Quarter 2 2014 Notes

Work Goes Into Overdrive

I feared once spring came around with more tolerable weather that work was going to go into overdrive. Sure enough, it did. The first sign came when the President/CEO of the company issued a “Back on Track” to all billable employees to work extra hours to get all the projects “back on track” that suffered delays from the harsh winter. Then it hit me when I had a rash of out of the normal requests from my group of project managers asked me to conduct. The workload was getting out of hand that I had to carry some of my workload back home to work on them at home. There was a month long period where I never logged onto my home consoles at all because I had to hunker down and work on these work items.

I have not had to carry any work to do at home since mid-May, but work remains pretty hectic nonetheless. It never seems like I get any rest at any time. The cycle of running billings, processing billings, producing invoices to clients, retrieving additional items for particular invoices per client’s requests, filing hard and electronic copies of produced client invoices, then wrangle the project managers to meeting with me to talk collections. Rinse, lather, repeat… all year long! I still have a ton of vacation time that I have not been able to utilize because the cycle never ends. I do schedule at least one vacation day per month if I see an opportunity to do so.

I do not see any breaks over the summer months, with the only breaks coming by United States holidays of Independence Day (4 July) and Labor Day (1 September). I’ll definitely use a vacation day somewhere in mid-August cause I know I will go mad with all the work being done. All the work has drained a ton of energy from me that I have a tough time to get going on my hobbies. I will do my best to deal with all the stress as best as I can, and not get overly frustrated by it.

The Back Strain Injury

On 19 May, I suffered a painful back injury on my commute to work. I worked at the office for two hours with the injury until I thought better and decided to head back home. My parents were able to secure a quick appointment with the family doctor in the afternoon. The doctor performed some things and officially diagnosed me with muscle spasms and suggested that I take a week off to recover.

My week off away from work to recover from my injury was odd. I was unhappy that I was unable to tackle more of my gaming and manga backlog due to my lack of mobility. I also felt extremely out of place being away from the office for so long. I wasn’t able to do much over the week. I focused on keeping good back posture sitting and lying in bed, while taking walks, taking Advil, and using a ton of IcyHot patches to quicken the recovery. I wasn’t fully recovered when I went back to work on 27 May, but I was well enough to do the normal tasks at work. Plus I had to catch up on a ton of stuff at work due to my sudden absence.

The Routine

I do not have much else interesting to share that happened to me this past quarter. I have fallen into a deep Groundhog Day routine this quarter with every working weekday and every weekend. Each weekday falls into: wake up, commute, work, lunch, work, commute, light exercise (if possible), dinner, whatever, sleep. Weekends are much interesting aside from my brother’s friends hanging out at my house, rest, and doing stuff to keep my mind busy and such.

The Longest Grind Entries

I was able to squeeze in two blog entries under my personal The Longest Grind blog series that I’m surprised and proud to be able to write before work and life decided to throw a wrench on things. I had planned on writing about BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition Version 2012, and Bravely Default, but I do not think I will write about those games now. I do hope to write another entry once the opportunity presents itself. In the meantime, feel free to read my personal experiences with Persona 4 Arena and Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R.

01 – Persona 4 Arena

02 – Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R

Highlight Finished Game of Q2 2014

Ys: Memories of Celceta was definitely the best game that I finished out of the five in Q2 2014. Sure, the graphics are pretty rough being a port from an older platform, and the frame rate would struggle during hectic battles, but I really enjoyed everything else from the game. The highlight of Ys: MoC are the battles. The player can choose three characters out of six to field in the world, with each character wielding a weapon of their experise that has a particular attack characteristic of slash, smash, or pierce, along with equipping armor and two accessories. The player can swap between the three characters in the field and have their character attack, defend, dodge, and perform special attacks on the fly. I also love the large sense of adventure that the game provides, as each new phase provides a long section of the world to discover. The story and characters are decent to boot.

Ys: Memories of Celceta was a welcome game to play and experience after being a bit let down from Bravely Default and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Picross e4 was okay, a nice side puzzle game to play in that short period. Muramasa Rebirth was a fun side-scroller hack-and-slash game with amazing visuals, but it did not match the excitement of gaming as much as Ys: MoC did.

Q2 Video Game Subtractions/Additions

Subtractions

  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Wii U) – 6 April
  • Bravely Default (3DS) – 16 April
  • Picross e4 (3DS) – 20 May
  • Ys: Memories of Celceta (VITA) – 6 June
  • Muramasa Rebirt (VITA) – 16 June

Additions

  • Crash Team Racing (PS3) [PSN sale]
  • Demon Gaze (VITA) [Limited Edition]
  • Disney’s Castle of Illusion featuring Mickey Mouse (PS3) [PSN+ Free Game]
  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (PS3) [Target Steelbook Edition, Target sale]
  • Mario Golf: World Tour (3DS)
  • Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)
  • Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection (PS3)
  • Muramasa Rebirth (VITA) [PSN+ sale]
  • Picross e4 (3DS)
  • Pikmin 3 (Wii U) [Free Game via Nintendo Mario Kart 8 Promotion]
  • Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God (VITA) [PSN+ sale]
  • Uncharted: Golden Abyss (VITA) [PSN+ Free Game, was about to delist soon]
  • Wipeout 2048 (VITA) [PSN+ Free Game, was about to delist soon]
  • Zone of the Enders: HD Collection (PS3) [Toys R Us clearance sale]

Q2 Memorable Music Albums and Manga Acquistions

Music Albums

  • Andrew Jackson Jihad – Christmas Island
  • Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else
  • Courtney Barnett – The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas
  • DJ Shadow – Entroducing…
  • Fennsez - becs
  • Fugazi – The Argument
  • Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
  • Swans – To Be Kind
  • Tune-Yards – Nikki Nack
  • Unwound – Rat Conspiracy [box set]
  • Woods – With Light and With Love

Manga

  • Phantom Thief Jeanne #1 & #2
  • Whispered Words #1

Q3 and Q4 Goals and Dreams

Mental Strength and Patience: I expect work to maintain its crazy pace through summer and fall, so I have to do my best not to get overly stressed out over work and things that life constantly throws at me.

Little Steps: I gained a ton of weight over the winter and after suffering my back injury, have taken steps to get healthier little by little. I have been doing a lot of walking around my neighborhood since the injury combined with eating less and drinking my water. It seems to be working a little bit, but it has been tough to maintain this regime where there are times where I do not want to do either. I have to keep this up no matter what.

Job Search: Oh boy, I have failed miserably at doing this. The period where I was bringing home work did not help matter. I should have looked around for jobs during the time I was home with my back injury, but my mind was more focused on recuperating at the time. I really got to hammer down to do some job searching somewhere, but it will be tough considering that from my previous years at work, summer and fall is still pretty filled with work everywhere.

The Longest Grind: I definitely want to continue writing for this blog series, but the same challenges of finding the opportune time and the emotion to dig deep to recall and express fondly over a game I want to share my experiences. I had a ton of fun writing about Persona 4 Arena and Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R, and hope to continue that with more games somehow.

Otakon: Attending Otakon last year was the best thing I ever did in my life for quite a while. I would love to attend again but chances seem slim at the moment. My brother said that hotel rooms are quickly selling out in downtown Baltimore, combined with an attendance cap, costs, and this year the Baltimore Orioles baseball team also playing games the weekend are making me weary about attending. I would love to go, but no loss if I do not go this year.

Summer Jam 8: This is an event I would love to attend despite my less than favorable experience attending last year’s tournament. This year, the tournament is held at a hotel in the city of Philadelphia, along with access to public transportation to travel around the city and more food options too. The increased amount of games to play outside of the standard fighting game tournament classics make it more enticing for me to attend this year as well.

NEC 15: Northeast Championships is the biggest Philadelphia fighting game tournament of the three held each year (the other two being Summer Jam and Winter Brawl). I would like to attend the biggest tournament out of the group to see how chaotic it is, along with witnessing high-level P4AU and GG Xrd play at the venue would be cool to witness. It stinks that the hotel that it will probably be held at is at an undesirable location. I shall see if this dream comes to fruition or not.

General Backlog: I will not get to all the games that rot on my ever growing gaming backlog, but I will do my best to take a few games at a time and slowly knock a game down. Slow and steady.

Preliminary Games of Interest for Rest of 2014

Here’s a preliminary list of games I am looking forward to for the rest of the year.

  • Arcana Heart 3 Love Max [pre-ordered]
  • Bayonetta 2
  • Guilty Gear Xrd –SIGN-
  • Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth [pre-ordered Premium Edition]
  • Persona 4 Arena Ultimax [pre-ordered]
  • Super Smash Brothers 4 Wii U
  • Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call [pre-ordered Limited Edition (not the S-E Deluxe Edition)]
  • Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late [to acquire through “means”]
  • Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm [funded Indiegogo campaign]

Feel free to read more of my shenanigans here if you’d like.

Thanks for reading!

Start the Conversation

The Longest Grind 02 - Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R

The Longest Grind 02 – Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R

Click here for a brief summary on my personal blog series.

Author’s Note

I am not an expert in fighting games, so feel free to comment if I have provided any incorrect information. I have also gathered some information from Dustloop’s wiki to explain some of Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R mechanics.

Not a Storied Past

I know of the Guilty Gear franchise in the past, but the only game I owned and played before Accent Core Plus was Guilty Gear X2 on the PlayStation 2. I enjoyed playing the game for the brief time I had it, fighting against my brother and cousins and constantly getting frustrated in arcade mode. I was sad when Arc System Works lost the Guilty franchise when they were owned(?) by Sega Sammy and moved on to produce BlazBlue. Luckily, they bought the franchise back and are able to re-release past games as well as produce more games for the future. As for me, my not-too-long Guilty Gear history picks up again with Accent Core Plus and the R patch update.

There Ain’t No Hitchhikers Guide to GGXXAC+R

Many games this past generation now include a tutorial and combo challenge mode for new players to learn some of the game’s mechanics and learn certain character combos. You won’t find that here in AC+R. There are mechanics that are essential to learn for players who want to excel in the game which I will touch upon later in this blog post. In the meantime, the best sources I can refer to start learning GGXXAC+R is a mixture of reading online sources (Dustloop particularly), solo training, and fighting and conversing with other folks who are willing to spar and provide assistance.

