Tuesday, October 28, 2008


My invadurrs, in my Kit Kats.

Why am I not in Japan while Taito is going full force with the Space Invaders 30th Anniversary?


Thursday, October 23, 2008

An idle thought

When I finally get my kids (please, two girls, hopefully twins), I'll consider it a grave crime to deprive them of the joy of playing in this sandbox. THIS turtle sandbox. If only we had a legal system as crazy as the US I would have sued my parents for not letting me exercise the right to play in this little patch of turtle happy.

(But they did dump a small hill of dirt into our backyard when I was a kid, just so I can make my sandcastles with the worms. Thanks, Dad.)

A post from a neighbor.

It's funny how quick people can be to judge you when empathy would easily be the better route.  The idea that happiness is not the ultimate goal in life is not only ridiculous, it's bullshit.  It's a basic human right to look for joy in our lives.  There are exceptions to everything, and this is no different.. but still.  Obligation does not rule our lives.  Sure we have a moral compass that points to right and wrong, but we also have one that points to what is right and wrong for us as individuals.  Where you go with that is somewhere in the middle and no one can know what is in your head except for you.
Stolen from Ratgoddess.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Anime first impressions: Kuroshitsuji

I've put myself on a hiatus from anime since last January for a couple of reasons: sheer fatigue and lack of any interesting series to watch. Sure, Gundam 00 was already good enough and Miss Sumeragi still elicits a fangirl scream out of me, but I've already overdosed myself on mecha and shonen. I had to take a break.

Then I bumped into this certain anime figure from a hobbyist blog that I frequent, Tomopop:

I heartily agree with one of the tags used in Tomopop's article

After seeing that awesome Sebastian Michaelis figure, I knew that it was time to end my several months-long anime fasting. Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler), is about the day-to-day affairs of the Phantomhive household, particularly its head butler Sebastian, and his 12-year-old master Ciel Phantomhive.

I couldn't help but see two other series whenever I look at Kuroshitsuji: Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro and Princess Resurrection. There's the remarkable similarity between Sebastian and Neuro (both wear suits, sport almost the same hairstyle, partner up with kids, and have the same demonic sass), and the Phantomhive household can be considered parallel to Hime's, with its noble head of estate and the bumbling staff. At this point it's safe to say that fans of Neuro and Hime/Lillian will have another series to watch out for.

Judging from the first ep alone (I haven't looked into the manga yet), Kuroshitsuji looks like it has the perfect set-up for an episodic series, with each episode having the dynamic duo deal with their guests using the world-famous Phantomhive hospitality.

The grotesque and macabre side of the mansion and its master seems to be only apparent only to outsiders, however; when left alone, Sebastian and the rest of the staff provide the mandatory comedy in the show but otherwise act quite normally - that is, if being overly clumsy and cooking meat with flamethrowers can be considered normal.

The first episode of Kuroshitsuji thankfully steers clear from any overt shounen-ai overtones, but fangirls can still look forward to getting their usual fix of sparkles, and petals falling all over the place. What else can you expect with a show that stars two pretty boys?

Admittedly I was looking for a show the likes of Mushishi and Mononoke. You know the formula: a guest enters the scene with a problem, the lead characters deal with the problem using hax, psychobabble and/or mindfuckery, and look good . While I did get exactly that from Kuroshitsuji, I wasn't quite satisfied with it, finding that the "horror" part of the first episode is considerably watered down compared to, say, xxxHolic.

The ending would have done Sebastian's demonic character justice if the crook of the week was indeed cooked in the oven, with his fat used for Sebastian's scrumptious Lemon Meringue Pie (which was subsequently served to his hardworking staff). Instead, we have a comedic cop-out of an ending with the crook limping out of the mansion. Shame.

Not helping Kuroshitsuji is the rather blah selection of OP and ED. The opening theme, Sid's Kiss of Monochrome, just sounds like a generic rock anime theme (good going, generalizing all rock themes like that), while Becca's I'm alive sounds like it was ripped off from a Hansons or Moffatts album. Here's to hoping a good theme from bands the likes of Nightmare and abingdon boy's school.

