Sunday, September 25, 2011

It’s the end of September but I’ve decorated for Halloween!

I couldn’t help myself. I’ve been seeing Halloween decorations popping up everywhere since the beginning of this month. I figured I might as well pull out my Halloween decorations out of the closet and put them out today. So that’s what I did.
DVC00017100 yen shops over the past few years have been increasing their Halloween goods stock. It’s about darn time too. Halloween would fit in to Japan’s culture really well I think. It would be just as acceptable as Valentine’s day or Christmas I think.
This year I decorated my front door and living room window. Not all that fancy but at least its in the spirit.
My Halloween decoration collection grew this year. I now have a neat Jack-o-Lantern candle holder to add to my ghost and cat jacks. Very cool.
I might pick up a few more odds and ends before the end of next month too. I love Halloween. :3

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tokyo Game Show 2011

DSCF0007Originally I wasn't planning on going to TGS this year but things fell into place and of all people my wife encouraged me to go and I am glad I did. I ended up getting a few neat pieces of swag and I bought a couple of neat SEGA related collectables.
I spent about 45 minutes outside of the Show just to get in. It was super humid and ultra hot! I was drenched in sweat even before I got into the crowded, stuffy hall. I continued to sweat even more as I stood in long lines on the showroom floor.
The first thing you see as you walk into the main hall of TGS is Microsoft and Konami's booths but once you go deeper into the hall you can find the neat merchandise area.

DSCF0033Nearly every company there that had some kind of marketable mascot had an official booth to hawk their wares. As any true SEGA fan would, I went straight to SEGA's sale booth and found a couple of things I needed to have.
The first item was a PSO timeline t-shirt and the other was a sweet golden SEGA hardware sticker set. There were many other things I wanted from the booth but I was limited with the amount of cash I had on hand and didn't have much time to stick around there to be indecisive.
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There were many other things I wanted to buy but couldn’t so I took pictures of them instead. Winking smile
After buying stuff at the SEGA booth I went to a nearby booth that was selling officially licensed plushies and got myself a Sonic plushie. He'll look good next to the classic Sonic one I have back at my parent's house. Someday I'll remember to take it with me.

DSCF0037Once I was done with my own shopping I decided to check out other sales booths. The Capcom booth was full of Monster Hunter stuff but they also had some neat Megaman and Misc Capcom calendars for sale. I took a few shots of them. I am sure they would make most gaming fans drool as most things here are for sale only at the show. If I had more money I would have bought a lot more to share on eBay or whatever. Maybe next year...
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DSCF0079After I saw everything worth seeing in the first hall I crossed over to the next hall and spent most of my time waiting in lines at the SEGA booth. SEGA was really well setup this year and I got to play 3 games during my short time at the show.

DSCF0076The first game I played was Rhythm Thief. I haven't been too interested in 3DS' offerings but Rhythm Thief is making it very hard for me to avoid the 3DS. The game looked alright but it played really great. I am a huge music game fan and Rhythm Thief delivers. If I were to describe how it felt to me I'd say it felt like a cross between Space Channel 5, Feel the Magic XY/XX, and Elite Beat Agents. It was that good. The demo had two modes to choose from, a dance off challenge mode where you could polish your skills in different scenarios that gave you a grade ranking, or a short story mode. I opted for the challenge mode and got to try a lot of the games different game play styles.

The game uses everything on the 3DS for different game modes, stylus, d-pad and face buttons, and gyro sensor. The last thing I want to say about Rhythm Thief is that it’s MUSIC IS REALLY GOOD. I hope they make an official soundtrack. I also hope this game also gets released on VITA. The game really feels like it would do well on smart phones/tablets too.
The second SEGA demo I tried was Sonic Generations on 3DS. I decided to play the 3DS version because the PS3 console version was crowded and it was playing the same demo that was released to PSN/XBL a couple of months ago. The 3DS Generations demo had 4 levels to choose from. Green Hill Zone and Mushroom Hill with both Modern and Classic Sonic levels were selectable.
I decided to play the Mushroom Hill Zone because I haven't seen any live footage from it. From what I experienced it played pretty smooth and the design seemed very faithful to the original level. Mushrooms bounced Sonic up, hanging mushrooms fell off cliffs, vines rolled out to create bridges, and the elevator crank thing did what it should. The graphics were decent for a handheld but I really wasn't expecting much in that department. The only thing I couldn't experience from the demo was a soundtrack. There were no headphones provided at the demo kiosk and it was too loud to hear anything out of the 3DS' onboard speakers. So we'll just have to wait for someone else’s' review I guess.

