You Don’t Need Big Tits To Be A Video Game Heroine

21 Jun

In addition to playing a couple hours of “Ocarina of Time–3D” on Sunday, I also picked up and tested out “Alice: Madness Returns”. I remember hearing about the first “Alice” game but never got around to playing it; seeing the gameplay footage again last week intrigued me… ’cause you know, sometimes you don’t want to play a shooter or a puzzle game, sometimes you just gotta slice and dice your way to… no… no… this isn’t going in the direction I intended…er…

Image via jihaut.blogspot.com

I can’t compare the sequel to the first game because I haven’t actually played the first game, but purchasing the second game gives you the opportunity to start from game one if you’d like, for free (download). I jumped right in and entered the macabre world of “Madness Returns”. The graphics are decent–somewhere between “Twilight Princess” and “CoD: Black Ops”–but the actual design of the environment is in no way lacking. Each “area”–for example, the first stage, which somewhat resembles an enchanted forest with too many toadstools, is littered with shells, waterfalls, glowing flowers, bugs–let’s just say if I were watching someone play this game it wouldn’t be a bad idea to… be under some sort of influence. I should probably include that it’s one of those platform/adventure games, so it’s a great deal of fun being a view/searching for where to go next. I’d like to note that the cutscenes are done 2D-style, not unlike illustrations pulled from a children’s book or a wood carving.

I haven’t played as many games as I should have, but I think I’ve played a fair enough amount to note that the gameplay in “Madness Returns” is very unique, overall. There are many ways to defeat your enemies–I’ll start off with your weapons–you see on the cover art she’s wielding a fancy butcher knife. It’s for slicing and dicing–if you didn’t realize by the gameplay trailer I posted, this game is a bit bloody. You also get a pepper grinder for long-range shooting. You can lock onto enemies for easy targeting (pretty helpful), and I have never had to use so many of the XBOX buttons at once. There’s a button for shrinking (“Drink Me”), while you’re tiny Alice you can see things you normally would not see, good for seeing hints or ways out if you’re lost. There’s a button for dodging, 2 keys to press when you want to block an enemy’s attacks using your umbrella, pressing the analog button does another thing, every single button is used and abused and I’ve barely even started the 2nd chapter of the game. In fact, I’m only on the 2nd “area” and the environment has completely changed already, including Alice’s clothing.

Not quite how you remembered the Cards, am I right? image via myselfanand.com

Not quite how you remembered Alice, am I right? image via ign.com

Enough about the gameplay, there are endless youtube videos for that. The story is straight-forward–taking place a few years after her family’s death when their house burned to ashes and Alice was the lone survivor, witnessing it all, she now resides in an orphanage, still undergoing therapy. You would think that Alice would never have ventured back into Wonderland, but American McGee says, “No.” So here we are, playing as a mentally unstable and very dangerous little girl, in a fairly grim, steampunk-tinged fantasyland, trying to collect memories and forget about the trauma.

I’ve only played for 2-3 hours so far and barely made it through the first chapter. There are about 6-7 main chapters, and each chapter has about 17-20 sub-chapters. Oh, did I say first “chapter”? I MEANT SUB-CHAPTER. I am going to feel like a fucking accomplished human being after I beat this game, but only for a few moments before realizing how truly pathetic that is could be.

Welcome to Wonderland... concept art for the game, image via conceptartworld.com

Welcome to Wonderland... concept art for the game, image via conceptartworld.com

 

Sidenote: You can download “dresses” that can enhance certain aspects of your fighting prowess, it’s like dress-up with a purpose.

Back In Time

20 Jun

Let’s state the obvious–yes, I pre-ordered Ocarina of Time for the 3DS and yes, I spent a good 3 hours playing it this afternoon ignoring all else. After about an hour and half of the 3D my eyes started to hurt a little so I had to turn off the 3D setting. That’s the only flaw with the game–I can’t look through the 3D view for too long.

