Anime North is Canada’s biggest anime convention and is held annually at the Toronto Congress Center. It is a time where nerds and dorks of videogames, anime, and whatever else can come together and hang out, share favourite shows, cosplay and buy loads of merchandise. 2012 is also the first year to introduce an attendance cap to this event, which made it seem like it was less packed than last year but made it harder for people who just wanted to go for one day to buy passes. This year I managed to go and I wanted to write my thoughts about the whole weekend event. I had a ton of fun like usual; I took a lot of pictures of great cosplay and just the mass crowds that were there.
Toronto Congress Center
The TCC is the main area for anime north, where most of the cosplayers come and gather to take pictures in certain areas for photo shoots, and where the dealer’s room is located so you can spend all of your money. This is probably where most people spend their time during the convention. It’s easy to expend a lot of time in Artist Alley and the Dealers Room just walking around, checking out the art, and lose time in the Dealers Room even if you are not going to buy anything. Even if you are not interested in that, the main halls are where concerts are held, sometimes with bands who have flown in from Japan to spread their JPop music as well as free professional photography set up for people in cosplay to come and get their pictures taken. Outside is where the Rave is located if you feel like letting lose for a bit, I personally always find the rave music to fast to dance to.
Across the way from the TCC is the Doubletree Hotel; held there are the majority of the panel type events for Anime North. Some of the major events that are held at the Doubletree are the Saturday Night Masquerade, Maid/Butler Café, the 404 shows and various types of game shows and discussions. Outside there is a nicely shaded area where a lot of cosplayers hang out to escape the heat but still be outside, and this gives a great opportunity for cosplay photos against a natural background.
Now just over the bridge and a little farther away from the TCC is the Sheraton Hotel, where most of the gaming events are held. If you’re not a fan of walking don’t fret because there is a shuttle bus that comes around every once in a while to take you to the any of the 3 main events. As mentioned this area is catered towards gaming, and I don’t just mean videogames. There are a plethora of board, card, and videogame set ups all around the hotel, as well as a dedicated room for games such as DDR and other rhythm games. Also in the Sheraton is the aforementioned Manga Library where you can read your favourites or just check out new series before you buy them as well as Yaoi North if you are into that kind of thing. This is a great place to hang out and spend some of your time at Anime North; the crowd really gets enthusiastic about all of the tournaments so there’s some excitement to be had in all of the rooms.
This is probably one of the things I look forward to the most every year for anime north. It’s basically a garage sale, but with mostly anime and videogame items. People rent a table to sell their stuff that a lot openly admit they just don’t want or don’t want to take home, this allows people like me to haggle like a jerk and get certain items for crazy cheap. Last year I got a Master Grade Gundam kit for $30 Canadian which is pretty darn good. If you stay around until closing time people start lowering their prices a bunch so you can get some really cool items or just additions to your manga collection at little expense.
The Art of VG Cats
A personal favourite panel for me because the creator of VG Cats comes to draw some of his comic panels before anyone else gets to see them and also answers artistic questions from the crowd. It’s always amazing to see how much work goes into just one comic strips, layers upon Photoshop layers, all kids of shading, colouring, blending, I’m surprised he just doesn’t go mad creating these things.
Taiko Drum Workshop (Nagata Shachu)
Nagata Shachu is a Taiko Drum group from Ontario that travels around and does amazing concerts. I’ve gone to see them at McMaster University near where I live and was very surprised to see them in the schedule for this year’s Anime North. During this workshop you got to play on a real taiko drum, and bang the crap out of it! They did some beginner lessons so that everyone attending could learn the proper techniques for how to hit the drums, stance, and even how to stay on beat with your other band members.
Then after the workshop they let the pro’s handle the drums and put on an amazing concert. I recommend if you ever have the chance to see them or any other Taiko Drums concert for that matter to check it out. The sound those things put out is incredible and hitting them is very satisfying.