Five Finger Button Setup

Unlike ASW’s other fighters with uses four attack buttons, or in Street Fighter where it uses six attack buttons, Guilty Gear uses five attack buttons. Each button is assigned a unique attack function: P (punch), K (kick), S (slash), HS (hard slash), and D (dust). I had a ton of trouble finding the right button configuration that felt comfortable to play on my fight stick. I’ve settled on two configurations that I felt comfortable with on the two characters I play as the most. For my main character Jam, I settled in and got comfortable using the default Guilty Gear arcade configuration. The top row consisting of K / S / HS and the bottom row using P / x / D. For my side character Bridget, I prefer to use the “P4A” configuration with P / S / D and K / HS. It took me a long time before I settled into those two configurations with my two most played characters. I’d like to maybe learn another character, and that’ll be more soul searching in finding the right configuration with that character.

Implementing the Mechanics

I haven’t used much of the advanced gameplay elements during my bouts in GGXXAC+R, but I realize in playing matches with other folks and watching high-level play that implementing these elements are essential and employed often in matches. Arc System Works carried most of these elements to their other fighting game franchises (Persona 4 Arena, BlazBlue), but it seems to have more importance in Guilty Gear. I’ll do my best to explain these mechanics and their uses.

Roman Cancel – For 50% meter, Roman Cancels allows the player to immediately cancel an attack after it is performed. RCs have many uses in GG, from extending combos, continuing block-string pressure, or safely getting back into neutral after performing an unsafe attack. I’ve seen Roman Cancels used frequently in other ASW games (Rapid Cancel in BlazBlue and One More Cancel in Persona 4 Arena) and a big tool for high-level play to get the most out of a combo and uses in number of other situations.

Force Roman Cancel – There are specific moves that if Roman Canceled at the right time, only costs the player 25% meter instead of 50%. The best way to find out which moves can be FRC is to go into training mode with the input data on. While performing attacks, the button data row flashes blue. Performed at the right time, the fighter will emit a blue light, indicating that an FRC has been performed instead of an RC. It carries the same purposes that RC does, plus additional advantages such as use after a projectile and feign attacks that may cause an opponent to open up their guard for an opening.

Dead Angle – Dead Angle is Guilty Gear talk for guard cancel, where the fighter will employ an attack that knocks their opponent back while blocking for 50% meter. A lot of other fighting games employ guard cancel at a cost of meter, but I haven’t used this particular mechanic a ton so far in Guilty Gear. I’m still learning the set-ups and strings from my opponents to see how they are, so I’m still mostly reliant on reading correctly and blocking attacks. Maybe once I’m more familiar with the character attack set-ups and routes, I can employ Dead Angle more often.

Slashback – I haven’t seen this gameplay element employed much, but Slashback is Guilty Gear’s parry mechanic. In order for the Slashback to work, the fighter has to employ the mechanic at the same time when their opponent performs their attack, similar to how Street Fighter III’s parry mechanic is performed. Slashback is valuable tool if a player is confident in executing it during the course of the match and shifts the momentum back to the player if successful. There are limitations and drawbacks for an unsuccessful Slashback attempt, which makes it a high risk/high reward move to make.

Dust – The specific Guilty Gear mechanic that probably gave birth to the popular anime fighting game website and has its own dedicated button, Dust is an overhead attack that shoots the opponent high into the air from the ground and allows the fighter to perform numerous attacks in the air that are all cancelable. But I recently learned that there are two types of Dust attacks.

The normal Dust attack is when the opponent is hit from the ground, thrown high into the air with the player jumping high with the opponent, and the background transitions over to a blue background with sakura leaves.

The second type of Dust attack is called an Impossible Dust. To perform an impossible dust, the fighter first connects the dust attack and then quickly hits the opponent as they are going airborne at a certain number of frames. The attack at the right moment does two things, it prevents the opponent from going any higher and makes them fall back down (and preventing the dust background transition from occurring), but more importantly, it further prevents the opponent’s ability to recover which allows the fighter to continue the impossible dust combo.

There is one additional function that the Dust button has that is very important in Guilty Gear. 2D in Guilty Gear is Sweep, where it always knocks down the opponent if the attack connects. Knock downs in Guilty Gear are extremely important, as it gives the offensive player numerous options to attack the opponent. It’s huge for characters with an okizeme, where the offensive player throws out an attack that the recovering player must block, and then block the offensive player’s follow-up attack. It’s still important for those who do not have an okizeme, just to keep frustrating the defensive player and keeping them on their toes.

Two Different Species (P4A vs. GGXXAC+R)

Arc System Works eased the high learning barrier that fighting games typically have by simplifying some core fighting game mechanics in Persona 4 Arena. Almost every normal is easily cancelable, all specials are 214/236 motions with the exception of Mitsuru and one Shadow Labrys special move, and all super moves are 214214/236236 motions. P4A is also lenient with inputs, where if you are close in inputting the motion and button, the special/super will be performed. For those who are only interested in the story of P4A, folks can simply mash the A button to perform an auto-combo. Guilty Gear is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to accessibility.

Guilty Gear has each character have different command normal, special, and super commands, which is only one part that makes GG hard to gain a grasp at first. All character have some sort of command normal attack, each one serves the character in different ways. There are a variety of different command specials, ranging from the 421/623 dragon punch motion, all the way to half-circles. Super move commands can go as far as double half-circles, quarter-circle to half-circle, and even 720 motions. To add into the frustration, you have to input the motion and hit the button with utmost precision or the character will perform something else. I get frustrated whenever I am inputting special and super moves and get nothing.

Guilty Gear also forces the player to know what can cancel into another move for their character. Some normal attacks cannot cancel into another normal, other normal attacks can only cancel into a certain normal attack. The same applies to normal to special, special to normal, normal to super, special to super, etc. Roman Cancels and Force Roman Cancels can help players connect certain commands into another. It’s another long list to learn on top of executing properly and implementing the other gameplay mechanics to at least be competent in Guilty Gear.

A Different Kind of Frentic Speed and Action

I found Persona 4 Arena’s action to be very frantic and fast though my own personal gameplay experiences and watching numerous high-level matches through online streams. Guilty Gear XX Accent Core matches I found to be equally as fast, but even more frantic in terms on action on the screen. I’m a lot more active on my fight stick in a Guilty Gear match than on pad/stick in P4A. It’s not only the constant motions of specials and supers that make it much more frantic, there’s also seems to be more importance on movement here than in P4A. I see a lot of moving back and forth with tons of jumps/air dashes in matches in which player determine which is the best course of action to get in to mount an offense, or to back out just out of range defensively then to find a way back in on offense. I do a lot of jumping around going in and out in both P4A and in GG as I play rushdown characters that lack range, but I found myself doing it a ton more in GG where it seems like Jam has to go through a lot more obstacles in the way than in P4A, where I feel like I can hold my ground a bit better with Chie.

Combos Really Hurt

Learning the best combo during the course of a match is important to deal the most damage as possible at the most opportune time in a fighting game. All ASW games have long-winding combos that deal a considerable amount of damage, but the ones done in Guilty Gear REALLY hurt. You won’t see the high hit combo counts in GG compared to BB and P4A, but you’ll see the most damaging combo can easily deal more than half of a character’s health. Jam’s corner BnB combo uses all three of her powered-up cards to deal massive damage, while her ground and dust combos also deal some nice damage.

Cut Copy

I love to see the many aesthetic and gameplay elements that Arc System Works carried over to the other two fighting game franchises, BlazBlue and Persona 4 Arena. P4A borrows a lot of the advanced mechanics from GG: gold/blue burst, burst meter, dead angle/guard cancel, roman cancel/one more cancel, force break/ex specials. BlazBlue also carries dead angle/guard cancel and roman cancel/rapid from Guilty Gear, but differs in burst function from GG/P4A. It’s amazing that each game plays so differently even though they share most of the advanced gameplay elements.

It’s also neat to see what animations ASW copied over to the other games. I see a couple of similar moves shared by Jam and Chie, my main characters I fight as in their respective fighting games. Both of them have a dragon kick, though Jam’s goes horizontal, has two versions (normal and powered up), and is used in her BnB corner combo, while Chie’s goes horizontally, not great to use stand alone, and is rarely used in combos and in the course of play. (I use it seldomly.) Jam’s 2HS and Chie’s third part of her auto-combo share the somersault attack. Chie copies Bridget’s throw and running animations. Folks who have played a ton of time between all three ASW games can see where things from GG have been carried over to BB/P4A.

Giant Bomb Rage Quit Weekly Crew

I pretty much spent all of my online bouts in Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R against the Giant Bomb Rage Quit Weekly Crew. I’d say all of them got quite the upper hand over me, though I managed to get some wins here and there against them and getting in some close matches overall. I’ve been finding it tough going up against the opposition in terms of getting close to them while dealing with their shenanigans. I liken trying to get in close against the crew like playing a side-scrolling shooter, going through the bullet hell to get in close and hit the targets.

MikeFightNight is running a weekly Giant Bomb Guilty Gear tournament and has run through six weeks of tournaments as of this week. I haven’t been able to participate every week the tournaments have been held due to work and other things, but I try to participate as much as possible. So far, it’s only been a small group of folks participating holding down the weeklies with others coming in here and there. The tournament just got one new person to enter this past week. We’ll see if the tournament can be sustained as the year moves along and if we get more members to play on a regular basis. I’ve had fun participating on the weeks I am able to in the middle of constant stress of work and life.

I got eliminated pretty quickly in this week’s tournament, so I went ahead and produced a Google spreadsheet on ranking the folks who participated in the tournament.