Other than that, and the smaller screen, Ocarina of Time for the 3DS is enough reason to buy a 3DS. Oh wait… I think that’s why I bought one. Hard to believe it’s been a full 13 years since the original N64 version was released, and while I was hoping for a new TLoZ game for the handheld systems, I’m pretty damn satisfied with this remake.

I’ve written about TLoZ before as being my favorite video game franchise, basically because “Link’s Awakening” was the first handheld game I played. Now playing this new version of OoT for the 3DS I felt like a kid again, as I was rediscovering everything I loved about Ocarina of Time.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember much of the temples or any of the secrets so I didn’t breeze through the game. Hell, I can’t even remember the bosses from “Spirit Tracks”. But I’m not going to sit here and write a walkthrough or review the game. You’ve read all the reviews already, so you already know that this game is awesome.

I played about 3-4 hours today before I finally decided to switch gears up a little and play Alice: Madness Returns (blog post coming tomorrow), and wanted to take some time to draw the connection between Nintendo’s smart move to use Robin Williams and his daughter, Zelda (named after the Princess Zelda) for this particular game commercial. You’ve already seen this commercial and probably got a bit teary-eyed, simultaneously shitting bricks with excitement as well, I suppose… wow, that’s just not a pretty picture at all. But anyway, before I started playing OoT, I thought it was a great commercial, Robin Williams just earned +1000 points in my book, etc etc etc… especially for those of us who grew up with TLoZ games, we already know the drill–don’t go on a slashing spree with the Cucco’s, try to break all the pots you find even in someone’s home, destroying bushes is a necessity when you’re poor but it’s such a waste of time. However, once you find yourself actually playing the game (again, on the 3DS) it truly takes you back to your childhood–in the same way as sneaking into your old middle school to play tetherball with your friends, you know? I’m throwing around the term “childhood” even though some of the readers of this blog aren’t in their early twenties, but maybe their early thirties–it takes you back to your youth, when you were less of an adult. I was wondering why the designers this time made Link look even moreso like a kid than ever (really, you want the peace of Hyrule to rest on this mute kid??) but I’m not going to question that logic because throughout the years, TLoZ games have always been games for everyone. They don’t have blood and gore, it’s not insanely difficult, the recurring characters are very memorable, and the temples require the right combination of puzzle-solving techniques and skill. The stories are also compelling enough, simple as they may seem–humble dude saves lovely princess and kingdom–but there’s always some kind of crazy variation in the gameplay to keep things exciting. I would also like to point out how great the soundtracks always are for these games. There aren’t too many theme songs are considered classics, themes that we can instantly identify within 5 seconds, but every single time I hear the TLoZ theme, my heart is ready for adventure again.

Played on the ocarina, of course.

Big Daddy

17 Jun

I know, nobody’s posted in a long time. I can say for myself that I’ve been trying to wrap up my 2 cosplays for Anime Expo and I have a slew of games I have not finished yet, anime I am halfway through watching, and manga queued up to my neck. Last week’s blog posts would have just been me blog-vomiting my excitement post-E3 debuts, I’m sure enough of your Facebook friends have spammed your feeds with all their “likes” already from the E3 streams so …. I’ll just write more when we get to the actual release dates of these games, yes?

Sunday is Father’s Day. Some of us are closer to our fathers, some of us are closer to our mothers. Many of my girl friends are close to their mothers, saying their mothers are their best friends. I’m pretty jealous; I can’t converse with my mom for over an hour without her expressing her disapproval of my hair color, my extracurricular activities, my car, the food I cook, the way I sit, etc etc. I just don’t get along with her at all. I will give my mom props for marathoning Initial D with me though, one summer in elementary school, that was very memorable.

My dad, on the other hand, I’m very close to. I know I’ve written about my dad before, probably very briefly, but Sunday is Father’s Day and he was instrumental in making me who I am today (who am I though :\) so I’m going to elaborate more on why my dad is more interesting than the Dos Equis man.

