Friday, April 30, 2004 @ 19:21 (Japan Standard Time)
About

A hobbyist video gamer in the middle of Japan's gaming zone. Comments on console, PC, handheld and arcade games.
On this page

2004-04-30 Fri

Welcome to Osaka, 2004 gaming over retro

2004-04-26 Mon

Missing a promotion means missing out!

Advance Connector

2004-04-25 Sun

Completed a fun game

2004-04-21 Wed

Unreal Tournament 2k4 Guide Book, too!

2004-04-20 Tue

Too broke to pay attention

2004-04-19 Mon

A Shanghai Alice Event: Hakurei Jinjya Reitaisai

2004-04-18 Sun

Waiting in the line makes me write a post.

2004-04-15 Thu

Beat it!

2004-04-13 Tue

Lameness, Jak

2004-04-11 Sun

The last time I will enjoy European games.

2004-04-05 Mon

A gigantic toy is approaching!

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Welcome to Osaka, 2004 gaming over retro

Recently playing:
  • D.C. P. S. (PS2-jp, try not to say "bear" when you see me)
  • Pikmin 2 (GC-jp, I hate back-to-nature micro-management)
  • Unreal Tournament 2004 (WinPC-us, Facing Worlds! Classic!)
  • Parsec47 (WinPC-jp, ahhh speed)
  • Card Captor Sakura - Sakura Card Version (GBA-jp, yes the GBA can do full motion anime)
It is officially "Golden Week", but it start in the middle of a week, so it feels weird. That means it's time to pursue some hobbies.

This time my first day of vacation was meeting up with Greg Bower, one of the many shmup fans on the Shmups Forum. He already met up with other ShmupsForum regulars in Tokyo, and I guess I'm representing the Kobe/Osaka arm. We took a day to the electronic sights of Nipponbashi "Osaka Den Den Town." Actually I met his wife and mother-in-law as well, nice people. They don't play games however. So I borrowed Greg from his wife for a while. We didn't go to any arcades, and we concentrated most of our efforts on used game hunting and gachapon figurines. He showed me some shops I've never been to, and likewise I showed him stuff he didn't seem to know about. Although he was buying up a storm, I didn't have anything in mind to buy that day, but I did see Pikmin 2. Nice. We left Nipponbashi a bit heavier that day but he seemed to be happy having gotten his priority gaming stuff in the haul, the special edition of Game Tengoku for the SS-jp.

While he was looking at PC-Engine games and stuff, I realized that my perspective of gaming is highly personal, and not very general. We both lusted after the Jaguar demo machines, and one of them was playing Tempest 2000. That brought back memories of my frantic Sega Saturn buying spree back when it was being discontinued in the states in 1998. But I had no desire to look at the PC-Engine games he was hunting for. It was like an switch inside my head told my brain to block out anything PC-Engine. It's a big unknown, and knowing video gaming hobbies, following yet another platform seems too much effort at this time.

After splitting up on the subway station platform, I headed back to Kobe. On the way home I bought a video card for my PC!!! A Sapphire made Radeon 9600XT with 256MB memory. As far as video cards are concerned, it is the upper-end of the middle of the road, in other words, a cost refinement of last generation's cutting edge model. But the card doesn't fit my AGP slot in my Slot 1 motherboard. In other words, both my motherboard and my PC DIY (do it yourself) knowledge was severely out of date. Why the sudden purchase of a video card? UT2004. OMG LOL WTF GG. What to do now? I need to build another PC, ugh what a hassle.

I am still concentrating on console games, too. Just before getting home, I stopped by my favorite character shop to buy Pikmin 2. I didn't finish Pikmin 1, and I really really wondered why I bought Pikmin 2, but I had fun in the first one before it got frustrating to me. Perhaps they improved it in some areas. Besides, I like the graphics and the sound effects, really best-of-class, quality work representative of the year 2004. After playing it for 6 hours straight last night, I still like the game, but I just know it's going to get frustrating soon. At least there's no time limit when you go in the caves. Having a time limit just reminds me of work. I am a manager in Real Life now, ugh. As far as my progress is concerned, I just got the yellow Pikmin now.

