Gitaroo Man Lives - The Karmic Struggle of Good and Evil

One of my favorite games from E3 this year was the PSP title Gitaroo Man Lives by Koei. It's a sequel to the PS2 cult-hit Gitaroo Man that you probably never played (nor had I) and I thoroughly enjoyed sneaking over to neighboring Koei's booth each day during my scheduled booth duty to play a game of it. It's a music-based puzzle game that is essentially impossible to describe. It's great though. The game was originally scheduled for release in September then it got pushed back to, I thought, 2007. Then, Monday night, I noticed some reviews for it were popping up online and lo and behold, the game got released back in November. Who knew?

I like to buy all of my games either online or from Fred Meyer in Issaquah, as the people in that store are really friendly and it's the closest store to my house where I can usually get major releases the day they come out. But yesterday I was finishing up some shopping and getting my hair cut, so I went looking for it at Best Buy. But they didn't have it. I could have went to Circuit City next, but I figured they'd probably not have such a niche title so I'd just head straight to Gamestop, which I try to avoid like the plague.

I walk into the store with no coat on, no bags under my arms, nothing in my hands. I'm greeted immediately by an assistant manager who looks like a caveman who just rolled out of bed.

"Welcome to Gamestop, do you have any games or consoles with you, you'd like to trade in?"

Did I mention I absolutely hate this store? Did I mention I can be a complete jerk when I want to? I wanted to. I didn't on the way in, but now I did.

I stop in my tracks, spread my arms wide and look slowly from one hand to the other with a puzzled look on my face -- I'm trying to locate the games and/or consoles I've carried in to the store for a trade-in. "Doesn't look like it, does it?" I finally say. This sounds overly harsh, I know, but entering Gamestop is like getting in a fight. You have to come out swinging or you're going to be boxed into the corner and caught on the ropes. I didn't step to the center of the ring and shake hands, I gave an Ivan Drago "You will lose" the ass-man will never forget.

He's nonplussed. "Can I help you find something today?"

I pretend not to hear and head straight towards the wall-mounted racks trying to find what I've come for. I used to frequent this particular Gamestop once or twice a week, but I haven't been in for at least a year or so. I stopped coming when the good employees quit and new management took over. Everywhere I look is used games. Used games on the shelves. Used games in bins. Used games in stacks on the damn counter. There's hardly an inch of space in this under-sized store that doesn't have used, sorry, pre-owned games on it.

I finally get frustrated and head to the counter. I wait, no hurry. One worker is trying to explain to another customer over the phone that they don't have any PlayStation 3 consoles in stock and the ass-man is informing the guy in front of me that they're only going to give him $26 in credit for the 4 Xbox games he has brought in for trades. Figures.

Finally, it's my turn.

"I'm looking for Gitaroo Man Lives for PSP".

I pronounce it Git-a-Roo by the way.

The ass-man looks at me sort of confused, then says with a level of condescension that I myself found impressive, "Oh, you mean Gitaroo Man Lives" only he says it Gi-TAR-oo. The difference is a short a versus the long a.

"Yeah, that's the one." I said.

He opens a drawer behind the counter, pulls out a copy of the game and smirks while gently nodding his head at me in the process.

Oh, now it's on! Ladies and gentleman, the boxers have rested and now it is round two. I didn't want to, but I had to. Let's get ready to rumble!

"So, did you make it down to E3 this year?" I ask.

I don't give him time to respond, knowing the answer is no.

"Because I did and each day I went over to Koei's booth to play that game and you know what, everyone at Koei pronounced it Git-a-roo Man Lives, not Gi-TAR-oo. See, you thought you were showing me up there, didn't you? You thought you would correct my pronunciation and show me how knowledgeable on games you are, didn't you? How'd that work out?"

He looks away and tries to ignore me. He scans the game then returns to corporate-enforced checkout procedures.

"Are there any games you'd like to pre-order with us today?"

I'm not done. He's wobbly, but he's not down yet.

"Why? So when it comes out, you can call me and say there's a shipping error and you won't have it for another day or two like Gears of War? No thanks, I'm sticking to Fred-Meyer. They're more reliable."

In the second round, by way of knockout, the new Heavyweight Game-Buying Champion is... okay, you get the point.

But, of course, karma would catch up to me in the end.

I finally got around to peeling back the cellophane on the game at about 11:30 pm last night. I was going to play it in bed after Kristin fell asleep. I haven't used my PSP in months and apparently Gitaroo Man Lives came with another system update for the PSP. The system wouldn't allow me to play the game without updating, but the battery was low so I couldn't update it either.

No problem, you used to have to plug the system in when updating because if the battery died mid-update, you'd be left with a $199 paperweight. I remember my friend Brad complaining that he often bought new games and would want to play them in waiting rooms and not be able to because he didn't have his plug with him.

Well, it seems Sony heard his complaints and swung from one extreme to the other. When I saw the message saying that I couldn't update the system because of a low battery, I did what any other sane PSP owner would do, I plugged it in.

Still no dice. Nevermind the fact that the unit is plugged into the wall, I continued to get messages refusing to update the system because I had a low battery. So I left the console along for thirty minutes or so and came back and tried again. The battery was now two-thirds charged, but yet it still wouldn't update. Why? Because the battery wasn't fully charged. I guess the endless supply of current from the wall isn't good enough.

Thank you Sony. You listened to the complaints from your customers and shifted your position on this matter. System updates used to be a hassle, but we understood your reasons behind doing it that way. But this? This is just retarded.

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