Monday, December 29, 2008

Not-so-secret-project sketchpad #1

"Behold, unintelligent earthlings! I am Commander KIJUJU of the Space Invaders Forces, and I come bearing gifts of doom! You may be surprised, even flabbergasted by my three-dimensional form instead of the usual sublime 2D plane that we Invaders come from. After much research and trawling of your information superfeed, we have decided upon this form, as according to your datastream it is the most eye-catching and attention-grabbing of all! And it says a lot about you, you perverts!"

Joint project with Ryan. X3

Friday, December 26, 2008

Dying inside, and hello, 2009.

1. I once read in a book somewhere that people cannot claim to know other people as they are, at any present moment.

It is because that body cells are always dying, replaced regularly by new cells. At any given time, a person is instantaneously shedding their former identity and is being born into a new one even while they talk to you about the most trivial of things. Thus, the person you knew at 10:31 am is not the same person, biologically speaking, as the one you have spoken to in the following evening.

Almost everything you've known about that person no longer holds as fact, but memories of the person who died shortly after 10:31 am, to be replaced by another one who thinks, acts, and feels like their predecessor.

That said, there's no need to write "I want to become a new person" in your New Year's Resolution list. It's a fact of life; you constantly die only to be reborn all the time, every so often. It's just a matter of not acting/thinking/feeling like the same guy who died inside you a few hours ago, whom you, as you are right now, have replaced.

Perhaps a better item to add to your New Year's Resolution list should say something along the lines of "I will be that person who I was on December 21, 2008, 10:31 am, when I was actually productive, when I didn't complain as much, when I actually felt good about myself, and remained non-judgmental."

It's interesting, the things that realizes when thinking on different perspectives.

2. I wonder how different this coming year would be; I've stopped adapting a brighter outlook every turn of the year, because I've realized that I can do it every day. In the same token I'm (still struggling to) fight off the temptation of being pessimistic every once in a while, because I'll never know when things will turn up for me, whatever fuck ups I've committed.

What do you have in store for me, 2009?

Christmas '09 Wish List ♥

Managed to read my former officemate's Christmas wishlist on his Multiply page, which reminded me that I haven't come up with my own because I was busy having Christmas...well, on Christmas day. I wouldn't get into the "spirit" or "real meaning" of the holiday, because I wouldn't want to go all Ayn Rand and debate the fact that Christmas was, in fact, a pagan holiday stolen from the Romans. And I really hate Ayn Rand, but don't force me.

Now, let's get into the real meat of the holidays: capitalism and commercialism!

Anyway Santie, the stash I got from you is already awesome, but I think you could do better. A LOT better. So let me give you a jumpstart towards the right direction for next year's Christmas. ♥

1. Galapagos Tortoise

Taken from Wikipedia:
The Galápagos tortoise (or Galápagos giant tortoise), is the largest living tortoise, native to seven islands of the Galápagos archipelago. Fully grown adults can weigh over 300 kilograms (661 lb) and measure 1.2 meters (4 ft) long. They are very long-lived with a life expectancy in the wild ?estimated to be over 150 years.
Why do I want a giant tortoise, especially when I'm already steeped in acrid envy at its immunity from rent prices? Why do I want something that would most probably consume my year's supply of apples in a matter of days?

Because with a little ingenuity and a dash of know-how, I can turn this:

into this:
Who needs rabid pitbulls if you've got cannon-toting murder turtles? Sure, they're slow movers - but with their patience and the fact that can make the earth grovel under their feet with each step, robbers will know that no matter how far they get away, murder turtles (okay, tortoises) WILL catch up with them and WILL eventually fire one of their huge-ass cannons point-blank, no matter how many years that one task may take.

Scrap big dogs if you need one for home security. No one will ever dare breach your home if doing so will mean having to stay awake each and every night for the rest of their lives, feeling for any telltale tremors or listening for any heart-gripping growling that may signal the coming of the fearsome murder turtle, which is taking revenge for the lightbulb that was stolen from your garage ten years ago.

2. F-22 Raptor

I've already grown tired of singing Queen's One Vision in karaoke bars. Singing that hotblooded anthem while zipping through the skies in one of these babies, however, is the right way to do it. Yes, it's the wrong aircraft, but who cares? The F-16 is so '70s.

3. The Lancer (Gears of War series)

Santie, red looks really good on you. Check this video to see how good:

Just kidding. You can get me the gore-less Lancer here. ♥

Much love,


PS: I'm so sick and tired of getting coal every year. Please. It's not helping your reputation as a jolly, fat bastardenefactor. Plus, you need to work on your laugh a bit. It scares my dog.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

First impressions: Ragnarok Online DS

Originally written for Gamer Blag. 
(Author's Note: Considering that I played the game's Japanese release and I didn't want to force myself to "read" moonspeak by squinting at the text for long periods of time in the hopes of understanding it, I may have missed some options that would have improved my gaming experience.)

Finally managed to get my hands on Ragnarok Online DS, the miniature version of Gravity’s surprisingly resilient MMO. Despite my enthusiasm towards the concept of finally getting an RO experience (more or less) in the pocket, an hour or so of playtesting the game left me feeling a bit... "meh". Not too awesome, but not too crappy. 

Graphics: At first glance, the whole game looks like it's been ripped out from the original PC version of Ragnarok Online. Now, this is good: imagine being able to walk through the familiar Pronteran fields with the same trees, the same pathways and waters, and the same plop-plopping Porings, all in the compact handheld console that is your DS. Fields and dungeons are broken down into small parts so the player can go through the environments piecemeal with minimal lagging between areas and/or slowdown. 

Judging from the first dungeon I played through (DS exclusive; I'm not sure if I came across an underground dungeon solely populated with Porings and the Culvert theme playing in the background), expect some areas to be sparsely decorated. No pillars, no trees, no rocks; just you, the floor, and the poor Poring. Now, if you're a nitpicker you'd certainly go anal-retentive at the sore lack of background elements.

