Hey, I remembered my anniversary! One of these days, I’ll even have something cool to say on it.
My wife and I have been watching a ton of anime together recently. She’s been going through the streaming options on Crunchyroll and Netflix and finding new series for us to watch, and her recommendations have thus far been spot on, even when they’re weird series about anthropomorphic personifications of subway stations delivering life advice to troubled women.
Yes. That is an actual thing. More about that later maybe.
Anyway, one of the series she’s found for us is Sword Art Online, a series which I’d heard of but had been a little reluctant to try out. Sometimes I will admit that I deliberately avoid popular things, and sometimes – as in this case – I am forced to admit that thing can be popular because they’re actually quite good.
On the other hand, it’s a dangerous series to watch for a guy who’s trying to stay off MMOs, because it really makes me want to find a new one to play. Fortunately, I’ve been able to mostly squelch the urge, because it’s making me want to play something with an anime art style and almost all of those have male character designs that look like they aren’t shaving yet. I’d play an insanely cute girl character instead – there is no shortage of those – but then I’m left with the question of why I’m not just playing more Tera and getting my bunnyzerker on.
Even more fortunately, season TWO of Sword Art Online casts aside the fantasy MMO genre in favor of a fictional online shooting mans game, and having a urge to play one of those is a lot less risky than falling back down the MMO rabbit hole.
What I’m leading up to here is, I decided to try Titanfall, the game that was supposed to be the Killer App for Xbone sales and which kind of failed to set the world on fire. It did have 500 people online tonight, which is plenty to actually get into matches but probably not what EA was hoping for when they sank the development cash into it.
It’s not like me to buy a game that’s exclusively multiplayer, but this was a case where I wasn’t taking a risk in doing so. I was able to download it from Origin to play free for 48 hours, and buying the game proper was only $5.99 on Amazon.
I have had value meals from Carl’s Jr that cost more.
Anyway, I played for a couple of hours tonight and definitely got six bucks worth of fun out of it. I’m obviously still just a bullet sponge for people who actually know how to play, but every match ends with me filling up bars, and sometimes the bars fill completely and make exciting “you filled a bar!” sounds and then they’re empty again but I know that all I need to do is play some more and they will fill again and I will hear the exciting bar filled sound again.
Oh and the shooting mans and robots is fun too, between the bar filling screens.
So, well, if you like filling bars and shooting giant stompy robots and occasionally getting to stomp around in a giant robot yourself, this gives you a lot of that for the money. Recommended. :)
I may have sort of lied a little when I claimed to be completely done converting DVDs for our media server. It turned out that I’d set aside a box of concerts and music videos, and I had to go through those.
Putting them off until the last was a good decision, as an aside. I’d started working on them a few years ago and had no end of trouble figuring out how to split the DVDs into individual videos. Jump forward to present day, and my Handbrake-fu is advanced to the point where it’s second nature.
So those aren’t the most annoying DVDs ever.
Also in this box of shame, I had a couple of Region 2 DVD sets.
One of them was Lemon Angel, which is one of those curious footnotes in anime history. It was 50-odd 3-minute episodes, broadcast late at night, from the same studio that did the rather infamous naughty “Cream Lemon” OVA series. Lemon Angel was rather less naughty but still very shocking for the late 1980s.
These are also not the most annoying DVDs ever. I was having trouble finding episode titles, because the DVD set apparently leaves off a couple of episodes and shuffles some of the rest around, but that’s workable.
The other was Yadamon, an early 90s kids show with character designs by Suezen, best known in the US for his work on the Shining Force series, and notorious for going from hyper-cheery wacky adventures to gruesome deaths-by-impaling over the course of its 170 episodes.
THESE might be the most annoying DVDs ever.
Yadamon was broadcast as an obi (“belt”) show, with five 10-minute episodes a week. It was released as two DVD sets, both with 85 episodes. I bought both when the Yen exchange rate was unbalanced rather harshly in favor of the yen, and I will thank the reader to not inquire as to what they might have cost me.
The first set has episodes 1-20, 26-70, 81-90, and 106-115. The second set has 21-25, 71-80, 91-105 and 116 to 170. I am going to go absolutely bonkers trying to keep all these straight while tagging them, and with that many episodes I am almost guaranteed to mess up SOMEWHERE.
I’ve mentioned a few times here that I’ve spent roughly the last five years ripping all of our DVDs and other media to the server here at Casa Baud Attitude. It all gets stored on a Drobo and backed up to some random external drives.
Apart from being kind of slow, I haven’t had any real complaints about the Drobo – none, that is, until quite recently.
I’ve got four 3 TB drives in the thing. I lose the capacity of one drive to striping, so that’s 9 TB left. The inability of engineers and hard drive manufacturers to agree whether a terabyte is a power of 2 or a power of 10 means that the Drobo software reports that I have about 8.3TB of total space.
I’ve used a hair over 7 TB. If I open the Drobo dashboard, it cheerfully tells me that I have 1.14TB of free space.
That’s a lot of space by any reasonable measure.
HOWEVER, this is less than 15% of the total capacity, which means that there is now an annoying yellow warning light on the front of the dang thing and I get regular pop-up warnings alerting me to my low space issue.
Normally I would solve the first problem with a 2″ strip of electrical tape, and hang the consequences, if it weren’t for the fact that this is ALSO the light that will turn red should one of the drives start to fail.
And it wouldn’t stop the pop-ups, anyway.
