Thursday, March 31, 2005 @ 21:37 (Japan Standard Time)

A hobbyist video gamer in the middle of Japan's gaming zone. Comments on console, PC, handheld and arcade games.
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2005-03-31 Thu

The princess is waiting in another month!

Cheating by using a shield: Samidare replay for extra stage

Browsers with the kitchen sink

2005-03-26 Sat

Hating the music: Parsec47 new high score

Miscellaneous game mag bits

2005-03-24 Thu

Moedan: Shmup is in session.

2005-03-21 Mon

Dan Da Dan! means reverse Mr. Driller

Nintendo DS launched in Europe

Celebrate birthdays of PC games: UT2004

The sweet smell of free; But don't light it

Mushihime purple rain

Only confirmed if Weekly Famitsu says so.

Only the necessities

Navel Gaming Journal

2005-03-20 Sun

Deep Euro Mining operation

Eye Toy Bag: Fatigues Green and Orange play with your eyes.

Licenses for world driving.

Finishing off a title is too much busywork.

Commitment to cuteness.

2005-03-16 Wed

Warning! Gorgeous Wallpapers Approaching!

2005-03-15 Tue

Writing on the horizon

2005-03-07 Mon

I sure hope Wipeout Pure is better.

Trading Tim McGraw for Link.

2005-03-02 Wed

Renting a game

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The princess is waiting in another month!

I saw that Princess Maker 4 was delayed. Ugh, now I don't feel like going to Osaka, it's a hassle when nothing I really want is available.

Here is my to-buy list:

  • Spike Out Battle Street
  • GigaWing Generations
  • Psikyo Collection 3

For varions reasons I've been thinking on passing on them. But then I remember that the anime I pre-ordered is coming out. Ack I have to go to Osaka now.

Cheating by using a shield: Samidare replay for extra stage

There's a Samidare replay for version 1.051 on the Shooting Maniacs site. I had to patch my copy up to latest version to see it. The parody boss characters and bullet overload was great. But it wasn't jaw-dropping skill, in my opinion. Maybe it was because of the shield gimmick. Cheating, I say.

This maybe the reason why I'm going to pass on GigaWing Generations.

Browsers with the kitchen sink

Emulation. I knew of Apple II emulation but the impact wasn't felt as strongly as when I first opened a browser plug-in emulating an Apple IIgs (thanks Steven Hatch's Weblog). The nostalgia was delirious. The Apple IIgs beep! The control panel! This site has my games of yesteryear down pat. I first tried Wasteland, but it didn't boot. Then I tried Deathlord. Ah crack screens and "insert your scenario disk."

Then I jumped onto the Apple IIgs side with Arkanoid 2. Wow, the sounds come out great. I was going to try out Zany Golf and Rastan but I was too giddy.

Wow that was a rush.

Hating the music: Parsec47 new high score

I was really hating this music I was listening to. It was the album "No Te Olvides De Mí" from Diana Navarro. (Do you know how hard it is to find the artist page when you don't know the language? Is this the artist page!?!?) What is this, opera? She's tugging on her own throat strings!

But I was playing Parsec47 with --reverse --nosound + iTunes (aforementioned "music") and I got this high score:

Parsec47 High score Lock 20050326

14 337 390 - piyo - extreme 76 - Sega Saturn style USB controller PC

Whoo hee. All that time practicing with -nowait paid off, maybe.

I've been thinking as of late that my Project Sugar PC is too powerful for this game. I see on the Task Manager that Parsec47 takes 3-6% CPU time. Heh.

Miscellaneous game mag bits

I was reading the latest Weekly Famitsu in bed.

I saw Bejeweled is coming out for the Xbox Live Arcade for the Japan area. Interesting.

Wild Arms the 4th Detonator has very attractive hand-drawn still pictures. Check out the cover of Famitsu PS2 vol 187.

