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Random Thoughts #1
By: Jesse Mason

the random thoughts
of an ate so much, 

he might just explode person

Reviews by Jesse Mason
August 6, 2000


I just went over my column and, amid all the "I can't believe I didn't change that!" flurry, I noticed that I gave a score to Vagrant Story and Sim City 2000. A while back, I used to take my ratings really seriously (I would literally agonize for hours over whether to give a game a B or a B+, usually putting aside the review as I did this, only to change the score completely after I wrote it). I got so stressed over them that I considered getting rid of them, but felt it was necessary to give a complete picture of how I recommend the game to the reader. But now I'm starting to shape this column into how my experiences with games are going. I'm doing this because I noticed that when reviewing games, I tended to talk about other things in the process. So I feel a little weird giving a D- to Sim City 2000 for the Playstation, when in fact, I'm betting that most of my disappointment of the game stemmed from what was simply a scratched up disc. The result of my weirdness: no more grades in Random Thoughts.

But have no fear. Straight up reviews of games will be appearing at various ports of (now that merged into VGF). Meanwhile the Random Thoughts will be more for editorial purposes. You can also find them at various ports of And while you're at it, go to every site of VGF over and over again, k?

Shameless Promotion

You can get "The Random Thoughts" via eMail by eMailing In the subject line write "I want to Subscribe," or your subscription might not go through. In the body of writing, you can write whatever you want, but I suggest copying Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" and passing it off
as your own.

Shameful Demotion

If you don't like me, my rants and raves, or my Beastie Boys T-shirt, please feel free to desubscribe by sending me an eMail that says "Desubscribe Me" in the subject line.

Technical Stuff of Importance If You Want It To Be Important

1. I am not responsible for you disagreeing with my rating scores or anything I wrote anywhere. By reading this sentence you hereby void any lawsuits against me for disagreeing with my rating scores or anything I wrote anywhere. You do reserve the right, however, to insult me through eMail or yell "You're an evil guy!" if you ever see me on the street.

2. Yes, I am aware that my grammar isn't particularly good. I'm too impatient to go through the actual body of writing with a fine tooth comb. I write it, spell check, and send it.

3. The reviewing process works like this. a) I rent a game (it's also possible that I could buy it or play it a lot somewhere). b) I play it a lot. c) When I get a good impression of how the game is, I review it whenever possible.

4. You like this? Well, let others in on the "greatness." Tell your pals about "The Random Thoughts" or at least tell em about how I once drank a two liter of Pepsi in less than a minute.

5. A woodchuck could chuck wood at a rate of five trees per day, but only a paltry 0.75% of woodchucks are lumberjacks, which ranks 33rd among most popular professions among woodchucks, right behind florists and photo lab technicians.

Actual Body of Writing

For those who are scratching their heads:
A+ Master of it's Domain
A Definitely a Classic 
A- Grand ol' Game
B+ Mightily Impressed B Darn Good B- Ok
C+ Average C Below Average C- Yep, it's Bad
D+ Worse than Bad D Excruciating D- Bomb of a Game
F On Pit Fighter's Level (My Least Favorite Game Ever)

On October 26, the U.S. will finally get to know what all the backlash is all about. While Al Gore, "Political Bore" and George "W Does Not Stand for Wuss" Bush duke it out in the newspapers, the Playstation 2 will be campaigning all fall, asking the voting public (and the non voting public's parents) to vote for it in a one candidate race (except for Dreamcast, which is the Ralph Nader of the new system wars). Yep folks, it's been four years.
This year, my friends, is a new system year.

