule, a rule upheld by the Judges.

Confused yet? Well, you will find out that Ashe is not dead, Basch is not a traitor, and that Rasler, too, may still be alive... (I do not consider these spoilers since you learn of them in the first hour of gameplay. Don't worry, this review will be spoiler free.)

The main story arc is Vann, a street urchin, who runs into sky pirate, Balthier, and his 'accomplice'(take it as you will), Fran during a heist. The three run into a resistance led by someone who calls herself Amalia, but looks an awful lot like Princess Ashe. Hmm. You will soon find out that Ashe is, indeed, not dead, but alive, living underground to aid the resistance in hopes of a free, independant Dalmasca.

While Ashe's struggle to regain control of Dalmasca is the central story, the game really does not have any single most character. Sure, Ashe's plight directs the character's adgenda. But no single character has an overwhelming ammout of scenes or lines. Ergo, the 'main character' is the entire cast, whom you meet in the very beginning. Yup, your entire cast is formed within the first five hour of the game. But don't worry, you will have around 5 non-playable guests who join your team of three.

As the story continues, you'll find yourself a pawn in a chess game between two nations. And Ashe must make a very noble, perhaps humbling, decision.

The main themes of the story are: Revenge v Justice, Comming of Age (for Ashe and Vann), redemption (Basch), and ultimately the horrors of war and the lust for power.

Personally, I found the story to be refreshing. If you have ever played any of the Final Fantasy Tactics team's games, you know they heavily revolve around the idea of religion, the supernatural, and the relationship between the gods and the people. FFXII is no different. The storyline is very mature and works well with the art style (very mediterranian). The end of the game, I feel, is very weak. With a slow moving storyline, you begin to have lots of expectations, lots of build up. FFXII's storyline could have used a more elaborate ending, and perhaps even a longer ending to tie up the story and let us feel like we really did just complete a 50 hour epic. When I finished the game, there was literally a "oh ****, it's over?" feeling.

B


Balthier, the sky pirate. One of the best characters to ever grace a Final Fantasy game.

Graphics
Final Fantasy games always look nice. From a technical standpoint, they are some of the best games. A literal benchmark for the graphical capabilities for any system. Be if in game or CG, Final Fantasy games are not shabby by any means. So to argue the graphics in Final Fantasy is to argue the art direction.

I mean, this is a Final Fantasy game, not a Knight of the Old Republic screwup. Square remembers to dot their 'i's and cross their 't's, unlike Bioware and Obsidian. (Sorry Bioware and Obsidian fans! Write to them and bitch, not to me. Nothing will get done bitching about this to me)

The art direction of Final Fantasy XII is very much in vein of a European look. Gone is the cyberpunk look that has dominated Final Fantasy ever since Tetsuya Nomura took the reigns of art direction away from Yoshitaka Amano in FFVII. While I liked Nomura's art, the decision to Akihiko Yoshida helped to shed the notion that FFXII is just another Final Fantasy game pretaining to the same formula that guarantees success but doesn't stray from the money-making 'roots.'

So why not an A+? Well, some of the levels are, frankly, uninsiping. Airships suffer from what I have heard as "Halo-itis," or just a cut and paste of the same looking hallways. You'd think we'd see more of a kickass airship than just the bloody common hallways?

Then there comes the enemies. I didn't dock Chrono Trigger any points because of the physical data limitation of a cartridge. But c'mon boys, this is over 10 years since we began just simply switching the colors of enemies to denote a newer, stronger, enemy. It's sad that we can't have whole new enemies. After playing (quite extensively I feel. I plugged over 70 hours into this game) Final Fantasy XII, I felt like every other enemy were those damn dogs with tentacles, or a wolf. Not to say that the original designs aren't cool, but I personally hate it when we get recycled character models (today we say models, back then we said sprites) near the end of the game. It's an RPG cliche that I want gone!

A-


Final Fantasy XII's Licence Board
(Gameplay Photo)

Sound
Again, Square strays from the formula. Hitoshi Sakimoto relieves Final Fantasy legend, Composer Nobuo Uematsu as the main composer. Uematsu still has the main(opening) theme and game song, "Kiss Me Good-Bye" to his credit, but everything else is Sakimoto, baby! And what a change it is.