Firstly, my dad trolls me with photoshopped images and says they are real. My dad is a boss at Photoshop. He is also a boss at 3D Studio Max. Look at that image below, hell yes it was rendered.

My dad is a bawss

My dad builds Gundam models. I bought him a Master Grade last Father’s Day and he said he had too much work to do so he wouldn’t be able to build it until the next month. I went back to my parents’ house the following week and saw the legs assembled >>;

My dad cracks dirty jokes while we eat dinner. Well, I don’t live at my parents’ house anymore, but he used to tell us jokes in Chinese, and my mom would roll her eyes while my dad and I chuckled.

My dad owns the entire DVD box sets of Robotech and Full Metal Panic!

He collects Batmobile model cars.

He takes me to watch 3D movies; I took him to watch Tron:Legacy in 3D for Christmas and gave him a Lightcycle toy, which he displays next to his Bumblebee figure.

He bought me my first game system–Super NES.

He installed Doom on my first computer and taught me how to play. He bought me a lot of PC games after that, including the Tomb Raider games, Virtua Fighter, Daytona USA. I don’t really play games on the PC anymore though :\

But the above are pretty typical of dads, amirite? There are few that can say that their fathers cosplay, though….

2002 - As Cyclops. I remember he used empty film canisters for this.

2004 - My mom did the sewing, he did the sculpting.

2005 - "Fat Batman"... an original... lol... he was so proud of it. Hell, I'm proud of it.

2007 - CLOUD.

2008 - Wolverine. Asian one. Lol. Formed from fiberglass.

2008 - Wolverine. Asian one. Lol. Formed from fiberglass.

….and help them with props.

Here's my dad helping me on my Xianghua sword.

This CLOUD SWORD. IT WAS MADE. BY MY DAD.

2 years ago though, something happened that would change my life forever. My dad, who had long been the breadwinner of our family, lost his job. I felt compelled to move back home and support my family, but at the same time I felt selfish because I had worked so hard to move out and solidify my career in LA. Not too many people know of this event because it’s not exactly a pleasant subject, but I was down for a while. I called my dad, and he told me not to move back home, that I had worked too hard to be on my own, and that he would figure something out to continue supporting the family. My mom had to start working, and my sister continued working her part-time job while all my parents’ money went into my sister’s college education. I realized I had nothing to bounce back upon, I didn’t have a backup in case I couldn’t pay my rent anymore, or if I had lost my job, I’d be fucked. My dad was jobless for a couple months. I never thought too much of money before, but after this whole deal, I started to watch my money a bit more carefully, and tried to do more for my parents. I had taken everything for granted, previously, and suddenly my mom was raving about how her friends felt sorry for her and were giving her groceries. I came home on several holidays to cook dinner for my family when my mom had to work overtime. As I already felt disconnected from my friends for graduating 3 years earlier than everyone and having to work instead of party, I had to grow up, now. My parents had always lived fairly modest, but this event flipped us 180 degrees. It brought all of us closer together, as we began to appreciate the little things, together. I think for that brief time, we were all happier than when my dad was the VP of a furniture design company, because he wasn’t working all the time–and he would help my mom with the household chores, and he’d help me on my cosplays. Christmas wasn’t about gifts for 2 years. It was a time for us to come together, eat the feast I made, listen to my mom whine about how I undercooked the string beans and almost gave everyone in our family food poisoning, the typical nagging.

My dad finally got a job last September, at another furniture design company (he is a furniture designer). I am not sure how things are going as he has been out of the country supervising production since December. He sends us (my family) emails everyday with pictures of Vietnam and China, where he’s been traveling back and forth. It’ll be unfortunate that he won’t be able to celebrate Father’s Day with me this year, otherwise I’d take him to see X-Men: First Class, but if he doesn’t come back soon I’m afraid this Gundam I got for him is going to be halfway completed.

