Archive for the ‘ Matt aka MAJAC007 ’ Category

Setting the Bar for Game Trailers

Having just stumbled across the new trailer for Dead Island on Kotaku, I can start to understand why an impulsive movie exec might want to scoop up the film rights to a game that’s only still in development.

Follow the link and watch it full screen, if you know what’s good for you.

What bothers me is this:  Trailers for video games are never really indicative of the product they’re trying to sell.  Despite the similarities, movies and video games are seperate mediums.  A person’s ability to artfully craft a cinematic narrative doesn’t really reflect their ability to create, compile, and deliver an interesting three dimensional world for a user to interact with.

That being said, this is easily the best game trailer I’ve ever seen.  I just hope the developers haven’t inadvertantly set expectations too high by creating a video that’s too awesome.

Best TV in the World

Don't Laugh

In case you were wondering what I’ve been watching on TV here in Japan, it’s stuff like this.

Gaki no Tsukai

I guess this show was pretty popular a few years back, but everyone says it’s not as good now as it used to be. 

I beg to differ.

In any case, the premise is this: Laugh, and You Will Be Punished.

If you like this, you can also find Part 2 of the onsen episode on youTube, as well as the famous “Silent Library,” where the comedians play Russian Roulette in a library to see what sorts of ridiculous stunts they can perfom on one another without disturbing the bookworms.

EDIT: I removed some of the youtube links–copyright violation.  Gomen nasai…

Final Fantasy XII: International Zodiac Job System

I can’t remember exactly when I started hating this game.  I guess one of the pitfalls of having a nearly six year development cycle is that it gives people plenty of time to start hating your game for no good reason.  All I can say is: 

Sorry, Square-Enix.  I was wrong.

Final Fantasy XII is a materpiece.  Great characters and a great story, all set in an amazingly believeable world.  Definitely the most fun I’ve had with a Final Fantasy game since #7. 

Over the years, I’ve slowly lost interest in the FF series.  I used to think that maybe I’d become jaded, or simply grown out of the series’ target demographic.  Nope.  Turns out I still love the shit, it’s just been a while since Square has made something that really knocked my socks off. 

My only regret is that it’s taken me almost three years to come around to this gem.  It sort of makes me wonder if the current bad taste FF XIII has given me will eventually be washed away as well.

I’m playing the Internation version, which means cutscenes are in English, but everything else–menus and text dialogue–are still in Japanese.  It’s really not as bad as it sounds.  If you can read katakana, you’re good to go.

The International version also includes a bunch of extra license boards and other shit I’m not equipped to comment on because I never really played the original version.  Also included is a bonus DVD that includes a huge amount of concept art, interviews, and a detailed runthrough of every major FF game ever released.

And it comes in a pretty box (see above).

The only stumbling block so far is the game’s Gambit system, whose menus are litered with kanji and nonsensical Japanese characters.  It was hard enough to figure out when I toyed with the American version a couple years ago, and now it’s basically impossible because of the language barrier.  Instead, I find myself pausing battles and issuing individual orders to characters.  It’s a bit slower this way, but doesn’t hinder my enjoyment.

In summary:  Good shit.  Pick it up if, like me, you were stupid enough to pass it up the first time around.

In Search of Treasure

Geek culture is alive and well in Japan and this more than anything has made me feel at home in this country.  Video games, manga, and anime are all pretty hot over here and I’ve had a great time sifting through a sea of the stuff, searching blindly and illiterately for gems of new interest. 

Before I left the good old U.S. of A., Randee burdened me with a task:  to find an awesome figurine–preferably something of the Neon Genesis: Evangelion or Megaman varieties (aka Rockman in Japan) for his desk at work.  The only real limitation he imposed was that it be appropriate for the office, which I took to mean, “no titties.”   Should be a piece of cake, right? 

Eh…

My first thought was to snatch something out of one of the UFO catchers.  America has crane games, and UFO catchers are like their cool older brother.  It costs about a buck per grab, or three tries for $5, but if you can find a good machine the cost is totally worth it because the prizes can be pretty amazing.

I know next to nothing about Evangelion, BUT I WANT THIS!

It turns out that finding Evangelion figures which adhere to the No Titties rule is pretty difficult.  In Japan, it seems people are less interested in the giant robots than in the cute girls piloting them.  I tend to agree, but I’m shopping for Randee here.

My next big lead was some place called…well, actually I can’t read the sign, but it’s an otaku’s wet dream come true.  TONS of tiny statues.  Literally thousands of pounds of plastic; awesomely detailed and sculpted into the liknesses of Godzilla, Ultraman, Evangelion, Dragon Ball, and a bunch of other cool stuff I’d never heard of but couldn’t help but admire.

They had a pretty great Neon Genesis mech for about fifteen bucks, but it was gone by my second visit.  And sadly, no Rockman.  The hunt continues!

