Tuesday, August 31, 2004 @ 22:57 (Japan Standard Time)

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

2004-08-31 Tue

That's the way the ball bounces

2004-08-29 Sun

Rolling out the frustration

2004-08-26 Thu

Understanding Shizuno

2004-08-25 Wed

Revisiting HEY

2004-08-22 Sun

The big one is coming.

A shmupin' holiday

2004-08-21 Sat

Nintendo swag, back to video pinball

Samidare is hyper-frenetic danmaku

2004-08-20 Fri

Foibles and on-the-job training

2004-08-17 Tue

Dancing around it.

2004-08-16 Mon

Back from the Comic Market 66, just lazy.

2004-08-12 Thu

Calm and pensive

Now playing that puzzle game

2004-08-10 Tue

Full circle

2004-08-08 Sun

A older, better one-handed controller

2004-08-07 Sat

The preparation for preparing to go to Comic Market

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That's the way the ball bounces

Recently playing:
  • Unreal Tournament 2004 (WinPC-us, On-fire with the shock rifle!)
  • Super Mario Ball (GBA-jp, Not as frustrating as in the beginning)
  • Missing Blue (PS2-jp, Why is Mizuki giving me the cold shoulder?)
  • Time Crisis 3 (Arcade-jp, Working on my arm strength.)
  • Half-Life (WinPC-us, Is there a story yet?)

Are you excited about the Unreal Tournament 2004 Editor's Choice Edition just as I am? You get UT2004 plus all the kewl fan modifications like Unwheel (turns your FPS into a racing game!) and Red Orchestra (more gritty World War II action, um). At least I think so. Personally I don't really care about fan mods because I play straight Onslaught with custom maps. But it's cool to know that you get the strength of the fan development community (which is pretty substantial) right out of the box.

Half-Life with Gordon from the Game of the Year box I started playing Half-Life (oh it's half-hyphen-life) on Sunday. Where is the amazing story that people are talking about? This game is now 5 years old and while it is keeping my attention, I just don't see the greatness yet. Well I got to the surface the first time, so that will tell you right there how far I am. I downloaded this game through Steam, because I have a coupon for Half-Life 2. I'll get back to it next weekend.

Super Mario Ball is pretty fun now after I let the performance gaming go. I just let the ball bounce. If I don't make the goal in the screen I am on, I just try again. Or I go to other screen. Or I (pause! and! save! first! then) turn it off. I'm only getting frustrated at the long drawn out Boss "fights". They really last long.

Oh and that reflection-projection Time Crisis 3 machine is near my bus stop and I just can't avoid it. So I have a blast as 2P trying to avoid red screen flashes! Ugh my foot is just not fast enough. And then! My arms are weak and flabby. I can barely get to the end of Area 1 Stage 3 before my arms and muscles give out. Jeez it's just a force-feedback gun that weighs probably less than 1 kg. What, I can't hold that up for minutes at a time? Oh well, if I play maybe 3 or 4 times a week I can call it exercise!

Rolling out the frustration

Recently playing:
  • Super Mario Ball (GBA-jp, Pinball crossed with the Mario franchise)
  • Missing Blue (PS2-jp, Play by the (guide) book)
  • Unreal Tournament 2004 (WinPC-us, Sometimes a misplaced Redeemer ruins a map.)
  • Time Crisis 3 (Arcade-jp, My shins kill me)
  • Wartran Troopers (Arcade-jp, Guns that are off and arms that are tired.)
Mario Pinball for the GBA I am frustrated with Super Mario Ball, almost GameBoy-throw-against-the-ground frustrated. Just because it's a Mario game doesn't mean that it has the polish and shine of "Nintendo quality". This one has the gleam but it feels 80% complete. Let's list the many faults of this game:
  • No nudging! By far the worst omission because you really feel out of control. It's a pinball game, you need to have nudging to control the ball when you can't control it with the flippers. Kirby's Pinball had it, the Pokemon Pinball games had it. This game doesn't.
  • Constant interruptions of Toad shop. This one resets the current screen, often before you about to complete one goal.
  • The adventure is long (+10 hours or more?) and if you happen to turn off the power without saving, it's back to the beginning for you! I lost the first couple of days of fun (4 star keys and 20+ stars) to this mistake. Perhaps this is my mistake. Perhaps this is a game design flaw.
  • There are some screens where you have to aim at airborne (or off board) objects. Which means you only have a chance with your flippers.
  • There is a difference between hitting an object weak and strong. Sometimes you hope that merely touching the object would register but the ball merely bounces off when it is "weak."
  • The Mario voice that has ruined the Super Mario Advanced series is annoyingly present here.
Still I am playing the game. I might as well list the good points:
  • Graphics are colorful and bright. Animation is really good.
  • There is only one way to lose the "life" of the ball.
  • A barrier automatically covers the flipper hole for a minute or two on every screen transition.
  • There is more than one goal per board. When you complete one goal on a board, there is a hidden goal as well.
  • The "cha-ching" sound effects.
  • Evokes nostalgia of Super Mario 64 (which I haven't played much BTW) and Super Mario Sunshine.
With video pinball and especially this game where there is no nudging, there is somewhat a hyponotic effect that I feel because most of the screen is unmoving and my eyes are on the rolling red and blue Mario. Most games that I play nowadays have dynamic backgrounds. Also this really isn't the type of game to play on the bus. Even though I know the bus swaying back and forth does nothing affect the rolling ball, the frustration of not being able to control the ball makes me irritated by any slight real-world movement.