But what really gets to me is how the sprites look crappy when you zoom out your view. Surprisingly, the GungHo Works managed to make the zoom in/out function available in the DS incarnation, but it pretty much gives a mediocre result. The 3D background and textures still looks more or less the same, whether zoomed in or out, but the sprites become horribly pixellated when you crank up the zoom out view. And when I say pixellated, I say disfigured beyond recognition.

All things considered, liking Ragnarok Online DS' graphics its just a matter of nostalgia versus quality.

Interface/Controls: GungHo Works, the new console gaming arm of Japanese MMO publisher GungHo Entertainment, certainly made an effort to mimic the user interface of the game, at least to a certain level. They implemented the shortcut bar (or however you call it), where players can opt to hotkey skills and/or items for use during battles. Like the later version of the shortcut bar in the original RO, you can configure and swap between three bars with just a nudge of the stylus.

Now, here is where things go a bit wrong: it seems that in order for you to use skills, you have to tap the icon of your chosen skill in the shortcut bar, then immediately perform the needed motion to activate the skill (check related screens here). I see this as redundant - the developers could have opted a more streamlined control scheme akin to The World Ends With You, where players can just perform stylus motions anytime they like without having to push any buttons or tap any icons. I can see myself getting flustered at the game if ever I'll encounter a higher-level mob, tapping icons and doing random stylus motions, and maybe break the touchscreen in frustration. 

That said, the in-game controls of Ragnarok Online DS are mostly stylus-based, and the DS buttons are only used as shortcuts to the following windows:
Y - equip
B - stats
X - items
A - menu
R - notepad
The Notepad function is a cute addition to the game - I'm not sure if it's main use is to let players scribble important notes for quests, but I used it as a nifty drawing tablet. Seriously, though, its a convenient touch and most RPGs should make use of a similar function (like Phantom Hourglass and Phantasy Star). Hey, that's what the touchscreen and stylus is for.


Gameplay: I haven't gotten that far into the game to give pertinent impressions about its gameplay, but suffice it to say that it has a decent combat system similar to Soma Bringer. You control your newbie character, while your party member (you get a Shaman at the first part of the game) is controlled by AI. 

Since I couldn't make heads or tails of the moonspeak menu, I'm also not so sure if you can assign certain actions or behavior patterns on your teammates. It would be nice if you can order your partner, who has less that 1/4 HP, to defend himself or to concentrate on healing the party. That would really be a big plus towards the game.

Like the original Ragnarok Online, you can assign stat points to attributes such as Str, Int, Vit, etc. Sadly the stat attributes are labelled in kanji, so I couldn't tell which is which :/ I don't think I'll be able to play the game if my stats are stunted, so I think I'll just have to keep an eye out for FAQs for reference before I play again from scratch.

Sounds: Not surprisingly, Ragnarok Online DS makes use of the same soundtrack found in the original PC version. However, the background music is midi-fied, meaning that instead of the awesome SoundTEMP-produced orchestra and guitars you'll hear mostly techno bleeps and bops trying hard to emulate the original music, but they do a great job anyway. Except to hear the usual plop-plopping of Porings, and other sound clips that can't be mistaken for anything else but Ragnarok Online.

Miscallaneous but still important: Here's what really disappointed me about the game: I was duped by one of the game's cutscenes into thinking that I could walk around Prontera, showing clips and scenes of familiar Pronteran streets and landmarks, such as the fountain. After the cutscene, however, it turns out that I couldn't traverse the Pronteran alleyways (and maybe find a scamming vendor or two). To go to shops, inns, or go out of the city, all I have to do is talk to Ms. Pavianne, who would warp me to my chosen location.

What also ticked me off are the extremely long cutscenes. Sure, they're needed to build the game's story and all, but having to go through five full minutes of watching the characters talk, bump, or hit each other is nothing but tedious. Even more so when I'm allowed to do a short piece of actual game time after a lengthy cutscene, only to launch into another borefest again. I'm starting to think that Ragnarok Online DS is actually a parody of Metal Gear Solid 4, only without the Kojima touch. At least you can opt to skip cutscenes in his game.

Overall Impression: As I said before, it's not great, but not bad either. Yes, it looks like I'm weaseling out in this review, but let me reiterate that I'm playing a Japanese version of the game; there's a chance that I'll actually like Ragnarok Online if I can actually understand the menu, etc.

Pros: Good job in retaining the look, feel, and sound of the original game; character customization is enabled to some extent (naming, equipment, stat assignment...not so sure about being able to play as other classes, though. All the screenshots I've seen is the main character wearing a knight sprite); small things such as the inclusion of zoom in/out function as well as the notepad.

Cons: Crappy sprites on zoom-out, redundant battle controls, extremely long cutscenes, not being able to explore cities like the original Ragnarok Online.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Battle of the saddest: Japan versus US, FIGHT-O!



Words are not needed.

Gadget review: Space Invaders 30th Anniversary Headset (Pink) and Raglan Shirt (Pink)

(Author's Note: This review, also written for Gamerblag , is actually way overdue; I've received the items the other week but was too caught up with work and other stuff until recently. Also, many, many thanks to Zuri-chan for letting us place this Play-Asia purchase on his credit card. You so rock, dude.)

It's already apparent by now that I'm a big Space Invaders fan, but despite the glut of sweet, sweet Invader merchandise created to commemorate the franchise's 30th Anniversary, its still hard to procure many of these items - Space Invaders alarm clock, pillow, Kitkat , etc - solely because I don't live in Japan.

But we make do.

In any case, I was able to sniff out and pre-order the Space Invaders 30th Anniversary commemorative headset and Raglan shirt months ago in Play-Asia, and after a long wait (thanks to pushed back release dates), the Space Invaders care package was finally delivered to my doorstep by a Fedex guy wannabe.

