Sunday, August 28, 2005 @ 09:06 (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

2005-08-28 Sun

Lessons in gal-ge

2005-08-25 Thu

Not worth that much

2005-08-24 Wed

These must be pre-renders

Dog days of summer

2005-08-22 Mon

Echos of Shoryuken

2005-08-21 Sun

Deflection post transfer (Flipnic, Hatsukoi)

Fine tips for game purchases

2005-08-20 Sat

The thing about rack-mounting...

2005-08-19 Fri

Small doesn't come cheap.

2005-08-17 Wed

Comic Market 68 by proxy

2005-08-16 Tue

Broken camera

Lum and Ataru are back! (Urusei Yatsura: Endless Summer)

2005-08-15 Mon

Circling like a vulture

The big minus (Gamejoy monitor review part 2)

Is Liandri Corp. in Star Trek?

2005-08-13 Sat

Review for GameJoy PS2 monitor (first part)

2005-08-12 Fri

SPS second person shooter, and hot bot-on-bot action as art

Comic Market 68 anxiety

How much for that doggy in the window?

2005-08-09 Tue

Who's training who?

Hide and go seek Hot Coffee

2d driving sensation (Drivey)

2005-08-08 Mon

Nintendo DS download station and Jump Super Stars game demo

2005-08-07 Sun

Training your dog in public is embarassing.

Hot Coffee Power Up

2005-08-06 Sat

A waste of time

Shouts out... wishin' you were updated.

2005-08-03 Wed

Closure (American McGee's Alice, Card Captor Sakura)

Strawberry Marshmellow and Bottle Fairy (Ichigo Mashimaro, Bottle Fairy)

2005-08-02 Tue

Savior revised (Duel Savior Destiny and Justice)

Person shaped grass (Hitogata Happa)

Arcade gal-getting (Idolm@aster)

A light shmuppin' roundup

Not going

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Lessons in gal-ge

Recently playing:
  • Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (SFam-jp, Ken)
  • Nintendogs (DS-jp, Must go to crowded places to meet capricious canines.)

The most recent Weekly Famitsu has a special introductory article to the world of gal-ge or "love simulation" games. According to Gal-ge sensei (lit. gal game teacher), in the last year at least 34 titles have been converted (ported, 移植した) from over-18 hentai or consumer PC games to consumer (all ages, 12-older or 15-older) console games, including D.C. Da Capo, Hatsukoi First Kiss, Izumo, Pure pure, Galaxy Angel, Home Maid, etc. The major reason the article gives for the surge of these gal-ge games is because right now adventure games are the staple in the PC game land, and those are easy to port.

So what actually changes when you refactor it for the consumer? Gal-ge sensei gives 5 areas: The title itself, the voice actors (mainly actresses) used, the opening movie, the graphics, and the scenarios (new story and new characters). In some titles the original voices are kept, but all in all changes have to be made to make it more appealing to the non-hentai masses. To me the most obvious areas where you lose the original flavor are the scenario and the voices.

The up-coming Dual Savior Destiny (2005/10, my post) is the perfect example:

PC Consumer
Title Duel Savior
(for the Windows PC)
Duel Savior Destiny
(for the PS2)
Opening Movie PC graphics with KOTOKO's opening and ending song Toned down graphics with different songs
Voices Voice actresses from the ecchi PC world Mainstream (anime-related) voice actresses
(but original PC voices can be selected)
Graphics Explicit sex scenes and nudity Borderline risque
Scenario Original 5 scenarios (1 per heroine)

The 5 scenarios toned down.
One additional scenario with a sub-character.

Mizuiro on the cover of magazine Dear My 2002/04I think one extreme example that will crystalize a trend is the recent port of Mizuiro みずいろ to cell phones. You have this port strategy: PC (2001) -> Dreamcast (2002), PS2 (2002) -> i-Appl Cell phones (2005). Now you can take Hiyori "Ponkotsu-san" where ever you go. Portable gal-ge. Hey I talked about it before with the PSP: "PSP a reader's paradise".

Given the recent "otaku, formalized" boom and the hard economic times, these ports are probably the surest way to make some money. I for one welcome our gal-ge porting overlords. Tee hee.

Not worth that much

I saw Zun's latest shmup release Phantasmagoria of Flower View (東方花映塚) for JPY 5000 USED! at one of the doujin shops last weekend.

I can wait.

These must be pre-renders

Did you see the supposed pictures from the upcoming game Unreal Tournament 2007 (Thanks Shacknews and Joystiq)? There is a thing as too much detail on your gun. I mean, look at your gun! It's probably got more polys than an entire Doom II level. To totally ruin your gaping stare, try looking for the shadows.

Dog days of summer

Recently playing:
  • Nintendogs (DS-jp, Just tummy rubs please.)

I heard that the U.S. just got Nintendogs. This will be a phenomenon, not unlike the Tamagochi. I mean, what other mainstream game allows you to trade dogs and gift items wirelessly with complete strangers? I can't recall if there ever was something like that.

Famitsu links to the official Nintendogs blog in Japan called ”Daisuke's National Pass-through Diary" (「大介君の全国縦断すれちがい日記」), which is some 25 year old guy named Daisuke with his trusted virtual Labrador Retriever, Ponta, making the rounds to all prefectures while trading dogs and enjoying the local scenery. This is way cool. Maybe I'll meet up with him and get my Sugar in his list. He's been through only a small fraction of places, though.