The game experience is like this: I am waiting, waiting, waiting for the ball to come back to the flipper and oh! it bounced off before I could control it. No I didn't want to go to that next screen. Ugh! The ball slipped behind the flipper when I pressed both buttons at the same time. Okay new screen, what's the goal here? Hit 3 thingys here here and here when they light up and their backs are turned? Impossible!

In any case, something fun to play on the bus while commuting.

Oh yeah, I had the urge to play some light gun games. I don't have a TV at home so I don't have a light-gun controller. So I visited some arcade shops around my town of Kobe. I found a reflection-projection cabinet of Time Crisis 3. This one was pretty fun and accurate. I am pretty weak with my trigger finger so sometimes I use my supporting left hand index finger for support. Boy did my foot hurt from releasing the petals.

Then I started walking around in earnest for a game of Wartran Troopers. I finally found one but it was a reflection-projection cabinet, which is probably cheaper than the DLP version. Plus they turned off the Internet connection and memory card features. On the bright side it was only 100 yen. I probably have to go to Osaka for the network and memory features. I worked on my stance and gun holding. I figured out that the button on the gun butt is for the optional on-screen pointer. But alas I figured out that both controller 3 and 4 were off, as well as the left and right sides of the screen being unnervingly mismatched and not seamless. Ugh. I sunk 4 or 5 more plays into this machine.

I searched some more for arcades. There was one near Daiei which seemed to be haven for fighting game fanatics. There were usual young doods playing Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike and the latest iteration of Virtua Fighter 4: Final Tuned. Strangely there was another guy playing some Gals' Panic-lookalike game and one onlooker checking him out. No Wartran Troopers here and definately no new shmups here.

Understanding Shizuno

Recently playing:
  • Missing Blue (PS2-jp, A happy Shizuno end)
  • Unreal Tournament 2004 (WinPC-us, Great new maps that emphasize the long distance between the power core and the first node, like ONS-Canyon.)

Shizuno from Missing BlueI just completed the Shizuno scenario in Missing Blue and I am totally confused. Maybe it's becuase I'm still learning Japanese or it's totally subtle. In any case I want to write down something about the story in order to derive some completion from it.

Warning: Major spoilers of the Shizuno scenario of Missing Blue.

So first you experience an long, very real dream sequence where two of your girlfriends (Mizuki, a classmate and Shizuno, your distant cousin) try to get you out of it. Shizuno is very concerned about your well-being and she cannot decide whether to tell you that this is a world you wanted to create for yourself or to let you live your delusion. You meet Shizuno's father, who seems very friendly and mischievious temple priest but according to Shizuno, he's inhumanly strict.

However there's no more time for her to be ambvalent because the "formless one" suddenly appears, intent on keeping you in your dream world. Why does this "white" shadow want to keep you, and why you feel this thing is "evil" isn't explained, at least not at this point. Shizuno decides to act by persuading you to give up the dream.

When you wake up, you learn that you are a victim of a traffic accident and you have lost consciousness for more than a couple of weeks. You've been dreaming all that while in a hospital bed, but you suspected that the reality was a little thin. And Mizuki and Shizuno were not just part of your dream sequence but directly in control of their dream counterparts. In other words they were conscious of your delusions. Your feelings for Shizuno cements and you yearn to see her to not only repay her for her devotion but to express your feelings. However her father forbids her to leave the house. You confront her father.

