Saturday, 31 December 2016

Happy New Year! Reasons to Be Excited

God damn well I've seemed to have taken a long absence haven't I?  Well while maybe a part of it is due to a little bit of laziness there has been a winter school at my work that makes me come home wanting to die and a family trip from my family that ate all my blogging and streaming time but those things are pretty much over and now I can get right back into the swing of things again.

2016 was a bit of a shit year for gaming I feel.  At the time of writing the only game that got released this year that I can actually remember being any good was Persona 5 and the same can't be said if you live in the west because you aren't getting that shit until April.  I'm sure there was some other good shit but I either didn't play it or don't remember it right now so whatever.  But instead of looking back let us look forward so I would like share with you a few of the games that I am most excited for in 2017

After playing the demo on the PS4 and being stumped by the wooden finger thing for a few hours Resident Evil 7 seems to be a bit of return to form for the series.  Assuming the the demo is it's own sort of stand alone thing and the game isn't just going to be some shitty walking simulator with no combat and simplistic puzzles then I think we are in for a bit of a treat with the new entry.  Hopefully gone will be the awful action game experiences that 5 and 6 gave us and maybe we can get some proper next gen survival horror for once.

If you have not played the first Nier game then you owe it to yourself to go give it a spin before the new one comes out.  Fantastic setting, plot and soundtrack and while the game play was a little.....lacking, the overall experience was phenomenal.  Now we have a sequel that's developed by Platinum games so hopefully we will get the fantastic setting, plot and soundtrack but with equally fantastic game play this time too.  I've been ignoring a lot of the news because I want to go in as blind as possible for my first playthrough but trust me, it's going to be good.  If it's not I'll eat my own shoes.

 A game that originally began development in 2004 and after a lot of shit happening with it is finally getting released now, Nioh is essentially your next Souls game but just not produced by From Software and even Team Ninja have no problem admitting their inspiration from those guys.  That said, it's looking pretty fucking fantastic and while I personally missed the demo I have it on good word from one of the few people who's opinion I trust that the game is pretty fucking good.  Then again if you don't know already just how great Nioh is gearing up to be then you've probably been living under a rock.

Finally one more game that I didn't know about until I wrote this post and decided to quickly google some other upcoming games that I didn't know about and this one caught my interest pretty hard.  What looks to be some kind of RPG where you play as a vampire doing vampire things but your character is also a doctor so you have to keep your cover.  Sort of like Vampire: The Masquerade but without thousands of books of lore you have to understand before you can play.  Looks interesting, I'll absolutely be checking it out as soon as I can.

So 2017 is already gearing up to be a pretty good year and this is just the shit that's being widely reported on.  Who knows what kind of Japan only niche shit will come out for things like the Vita or doujin games you can only get in nerd stores?!  Only time will tell, let's hope its a good one

Happy New Year and as usual, thanks to all for the continued support and donations, hopefully we can raise even more money for Alzheimer's this year than we have ever done before!

Sunday, 18 December 2016

2017 Speed Schedule

The new year is nearly upon us which means it's nearly time for another AGDQ so my excitement levels are pretty high!  

As you may know, I also do a few speed runs and while I'm not what you'd call "good" I do find it highly enjoyable so this post is just to let you know what games I'm planning to run through 2017.  

This doesn't mean I'll be running only 1 game per month but it is the one I'll be focusing on with the plan of doing 1-3 runs or a couple of hours of practice a day, but I won't be neglecting other games too.  

January: Silent Hill (Bad+) 
February: Hotline Miami 
March: Megaman 4 
April: Silent Hill 2 
May: Ys1
June: Super Mario World (11 Exits) 
July: Super Castlevania 4 
August: <New Game> 
September: Megaman 2 
October: They Bleed Pixels 
November: <New Game> 
December: Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers

Like I said, I'll be trying to keep up with all my runs and I'll be of course willing to take a request for a run if it came with a small donation.  On top of that there will be the usual Final Fantasy and Resident Evil stuff too so expect the stream to be pretty active in 2017! 

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Parasite Eve: Bigger Than You Thought

Parasite Eve is one of those games that isn't so widely known I feel.  The first game was a sort of action RPG affair and the second game played a bit more like a survival horror title with RPG elements. They were both pretty good and while the 3rd game on PSP was a little bit shit its absolutely a series worth checking out.

However what some fans might not know is that Parasite Eve is a bigger series than they might think.  This is especially true if you lived in the UK because we never got a PS1 release of the first game which is really weird.  Allow me to fill you in on a bit of extra series background that you may have not known about.

The first game was released in 1998 in both Japan and America for the PS1 and that's where you think the series started but you would be quite wrong.  Allow me to introduce you to a dude called Hideaki Sena

This guy isn't a game developer of any kind but a pharmacologist.  In fact, right now Dr Sena currently gives lectures on microbiology in Sendai, Japan but the other thing he likes to do is write books and the most famous book he wrote was titled Parasite Eve.

I can't give you a plot synopsis because I've not read it but if you head to the wikipedia page for the book there is one there.  This book kicked off the series back in 1995 and after the books success Square teamed up with the books publisher and created the first game which is actually a direct sequel to the book.  From there we got all the entries that we already know about which are the two PS1 games and the 3rd Birthday for PSP.  However, there are two more pieces of Parasite Eve media that you possibly didn't know about

There's a collection of Parasite Eve manga books, the first of which (pictured above) is based on the novel while the ones that followed were based on the games.  These were published in 1998 and as far as I know, have never seen an English release.  At this point I'm sure you might want to go online to see if there's a fan translation but at time of writing I've not been able to find one.  Even the google image search shows a total of 0 images with replaced English text so if you want to read it, it'll have to be in Japanese.

The other thing is a movie, of course based on the book, which I have also not seen but it has a 5.9/10 on IMDB so it can't be THAT bad.  It's actually not that hard to get hold of so give it a watch if you get the chance.

