Life in a Game! by Enemy Crab Productions

5.24.2009

The Best Medicine

By Kent Steichman
Investigative Reporter

I think we’ve all been there before. You’re out on a quest, could be a sidequest, or you might be hot on the trail of your nemesis after he kidnapped your significant other, and it’s just starting to wear on you.

You’re low on hit points, your white mage is tapped out, and you’re a stiff breeze away from having to reload at the last save point when you reach town. After a night at the local inn, you’re right as rain, and ready to take on the world again.

For years, the therapeutic secrets of the hotel industry have been a well guarded secret. It turns out a good night’s rest is all you need to recover from anything from low HP to a bout of poison to being turned into a frog to, strangely enough, being put to sleep.

So how is it that these seemingly humble innkeepers can manage feats of medicine for only a few gold pieces that the best doctors and white mages in the world need at least a high level Cure spell and a Remedy to do?

None of the innkeepers I asked wanted to say a thing about it. In fact, most of them said nothing except to offer me a room, so I figured, what the heck, it was only a few gold, and maybe I could gain some insight into the situation.

I checked into my room, and after wondering just why there were three other beds, I set about looking around the place. Nothing seemed particularly out of the ordinary as I checked the room, except they’d blocked HBO. Cheap buggers.

An idea struck me, that the healing must obviously happen in the middle of the night, so if I stayed up the whole night straight, maybe I could “catch” whatever it is in the act.

So, I settled in for the long haul and ordered some movies to watch. About half way through the third Captain Qwark movie, my eyelids were getting heavy, and I checked the clock to see it was past 3 am. Figuring that either I was on the wrong track or I’d missed whatever it was that did the healing, I decided to call it a night.

But as I put my head down on the pillow, I could swear I heard some sort of fluttering sound coming from the flower pot in the corner. I kept my eyes closed, lest whatever made the sound leave.

“About bloody time,” I heard a tiny voice muttering to itself from the pot, and I felt dust falling over me as it cursed under its breath. When it was gone, I felt like a million gil, refreshed and ready to take on the world.

So, there you have it, I suppose. Fairy magic.

Honestly, I liked it better when it was a mystery.

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4.22.2009

Going Up?

By Kent Steichman
Investigative Reporter

First, let me apologize for missing deadline last week. It turns out when aliens are narrowly defeated after invading the planet, restoring my wireless internet is a pretty low priority in the aftermath.

Now that that's out of the way, I discovered something interesting when I finally returned to my apartment building. I walked up to the building's doorstep, and once I found my keys, I looked up and found myself looking into someone's window.

After dodging a thrown shoe, I looked back and saw the rest of the walkway was similarly elevated, each stone hovering in the air a little bit below the others. Now, in your average military installation, mining complex, or evil overlord's lair, floating platforms are a dime a dozen, but I'm not exactly used to seeing them outside my door.

Clearly, something was wrong here.

I hopped back down (took me a little while, since some of them kept bobbing up and down), and checked out some of my contacts to find that scientists around the world had seen similar phenomena happening all over the place.

My intuition told me they had to be related to the familiar platforms, so I started looking in the Mushroom Kingdom, which still made use of the floating platforms first brought over when Bowser did his little remodeling job back in '85.

I spoke to the Toads and Goombas that were hanging around, but none of them had noticed any new platforms rising from the ground, just the regular old ones they used to get around.

Next, I tried calling Dr. Wily's toll free number, but I got put on the line with Automated Response Man, and I got stuck in the labyrinthine phone menu for about an hour before I gave up.

My leads drying up, I wrestled one of the smaller floating bricks outside my apartment out of the sky, and brought it to Cid's workshop in Rocket Town. After he screamed at me about drinking my tea, he finally took a look at the thing.

What he came up with for an answer is a little unsettling.

"Well, this #$(*& rock shouldn't be floating," he said. I mentioned that much was obvious, and he shook his head at me.

