Monday, June 30, 2014

POP! Vinyl / POP! Rocks - "Kagamine Rin & Kagamine Len" (FUNKO)

In December of 2007, as the Vocaloid phenomenon continued to evolve Crypton Future Media, Inc. decided to take their Vocaloid2 engine a step further, and introduce a new musical concept using two voicebanks instead of the usual one. The concept was to combine both a female, and male voicebank along with the usual synthesized sounds. Ultimately the Kagamine twins, as they have come to be known were created, and given the names "Rin (Female)", and "Len (Male)". These names were inspired, and given accordingly in regards to their Vocaloid voice actress Asami Shimoda's fond childhood memory of two similar characters' names (Ken & Rin) which originated from the "Hokuto no Ken / Fist of the North Star" anime/manga series. The "Kagamine" portion of their namesake came from the code development terms "Kagami (Mirror)", and "Ne (Sound)" which also kept true to Len, and Rin's twin-like nature. As with prior Vocaloid traditions the twins were also given an age, amongst other life details. Their age which was mutually shared was '14', and reflected their young appearances. The original illustrator of Rin, and Len (KEI) incorporated details that are seen on both "POP! Vinyl" versions of the characters. These details include a YAMAHA KX5 on the back of Len, and their boots which sport a YAMAHA EOS inspired design amongst other things.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Comprehensive Review - BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma (PS3 / PS VITA)

In the world of fighting games you'll find that not all games are created equal. You have your easy to play, and understand fighters such as that of the "Street Fighter" series, and then you have the more elaborate fighters such as "BlazBlue", and "Marvel vs Capcom" which demand so much more from the player. While BlazBlue, in general utilizes the same core practices as that of 'Street Fighter', or "King of the Fighters" including things like special button inputs to release certain attacks, and combo oriented fighting it still stands apart from the rest of the fighting game genre's offerings by making the applied mechanics more meticulous in nature.

Additions such as BlazBlue's exclusive 'OverDrive', 'Astral Heat', and 'Break Bursts' greatly alter the gameplay at hand. In doing so it demands dedicated attention from the player in order for that said player to come out victorious amongst the top tier players that make up it's faithful online community. Another huge thing that sets Arc System Works latest fighting franchise apart from the rest is the massive amount of content that comes with every game. A fully fleshed out 'Story Mode' with it's own in-depth character mythology as well as intricately laid out character specific interactions are among the many features that make the setting, and it's inhabitants all the more realistic, and relative.

Friday, June 27, 2014

POP! Vinyl / POP! Rocks - "Hatsune Miku" (FUNKO)

First off I'd like to take a moment's time to thank Allison of Funko for entrusting me with these toy reviews. I feel extremely privileged to be able to deliver my thoughts, and background history on each of the three POP! Vinyl "Vocaloids" that were sent my way! Domo arigato! ...

At first glance I can tell you that I was personally beyond impressed with what I saw in regards to these latest FUNKO toy offerings. They looked absolutely stunning to say the least. Without giving away any early spoilers though I will simply state that in total I received 3 Vocaloid 'POP! Vinyl' figures. There are only three in the series (with possible exclusives), and they are each allocated to the "POP! Rocks" listing. Included in the trio are "Hatsune Miku" (which is probably the most recognizable of the group), "Kagamine Rin", and "Kagamine Len". As with all 'POP! Vinyl' figures each of the Vocaloid figures are brought to life in a super deformed way which is very similar to the "Chibi" art style that is featured in some anime series.

For those of you who do not know what the "Vocaloid" phenomenon is in relation to the anime aspect of each offered figure you'll find that it was originally a music synthesis program made to mix human vocals with synthesized sounds from various electronic instruments. It wasn't until a little later on into the early 2000's that the project expanded upon it's conventional use to include promotional characters such as "Hatsune Miku (originally, "Hachune Miku")" which were each made known by various artists through video game adaptations, virtual concerts, and specialized Japanese Vocaloid magazines. It is this pop culture phenomenon known as "Vocaloid", and the combined anime inspiration that come together collectively through artistic means in the form of these three very special 'POP! Vinyl' figures.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Blue Estate (PS4)

Video game comic book adaptations usually don't capture the core material like they should. Whether it be poor game design, or bad graphic representation of the characters involved something usually does not jive with these types of games. Often times such games fail significantly, and never gain the attention that the developer, or comic book artist had hoped for as a result of the lackluster craftsmanship. In the case of "Blue Estate" however I feel we have been gifted one of the PS4's finest console gaming experiences to date, and one that will likely draw attention to Viktor Kalvachev's comic book series. The game itself takes in account the wacky misadventures of the Luciano mob family, an off kilter private eye named Roy, and some sticky situations that two of the game's main characters wind up getting into. Both Tony Luciano, and Clarence (a hitman for hire) blast their way through gangs, rival mobs, and mob bosses who would each like to rid the Luciano family of it's most prized possessions. Blood feuds, kidnappings, horse hijackings, and even pot plant stealing are some of the strange things that you'll encounter as one of the Luciano family's contributing members.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Zen Pinball 2: Deadpool (PS3, PS4, PS VITA)