Missing a promotion means missing out!

Recently playing:
  • Ratchet and Clank (PS2-jp, shiny metal things make ching-ching noise)
  • Card Captor Sakura - Sakura Card Version - Sakura to kaado to otomodachi (GBA-jp, cute and pink)
Now I am the idiot. I didn't enter the right promotion for Card Captor Sakura - Sakura Card Version. I could have had a telephone card! Well actually lately I've been getting into collecting telephone cards. It's a dangerously deep hobby, according to my friend. Telephone cards suck the life out of a person. Really. Ack! I missed this one!

Okay so I started playing Ratchet and Clank yesterday. But it just doesn't have the magic that Jak II has. I am simply bored with the levels and the different weapons. Surely there is something interesting in here since it garnered a sequel?

Advance Connector

Recently playing:
  • Card Captor Sakura - Sakura Card Version - Sakura to kaado to otomodachi (GBA-jp, wow look it work on a emulator!)
  • D.C. Plus Situation "D.C.P.S." (PS2-jp, needed a guidebook)
I just want to share with you another tidbit.

I have this Gameboy Advance emulator on my GC. Now why is that so interesting? Nintendo itself has the GameBoy Player. But what I am holding in my hot little hands is a product by Datel and imported by Cyber Gadget Japan, called the Advance Connector. Is it better than the Nintendo product? I myself have never used the latter, but I can tell anything is better than this emulator. Maybe. At least you can save anywhere, and it works with the two games I put into it: the above CCS - Sakura Card Version and Double Dragon Advance. Well at least it works for the 3 minutes I played with it. It came a A4 page listing of all the games it was compatible with, and there were maybe 5% incompatibilities. It works by extracting the ROM image and running the resulting image in the ROM. I bet it won't allow normal saving to the ROM.

As far as anybody holding a regular GC, there shouldn't be any reason to buy this. If you buy the GameBoy Player, you can play GB and GBC games that this emulator can't run. I myself have a Panasonic Q, but no GameBoy Player.

Funny how the MP3 playing is "Freeze" from Killer Instinct.

Completed a fun game

Recently playing:
  • Jak II (PS2-jp, fun platformer with gritty, well-done voice acting)
  • D.C. Plus Situation "D.C.P.S." (PS2-jp, reading Japanese)
  • Card Captor Sakura - Sakura Card Version - Sakura to kaado to otomodachi (GBA-jp, wow look at it animate!)
It's finished. I beat Jak II in hero mode, with all invincibility and stuff on. The second time around was more fun, because I didn't have to worry about dying or collecting armo. But! Athough the story part was cake-walk, the little side missions were still a pain in the ass. They have nothing to do with dying or ammo. I'm talking about the racing and the ring challenges and the jet board competitions and the find-the-orb games. But by golly I have more 200 precursor orbs to unlock the final secret, so that means I can put down the game. I was going to play the hero mode in Japanese just to see if the voice acting is better, but I like the English version so much more that I forgot. Especially the voice for Torn. "Nice driving, Jak. You can be my driver any time." This guy is permanently gritty. Wow, I can't wait until Jak III!

Just for reference, I tried sticking in Jak and Daxter, the first game, and it looks a little less detailed than the Jak II. Jak really does look younger. The game seems so much brighter. But I like the grittiness and dirty urban city theme of Jak II as well. The completion percentage was stuck at 99% though. Why? I have collected everything, I think. And whenever he moves, Jak makes a noise. I am glad they removed this irritating feature in Jak II.

Now that I put the Jak II disc away, I see that Ratchet and Clank has yet to be played. I am going to take this out.

And I bought Card Captor Sakura - Sakura Card Version - Sakura to kaado to otomodachi (Sakura and cards and friends) for the GBA-jp.

Card Captor Sakura - Sakura Card version - Sakura to kaado to otomodachi

Wow I like the cute stuff, and this takes the cake. The intro sequence is animated! Also there are some character voices, even though this is a not a CD based game. Wow wow wow. But I have yet to play the actual game part. I'm not expecting godly gaming goodness here, just picture collecting gaming at it's refineness.