"See, your average floating platform's got either magic, or some sorta futuristic anti-gravity, or a really, really big fan under the $&*$@ thing." He plucked the brick out of the air, "This, on the other hand, is just a brick."

I asked him what could cause regular blocks and stone to float around like that, and he said, "WHAT DO I LOOK LIKE A #$&* EXPERT?!" Eventually, he calmed down a bit, and had a closer look at it.

"There's some sort of radiation coming from this," he said, but he was unsure of just what it meant. Just from looking at it, all he could guess was that, somehow, something seemed to be breaking "the rules". What sorts of rules, I asked him.

"Oh, you know, those #$&*% nice little things like physics. Gravity, for instance."

I'll keep looking into this as more evidence becomes available, but for now, just look where you're stepping, because that flagstone in front of your doorstep might not be where you left it.

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3.31.2009

With This Herring

By Kent Steichman
Investigative Reporter

So, in case you haven't been out in awhile, it seems we're being invaded by aliens. Again. So, naturally, heroes of all shapes and sizes will be out and about fighting our would-be insectoid overlords, but why, I find myself wondering, do half of them seem to be heading into battle with nothing more than pistols and knives?

Granted, it's pretty reasonable for this to be the case with quite a few heroes, like your standard "brash youth who's rescuing his sister from the aliens" or the run-of-the-mill "cowboy cop that just got taken off the case."

But when the world's top marines and soldiers are being sent to fight a 20 foot scaled monstrosity that just stomped its way through France armed only with their sidearms and a Swiss army knife, I think there's something wrong there.

So, with this question in mind, I snuck across Ravenholm to the nearest resistance station, and asked one of the older guys who used to be in the military.

Why, I asked, were the world's soldiers always being sent into battle so ill equipped?

He just smiled and shook his head. "Well," he said as his radio crackled with status reports intermixed with frantic screaming, "We did used to send them out with the top of the line equipment, state of the art armor, and full fire support. Problem was, everyone we sent out like that just got slaughtered anyway."

That didn't make any sense, I protested, and he just shrugged. "Check the old intro sequences some time. It never fails, soldiers go out decked out in power armor and get creamed, but one lone soldier heading out with just a pistol and the shirt on his back wins every time."

He added, "Besides, they usually find some sort of alien weapon or vehicle that's miles ahead of what we would've given them anyway. It's just cheaper to send'em out with nothing and let them figure things out on their own. That way, if they do get pasted, at least you're not losing some million dollar power armor."

He sat up and adjusted the radio, listening to it for a moment before he continued. "Hell, I remember one guy, forget the name, he was stationed up on Mars. Whole installation gets taken over by demons or something, and he kicked their asses." He thought for a moment, "The chainsaw and the BFG probably helped, though."

I wanted to ask him a few more questions, but some explosions outside interrupted us. "Damn," he said, picking up a rocket launcher. "One of those damn walkers again. Where's that guy with the goatee when you need him?" he muttered as he ran out the door. I took the opportunity to get myself out of there, and maybe once these guys are dealt with, I'll see if I can get an interview with whatever space marine fought them off.

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3.22.2009

On the Edge of Extinction

By Kent Steichman
Investigative Reporter

Scientists from around the world have been baffled by the ongoing depopulation of several once-prominent species that take residence in the wildernesses all around the world. While the Dalmascan Wolf, the Cornerian Goblin, and various other wild animals once littered the terrain, now they've become incredibly scarce, with no readily discernable reason.

With the scientific community was at a loss for finding the explaination, I took it upon myself to look into what happened to these majestic creatures. First, I made my way to the Dream City, to see if anyone knew what caused the Goblins there to be put on the endangered species list back in '87. Aside from welcoming me to the city, repeatedly, and talking about some Light Warriors and orbs, nobody was any real help.

Since that was getting me nowhere, I called up some of the contacts I have in the scientific community. Dr. Light refused to answer my calls, but Professor Oak in Palette Town said one possibility was climate change. He added the local Pokemon populations hadn't changed much, though every once in awhile he'd find several concussed Rattatas when out on his morning walks.

