No Half-Blood Prince until July 2009? What the hell? It sounds like a horribly cruel joke, doesn't it? Unfortunately April 1st isn't for another 7 and a half months. The official Warner Brothers movie site reflects this new date.

The reason? WB is placing the blame on the writer's strike, and also citing monetary reasons (though in less direct words). From Market Watch:

In making the announcement, Mr. Horn stated, "Our reasons for shifting 'Half-Blood Prince' to summer are twofold: we know the summer season is an ideal window for a family tent pole release, as proven by the success of our last Harry Potter film, which is the second-highest grossing film in the franchise, behind only the first installment. Additionally, like every other studio, we are still feeling the repercussions of the writers' strike, which impacted the readiness of scripts for other films--changing the competitive landscape for 2009 and offering new windows of opportunity that we wanted to take advantage of. We agreed the best strategy was to move 'Half-Blood Prince' to July, where it perfectly fills the gap for a major tent pole release for mid-summer."
None of that makes any real sense. HBP isn't really a "family" film. It's very dark, and characters are getting cursed and killed all over the place. HBP is geared to, at minimum, 16 year olds, being the 6th in the series (Rowling has mentioned multiple times that the books are meant to grow with the readership, just as the characters grow; meaning you read the first when you're 11 (the same age as the main characters), and so on). Aside from that, Thanksgiving is a huge time for movies in theaters. It's possible they're worried about competition from Twilight, which releases just a few weeks after the original November date.

Fans have, admittedly, been worried about the film for a while, so it shouldn't be coming as too big of a surprise. The teaser was taking a while to come out, as were photos. But then why release a trailer? And why release a dated trailer and then just 2 weeks later announce the film won't be out for another 8 months? It just doesn't make sense. The video game is dated November 11. I wonder if this will be pushed back as well? To be perfectly honest, the whole excuse sounds like, well, an excuse to make more money. Which, I mean, I understand the point of a business is to make money, but.... The film should be finishing up, so they'll have a finished film (maybe not in November, but pushing it back to just December probably would have been fine), and then I guess they'll just sit on it until July. It's a horrible way to treat the fans, as well.


Fable 2 Pub Games

Grabbed my pre-order code this afternoon on the way back from the comic shop. They're not too bad. Addicting, at least, if not always entertaining. There's not a whole lot to it. You just sort of sit there and hit the "A" button a lot. While some Fable music themes plays in the background. It's certainly nothing elaborate. I played for, I don' t know, maybe half an hour when I got home? Maybe more? Sort of lost track. Anyway, the point is, I'm already horribly in debt. ^_^

Let's just get this out of the way first. If you're not planning on buying Fable 2, DO NOT buy the pub games off of Xbox Live. I can't even begin to tell you how absurd that would be. They're not worth the $10. Now, if you ARE going to be buying Fable 2, then get your little butt (or big butt) down to your nearest GameStop (or surf to it with your browser) and pre-order the game so that you can get the code to download them for free. Otherwise, don't bother. If you're into Fable enough to spend hours playing the damn things (and there's only 3 very simple games), well, you know who you are (ie: you're me).

Do not expect to load up the game and win thousands of pieces of gold right away. It's going to take a LOT of time. As I said, I'm already at least 1,000 gold in debt, leaving me with just 1,000 profit right now. There's little skill to the game; it's mostly luck, and the game is a cruel mistress. The odds (at least at first) are horrific. But as you continue to play (and you're gonna have to play quite a lot), you'll unlock higher levels of the game where you can bet more money with better odds.

Now, to get the exclusive items from the pub to use in your Fable 2 game, you must enter and win the tournaments for all three games (multiple times/levels, I'm sure). Concept art gets unlocked as you go up in gambler level (simply by playing over and over and over again).