Echos of Shoryuken

Recently playing:
  • Street Fighter II: World Warrior (SFam-jp, Simple pugilistic pleasures)
  • Nintendogs (DS-jp, Eventually a full kennel selection.)
  • Final Fight 2 (SFam-jp, Not even with thigh action can save this ho-hum boredom.)
Now stacking:
  • Street Fighter II: New Challengers (SFam-jp, Voices diluted, ick not playing this one)

I accidently picked up the demo unit controller at the retro section in Sofmap last weekend. The game, Street Fighter II: World Warrior for the Super Famicom. "Copyright 1991, 1992." It was like talking to an old friend. All the old moves, all the wierd CPU mannerisms just felt so familiar, so right. Right about then I thought about getting that Street Fighter II Anniversary Edition for the PS2, or the same version but coupled with Street Fighter III Third Strike for the Xbox, but I kept my cool and just got the above Super Famicom games.

I got home and quickly tried out the newer version of SFII, which was New Challengers, but it just wasn't the same. I couldn't find my Turbo Edition of SFII. I also wasted some time playing around with Final Fight 2, but it was tepid boredom, with only 3 enemies on the screen at one time. Maki's outfit couldn't save it. Maybe I should play as Carlos.

But after I ripped off the 50 yen sticker off the old SFII: WW box and plugged the cart in, I knew I'd come home. Why? I guess it's the dramatic slowdown when I shoryuken Blanka's special move and he loses half his life bar. Or the way I know just when the next hit is going to dizzy an opponent.

I suppose I should pickup the PS1 version, which is re-released this year in a book + game format (sorry I can't find a link, but I hefted it at the bookstore last weekend). This same game collection was released on 2001/07/26 as part of the retro Capcom series. Anything to stop me from trying to get the arcade board. Ahh, please excuse me I need to pull another shoryuken session with Ken.

Deflection post transfer (Flipnic, Hatsukoi)

Recently playing:
  • Hatsukoi First Kiss (PS2-jp, I remember, what a doll.)
  • Flipnic (PS2-area, Graphically slick, yet Fantavision cross pinball)
Now stacking:
  • Snow (DC-jp, Gal-get as pure as snow.)
  • Canary 〜カナリア この思いを歌にのせて〜 (DC-jp, Hiromi Sato sings the lead for this gal-get.)

Hatsukoi: Karin (right) on how to cook, while Anzu cries onion tears.Oh yeah, I finished the Karin scenario in Hatsukoi First Kiss. I like this scenario because Karin delivers spooky lines without batting an eye. And, have you ever seen a more determined look from a novice cook? But exactly what is Karin cooking and is it safe to eat? Count Anzu out already.

Flipnic is a fun little pinball game, well, only sometimes. The last pinball game I played, Mario Pinball, left me frustrated. Flipnic is no better, but I'm dealing with it because it's fresh to me. Then again, it's a bit disconcerting. For example, sometimes the ball goes through the flippers! But I'm looking forward to getting to the Optics stage. Ooh neon. But what with all the retro '50s full-motion videos? "Circle of Life" "Multiball" "Watch out big UFO approaching." It's just like Fantavision's cut scenes. Ugh, make these unskippable videos with sterile voiceovers stop.

Fine tips for game purchases

Make sure to go to the right places, even online. What, did you think I have the know how?

Take for example, one of the games to check: Gunstar Super Heroes. This old game is getting a re-release on the GBA. But if you pre-order from Sega Direct, you get a promotional DVD with an excellent (god-like?) replay. Sega Direct sometimes has the real exclusive stuff, and sometimes they don't.

The thing about rack-mounting...

... you start thinking in height units of 1U, 2U, etc. RetroGaming with racketboy links to some tormented soul who needs to modify his Nintendo Entertainment System to fit a 1U rackmount case. (looks like he's slashdotted right now) I hope his next steps are to get other 80's consoles like the Sega Master System, etc in his rack-mount get up. How about getting one of those 1U LCD displays to go with it? As for me, I suppose it's a good idea if you want to stack your systems in a confined space, and if you miss the original look of a console, just print out a picture on paper or something and paste it on the rack.

Small doesn't come cheap.

Nintendo released the official price for the Gameboy Micro in the Japan area: 12000 yen. (thanks It's not very encouraging, since you can get the GBA SP for 10000 yen or less. Check out the "3d" viewer so that you can see it from all angles. The 2000 yen difference gets you a stereo headphone jack. Haha. How are you supposed to charge it via USB when it doesn't come with a link port connector? Ugh, another cable connector.

Check out the hardware accessories page. The wireless adapter (OXY-004) looks interesting. Hm, can you charge it with USB via the connection converter (OXY-009)?

I think I'll wait until something colorful comes along. The first batch will be released on 2005/09/13. I can't think of a better way of taking Final Fight One with me, though, heh.

(Edit: fixed my pesky english)

Comic Market 68 by proxy

I found a little of (my) Comic Market 68 in Nipponbashi. People come back to Osaka maybe a day after. It's hard to expect the resale stores to restock in a few hours, so I expected Tuesday would be good day to buy. It wasn't bad at all because I found some stuff.

