Tuesday, May 31, 2005 @ 06:53 (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

2005-05-31 Tue

Finally, my type of DS

2005-05-28 Sat

Outed (It's normal!)

Always time enough for Q*bert

2005-05-27 Fri

A DoA contest? Replays, please.

2005-05-26 Thu

Self-help gamers

2005-05-22 Sun

Nami Tamaki, please dance and smile more.

2005-05-21 Sat

The well flooded (or the well, flooded)

Passing the time

Childhood figures.

2005-05-18 Wed

Low-key but in your pocket (Revolution, Micro)

Nervous to talk at a press conference?

2005-05-17 Tue

Wireless is the key

Cups of virtual water, overflowing with hype (PlayStation 3)

2005-05-14 Sat

Just 30 seconds...

Uninformed party pooping (Xbox 360)

2005-05-12 Thu

Bows and arrows.

2005-05-11 Wed

Masumin!

Linkie manifesto.

2005-05-10 Tue

My last draw to PC gaming.

2005-05-08 Sun

A Royal game, part 2

A Royal game

2005-05-07 Sat

Exercising my Edoma

2005-05-06 Fri

Saving the best for last: Yoko Ishida concert

2005-05-05 Thu

Save the best for last: Touhou related goods

Review of the "The Onslaught Raiden Fighters": Discovered the Fairy!

Cels for Rozen Maiden

2005-05-04 Wed

Beat my head into a pillow.

A rare trip, short distance.

Trying to put it out my mind.

Feel of the PSP

2005-05-03 Tue

Web site design update: filling in

2005-05-02 Mon

Not attending

Knoppix and Frozen Bubble

2005-05-01 Sun

Miyuki Sawashiro come back!

Web site design update: Even more putzing around

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Finally, my type of DS

Recently playing:
  • Unreal Tournament 2004 (WinPC-jp, Pancake!)
Now stacking:

I got the info from the Pokemon Center mailing list (vol 143) but I just didn't read it until I saw the Engadget feature. (Geez, what's the point of subscribing to a mailing list if ya don't read it?!). A Pokemon-themed DS is coming out. Pink, purple just the way I like it. Hm. Will this finally get me into the next generation of portable gaming? Actually right now I don't know of any DS games I want, ha ha.

In other portable news, I played with the PSP at a music video demo kiosk. Movies look really fluid on this thing. Too bad I didn't like the contents.

Outed (It's normal!)

I for one sometimes bristle at the fact that people at my work (who are non-gamers) know I play games. But then again, I do play the occasional shmup or two during the lunch break, so maybe I'm not too ashamed. I get called an "otaki" (not otaku) sometimes in jest, which riles me up sometimes.

What does being "outed" for being a gamer mean? Does it mean you aren't taken seriously?

Portico's "Gamer Shame" article analyzes the gamers' reluctance to reveal their hobby. (Thanks, Buttonmashing, Kotaku) By revealing to the public that gaming is not an affliction, but a conscious hobby, perhaps the stereotypes against gaming in general can be changed. I'm not sure how this will work, if at all, in the Japan culture, though. One could compare gaming to anime. Though the content can be geared for all ages, it really is seen as kids stuff or for people who never grew up, even in Japan. Serious anime like Grave of the Fireflies (火垂るの墓) are merely exceptions to this rule. It is the same with gaming. You just don't reveal you like anime or games if you want to be seen as normal.

Always time enough for Q*bert

My mom surprised me by telling me she plays Q*bert on her cell phone. I never knew she got into video games. I'm worried about her eyesight though because it's hard to see the screen, right?

Is Q*Bert tuned for old people? Kotaku points to another game high-score record in the making: "Eighty-Year-Old Woman Trains to Win Title of 'Oldest Video Game Champion'". It's an uplifting story just like Gary Whelan's Galaxian effort a while back. Then again, you just can't put a gamer down, especially this active woman.

A DoA contest? Replays, please.

There was a Dead or Alive: Ultimate live tournament? (Thanks, game girl advance) According to the link, this was based on the online tournament and hosted at E3. Hm. I want to see some replays. I've never seen a fighting replay DVD in stores for Dead or Alive. I have seen (the covers of) more than a few DVDs of tournament replays for those SNK/Playmore fighters, Virtua Fighter series, Guilty Gear, etc. Because of the lack of replays, I thought that the fighting system of DoA was just not competent enough for fighting fans. Perhaps it isn't.

Anyways, Itagaki showed his lighter side at E3, instead of his usual pompous "make you my b**ch" (or so I've been told). While trying to dig up some dirt on him (and failing), I found this non-toxic quote about fair gameplay:

The first rule of good versus play is that it is fair, but you also have to feel at the same time that you can beat your opponent. Both players must have the feeling that they have a chance to win and that, if they lose, they will not feel sour. To feel good about losing is a way to put it. To be thrown off of a cliff by an ugly opponent might make you feel bad even if the fight was fair, but to be thrown off by a beautiful woman...that should make you feel good about losing. This is also why graphics are so important. ...

