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Idol Mahjong Final Romance 4 : Romancing the Pai

March 26, 2017

So, this is a weird but ultimately very fun bit of Saturn history.

Most console mahjong games – and, by the way, I learned today that Wikipedia has an entire category page for “dasui mahjong”, or “strip mahjong” games – are pretty straightforward affairs where you either pick an opponent, or a character to play as, and then get matched up against a series of opponents to play mahjong until the clothes start flying.  Home console releases after a certain point (September 1996 or so, I believe) weren’t allowed to show any actual nudity, not that it was ever terribly explicit before that point.

Idol Mahjong Final Romance 4, coming back to the subject of this post, was a fairly late  release, so the flying clothes stop at the bra-and-knickers level.

It’s also a little funky in its presentation, because it has a little bit of an RPG overworld to it, with item shops and an inn and everything:

And an ADORABLE innkeeper:

So there’s two parts to the game, really.  The first is wandering around town looking for houses that pop up a big “GIRL” word bubble letting you know that there’s a mahjong opponent in residence, or spending your hard-earned currency on items from the various item shops etc, and the second is playing mahjong against said opponents until you have defeated five of them.  The story, as much as there is, is that you are looking for contestants to participate in the “Miss Final Romance” beauty pageant.

There are 11 opponents in total, by the way, and all of them are listed in the manual along with their ages, 3 sizes, hobbies, favorite foods and what they’re looking for in a man.  There’s also at least one secret opponent who appears to be a penguin.  There’s not a lot of information on this game on the web (and almost zero in English) so I don’t know how you unlock the secret opponent.

Anyway, once you’ve defeated five opponents, you’re taken to the pageant proper, which is just a screen that allows you to crown one of them:

I chose to put the crown on Kana, who was a catgirl who had been living in a vacant lot until I gave her her big break at stardom via the Miss Final Romance pageant.


Anyway, Kana’s big wish was to get to go to a human school (and presumably move out of the vacant lot), so wish fulfilled:

…and let’s roll credits!

Anyway, most of the opponents I stumbled on to in my playthrough were on the easy side – they’re all ranked in the manual from 1 to 5 stars, and I just happened to stumble on to 1 and 2 star opponents – so it didn’t really present a huge challenge.  You DO need to manually tsumo though, it will not help you there.

It took less than an hour to gather up my five potential contestants, judge them on their merits and send Kana on her way to her first day of school, but presumably every character has their own secret desire for you to sort out for them so there’s quite a bit of replay potential if you want to see all the endings.

“Idol Mahjong Final Romance 2”, which I played back in February, was about as bog-standard of a mahjong game as you’ll get from the Saturn, with very little to recommend it over games with higher production values like the Suchie-Pai series or the Super Real Mahjong games.  This entry in the series, however, really knocks it out of the metaphorical park and I give it one of my highest recommendations if you’re uh, a mahjong fan who likes old Saturn games and uh well ANYWAY I liked it.



March 25, 2017

I’m feeling particularly slack today and my desk is almost clean. Time for an easy post.

Mind you, it’s clean because I decided to finally get down to business and wrangle the nests of cables underneath into submission, a process which involved TWO trips to Home Depot and a lot of looking sagely at the mess and saying “hmmmm.”

You’ll note that there are no pictures of what the cables look like after spending three hours on this.  It’s not pretty. At least everything’s off the floor except for the cables to two powerstrips, so I have that small victory.

I have a long desk, it’s two IKEA tabletops shoved together and held up with more IKEA legs and then there are some IKEA shelves and um.  Someday I will be an adult and have furniture that didn’t come in a flat pack.  Someday.

“Play” desk: PC, PS4, PS3 all hooked up to a 28″ 4K monitor.  Wonderfully clacky $30 mechanical keyboard which drives my wife mad.  Shelves of backlog.

“Work” desk: iMac, Surface 3, other stuff that needs to charge over here.

“Work” is a highly questionable description but I’m going to pretend it applies.

I actually feel pretty good with the state of the top of the desk, even if I don’t want to look underneath right now.  It was buried in papers and junk yesterday and now it’s (comparatively) vacant of stuff and rife with possibilities.

Or the cats will sleep on it and complain that there isn’t enough stuff to push off the edges.  That I think I can count on.