The last time we saw some Parasite Eve content was in 2010 with the painfully average 3rd Birthday and since then it's been a little bit forgotten.  It would be nice to see some new content for the series but maybe better to let it rest while the majority of the stuff produced for it is still good.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Gaming Bringing People Together

While this is something that has died out in recent years I still see it flying around the Internet in certain places.  What I'm of course referring to is that horrible stereotype of an overweight, neckbearded layabout with no friends and no future sitting around and playing video games all day.  

I think it's safe to say that most people reading this blog know that isn't the case and I also think that most people are aware it has never been the case.  I think part of the reason that the stereotype has almost died off over the years is because of gaming systems utilizing online play or, with companies like Nintendo, emphasizing the social experience.  

However even before the tech and the rise in popularity of the medium gaming was NEVER like the aforementioned stereotype.  I think almost everyone who has been gaming for a long time has some kind of memory that involves huddling around a split screen for hours and hours with friends or staying up stupid late to play a new release they were excited about.  

In my teenage years I was extremely anti social for a number of reasons but gaming didn't keep me locked in the house and away from people, it did the exact opposite.  While I hated almost everyone with a pulse at my school it was the small group of gamers that I ended up hanging around with and to top it all off I'm still in contact with them today, which cannot be said for people I met through other means.  

Despite all this though, the image of the basement dwelling nerd persists even today.  Usually these comments are made by idiots who don't game or gaming journalists who are being disagreed with on sites like Twitter.

Gaming is probably one of the MOST social past times you can engage in, not the least and it's always been that way.  So if you do see anyone on social media making comments like that, please know that you would have good reason to laugh at them and shun them.

Nostalgia Tripping at the Old Arcade

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Mobile Gaming is Shit

I have a Japanese exam coming up soon and the chances of me passing it are pretty fucking slim.  This is one of the reasons that content has been so thin on the ground and it's partly because when I'm not eating, sleeping or wanking I've replaced a lot of my gaming time with studying.  This means that the only gaming I've been doing for the last few weeks has been little bouts of mobile games during my commute to work or lunch break or streams of Resident Evil 4.

So mobile gaming is shit but not for the reason you might think.  A lot of people rag on mobile gaming but actually in recent years it's been getting a lot better.  You still have your cheaply made puzzle games and various shit quality rip offs of whatever the mobile hit du jour is but it's a lot easier to find something of at least some quality now than it used to be.

For example I've clogged up my phone with a whole bunch of games such as the Shadowverse, a card game which makes Hearthstone look like a soggy pile of shit, Idolmaster, a rhythm game with a staggering number of songs for a free to play, Gyrosphere, a slow version of Monkey Ball and Perchang a fun little puzzler that I play while taking a shit.  Not to mention all the ports of actual games that exist on the app store now, mobile, at least from a selection stand point, isn't as painfully awful as you might think.

However I still fucking hate it because phones were just not designed for gaming and playing games on these things is a highly frustrating experience and a lot of the time I'd rather do my own wisdom teeth surgery than deal with the shit that these games are causing me. 

For example, phones do EVERYTHING nowadays but they also have limited space.  So it's all well and good having a decent selection of games but eventually you'll probably have to delete them for apps that are actually useful or so you can take a picture of that stupid cat you saw on the street yesterday.  But let's say that's not an issue for you because you're one of those weirdos that bought the million gig version of your phone, the controls are still shit.  Touch screen controls are wank outside of tapping or sliding, as soon as you have to start making precise movements or, god help you, playing with one of those stupid on screen D-Pads (Like in Sonic CD) playing the game becomes insanely annoying.  But OK, maybe you're a fucking twat who bought one of those controller add ons instead of just buying a portable system, the biggest problem with mobile gaming is the battery.

Games eat battery life faster than your mum eats sweet and sour pork at the all you can eat Chinese buffet.  Pokemon Go was the best example of this where playing the game for about an hour would drain you from 100 to about 60.  Any game beyond a shitty angry birds clone tends to destroy your battery and this problem is made worse if your phone has a little bit of age on it so the battery life isn't quite what it used to be either.  I started my lunch break yesterday at 80%, played 2 games of Shadowverse and was knocked down to about 20.  On the other hand I can grab my PSP and finish Ys1 Chronicles about 8 times before the battery light even starts blinking.  Yes, I know portable chargers exist but that's just another fucking thing I have to buy with my hard earned cash to play games that just quite frankly aren't as good as proper portable games.

It's nice to see the quality of mobile gaming go up but the hardware just isn't appropriate for any kind of meaningful gaming experience without being tethered to a wall socket or spending a decent amount of cash on extra bits.  Hopefully in a few years I'll be able to make a post talking about mobile gaming being the bees knees and praising how far it's come but by that time I'll probably be dead.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

PPAP Can Kiss My Ass

I know this isn't video game related but it isn't very often that some kind of strange viral video from Japan pisses me off THIS MUCH.  If you want to watch it yourself go to YouTube and type in PPAP but I will NOT be linking this abomination of a song on this site.

The song itself is a 50 second ditty created by Kazuhito Kosaka under the alias Piko Taro.  The song consists of the dude doing a stupid dance to some background beat that sounds like he ripped it from one of the preset tunes from a cheap electronic keyboard while he sings about apples and pens in English.  The song is shit, his English is shit and ultimately there's no fucking joke.  HA HA! HE SAID SOME WORDS IN A THICK JAPANESE ACCENT THAT MAKE NO SENSE! SO FUCKIN' FUNNY RIGHT?!  I'm not so much upset with the fact that it exists but it's gotten so widely popular that I just can't understand it.  I mean it got to number 2 on a top 100 list for crying out loud, what the fuck is wrong with people?!