Finally you see the reason for his resistance. She has been bethrothed to other guy in his college years. The character voice for this guy is the same as the "formless one" from your dream. It's obvious that in your relations with Shizuno before the accident, you know about the bethrohal but your fear of losing her turns him (or your peception of him as the "formless one") into a enemy. You can't seem to blaim Shizuno's father, and you want him to accept your relationship. But when you get to know groom-to-be, he helps you persuade the father to a least hear you out. He doesn't seem for the bethrohal either.

You proclaim your heart-warmingly moving declaration of love in front of Shizuno, her father and the groom-to-be, and after only a slight deliberation (while the game counts your Shizuno affection points ), Shizuno unquestioningly leaps into your arms. Her father tries to beat you down eventhough he's a religious man, but the groom-to-be restrains a number of times . After running away together and hiding at a friends house, her father cools down and accepts Shizuno's intentions but still doesn't accept your relationship. But you and Shizuno re-start your relationship in the open.

After writing this down I figured out the methphor. Come to think of it, reading all these dumbed down gal-get stories has made me incapable of following something less direct than boy-meets-girl, boy-solves-girl's-problem, girl-falls-in-love-with-boy story. The Shizuno scenario succeeds with the metaphor of a "formless one" during the dream as your fear of loss, and with the self-sacrifice and bold devotion between the two lovers.

If the other scenarios in Missing Blue are meaty like this one (admittedly the Mikoto and Luna scenarios were not as stellar), then this game is a winner. Right now I have spent 25 hours reading this choose-your-own-adventure game. I've got 4 (?) more good (?) stories to go.

Revisiting HEY

Recently playing:
  • Missing Blue (PS2-jp, Time for some more miko miko madness in the Shizuno scenario)
  • Unreal Tournament 2004 (WinPC-jp, the best teamwork and crisis management I've ever seen)

I always get a kick out of visiting Hirose Entertainment Yard (HEY). I'm sure that there are even better arcades available in Tokyo, but out of convenience (since it's close to the Akihabara station) this is the one I frequent when I'm in town. There's always something amazing going on there and it helps me take my mind off all the things I could be buying in Akihabara. I visited this place last during the Comic Market 66 visit (August 13) and wrote some stuff about it in an older blog entry.

Hirose Entertainment Yard shop front

This time around I was enthralled by the dude playing Wartran Troopers. To say that Wartran Troopers is a newer light gun game is to say that Ikaruga is a merely a new type of shmup, which belittles the experiences. A number of things about the game are interesting. The screen is Digital Light Projection based tech (DLP), which my workplace licenses and produces. The main advantage of this screen is the seamless tiling of subscreens and the brightness. This game uses two, with a total screen width of probably 2.5 meters. Another is the lightgun itself. It's non-feedback but still the size and heft is impressive. It's more the size of a rifle than a shotgun or pistol. The system uses memory cards to remember your stats. Other than that, the game puts you in role of a ground trooper that assaults any number of targets with your "gun", running from point to point and usng a portable shield when your "gun" is not pointed at the screen. It isn't just single function, you can toggle it from single shot to sniper rifle to automatic shotgun to RPG and everywhere between. Of course, you only get these weapon upgrades when you shoot the appropriate icons on the screen.

Wartran Troopers screen shot

Now at HEY, they don't just put the machine there and leave it, they decorate the machine with Desert Storm camouflage and the official Pop (lifesize cardboard stand poster). They add one more feature: a "please join" / "don't join please" sign so that other gamers know if it okay to join 4 player game.. Obviously the gamer here is king and the service shows.

And in the hands of a master, the game is jaw-droppingly entertaining. There was this one fellow in a business suit, playing this game alone with the "don't join please" sign. Now this guy isn't the casual gamer that lightly grips the controller at waist height. No this guy held the gun up to eye height, with eyes on the sights and cheek nestled on the side of the gun butt. His stance was rock solid, as if ready to absorb the recoil. This guy could be at home waiting for clay pigeons or at a shooting range. Obviously not a newbie, because he was leading and positioning the gun sights to where the enemies would stop. He was an excellent shot, using only his single shot even though he obviously accumulated all of the optional weapon upgrades. You could see he was mentally counting off his shots, squeezing the trigger with ease and getting "combos" in the hundreds ranges. He even knew the programming glitches down by heart. Hit an enemy once to make him fall, blaze on the full automatic to accumulate +20 combos. Hit an innocuous robot arm, then fire at the ground for +20 combos. He even played so fast that he let the time almost run out on most stages, pausing 1 or 2 minutes to rest his hand or write something on a scrap of paper.

