Saturday, May 23, 2015

Playstation 2 Memories

March 4, 2000. A day that will live in infamy. The day Sony's predecesor would continue the teenage tyrant's successful console the Playstation. Yes, the Playstation 2 has turned 15 this year and in response to Alpha Omega Sin's PS2 Memories, i thought I give my thoughts on what many consider the one of the greatest console of all time. But first, Alpha Omega Sin, if you are reading this, you got some fantastic tastes man. Also, P4 for the fucking win. Chie, best girl.

I understand that the PS2 didn't arrive on US shores untl October and I didn't get one until 2002, but considering the decade and a half I've spent with it, I think it counts that 3/4 would be it's birthday so there's your technicality.

I don't remember exactly when I got my first PS2 that I still have to this day, I do remember walking from a newly opened Best Buy at McCarthy Ranch to walk to my home 3 miles away on foot with the PS2 in hand and i just couldn't wait till I started playing it. Only one problem: I didn't have any games and the only DVD I had was one of Ranma 1/2. When I went to EB Games at the Great Mall, I picked up Kingdom Hearts 1 and it was a pretty fun action/rpg that blended Disney and Squaresoft fairly well. I won't go into my spiel about how KH2 sucks and pretty much flanderized the Square characters and put them under a bus in favor of the rest of Disney, or it's convoluted story, but my point is this was my first PS2 game.

In 2004 in the height of the Christmas Rush, i was hired at this kiosk in the mall where the owner was selling DDR Dance pads and had a copy of a Japanese DDR Extreme displayed for people to play. Not only was i earning 20% comission on every dance pad I sold ($80 x 20% = $16), but i was at the launch of what was considered to be Rockstar's biggest entry in the controversial franchise Grand Theft Auto San Andreas and Bungie's Halo 2. When both games were released it was a rush. The owner and I oversold on both titles as well as dance pads and copies of the US version of DDR Extreme. But what makes this console significant is that it was the console that got me into finding rare games. At first it was Gitaroo Man which was discovered on XPlay's segment of weird games. I got it, and it was strange, but fun. So I found two more copies which at the time were verging on rare, but were uncommon enough to seek out. Thanks Gitaroo Man for making me start my career as Rarefindit.

Throughout the years since then I have acumulated lots of games just for the sake of enjoyment and experimentation. Each game is not the same as gameplay, music and story have a purpose for each game. And after all, don't we play games for fun and entertaiment?

Here are a few titles I can recall among the 80+ titles I have which I am still collecting to this day.

Note: I do have Dark Cloud 2 (Dark Chronicle), but it's hidden in there somewhere.

Gitaroo Man (2002) Koei - If it weren't for this game and a curiosity that turned into a state wide search I wouldn't have turned into the self proclaimed Rare Game Hunter that I strive to be. The gameplay is simple, but difficult to master and the soundtrack is incredible. It received a cult following since I introduced it to a friend and they introduced it to another and so on. I'd like to think I started the cult following of an otherwise quirky rhythm game. Gitaroo Man was rereleased and/or remade on the PSP titled Gitaroo Man Lives and is still worth searching, but doesn't hold a candle to the original.

Firefighter F.D. 18 (2004) Konami - Anyone remember that movie Backdraft with Kurt Russell and Billy Baldwin directed by Ron Howard? Take that premise and make it into a video game where you have to save civilians with a incredibly prehensile and unlimitedly long hose and I shit you not, fight boss moster fire battles. Literally the bosses are giant flames with names like Blaze or Inferno. I can't help but chuckle at this fun and silly premise.

Katamari Damacy (2004) Namco - Your dad got drunk and destroyed the stars! Good thing his son (you) is tasked to make new ones. Originally released as a budget title this delightfully trippy gem is what I call a snowball engine. As the Prince, you roll up the Katamari (clump) with different things based on size and theme. Certain stages even require you to roll up only a certain object such as dogs. The thought of sending all those rolled up dogs whining and whimpering, chewing their legs off as they are sent into space without air as their breathless lifeless suffocated bodies explode into molecules that form the constellation Sirius, aka the Dog Star. My apologies to you dog lovers with that brutal description. This game is fun, the music  is fantastic and it's different, but man is it sometimes screwy.