Yaoi is always a big part of Anime North, so much so that they have certain rooms dedicated to different types of Yaoi panels. I assume that fan girls are able to rejoice in watching their favourite male character get into precarious situations but I am not willing to go to one of the panels to find out for myself.
Anime & Videogame Name That Tune
Some of the most popular game show type panels are the Name That Tune ones. It allows fans to test their knowledge of various Anime and Videogame songs in the allotted amount of time given to them. There are always one or two “crazy” people who are able to get songs right off of the first few notes but since the songs aren’t always from this year or from a specific genre of videogames or anime everyone has a fair chance to win the top prizes. Next year I am planning on entering the Videogame Name That Tune if they have it because I feel I listen to enough gaming music to have some sort of chance in that contest. Unlike the Anime Name That Tune where if it’s not Lucky Star or Sailor Moon I’m totally lost most of the time.
Running all convention is the manga library, and it’s exactly what you picture it to be. Someone brings a massive collection of manga to be rented out and enjoyed by all of the attendees of the convention. I’ve heard rumors that all the manga is owned by one person and he lugs it here every year and if that is true then I applaud him or her. This place is a great way to kill time when waiting for friends or other panels to start up. Or even checking out new series you have heard of but never read without having to buy the books. After going to the Manga Library I always think I should go to my public library a bit more… but I never do.
Otakubaloo (Parking Lot Rave)
Another all convention event is the Otakubaloo or better known at “That rave place outside of the TCC”. People gather here to dance their faces off during the convention. The reason I mention this even is because at night a big crowd gathers to dance under the night sky, a lot of people dance in their cosplay and even bring glow sticks to dance with like a regular rave. I just wonder how many of them are super high to complete the experience.
The 404’s are one of the biggest crowd pullers in the whole convention. They’re a improve comedy group that specifically caters to internet/nerd humor and do a really good job at it. Think of it as a nerd-ier Who’s Line is it Anyways type show. During the day they have an all-ages show but during the night is when their 18+ show start. There’s no limit on what the audience suggestions should be and while most of the suggestions are just people yelling out “porn!” or “Yaoi!” you sometimes get some really creative suggestions. This year they even stripped after every skit which was… weird to say the least but made for some more entertaining skits when everyone was doing it with their pants off.
Pictures of Cosplay
If you would like to see some more of the pictures I took during the convention click this link and it will send you over to the TNIAB flickr account. I hope you enjoy looking through them as there are a lot of great cosplayers out every year.
Anime North is one of those things I look forward to every year and am very sad when it ends. Not a lot of times throughout the year you can gather with tens of thousands of people who enjoy your same hobby and feel like a part of a great community. There are smaller anime conventions throughout the year but nothing comes close to the massive gathering of Anime North. This year was really fun and as usually I can’t wait for next year. I highly recommend going if you are on the fence or if you are an anime fan but just haven’t thought of going to a convention, nothing like just diving into the deep end of one of the best anime conventions there.
And if you have been wanting to go to Anime North I highly recommend it for 2013, some tips are if you get tickets in January and go with a group package you can get your weekend passes for a lot less than normal price and make sure to book your hotel early since all the ones that are close to the Toronto Congress Center will fill up very fast.
This is also posted on the website Three Nerds in a Basement which is also where we host a podcast. If you would like you can check out the website and listen to our podcast at typev3.podbean.com. Thank you for reading my blog and I hope you check out the podcast.
As the holiday season continues, the boys continue to pick up new and exciting blockbusting titles such as Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Skyrim. Of course this means that a lot of money has been spent in the past month and the boys also admit to maybe purchasing a bit too much.
Starring Anthony Fallucco, Blaven Jaramillo, & Vincent Sanchez
This was also posted on my podcast/blog website and can be found here. Give a listen to our latest episode and feel free to drop an e-mail if you enjoy it or want to be mentioned on the next show.