(I couldn't help but think that the choice of OP and ED for this show is a big hint that I'm expecting too much noir from this anime than what is actually intended. Meh)

In any case its still too early to pass judgment on the series; only the first episode is fansubbed so far (not to mention that I haven't read the manga yet), and the show leaves a lot of room to introduce other interesting characters and events. I'm actually hoping that it won't degenerate into a slight shounen-ai comedy and develop its horror angle a bit more - of course, with Sebastian being a demon, that isn't too hard to do.

This nugget of wisdom is one of the few good things going for Kuroshitsuji first ep.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Boing! Docomodake DS review: The shovelware that isn't.

Boing! Docomodake DS has telltale signs of shovelware: it's a franchise tie-in (in this case, it features a mascot for a Japanese mobile phone company NTT Docomo), and it's mostly ignored by gamers, even by the R4 crowd - and that's certainly saying something. Boing! Docomodake DS only has one review to its name as of this writing, not counting this particular post. Gamefaqs doesn't even have any entries on this game except for a single forum thread, which is aptly titled "Nobody playing it?" There are currently no replies to that thread.

Where's the love?

A sad thing, indeed, because Boing! Docomodake DS deserves attention - and gamers need to show even just a smidgen of appreciation to European publisher Ignition Entertainment for bringing over such an obscure yet good Japanese title to English-speaking shores.

At first glance, Boing! Docomodake DS looks like your usual 2D platformer, with an overly simplistic premise: as Papa Docomodake, it's the player's job to gather all the other family members of the Docomodake family to celebrate a festival, and for him to reach each and every one of them he has to leap, collect coins and treasures and avoid obstacles.

However, the game's similarity to almost every other ho-hum platformer stops there. Don't let the simplistic (but adorable) 2D graphics mislead you; Boing! Docomodake DS is actually an Echochrome in the guise of a run-of-the-mill cutesy side-scroller.

The little fungi that could

Papa Docomodake has a unique ability that makes up the core mechanic of the game: he can split himself into several little Minis. While Papa has his own set of moves, such as jumping, digging and rolling, the Minis and their remarkable abilities take centerstage.

These Minis claim to make the impossible possible, and somehow, they do deliver on that promise: Minis can stacked to create ladders, they can be used as projectiles to get rid of enemies and breakable obstacles, and they can be used to trigger switches...the list goes on and on.

There is a noticeable lack of useable items in the game, but they're actually not needed in the first place, since Minis let the player do every conceivable action needed to solve puzzles. You don't need cannons or even portable ladders, all you need are a handful of Minis and a sharp mind.

Echochrome + 2D + cute mascot = Boing! Docomodake DS

Most other platformers focus on action and kicking monster ass to get to the next level, but Boing! Docomodake DS avoids adding to the glut of usual DS side-scrollers by being a cute lovechild of a platformer and a puzzle-cruncher. There are very few enemies to crush and maim (if any); instead, one needs out-of-the-box thinking to get anywhere in this game.

Like Echochrome's Laws of Perspective, Boing! Docomodake DS has its own set of gameplay rules that the player needs to remember in order to solve the problem of getting from Point A to Point B, a task that gradually becomes more and more challenging as the game progresses from Area 2. These rules, referred to in the game as "Mechanisms," are introduced as soon as the player encounters certain puzzles that require their usage. Mechanisms can be reviewed at any time during the game, but there's no need to - Minis are actually intuitive and using them is as easy as knowing the back of your own hand.

Also like Echochrome, it's highly recommended that players survey the entire stage and map out their course before proceeding in order to go to the designated goal without a hitch. Thankfully, Boing! Docomodake DS includes a Stage Viewer function that lets players pause the game and view the entire level, letting them formulate their gameplan instead of just rushing in pell-mell and getting themselves stuck with no choice but to repeat the stage.