Tora no ana (とらのあな) is always a good place, if you're looking for new doujinshi and doujin softs. It was the only place horrendously crowded, though. Geez, I hated waiting at CM and I hate the long grubby, smelly lines here too. The only things missing was the end of line signs and people raising their hands to signify a moving line. I suppose I wanted to pick up some doujin shmups, but none really caught my eye. It is my observation (but I could be wrong) that doujin softs head to the store a couple of weeks after an event, but doujinshi are quickly available. Probably it's the difference in up-front costs a circle has to bear to get the products to market (ie. pay distributors like Tora no ana) or manufacturing timings.

Another good place is K-Books, which is a little more like the Akihabara atmosphere for me. They usually get those people who resell doujinshi. Also Mandarake was buying back the CM goods. I saw one clerk there busy with some new Aoi Nishimata CM goods that someone probably dropped off.

Another good place I looked is Books Lashinbang and my new favorite store, "TC Paradise", which I forgot the real name but is across from Sofmap Saurus 1. The latter is mainly telephone cards, but both had used goods from CM 68.

In any case, here's my haul. My camera was just being temperamental. Anyways, I can't get enough of Rozen Maiden, as you can see. The bottom middle is a Rozen Maiden-themed desktop accessory software (wallpapers, screensavers, clocks, calendars). I did pay too much for it, though. Them's the breaks when you can't attend the "party". The other things are telephone cards in the top middle and various all-ages doujinshi.

Rozen Maiden goods from Comic Market 68

Let's move on to the next picture. As I mentioned, Books Lashinbang is pretty good for some deals. I got the Comic Market 68 CD-ROM catalog for 500 yen instead of 1800 yen, as shown in the top middle. At top left and going clockwise we have the illustrator Yug's calendar pack (now mainstream famous with Petopeto-san). Top right we have the "Triangle Hearts" magazine featuring Nanoha on the cover (the anime Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha aired last year and is similar to (but is no) Card Captor Sakura). Bottom right is the game that Zepy mentioned, the "master upped" Gensou shoujo 幻想少女 (Illusion Girl), a shmup based on Clannad.

Cheap CM68 catalog, and some other junk

Continuing with the bottom middle, this is an official Touhou fan book called 東 方文花帖 Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red with text by Zun and graphics from other artists. The reason I bought it is because it came with a CD-ROM with some new music. Music is always better than reading. Lastly in the bottom left is the fourth CD-ROM fan pack PC age CD-ROM2 for Kimi ga Nozomu Eien. Voice actress/singer Minami Kuribayashi (栗林みな実) "Haruka" is present, but too bad Tomoko Ishibashi (石 橋朋子) "Mizuki" isn't.

I suppose that more of the buy-back will be occurring this weekend, so it is necessary to do the rounds again. Yes, again. Would it be better to go in the morning or the afternoon? Earlier may not guarantee better selection.

Broken camera

Recently playing:
  • Hatsukoi First Kiss (PS2-jp, working on the Karin scenario)

My camera seems like it's broke, so there will be no pictures for a while. The good news is that means less character goods posts. The bad news is that less posts in general. Haw haw haw. I wanted so much to show you the Rozen Maiden junk I got in Nipponbashi today.

Lum and Ataru are back! (Urusei Yatsura: Endless Summer)

Someone with a license to Rumiko Takahashi's works read my mind. Well, not really, but Weekly Famitsu reported that Urusei Yatsura うる星やつら, that 80's manga sensation, is getting the Nintendo DS treatment. The game will be called Urusei Yatsura: Endless Summer うる星やつら エンドレスサマー. I don't understand why they sell these summer games when summer is already over (2005/10/20). Marvelous Interactive Inc. will be producing it. The graphics look similar to Takahashi-sensei's style back then, but not exactly the same. Is this game for the purists or the ones still holding onto more works in the Urusei Yatsura universe? How many movies came out, 5? 7?

Word-play is the name of the game in Urusei Yatsura, and this one starts off with a weird one. One of the items that the heroine Lum will pick up is called a Dai-ren'ai Shimyure-shonn mashin (「大恋愛シミュレーションマシン」) or shortened, DS. Very funny, um. In other words, Lum plays with her DS while you got your DS. Heh. Ugh.

Might as well link to the article that mentions Koda Kumi will be singing the theme song, who you might remember is the singer for the Final Fantasy X-2 opening song.

Circling like a vulture

It's best to keep an eye on the doujin shops at around 4:00 PM on convention days. That's when they're allowed to start selling doujinshi and doujin games supposedly exclusive to a same-day convention. I got in late, but I was able to snag doujinshi stuff. Unfortuately it would be hard to expect anything from Zun getting this kind of release treatment. I guess I'll be waiting another two weeks or so...

The big minus (Gamejoy monitor review part 2)

While reviewing the last of Star Trek: Voyager, I finished reviewing the GameJoy monitor. BTW, for another opinion, check out this picture-laden review from a Japanese gamer who imported it a couple of months back (thanks Mr. Alvin, sir and GameOrDie).

As far as PS2's DVD playback is concerned, the monitor is flawed. Oh yes, 4:3 material like ST is fine, but 16:9 stuff is stretched vertically. It makes watching most of my DVDs, like A Little Snow Fairy Sugar, an unbearable pain:

GameJoy monitor treats 16:9 like it was taffyGameJoy monitor treats 16:9 like it was taffyGameJoy monitor treats 16:9 like it was taffy

Ugh ugh ugh, anorexic fairies? Or maybe I lack setting kung-fu to force the black bands in? Oh well, in a pinch, life-or-death situation, I can still watch the DVDs, right?

