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Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Qwaser of Stigmata vol. 1 Impression

The Holy Wars Ignite in this stylish epic

Who knew breast could have this much religious meaning? The Qwaser of Stigmata volume 1 from Tokyopop offers up an intriguing story, by Kenetsu Sato. In its most simplistic form this is a fighting, battle manga where there is a prize and a number of ‘fighters’ each with unique powers and motivations. How this story unfolds, who the players are and where they get their stamina not to mention the base beliefs it challenges, this is what makes Qwaser unique especially when combined with Hiroyuki Yoshino art style. Let’s take a look at the core tale in volume 1.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 on Xbox 360 Impression

Playable anime? Just about dang near close with Ultimate Ninja Storm 2

Anime based video games have come a long way in the States and they continue to evolve with Naruto: Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 from Namco Bandai. The blending of fighting game action with RPG leveling up elements merges with storytelling and graphics grander than the most top-level games … period. Having a prior knowledge of Naruto will help greatly but the game moves along at a pace on par with the manga and anime which will allows those new to the franchise to get into the action. What makes UNS2 the next evolution in anime gaming? Let’s take a look …

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Vermonia volume 1 and 2 Impression

Four youths destined for greatness, the battle to retake Vermonia begins

The big boys such as Viz and Tokyopop, even Bandai have most of the major manga titles but once in a while a smaller studio pops up and delivers a quality tale that gives readers solid, non-big boy titles. YOYO is this company, a group of artist who wanted to create a new type of manga. The results so far is Vermonia and if volume 1 and 2 are any indication these creative minds are headed in a solid direction. This tale of four youths destined for greatness reminds me of Ronin Warriors or the old animated Dungeons & Dragons. What do these first two volumes offer in terms of the overall package, the art, story and layout? Let’s take a look.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ys: The Oath in Felghana on PSP Impression

Another Y’s handheld gem awaits in Felghana

What does Adol Christin and slime have in common? They are both the face of well respected and popular gaming franchises in Japan that struggled to see the light of day in the States until recently. The slime of course come from the DragonQuest franchise which is getting great exposure on Nintendo DS while Adol headlines the action-RPG franchise Ys seen on PlayStation 2 but which has hit its stride on Sony’s PSP. The most recent outing for Adol is Ys: The Oath in Felghana and while it’s just the third title in the franchise it’s not a quick, graphics upgrade port. This is a newly revamped game taking the core gaming aspects and story and moving them into an easy to pick up and play portable piece of gaming goodness. What else is there to this years-in-waiting title? Let’s take a look …

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dusk volume 2 Impression

More vampire action for Eve awaits

Dusk volume 2 from David Doub gets deeper into the vampire world main character Eve lives in and shows the harsh reality she has to embrace as well as a lighter side. Eve is a deep character and even after reading two volumes of Dusk there is still so much more to be explored. Let’s take a look at each chapter and see how the unique art and story compare, which dominate, which wither. Most defiantly worth noting that the cover art by Joamette Gil is outstanding and shows off a level of passion only a master and servant in love could share.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes on Blu-ray Impression

What’s better, the anime or the video game for Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes?

With Sengoku Basara hitting gaming systems and as an anime it would be easy for gamers to think they are mirrors of each other but oh how wrong this is. While the game has been met with mixed reviews the anime stands very well on its own. The focus is on two of the heroes seen in the game but the viewer gains a deeper understanding of these two, a connection the game just does not create. So why should gamers, those who purchased the game care, let’s take a look …

Splatterhouse on Xbox 360 Impression

Will the nostalgia go splatt or does Splatterhouse stand on its own merits

Remakes always work on shows like Extreme Home Makeover but for video games it’s hit and miss. Ninja Gaiden and Prince of Persia; great. Bionic Commando; not so much. The latest classic game to get the next-gen makeover is Splatterhouse and it falls in a lower middle-ground for the above titles. The overall vibe, the atmosphere feels very 80’s in its scares and horrific tale but how does this affect the game? Does it live up to the Splatterhouse gamers know, love and remember? Let’s take a look.

