Category: Misc.

Random or unclassifiable nonsense.

**SHING*SHING*SHING*SHING*SHING**

020614-strider

Guys, I really hope this new Strider turns out great. Can I tell you I was this close to buying LocoCycle yesterday now that it’s on sale but Strider’s coming to Xbox One in just a few more weeks. I’m also pretty sure LocoCycle will be a prime candidate to be one of Microsoft’s free “Games with Gold” before too long so I’ll put that $10 right into Shadow Complex 2 Strider instead.

Hunting for “junk” games in Akihabara.

An introduction: I moved to Tokyo in July of last year and other than being in love with the country of Japan, it lets me sometimes indulge in my nerdier instincts. When I first moved to Tokyo, I made a point out of coming to Akihabara. It is definitely the nerd capital of the world. Akihabara is actually smaller than you think it is – it is a several block radius surrounding Chuo-dori, a main street in the Chiyoda city district, and just down the street from Ueno – but there’s a lot packed into it.

In Akihabara, the Sega logo still features prominently.

Akihabara!

Something that I do often is trawl the video game stores of Akihabara for their cheapest titles, often called “junk games,” because there’s a reasonable chance the games might not work — and for anyone who remembers the glory days of Funcoland and GameStop, these are usually cartridge based games with no box, no instructions, and often with stickers or some other kind of indication that someone at some point owned it. In Japan, that often means finding a Super Famicom game with some kid’s name on it, and there’s a high chance that he probably works at a company somewhere having long forgotten about the game that he used to play. In addition to Super Famicom, the most common junk games include titles playable on Famicom (original NES), Mega Drive (Sega Genesis), PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16 or Duo), Game Boy, GB Advance, and DS. Of course, super old PlayStation and Sega Saturn titles abound as well, some Dreamcast games, and in some places, you’ll even find WonderSwan, 3DO, Neo-Geo, and Atari Jaguar games. There are lots of non-junk games without instructions or boxes as well, some of them even the same games but marked up much more considerably, but I’ll be focusing on the junk games here.

Most of the time in the junk games section, they really are junk; copies of horse racing games, substandard baseball games, soccer games, or really obscure RPGs that only deep hardcore nerds have ever played litter the bins. They are usually around 100 yen, making the risk minimal, and if you end up finding a gem that works, it makes the search worth it. Of course, you also run into the risk that the games plain don’t work, which is a fair assumption because most of the cartridge games are over 20 years old at this point, and it’s reasonable to assume that age has taken its toll. Even then, a good cleaning of the contacts with rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab usually gets them up and running again, though in Japan, rubbing alcohol is weirdly expensive and not easy to find compared to America where a large bottle will usually run you a buck. I’ve needed to do that twice; once for a copy of Fatal Fury for the Super Famicom –which is a bad port, so don’t buy it—and once for Super Mario World, which of course, you should already own if you don’t already.

Super Mario World for SFC!

A junk bin copy of Super Mario World, bought for 250 yen, only needed TLC to get working fine!

However, if you do find any interesting rarities, you’d better snap them up quick. What may be there one day won’t be there the next. There are maybe a thousand other game hunters looking for the exact thing and they are not in Japan to hesitate on some gem.

There are lots of places where you can hunt for used games. The largest chain is Book-Off; this is a general media second hand store that often has some surprising things in their bins, but it’s a difficult place to shop and the main Akiba store’s junk bin is located next to their AKB48 section, and given the fanbase of that obscenely large JPop group, you might have to do some bobbing and weaving to do any looking. (Protip: if you don’t know any Japanese, the most handy word you can learn is sumimasen, which means both “excuse me” and “I’m sorry.”) Super Potato is the legendary one, the one all nerds lust over, but their junk bin is limited and often doesn’t have anything interesting, though I did get a Minimoni party game there. Trader has many, many locations throughout Tokyo –and even three locations down Chuo-dori– but you have to be careful, because if you go up too many stairs, you’ll find yourself wading in porn. That aside, Trader has an outstanding selection and usually has some of the more obscure titles in fairly good condition – and plenty of new copies of recently released Dreamcast games! One I like is Retro Game Camp, but it’s very small, very cramped, and their junk bins are usually outside, exposed to the elements. Sofmap is also very large, but their junk bins so big, going through them is too much of a chore, and again, going up too many levels smacks you straight into porn. Mulan and Lammtarra are two others I’ll briefly mention, but I don’t really recommend those places to anyone but the brave, as Mulan’s junk bin is also outside and exposed to the elements, and Lammtarra specializes in porn and JPop idol memorabilia, so unless that’s a thing you’re specifically into, you can skip it entirely.

Two places you shouldn’t look for used games are Yodobashi Camera and Don Quijote. Yodobashi is a wonderful place but it doesn’t sell used games, and Don Quijote,  a discount goods store with an AKB48 theater on its top floor  in the Akiba location and three floors with some amazing arcade games , has a forgettable section not worth browsing. You should totally visit those places anyway, though.

