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Monday, August 7, 2006

Portable Dragon Ball Z

Looking for some fast and fun Dragon Ball action on the go? Look no further than Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors 2 for the DS and Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai for the PSP. Neither of these games sets new ground for the high-flying fighting game franchise, but what each game does deliver is solid fighting action sure to please anyone who's picked up a DBZ title in the past, or has an interest in the anime.

Supersonic Warriors 2 is not so much a sequel as a 1.5 upgrade from the original Supersonic Warriors on the GBA. You play from a side-scrolling type of perspective, much like Street Fighter of old. Choose from a slew of characters, pick a team of three and play through various what if story lines not realized in the anime. Yeah there are more modes than this, but not really worth getting into. SSW2 is a fun romp for DBZ fans on the DS, but nothing to write home about. Hey, the cover art is pretty sweet, and the games nice and fast-paced. Did I mention I played the original to death and am doing so with this one also. :P

Now onto Shin Budokai, a port of the mega-popular Budokai Tenkaichi on PS2. I love this game. The Tenkaichi title was great, not just a great anime based game but a great fighting game, and Shin Budokai takes that formula and shrinks it down. Throw in all the usual game play modes, story, vs. etc. and the large line-up of characters mix in a fighting system that works well on the portable and boom ... instant ramen .... er DBZ action. Where this game really stands out is it's graphics, which are some of the best I've seen on the PSP, but hey, that's just me. The best feature, the one that really made me smile is a simple one, one that will escape attention and that's the use of the original Japanese voices for each character. Sounds weird, but I cut my anime teeth on fan-sub DBZ adn there is nothing, NOTHING, like Goku in Japanese, good times.

Hey, both titles are fun. I would only recommend SSW2 to DBZ fans with a DS, Shin Budokai on the other hand I suggest to anyone with a fancy for fighting games. Go ahead, take them for a rental ride and let me know what you think.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Naruto Uncut Impression

Hopefully you've read what I just wrote about Basilisk (if not, get going, dang). I mentioned it was a mature series, great ninja action and reminded me of Ninja Scroll. I also mentioned no to buy it for your kids, to use the edited Naruto ... yeah edited. If you've seen Naruto on Cartoon Network then you've seen the edited version of a great show that is really not for the faint of heart. Viz recently released a box set, a box set I would love to see every other anime series mimic (Shaman King, One Piece, listen up).

The Naruto Uncut Box Set 1 is an Otakus dream come true. The US has a view of anything animated being for kids, a view I hate, and really want to educate so it's changed. Naruto is a very popular show in Japan, hell around the world, and guess what, it's not just for kids. TItles like One Piece and Shaman King are similar. All three titles, and many more have been 'kiddied' down for TV here in the states. Any blood, smoking, drinking ... anything adult has been removed and the shows, while still popular, suffer, or I should say the true die-hard fans suffer. What the Naruto set has done is take a popular series, one that's been edited, and give us Otaku the original series, uncut, in both English and Japanese with the original opening themes, wraps it in a nice box and delivers it to fans craving ... well everything listed above.

Naruto is a series not to be missed by anyone, ANYONE, with even a passing fancy in anime. I write about a lot of series, and usually recommend all of them in some manner form get 1 DVD to buy the box set. This is because I write about 1) what I love and 2) what is good. I have to be picky. A series like Saikano I did not like, not at all. I did not dig the story, the character design, anything about this series, but I know there is an audience for it, I'm not that audience. Enough of that rant, Naruto is a series I love, I watch every Saturday night because it's good, it's refreshing, it's engaging. It's a new series that is not cliché, and this box set delivers it, I mean delivers IT. A true full anime experience, a series how is was supposed to be seen after it was kiddied down for release. An experience that I hope to see more of with licensed shows. GIve me Bleach, give me HunterXHunter, give me Beet all uncut in a nice box set so I don't have to look for fan-subs to see a series how it's supposed to be seen. Give it to me like this so the anime industry stays strong by giving fans what they really want, so pirated items are a dying breed.

Take note all of you publishers, if a series becomes popular and contains mature themes, bring it over this way. The US anime market is not a bunch of 10 year old, some of us have 10 year old so hook us up. Thanks Viz for starting what I hope will become a major trend with shows on TV that have been kiddied down.

Basilisk Vol. 1, Scrolls of Blood Impression

In the mood for some ninja action a little more adult than Naruto? How about a true spiritual successor to the original Ninja Scroll? Look no further, Basilisk from FUNimation has you covered and then some. (Yeah, want some cool Basilisk wallpaper, just click here).

At it's heart Basilisk is a story of two warring ninja factions, the Kouga and Iga clans. These clans have been at war for hundreds of years, and have been an uneasy enforced era of peace for 400 years. The Shogun decides to break this treaty and pit the two clans against one another in a fight that will determined the heir to the Shogun. Two scrolls, one for each clan, contain a list of 10 ninja from each clan to participate ... if that's the best term to use. The winner is the first clan to kill the 10 ninja listed by crossing their names off in blood on the scroll.