I remember reading the review for FFXII in the November issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly. In said issue, on page 126, it says "Odd Inspiration Source: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace." At the time, I had no fucking clue that they were eluding to. I really see WEAK parallels to the storyline of FFXII and Episode I. However, the music parallels are quite evidant. Sakimoto takes a clue from Mark Griskey (Knights of the Old Republic composer) and creates a very subtle score. Granted, this is not a game where you will hum the themes. The background score is in the background, it hardly overwhelms, and it fits the moods very well.

As for the voice acting. Very, very well done. If only another, certain, Nintendo epic could take a cue from this game. All the characters have their own solid 'voice,' their own opinion shaped by their words. Vann isn't whiney, he has a curious mature tone, kind of like Luke Skywalker. Balthier is suave and has a certain Clark Gable aspect to his voice. Kinda like Qui-Go, ok enough with the Star Wars references. Balthier is the leading man, as he claims to be. Ashe is substandard, but by all means, this is not a negative note. The drawback of not having a single main character is that you don't feel you get 'enough' from each character. Kinda like Princess...well, y'know.

A


No more random battles, pick a fight like the bully you always were!
(Gameplay Photo)

Gameplay
Quote:
Originally Posted by My Chrono Trigger Review
To this day, I am amazed that more RPG do not follow Chrono Trigger's example. Where you are on the map is where you fight. There is no instantaneous WIPE to a battle screen. You either run into an enemy or you are attacked, the characters move into position on the screen, the menubar pops up, and the fight begins! It's more fast paced than the Final Fantasies of the time.
Yes, I did write the review of Chrono Trigger days before I picked up FFXII. I did not know that FFXII features no random battles and has a battle system similar to CTs. As you can see in the image above, each character has a line (blue for your allies, red for your enemies. With exceptions for magic, techniks, et cetera. This helps you keep track of who is attacking whom. Since you are no longer lined up like the British fleet of the late 1700's, battles can become very chaotic. The battles are fast paced, with narry a time to break the action (You can set the game up to stop the action while you program commands or let the fight continue as you micromanage.

The designs did not intend for you to play each character independantly in battles, so they create a GAMBIT chain of commands:


The Gambit Screen
(Gameplay Photo)

Each character has their own Gambit screen. The above screen is Penelo's. Instead of trying to explain the entire system, just think of it as a chain of commands:

1. First, Penelo will use a Phoenix Down on anyone who is knocked out. A very wise choice for a first action. If no one is knocked out, Penelo will then...
2. Cast Poisona on anyone who is poisoned. If no one is poisoned, then Penelo will...
3. Cast Cure on any allies who have less than 70% of their total health. If everyone is above 70% health then...
4. Penelo will attack any flying creatures with Aero. And lastly,
5. If there are no flying creatures, Penelo will simply attack the nearest enemy.

The GAMBIT system is a double edged blade. Penny Arcade equates the Gambit system as the videogame playing itself, or masterbating. I think this is a fair, and funny, conclusion to draw. I will admit that once I perfected the use of the Gambit system, I was able to let my characters just beat up on enemies as I guide them from enemy to enemy. For every status effect (Blind, Sap, Disease, Poison) I had a response. And my magic was so powerful by the end that I was reving my character to 100% life and curing them at 40% up to 100%! Hell, let me say something that will anger some people right now:

I did not push a single button during the last boss fight. I defeated the last boss only using my GAMBIT set up

Of course, you can turn the Gambits off. But I don't see the point, as you would just do what you should have programmed your Gambits to do in the first place.

So there you go, Gambits are a nice crutch, but by the end of the game, you can essentially let your game just play with itself.

The last bit of gameplay discussion comes in the form of XP (Experience Points) and LPs (Licence Points). I assume you know what XP is, but in case you are a new to RPGs, XP basicly determines your characters stats. Licence Points are new and exclusive to FFXII, though I bet the idea has been around in many other games. Look at the Licence Board image above. Each square represents either a set of weapons, a set of armors, a skill, a stat bonus, a set of spells, or either a Quickening (think a less powerful Limit Break) or Esper (Summon). As you 'spend' your points (you gain 1-3 per enemy battle), you open up more boxes ajacent (not diagonally) to the box you just 'purchased.' Use your entire roster to open up sectors you are not aware of and you can create some pretty fucking strong characters. Indeed, without a strong knowledge of the board, I was not able to construct a team that could defeat the last boss using only my Gambit commands.