Boing! Docomodake DS: Pros and Cons

Nintendo DS owners who revel in the tactile user interface that the touchscreen provides will no doubt be happy about the big role the stylus plays in the game. Players use the stylus to move the Minis about, and some stages require leading the Minis through roundabout routes just to circumvent roadblocks. This, coupled with the game's simple yet intricate gameplay, lends an addictive appeal to Boing! Docomodake DS, making it a good time waster in the bus, in the can, or wherever you're being unproductive to society.

A game isn't without its cons, of course. Despite the cute and lovable mascots and overall game design, the backdrop tends to be too repetitive and the same goes for the rather blah music as well.

Another thing that mars the game is the bland selection of unlockable items on which the players waste the hard-earned coins that are collected during the game: opening sequences, cut-scenes, BGM, and others. It would have been better if players were given the chance to unlock various wallpapers featuring the entire Docomodake brood.

An off-tangent rant

The sad thing about successful gaming consoles - and by success I mean the consoles that print the most money - is that they have a tendency to accumulate a glut of software with all these developers jumping into the money-printing wagon. Nevermind that the games they put out are pure crap; as long as they're published on the most popular platforms there will always be stupid people who'll end up buying them.

Thus, we end up with a lot of shovelware: games that are pure and utter crap, and are usually tied to an existing franchise just so they'll sell anyway. You know these games: American Idol games, Barbie games...heck, almost each and every movie tie-ins fall under the shovelware category (Ryan, I said "almost." You don't have to worry about me taking potshots at your beloved Speed Racer movie gaems).

But that isn't the saddest thing about games these days. The saddest thing is that there are some hidden gems that get lost in the sea of shovelware, ignored by gamers, and not getting the love they deserve - especially if they happen to be a tie-in, making them easy to disregard and pass off as yet another rubbish created solely for the purpose of generating money. One perfect example is Boing! Docomodake DS.

Post-script: There's an old fantarded review that I wrote for Super Smash Bros. Brawl that I wasn't able to post in this blog. Check it out here. In case you're wondering, it's actually a half of the full review - Ryan wrote the first part.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Yay, new machine.

1. I finally got the ultraportable laptop that I've been drooling over for some time now, the HP Mini-note (HP 2133). I've been saving up for this sweet piece of gadget for some time now, but I got an unexpected boost out of my parent's short-lived misery: the death of their hand-me-down PC that they got from my brother.

Now, while the usual solution to their dilemma is a simple sentence: "May, pahiram ng computer mo saglit," it doesn't work that way in our family. We're very territorial when it comes to our own property, especially me, and my parents popping into my room from time to time to get their daily intertube dose just wouldn't cut it.

The actual solution: "May, bilhin namin ang PC pati ang LCD monitor." The total price for my quad-core set-up, including my widescreen monitor, was just enough to net me an HP Mini-note loaded with Vista Basic.

Docomodake trying out my Mini-note, the Nintendo DS compared to the slightly larger ultraportable PC.

And gah, Vista. This is actually my first time with the latest iteration of the Windows operating system, and after one full day of using it I can safely say that it's annoying; the way Vista always asks for my permission every time I uninstall bloatware makes me want to cram a full Windows XP installer into my flashdrive. However, I'm still willing to spend a little more time with the unwieldy OS and see if I can tinker it to my liking. I'm currently trying out Vista's ReadyBoost using the Apacer 2GB flashdrive the guys at the MoA HP store threw in as freebie.

The HP Mini-note most certainly serves the purpose of its intended market: students. Barring the slow boot times, this small laptop is ideal for typing notes during sombre lectures with its quiet cooling fans. Despite its ultraportable dimensions, HP managed to squeeze in a normal sized keyboard (sans the numerical pad, of course), making typing on the HP Mini-note a ho-hum experience compared to the finger tinikling of the Asus Eee PC and its tiny keys.

