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Uesugi-dono Blog

My Daughter: Hostage to my Inner Otaku

I have a bargain right now with my nine year old daughter; and it has afforded me a good deal of leverage.

The covenant is as follows: She has to cease bickering and goading her 3 year old sister for the entire month: no fighting with her, turning the other cheek to her transgressions, basically I'm asking her to be a model big sister for the entire month. In exchange I will preorder and purchase Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f for the PS3. She's struggling to hold up her end of the bargain, but since she has nowhere near enough money to buy the game herself she's bound... to my inner otaku.

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"Um, I need to place a preorder... for my daughter...

If you are unaware (and I can't imagine many of you are unaware by now) Hatsune Miku is the most prominant of what are known as the Vocaloids. Officially, a Vocaloid is a singing voice synthesizer; a computer program that, without human samples, creates a human-like singing voice. Add to that a live band and a hologram that looks like a real life anime character that looks like something out of Ralph Bakshi's wettest dreams and you get Hatsune Miku. The first time I had ever heard about Miku and Vocaloid was right here on Gamespot, in the blogs, but when I eventually saw her perform on video I had to pick my jaw up off the gorram floor.

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She's a hologram all right... with all the outward appearance of 3 dimensions! Her appearance was so amazing that I couldn't tear myself away long enough to avoid being hooked by the music. If you have any weakness at all for J-Pop then giving Hatsune Miku a chance to sing is like trying crack cocaine. You run a very REAL risk of addiction! The next thing you know you're on some creepy message board typing: "Hi, my name is Uesugi and I love Weekender Girl..."

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If you haven't tried the demo that's been on PSN for a few months then you should definately check it out. This quirky Japanese rhythm game isn't exactly a new release. This is the 5th entry (released on the Vita in August of 2012) of a series that debuted on the PSP back in 2009. While it doesn't really do anything gameplay wise that makes it stand out from the bloated genre where it does shine is in the music; some 44 songs complete with multiple characters, tons of costumes, and fully animated videos that go along with it and can be watched once they are unlocked by being played. I do wish that SEGA (With games like Yakuza, Binary Domain, and Valkyria Chronicles SEGA is one of my favorite publishers) would port over the Vita release, just to add another good game to their skinny western lineup, but I must admit I am taken with the demo for the PS3 release and I was struggling with the idea of buying this game at full retail, until...

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I'm willing to wager that virtually all gaming parents would like to play games with their children. It's our hobby, so naturally we are excited to see our children show an interest in it as something special we can share. Sadly, in the VAST majority of my gaming, my daughters shouldn't even be in the room when I'm on my PS3 so when there's an opportunity to play something with my eldest it's a treat for both of us. Such was the case with Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Ratchet and Clank 4, Little Big Planet and many others. So when I invited my daughter to try the demo and then introduced her on Youtube to Hatsune Miku you can imagine the 'SQUEE' my inner Otaku let out. Then, diabolically a plan was hatched...

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Which brings me full circle. The covenant has been strained, to be sure. My daughter has pushed the very limits of her end of the bargain and vocally longs for the day when such reasonable restrictions expire. She has no knowledge, however, that I am secretly rooting for her. She has little clue that inside her 39 year old Papa lurks the raging fires of an Otaking who has been that way long enough to know exactly where the term 'Otaking' comes from! She's managed to keep it together from the 1st of the month until now; the 14th. That's 13 long days to go but I may just go and place that preorder today. Sure the chance exists that she'll blow it before the deadline, and if that happens my inner otaku will have alot of explaining to do to my Japanese wife; who is all too aware of my secret identity! However, I have a lot of pressure on my side of the bargain: 1) This is something my daughter really wants and has worked hard to obtain, 2) It is something we can do together, and 3) I really really want it for myself as well!

... But that can be our little secret.

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So, How Awesome is Dragon's Crown? (Impressions)

Dragons Crown

Yeah, about that awesome.