One major gripe I have is that you most likely will use only 3-4 characters in your team. Why? Because you don't get any XP for characters you do not use. And each character stats out relitvely the same. So you will probably just pick three characters you like (I chose Vann, Balthier, and Ashe) and max them as fast as possible, leaving the remainders in the dark (My Fran was a level 9 when my team was hovering around 50s). BUT, the reserve do gain LPs. So use their LPs to experiment with the Licence Board!

B


It is indeed a time to celebrate

Final Thoughts....
If you think a 'B' is a subpar grade, think about this: FFVI and FFVII would probably get A's from me. VIII - X would get between D's and C+. I think a 'B' shows that this gamble from Squaresoft paid off. It broke away from many of the cliche's that made Final Fantasy a joke to those who, essentially, were there from the beginning.

Final Fantasy XII is a phenominal, solid, role playing game with a very deep, provoking story. What more could you ask for? Square did not have to take such a gamble. Final Fantasy sells on name brand alone. So I applaud Square for taking such a bold step and I feel my review is more than just a review of Final Fantasy XII, it is a review on the Final Fantasy series as a whole: Where it has been, where it is now, and where I hope it will go. Though I shouldn't get my hopes up, because the old team is back on board for Final Fantasy XIII. I will give them a solid look, but right now, I feel that the Final Fantasy series should be in the hands of the Final Fantasy XII team for at least a couple more games.


Yeah, you know I'd have to add this comic.
From Penny Arcade
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Old 12-08-2006, 07:28 AM   #94
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Next Review:



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Old 12-08-2006, 11:29 AM   #95
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Good review.

It makes me wanna try FF12, and thats saying something since the FF series hasnt interested me since 8.
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Old 12-08-2006, 01:58 PM   #96
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Speaking of reviews, I finally saw "Once upon a time in the West" because of your review. Freakin' unbelievable movie. One of the best. Also, while I am on it, have you seen "The Proposition" DS? It is a really good movie. If you liked "Once upon a time..." youll like that movie.
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Old 12-08-2006, 02:24 PM   #97
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Nice review of FF12.

It makes me want to go out and buy it myself, rather than wait for Xmas.

One thing I disagree with - I thought FFX took alot of chances and was fairly fresh, comparatively, compared to the PS1 games.

Personal thing though.
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Old 12-08-2006, 03:06 PM   #98
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The Sphere Grid was a huge chance, but general concensus says it failed becuase it was too easy to traverse leaving all your characters super powered. Infact the game was just too easy.

Ive heard this is fixed somewhat by the License board, but XII still ends up being a breeze. But then again Sqauresoft hasnt really made a hrad final fantasy ever.
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Old 12-08-2006, 06:02 PM   #99
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SavedFromSin
Speaking of reviews, I finally saw "Once upon a time in the West" because of your review. Freakin' unbelievable movie. One of the best. Also, while I am on it, have you seen "The Proposition" DS? It is a really good movie. If you liked "Once upon a time..." youll like that movie.

I have not. I will most definately have to check that out. Thanks!
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Old 12-11-2006, 02:03 AM   #100
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Yeah, I also think the FFXII team should stay on for a couple more games. FFXII was a refreshing change. I thought it had a classic/mature feel to it, and it had character.
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Old 03-06-2007, 12:15 AM   #101
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Cool Hand Luke (1967)

Sorry Sneak King fans....I'm a liar.


Released 1967
Rated: NOT RATED
Staring: Paul Newman, George Kennedy, J.D. Cannon, Lou Antonio, and Morgan Woodward
Written by: Donn Pearce and Frank Pierson. Based off the novel by 'Donn Pearce'
Directed by: Stuart Rosenberg


Acting: A-
Cinematography: B
Story: B
Sound: C+

Cool Hand Luke. You probably know more about this film through parody than you know. Cool Hand Like is one of those classic films that any aspiring filmmaker should watch. If you are a fan of prison dramas, this one is right up your alley as well. If you liked 'The Shawshank Redemption,' you owe it to yourself to see the film that helped pave the path for such recognition of stories of redemption and fighting against the urge to comform to prision life.