GIANT BOMB FIGHT NIGHT: RAGE QUIT WEEKLY WORKSHEET

I Saw the X-rd Sign and It Opened Up My Eyes

Out of Arc System Works’ latest projects from their three fighting game franchises, Guilty Gear Xrd is the one I am excited for the most. Ever since its first trailer shown from ASW’s 25th anniversary event last year, I’m in awe on the amount of work and care ASW seems to have undertook in developing GG Xrd. The 3D character models look amazing disguised as 2D along with the 3D winding camera with dust and being built upon the Unreal Engine. GG Xrd seems to have gotten great reception so far in Japanese arcades and the new characters Bedman and Ramlethal Valentine continues GG’s run in wonderful and nutty character design. Xrd seems to be the least problematic out of ASW’s games in terms of bugs and balance. BlazBlue Chrono Phantasma had issues with Kokonoe that they developed a patch to severely downgrade her numerous advantages against the rest of the cast, while Persona 4 Arena Ultimax had bugs and severe character balance issues. My only hope is that ASW will expand the cast of playable characters once the console version is being made available, along with competent netcode with player lobbies.

Mashing and Mashing, Dust to Dust

I’m far from being a good Guilty Gear player and the game is formidable to get a grasp on, but playing a frantic game with a zany cast of characters and dealing with their antics on the play against other GB duders have been fun. GG Xrd is the most anticipated new fighting game that I’m looking forward to and folks who love playing GG are really passionate and are supporting the game as much as possible ahead of Xrd’s impending release. The franchise has gone through its rough patch with a slew of unusual releases and being locked away from Arc Systems Works by Sega Sammy for some time, but it’s got through its tough times and looks to find a nice resurgence with Xrd. I’ll be right there in the wings, along with thousands of others.

---

Previous The Longest Grind Entries

01 - Persona 4 Arena

2 Comments

The Longest Grind 01 - Persona 4 Arena

The Longest Grind 01 - Persona 4 Arena

Short introductory post on what my personal blog series is about.

More Than Just “Hit and Don’t Get Hit”

The biggest epiphany that I had during my time on Persona 4 Arena is that it was much more than just hit the other opponent and not get hit by the opponent to win in a fighting game. Oh no. There was more that Persona 4 Arena, as well as most other fighting games, than meets the eye. I was playing this game from an old-school perspective the first two or so months I had the game, which was the turtle style. I tended to play defense a lot until I found an opening to strike. However, I was playing a turtling style with a rushdown character. I wasn’t as concerned about improvement as long as I had fun, which I was for the most part.

It wasn’t until I got caught up with a tight-knit community where I accumulated a ton of knowledge that I never knew before, not only in Persona 4 Arena, but knowledge that applies to the fighting game genre at large. I believe it was after a team tournament where I paired up with FluxWaveZ that after our defeat, told me a ton of things to help me up my game in P4A as well as some general fighting game knowledge. The jargon, the different playstyles, what the character’s strengths and weaknesses are, set-ups, what to do in certain in-match situations, etc.

Since then, I’ve been able to sort-of follow what’s going on in high-level fighting game matches while watching a fighting game tournament over a stream while gaining a fresh new perspective and a load of appreciation of the genre. All thanks to the great Giant Bomb P4A community and Persona 4 Arena.

He Is, She Is, They Are

One of the biggest items that I learned in P4A in conjunction with the GB community was that each character had a unique playstyle attached to them. You have characters that “rushdown” an opponent by getting up-close and personal to them and having them crack under heavy attacking pressure. Other characters are characterized as “zoners”, throwing an array of attacks from a distance to inflict damage and keep their opponent away. Kanji is the “grappler”, a term given to characters who have a special move throw (command throw) that inflicts major damage and knockdown. Naoto is a “trap” character, where she places traps on stage that can serve both offensive and defensive tactics. Even though all the characters fall into a certain archetype, that only accounts half of the battle.

The other half? That’s how the opponent plays their character. Just because a character is pegged as being one of the described archetypes, doesn’t mean the player has to play them that way, though it’ll serve the player well to know what the character can do to suit how they wish to play. TheFakePsychic is pretty comfortable playing defense, mostly in tune of throwing traps early and often to frustrate his opponent’s advances. Gravitypenguin plays an aggressive Yukiko that tends to match the rushdown archetype than the zoner. It’s fun to observe and personally fight against hundreds of opponents and how the play.

Speaking in Tongues

5A, 2B, j.C, oki, cross-up, overhead, DP, OMC, OMB, SP, CH, FC, cancel, block-string, block-stun, command throw, unblockable

Before Persona 4 Arena, all of the terminology I posted above would look like some random garbage language that a crazy person would throw out. After going through the Giant Bomb Persona 4 Arena School of Hard Knocks, that unintelligible terminology is now instantly understandable and integrated to my brain. It’s fun taking some of my time away from mind-draining work to learn what those terms meant and to communicate that language with fellow Giant Bombers. One of the things I miss from school is the activity of learning itself. Ever since I locked up a full-time position with my employer, it was frustrating to feel my brain activity be less active. A lot of my time and energy has focused on getting production down to a science, and to produce frequently at a high-level. I yearned for any opportunity for anything to give my brain a jolt, and learning some of the fighting game terminology provided that bit of jolt that I desperately needed when work was really starting to make my brain go to mush.

The SALT is Real

Another surprising learning experience and a by-product of playing a competitive game is the emotional toll it can produce. On some nights, even if I’m getting my ass kicked thoroughly, it provided the much-needed relief from the stress that life constantly delivers. Other nights, it just compounds the stress. I was disgusted at myself over numerous occasions over my constant poor performance over sessions and at tournaments. I’m quick to admit that at stretches of time, I do not have a good handle of my emotions, anger or depression. As I got my bouts under my belt and started to evolve and slightly improve, the constant pressure of playing up to a higher lever always bothered me. I wanted to improve not only for myself, but to also provide enough of a challenge to make the matches more high-spirited. It got pretty bad when I was nominated by FluxWaveZ to represent Giant Bomb in the Giant Bomb vs. GameFAQs Persona 4 Arena team tournament. I personally would shout expletives and purposely make myself feel bad. I didn’t have a great showing in the team tournament itself. Even though I haven’t been entrenched myself in crazy-long frequent sessions like the Giant Bomb community had, I still fall under the same spell in getting easily frustrated and removing whatever positive energy I had for the day.

In short, I still can get pretty salty. I should know better, but it’s hard.

Flip of a Switch

As I stated earlier, I wasn’t playing Persona 4 Arena properly at the start. I quickly picked Chie as she felt the most comfortable to play from a quick training session of checking out all characters. But yeah, I was playing Chie like a defensive Street Fighter mindset. Block whatever gets thrown my way and attack once an opening appears. It’s amazing to reminisce how I managed to play the way I currently play compared to how I played back then.

It wasn’t until FluxWaveZ two months in where he told me to go offensive. I made the transition and was getting more successful, but I think I was going all out with reckless abandon. I was going in hard, but I did so without being patient and almost ignoring to play any sort of defense. Sometimes I kicked ass, other times I got my ass whooped. It wasn’t until probably after the month-long ranbat where I found some sort of balance of still being aggressive when possible, but gathering the patience to defend and still wait for the opportune time to strike. I’ve settled into this pattern since then and feel pretty comfortable about it, though I’m still not that great in the game even after accumulating over 3,500 matches.

Maybe if the majority of the community still stuck around had continued to have the drive to constantly train in P4A after the ranbat, I could see myself push to play even better than before. But I got the feeling a lot of the folks were starting to lose the enthusiasm of playing so much P4A and were ready to move on to do something else. There are some things that I’d like to train and add into my arsenal that could possibly push myself to play at a higher level: continue to improve and successfully executing Chie’s oki, to constantly execute Chie’s BnB corner combo, to properly execute the j8D air combo into oki or combo extension, and to properly execute Chie’s corner AoA follow-up combo. I can if I did, and it’s never too late to learn new tricks, but I’ll be honest, it may be hard for me to get to it for a myriad of reasons. I may resume getting back into the thick of things in P4A once the sequel’s release looms close in North America.

Can’t Stick the Landing

Last year, my brother surprised me on my birthday by getting me a MadKatz fight stick as a gift. I primarily use the fight stick as my preferred controller of choice in most fighting games. I’ve been able to use the fight stick decently in Arc System Work’s other fighters (Guilty Gear and BlazBlue), but it still gives me a lot of trouble in Persona 4 Arena. I have trouble doing the simple string/oki set-up of Chie’s 5AA > 5B > 2B > 2AB > 5DD or 236C. Many times I’ll register the commands on the stick and it won’t connect the string. I also have trouble throwing out the 5DD after the sweep knockdown. I especially have trouble executing the 236C after the sweep. I even have problems executing the super commands (236236C/D, 214214C/D). Though P4A’s netcode is decent, it’s not perfect and maybe there’s the hint of input lag that’s making it not read all of the inputs. I’ll still keep at it playing P4A on the fight stick to see if I can get better at it. If I still struggle with it on P4AU, I may go back to strictly playing pad for P4A in general.

Appreciation of High-Level Play

I’m always envious of watching high-level fighting game play and Persona 4 Arena is no exception. As a Chie player, I’m always in awe of watching a top Chie player overwhelm their opponents with their rushdown. There was a Chie Japanese player who dominated the NEC 2012 tournament and Colpevole’s always places pretty high at the tournaments he enters. I envy those competitors who put in the time to fully learn the ins and outs of the games and execute their gameplan in any situation of the match.

Just look at this insane counter-hit combo Grover pulls on Colpevole in ECT last year. Holy crap!

I’m glad P4A had a strong showing in EVO 2013. I didn’t catch any of the pool play, but I enjoyed watching P4A’s Top 8 matches. No one was able to stop Yume’s Aigis that day. It’s still being run in most higher profile fighting game tournaments, so there’s still folks carrying the P4A torch even though most anime folks are probably putting their focus on BBCP, which was selected as one of the seven featured games in EVO this year. I hope P4AU will have strong support and representation in tournaments once it’s released.

Struggling to Feel the Ultimax

I was a bit caught by surprise when a sequel for Persona 4 Arena was announced. At first, I was REALLY looking forward to play the sequel when some fine folks at Dustloop was able to gather and translate information about the game through the location tests, official Japanese arcade release, and post-release patches. The folks in the P4A IRC chat room were pretty excited to decipher the information to see if the new gameplay elements and changes to their favorite characters were in their favor. I like the addition of the shadow characters that can use unlimited SP moves for a certain amount of time as well as SP supers with their unique attributes. Reading all of the notes of changes was exciting for a time.