Well, yeah. Now I realize why I played DoA! It's not about collecting costumes! (LOL)

Self-help gamers

Lifehacker links to gamers who want quick (productivity) tips. This is meant for me and those other old farts who have more to life than just games. Of course, some of it runs counter to how games should be played. Tip 3 is "play the easy version", and some follow up comments in the threads mention looking at the online guides. Ha. I like the kind of games that kick my ass. Well, every once in a while. Without the challenge, how do you know your limit?

Of course, games don't really count in your productive life. Right?

 

Nami Tamaki, please dance and smile more.

Do you know why Nami Tamaki (玉置成実) is famous? No, I don't either. Can somebody please explain it to me? Anyway, she's a mainstream JPOP teen singer who will be 17 years old in a couple of days, according to her profile page. The kanji for her birth name "Nami" is "produce fruit", and was chosen for the hope for success, which I find interesting.

I recently bought her just released 2nd album "Make Progress" which is a CD+DVD combo, just for one reason: the Fortune promotional video. I like to see her dance and smile, smile and dance. Wow. I've already watched this video multiple times. Can't say I like her voice or most of the other music, or even the other music videos. Ah well. But I really like this song. And this music video. Yes.

Nami Tamaki in the Fortune PV

BTW, Fortune is the theme song for the Square/Enix game Radiata Stories for the PS2. Gaming related!

The well flooded (or the well, flooded)

I never did pay attention to E3 until this year, probably because I didn't read the mainstream gaming sites like I read the RSS'd game blogs now. Of course mainstream sites like Gamespot probably have the best coverage, what with press conference webcasts and a million paid reporters and such. But reading news sites like Joystiq/Engadget and Kotaku made me feel closer to E3 because they inject more personal commentary (or is it more "I was here and I got free swag from MegaX gaming company and I'm still not influenced by Happy-Shiny-Frag 200x to give it the 100 out of 4 stars it really deserves" reporting?). Don't forget the human element, Video Game Ombudsman just can't get enough of drinking with game journalists, ho hum.

And those who couldn't be there (like Grumpy Gamer) have highly relevant grumble grumble. Quote of the moment: "Thirty-year-old guys don't want to play as a Pikmin picking up mushrooms." (E3 exibitor and Midway Games Inc. Chief Executive David Zucker)

The next couple months are just going to be specs! not specs, games! arguments. But as always, look forward to the usual point-at-shiny-things posts from me.

I got this week's Weekly Famitsu magazine, but you could have called it Microsoft Famitsu. Most of it was Microsoft related. Xbox 360 this, Sakaguchi that, Mizuguchi this-that. The usual paid-by-Microsoft section was expanded by a couple of pages with high color glossies of the console and controller (life-sized pictures), and of course upcoming game shots. But there was not a peep of the PlayStation 3 or Nintendo Revolution or GameBoy Micro. I thought this week would be a monster issue with info on all three consoles. Guess I have next week's issue to look forward to.

One image that's stuck in my mind with all this new gaming news is, "Who's stuck in the well?" Is it me and the rest of the consumer sheep looking up to the sky from the bottom and hearing a wafting voice just over the lip explaining all the shiny things? Or is it the game blogs/news sites in the well, reporting on things that won't have relevance on my gaming in the here and now?

Me? I'm just happy to get the occasional fun game demo or demo movie. Like that 400MB+ Dead or Alive 4 clip (thanks 1up) that pushes a higher than DVD 12 Mbps decoding rate, or like that indies game Clash'n'Slash (thanks Joystiq) snipping me at the start of my addiction and asking me to pay for more. I debated it for 5 seconds, silenced the "I want it now" voice and then deleted it from my hard drive.

I blame the trauma of losing a wisdom tooth for the randomness of this post.

Passing the time

Recently playing:
  • Unreal Tournament 2004 (WinPC-us, ONS-Torlan and nothing else)

I got one of my wisdom teeth pulled out just recently and besides the feeling of wanting to down painkillers every minute, I've been playing UT2004 to pass the time. I think this game is the best for painkilling because you have to concentrate every second to play effectively, like double dodging to move forward quickly, etc. Reading games or RPGs obviously don't cut it. Some shmups don't cut it either, since they make me daydream sometimes.

It's either this or put myself to sleep. And since I'm the type who like the waking hours more, I deal with it.

Childhood figures.

No I'm not talking about the Lego statues I used to play with as a kid. (Anybody else remember that movie camera/rocket launcher specialized piece you get in the Space sets?) Click-stick brought us the news of the Reko childhood figure for the PS2 version of Mushihime-sama. It has been considerably desexualized but the cuteness factor has increased! Now we know Reko hasn't been riding bugs all her life.

Personally, I'm not sure this will satisfy the fans who play the game to see more cut-scenes or the fans of the bullet spray. Nor do I think it will succeed in enticing newcomers. Just what is this design trying to do?

Low-key but in your pocket (Revolution, Micro)

Now we've seen Nintendo throw their wares into the ring. Revolution (thanks Joystiq). The case is not final. Mario and Zelda sequels ho hum. Not much game clips. It's about the games and making it easier for devs to program for it. Not much for me to get excited about, even with the "virtual console" (thanks Game Girl Advance) or what we can call the we'll-charge-you-again-for-nostalgia strategy This console looks one of those DIY CDROM sized PC kits. Come on, Nintendo, your stuff is positively tame compared to the other two. Personally the only thing I'm looking forward to is playing Ikaruga on it. Yeah, right.