The first game is Fortune's Tower, a solitaire/pyramid sort of game. There are face cards numbered 1-7, and 4 Hero cards per deck. The idea is to build a tower of cards all the way to the 8th row and win the jackpot (and I can tell you now it will almost never happen, at least early on). So unlike Pyramid, the dealer is setting cards out to build the tower, you're not taking them away. First you place your bet, then the dealer deals out a gate card face down, and two face cards on top of that. The dealer adds up the amount shown on the face cards, and that's your pay out. Unless all the cards in a row are the same number, in which case the payout is doubled (no matter which row you except it on). The dealer continues, adding one more card in each row. The catch is that if a card is dealt on top of a similar card, it's a "misfortune" and you lose the game. There are ways around this: The first allows for the gate card to replace the bad card, but this won't always work (it could be the exact same card). The other is if a Hero card is dealt in that row, which automatically allows the row to count. The object is to get the highest pay out you can without a "misfortune," so you press your luck as far as you want, keeping in mind the cards in play and how many Heroes are in the deck. If you get a jackpot (which only occurs if you get all rows, and the gate card has not been used), the total of every card played is added together for a larger payout. As you go up in gambling level, there are fewer number cards, which increases your odds of winning a jackpot.

Let me just add that after you accept your payout from the "dealer," the game shows you what would have happened had you continued playing. This way you can see that had you continued playing, you dumb ass, you could have won the jack pot that you desperately needed to help pay off your debt.

Keystone is a combination of roulette and craps. Slots numbered 3-18 form and arch over the playing table. When the game begins, a stone is place in each arch slot, with 10 and 11, and 3 and 18 as the keystones. You place a bet on any of these stones, which remain until the arch falls and the game ends (so there are multiple rounds per game). During rounds you can also place single round bets on the "inside," based on rolls - all evens or all odds, triples, triple fives, black, red, low numbers, high numbers, etc. These only last for the single round, and if you don't win them, they go away. The game ends when the archway falls by losing any 2 of the 4 keystones (10, 11 or 3, 18). The inside bets have odds each round which you can check out with the pull of the left trigger. So there is some skill regarding how much you spread your money around, but again, it's the luck of the dice. And each time a number is rolled, the archway disappears. If the number is rolled again, the adjacent stone goes away.

The last game is Spinnerbox, which is fairly dull and requires very little input from the player. It's basically a slot machines game, but unlike usual games that have you press a button to stop a slot spinning, there's really no interaction here at all. All of the spinning is done automatically; you just place your bet and hit "A" and let them spin. If you match two connecting images, you win some money...sometimes. Sometimes you need three of them. Or more, depending on which level you're playing. Some pictures give you free spins, or spin an extra disc for bonus money. As you go up in gambling level, you can access boxes with more discs (more chances to win), but this tends to mean you have to match more of them together to win any money.

They're alright. With Spinnerbox you could basically sit there and hit the "A" button repeatedly while doing something else entirely (like reading a book, or playing another console if you have a 2nd TV). And if you do get into a lot of debt, well, it's your choice whether you want to merge the gambling character with your hero once you get Fable 2. You certainly don't have to at all.
Aesthetically, the games are a little dull. There's not much animation, and the AI you play against during tournaments don't really do anything. But you're not playing it for the animation, you're playing it to win some sweet stuff for your Fable doggie (and your hero, of course).
So if you're a Fable freak, like I am, you should probably get on the ball so that you're out of debt by the time the game comes out in late October.


Random News - 8-12-08

As I have been busy watching the Olympics (or rather, the super hot guys in the Olympics), I haven't watched much anime (or even played much of The World Ends With You). But I have kept up with some news here and there. Some of it's more interesting than others.

We'll start with the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I could go into why they shouldn't even BE in Beijing, but I'm pretty sure that's been covered over and over since it was announced. Beijing is in top (fake) form though, presenting a polished image to the world. But what happens when your perfect image is revealed to be fake to the entire world? If you watched the opening ceremonies, you may have caught 9-year-old Lin Miaoke singing "Ode to the Motherland." Except that she really wasn't. The voice that young Lin was lip-syncing to was the voice of 7-year-old Yang Peiyi, who was deemed to be "not cute enough" to appear in the ceremonies. A horrible thing to do to a child, but little Yang, a model oppressed Chinese citizen, says that it was an honor just to be able to sing, even if she was shunned from being on the stage. (source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26153578/ )

In more warming Olympic news...how about that Michael Phelps? Working toward breaking the record for most career gold medals (which he is currently tied for; he needs one more to break it and he's got I think 3 more events in which he can place). He is some kind of amazing. I feel a bit bad for anyone who has to swim against this guy, because it's nearly impossible to beat him. He's just too damn fast. It's incredible watching him. And he's just so honestly thrilled to be there and be swimming, and his family (his mom and sister at least) are there to see him. He's really the star of the show.