So, this sounds pretty straightforward, 10 ninja vs. 10 ninja, each with their own strange and fantastic skills from having a rubbery body to manipulating ones blood to being super elastic. These ninja are as fantastical as those found in Ninja Scroll, with character design to match. Intertwined within this war are the two young leaders of each clan, Oboro and Gennousuke. Two leaders who are set to wed (no official announcement yet) and who truly love each other. This love is translated very well in volume 1 as is the hate every other member of their clans hold for one another. How is young love to survive when the shackles have been removed after 400 years and the blood will flow? That's the story of Basilisk, will love survive, will there be peace, or will these skilled ninja just kill the hell out of each other.

Since I was a child I've loved all forms fo ninja shows from those cheesy Sunday morning kung-fu flicks to Ninja Scroll. There's something about the dark and mysterious world of ninja, deadly assassins, who use all their cool tools to carry out their trade, a something that grabbed a young boy and never let go. Basilisk, like Naruto, has rekindled that love and intrigue. I'm older now, but dang if high-flying ninja action does not send chills down my spine. The art of Basilisk at first put me off with big, bushy eyebrows and standard looking dress for an anime of its ilk, but that was changed big time once I began watching. I keep brining up Ninja Scroll, and that is the biggest compliment I can give Basilisk because the character design, personalities, voice work, the whole package is as memorable as NS, and really what the NS series should have been.

At the end of the day Basilisk is a good series that could potentially turn great, we will see how the next volumes turn out. If you like ninja's, pick up this title, don't take a flyer on it, but remember, it's mature, lot of blood, adult stuff in here. DO NOT buy this for young kids, get them the edited Naruto. I really want to talk more, but for now just take time to check out the series, you won't regret it.

Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles Impression

Found this out yesterday, good times. 'Ultimate Ninja' is great fun, and carries a look and feel similar to the anime. Well, with 'Uzumaki Chronicles' we finally get a realistic looking Naruto, similar to the manga (which I prefer to the anime). Enough from me, check out the official press info ...

NAMCO BANDAI GAMES AMERICA INC. ANNOUNCES "NARUTO(TM): UZUMAKI CHRONICLES(TM)" FOR PLAYSTATION(R)2 SYSTEM

New Action Adventure Title Based on the Hit Anime Series Scheduled to Appear in Stores Winter 2006

SANTA CLARA, Calif., (August 2, 2006) - Leading video games publisher and developer NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc. announced today that "NARUTO(TM): UZUMAKI CHRONICLES(TM)"will be available this Winter, exclusively for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system. Based on the hit animated TV series SHONEN JUMP's NARUTO from VIZ Media airing on Cartoon Network, this action adventure title offers players a chance to become Naruto, the aspiring ninja with the power of the Nine-Tailed Fox Spirit sleeping deep within. Set in a vividly rendered 3D environment, gamers can play through the story-driven missions to save the Hidden Leaf Village from the threat of evil and fulfill Naruto's dream of becoming the Hokage (leader).

"On the heels of the resounding success of 'NARUTO(TM): Ultimate Ninja(TM),' fans of the series have been clamoring for new NARUTO adventures on the PlayStation 2," said Naruo Uchida, NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc.'s Senior Vice President. "With 'NARUTO: Uzumaki Chronicles,' we will deliver another layer of gameplay depth to the franchise by introducing an original storyline and providing an opportunity for fans to engage in large-scale ninja combat, all the while exploring familiar locations of the Naruto universe in an adventure setting."

"NARUTO: Uzumaki Chronicles"  introduces a lush, never-before-seen 3D world that will test the players' Ninjutsu skills as Naruto, the feisty orphan who wants to become the most respected and admired ninja of all time. A brand new story drives the missions as players experience the trials and tribulations of a ninja-in-training - fierce competition from fellow students and constant challenges from their teachers. Players can collect status-boosting chips and plates to customize all aspects of Naruto's abilities and face-off against multiple enemies using either close combat moves or long-range weapons like shurikens and explosive cards. With familiar characters like Kakashi, Sasuke and Neji that can swoop in for assistance, "NARUTO: Uzumaki Chronicles" offers mini-games and lethal attacks straight from the popular anime series to satiate any aspiring ninja.

First introduced into the Weekly Shonen Jump Magazine in Japan in 1999, NARUTO -- by revered creator Masashi Kishimoto -- quickly became Japan's most popular ninja manga. In 2000, NARUTO was expanded into a series of graphic novels with more than 65 million copies sold in Japan. NARUTO consistently ranks as one of the most popular titles serialized in VIZ Media's SHONEN JUMP monthly manga anthology and one of the top graphic novel titles (also published by VIZ Media) in the United States. VIZ Media was named the Master Licensor in February 2005, obtaining the television, home video and merchandising rights to NARUTO for North America and Latin America.