I could not fault the credit card-like remote however. That baby packs two remotes in one, PS2 and the monitor itself, with the ever handy mute button for that obnoxious PS2 boot up sound (The video gaming bleep-bloop seared into this generation's consciousness, I'm sure).

Headphone ports do work, but like the built-in speakers, the sounds through them have the bass cut off. Wierd wierd wierd. Of course, the built-in speakers are silenced when something is plugged in.

We come back to the saving grace of this monitor, which is the VGA and S-Video input support. Once you plug in the Multi Media Connector Box, the video modes are expanded to include the external composite video, external S-Video, YCbCr and VGA. I first thought I had a problem because the monitor was in Game/DVD mode, but I needed to set it to external VGA for the sessions with the Dreamcast:

Connecting the Dreamcast to the Gamejoy via VGA

Lamer with no furniture... Yeah. At least it was interesting to fire up Border Down again. On the left you see that the Input is "VGA EXT" while the Video System is "PAL 4.43 60Hz". PAL?!? Hm. I don't know what it's talking about.

GameJoy Control Panel showing VGA EXT "PAL 4.43 60Hz")Border Down DC VGA on GameJoy

Just to test the tension of the Multi Media Connector Box, I rotated the monitor to "tate" and put in the Dreamcast version of Ikaruga. Ah, crispy. But there is pixel ghosting. Not exactly the best gaming environment but it will do in a pinch.

Title screen of Ikaruga DC VGA tate on the GameJoyChap. 2 demo of Ikaruga DC VGA tate on the GameJoy

I was satsified with the VGA from the Dreamcast, so I skipped the Gamecube and the Xbox. I guess the last thing to review is how well it looks when I use it as a side view for Gran Turismo 4. I'll let that one slide as well for now, because I don't have another copy of the game.

The final scorecard:

  • + Display screws onto the console and keeps its angle.
  • + No need for separate power adapter.
  • + Works in "tate" vertical position.
  • + Fashionably matches the charcoal black slim PS2.
  • + Front panel buttons for easy sound and setting control
  • + VGA works, crispy.
  • + Remote works for both PS2 and monitor functions.
  • + DVD 4:3 material doesn't look bad
  • - DVD 16:9 material is vertically expanded to fill the screen.
  • - Visible pixel ghosting (about some pixels off) in the VGA mode if you look hard enough
  • - Headphone and speakers have non-existant bass.
  • - No front panel mute button
  • - Display is glossy (bad for taking pictures)
  • - Back of the display gets hot. (PS2 itself gets hot... uh oh).

This monitor gets re-rated 3.5 stars out of 5, since I really can't consider it a good DVD player.

So, when is Sony going to release an official monitor for their slim PS2? When they do I bet they'll have that 16:9 DVD display fixed.

Is Liandri Corp. in Star Trek?

The third day of Comic Market 68 has come and gone, but I spent it with the last season of Star Trek: Voyager. I don't know about you, but the best "moment" was not the finale (which is slap-stick reviewed at firsttvdrama, thank you a million fold for exposing the plot holes for me), but "Workforce, part II", where the Emergency Command Hologram, The Doctor, takes a page from the PC game Unreal Tournament:

Star Trek Voyager: Shock ComboStar Trek Voyager: Shock ComboStar Trek Voyager: Shock Combo
Star Trek Voyager: Shock ComboStar Trek Voyager: Shock ComboStar Trek Voyager: Shock Combo
Star Trek Voyager: Shock ComboStar Trek Voyager: Shock ComboStar Trek Voyager: Shock Combo

"EnemyOfTheWeek-163-1 couldn't avoid the blast from StarTrekVoy's shock combo"
"StarTrekVoy inflicted mortal damage upon EnemyOfTheWeek-163-2 with the Shock Rifle"
(darn I couldn't find my copy of Unreal to get the Shock Rifle kill message.)

Yeah!!!! Sorry, I only saw this episode 4 years too late.

Review for GameJoy PS2 monitor (first part)

Begin the second day of my vacation, and the second day of Comic Market 68. The second day is mainly a women-oriented day, so I think most guys would be heading up to the commercial booths. At least, that's what I'd be doing.

But let's forget about the fun I could be having there. Here, I have a brand new slim black PS2 (SCPH-70000 CB). And I attached a "GameJoy" monitor (GJ-70000). This is the name in Japan region. In the U.S. region, IGN reviewed it as the "Joytech 8 inch Digital LCD Monitor for PStwo". While the article goes into depth, it doesn't review what I want to know, specifically, heavy text as in gal-get gaming, vertical orientation, compatibility with VGA input gaming and sound. But before I get into the details, I want to say that this product is very good, 4 out of 5 stars rating. It works, it works well, it extends well.