Driver’s High

2 Jun

So I was at FanimeCon last weekend, if you follow me on Twitter, I kind of just tweeted about it for 2 weeks straight. Anyway, I drove up to San Jose from LA by myself, made the mistake of not putting some new CDs into my radio, and packed way too much shit. Finishing your cosplay in the hotel is not a good idea. So don’t do it. Also bring new music into your car if you realize you’ve outplayed all 10 CDs in your car.

Anyway, I wish I had gone to some of the panels (wig styling and some of the steampunk ones) but I was too busy oogling at cosplayers. I did cosplay the first day and after I uploaded pictures onto Facebook my friends complained about why there wasn’t a single photo of myself–for one, I was by myself so it was ridiculously hard to take photos of myself + other people. Secondly, I bought too much crap. Difficult to haul a sword, goodies and a DSLR. But I have learned, and that is what should be duly noted.

I did catch the Anime Music Video contest which is one of my favorite events at any anime convention and I was surprised at Phil Collins x Dragonball Z. “Junjou Rhapsody” had the entire audience rolling with laughter even though nobody really knew what was going on. (wish I could find the video :(!!! )

It was my first year at FanimeCon and I didn’t realize how much smaller than Anime Expo it was. Kind of a good thing because Anime Expo is a notch shy of Comic-Con’s clusterfuck.

I truly enjoyed wandering around Artists’ Alley and talking to some of the artists I bought art from. Most of them were pretty bored (they said so), so it was nice to chat about anime or games, or whatever their influences were in their artwork.

Yeup.... Artists' Alley

If my entire body was not as fucking sore as it was on Sunday I might have hung around in the Marathon Room and tried to catch up on “One Piece”–they were playing it 12 hours straight in that video room. I don’t know why my entire body was sore, I really did not do much on Saturday.

Also very considerate of them.

I met up all-too-briefly with superfamous cosplayer Vampy at the Crunchyroll booth, where she was interviewing cosplayers for their live stream. I have to say, watching the live stream while at the booth was hilarious, because Crunchyroll users were adding their comments simultaneously, and there were some really… creative… trolls.

I wish I had more to say but I was just so freaking tired both days, probably from driving, which was not a good idea. I had better book my hotel early as fuck next year because I was a bit lazy this year.

I am also not going to go by myself, I’m going to find someone to cosplay with me because cosplaying for one day and not cosplaying the next, I can see the big difference in how enjoyable a convention experience is.

And now I bombard you with cosplay photos. Enjoy. I will be doing a short write-up on E3 next week as I will be attending the IGN party! Woohoo! Going out to socialize! Yay…

This is obviously a Kuroshitsuji meet-up.

Mii. Mii. Mii.

Kiki missing Gigi...

There was a person inside!

Avatar, but not the last airbender :(

What would have been REALLY FUNNY is if she was carrying around that chicken

Avatar, THE LAST AIRBENDER. Look at big Toph. Lol.

Is Magikarp using Splash? Can't tell.

Hipster Link

Sexy Misty.

Howl's Moving Castle

Harry Pottah

Some very, very creative costumes.

The silhouette.

It’s A Different Kind Of Marathon

26 May

I’m gonna go off a tangent here and break away from our usual stream (it’s more like a drizzle now I suppose) of posts regarding new/cool stuff and take some time to talk about cosplay culture. FanimeCon is this weekend and after all the fun times I experienced, and good friends I made last year at Anime Expo, I am pretty excited to delve into that welcoming atmosphere again.

My mom was surprised and shocked that I’m still going to anime/comic book conventions at my age. I’m not really that old but she, like most others, associates animation with children, which is completely false because the anime I watch should not be viewed by children. No, wait, that’s not what it sounds like. Ah… whatever.

I wrote in one of the first gspot blog posts that I “fell out” of anime near the end of high school/beginning of college, then was drawn back in via Death Note. I’m not going to reiterate what I wrote in that post [here] but I’m getting my point soon, about cosplay.