Now maybe I'm a bit more adverse to this kind of shit than most because I work with kids and kids are fucking stupid.  Almost every day at work I will catch one of the goddamn kids yelling "I HAVE A PEN!" then laughing it up like he or she is the height of goddamn comedy.  But kids are stupid so I'm not going to hold that against them.  When I start getting pissed off is when I'm trying to enjoy a meal in a quiet bar with a friend on a Sunday evening and we can't hear our conversation because the next booth full of fucking CUNTS next to us are belting out the song so fucking loud that we can't hear our own damn conversation.

I hope this fad dies and then never returns,  Japan produces a lot of unfunny shit that people seem to give a free pass but this is the worst.  Yes I'm mad, yes I'm petty but fuck you PPAP can inhale the shit from my anus like a hookah pipe.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Japan is Occassionally Fulll of Shit Too

I spend most of my time gushing about Japan and Japanese games and I wouldn't be surprised if a reader of this blog thought that I'm one of those insufferable weeaboos who can find no wrong with the country.  Quite the opposite actually but a lot of my problems with the country lie outside the world of gaming so I don't touch on them so much.  However I was recently linked an article by a friend of mine telling me about something gaming related that IS bullshit.

Kamaitachi no Yoru is a viual novel game that I have touched upon a few times on this blog.  It's a series of choose your own adventure stories and especially in the first game, finding out who the killer was in the murder mystery was no easy task, you really had to play a sort of detective role and it was awesome.  The series is famous for not only its story telling but its artistic style where the backgrounds are populated by blue silhouettes that represent the characters.

So this article talks about an upcoming remake of the first Kamaitachi no Yoru which despite being already remade out the arse isn't exactly a bad thing it's a certain change they made to the game that has me foaming at the mouth.

LOOK AT THAT SHIT.  The blue silhouettes are being replaced with fucking stupid anime bullshit in a game that had NO PLACE for stupid anime bullshit.  I'm not against this kind of thing usually but in this series it just doesn't belong.  I sort of had a view of these characters being in their mid 30s to early 40s and now they've been replaced by twats that look like they are on winter vacation from their high school.  Stylistic shit aside, the inclusion of this anime crap detracts from the overall story.  It was a lot more tense and even scary at some points BECAUSE it was just blue people on  the screen.  You came up with your own very idea of what these people looked like and they were much more relatable as a result.  I'm not going to give a shit about MC potentially meeting a gruesome death with the killer if it's just an anime guy but I sure as fuck made every decision carefully when I was playing out the whole thing in my head like a mid 90s TV Drama.

I understand why they are doing it though.  The game is made by Chunsoft, a company that has seen a lot of success with its recent line of Zero Escape games

On the flip side, their recent release of Kamaitachi no Yoru on the Vita was met with not so much success but with it being one of their longest running series it's no wonder they want it to appeal to a modern audience and so, just like Zero Escape, we now have yet another VN filled with anime people.

Nothing is sacred

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Shadowverse First Impressions

A few months ago I was walking through a train station when I saw a big poster for a new mobile game called Shadowverse.  It looked like an exact clone of digital card collecting favorite Hearthstone so until the other day I ignored it.  However due to a friend starting to play I decided to jump on and give it a go and boy Im glad I did because this game is awesome .  

If you have played Hearthstone then you have basically played this.  At its core it's the same game but there have been a few tweaks to the systems which stop it from being an exact clone.  I'm going to start talking about the game assuming you have a basic knowledge of how Hearthstone works so if you don't I'm sorry if you feel a little lost.  

So you do the usual thing of playing monsters with a health and attack value and you use these in conjunction with spells in order to try and bring your opponents life from 20 to 0, just like Hearth.  However this time around the characters don't have active abilities and instead have passive effects that do various things to their decks.  For example there's one character who's cards get stronger depending on how many spells you cast while another who has various abilities depending on how many cards occupy her graveyard.  

Each character has a unique play style and you're bound to find one that matches how you like to play.  

The other big new thing here is the evolution system which allows you after 5 turns to start buffing your monsters for +2/+2 and an added effect if the card has one.  

This allows the monster to attack the turn its played (monsters only, mind you) and can quickly change the tide of a losing battle if you're clever with your evolution points which are limited to 2 for the starting player and 3 for the guy who goes second. 

There are other slight changes but these are the two huge things and everything else is sort of taken from Hearth from there.  Of course there is online play which comes in the form of standard ranked/unranked and 2 pick mode.  2 pick is almost identical to the Area in Hearth but you pick the cards 2 by 2 instead of one at a time.  Also you aren't kicked out of the mode for losing and your reward is based on how many out of 5 you win.  

One thing I really like about this game over Hearth though is just how easy it is to access the content and get cards.  The single play story modes are avaliable from the get go and the game gives you 20 boosters just for clearing the tutorial.  You can get cards by collecting an in game currency which is awarded to you for logging in each day.  I'm still playing the story modes so I'm unsure if online matches provide this currency but even if it doesn't getting cards still doesn't feel like a massive chore like it did in Hearth.

Shadowverse is a quality digital card game that people should give some time to.  This is especially true if you're the kind of person who played Hearth and wasn't happy with some of the direction it took.  I'm playing the Japanese version on my phone but I know there's an English version avaliable on Steam so give it a try!  

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Children and Video Games

Let's talk about the relationship between video games and children shall we?  This is a topic that tends to fill me full of large amounts of rage because every so often an article is brought to my attention about how games are terrible and are "corrupting the youth" and all that shit.  More often than not these articles have two main points which are either games and too violent for kids OR that kids are playing games too much and they have some kind of addiction.  Well let's address those two points.

1) Violence

There is a large portion of gaming which you could quite easily consider violent and there's probably a portion of those violent games that you wouldn't want a child to see.  Take the above picture for example which is a scene from Dead Space 2 where failure results in the hero taking a large metal tube through the face via his eye socket, that's something that maybe you wouldn't want a young child to see.