QualityPros: The Space Invaders headset is solidly built and is made of lightweight plastic and faux leather for the padding. The pink paint on the actual ear pieces are thankfully not prone to scratching thanks to its top coat, which also seems to protect the black lettering and Space Invaders design from chipping off. The padding on the headband and the underside of the earpieces are extremely comfy; unlike my old Hesh Skullcandy headset, the Space Invader pair didn't give me any sore ears after a considerable length of usage.

Another plus is that the headset can be folded to let you stow it without taking up too much space. However, the hinges are too loose, giving a floppy feel to the earpieces.

Cons: The white adjustable stems are made of plastic commonly used in cheap toys, and may not appeal to those prefer only high-quality material on their stuff. While the whole thing is sturdy and doesn't look like it'll break under moderate usage, the choice of material for the stems look somewhat flimsy. Also, what doesn't appeal to me is the white-colored cord, which is dirt-prone and will never fail to turn grayish after weeks of usage despite proper handling and care.

Sound Quality: The sound quality that the Space Invaders deliver is nothing fancy, but nothing crappy either. Having owned a Skullcandy Hesh, I can safely say that they both have more or less similar sound output, and audio doesn't crack as long as one does not crank the bass too much. A good benchmark that I use is Kajmaster Kajet's Ninja Info Cards - if the sound doesn't crackle in the middle of the track and has ample bass, then it's good.

Packaging: The packaging for this item, while not in the least elaborate, is pretty cool-looking in its black-colored glossy carton printed with multi-colored happy little Invaders. The box window doesn't show much of the merchandise, however, and the headset's color (pink or black) is poorly indicated by a color dot on the box's top flap. The cords placed smack in the middle of the box is conveniently hidden from plain sight by a circular piece of carton with a pink Invader printed on it (which I used as a deco sticker of sorts for my HP Mini).

Pricing: The headset is pretty affordable compared to most other headsets of similar build - and with this I mean those with huge earpieces - costing only US$ 20 or about 900 pesos. With the free shipping option in Play-Asia (available in selected countries), getting the Space Invaders headset is actually a cheaper and more awesome-looking alternative than getting...say, Sennheisers. If you're into the Skullcandy brand, then this sweet headset would be right up your alley in terms of pricing and style.

Verdict: Space Invaders fan? Get this. Looking for a good yet affordable headset? Get this. Want only the best materials for your stuff? You may have second thoughts before buying this baby. Want to scalp something other than Hannah Montana tickets on eBay? Oh yes, yes, get this.

Space Invaders 30th Anniversary Raglan Shirt (Pink):

Quality: I may be a fan of the series, but that doesn't mean I won't call a spade a spade. Let me get this straight: the Space Invaders 30th Anniversary Shirts are poorly made. From the initial advertising months ago to the final product, the shirt I got is surprisingly disappointing.

Pros: It's Space Invaders, and the design is love.

Cons: I pre-ordered the pink shirt months ago, but for some reason the one I got is...well, red. Sure, pink and red belong to the same family of color but what the heck, if I were in the US I'd sue Play-Asia or Taito for false advertising (as my item was put on pre-order and shipped to me immediately after they were stocked, not informing me of the color variation nor giving me a chance to change my order). Dammit, Taito.

The cotton fabric used for the shirt is also low-quality. One look at it and I knew that the fabric fibers will get frayed after a few washes, and that the design will easily fade after a short while *sad face*. I was advised to hand wash it instead of throwing it into the washing machine, though I'm not sure if it will help in making this shirt look good as new for several months.

Packaging: The packaging is similar to the one used for the headphones, and you can see the bottom half of the shirt design through the box window.

Pricing: Considering that my DJ Max Syriana shirt is cheaper by a couple of dollars and is of a much, much higher quality, I'm not so sure if this Space Invaders shirt is worth your US$ 20. If you're a rabid fan of the franchise like I am, you'll probably brainwash yourself into thinking that the price is justified, but since I've bought shirts of better quality for a fraction of a price, it's mostly a guilty purchase.

Verdict: Rabid Space Invaders fan? Get this. For the's a nice novelty item, but not worth the money. Even those who buy this off eBay may feel cheated after getting the item, despite it being an official merchandise.

Friday, December 12, 2008

New fiction here:

re: Beyond Black Doors 

It's been a long while since I last wrote fiction, and it's really hard to pick up the pen again after a year of not writing anything that isn't work (or game) related.

The title of my new thread - Beyond Black Doors - may be very familiar to those who've followed my old works. This time, however, the story takes place in contemporary settings, and there's not much swordfighting or magic involved. Just a lot of weird people (either alive or dead), and some strangelove all around.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Status messages.

His YM stat message while at work:
Running on nothing but guts and fumes.
Me: I hate to say it, but
Me: your stat message sounded cool, until I read it the second time. Then it made more sense.
Him: What does it mean to you nao? XD
Me: that digested innards and fart serves as your fuel?
Him: Er...You were thinking too much into it.
Me: I'm sorry D: but you get gas so easily, so...
Him: It originally means something like a car running on an empty gas tank
Him:  i.e. fumes of the gasoline that's left in the car, guts is just sheer stupid bravado
Me: thanks for giving me the correct image, but it's too late.
Me:  I was thinking of the more visceral stuff: guts = innards, fumes = gas
Him: Well Mai-Mai you just ruined that status message
Me: I'm sorry. Is the fact that I'm laughing right now making be look bad? D:
Him: BLAST OFF *farts out an EXPLOSION*

Monday, December 8, 2008

Good riddance. Not a well-deserved good riddance, but still good riddance.