Let's start off with the basics, from my perspective. I've always wanted a smaller portable TV game system like the official monitor from Sony for the PSone. But that device's screen was too small, and you could only use it with PS games. I've also wanted a portable DVD player. Now here's a product with multiple uses, PS2 games, DVD playback, and external VGA input. The GameJoy monitor have a 8 inch diagonal TFT LCD display and attaches to the slim PS2 with two docking thumb screws. Actually it feels kinda flimsy so make sure to screw it in tight. It makes the PS2 look like a notebook. The box included the following:

  • Monitor itself (it only came in black) with built in stereo speakers
    • Inputs: DC power, Sony PS2 standard AV connector, Multi Media Connector Box DB-25 interface
    • Outputs: two stereo headphone connectors, Sony PS2 standard AV connector
  • Multi Media Connector Box
    • inputs: composite video, S-Video,  YCbCr, VGA (640 x 480) 60Hz
  • Multi function infrared remote controller
  • Instruction manual 4 pages
There was no car lighter (AC-DC) adapter included, but it could be purchased separately (from where, though?). As far as power is concerned, it draws from the Sony Playstation adapter itself. Wow, this alone is impressive. One less bulky power brick to deal with.

Here we see the important first test, is Japanese text legible? Here the test game is Hatsukoi First Kiss, where Anzu just tricked you out (杏: 「へへーんだ、お兄ちゃん。罠・だ・よ」). As it turns out, it's perfectly fine. Since this is a VGA monitor (640 by 480 pixels) I would expect no less. Although the sample text here is mainly hiragana, the kanji is perfectly readable. For me this will probably be the default use.

Gamejoy monitor strapped on a PS2, Hatsukoi game "wana da yo"

But since I'm a fan for vertical shmups, I couldn't resist "getting perpendicular", I mean, rotating the screen 90 degrees counter-clockwise to form the "tate" position. Here the test game is Mushihime-sama. Usually with my other LCD monitor, viewing from the right usually results in a dim picture. I can say that this GameJoy monitor has a wider view angle.

Gamejoy in "tate" configuration, Mushihime-sama title screen

But does it play well? Acutally, pretty good. Sure the screen is smaller, but the bullets and backgrounds don't blur. I can see everything just the same as with my other LCD display "Dinner". I can find nothing negative to say about it here.

I want to write more, but I haven't tested the following functions:

  • DVD playback, 4:3 and 16:9.
  • Headphone support (does sound cut off if a headphone is plugged in?)
  • VGA and S-Video input support. (Use this monitor with your Dreamcast, Game Cube, and Xbox!)
  • Sound in general.

But let's write the scorecard so far:

  • + Display screws onto the console and keeps its angle.
  • + No need for separate power adapter.
  • + Works in "tate" vertical position.
  • + Fashionable matches the charcoal black slim PS2.
  • + Front panel buttons for easy sound control (oh shnap the PS2 logo screen sound is loud at 2am.)
  • - Display is glossy.
  • - Back of the display gets hot. (PS2 itself gets hot... uh oh).

So far I'm satisified. Happy joy!

SPS second person shooter, and hot bot-on-bot action as art

While I'm down and out with Unreal Tournament 2004, here's a creative substitute: Adventures in the Second Person. (Thanks "We make money not art" and Kotaku) It's fun for the time that you're on the screen, but after that, the bot gets stuck. The author says he's going to make it 2 player. If he does that then it will be the same as a FPS. I just don't get it.

Okay, while we're on the x person shooting subject, how about trying to make it "art"? Take a install of Unreal Tournament, make your own maps and bots, and compose it from a 3rd person perspective. Voila: UnrealArt. (Thanks Pixelsumo and Joystiq) I'm sure there's more to it than that. Looking at the final product I don't know what to think... Is this art?

Comic Market 68 anxiety

It only became clear to me later in the day that today was the first day of Comic Market 68. All the fun is happening several hundred kilometers away. I already missed the Tokumi Yuiko 篤見唯子 stuff, drat.

So I instead bought myself another Playstation 2. A "portable", he he. And some games, he he heheheheheh.

 Stuff I bought because I couldn't attend CM68

Watch this space for more details.

How much for that doggy in the window?

Perry Bible Fellowship is a mature web comic. (I repeat: The rest of that site may contain nudity and strong language.) For all you Nintendogs fanatics, here's one for you. Too bad PBF doesn't do more game-related strips. It's great. Here's a take on a "Game System".

Who's training who?

Recently playing:

Well, my "Sugar" female Shiba puppy is catching frisbees with leaping ease. I don't have a set routine yet, but I pretty much play the game in the evening, walking her and trying to understand why the game marks the wee-wee spots. I try to keep the game on and in gift-exchange mode during my morning and evening commute, but I still haven't gotten any exchanges outside of the store.


I'm aiming to buy some new digs, and "Sugar" is getting me there with her expert frisbee catch scores (well my highest is 30 points, is there a rocking technique?). I don't know why you can buy a new place, but at 75,0000 in-game JPY it's a steal.

I still try to make her do tricks, but the only one I like her to do is "lie down" and "jump". So far I have to get my voice in the right pitch and volume, but it's more hit than miss.

Hide and go seek Hot Coffee

Now stacking:

I had an opportunity to pick up the US English version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for PC at the local used game shop, so I took it. It's very strange. Who else plays these english games here in Japan, and why would they sell it back to a store? Is this the English language learning craze in action?

No, I don't think I'm going to install this one just yet, not even for the Hot Coffee mod.