However, not all violence in video games in made equal.  Take something like Street Fighter for example, it's violent sure but not overly so to the point where a younger audience should be banned from viewing or playing it.  You can't just make a blanket statement that all games are too violent for kids and just ban them from everything, it depends on the game and it also depends very much on the child.  When I was a young lad I was playing Doom on the Sega Saturn, a game FAMOUS for it's high violence levels but now I'm 26 and I've still never shoved a chainsaw through a persons abdomen.

The problem is that people look at a game with it's guns or fighting or whatever and without knowing anything about the games actual content start ragging on it as "unsafe" for a younger audience.  Let's take something like Left4Dead, you can look at that and go "oh well it's full of guns, zombies and death there's no way that it's an appropriate game for kids".  Well I'd argue that Left4Dead is all about team work, resource management and group planning which are skills that would be quite beneficial to pick up at a young age, no?

All games nowadays also have age ratings and guidelines to tell you what sort of audience it's appropriate for and even a vague overview of what some of the themes might be in that title.

 With these clearly labelled on the box you have no fucking excuse.  This is a decent guideline for a parent to get a good idea of what they are buying for their children.  So if they know and trust their child can handle certain themes then maybe they could turn a blind eye to the age guideline and buy a certain title.  However if your child is begging for something like GTA, you ignore the guidelines and then get all shocked when there's guns, sex and gambling in it then you have only yourself to blame.

That's ultimately what it comes down to, the parenting.  If you're raising your kids right, guiding them through every aspect of their lives and helping them grow then there won't be much of a problem even if they do end up seeing or experiencing something a little over their head.  However if you're the kind of shit parent who buys your kid Mortal Kombat and then let them plop in front of it as a distraction so that you can take 5 then don't go acting all surprised when little Jimmy gets set home from school for trying to gouge a kids eyes out with his thumbs.  That's not MKs fault, that's YOUR fault for not helping your kid understand the basics of fantasy and reality, it's not like the box or download page didn't warn you.

2) Addiction

Video game addiction is another stupid topic written by people who usually have no fucking clue but let's just address video game addiction in kids.  It kind of goes hand in hand with what I said in the last paragraph where it all ultimately comes down to the parenting.

Kids are sort of stupid but it's stupid due to a lack of life experience rather than just being uneducated.  You put a kid in front of a video game and they start playing it and having a good time then OF COURSE they are going to want to do just that for the rest of time.  I work with kids and I've been in situations where I'll be playing a classroom game which involves nothing more than a ball and a box and sometimes the younger kids would be more than happy just to play that one thing all fucking day so imagine how intense playing something like a video game must be.  You tell a kid that they have to do their homework or something and of course they are going to be upset when the alternative to crushing boredom is video game fun.

That's why the parents role here is very important.  When I was a child I didn't have any sort of time limits placed on me like the whole "2 hours a day" which is what I've seen some websites argue.  For my parents it was all about helping me understand priorities.  Sure, I didn't WANT to do my homework but if I didn't do it then I'd get in trouble which may lead to detention which may lead to a greater deficit of gaming time so I knew that if I wanted to enjoy myself then I had to get the important shit done first.  "Business before pleasure" is what my mother always used to say and if your kid isn't getting their priorities straight then that's on you as a parent for not teaching that to them.

But you could argue that even if they do get all their important shit done and the ONLY thing they are doing is video games then that's just as bad.  Well once again that's also a parenting issue because like I said before, kids are dumb, they don't know where to go looking for things that pique their interest, they are completely reliant on you as a parent for that.  Sure, video games were my main thing growing up and even now but my parents were constantly poking me with suggestions for other things to do.  All sorts of suggestions, most of which didn't take till later and some didn't take at all but the point is they were TRYING.  While you as a parent shouldn't rely on games for this it can happen where the content of a game may inspire some kind of other interest.  For example the initial reason for me wanting to learn Japanese was because my dad bought me a copy of Panzer Dragoon Saga and I was exposed to this other language that I thought was cool and now I can speak Japanese, live in Japan and have a nice job.  Like I said before, you can't just slam them in front of the TV and expect that stupid box to do all the work.


The bottom line is that it comes down to parenting.  If you're a good parent who can teach your kid to live like a normal human being then they will turn out OK.  Even if they aren't massively successful in later life, but at least as people they will be OK which means they probably won't be completely fucked even if they do grow up to be lazy or whatever.

Any parent who blames ANY medium be it games, movies, books or TV for some kind of adverse effect on their kid is essentially admitting they have failed as parents.  If your kid is violent it's YOUR fault for not properly teaching them how to respect other people.  If your kid is "addicted" to gaming then it's YOUR fault for not teaching them how to have a sense of self control and understand moderation and trying to scapegoat just shows how irresponsible and how unready you were to have that child.  Don't rag on my hobby because YOU suck at life.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Time Crisis 5 Stages 4-6

So a long while ago I blogged about the latest iteration in the famous rail shooting series Time Crisis 5, here's a reminder

One thing that I said that pissed me off about this game was the fact it wasn't finished and cost twice as much as every other game in the arcade.  Well, I'm not sure when it was released but the final 3 stages were added AND the game got a price drop to the standard 100 yen per play.

The game itself is just standard rail shooter fair and the new dual pedal system to peek out from 2 different angles is fun albeit a little tiring.  For example there's a cool boss fight where an NPC ally is fighting with the enemy in close quarters and you have to use the two pedals to change your vantage point on their battle and hit the enemy rather than your ally.  There's not MUCH penalty for hitting the guy other than minus score but I suppose if you're doing a run of the game where you are trying to get a high score then this scene would be extremely challenging.  There's also a sniping section where you have to kill dudes before they set off an alert which was pretty fun so the game does a fair bit to mix things up.