Dance Dance Revolution Extreme (2004) Konami - This game is near and dear to my heart as it plays a signigicant role as part of the catalyst of the sudden mainstream popularity of dancing and rhythm games. Although I promised myself I would one day own a Japanese PS2 with a Japanese copy of DDR Extreme for exercise it is the US version that still holds it own. Not only does it have something of a connection to Silent Hill 3 and 4, but it is the most balanced of all the PS2 DDR games. By the way, DDR X2 is the lesser known of the PS2 DDR games yet the most sought out. Why? Most of the songs are kinda lame, and don't get me started with the Disney Channel ones. I blame Americanization. You take something as foreign as food and make it appealing to an american audiences. Like riceballs turned into donuts or rice replaced with ice cream as seen in Doraemon (what?). Unfortunately for me, that's what I feel about the rest of the DDR lineup: Too much bargain bin songs from 5 years ago and too few jpop sounds that made the series so great. I still enjoy DDR Extreme and it's sequel Extreme 2. I tell you one thing: Paranoia Survivor Max Heavy + Max Period Heavy, hard as balls.

Atelier Iris Eternal Mana (2005) Nippon Ichi Software - I love RPGs. Not those games with RPG elements, just straight fun RPGs. What I love more is JRPGs. There's just something whimsical about the fantasy settings that make it pop out. Now what if there was a game where the main draw is item crafting and gathering. Between this and Arc the Lad End of Darkness (Didn't like Twilight in The Darkness) Atelier was the Victor between the two. I will admit there are just a small handful of tracks that were good, but nothing special. It was just unique, innovative and fun to make everything from scratch. If only Atelier Annie didn't allude me so.

Skygunner (2002) Atlus - Ah Atlus. You never cease to amaze me with the games you churn out. Once upon a time in between playing Tail Concerto and getting my own PS2 I stumbled upon this underrated gem. Why? Because the art style looked similar to this doujin artist I knew a little about named Cu-Little. There was a Skygunner doujinshi by this author. It wasn't till later I found out that Cu-Little was revealed to be Ken Akamatsu, aka the guy who did Love Hina. Big shock. So what about the game? Third person dog fighting a la Ace Combat where you shoot enemies down with coins as ammo. I never got to complete it because the last stage required me to shoot 6 charged shots at the enemy and I can only do 3 at a time while the timer drizzled down and it would shake off the other projectiles. At least the opening is nice and it looks French themed.

Dark Cloud/Dark Chronicle (2001/2002) Level 5 - *picks up both games*

Dark Cloud 1: Hi, I'm Dark Cloud 1, aka slow Rouge like rpg. My game has a silent protagonist collecting pieces in dungeons to restore the world from an evil genie.

Dark Cloud 2: I have Scott Menville playing a time hybrid mechanic trying to stop an evil circus from taking over my town and time.

Dark Cloud 1: My gameplay consists of 6 different characters each with different abilities and close and range attacks.

Dark Cloud 2: My gameplay has the player switching between two characters. One can ride a customizable robot called the Ridepod while the other can transform into monsters.

Me: Guys, guys! You're both good games and it's kinda sad there isn't any other like you two. Now of you'll excuse me, I'm going to ride around on a robot with armed with a katana and roller skates!

Okami (2006) Clover Studios - It's such a damn shame that at the time shooters were getting more traction on new consoles than this ever got any praise. This adventure style game has you play as Amatererasu as she restores the world from the evils of Orochimaru and uses the power of Rasangan to... oops my bad... A wolf goddess to restore the land of Nippon and vanquish evil from the world. If you were to say this game had a lot of style and substance then that would be an understatement. Not only that but it was a huge adventure spanning 3 different arcs and the music was fantastic. You can find it on the Wii and PS3, but nothing beats the original with Clover's insignia on the cover.

Persona 4 (2008) Atlus - Here comes the gushing. You know me, I love me some P4, and I will accept those who say P3 is better, but know that each of the Persona games, except the original, all have their own fans. What more is to say about it that I haven't already? Music? Terrific. Gameplay? Taut, yet fun. Story? Fan-frickin-tastic. Characters? You grow to love, except fatty Hanako. What? I'm still bitter about what she did that time. Poor Yosuke.

GTA Trilogy (2001-2004) Rockstar - Amongst the trio of murderous mayhem and antagonistic hit n runs, there's a certain charm that brings us all back to the carnage. 3 was ground breaking even with the frustrating limitations of the console. Vice City brought Ray Liotta and Burt Reynolds into the fray and it was delightful to be reminded of Hawk and Gator. San Andreas however brought the system to its knees as it was hailed as the best of the series... until V. Ah, the memories of making bank off drive bys and shooting people and mods of people having sex with clothes on. Those were the days.