I’m mostly happy with Chie’s additions and changes that she got in P4AU. The big negative is that Chie’s oki has been removed, but that doesn’t bother me as much since I had trouble executing her oki in P4A in the first place. Her new lunge punch seems cool and opens up more combo routes, 2B forces blocked opponents to stand is nice and opens up a mix-up opportunity, 2C causing freeze sounds awesome, SP God Hand with two hits and potential OMC options, and SP Agneyastra throwing comets behind the opponent to bring him/her closer to Chie is definitely a super I’ll abuse.

Lately, after all the excitement of the announcement and reading notes for P4AU subsided, and being wow-ed on how Guilty Gear Xrd looks, BlazBlue Chrono Phantasma just being released in North America, and Ultra Street Fighter 4 coming in months time, my excitement for Ultimax has subsided a bit. It’s still going to be a week-of purchase for me (and if there’s an LE for it, I’ll definitely go after that), and I hope the final product retains the excitement that I had with P4A. I haven’t heard a ton of news for P4AU recently and not sure if I heard anything if Sho is a strong addition to the cast, if the shadow characters are viable against their normal counterparts, and how it’s being received by the Japanese gamers.

Still Playing?

Not as often as I once was, but I am still playing Persona 4 Arena a bit. If anyone outside from the folks I already know wants to mash, feel free to send me a message. My PSN is RuriKidA. My winning percentage is a paltry 37 percent, so you already have a 6.5-3.5 matchup advantage against me off the bat!

The Camaraderie, The Smiles, The Joy

The biggest, upmost important message that I have to remember is that playing any game is supposed to be fun. Persona 4 Arena impacted me not because it’s a well-designed and produced video game, it also introduced me to a bunch of fellow people that I still hang out with who shared the same camaraderie in P4A. The Flux curated P4A tournaments were fun to participate with the climax being the Giant Bomb vs. GameFAQs team tournament. Some nights I’m not on my best behavior, but others it has provided a temporary relief that I desperately needed as life started to clamp its rugged teeth on me. I always lose sight that I’m supposed to enjoy my time with gaming lately, so writing this blog on Persona 4 Arena to remind myself that I had a ton of fun playing this game.

Shout-Outs!

Giving a shout-out to some of the folks that I’ve versed against when Persona 4 Arena was kicking.

Yu

  • IrrelevantJohn
  • Bloo561
  • Soki
  • MDYu

Yosuke

  • Yi-Orange

Chie

  • Servantey

Yukiko

  • Gravitypenguin
  • WiimoteChance
  • TheOtherBelmont

Kanji

  • MakeMeMad
  • KeystoneYinzer

Naoto

  • TheFakePsychic
  • MikeFightNight
  • Mace

Teddie

  • Brodehouse
  • Phatmac
  • DiscoViking

Mitsuru

  • Commisar123

Aigis

  • ?

Akihiko

  • LiquidRob
  • Vashyron

Elizabeth

  • Kuutochi

Labrys

  • Aznjon

Shadow Labrys

  • FluxWaveZ
  • Xomero

---Thanks for reading!--

Start the Conversation

The Longest Grind 00 - A Short Introduction

What is The Longest Grind?

The Longest Grind is a series of blog entries on my personal experience of mightily struggling to complete JRPGs and competing in fighting games.

What inspired you to do The Longest Grind?

A combination of how long it’s taken me to complete JRPGs in the past year or so, feeling the pain of realizing of actually going after the true ending on Bravely Default after barely beating the Airy battle before it, and the spark of wanting to write frequently again and a place to pour my thoughts out to.

What do you hope to achieve with The Longest Grind?

I have a personal goal with The Longest Grind to rekindle my interest in just writing in general. My English professor from my first semester in college suggested to me to write a journal to improve my writing, and it has helped immensely. I kept to myself during my college and writing was one of the few hobbies to mitigate the constant stress of studying and passing classes. I really like writing at that time even though it was BS stuff and didn’t share it with anyone. This time, I hope my writing will provide some entertaining reads to whoever reads this stuff.

What games will you be covering for The Longest Grind?

I’ll probably start the blog series by covering a few fighting games I spent a ton of time with in the past two years.

Fighting Games

  • Persona 4 Arena
  • BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma
  • Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R
  • Super Street Fighter IV AE 2012

JRPGS

  • Bravely Default, then whatever games I play after I eventually finish BD.

How long do you plan to run this blog for?

I hope I can reach a number of entries for this blog series, especially once I get rolling into some other JRPGs after Bravely Default. All I can say is, “we’ll see”.

Hey, I already wrote my first entry. Go!

Start the Conversation

Quarter 1 2014 Notes

Not Much of a Duder

It’s been over two years since I joined up as a Giant Bomb member. Back then, I was able to squeeze in watching the content the Giant Bomb staff were producing, mostly with quick looks, live streams, reviews, and articles, while listening to a few Bombcasts here and there. Since then, my workload increased tremendously and my Giant Bomb content consumption has decreased dramatically. So far in 2014, all I’ve done is reading reviews, read a couple of articles here and there, and catch a live stream here and there. I feel bad to be a fan of Giant Bomb since I’m missing out on so much content in the past year. I’ll still support the crew and let my membership renew when it comes up soon, though if I fail to catch on with the site’s content, I may withdraw my premium membership in 2015.

Not Much of a Talker

Along with my lack of Giant Bomb content consumption, I’ve been withdrawn in the two internet chat room groups I’m sticking around in. I just don’t have much to bring to the conversation. I’ll come in, say hi and that’ll be it for the most part. In Mike’s group, I may say a few other things, but otherwise I’ll watch on the sidelines while others discuss whatever’s on their mind. I could say something about manga, other video games, music, and whatever, but I haven’t experienced as much content overall compared to the others have gone through. I like what the folks talk about and pick up some perspective over their thoughts on a particular topic. It’s great to listen, though I’m still nervous to speak up… about random things.

Winter and Working Blues

Fucking winter this year. I don’t mind snow as long as it doesn’t frequently pour dumploads of snow and hamper my weekday commutes to work. Although we didn’t have that blizzard storm where a foot or more of snow hammers the area for a day or two, it was really annoying to go through a week where the area gets hit with six to twelve inches of snow. It was tough the times I did trek to the office, though I did stay home one day when the roads weren’t plowed in the morning. The snow wasn’t the only things that made this past winter really miserable to deal with, the extremely cold temperatures added to the stress. I don’t think I ever experienced temperatures THIS COLD in Philadelphia before, and it wasn’t fun to trek the short two block walk getting outside of train station to my office building. I hope the Spring season stays relatively warm and comfortable temperature wise.

Work does not stop for anyone. Even on the day where I failed to enter the office, our supervisors encouraged us to work from home. (I didn’t bother by the way.) The higher-ups were keen to keep business running as much as possible despite all the hardships. There was one week where the President/CEO instituted the “Back on Track” week initiative, where he asked all employees to work their ass off to make up the delays suffered on all projects. Folks were really pouring in the hours that week. It hasn’t been easy on my front, asking my project managers to get their billing reviews done in a timely matter, taking care of co-workers questions and requests, losing my intern earlier than expected, squeezing in time to get the transferred admin to pick up the intern’s tasks, and other stuff.

I haven’t done much job searching in this quarter. I did a little bit here and there and didn’t find a lot of opportunities that suited my credentials. I also had one head-hunter recruiter company call me directly at my office and I did my best to rebuff them for a few reasons. The thing that’s making it hard is that I don’t want to do the same tasks that I’m currently doing, yet I got squat on actual accounting experience. Ugh. I’ve been debating about going to graduate school, but not sure if I can take on additional debt while I’m slowly keeping a decent balance and helping out my family with whatever expenditures that want me to take care of.

Highlight Completed Game of Q1 2014

This one’s easy for me to pick, it’s Bayonetta. I do feel bad that I took the easy way out and played through the game on easy difficulty, the game still shown enough to me on why it’s a widely exceptional game to many people’s eyes. There isn’t much to discuss with the story and the supporting characters, but Bayonetta is quite the character. She just produces so much presence throughout the game, whether it’s her usual sarcastic/joking mood, or when things get heated. The action has a nice balance of patience and balls-out action. You’ll be crazy attack combinations of punches, kicks, bullets, weapon attacks, witch attacks, and executions against hordes of enemies. In the middle of the chaos, you can wait for the opportunity to dodge an enemy’s attack at the last moment to trigger witch time, where it slows the enemies to a crawl and allows Bayonetta to unleash devastating attacks and damage them. The bosses are huge, nasty, and mostly fun to fight against. If I could get back into the mood, I would tackle Bayonetta again on normal difficulty to see if I can handle the chaos on that setting. Instead, I got my Bayonetta lore in and looking forward to its sequel on the Wii U.

Q1 Video Game Additions/Subtractions

Subtractions

  • Liberation Maiden [3DS]
  • Remember Me [PS3]
  • Bayonetta [X360]
  • Code of Princess [3DS]
  • Gravity Rush [VITA]

Additions

  • Alan Wake’s American Nightmare [X360] (XBL Sale)
  • Bioshock Infinite [PS3] (PSN Plus)
  • BlazBlue: ChronoPhantasma (Limited Edition) [PS3]
  • Bravely Default (Collector’s Edition) [3DS]
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze [Wii U]
  • Driver: San Francisco [X360] (XBL Sale)
  • Enslaved: Odyssey to the West [PS3] (PSN Sale)
  • Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions [Vita] (PSN Sale)
  • The Guided Fate Paradox [PS3] (Retail Out of Print)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary [3DS] (Nintendo eShop Free Game)
  • Lumines Electric Symphony [Vita] (PSN Sale)
  • Mirror’s Edge [X360] (XBL Sale)
  • Phantom Breaker: Battle Limit [X360] (XBL Sale)
  • Stella Deus [PS3] (PSN Sale)

Highlight Music Album of Q1 2014

I’ve never been in a relationship, so I haven’t felt the supposed pain from breaking up from on. I’ve experienced a lot from musicians who expressed how they felt through their music. In Q1 2014, Marissa Nadler - July really stood out on how she felt as her relationship crumbled. Marissa’s vocals and acoustic guitar are up-front on the mix and express on how shaken up she is. But what makes the album really work is the subtle background instrumentation and production. The backing instrumentals and production really makes the music sound like her voice and guitar are trying their hardest to pierce through the darkness. Each song feel like there’s a sucking black hole behind the vocals and guitars, the haunting space where unhealthy thoughts probably reside and may be how Nadler wanted to express on hard this breakup was for her.

