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Reviews Written by
Richard Veysey (South Portland, ME)

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Stretch Panic - PlayStation 2
Stretch Panic - PlayStation 2
5 used & new from CDN$ 24.75

4.0 out of 5 stars A Gaming Etude, July 13 2004
For those of you not familiar with the word etude, it is a French word which, in America, usually refers to a musical study, or a piece built around a single theme or pattern. I have played two other games by Treasure: Mischief Makers (which was made with the assistance of Enix) and Gunstar Heroes. Gunstar heroes (for the Sega Genisis) and Stretch Panic are both video game etudes: studies into a theme, but nothing more.
Gunstar Heroes, for those of you unfamiliar with the title, took perhaps two hours or less to COMPLETE. That isn't just rush through without getting everything, after two hours, there isn't much left to do. Stretch Panic is simalar, except slightly longer. In Stretch Panic, you are given a small story line about a girl and her three vain sisters. Then you are given a possessed scarf and placed in the Museum of Agony, a small area from which you go to the game's 16 areas. Four of these areas are known as Ex levels, and in those levels you aquire points which you use to open doors and launch your one special attack.
There is only one unique enemy in this game, and she is probably the reason the game is teen rated. The enemy is a woman who wished to have a bigger chest area, and from that wish, she grew breasts which are probably twice as large as the lady possessing them.
The main parts of this game are the boss battles, of which there are twelve. Each battle is fun and unique, yet usually fairly easy once you figure out how to go about fighting it.
While the battles are fun, and the action great, by the end of the game, you'll be hungry for more. After defeating and freeing the last sister, you'll get a lowsy ending which only increases any irritation toward the game's length. This game could have been fun if it lasted longer, but it did something very important for the future of platform games. Unlike many of the games out there today, Stretch Panic introduces a new concept into the gaming world: the idea of stretchability. While this game is short, perhaps another developer (Insomniac or Naughty Dog, perhaps?) can take the stretch concept and use it in their own games. I'm hoping that Treasure will take their stretch engine and sell it somewhere, so that all the unrealized potential this game had (puzzles, perhaps?) can be realized.

Xenosaga - PlayStation 2
Xenosaga - PlayStation 2
14 used & new from CDN$ 17.88

5.0 out of 5 stars This is absolutely the best game (will be best series) ever, Sept. 27 2003
This game should be put in a museum because it is, in every sense of the word, art. It has a story which rivals any movie I have EVER watched. It has a system which takes the best elements from the Final Fantasy series, adds some new ideas, and combines them in a way that will keep you playing after you watch the ending. These are only a few of the things that make this game great.
This game begins in modern times with the discovery of a mysterious artifact, the Zohar, which will be one of the main objects that the entire series focuses upon. The scene quickly changes to about the middle of the fifth millennium (although the game says 4000 years later, it appears to take place in 4500 or so). The main character, Shion Uzuki, is working on creating the robot KOS-MOS on board the Galactic Federation's starship, the Woglinde. From there, the two heroines join up with four other friends, all of them coincidently attempting to reach the planet of Second Miltia (which is reached within the game... during the ending movie). Thus begins Xenosaga's epic story line.
This game explores many, many themes, such as the humanity of something who isn't human, and uses many religious messages, both vague and not so vague, to enrich the plot. Through LONG cut scenes, many of which are 20-30 minutes long, alliances are revealed, both between heroes and villains, and great space battles are waged. If you don't care about a game's story, you can skip all the cut scenes, cutting at least five hours out of the game and removing most of the game's dialog. I suppose if you are skipping it, you don't really care what's going on, but if you do, you will not see much of ANY story in the game. Sitting through the cut scenes is never annoying, and often will make you forget that you are playing a game. The story alone is good enough to convince you that you are playing a movie.
I wasn't expecting much from the music. Although produced by the London Philharmonic Orchestra (I don't have the box in front of me, so spelling and name may be off), the music is highly repetitive and not as exciting as what Final Fantasy fans are used to.
For those of you still reading, the battles can and will often last five to ten minutes (yes, non-boss battles), and will challenge even people who have played many RPGs. Although most battles are avoidable, you will want to level up your characters often for the later battles. There are two main types of attacks: ether (magical) and physical, and within those more types, such as elemental type, distance, and hit type. Certain attacks are better against some enemies, so if you have the wrong characters for a situation... too bad. You can't switch characters during battle, so have fun.
What else can I say. This game tops Kingdom Hearts, which I previously called the best game ever. It's also now about thirty dollars, so if you like RPGs, it's a good deal for a great game.

