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Dear Diary

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I haven't been gaming as much as I wanted to for the last few months. Which isn't to say I haven't been gaming a lot,  just not AS much as I wanted. And as usual I had a very good reason. This time it's because I'm in Japan as a short-term exchange student, studying the language for one year (until September). Nevertheless, in between intensive studying schedule and discovering everything about this country (not to mention a one month trip around Japan I just came back from), I managed to squeeze in a few games.

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Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest was a pleasant surprise more than anything else. Simple and short (not very deep but addictive) JRPG with a two-player party. It served mainly as a medium for practicing easy Japanese, but having it all written in hiragana / katakana (without kanji) actually made it more difficult.

The very unique Trauma had me hypnotized for 2 hours, and I disagree with Kevin VanOrds review. When you know what to expect gameplay-wise, it can be rewarding. If you like quirky adventure games that is, and happen to be in the mood for one.

After that, I finished the flashy Rayman 3 and then went back to finish the non-redundant Rayman 2. They are similar, but R3 is more focused on fighting and is twice as long. Ultimately, I liked R2 more (for a number of subjective reasons). Both of them I liked much more than Rayman Forever, which I had a lot of fun with - up until the point where I was supposed to backtrack to all the levels and collect every single cage in order to be worthy of a short and unsatisfying end battle (as witnessed on Youtube). That's bad game design in my book (luckily they got rid of the idea in later games!), but I could appreciate the core experience for what it is.

Great Work by Nifflas (whose NightSky I finished about a year ago) is probably his best effort so far. You're in a magical and calming cave system; you explore, you jump, you do alchemist work. 'This game was developed for the documentary Alkemistens År, which is the story about Christer Böke who has taken one year off from his well-paid job as an IT-salesman to become a full-time Alchemist.' How awesome is that :D

I never played King of Dragon Pass as a kid, but I vividly remember reading about it in a gaming magazine. When I saw it on GoG, it was an instant buy. It has so much charm and personality!! And the strategy/management part is actually very well done; kept me entertained and busy for hours & hours. A very steep learning curve though - for once I actually read the whole manual.

Beneath a Steel Sky finally emerged from the backlog. What a nice little adventure game! Sure, it's full of dreaded pixel hunting, but underneath that rough exterior lies a great story, a lot of very funny moments and memorable characters. I wonder if Tom Hall (creator of Anachronox) got some inspiration from this one!

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Things are happening in the industry. PS4 got announced, Xbox720 rumors are spreading, Disney bought LucasArts... After reading so much about Star Wars lately, I had to watch some of it again so I went back to Clone Wars. Season 5 is the usual mix of (long) crappy filler story arcs & short spurts of awesome, but the ending was very interesting. Disney, I hope we get a conclusion, and I hope we get 1313.

At least the future of Star Trek gaming looks... promising? :)

Guild Wars 2 did an awesome thing with Super Adventure Box.

But all these things fade when compared to news that made me jump and dance. They. Are. Making. A Planescape: Torment sequel. :O

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I went to the movie theatre a few times here. I disliked James Bond and Die Hard 5. I liked Hobbit and Life of Pi. I loved Cabin in the Woods and Source Code. I was amazed by Elite Squad 1 & 2, Brazilian movies about... society, ultimately. Check it out.

But oh my god, Alice in Burtonland all over again. Only it's not Burton. Theaters are getting over saturated with these pseudo/neo-gothic revivals of well-known fairy tales. Oz doesn't want to be a good man, he wants to be a great man? Another steaming pile of falsely empowering, cheesy, nationalistic crap.

P.S. I'm thinking of writing a post or two about gaming in Japan (about the arcades for example) - is there anything specific you want to know? I could do a little research too. Let me know in the comments! :)

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