Notable Q1 2014 Album Pickups

  • Belle and Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister
  • Big Black – Songs About Fucking
  • Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe
  • J Dilla – Donuts
  • Marissa Nadler - July
  • Real Estate – Atlas
  • Wild Beasts – Present Tense

Q2 2014 Goals and Such

Video Games

I shouldn’t have gone after the true ending of Bravely Default. I would’ve been done with the game if I broke one crystal. I barely beat the Airy boss battle and found myself severely underleveled to tackle the final bosses in Bravely Default’s true ending. In the meantime, I’ll be grinding for a long time at the game’s optional dungeon to bring the characters up to a reasonable level before I tackle the final bosses. Like what many others have said, the second half of Bravely Default really hampers what was a mostly enjoyable gaming experience. Bravely Default’s battle system and soundtrack are great. Hopefully I’ll get it done sooner or later, as I plan to tackle the next JRPG in my long backlog pile.

I have not done a good job restraining myself in adding so many games. I hope to restrain myself better in the upcoming quarter, but I would not be surprised if I end up adding more again through sales. I have Demon Gaze on pre-order that’ll be coming in April, and pick up Lightning Returns for my brother once the game goes on sale at a more reasonable price. I may also bite on Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD. But my goal in Q2 2014 is to refrain from adding more games and knock out as many games as I can.

Q2 Probable Games

  • Demon Gaze (Limited Edition) [Vita]
  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII [PS3]

Other Items

There’s a bunch of music albums that I am interested in that are being released this quarter, plus the annual price-gouging event called Record Store Day on April 19. I can see myself go overboard this quarter on music albums.

I picked up tickets to go see Slint in Philadelphia on May 1. Last year was a nice uptick for my brother and I attending music concerts, but it looks like this year we’ll be attending fewer concerts.

There’s a few manga releases that I’m definitely getting that are expected to be released this quarter. The ones I’m looking forward to reading are Nijigahara Photograph (already released but ordered with next title) and Whispered Words/Sasameki Koto (expected in May).

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get this particular idea going, but I want to run a personal blog series called “The Longest Grind”, where I’ll post on my personal struggles on getting through a JRPG or playing that particular fighting game. I focus on those two genres because my mind is slowly disintegrating in creativity, reaction, and skills and wonder how I still get through a JRPG or stick with a fighting game even though I am ass at them. The first games I have in mind to discuss are Bravely Default and Persona 4 Arena.

MORE JOB SEARCHING!!!

Thanks

Thanks for reading. (I started up this thing if anyone’s interested.)

1 Comments

2013's Dusk / 2014's Dawn

2013

Work

It's been hard to get going each day waking up at five in the morning, constantly feeling terrible and not getting quality sleep, as well as working over 40 hours per week (typically 50 hours, 7 AM to 5 PM each weekday), and coming in a few weekends here and there this year. I never recover as much over the weekends and I've gone stretches where I'm just out of my element emotionally.

Despite getting some assistance from hiring an intern and transitioning some of my workload to another employee, the work never ceases to slow down at all. I have noticed that my group of project managers are winning and working on more projects at once this year, which has caused me to feel constantly behind on maintaining what I need to do for them. It also doesn't help that the work isn't as mind-engaging as it once was, which is making it tougher for me to get through my constant workload.

Bombardment from All Sides: Co-Workers, Supervisors, Vendors, Clients

Family

I'm constantly concerned with my parent's business and future. Their business hasn't recovered since the big economic depression from 2008. I've been constantly giving my parents money in their most pressing times to help them pay their vendors for business to continue running, but the business continues to run in the red. It's distressing to hear my dad constantly saying that business is extremely slow and bugging me for money here and there. I'm not sure if they have much going if they decide to retire from the business, with the only thing that have stored is social security. (Unless they have some other retirement fund somewhere that they haven't told me, but I worry that's still not enough to support them.)

My brother's been acting weird since he was laid off from work two months ago. He's starting to creep me out a bit with her odd behavior. Before then, he seemed to be pretty happy and I was grateful for him in dragging me out to various events this year, especially to Otakon. He did have a job interview a few days ago and I hope he's going in hard on his job search, though he is also contemplating of going back to school.

Personal

It hasn't been TERRIBLE, but I've been feeling pretty rough this year. Mostly feeling depressed in a spurt of days from the stress of work and other things. I will look to recover as much as possible over my Christmas/New Years break. (I had accumulated over 250 hours of vacation time... >_<)

It's been hard for me to stay even-keel, to keep telling myself that whatever negative thoughts I conjure up is stupid and I need to keep going not only for others, but for myself.

I was doing okay with eating and exercise over the spring and summer, but fell off pretty hard once fall came around. Ugh.

Gaming

Despite working a ton and not exactly in the best of emotions, I managed to complete 27 games at this point. Especially the 3DS JRPGs. I mostly played on the 3DS and PS3 this year, rarely played on the 360. I recently purchased a Wii U and Vita.

I plan to publish my GOTY 2013 list on 30 December, as I hope to finish a few more games.

Games I hope to complete and evaluate before year end: The Last of Us; Super Mario 3D World; Tearaway.

Games that I feel are locks in my Top 10: Etrian Odyssey IV; Fire Emblem: Awakening; Puppeteer; Rayman Legends; Shin Megami Tensei IV.

Music

I created a Youtube music playlist that represents my constant feelings of frustration this year. Feel free to listen to it on the link.

Personal Favorite 2013 Albums

  • Baths - Obsidian
  • Blood Ceremony - The Eldritch Dark
  • Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest
  • Chelsea Wolfe - Pain is Beauty
  • David Lang - Death Speaks
  • Deafheaven - Sunbather
  • Eluvium - Nightmare Ending
  • Friendzone - DX
  • Fuck Buttons - Slow Focus
  • Grant Hart - The Argument
  • Julia Brown - To Be Close to You
  • Julia Holter - Loud City Song
  • Julianna Barwick - Nepenthe
  • Majical Cloudz - Impersonator
  • My Bloody Valentine - mbv
  • Oneothtrix Point Never - R Plus Seven
  • Parquet Courts - Light Up Gold
  • Polvo - Siberia
  • Queens of the Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork
  • Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels
  • Savages - Silence Yourself
  • Sigur Ros - Kveikur
  • Smith Westerns - Soft Will
  • Yo La Tengo - Fade

2014

Personal

I'll have to hammer in my head to do more job searching. I appreciate what my current employer is doing and I have been awarded with good reviews, salary raises, and bonus checks, but the item that the workload isn't as engaging as it once was along with the firm's aggressive pace is not doing it for me anymore.

I'll also have to get back into getting better shape, more walking and less eating. Maybe buy some small weights?

The biggest goal is to not get frustrated easily, especially over items that do not seem it's worth getting so worked up over, which includes gaming. Of course, easier said than done.

Gaming

The biggest item that I want to accomplish in 2014 is to really enjoy my time playing games. I made the same resolution last year and at times, playing games was really refreshing and enjoyable. However, at other times, I was just pushing through just for the sake of it. If the game has some serious flaws that prevent the game from being truly enjoyable, then folks have the right to be less than thrilled about it. There are numerous times where I realize that the game I'm playing is very good, but I'm not in the right state of mind to really enjoy the game I'm playing.

The genre that kind of screws my mindset a lot are fighting games. I know deep down that I'm not going to be a godlike player like the pro fighting game players, and my time at work and my passion for other games limits my time from "hitting the lab" in these games where I can hone in on my skills, but I still get salty over for not being able to pose much of a challenge against whoever I'm fighting against. I wish I had the big enthusiasm the folks in both chat rooms I hang out in with whatever fighting games they're interested in. I just want to have the same mindset for all games, I'm playing this for fun. Just give me a few (like two) combo strings, a few line items on what I should do with my main character, brawl, and smile after getting beaten and bruised all over.

There isn't too many games early in 2014 that I'm interested in, so I'll do my best to use Q1 2014 to knock out some of my insane gaming backlog. After that, it's whatever.

I wouldn't be surprised if I got myself a PS4 in 2014.

Other Items

I'm debating on opening a WordPress (or something similar) to post random stuff, as I do have a lot of thoughts flow through my head and this would be a nice avenue to spill them out to. I used to do a lot of free-writing in high school and in college as a nice hobby and had the itch to return to that recently.

Drawing too.

Though I'm awful in fighting games, I'm still interested in competing in a fighting game tournament, preferably a local one since I feel like I'll get too nervous and overwhelmed in a major. We'll see.

I wouldn't mind going to Otakon again.

And to reiterate again... to not get so worked up and enjoy things more.

---

Thanks for reading.

3 Comments

Appreciation 2013

With Thanksgiving around the corner in the United States, I wanted to share a couple of things I have much appreciation for this year. Many of the items I'll discuss upon have helped me get through some of the tough times I'm going through this year, particularly my constant battles against myself (unhappiness/depression?) and the stress stemming from working longer hours at my job this year. So thanks to the following...

Giant Bomb Staff and Community

Giant Bomb lost a great person with Ryan Davis' passing over the summer. Though he many no longer be with us, his immense presence still resonates over us to this day. In the wake of the tragic news, the rest of the crew has definitely stepped up and continues to provide awesome content for the community with a steady stream of Quick Looks, Bombcasts, Bombin' in the Morning, and Unprofressional Fridays, along with Load Our Last Souls, the 49-hour Extra Life marathon stream, and the recent new console Launch Day streams. I'm not an avid consumer of all things Giant Bomb (I catch what I can), but their resiliency on continuing to produce globs of content for us is pretty awesome to witness. Continue being awesome Jeff, Vinny, Drew, Brad, Rorie, Patrick, and Alex!