Oh and this is not a gaming thing but I just had to mention it. I saw 2 Fast 2 Furious on DVD and it was great, contrary to my expectations. I bought into it. I suspended my disbelief for just a bit and I was throughly entertained. Granted I'm not into cars but the action sequences were breathless and were no cause for complaint. Acting was kinda dumb but I enjoyed the buddy-buddy connection. We're probably going to see another sequel yeah?

Unreal Tournament 2k4 Guide Book, too!

Recently playing:
  • Imperishable Night Demo Plus (WinPC-jp)
  • D.C. Plus Situation "D.C.P.S." (PS2-jp, the graphics are cute but not sexy)
Now stacking:
  • Unreal Tournament 2004 DVD edition (WinPC-us)
I spent all last night typing up this gaming log. I think I have a few readers here, too bad I don't have a forum so they can school me on what I'm doing wrong.

Right in the middle of typing all these posts up, the delivery guy came around. Yeah, at like 22:00 night. He got my Unreal Tournament 2004 DVD edition and I was like, "nice" (lizard voice). I hefted the cardboard box, not knowing what was inside. It was kinda heavy so I thought for a second, "Wait, maybe they sent me the Special Edition!?" If there's anybody who deserves a metal/aluminum box with the Unreal logo on it, it's me. I spent at least 3 years playing UT-CTF. Unfortunately, since my main gaming PC is now 5 years old, it was woefully inadequate for UT2k3. The only map I played in UT2k3 was DM something the smallest map. Hahaha, I had to run it on my other computer b/c the AI was killing me softly with the CPU load.

But anyway I open up the box and it wasn't the Special Edition. How disappointing. It was the DVD edition (thank gosh it's in a DVD movie size double case) and the Prima strategy guide for UT2k4! Woot, I must have won the raffle or something. Now I can check out the maps without installing the 5.5 GB monster. Hahahaha. I guess now would be a good time to p1mp the retailer where I bought it. Kiyoman Games. "The Only Total Import Shop" Based in Kyoto or so I heard.

Unreal Tournament 2004 and free strategy guide

I brought the game and book to work to show to the fellow gamers. The boys were green with envy, only because the Japanese version is some clumsy big box. Europeans have it good, the games, when they become mainstream, are packaged small, and not American Big clumsy packages.

After a good round of typing the gaming log, I relaxed by playing the Imperishable Night. I am slowly becoming to hate this Pentium 3-500 Mhz. The controller is jerky and slow to respond. Ack it's my computer not me. Well as far as the game is concerned, I like it! Hard hard hard. Graphics to die for. And the music is just the best. But enough gushing. From Embodiment of Scarlet Devil to Perfect Cherry Blossom there was some big changes to the presentation and game mechanic. Of course in Imperishable Night there is a new game mechanic but the presentation is the same as PCB. I hope with the extra 8 months Zun will change it around so it has a flavor all of its own. Now, how can I extract the music.

It's been said that the Imperishable Night Demo Plus disk is going for up to 10000 yen on Yahoo Auctions. I told the fellow gamers during lunch break to help me search for it. Lo and behold, some of them were going for 5000 yen. Some truth to the rumor. I say woop dee doo, I only have one copy and I'm not selling it.

Finally after getting frustrated with Imperishable Night and the lack of CPU power, I turned on the PS2 to continue my D.C. P. S. adventure. It's pretty boring because I've played the WinPC version and right now it's the introduction stages. The voice actress sound pretty good, although Yui Horie just doesn't bring her Kotori to life. Yukari Tamura is somewhat spotty on her Sakura. But Sakura Nogawa is perfect as Nemu. Just perfect.

Too broke to pay attention

Recently playing:
  • Jak II (PS2-jp, it wasn't this hard this time before)
I have been using My Nikki (My Diary) on my Palm Clie to write blog-type entries but it is a hassle to RETYPE my posts when i want to transfer them. Ugh. I guess I should check out the software I use before commiting more that a kilobyte of personal data to it.

Just to let you know, I have obviously updated my gaming log, but I added entries starting from March 9. I was thinking of adding just my post about Hakurei Jinjya Reitaisai but then it just doesn't make any sense to not see the updates.

