Monday, March 30, 2015

Damascus Gear: Operation Tokyo (PS VITA)

Take everything you know about anime mechs, throw in some shmup shooting, and hack & slash arcade style action along with some impressive customization options, and you have yourself "Damascus Gear: Operation Tokyo". At the core this simple yet rich experience which is basically an action RPG offers the gamer a unique story that makes it's own place amongst other anime inspired video games. Of course it is it's own game in plot, and delivery, but one can't help to recall anime like 'Gundam', or 'Neon Genesis Evangelion' as they play through the game's entirety. As far as said plot goes you'll find an organization known as Freya doing their best to fight off an invasion of living mechs called the 'Rage'. These giant monstrosities which were originally manned machines called GEARS have taken on a life of their own, and destructively so. As Irony would have it, you, the game's protagonist will be piloting a GEAR mech against these living, unmanned Rages.

Through some supportive military manufacturers the faction known as Freya is able to supply their small army of pilots with their very own customizable war machines, and enable them to wage war against the insurmountable odds ahead. This is of course where you, the main protagonist come into the picture. As an up, and coming GEAR pilot (with a name of your choosing) you are put through some training missions against some very real threats in order to test your skills. Once you've proven your worth on the training grounds you are put to good use immediately by the heads of the department, and are sent out as mankind's last hope.Your duties as one of humanity's few surviving saviors comes in the form of making transport runs, clearing cities of the Rage infestations, and other tasks that involve both the confrontation of your enemy, and the evasion of said enemies. You'll even find yourself participating in arena events that pit you up against fellow GEARS pilots for the sake of keeping citizens distracted from their unforgiving reality. Mission by mission, and fight by fight it is up to you, and your brothers/sisters in arms to combat the Rage, and prevent the extinction of the human race.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Destiny of Spirits Shutting Down In June 2015

This morning I turned on my PS Vita to get my daily dose of "Destiny of Spirits", and found some disheartening news regarding it's service. It seems that the game in it's entirety will be shutting down, and will be no longer accessible come a scheduled day in June of this year. I have personally invested a sh*t ton of hours into the game, and have currently amassed a collection of 153 spirits mostly comprised of SR's and R's. Hearing the bad news really put a damper on things, and has unfortunately turned me away from playing the game any longer. I feel rather let down that the game did not last all that long, and that the hours, weeks, days, and months I've invested in it will be for naught. I feel pity on those who bought spirit orb DLC as their monetary investment will also be snuffed out.

As far as the game itself goes I've been addicted to it since launch, and have played it rather religiously. I've always thought that it was the prime example of what a free-to-play game should be. Instead of forcing the gamer to pay up for DLC to get the more rare spirits for the in-game lottery Japan Studios made it so that there were easy ways around it if the player were only to log in daily. I suppose the distraction of other games, and the loss of dedicated players may have played a role in the game's demise. The developers may also have hit a brick wall in the way of providing new content, or may not be able to afford to keep the servers and maintenance running. Whatever the case may be I will definitely miss this PS Vita gem. I just hope that Japan Studios, and it's co-producers don't give up on their free-to-play vision, and that perhaps they bring a more permanent version of the game to gamers who have invested their time and money into it. If not maybe they can up the ante, and make an all new experience that is as captivating as this one. One can only hope.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Slender: The Arrival (PS4)

Slender man, and the creepy lore he was derived from have become a household name in terror in many ways, and across many forms of entertainment. Initially developed as a Steam game for the PC, Slender Man took the simple premise of clue collecting, isolation, and an unusually sinister stalker, and combined them to make an experience that could best be described as a living nightmare. The protagonist in the original games, and in this follow-up sequel who were made to suffer the nightmare usually had only a flashlight, and camera at their disposal. They were made to wander abandoned areas of varying sorts to collect pinned up clues that basically held a warning that the Slender Man was watching them, and that he was coming to get them. As you trekked through darkly lit forests, abandoned buildings, and whatnot as these characters you would catch glimpses of the Slender Man moments before the camera suffered from static interference. The mere sight of this lanky apparition was meant to frighten the gamer in a jump scare fashion, and keep them on the edge of their seats as they set out to complete the game, and for the most part it did it's job. The point of the games, and expansions, if there was one was to find all eight pages, or clues before the Slender Man got to you. You either did it, or you suffered that fatal final scare. In a slightly similar fashion as that of the first games, and expansions 'Slender: The Arrival" once again incorporates the eight page theme, and adds a twist with some objective based levels that build upon the simple nature of the original Slender Man tale.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

My New Netsuke

For those of you who do not know it "Netsuke" are oriental statues, or carvings that originated back in the late 16th, and early 17th century in feudal Japan. Most netsuke were usually used as clothing accessories to show heritage, lineage, and standings within the feudal Japanese communities. Nowadays these keepsakes that are carved from bone, ivory, and other base materials are highly sought after, and are considered one of the finer traditional Japanese collectibles. They come in a variety of different forms including erotic nudes, animals of varying sorts, and Japanese deities/spirits. As far as me and the netsuke go I've collected a few here, and there, and have picked up most of my netsuke at antique malls, or flea markets. I do love buying them when I can find them for a reasonable price.