There's a drawback to the normal-sized keyboard - the touchpad is small, and the left and right click keys are placed at the sides. It takes fingers with the flexibility of a gymnast to navigate comfortably using the proprietary touchpad; if you're planning to play flash games on this thing (or in my case, Ragnarok Online), you'd be better off getting a cheap optical mouse from CD-R King.

All in all, its not a bad replacement for my gaming PC, whose gaming functions are, sadly, neglected.

2. I tried renewing my SM Advantage Prestige card yesterday. My request was rejected, with the customer service rep telling me that I wasn't able to fulfill the 300,000 peso purchase requirement within the last two years. So the reason why I I got a Prestige card in the first place was that I was able to spend 300,000 pesos two years before, I said. She answered yes.

I then wondered how the hell I was able to spend that much money in the course of two years, and how I got such an accumulated amount in the first place. Damn. 300,000 pesos: three or four Sony Vaio laptops. A big monitor, several cellphone units...gah.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Space Invaders Peace Campaign.


Support the Space Invaders in their campaign to attain world piece er...peace!

I've just recently discovered the cute pixel-ly aliens' effort to help achieve world peace for the benefit of the pesky human race - a nefarious plan most probably conceived by galactic brains that operate along similar lines such as "the quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach". Of course, a peaceful world with its obligatory anti-weapons policies is an easier world to conquer, so it all makes sense.

In any case, just support them Space Invaders anyway - it's clearly the most logical thing to do, rather than backing up warmongering countries.

Here's the press release on the Space Invaders Peace Campaign:
In this mother earth, there still are countless conflicts, poverty problem, race / religious discrimination, anger and massive wars between human beings them selves.

Through SPACE INVADERS, we are wishing if we could help stop this negative chain reaction, and at the same time, send out the message thinking about the World Peace.

If you understand the purpose and the goal of this activity, and wish to support it, a Donation for the World Peace can be made by purchasing the original desktop clock through "Purchase Gadget", where partial purchased amount will be donated to such organizations.

Make the war happen only in the game. Let the Peace live in the Reality.
Aside from supporting them pixel aliens, you can also play the Space Invaders World War game through the link in this blog's sidebar, and contribute to your country's score rankings.

Interested? The Space Invaders Peace Campaign site can be found here, while the official website for the Space Invaders World War game can be visited through this link.

Yay, a new tartol post!

It's been a long while since I blogged about my red-eared slider, Squirtle (or Tartol, as he is most fondly called in this household). He's doing fine, and his shell has grown to about four inches long in length.

He gave me a momentary scare, though, when he suddenly stopped eating just recently. I checked him for signs of disease, but could find none: he had good, clear eyes, hard shell, and most of all he was as feisty as ever. Turns out that he just got tired of his usual brand of pellets, and the problem was rectified by getting a different brand of turtle food and by soaking the pellets in smelly, disgusting mackerel juice before giving them to Squirt. He's now eating happily, as always.

So far he's doing good, but I don't know any veterinarian whom I can approach in the event that Squirt gets sick or something. Does someone know a vet who is knowledgeable in treating turtles? D: The vets I asked so far only deal with mammals. Boo.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Überraschung, usw.

1. After a few weeks of all out writing and the subsequent episodes of insanity, I managed to finish the first/second/third/fourth/and god knows how many draft of my latest pet project. I finally got some time off to perform my role as a normal human being, and went out with a few pals.

Jet, the merchant and purveyor of all things awesome, got me a box of Kinder Surprise eggs from his latest business trip to HK. Kinder Eggs were actually a big part of my childhood - I first got them as a welcoming gift from a fellow Filipino when I had my two-month vacation in Germany (and, by extension, the other Schengen countries).

I had great memories with these chocolate eggs: they were filled with toys and other cool stuff, like a tiny pencil, or a tiny comic book. Since Tita gave me an entire box of Überraschung, it didn't take a lot of chocolate until I got sick of eating them, but I wanted to see more of the toys. I eventually ended up wasting a lot of chocolate (and getting a wonderful assortment of small stuff) to the consternation of my parents.