I just love standing around and watching people like this. I don't have to pay to see these power plays. At the same time I was visiting, they also had one machine with (new?) GigaWing Generations. One hyper-active guy was physically jumping up and down and screaming, while absorbing bullets for reflect force. Others were sitting in quiet shmupper repose dodging ugly Cave shmup bullets. There was some guy going on for tens of minutes on Radiant Silvergun. In the same floor there was another similar maniac playing an expert level of a drumming game. Lots to see, the only problem is trying to find standing space to watch.

The big one is coming.

Now I'm not a Half-Life fan. But I spent some time looking for the game movie demos and I found some at Halflife2.net. I am somewhat impressed with the action. Striders. NPC interaction. Guns. And that buggy is interesting. So are the enemies. Graphics are great but not extraordinary, since I'm already used to the great Unreal engine! (Not just a fan but a fanboi!) I would pre-order the game if I didn't already have a download coupon. Yeah.

A shmupin' holiday

Recently playing:
  • Samidare (May Rain) (WinPC-jp, Going for the replay save)
  • Missing Blue (PS2-jp, a bookish adventure)
  • Banshiryu (WinPC-jp, Figuring out bullet patterns by yourself is fun)
  • Lillian Blade Excellent (WinPC-jp, a vert shmup with a jump button!??! This isn't Ikari Warriors is it?)

Disappointed by the very difficult yet lackluster shmup that is Samidare all the while pumped up by its soundtrack, I began to dig out some shmups from Comic Market 66.

I first began with Lillian Blade Excellent, a fan-made Maria-sama ga Miteru themed shooter. The previous shooter by Zwei Trial was Galaxy Angel Soldier. It was pretty fun at Pentium 3 500 MHz speeds, but I fear it is unplayable at Pentium 4 3.0 GHz speeds. This game, Lillian Blade Excellent, is a time-based shmup like Mikagura. It puts you in the shoes of the girl who I assume is the main character in the anime, who happens to be walking down a really long corridor filled with shadows of birds and jacks. As far as I can tell that is the story. So the game mechanic is that you can have a five-way shot to shoot down birds that throw pea-sized seeds of lazy death (which by the way is based on samples of Kento Cho of Parsec47 fame). The birds produce jacks which you can pick up for points and temporary invincibility. If you get hit, you are stunned weapon-less for about 4 seconds. You can also jump, just make sure you are moving in a direction because jumping in place is useless. Lastly you have a bomb-like "RequiemBlast" weapon which you sketch an triangle area and the unfortunate baddies within it are fried.

This game is interesting for maybe 10 minutes, but after that there's not much that keeps you coming back for more. About the only thing that is good is the graphics, the bullet patterns, and the music. Everything else is jarring. Your "ship" has thankfully a hitbox about 3 pixels wide with the hitbox outlined. You are running down a corridor rendered in 3d, but it's just a rectangular field. It reminds me of Sugar Shooting. Jacks to pick up. An invincible shield that looks like some occult barrier. Birds. I mean shadows of birds. Hm.

Banshiryu - Curtain Fire 1Banshiryu - Curtain Fire 2

I then put that game away and installed Banshiryu which this time is version 1.00 CM66. I have the version from last Comic Market 65, which was 0.99 CM65. As a side note, the group who made this game has (probably) graduated from college and is now known as Shunsatsu sare-dou? (uETH) (sic, translation mine). I thought this group disappeared after the Amusment Makers deleted the Kioh-Gyoku and Banshiryu pages. Perhaps Amusement Makers are the college's game club. In any case, Banshiryu is back with the same weapons but refined bullet patterns. This time I figured out some of the patterns by my own self and I was pretty happy. I also play the game with auto-bomb, which as you can guess, extends my life a lot longer. This game is hard hard hard but here we have the Kioh-Gyoku style spinning lasers and buzz effects. Yes! Samidare doesn't hold a candle to the graphics that Banshiryu effortlessly renders.

Banshiryu - Vidit Attacks! 1Banshiryu - Vidit Attacks! 2

Well, it looks like I found the games I will play during my lunch break at work.

Banshiryu - Boss 2 Attacks!

Nintendo swag, back to video pinball

Nintendo has a point credit system when you buy games, called Club Nintendo. When you buy a game you have a slip of paper that gives you a password which when registered into the online system gives you points. So far I have 3 games, which total 65 points. However if I want to get anything cool, like that Zelda "nostalgia" collection, I'm going to have to pony up 500 points. Which at my rate means I need to buy 20 more games. Ahahah. No. This is not motivation at all.