If you need older consoles to play the games, I recommend either Super Potato, Retro Game Camp, or Trader2 (there are four Traders in Akiba, but Trader2 has the best selection and largest store, located a few meters away from the Belle Salle building). I bought my PC Engine at Super Potato, but they have a bunch of semi-obscure consoles and loads of the usual suspects, including a bunch of Neo-Geo CD consoles and even an MSX or two. Retro Game Camp comes close, and I’ve even seen a Mega Drive in its original, Sega Master System style box. Trader2 also has a good selection, and also has a hilariously large selection of original Xbox consoles – if that’s any indication how poorly the original Xbox did in Japan. They also have Retron-style emulator consoles and handhelds.

Sometimes these stores are intimidating to shop; the aisles are small compared to American shops, there can sometimes be a lot of people coming through at any given time, and in the case of cartridges, there’s a lot of fishing and guessing unless you already know what you’re looking for. But picking up Philosoma, the entire Ridge Racer series on PlayStationor Super Fire Pro Wrestling Queen’s Special for 100 yen? Totally worth the effort.

Harry Potter gonna make you sweat, sweat!

No other literary property had such a strong motion gaming presence at E3 this year as Harry Potter. Whether it’s the bicep-busting reps you’ll work through with Wonderbook: Book of Spells or the full-body engagement of Harry Potter Kinect, you can’t enter the world of J.K. Rowling in 2013 without breaking a sweat!

Wonderbook: Book of Spells presents the perfect mix of upper body workout with the lower body flexibility of yoga. Work that wand arm to defeat mischievous dragons while holding a perfect Baddha Konasana pose with your legs! Don’t forget to switch hands between routines or you’re left side might need a shot of Engorgio!

Ready for a high impact workout?! You’ll swear P90X stands for Potter-times-90 once Harry Potter Kinect is done with you. Relive classic scenes from all hefty 8 books as you jump, lunge, duck, and swing through this game’s 30 levels spread across 4-6 hours of action! Play alongside your favorite characters as HPK puts YOU in the game… and under the Sorting Hat. Change spells with your powerful voice by yelling out ‘FURNUNCULUS’, ‘INCENDIO’ or ‘RIDDIKULUS’! Cool down after a tough workout with some herbology in Professor Sprout’s gardens.

She broke your heart with the Harry Potter novels and in 2013 J.K. Rowling is back to break your ass!

Welcome APOPA Fans!

Thanks so much to Asian Pop Addict Radio for the shout out on the episode this week!  Happy 1 year anniversary and I hope you’ll have many more!

Any gamers who also like Asian pop should check out their show, it’s lulzy.

An Evening with Lifeline

Friday night we started out playing Dance on Broadway that Katy and I were genuinely interested in but after it wound up being a big bummer we worked our way back through Karaoke Revolution on PlayStation 2 and I somehow ended up finally playing 2004′s Lifeline for the very first time. Watch a good half hour’s worth of early game madness as I try to tell a space waitress how to shoot poop slugs with a handgun. I’d really like to play more of this some day… when there aren’t any other games left to play. That includes N3II.

The GameLuv Show Loves Orbs and Steam, Hates Battle.NET



The whole crew is back this week in tip-top form! Maxx kicks it off with his souring experience with OnLive (he bought Borderlands for PC), Katy and I fantasize about Agent sex in Crackdown 2, and Dana fills us in on Blizzard’s unsettling Real ID/Battle.NET mess. Oh, and we all flipped out over that Steam summer sale and detail a bunch of games we bought that we probably won’t ever finish! All that and all this too!

Listen to the show right here in this very page or, as always, head over to our Talkshoe page to rate and review the show, subscribe via RSS or iTunes, and check out all of our past episodes! Thanks for listening and letting us know what you think! Leave a comment here, e-mail us at podcast (at) gameluv (dot) com, hit us up on Twitter @GameLuv, or give us a ring at (646) 504-GAME. We hope you like it!

Play LEGO Harry Potter OnLive, win an iPad

The backbone of OnLive is pretty amazing stuff; streaming PC gaming that requires little more than a web browser and a controller. But ever since the service launched and Maxx and I got invited in it’s felt more and more bleak. Losing the right to serve up any games from EA (for now) has left OnLive with a tiny roster of titles and the payment structure in general is a little confusing. There’s not a lot of PR coming out of the company yet so I was pleased to see that their first new release, LEGO Harry Potter, came with some fanfare.

That fanfare would be a contest in which the first person to complete the game by having found all 200 Gold Bricks and completed a Voldemort bonus level will win an Apple iPad with the next five players who meet the stiff criteria winning an iPod Touch. I especially like the way in which you prove your progress. Since OnLive is a streaming service it’s always backing up the last several seconds of your game and you can simply hit a button combo to save that footage as a Brag Clip. It harkens back to the days when you’d take a photo of your TV to prove to Activision you really did get a top score on Astro Blast, but the rules nowadays are understandably more complex. Good on ya, OnLive! Here’s to progress!

Done Playing: Trine (PC)

Continue reading or just watch the game’s intro level. Sums it all up!