Taken from Associated Press :
Toy giant Mattel Inc., after a four-year legal dispute with MGA Entertainment Inc., touted its win in the case Wednesday after a federal judge banned MGA from making and selling its pouty-lipped and hugely popular Bratz dolls...The ruling, issued in federal court in Riverside, followed a jury's finding that Bratz designer Carter Bryant developed the concept for the dolls while working for Mattel.
While I've already taken to rolling my eyes whenever I hear of the usual ridiculous lawsuit spawned yet again in the US (being pretty common in the gaming industry), I couldn't help but breathe a small sigh of relief now that the infernal pouty-lipped dolls may most probably be taken off toy shelves and away from impressionable kids.

I wouldn't launch into a longwinded rant against the Bratz line-up, and instead I'll just tell you to look at Baby Bratz to see why I rage at it, so much:

I'm not so sure why the Baby Bratz dolls portray babies as total skanks, but there they are. I have nothing against babies who crawl or waddle about in spaghetti-strapped baby doll dresses or even butt-naked, but I sure am appalled at how Baby Bratz are made to look like hos with the impossibly adult pouty lips and eye liner that shouldn't even touch a toddler's pristine skin.

Don't get me wrong; merely owning a Bratz won't turn a young girl into a wanton prostitute, but there's the fact that the doll's target market are the mostly young, impressionable girls who'd most likely want to emulate the lifestyle that their favorite doll exhibits.

Okay, so playing around with lipsticks and eyeliner pencils are fine (don't let your kid poke her eye out), but I don't want my child acting out the characteristics that the Bratz dolls uphold: vapid, shallow...and yes, practically a Brat.

At the very least, I can rest easy knowing that I wouldn't have my daughter-to-be throwing a tantrum over one of those creepy disembodied Bratz heads . If Mattel doesn't decide to cash in on the IP, of course.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Space Invaders Get Even: This time they mean business

(originally written for Gamerblag)

Most of us know about the attempted invasion thirty years ago, and how the Core Cannon - humanity's greatest hope back then - successfully fended off the threat of UFOs and pixellated aliens. Victory against the Space Invaders means peace for humanity right? Wrong.

Three decades have passed, and humans being humans, started to fight amongst themselves over the Core Cannon, the weapon that was supposed to bring peace to the world. Seeing that the Earthlings are too busy bombing each other to notice any alien threat, the embittered Space Invaders have started plotting their revenge. Now with better planning and attack formations, Taito's Space Invaders are back...and this time no bunker will save anything who gets in their way.

Invade You

Thirty years ago, the only thing that came between the Space Invaders and the conquest of humanity is a lone Core Cannon, and a handful of bunkers. Now, Earth technology has vastly improved, and humans now have a lot of high-tech and agile weaponry to shoot you down with, such as helicopters, tanks, laser turrets, even destroyer ships and huge robots. Well, nobody said anything about invading being an easy job.

For every mission, you are given only a limited amount of time to fulfill mission objectives and carve up a path of destruction as you go along. Swift, decisive attacks naturally are keys to a successful invasion, and fortunately for you, leading the invasion isn't all that complicated. Any form of micromanagement is absent in the game - all it takes to take over the world is just the UFO, a massive invader army, and some well-coordinated attacks.

Time to get even

You take command of the UFO, as well as the hundred-strong Invader army standing by at your disposal. In lieu of weapons or firearms, your Invader army itself serves as a shape-shifting weapon whose form depends on any of the five attack formations they assume: Shot, Homing, Burst, Drill, and Hopping.

The attacks are pretty much self-explanatory: Shot launches Invaders units straight towards the enemy, Burst drops massive Invader-bombs at a specified target, Drill lets Invaders arrange themselves into a drill to inflict continuous damage, etc.

Aside from the five attack formations, there are no other weapons up your arsenal with the exception of the Special Move, a massive laser beam. This particular lack of weapon variety is actually a good thing, since it grants an intuitive control scheme that lets you switch between attack types without much thought. This is a very important thing considering that a lot of your attention will be concentrated on dodging a plethora of projectiles in any given second.

There are practically two things to watch out for when carrying out an invasion aside from the enemies: time and number of units available.

While its tempting to just dawdle along destroying buildings and delivering 8-bit pixel justice to just about any enemy unit you see in-game, you must keep in mind that your time is limited, and you need to accomplish your mission chop-chop. However, invaders are given a certain number of seconds for each building and enemy unit destroyed, so you can also opt to delay your mission and destroy anything in sight provided that you're fast enough.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your alloted time will be diminished if you take hits. The stronger the enemy weapon that manages to hit the UFO, the more seconds that will be taken out of your counter. You will also lose some of your Invader units for every hit taken, so be careful. You can always replenish your army by waving your Wiimote and Nunchuk up and down, but doing so will leave the UFO open to further attacks.

Cute Invaders are cute indeed

One of the first few things that players will notice upon booting the game is that Space Invaders Get Even doesn't take itself too seriously. From the campy Star Wars-like intro to the cheesy victory shouts of "Victory for humanity!" whenever the Invaders are shot down, it's pretty obvious that the game is a self-parody of the entire Space Invaders franchise, albeit a well-made one.

Those familiar with the Katamari series of games will undoubtedly experience a bout of nostalgia while playing Space Invaders Get Even. Aside from the obvious similarities, such as alloting only a limited length time for every mission (as well as the timer itself) and the cute protagonists, the game exudes the same aura of bizarre, yet brutal cuteness. This eerie semblance is especially noticeable when you hear screams while your obedient Invaders cheerfully level buildings and destroy your enemies.

Another Katamari-ish touch to the game is the beaming up of cows for research purposes. We're not sure what goes on in the alien research facility, but 15 seconds are added whenever the UFO acquires a cow. For some reason, cows in Space Invaders Get Even find themselves wandering in the unlikeliest of places possible, such as in the middle of a weapons facility, or floating in the middle of the ocean wearing inflatable rings.