For some reason, though, that explanation didn't really fit for me. After all, it seemed to happen in relatively isolated areas, and as I looked into it, the depopulations seemed to happen around other big events in the area. For example, the Dalmascan Wolves were nearly wiped out shortly after the new regent from the Archadian Empire took over the capital at Rabanastre.

I headed to the desert city to see if I could find anyone there that might know something. So, I asked around, starting with some of the soldiers stationed around the city. They said they had no idea what had happened to the Estersand's beasts, because, well, they didn't care. "What's a few wolves to you, mate?" they'd ask from behind those masks.

Honestly, I think they're just irritable because, well, they're wearing full plate mail in a desert, but I suppose they don't have much choice.

As I walked around the city, I noticed one of the vendors seemed to have an overabundance of wolf pelts, and I asked the merchant where he'd gotten his merchandise. After I slipped him a few gil, he told me he got most of the pelts from a young man named Vaan.

"It was right around that big party at the palace," he told me, "It was like something just possessed the poor lad. I mean, he used to just kill rats here and there down in the sewers, but one day, he just started hunting down the wolves outside the city, chasing'em down and whackin' 'em left and right."

He said Vaan had been a "good guy" before then, but of course the boy had some issues. His parents had both died years before, and his brother was killed during the war with Arcades. My informant speculated that the new governor's installation might have just pushed him over the edge.

"But hey, these pelts sell pretty well, so I ain't complaining," he added. I asked him how he could be so cavalier about the possible extinction of the local wildlife, and he said, "Eh, there's always a few more laying about," then asked if I wanted to buy some potions.

I tried tracking down this "Vaan," but nobody knew where he was. I doubt, though, that he's responsible for the other sets of endangered animals, unless he really gets around. And has a time machine. It may forever remain a mystery what's plaguing the creatures of the world.

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3.11.2009

Those Who Hunt Monsters

By Kent Steichman
Investigative Reporter

For many of us here, dying is just a fact of life. So long as it doesn't come at the hands of a major villain during a cutscene, most of us are back up on our feet with a quick Phoenix Down, or a trip to the inn, or a good old fashioned green mushroom.

This is something most of us take for granted, of course, but what about those who might see it as a curse? Sure, it helps us get on with whatever quest we're on, but what if you were the object of the quest? Think about it, if every day some ragtag bunch of adventurers came down to pry your rare sword from your cold dead hands, it would get old, wouldn't it?

So, to find out what it's like, I set off for Vana'diel. Journeying to the Dragon's Aery, I eventually found the notorious Fafnir. He was, well, less than pleased to see me.

"Is it that time again already?" the beast groaned as I approached, before looking at me critically. "Where's everyone else? You don't look like a hunting party. Hell, you don't even have a sword!"

He didn't seem to get it at first, but after explaining for a little while, I finally got it into his head that I wasn't there to kill him. I guess he doesn't have a subscription. Once I convinced him that I wasn't a threat (and more importantly, he didn't have to eat me), I asked him what it was like, being such a sought after boss.

"Well, it's not all bright sunny days," he said matter-of-factly. "Sure, I get plenty of time to myself, and I meet lots of interesting people, but they all want to kill me, and most of them do."

He waved a claw absently, "Sure, I can usually take down one or two of the stragglers, but it's gotten damned hard to wipe the little blighters out. They're persistent, anyway."

I asked him why he was so, ahem, popular. "Oh, it's this sword I've got. Called the Ridill. Those guys are nuts over it." I took a good look at Fafnir. I had to ask, just what did a 30 foot long dragon, without any hands to speak of, need a sword for?

"Bugger if I know," he said, rolling his eyes. "I know I can't use the thing, and believe me, I've tried. It won't fit in my claws, it's too small for my tail to wrap around it, and if I hold it in my mouth, I can't talk and I get all kinds of nasty cuts in there."