Finally, Final Fantasy X/X2/XII (2002,2003,2006) Square Enix - Next to IV, VI, VII, and IX, X is considered the best of the series. Say what you want about X2 and the girly presentation, it had some pretty damn good parts to it especially in the Thunder Plains. XII is the odd one as its built around XI as a notmmo. The license board (earn points to get permission to wear a hat) and the intuitive gambit system really made the game fun. The music partially composed by Hiroshima Sakimoto brought out the political drama of the story which was Ashe gets redemption or revenge for her fallen kingdom. What am I missing? Quickenings? Summons, Overdrives? Nope they're all great.

Those are my thoughts on the Playstation 2. I have so many games that I am still collecting for. Who knows, I might get A Dog's Life just for a goof or Cubivore and Stretch Panic just because. If you have any memories of the PS2 you want to share, let me know @rarefindit on Twitter.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Rare's Sage Advice: You're Not Alone

There's always a time in the year where we aren't at our greatest. When it happens we fall into our own form of darkness. Some try their hardest to reach through the murk and merge victorious to move on. Some aren't so lucky and inevitably lose themselves to that.

One of the main causes of that feeling is Depression and thoughts of Suicide. Remember this, you aren't alone.

Your life is more precious than you will ever know, don't forget that. You have a purpose in this world and what you do is extraordinary even if people don't show it. Everything you do for others will be remembered for as long as people remember you. It's always good to have a feeling of happiness in knowing you touched someone dear to you no matter where they are.

I and many people suffer from depression and a feeling of being lost. We are always seeking that truth that we need to know. And though we're always told to keep a smile on our faces and stay positive there'll be those Shadows that we lose the fight to.

Anyway, to prevent suicide there's plenty of help out there to get through those tough times:
* Talk to a counselor. Though sometimes what they say won't get through to you, but they will listen to you regardless.

* If you are a religious man talk to a pastor about what you're going through. You may not know it but having faith can really help you out in your time of need.

* Most importantly the ones who care for you the most are those who you left a big impact on. As we progress further into the future of our own lives it helps to stop and get in contact with someone you haven't seen in a long time.

* There are also hotlines that will help you if you feel you've reached your limits.

We are human, we have our strengths and weaknesses, we have our selves and our Shadows. Never forget that we can't fight our own Shadows alone. You may seem like the stern rough and tough "grr I'm a man I can take them on" attitude, but we are also prone to our own flaws and there are people to talk to about those.

Lastly, this one hits me really hard but the best thing I can say is not from my own mouth but from his. "You're not stupid." We do silly things sure, but if we embrace our own silliness we accept ourselves more than ever.

In any case we must stand together and Live with Determination. Your battle is not yours alone to tackle on. Never forget that you are you and I am me. And together we are one. Never give in to your own Shadows. Trust me, that's all I can say to help you from my and your own experience.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

In Memoriam: Justin "JewWario" Carmical

Today I and many others are standing together in sadness for a fallen friend.

April 11, 1971 - January 23rd, 2014

Just now I was informed that Justin "JewWario" Carmical passed away on Thursday January 23rd. He was 42 years old.

Justin was known for his love and knowledge of import games and the like. He had a fun loving and bubbly personality that many found to be quite charming. He was fond of kittens and squeed at the very sound or image of the word. Justin was also like a brother, a father figure and a wonderful husband to his wife Jen.

I remember seeing you for the first time in a stream with Jonathan Mann when he was known as Gamejew. Then you joined ThatGuywithTheGlasses and I instantly became fascinated with your videos and love for classic enka and jpop. If I were to find out about your Arcana you would have been the Lovers. It made sense because you had this loving person about you that stood out as one who everyone would look up to as the nicest sweetest person ever met. Now, we stand as one in knowing, that love we (fans, friends and family) shared will be forever.

Justin, though you may know it or not but everyone loved you, man. You were the gentle giant that everyone wanted to hug. And you did so with gravitas and we enjoyed the time spent with you either at conventions or locally. I will always appreciate and cherish the time you, Jen, Sam and Mark came over to Fanime for the first time. Through the somewhat brief friendship you and I had I always had a smile on my face when you received my post cards and for the time Japanese Kit Kats. Thanks for your time on my paltry college radio show. It was fun and wished I had you on again sooner. You put the fun in funny, the friend in family, and the EEEEE in your squee.

Jen, I and many others would like to extend our condolences and arms for you in your time of need. Though we are only limited to only a screen to express our sadness, in spirit everyone is there for you.

Everyone will mourn on their own and soon move on from there, but remember those times that you met Justin in person and online and cherish them as much as you can.

Farewell JewWario. Remember, you were never alone. It's been real.

See ya Space Cowboy


Monday, January 20, 2014

Rare's Games of 2013

Time passes on, another year wanes, time to reflect on what has been seen.