When it comes to value not all netsuke are genuine, or created equally though. The more authentic, and aged pieces are usually carved from some sort of bone while the modern pieces are sometimes resin in build. It's usually easy to tell the difference between the two as bone carries distinct markings, and modern resin copies are usually too perfect for their own good with non-porous non-skeletal structures. Modern netsuke also usually have a line around them from the mold they were cast in. Another sure fire way to tell a fake from a genuine netsuke is to look at the symmetry of the figure. Details like the persons', or deity's ears, or facial features can tip you off to a fake. It is hard to carve out a perfect netsuke, and without visible asymmetry present you can usually guess that the figure is a reproduction, or fake. actual distinct carving marks will also tip you off as to whether, or not the netsuke in your possession is fake.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Mortal Kombat X - "Koncerns"

Me, and Mortal Kombat go way back, and I do mean WAY back. As an underage child I initially played the first game of Mortal Kombat in it's arcade cabinet form at Lakeshore Mall with friends when I could. This period of time in which I could do this was definitely the height of my fighting game career as it was the only time arcades really existed in the local area, and was the only time I got to experience fighting games in their natural form. It wasn't until much later that the home console version was released, and that I was able to sneak a copy of the Sega Genesis version home to play when my parents were unaware. From those two early pre-teen experiences my interest in the series peaked, and as I grew older (a good bit older) I made it a point to purchase every MK game that was launched thereafter, because of said experiences. Of course it goes without saying that some MK games were better than others as you more than likely know.

What you have to understand in regards to my later, more in-depth encounters with the Mortal Kombat series is that I grew up in a very strict christian home, and violent games of any sort were not permitted. In fact it wasn't until my 13th birthday that I was allowed to get my first fighter, "Street Fighter II: Championship Ed.", and that was only because I convinced my Mum that it had no blood or gore. I loved the ever loving hell out of that game, but that is a different story for a different time. As far as my history with MK goes it came to fruition more so in my late teen years when my parents let loose of their religious grip. It was a huge step in me being able to experience the video game industry's more mature offerings. You could say that Mortal Kombat paved the way for my video game freedom, and even opened up many more mature entertainment related adventures for myself ... Horror movies, and porn included!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Attack on Titan - "Colossal Titan" POP! Vinyl (FUNKO)

Recently while at Gamestop I noticed they had stocked a side shelf with the harder to find 'POP! Vinyl' toys. This was a pleasant surprise in that the adjacent Walmart super store only carried the same old boring Funko toys that nobody wanted. Things like the "Game of Thrones", and "My Little Ponies" were always on the Walmart sub-section shelves. Seeing that Gamestop had a budget priced giant version of the 'Attack on Titan' Colossal Titan though I could not help, but buy it. I'm a fan of horror themed toys, and the anatomical nature of this grotesque giant really stood out to me. Mind you I've never watched the "Attack on Titan" anime series, but something about the horrific titans found in that series is really cool. I figure that's probably why the series is as popular as it is. Anyways, I'd like to share with you some photos of the toy, and some thoughts, and opinions of it's design. The descriptions will be basic, but will give you an idea of the quality of these larger, and slightly more costly giant 'POP! Vinyl' figures.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Awakened Fate Ultimatum (PS3)

In our world governed by gods, and choices the rights, and wrongs of society can often times become blurred into various shades of grey making judgment, or the lack thereof a most difficult task. Deciding what is wrong, and what is right in a just manner definitely depends on seeing the situation from all angles, or both sides. In a similarly decisive fashion NISA's latest follow-up release of "The Awakened Fate Ultimatum" tries, in it's own way to pose the ultimate question to the gamer regarding what is right, and what is wrong when it comes to one's personal beliefs on life's many choices. Is it good to be on the side of evil, or is it evil to be on the side of good? These are two questions that the newly crowned God of Celestia must answer for himself as he scrambles to make sense of his unusual, and wholly demanding predicament. As such the protagonist who unwillingly fills the shoes of Celestia's God (Shin Kamikaze), and whom you role play as will find that he must act, and react carefully lest he ends up making the wrong decision regarding these two age old questions. Being God in the fight for the angels is definitely not a job for the faint of heart, and Shin finds that out alongside of you as you take the weight of the world on your shoulders, and decide the fate of both angels, and devils alike.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype & Last Chapter DLC (PS VITA)