While I'm talking about Zelda, I did play that Famicom Mini: Zelda II game a bit. One thing that's annoying is that the sounds and some of the graphics are different from what I remember. It must be difference between the US and Japan versions. Annoying.

Mario Pinball for the GBAWhile at the Nintendo site I checked out Mario Pinball game for the GBA-jp. I liked Pokemon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire enough to get a crazy high score: 8,574,098,066 blue table. I think this translates to about 5 hours of play on one credit. I'm not sure because I paused the game. I'm going to buy Mario Pinball in any case because it seems fun.

Samidare is hyper-frenetic danmaku

Recently playing:
  • Samidare -May Rain- (WinPC-jp, Impossible Extra Stage open)
  • Missing Blue (PS2-jp, No you can't take things from your students, but if you give them a quiz-bet, it's alright.)

Samidare Extra Stage throws bullets at youWell I beat Samidare on a credit feed. It unlocks the Extra Stage, which as far as I am concerned, is impossible. Impossible. Too many many FAST bullets. Danmaku shmuppin' is normally lots and lots of slow bullets. These bullets are anything but lazy. I last only 20 seconds on this stage.

I did get a high score. I got in a little groove and I was able to beat stage 1 and 2 (there are only 3 stages) on one credit (mind you there's 5 lives per credit as a default). This game is hard!

Point score: 23,942,160 @ Stage 3

As far as I'm concerned, I'm done with Samidare. It takes too much work to get ahead in this game. You GigaWing types may find something in this game but I for one am glad I don't have to absorb these bullets any longer.

Foibles and on-the-job training

Recently playing:
  • Samidare -May Rain- (五月雨) (WinPC-jp, Danmaku shmupin' overload)
  • Missing Blue (PS2-jp, What if only you saw a person's embarassing mistakes? Would that make you closer to her?)
Now stacking:
Samidare -May Rain- in-host 1 It seems so antiquated. This shmup Samidare doesn't seem to use hardware acceleration or the trademark Amusement Maker spinning, bouncing lasers (when a laser hits you it bounces off hard-like and spins, it's a little wierd but cool special effect) It emulates GigaWing somewhat, you have a rechargeable shield that absorbs bullets. But the bullets are absorbed and give you more firepower temporarily. As far as I can tell, it increases your score multiplier momentarily as well. Hey I'll read the manual when I feel like increasing my score.

The music to this game rocks hard. Thankfully they encoded the music in a extractable OGG format so I can transcode it to my iPod. Heck you can download the demo version and hear the rockin' tunes yourself: Samidare demo direct download link.

Oh yeah this game is not new at all, it's just taken me a year to get my hands on the full version. I finally got it at Comic Market 66 with no effort at all. Amusment Makers still didn't have a special booth but this time old rush wasn't there. I guess everyone was into the Zun buzz.

Orisaka Mikoto bustOther than that I've been making slow progess on the Mikoto scenario in Missing Blue. This scenario is charming because you are helping a 21-year old student teacher. Of course, "Miko-pi" sensei is your heroine. Really now, how likely is it that a person going through teaching college can fall for a 17-year old high-school student? In any case the foibles of this kawaii sensei are amusing enough.

Dancing around it.

Recently playing:
  • Missing Blue (PS2-jp, Luna "true" ending fades to a twinkle of light. A dim scenario.)
I am still not motivated yet to categorize my junks from the Comic Market 66. Sorry.

I did borrow a friend's camera and I was able to get a sample picture to whet your appetite. It's a picture of Danmaku Shimai on the top, the soundtrack to the free shmup game Ray-Kudryavka X on the left (warning hard gaming here!), and a Maria-sama ga Gyakuten on the right. The last one is a cross between the manga Maria-sama ga miteru and hit 2-sequel and counting GBA game Gyakuten Saiban. Not that I know anything about either one of those. I just like the character design and art.