He paused, then gave a bitter chuckle, "Hell, sometimes I don't even have the thing. I try to tell the little bastards, tell'em they're wasting their time, but they don't listen. And then, once I'm dead and they get nothing out of the deal, they have the nerve to yell at me, as if it's my fault."

Fafnir sighed. "I don't even know where the thing comes from. I just respawn, and hey, there it is. Sometimes, I think, what if I set up a shop, just sell the things? But I only ever have one at a time, so that just won't work."

At this point, the doors opened, and a group of adventurers came in, staring down the dragon. "Oh, you'd better get going," Fafnir told me. "This is probably going to get ugly," he added with a bit of resignation as I filed out past the warriors, "Especially when they find out all they're getting today is a Dragon Talon."

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2.15.2009

Where Do They Get Those Wonderful Toys?

By Kent Steichman
Investigative Reporter


These are tough times we live in. In addition to the economic troubles, and unrest at home and abroad, it seems that nearly every week some mad scientist or another is trying to take over the world.

But these ever-present villains, when one thinks of the money troubles facing the average Joe, bring up the question: Just where are these guys getting the money to keep their robot hordes up and running?

There can't be much return on gigantic death machines, especially when they tend to be destroyed by the nearest 10 year old robot in blue spandex, or any passing mutated woodland creature. So how do the likes of Dr. Ivo Robotnik or Albert Wily keep returning to their schemes time and time again?

As I set out to investigate this, it occurred to me that I probably couldn't just head up to their fortresses and ask them. I may be willing to dig deep to find a story, but I'm not willing to fight my way past killer robots, at least not with the blue shield and E Tank shortage going on.

So instead, I turned to the people (or, in this case, robot and animal) who knew them the best. Unfortunately, I couldn't manage to keep Sonic's attention for more than the ten seconds it took me to ask any questions. After I made a note to investigate whether he was on Speed, I paid a visit to Light Labs.

Dr. Thomas Light, one time partner and now nemesis to Wily, was less than enthusiastic about my questions. "Well, if I bloody knew that then he wouldn't be this big of a problem, now would he?" he barked at me.

So, with that turning up a dead end, I had to turn to their other known associates. Shadow, unfortunately, couldn't stop brooding enough to give me any useful information, and aside from nicking my watch Rouge wanted nothing to do with me. I called long distance to Moscow and asked Dr. Mikhail Cossack if he had any ideas. He told me while he had gotten government funds to compete with Dr. Light's robots, he had no idea how Wily kept funding his robot armies.

It seemed I was stuck until one night, when I was returning to my car, I heard a strange whistling sound. Turning around, I saw a kid wearing a trench coat and a scarf. "You're looking in the wrong places," he told me. I asked who he was, but he wouldn't tell me. "Wily's always been better with software and hardware. Viruses, that sort of thing," he continued, before he headed out of sight.

This on its own didn't help me one bit, of course. I don't know much about computer programming, but I had a few contacts that did. One of them stumbled on a line of code pointing to Wily while looking through spam-related viruses, and it dawned on me. Wily was funding his technology through E-mail scams.

The deposed Nigerian prince? Wily. The Lottery agency that's going to send you a check now, and transfer the rest when you give them your bank information? Wily. That hot Asian woman who will run away with you as long as you give her your social security number?

Wily.

It's a horrifying thought. So whatever you do, don't fall for these scams. Not only will you be out thousands of dollars, but you'll be funding evil robots.

2.01.2009

Why Does Everything Explode?

By Kent Steichman
Investigative Reporter

So, tell me if this has ever happened to you: You're minding your own business, finishing up those last few TPS reports, when all of a sudden some otherwise well-meaning vigilante, secret agent, or superhero comes running through your office, and you find your surroundings suddenly exploding all around you.

So not only is your office now a wreck, but whatever you were working on went up in a ball of fire when a stray shot hit your work desk, including your desk and chair. But why does everything explode? This is the question I sought to answer, and my inquiries took me all the way to Russia.