A clear homage to Golden Axe and other similar fantasy side-scrolling brawlers, Dragon's Crown probably won't win any Game of the Year awards but for what it does it is practically flawless. I chose the Vita version to facilitate ease of play at work (woot) but I kind of regret that; this game is PERFECT for party-play; invite a few friends over and hack-n-drink your way through the night. The characters (Fighter, Wizard, Witch, Amazon, Dwarf, and Elf) are all varied and different enough to give you good reason to mix up your party and each is accompanied by their own tutorial to help you get accustomed to their individual play styles. DC pulls few punches; enemies can easily overwhelm an arrogant player and even the first boss can be a challenge for the unwary, single dwarf! You won't be alone long though; DC is a game meant for a party and it eases you into the prospect with NPCs you can find and resurrect in dungeons (although you must first recover their bones and bring them to the monk in town who has the power to do so.) These resurrected character will be you initial companions but eventually you'll want to take advantage of other players. In other words; here's a multi-player game that us single-player game enthusiasts can get in to!

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There is a definite finesse to battle, despite its simple appearance on the surface. While most combos are mapped to one button with a directional companion other characters have a second set of attack options on a second button. Still more can be unlocked as skill upgrades; one set of upgrades are common to all characters and the other is class specific. These powers expand as your character levels, evolving into their own distinct persona and enabling you to include party members who share your own class and yet still function independently enough to not cramp your style.

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In addition to your 4 main party members you are accompanied by your constant companion Rannie the Rogue; whose only job is to pick locks and occasionally pick up items you're too lazy to get, and eventually Tiki the Fairy, who will assist you in finding the crap-load of secret stuff you are likely to miss until you are moving off screen and it's too late to go back and get it. DC features a truly surprising level of depth for a side-scroller and, as a child of the age when these were our bread and butter, I can honestly say I am impressed. While missions will send you back to the same levels over and over again to mostly fight recycled enemies there are enough little hidden items and areas to make you actually want to do so.

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Ultimately the place where Dragon's Crown shines the most is exactly where it was meant to: in all its 4 player glory. For a Vita player who will spend most of his time playing without an internet connection this is a bit of a disappointment, for while DC supports Cross Save it is decidedly not Cross Buy or Cross Play. A shame, that, since this is undisputedly the best Vita game to come out after Persona 4 Golden. If Sony had decided to go Cross Buy then an incentive for Vita owners would be to level their character while off line and then hop on the PS3 when they got home for some hot-blooded multi-player action in all its 52 inch HD glory. And that's really the black mark against the Vita version: this game is really too pretty to be small. I haven't noticed the slow down that some reviews mention when they talk about the Vita and a full party, but it does just strike me as a shame that such extravagant beauty should be viewed on such a small screen. Don't get me wrong; the game looks amazing on the small screen but it's kind of like trying to enjoy fine art online on your cell phone instead of going to the museum and seeing it first hand.

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Overall Dragon's Crown is an incredibly fun experience made better by multi-player, made even better than that by multi-player with your friends. While it won't win any major awards (and will probably be one of those underground titles in the tradition of Ico) I foresee it developing a rabidly loyal, hardcore fan base. You can count me in that group but I will be definately be on the lookout for a free Plus offering or a price drop in the PS3 version; I'm happy to have another great Vita game but this particular game deserves a bigger canvas for its great art.

Dragon's Crown - 7.5 (PS3 Recommended)

New Used Games and a Terrible Quandry

So, it was a kind of terrible weekend. I, all my own fault, accidentally deleted a save file with over 30 hours of custom design work. (WWE 13 CAW data) That included Custom logos, painstakingly designed pixel-by-rutting-pixel, and 7 created wrestlers. I know the answer to this already but just out of sheer depression and desperation: anyone know how to extract and restore deleted data from the PS3? Gorram THQ doesn't allow CAW data to back up to the cloud. :cry:

In sympathy with my plight my wife gave me 20 dollars and sent me to Gamestop to buy new games to help assauge my mood. This is what I came away with:

Heavenly Sword

- I missed out on Heavenly Sword because when it debuted I hadn't bought a PS3 yet. (I was still on PS2, the Wii, and the 360) Since that time I had always intended to pick it up but was never willing to part with as much money as Gamestop seemed to think it was worth. Well, it's worth 7 bucks; which is what I paid for it. Obstenably my second favorite God of War "clone" (After Conan) I can easily see where this was amazing in its day. Even now the graphics are appealing and the action fun... at least when you play as lead character Nariko. Her mentally challenged cat-girl friend with the cross bow I could do without! I could also be spared the lame attempt to utilize the sixaxis. But for what it is it's a fun game with a unique fake-asian mythology story. A nice blend of east-asian visuals mixed with arabian-influenced music. Heavenly Sword - 7.5

force unleashed

- I'm also very late to Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. This one was free, due to a buy 1 get 1 promotion. Ever notice how the best Star Wars tales are NOT written by George Lucas? (One might argue the original Star Wars but I will always believe that's because Steven Spielberg refined Lucas' mind-garbage into something amazing; just like he did with Indiana Jones) Obviously I will end up having a LOT of fun with this one, but nothing feels right. Right now controls feel clumsy and the game does a poor job of instructing you on how to utilize your powers. Throwing objects (and, hilariously, wookiees) around by flicking a stick is just awkward. I also HATE that I can impale someone on a frakking LIGHTSABER and they still get up and fight more. When will we ever get a Star Wars game where lightsabers are as deadly a weapon as they are supposed to be? Despite quirky controls and an incredible overabundance of enemies and silly platforming this one has charm and fun in spades. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed - 7.0

Brutal Legend

- I reviewed Brütal Legend back in November of 2009 as a title bought at launch and I stand by that review and score. This one was destined for my forever collection but desperate times called for this to be traded along with the next game towards whatever new purchase just couldn't wait. Double Fine's masterful love letter to Heavy Metal was awesome, but slightly a mixed bag; I called it a Keg of Awesome with a Pint of Suck due to the crappy RTS mini-game that made up the large battle portion of this otherwise hilarious, hella-fun advanture with the best gorram soundtrack ever. A great rebuy for 6 bucks. Brütal Legend - (still) 8.5

The Saboteur

- While it hasn't aged (graphically) as well as some other titles, 2009's The Saboteur is still one of the best damn games I've ever played. I reviewed it as well and I also stand by the score I gave it. This one, similar to Brütal Legend, was meant for my forever collection but my rebuy also had a second purpose; I was very close to a platinum on this one when I sold it. Sadly, however, my save game was not preserved (it was on my old PS3 that I sold towards my PS4) but, you know what? Big deal. It's a feckin' pleasure to replay this game. By far the most adult (Nudity wise) of the mainstream releases, The Saboteur could easily be misjudged to be fan-service for teen boys, especially with the Midnight Show that came as a bonus for preorder. (Still have that.) But don't let all the nudity of the Belle Nuit turn you off; there's a setting available in options that will slap pasties on those dastardly boobages if that's not your style. Beyond the controversy Pandemic's swan song is a capable blend of Grand Theft Auto's open world and Assassin's Creed's parkour distilled with a little disguise intrigue á la Prototype. Irish protagonist Sean Devlin is a believable badass with stereotypical Irish appetites that match the stereotypical evil Nazis that terrorize Parisian neighborhoods. True to its name The Saboteur will easily sabotage your Now Playing list (Back when we had those sorts of things) if you're not paying attention. It's done that again; I think about this game night and day! Not bad for 8 dollars. The Saboteur - (still) 8.5

The games are nice, all for around 20 bucks. It doesn't fully cure my depression and self-loathing at accidentally deleting my secondary passion of running fantasy wrestling seasons, but it helps I suppose. So will my next purchase which I'll be picking up later today...

Dragon's Crown

- I'll be getting Dragon's Crown on the Vita for 3 reasons: 1) The only friend I know who's getting it is getting it on the Vita, 2) I can play it at work easily on the Vita, and 3) The Vita needs, needs, NEEDS a game.

Expect Impressions by Thursday!

... There was an Age Undreamed of...

"So Uesugi, what did you end up doing this weekend?"

Thorgrym Returns

Aw, yeah bitches... I'm back.

Not that all of you would remember, but there was a period of, what, 4 months? 4 months of blogging, usually tri-weekly, where Skyrim was mentioned just about every time. In a fit of Shadowrun overload I decided to pop old Skyrim back in (at 300 hours) and resume Thorgrym's adventures.

Presently I'm mired in Solsthiem; that Dunmer-infested wasteland, trying to shut down the seemingly immortal dickhole known as Miiraak. Prick keeps stealing the dragon souls from the dragons I slay. So Thorgrym and his new apprentice Vorstag are hiking all over this dark elf-ridden crapfest trying to put an end to Miiraak so he can get back home to Sylgja and their two kids.