But then we come to the Game Boy Micro (thanks again Joystiq). Boy were we blindsided with this announcement. Sure it's just another GBA in different clothing (cost cutting?), and I question Nintendo bringing out another portable device. But fashionably it's killer. I'd like to see more custom styles because silver is so... ugh, but the size just excites me. Imagine, a Pokemon Game Boy Micro. Heh. I bet this will be the cheap "interactive" controller for the Revolution and Game Cube. If this GBM is only 50 USD (I don't hear any GB or GBC compatibility, so maybe possible?) I bet people will be playing more console games with this. Killing two birds with one stone, eh?

It's hard to say if Nintendo has the right strategy. Here in Japan, Nintendo is winning the console war against Xbox, so perhaps their new console strategy is still valid. Outside of Japan, Xbox holds more gamers' (and game bloggers') hearts it seems, so its hard to ignore all of those subjective voices saying that Nintendo is no longer "in". Personally, I don't care who comes out on top, because I'll probably eventually own all the consoles of the next generation as well. But it seems to me that I'll be wanting a PS3 first.

Nervous to talk at a press conference?

I checked out the E3 PlayStation 3 Press Conference video which was 96 minutes (thanks Gamespot). Skipped past the bad janglish and watched the various demos. Oh wow oh wow. Is it just me or is the future of gaming some sort of FPS or real-time sword hack and slash? Visceral death, ugh. Not a puzzle or shmup game in sight. I actually watched that Unreal demo and it wasn't as spectacular as the other demos (but the swirly rocket launcher trails was classic!), such as Killzone (wow, get off the beach indeed), Gran TurismoMotor Storm. Are these really in-game? Pre-renders, probably.

I especially liked that EyeDentify demo, if only for the "We'll go in, but keep an eye on us, okay?" line from sexy voice. Oh well, I am the seiyuu fan.

And there was not a spokeswoman in sight. Hm, so much for women in the game industry.

(edit: added links to the visual demos)

Wireless is the key

So these two new consoles use wireless connections for their controllers. What happens when you want to use your old controllers? How about all those PS2 to USB/PC controller converters? Ah, bring out the controller "island" brick converters.

Cups of virtual water, overflowing with hype (PlayStation 3)

Now stacking:
  • Galaxy Angel Eternal Lovers (WinPC-jp, On sale)
  • Ultra Puzzle Bobble (Xbox-jp, On sale oh yeah)

Do you remember where you where or what you were doing when you heard the PlayStation 2 announced? How about the PlayStation 1? At least for me, the third time is the charm, because I'm recording my reaction to the PlayStation 3 announcement.

E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo?) decided to run without me, as it always does. This time the video game "journalist" blogosphere is at once overloaded with live! up-to-the-minute! information (thanks jiji/namakoteam. Can your RSS aggregator take it?!) what with only two (three?) new home consoles being officially announced in the span of a week. I already wrote my initial reaction to the Xbox 360. Now with simultaneous release in US, Europe and Asia and selective backwards compatibility. Great. Keep spinning it, fellas, we've got a long wait ahead.

But now here we have the masters of spin. Yes, Sony and their PlayStation 3. Where did these godly specs come from? Did somebody say multiply any of your published numbers by 3? Memory Stick and other memory card formats? Gigabit Ethernet router? Reality Synthesizer @ 1080p? Backwards compatibility to the PS1 and PS2? It's hard to believe it all comes in a box slated for next year. Oh yeah, next year, 1 year from now. Like anybody is going to remember these dream specs. Here's hoping that the PS3 will have that Texture Format improvement and disc reading speed improvement settings just like the PS2. Gwah haw.

At least they did it right with an game engine demo. Unreal Engine 3 technology by Sweeney and Epic Games(thanks Anandtech). Heh, are you still waiting for id to get something done with their engine? Here we have my favorite PC gaming engine ushering in a whole console, yessir. And you thought the ol' whose-the-better-FPS flamewar was over? Please post a movie clip, please post a movie clip. Oh yes!

I keep thinking, how much are they going to charge for this box. Look at that PSX (the DVD recorder one), they charged 100,000 yen for it and what kind of hardware did it come with? Is this PS3 going to cost less that 50,000 yen? And get this, the box is almost as big as an old Xbox! Hahahaha.

It's time to start saving up, isn't it. If inclined, I'll be getting my PS3 October 2006, after the first run of PS3s and their problems are run out. I still wonder about getting a Xbox 360, though.

Hopefully Nintendo will be announcing their "Revolution" soon, so the console hardware lusting will be complete.

Just 30 seconds...

Can you imagine if this came from a card game manufacturing company (thanks Joystiq)? The "Nintendo on". Is this somebody's art thesis project or something? Nintendo couldn't have really made this, could they? Unbelievably cool.

Uninformed party pooping (Xbox 360)

I narrowly escaped the grasp of MTV and the marketing muscle behind the Xbox 360. I haven't seen the games or the celebs who turned into the gaming gods for 30 minutes, so all I have now is an uninformed "meh." But still, the web reactions and the reviews are interesting.