Since February of 1991, in the pages of "New Mutants #98" Deadpool (aka, Wade Winston Wilson) has been making guest appearances, and solo debuts within the Marvel Comics universe, video games, and even movies. This fan favorite anti-hero which has made himself known through his many superhero, and super villain encounters carries with him a signature brand of slapstick humor, killer martial arts skills, and some complimentary super powers. His gained powers, or abilities which were gifted unto him during the Weapon-X program include, but are not limited to regeneration, resistance to telepathic powers, immunity to toxins, and extremely slow aging. His scarred appearance which was revealed through the comic books, and X-Men movies came about as a result of the adverse effects that the Weapon-X regeneration capabilities brought along with it. Before undergoing a surgery slightly similar to that of Wolverine's, Deadpool's cancer overtook his body, and scarred it in the process severely disfiguring him. That is why he is always shown wearing his signature mask, and full body costume.

As far as battles go Deadpool has seen his fair share of fights both onscreen, and offscreen. The Hulk, Daredevil, Cable, and Wolverine are amongst the unlucky ones to have encountered this lunatic assassin, and lived to have told their tale. At one point in his timeline Deadpool had his head bashed in by the Hulk, and was even decapitated by Wolverine. Even with these mortal wounds though he was able to regenerate, and continue doing what he does best. In the early years of Deadpool's comic book history you'll find that he was more of a serious character with a bit of psychosis, and didn't develop his unique brand of humor until later on. It is this latter iteration of the anti-hero known as Deadpool that you'll find in Zen Studio's kid friendly 'Deadpool' Pinball table. Even with the "E" rating though you'll be pleasantly surprised to know that Deadpool works his way around the rating system quite nicely, and that in doing so his sarcastic charm never fades as the pinball bings around the table hitting the intended targets triggering his wacky actions, and reactions as it does so.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Magical Beat (PS VITA)

Magical Beat is a delightful little pixelated puzzle game filled with five modes of play, a wacky cast of characters, a unique beat based gameplay system, and an underlying story about the world's inhabitants who were left in the wake of a great world war. At heart it's a game not unlike 'Tetris', or 'Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo". The only real difference between it, and the previously mentioned puzzle games lies with the applied art style, the Japanese songs that are included, and the beat based gameplay that helps the player to decide when it's best to drop the current block ...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Battle Princess of Arcadias (PS3)

Complicated, and demanding are two adjectives that immediately come to mind when I think of "Battle Princess of Arcadias". The game which is a blend of strategy, and action starts off smoothly with the usual character, and plot introductions then quickly escalates in complexity with the introduction of an overbearing battle system. It is this battle system, and the applied character/unit leveling that more often than not will leave the player ill-prepared for the sieges, and skirmishes ahead. Before I jump the gun with gameplay explanations let me explain the story behind the fairy tale title ...

At the start of "Battle Princess of Arcadias" we find Princess Plume (who looks a lot like the princess from "Child of Light"), the proclaimed "Battle Princess" tending to the fallen princess brigade members who each have been fatally wounded by a dragon that looks as if it were ripped straight from Pokemon lore. Despite the overwhelming odds Princess Plume stands her ground against the beast, and scares it away for the time being. Unfortunately even after the gained momentary victory the remaining fallen soldier that the Princess had aimed to save prior to the epic fight dies leaving a final request that a man by the name, "Raltz" should take his place as her protector. Soon afterwards the transformed goose king, and other whimsical characters come into the picture adding depth, and variation to the ever-growing story. The story, as it were is one of betrayal, medieval espionage, and outright conquering. Some of the characters involved play a behind-the-scenes role while others are main players within the game's story, and battles. Additional elements such as NISA's signature naughty humor, and fun loving RPG antics are all thrown in the mix as well as a part of the game's core experience. While the Princess is brave enough to face the threats ahead you will find it will take some morale boosting as well as proper recruiting, and equipping to take on the more challenging confrontations that are in store for the kingdom of "Schwert".

Gamestop's "Renew or Die" Program

About a week, or more ago I received an odd, and menacing looking email from Gamestop. It was in regards to my soon to expire membership. The email heading was bluntly titled as, "Renew or Die". I thought it may have been a hacked email message, or either that someone over at Gamestop had gone over the deep end. As I came to find out it was the latter. Gamestop obviously finds it humorous to send fake death threats to motivate their customers to renew their subscriptions. I personally did not find it funny at all, and honestly may not renew my membership, because of it. I managed to capture a screen shot of a significant portion of the email, and will be sharing that with you. I hope this article gets tons of page views as it would serve as a proper lesson to Gamestop on what not to do when it comes to promoting their services.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