The other cool thing is that the game saves you progress via the Sega Aime IC Card so if you had already finished stages 1-3 in a previous session like I had done, you could opt to start right from stage 4 and not have to waste your credits battling through parts of the game you had already played through.  One thing I forgot to mention in my previous post on this game is that the game also has achievements in the form of Medals that will be displayed when you finish a run.  If you have the card scanned then these achievements will carry over to all playthroughs so there is a way to sort of 100% Time Crisis 5.

I've been playing these sort of games since I was a very young child and its nice to see that even now they are still doing well and companies are still making them.  If you ever have a  chance to try Time Crisis 5 I'd fully recommend it but don't be too sad if you can't get a go on it because TC2 is still the best one.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Universal Studio Japan Horror Night 2016

I recently took a day off work to check out the Halloween Horror Night at Universal Studios Japan and while it wasn't Resident Evil themed this year I thought I'd still say a few words on the thing.  I would just like to point out before I start talking about the Halloween night is that the true winners for scariest park attraction were the roller coasters.  I have a fear of heights so while these things weren't making me lose any sleep, those roller coasters more than made up for my yearly dose of Halloween Horror.

The first event that I went to as part of the evening was the Chucky Horror Factory.  This was a sort of standard walk through horror house, lots of jump scares and dudes in costumes screaming at you as you turn around corners.  Nothing special, not particularly freaky but I thought that, and this is true for all the horror houses, the props and effects were pretty well done.

After that we checked out the Japanese horror house which was called Tatari

This was a another haunted house which was apparently cursed and full of evil dolls that wanted you dead.  We were organized into groups of six and made to hold a rope as we proceeded through the area with a bunch of randoms.  The person at the front of the queue was given a little piece of paper at the start and we were told to place it on a thing to get rid of the curse in the house.  From there there was lots of spooky rooms filled with dolls and people jumping out and begging for their lives before they got dragged back into the set to be killed off.  I feel like I've already seen this kind of thing before playing Fatal Frame but it wasn't bad by any means.

From there we we went into the Exorcist and Nightmare on Elm Street houses which were similar to Tatari in the way you had a hold a rope with a bunch of randoms and walk through the area only this time they were themed on their respective movies.  Out of those 2 the Exorcist attraction was significantly better because the set was a bit creepier, the scares were more efficiently set up and there was a little bit of interactivity with the visitors as one guy had to flick water on the girl in the bed.

What's weird is that all these attractions are given a sort of scariness rating.  Tatari was rated 5/5 and Elm Street/Exorcist was given a 4/5.  However, in my opinion the best attraction they had was the Sadako (The Ring) horror show which was only rated 1/5.

This took place in the building they use for the Terminator 2 show and starts out much the same with with a representative from Cyberdyne trying to give a presentation about how cool all their futuristic shit is.  Of course the presentation gets taken over by Sadako and things start to get all fucked up.  What made this superior to the horror houses, at least in my opinion, is because it's a sort of sit down show type thing there's less of a reliance on jump scares and a bit more work was spent on building atmosphere.  After Sadako there was a similar performance based on a series of books/movies called School Horror Stories or 学校の怪談

This was a "4D" thing where the chairs go up and down and the seat in front of you spits water at you when someone gets their shit wrecked on screen.  Not incredibly scary but still pretty entertaining to watch although the horror in this series seems to be a lot more in your face than Japanese horror usually is.  There was one other event that we missed in the Harry Potter area called Death Eater Attack which we missed but according to a friend of mine who caught it said it was highly entertaining.

If you're looking for a genuinely scary experience then Universal is probably not the best place to go but it's still an entertaining day out.  From my experience of living in Japan for a while, the Japanese are a little sensitive to horror themes and I was having more fun at the reaction of the people in the attractions with us than actually being scared of anything myself.  Still, it was a lot of fun and I'd probably do it again next year!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

A Change of Plan (Resident Evil Marathon)

Last Saturday I did my Resident Evil "marathon" and quite frankly the whole thing was a disgusting failure.  I tried my best but I didn't even get to the end of Resident Evil 2 before sadly logging off and going to drown my sorrows in alcoholic beverages at a bar near my house.

There's no real excuse for it other than the fact that I have become complete shit at these games.  I grossly over estimated my own skill and memory while grossly under estimating the overall difficulty of these titles.  From a donation stand point I'd say the thing was a success though, there were a number of donators who gave generously despite my failures and a decent amount of money was raised at the end of the day.  I still have cash donations to calculate and transfer so I'll save the end amount for a tweet.

However, I'm down but certainly not out.  As a way to make it up for all the people who donated for this thing to happen, the "marathon" will continue but instead of being done all at once it will be spread over multiple normal streams.  The twitch channel will now be showing nothing but Resident Evil games all the way up to RE0.  That means you'll get to see Resi 6 and 0 for free.  I might try and juggle it with some Final Fantasy 9 as well but the core focus will be on Resident Evil games for the foreseeable future.

Once again thanks for the donation and hopefully the next marathon won't fail as hard.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Thoughts on Nintendo Switch

For a long while there have been rumblings of the Nintendo NX but very little details were available on the upcoming system UNTIL LAST NIGHT!  Finally we can stop calling it the NX as it now has a real name, the Nintendo Switch.  While there still isn't a huge amount of information on the thing, there's enough for me to write a little bit about my thoughts on what they've done.

It seems to be a sort of home/portable hybrid where you slot a screen into a stand to play it on your TV like a normal system or you can take the screen out and play it like a portable system.  This is a cool feature that a lot of people seem to be creaming their pants over and while I agree that it is pretty awesome, let's not forget that the PSP was doing that back in 2007.  Also the main screen portable body thing just looks like a WiiU controller and the idea of walking around with that fucking thing and whipping it out on the train even makes me cringe a little bit.