First, I checked one of the nation's leading users of exploding furniture, dataDyne industries. CEO Cassandra DeVries, however, was not available to speak, the strange tall, blond man in a trench coat informed me when I tried to schedule a meeting. When I told him I simply wanted to know where they got their supplies, he directed me to one of their sales associates.

The woman I then spoke to told me they got their office supplies cheap by buying surplus goods that nobody else would buy, which surprised me more than it should have. Exploding desks can't really be a premium item, after all. I asked her if she knew why they exploded, but she said she had no idea. During our conversation, she mentioned she was due to get a new desk, which probably explained why she was so careful getting into and out of her chair.

She gave me the name of the supplier, which led me to an old warehouse in Severnaya. While looking around, I met an old Red Army officer who displayed burns on one side of his face from, as he put it, "A goddamn box just went off on me."

We toured the warehouse, and he finally explained just why everything seems to be combustible. Back during the cold war, when supplies were low, one multipurpose factory had, by way of a shipping mix up, received dozens of barrels of nitroglycerin instead of the petroleum they needed to put into plastics.

Since waiting for the appropriate materials to come would have taken too long, they simply used the nitro in place of the petroleum, which proved to be fairly stable unless exactly four bullets hit one of the items made.

The surviving items, ranging from packing boxes to crates to desks, televisions and radios, were sold and shipped throughout the Soviet Union and even to the United States. Sadly, there's no way to tell just which office supplies will explode or not, so unless you're sure, whatever you do, for God's sake never take cover behind a desk. That's just asking for trouble.

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1.13.2009

What's the Real Secret of the Mushroom Kingdom?

By Kent Steichman
Investigative Reporter

It's an age old story: Monster kidnaps princess, monster takes over kingdom, princess is rescued by an unlikely hero. But what's really behind this pantomime, and why does it seem to happen so darn often?


For years now, the citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom have had to deal with their princess being "kidnapped," only to have a certain fat plumber bail her out. Since he's been able to beat Bowser so often, why, you may ask, doesn't he deal with him once and for all?


Well, I did ask, and the answers will surprise you.

As I began my investigation, the Mushroomians, of course, wouldn't hear anything against their "hero" Mario. "He's saved us so many times," they'd say. The Princess, of course, wouldn't speak to me except through her press secretary, who would only tell me to try one of the other castles.


It seemed my search would be in vain, until I was contacted by a small group with a grudge against Mario and the big bad Bowser himself. Under condition of anonymity, they told me the whole story.


The whole drama, they said, was just an act, concocted by Bowser, to get around the Mushroom Kingdom's notoriously strict drug laws. Between the "kidnappings," you'd be hard pressed to find so much as a Fire Flower on the streets of the Mushroom Kingdom.


But once Bowser's done his thing, you can't walk down Shiitake Street without tripping over Super Stars, Raccoon Leaves and Mushrooms of all shapes and sizes. For a few weeks while Mario is trying to "rescue" the Princess, all the dealers can go about their business.


And of course, my sources said, both the fat man and the princess are in on the scheme, skimming off the top while keeping their good public image in the eyes of the citizens. And isn't it obvious? Look at how friendly they seem to be most of the time. Go karting, golfing, playing soccer and tennis, like they're the best of friends. And just how do you suppose they pay for all of that extravagance?


My sources said that, once upon a time, Bowser even wanted to spread his scheme to the neighboring kingdoms, which eventually led to their falling out with the rest of the organization. Though they were successful in their "attack" on the other kingdoms, they couldn't get the rulers to buy into it, so Bowser abandoned them in favor of Bowser Jr.


I asked them if they'd considered testifying, but, they said, who can they go to, when those who are supposed to be looking out for the Kingdom are in on the plot? Their only hope, they said, was to leave the kingdom and start over.

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12.21.2008

Robbers Running Rampant!