Lucas Jackson, played by Paul Newman

One night in a small town, a drunk Lucas Jackson decides to cut off the tops of parking meters, municipal property. APPARENTLY such a crime warrants 2 years on the chain gang. However, neither prisor, nor the inmates, nor the guards can change Luke. He's a natural born earth-shaker.


Boss Godfrey, the man with no eyes. Played by Morgan Woodward

While in prison, life starts fair enough. You wake up at dawn, you are trucked out into the countryside, and you work. Hard. If you run, they catch you and put chains on your legs. If you run again, they put two sets on. You run a third time, and they kill yea. Learn the rules, follow them.

But not Luke. He sticks to his own path, even at the risk of angering not only the guards, but his fellow gangmembers too. Unlike the rest of the gang, Luke doesn't go crazy over the women washing a car in a thin, torn dress...even when she 'innocently' spills soap all over herself. Luke doesn't back down from a bet to eat 50 hardboiled eggs in an hour. And Luke runs.


Women do wash cars better than men do.
Click here to watch this scene

If you have seen, 'The Shawshank Redemption' you can easily relate to this story. Man is thrown in prison. He is a character. He is one of those prisoners whom the older inmates will tell younger inmates about for generations, all because he didn't let prison break his spirit.


Shawshank ripped this scene off.

The film has a very leisurly tempo. Don't expect anything too hardcore to happen here. In fact, if this was prison was like back in the early 60's, then what the hell happened between then and now?

The film offers some amazing camera angles, though most of which might go unappreciated by those who have seen many good recent films. But, they all owe something to Luke, the style of depicting a chain gang, the way prison guards are depicted, the way solidarity works amongst prisoners. All of this is well represented too.


Can Luke eat 50 eggs in one hour? (Newman actually did this)
Click here to watch this scene

The film offers a pretty good soundtrack. However, I feel that overtime it has lost much of its flair. The main theme is still a classic that I'm currently practicing on my guitar for those long, warm summer nights. But for the most part, the poor sound quality (Mono only!) tend to take away from the film.


Luke sends his boys a magazine from the outside.
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Old 03-06-2007, 07:41 AM   #102
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Always love a great big house story. Have you seen Island of Fire (Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Andy Lau, etc.)? It's basically the HK version of CHL. Not as good but still has its entertainment values, if a tad cheesy. BTW, Paul Newman didn't really eat 50 eggs -- if he did, he'd die. Also, worth note is Prison on Fire (Chow Yun-Fat, Tony Leung Ka-Fai), another great big house movie. Highly recommended.
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Old 03-20-2007, 09:42 AM   #103
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Gamer's State of the Union 2007

2006 saw the release of both the Wii and the Playstation 3, the next-generation offerings by Nintendo and Sony, respectively. The Wii and the Playstation 3 (PS3) will join Microsoft's Xbox 360 to complete the roster for the next-generation console wars, now a billion dollar industry.

Microsoft's Xbox 360

Many folks looked at this console negatively, most in part because they thought Microsoft was rushing the next generation. The Xbox 360 has seen a very solid 2006, reaching roughly 10 million consoles sold. Games such as Gears of War, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas helped ring in roughly 4.5 million new Xbox 360 owners.

As of now, it seems that people are looking toward the Xbox 360 as their choice for traditional game pad gaming, the style of gaming they all grew up with. And with Halo 3 and Grand Theft Auto 3 right around the corner, it looks like the Xbox360 is going to have another solid year. After all, Microsoft has a solid user base and they haven't unveiled their trump card, Halo 3, yet. Scary. It'll be an interesting 2007 for sure!

So was Microsoft and company right in launching the Xbox 360 in 2005? Well, why knows? It's a moot point. Was Microsoft smart in being first? Looks like it. It doesn't appear that Microsoft is in direct competition with their biggest (at this moment) competitor, Nintendo, as they both saw a healthy 2006 each with a large, yet separate, library of games that gamers can enjoy.

XBox 360's biggest card is their solid online capability. Microsoft was somewhat laughed at for having the Xbox Live set up last generation, but now both Sony and Nintendo are struggling to catch up to Microsoft's XBox Live, which has only gotten stronger. Gamers wanted to go online, and Microsoft is reaping the benefits.

