Category Archives: video game

Check Out Games Revisited

gamesRevisitedCapture1I’ve been meaning to add a link  to my new video gaming blog on Anime Epicuriosity. If anyone would like to read about the Japanese games that I play, feel free to check out Games Revisited at gamesrevisited.wordpress.com.

I’m a huge fan of both anime and video games. However, I’ve been playing video games a lot more often. I just feel like video games are more fascinating, because the medium is so experimental. A lot more of the ideas in these games are liable to fail, or to try radical new things.

Note that I usually play Japanese role-playing games that usually have anime-style graphics, so this isn’t a huge diversion for me. Besides, the Japanese anime shows even receive their own video games.

So if you have some free time, try out Games Revisited. I’ll be revisiting all the classic (and not-so-classic) games of my childhood. Right now, I’m checking out the unique world of Tales of Symphonia. If you have any suggestions about games that you’d like me to try, let me know in the comments below.

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Filed under Games Revisited, Uncategorized, video game

Season review: Anime Finally Portrays Gaming in All Its Glory

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I’ve seen all sorts of animated shows with video games or video game characters. However, I’ve never seen a truly accurate portrayal of the video game community. Most of the time, the hardcore players appear as obsessive hermits who stay at home all day.

That’s why the Sword Art Online anime is a breath of fresh air. It portrays the gaming community in brutal honesty, as they form close friendships in a mystical online adventure game.

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The whole first season of Sword Art Online just seems to show everything wonderful about the world inside video games. In fact, almost the entire show takes place inside a virtual reality online game, called Sword Art Online. The main character, Kazuto, is just a typical high school boy. When he wears his virtual reality headgear, he becomes a super-powered knight named Kirito in the video game world. He befriends a wide range of unique characters who are all seeking escapism. They learn to trust each other, battling evil bandits and various other monsters.

Sword Art Online just seems to hit all the right notes from the beginning to the end, but the show is also about escaping the video game world. As great as the video game world is, Kazuto and his friends are also trapped inside the game. Sword Art Online was deceptively designed to trap people inside the world for life, unless someone actually defeats the final boss. If any of their video game characters die, then they die in the real world as well.

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The world of Sword Art Online is set in Aincrad, a Medieval world of green pastures with a tall tower. Most of the drama focuses around the adventurers as they attempt to reach the final floor of the tower. However, the real charm in this show involves the romance between the main character, Kazuto, and a girl named Asuna. At around episode nine, Kazuto is almost killed by a sadistic traitor in their guild. From this point on, Asuna knows that she just cannot leave him behind.

In fact, most of the storyline focuses on the deep relationship between Kazuto and Asuna. Their life in the virtual world allows them to do many things that might be too risque in the real world. They marry each other and sleep in the same bed. They take a honeymoon vacation. They even adopt an orphan girl named Yui. Their love life is almost too beautiful to leave behind.

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This anime is a perfect representation of how video games allow people to socialize with each other in unique ways. It isn’t completely flawless, though. The story loses part of its charm at around the halfway point, after Kazuto manages to escape from Sword Art Online. Without giving away too many spoilers, I’ll just say that the story doesn’t end after he escapes from that world. He has to enter yet another video game world.

The show tends to repeat many of its themes, especially in the second half of episodes. The story still maintains its high level of excitement through every single episode, but the final battle is rather disappointing. I was expecting tons of fireworks and intense sword action at the end, but most of the intense action at the end actually happens in the real world. Don’t get me wrong–the ending was a thriller in itself. However, it all just could have looked a lot more epic.

I still loved Sword Art Online, though. It is one of the best television shows I’ve ever seen about video games. The storyline probably could have been refined a little more, but the characters were very memorable. In fact, everything in the show is bursting with vibrant colors and gorgeous background artwork. In my opinion, it was my favorite show of 2013. The best anime shows are all about wonderful memories. Sword Art Online is just chock-full of some of my favorite characters of all time.

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Filed under action, best, MMORPG, nudity, romance, sex, shonen, Sword Art Online, Uncategorized, video game, violent

Video game anime – The Chronicles of Blazblue

The cast of characters from Blazblue

Blazblue melds action anime characters in a stunningly beautiful fighting game.