In any case, I got a box of three, and I'm happy. Here be a few pictures:

The box, and the egg.

The little guy inside the egg. Don't mess with him, he can turn you green with his ass alone.

2. On the same day Ryan and I found a copy of the official Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty graphic novel, with art by Ashley Wood. Here are a few snaps I took from my copy, and below is an exchange we had that quite eloquently sums up our general impression of the comic:

Me: I'm not sure about you, but I believe only pretentious fucks can justify the art.
Him: That's pretty....
Him: Ugh.
Him: I'm a pretentious fuck and even I can't justify it.
3. I'm currently enthralled with the live version of Shiina Ringo's Poltergeist, performed in her Electric Mole concert. Love, love, love, love. It's featured in the sidebar for now, for those who are interested.

Friday, October 3, 2008

On the leaked official Dragonball movie trailers...

See the leaked trailers here.

Him: Oh, Mai-Mai!
Him: Did you see the trailer for Dragon Ball?
Me: noap
Me: not yet. Good?
Him: http://www.thedragonballmovies.com/dragonball-movie/dragonball-movie-trailer/
Him: It's pretty interesting
Me: in a good or bad way? D:
Him: Good way XD
Me: I'm mixed up
Me: it looks like a good action flick, but its not...Dragonball D:
Him: Dragonball is like...myah.
Me: I feel like I'm watching Forbidden Kingdom 2
Him: People throwing other people through mountains
Me: and off color jokes
Him: Or punching people through buildings
Me: and Goku is supposed to be a single-minded character who fights because its fun
Me: I'm seeing the Forbidden Kingdom protagonist slapped with Goku's name on him
Me: "I don't want to fight"
Me: ... D:
Him: D:
Him: yeah, that was a bit facepalmy there.
Me: maybe they shouldn't have named this Dragonball :/
Me: but Bulma is cute
Me: X3
Him: Yeah, a bit.
Him: Master Roshi, though...
Him: he doesn't look like a perverted old man
Me: maybe if we judge the movie without taking into context the "source" material (which they obviously didn't take much from, except the names and the collect-em-all premise), this movie will turn out to be good
Me: but its supposed to be a Dragonball movie, dammit.
Him: Yeah.
Him: Well, you have to also consider that Speed Racer is almost the same way.
Me: you have to take into account that the directors of Speed Racer the movie at least made an EFFORT to reflect its source material. I don't see any of it in here
Him: Although yeah, DB movie pretty much shits on the source material
Him: There's also the deal about them insisting that the uniforms and the hairstyles remain
Him: Which is really unnecessary
Me: for DBZ?
Him: Somebody obviously didn't figure out the appeal of Dragon Ball
Him: Yeah, for DBZ
Me: er no. The hairstyles will translate really poorly XD
Him: I mean really, who walks around with spiked hair
Him: I know! XD
Him: It's like  "We NEED to make our movie identifiable to the main source. What should we make visible?"
Him: "The hairstyles and karate uniforms?"
Him: "FUND IT"
Him: What happened to the overblown fights and ki beam battles and off-color panty jokes?
Me: they were counting on the hairstyles and clothing to make the movie identifiable as a LOL DRAGONBALL MOVIE
Me: because they know they can't do squat about capturing what the anime/manga series was all about.
Him: Yeah.
Him: Blargh. Still, it's a must-watch. XD
Me: *sad face*
Him: You don't wanna watch it?
Me: well of course I'll watch it. its like not being able to turn away from a scene of a car crash
Me: ...and you'll pay for my tickets anyway yes? X3 so no loss of mine. Fuu fuu.
Him: Yeah, yeah, I'll pay for 'em tickets XD
Me: hahahaha
Him: You pay for the popcorn though. XD
Me: D:< you sucketh. No plain flavored popcorn, plz.

Umai, umai, Ma-shu-ma-ro (funwari funwari fuwaa fuwaa)


Click the link above, and you'll be treated to another dose of Japanese-flavored wtf moments that ranks way up high in the cuteness aesthetics, both audio and visual.