Adding a layer of campiness are the comic book-style text sound effects (like "DOOOOOM") whenever the Invaders bomb down buildings, as well as the brilliant voiceovers that can be heard as Invaders intercept the human's radio transmissions.

Eavesdropping on your enemies' messages to each other reveals a rainbow of personalities behind every bunker, helicopter, or pretty much any structure that you destroy. There are the annoying, cocky pilots, hopeful and naive operators, stalwart commanders, and civilians who tend to be vocal about having their cows stolen.


Space Invaders Get Even is actually one of the better WiiWare purchases available in the current selection. However, the entire package is offered piecemeal: one can get the starter pack for 500 Wii Points, while additional stages can be attained by buying the three other stage packs also worth 500 Wii Points each.

Compared to the add-on packs, which contain two levels (each level has two areas and a boss fight each), the starter pack only contains one, giving off the impression that paying for the starter pack is akin to paying for a demo. While this may be true to some extent, one must consider that the game's overall price - 2000 Wii Points for the starter pack and all add-on packs combined - as a steal. As it stands, Space Invaders Get Even offers a lot of bang for the buck compared to...say, My Horse and Me.

How can I invade you?

After beating all the stages, accomplishing all missions, collecting all hidden items as well as beaming up all the cows, what then?

Taito came up with a scheme that assures its replay factor for at least a few weeks to a couple of months: global rankings. Players can upload their scores and compare them with the best players from around the world, and those who want to beat the highest score would have to resort to playing the game again and again, similar to its sister flash game Space Invaders World War.

Global rankings are good, but its better if the game offered a hard mode instead to those who've finished it. In any case, there's always a possibility that Taito and Square Enix would offer additional stage packs or more unlockable items for Space Invaders Get Even, so who knows.

All things considered, Taito and Square Enix managed to come up with a solidly built title that more than gives justice to a time-honored IP. However, the general opinion towards Space Invaders Get Even is marred by its microtransaction business model (thank you, Square Enix), but it shouldn't deter most people from getting the entire deal.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I should have done this on the 100th post.

Since a number of people reacted quite humorously over at YM to my new banner, I figured that I've had enough entertainment (okay, I'll say it: LULZ), though it's already getting old, and I'm tired of delivering the same punchline. And it's only been up for a few days.

Just a few words: Turtle anatomy.

You can lick a turtle on its belly all you want, but all you'll get are slivers of algae and enough salmonella to pound into your head the reason why you shouldn't lick turtles. Observe:

That's Gamera (on whom that awesome turtle in the banner is based), and as far as I know, it and other turtles/tortoises don't unzip their plastron from the waist down to get some unf-unf going. Doing that will only result in their innards spilling out, making it for an unconsummated guro fest. Trust me, it ain't pretty.

Don't tell me you thought of my image banner as *gasp* that? Oh, heaven forbid! *frantically makes a sign of the cross*


Kudos to that precious few who actually said "you're doing it the wrong way" upon seeing my banner, and proceeded to try and educate me about actual turtle reproduction. I love you guys.

But to those who acted all innocent-like and ready to go all fire and brimstone, here's a useful pro-tip: it helps to get your own minds out of the gutter first before taking that "YOU'RE DISGUSTING" stance to avoid any painful embarrassment. It's not my fault that you watched too much porn, and of the wrong kind too. Well, so much for me being a pervert.

Though all things considered it would be better if some people just stopped being holier-than-thou in the first place, so they'd avoid crapping all over themselves.

I herd you liek licking turtles.

Today is, indeed, a nice day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Castlevania: Arcade, and some comment MST3King.

[15:19] gespenstschatten: just reading the comments on gametrailers
[15:20] gespenstschatten: "Well it looks like once again Konami doesn't get what the Castlevania fans want. We just want 2D not 3D, 2 D castlevania games just like SOTN. This game looks like crap, first off it looks like they wanted to make a Wii game for the arcade but couldn't figure out how to make the controller work properly. Second it isn't even a Castlevania game, it looks like House of the Dead with a broken controller."
[15:20] gespenstschatten: well he sure isn't speaking for me. Unlike some people I'd want some variety with my vampire whippan thank you very much.
[15:21] Him: Myah D:
[15:22] gespenstschatten: I mean, really. The 2D games are good and all, that's what Castlevania is best at, but common D:
[15:22] Him: Yeah.
[15:23] gespenstschatten: and I hate how he throws around "Castlevania fans" like it's some kind of a hiveminded elite group. Though admittedly a lot of people have been saying the same thing over and over. 2D CASTLEVANIA PL0X.
[15:23] Him: But think about it. A Castlevania game the size of a console game.
[15:23] Him: That'd be huge. And epic.
[15:23] gespenstschatten: what do you mean?
[15:25] Him: It's like...hmm. Like a Castlevania for the DS, except on a console level. It's still 2D, but it fills an entire DVD. That means boatloads of content and dungeons and awesomeness.
[15:25] gespenstschatten: yeah, I'd want that too. I also know that fans have been asking for a current gen 2D Castlevania game for some time now.
[15:25] gespenstschatten: that'll be epic, but realistically speaking you won't see that happening - pure 2D action - unless the game is hosted on PSN/XBLA/WiiWare.
[15:26] gespenstschatten: I'd like something that's fuck huge, too.
[15:26] gespenstschatten: though I'm not sure why they diss every castlevania game that isn't 2D.
[15:27] Him: Blind fanboy rage.
[15:28] gespenstschatten: figuresHATEWAGON ALL ABOARD much?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Simple joys.

Simple joys can be found anywhere if you look hard enough. Even your car's tires may hold a nice surprise for you, despite the fact that it ran over a dog yesterday.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


One of the things that I like about every holiday season is the abundance of bazaars held in World Trade Center (and now, Mall of Asia's SMX). I'm usually claustrophobic - I hate crowded, noisy places, even anime cons - but when it comes to places like Divisoria and the aforementioned holiday bazaars, there's no such thing as too crowded for me.