The last demo I tried out at the SEGA booth was Shinobi 3D. Another Nintendo 3DS game. I really didn't come to TGS to play 3DS games but somehow that’s all I played and I really wasn't all that disappointed. Shinobi 3DS took a little getting used to. The control scheme seemed a little stiff for my liking but that may be due to me not really paying much attention to the control instruction sheet provided to me. I just kind of jumped in blindly into the game. The game looked alright and things seemed to animate well enough but it wasn't my kind of game. If I had more time I might have given it a fairer shake but by the time I got the game in my hands it was just about time for me to meet up with my wife at a nearby shopping mall she'd been shopping at while I was at the show.

DSCF0084The game I really wanted to play at TGS was PSO2. Unfortunately the line closed about an hour into the convention LOL. There were so many people there that wanted to play it that SEGA had to give fast pass tickets to people in line so they wouldn't clog up the convention floor space. So I have no impressions there besides what I saw from where I was standing. The graphics of the game look beautiful. I am kind of glad they went PC only but I hope my laptop can run it... I would have loved to play it on a console to relive my good times on Dreamcast but at least we're getting a REAL sequel to PSO.

There were other big games from SEGA there like the offshoot Yakuza game, Puyo Puyo 20th, Anarchy Reigns, Binary Domain, and a couple of Hatusne Miku games. Unfortunately I had no time to give to any of those games. The lines were way too long for me to consider waiting out for with the time I had. Again, I am sorry I have no impressions of those demos or any other game companies for that matter.



I did walk around to the other booths and took one or two shots of booth ladies but it was hard to get a good angle on most as most guys there had their mega lens cameras all over these fine ladies like ants on jelly. I managed to get a shot of a friendly SEGA lady and one lady from GREE (a cell phone game company).

I wish I had more time to walk about the convention floor but I had promised my wife that we'd go shopping at the nearby IKEA and Costco together afterward. I'm just glad I got to go period. Now I've got to figure out where I am going to stick the SEGA game system stickers and if I will ever wear my PSO shirt.
So that's my story from TGS 2011. I hope I can stay the whole day next time I go! Maybe even go there with a friend who likes games as much as I do too. Going alone was kind of lonely. Winking smile
Finally, here’s a few shots of all the stuff I got while at the show.
There were too many pictures for me to share on this blog entry. I have two other Photobucket galleries full of pictures. Check them out if you want to see more. Gallery 1 Gallery 2

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Had dinner with another Californian

DVC00013It’s been a long while since I’ve eaten out at an Izakaya style Japanese restaurant with another non-Japanese person.

We had dinner at a nice, affordable restaurant called Vagabond. I’ve been to Vagabond once before with my wife and remembered it being pretty good. This time around it was even better as the menu system was on an iPod touch. I wish I got a picture of it because it was pretty cool and kept an accurate running total as we ordered things. So high tech! What’s also so great about Vagabond is that everything, including all alcoholic beverages, is 280 yen!

So we ate and drank to our heart’s content and barely broke 4000 yen. It was a great night out and I hope we do it again sometime soon!

Here are a few random things I took pictures of…


The interior had an awesome wrap-around mural in it. It was a lot like that film Spirited Away.

The restaurant served Suntory Black Beer. It’s pretty hard to find a dark beer in Japan. Especially on tap. We gladly had a few rounds of it.


I am not a big fan of grilled fish but the fish we got was pretty darn good. I’d eat it again.


We ordered more than seafood but I only remembered to take pictures of the seafood items. We also ordered some Yakitori, Karaage, and a Caesar salad.