  1. Can't they make the console smaller? Look at the new Nintendo console! (Oops I was suckered by a mock-up.)
  2. The viral marketing/direct connect to the consumer is blantently formulaic. Blogs are the old new commercial ad.
  3. Graphics to make you buy a HDTV. No thanks. Make sure it works on my VGA monitor though. And "Does expression come in HD too?" from Water Cooler Games is one article that I agree with.
  4. Microsoft learned a lot from the Xbox Live and the Windows Media Center integration, not to mention the hackery. Game Girl Advance intones "a new dawn is rising" with their "Armistice" article. I along with everybody else knew that this was coming, the "it-ain't-about-the-games games console".
  5. Japan will get the console 1 month later than the USians and Europeans. Ha, Xbox we barely knew ya.

The "fat lady" is already singing, and the first one with nails in hand is our old anti-mainstream friend Insert Credit with "Xbox 360 kiss of death (Neon)". Microsoft would do well to not hype too much. At least they aren't getting John Romero to hype this thing. I paraphrase: Xbox 360 is about to make you ... Hm, is an Xbox 360 a he, she, or it?

Bows and arrows.

A fun little flash game. Bowman' (thanks Charlesmartel) Very bloody. Very violent. Very, physics geeky.

Masumin!

According to Rainbow Actor, one of my favorite seiyuu, Masumi Asano (浅野真澄) has a DVD coming out on 2005/06/29. Must check! (要チエッキ!). It's probably one of those face/idol type DVDs where the camera just goes on a "date" with said person. Yeah ha. In any case, yeah ha. The original link given doesn't seem to work, but I did find some more information here (COBC-4424).

To me she's famous as Saga in A Little Snow Fairy Sugar (that anime on the right) and recently, Manatsu in Uta Kata (the box on the left). She also did Mitzuki in the Yumeria (PS2-jp). You can check visually which anime she's been in at this ECsite.

Linkie manifesto.

I updated my links pages. These are the just the pages I find interesting.

My last draw to PC gaming.

Other than shmups I don't play much PC games. Funny that. Unreal Tournament 2004 is my only vice. Now we have news of Unreal Tournament 2007 (Thanks Joystiq). Two thousand-seven. 2k7. Two kei seven. U7. Yuu seven. For once, my wallet is thanking the game devs for delaying this game. Perhaps I can squeeze some more fun out of this noisy Prescott in my Project Sugar.

A Royal game, part 2

Recently playing:
  • Royal Edoma Engine 「王立エドマエンジン」 (Win-jp, Ding ding ding! Reject sound on my mind.)

I turned off Slow and I was able to 1CC Royal Edoma Engine on Novice (I swear it's hard! Honest!). But my score is a drag, check it:

Difficulty - Score - Life - Area - Get Sushi - Phase Level - Deray[sic] -- Comments
Novice - 4 010 480 - 3 - ALL - 6318 - 6 - 2.11 - (replay data)

What should I do next, no death clear Novice or 1CC Advanced? Advanced still frustrates me to no end.

A Royal game

Recently playing:
  • Royal Edoma Engine 「王立エドマエンジン」 (Win-jp, Quarter perspective is nothing.)

Well I 1CC cleared Novice (kinda doesn't sound challenging, doesn't it) and my score is updated. I died 1 time.

Difficulty - Score - Life - Area - Get Sushi - Phase Level - Deray[sic] -- Comments
Novice - 5 937 960 - 3 - ALL - 7431 - 7 - 2.41 - Slow Ugh I had Slow on? (replay data)

Looks like I'm going to have to try to play with Slow off on Novice. Hahaha. I was feeling so good about myself. Now I'm frustrated! Ha.

Exercising my Edoma

I love this game, Royal Edoma Engine (王立エドマエンジン). The controls feel snappy, dodging the bullets is not impossible most of the time, there's a bit of strategy with the bomb, the bullet patterns are just excellent (creative), even though they completely stupify me on higher levels. Actually, your "ship" has a really small hit area, and even though there's no icon showing you where the hit area is, you can get used to it. The in-game clock says I've got 7 hours playtime into it. Let's see 1500 yen / 7 hours. Excellent cost / performance! I'd love to see more games from this quarter view perspective.

I figured out that "Reject" icon. Whenever a small enemy is within your circle, he can't fire. Instead that "reject" icon comes up and that clangy sound rings. Like Pavlov's dog, I've become quite accustomed to that sound. Also when you are not firing two good things occur, the circle becomes wider and any sushi in the circle is automatically vacuumed up. I like those vacuum up games, like Parsec47. I still haven't figured out how the phase level works or how you get higher score sushi.

The bad things about this game is that your life bar and power up bar are way at the top, taking your eyes off the action. They should have put it at the lower left. Yeah, the boss health is also far away.

Here are my top scores. They're meager, it's the best I can do.