I got gud

March 20, 2017

(Well, for certain values of “gud”, anyway.)

A few months back, the Bloodborne “Old Hunters” DLC went on sale on PSN, so I finally bought it.  Naturally, this meant that I had to go back to the original game and go through all of the stuff in the “post-endgame, but pre-expansion” bucket before I could start on the expansion.

That’s done now.  Onward to glorious and frequent death!


On Marketing Freebies

March 14, 2017

Checked my email this morning and got a pleasant surprise from the Fine People in Sony’s marketing branch:

I’d heard they sent these out for getting platinum trophies in some games, but this is the first time I’ve received one.  Mind you, I have only bothered collecting platinums in a handful of games and I suspect they limit these to titles that have actually sold more than ten copies.

Still, it’s a neat touch, and the theme (Hatsune Miku: Future Tone preorder theme) I had been using WAS getting a little old, so good timing there Sony.

I Just Played 52 Hours of Horizon: Zero Dawn

March 13, 2017

It was OK.



OK, let’s not beat around the bush.  It was pretty stunning, especially because I’m looking at what Guerrilla Games has done in the past and it’s not much more than a bunch of 7-to-10-hour-long linear manshooting games.  How they went from that to THIS is just crazy.

It took me a while to “get” open-world games – the whole business of having a main story quest HERE, and a bunch of side quests over HERE, and the freedom to more or less completely ignore the main story in favor of mucking about with the other stuff.  I didn’t really understand them until Skyrim, and then I lost a couple hundred hours to running around in it so maybe they’re not the most healthy things for me.

They’re probably better for me than MMOs anyway.

So, there’s been enough of a media blitz around H:ZD that I don’t think I need to say too much about it.  You have a bow and arrow and hunt giant robot dinosaurs in a distant, post-apocalyptic future.  There’s an ancient mystery to uncover and a current-day political intrigue plot that you wind up in the middle of, and the two fit together pretty well.

I only have a couple of things to say about it, because I admit that I was very curious as to whether they’d ever be addressed:

1) Yes, the game has kind of a weird name, but it IS explained in the course of the story.  It takes a while.  Actually the story in general doesn’t really kick in to gear for quite a while, but when it does kick in it’s, like, woah.  Woah.  WOAH.  I am having trouble articulating precisely how much woah there is, but it’s a lot of woah.

2) Yes, the robot dinosaurs have a reason for existing that isn’t just “hey, hunting robot dinosaurs would be cool, we should put them in a game.”

It’s also pretty easy to get one of these for your PSN trophy wall if you like hunting cheevos:

Seriously, the game has a huge number of random text logs and audio files and random videos to pick up, but getting the platinum does NOT require you to hunt them down.  It also doesn’t make you play the game on any super-hard difficulty settings or do things in just the right order to avoid missing trophies.  Really, just running around the world exploring had me having so many of the requirements checked off ALREADY that it barely felt like a chore to get the rest of them knocked out.


If you want to hunt giant robot T-rexes with a bow and arrow, and look damned good doing it, I cannot recommend this game highly enough – and if this does NOT sound like something that would interest you, I recommend checking whether you yourself might be a robot, because GIANT ROBOT T-REXES.

I do have the following dilemma now, however:  This came out a week before NieR: Automata, and I should be seriously keyed up to play that now, but  I’m not sure I can jump right into another big open-world game.  Maybe I should knock out a couple of trashy mahjong games or HOPAs first, something to give me a break from obsessively chasing map icons.

On Backwards Compatibility 

March 5, 2017

As a person with poor impulse control and a love of shiny things, I usually wind up owning every games console from a given time span, often a couple of them because of hardware revisions or the like. It’s expensive and more than a little indulgent, but I’ve always been able to justify it with one game or another.

This time around, I didn’t do that.

When the PS4 and Xbox One were announced, I actually pre-ordered both systems, waffled about it for a couple of months, and cancelled the more expensive of the two (the Xbox One, in this case).

A little over three years later, this seems to have been a good idea. Both consoles pretty much get the same games, with a handful of exceptions, so you’re not missing out on too much by having one over the other, and it happens that the few games that have wound up in the PS4-only bucket are ones that are more to my taste. I was a little sad about missing out on Halo 5, but I understand that the story has taken a weird turn where Cortana is a genocidal murder bot now or something, and I think I can skip that.

