Back To My Roots

Yosh! It’s been a while since my last post. This is mostly due to the hectic nature of a student’s life. Classes,exams,assignments and all sorts of crap gets in the way. Well that’s just how life’s work. Sigh

Anyway I would like to tell a story about what got me interested in anime,manga and video games. What defines me as a person. Let’s get started then.

1.Pokemon (2000)

Pokemon. Yeah, I still remembered how I accidentally watched Pokemon. I was 9, drowsy waking up from bed because I need to go to school. There was a cartoon slot from 7- 9 a.m, showcasing a lot of  kids oriented anime. I turned on the t.v, and watched this new show called Pokemon. It was the first episode where Ash met Pikachu for the first time. I noticed something different about this show. It was the first show that introduced me to the concept of interaction between a human (trainer) and a monster. Like Ash, I was too amazed by the slight  glimpse of  a mythical bird Pokemon (later was known as Ho-oh) flew to the horizon. I was immediately hooked. 

At school, the Pokemon craze started to go viral. A lot of students went and bought a Gameboy, so they can play Pokemon Red/Blue. The Pokemon trading card game was also popular, with students bringing their collections to swap cards and battle during the lunchtime. They battle/trade  their Pokemons using the link cable, and a lot of Gameboy was confiscated because it was illegal to bring a Gameboy to school.  It was really crazy back then at school.

Shit just got real

A year later, I managed to play my first Pokemon game, Pokemon Blue. This was the first JRPG that I played in my life, and it was the first JRPG that I managed to complete too. A lot of fond memories I’ve had with this game, especially when my sister and I spent an hour travelling blindly in the dark cave after the second gym because we did not have HM Flash. Walking in random directions, listening to the sound cues when we hit the cave’s wall, battling random mountain guys that used rock type Pokemon (Geodude, Zubat and etc), were all the difficulties that we have to endure  just to get out of the cave.We were really happy when we managed to survive and get out of that cave safely.  THANK YOU SQUIRTLE! And the ability to travel to Kanto and battling Red in Pokemon Gold/Silver really blew my mind back then.

It was the first game that introduced the term RPG for me. Since then, my taste in games are mostly JRPG oriented. Without Pokemon, I wouldn’t be introduced to the concept of having an adventure in a video game. So thank you Pokemon!

A Tale of Two Reviews

Yosh! It has been ages since I’d updated this blog. Well life get’s in the way . As usual. So since I got too much free time right now, I’m gonna write a preview of two reviews that I’m gonna do for the next few week. Preview of 2 reviews? P-REVIEWCEPTION.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (Nintendo 3DS)

The first game that I’m hopefully gonna review is Theatrhtym:Final Fantasy, a rhythm game that features 70+ plus songs from the beloved RPG series, Final Fantasy.My copy has been dispatched, so in a perfect world the game will arrive probably by next week.

I’ve played the demo for the game for 20+ times already because it’s so good. The gameplay is solid, the soundtrack is awesome and I love the cute doll-like character designs that indieszeroes chose for the game since all Final Fantasy games has different art styles. So I’m really waiting this game to come to me and INJECT IT TO MY VEINS. ALL OF IT.

Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance (Nintendo 3DS)

The second game that I’m waiting to arrive on my front door is a little, unpopular, unknown title CALLED KINGDOM HEARTS: DREAM DROP DISTANCE.    I was supposed to get the game last week but noooo, my online retailer had some problems with the supplier so I have to wait for 2-3 weeks for the game.First world problem.

 

But based on what I’ve played on the demo, this game will meet and exceeds my expectations for the Kingdom Hearts series. The introduction of the Freeflow Motion system really changed the combat dynamics for this game. Now you can wall jump, grind rails and ect, It’s really hard to go back playing the older game once you get used to the Freeflow Motion system. The graphics and the 3D looks good on the system and the soundtrack should be awesome judging by the samples that I listened to on the interwebs.

So hopefully I can complete these two games and give a verdict. These two games  will preoccupied me throughout the whole month, so this month is gonna be good. In the meantime, I’m gonna go back playing Red Frame in  Gundam EX: Versus on PS3. Bye!

Animution:steins;gate

Animution is a weekly column (hopefully) where I rant/complain /admire about the anime that I watched recently.