Difficulty - Score - Life - Area - Get Sushi - Phase Level - Deray[sic] -- Comments
Novice - 2 575 310 - 3 - 5 - 6227 - 2 - 3.47% -- Died at the last boss, just 10 more seconds!
Advanced - 1 689 350 - 3 - 3 - 1805 - 12 - 1.69% --
Demonic - 0 163 020 - 3 - 1 - 454 - 21 - 2.07% - Slow

Playing Demonic is like playing Ikaruga Hard mode without the bullet absorbing. Even the walls produce homicide/hurt bullets! This mode is not fun for me.

I can't recommend this game enough. If you like challenge, and you can get over the quarter view perspective, I suggest you get this game.

Saving the best for last: Yoko Ishida concert

The last day of my Golden Week holday was the best day. Here's part two.

Actually, today I went to the Yoko Ishida (石田燿子) 2nd Live Tour Concert. Yoko Ishida is (now) an anime singer, but she had her own gig before leaving for the mainstream. I guess she's famous for doing anime song covers with techno/para para beats (the Para Para Max CD series, 11 CDs!), and also for opening/ending songs for various animes, like New Snow White Princess Story Pretear (新白雪姫伝説プリーティア, 2000, OP), A Little Snow Fairy Sugar (ちっちゃな雪使いシュガー, 2001, OP), Aoi yori Aoshi Enishi (藍より青し〜縁〜, 2003, OP), This Cruel and Beautiful World (この醜くも美しい世界, 2004, ED), Ah My Goddess (ああっ女神さまっ, 2005, ED), etc. I've been following her since 2001, and I'm in her official fan club. I like her voice (like sweet creamy peppermint) and she has no trouble with really fast lyrics. Excellent.

The concert was pretty cozy with only about 200 people packed into Osaka's Banana Hall. Actually, I've been to this hall before for a friend's live concert, who's keeping her day job, yeah. So I was surprised my favorite anime artist with CDs in regular music stores was going to play in the same place as my friend and her garage band. Hm. With only 200 people representing the Kinki region, it felt kind of sad, actually. I thought she'd be more popular.

Here's the song list in order. Right next to it are my rating and some comments.

Track Name
From Album
Track
My Rating
Comments
Open Your Mind 〜小さな羽根ひろげて〜 all of me 1 5
Everybody just sitting. Yoko in a beautiful frilly dress.
情熱の女神 all of me 2 4 Yoko tears off dress skirt to reveal nice legs. Heh. Dance!
sharing sweet time all of me 9 5
Platinum all of me 6 5
願い Open Your Mind 〜小さな羽根ひろげて〜 2 5
spring field sweets 1 3
believing sweets 2 3
Sugar Baby Love sweets 9 3 ...then everybody stood up for this one.
永遠の花 sweets 5 4 Instrumental
言えないから sweets 6 5 Yoko does piano!
緊張! (nervous!)
たからもの all of me 4 5
Love Repair all of me 5 3 Dress change, trademark cowboy hat and short pants.
proof of life sweets 4 5
君らしいスピードで all of me 3 5
夏色のカケラ all of me 11 5 Danve everybody dance! Special Para Para moves here.
真実の扉 sweets 10 5
power of love all of me 7 4
Thankful sweets 11 4 Encore 1
"idol" Ishida
White Destiny sweets 3 5 Encore 2

The crowd was slow in getting into it. I was standing in the back, clapping and dancing, while the stolid Japanese in their chairs slightly nodded to the music. Come on. Yoko had to entice the people to stand up and shake something a couple of times. But it seemed I had the best seat in the house, even though I was way in the back. She was looking at me the whole time, and I could see her whole outfit over the crowd. Yeah. When everybody stood up, I could only see her head. Boo.

I kept thinking, "I should have bought a penlight/glowstick. Naw, I just need to wave my fist."

She didn't have any completely new music that we haven't heard before. She also didn't sing one of my favorite songs, "Fragile Flower"「壊れかけた花」from the sweets album. But I wasn't disappointed. By the end, everybody was on their feet and into the music.

Yoko herself was the composed singer package. The only time we got to see her human side was when she was struggling with her solo piano piece. According to her talk, she was in Boston last week for Anime Boston. But she need to practice so she borrowed a famous practice hall that some of the greats in music also flexed their fingers (she mentioned Quincy Jones.) Her story is that she doesn't have much confidence in piano, but it's good enough for one song to wow fans.

So now on with the pictures. No pictures of the actual concert, of course.

Goods from the 2005/05 Yoko Ishida tour.

I purchased a (from left to right) T shirt, the concert pamphlet with postcard and keitai strap/screen wipe and bag, and a towel. As you can see, the pamphlet is signed.

Now let's compare it with something else I got signed by her.

Comparing the signature from now and over 4 years ago.

To tell you the truth, though I have her signature, I didn't see her sign it. The concert pamphlet already had signature when I purchased it. And I got the DVD on the right in a display case shop, second-hand. But surely it was her that signed them. Surely. Notice the date, 2001/12/22. This is the date she came to Gamers Kobe for A Little Snow Fairy Sugar DVD promotion talk-and-sign.

I had a great time. Next time I'm coming prepared with all of the titles of her songs memorized so that I'm not lost. I already know most of the lyrics, I think. Heh.