I don’t usually review video games as part of my anime blog. However, Blazblue fused a fighting game with a anime storyline in such a profound way to revolutionize Japanese animation in games.

Blazblue is more than just a fighting game–it’s also a massive narrative filled with drama, intense action and an impending apocalyptic disaster.

Even though the game has a hardcore edge to it and the difficulty curve is somewhat high, BlazBlue has an unusual story mode that people don’t usually expect. Most of the plot surrounds 12 characters involved in the destruction of the city of Kagutsuchi-13.

The entire story plays out in an endless time loop, where all the characters somehow end up in the same place they started. No matter which path they take, all the characters usually end up dying partly because of an evil cyborg.

Rachel Alucard from Blazblue

Rachel flies through the air on her inflating cat balloon.

Only a few of the main characters are aware that someone is keeping them stuck in the same tragic time loop. Rachel-Alucard is one of those characters who tries to warp certain characters in the past, in order to turn them into cyborgs to prevent the apocalypse.

To tell the truth, most of this silly  story involves trivial vendettas. For instance, Ragna had his arm cut off by his brother, Jin Kisaragi, when he was young. These two brothers now become enemies to the very end. However, the game doesn’t really explain the reasons why Jin cuts Ragna’s arm off, among other things.

Blazblue is still very noteworthy as one of the few games that melds complex anime storylines with an intense style of fighting gameplay. It’s one of the only games that manages to make people feel like they’re playing a part in a shonen action show. It somewhat resembles Soul Eater in its heavy metal music and the gothic clothing style of the characters.

I’m surprised at how closely these fighters resemble a variety of different anime characters. Carl Clover and Rachel-Alucard look like kids from a moe series. Litchi Faye-Ling clearly stands out as the fan service girl with her big breasts. Most of all, Jin and Ragna are the tough guys usually found in a shonen series. Ragna has the long spiky hairstyle of Dragon Ball Z’s Goku in his super seiyan mode and Jin has the blonde hair in the fashion of LeLouche from Code Geass.

In many ways, Blazblue is probably the closest that a video game has ever gotten to emulating the whole anime fighting experience. Much of the story is nonsensical, but no one can deny the charm of each fighter in this battle royale. It’s one of the more impressive fighting games of this current generation of game consoles.

This game is available for the XBOX 360 and the PS3. There’s also a PC version that I haven’t tried out yet.

Images courtesy of photobucket.com

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Filed under action, Alucard, apocalyptic, Blazblue, fighting, moe, shonen, video game

>Video game anime classics: "Ranma 1/2: Hard Battle"

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“Ranma 1/2: Hard Battle” is one of the weirdest anime-to-video game releases, nearly forgotten because of its poor production.

For anyone who doesn’t know “Ranma 1/2,” this series was pretty much about a boy who turns into a girl when he gets hit by cold water. She can only turn into a guy if he comes in contact with hot water. The rest of the story focused mostly on his love triangles with the other girls, and even guys, of his high school.

Technically, the plot of this fighting game doesn’t make too much sense, but it works to bring all these characters together to fight. The principal of Ranma’s high school is setting up a tournament. He’s promised each participant the prize that that person wants the most.

Each person has a reason to fight. Ranma wants to be excused from attending high school classes. Akane wants boys to stop following her. Shampoo wants to prove to Ranma that she’s strong enough for him. There’s even a few minor characters in the video game as well, such as the Gambling King, who uses a cane and stacks of cards to fight. His dream is to start up a casino in Nerima with the principal’s help. You’ll pretty much figure out the story in a short time.

On paper, it seems like a fun and goofy concept for a fighting game. However, “Ranma 1/2: Hard Battle” plays as slowly as the old “Clay Fighter” games. The characters move as slow as slugs and the special moves are almost too easy to use. The game quickly becomes a boring rock, paper, scissors game, where each player takes the time to see what the other player does, so that she/he can counter it.