By Kent Steichman
Investigative Reporter

Every city sees its share of crime, and as you astute readers know, there have been a rash of thefts in the last few weeks, with brash robbers barging into the homes of unsuspecting citizens to steal anything that isn't nailed down.

But what if there's more to this than meets the eye? And how can these people keep getting away with this brazen crime? Where are the police?

As usual, it was up to yours truly to investigate where others wouldn't, and what I found may shock you!

My search began in the quiet town of Kalm, which until some weeks ago, lived up to its name. But suddenly, a band of outlaws stormed into town, and rampaged through peoples' homes.
As one eye witness described it, "My wife was making dinner, and I was watching TV, when this weird guy, a hooker, and their strange orange dog just burst in the door!"

The family only looked on in shock as these brigands ran through the house. "They asked me if I'd seen a man in a black cloak, and when I said I hadn't, they went looking through the cupboards!" In all, these miscreants stole an Ether the man was saving, and a bolt ring that had been in his family for years.

And the police, despite solid descriptions and eye-witness accounts, have done nothing! A representative would only say that people should "learn to lock their damn doors!" and threatened to have me arrested.

Naturally, this only emboldened me. The people must know the truth! So I kept digging. The thieves in question have only grown in number since sweeping through Kalm, and everywhere they couldn't get information about this "black cloaked man," they responded by robbing the citizens blind!

Clearly, this black cloaked man was the key to the whole operation, but before I could find any information on him, I was contacted by someone who claimed to know the truth behind these crimes.

On the condition of anonymity, he spoke to me through an animatronic cat. And, according to him, these weren't thieves, but dangerous eco-terrorists! As to why the police have done nothing, he said that by letting them run rampant, they were leading the police to an even bigger threat: the mysterious black-cloaked man. "A few stolen Potions here and there are small potatoes compared to this."

Small potatoes? Tell that to little Timmy in Sector 5, whose father can't work because of an injury. The family had a Hi-Potion set aside for just such an occasion, but guess what happened to that!

So the police won't listen to your pleas, but now you know the truth! Lock your doors, hide your Potions, and hope that whatever this black cloaked man is, it's worth letting the good citizens suffer through this!

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12.02.2008

Get a Free Console

Sin and Punishment 2. Gran Turismo 5. Alan Wake. If you want to play these games, you're going to need a "next-gen" system. The only problem is that they cost money, and lots of it.

There are a lot of websites out there that promise "Win a Wii" or "Free PS3 Special Offer". Many of these are scam sites that require you to spend even more money than the system costs to begin with. Others ask you to sign up 5, 10, or even 25 friends to the scam in order to score the console. Since when do gamers have 25 friends?

All these websites do is waste your time. Getting a free next-gen gaming system is not easy, but you already have all the tools you need to be playing the hottest games as soon as tomorrow.

1. Plan Ahead.
You should first decide what system you want, and what stores sell it. Do you want to wave around a Wii remote while watching a miniature version of you play tennis? Do you want to scream into a microphone about how much you love Master Chief? Do you wake up at night hankering for brains and a copy of Resident Evil 5? Choose carefully.

2. Friends. Although you may not have 25 (or even 10) friends, find 1 or 2 who are willing to help you out. If you promise them they can play the system with you after you have it set up, they will be more likely to help. Feel free to re-neg on that offer when the time actually comes. They might never talk to you again, but hey - you can drown your sorrows in Halo 3.

3. The Big Day.
Go to your local electronics store with your friends, and make sure you are each wearing a really big coat. Not just big, but huge... something that Elvis might have worn in his later years. Have one friend distract the employee closest to the Wii/360/PS3 while you sneak the box into your coat. Next, have your other friend distract the guard/cashier nearest the exit, and stroll out of the store. Try not to look suspicious.

4. Play. Congratulations! You've gotten a free next-gen system. Sit back, relax, and if you want, let your friends play like you promised. However, that course of action is not recommended.

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