For those of you that listen to the podcast you know that I have been playing a lot of Dark Souls, a sadistically hard game that sometimes I wonder why I’m even playing it. I expected the game to be difficult, and for me to get frustrated at certain points, but I never expected the game to make me feel fear or tension. Which makes me wonder, what makes a game scary?
When I think of scary/horror games I think of titles like Fatal Frame, Silent Hill, Dead Space, etc. But after a while the shock scares in Dead Space tend to lose their surprise. In Silent Hill once you learn you can just run forever and the skinless monsters can never catch up to you, most of that game turns into fetch quests. And in Fatal Frame there are only so many times you can look a ghost dead in the face feel fear. Don’t get me wrong these series are great for horror and making you jump (Like the first time you meet Pyramid Head behind the bars in Silent Hill 2). But the sense of being in a hopeless situation eventually fades off and makes the game as a whole less scary.
But that type of situation hasn’t happened for me in Dark Souls. I am currently soul level 55 thanks to hours of grinding, I have tons of life, and an upgraded set of armour, but every time I step into a new area a sense of dread comes over me. Like at any moment some hideous creature can pop out and swing at me for half of my life. Somewhere a trap will spring and I’ll be cast into the bottomless depths below. Or on a run back to my last bloodstain I could die from a careless mistake a lose all of 20,000+ souls I’ve collected that day. And while Dark Souls is challenging and I feel that the difficulty adds to the overall tone of the game, something that I don’t think any other game (other than Demons Souls obviously) has pulled off.
What is interesting to me in that situation is that it’s not necessarily the enemies that are the scariest part of this game (some of the monsters look REALLY gross though) but the meta game Dark Souls is playing with your mind. Constantly having me on the edge at all time throughout the game. Running through any hallways you constantly have your shield in front of your face, preparing for the unknown threat at the end of a dark hallway. I can’t really think of any other game even in the horror genre that makes me feel that constant sense of hopelessness for the situation, and fear of every new encounter. A great example of a good scare in Dark Souls is your first encounter with a Mimic (monster disguised as a treasure chest) which the game has never hinted to being in the world before hand. Open up a tempting looking chest and *CHOMP* the chest eats you. While that itself made me jump it also had a lasting effect of not trusting any chest for the rest of the game. I will now constantly swing at every chest before opening it because I’m too afraid to take the risk of the chest being a mimic.
For me personally, the atmosphere of a game can be way more nerve racking and scary than just have monsters pop out from a hidden area. So now I bring this question to your readers, do you find that have hideous creatures to fight scarier than being in a situation where everything seems to be working against you? Or do you have any other ideas of what makes a game scary in your mind?
This week we answer the question, "is courage REALLY stronger than steel?" Then, make sure to stick around after the credits and join us in our second Game Club as we play the first four bosses from Shadow of the Colossus.
Starring Anthony Fallucco, Blaven Jaramillo, Tristan Arcas & Vincent Sanchez
This years Tokyo Game Show has finally come to a close, there have been many cool announcements and awesome hardware to see. These are the last couple games of Tokyo Game Show that I think you should keep your eyes on in the upcoming months. This was also posted on my podcast website Three Nerds in a Basement. Feel free to listen to our latest episode.
Silent Hill: Downpour
Now it’s true I think that the last good Silent Hill games were the ones on the Playstation 2, but I still can’t help but have hope for the new Silent Hill games. Downpour will be the latest game in the series and from trailers, so far it looks like they’re going for a more cinematic feel to the game rather than trying to bring up old nostalgia from the Silent Hill 2 days. This in case you didn’t know is a bad thing. (Only so many times they can bring Pyramid Head in a game and still make it “cool”)
This trailer in particular though has one huge, glaring, massive flaw… the use of Korn. If anything was learned from Haze back when the PS3 was still in its early years I can safely say that using Korn for anything is a bad idea. Watch the trailer below to see more of Downpour… but just watch it on mute.