Not when the place is filled to the brim with free food tastes, as well as wonderful, unique, and hard-to-find items. Mostly items whose true worth can only be measured in terms of how much they weigh in the hearts of those who behold them. Items such as this one:

The Shokupan plushie opens into a book with soft cloth pages and a bookmark (right).

One of the booths in this weekend's Christmas Celebrity and Charity Bazaar in WTC primarily sold original products imported from Japan. One of those items is the Shokupan-kun plush from Sanrio's Pankunchi IP.

The small booth was crammed full with other ultra-cute things such as dolls, strange keychains and pencil toppers; as well as stationery and Sanrio-branded bags. The Shokupan-kun caught my eye immediately, however, and the booth's attendant must have noticed me because she said "it has such an inviting smile, doesn't it?"

I just smiled, and held Shokupan-kun as I browsed through the other merchandise. I've been always such a sucker for the Japanese brand of cute, especially when it comes to anthropomorphic representations of everyday items done the Japanese way, such as Tissue-san.

I decided in the end that apart from Shokupan-kun, everything else if of the usual fare for me - even the kigurumi octopus Hello Kitty pencil topper. The booth attendant gave Shokupan-kun for a mere pittance: 150 bucks.

She had a funny look to her face when she placed the plush book in a Hello Kitty plastic bag, and said something along the lines of: "you know, the only other Shokupan-kun that we have was already sold yesterday. I'm actually sad that we're going to sell this, too. I like this so much."

"Don't worry, I'm going to take good care of it," I said as she handed the toy to me, along with my change. I couldn't help but notice the way she handled the package so reverently; it was as if she entrusted her child to my care.

Thinking about it, I don't feel that Shokupan-kun is worth 150 pesos. The plush book - along with the booth attendant's affection towards it - is nothing short of priceless. I only hope that my fondness for this special item would do it justice.
Speaking of priceless collectibles, Ryan managed to get an awesome Tron Bonne (variant) from the SR Yujin Namco X Capcom set in SM North about a week ago. He told me that he got it for two tokens instead of the usual three (you can tell if it's priced at 300 yen), apparently because the set was getting ignored for quite some time now and SM decided to put it on sale.

Tron Bonne variant with a Kobun/Servbot as her chair instead of a bolt in the regular version. She holds a screwdriver, a detachable accessory (right).

Ignored? The Namco X Capcom set? I'm not really that surprised, since most of the characters are from PSX-era games such as Regina of Dino Crisis, Tron Bonne and Roll of Megaman Legends, as well as pre-MILF Sophitia of Soul Edge. Probably the only character instantly recognizable from this set is KOS-MOS. Shame, really.

Something to chew on before I go to sleep.

They BELIEVE in themselves because they can DO things THEMSELVES. It is difficult to look at yourself and say you don't exist.

- Anonymous

Being able to do so anyway is a great feat in itself.

New banner yay.

When I asked him to draw a new turtly banner for my blog, I didn't ask for anything NSFW. I should have known better than to ask something "edgy" from him. In any case, it still falls under the general theme of why people shouldn't lick turtles - rather, why people wouldn't want to lick turtles.

Because the above happens.

I know, I'm rambling incoherently. I should be blogging about the nice finds I got from the bazaar in World Trade Center earlier, but mind wants to ewijrkjfker. Thank you, Coke Zero guys, for flooding the entire building with Coke Zero earlier. I love Coke.

Okay I'll stop now.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

You know its a bad day when...

You walk out of your office, weary and tired after a day of utter boredom, to find that your building's lobby is fully decked out in holiday regalia and your friendly security guard is smiling and greeting you a good evening; the night outside bearing the promise of another wonderful Christmas season, heralded by the speakers blaring out little Michael's rendition of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"... and all you could think of is

"Damn, no wonder the Jackson family was dysfunctional."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night Resurrection

More or less a decade has passed since the release of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. However, Michiru Yamane's haunting score still populates my Winamp playlist even now - a feat not matched by the decent but utterly trite Eyes on Me, One-Winged Angel, or most other video game music (with the exception of arranged King of Fighters tracks).

That's why I was only a hair breadth's away from utter rapture when I came across Castlevania: Symphony of the Night Resurrection. It's a compilation of remixed SotN tracks by various musicians - no Niconico artists here, so steer clear if you're a bit racist with your vidya game music and don't like Western remixers.

I'm in love with the compilation's medley track created by one Joshua Morse. Titled "Heart of Vlad," Morse tackles the music not usually covered by most other remixers, who seem to favor Tragic Prince and Dance of Pales.

One brilliant example is his rendition of the Catacomb stage's BGM, Rainbow Cemetery (3:33). While it sticks close to the source material, Morse's Rainbow Cemetery is arguably a bit more crisp than the original with liberal amounts of drum beats and accentuating guitar riffs.

I also enjoyed his jazzy version of my favorite SotN track, Crystal Teardrop (6:07). For those who couldn't recognize the notes, it's the tune used in the Underwater Vein Stage. Morse took away the bass that made Crystal Teardrop quite distinct from others, but his cool jazz treatment more than makes up for it.

One of the reasons why I immensely liked Morse's take on Yamane's opus is that he doesn't stray too far from the original and alienate the fans of the soundtrack. If you loved SotN's music and still remember each and every tune, better give Morse's version a shot. And oh, a few lines taken from the cheesy yet priceless voice acting in the game are inserted, making for a few lulzy moments.

Liked it so far? Just drop me a line at my YM if you want to get the entire compilation of the SotN remix.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Irritating little things.