Sample goods from the third day, Danmaku Shimai, Ray-Kudryavka X, Maria-sama ga gyakuten

On the third day of the Comic Market 66 I had my iPod blasting shmup music. It felt pretty good listening to tunes while weaving the traffic. Yes, Comic Market hunting as the human danmaku avoidance shmup. Try not to buzz those dudes though. Urk. Here are the shmup tunes that I kept pressing the Back button for, in no particular order:

  1. Armed Satellite Phobos from Mars Matrix
  2. 7/23 18:35 from Shikigami no Shiro
  3. Interception Kensou no Machi from Ketsui
  4. Sannda Yukimura Kenzan! from Vasara
  5. The Cinderella Syndrome - Stage 1 from Parhelia
  6. The Mom - Opening from Parhelia
  7. Nishoku Hatsuhana chou (?) - Red and White from Zun's Touhou Youyoumu - Embodiment of Scarlet Devil
  8. Earth from Psyvariar
  9. Danmaku kekkai from STG x STG by Beat Mario
  10. Rocky Hard Tube - Stage 4-2 from Bike Banditz by Polygon Prompt
And don't laugh, this last one is shmup related. I think.

Diffusion vs Mr Dog - All Your Bass MP3 from Diffusion Online

Back from the Comic Market 66, just lazy.

Recently playing:
  • Missing Blue (PS2-jp, A bad end, time to restart the story)
Now stacking:
  • Napple Tale (DC-jp, Does this really have a good story or is it just a Maaya Sakamoto/Yoko Kanno product?)
  • Midway's Arcade Treasures (GC-us, Will this work with my Freeloader disc?)
Well actually I got back yesterday night but because of a whole day of waiting and standing and frantic walking with a growing cache of loot on my shoulders, I hit the sack pretty early. To put it in terms of weight, the booty I grubbed from Comic Market this time weighs 20 kg. As a number that looks pretty lame. Well it felt heavy. Why don't I say 20.3 kg? Hm. Looks a little better, but I just made up the .3 part. Any case, it's mostly plastic, too, because they're CD-ROMs. I haven't yet gone and inventoried the junk I got. Actually it's still seperated by day, which is quite amusing.

I did actually get mainly all the stuff I wanted. Danmaku Shimai, Samidare, Moedan Trial, Soushun. I'm pretty happy about that. It really was a frantic race to get them all though. The big disappointments, or the things I missed out was the Sister Princess Gauntlet, the To Heart 2 August 13th limited edition goods, the latest version of the latest shmup from Shanghai Alice. (Well if I can't remember the name I really didn't want it that bad, huh.) Ah the dreaded "kanbai" (sold out signs).

I will post again pictures of the booty I got, just as soon as I can borrow a working digital camera. Mine broke and I am having a hard time motivating myself to get it fixed. If you want more Comic Market reporting, you could start by checking out Zepy's Canned Dogs. He basically looked at the same stuff I did, but it seems as if he concentrates of Day 3 only. I don't know who else reports on this stuff in English, sorry.

Missing Blue Luna bustLazy me. When I got back, I guess I wanted to finish the Luna senario in Missing Blue. But as the title suggests, I got to a bad end. I looked around my pigsty of an apartment and it seems as if I have the guidebook for this game! Fancy that, I must have bought it when it was around 500 yen used, maybe one year or two before I even bought the game. I am strange. In any case, I see that the game is pretty complicated, so I'm just going to use the book's "shortest path clear" guide to finish this game. Yup another story game. One thing great about this game is the voice actress for Saya, which is Miyu Matsuki ((松来 未祐)). I think she's in some recent anime that I've been avidly following. Hm.

Calm and pensive

So I am sitting in the Shinkansen typing another type of log. I'm on my way to Comic Market 66 which will start tomorrow. I keep saying that there isn't much I expect from this Comic Market but I always find something.

Well I did make sure to take a look at the loot I have already. And I did check all the groups from the previous Comic Market (65). The general feeling for me is that there are less shmups this time around, but that's only because I didn't consult the catalog or google the 'net. I am again trying to commit myself to buying less paper-based doujin stuff. And since I really haven't touched the doujin softs that I was bragging about last time, I think I will think twice about picking up anything that fits my fancy.

Well anything Ikaruga is fine. The group has another graphic novel called "Skyscraper" out so I think I will pick that up.

Other than that I'm really glad I checked Zepy's Canned Dogs page, because he's following some groups I'm interested in. Like tokoroten, which will have a newer version of Danmaku Shimai. This is that mouse-based shmup that rules on bullet patterns and rainbow-iness. It's just pretty, not only the graphical effects but also the anime. Also I'm probably going to be able to pick up Samidare from Amusement Makers/Seihou project.  

And really there is nothing I need from Akihabara. I just checked all my game listings and anime junk and I'm pretty much in bliss as far as gaming is concerned. Now all I have to do is concentrate on playing the games and then I'll have something to report in this gamelog.