Ok that was a bad rhyme, but it almost makes sense.

It's that time again where I give you my thoughts on the best of 2013. Why not worst? Haven't really given thought about playing a bad game. Besides, if you want to talk about bad games, ask AngryJoe.

First some guidelines: I'm only giving my thoughts on what was released this year. AAA titles, digital downloads, re-releases, anyone's game. Speaking of games, let's get started.

Ni no Kuni Wrath of the White Witch (PS3) Level_5, Studio Ghibli

The most anticipated RPG of the year didn't disappoint... wait, a JRPG?!!! That's right folks, the RPG of the year which won worldwide praise from everyone was a JRPG and well worth it. Vibrant visual, stellar animation no less expected from Studio Ghibli and game play and mechanics easily intuitive, but deep in it's own right. The battle system is in real time and menu based, so helps quite a bit to avoid any hard hitters. The bosses escalated from minor to holy shit this guy is epic! I have had no problems.

There are some balancing issues such as some of your party members burn MP rather quickly and once it's depleted, they're sitting ducks. Also, your party's stats never increase when they need it the most. Esther's physical defense and attack never change and attack with just a harp for 1 HP of damage never changes and it considered the weakest of the group. And at first you might not like Mr. Drippy and his natural welsh accent, but you get used to it the all the more.

The other minor quip that I had was the ending was somewhat weak and when Ni no Kuni was first released, there was a bit of controversy regarding preorders and how Namco Bandai didn't helps matters to it. When the game was first released there were 3 versions of the game: Standard, a version with a steelbook case but still the same game and finally the Wizard's Edition which came with a soundtrack, the Wizard's Compendium, a plushy of Mr. Drippy and more. Preorders for the Wizard's Edition were strangely low to out of stock. Turns out there was a "bug" on Nambo Camdai's store front and turns out someone in Canada bought alot of the Wizard's Edition and to this day goes for a pretty high penny. Worst part was it was all 100% legal. Good Lord, my minor quip with Gamestop and Persona 4 Golden wasn't this bad in comparison.

Regardless of the minor controversy, this game is well worth the journey and will give you at least 60 to 80 hours of gameplay plus a lengthy sidequests involving a mysterious figure known only as Mr. Conductor. I'm kidding, but he is a rabbit in a top hat so it counts damn it! The prize at the end which I won't tell is... not up to what I thought, in fact I would call it lame. If you are an RPG fan and need something to pass the time before another Miyazaki marathon, this will fill the void quite nicely.

The Last of Us (PS3) Naughty Dog

Yes, the second most anticipated game second only to Ni no Kuni (Bioshock Infinite? What?), The Last of Us brought what would be atypical zombie apocalypse 3rd person adventure and made it into something extraordinary. Ok ok so it isn't exactly zombies, they're Infected, that doesn't matter at this point. It was a fantastic game that brought story telling, graphics, voice acting, and gameplay into a world that seemed to be a revolutionary for video games. Many claim that The Last of Us is the Citizen Kane of games. I'll go with it. It certainly was an interesting story.

There were quite a few frustrations that I encountered in the game. Such as if you try to use close combat on certain infected, you instantly die. That includes some parts where I encountered a Clicker and tried using a shiv as the only means to dispatch them, but ended up dying as a result. Plus to be honest, I didn't feel sympathetic for some of the characters. Yeah it's supposed to be immersing, but if I don't have any for lack of a better term "feels" for that person it just seems flat.

Regardless, The Last of Us was an incredible game that brought me into the world where the real monsters weren't the Infected, but the people. "It's the people that scare me." - Bill

Persona 2 Eternal Punishment (PS, PSP, PS3, PSVita) - Atlus

Refrain from thy tyrannical whims and hear my decree: This was re-released on the PSN this year, so it counts. Persona 2 Eternal Punishment is the second in the Duology of the Persona 2 storyline. Unlike the successful and beloved Persona 3 and Persona 4, Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment have a different battle system. Back then before Social Links and leveling up through fusions, Persona relied on rumors and the number of tarot cards needed to summon. Battles were strategy turn based and slow as molasses. You relied heavily on fusion spells and spells in general to level up your Personas and that cost a lot of SP. Then you use those leveled up Personas to mutate them into stronger Personas. Plus, the H.E.R. (High Encounter Rate) was too damn high.

Eternal Punishment had a PSP remake not too long ago, but unfortunately it was Japan only since we already got the remake of Innocent Sin. Plus this was released 13 years ago, so take what you can get. If you are one of people who can stomach the slow but steady turn based strategy and don't mind confusing controls, then Eternal Punishment is a good counter balance to Innocent Sin. Besides, it took me 13 years to beat Joker Noriko. Stupid bitch!