  1. Finding out that I couldn't install programs on my new office laptop, not even Adobe Flash on my Firefox/Chrome (but IE's fine).
  2. Having to lug said laptop to and from work until they finally get me my own pedestal/mobile cabinet. Have to follow it up on Monday.
  3. Having to shell out some cash to get myself a laptop bag that doesn't scream HAY GUISE I GOTS A LAPTOP HERE.
  4. Finding out that my once exclusive online name is now being used by another guy in the nets. But hey, I don't have a patent on it, so I'll just let it go. It's just that I have a thing for names. Names are important to me. Feh.
  5. Waiting for someone for a good two hours only to be given some fare money and a slap on the fanny, then sent home.
  6. Trying to check the stagnating Friendster account only to find out that Friendster is, for some reason, blocked. In my home internets. 
  7. Having to write this list in the first place.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Three simple steps to do in order to enjoy Castlevania: Judgment

If you care even just a smidgen about the Wii's upcoming Castlevania: Judgment, then you've probably already heard the hatewagon making a racket from the far corners of the intarwebs, its frenzied passengers probably driven to jump in by the horrible sight of a ripped Simon Belmont in shorts, courtesy of Death Note artist Obata.

Let's forget, at least for the moment, about the fact that the game allows for full 3D movement (read: much of the time in-game will be spent running around playing tag), or the fact that the game still leaves much to be desired at this point - only mere days away from its November 18 release. I normally don't wish for a delayed release, but I'll do it only for this game. Only a pushed-back release date and a frantic redesign - both art and gameplay-wise - could save Judgment.

Instead, let's talk about how you, in a great, determined effort to stay loyal to the franchise, can try to genuinely like the game. As in *like* like, enough to even anticipate the game's release with a joyful glee in your face. That's not even forced. At all.

Three simple steps to do in order to enjoy Castlevania: Judgment

1. You must become a fan of the Death Note series.

For steps 2 and 3 to actually work, you have to at least know about the crazed phenomena that Obata is best known for: Death Note. Chances are that you already do, but you have to work up such enthusiasm until you start setting up fansites and shrines for any of your favorite DN characters. Once you find yourself trawling for DN smut or the dredges of Information Highway for Rule 34, then you're good to go.

2. Pretend that the characters are from Death Note.

This one's actually easy. Thanks to Obata, the character renditions in Castlevania: Judgment look like they're based on the Death Note cast, in what could be an ingenious attempt to shamelessly promote whore out his series.Taking into account the weird fashion sense prevalent in the game, just pretend that the Death Note cast got sucked into an alternate universe or plane of the Shinigami World (make sure you already accomplished number 1 so you know what I'm talking about), for instance, thus the weird duds.

For the sake of creating a convincing backstory, let's say all of the playable characters are fighting for a chance to become the Shinigami King. Or something to that effect. Feel free to come up with your own storyline for each character, the character backgrounds I've written below are just examples of what bullshit you can come up with from the top of your head. The more desperate you are, the better.

 Simon Belmont as Light Yagami

    This one's a no-brainer for everybody who've seen Death Note. Just trim Simon's hair a bit...voila, instant Light Yagami. He's even got the very same smoldering rapist's look, too. Of course, there's the problem with the Death Notebook not being in the scene, but you can pretend that Light/Simon's motive in joining the brawlfest is to recover the ownership of the notebook from the Shinigami King. And to get a decent replacement for his...shorts.

    Maria Renard as Misa Amane 

      Look at the sight of Obata's gothloli take of the pure, innocent Maria (circa Rondo of Blood) - Obata did not even bother to use the right kind of gothloli that fits Maria's timeline. What the hell, Maria already came from the gothic era but the artist still found a way to mess with her design...that's a lot of creativity there, indeed. What's up with the silly suspenders on her stockings, and the loose garters around her thighs?

      Judgment's Maria looks like a ditsy cosplayer who couldn't even do basic garment coordination (and since we're talking about gothloli here, this is saying much) and is clearly confused about animal rights - look at the poor owl she crammed into the end of her staff. She's just perfect for Misa Amane: model, cosplayer and ditz extraordinaire.

      We know that Maria has to keep an owl with her at all times, but she didn't have to use the owl as a living, breathing decoration for her staff. Good grief, imagine the amount poo the owl "accidentally" drops on her from time to time in protest. Yeah, he looks pretty pissed.

      Death as some random Shinigami

        Saying that Death would be a shoo-in for a Shinigami will make me game for grammar Nazis with a penchant for spotting redundancies. However, this is worth a mention as Obata's Death is one of the very few good things going for the game. A Death who gets down and dirty, takes off his cowl and cape to deliver some otherworldly asswhupping? I'm pretty much sold here.

        Alucard as adult!Near 

          Okay, this took a bit of stretching, but think of doing this as part of a sincere effort of making this game a little palatable.Cosmetic similarities aside, both Alucard and Near are socially inept to some extent, and both speak in a somewhat cryptic, clipped manner. Near's awful fond of his toys; you can just think of Alucard (as adult Near) roleplaying as a vampire bastard by swinging his toy sword around, wearing his vampire bastard costume.

          That aside, I can't believe that Obata deigned to remove Alucard's trademark ruffly cravat from his costume, something that was retained even in the anime redesign of Dawn of Sorrow. For shame, Obata; a non-fabulous Alucard is not an Alucard at all.

          Aeon as Teru Mikami

            Aeon is a new character exclusive to Judgment - and I hope it stays that way. I wouldn't want some batshit-insane character who lugs around a large watch like it's nobody's business. Obviously the pair of glasses that he wears isn't enough to let him read the time off a standard-sized pocket watch, and he's cuckoo enough not to resolve the issue by getting proper corrective lenses, but opts to upsize his clock instead.

