The American Prince Returns!

I have come to claim my prize!

I’m playing Bayonetta right now and it’s kicking my face in for the most part. I think I’ve gotten a Stone Award on every level. For those not playing along Stone = terrible. I shall be completing this game tomorrow. I will then need to decide on what to play next. I have a lot of games and I am not going to get anymore until I clear out a huge pile of shame. This may take years. So maybe Matt can give me his suggestion for what I should conquer next. Bring it Otakurama!

Advertisements

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!

Star Wars: The Clone Wars–Renewing My Interest in a Galaxy Far, Far Away…

Clone Wars
I’ve been a bit starved for entertainment lately, so forgive me one last non-gaming related post to get it all out of my system.

During the Dark Days leading up to my graduation, I spent a portion of my dwindling down-time programming my DVR with things that I’d rather be doing. Somehow Star Wars made it onto the list, not because I have any great love for the new timeline–the recent trilogy effectively killed off any good will I’d accumulated during the past 30 years–but because, well, I guess I needed a little hope to get me through some rough times. With the exception of the last ten years, Star Wars has always been there for me. So I thought I’d give it a chance.

I’ve watched four episodes now, and it’s good. I think I know why.

I believe George Lucas was always a little jealous that he didn’t direct Empire and Jedi. I remember back in the mid-90’s hearing him say that he wouldn’t direct any of the new films in the trilogy, except maybe the first, in order to “set the mood,” or something.

Fast forward a decade and the man’s chubby little pawprints are all over the place. I think what it really comes down to is this–George Lucas isn’t a very good director. Don’t get me wrong, the man makes an EXCELLENT producer. Indiana Jones, Willow, the list goes on and on. He’s got vision and he’s got resources. But in my opinion, the four movies he directed sit at the bottom of the “Star Wars–Best of:” list. The best bits of Star Wars didn’t have Lucas at the helm and this, I believe, is why the Cartoon Network series The Clone Wars has managed to succeed.

For the first time in a long while, people with a passion for the series and a WHOLE lot of talent are getting together to make something great.

Take the series’ recent Bounty Hunter plotline:

In Episode 2, we saw Mace Windu pop the noggin’ off Jango Fett. We get a little teaser shot of Boba picking up his father’s helmet which is never rewarded or even mentioned in the final film. Instead, it just points us back to the original trilogy where we hear Boba say about five words and get eaten by a spiky vagina. Sorry, Mr. Lucas, but you dropped the ball.

In Clone Wars, we get to see young Boba Fett ally himself with some of his father’s less scrupulous co-workers in an attempt to assassinate Mace Windu and avenge his father’s death. He’s determined, but he’s still a kid. During the story arch, we get to see the little bastard make some pretty tough decisions which perfectly explain how he became the cold-blooded bounty-hunting bastard we all know him to be.

Holy crap, man. After watching this show, I’ve even started liking Anakin.

That’s because Clone Wars actually takes some time out from all the exposition to shine a spotlight on the characters Lucas neglected (As in, everyone.) I just finished an episode where Yoda and a couple of clone troopers get ambushed while trying to sway a neutral planet to the republic. Whether the planet joins or not is irrelevant, however, and what we’re rewarded with is 30 minutes of Yoda being a sneaky little shit and being totally awesome against impossible odds.

It’s about the characters, man! Lucas was so busy trying to tell this whole epic story that he forgot the point of it all. Anyone else see the episode of the Simpsons where they go see the new Star Wars and it’s like a two hour senate hearing?

It’s funny because it’s true.

Lucas’ vision for the new trilogy was so freaking HUGE that even his main characters were powerless to stand against it. You just sit there and watch them being dragged, kicking and screaming, from one scene to another.

I think I love this show because it’s giving me some closure. Star Wars hasn’t been ruined. There are amazingly talented people out there that still want the series to succeed.

Despite Lucas’ best efforts, Star Wars will live on.

Some Thoughts, Gauntlet Throwing

Taking a break from creating my college exit portfolio to make a quick post. Randee and I agreed we’d throw it back and forth and play blog pong for a while, so I thought I’d get mine out of the way and make room for something much more interesting from him.

I’m hitting it hard this last week. Thursday is the last big hurdle, when I turn all this stuff in and get to breathe a little easier.

I keep telling myself, “Portfolio = Graduation = Moving to Japan = Interesting Gaming Blog.” I’m in the home stretch. All I need to do now is stay awake, get my work done, and wait for Thursday evening.

Speaking of which, I’d like to take this opportunity to propose my first non-gaming related SPLIT SCREEN VERSUS BATTLE to Randee. The challenge–Coffee consumption. I’ll be keeping track of the amount of coffee I drink from now until Thursday night. Randee, since I had a head start, feel free to extend your end date to Saturday, 12 a.m. sharp.

OFFICIAL RULES:

-Coffee must not be decaffeinated

-Progress will be recorded in the comments section of this blog in the form of total number of ounces consumed

-On no account should this challenge end due to hysteria or massive heart palpatations.

-Winner gets the cheapest available product on Steam.

-Refusal to participate results in an immediate loss

Let the twitch-fest BEGIN!