Time and Eternity (PS3) - NIS

Oh boy. Where to start? It's an RPG with a dating sim and 2D anime in a 3D background. The story is comically silly, the voices are... bearable, and the music is decent. I have no idea why I got it. I'm a sucker for RPGs and I wanted something to fill the void after completing Paper Mario 2. And what better way to increase my anger after being defeated by a Kaizo trap at the fight of the Shadow Queen thereby losing 12 hours of game time than to play a polarizing game. I sure pick the strange ones. But it was 20 bucks, came with a soundtrack, can't complain...wait.

Papers Please (Steam) - Lucas Pope

Say, you ever wanted to play a game based on border patrol? Well your wish has been granted. What's that? You wanted to play a simulation of shooting people who try to cross the fence and defend that land from foreigners without diplomatic means? No? Sorry. Your patriotic thoughts of "freedom" aren't here in this game.

Papers Please is a unique indie title where you are playing the different kind of border patrol. Each person that passes your booth has to give you documentations based on certain criteria. Some may try to weasel their way in and smuggle stuff, but with your keen eye to detail and moral choices about what's right is wrong, it's up to you on how you will play out this game.

There are a few instances where you might get upset. First off Arstotzka is a communist country and people are trying to enter it. It's your job to find discrepancies in each of the people's documentations. IDs, passports, work permits, disease control, anything can be forged and you'll get in trouble for letting even the most saddest of sob stories in. That's why I like it. It's fresh, new, and unique. It's not about saving the world or helping a damsel. You're just an ordinary guy doing his job earning money to keep his family and him alive. Try it out.

Ducktales Remastered (PSN, Wii-U, XBLA, PC) Capcom/Disney

Ducktales was a beloved TV show in the 90s and the game for the NES is a loved gem for it's fun, but difficult game play. I guess it got a sort of cult following back into popularity with Brentalfloss. I could be wrong. Anyway, WayForward who brought us Shantae (rare and expensive) came to the call and remastered Ducktales for modern (7th gen) consoles. It's fine. I myself was too stupid and broke to buy Ducktales back in the day (I was 7 damn it!), but I understand why people loved this game. It sticks to the formula it knows and it plays well. Plus as an added bonus they got the original voice actors from the show to lend their voice in the cutscenes. That's pretty awesome. There's also a retail version of the game for about 20 bucks. Go get it, it's pretty damn good. There, I said one nice thing to Disney. Next game!

Hatsune Miku Project Diva F (PS3, PSVita soon) Sega

I already did a review on the game. It's pretty fun. Although for some strange reason all the modules I bought have to be rebought even though I already did that. Weird. Plus they are expensive as hell. 393939 for a piece of headgear? Grr... you tempt me game! Plus some songs are hit or miss, but fine in their own right. I was lucky to get it at half price and regardless how much it is right now, you owe to yourself as a rhythm game fan and if you like Luka (SirLionHart) you owe it to yourself to pick it up. Which is great because it was announced that Sega will bring the Vita version sometime in Spring 2014. Digital download, but hey, better than nothing.

Aquapazza Aquaplus Dream Match (PS3) Atlus

What the hell is this you may ask. It's a fighting game with lots of characters from Aquaplus and Leaf. Two very known, but unknown developers of Visual Novels and other things in Japan. What's a visual novel you may also ask. Think Phoenix Wright. Anyway, it's a fighting game that consists of 13 fighters and 13 supporters from various series including Utawarerumono, Comic Party, White Album, Tear to Tiara, To Heart, Kizuato, and Routes. There's this mind control potion and everyone has to beat the sense into each other and stop some evil plan before it's too late. Hello collect? I like to place a call to Where's, last name Plot. Yes I'll hold.

One minor thing to mention is some of the names are somewhat mispelled. For those familiar with Utawarerumono, I don't know about you but I think Hakuowlo is supposed to sound like Hakuoro right? Also, Karura which is mouthful I admit to the Japanese, but Karulau? Unless Karla is hard to say in other languages I think this is a mispelling. The same goes for any other character (Urutori) that has their name spelled wrong.

Aquapazza has a deep fighting system that is on par with other fighters out there. There's an emotion system where the bigger your emotions are the more you can unleash hell with your characters specials. At least that's what I got out of the initial first impressions. The only crux of this game is that not everyone knows who the hell these people are unless A) You watched the anime in connection to the character, or B) You played the visual novel related to said characters. For the latter I only know of Utawarerumono which had a decent beat em up and strategy game with a few sex scenes. I saw Comic Party a long time ago, but haven't played the Visual Novel. I briefly remember To Heart and how Multi was a popular character I sort of had a crush on even though I never knew her name (I was young and stupid ok?) Finally I lost out on Tears to Tiara. I should watch that and White Album.