Street Fighter x Tekken
People who know me know too well that I am a huge fighting game buff, I’ve put hundreds of hours into Super Street Fighter 4 and I like to watch all kinds of live streams. This being said it is no surprise that SFxT is something that I am looking forward to. Cross over games always have a certain spot in most fighting game enthusiasts’ hearts, seeing your favourite characters from multiple franchises fighting it out and finally answering that question of “who could beat who”.
While SFxT is not a new announcement for TGS there is one new feature that has been announced and explained exclusively at TGS. The new mode called “Pandora” mode, which when a character on your team is around 25% health you will be able to activate. What this does is kills off your 25% health character and then brings in your partner with a new purplish glow, and fancy markings. Other than physical changes you will also get infinite super meter, but this comes at a cost of a timed life bar. Once the timer hits zero your character automatically dies and you will lose the round.
It will be interesting to see how this mode plays out in the professional level tournament, if it will be used at all or if it will be something along the lines of Marvel vs. Capcom 3s X-Factor.
Ninja Gaiden 3
While the new Ninja Gaiden games are of my favourite games in the past while, I can’t say I am too confident in how the third game in the series will play out now that Itagaki the series creator is gone. The first game without him on the Team Ninja team was Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, which took out all the blood and gore in favor of stylized mist, and also added boss fights that weren’t all that great compared to the games original boss fights. This being said maybe it will be a different experience now that they have a game to work on from the ground up instead of just a port.
Ryu seems to be having problems with his arm as is mutates into some grotesque, and bloody mess. The new game is focusing more on what it means to “kill” someone, also the act of killing with more close up of death blows. Seeing a sword dig into a characters flesh, hearing the bones break on a hard drop, or just seeing the copious amounts of blood are never something pleasant to see but I guess that is the life of a ninja. I am still looking forward to this game though seeing as the last two are one of the best action games in year, and I still think it is worth it for you to check out upon release.
Tokyo Game Show is still going on but it will be the last day of the press only events. Tomorrow also starts day 3 which will be the first time TGS is open to the public. So look for a lot of cosplay and possibly more info during day 3. This was also posted on my podcast site Three Nerds in a Basement, where we also put up our new episode. Feel free to check it out.
Katamari Damacy (PSV)
Any chance I get I will always pimp the Katamari Damacy series, it is one of my favorite game franchises of all time and I have a huge bias towards it. Thankfully a new game as been announced for the Playstation Vita, the trailers does not show anything in terms of game play but does tease about a new stretching feature. I assume this means you will be able to stretch out your Katamari to cover a wider area when rolling. It’s fun to think of how they might implement this in the controls but I think they will use the back touch for stretching.
I have always had my eye on this game when I heard it was Capcoms biggest budget game ever, and it really shows how much work is going into it in the new TGS trailer. Even though the game looks like Shadow of the Colossus x Demons Souls x Lord of the Rings that might not necessarily be a bad thing, the game play look insanely fun with the different ways you can hurt these monsters to get the upper hand. I am really looking forward to playing this game, looks like a lot of fun but let us hope it plays just as well.
Suda 51 can do no wrong, there I said it, I’ve admitted I will buy anything from this man because his ideas are crazy and amazing, having said that it should be no surprise that Lollipop Chainsaw is being highlighted in this blog.
The trailer has some brief shots of game play elements between Suda and some other dude talking. Some ways of killing zombies involve playing hopscotch on their head, cutting off a row of heads then somehow being transported to space while they bleed rainbows, and a boss whose attach are physical representations of words. Check out the trailer below to be utterly confused about what is going on and how someone green lighted this to be a game.
Once again it is that time of the year; Japan is holding its annual Tokyo Game Show. This year it is being held in the convention center Makuhari Messe just outside of Tokyo. Press days are the 15 and 16 while the 17 and 18 are open to the public. This blog is here to highlight what I think is the most exciting news from each day; hopefully you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed making it. This is also posted on my podcast website Three Nerds in a Basement.
