Fighting Game

2010 September 1

image credit chris toledanes (used with permission)

Disclaimer: The latter part of this article contains a lot of speculation, of which a good chunk of it is actually baseless. Given the Internet’s ability to blow things up, I felt like I had to at least put this out there.

On August 26, Puente Hills Mall of (heyyy, whaddya know) Puente Hills, California began playing host to the first Round One store outside of Japan (pictured above).

You’re probably asking what a Round One is, at this point. Round One happens to be a big brand for entertainment in Japan; think Dave and Buster’s — with its nifty arcade setup, its food selections, and its illusion of grandeur — meets bowling, and by ‘bowling’, I mean not the college-student-union-yeah-we’re-bored-let’s-go-bowling-it’s-only-$2-because-we’re-students variety of bowling, but more along the lines of AMF’s pricey-premium “300” brand.

Even in the US, Round One’s got a couple of Japanese touches here and there. Crane games and purikura line the arcade; non-redemption games, if they’re not in dedicated cabinets, reside in sit-down “candy” cabinets. They’ve got a couple of karaoke boxes; not the kind of karaoke where you sing your heart out to everyone in the audience, open-mic style, but the kind of karaoke where you and a group of friends gather around a screen and sing your heart out in a private booth. A person experienced in the nuances of Asian graphic design would be able to tell you the company isn’t American just by looking at the poster advertising their VIP pricing structure.

The presence of Round One came to the Bemani community’s attention when it was revealed that they were in possession of not only the US redemption version of pop’n music, but also fully-equipped GuitarFreaks and DrumMania XG cabinets — the first reported on the entire continent, with English translations of everything in-game excluding the song titles. I’ve been told that these cabinets are permanent.

This is a Big Deal, for six reasons:

  1. Konami has trusted Round One with location tests before — ones that personally come to mind are pop’n location tests at their (if I’m not mistaken) now-closed Umeda shop;
  2. This supposed altered version of GFdm XG is trying to tailor itself to a Western audience, as not only has it been translated (this only happens in special situations like location tests), its default songlist starts with the Western songs they have available;
  3. The last permanent location test for Bemani here in the US was beatmaniaIIDX 14 GOLD, offered by Tokyo Game Action before weather drowned it beyond repair;
  4. As mentioned before, this is the first GFdm XG setup available in the US — GFdm XG, being the newest version of the game, is very hard to acquire outside of Asia;
  5. Round One is another attempt at reviving the arcade scene by means of taking it seriously, bringing exclusive games that, for the most part, are not available on consoles;
  6. The struggling but famous Arcade Infinity is a five-minute drive away from Round One.

I’m in love with the first four points, with one caveat. Round One makes it seem as though Konami is okay with the importing of their machines, even going so far as to allow for permanent location tests of software (albeit modified) at a brand-new location. The potential problem is that if Round One’s tests (and potential expansion?) prove successful, the only way to play official releases of Bemani games (or, perhaps, even Konami arcade games in general) could solely be through Round One locations – giving them an edge that other arcades could not easily replicate.

However, in the case of points 5 and 6, Round One’s new presence can be a good or bad thing. The ideal thing that can happen is that the two businesses can live in harmony and help the Southern California arcade scene grow, but the more likely scenario is that, now that Round One is in direct competition versus AI, that AI is more likely to close its doors — and perhaps sooner! — as mentioned in the article linked above. Not only do Round One’s machines overlap somewhat with AI, especially in the case of the presence of data card-dependent racing games like Initial D and Maximum Tune, but Round One is arguably placed better (a mall setting definitely has its pros and cons!), does not completely rely on its arcade business in order to turn a profit, and has the financial backing that comes from being a branch, a part of a bigger company.

That’s kinda scary — of all the places Round One could’ve picked (the San Gabriel Valley Tribune notes in the aforementioned article that executives did take a look at several spots), it had to be within easily drivable range of Arcade Infinity.

Of course, it’s too early to tell how Round One and AI will do, but it’s definitely something to think about. It’s certainly something I’ll think about the next time I take a trip down to SoCal — I want to support and keep both ventures alive, and I wonder whether that’s possible.

On a brighter note, I’m working on a Technika gathering sometime in January, when it’s the most convenient for college students like myself to take a break without fear of failing grades breathing down our backs. The idea is that, at the very least, NorCal goes down to invade SoCal and we’ll have a Technika gathering, if not a full-on tourney or something, on what should be Technika 2 cabinets by that point. It’s sounding more and more hype the more I think about it, so hopefully that’ll come to pass.