Now playing that puzzle game

Recently playing:
The Itsudemo puzzle in-game pictureOh my gosh this "itsudemo" puzzle game is crack. I mean it's really really addictive. First the pace of the game hectic. It's like playing Tetris starting on level 9. Next the game rules are very simple and very intuitive. It's even relaxing because you are bringing order to chaos. As far as a "Simple Series" game is concerned, this exceeds all standards. Now I'm not saying you should be importing it but the next time you are in a Japanese game shop and you want a quick puzzle fix pick up this game.

Here give it a try yourself: A PC-based online demo

The basic game rules are this: you have a 13 by 7 grid , and constellations which appear aproximately as wavy lines constantly pop up. It's your job to straighten them. That means moving stars up and down using your exchanger tool. If you straighten one constellation, then you are given some time to straighten some more, to combo. If you get 7 or more constellations within the 10 second fix period, you get a free "bomb". The "bomb" is for those times when you cannot straighten them constellations in the time allotted. Yes a time based game. I've never played Gun Pey (sp?) for the Wonderswan but I think it's similar to that in spatial concepts.

Actually I have been playing this game on and off during bouts of frustration. This game isn't only a test of dexerity but a balance between going for the easy stage clear and waiting for the next constellation to appear. In other words, there's risk. And there are times when it seems like the game isn't fair with the time limit. And there are times when I have problems with the d-pad controller of the GBA. It just doesn't feel fast enough to traverse the grid.

I love the artwork as well. It isn't cheapy, there's animation and movement. The game background also gradually lightens to sunrise as the pace gets frantic. Very colorful. No audio but given that one shouldn't expect the cream of the crop gaming from Simple series, I think this is alright.

Wow this is a game that has restarted my GBA habit!

Full circle

Recently playing:
  • Unreal Tournament 2004 (WinPC-us, No, do not buy Doom3, collect the UT2004 Collector's edition)
  • Missing Blue (PS2-jp, Ever dream of flying to your high school?)
Now stacking:
  • Famicom Mini Vol. 24 Palthena's Mirror (Kid Icarus) (GBA-jp, Nasu nasu tenshi!)
  • Famicom Mini Vol. 25 Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (GBA-jp, Experience point farming in a green dungeon)
  • Famicom Mini Vol. 21 Super Mario Bros. II (GBA-jp, Will I ever get this on a real Famicom Disk System?)
  • Simple 2960 Tomodachi Series: The Itsudemo Puzzle -Massugu soraete Straws- (GBA-jp)

Okay I have to unload this. I saw Doom 3 US version at the 'Map in two places actually, Osaka and Nipponbashi. I successfully resisted the urge to buy it. I don't like scary games. I like in-your-face, take-down, no-holds-barred, shock-rifle packing, AVRIL wasting, Manta-riding, ONS-CTF-DM Unreal Tournament 2004 action. All you lamers contemplating a Doom 3 purchase out there should be buying Unreal Tournament 2004. Now.

Next I saw Strikers 1945 I and II for the PS2. I read the back, ready to buy it and it said it doesn't use the memory card at all. I did a double take. What is the point of a shooter? How can you really measure if you're doing any good at it over the course of months? I put the box down and set my mind to ignoring it until it is in the bargain bin like Espaluga. Oh yeah gotta keep an eye out for that one as well. It's hard to ignore it though because they both come with a Skills DVD. Ugh ugh ugh, resist resist.

Okay now we come to the reason why I am writing a log now. I bought three Famicom Mini games, Kid Icarus, Zelda II and Super Mario Bros 2. Yet again this is a "coming full circle" moment, because just like I did 17 years ago I bought Kid Icarus before Metroid. How ironic. Wait do I know what that word means? No, I guess not. I think I mean, how goofy.

And then what is The Itsudemo Puzzle? Who cares, I need something puzzle-y to occupy me while I am waiting in line at the Comic Market. This seems to be somewhat action oriented, with big icons and game pieces, and simple rules. This is perfect, maybe.

And I'm pretty happy right now. I was able to get 3 boxes of A Little Snow Fairy Sugar trading cards at 80 percent off or 1000 yen each. I've been keeping my eye out for this stock to go to discount prices. Only took two and a half years, huh.

A older, better one-handed controller

Recently playing:
  • Unreal Tournament 2004 (WinPC-us, Saturday night with a bunch of strangers)
  • Missing Blue (PS2-jp, Manual smells like smoke)

You ever look at your shoulder and see a peanut butter smear and say to yourself, how did that get there? At times this bachelor life is truly rough. I fear going senile all alone, ehhehehe.

