Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Printer Guardians

These are The Three.

These Three remain ever watchful as they protect and safeguard my printer. Here they stand united and dedicated to their cause, ready to do battle at a moment's notice.

Except for Zaku, that guy just likes to steal the show.

Moving on...

I have three MG kits completed, the Shin Musha over there on the left being the most recent. After building the Zaku II I became addicted, and at the same time, spoiled by Zaku's amazing articulation. I feel the time has come to stop putting off the important step of making these kits really shine and give them their much deserved paint job. I just don't know which one to do first :X

I want to make Shin Musha's red a darker red.
I want to make Zaku's paint job faithful to the original.
I want to make Hi-Nu's color scheme match the new 1/144 GPB version.

Or... I could do something entirely different. I just can't decide! Aaaarrrgghhh!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I've decided.

I want to take the JLPT, and I want to pass. I looked it up and they have a testing site right here at UW. Sure, it would have been nice to find an excuse to visit Japan to take the test, but it's probably for the best that it's local. It turns out that this summer's test is canceled. They normally have it on the first Sunday of June and December so that leaves December for me. I figure with my previous years behind me and doing some refreshers I can catch up to speed and at least take the intermediate level 3 exam.

I'm not gonna slap a headband on and spend all my time at the library or anything, but starting tomorrow I want to get a head start on re-making kanji flashcards. I'm also planning on hitting Kinokuniya to pick up the Genki I workbook. I really, really like the Genki textbooks because they use an excellent method of pulling you deeper into the complexities of the language.

I can't seem to find my textbooks or my kanji study book though, so I'll have to dig around in the morning for them.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

"(I Always Kill) The Things I Love"

The title of this post is one of the main songs for the new game, L.A. Noire. I just finished the main storyline and while I have yet to really finish up all the side quests, or street crimes as they're known as in this game, I still wanna put down what I think while it's still fresh in my head. This game literally just came out a few days ago so I know there's still a lot of people who haven't finished it. This is a review post but I'm gonna try to avoid spoilers where I can.

One more disclaimer before I get to it: my brain skips around a lot, get used to it.

I'm typing this out as I have the soundtrack going in the background, like a boss. Before I get to the game itself, I want to praise the music. I'm not a huge jazz buff, but I'm not against it either. The music team for this game is great. While I'm not sure if car radios were even around in the late 40's, I'm not complaining with having period music play while I drive around the city of "angels". The aforementioned song in the title is probably my favorite track. It's a newly written and performed song just for this game and you should listen to it or just buy the soundtrack. Anyway, onto the game.

This information is anywhere, but in the game you play as WWII hero, Cole Phelps. He's one of LAPD's few "honest cops". Right from the get-go you learn pretty fast that Cole is a stickler for the rules and likes doing things by the book. I don't hold that against him by any means; it's nice having a protagonist that's a straight arrow once and awhile. Lately in games we see a lot of anti-heroes and damaged goods. Ok well, without going into details Cole isn't 100% pure, but hey he's human. There's also other characters in the game... a lot of other characters. They range from your partners, bosses, victims, suspects, witnesses, etc. All of them were face captured and all of them have the amazing facial animation from the trailers. 

It's not often a game comes around waving around a new technology card without it feeling too much like a gimmick. Shooters tend to do this a lot, promising something ground-breaking but in the end it's still just a shooter. In this game, when you're interviewing people you have to read their faces. Yes, these people are paid actors who are probably told to accentuate certain movements like shifty eyes but it's still amazing tech that doesn't involve me dancing in front of my TV. The tech is so good, and these performances are so real that sometimes the immersion gets to you.

I could go on for a long time about why I enjoy this game but I don't really have enough time for that as I have work in the morning and would rather not be in zombie mode all day. For now, I'll cover a few issues I want to point out.

This is not Grand Theft Auto. On some levels, it feels like it because here you have a very large recreation of 1940's Los Angeles but by following the story, you only ever see a small portion of notable landmarks. The way the game is doesn't lend itself well to exploration. You can go hunt down all the film reels and hidden cars but so what? You get some shiny trophy unlocks and build up the car library. Police vehicles are the only ones you have access to a police radio and the siren. Other cars may go faster, but driving like a dumbass can severely affect your rating at the end of each case if you run over a lot of people or smash into other cars repeatedly. On the other hand though, the city is very well done. It's not as impressive as Liberty City in GTA4 but then again, L.A. in 1947 wasn't that impressive. It's a great recreation of a city after the war booming with growth.