Is A Manabi Blu-Ray Set Happening?!

2010 August 30

And at the tail-end of Manabi’s bassuday, @cowboybibimbop tweeted: “If the Manabi Straight Blu-ray rumours turn out to be true, doushio…”

That’s certainly the first I’ve heard of it, so I figured I’d FANBOY obsess investigate. A quick Google search popped up this thread, which linked to this blog post, roughly translated below.

739 Name: Anonymous@My Belly Is Full. [sage] Date: 2010/08/17 (T) 23:13:55
somehow, the topic came up on NHK radio.
ufo president called it his masterpiece
there was also talk of a BD release
anyone who listened in, details please

741 Name: Anonymous@My Belly Is Full. [sage] Date: 2010/08/19 (Th) 01:42:08
Q: Are there plans for a Manabi Straight sequel?

There was a time when we talked about that
but really, producing it, we’d ended in a very clean way
I think producing a sequel would be out of the question
As for a BD release, we did make HD episodes, I’d like to see it happen someday

742 Name: Anonymous@My Belly Is Full. [sage] Date: 2010/08/19 (Th) 11:43:35
saying it that way just makes me expect it to happen idiot

743 Name: Anonymous@My Belly Is Full. [sage] Date: 2010/08/19 (Th) 22:42:46

760 Name: Anonymous@My Belly Is Full. [sage] Date: 2010/08/27 (F) 00:31:36

The Rakkyo* BD happened so I expect Manabi too, ufo-san

A BD release would definitely be a victory forall of us

* “Rakkyo” = Kara no Kyoukai.

Of course, I’m crossing my fingers. I mean, do you know how hard it is to type a post with fingers crossed? It’s certainly harder than doing other mundane things like pouring myself a glass of juice or munching on a bag of potato chips…I’d ask you, dear readers, to do it, but I wouldn’t want to burden you.

Unless you’ve gotten used to crossing your fingers ever since you’ve dreamed of an R1 release that all of the above is a piece of cake, of course. In the meantime, as an alternative, I suggest rewatching the series (again!!) and reliving it like it’s 2007 like I’ve mentioned I’ve been doing for too long…

I Tweet All My Potential Blog Posts Away, So Here’s More Manabi

2010 August 30

Here in America, a cycle repeats: a new school year is starting, and the hopes of millions of students ride on the wind in pursuit of their dreams, myself among them. In the meantime, before I bury myself in trying to become The World’s Next Great Addition To Anyone’s Japanese-to-English Localization/Translation Team (who am I kidding – I’m taking Japanese 1A again despite having cleared 3-kyu because I have reason to believe that even though I might know a handful of words and I can listen and read a bit, my ability to form sentences with proper grammar seems not to exist), here I am, obsessing, once again, over Manabi Straight instead of writing real blog posts!

It’s true. I’m too lazy to develop my tweet thought process into full blog posts, so they stay on Twitter as chains of three or four or nine tweets-in-a-row. Apparently, though, I’m down for taking pictures of, cutting, pasting, and translating choice panels of the third Manabi manga tankoubon in order to pay even more homage than I already do.

I’ve at least got an excuse just for today: it’s sorta Manabi’s birthday.

I’m not hardcore enough to separate the pages of my precious bound volume* in order to bring you this fine piclation, but the point stands: I think a bit too much about Manabi. Maybe I should consider actually watching more anime than just Amagami SS (a horribly enjoyable show) this season. Or any other season, natch. Maybe I should get back into K-ON!! in anticipation of that one Sega music game that’s coming out.

For the time being, though — happy birthday, Manami Amamiya, and, as always, まっすぐゴー‼

* That said, if there are raw scans of the Manabi manga floating around on the Internet and OpenManga can support a potential translation of it, I am absolutely down for translating it!!

Seasonal Temperatures

2010 July 29
by Spiritsnare

(data pulled from The Weather Channel on 7-29-10)

This summer, I haven’t had to break out my window fan setup too much, and this is why. I love it.

Taiko “Plus” Something Else

2010 July 7
by Spiritsnare

Remember the iPhone/iPod touch/iPad Taiko no Tatsujin Plus?  Now it’s actually got something added to it in the form of a collaboration with infamous Kanagawa hiphopping group Rip Slyme.