And yes this really is gaming related. She did the ending theme to Vivendi Universal Games' PlayStation 2 game Red Ninja: End of Honor (PS2-us), "Foolish Dream". (Oh, it's not in English. Actually I don't like her English voice. Why is it that anybody who sings in English sings like USians except for Japanese people?)

Save the best for last: Touhou related goods

The last day of my Golden Week holiday was the best day. Here's part one.

New "Touhou"-based goods (doujin sountrack/arrange CDs and doujinshi comics) were in effect at Tora no Ana and Melon Books. Today was the release day. There were many young guys coming up to the displays, swiping 4 or 5 CDs in quick succession, departing with the quickness. As if this was the only thing here. I myself couldn't resist swiping a CD or 6.

About the picture above, the 4 CDs on the left is the Dansou kekkai (弾奏結界) Symphony from the Sanctuary set produced by dBu music, recommended by jiji/namakoteam. The one on the top right is called Reverie by Everfades and is a collection of piano arranges. Sorry I had to cover part of it because she's not wearing any. It's a music CD, sheesh, why why why? Finally Saijitsu (祭日) is a TouhouRadio produced collection of CG artwork. The CD is not the normal circle shape, but a rounded square. Nice.

On the bottom left of the picture above we have Kimi no tama nara shineru (きみのたまなら死ねる) which is a clever play on the title from that Nintendo DS game. This is another arrange CD for "Touhou" music, but this time I saw that Beat Mario (ビートまりお) was on for a track so I had to buy it. Beat Mario created/remixed my most favorite-est "Touhou" track, Danmaku kekkai, and I reported before that he/she was responsible for half of STG x STG CD. There were more "Touhou" goods for sale but I had to leave room for the rest. The rest of this picture is doujinshi. The upper left is Rozen Maiden-related (Shinku, kawaii!), while the lower right is D.C. Da Capo-related (Yoshino Sakura, kawaii!).  Ahahah, blonds are cool. And yes, D.C. Da Capo was a game on the PlayStation 2. Remember?

One last time, we can't let Rozen Maiden humor comics get away! The left one has Suigintou on the cover, that's rare. She's bad and evil and all-in-all a despicable character. But doesn't she have a great costume? Heh.

Keep the goods coming!

Review of the "The Onslaught Raiden Fighters": Discovered the Fairy!

I finally completed watching the 180 minutes of "The Onslaught Raiden Fighters" DVD  I bought from Tanomi.com. In a word, wow!

The Onslaught Raiden Fighters DVDcase and other related shmups replays.

I have close to zilch, nada, zippo play time on this series. I must have passed it when it came out in the arcades. But I love gaming replays, so much so I subscribe to free offerings from the Internet Archive.

This DVD set is a quality release. Not only are the Normal difficulty the top scores in Japan as of 2004/12, the Special and Extra mode replays show masterful skill. There are one or two unintentional deaths in Extra mode, though. This replay DVD also comes with the official working concept art in the non-interactive "Data Base" DVD menu for each game, if you're into that. One thing that is new to me with this type of replay DVD is that they use the (removable) subtitling feature to explain why they bomb or why they let a powerup go unclaimed, or to explain the game restrictions, or to show how long they have been playing (148 hours?!?!). It's a welcome feature. They even translate the story text from English to Japanese.

I learned many things about this series. This is the first game I've ever seen that gives you tens of thousands of points for grazing bullets (かすり). The fairy and mirculus (sp?) secrets were revealed, as were the special fighters. I finally understand what "Destroyed at a time!" means. Heh, engrish. It has improved my opinion of the whole series because of the fast paced action and the use of bombs other than saving your sorry ship.

The graphics for the actual screen does not take the up the whole screen, and there is no tate (vertical) orientation. Instead it's like the Ikaruga Appreciate DVD, black bands surround the screen. But the icon for the current game shows up in the corner. About 5 to 6 Mbps throughput for you DVD heads. The sound is great? good? It was adequate, not bad. Oh I forgot to mention that the DVD comes with two soundtrack CDs. The accompanying booklet had pages of comments from the players, a game play guide (攻略) with pictures, and even a 3 page expose on Raiden III way before Weekly Famitsu had its two page spread. (This is probably because the same company creating the game sponsored this replay DVD?)

In the end, if it makes you want to play the original game, I think it succeeds as a replay DVD. Thumbs up.

Cels for Rozen Maiden

Remember this?

 

Well now I just found a place where you can get anime cels of Rozen Maiden (even though it's been out for a month). Just series 1 for now, and not many cels. It's the old Office F&O Anime cel and goods shop. Of course, it will cost you a pretty yen, prices start at 20000 yen. At least it's not like the cels for Sister Princess, where prices start at 30000 yen and they seem to average in the 50000 yen range!

If you're like me, then you'd rather just have desktop wallpaper instead of something taking actual wall space. In my case, I take my own DVD screenshots and convert the size because of the 16:9 ratio. Ahaha, that's why I buy DVDs, so I can see Shinku-chan peeping behind my open windows!

Beat my head into a pillow.

So I'm on my computer and I check out those two games: Star Hope Evolution (スターホープエヴォリューション) and Royal Edoma Engine (王立エドマエンジン) from last post.