Another cool thing we can take from the announcement is the two little slide in controller thingies can be taken out and shared with another player.  In theory this means that a second controller for a second player will be built into the standard system which is an absolute godsend.  Controllers aren't cheap so the idea that I can just buy the system and immediately start playing with another person seems really cool.  Other features include the thing having a Tegra processor and the games coming on cards like the DS which is cool I guess, it means the games will look pretty good and not take up too much space in my house.

The one thing that really piqued my interested are the number of studios that have pledged involvement with the thing

ATLUS, Spike Chunsoft and Grasshopper ALONE are enough to get me interested in the thing.  It's cool to see the amount of 3rd party support for the thing so hopefully the Switch will have a really cool library of games.  Right now the games we know about are a bit meh with things like Skyrim and some Basketball shit alongside obvious stuff like Zelda and Mario.  I am getting the general impression that Nintendo are trying to market this thing for a more core gaming audience rather than trying to make it all family friendly.  Obviously the family friendly stuff is there but I'm getting the feeling they want that core crowd back in a big way.

This is is set to launch in March 2017 so only time will tell if it's any god or not.  I'm not going to get my hopes too high just because I'm a bit jaded but it is looking to be something worth picking up as of right now.  It would be really nice if it was region free....

Saturday, 15 October 2016

2P1C Mini Marathon

It's been a busy week, I've not streamed much and I've also not posted much BUT that doesn't mean things haven't been happening.

A little while ago a donation incentive for a little mini marathon was met which will involve me and a buddy playing through 3 games on stream back to back.  While that alone doesn't sound to exciting, the gimmick here is that we'll be using 1 controller between the two of us so that's going to up the difficulty pretty significantly. 

The 3 games we plan to play are Metal Slug 3, Streets of Rage 2 and Megaman 4.  Metal Slug will be piss easy because death doesn't really mean much on that game but Megaman 4 is going to be a real killer and I'm expecting many a game over.  If you want to see a 4th game you can start donating NOW for Super Mario World 11 Exits which is a route we have both started speed running so it'll be interesting to see what kind of time we can get when we are sharing a controller.

While an exact date hasn't been set right now, this will take place in November and more than likely happen on a Monday.  Watch this space for more details!

Friday, 7 October 2016

Arcades: How Far They Have Come

So recently I received an email that was asking me about some of my favorite classic games and the changes in the technology I've been using within gaming over the years.  There's plenty I could talk about since gaming in general has come a long long way since the old 8 and 16 bit era but the area where the advancements in tech feel the most noticeable is in the arcade.

Arcades are not too much of a thing in the west, especially not in the UK.  As a young lad growing up in Manchester the best I could hope for in the ways of coin op was a few barely functional machines in a local bowling alley on cinema lobby.  For quite a while though the only things I played in arcades were fighting games and side scrolling beat 'em ups so for a while my impression of an arcade machine was nothing more than a screen, a stick and a few buttons.  This all changed when my mother took me to a place called Sega World that was in London

Sega World was the my first real experience with a proper arcade.  It was located in London and was 5 floors of arcade joy that has now been shut down.  Last I checked it was replaced with something called Fun Land but if I'm not mistaken that's been shut down too, but I've not been back to England, let alone London, for about 5 years so I might be wrong about that.

Anyway, my young mind could barely handle all the awesome that was in this place and this is where I first discovered the rail shooter.  Big machines that didn't have a stick or little buttons to push but huge screens and big guns attached to them which you had to use to shoot enemies.  The one that grabbed my attention in particular was The House of The Dead because shooting zombies was way more interesting to me than blasting people in titles like Virtua Cop.  I even got my first taste of arcade multiplayer experience on that same day.

Near the end of my time in Sega World that day me and my mother returned to the floor where all the light gun games were located.  I was hoping to get one last go on The House of the Dead before we set out but there was someone playing already.  Instead of just giving up and walking away like I would do nowadays I just stood there and watched this guy play and I was fascinated by it because he was getting to parts of the game that my young self could have never of dreamed of getting to while on my mothers budget of £1 coins.  In that game there are 4 stages, and when he reached stage 3 he notices me and my mother watching, probably assumes we are waiting for a go and then offers the 2nd players gun to me.  I excitedly grab a few coins from my mother and start playing with this complete stranger and it all culminated in us finishing the game.

The rush of excitement as the games final boss, Magician, went down was intense and once the credits had finished rolling we shook hands and split ways.  I don't remember anything about that guy aside from the gaming experience but he really made my day.


Fast forward to 2016 and now I'm living in Japan where arcades are pretty common.  I have about 4 all within 15 minutes of my apartment building and comparing coin op now to what it was back then it's incredible to think just how far these machines have come.

One thing I was always a fan of was rhythm game and things like touch screens have done a lot for that genre.  A few years ago I thought stomping all over a big metal pad was cool but now I'm using touch sensitive keyboards with hand sensors above them in games like Chunithm or just playing with the game screen itself in titles like Syncronica

If rhythm games aren't your thing then fighting games have huge followings and a lot of them can be played online from the arcade itself.  Generally speaking internet connectivity has really changed the game centre for the better with people now being able to compare stats or track progress against other players.  This also extends to have accounts that are stored on IC cards which means that as you play you can unlock more content for your games. There are new WiFi systems out there like Luma, a startup I was just introduced to. They have a surround home wifi system that was built for advanced connectivity among the multiple devices online, with added security that allows any obstacles that might block your signal and keep you from playing to be removed.

My Cards have seen a lot of use
My favorite use of these cards is for a game known as Code of Joker which sort of plays like Magic the Gathering.  An online trading card game exclusive to the arcade, the IC card stores your profile with not only things like your wins and losses but your entire card collection and decks.  Stick to cards for a moment, for those who prefer their trading card games in a more physical form there's Kantai Collection and Sengoku Taisen.