This reminds me. I still want to get the other two Galaxy Angel games (on PC), and maybe らぶどる Lovely Idol, which is coming out on 4/28. Oh yeah, let's not forget Chrono Trigger for the PS1. I played this on an emulator some years ago and it was very very good.

There were beautiful Raiden 3 screens in last week's Famitsu. This is a shmup! A shmup series from my college years, as one of my good friends was excellent at Raiden 2. 10 years, they say, since the last outing. What's up with Raiden Fighters series, doesn't that count? Anyways, wow, I always fall for the curvy lasers and this series doesn't disappoint. There's video clips on this site, but too bad they don't show the curvy lasers.

A shocker. The Hatsukoi PC lolita-ecchi game (definately not work-safe) is coming to the PS2, as the revamped Hatsukoi - First Kiss (thanks Dengeki Online) on 2005/06/30. Hatsukoi means "first love", and the stories, apart from being about first loves, have a twist to them. I love the drawing style, although the images have been considerably de-sexualized for the mainstream.  The main opening song was sung by Hiromi Sato (thanks again Dengeki Online), who spent years as the opening song singer for many PC ecchi games. I can still hear the lyrics in my mind: "あなたに「好き」と言えました". The soundtrack is great, with quiet classical instruments instead of blaring synths. As I have played the PC version and own the figurines (pictures later?), I'm determined to get this game.

Going to Osaka to pickup a copy of Spikeout Battle Street. Where am I going to play it? I have to go to Osaka again next weekend.

Gotta pickup the Rumble Roses soundtrack coming out on 2005/03/30. I am avoiding the print books or mooks. No more, please.

Moedan: Shmup is in session.

There's a lot to like about Moedan, a new PC-based doujin shmup. Sure, this game is a rip-off of Moetan and Shanghai Alice's works such as Touhou Eiyashou - Imperishable Night (東 方永夜抄). But this game is cute. It's a decent effort by D.N.A. Software and I like it. Pretty much its for all people who wanted to try shmups but felt daunted with today's shmup's difficulty levels and danmaku (barrage fire) fashion. In other words, it's for beginners. But you hardcore types shouldn't fret, there's more in store.

Moedan internal cover

The start is pretty slow. The game is more like a classroom for shmups, and you are to learn about types of bullets. "Chaotic bending laser!" (不規則に曲るレーザー!). Some of the dialogue is not very interesting, but it is lighthearted and snickerly funny. Actually, if you skip the dialogue, you miss the tutorials and more importantly the general atmosphere of the game. It becomes more boring when skipped.

After playing cards 1 through 10, I skipped to card 50 and passed it on my first try. WTF, this game is easy? But then I went back though and did them in order. Some of them I had to try several times to pass, but it's still pretty easy. Think Touhou games on easy mode, and never getting harder than level 1 and you'll get the idea.

So I finished all 50 cards and it took me about an hour. The credits rolled and I though, this is surely a waste of 1400 yen, too short. But then there's an extra mode. Ooh, more interesting now. As for the first mode, I recommend playing the game without bombing. Especially cards 11 and 38. Very fun.

Music is a bland remix of Zun's tunes, nothing noteworthy. Graphics are on par with the Shanghai Alice bullet style and the enemy graphics are passably cute. Control wasn't too bad, maybe a bit slow, but I've been playing lots of Parsec47 on Extreme, so I could be wrong. The controller I used, a Sega Saturn-style USB controller, was cinch to set up.

I'll comment more on this game when I've passed the extra mode. It may take a while, but this should be fun. Think graze and buzz. Buzz and graze.

Dan Da Dan! means reverse Mr. Driller

I played the Dan Da Dan freeware shmup game with great satisfaction. (Thanks Insert Credit) The block style is reminscent of Super Mario Bros 3. and the game style is something like reverse Mr. Driller, but with a shmupity delight. It would be so much better if it was downward scrolling. Once I figured out that holding down the fire button releases a "deadly droplet" seperate from your ship, it was over. My last score is:

339 470 - piyo - LV 28 - DIST 428 - Sega Saturn style USB controller

as shown on the Shmups web board. I'm done, but it was a great hour of fun.