            Batshit-insane is the operative phrase here, and no one fits Aeon's role better than the deranged obssesive-compulsive fanatic, Teru Mikami (he'd probably pull off the same "heck, I'll just get a bigger watch instead" stunt too, come to think of it). Just look at how they both look and - perhaps - act alike, save for the hair color.

            Shanoa as Naomi Misora

              Ah, sweet sexy Shanoa. She, and her game Order of Ecclesia, is probably the best thing to happen in Castlevania since pot roast. But of course, Obata still found a way to botch her almost fail-proof design by turning her into some sort of a MILF nun with babymaking hips (according to Ryan). I don't have a problem with it, though. She's still awful sexy, but is the headdress/wimple really necessary?

              Her closest counterpart in Death Note is Naomi Misora, as both have the same temperament and have similar motives in their respective stories. Order of Ecclesia agent Shanoa, bereft of her memories, searches for her ex-colleague in order to safeguard the fate of the world; while NBI agent Naomi, bereft of her husband, searches for her husband's killer in order do safeguard the fate of the world.

              Grant DaNasty as Rem

                Now this, this, is what I'm all up in arms about. See, in case you haven't played Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, Grant DaNasty is supposed to be a pirate - NOT a mummified humanoid. Last time I heard, pirates were all about yo-ho-ho and a bottle o' rum, kitschy bandannas, waving rapiers around or manufacturing deebeedees.

                I'm not even sure if Obata even took into account Grant being a pirate while coming up with this design; he probably only thought of a way of slipping a reference to Shinigami Rem into the game.

                Even an 8-bit game portrayed a pirate better than Obata:

                See that small hunched figure at the bottom of the screen? That looks more like a pirate than Grant in Judgment.

                3. Cover the first half of the title screen using a piece of paper with "Death Note" written on it.

                You still there? Good. Of course, all of your efforts will be for naught if you're greeted with a title screen that says "Castlevania: Judgment," sending you into another bout of depression as you realize that you're playing a Castlevania game with characters that don't even remotely look like they came from the franchise.

                The easiest way to deal with the problem is to have someone hold a piece of paper and cover the upper half of the title screen with it to replace "Castlevania" with "Death Note," like so:

                Have it covered as such until you exit the title screen. It's not too shabby; after all, "Death Note: Judgment" rings better than "Castlevania: Judgment." You know, the usual judgment upon death, the final reckoning, etc. etc.


                Or you can know, forget that the game even exists.

                Sunday, November 9, 2008

                Why I don't write more personal posts, passive-aggressiveness, etc.

                Someone asked me, in passing, why I don't write more personal posts. Why write only about animu and gaems?

                I actually do, in fact there are some of them just lurking about in my past entries. It is true, though, that I don't use this particular blog as a repository of private thoughts that much. Unlike most other bloggers, I don't consider a public blog as a good medium for a personal diary, not even my "friends-only" (sorta) Multiply account.

                I prefer to keep my private thoughts private in every sense of the word. I use handwritten diaries as personal journals - and I do mean it when I say personal. I had to throw away one of my diaries after someone managed to read it.

                Also, a blog for me isn't a medium for passive aggression. It's not my thing to write highly-opinionated posts - unless they're about current events, of course - while riding my moral high horse and wish that the person I'm writing about would read it and rub into his face my utter disdain and disapproval. And oh, how much of a better person I am, too.

                (Sometimes, I do write raging rants about certain individuals if I feel the need for release, but I make sure that they don't know about this blog's existence - if there's no way that they or persons closely affiliated with them would come across my written aggression, then its not passive-aggressive.)

                Which reminds me. Those who make YM status messages out of PA notes? Bleh. How hard is it to send off a YM private message saying, upfront, "I disapprove. You suck. I hate you"? Sending that doesn't take more than a few clicks and typing a few words. It shouldn't be that difficult.

                Not unless, of course, you don't have enough balls to tell them directly in person, so to sate your need to feel self-righteous you just have to create a YM/MSN status message out of a hostile PA note - directed at someone who's conveniently included in your YM/MSN list.

                To the people in my YM list who plan on doing that, do yourselves a favor: kindly remove me or others who don't tolerate any of that PA nonsense from your YM/MSN, or just set your handles to appear permanently offline on our end. You don't want to show people just how wimpy you are, I'm sure.

                Tl;dr before I go too off-tangent: I don't write too much about my personal affairs because I don't feel the need to whore them out am a private person.

                Yes, I'm being horribly passive-aggressive in this post. Irony is delicious, etc. etc.

                Yay more toys.

                My display cabinet now feels a little lonely (it needs tumbleweeds to complete the mood, though) after my mum hijacked most of my anime/vidya trading figures in my collection to put in her Christmas village.

                Ha, I now couldn't help but taste the irony every time my mom comments about my penchant for trading figures. Good thing, Ma, that you found affordable alternatives to the horrendously overpriced Lemax Christmas figurines.

                I guess it runs in the blood, after all.

                Feel free to play "spot the trading figure/gashapon" game.

                For every loss, there is a gain. I managed to get an awesome Kihel Heim/Dianna Soreil figure from the Gundam Heroines History Special Dress set, among other dressed-up beauties Lacus, Cagalli and Relena.

                With all of the girls looking good in their gowns, I really didn't care which Gundam girl I get. However, the packaging of the Gundam Heroine stocks at Toy Kingdom Mall of Asia and Robinson's Galleria were already opened for some reason, so I just went ahead and picked Kihel/Dianna from Turn A Gundam.

                Kihel/Dianna with and without the underskirt.

                I also got a mini legacy Gundam (that's what I call Ye Olde RX-78-2, or Amuro's first Gundam) that I got at random from the mini figure selection set. I wish I got the Tallgeese III instead, but hey, at least I didn't get a Zaku Tank. If I did I'll probably make Ryan reimburse me for the money spent on it (about 200 pesos) just to even things out. Haha.


                For such a small figure, this one is awfully detailed.