Bruce Campbell vs. Army Of Darkness: The Director's Cut - Official Bootleg Edition (Widescreen) [Import]
Bruce Campbell vs. Army Of Darkness: The Director's Cut - Official Bootleg Edition (Widescreen) [Import]
DVD ~ Bruce Campbell
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 40.53
22 used & new from CDN$ 1.28

4.0 out of 5 stars Why?..., July 15 2003
This is one of the greatest comedy/horror movies ever, taking the bizzareness of Bruce Campbell and some... "interesting" special effects scenes and combining them to make a movie which can only be called "wierd, but in a good way."
Unfortunately I didn't buy the right DVD of this great movie. This version may contain the original ending, but it left out the other, alternate ending, which in my mind was about as funny as the original ending. It didn't seem to have many special features, which I do remember the version I rented having (although I had things to do, so I didn't get to watch them). If you want to get this movie, I don't think this would be the version you want.

Nine Months (Widescreen) [Import]
Nine Months (Widescreen) [Import]
DVD ~ Hugh Grant
Offered by Treasure Island Emporium
Price: CDN$ 25.00
55 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars The best romantic comedy ever, July 15 2003
I have watched a good number of romantic comedies, and have noticed that they often have a great plot, and entertain with their hilarious antics throughout. This is the same, except its extreme hilarity is balanced perfectly with plot to create a thoroughly entertaining comedy experience.
I'm sure somebody has gone through the whole description of this movie in great detail, so I won't do it again. If you have seen other Hugh Grant movies, you know how his comedy works: his sassy come backs and comments come at full force through out the movie, and blend excelently with Robin Williams' accent, (he plays a newly immigrated Russian), mistakes in word choice, and physical humor. Add that to Tom Arnold's role as a man who is a complete jerk on the surface, but really full of heart, and Jeff Goldblum, who flings his funny comments in without skipping a beat, and you have a comedic team which will keep you in stitches from start to finish.
I think this is one of those movies great to watch curled up on the couch on a Sunday afternoon, or just as an evening treat, but whenever you watch it, it is a movie not to be missed.

No Title Available

4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, only a few minor flaws, June 13 2003
Creatures 3 is beautiful! The creatures now talk to each other instead of just talking to you or themselves (I never played Creatures 2, so I don't know how good it was in terms of things I will mention here), the creatures have an enormous vocabulary, and the machines make the game more realistic because it eliminates the need for butons that do everything. Also the environment with the multitude of critters which mate and interact with the creatures and each other adds another dimention to gameplay.
However there are a few elements I found troublesome. There is an upgrade available in the game for the hand that lets you pick up the creatures, and with the help of another upgrade grendels and ettins. This means that you have total control over mating and the lives and deaths of the grendels. If you want, you can stick the grendels in with the paranhas or in the recycler and get rid of them, which makes them increadibly pointless, except for the gene splicer (which I have not yet tried).
Overall, just get the game if you like games like this. It is true to life, and absolutely wonderful. The amazing graphics and sound effects add so much to the game, and you will be amazed at the way your creatures act, perhaps even feeling somewhat upset when a grendel kills one of the norns. This game will last me years as I do the multitude of possible things Mindscape has made possible.