Another thing I want to point out is the repetitive gameplay. A typical case begins with going to a crime scene, looking for clues, and talking to people. After that, you go talk to some more people, look for some more clues and hopefully by the end of the investigation, someone gets arrested or shot. This happens over a dozen times across five desks in the LAPD. There's some action in this game in the form of pursuing fleeing suspects and car chases but the point I'm trying to bring up is that the draw of this game isn't the visceral action. (On that note, I hate it when people describe a game as being visceral.) The game is fun when you're piecing together all the little parts of a puzzle and getting that vital tidbit of information from the person you're putting the squeeze on. It's that excitement of trying to figure out who the culprit is that really gets me. Pair that up with the facial tech I mentioned and you got a cocktail for awesome.

Speaking of awesome, I'd like to touch on my favorite desk: homicide. I know I said I'd avoid spoilers, but for this I can't really avoid it. Why do I like tackling cases about dead people? Well, that's because there's a lot of cases that relate to Betty Short. Right now I'm taking a class focused on film noir and we had recently finished reading The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy (which by the way is a great read) and watching the '06 film of the same name. As fun as it is unraveling Rockstar's plot, there's just something a little more fun about dealing with murders based on a murder that remains unsovled to this day. Frequent references are made to the Dahlia case and I remember one part where you hear some reporter who asks the cops on scene, "Any news about the Dahlia?", it kinda made me grin.

One final thing I want to mention is that the game doesn't really play out that quickly so I foresee a lot of people turning their nose up and walking away. I can definitely see that this is not a game for everyone. The last few Rockstar games have really played themselves up as mainstream triple-A titles. Part of that is because they deserve some of the praise, the rest of that is the almighty hype machine. This game however, doesn't feel like a mainstream title that everyone universally loves and adores. It certainly feels more like a niche game. For me at least, it's a jazzy adventure filled with murder, corruption, and an overarching conspiracy I'll not soon forget.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

This.. is... CHESYRE!

If you've never heard of the Madness Combat movies, I suggest you check them out now. Along with being progressively spiffy and cool with each episode the music is awesome. Most of the tracks of the series are done by a guy named Sean Hodges aka Cheshyre. I'm a little slowpoke on this one, but recently Cheshyre put out his first album which is essentially a collab of all of his tracks he's done for MC and then some. I highly recommend it but watch out, I don't think the levels were encoded as neatly as they could have been. At excessive volumes you get a little feedback, even with the FLAC files.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Birthday Fun in the Sun

Welp, today I turned 26. Specifically, at about 6:05 pm according to my mom.

Today to celebrate I went down to downtown Seattle with a few friends to partake in cheesy goodness at the Seattle Cheese Festival. I wish I had taken my camera with me. >_< I think one of my favorite cheeses is the cave-aged cheddar. It's essentially a sharp cheddar but it's just soooooooo gooooooood. We also hit the wine/beer sampling tent which was neat. I do love me some reds.

After that, we wandered over to Japonssea. I had never eaten there before but it was a neat place. I forget the name of the roll I ordered and it's not on the menu on their website but it was called something like, Diabla something. They use red chili icons on the menu to mark the spicy dishes, and this roll had three of them while the other spicy ones had a single chili mark. Needless to say, it was pretty god damn spicy. It was spicy tuna, salmon, and habanero. Lots of it. I tried it with some wasabi on it and it was amazing. I would definitely label it as, "Burns so good!"

After that me and the guys parted ways but not before we went to Uwajimaya and they bought me some choice nama genshu sake along with a tokkuri and two matching ochoko. Now whenever I have sake I can go full weeaboo, yay!

When all was said and done, I went over to chill at Anime Raku and talk gunpla with the owner and his gf. They coaxed me (didn't take much) to get the Shin Musha Gundam, so I have that to look forward to building. Sad though, I have a lot under the workbench, so to speak, that I may not get to it anytime soon.