Nintendo DS launched in Europe

Joystiq claims that the European launch of the Nintendo DS was strong. Maybe they should read better, it's just the UK. Personally I was there at a sleepy little European town, and the biggest electronics store there had shelves full of unsold DS systems. Where was the rush?

Celebrate birthdays of PC games: UT2004

One of my favorite games on the PC just turned one year old. Unreal Tournament 2004. Now with a reflection article of sorts. (Thanks joystiq) Doesn't that mean 2005 will be UT-less? Will we have to wait until 2006 for another PC outing?

The sweet smell of free; But don't light it

You ever look at cars passing by like they were some kind of treat? (Apologies to Collin Raye). No? For some reason, after watching the car pr0n that is Gran Turismo 4, I look at cars that way now. I still scoff when they have a spoiler on the back, though. Heh.

I've had this page open in my browser for a month now, but here goes: "Gran Turismo 4 Launches With Free Gas" (thanks Kotaku). Free gas? In California? What's the price of gas now, 2 bucks a gallon? I really have come to like that GT logo. That gas station looks pretty cool. Except, if you wanted to play a demo of GT4, where would you park your car?

Mushihime purple rain

Did you see that Mushihime Ultra mode clip (Thanks click stick 2005/02/27)? The player has almost all of the stage down, except the last boss. Um, it would take someone with super-human skill to get that last boss without dying and bombing. Purple rain indeed. Anybody else get the crimped neck just trying to view it? Hehe.

The game is supposedly coming on the PS2, but then again that's just rumor. There's another rumor that the soundtrack and figure is coming out. I may buy them. I can't remember what the music sounds like though.

Only confirmed if Weekly Famitsu says so.

Now with that meta-gaming funk out of the way, I can talk about my PSP lust. Well I have yet to succumb. I'm sure if you really wanted the PSP you would have already got it now. As for me, I have come across some journalism (Oh no not that word!) which whet my appetite for the black soap-bar. And now that my favorite game shop has the Playstation Portable in stock with no waiting (what after 3 months of frenzied pre-order systems?), it's getting harder to resist. What, you still have to wait? (Thanks Game Girl Advance) Bummer.

Weekly Famitsu finally came out with a two-page spread of Wipeout Pure, so now I know it's come out in the Japan region. Yeah! Why didn't the PS2 version of Wipeout come out in Japan? I'll never know. Well the blog buzz surrounding this seems to be positive (thanks Kotaku 1, 2), so it is a lock as my first PSP game.

But who know when it's coming here? I don't know. So if I got the PSP now, what game would I play? Why, Lumines, of course. "Out-tetris Tetris" to paraphrase some breathless reviews. I'm a Tetris-alike fan, just not a Puyo Puyo-alike fan.

But then I heard somewhere online that the PSP is going to get a battery revision, sometime in the following 6 months. I need to re-verify this. In any case, it's the reason I'm not plunking 30000 yen on another toy. Right now.

Only the necessities

I thought this "What's in Your Game Bag?" article was going to take off (thanks Kotaku). But there were only two pictures. Sure, I have several "game bags" (like this one) but they are for storing games and are in no way for public consumption.

But seriously, who takes more than one system with them every day? I would think in this age of the all-in-one cell phones that it would be just that or a PDA. Gee, I must be talking about my experience. I haven't brought any of my 4 GBA SPs outside in a while, etc.

Perhaps this just the time to suggest taking a step away from the buzz-emitting devices and to enjoy the fresh air?