Fushigi-na Mori no Pokora Hai! package version bought at Melonbooks

Switching gears and heading back to the General Audiences category: I picked up at Melon Books the Fushigi-na Mori no Pokora Hai! ふしぎな森のポコラ ハイ! game that was 5 years in the making, according to the copyright. Originally, the author released a freeware version, and it won an award in 2004, so I guess s/he decided to wrap it up into a downloadable shareware (JPY 1500) and packaged (JPY 2000) game. It's cute, it's precious, and it's non-violent. Basically you control this young girl who has to find "pokora", animals who play hide and go seek with you. The packaged version (also called "deluxe") has more stages, more items, a new auto-create map mode, a new class and a replay mode. Plus you can import your character from the freeware version.

2d driving sensation (Drivey)

This is a very interesting interactive non-game. Drivey, "a road slightly less travelled" is a "doodle" from a mainly-application programmer. This falls into the optical illusion department. Try the Windows demo (0.13), it's a trip with the gradient sky.

Press F6, C, C, K for my "optimized" version. Hehe.

Yes I actually played Night Driver with my own paddles. But only the Atari 2600 version.

Nintendo DS download station and Jump Super Stars game demo

You kids nowadays have it lucky. We (as in when the generation when I was in my crib) didn't have wireless download stations to try out new games on our own hardware. We had to use the grimy demo units, create socially informal pecking orders so we could get our fair turn at play. Or, we just stood lustfully looking through the glass at the title screens or blank screens hoping that the game shop worker-bee would fix the console so we could have another go. Nope, we had to play our games uphill both ways, yes sir. (I'm going to let this one go.)

So I actually saw the download station at my favorite game shop. There is like 5 or 6 regular TV/console demo units which all contain a PS2 and the latest hotness (I don't know, some soccer game?). Then there's the stolid white monolith that is the Nintendo DS station. It has a height-adjustable Nintendo DS on the front for the little kids to play and a video screen so we can see the little runt's antics. There were no wires so I though, not much else...

After checking the website "", I figured it out. I sit or stand anywhere within a couple of meters and I get the demo goods. No more trying to push the runts around to get my turn at the "tap". I stood nonchalantly facing away from the demo area, effortlessly downloading the Jump Super Stars game demo. Wow. Welcome to the year 2004, indeed.

That Jump Super Stars game demo is one of those Nintendo DS exclusives that make you think, why didn't they have something like this sooner? You fight on the view screen, but use the touch screen for the interesting attacks. Totally cool because you can customize the position of the visual buttons to press. In the demo there was that Dragonball guy, that One Piece guy, and some other famous no-name scrub. But the sexy hotness Aya Toujou from Ichigo 100% was there! Hahah. That pretty much was the only thing that drew me into this game. Too bad she didn't show up on the fight screen.

You know if they came up with this for Shogakukan stuff especially Rumiko Takahashi manga (Ranma 1/2, Maison Ikkoku, Urusei Yatsura, you can tell I'm old school because I don't mention Inuyashya), I would be all over it. I don't read Jump Manga comics, so this game really doesn't hit the spot for me. But 150 selectable characters, multiple characters can be selected at one time. That's gotta be some record. The field is one big manga page. This really captures the atmosphere.

Oops, no time to comment on the Nintendogs download. Guess that's next.

Training your dog in public is embarassing.

I finally opened Nintendogs: Shiba & Friends just yesterday. I gave it a go for about 30 minutes, but the premise really isn't reaching me. I like the Shiba dog, it's cute. Well, on my scale of the uncanny valley cuteness (or revulsion, take your pick), it's on the dipping into the valley end. In other words, I keep questioning whether a real puppy would do the things it does. I know that there are algorithms pushing the pixels that make me say "aww how cute", and that just ruins it for me. I'm not suspending my disbelief. Why?

On a lighter note, it was a surprise for me to found out how integrated the microphone function is. I can name my puppy, I can call it, I can associate voice phrases to dog tricks. I will not be playing this game in public, that's for sure. "Sugar" come here "Sugar". Ahahah. Even playing this game at night in my apartment makes me red with embarassment. I can imagine the neighbors thinking, who is he talking to in that limited vocabulary? BTW, I name all the dog tricks with the standard English phrases, even though the help system tells me to say the Japanese equivelent. "Sit"! "Lie down"! I'm sure "roll over" and "play dead" tricks are there. I was thinking maybe I should use it to practice Japanese. Make "sit" into "tomorokoshi" (means corn in Japanese). You know, make absurd definitions so that the brain remembers them easily. Okay, it's absurd.

One last thing is that it is annoying that this game is open-ended. I have never raised a dog, so obviously I don't get it. "What are you supposed to do?" keeps running though my mind. I fancy a mid-boss or a power-up would make this game understandable to me but there isn't one.

As for the free dog download (thanks all-lowcaps import game and Famitsu). I have no idea where a dog download station is. Well, I was going to gripe some more, but it pays to read the links, right? Even my favorite store has one, but I don't know where they put it?

Hot Coffee Power Up

I haven't drank hot coffee in ages. I like fruit juice, and when I feel adventurous, I drink green tea.

Well, my "American joke" doesn't go over so well. I was going to comment on the GTA: San Andreas Hot Coffee mod controversy, but only after reading The Economist articles (I like it for the articles) on the video game commentary. Unfortunately, I have yet to (find, buy, and) read the print version. There is an online article called "Chasing The Dream", which goes for the "balancing viewpoints" approach.