McFarlane Akira Action Figure

Recently while out at "Billy's Toys & Comics" I found a loose McFarlane Kaneda action figure complete with accessories. It was from the "McFarlane's 3D Animation From Japan Series 1" collection. While I would have preferred a boxed figure the loose figure was affordable, and in excellent condition allowing me to snap some photos to share with you. If you're ever in the northeast Georgia area be sure to stop by "Billy's Toys & Comics". He's got everything you can think of from classic toys of the 80's & 90's to more modern releases. You'll even find some obscure Japanese toys like a bigger than !@#%^ limited edition "Devilman" figure still in it's package. That sucker will be mine!!! If you are into Graphic novels, manga, comic books, and MTG cards you'll also find a lot of that type of merchandise over at Billy's as well. I was glad to see he was thriving in business, because I want to return as often as possible! Keep in mind though that most of Billy's for sale items will set you back a pretty penny as they are set at collector's prices. Given you will find a bargain if you look hard enough though.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Murdered: Soul Suspect (PS4)

Video games come in a variety of different makes, and models these days. The design can sometimes be elaborate to the point that the experience lasts for days, or even months. Such is the world of RPGs, and open world sandbox games. Other games are short lived, but leave a lasting impression on the gamers' mind. In the case of Airtight Games' "Murdered: Soul Suspect" I think it falls in dead center of the latter category. The developer has made the game more than just a quick run through opportunity, and instead has the gamer focus on every tiny detail that went into the game's design. Everything from the characters involved, the special effects, the locations, the stealth gameplay, and the crime solving puzzles come together in a nice neat package that will keep your attention wholly focused on everything that is happening, and everything that is being shown onscreen. Not only that, but the graphics are good enough to boast about, and the game's applied atmosphere is one that definitely screams "AFTERLIFE!".

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Solution to the Escalating "USFIV" Problem ...

Capcom, this is a letter that is wholly directed at you. Whether you want to acknowledge it, or not your latest "Ultra Street Fighter IV" upgrade is being thoroughly exploited by hackers. There's more than likely bootleg copies going around as well as modded copies with built in cheats. Extreme lagswitching is also a growing issue in the online lobbies of the game. Not only that, but Sony's unwillingness to deal with the hacker threat on their own turf further poses problems for you, and your fighting game franchises. Trust me when I say that if this hacking trend is allowed to continue no legit gamer will be buying your games. They will eventually realize that it would be a waste of money to pay for the new experience even at a discounted price. All is not hopeless just yet though. As the title of this article suggest I do have a plan to beat hackers at their own game, and no hacking is involved.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Ultra Street Fighter IV (PS3)

By now many of you have likely seen me ranting & raving on Twitter about this particular fighting game upgrade. While I have had some issues with the offline of "Ultra Street Fighter IV" the core of my complaints revolve around the online experience. With the freshness of a new fighter, and the growing popularity of the fighting game genre amongst the hacking community it has made for a mostly unpleasant encounter online. I get that that most people doubt my fighting game credibility, and that they believe most of my opinions aren't justified, but what I have to say has a solid grounding in reality. Not only do I know the online state of the PS3, and what goes on when it comes to hacking incidents due to prior personal encounters with hackers, but I also know fighting games. Believe it, or not I've spent a majority of my years as a gamer playing fighting games. It's the one genre besides RPGs that really captured my attention, and held it. I have personally played at least a dozen fighters in my time if not more, and have spent quality time learning each one. One fighter amongst all those titles though will always have a special place in my gaming history, and that game series/franchise is "Street Fighter".

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

USFIV Hackers: "Fact or Fiction?"

It bothers me when people do not take me for my word about Street Fighter hackers. There have been hackers, and lagswitchers in the game since the vanilla SF4. In fact I remember having to call up Sony personally to report a hack when I had my first PS3 (before the infamous hacking incident). The player who had hacked the match I was in in SF4, took total control of my PS3, and forced me to spectate a mirror match in which I had no control of my Vega. The real sh*t kicker was that he had even changed the color of my Vega's outfit before making me spectate the match. Needless to say hacks, and hackers do exist in fighting games such as that of the SF4 series whether you want to stay ignorant about it, or not. Today while playing some USFIV (Ultra Street Fighter IV) I noticed something odd pointing to the presence of such hackers in the ranked lobby I was trying to join. I'm here today to share some photos that I took of the lobby to let you decide whether, or not hacking was involved. As for me I personally think the coincidence definitely points to hacking. That is me though.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Hyperdimension Neptunia: PP (PS VITA)

The Loli girls of Hyperdimension Neptunia are up to their generations old shenanigans once again. This time around though they are trying to thwart an otherworldly threat that comes in the form of Pop Idol sensations 'MOB48". It seems that other gaming CPUs (Goddesses) are no longer the only threat to the shares (fans) that Noire, Vert, Blanc, and Neptune are facing. With MOB48's popularity far surpassing that of the CPUs, and their respective lands they are forced to come up with a plan to combat the escalating situation. In the midst of some girly brainstorming the four CPUs ultimately come to the conclusion that it's best to beat MOB48 at there own game, so-to-speak. Instead of turning  into their dominatrix style HDD forms, and whooping a whole lot of !@#$% these Loli gaming Goddesses aim to become Pop Idol sensations themselves. Unfortunately for them they have no producer to train under, and must find one if they hope to become successful enough to defeat the opposition. To solve this issue they all combine their powers in HDD form, and summon a producer from the outside world. This of course ends up being you, a gamer with no real Pop Idol training experience whatsoever. Luckily for you though you do have some skills in playing Pop Idol video games.