In addition to that, several DLC packs beyond the first three have been released, all at Y600 apiece —

  • RS Pack: Taiyou to Bikini / Funkastic / Joint / Rakuen Baby / Speed King
  • Kids’ Songs Pack 1: Omocha no Cha-Cha-Cha / Detective Conan Main Theme / Yuuki 100% / Ningentte Ii na / Mori no Kuma-san
  • Popular Songs Pack 3: Ai Uta / Yume wo Kanaete Doraemon / Lum no Love Song / Linda Linda / Love Story wa Totsuzen ni

There used to be a J-Pop Pack (Kibun Jou Jou↑↑ / Train-Train / Daite Senorita / Age♂Age♂Every☆Knight / Sunao ni Naretara), but supposedly due to licensing issues, they had to pull it off the App Store shelves momentarily.

I’ve currently got just the RS pack for now — the cuts are alright (especially given Funkastic and how I’m used to listening to the long version all the time thanks to Neil Cicierega), the charts are pretty difficult, and the new free song (via an update that also adds Auto Mode by tapping on the nameplate) is icing on the cake.

Now, how about them boss songs, huh? Fun fact: when I was reading the reviews, two out of every three reviews gave iTaiko a low score either because the song packs were too expensive or there needed to be 2000-series songs added; the latter was more common. I want them, too!

Either that or a 500-yen pack consisting of only Wonder Momoi. I’d buy it.

The Results Are In

2010 June 27
by Spiritsnare

Spoilers for the second season of Ookiku Furikabutte beyond the cut.

read more…

Junbi Kaishi

2010 June 25
by Spiritsnare

Speaking of Anime Expo, I figure now would be a good time to figure out what I should actually be doing while I’m down in LA. I’m arriving on Friday (mostly because work’s keeping me on Thursday and I totally was oblivious of the fact that it was a Thursday-through-Sunday con — I’m used to this thing called Fanime, yaknaamean?).

Here’s my schedule, as it stands right now:

Friday, July 2, 2010

12:00 PMish: Arrive at the LACC.
3:00 PM: Danny Choo panel. (I’m familiar with Danny, but it’s more like his panel comes right before a panel featuring…)
4:30-7:30 PM: Horie Yui panel and signing ♥
10:30 PM: Hardcore Synergy (AX Edition)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

10:00 AM-1:30 PM: Toradora! US Debut / Kitamura Eri and Horie Yui signing ♥
6:00-8:00 PM: Nihongo de OK
8:30-9:30 PM: Shira Oka panel

Sunday, July 4, 2010

9:00 AM: Danny Choo panel (Black★Rock Shooter unveiling!)
10:00 AM: General Guest of Honor autograph session (feat. Horie Yui, of course)
3:00 PM: Return back to NorCal.

“But Spiritsnare,” you might ask, “What about the gaps inbetween events, like 12~3 on Friday and 1:30~6 on Saturday? I think I did mention MangaGamer and how many guests they have and how none of their events seem to have a schedule yet. So those blocks are basically currently devoted to lunch, the Exhibit Hall in general, and whatever events from MangaGamer pique my interest.

To people I already know (you know who you are ♥), and to people I haven’t met up with in a while (SoCal peeps, holla!), and to people I’ll be seeing for the first time (Mid-Atlantic Technika “Shoreline Crew” and a couple of bloggers), I look forward to seeing you!!

Twelve Days of MangaGamer at AX

2010 June 25
by Spiritsnare

Here’s a carol dedicated to the guests that are making it over to Anime Expo, courtesy of MangaGamer. (Because if I made a carol about guests in general, I’d get stuck on Horie Yui and never be able to stop massugu go massugu go massugu go massugu go. Start singing after the break. Oh, and some of these links aren’t work-safe (this is sorta a carol about MangaGamer, who publishes eroge). You’ve been warned.

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Yuno no Eigo

2010 June 23
by Spiritsnare

Something that caught my eye on a repeat watching of Hidamari Sketch x☆☆☆…Yuno wasn’t supposed to ace that test.


2010 June 19

A more proper FanimeCon postmortem for this year, unlike last time, where I just went all drftgy and failed to elaborate any further. On the flip side, most of this is Momoi-related (you’ll see why), so it’ll be like an extended version of my drftgy post with actual backstory. Anyway, here we go!

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