I finally got home about 20 minutes ago after it started raining, ending an otherwise wonderfully rare and sunny day in Seattle. Not too shabby for 26 years if I do say so myself. Now for drinking and maybe a movie.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Shoot, Bang, & Frag

It's that time again, a new FPS is arriving in the form of Brink. Most gamers associate Bethesda with Open-World RPGs like Elder Scrolls and Fallout - and for good reason. These are arguably some of the best damn games ever made. Now, like a shot out of the dark, comes this new team-based shooter which is as what a Youtube member described as, "If CoD and TF2 had a kid, and then Borderlands and Mirror's Edge had a kid, then those kids got married and had a kid of their own, this game is what you would get."

Now, I know it's too early to pass judgement on a game that isn't out yet, but I have high hopes and I'll be playing it all day tomorrow more than likely. Find me on Steam under my usual name for -everything- MoogleDee.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Macross Frontier

For the record, any 'animu' post that also has the 'review' tag can be expected to have spoilers. You have been warned.

Tonight I finished up watching Macross Frontier. I finished it up faster than I intended to, but I think it was worth it. Like I said before, I started watching it because I had a mecha itch that I needed to scratch. I figured, "Hey, Macross is hailed as a mecha series", so I gave it a chance.

Silly me for thinking that it was just blowing stuff up.

Of course, that's how most of these things start out, but MF places an even greater emphasis on it's characters and their relationships than some other series. *COUGH GUNDAM POWER CREEP* Sorry, I'm getting over the sniffles. Power creep and technology races aren't always a bad thing, mind you, I just enjoyed MF keeping their level of technology consistent. One thing that kinda irked me though, and it's a problem with Macross in general, is GERWALK mode. I understand it's purpose is to grant the fighter greater altitude control, but it looks silly. It's one thing I still can't get over.

Back to why I actually liked the series though: Sheryl. Okay, not just her, but the relationship triangle between her, Alto, and Ranka. On one hand, I enjoyed watching the train-wreck plot. On the other, I kept hoping that Ranka would like, sacrifice herself or something so Sheryl could be happy. Of course, in the interest of keeping more fans they opted not only for two viable options for Alto, but they kept the question hanging in the air at the very end. That kinda bugged me.

I'm going to go a little further into Sheryl.

No, not like that. >_>

I enjoy her character very much. Explaining why I enjoy the character would require referencing to a similar train-wreck-love plot, Toradora. Sheryl is a lot like Ami, (note: I initially typed that out as 'my Ami' heh), who was my favorite character from that series as well. Both of them are strong-willed and go after what they want. Sadly, the two characters are also similar in such a way how they get shafted. In the case of Sheryl though, she gets 'saved' of her fatal disease in the end which is great but also made for a somewhat weaker story. Is it weird that I long for tragic endings? *cough Mai-Hime*

An engaging storyline and nice mecha eye-candy make for a good watch. I'll give it an 8/10. The story bugged me in some respects, but I can still appreciate it for what it is and understand that I can't hate something just because I can't change it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Late Night Anime

Well, it wasn't a true marathon per se, I didn't finish the series. I do have to be up and at work in about... 7 hours. T'was worth it though. I started watching Macross Frontier and after 7 episodes, I'm digging it.

I had kind of a mecha urge after doing some reading and I didn't really feel like getting everything out to work on gunpla. True, I have kits that I need to finish like the Civvie Astray and the Avalanche Exia but meh... they can wait. Anyway. I did a bit of poking around and looked a bit at Another Century's Episode R and had a very brief desire to import it. It'll have to wait for when I have some extra funds, (read: never), till I can check it out. With my mecha urge left unsatisfied I remembered that I picked up Macross Frontier to watch. I initially only planned to watch a few episodes, but I got drawn in. I'll likely slow my pace down and limit myself to two episodes per night for the rest of the week until I finish it up.

More on animu, my list can be found here. I try to keep it updated, but it's getting a little hectic this season with so many series that I'm trying to keep up on. Usually I kick back and wait until I can get some good recommendations but lately I've found myself in a position among my friends where I'm the one who has to tell them what to watch, and they're catching up with my backlog of series that I recommended. I can't really complain I guess, it's kinda nice being the anime otaku in the clique.