With Trine 2 having just been announced at E3 it seems the time has come to finally write something about my hours spent with the original. After playing the PC demo on my friend’s super rig, wishing I could play it on my own, waiting impatiently for the PlayStation 3 version, slightly upgrading my computer’s video card and stumbling into a sale on Steam, I finally had the game all to myself. But for all the anticipation it wound up being a game I’d play for an hour here and there and then put down for weeks. Maybe I didn’t want the magic to end or maybe I’m just not so keen on sitting in front of my PC monitor and mouse/keyboarding my way through a game anymore.

Don’t let my lack of firey commitment fool you, though. Trine is a gorgeous game, one that pushes beyond my meager GeForce 9500 GT and one that pulls off the same kind of fantastical whimsy of an adventure like Fable. It’s something in the audio to be sure. That narrator makes me wish I were English and that he were my grandfather so he could read me bedtime stories the way he does Trine’s poetic prose. Long after the next level has finished loading he’ll be going on about how your characters are in for a surprise or how the magical world used to be a serene wonderland. The characters play off of each other pretty well, too, but there’s some definite Eastern European voice talent at work here. Above all, though, it’s the music that makes Trine special. Despite the endless stream of skeletons and the detailed worlds the music almost always stays playful with horns and strings setting the tone more than accompanying the action.

Trine isn’t just mood setting music and glorious visuals, it’s a physics puzzle/platformer — the kind of stuff that’s right up my alley. The setup is that there’s a magical crystal that three very different people with very different abilities lay their grubby hands on at the exact same time. The Wizard, Thief and Knight are sucked into the crystal and only one at a time can come out to play. The Wizard can levitate objects and conjure up simple boxes and planks, the thief has the ranged bow and can grapple onto wooden surfaces to swing around, and the Knight is the muscle to push objects and deal with firey traps.

And that’s all there is to it. The triptych trio set out to put an end to a dark force bringing skeletons back from the grave and filling the world with booby traps and physics puzzles. You’ll typically encounter a new area, see what you can interact with or where you can climb to, conjure some objects or push some stuff around, fight a dozen skeletons on your way out and repeat. That’s quite the boiled down description but I assure you it’s fun and, just like Portal, you’ll soon be scratching your head for a solution and then laughing at how you managed to conquer the last impasse.

If simply passing through each stage isn’t challenging enough there are a ton of hidden Experience potions that are usually easy to spot but fiendishly hard to reach. You don’t need them to progress as skeletons are literally bursting with Experience but to find all the hidden treasures (which are ability augmenting trinkets) you’ll need the bonus powers and beefed up magic reserves that they unlock. Plus, they’re just as head-scratchingly fun to collect as puzzling through the story so stop moving forward and start screwing around!

Mischief! That’s the defining characteristic of Trine. From that playful music to the numbskull skeletons that you mess with by dropping objects onto, to the bouncy, springy physics that invite you to play around. Trine is medieval mischief, a fun little game that does its thing in a splendid looking fantasy world that I can’t wait to get back to either by playing the new DLC or the sequel.

E3 2010: The Third Parties – EA and Konami

I caught most all of the Electronic Arts, Konami and Ubisoft press conferences from E3, and in a timely manner no less, so here’s a little two-post roundup thing.

Electronic Arts
Clearly they aren’t speaking to me with this stuff. Besides the sports games which I’ve never cared about, Medal of Honor, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Dead Space 2 and The Sims all washed right over me. EA’s social network, Gun Club, seems cool but if it revolves around their online shooters it’s also a wash for me. I can’t wait to see what EA Sports Active 2 for Kinect is like, Crysis 2 and Bulletstorm are both right up my alley, and maybe I’d still get into APB if my PC can even run it. Of everything they showed, Criterion’s reboot of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (watch above) was the only game to ping my radar. And even that didn’t look all that fun, but it’s still early and they already nailed the exotic-cars-in-interesting-locations vibe of the original.

Konami
While I agree with the consensus that Konami’s presser was the “Train Wreck of the Show” I came out more excited for several of their games than I was going in. The localized version of Otomedius Excellent was a great surprise and I’ve always wanted to play a ‘-dius’ shooter that didn’t require importing a $90 cartridge. Adrenaline Misfits gets a pass only because there’s a slim chance that a kart-style racer might be fun using Kinect and I’m still open to Castlevania: Lords of Shadows somehow being fun.

What really won me over was Iga’s presentation of the other Castlevania, Harmony of Despair but I talked about that already. Metal Gear Solid Rising looked zan-tastically datsu-m (sorry) with controller-based sword play that seems more precise and fun than all that cludgy junk on the Wii! A break from the traditional Metal Gear Solid gameplay while still getting to hang out in that world seems perfectly timed for me. I wasn’t all that crazy about Ninety-Nine Nights 3 before but after Tak Fujii’s awkwardly casual intro and his fantastic dreadlocks I’m willing to support anything the guy does. But even his play for applause wasn’t as uncomfortable as the DanceMasters presentation.

DDR Producer, Naoki Maeda and Thomas Nagano pretty much pretended to play the game as a video of it was displayed on the screen in front of them. At several points you see shots of them in the game and they’re wearing different clothes than they are on stage! They did let people play it on the show floor so I’ll forgive the deception but mostly because Naoki is amazing engrish man (VERY EX’CISE!!) and I never got to play ParaParaParadise.