What more to say about Jak II? "Get out of the vehicle!" "We do this the easy way!" "God I miss pants." These comical interludes are another thing about Jak II that I like. Dang I can't wait to get off the computer to play.

And then there are lots of other entertainment waiting for me... Ack when will I actually open Imperishable Night?!?

A Shanghai Alice Event: Hakurei Jinjya Reitaisai

Recently playing:
  • Jak II (PS2-jp)
Now stacking:
  • Imperishable Night Demo Plus (WinPC-jp)
  • Immaterial and Missing Power Demo (WinPC-jp)
I was feeling a bit lightheaded from riding the late night bus into Tokyo. You see, Tokyo has all the good fan-boy events like Comic Market and Tokyo Game Show. And for a guy slum'n it Kobe, riding the red-eye, and stopping every few hours in the middle of the night at some no name rest stop does not make for a comfortable night sleep.

So I was in Tokyo enjoying the sun. I mean no, Tokyo for me is about attending these fan-boy events, which means spelunking for "goods" indoors with thousands of like-minded "collectors", in other words, on-the-average college-aged, funky otakis looking for the latest swag and bragware. Really I do not enjoy butting elbows or getting hit in the chest by bags of doujinshi and unmarked CD-ROM filled with questionable contents, but don't we all go for the opportunity to snag some primo amatuer artwork goodness? And the cosplay? No?

So just what was in Tokyo on Sunday? A Zun/Team Shanghai Alice fan event called Hakurei Jinjya Reitaisai. Zun is the creator of the doujin soft PC games Touhou Youyoumu - Perfect Cherry Blossom and he is a part of Team Shanghai Alice doujin group. These shooting games (shmups) that have a fanatical following because of the quality of graphics, sound and gameplay. It also helps that Zun sells these goods at low prices. He drew lines of hundreds of people at Comic Market 65 for a soundtrack of his game. What is amazing is that one person does all of the sound, graphics and programming.

Also sharing half of the event space was a fan event for Fate/Stay Night, another series done by a doujin group (?) with lots of fans. It was recently made into an anime, which is a testament to its popularity. It's a rare thing for a doujin product to go directly into the mainstream market via anime. I don't know enough about it, though.

So I got into Tokyo in the wee hours of the morning thinking I'd get a good spot in the entrance line. When I showed up at the place at 7:30 AM there were already a couple hundred people waiting there. Whoa. I took the one and only picture of the event outside before my camera decided to start taking pink pictures before dying.

The wait at HakureiJinjya Reitaisai @ 7:45

You had to have a catalog to get in (shown below), which cost 1000 yen.

Hakureijinjya Reitaisai Touhou Project Cover

So it opened at 11:00, which meant I had 3 and a half hours to study the catalog. There were about 60 doujin groups just for the Zun event. Basically, my targets were Zun's own stall, the arrangement CDs groups and the CG groups. Zun's newest contribution was a demo ("demo plus") of his latest game Imperishable Night. There were also groups selling doujinshi and even a contest event.

The tedium did dip to an all-time low, but when 11:00 rolled around, the fans waiting in line clapped in glee. I was feeling pretty good as well, since I was able to sleep a bit. Compared to maybe 80% of the other people, I did get a good spot. But when I entered the hall with my hands holding the catalog above my head to signal a moving line, I saw already hundreds swarming the Zun stall. Where the hell did they come from?

I figured that at these events, I should go for the groups that probably did not prepare enough goods to go around, so I first visited the arrangement CDs groups then Team Shanghai Alice's booth. Besides, Team Shanghai Alice usually has enough stuff to go around. My intuition proved correct since I was able to snag the audio goods before the dreaded "kanbai" (Sold out) signs started to appear. Who knows if the CDs good? I certainly don't expect them to be better than Zun, since there are no original tunes, but Zun's music is pretty upbeat tempo, and I'm a sucker for anything with a fast beat. Besides they were going for 500 yen and they make great pictures:

Audio CDs, mostly

arrange

(Please ignore the pink fringe, that's my camera acting up. Just replace it with bright white and you'll literally "get the picture.")