The Butterfly Effect.Divergence. Action and consequences. Discrepancy. These are all the theories and terms  that are mostly associated with one enigmatic phenomenon that still intrigues me, time-travelling. I admit that I easily get excited with stories that incorporated time travelling mechanism in them, regardless of the medium. So when I heard about an anime series that tightly woven its plots with time-travelling mysteries, my body is ready for it.                     

steins;gate is an anime based on a popular Visual Novel game developed by 5pb. and Nitroplus for the Xbox 360 and PC in Japan. From what I’ve read recently, there’s a possibility that the game would be released to the western market, eventhough there is already an English  translation patch released by the fans for the PC version lurking somewhere in the internet last year.

The characters in steins;gate

The anime was aired from April 2010 to September the following year, consists of 24 episodes. From the general consensus among the anime fans, it was one of the best anime last year. So I was really excited based on the positive reactions it received. There are maybe some minor spoilers that I may accidentally write, but I try my best not to. Anyway generally the story follows  a cast unique characters that got tangled up with some time-travelling experiments.Okay, the pacing of the story is kinda like Darker than Black-ish, where it starts pretty slow but gets interesting really fast. So you have been warned. But once the mysteries of time travelling mechanics kicks in, you will be hooked and desperately wanting to know what happen next in the story. The cast of characters are pretty strong too, with the lead male character, Rintaro Okabe, a narcissistic, delusional, self-proclaimed ‘mad scientist’  provides an interesting take on male characters that we rarely seen in anime nowadays. He believes that ‘The Organization’ is watching him constantly, and it is his responsibility to fight them back with his inventions. He convinced that ”The Organization’ is ruling the world in the shadows, and it is up to him to stop the world ruling and creates chaos and destruction. He is being helped by 2 of his friends, a hacker named Itaru ‘Daru’ Hashida, and his childhood friend, Mayuri Shiina. Together they formed ‘Future Gadgets Lab’, an amateur lab that are placed on top of a CRT-repairing store. Then he meets up with Kurisu Makise, a prodigal genius that has a high level of curiosity in her. The story progresses after he met her, with some unexpected twist in the mix to keep me glued to my monitor screen. The plot is really good, tackling the time travelling theme makes it a standout compared to other anime. The quality of the anime is really high, with striking art design for the characters. In an era where moe characters are prevalent in the anime industry, the character design  is a breath of fresh air. The music is good too, especially the piano score that resonates with me well.

Anyway if you looking for  thought-provoking anime to watch, this anime is just for you.The interesting plots with unique characters will leave you wanting more . So just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride..

Simple and Clean: The Kingdom Hearts Retrospective Part 6

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep was developed by Square-Enix Osaka and Disney for the Sony Playstation Portable. It was the 6th installment for the series, and dubbed as Kingdom Hearts Episode 0 by Nomura because it serves as a prequel for the Kingdom Hearts series. Nomura said that this game has the same importance as the 2 mainline games in the series, Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II.

Kingdom Hearts:Birth by Sleep was originally planned for the Sony Playstation 2, with Sora as the protagonist. The development began in 2005, before the release of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+ but the development team changed the platform to the PSP to take advantage of the PSP functionality such as co-operative and competitive gameplay. Nomura was still acting as a director, and co-directed by Tai-Yasue.

KH:BBS gameplay scenes

KH:BBS gameplay scenes

The development team used the engine from previous Square-Enix game, Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core for the game. The titled of the game was inspired by the unlockable trailer shown in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+.

Nomura said in an interview that an unlockable secret ending will be in the game,  and a new kind of monsters will be introduced in the game, The Unversed. Nomura also implemented a new feature in the game, the Command Board system that was inspired by his primary school experiences playing board games.

Left to right: Ventus, Terra, Aqua

The game features an revamped battle system, and follows the story of Terra, Aqua and Ventus  in their quest to locate Master Xehanort. It comprised of 3 parts: Terra, Aqua and Ventus where players will have to finish all 3 parts of the game to understand the  story of the game from 3 different perspectives. The 3 characters would be played differently: Terra the brute character, Ventus the agile character and Aqua the magic focused character. The game made some public appearances  on the 2009 Tokyo Game Show and 2010 Jump Fiesta before it being released.

The game was released in Japan on January 9th, 2010 and September 10th in North America the same year. The game was received very well by the critics, with praised on the game’s graphics, music and improved battle system. The 3 different perspectives provide a fresh and unique gameplay for the franchise, but the camera controls (due to the lack of second analog nub on PSP) and the loading times was being the common complaints. The game received an aggregate of 82% in metacritic, the third highest aggregate score of the franchise behind Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II. The game sold extremely well, with 500,000 copies sold in two days times in Japan. It was also the sixth bestselling video games in  North America at  the month of October 2010.