These games involve either collecting the cards to be scanned by the machine in Kantai or placing them on a table and moving them around in a more RTS style of game play in Sengoku Taisen.  If I could go back in time and tell my young self that trading card games would be available in arcades I think my head would have actually exploded.

Just to finish up this post and bring it back to the old House of the Dead comparison, one of my favorite light gun games in modern times is Gunslinger Stratos

While it may look like a sort of space age version of the old rail shooter this game is actually a 3on3 online 3rd person shooter that plays sort of like Unreal Tournament or something.  Movement is controlled with the sticks on the backs of the guns and you can change weapons by holding them together and slotting these sort of magnets into each other, it's crazy.

I could talk for HOURS about all the fancy new stuff in the Japanese arcades but then this post would go on for way way too long.  It's mental to think just how far the coin op experience has come in such a short amount of time and quite frankly, I'm super glad that I'm living in Japan and am able to experience all these things as they are released.

Bitching About Horror Again

One thing I tend to bitch about pretty often on this blog is the state of the horror genre.  I'm pretty much convinced at this point that horror games in general are sort of dead and no one knows how to make good ones any more.  That isn't to say that there have been zero decent horror games in the last few years but the good titles get buried under so much shit and then that shit gets so much attention from idiots that it's easy to forget that good horror games even exist.

I did some searching around for upcoming horror games and a few titles keep cropping up so I thought I'd bitch about some individual games rather than just the genre as a whole so here we go.

1. Allison Road

I'd be lying to you if I said that I wasn't at least a little bit interested in Allison Road, the game does actually look sort of scary.  If you haven't seen it there's plenty of footage on YouTube but it's sort of like the PT that we never really got.  The difference between this and PT is that I'm not mad at this game because it isn't pretending to be a Silent Hill title and instead does its own thing.

That doesn't mean it gets a free pass because while it does look interesting and genuinely creepy it also appears to be nothing more than a walking simulator.  If I wanted a walking simulator horror experience I'd go to a theme park haunted house, I want a horror GAME.  A game implies that there is some kind of challenge, puzzles to solve, a fail state, things that are characteristic of a GAME.  Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs proved that putting a walking simulator in a scary setting a good horror title does not make and I get the feeling that once the novelty of VR wears off then Allison Road will be nothing more than another forgettable horror experience.

I will end this little bit by saying that information on Allison Road is limited and maybe there will be a bit more to the game play than I'm expecting so I'm hoping to god that's the case.

2. Friday The 13th

Like Allison Road, I'm sort of interested by Friday The 13th but while it's an interesting idea it doesn't look like a good HORROR game.  This game involves 1 player controlling Jason and the other 8 controlling camp counselors as they attempt to not get brutally murdered.

What makes this game particularly interesting is the sheer number of ways the Jason player can off the counselors where basically everything ever is a potential death trap.  If I remember correctly, all the animations are being motion captured and the captures for Jason are being performed by the original actor so that's a nice little touch.  If I'm wrong about that fact or if it's changed please let me know!

Anyway the problem is that it's a multiplayer experience and as Left4Dead proves, while these games are highly enjoyable they aren't really what you'd call "horror".  Just basing the title on a famous horror movie doesn't immediately make it a "horror" game.  If this classes as horror then, judging from the footage we should be adding Mortal Kombat and God of War to the list of "horror" titles as well since it seems we're just labeling them based on violence levels.

3. Outlast 2

Oh boy, I have so few hopes for Outlast 2.  There seems to be a pretty large group of people who liked the first game despite it being a complete abomination.  If you want to know what I thought about the first game, here's some posts I did on it ages ago.
and pre-release
and I even did a play through of it on YouTube so you can see how not scary it is in real time!

A part of me is obviously hoping that Outlast 2 actually ends up being an amazing horror experience but I REALLY fucking doubt it.


But before I end this post, how about I end on something positive?  Look back at the top of the page, there's a logo for a game called We Happy Few.  This is a survival game where instead of fighting away shit monsters with tits for eyes or walking around dark rooms being jumped scared you have to survive in an alternate 1960s England against drug addled loons.  The game boasts randomly generated worlds, permadeath (if you want it) and a story line to work through.

I don't know about you but when I lived in Manchester and I was walking home at night in areas with not too many people I'd always fear the idea of drug addled loons coming and trying to mug me or kill me or something.  This game takes that concept and turns it right up to 11 but then adds charming visuals and some ACTUAL FUCKING GAME PLAY (take note Outlast and Allison Road).  A truly interesting idea that you can get your hands on right now if you're the kind of thick twat that thinks early access is a good idea.  Something I'm definitely looking forward to though.

Although if none of these new games tickle your fancy you could just go play Silent Hill 3 or Resident Evil 2 again like every other person...

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls Starlight Stage

I'm not above playing a phone game that has anime girls plastered all over it, quite the opposite.  After having a friend of mine talk my ear off about this game for a good while I finally decided to give it a try and I was actually pleasantly surprised with what I got.

Cinderella Girls is a rhythm game for you phone which boasts a pretty hefty number of tracks.  You hold the phone sideways and tap the 5 buttons at the bottom of the screen in time with the music

Taking a phone screen and hitting a note are pretty much impossible
While all the rhythm game stuff is going on you have a fully 3D dance routine going on in the background and each character in the game has their own 3D model.  This puts it above it's competitor Love Live because last time I played that it only had static backgrounds which made playing songs a little visually unappealing.