Taking on it's own unique lore within a futuristic timeline of war ridden events, eastasiasoft's "Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype" aims to capture the audience's attention with hardcore Gradius style shoot 'em up action. If you are not familiar with Gradius, or the Soldner-X franchise they are two side scrolling score based shooters that basically have you piloting an upgradeable spaceship while blasting other enemy ships out of the sky amidst screen filling bullet hell spray. Unlike Gradius though, Soldner-X and it's "Final Prototype" follow-up features groundbreaking HD visuals in the form of rotating, and milti-layered moving background environments as well as eye catching ship designs that are anything, but generic. One thing in particular that sets the Soldner-X series apart from other side-scrolling shmups is the fact that the immersive audio soundtrack that accompanies it makes you feel as if you are a part of the action. In fact the female announcer this time around talks to you as if you are an actual Soldner-X pilot fighting the good fight in a universe being threatened by the oppressive D'aarg. There are plenty of bullets to dodge, and bosses to fight as you make your way through stage after stage racking up that high score while completing your mission as a designated Soldner-X fighter jet pilot. Just know that it will take some serious skill to make it to the top of the rankings, and some serious skill to also save the universe without losing all of your ship stock!

March's Comic Book Pick-ups

My collection is slowly increasing each month. I blame my dedication to gaming, and the expenses therein on the slow incline. I guess it's good that I'm gaining back my comic book collection though. Anyways, last week I once again took a trip to the local "Area 52" to see what new number ones, and series offerings they had in stock. At first I was going to just pick up series follow-ups that I had begun collecting from issue one, but a chance encounter with a female store patron clued me into the fact that the store had some variant covers of the latest Darth Vader spin-off, so I nabbed a couple pricey issues limiting my follow-up purchases to a single issue of "Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. #3", and the first issue of IMAGE's "Defender" on top of everything else. I do wish I had more money to spend on comics, but sadly gaming is a frontrunner for my monthly spending.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters (PS3/PS VITA)

Ghost hunting, and the theme of ghosts in general are two topics that are explored in a lighthearted fashion within the world of Toybox Inc.'s new interactive visual novel, "Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters". The tale itself begins rather abruptly with you put in the thick of it's plot as the main character 'Ryusuke Touma'. You are given little explanation of why it is that you are there other than the the information gained through your initial tasked duties of conversing with the Kurenai academy students, and staff who appear before you. This commonplace RPG socialization which is done through multiple choice actions, and reactions (via two five point wheel apps) gets you acquainted with the main characters of interest, and helps you eventually become a part of a secret ghost hunting society known as "The Gatekeepers Inc". It is this rag tag group of individuals led by Chizuru (a mature secretary type woman) who ultimately discovers your unique ability that enables you to see ghosts, and in doing so they recruit you for a job that is not unlike that of a Scooby-Doo, or Ghostbusters team member. There are plenty of otherworldly hijinks as you, Chizuru, Sadoi the driver, Sengen the support specialist, Kyosuge the rocker, Mifune the troubled school girl, and the rest of the gang do business as modern-day exorcists for hire. Between the tasks of organization, the actual job completion, and the breaks thereafter the episodic track by track set of encounters will draw you ever closer to finding the truth about the life hereafter, and those who work with you behind the scene as mediators, "The Gatekeepers Inc".

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

'DOA5: Last Round' PS4 Impressions (Patch 1.02)

Dead or Alive is, and always will be one of the more unique 3D fighters out there. It utilizes a simple button layout, and combat system that is both easy to pick up, and difficult to master. Veteran players of the series will know exactly what I speak of. From it's early beginnings to the iterations of late the series continues to try to improve upon it's in-game, and out of game offerings. You'll find an upgrade to the visuals, more characters to play as, and plenty of sexy new DLC costumes to throw your hard earned money at. DOA5: Last Round, in particular aims to be the ultimate version of a game that began as a free-to-play model on the Playstation 3, and Xbox 360 consoles earlier in 2013/2014. In "DOA5: Last Round" you'll find an all inclusive roster of characters, an entirely separate tutorial mode, and some extra costumes that weren't initially obtainable outside of a DLC purchase. While the graphics are definitely a step above what last-gen offered with the new additions included in the mix you will still find that the game suffers from some old, and newer problems ...