While controversy is good, why not have some historical revisioning as well? I read an Slashdot review for Power Up, an essay book asserting that Japanese gaming culture permeates and overridingly influences Western gaming development. But the review itself is critical of the book's blind sides:

While he makes quite a strong case for Japanese innovation during the early years of game development through games such as Donkey Kong and Super Mario World, he completely ignores all further development and refinement taking place in the U.S. ... This is unfortunate, as from a historical perspective, it arguably attributes too much credit to Japanese design.

The author of the book, Chris Kohler, has fleeting association with Insert Credit and is currently a Wired News game journalist. He's also worked in Japan for Nintendo. So far, for game 'loggers like me, his CV makes me illogically jealous. There I said it. He got to go to Japan to "play games"! (No I know that's not the whole story). I smirk in (questionable) smugness that living that close to gaming development paradise that is Nintendo makes one blind to global game industry progress.

It is not my intent to dismiss his effort on video game criticism and commentary. I want to read the book myself, and the review sure makes it sound that he has made insightful contributions. This post is just a self-analysis on why I want to feel smug and elite over those who try to peer through the gaming noren to interpret for the masses. Is it because that I feel insecure about my lack of knowledge of Japanese gaming culture? Does it make me feel that I will lose my self-ascribed "insider" status, that just because I live in Japan that I grok all gaming that was, is and will come? Probably, it's something just as immature and simple as that.

You can probably expect more snarky comments from me, but hopefully you can see right through them.

A waste of time

The quote of the moment is brought to you by a slashdot reader:

time out (Score:5, Insightful)
by 0xABADC0DA (867955)  on 2005.08.06 4:08 (#13252461)
Games waste time. Games are fun.

When you get to the point in your life where your time is more valuable than the entertainment/social value you get from the game, you stop playing. That's why young people play games and old people do not: the older you get the less time you have to waste.

How often I forget this obvious point. Over the last week I valued sleeping at a relatively early 11:00 PM over bleary-eyed gaming. Over the last week I clenched my fists and gritted my teeth over the accompanying aches and pains and wondered if this feeling would ever go away.

To make a belabored point, did you ever wish you spent more time with your Atari 2600 and Combat?

Actually I wish I played more NES with my sister in cooperative Life Force or uncooperative Contra. Ha ha. Happy 25th, ading.

Shouts out... wishin' you were updated.

Bloglines sometimes fails doing the one thing it should be doing: checking feeds. For example, it just updated the minna ni naisho da yo feed, only 2 months out of date! In any case, this guy is pretty interesting, if a little flippant. Just like me!

I hoping that Jiji from namako team updates his gaming blog. Well his last entry was something about creating a band or making a game? I bow to the creators!

What happened to click-stick[.com]? Did the unavoidable bullet of real life (tm) cause him to lose a (virtual) life? Ugh.

And I sure wish that Zepy from Canned Dogs gets with the RSS feed-ness. Ack, no such luck. I like my doujin updates and news in romaji, and he sure does satisfy.

BTW, it was really hard for me to contact that "minna ni naisho da yo" guy. If you want to contact me for anything, anything at all, just follow the directions on the About page. And remember, my gaming log is just a centralized comment system for myself, because I am intoxicated with my own corny writing. (My words are the bestests! 16 hits! Killer Combo! Ack, do you like Killer Instinct? Play "Do It Now!" track 6, for me in your head right now. thx k bye lol)

Closure (American McGee's Alice, Card Captor Sakura)

Remember this statue?

American McGee's Alice in Wonderland in Sofmap

It's a real life figure of Alice from American McGee's Alice in Wonderland. Hm this is one PC game I need to re-load on my kick-butt PC (well compared to when I bought the game). It seems that Alice from the Wonderland blog found some related art. I don't know, knives with blood, dripping, staining her pure white skirt. Hm. Horrible images of violence.

Oh, while I'm at it, I actually found the telephone card for the Card Captor Sakura - Sakura, Cards and Friends GBA game. I complained before that I missed out. Well, the telephone card was only 800 yen at the Books Lashinban, my favorite used character goods store. And it looks like this:

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


Strawberry Marshmellow and Bottle Fairy (Ichigo Mashimaro, Bottle Fairy)

Another entertaining franchise is coming to the PS2, and I already reserved my copy. It's Ichigo Mashimaro 苺ましまろ, originally a manga story and now faithfully translated to anime. The show is very cute, and I assume the game will be cute as well. The story revolves around 5 young girls, 4 of them in primary school and 1 who is a college student. It seems to be an adventure/collection game, where you play a college student and you meet these girls for some cute adventures. Coming 2005/08/11.

Speaking of which, in one month's time, Bottle Fairy 瓶詰妖精 will also be turned into a game for the PC. Bottle Fairy is the whimsical creation of Yuiko Tokumi 篤見唯子, who I mentioned before. (BTW, I have a Yuiko Tokumi "Hakkaya" surprise that I hope to show pretty soon.) Actually, the game previews don't look very promising. The game screens show really small character pictures and bland backgrounds. It looks like a rush job, shovel-ware. I'm not really looking forward to playing it, but it's Bottle Fairy! La la la la la! I have to have it!