Like every phone game and it's dog though Idolmaster has a collection element and it comes in the form of collecting performers for your group.  This is done on the usual "gatcha" system where you pay some form of currency and then get given performers and items at random

From there you can arrange a team of whoever you like and using them in songs will net them fans and affection which you then use to gain special story sequences or "evolve" them to their next idol form.  It is worth noting as well that this game gives out premium currency like it's candy so finding yourself with a team of rare idols doesn't actually take all that long and finding items to level them up with is equally easy so you can see a decent amount of progress in a very short time.  While normal idols just have a mugshot for an image rarer idols have big fancy artwork so if you're the kind of person that likes their anime CG then you'll get a kick out of that.

My one real complaint about this game is that it seems to download content every 10 fucking seconds.  Phones have limited data and I use mine up fairly quickly watching stupid YouTube videos during my train rides so this game may not be a good idea if you're the kind of person who is concerned about their date usage.

Still, it's not a terrible title and for a free to play mobile rhythm game it's pretty fun.  It's not going be better than anything you could play in an arcade but not bad if you need a quick rhythm fix.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Resident Evil Marathon! Dates and Details

A while ago the donation incentive for the Resident Evil marathon got met and now that we're finally into October it seems appropriate to finally get around to doing this thing!

Right now the date for the marathon will be the 22nd October and there is no real set time for when it will end.  The idea is that I will be playing Resident Evil's 1-4 back to back on Stream.  This event however is the fist event I'm doing with a sort of stretch incentive.  If another £100 is raised before the end of Resident Evil 4 then I'll add Resident Evil 5 to that list.  If another £200 is raised after that, I'll suffer through the shitfest that is RE6 and then if another £300 is raised after that then we can get Resident Evil 0.  So if you want to see one extra good Resi you're going to have to donate for two shit ones first!

I'll also see into adding prizes for donators just so you guys have a little extra incentive to add those extra games to the list!  Keep the 22nd in your calendar because it should be a laugh riot!

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Dragoneers Aria

Here's a game that I doubt all that many people have heard of but one that I've, at time of writing, just finished playing.  It was released in 2007 as a PSP and while it isn't the worst RPG you could ever play it sure is pretty fucking bad.

In this game you play as typical JRPG girly man Valen (who's name is different if you put the voices in Japanese) as he goes on a quest to save the world from an evil black dragon.  On the way he meets a bunch of other characters which include a girl in a mini skirt, a loli and an elf who fills the role of grumpy magical ass wipe.  From there you fight through a typical JRPG plot that is so cliche if that if I tried to go into any more detail on it I'd probably fall asleep at my keyboard.

Falling asleep during play seems to be the main feature of this game because when you aren't suffering through the badly acted and predictable story scenes you're contending with it's incredibly slow turn based combat.  It's one of those games where you put all the commands in for each character before a turn starts, which is fine, but then the animations that play for each command feel like they are being fed to you through power point and on top of that they sometimes have to load which makes combat an absolute chore.  The interesting thing about the combat though is that all the characters have a shared mana bar which builds up as you hit things with normal attacks and then any spell you cast comes from that shared pool which makes strategizing each long boring turn at least a little bit interesting.

The game also has a magic system similar to Final Fantasy 7 where you slot your equipment with Mater...I mean Lusces and each spell levels up individually.  The problem is, the other type of skills that you get, the dragon skills, are just generally better in every way and all the magic outside of the heal and physical buff are useless.  There's also a crafting system which I never used because all the gear you get from shops is good enough to bash stuff around the head with and you have to go so far out of your way for materials it's almost never worth it.

One feature that sounded interesting was the games "Dragoneer Mode" where you can team up with 2 to 4 people via the wireless LAN to raid dragon nests for items and experience however in combat you only control your one character rather than an entire team.  However I never got to try this feature because I have more chance of finding an alchemical formula to turn my shit to pure gold than find another person who owns this game.

Not a terrible game but extremely mediocre and filled with useless features and game play mechanics you'll never use.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Lights Out

So recently I saw this movie in my local cinemas so of course I have to do a little blog post about what I thought about it.  I almost completely ignored this movie because it states at the top of the poster that it's produced by James Wan of The Conjuring fame.  The Conjuring was a particularly shitty horror movie that I watched on a plane once so my expectations for Lights Out were fairly low.

The first thing that struck me when I started watching this movie was that some of the scenes early on are very reminiscent of viral video I saw on Facebook one time.  Here's the video

Well the reason is reminded me of this short so hard (which during my viewing I had forgotten the name of) is because Lights Out (the movie) is based off this short film of the same name from 2013.  So almost all the information you need to know about Lights Out is contained within this short and the movie version is just a longer a version.  One thing to mention is that they did change the ghost a bit and now its sort of a reverse Witch from Left4Dead which goes berserk in the dark instead of when you shine lights on it.

Anyway this is going to be a spoiler free short review so I'm not going to go into much more detail about the plot.  The movie relies heavily on jump scares which is a little disappointing but there are a few moments which generate some tension and some really clever stuff going on in the climax which made it considerably more entertaining than The Conjuring.   It's short of a shame that it went for so many jump scares really because there are a few good scenes where characters are walking around in the dark and your not quite sure where the creature is going to come from.  When they did have the monster attack though it was always a loud, screamy affair that just blew all the tension away and just left you feeling like you've been punched in the face.

One thing that did strike me is just the incredibly attractive cast.  The main character is played Teresa Palmer who is just crazy hot and even her boyfriend portrayed by Alexander DiPersia was giving me a bit of a man crush.  Even the ghost was played by an insanely attractive woman, Alicia Vela Baily, I mean just take a look at her.

If she wants to invade my house in the pitch black and hack me up then by all means.  I know having attractive actors and actresses in these movies isn't uncommon but for some reason in this movie it felt as if they were almost photoshopped into reality.

Anyway, Lights out won't leave you feeling upset that you spent your precious time watching it but it's nothing special and you'll probably forget about it in a few months.  If you want to save yourself the price of a ticket or a DVD then just watch the short on repeat for 2 hours, you'll basically get the same experience.