The Giant Bomb community is also pretty awesome for the most part. Yes, there'll always be a couple of bad apples that have make us look bad here and there, but for the most part the community's been pretty positive and supportive. What I love most from the community is the content produced and the events organized in the site. Most blogs written by the Giant Bomb community are well-written and thought-out, which are a pleasure to read what a member has to say what they are saying. Other members has showcased their artistic skills by producing some incredible looking Giant Bomb art, which the Giant Bomb staff has definitely embraced in some way. Along with the blogs and art, there are events and lists to participate and enjoy gaming with fellow duders. I had a great time participating in FluxWaveZ's Persona 4 Arena tournaments and MikeFightNight's Casual Fight Nights even though I'm terrible in fighting games. Thanks for allowing me to play despite not posing much of a challenge.

The GB P4A IRC Room and MFN Skype Groups

In part of participating in both the Persona 4 Arena tournaments and the Casual Fight Nights, I befriended a bunch of duders and ending up hanging out with their in their respective internet chat rooms. It's nice to read the various banter that both groups have. I don't get involved in conversation too much because I don't have much to discuss/share with the folks in both groups, but I'm glad that they've allowed me to stick around despite my non-presence in both groups for days.

Beautiful Platformers

I haven't completed many games that were released this year, but out of the few that I did play to its finale, were three platformers that I really enjoyed with my time with them.

Bit Trip Runner 2: I was a fan of the first runner game, with the music syncing with the obstacles to either jump over, slide under, or block. Runner 2 smooths over the Runner 1's difficulty by providing three difficulty levels and easing some of the really tricky obstacle/jumping sections that were very frustrating to navigate numerous times over in the first game. The checkpoint system is a welcome and needed addition, the new moves and obstacles are fun to navigate, a lot of stages to play, and a nice slew of secrets to discover (different paths, retro) to add some replay value to a fun platformer.

Puppeteer: This game surprised me not by its gameplay, which is pretty fun in its own right, but by the slightly dark and humorous take on a typical fairy tale along with strong voice acting by all major characters involved. You have the witch, pirate, bratty girl teenager, villain, and other tropes, but they are all well written into the story and executed wonderfully by the writers and the voice actors. The gameplay is fun with solid platforming, creative level design, and many surprises with the head usage at many points of the game.

Rayman Legends: But the platformer that I have enjoyed the most so far goes to Rayman Legends. I was a big fan of Origins, but was a bit skeptical on how Ubisoft can improve upon it. Turns out, they can still do much more. The levels scream with more personality with specific themes played in the game's five worlds. The music stage at the end of each world are my favorite stages in the game on how the level syncs with the music. The invasion levels provide a nice challenge on already finished levels along with the daily and weekly randomly generated levels. Plus many of the Origin levels are revisited here with the Legends additions. The inclusion of Murray adds some new spice, revisiting levels to rescue all teensies and earning lucky tickets and creatures just add more to an already impressive package.

Arc System Works

Thanks to MikeFightNight's casual fight night sessions, I've gained a much better appreciation of all fighting games. Now I'm eager to play any type of fighting game, even though I'm terrible at all of them. However, there are a group of games from one developer that stands out to me from the rest. Their games are wonderfully produced with beautiful art, characters with personality and unique fighting styles, and gameplay that is slightly more accessible to get into (in my opinion) compared to the others out there. The bottom line for me, is that I'm having the most fun and attaining the most "success" with Arc System Work's fighting games than the rest of fighting game crop. Here's a quick run-through of Arc's three fighting game franchises that I really like from them.

Persona 4 Arena: Rekindled interest and gained better appreciation of fighting games. Accessible fighting gameplay with simplified special and super moves and easy to link combos/strings. I was able to slowly build upon my skillset with new strings/slightly more difficult combos/properly learning character's playstyle. Solid netcode.

BlazBlue (Continuum Shift Extend/Chrono Phantasma): Beautiful background stages. Character "drive" mechanic. Slower, but more chess-match like fighting in knowing strings/overheads and expecting throws. Most comfortable out of the three playing on a fight stick. CP seems like it has balanced the roster, until Kokonoe was released and UNLEASHED HELL UPON ALL OF BLAZBLUE.

Guilty Gear (XX Accent Core Plus): Awesome soundtrack. An eccentric cast of characters with tons of personality. Pool stick with cue balls, anchor and dolphins and whales, a lighter sword, yo-yo, scalpel, ghosts and dogs, a huge key, guitars, etc. Fast, furious, in-your-face fighting. Sort of getting proficient on playing on a fight stick in Guilty Gear.

My ASW Femme Fatales: Chie / Litchi / Jam

Nintendo 3DS

I never thought that the platform I would play the most on would be with the Nintendo 3DS. After its known slow start, the 3DS has definitely stepped it up and now has a great batch of games under its belt. One of the strengths the 3DS has is its batch of JRPGs. I spent a ton of time grinding away Fire Emblem: Awakening, Etrian Odyssey IV, and just wrapped up Shin Megami Tensei IV. I still got Etrian Odyssey Untold, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Rune Factory 4, and SMT Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers to get through. I doubt I'll get to all of them, but I think I'll have fun with them (hopefully) if I get to them.

The 3DS has also been the platform where I've been getting my puzzle fill. I played a completed all the puzzles on Picross e to Picross e3, and got through most of the puzzles in Pushmo but I stalled/got frustrated over the last set of puzzles. I still got Crashmo and Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask on my backlog, and they'll probably still take a backseat to the JRPG games, but it's nice to have something else there for me to tackle.

Vertical, Inc.

My first Vertical manga, Sakuran, really shocked me on its mature and gritty story revolving around a geisha who is trying to escape the business. I wasn't surprised by the nudity, but highly surprised with its few strong violent scenes and its sad ending. But I didn't think much of Vertical until I purchased my second manga from them, Utsubora. Utsubora centers around a mysterious death of one girl who committed suicide, another girl who looks exactly like her and the protagonist that she somehow has a connection to. The mystery unfolds at a brisk pace, revealing key information at the right times, until it comes to an amazing conclusion on which girl did which and how much she affected the protagonist and those close to him. The manga's ending shocked me as well, as I didn't think the protagonist would take that path after the truth unfolded. After attending their panel at Otakon, I've been checking up on their catalog and reading their Tumblr page to see what they have in store as well as answering questions mostly regarding if its possible for them to license a certain manga.

Since then, I have purchased Helter Skelter, Tropic of the Sea, their three volumes of Paradise Kiss, and the first volume of Summer Wars. I plan on getting the second volume of Sakura Wars, along with Pink, and all six volumes of Limit. I'm looking forward to Insufficient Direction, Prophecy, and In the Clothes Named Fat next year, and looking into 7 Billion Needles from their back catalog. There's something about their manga licenses that feels like they are mostly going for manga that have strong, gritty stories with lively characters, though they do have a few oddball titles like Chi's Sweet Home and their recent license of Cardfight Vanguard. There are other publishers that I have enjoyed the manga that they bring over (Seven Seas and Yen Press in particular), but there's something out of from what I read in Vertical's catalog so far that just stick with me much more that what others have brought forward.

My Brother

I'd probably wouldn't have enjoy some of the better moments I've experienced this year without my brother being his insistent self. The last year or so, we haven't done anything interesting, as he was busy searching for a job and studying for exams while my workload was starting to ramp up at my job. All we ever did over the weekends and holidays was chill out at home. But this year, my brother finally took the initiative and proclaimed, "LET'S DO SOMETHING DAMNIT!" And did something we did.

This year was the first time I went to multiple music concerts since I left college, and pretty much all of the concerts we went to were pretty entertaining. We also attended our first fighting game tournament in Summer Jam 7. But the best thing we ever done was go to Otakon this year. Despite the Baltimore Convention Center being packed like sardines in a crushed tin box, it was amazing to take in the entire convention over that weekend. I'd love to go next year if we're able.

My brother also surprised me in giving me a couple of birthday gifts this year. It was the first time I received any gifts on my birthday from anyone in quite some time. I tell my family not to bother me with anything and I usually just buy some items for myself. [This year, I purchased myself all manga volumes released so far for Black Lagoon and A Certain Scientific Railgun.] My brother got me The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Mario Kart 7, and Mario Tennis Open for the 3DS. [I recall those games being on sale at Best Buy that week, so it wasn't too bad on his wallet.] Those were nice. But the real surprise is when he bought me my PS3 fight stick! Sure, it's Hello Kitty, but it was nice of him to get one for me. He used the promotional code advertised during East Coast Throwdown to buy the stick at a nice price ($100 + S&H). I've been mashing on the stick on almost all of the fighting games I play now and do see some advantages of using the stick over a controller pad.

I definitely envy and admire my brother. We had our fair share of scuffles in our lives, but it's been a lot better as of late and it's cool that he took the initiative to drag me out and do all these things for me.

You

If you've gone this far, thank you for taking some of your time to read this blog!

9 Comments

No One Won (Black Lagoon Manga End Spoilers)

He won, but he also lost. Rock may have kept Roberta, Garcia, Fabiola, and even Caxton alive. But, they're also dead. The lives they once knew, the nightmares they thought were put behind, has now arisen and now that stench is permanently attached to their souls. Rock thought he won for everyone's best interests. No, he won for his own hide. He thought his intellect, strong will, and high morale will be the end-all salvation for all parties. Instead, everyone is more fucked up than ever before.

For Roberta, Garcia, and Fabiola, they will return back to Venezuela with heavy hearts. The once comfortable life they had is now gone. They saw the terrible truths with their own eyes, owned up to it, and return home with heavier hearts than ever. Roberta is still a threat, and now Garcia and Fabiola will live a new life under scrutiny. At least for them, they never got their hands dirty. They played their own cards and came away with what they ultimately got, Roberta. However, it was a game in which they were pieces on the chessboard, played by a puppeteer who toyed with their lives with a gameplay that could have easily backfired. They may have not killed anyone, but knew that a lot of pieces were sacrificed around them to attain their goal.

Rock got shot by a blank from Fabiola. He thought he won. But when she shot him with a blank, and told him that he was still playing with the dead, the truth hit him. He's no better than the crazed assholes in Roanapur. He thought his intentions were noble. He thought he could play the game and come away unscathed. He won, but he also lost. What he actually won is that he's no better than his opponent, a Triad leader. He used the trust of the Black Lagoon crew and others in huge gamble that could have easily backfired. Rock was losing early. To his credit, he stood still and adjusted his gameplan, but it took many more maneuvers and the extreme temperament of the pieces that he played to win. He won the battle, but the war got more murkier than ever.