I was tempted to call it quits and walk home with this bad boy, but I stuck it out in hopes of finding Rockman.

After hitting most of the geeky hotspots, hope was starting to run dry.  Aside from a couple Nintendo DS games, I’d had no luck finding a single piece of Megaman merchandise.  The Blue Bomber’s just not as popular as he used to be, I guess.

A couple days ago I spotted a Toys R Us down the road, and finally got a chance to visit last night.  Not as big and crazy as the ones I’m used to, but they still had a pretty crazy assortment of toys and knick-knacks.

It's like an Easy Bake Oven, but this thing makes tasty, meaty gyoza.

 The star of the show here were the Ultraman figures.  Again, I don’t know much about Ultraman except that he fights guys in rubber suits and smashes through cardboard buildings and omigod who cares those are the coolest f*$%ing toys I have ever seen!!!

"I want, I want! I NEED, I NEED!"

I can only pray that before I die, I will have an entire room in my house dedicated to collecting garbage like this.

Oh, and before I forget…they also had a 1/10 scale plastic model of Megaman… 

…which I then did purchase.

Now, whether or not my American counterpart ever receives this miracle gift will depend entirely on how frequently he visits the blog he supposedly contributes to.

Randee:  If you choose to contribute something to Split Screen within one week, CONGRATULATIONS!  YOU ARE THE PROUD OWNER OF THIS FINE, COLLECTIBLE EMBLEM OF JAPANESE GAMING CULTURE!  ROCKMAN WILL BE SHIPPED TO YOUR HOME FREE OF CHARGE.

If not, I will assemble Rockman myself and place him on my own imaginary work desk.

Best of Luck!

Clock’s ticking.

Experience the Wonder…OF GOO!!!

Even in a “remote” area like Kagoshima, there’s really no shortage of game stores. It was only a matter of time before one started to grow on me.

Welcome to Wonder GOO.

Come for the crazy name, stay for the crazy prices

The store consists of two sections; the new stuff is right in your face when you walk in, and used games are stocked in a slightly larger room off to the side. 

There’s really no point in bothering with the new stuff, other than window shopping.  Prices are crazy.  We’re talking $60+ for a new DS game, here.  I’ve seen some 360 titles going for upwards of $80 in some stores, so obviously the used game market is pretty huge over here.  I have a hard time imagining who in their right mind is buying all these new copies and getting the ball rolling in the first place.

Unreleased Titles

One of the best parts about loitering around a place like Wonder GOO is that you get to see all the cool stuff that’s not available in the United States.  Sometimes stuff just takes time to translate (Dragon Quest), but it’s easy to discover an entire franchise of games that you’ve never heard of.

Earth Defense Force...3?! WHERE ARE THE OTHER TWO??

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2, for instance.  I never even heard they were making a sequel to one of my favorite DS games, but here it is for about $18.

And PS2?  Forget it.  In addition to having tons of crazy titles you’ve never heard of, it’s easy to find the ones you have.  The Big Titles aren’t hard to find here.  I’ve never seen so many copies of Zone of the Enders 2 in my entire life.  If a game was ever famous, you won’t have to look hard to find it here.

All three games, together at last!

And basically every store will have an entire section devoted solely to Square-Enix games.  Want a copy of DQV for the PS2?  Done.  FFXII International?  No problem.  Most places will even include copies of Squeenix games for older systems, so you don’t have to go digging through garbage to find that PS1 copy of Chrono Trigger you were searching for.

So yeah…

I’d go on, but I think you get the idea.  Japanese game stores are awesome, Wonder GOO in particular due to the low prices and decent selection.  The only drawback is my inability to read (and therefore play) most of these titles. 

Something to work on, perhaps…

Let’s Get this Ball Rolling…

Greetings from Japan!

Looks like this whole, “East vs. West” gaming blog thing might actually happen. I’m putting out a plea to my American counterpart to keep me up to date on the newest XBLA and console releases, and I’ll be sure to share any and all of the crazy stuff I come across on this side of the planet.

It’s a little difficult to talk about some of the things I’m seeing over here without visual aids, so until I get my camera working, here’s a taste of some of the stuff I’m working on.

Crazy Japanese Game Pricing
Game/s of the Year
Virtua Fighter vs. Tekken Arcade
Finding an Otaku Figurine for Randee’s Desk

And if you haven’t already, check out this week’s Giant Bombcast with guest Jeff Green.

Free Portal!

The marketing geniuses at Valve are kicking off their new Steam for Mac bid’ness by giving away one of the coolest games I’ve ever played.

No shit:

http://store.steampowered.com/freeportal/

The game’s free for both PC and Mac users and due to the new “Steam Play” feature, will be playable on BOTH systems if you own it.

Pick it up before May 24!