You guide this bit of marshmallow up to marshmallow heaven, and in its way are pancake frogs, pompadour heads, protozoa and other bits and pieces of oddments rendered in pleasing Japanese minimalist cuteness. Hover your mouse pointer to steer your forlorn-looking marshmallow; click on it (not on its legs!) to make it bump to the opposite direction and get rid of obstacles that's too close for comfort, lest you let them take a bite off your fluffy confection and send it hurtling to the ground.

(You can click on the How to Play link to familiarize yourself with the mechanics of marshmallow bumpan')

The marshmallow has to float its way through three levels until it reaches marshmallow heaven. If the music and offbeat overall design still bores you (how heartless!), there's still incentive on reaching and experiencing each level: reaching each stratum adds a layer of music to the bewitching soundtrack, and the variety of enemies vary slightly.

The ultimate procrastination device. Is there anyone out there who can splice flash files and send me the mp3s? A dozen internets to those who do ;___;

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A bouquet of facepalms for QualiBet and BFAD. *updated*

We all know about the melamine scare by now; in fact, we're getting force-fed about that bit of news even if we don't make an effort to watch news programs on TV, read newspapers or idly listen to radio. It's everywhere; even if you hide yourself in the closet you can half-expect the melamine brouhaha to greet you with a nice surprise buttsecks trick the moment you leave the safety of your moth-infested closet to pee.

The scare is, to some extent, justifiable. Most of the folks who frequent 7-11, Mini-stop, and other convenience stores nearest their school or office have probably consumed Chinese-branded foodstuffs, where most of them are being sold. 

However, there's no reason to blow the whole thing out of proportion...for now. From what I've seen so far, only infants were badly affected by the adulteration of melanine on infant formulas, and we know how susceptible those ickle bundles of joy and poop are.

On the other hand, us adults can just opt to check product labels, ditch them if they're marked as Made in China (or Made in PRC), and we can conduct our business as usual. No fire and brimstone or raining sulfur drama is needed if you ever find out you've been eating/drinking the same Chinese-manufactured goop for the past few years. Just avoid any further consumption, and you're good to go.

Which brings us to the point of this post. A few days ago several TV primetime news programs have announced that QualiBet, a food testing lab, was conducting tests to see which Chinese-manufactured foodstuffs contain melamine. This announcement brought about the same effect over the people as a visit to the dentist for a tooth extraction.

People were anxious to know whether their favorite Chinese brands are included in the list, yet at the same time are relieved that they'll soon know which brands to avoid. But alas, that is not to be the case.

QualiBet just released their findings a few minutes earlier in tonight's airing of primetime news over local TV. They stated what is already known as fact: some of the brands are indeed tagged as melamine positive.

The facepalming moment? They didn't reveal the brands of food products that contain melamine, saying that only BFAD has the right to reveal such information. BFAD, in turn, is unwilling to divulge such facts, saying that they won't release the list to the public for the reason that they didn't ask QualiBet to conduct the test in the first place.

Then, pray tell, what the FUCK was the whole testing fanfare for?

The only hard fact that the public gleaned from the stupid testing is that yes, indeed, several Chinese brands contain melamine. But we all knew that from the start, right? At the risk of sounding like an activist: was I perhaps too naive in assuming that BFAD's duty is to protect the consumers, and not the manufacturers? Or was this just an effort for Qualibet to get free advertising for their independent laboratory? I'm guessing its more of the latter.

Waste of money, waste of resources, waste of airtime, dammit, and I would have made use of that airtime to see more of Rustom in drag. She's so pretty now, a far cry from the faux white trash we saw in Pinoy Big Brother.

Update: ...aand BFAD is going to provide a partial list of safe milk products, to be released on Friday. Somehow, the whole debacle is turned into a free (?) government-sanctioned product endorsement. Pity the good brands that don't make the list. Maybe they should shell out a bit more... *wink wink*?