A recommendation for the initial Who-are-these-characters? is to get to know them. A little research doesn't hurt. I mean when Tasunoko vs Capcom first came out, people didn't know anyone from the Tasunoko side. But after playing a few rounds and routes, people got to know them more through the game. Too bad it's not played as much anymore. Sadly as well Aquapazza came out near the tail end of the year and before the holiday rush so it went unnoticed. If you like fighters and are looking for something new, Aquapazza should be able to fix that itch. And who knows, maybe it'll appear at Evo this year. Heck, Persona 4 Arena did the year before.

And those are my thoughts on the games I played this past year. If there were some that weren't mentioned here I probably haven't had a chance to check it out. Shin Megami Tensei IV, I will get you soon since I just got a 3DS. All of these games are readily available at stores near you.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Rare's Soapbox: Darker than the Blackest Friday X Infinity Zero

“Truly if there is evil in this world, it lies within the heart of man.” - Edward D. Morrison

Once again we have reached what would be considered the low point of the human species: Black Friday. A time where the so called savings of such trivial things such as materialized goods is considered a bloodsport. Instead of the age old tradition of spending time with family, people are literally walking over people just to save a few bucks. It’s humanity at it’s worst. Why do we do it?

We’ve all heard the horror stories here and there and we all know full well what it does to people. I don’t know if this would be considered a modern take of the warring states, but with stores, but it’s rather close in my book. Such tragic tales as the temp guy who was trampled and killed at a Walmart, or the recent victim of someone getting stabbed or getting a nice slice down to the bone type of injury just because he was in the way. How about that time someone was shot and mugged in a parking lot for their so called spoils minutes right after they spent hundreds if not thousands just for the company behind the store to say, “eh, we’ve seen it all before, never happened.”

It’s rather disheartening to see and hear such a thing happening when in other places around the world they don’t have that kind of luxury. Need I remind you that places like the Philippines are still recovering from a typhoon that almost wiped the coast towns off the map? Maybe instead of spending money that you “earned” or “saved” on that 55in TV, why not use it to buy some food to someone less fortunate? It’s much more humanitarian and civil than getting arrested while gawkers look, mock, tease, and ignore your distress just so that new Xbone can be yours.

If I may go off tangent here, and spoilers for Ni no Kuni, but then again I lifted my statue of limitations on spoilers for this game about 6 months ago, so who the hell cares if you whine over spoilers?!

Around the beginning of the final chapter, as soon as Oliver starts to leave for Motorville, the White Witch spreads manna all over the 3 mains cities of Ding Dong Dell, Al Mamoon, and Hamelin. The poor townsfolk of those cities are turned into strange and vile looking creatures just for the sake of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. That is how I think of you, human regardless of gender, race or whatever. After all, you’re still human. Humanist I be? Perhaps.

Let me put it this way. You went from this to THIS! Seriously, you're nothing but savages and carnivorous wretches that want to try and save a few bucks on something. I like a sale or two, but not enough to STAB someone over! Skip to 3:07 on the video.

Yeah I feel bad for the townspeople that I have to kill them to the hurts really bad, but that’s nothing to what you dumb humans do every year around the time that we are supposed to be spending time sitting down and eating and giving thanks. Not Battle Royale with TVs!

If there is any sliver of hope among this holiday season is that at least I’m not hunting down the next big thing and trying to save a few francs for it! Besides, I have my own ways to save money. And it doesn't involve breaking down barricades and killing a few kindred folk for that nice $8 pair jeans that will fade within weeks. Honestly, you Black Friday shoppers are lower than low… no you’re lower than those who actually think the remake of I Spit on Your Grave is actually a good movie.

Well, that put a damper in my mood. Since I’m still a bit cheery over my last few weeks of training, how’s about some recommendations for this time of year?

"It's the normal people that scare me." - Bill, The Last of Us

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hatsune Miku Project Diva F

The following question is for those who are unfamiliar with the following image.

Can I get a show of hands please? How many of you recognize this girl? Now do you know what her name is or where she came from?

She will be the subject of today as her game on the PS3 was released recently aptly named Project Diva F.