Final Fantasy Origins Final Fantasy I & II Remastered Editions - PlayStation
Final Fantasy Origins Final Fantasy I & II Remastered Editions - PlayStation
Offered by Past N Present Video Games
Price: CDN$ 21.91
18 used & new from CDN$ 11.93

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Squaresoft has done it again (or is it Square Enix now?), June 13 2003
Final Fantasy Origins contains the first two Final Fantasy games on one disk. Although graphics have been updated significantly, they still retain their old look, so unless you don't mind bad graphics, you might want to leave this page now. If the bad graphics don't bother you, then this compilation is a great addition to your collection, since, if you have bought every Final Fantasy game released for PS2 and PS1, you will have all but three, which tells us what will be next in all likelyhood. Anyway, in addition to improved graphics, there are also new features, such as an ingame monster guide, updated with every battle, an item guide, updated with every found item, and an art gallery, updated when you get a certain amount of monsters and/or items. I have completed Final Fantasy I and am working on Final Fantasy II off and on, and find them both fun. Although Final Fantasy I doesn't have much of a system, just EXP and purchaseable spells, it is somehow addictive, and Final Fantasy II is interesting due to its plot and system similar to that in Chrono Cross. While the games aren't the best in the series, not even close in fact, Square has dusted them off and improved them so that they are the best they can be, while still fitting on one disc, of course. Also the release price was wonderfully reasonable, $...P>I think if you had [the money] and wanted to buy a game, go for Final Fantasy VIII or other greatest hit Final Fantasy titles, but if you have those, and want to see where everything started, get Final Fantasy Origins, it's worth the money.
An additional note: if I remember correctly Final Fantasy was to be Squaresoft's last game. It was supposed to be a goodbye present to the company's few fans. Squaresoft was going bankrupt, or something like that at the time, so they decided to put everything into Final Fantasy. On the days following its release, it sold so well that the dying company came back to life, continuing to make Final Fantasy sequals, along with other RPGs, always keeping that which revived them alive, with the title that was supposed to tell which of their games it was, the last (it has been a while since I heard that story, so some facts may be off, but if you are interested, you can always look online for the story)

Chrono Cross - PlayStation
Chrono Cross - PlayStation
Offered by Shopville Canada
Price: CDN$ 32.49
24 used & new from CDN$ 13.17

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Where is the series element?, June 13 2003
Chrono Cross WOULD have been a great game, it had a unique system, it was hard, it had a good plot, it had many side quests. For any one who played Chrono Trigger however, this game does the idea of a sequal little justice.
Chrono Cross picks up 10 years after Chrono Trigger ends, at a series of islands too small to use in Chrono Trigger (but I have heard they are there). It has innumerable playable characters, which makes the game interesting, but has many issues which Squaresoft should have seen.
First of all, with the multitude of playable characters, you lose plot. Some of the characters of the story fit into it in many ways, these are the main characters such as Serge and Kid. However there are many characters who just appear. Starky, Van, and others have no point in the story, only a side quest which sticks to the story like an old, wet bandage.
Also, with that many characters, they couldn't give them many techs, so therefore another of Squaresoft's great innovations from Chrono Trigger was lost. Some history: in Chrono Trigger you have abilities called techs. You learn these as you gain AP (gained like EXP, only slower). Monsters, who moved about on the screen, would be targeted by techs in different ways. Some techs would only hit one monster, some would hit monsters in a certain radius from the character, or from the target monster, and some would hit all monsters. Since the monsters were constantly moving, this made placement of the characters and monsters essential to how techs were cast. Also each character had three double techs with each other character, and each combination of characters which included the main character had a triple tech. Not so in Chrono Cross. I believe there were about 12 to 20 double and triple techs, and three techs per character (there were about 10 or more in Chrono Trigger). This meant that you would have to go through the game more than once possibly to discover who had them. Sometimes these characters couldn't even be gotten together in one game, so you may have to go through three times to find a certain move. Also with all the side quests to get many of the items, I recomend the strategy guide for this game also.
The game's plot also had some gaps. There are certain places where you are expected to do something, but either don't know which world to do it in, or can't find where to do it. Sometimes you will have a suggested opportunity to get new characters which you won't know about because it never suggests exploring certain places. There is one point where it is essential to find characters, but it doesn't tell you they are available. Another annoying plot point is that any character will suddenly join the party with the knowledge of every event that has occured in the story, there is no explaination scene, a fact which annoys me when a new character in the group starts talking in detail about an event which happened before they joined the group.
The game is fun, and the new game +, one of the few elements which was kept over from Chrono Trigger, allows for great replayability. All in all though, I was dissapointed. I expected a sequal true to the original's good points, something not delivered upon to my dismay.