Navel Gaming Journal

Now we have the term NGJ "New Game Journalism" to describe the game-related online opinion pieces that try to situate themselves away from OGJ "Old Game Journalism", which is anything in print, or from "news" companies with the "greased hand" inside the industry. Someone had to define a term for it so that the blogosphere could quantify it and react. I like NGJ because it's "from the street", anybody can do it. It's not structured, it's not a formula of game play score, graphics score, audio score, etc. It's about evoking emotion in the reader to experience a game.

But I personally find this NGJ to be problematic at times, not because of the concept, but because some writers need more writing practice. Or that people are attaching the NGJ tag to anything online even remotely related to game commenting. Remember that "journalism" is in the term, not "blogging".

Here are the my picks for blogged pointers into the phenomenon and counter-reaction:

  • Ten Unmissable Examples of New Game Journalism [Guardian Gamesblog] Seminal read trying to define the term. Look for the NGJ poster child "Tim Rogers". For Tim's articles I have to get into the mood to read, unlike other articles where there is no complex setup to disassociate my preconceptions of the writer.
  • New Game Journalism -- Our Seven-Point Manifesto on Why it’s Shit [UK Resistance] People seem unsure which side this piece is on. I take it on face value, NGJ needs to mature.
  • In defense of Old Game Journalism [Game Girl Advance] The "Can't we all just get along" viewpoint.
  • The Gamer's Quarter: "The Gamer's Quarter magazine is a collaborative project between dedicated gamers who do not just play games, but experience them..." A e-zine from devoted gamers (aren't we all?) that had the unfortunate timing to launch at the same time NGJ was coined.
  • New Game Journalism Hurts My Brain [Kotaku] "I think it’s great to poke fun of pretentious writing that exists purely for the sake of educating or enlightening instead of a more honest reason like, say, selling a video game." Whoa, which is more honest?

NGJ seems to be a moving target. There will be others who will term the game-related writing that we do into other terms, and NGJ will become sharply defined. At least hopefully. I'm still unsure what "Alternative" means in the music world.

And no, I wouldn't call what I write on my gaming log NGJ, because I'm not reviewing games or explaining what I feel when I game. If you had to term it, it's "navel gaming journal". Or to be confusing, NGJ for short. Hey I guess I can put these sentences in my About page.

Deep Euro Mining operation

Well I felt like I wasn't making any progress on Gran Turismo 4, so I turned to a FAQ, yet again. But here we have something interesting: "Beginner's Guide". I read this one again and again. And well it says basically, get good enough to win the Special Condition Course "Costa di Almafi" (Easy) and you will net a car that you can sell. Wow, reselling is great, it's 26 million credits in the Japanese version! Now all I have to do is play that Special Condition Course, sell the car I win, buy a used street car and upgrade the car fully, only after 5 minutes of work! This really kills Gran Turismo for me.

Well, maybe I am out of the beginner rut, and with the ia license, I can go anywhere, get regular cars and do one-make races even just with B-spec mode. Easy stuff. Am I going to have enough experience when I have to race again?

Eye Toy Bag: Fatigues Green and Orange play with your eyes.

The Eye Toy bag. I sure don't get enough of the gaming. Now I have this ugly thing to show for it. It's a European exclusive. Yeah right. I was stopped by the customs agent on the way back into Japan. "Do you have any porn?" "No." And he wanted to look in this bag. "What's with all the DVDs, son?" "Well I like music DVDs, sir." "Lionel Richie, I see. Carry on."

Playstation 2 Eye Toy bag

And here I am actually using it.

Look ma, I'm demo-ing the Eye Toy Bag!

I like this picture because you can't tell how fat I am from PLAYING GAMES ALL DAY. Heheheh. The bag in this picture contained Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Mario and Luigi Super Adventure, as well as music DVDs. Sarah McLachlan's Mirrorball. I didn't know she was Canadian.

Licenses for world driving.

Every day for the last week I was playing Gran Turismo 4. Just a few minutes a day. I was polishing up my licenses, and I finally got the international B and A.