All of this comes up because I had a friend visiting over the weekend, and I planned to show him one of the Souls games and try to get him hooked. Unlike me, he’s not insane enough to keep every console ever built around, so this was a bit of a challenge. If he’d had a PS4, this would have been an impossible plan, because you can’t play either of the starter (Demon’s or the first Dark Souls) games on a PS4. I played all three of the Souls trilogy games on PC, but that’s not an option for him either.

He just happens to have an Xbox One, however, and Microsoft has put a little bit of effort into maintaining compatibility with their older hardware, so starting with Dark Souls is actually an option. I booted that up (The PC version, mind) and handed him a controller, upon which he made it through the tutorial, got to Firelink Shrine, and almost immediately stumbled into a secret area that I had somehow never found, which was kind of neat.

So 10 points to House Nadella, then. Another 10 points because looking at the backwards compatibility list reveals that Microsoft has added both Omega Five AND Triggerheart Exelica to the list, and those are two of my favorite 2D shmups on any system ever.

I still don’t NEED an Xbox One – I have two 360s sitting in a box that could be hooked up again at any moment should I get the urge to revisit old favorites – but if you skipped the 360 half of the PS3/360 years, it definitely gives a little more reason to put one under your TV.

Ten Years Blog

March 3, 2017

10 YEARS AFTER 10年後の
あなたを みつめていたい
きっとそばで 微笑んでいたい

I’m not great at remembering to put up anniversary posts.  It seemed like I should probably remember this anniversary, though, since it’s been a decade of talking about random video games, weird food, and the myriad and sundry ways I avoid coming to terms with being an adult.

So, anyway, in 10 years I’ve put up a little over 1200 posts and had 260K visitors.  A heavy day sees a hundred visitors, which is pretty good considering this is mostly a diary for me to look back at later so I remember what I was doing at any given time.  If you’re one of those, hi! I hope you find something here to interest you.

On personal milestones, I’ve graduated college, gone to Japan 4 or 5 times, China once and the UK once, lost a ton of weight twice, gained it back twice (Can’t recommend that), moved twice and worked for four companies.  I picked up dual citizenship a few years back as well, which is really only useful (so far) for letting me confuse people when they ask me for ID and I hand them a foreign passport.  I’ve also finished nearly 500 games and completely sworn off MMOs no really this is the last time I’m done no take-backs at least a half dozen times, though the months I’ve lost to Everquest, Tera, Scarlet Blade, EQ2, FFXIV, DAoC and WoW do somewhat put the lie to how much I meant by it.

I converted our shelves and shelves (and shelves and shelves) of laserdiscs, videotapes, DVDs and Blu-rays into handy digital files, and shifted heavily from physical books to eBooks, two things which should make moving – should we ever move again – a MUCH easier experience, since we’ll just be moving two four-bay Drobos instead of thousands of individual pieces of media.  Sadly, every attempt I’ve made at talking one company or another into relocating me to Tokyo has been an abject failure, so odds of that seem slimmer and slimmer every day.

It’s been a heck of an interesting decade for technology.  I started this blog about four months before the first iPhone hit shelves, and if you go back far enough you will find me making disparaging comments about the notion that I would EVER be caught dead carrying around an easily-damaged six hundred dollar phone.

I’m currently carrying around an easily-damaged nine hundred dollar phone, so that wasn’t the BEST prediction I ever made.

Frequently I use it to look at funny pictures of cats.

Moreover, as a comics nerd and Japan fanboy, the number of companies falling over backwards to cater to my every whim and taste have exploded in the last decade.  I still make fairly regular trips across the Pacific, to be sure, but nowadays it’s more to look at cool places and surround myself in neon lights and much less to go on shopping binges in Akiba.  I may occasionally rant about modern fanboys not knowing the Real Struggle, but I find it harder and harder to do with a straight face.  It’s just been an amazing decade to be a nerd.

So, I guess I should probably try to stay alive another decade or so and see where we’re at then.  With any luck, our robot overlords will be merciful, or at least I hope the neural control implants won’t sting too much when they go in.