Don't despair though, new system years are always fun (except for Mr. Wallet, of course). Each time the brand new graphics dilute our game playing common sense. We drool over the new games as if we saw a bunch of cars that
look great, but get horrible gas mileage. Meanwhile, the games that are coming out on the current systems of the time get passed over in gamers minds, but benefit from a few years experience with the system and are
usually better. Final Fantasy 9, Chrono Cross, Banjo-Tooie, and even The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, the sequel to one of the three or so most celebrated games ever, all seem like small potatoes next to even Gran Turismo
2000, which looks like a particularly good looking Playstation game. With the exception of the superb 1991 Super NES lineup (which included Super Mario World, Pilotwings, F-Zero, Final Fantasy 2, and ActRaiser), history has proven that eventually most of these early games fade out of memory. Anyone remember the Nintendo 64 lineup of 1996 or the Playstation and Saturn lineups of 1995? Heck, anyone remember the Saturn?

But the October 26 that I pick up a Playstation 2 will be a lot different from the September 28 I picked up my Nintendo 64. In the past four or five years video games have undergone a massive pop culture shift. As said time and again the geeky gamer kids grew up to be even geekier gamer adults who act like children. The Playstation has changed everything, proving a system can thrive without the benefit of it's own interactive Mickey Mouse (or Donald Duck for you Luigi fans out there). As computers have become more and more important in everyday society, computer (or in video game consoles case, computer-like) entertainment has been more and more in demand. Basically,
people pay a lot more attention to the games they play than they used to, which can probably explain why movie license games suck a lot less than they once did.

It's in this placement of the public minds that this year's system launch will be a bit different than most. I doubt a system launch like the Nintendo 64's is possible anymore. The Nintendo 64 had people paying for crud games just because they were there (even frapping Cruis'n USA sold a million copies!). People now won't even pay for the system unless it has a lot of
games for any taste and they won't pay for the games unless they are good. While the Playstation 2 will undoubtedly sell in droves the first few months of its release, it's not necessarily a sure thing. The game market in the U.S. is starting to look more and more like a Stars and Stripes version of the Japanese game market. That doesn't mean we'll be seeing more golf/RPG hybrids or horse racing games here, but it does mean that unless the six or so months the developers have had to port and improve have paid off (which in all likely circumstances, they have), it's entirely possible that gamers might (in a worse case scenario) just buy regular Playstation games ort wait
out till the launch of Nintendo's GameCube or (gulp!) Microsoft's X-Box. According to my latest EGM, Jikyo Powerful Pro Baseball game is the only Playstation 2 game in the top ten. Meanwhile the original Playstation has Final Fantasy 9, Pachi Slot Aruze, Tomb Raider 4: The Last Revelation, and (gasp!) Jikyo Powerful Pro Baseball 2000.

However many quality games the Playstation 2 has to offer, the system has two things going for it that will not only drive sales through the roof, but will probably revolutionize the video game industry. First is the fact that the system is backward compatible. Finally everyone'll who wanted to get a new Playstation because it is getting old and worn out, but didn't want to
spend a hundred bucks on something they already own can. It'll also allow people who need to sell their current system to get a new one to enjoy all the fall Playstation games. Watch for used Playstations to flood local video
game stores across the nation (I plan to have fun destroying mine in various ways). I've always thought that it was important for systems to backwards compatible, so older games wouldn't necessarily just float to the back of dust filled closets.

Second is where the "through the roof" part comes to play. The Playstation 2 will allow people to play DVDs. While almost nobody decided to buy a Playstation because it could also play music CDs, the thought of getting two fairly new technologies for the price of one is salivating enough for most of the people I know to postpone getting a DVD player. This hybrid
of video games and home movies also points the way to a more fused together home entertainment industry. What's next, a Playstation that comes with it's own 32 inch TV? And with the X-Box, Dreamcast, and online play making connection from your console to your home PC, the home entertainment industry
is perhaps looking to the biggest revolution since you could watch movies at home.

Regardless of what happens, the game industry will look different a year and a half from now. The video game world will be kinda weird for a while, but it's important to keep your head. I remember reading a letter in an old EGM from a guy who purchased an Atari Jaguar. He was so impressed with Tempest 2000 that he destroyed his Super NES with a sledgehammer. Makes me
feel more than a little iffy about thinking up ways to destroy my Playstation

<I've noticed something here. The "shift" key is obviously just a blatant rip-off of the "caps lock" key! Someone should demand royalties here.>
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