Gran Turismo 4 Progress: Getting the IA and IB licences

Game progress: 6.3%
A-spec points 3101 pts
Licenses: b, a, ib, ia
Gold License Awards: 1
Sliver License Awards: 24
Bronze License Awards: 39

There were certain parts I was proud of:

  • Using the slipstream technique in the mission test 10.
  • Getting lots of silvers even in the IA test.
  • Finishing with a silver on IA-15 Nürburgring Nordschleife. 9 minutes of white knuckle terror. This was first time to complete it, too! Thank gosh the devs put that guide car, it was very helpful.
  • Just playing IA-16. 350 kph! The rattle of the GT-Force Pro steering wheel at this level made me glad I bought it.

With all that car experience, I thought I could breeze past the License test B-3, "Your first curve". I practiced and practice but still I couldn't get a gold. I am now 0.008 sec away from it.

Only 0.008 seconds away from a gold.

Still I have this feeling of "What should I do next?". I still don't have enough money to trick my cars, a Volvo old-school wagon and a Mazda Roadster soap-bar. I don't know!

Finishing off a title is too much busywork.

Earlier in the week, I was able to beat Zelda: Minish Cap. I tried it again and this time I was more efficient dispatching knights. The ending was so-so, but the feeling of accomplishment of finally figuring out what weapons to use was, great? Ah, yeah right. Just like silver-arrows-great, if you catch my drift.

Spoilers to the end of this post if you haven't played this game yet.

I used a couple of FAQ to figure out one stumper. I mean come on, one puzzle confounded me, because it wasn't logical. There's the sub-quest to return the books to the library. I wasn't sure how to push a book off the bookshelf. The first part had 3 minish-sized people pushing a book down from the attic, so how could Link by himself push one book off? Maybe I needed power bracelets or something. But this quest was to get the power bracelets. Meh.

I did lean on a FAQ after I beat the game to figure out what I missed. Who has time to figure out all the secrets on your own? Not me. (But obviously the FAQ writers do.) I saw that I had one more bottle to get, the mirror shield, kinstones to fuse, the cucco mini-game, etc. Just the sheer amount of stuff to finish up felt like busywork. It's not really part of the game, but it keeps you in it so that you feel you got your money's worth.

Commitment to cuteness.

I promised before that I would talk about the Pikachu GBA SP. But first, here's a picture:

Pikachu GBA SP sitting pretty with Zelda and Achimo

On the way home from the airport, I swung by Osaka and I picked up Pikachu with my pre-order slip. Pikachu's face is glossy, unlike the other GBA's I've seen. Other than that, the buttons are slightly brown. I have yet to play with it, and for now it's going back into its box. Check out the difference in size between the boxes. It's the AC adapter.

On the far right of the picture is the Achimo Orange official bag, to fit the Achimo Orange GBA SP. Ah, a sucker born every minute. Didn't I have two official bags for it from before? Now this makes three.

Warning! Gorgeous Wallpapers Approaching!

Looks like Moedan is all setup for purchase in just a few days. "Master up", indeed. Probably the english equivalent is "gone gold". This is a doujin shmup, turning this:

Inku Nijihara statue

into this:

Writing on the horizon

Recently playing:
  • Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (GBA-eu, Hard last boss)

Stuff I wanted to write down:

  1. Playing an adventure game.
  2. The last boss is decidedly un-zelda? Too hard or am I too complacent.
  3. Learning to love cars.
  4. Bringing home two systems
  5. Any game of sizeable mainstreamity is doomed to re-invent Boxxle/ Sokoban, poorly. What is boxxle but poor man's environmental deformation?