You know what? I've missed this. It feels... right to be back in Skyrim again.

Skål!

Impressions: Shadowrun Returns

If I haven't been blogging my frigging laptop is to blame. Between Civ V: Brave new World, Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition (a 4.99 buy), and now Shadowrun Returns I just hardly blog at all anymore!

The latter is what consumes me at present. Sure it's... primitive. It has kickstarter written all over it, but it is engrossing, fun, and has immense potential with community. It feels like a table top RPG. The installed story feels a little predictable and campy, and I hear it only clocks in at around 12 hours, but a few months from now this one will be PREGNANT with great user-content. I can't wait to get into that creator myself.

The gameplay is related to XCOM but no where near as smooth. The dialogue has been good so far and I can foresee that as the community dive in deeper this will have a LOT of fantastic mods made for it. The most important thing is that this is a GREAT first step for RPGs. Once this evolves into something that can be multi-player co-op and then ported to other popular old school table top RPGs... well can you imagine the potential? Dark Sun? Planescape? Cyberpunk? Spelljammer? Twilight 2000? The grandpappy of them all; Dungeons and Dragons? Done right that potential is... LIMITLESS. And developers and publishers; you wanna talk about DLC and microtransactions? Wizards of the Coast has been humping us old school Dungeon Masters for YEARS. Don't you wanna piece of that?

Shadowrun Returns: 7.0

Initial Impressions: Shadowrun Returns

If I haven't been blogging my frigging laptop is to blame. Between Civ V: Brave new World, Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition (a 4.99 buy), and now Shadowrun Returns I just hardly blog at all anymore!

The latter is what consumes me at present. Sure it's... primitive. It has kickstarter written all over it, but it is engrossing, fun, and has immense potential with community. It feels like a table top RPG. The installed story feels a little predictable and campy, and I hear it only clocks in at around 12 hours, but a few months from now this one will be PREGNANT with great user-content. I can't wait to get into that creator myself.

The gameplay is related to XCOM but no where near as smooth. The dialogue has been good so far and I can foresee that as the community dive in deeper this will have a LOT of fantastic mods made for it. The most important thing is that this is a GREAT first step for RPGs. Once this evolves into something that can be multi-player co-op and then ported to other popular old school table top RPGs... well can you imagine the potential? Dark Sun? Planescape? Cyberpunk? Spelljammer? Twilight 2000? The grandpappy of them all; Dungeons and Dragons? Done right that potential is... LIMITLESS. And developers and publishers; you wanna talk about DLC and microtransactions? Wizards of the Coast has been humping us old school Dungeon Masters for YEARS. Don't you wanna piece of that?

Shadowrun Returns: 7.0

Too Good to Pass Up

Gamestop is running a promotion this week? Month? Not sure which but everything you trade gets a bonus 50% towards preorders on games and systems. Add to that 10% for the Gamestop rewards.

Yesterday I offloaded my oldest PS3 (I had two) and an assortment of older games for a total of 247 dollars. 180 for my old PS3 alone.

Dragon's Crown is paid off and only 93 dollars remains on my PS4!

Good Luck, Commander!

One of the best Easter Eggs! From Civ V Brave New World

XCOM Squad

Movement: 2; Strength: 110; Ranged Attack: 0; Cost: 600; Requires Resource: none Technology: Nanotechnology; Obsolete with: - Abilities: Skyranger (range 40 paradrop) Tech Tooltip: "Futuristic infantry unit skilled at dropping into danger from far across the world. Squad can move and pillage after landing but cannot enter combat until the following turn. Good Luck, Commander!" Notes: A future-era upgrade to the Paratrooper (and a tie-in with Firaxis' XCOM Enemy Unknown).

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A Brave New Diversion

So, if I don't seem as active it's because I picked up Civ V Brave New World. Having such an excellent diversion at work means less blogging, for sure. Civ V has never been my favorite Civ (that was III) but it was pretty and... present. Brave New World fixes a large chunk of V's almost broken mechanics and builds on it with some wholly entertaining updates.

Bah, back to Civ... blog more later.

Civ V: Brave New World - 9.5