But let's not forget the underdogs, the US gymnastics team, that everyone said would never pull it off. Wouldn't place, probably wouldn't even make the finals. Not with two alternates replacing at the last minute two of their top players. And yet they not only persevered, they won a medal. Bronze, but any medal was a huge accomplishment. If you watched them, you could see they deserved it. Absolutely amazing. They almost had the silver, but one of the poor boys blew his pommel horse routine. They sat nervously through the last few German routines to make sure they would hold the bronze, and they were just enough ahead to win. China got the gold, which was also well deserved, and Japan got the silver. As a side note, I'm totally in love with Jonathan Horton. So adorable. :)

Moving on to something else, I don't know if anyone is keeping up with this Georgia/Russia fiasco. It's really confusing, to me at least. Probably because the articles I'm reading keep saying different things. The first I read said Georgia attacked Russia, and Russia retaliated (with a vengeance). Then I read another that said Russia's been attacking Georgian villages for a while, and goading Georgia into a revolt. Then Georgia wanted a cease fire, but Russia kept pounding them, and now I guess Russia's going on for the cease fire as well. Or well, as it turns out, the Russian president told them to stop, but they're still going at it. It's pretty crazy shit. Here's some articles to get you up to speed:

Now for something far less serious. Funimation is once again stepping in on behalf of a Japanese anime company (d-rights), requesting that fansubs be pulled for the following shows: Monochrome Factor, Nabari no Ou, Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, Bamboo Blade and El Cazador. You may remember Funimation taking similar action a little while back on behalf of Gonzo's Romeo X Juliet (which Funimation has since licensed) and Bokurano. I'm curious why these Japanese companies don't take this action themselves, though I suppose it could be a money issue (which Funimation seems to have plenty of). I in no way feel "entitled" to "free anime," but it irks me a little bit when they take down shows that have yet to be licensed. Unless Funimation plans to license all of those shows at some point (and they've only gotten one so far). It means nobody gets to watch it unless a distribution company thinks it a profitable venture to offer it. (source: ANN)

Halo 3 recently won an innovation award from Edge, which is some sort of UK game industry network. Now, I have nothing against Halo. I like Halo. And I think Halo has done some amazing things for online console play. But Halo 3? Halo 2 pushed some great online console innovation. All Halo 3 added that could be called innovative is Forge, the theater, and I guess online co-op. Except there were plenty other games you can already do stuff like that with. And the theater was a logical response to people making videos by their own means. The game was up against GTAIV, Portal, Super Mario Galaxy, Rock Band, and Wii Fit. I can see plenty more innovation in each of those games than what Halo 3 had. I don't know if you noticed, but PORTAL was in the category. I don't think I need to say anything more. (source: Kotaku)

Now on a sort of side note, I did finish Last Exile last week, so I will be writing a review of it soon. I should do it now, before I forget everything. The short of it is that I found it interesting enough, but that I hated the flow and pacing of the story. More explanation later. Also, last time I was at my comic shop, I placed an order for the You Are (Not) Alone Rei Ayanami statue. Not sure how long it will take for that to come in, but expect some pictures when it does. Between what my aunt and mother sent me for my birthday, I was able to (finally) get the full season of Escaflowne and order the statue. But now I'm broke again. :)

As I post this, they're doing a highlight of a Polish swimmer who auctioned off her gold medal for charity...and they're playing a Halo song. Just an interesting note, I guess.

PS - I know most (maybe all) of you are male, but some pictures have surfaced of Jake Gyllenhaal as the Prince. Shirtless pics. Super hot, sweaty, dirty, shirtless pics. I'm pretty excited, personally.

edit: I originally said a Polish "singer" won a gold medal, which is silly. I meant to say "swimmer," and have since corrected that. Must have been thinking about little Peiyi.