FINAL FANTASY¿ ORIGINS Official Strategy Guide
FINAL FANTASY¿ ORIGINS Official Strategy Guide
by Casey Loe
Edition: Paperback
16 used & new from CDN$ 49.94

4.0 out of 5 stars Almost flawless, June 13 2003
I bought this strategy guide with the game(s), and have used it to help me in it/them many times. It has monster data, maps, seperate info on how to deal with the level's beastiary, and details on how to go through the levels.
However I must complain that it does something that most Brady Games strategy guides don't do, and that is show final battle pictures. Although it isn't much, this trend which began in the Kingdom Hearts strategy guide is annoying when, especially in a Squaresoft game which has great final battles, you are turning to the back to look at side quests and the beastiary, and you see the villain, something which sort of takes the climax out of the moment. I just know FFIX's final battle would have been much less surprising if I had seen the villain before fighting him.
So yes this is a good guide, and I know I've complained about the smallest little thing for the longest time, but it is something I don't want to see, or know about. It's like showing the last scenes of the movie in a review of it. Anyway, the guide will tell you anything you want to know about the game, which is what you want it for, right?

Harvest Moon: Back To Nature - PlayStation
Harvest Moon: Back To Nature - PlayStation
Offered by Nadeshico-JAPAN-CA
Price: CDN$ 208.11
8 used & new from CDN$ 59.48

5.0 out of 5 stars The best game of the genre, June 13 2003
This game caps Natsume's work on the Harvest Moon series. With its beautiful graphics and many engaging activities, Harvest Moon: Back to Nature will give you your money's worth of a purchase.
The basic premise is: you have returned to your grandfather's farm, which you visited as a child, to return it to its former glory. You are the sole owner, and worker, of the farm, and therefore everyone is watching you to see how well you do. The mayor and the town that the farm is in tell you that if you don't restore the town AND get the villagers to like you after 2 years, then you must leave.
I have never even gotten to the first fall, the days last about 10 to 15 minutes a piece, and when you are in a building, time is stopped. In order to restore the farm, you must grow crops, which are different for every season, and sell them to make a profit. Also you can buy chickens, cows, and sheep which you can get eggs, milk, and wool from. When you gain the capability later on, you can turn the animal products into mayonaise, butter (I think I remember that right), and yarn. The villagers will sometimes ask you to do odd jobs for them, which will allow you to get even more money, and with the addition of a mine, harvestable plants beyond the farm, and elves to take care of your farm on days you aren't around, the possible ways you can play the game are endless.
Keep in mind that this game has no fighting, so if that is all you want from a game, try something else, this won't be your thing. For people who want something completely different, this may just be the game for you.

No Title Available

3.0 out of 5 stars A good game, but terrible replay value, June 13 2003
I enjoy playing the Myst games once through, they are fun and challenging. However my computer would not allow me to hit a certain switch for some reason, and I was therefore never able to get to the location on the cover. Even if I had, I would never play the game again, I would know how to do everything, and therefore, what would be the point? At least it is better then Myst in which you can win within about 15 minutes of starting the game, but still... Any 60 dollar game (as it was when it was released) should last longer than this. With the detail put in, the game itself is rather short, with puzzle solving accounting for much of your time. Also some puzzles can be so frustrating when you know what to do, but can't (the stopping the scopes thing, the puzzle at the top of the dome on the first island). I thought it was a beautiful game, but I wouldn't get it unless it is below 20 dollars, otherwise I don't really think it's worth it.

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