Star Hope Evolution is a drag. Thumbs down. It feels like some programmed it in Microsoft Visual Basic with bums off the street (hey girls can be bums too) for character voices. There was one voice for a guy where you could totally tell it was a girl, or an old gramps voice which jumps an octave in some parts. The actual bullet patterns are not too interesting. They are easy to see, I'll give it that. They did try to make it entertaining, but it just fell flat for me.

Royal Edoma Engine is like sliced bread next to Star Hope Evolution. Oh wait that doesn't make sense. Okay, it's the "cat's meow." This game has beautiful bullet patterns, 75 fps or 60 fps wicked crisp VGA graphics and backgrounds. It's fun, well sometimes. Too bad the game is damn hard. This is a 5 stage game. There's "novice", "advanced" and "maniac" difficulty, no "normal". I first played on "advanced". It's like jumping onto level 3 of Mushihime-sama. I guess that's the reason why they give you a life bar! They don't mention, however, that if you get hit by a cluster of bullets, your ship is rendered inoperable for a sickening moment. I don't remember the last time I played a shmup that had both of these qualities. I don't like this. Another game play element is that your second button just doesn't work until you have collected enough sushi (yes sushi).  Once you got enough, it acts as a bomb and as a life replenisher. You will need the latter just to get past sub-bosses in later stages.

Another thing is that at 75 fps, the game is really faster than 60 fps. Why is that? Originally the video settings were 60 fps and vsync on. The corresponded to 75 fps in the status fps. Then I set the video settings to 60 fps and vsync off/timer on. This made the game 60 fps and a lot more playable. I did beat "novice" at 75 fps, though hehe. That was no walk in the park, I tell you.

This game is hard because of the isometric "quarter view", but also because they throw a lot more bullets at you than in a regular danmaku game. I suppose with a life bar, it's your job to find the path of least resistance, instead of no resistance, because there is sometimes no way through without hitting a bullet wall. Control is actually normal orientation, press up to move up, not the diagonal up. With that I could quickly get into the game.

Replays can be saved. The replay data shows all the attemps at one stage. If you die, and then if you clear, then you get to see both of the replays.

This is a great PC shmup, cute characters with no nonsense (sometimes impossible?) bullet patterns, but I recommend it for advanced players only. It make me want to beat my head into a pillow.

A rare trip, short distance.

(Originally started on 05/05/02 21:30 Mon)

So instead of going to Tokyo, I instead stay in the Kinki region. So I made a rare trip to Nipponbashi to check out the used character goods and Chrono Trigger.

One of the shocking things I found was that Radiant Silvergun CD single going for 50000 yen used in scratched condition at everybody's favorite shop (and mine) Retro Gaming Revival. Damn. Don't tell my co-worker who owns a copy, I want to get his for relatively cheap.

You know the feeling of wanting to turn lead into gold? It's the same feeling when seeing tons of Chrono Cross in the used games shops and not one used copy of Chrono Trigger. Now I know that the second game was a bust.

Actually in the doujin shops like Tora no Ana, it is like the calm before the storm. There seems to be numerous conventions around Japan on the 4th (ah I missed it), and the stores will be receiving the doujin CDs and games on the 5th (Thursday). But there was still plenty to see and lust. I was able to pick up two interesting doujin shmups, Royal Edoma Engine (王立エドマエンジン) that isometric "quarter view" shmup. This one has been out for a month, though. The other one is Star Hope Evolution (スターホープエヴォリューション), a "unpatterned danmaku" shmup. Ah shower me with bullets.

Cases of Royal Edoma Engine and Star Hope Evolution

Then I picked up a doujin gal-get game called My Funny Valentine Chirol Prelude Box (マイファニーバレンタイン) with some famous mainstream seiyuu (voice actresses) like Miyuki Sawashiro (沢城みゆき) (fan!) and another favorite of mine Kiyomi Asai (浅井清己) of Kimi ga Nozomu Eien fame. The main characters though seem to be played by Kyoko Hikami (氷上恭子) and Yuki Masuda (増田ゆき). I only the know of Kyoko Hikami just by kanji because of her work in Di Gi Charat as Rabi en Rose/Usada Hikaru. Even though this is in a doujin shop, there's no way this is an ecchi game because of the mainstream seiyuu. Why is something like this in the shop? I don't know, but as a seiyuu fan I am thankful.

Case of My Funny Valentine Chirol

After buying some leftover Card Captor Sakura (1999 Box 1) DVD, I finished off the day at Sofmap's display case floor. I noticed one special set. I am one of those Tecmo "Kasumi" fans, but I wouldn't go this far. In one display case there was a total completist Dead or Alive set, with all of the console games (but not the arcade versions), the Kasumi Blue Xbox, various photo DVDs, books, posters, postcards, figures, telephone cards, save game media, and get this, the cracks saved onto CD-R (?) to play nekkid versions of the DoA gals in the XBox games. Hahahaha. All for only 80000 yen! Wow. Only in Japan, back in focus.