KH:BBS box art

Kingdoms Hearts 10th anniversary logo

Kingdoms Hearts 10th anniversary logo

So what the future holds for the franchise? Endless possibbilites.With the 10th anniversary for the franchise coming up this year and the latest installment for the franchise, Kingdom Hearts:Dream Drop Distance that will be released on March 29th in Japan, and in North America and Europe later this year, the future still looks bright for the franchise. Nomura said that the voice recording session for the English version of Kingdom Hearts:DDD was already underway, and the storyline would progress in preparation for the long overdue, but still inevitable Kingdom Hearts III. After nearly 10 years since it was first conceivable, the amount of hype for the franchise  is still going strong. Nomura hinted that Kingdom Hearts III would concludes the Xehonart saga, but when the game would be announced or what platform it would be on is still a mystery for the fans….

The End.

Simple and Clean: The Kingdom Hearts Retrospective Part 5

Kingdom Heart coded was developed by Square-Enix, with collaboration with Walt Disney Internet Group for the Japanese mobile phones. It is an episodic, puzzle video game sets after the events of Kingdom Hearts II. The game was directed by Nomura, and co-directed by Hajime Tabata. Tabata disapproved the idea for a Kingdom Hearts game for a mobile phone, but then he found the idea interesting.  The playable demos was being shown to public at Tokyo Game Show 2008 and Jump Fiesta events at 2009.

coded was released on the  PRIME Series “P-01A” mobile phone on June 3rd, 2009. The game consists of 8 episodes,with the last episodes being released on January 28th 2010. The story follows Jimmy Cricket as he found a hidden message in his journal.  Players play as a digitized Sora as he went back to the previous locales in the first game, digitally to investigate the anomaly in Jimmy’s journal.

The game was ported to the Nintendo DS titled Kingdom Hearts RE:coded. It was ported by h.a.n.d, the same team that developed Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days. The game was released in Japan on October 7th,  2010 and January 11th in North America the following year.  A few improvements were made, such as the

KH RE:coded gameplay

revamped combat system and some secret unlockable trailer that hinted Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance for the Nintendo 3DS. The game received an aggregate of 66% on metacritic, with some calling it the worst game  in the series. Most called the game as decent, as it will filled the hunger of fans for a new Kingdom Hearts game. The unlockable trailer was deemed worthy for fans, as it details the events when Master Sid discussed Riku and Sora the location of Aqua, Ventus and Terra. He sends Riku and Sora to the Mark of the Mastery exam as a preparation for the revival of Master Xehanort.

Kingdom Hearts RE:coded box art

To be continued to part 6…

Simple and Clean:The Kingdom Hearts Retrospective part 4

Tokyo Game Show,an annual event that happens on September every year showcasing some of the latest games from Japanese developers and publishers. Previous Kingdom Hearts games had been announced at the show (Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts:COM),so naturally gamers were eagerly anticipating this event for a possible announcement of new games for the franchise. And boy,they were not expecting the surprise that Square-Enix has in store for them.

It was on September 21st, 2007 at the Tokyo Game Show held in Makuhari Messe. On that day, Square-Enix announced not one,but three new Kingdom Hearts titles for three different handheld systems. Nomura was already hinted the possible spin-offs of the franchise on the mobile platforms during an interview with Famitsu earlier that year. He wanted the spin-offs played sligthly different than the main game in the series.

The three new KH games

Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days for the Nintendo DS,  Kingdom Hearts:coded for the Japanese cellphones and Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep for the Sony Playstation Portable. These three games would tell a different story for the franchise, and gamers were gleefully surprised with the announcement for 3 new Kingdom Hearts games.

Kingdom Hearts:358/2 Days was developed by h.a.n.d with Square-Enix overseeing the project  for the Nintendo DS. The team  decided to make a new Kingdom Hearts game for the system, while still retaining the core gameplay of the Kingdom Hearts series. Nomura was the director for the game, with

As usual,concept art for KH:358/2 Days

Tomoshiro Hasegawa acting as co-director. Nomura hinted that the players would understand the meaning of 358/2 Days when they finished the game. One interesting feature that has been introduced in the game was the cooperative multiplayer system. This was the first Kingdom Hearts game that has a multiplayer component implemented in it.  The demo of the multiplayer and single player components of the game were playable during Jump Fiesta in December 2007 and the DKΣ3713 Private party event on August the following year.