I’ve always been told to never start a show with a show stopper but I just can’t follow that rule with Tokyo Jungle. Right now I have no clue what this game is even about but it depicts a Tokyo that has been taken over by every animal you could think of. The city is covered in plant life and has become a haven for animals to live, fight, or even from the brief clips of those dogs, get it on.
The trailer shows a couple playable animals that range from baby chicks to pandas, and their either fighting or running away from danger. I wish I knew more about this game I know that the chance of it coming over to North America is pretty slim, so the best thing you can do is be amazed by the trailers below.
Dead or Alive 5
With as many fighting games as there are coming out it is not a surprise that Team Ninja is bringing back their fighting franchise. The 3D fighter seems to have more of a cinematic feel from the debut trailer. Hayate and Ryu Hyabusa are in battle on top of an under construction skyscraper. Lots of camera movement keeps the focus of the most interesting part of the stage, this could just be part of the Alpha trailer flourish but it makes the fights look really nice.
Ryu has some new moves in the form of a teleport to get across the screen, let’s just hope it’s not the MK9 mechanic of everyone having some sort of teleport move. DOAs staple multi-tiered stages were not shown in the trailer but only in sound form of what sounds like Ryu falling off the building. Also Hayate performs some sort of super move during the match; this could mean DOA is bringing super bars to its franchise.
Max Payne 3
One of the weirdest places to announce a gritty, American made, third person shooter would be TGS in my eyes. And Rockstar threw that thought to the wind and announced their new entry into the Max Payne series. The gritty cop is back with a whole new look, and it’s starting to have the whole DMC backlash of people saying “OMG IT’S NOT THE ORIGINAL” or “OMG CHANGE DON’T WANT”.
Personally I like the new change; if it was the same character model again it would have seemed very played and like Rockstar is just pandering to the 5 people that still remembered Max Payne. The trailer doesn’t show any sort of gameplay but the new story grabbed me enough to want to see more on this game.
Monster Hunter 4
The big new for Japan is the release of a new Monster Hunter game obviously titled Monster Hunter 4. The game was shown off at the Nintendo press conference a couple days ago and showed a lot of new elements to the game play. There was a lot of platforming but also new features like being able to fight while climbing up walls and also being able to land on the dragons for some good damage.
The other big news surrounding this title is the fact that it has not been announced for any other platforms other than the 3DS. This is big because the previous Monster Hunter games have been predominantly on the PSP handheld. It is still not known if the game will be a Nintendo exclusive but this could be a big grab for Nintendo if it is.
On this week’s episode of Three Nerds in a Basement, we talk about Killzone 3, EVO 2011, Transformers: Prime and Kayo Police. Then we discuss the future of dedicated handheld gaming devices off of the back of the news that Nintendo has given their relatively new 3DS an $80 price drop. After, some letters are answered and the show is over!
Also, this week brings the start of a new segment we are calling Game Club. In this segment, we asked the community to play a game along with us and then we’ll discuss how each of the participants tackled the game and describe their thoughts during the most memorable segments. So the game we are playing is Atlus’ recently released “Catherine” and we will be discussing days one through three. Also, if it isn’t obvious there will be a lot of major spoilers, so don’t listen if you’re planning on playing the game at a later date!
Starring Anthony Fallucco & Vincent Sanchez & Tristan Arcas
EVO 2011 is finally underway, and I would say this is my Superbowl. Tons of big names coming out to Las Vegas for their shot at the title of "Best in the World" for their chosen fighting games. Guys like Daigo Umehara, Justin Wong, Ricky Ortiz, Filipino Champ, Juciebox Abel and many more will compete in a multitude of different fighting games. The tournament will be all weekend, and streaming pretty much all day.
If you could not make it to the event in person (like myself) you'll be able to watch the streams listen below hosted by Iplaywinner and TeamSpooky. Also Shoryuken has your main stream. If you REALLY want to you can also watch the stream in Playstation Home, where they will be giving out different avatar awards for each day. The EVO 2011 Schedule can also be found here.