So why should anyone buy this game? Well, this game is actually more memorable for its stupefyingly voice actors. The United States publisher, DTMC, decided to use American voice actors. The voices sound funny and horribly overdone at the same time. It’s pretty much worth playing just to hear a girl mumbling loudly, “HYUUYOUSOUKENHA!” Half the time, you couldn’t even hear what the other character was saying. It was like an unintentional parody of “Street Fighter II,” where the voice actors were making fun of every bad special move cliche.

Better yet, these fighters were duking it out in some of the most bizarre backdrops that you will probably never see in any other fighting game. There’s nothing more fun than fighting on Ukyo Kuonji’s stage, which is literally a wrestling ring smothered with a Japanese okonomiyaki pancake.

The funniest gameplay visuals involved the characters’ actual moves. You’d have typical “Street Fighter” style characters, such as Ranma, Akane and Shampoo. Then you’d have the bizarre characters, such as Genma in his panda form. You could play as Mousse, who uses swords, a ball-and-chain, a swan and a yo-yo. The weirdest one, though, was Hikaru Gosunkugi. He wears a headband with candles on his ears. He can hit people with a big hammer and he can twirl around a straw man for his special move.

You’ll probably never laugh at a fighting game as much as you will laugh at “Ranma 1/2: Hard Battle” for the Super Nintendo. This game is a little hard to come by nowadays, but there are still plenty of copies available on eBay for as low as $6. So if you still have your Super Nintendo, you could at least enjoy this game for some quick laughs.

Images courtesy of expixeblogdepedja.com and vgmuseum.com

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Filed under action, fighting, Ranma 1/2, Uncategorized, video game

>Anime is coming back

>Hey everyone. For about two weeks, I was contemplating what I should do next in my life. I was writing for the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot for about four months as an intern, but was released earlier than expected. The paper didn’t have enough money to compensate me for my stories.

To anyone who is eagerly anticipating more anime news, bear with me. I had to take a short break to reassess my goals. It tends to get lonely, now that I’m away from college, from most of my anime-watching friends. I’d like to use my writing skills as part of a career. So far, I haven’t earned all the money I would need to pay off my debt to my mom and dad.

So after spending a couple weeks reassessing my goals, I decided to write what I like. And so I’m returning to my second passion: writing anime reviews. Keep in mind, however, that this blog might head into uncharted territory, with reviews of anime-related video games.

By anime-related, I’m talking about the countless number of games with characters drawn in a Japanese anime style. These games will be on consoles such as the Playstation 2, the Nintendo Wii and the Nintendo DS. I had to limit my choices somewhat, because I don’t feel like buying any new consoles yet.

I’m kind of stretching this blog into this genre, because I’m spending more time playing these games for the colorful character designs. The games can have a wide range of monsters and creatures. They can look almost as cute as the Mokona bunnies from various anime and manga by CLAMP. And ever since the Japanese role-playing game, Chrono Trigger, these anime character are spreading into JRPGs like a warm, fuzzy virus.

So don’t be surprised if I switch from talking about “Soul Eater” to discussing the implausible plot of the anime-style game, “Sin and Punishment: Star Successor.” It’s only a matter of time before anime and anime video games eventually take over the world. It’s like those Michael Jackson lyrics to “We are the World.” Anime will make the world a better place for you and for me.

At least in this blog, it will.

Image courtesy of miraigamer.net

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Filed under editor's notes, Soul Eater, video game

>Long time no blog

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Hey everyone, I haven’t blogged in a while. I had to take some time out to play through the third Phoenix Wright game, “Trials and Tribulations.”

I love the series. Although the intensity of Wright’s “Objection!” wore off on me near the end, the story remained solid throughout all three games. I’m glad that I finally saved the Fey family using my mad attorney skills.

Anyhow, I should finish “Maria Watches Over Us” season three soon. This box set is actually one of the best of the bunch, with some outrageous moments involving oddball characters and cosplayers. So look forward to seeing a review in the next few weeks.

I’m also trying to catch up with all my Crunchyroll series. Maybe if I have time, I’ll review more “Durarara!!” or “Hanamaru Kindergarten.”