So I made the last jaunt to Nipponbashi "Den den town" before I go to Comic Market next week. There was a lot to see and a lot more to ignore. I spent more money on collector telephone cards than games. In fact I only bought 1 game and I ignored the rest. Yes it's the Missing Blue (limited edition). Actually now there's a renewal version (Best Price) being sold for 2400 yen. The renewal version says CERO 18, meaning the content is intended for adults. Wow. Just to think three years ago when it came out there was no such label and all this time I thought it was an all ages game. I am intending to play this game even though I will be gone on vacation next week.

I already have two one-handed Playstation controllers, one for the PS1 and another Dual-Shock compatible for the PS2 called the ASCII Grip V2. At Nipponbashi I spotted an inexpensive one-handed Playstation controller for about 500 yen so I grabbed it. I still have issues with the first two controllers even though I probably logged hundreds of hours with them. So what of this new one? It's the ASCII Grip V , a PS1 digital only controller made in 1996. Yes, it is the predecessor of the V2. Sorry I can't find a link to the company page. It seems like ASCII is no longer a working company, but still a controller with the same design as the ASCII Grip V2 is available from another company, I forget which one. It's the company that makes Derby Stallion, a PS2 game. It turns out that by googling I find that that company has been packaging controllers even during the SNES era. Here's a picture of the ASCII Grip for the SNES.

So why did I buy this one? The V2 has an analog stick and V has a digital d-pad. It also has less features than a Dual Shock so I thought it would be simpler to use. Plus it comes in the familiar V2 button layout, CIRCLE and X on the bottom side for your trigger finger and the rest of the buttons for your thumb on the front side. Finally being all digital the buttons aren't mushy, or so I was led to believe.

When I turned on the PS2 and plugged in the controller, I noticed something truly disconcerting. The CIRCLE and X were switched! Aha I thought, that's why it was sold for 500 yen. Hm, another wasted purchase. Then I read the manual. Whoa, another manga manual! But that's not all, this controller is programmable! No longer do you have to depend on the game to provide you with a "key config" you can do it yourself with this controller! For completeness sake I'm going to explain it here. The first thing is that the controller has 3 basic modes for button remap input:

Physical Controller Button
Virtual Input

Mode 1: Factory Default Mode 2: "Reverse" of Factory Default Mode 3: Programmable
TRIANGLE Program button 1
SQUARE Program button 2
SQUARE (left)
TRIANGLE (right)
SQUARE (right)
How to enter this mode
Hold down Select and Start on the controller itself when first turning on the console.
Hold down Select only on the controller itself when first turning on the console. Hold down Start on the controller itself when first turning on the console.

You know what I just ran out of time. I'm going to have to explain more later. Right now all I have to say is that this controller rocks better than its younger brother ASCII Grip V2.

The preparation for preparing to go to Comic Market

Recently playing:
  • Unreal Tournament 2004 (WinPC-us, saying the map name during voting does not sway the vote)
Now stacking:

First week back to work is always hecktic. Okay, Monday starts slow but as soon as people figure out how far behind they are mid-Monday morning, the rest of the week turns to mush. Ugh ugh. What better way to escape than to play games? "Flak monkey!" Thank you my overheating Pentium 4!

Not really much going on. I quit the Gradius V score competition with myself. I guess all that's left is figuring out what the cheats are.

Actually next week is Comic Market 66. I covered this phenomenal bi-annual event in my older posts: "Comiket 65, catching up on gaming" (Comic Market 65) and "Shmups at Comic Market 64" (Comic Market 64) However I've lost a bit of the excitement over the fan created games. I'm still waiting for Zun games, but overall waiting for a novel and interesting game from this scene is like rolling a 100-sided die and waiting for a ... 88. Yeah bad analogies coupled with my favorite number. Of course there's always the industry booths, which are packed with goodies, like To Heart 2. The Weekly Famitsu had a page ad of To Heart 2 and it seems they are selling a fan goodies pack on the August 13 at Comic Market. I'm interested, I'm not interested. Waffle waffle.

In any case I need to check out the stuff in the catalog and the stuff I bought last year so I don't make the mistake of buying the same stuff over again. It truly is possible because there is a lot of other people's crap at these things.

And yeah, Dead or Alive has a picture book and CD-ROM. Sweet 100 wallpapers yeah?

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