It’s only natural that we judge the calibur of someone’s costume. But do any of us really even know how to sew? Better yet, would we even have the guts to put on a funky wig, carry a huge-ass sword, fully-clothed like a fantastical character from a world we’ve yet to see in the flesh? “Cosplay fail” is a common term many of us like to throw around when we see a poorly-assembled (not aesthetically pleasing) cosplay, but after going to these conventions and just being in the good spirit of the entire community, having the “best” costume isn’t what cosplaying is about.

People cosplay for different reasons, mostly for fun, and to a degree, out of our respect and admiration for the creators of that anime, manga or game. Within the cosplay community, sure, there are “famous” cosplayers, mostly due to their skill levels being higher than most, but it’s not a popularity contest. I remember last year, an associate of mine, who was not familiar with otaku, anime or manga culture went to Anime Expo with my group. He said it was one of the most remarkable weekends in his life, there was so much positive energy and passion. I really thought about what he said, because I left the convention with some great friends I may not have been able to meet had I not cosplayed or had the guts to approach. Loserific is one I met last year and she’s one of the coolest and most genuine people I know.

My favorite cosplay from last year's Anime Expo--MONONOKE!!

It’s a difficult feeling to describe, being at an anime convention. On a regular basis I’m always wondering who I can geek out who doesn’t accuse me of being a “true otaku” just because I don’t watch Naruto. Fuck off, I don’t have a TV, and Sakura is too annoying. Sure, there are about 12938012938 Naruto cosplayers at every anime convention, but they’re introduced to a wealth of new and old anime once there, even for me, who will watch at least 3 episodes of a series to see if it has enough to capture my interest. Marathon anime or go home. If a series is not good enough for me to marathon, it clearly isn’t worth my time. I just have to point out that watching the 2nd Gurren Lagaan movie in a large room with GL cosplayers, and the host announcing, “Can all the Yoko’s keep their bazookas on the floor away from the aisles please?” was pretty awesome. Again, it’s hard to describe the feeling of unity at these conventions, so this is probably turning into a really lame post where I’m trying to reflect on all my convention experiences.

I was pretty excited to see these Trinity Blood cosplayers last year.

I guess what I’m just trying to say is, one shouldn’t be judged for going to conventions (yeah, so “otaku” generally has a somewhat negative connotation, re: Genshiken), nor should one be judged for a last-minute or store-bought cosplay. I commend anyone who has the guts to dress up as someone else during the daylight hours and to full on geek out with strangers. But then again, once we start to get to know each other, we’re no longer strangers.

So why do I pour in hours and hours to cosplay? I guess it’s just my way of showing my respect and admiration for the game, the anime or manga, and its creators. And let’s face it, I just have way too much time on my hands.

Within the exhibit hall, you'll probably be able to find everyone and everything, aside from body pillows.

And here’s a shameless plug for myself if you’re at FanimeCon this weekend, I’m running around in this fantastical slutty wizard outfit so come say herro!!!

Zephie from Magna Carta 2, which was kind of a "meh" game but had some nice graphics

Quite Possibly the Best Anime I Never Knew About Until Now

18 May

Somewhere between the time I stopped watching anime and was busy trying to stop being an otaku, I missed out on watching a great anime. A great anime that might be better than Death Note. Wait. It is better than Death Note. It does spoof Death Note here and there. Yes, I daresay it is better than Death Note even though every other episode borderlines on filler. But guess what, I don’t even skip the filler episodes because this anime is so great. The last time I laughed so hard for 20 minutes straight was in The Hangover. If you even ask me what it is about I don’t know how I’d sell the idea to you without being at a loss for words–it’s about 3 people who are part of a Yorozuya (Jack of all trades) and go around picking up jobs? That didn’t sell it to you, did it? One is a samurai with a natural perm of icy blue hair, one is a beastly strong Chinese-looking girl, one is a four-eyed (but not literally four-eyed) otaku samurai. Does that do it for you? Do you want to watch “Gintama” now? No? Then I don’t know how else to put it… except that you should just start to watch it anyways, because I have never watched an anime so funny and so full of heart at the same time. I can’t really even compare it to anything except maybe it’s the fact that this anime parodies everything and its characters are self-aware of the fact that they’re in an anime.