Disgusted with the emptiness of my wallet, I bought a new copy of the PSBook version of Chrono Trigger with my Sofmap store points. One CD. Looking hard at the CD, it equals at least 30 hours of gaming goodness. Not bad at all.

Trying to put it out my mind.

So I'm sitting at home. I just finished watching Shall We Dance on DVD, the original 1996 Japanese version (not the Mr. Autumn and Ms. It's-Way-Out-There version), crying and laughing in a happy mood. Now I'm in front of the computer, and I clicked my owned saved search at Yahoo Auctions for "東方花映塚" (Phantasmagoria of Flower View) and even though there's only one more hour till the closing of the Hakurei Jinjya Reitaisai 2005/05 in Tokyo, there's already 4 people selling the Demo+ CD. Right now... 3100 yen for 1 CD. Not too bad. I've never done Yahoo Auction JP before. It's not free for the buyer, so impulse buying is out. Last year, the stock of the Demo CD+ lasted from 10:30 until about 13:15. This year, probably there's going to be more stock, but probably there will be more people. I'll be watching the Yahoo Auction for amusement, only?

Feel of the PSP

My time touching or holding a PSP can probably be measured in seconds. I agree that the PSP is "sexy", but it's not "sexy" enough for me plunk down the moola right now. Hopefully when I get it, Wipeout Pure and all the hacks for it are still available. Javascript calculator, ah salivate. (Not.)

I'm still interested in the games, though. This Lumines copy called Sweep (thanks Kotaku) looks interesting, but without music it just doesn't have atmosphere. In any case, I'm thankful I could try the puzzle experience at my home where I could get into it without hogging a store kiosk demo.

Web site design update: filling in

Just fixing the web site. This is not a content post.

You may see on the right the area has been filled in with titles of posts. I like seeing the titles. It makes me think I'm witty and clever. Also I made the calendar visible in the archive pages, 3 months wide, yeah. Hope this makes the site easier to navigate.

Not attending

So I decided not to go to that Shanghai Alice event Hakurei Jinjya Reitaisai 2005/05 in Tokyo. It's not worth the 30000 yen in transportation costs. I wanted to go, I even reserved a hotel room. But if I'm just going for that Demo+ CD, I can wait for the real release 東方花映塚 〜 Phantasmagoria of Flower View in summer. Well, probably it's summer.

For a taste of how it was like, see my last year's entry on the first Hakurei Jinjya Reitaisai 2004/04.

So instead, I'm just going to bluster around Osaka and just chill. I have some new stuff to post any way.

Knoppix and Frozen Bubble

I was trying out the Japanese Knoppix CD for the Samba and I found that Frozen Bubble game. It's just the same as Puzzle Bobble. Just playing it brings back memories of staying up at night at a friend's house on a Sega Saturn trying to squeeze just one more game in. This game is at face value a straight copy, down to some board patterns. But the music is great (Dave Coz great) and sometimes you can squeeze a bubble pass a small gap that you can't with the original game. I spent 1 hour playing it and got up to level 60 before calling it quits. In any case, at least that CD-R I burned is not useless. I guess the next game I need to try is Tux Racer?

Miyuki Sawashiro come back!

Mint Blanmanche from Galaxy Angel Characters DVD 2005/04Miyuki Sawashiro is a famous voice actress who does polite (yet scheming?) princess voice to perfection. It took that Galaxy Angel Characters DVD "Mint Blanmanche" to solidify this post, but I've liked her recent characters. She plays Mint Blanmanche in Galaxy Angel, that crazy anime and PC/PS2/XBOX game. Mint has an endearing cosplay fetish. She's the lead character Shinku in that big hit anime Rozen Maiden and one of the voices in that Shinku clock I reported before. As I said before, she played Kudou Kanae in D.C. P.S, but with a boy's voice. Another boy character she did was in Pita Ten as Kotarou Higuchi. All of them are very good. It's hard to believe she started in the biz as a 14 year old with Puchi-ko in Di Gi Charat and that she will be celebrating her 20th birthday in one month.

With that in mind, I have a plan to finally finish Galaxy Angel WinPC game released in 2002. There are actually three games in this series (GA, GA Moonlit Lovers, GA Eternal Lovers) which smacks of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", but I only have the first one. The only scenario left is Mint Blanmanche. How come this is the last character for me when I've become so fond of the character voice? In any case, I look forward to re-installing and finishing this game.

And yeah, I can't wait to hear her again in Rozen Maiden Traumend. Yea! Coming this summer to the small screen in 16:9!

Web site design update: Even more putzing around

Another site creation update. This post is just for me.

Now I successfully upgraded my database backend from PostgreSQL 7.1.3 (Cygwin, custom compiled) to PostgreSQL 8.0.2 (Windows, standard binary distribution). And things are slightly faster, eh he.

Let me write this in Japanese to test the encoding part:

またHP生成について投稿です。この投稿は私にのみ。

データベースバックエンドをPostgreSQL 7.1.3 (Cygwin、特別なコンパイルオプション) からPostgreSQL 8.0.2 (Windowsネイティブ、標準バイナリインストール)にうまく更新しました。そして、速度は微妙に速くなった気がします。えへ。

I just realized that what I say in Japanese is not what I say in English.

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