The game was an intersequel to the franchise, spanning the story from the end of the first game to the beginning of  the  Kingdom Hearts II. It tells the story of Roxas, during the days when he was a member of Organization XIII. It details the relationship of Roxas with the Organization XIII members, especially with his best friends, Axel and Xion. The multiplayer components of the game allows up to 4 players takes part in  Monster Hunter-esque style of missions. Players can choose to play as the numerous Organization XIII members, as well as some hidden characters that can be unlocked in the game.

The game was finally released in Japan on May 30th, 2009 and in North America on September 29th the same year. A special Kingdom Hearts themed Nintendo DSi was released in Japan to celebrate the release of the game.

The KH themed DSi

The game received mixed responses from the critics. They praised the visual fidelity of the game on Nintendo DS, but complained about the repetitive nature of the game, the camera controls and the lack of depth of the battle system due to the system limitations. The multiplayer aspects of the game were generally being complimented by the critics, as well as the A.I partners. Overall the game gained an aggregate of 75%, still a favorable review  at metacritic. As expected, the game sold reasonably well, with up to 1.2 millions units sold worldwide by the end of November 2009.

Kingdom Hearts:358/2 Days box art

To be continued to part 5…

Simple and Clean:The Kingdom Hearts Retrospective part 3

Everyone knows that a sequel to the first game was coming. This was first teased by the unlockable trailer in Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts Final Mix. A Japanese  video game website,Quiter also published an ‘insider rumor’ that the sequel was being made for the Sony Playstation 2. It was not until September 2003,during the Tokyo Game Show the rumor was confirmed by Square with the announcement of Kingdom Hearts II for the Sony Playstation 2 along with the announcement of Kingdom Hearts:Chain of Memories for the Gameboy Advance. Both of the games will be directed by Tetsuya Nomura,the director from the first game and will be produced by Shinji Hashimoto and coproducer Yoshinori Kitase. Shinji Hashimoto hinted that all the questions from the first game will be answered in the second game during Square-Enix E3 conference the following year.Fans were all aboard the hype-train that year.

Kingdom Hearts II was developed by most of the original staff members,which formed Square Product Development Division 1. A lot of changes were planned for the second game. Nomura planned to improve on a number of aspects that

Kingdom Hearts II concept art

Kingdom Hearts II concept art

were thought lacking . The battle system was improvised by introducing a couple of new elements such as the Drive System which allows Sora to change forms and increased flexibility of the summoning system. The battle animation of Sora was reworked completely, abandoning the previous battle animation. Nomura said that it was to reflect the maturity of Sora for the second game. The camera controls were mapped to the right stick (hooray for  common sense!)  and improvements were made to Gummy ship minigame . Reaction commands were now introduced to the game,depending on the circumstances during fights with the enemies.  All these changes were made to reflect the scope of the sequel while addressing some of the complaints from the first game.

Kingdom Hearts II was released in Japan on December 22nd,2005 and on March

Saix,a member of Organisation XIII

28th the following year in North America. The game takes place a year after the events of Kingdom Hearts:Chain of Memories. The game still follows the plight of Sora (which has lost most of his abilities due to the event in KH:COM) searching for his two best friends,Riku and Kairi. However, the game starts with a new protagonist ,Roxas who has more connection to Sora more than he can ever predicted. New villains and monsters emerged,such as the shrouded in black Organization XIII from KH:COM and nobodies(a shell from the Heartless) from the first game. The tone for this game is sligthly darker compared to the first game.

There are some noticeable differences between the Japanese and the English version. Some of the contents were edited,this is due to Disney’s decisions that they are deem inappropriate for the western market.For example,the original scene  where Axel sacrificed himself in the game ended with him getting burned  alive with his power. Shockingly cruel for a Disney game.  The English version replaced that scene with Axel slowly fading away after using up all his power.

Unsurprisingly, the game sold extremely well. The game was the second best selling game for 2006. By the end of March 2007,the game has shipped 4 millions copies worldwide.Critics lauded the improvement in graphics and gameplay,and gaining an aggregate of 87% in metacritic. The game won several awards such as Sattelite Award in 2006 and Famitsu ‘s Game of the Year Award for 2005. Based on the quality of the sequel,fans could not contained their excitement for Kingdom Hearts III..

Kingdom Hearts 2 box art

To be continued to part 4…