Savior revised (Duel Savior Destiny and Justice)

Remember I was urging you to try out Duel Savior Tournament Demo Edition way back when? Duel Savior is back and now revised for both PC and PS2! A gentle reader of my little gaming log, Kevin, gave me the heads up on a new demo of the revised 2d scrolling fighting PC game, called Duel Savior Justice. You can download the demo directly, or you can check the download page. Duel Savior Justice improves upon Duel Savior by adding a Harem Scenario (you get all the chicks at the same time instead of just ecchi monogamy), a survival/time attack mode, a practice mode, a item/player collection mode, and something called "breakpoint" guard mode (見切りガードモード) which according to Kevin, is way better than Street Fighter 3rd Strike parrying.

I can only beat 49 monsters in the timed attack mode, can you do better? I'm sure you can...

The original game will also be ported to the PS2 (minus the sex but all of the cartoon super-deformed violence) and the name will be Duel Savior Destiny. According to the web site and the other information I saw at the shop, the PS2 version will have new voice actresses, including the main character (usually main character voice overs are not done)! He will be voiced by Noriaki Sugiyama (杉山紀彰) who seems to be the hot stuff in the recent boys action animes Bleach and Naruto. The game will also retain the original voice actresses. Another game that had this similiar spec is Shacola Maid Curio ショコラ for the PS2 (not Dreamcast) where they kept the original PC voice actresses and also they re-recorded the dialog with some major seiyuu, like Sakura Nogawa. I'm not sure if DSD will get any of the Duel Savior Justice improvements. It would be a shame not to have them. But actually I'm looking forward to the Claire scenario, since she was a saucy wench who just happened to be ... well I won't give away the story, but I'm glad they actually made her a heroine this time.

Person shaped grass (Hitogata Happa)

Anything by Murasame Hanten 紫雨飯店 (also known as PlatineDispositif if you're going to see them at Comic Market 68) is guaranteed to kick you into a fetal ball of frustration. Insert Credit has the scoop on their newest shmup game, Hitogata Happa ヒトガタハッパ. Download the online demo at the bottom of the linked page and prepare your straightjacket. You may hurt yourself after this game.

I did recommend their previous 2004 work, the quarter view shmup, Royal Edoma Engine. That game is also heinous hard, but still it is rewarding. (I have no shame saying I 1CC'd it on Novice. Well maybe I do.)

After much trial and error (1 hour?), and also reading the manual, I was able to get to and pass the second stage on the easiest difficulty (the difficulty that starts with an "E"). It was no walk in the park. Check my replay data. I don't care what my score was, I'm just glad that it's over.

Actually, the second stage is interesting and frustrating. It is interesting because you get to purchase and pick your fighting "dolls" which have different shooting capabilities. In the first stage you only get one type of doll. It is frustrating because there seems to be a play bug where a cyclic delay slows down the gaming every 3 seconds. Maybe they'll fix it in another demo release? After you complete the second stage, the game tells you that the demo is over.

The music doesn't sound too different from Royal Edoma Engine, and it's kinda cool if you're still in that mood.

I'm definately going to pick this up when it hits the doujin shops. Gotta support these devs.

Arcade gal-getting (Idolm@aster)

Did you see the cover for Arcadia Magazine this month (2005/09)? I would buy a copy because it looks anime-related. That cover game, Idolm@ster finally hits arcades (and mobile phones). It's an interesting theme, which I think is that you play the role as a manager cultivating your talento, in this case, young Morning Musume-like girls. This is a sit-down with 8 players game not unlike those group derby games. Actually I have no idea, but it's interesting that this gal-get is getting more hardware in the arcade! And if you can't get enough there's always the mobile game to play.

A console game that is similiar is probably Lovely Idol for the PS2. This latter game has the gentle touch of Aoi Nishimata, who breathes moe into the character drawings time and time again.

A light shmuppin' roundup

Recently playing:
  • Mushihime-sama 虫姫さま (PS2-jp, Ultra mode is unfair)
Now stacking:
  • Twinkle Star Sprites -La Petite Princesses- (PS2-jp, Cuteness rules!)

I have so much I want to comment on but these short comments will have to do. I've been playing Arrange mode just to pass the time. It's a great non-stressful version. This game's slowdown is annoying at times, and I keep thinking it's not arcade perfect because of it. I have no basis for that because I don't know how the slowdown is in the arcade when having 6 options at the same time.

I bought the Twinkle Star Sprites -La Petite Princesses- for the PS2 but I haven't opened it yet. Did you know the original SNK and Saturn game is unlockable? I'm going to buy the soundtrack as well, since it contains the original Twinkle Star Sprites soundtrack (SNK and Saturn version) on the second CD. Coming out 2005/08/03, according to Megami Magazine 2005/09. I'm going to comment more on this game soon.

It seems Raiden III is heading to the PS2 early this year, September 22, according to all-lowercase "import game" blog. This is around the time of the Tokyo Game Show I think. Anyways, I'm going to buy it since I like curving lasers and I'm nostalgic.

I haven't been to a shmup arcade in a while. What happened to Ibara? I guess if I want to learn I'm going to have get grimy. Or visit Shmups Forum.

Not going

I'm not going to Comic Market 68 this month. It's been my habit to go to Comic Market for the last 5 times, but this time I have analyzed my actions from the last times and it really doesn't justify spending that much money or time. Oh well, I'll get Comic Market distilled when some of the more popular goods hit the mainstream doujin shops.

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