At this point (1), means that I was playing Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. I think getting to the last boss I had to use 3 red potions out of 3 bottles. It was a hard boss (2) and I didn't clear it. Thinking back about the puzzles in Minish, there were some irritating ones involving pushing stuff around (5). You know, any game of sizeable mainstreamity is doomed to re-invent Boxxle or Sokoban, poorly. What is Sokoban but poor man's environmental deformation? (This phrase is borrowed from the programming world: "Greenspun's Tenth Rule of Programming: any sufficiently complicated C or Fortran program contains an ad hoc informally-specified bug-ridden slow implementation of half of Common Lisp." - Phil Greenspun)

I missed playing Gran Turismo 4 (3). The shop were I played a demo of the European version had a driving seat. It was flimsy, but it had atmosphere. When I returned home to Japan, before I fully unpacked my bags, I played about 30 minutes on my setup. Home sweet home.

As for the last item (4), I'll save that for another post.

I sure hope Wipeout Pure is better.

... because Wipeout on the PC was pure hogwash. Slow slow slow, chunky graphics. I bought this 5 euro game for nostalgia even though I probably have 2 copies of the PC game already. I guess I forgot that it doesn't hold a candle to today's racers. Of course, this game came out in 1995. That it runs well (?) on this Windows XP machine is a given.

Wipeout for the PC Wipeout for the PC

And while I'm on the racing subject, I played some Gran Turismo 4 on a demo unit. Let's just say I don't know my Nurenburg. Ugh, bouncing off the walls. But the demo unit was all BMW with only 3 courses. Very interesting.

And while I'm pining away for my home gaming experience, I just wanna say that Hot Wheels Racing Stunt Challenge is an effort but it falls short in the graphics department. Hey it's fully 3D. But the graphics slow down when there are cars in front of you. Just drive good enough so that you don't have to see them. There's opponent rubber banding. And no battery pack. Passwords! In 2005?

Trading Tim McGraw for Link.

Adventures when travelling with credit card, without ID. I was going to purchase this Tim McGraw CD and some other stuff but I was stopped when I couldn't produce any legal ID, at least legal in the country. How embarassing. The girl was explaining to me that I needed ID, but in a language I barely know. The guy waiting behind me said "Cash?" in English. I knew from the checkout routine that I wasn't going to make any more head-way with just plastic. So I had to go back to my hotel to pick up my passport.

I went back to the same shop (which by now, going by taxi probably added a lot to my purchases), and proceeded to stuff the same things in my basic. But there was no Tim McGraw. There was however, the Limited Edition Legend of Zelda Gameboy Advance SP. All of them had scuff marks on the "gold" foil inprint of the Triforce on the front of the box, so I had a devil of a time picking one. Before I snagged this game system, I first snagged the Hot Wheels Stunt Racing game, after deliberating whether I should get it, or that Zelda game or the Final Fantasy Tactics. In the end, two out of three ain't bad, and it certainly is enough to tide me over for more than a few days.

Limited Edition Legend of Zelda GBA SP

Playing Link again was not sheer joy, but it had its puzzle moments. Of course it was rupie crawling, point A to point B jaunting, and sheer frustration when there are no textual clues. The items have even less Zelda-logic to them this time. I was surprised at the ingenuity of some puzzles, and the speed at which that mine cart moves. I probably have sinked 8 hours in this game over the last two days. Music is reminiscent but it gets tiring. And true to recent Nintendo form, the main character grunts and yips annoyingly to every sword strike or item throw. Oh how I yearn for the silent hero. What is funny is the vocal exclaimations of the NPCs. They add just enough to freshness to crawling for clues.

I guess I wanna play this to the end, but on a TV screen. The eyes they are killing me!

Renting a game

(05/03/02 05:41 @ +100, but timezone is JST)

I'm renting a Nokia phone while on my business trip. There were two games on it, Chess End Moves and Bounce. I was having fun with both of them at 5 AM in the morning, only because I didn't get use to the time zone fast enough. I swear though, there were some solutions I thought could work but the computer didn't recognize it. Bounce was one that was an action game but it just didn't have the great control. It wasn't tight.

But it was gaming! By golly!

Nokia phone : Chess End Moves game

Nokia phone : Bounce game

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