Her name is Miku Hatsune or Hatsune Miku on the last name first basis. She is one of many characters from a series of Japanese Synthesizers known as Vocaloids. Miku herself is extremely popular although there are many more whom each have their own favorites. Miku became so popular that she starred in her own concert strangely sponsored by Toyota. She's known for her bubbly personality, but she has been prone to some tiffs if her face gets messed with. Now she has a game that came out to the US finally. That game is Hatsune Miku Project Diva F.

I was well aware of Vocaloids, but never found an interest to try out the software mostly because I'm creatively bankrupt. The videos made with the software are vast and creative. When I saw the demo for the game I was morbidly curious so I thought I give it a shot. For some reason or another I quite liked it. At first it took some getting used to since it was different from the usual rhythm game, and I wasn't familiar with Miku's songs. Once I got in the groove, it gave me flashbacks to when DDRMax2/Extreme were out and all sorts of gooey memories came flooding back. So I waited for a release and here we are. Best thing though, I got it for 21 bucks.

What is Project Diva F about anyway and why should I, meaning you, buy it? Initially I'd say if you have a soft spot for Vocaloids you should try it out, but if you are looking for a robust and complex rhythm game this might be right up your alley. This probably is the most moeaty (moe and meaty) rhythm game I've ever seen. Not only do you have the standard fare of songs you can unlock, but also different vanity items and costumes known as modules to play with. That's scrapping the iceberg however.

There's a plethora of game modes to fool around with that will give you your money's worth. They may seem intimidating at first, but it gets fun the more you try it.

* Play mode lets you play the main course of the game. You have 4 difficulties and the more you play the unlockable songs, you play them on harder difficulties. As you play more songs and clear them you gain what's known as Diva Points. Diva points are the currency you can earn to unlock the aforementioned modules or costumes to dress up Miku and the others in the game. You have your tutorial which will show you the ropes on how to play the game as well as Edit Play where you can edit your own videos using a robust video editor. I would do it, but I suck at making videos.

* Diva Room is like a virtual dollhouse where you hang out with each of the Vocaloids. Let's for example hang out with Miku. She has an affinity meter that goes up every time you do something with her or to her. If you rub her head until a certain point, she'll ask to play a game of rock, paper, scissors. and look the other way. If you win her affinity to you will go up. Give her a gift as well that you use your Diva Points to buy. She likes stuff like sweets and music, maybe the occasional fatty tuna, but who doesn't like fatty tuna? Miku's room can also be customized with themes, furniture and various doodads that will unlock mini scenes that involve said doohickeys.

* Shop lets you use Diva Points to buy various modules which are fashionably doable as well as gifts for your Vocaloid of choice and many other things. The more you play the main game the more items you can purchase. They are a bit expensive though so save up enough as you can.

Gonna give Miku some fatty tuna. Girls love fatty tuna.

* Edit lets you create your own video. You can practically do anything in this mode if you have a better artistic mind to it unlike myself.

* Studio lets you watch live performances in front is a virtual leek wielding audience of nothing as you can change the camera angle of the "live" performance. Photo Studio allows you to take a look at your Vocaloid and put them in poses, but to a certain extent. If you for some desperate reason want to aim for a panty shot you get a rather amusing warning translating to simply, "Don't do that pervert!"

* Network logs you in to look at other users edited videos. You need a password for some and initially there isn't that much. You can upload yours though.

* Records show how your progress is doing. You can see how your grades are by each of the tracks you play. It includes trophies that you unlock accidentally mind you sometimes like Easily Flustered where you clear a song with 10 or more cools with the wrong button. I had a good chuckle when I unlocked that trophy. Also in Records you can see how much content you have unlocked over all and can create a nifty profile for yourself.

* Other is options where you can adjust the volume and calibrate your controller in case there's some lag in play. Project Diva F also supports 3D, but only if you have one. It's a nice feature, but again only if you have a 3D TV.

The songs are instantly catchy and easy to pick out which one you like. Here's a top 5 songs I like and dislike.

5. Weekender Girl - aka the Demo song. It's pretty flashy and nice looking. It's what got me into the game.

4. Hachi-hachi Flowery Battle of Kagamines - I know it's obvious that Rin and Len are twins, but the way they sync up together just sounds right. On top of the fact that their modules look adorable. Lastly, Len's solo on the Shamisen is really cool meshing with Rin's modern guitar brings this song to an equal harmony only brought by the twins.

3. World's End Dance Hall - This dance battle between Miku and Luka in some sexy qipaos in Chinatown. Then they dance on buses until it crashes into a dance hall and start dancing with an entourage until confetti falls down. Then you see them riding dragons. Tell me that's not awesome.