Jumping into the Team Shanghai Alice booth line was an event itself. People standing around everywhere, and signs at the terminals saying "this is not the end of the line" leaving me scratching my head to wonder just where the heck is the end?!? It was somewhat orderly, and Japanese guys at these events aren't rowdy or obnoxious, but there were just too many of them and crowd control had their hands full. The line was wrapped outside to the place I was just standing 30 minutes ago and back around, which made it easily the biggest line in the event. I jumped into the line at 15 minutes past the start of the event expecting an hour wait but only waited 10 or 15 minutes. And what did I get to show for it? Here is a picture of Touhou Eiyako - Imperishable Night "Plus CD" demo and the demo of the other new game coming from the group, a 2d fighting game called Touhou Suimusou - Immaterial and Missing Power. This other one is a joint group effort between Team Shanghai Alice and Tasogare Frontier.

Zun/Team Shanghai Alice and Tasogare Frontier Goods

45 minutes into it, picking up some other good stuff, the "kanbai" (sold out) signs started to appear in earnest. Some groups are just fans with 1 or 2 people and sometimes they purposely limit the amount of goods they produce so that they recoup their losses. Other groups also purposely sell half of their goods at the outset and then at a later specified time. The magic "later" time that day was 1:00PM, which meant another 1 hour and 15 minutes of looking around and fighting the crowd swells. During that time I was concentrating my efforts on one group selling a highly sought-after CD arrange track called "Toho rocks"! They planned to sell stuff at 11:45, got stopped by the event organizers for drawing a huge log-jam of poeple. They then sold the stuff at 12:30 outside in the open air, disappointing about 80% of the people waiting in line for a copy. Hahahah. I of course didn't get a copy.

Here's some fan Computer Graphics works.

Visuals 1

There wasn't much cosplaying going on for the Shanghai Alice. There were some psuedo-miko in shrine costumes walking around the floor but the rest was fate/stay night stuff which I didn't find as interesting.

Real doujinshi. Really.

Doujinshi

Finally on my way out I looked up the gaming contest going on. As with the rest of the event, this one was a little unorganized as well, no big screens just PCs at sit-down height and a huge crowd standing around. I couldn't see a thing over the other gawkers, and I couldn't figure out if there were going to sell or show replays of the event. But I was able to jot down the high score. I didn't see all of the contest either, so the score may not be the highest but oh well:

361,907,280 - All clear (the only person to clear out of the first 38 contestants)

W00t. With l00t in hand I figured I needed to beat the disgrundled crowds on the way out. 1:15. Out of there. After fighting sleep and crowds, I left Tokyo a little heavier and in the confort of a bullet train.

This event is definately one of those one-time events at a cusp of popularity. Zun has been doing his thing since 2000, and for me it began to grow popular around early 2003 after the release of Touhou Youyoumu - Perfect Cherry Blossom. Zun plans to sell the latest shmup Imperishable Night in 8 months at Comic Market 67. Yeah, we'll see if I can get that.

More about the actual demos later. Need sleep!

Waiting in the line makes me write a post.

Recently playing:
  • Jak II (PS2-jp, hero mode is not Zelda round 2.)
  • D.C. Plus Situation (PS2-jp, a cute girl in shrine outfit, who can dig it?!)
Now stacking:
  • Shikigami no Shiro 2 (Xbox-jp, one more time can we open this box to play it?)
The lengths I go for gaming: I'm in Kamata in Tokyo for the Touhou project circle meet/doujinkai, called Hakurei jinjya reitaisai. But enough of that right now.

I'm still playing Jak and Daxter 2. There's a hero mode and the "mega scrap book" is only available if I have at least 200 orbs. Well it took all my effort to unlock 202 orbs in the normal mode. This time around, invincibility and unlimited weapons make doing all the levels over all again pretty fun. I've racked about 6 hours in this mode already, and I feel like I'm almost done. Well maybe not. The piss off level of shooting in the tram car, I have yet to do. I will probably continue to play this one even though I started D.C. Plus Situation (PS2-jp).

So what am I going to check out here? First order of business is to get all the music arrange CDs. Then visit the Zun/Team Shanghai Alice. After that, look for killer replays. Hopefully I'll get something from this trip.