So there he stands, sitting on the dock of the bay, reflecting on the nasty game he played. Mr. Chang hands Rock his reward, a bunch of money for the Black Lagoon.

Garcia and Fabiola proved that they can withdrawal the temptation of pulling the trigger at the most opportune moment. Rock proved that he has the ability to pull the trigger.

Let me take back that Rock won all along. No. He was the biggest loser.

Why? Everyone around him got more fucked up than ever before.

[Happy endings? Fuck that too.]

---

Note: I believe Rei Hiroe has resume writing more Black Lagoon earlier this year after he took a break from ending that depressing and gut-wrenching Roberta arc. At this time, I'm unsure if I want to read more Black Lagoon. I sure as hell not re-reading what's already released (nine volumes). After I cool off, I could go back to see what Rei has in store. But man, after a week (10/14 to 10/19) where work was hectic, my brother getting laid off, and handing my parents $1,500 to assist with the ever-struggling business, this dark [initial] ending was just icing on the cake. FFFUUUCCCKKK.

2 Comments

Summer Jam 7 Day 1 Impressions

Hello. This is my second blog this month detailing my experience on going to an event for the first time. (I hope my writing is better this entry, my Otakon blog ended up being really messy.) This weekend, I attended my first fighting game tournament, Summer Jam 7, held at the Sheraton Suites Hotel in Philadelphia, PA on Saturday, August 17. Summer Jam was a two-day affair, but after a few circumstances fell through, my brother and I decided to not attend the second day of the event. Unlike my time at Otakon last weekend, I felt much more underwhelmed with the experience I had at Summer Jam, which was disappointing as this was my first attendance at a fighting game tournament. I do blame myself for failing to bring some items that would alleviate some of the mundane-ness that I had at the event, but there simply wasn't a lot to do to keep me interested at Summer Jam 7.

[Sorry, this is the only picture I have for Summer Jam. I didn't want to bother anyone else with pictures at the event.]

Summer Jam 7 Day 1 Impressions

I attended Summer Jam with my brother and one of his friends, who goes by the nickname "Mr. Foo". My brother and I were only spectating the event, while Foo had pre-registered to play Injustice. Foo was hoping to go pretty far in Injustice, as he finished first at a tournament held at small anime event about a month ago and finished second at a bar battle held at Copabanana this past Tuesday, August 13. I was expecting to see a large line for pre-registrants to confirm their attendance, but by the time we got there at around noon, it looked like they already got most of the folks who pre-registered checked out. So at least on this point, that was good.

I first entered the main room after receiving my wristband, where they were already running SFIV AE 2012 and UMvC3 team tournaments. The first thing I noticed when I entered the room was Spooky with his set up hugged toward the back center of the main room. I was very tempted to take a picture of him, but refrained. It was kind of surreal going into the room and some of the biggest fighting game tournament players in person. At one time, ChrisG and KnuckleDu were standing right beside me, discussing the recent team tournament match they completed and some other non-sense. I didn't spend too much time in the main room, as I only went there to see a little bit of the team tournaments as well as watch one of Foo's friend play his Marvel pool match.

I next went into the MK/Injustice room. I wasn't sure if this was the best room the organizers could get for MK/Injustice, but the room was small and constantly packed the times I visited the room. I missed out on watching Foo play his first pool match in Injustice. Unfortunately, his first match came against KDZ, the EVO Injustice champion. He said that he only took a round from the EVO champ, and was quickly knocked down to the losers. He was eliminated in his next match against a Killer Frost player, where he admitted he had little match-up experience against. Foo was disappointed that he got knocked out so quickly, after he found some success in recent locals. Foo also played a team Injustice tournament with SonicFox (young MK/Injustice player who's won some tournaments himself) and another player. He was approached by SonicFox on needing one more person to fill out their team and he agreed. They won one match before they got eliminated.

I only visited the 3D room twice, where they held DOA5, TTT2, SCV, and VF5FS. There weren't a lot of folks in the room playing the 3D games.

I spent a majority of my time in the anime room. There were three organizers crammed into the anime room running various games there. One group was running KOF XIII only, another group had Arcana Heart 3 and Chaos Code, while the third group ran P4A, GGXXAC+R, and BBCSE. The room wasn't too packed and I was able to make my way through the room. I watched some P4A pool play, the entire BBCSE tournament, and a little bit of GGXXAC+R. While watching some of the BB matches, I struck a conversation with Jonathon, who went by the name "Steel Coil." I told him about my troubles of staying dedicated and getting better at fighting games, playing netplay casuals with some of the Giant Bomb folks, and a few other things. Jon came in from New Jersey and participated in P4A and BBCSE. He's befriended a few other participants playing some locals at the 8 on the Break Arcade held in Dunellen, NJ. I asked him if he met one of my brother's friends the times he was there, and he said no. He also stated that I should've played in the tournament just for the experience despite my nervousness of not being in the same level as the folks in the room. I believe he might make it to the next Philadelphia major tournament coming in December and that I would participate in P4A if I was up for it by then.

Unfortunately, P4A didn't have a great turnout. Only 28 folks signed up for P4A. The tournament did not have the benefit of the sudden announcement of P4A: Climax just a few days ago. Whether or not this will help increase numbers for P4A for upcoming tournaments remains to be seen. There were a few heavy hitters that were in the P4A tournament at Summer Jam: Matt Coma, Colpevole, Grover, and Lord Knight. I left before they ran the Top 8 of P4A (Colpevole defeated Lord Knight to win). Jonathon said that this was a drastic change from last year, where P4A just came out and had 96 entrants. BBCSE got 14 entrants and GGXXAC+R got 19. The organizers were running a tight schedule, so there wasn't a lot of time for casuals in the afternoon. There was a small window for casuals when they wrapped up P4A pools and I was kicking myself for not bringing in my fight pad/fight stick to Summer Jam.

I think the biggest issue I had with Summer Jam is that there wasn't anything else to do aside from playing fighting games. Although it's nice that everyone can play numerous fighting games as much as they want, that's all you'll be doing at an event like this. I should have brought my 3DS to help occupy the downtime I was away from the rooms. The hotel's location was also a negative, as it's located OUTSIDE of Philadelphia. So you can't exit the hotel and wander off to experience Philadelphia. All of the visitors I saw who left the hotel grounds just drove off to the closest Wawa to fetch food there. There were only a few vendors selling a few items: Summer Jam 7 t-shirts, Brokentier t-shirts, and two folks constructing and selling 8-bit sprites beads of fighting game characters. (Foo is friends with one of them, and had a Potemkin made for him.) There were also two people willing to modify fight sticks for a fee.

I'm hoping that Northeast Championships will be a much better fighting game tournament experience, as it should be back at the Holiday Inn with the big ballroom and spacier rooms, and actually located in Philadelphia. I'm hoping to see a bump in participants for P4A after the P4A: Climax announcement, and BBCP will probably be there as a side tournament. Maybe I'll actually compete in P4A at NEC just for the hell out it, though I'm not sure how much time I'll be putting into P4A as I'm doing my best to deal with the stress from working so much (waking up 5AM, working some weekends) and wanting to complete other games from my backlog.

Thanks for reading my blog nonetheless.

Other Items

There was another player who went with the name "Mr. Foo" at Summer Jam, causing a bunch of confusion with Foo's friends at Summer Jam. Apparently, Foo's friends was giving the other Foo a bit of a hard time. They did meet each other briefly before we left the venue.

You can see me briefly on Bibiquadium's stream during the BlazBlue tournament. I am shown at the 1:57 mark of the stream archive, the guy on the far right with the long hair. LINK

Notable FGC Players I Saw at Summer Jam

  • Arturo
  • Sanford Kelly
  • ChrisG
  • KnuckleDu
  • Diminion
  • IFC Yipes
  • K-Brad
  • Tom Brady
  • Lord Knight
  • Colpevole
  • Grover
  • Matt Coma
  • DJ Houshen
  • MarlinPie
2 Comments

Otakon 2013

Hello. This is my first blog/thread posted onto the Giant Bomb forums. I apologize in advance for any typos or grammatical errors written in this blog, which I'll summarize my experience in attending this year's Otakon (Otaku Convention) held at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland on August 10 & 11. I thought it might be interesting to share since there's a group of anime fans here in Giant Bomb.

General Impressions

Overall, I had an enjoyable experience at Otakon, even if I have not watched an anime nor read much manga the past couple of years. Though my brother and I missed out on the first day of the convention due to work, going through the entire day on Saturday was pretty overwhelming and exhausting. Here's a quick list on what I liked and didn't like at Otakon 2013.

Positives

Lots of Activities: There were plenty of events offered at Otakon, whether it's watching anime, attending panels, getting autographs from special guests, participating in workshops, playing video games, or browsing and buying stuff from artists/vendors, there's always something going on around the clock.

Energetic Atmosphere: There was a constant aurora of enthusiasm with I felt emitting from the Otakon attendees. A lot of them walking around with a smile, offering random high-fives and fist-bumps, and chatting with each other. All of the cosplayers that I asked to take picture for were friendly and didn't hesitate to stick around and pose for me.

Quality Cosplay: I was bracing myself to see some terrible cosplay, but that didn't occur at all. In fact, I came away impressed with the high quality of cosplay I came across at Otakon.

Lot of Non-Anime Cosplay: There were plenty of video game cosplay on display at Otakon, which makes sense on how much anime and video games blend in with each other. The majority of cosplay pictures I took were from video games, as I recognized those characters quickly. There was plenty of comic book (a lot of Deadpools) and other random cosplay on display.

Negatives

Hard to Navigate Halls: I feel for the organizers overseeing this event as they were doing the best the can with the allotted space of the Baltimore Convention Center. Terrible logjams on the hallways and generally not a lot of open space to breathe. At the closing ceremonies, the organizers recognized the lack of space from the large amount of attendees and announced that Otakon will be moving to a much bigger center at Washington DC in 2017, after their current contract with Baltimore ends.

Volunteer Staff: I was in agreement with Zac from Anime News Network that the majority of the volunteer staff... was a bit "high on themselves." Some of them acted pretty crude while they could have handled some petty matters more politely.