2. Acute - At first I thought to myself, "This song has an Netorare feel." Turns out I was right. Why do I like it more than World's End Fance Hall? I got my first perfect mostly, but it flows better despite the theme that I cringe at the most.

1. Senbonzakura - This is just beautiful. The way Miku's movement just ebbs and the song that flows with it just feels right. I just like this song.

Now what exactly could be wrong with this you may ask? Some people may not like the long loading delays, but they have cute fanart to look at so it evens out. Eventually some of the visuals may be too distracting when your going for Chance Time and I did end up getting distracted by part of the song and pressed the right button on the wrong button (Pressing X instead of O). I did get a trophy out of it. Each of the modules are a bit too expensive. If you were to convert Diva Points to something like Zenny, it comes out to unlocking 2 or 3 after 5 songs (30,000 Diva Points = 5000 Zenny). Also, it would be cool to get an English translation of the songs. Romaji is nice and all, but understanding what the lyrics mean is one hurdle people need to overcome and that's just not happening here. Maybe add some background info of the songs and the artist like in early installments of Dance Dance Revolution, but that would be pushing it.

Each of the songs are great, but there are some duds there. It varies if you like them or not. here are mine.

5. Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya! - File this under WTF and unexpected. The song is exactly as what you get. It's nyan nyan nyan for 3 minutes. Of course it's Miku, of course it's a staple that we all know and somehow love about her. Yes, it gave us a flying pop tart cat in space, but seriously?

4. Tokyo Teddy Bear - Don't get me wrong this is a good song, but... excuse me. There. Sorry, my Yandere alarm was going off. It's pretty brutal on harder difficulties. Sure you can argue that the hardcore rock is Rin's Raison D'etre, but it's off-putting to me.

3. Rin-chan Now! - Ironically enough I got a perfect on this even though it made no sense. It's all about what Miku and Luka want to do to poor Rin. Plus, if you say it fast it sounds like Pizza Hut. Now I'm hungry.

2. Summer Idol - Beach themed, not my thing. But you get to see Miku and Rin in striped and polka dot bikinis so that's always good.

1. Ashes to Ashes - Nothing against Kaito, he's really cool. However, this just doesn't gel right with me. It wouldn't be the gothic setting that shows hollow out Vocaloid dolls, it just goes everywhere.

Again, this is all based on your tastes.

Project Diva F offers a robust, fun and enjoyable experience that even newcomers to Vocaloid, partially like myself can find something to like. You grow to like each of the Vocaloids even though they aren't real. It's kind of funny how that works. Hatsune Miku Project Diva F is out now and available everywhere. Thanks for actually listening to your consumers Sega. Pick up a copy from here. You can thank me later.

Yes, yes, I have to add a leekspin whenever Miku is involved. It's practically second nature. Here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rare's Soapbox: Spoiler Alert: Get over it!

I just wanted to address something that I've briefly had to counter argue with: Spoilers. Every time I try to casually talk about something very vaguely I got hit with the spoilers warning. I'd like to offer my two cents on this whole spoilers thing. Also Vader's your dad Luke!

I am aware and understand that I should avoid spoilers for the sake of someone who hasn't seen it. It can be anything from a game (Aeris is dead) to a book (Snape killed Dumbledore) to a movie (Bella gets pregnant!)* to even an event, (Free slurpees on July 11th). Point is people will get pissed over a minor thing that's revealed and I have to say that maybe it's about time someone should say that mostly everyone might know that little secret of yours. (Teddie ate 5 Topsicles!)

If there's something that has yet to be utilized it's something that most people use just for laws, but it should be utilized for texts, fictional or not. I'm talking about Statue of Limitations. (Cirno is an idiot!)*1

Let's say after a certain amount of time passes before spoiler warning can be lifted to avoid a reveal. Let's say...6 months. It can be longer if necessary to give someone more time who just discovered it. So after 6 months to a year we can say the reveal of something. Let's take Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare. At the end of the game, John Marston becomes a zombie. Now that example there doesn't seem like a spoiler to me if this is on the freaking COVER! Again, that's just one example where spoilers have run it's course and therefore should be used in moderation. Also whatever fictional piece that may come into existence, what exactly constitutes what being a spoiler? Is it really of utmost deference that Bruce Wayne is Batman, or Kanji is not gay?

However, I still stick to Standards & Practices when it comes to revealing secrets (The main cast of K-on go to college!) and I promise not to spoil things for some (Cirno is the strongest!). But next time you slap me with the spoilers warning at least remember this: The cake will always be a lie. (No I haven't played Portal.)

*1 It's true. Straight from ZUN himself. 9 = Baka (idiot)