Gameplay – Sliced open and left for dead, young and dumb in love Rick makes a deal with the Terror Mask to gain life, power needed to save his girlfriend Jennifer from Dr. Henry West. Now a powered up brute of a man, Rick must traverse the mansion and more to save Jennifer killing all manners of baddies along the way and collecting blood.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dragon Ball: Raging Blast 2 on Xbox 360 Impression

Goku still rules next-gen gaming with Raging Blast 2 …. right?

Dragon Ball, you are indeed as eternal as the dragon Shenron. Anime games in the last generation were niche except for one, Dragon Ball Z. The Tenkaichi and Budokai series of fighters brought a gorgeous cell shaded look to the fighting game genre and a solid fighting game engine that helped to separate Dragon Ball Z from other anime titles. This was a series mainstream gamers could get into and it paved the way for the mostly excellent Naruto titles seen now. Like many an older boxer thought, Goku and the gang does not know if, when to hang it up thus gamers get Dragon Ball Raging Blast 2 from Namco Bandai. The anime has been done for a very long time with special packages released from FUNimation including the current Dragon Ball Z Kai but what does Raging Blast 2 offer that should make gamers care, especially those non-fans of the franchise? Let’s take a look.

Gameplay – 90 characters, 14 levels and an online tournament mode mixed into the Dragon Ball mythos and storylines. A fighting game that’s very refined and full of personality, Raging Blast 2 is the ultimate fan-service for Dragon Ball-a-holics. Moves can get very complicated so it’s rewarding to pick one and master them but don’t fret, many characters share moves and overall combat styles.

Graphics – The strongest point for Raging Blast 2 is its character models. This feels like taking control of an anime. Every character looks amazing and moves fluidly. The environments feel pulled from the anime which can feel pretty cookie cutter at this stage and the menus are freshly made from Capsule Corp. All the characters look great, did I mention this?

Sound – The opening feels ripped from the anime and is a joy while the voice acting is super happy fun time good. All the special powers sound great. It’s a good sounding game that replicates the anime well but the background music is a miss. Why not use those tunes from the original anime, even remixed tunes.

Design – Online tournament mode is cool but this is the same game as it was back on PlayStation 2. There are more fighters but overall it’s a high flying fighting game. Adding in an almost RPG angle with the Raging Soul System is a step in the trying to innovate direction but it’s a fighting game folks with tons of Dragon Ball characters.

Miscellaneous – Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z are two completely different eras, types of anime sharing characters, the world but we’ve gotta wonder where is the Z on the title. Dragon Ball Raging Blast 2 vs. Dragon Ball Z Raging Blast 2 … did Z get cut in budget cuts? Props on having the Japanese voice cast.

Overall fans will enjoy Dragon Ball Raging Blast 2 as it takes the gameplay and characters fans love, makes them look great, offers up all their moves and presents it all in a more polished HD package. Sadly for most other gamers even with the large fighter cast the appeal is not there for a deep fighting game, not like it was back on PS2. An All-star past its prime, Dragon Ball is still solid but there are other fighters, other anime titles that have taken the reigns like young bucks should.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Rock Band 3 on Xbox 360 Impression

Rock Band 3 evolves into the next stratosphere of rhythm gaming

Rock Band 3 is innovative. Rock Band 3 makes the music gaming genre feel fresh. Rock Band 3 is more than gamers may expect. Got your attention yet? The music genre from Rock Band to Guitar Hero has provided little reason for gamers to invest in more than a downloaded song recently but Rock Band 3 changes this. Not just a new packages with new tracks and some graphical updates, Rock Band 3 put in a new instrument and some gameplay changes that make the franchise fresh again. Let’s take a look …

Gameplay – Pick up an instrument be it a guitar, drums, keyboard (new) or microphone for vocals and become a star. The basic concept has not changed as gamers must match button presses with the proper on screen sequence to keep the vocals in the right pitch but there are changes. The Pro mode offers up trainers for gamers to get very intense in actually learning instruments, some with strings to move the genre closes to the Rosetta Stone of learning to play instruments. There is also the tried and true career mode where gamers travel from city-to-city getting new songs, rewards and challenges. Pick up and play is also an option where gamers can drop in and out very easily. The keyboard and option to learn to play for real is what makes the genre move in a new direction.