Baltimore?: I apologize to those who live and love Baltimore, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of other options for those who want to see what else Baltimore offers. The inner harbor is beautiful, Camden Yards is right by the convention center, and there's a visitor nearby too. But... that's all I found from what I gathered from the Otakon guidebook on Baltimore. [Luckily, my brother did a bit of research and found some neat food places in Baltimore, though they were quite the distance away from the Convention Center.]

Regrets

NOT TAKING MORE PICTURES!: I probably should have took pictures of the panelists, Artist's Alley, Dealer's Room, and Video Game Room to at least show something about them. I also wanted to take more pictures of some cosplayers, but either they were heading the other way or were occupied with something and didn't want to bother them from what they were doing at the moment.

Would I Attend Again?

I don't mind attending again, knowing what I know now. It was fun walking through the halls and looking at all the cosplay. The panels I attended were interesting and the Dealer's Room was tempting me to spend more. If I do go next time, I'll do my best to catch more of the anime viewings and industry panels. However, dealing with the overcrowding of the narrow halls and the lack of other areas to visit in Baltimore are definitely drawbacks that would make me second guess on going again.

Significant Announcements/Premieres

Funimation acquired a majority of the Sunrise anime titles from Bandai and will plan to reprint and distribute in North America.

World Premieres of the final three episodes of Oreimo 2 and the English dub to Wolf's Children.

Panels Attended

Vertical, Inc. (Manga Publisher)

I attended the Vertical, Inc. panel because I really loved the two manga I purchased from them (Sakuran and Utsubora) and love the more mature and out of the ordinary offering from their manga catalog. The panel was ran by Vertical's marketing direct Ed Chavez. He allowed some fellow Gundam cosplayers pose with him and I took a picture of the group. Ed also regretted that he didn't have a lot of time to talk about what he wanted to discuss, so he primarily focused on the current and upcoming releases and then provided a quick run through on how a manga gets from Japan to North America.

Ed gushed over two Vertical licenses that have been their highlights as of late, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin (hence Ed cosplaying as a Gundam character) and Chi's Sweet Home. He discussed the struggle on how Vertical's plan on publishing MSG: The Origin manga against Sunrise's demands. He notes that Sunrise liked every volume to show a character, but Vertical somehow convinced Sunrise in using alternative covers for the North American release. In regards to Chi's Sweet Home, the tenth volume, which is going to be released this month, was going to be the final volume for the manga. However, when Konata heard how successful her manga has been doing in North America, she decided to write three more volumes of the mange before officially ending it.

One of Vertical's upcoming releases that I look forward to is Insufficient Direction, a silly autobiographical story of how Moyocco Anno fell in love with her husband, Hidaeki Anno. If Hidaeki Anno's name sounds familiar, he's the guy who directed the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime. Ed also revealed that Hidaeki is a huge sci-fi geek and is a vegan. It'll be interesting to see Moyocco's side on how she fell in love with Hidaeki and whatever personal peeves that have.

Another upcoming Vertical release that got me excited was Tropic of the Sea. I was excited to hear this release because this manga was written by the late Satoshi Kon, the famed director of many noteworthy anime such as Perfect Blue, Tokyo Godfathers, Millennium Actress, Paranoia Agent, and Paprika. Before he went full time as an anime director, he was a manga author. Ed did say that his trademark psychology is prevalent here in this manga, and showed a page of how well he can draw.

I was intrigued and applauded Vertial's lone new acquisition revealed to the panel, What Did You Eat Yesterday? The manga is a story of a gay couple, one of the a lawyer, the other a hairdresser, as they discuss how their days are going over dinner. Ed stated that this story revolves around a true gay couple and touches on the challenges each face concerning their relationship. They are scheduled to release the first volume in March 2014 and spans through ten volumes.

In the second half of the panel, Ed quickly ran through the process on how a manga gets from Japan to North America. He didn't have time to go through the details, but listening to him explain the process, I certainly had much respect for all companies, especially the smaller ones, on how tough it is to license a title to here. One interesting fact that was first touch on was royalty payments. In the western territories, the amount of the royalty payment results on how many copies of the manga were sold. In Japan, royalty payments are dependent on how many copies of the manga were printed. There was also a distinct difference on how much of a cut of the sales the different parties make with printed copies versus digital copies.

How to Build an Arcade Stick 201

This panel was presented by a group called Destruction XIII, led by Shoryuken editor MyLifeIsAnRPG. This is a continuation of their panel from last year. This year, they primarily focused on crafting a new stick called the "Stick-Box", dual-modding, and touched on a few other aspects of stick building. It was interesting to see a fight stick that has both a joystick and hitbox buttons on a box. It looks weird, but the panel explain on the many advantages and shortcuts that players can use with a combination of the joystick and hitbox in a fighting game. One example on how this stick-box is advantageous over conventional fight sticks is the use of charge characters. Stick-box users can simply hold back on the stick, then press the forward hitbox button to perform the charge special attack, instead of having to hold back the stick, then pushing the stick. It was also interesting to note how folks figured out how to use the PCP wiring with the X-Box 360 and Playstation 3 controllers and a whole bunch of other jazz to construct an arcade stick. Though only a small group of people attended the panel, the folks who did attend seemed to have some experience in modifying joysticks, asked some technical questions, and were interested for a third panel in next year's Otakon.

I regret not taking a picture of the "stick-box" before leaving the room. Shame on me.

The Weirdest Video Games 3

A panel ran by some internet gaming group that I cannot recall where they discuss a number of weird games. This is their third year at Otakon and it seemed like they had a big following from their first two panels. The group wanted to showcase a lot of games, but due to time constraints, they quickly buzzed through the games they wanted to discuss. Though the majority of the crowd seemed to enjoy the panel, I came away from it less than impressed. I was hoping they were going to pull some deep weird games that no one's heard of, but most of the crowd and I recognized the majority of the titles the group discussed. Some titles that I can recall that were mentioned were Octodad, I Want to Be the Guy Gaiden, SD Snatcher, Street Fighter II: Koryu Edition, and Arm Joe.

ANNCast (Anime News Network's Podcast)

I was getting pretty tired and was hesitant on attending the Anime News Network panel, but I was interested in seeing the ANN personnel in person. I didn't know that they were recording the panel as a podcast. Unfortunately, the panel was not recorded, so those who attended the panel got themselves into a "lost episode" of the ANN podcast. They started off with the cast briefly giving their impressions of Otakon, as this was their first time attending this anime convention. All four (Zac, Justin, Bamboo, and Hope) were generally pretty impressed with Otakon, especially Bamboo. She summarized the atmosphere at Otakon to be passionate and energetic, while Anime Expo's (held in Los Angeles) attendees were more tame and lax. I was surprised to hear her flat out saying that she's enjoyed Otakon much more based on her lone attendance here over Anime Expo.

The majority of the panel consisted of the ANNCast fielding questions from the fans. They had some guests from the industry join in and they took a few questions as well. Zac and Justin answered most the questions while Bamboo, Hope, and the guests pitched in when they can. There was a funny moment regarding a fan asking a question to one of the guests, and the guest promptly danced off the stage. Some other highlight moments was Zac calling out on Vic Mignogna (voice actor), Sentai's English dubs (shitty), and the Otakon staff, and Justin defending Wolf's Rain and providing some anime industry insight.

Dealer's Room / Artist's Alley / Video Game Hall

My brother and I spent a good chunk at Otakon roaming through the Dealer's Room. He was focusing on purchasing some items for his friends for the occasion, since no one that he asked was willing to go. I went after the items that interested me. I was tempted to buy some more items, but I kept my expenditures to a modest amount. The lines leading up to the opening of the Dealer's Room was long on Saturday and Sunday and it was a pain walking through the crowded narrow halls in between where all the vendors are settled. I accidentally bumped into a lot of people in the hall. There were a ton on vendors in the hall selling a variety of items: manga, anime DVDs, figurines, plushies, wall scrolls, wigs, video games, etc. It was pretty overwhelming. Here's my haul.

  • Valkyria Chronicles Art Book $50
  • Chie Persona 4 Arena Figurine $42
  • Naoto Persona 4 Arena Figurine $42
  • Madoka Magica Wall Scroll $17
  • Mitsuru Persona 4 Arena Keychain $12

We only spend a short time walking around Artist's Alley. I was admiring all of the work the artist were providing, but was not intent on purchasing any of their works. The video game hall had plenty of games and stations, but neither my brother or I played a lot of games in the hall. In fact, I didn't play any games at all! My brother resorted to playing a few sessions of Beatmania and Pop 'n Music. They were running tournaments for the bigger fighting games (SF IV AE 2012, UMvC3, TTT2, and Injustice). Otherwise, it was a casual place where folks can go in and play. There was also a section for trading card fans with tables setup to play card games. Unlike the Dealer's Room, not a lot of folks ventured into Artist's Alley and the Video Game Hall, so it was nice to walk around, enjoy the sights, and rest up the legs.

Yoko Kanno Concert

Yoko Kanno closed out Otakon with a wonderful concert. I couldn't get tickets to see her with my own eyes as there was already a long line to get Yoko Kanno tickets when we arrived at Otakon Saturday morning. So my brother and I had to settle in watching her performance through a simulcast broadcasted to of the video rooms. She played a mixture of anime songs and jazzy originals. Kanno requested that no shots or camera recordings as she had a visuals complimenting her performance. Her piano was covered in some sort of foam so that it can capture the projection of the visuals on the piano. I recognized the three Cowboy Bebop songs she played ("Tank" [twice!], "See You Space Cowboy", and "Wo Qui Non Coin." She was pretty energetic herself throughout the set, bopping constantly on her seat as she played and constantly thanking the audience. One interesting song she played in her set was the United States national anthem. Once folks figured out that she was playing the US anthem, the entire audience sang the lyrics.

Cosplay Pictures

Alright, probably what folks are looking forward to. Here are the pictures I took of the cosplayers I asked to take a picture of. I'm sure most of you will know what character each person is cosplaying as. [I apologize for a few blurry pictures.]

Enjoy the pictures and thanks for reading.

3 Comments
  • 20 results
  • 1
  • 2