Our 3 main characters: Kagura, Gintoki and Shinpachi

The magic of Gintama is that it doesn’t fail to be entertaining, ever. One of its best episodes is one where the characters try to “improve” on their show in fear of being canceled and each character throws out its fantasies of what the show should continue on as. It has absolutely nothing to do with the loose storyline “Gintama” follows, but little do you realize that each of these episodes cleverly develops traits of each unique character. There’s another episode spoofing video games. There’s an episode with a random baby. An episode where the toilet paper has run out at an especially crucial time… an episode–if you can think of it, Gintama will most likely have it. Now that I reflect upon this series, I don’t know why I even mentioned a “storyline”, I’m not sure what these characters are headed towards but I’m enjoying the journey.

This was from one of my favorite episodes. Image via simon-p.com

A friend recommended this to me knowing I love shounen anime, but I balked at its 201 episode commitment. What follies. I started a mere month ago and I’m now on episode 91. Here I can still barely tell you what it’s about. There’s aliens. Robots. Sexy robots. Headless robots. Bazookas. Lots of food. Perverted jokes. There’s a ninja with hemorrhoids and a ninja with poor eyesight. I don’t know what else to say–just don’t blame me if watching Gintama becomes part of your daily routine.

Treasures and Trinkets from Taiwan

9 May

For lack of a more clever title, this post is exactly as it is–the useless-but-cool merchandise I picked up while in Taiwan the past week. ¬†I had originally planned to go to both Japan and Taiwan during my vacation but with the earthquakes in Japan I had to change my itinerary to Taiwan only.

The week I was in Taiwan, I was fortunate to catch the Taipei Game Expo. It was not as it seemed. I thought I’d get to sample new video games for various consoles but it was actually an arcade game expo… which was still cool, but since 60% of the machines there were slot machines of various types I was a little disappointed with the idea I was so sold on. I took a few photos and videos only to realize, on the back of my industry badge that I wasn’t supposed to take pictures. OH WELL. ENJOY BELOW MWAHAHAHA (It’s not like anyone reads this blog anyway).

Besides the game expo (let me also mention it was right next door to the Vegetarian Food Expo, which was an excellent move because I got hungry after playing games and such, and Taiwanese people are very generous with their food. Needless to say I ate and drank to my liking), I also visited a ton of malls and shopping centers, picking up some random objects.

Clearly I took this photo very quickly.... BB (Super-Deformed) Gundams and Keroro Gunso Plamo Collection model kits

BB Gundam (super-deformed)

Just to show you how small this thing is

Left: BB Gundam, Right: Keroro Gunso Plamo Collection

Keroro Gunso Plamo Collection - Tamahorn

PACMAN X MOLESKINE 30TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL EDITION NOTEBOOK. FOOKYEAHHHH

Yeup

Artbooks - Gelatin, We Are, Cannabis Works

Nanoblocks, super tiny lego blocks

Nanoblocks

Outside of Toyland, load up your Pokemon and go at it with your friends. Like I'd be caught doing this... um.. yeah....

YEEEAHHHH

Vocaloid Miku Hatsune Project Diva Arcade Game

Vocaloid Miku Hatsune Project Diva Arcade Game

Vocaloid Miku Hatsune Project Diva Arcade Game

Yes, this entire corner dedicated to Miku.

Piano simulation (of sorts) game

Can I have one of these

Massive multi-player ultimate button-mashing game under the sea

Another dance simulation game... of sorts

Unfortunately a lot of these games I couldn't play for free...

Booth babes and guests

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