Graphics – The settings, the musicians all feel very Rock Band-ish with standards long established. Even with deeps levels of customization there are only so many ways to create big venues and underground clubs, even subways and hallways. The game makes great use of stage lights, puts gamers into the gig but with so much focus on the cords a lot of the polished graphics and camera angles can and will be lost on those playing.

Sound – It’s all about the music and with thousands of songs to download are there any complaints? The included music is great as it touches on a variety of types and even languages to offer a very … different taste of music, not all plain ol’ rock. The game sounds great and how can anyone argue with a track list which includes Stone Temple Pilots, The Smiths and Juanes.

Design – Creating the missing link from plastic, button based instruments to real is quite an achievement and one that if implemented in the early days may not have succeeded. Gamers know what the genre is about, they want to play and play their real music but there are tons of gamers who have mastered the buttons presses and they are ready for a new challenge. Bridging this gap from game to reality is finally happened in-game and quite exciting.

Miscellaneous – Learning to play for real from keyboard to guitar is the next, natural step for the music genre. Gaming machines are more than games with Netflix, online downloads and more and now games are moving outside being just games. Learn to play in more ways than one.

Overall Harmonix has created a phenomenon and helped to evolve it. Talk about seeing your child grow. Rock Band 3 is everything the genre is loved for and makes itself so much more with a robust track list, great graphics and menu transitions along with a variety of instruments that all stand well on their own. Those with Rock Band or Guitar Hero owe it to themselves to give Rock Band 3 a swing.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ancient Chinese Series Sub-titled in English

Live action series from China with a very anime vibe ready for consumption

I grew up watching various badly dubbed king-fu shows and movies on early Saturday and Sunday mornings. These shows along with series such as Robotech, Transformers, Galaxy Rangers, Voltron, Silver Hawks, Thundercats, (need I continue?) helped create my love for anime and manga that took off as an adult. Now at the tender age of ‘none of your business’ I’ve been introduced to yet another brand of live action cinema that merges those kung-fu flicks with anime themes.

These Ancient Chinese Series touch on many of the same themes and core elements that many anime, even US cartoons touch on with good vs. evil, fantasy epics and sci-fi galore. I would be doing a disservice if I did not share something so enjoyable that is so close to what I love, to what I started this blog about. The trailer below shows off some nice highlights so make your own decision. Here are some of the series that have been shared with me, would love to hear what you think.

10 Kinds of People You Encounter on Xbox Live

Kids that own you or odd shut-ins await on Xbox Live

Gaming online is not a fad, trend or passing fancy. It’s an ingrained part of how games are created, marketed and played with online avatars, clans, user groups and more. With so many gamers of varied ages, genders and manners jumping online it’s a very unique mix that games will encounter online, some good and some bad. Online Degree takes a look at the 10 Kinds of People You Encounter on Xbox Live so take a look and see if you’ve encountered these people, maybe you are one of them.

Pokemon HS-Triumphant TCG Expansion

Say hello the latest, in time for the holidays, Pokémon booster packs and theme decks. This new sets is called HS-Triumphant. Some of the highlights include the following:
  • Legendary Pokémon are back in pairs as LEGEND cards Dialga & Palkia and Darkrai & Cresselia. 
  • New Pokémon Prime cards that include Celebi, Machamp, and Gengar. 
  • New Trainer, Supporter, and Stadium cards. 
  • New Special Energy card
Upgrades and updates are the name of the game with a new expansions and Pokémon TCG: HS-Triumphant looks to deliver with 100+ cards. Getting your hands on a new card, deck, expansion is one of the true joys of being a TCG player and Pokémon never fails to deliver the new.