January 27, 2006

As expected, Wonder Momo-i Live tour DVD is on sale.

Thanks to an email notification from CDJapan, I am now aware that it is up for pre-order with release date set for March 29, 2006. Given all the exposure, it was bound to be released through a big distributor like this sooner or later. Apparently "Express" is officially part of the name. Coincidentally, I actually ended up buying a used copy that was sold earlier at Comiket since I didn't have much patience, and I am expecting it to arrive within the week. If only I had received this notification earlier I could have saved some money!

Oh well, at least I'll be able to post a nice preview ahead of time then :) Now I must decide if I want to buy a second sealed copy for archival purposes..because who knows what extra goodies they might include with a pre-order?

Posted by Paranda at 9:39 AM | Comments (5)

January 26, 2006

ARIA is the best anime on TV right now.

After episode 12, I feel as if Aria would fit perfectly as the product of a future government's propaganda attempting to lure settlers to Mars and enslave them as laborers for the terraformation movement - because it's just that damn good. We viewers are used to sci-fi plots about utopian societies with dark sides, gone horribly wrong. Then there's Aria, which is just one big happy utopian society gone..well..incredibly right. So why not come to Aqua and spend your life building bridges or something for the advancement of humanity? I know I would.
Akari, Aika, Alice, Alicia

Posted by Paranda at 12:53 AM | Comments (0)

January 25, 2006

Lost in Blue is too hard for a kids' game.

So I bought Animal Crossing and Lost in Blue yesterday because it's that time of month when I give in to temptation regardless of cash and expand my game collection. I started out with LiB first because I figured an adventure game would be a bit shorter, especially since I am way beyond their target age; I also know Animal Crossing is one of those games that you can sink in zillions of hours without realizing. 17 hours later, I am now on day 30 of Lost in Blue. Turns out the game is *&$&*&@^# HARD!

Lost in BlueIn the game, you are Keith, a young guy who gets shipwrecked and stranded on an island. You must then use various skills (such as pressing L and R alternatingly, or blowing into the microphone) to ensure your and a fellow strandee's survival! Following my time honored gaming tradition of "not reading the manual and letting the game tutorial teach me" I discovered there was no tutorial - no easy mode to get out of before going into the real thing. I died before even reaching the second day. Soon after, the gameplay was a mad rush of attempting to stay alive. I didn't even have time to advance any story, because I was timing and plotting my movements so exactly as to prevent death. Exploring was pretty much suicide as it wasted too much time, and I spent my precious daylight hours collecting coconuts. Eventually, I was doing pretty well with a backpack full of coconuts, a cave to sleep in, and fairly stable vitals. Then the game throws your accomplishments out the window by forcing you to make long journeys away from the safety of your cave. One day of exploring goes through a backpack full of coconuts like it was nothing, and when you come back you don't have any food to eat. So, the day went: wake, collect coconuts, eat coconuts, sleep. It took a VERY long time to get out of this cycle.

Now on day 20, I have bows, arrows, spears, fishing poles, makeshift beds, shelves, and other things. I've become too good for coconuts, and now I eat fish and deer meat. Surviving has gotten much easier, somewhat like real life - you get stranded and in horrible condition, but if you can make it past the torture days, over time you can adapt. Still there is very little time allowed to explore own, as you are CONSTANTLY occupied with basic necessities. My next task is to collect enough logs to build a raft across some lake I discovered, and let me tell you..if you're an obsessive collector or you tend to overlevel your guys in RPGs, this game will be hell for you..and if you're not? Then you can't beat the game. I absolutely refused to make progress unless all my shelves were stocked with the highest quality fish, my weapons were the highest quality material, and my health vitals were all 100% - I figured I was going the extra mile..a power gamer compared to the younger kids who would be playing this game. Even with that attitude, I still only barely managed to succeed in my earliest tasks.

And yet..it's fun as hell for some reason I can' t understand. As a Civiliation and Sim City player, as well as mudder, I suppose I've become used to super-repetitive tasks in games that build on abilities and camps. Every time I add something to my cave, the feeling of success is just so good. But as far as my expectations go, this went the other direction. I wanted a "stress-free kids game" that I could just breeze through for a bit of fun and a story. This was an incredibly slow game. It may not be "hard" in the traditional sense, but the sheer amount of time and patience and repetition required can wear down anyone. I can definitely see how this game could suck with a slightly different mindset. Don't buy this unless you equate frustration with fun. Like me :)

Heh, I don't even know when I'm going to get started on Animal Crossing.

Posted by Paranda at 11:18 PM | Comments (0)

January 4, 2006

We love Space Akiba-Pop

Technically not Halko news, but it's time see what Koike's been up to, as we haven't heard from him in a while. As you may or may not know, Masaya Koike (Aniki of UNDER17) recently teamed up with dempa-song duo MOSAIC.WAV and is featured as a guest artist on their brand new album, Space Akiba-Pop, contributing his arrangement and guitar skills to several songs. Sold in limited quantities earlier last week at Comiket 69 and with a street date release of January 20th, it has surprisingly found its way onto the Internet, allowing us commoners an early listen. I express surprise only because this album seems to be getting more coverage (aside from the usual Japanese P2P sources, two IRC groups have also released mp3 versions through torrent sites) than MOSAIC.WAV's previous album "We Love Akiba-Pop" which cannot be found anywhere online as far as I know or cared to search for.
Space Akiba-Pop album cover
MOSAIC.WAV consists of MI-KO on vocals and Susumu Kayamori on keyboard, veterans to the dempa* song business. They work for Sham Studio. Space Akiba-Pop is their second full length album released to date. On this album are all the familiar electronic beats and MI-KO's adorable vocals and cheerleader-esque choruses. It clearly does not disappoint with respect to the first album, with tracks like "Space! Wave! Akiba-Pop" being just as addictive as its predecessor song...or even the cover art, this time an illustration by master-of-cute artist Poyoyon Rock. Plus it has Koike and we know what he can do! With KOTOKO now firmly in the "rock/pop" genre of music and no signs of turning back, we desperately needed another top-tier moe song performer to fill her gap. MOSAIC.WAV was a worthy claimant to this position for quite some time, and their second release now cements their long-term establishment in this field.

If you question my judgment being blurred by my obessions with UNDER17, let me state that I was a MOSAIC.WAV fan even prior to Koike's involvement with them. Not to take away from him or anything, but this album would have received my full endorsement regardless of its ties to the former UNDER17 member. I strongly suggest checking this out if you are a moe song fan like me and have not already heard of this group. Samples of some songs may be found freely available for download on their studio page, but if you plan on buying the CDs anyway (or are feeling particularly unethical) I suppose you could also hunt down the previously mentioned rips on P2P. I need more listening time on the new album to make an accurate recommendation for the new songs, but I can confidently push my old favorites like the original "We Love Akiba-Pop" and "Futsu no Uta." You can't go wrong with these.

* Someone correct me on this, but I believe dempa song is the original term for moe songs - UNDER17 has been credited with coining the word "moe song" according to an article on Excite which has now largely replaced dempa song in usage. The two terms can still be used interchangeably however (with exception to mature content), it appears MOSAIC.WAV has chosen to stick to the older term for consistency.

Posted by Paranda at 8:01 PM | Comments (0)

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