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Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Hey all. I'm back from round-the-world! What an experience! I just thought I'd share a couple of brief highlights from my visit to the home of gaming, Japan. It was my first time in the land of the rising sun. I was a bit nervous about wandering around Tokyo on my own but it turned out to be absolutely fine... except for the fact that they don't seem to have rubbish bins. ANYWHERE. And yet there isn't a single piece of trash on the ground. Amazing.

So here's a quick little highlights video. The footage was super-shakey and bad, but YouTube has an amazing "shaky-cam-smoother" feature that fixed it all up! Thanks YouTube, you make me look good!!

In particular, take note of the "Super Potato" store in Akihabara. OMG, my new favourite shop in the entire world!! Imagine, FIVE STOREYS of retro video games!! I wanted to buy everything in the shop! Of course, none of it would actually work, since I don't own any Japanese consoles, but still...

I wasn't actually sure if I was allowed to video in there, but I managed to sneak some footage. I wish I could have filmed more, but I didn't want to get in trouble.

In the end I bought that copy of Zelda. It's sitting like a crazy otaku trophy on my gaming shelf. I also bought my nephew some Kirby and Rockman toys. And there was a Virtual Boy there ready to play! They had the "Wario Land" game, which from what I hear is the only actual decent game on the system. I've gotta say, the graphics were a lot crisper than I was anticipating. Screenshots really can't do the machine's visuals justice. The 3D effect actually works pretty darn well too, though you probably wouldn't want to play it for long periods of time. I've decided I have to have one. It won't come cheap, but perhaps some time in the coming year...

So yeah, Japan was amazing, as strange and bizarre as I'd imagined, and I definitely hope to go back and explore more of the country someday.

At the moment (even though it's hard to actually find time) I'm playing through Final Fantasy XIII-2. Yeah, it's not really that good. Put it this way: if it didn't have the FF name, I wouldn't have bought it. Don't get me wrong, it's a high-quality production. The graphics are awesome and the battle gameplay is mostly intact from the previous game (although I think it's even easier to win battles now by simply mashing the X button) but the story is stoooooooopid (and I thought FFXIII had a dumb story) and the characters say the most eye-rolling thing. The moogle has the most irritating voice, the micromanagement seems to have little-to-no effect, items are useless... Oh, and did I mention how stupid the story is...?

It's funny, with both FFX and FFXIII I disliked how linear they were. With both of their sequels, I dislike how non-linear they are. Seriously Square-Enix! You hit the perfect sweet spot with FFVI, VII, VIII and IX! You wouldn't think it'd be rocket science! Anyway, I think I'm about 3/4 of the way through the game (hard to tell, since the story doesn't seem to have any kind of coherency) and once it's done I can't see myself returning to it. Still, it's Final Fantasy. Gotta catch 'em all!

(Note: old picture, and numbered games only)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Check that counter! Over the last couple of days that's hit 33,000!! Rock on!

So what did people think of the E3 press conferences? The last couple of years I've woken myself up at 2 in the morning to watch the events, but this year I'm in the northern hemisphere so I could watch them on the iPad at a respectable hour! Hurrah!

I'm generally disappointed at the lack of new content revealed, especially from Nintendo, who had a new machine to unveil and (so I thought) a whole parade of new games to show off. Don't get me wrong, Pikmin 3 and Mario U look fun, but

a) We already knew they existed, and
b) They don't look very much different from previous games!

This whole "New Mario" thing is actually starting to bug me a bit. By the end of this year there will be FOUR games carrying the "New Mario" title, and aside from a few individual gameplay quirks, the look largely the same and have mostly all the same gameplay features! I watched a video of the game's director talking about how "there are some elements that are just distinctly Mario, like the flag poles, and we can't change them."

Say what?? Whatever happened to Miyamoto "turning over the tea tables?" Think back to Mario 2, Mario 3, Mario World or Yoshi's Island. They were games that took elements of the past but redesigned them into something completely new. Back then the only copy-sequel was The Lost Levels, and that wasn't even released here! Now it seems like every game is like an expansion pack. I want to be surprised again, shocked with new visual styles and gameplay! (I've got to admit, the impressionist painting style in New Mario U made me say "wow..." Why couldn't the whole game look like that?)

No one wants to take risks anymore. And while I'm sure Pikmin 3 and Mario U will be wonderful games, I don't think I'm excited enough to get a WiiU at launch.

Rant over. Happy gaming!!