Sony's Playstation 3

This war was Sony's to lose. The Playstation 2 saw dominance like none other. Anyone who thinks Sony didn't win the last war is in denial, pure and simple. They sold twice as many PS2s as Nintendo and Microsoft sold Gamecube's and Xboxes --combined. With a super solid library of exclusives (Devil May Cry, Final Fantasy Series, Kingdom Hearts, Metal Gear Solid, Grand Theft Auto....and that's just the tip of the iceberg!), the PS2 just blew away the competition.

Sony launched their new console with a myriad of problems. There were a few technical problems, but the majority of the problems rested with one issue: the price. $600 for the console. Many gamers to this day want a Playstation 3, but they simply can not justify the sheer amount of coin to spend on a console that really doesn't have a solid library yet. The Playstation 3 might host the best graphics, but that isn't enough. It's about the games and right now, Sony needs them bad. It is noteworthy that Sony has not yet played their trump card, the Final Fantasy Series, yet. I feel it is premature to judge them until that happens, as more people will be tempted to get a PS3 for Final Fantasy once they can either a) afford it or, b) see the PS3 hit a price drop once Sony finds out how to refine its hardware.

It is noteworthy to mention Blu-Ray. Sony is currently engaged in two wars: The Console Wars and the new Movie Media Wars between their media, Blu-Ray, and the rival media, HD-DVD. Blu-Ray truly is a double-edged sword for Sony. Since they are one of the biggest benefactors to Blu-Ray winning, they are hoping the PS3 will allow them to put Blu-Ray players in the hands of many people. As it stands, the PS3 is a super sweet deal...for a Blu-Ray player that also happens to play games. But that benefits tech heads, not us gamers. The technology is new, and therefore very expensive, as shown by the PS3's price. But if Blu-Ray is shown to be the winner of the winner, expect more Blu-Ray pressing factories to open up (since there is less risk once a winner is chosen) and the technology cost to drop dramatically. Expect a Playstation 3 price drop then. Hopefully it's not the first, as I don't see an end to the media wars until about 3rd quarter 2008-2nd quarter 2009. Let the folks see HD enough times to a) warrant purchasing a HD TV and; b) the price of HD TVs to drop (they are dropping pretty damn fast!).

Nintendo's Wii

Nintendo really was in a pickle. They went from the face of the industry to being not much more than a backup for gaming. They had to even compete against Microsoft, the rookie of the console wars. This is not how an industry leader is supposed to be. The Nintendo 64 was a failure in the sense that they essentially handed Sony the war. And the Gamecube failed to put Nintendo back on top, dispite having a solid outing (Super Smash Bros Melee, Metroid Prime, Resident Evil 4).

Nintendo launched their Wii by playing their trump card: A realistic version of The Legend of Zelda, called The Twilight Princess. Smart move. It gave gamers a reason to have a console at launch, something Nintendo can do that Microsoft and Sony can not, as they do not make games that sell consoles. And with Metroid Prime 3, Mario Galaxy, Super Smash Brawl, and Pokemon on the horizon. Gamers can expect a lot of good gaming on their Wii.

But will Nintendo's old ghosts haunt them? Their strongest card are all Nintendo games, and 3rd parties are reluctant to play on Nintendo's home turf last time, fearing that Nintendo games will drown out their games, leaving them to pick up the scraps. But that was when Nintendo didn't hold much of a user base in comparison to the PS2 and Xbox. But the Wii has roughly half the user base of the XBox 360, in a fraction of the time. If Nintendo keeps this pace up, there will be more than enough of our money for Nintendo and 3rd parties. It doesn't seem that the Wii's graphics (which are already looking really dated) are driving away people who are intrigued by this new way to play games.

It's just a shame that Bob Ross painting game never came to light...
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Old 03-20-2007, 09:47 AM   #104
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now a billion dollar industry? that makes it sound like it became one recently.
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Old 03-20-2007, 09:54 AM   #105
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I would also like to pay my respects to Stuart Rosenberg, the director of Cool Hand Luke. Mr. Rosenberg passed away from a heart attack. He was 79.

Stuart Rosenberg, 1927-2007
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