Image courtesy of photobucket.com

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Filed under capcom, objection, Phoenix Wright, video game

>DVD Review – Oh my "Lucky Star"!

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If “Neon Genesis Evangelion” showed all the problems of Japan, “Lucky Star” shows everything that is good about Japan. Most Americans may gloss over this cheeky series about otaku and Japanese culture, but people who love Japanese culture will undoubtably love “Lucky Star.”

“Lucky Star” is, like “Azumanga Daioh,” a series about high school girls in Japan. However, while “Azumanga” dealt with high school girls and their everyday life, “Lucky Star” deals with high school girls and their fascination with otaku culture. Otaku, if you haven’t heard of them, refers primarily to video game and anime addicts in Japan. The choice of characters and the topic is fascinating in itself, because the older generation of Japanese people refer to otaku as children who just won’t grow up.

On the contrary, “Lucky Star” promotes the message that anime is not bad at all. In fact, the main character, Konata Izumi, liberates herself from her humdrum everyday life with online games, shonen (boys) manga and dating simulation games. Every day, she likes to imagine her friends as anime characters, and reimagines scenes in everyday life as scenes from “Cromartie High School” and “Street Fighter II.” While her friends initially believe that Konata is slacking off and cramming at the last minute, she certainly succeeds well, based on her test grades and her gleeful expression when her friends ask how well she did on her entrance exams.

Konata’s friends are just as interesting. Kagami Hiragi, the genius of the group of friends, often tries to convince Konata to stop slacking off (good job). However, no matter how hard Konata tries, she can’t help slipping into her habits of reading manga and watching episodes of “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.” Kagami’s twin sister, Tsukasa, is a clumsy airhead who actually makes an effort to study, but gets so carried away with planning everything that she forgets about studying. Miyuki Tahara is from a wealthy family and always talks politely. And she can give encyclopedia definitions for everything that her friends talk about.

This is a series that is whimsical and fun for its simple, but unique characters. I could never imagine that an elementary school girl in Japan would love dating simulation games, which mostly focus on male characters who can choose from a variety of girls to date, kiss and even have sex with. However, Konata is just that type of person, because her mother died and her father loves playing those dating video games. This alone allows the kids to bring up interesting discussions about whether an addiction to dating games is a healthy habit.

The most interesting part of the series is the “Lucky Channel” segment at the end of every episode, hosted by the cute Akira Kogami and her male assistant, Minoru Shiraishi. The two look at letters to the director and discuss character profiles. However, in the middle of the segment, Akira usually sulks about how much she hates her job, her parents who withhold her allowance and her directors who force her to play cute characters. Akira’s character makes for hilarious conversations between Shiraishi and Kogami.

But the series is nowhere near as exciting as the wacky opening theme song, “Motteke Serafuku.” The characters sing about three-piece uniforms, getting cherry pies and their pride for wearing sailor shirts as schoolgirl uniforms. Don’t ask about the lyrics, because I’m clueless as to what some of them really mean. However, the subtitle writers did a good job translating them as best as they could. And a whole bunch of schoolgirls are in cheerleader uniforms, dancing to the bass-thumping dance music. It’s quite a spectacle, and it’s probably the best opening sequence I’ve seen in awhile.

Certainly “Lucky Star” has its flaws–anime fans who love subtitles will have a tough time catching up with the long dialogue of these kids, and they may miss out on references to the dating game “To Heart.” However, for people who love Japanese culture, this is a must-have series. I’m definitely picking up this series for its unique look at Japanese mannerisms.

Some of the extras are great as well. There is a karaoke video of the opening sequence of the series and a special segment called “The Adventures of Minoru Shiraishi.” This is the real-life Minoru Shiraishi, the music director for “Lucky Star.” In this episode, he heads to a rocky beach in Kyushu (I think) to sing anime songs, such as the “Miracle Minarun-run” from “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.” The segment a hilarious look at how far Japanese directors will go to entertain people.

Image courtesy of kurotiger.blogspot.com

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Filed under Japan, otaku, parody, video game