Then onto Akihabara. Can I find UT2k4 Special DVD or should I just give up? Is there anything I really need? No other PC or Console games. Really, what a waste of 25000 yen (transportation costs).

Beat it!

Recently playing:
  • Jak II (PS2-jp)
I finally beat teh Jak II, well at least the normal ending. Very satisfied. It's a rare thing for me to complete games to the normal conclusion. Now onto unlocking the extras.

Lameness, Jak

I spent all night playing teh Jak and it was a mixture of pleasure and pain. I called in sick to work vial email. I am lame.

The last time I will enjoy European games.

Now stacking:
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (GBA-eu, Time and again)
  • Atari 80 games in one (WinPC-eu, Yars Revenge yet again!)
The quest for Unreal Tournament 2004 DVD version. I, with a like-minded friend, searched for the special UT2k4 DVD version but efforts were in vain. Nothing but the CD version could be had. I was worried it would be "totallemente in Castillano" so I didn't purchase the box.

What I did concentrate on was GBA games. I couldn't decide if I should get just Metroid: Zero Mission (GBA-eu) or Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (GBA-eu) or get both. In the end I got the latter only. I had fun with both series but PoP seems to have a novel game element added, while Metroid is the same old, same old. Or am I mistaken?

I'm looking forward to getting back to Japan. I will be able to update my computer. I have been keeping my eye on UT2k4 but also there's another game called Far Cry (WinPC) that looks like an FPS crossed with the visuals of Super Mario Sunshine. I think I said before that I bought my GC because of Super Mario Sunshine's happy and sunny levels. But I still don't like realistic FPS like Splinter Cell, which is what I heard Far Cry is. It's just too slow for me.

Other than that, I hvae decided to go to that Zun Fan event on the 18th. It will be in Tokyo, so I will take a night bus to decrease the transportation costs. I can spy the import shops in Akihabara on the way home. I don't really know what to expect at a Zun fan event but perhaps they have more music and softs. I definately won't be buying paper doujinshi. Now to reserve a spot on a night bus, ugh. If you want to g anywhere in style, a night bus leaves much to be desired. Just make sure to bring your eye mask just in case they can't TURN OFF THE LIGHTS inside of the bus. That happened to me once.

A gigantic toy is approaching!

Recently playing:
  • Tumiki Fighters (WinPC-jp, sticky side-scrolling shmuppy slickness!)
  • Ray Kudryavka X (WinPC-jp, tate shmup with wire-frame placeholders for graphics)

Amazing what boredom can do to you when you're away from your main gaming environment. You start reading books! I read Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code and boy was it a fast, effortless read. A truly intriguing book that makes me question many assumptions I have. I recommend it for the scientific mind in you.

But never mind that, onto the gaming. I am away from my computer, but I do have a trusty P3 1.7 celeron laptop on loan. And I have been playing with my Gamecube convert with Hori Digital controller. It controls well, but not as well as a Saturn style d-pad controller. In any case, nice!

So what have I been experimenting with? Aba games' newest creation, Tumiki Fighters A side scrolling shmup! I first had to not give into my prejudice of dismissing teh yoko scroll. Yuck I said, until I started playing it. Wow. When you down enemies, you can catch them and add them to your ship for points and power up. Nifty. So nifty I was playing it for 3 hours straight. Kento Cho has another gem with this one here.

At a friend's urging I also tried some doujin shmup, called Ray Kudryavka X. I originally thought it was called wanko something, because the main character is some dog-cross-cute-girl thing. This game is definitely stylistically inspired by Ikaruga and Radiant Silvergun. The sound effects seemed ripped from Ikaruga itself. The character has a directional sword attack. They need to rip more things, because there is no background and the character art is missing. But the game balance is off or my suckiness has again prevailed. This game is fricken hard. Try getting to Chapter 2 without dying, I dare ya! It's like Touhou youyoumu level 4 to start. Yes danmaku.

So continues my quest to find the holy grail, I mean Unreal Tournament 2004 Special Edition. I can't believe all stores (except book stores yeah!) are closed on Sundays here in Spain. Ugh!
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