I’m going to leave this post as a placeholder for now. If I come up with a solution, I’ll add it later.
The Oneechanbara series aren’t exactly art games. Really, they’re a raised middle finger in the direction of every well-meaning crusader, from Fredric Wertham to Tipper Gore to Jack Thompson, who has ever tried to SAVE THE CHILDREN from the evils of popular entertainment. They’re games that understand that sometimes you just need a healthy dose of violent stress relief and a black-and-white, good-vs-evil story to make you feel OK about it. Pretty much every entry has zombies roaming the streets because Evil Organization Secret Plot Thing is happening, and those zombies (and assorted bosses) need killing lest the Evil Organization take over the world, or something.
Of course, the only people who can kill the zombies and save the world just happen to be cute girls who have made very poor fashion decisions (Cowboy hat, feather boa, bikini and cowboy boots? A school uniform and bright red cestus?) and who tend to, well, bounce a lot.
Not that I am objecting, because I am firmly in the target audience of Everyone With A Y Chromosome Ever.
OneeChanbaraZ2 Chaos is the… sixth? entry in the main series. There have been a bunch of side games, mind you, so I’m not 100% on that, but I’m pretty sure I’ve done the math right. 2 on the PS2, which never came to the US, 1 Xbox360 games, 1 Wii game (With, I will say as an aside, some of my favorite motion controls ever), one game released first for the Xbox360 and then ported to the PS3 with an added character, and now a PS4 game which is pretty much a love letter to everyone who has ever followed the series since its VERY low-budget beginnings.
I wouldn’t exactly call it an AAA title – it still suffers from MASSIVE asset re-use, to the point of re-using several locations from the PS3 game, but it runs in 1080P and at least claims to run at a consistent 60FPS. It looks really good, even if it’s sometimes hard to see much of the actual game because the gore effects have covered the entire screen with a hazy red filter.
Without going too much into the history, the first four games had more-or-less the same cast. You had a cool-headed swordswoman named Aya and her more… impulsive little sister Saki, both of whom suffered from “cursed blood” which gave them superhuman powers. The fifth game swapped in another pair of sisters, who were vampires with all the associated blood sucking and strength etc but with no apparent issues with sunlight. To shake things up a bit, the elder vampire sister is the crazy one with the younger sister being the more thoughtful.
I say “more thoughtful” and must qualify that by pointing out that she runs around chopping up masses of the undead with a chainsaw.
Z2 puts all four of them together, and some of the character interactions are simply delightful, especially when the two pairs have to switch partners or when they are snarking at each other during cutscenes and level transitions. It also makes for a lot more variety in the series’ trademark tagging-in system, where you can switch between active characters at any time. The four characters all play quite differently and each have effective counters against different enemy types – for example, Saki is a brawler who tends to get overwhelmed by swarms of enemies but who can stun-lock and juggle single tougher creatures that slap the sword-using characters silly.
I have to take a moment here to thank whoever came up with the idea of making the most adorable character in the game also the toughest hand-to-hand fighter, because it is hilarious fun to watch a pixie-sized girl in a goth-loli outfit punch the stuffing out of a werewolf, cursing like a sailor the entire time.
Oh, and Annna (three Ns) from the first Xbox 360 game shows up again, though only as your helicopter pilot this time. I can’t say that’s a bad thing, I only have vague memories of playing through her campaign but I seem to remember that her using guns instead of melee weapons made a lot of it kind of trivial and occasional bits teeth-clenchingly frustrating.
None of the Oneechanbara games demand much Japanese knowledge. You miss a lot of the, oh, let’s just call it story for the sake of discussion, but you don’t miss any of the PLOT, if you know what I mean. They are super import-friendly, and with the yen as weak as it is now I think they’re likely cheaper than the average new release in the US.
That being said, if you’re averse to remembering that O is confirm and X is cancel, there is some good news. Oneechanbara Z: Kagura is actually rumored to be getting a localized version soon. There’s no word on Z2: Chaos, and I rather expect it’s going to depend entirely on how well Kagura does, but, well, fingers crossed and all that.
OK, despite my best efforts, I really can’t turn Disney’s “Tinker Bell” series into something dark and malicious.
I have tried, though. Oh, how I have tried.
For a studio afraid to name feature films after heroines, Disney sure does love to release fairy-themed entertainment, with five films and a TV special already released and a sixth film on the way – and, while “The Lost Treasure” was a bit of a sour note for the series, the rest have been genuinely fun to watch. We’re not exactly talking deep, layered dramas here, just films engineered to put you in a good mood through irrepressible earnestness and cheer. It doesn’t hurt, either, that they are generally gorgeous films. The first one, to be fair, betrays its direct-to-video nature, but the visuals ramp up fast and the most recent two look every bit like they belong on a bigger screen than your living-room TV.
Also, since these things are pretty much not aimed at the young boy market even in the least bit, there’s no effort put into adding stuff that young boys might like, which is good as young boys are pretty much terrible. I say this having been one, and having been terrible.
My only regret is that, while the films thus far are on Netflix, the one that comes out in March probably won’t be for some while and I’m going to be forced to make a hard choice between patience and pocketbook if I want to see it any time soon.
Tinker Bell’s latest invention triggers the fimbulvinter, the harsh winter that ends all life on earth and heralds the coming of Ragnarok. As the movie ends, the fairies celebrate in their new snowy wonderland.