Bishoujo Senshi Final Fantasy!

This must be how that guy felt when he figured out that peanut butter and jelly together are aaaaaamaaaaaaaaazing! (As long as we’re talking jelly or jam. Marmalade is okay but not with peanut butter. And “apple butter” can just step right off.)

OK, listen: I like Sailor Moon. A lot. Probably more than your average American male. Sorry, not sorry. It’s awesome. It redefined magical girl anime until the release of the most depressing anime ever, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, in 2011. And, of course, with anything successful in anime comes heavy merchandising, so there were a series of video games released. Most were either beat-‘em-ups or fighters, but there was one role-playing game released for the Super Famicom that rivals some of the Final Fantasy games we had in America.

BSSM Another Story 1

For those who have played Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Another Story, you know that it’s a pretty solid RPG even though Americans still regard it as a cartoon for little girls. (You also know how to emulate and on behalf of Corporate Gaming I wag my finger at you.) For those who haven’t, you’re not alone – it wasn’t released outside of Japan. Fortunately for us, S’Moonies (yes, that’s a thing) took to cracking the language barrier, and the aforementioned, slightly-legal Another Story was available to intrepid English audiences.

 

Then this showed up on my Facebook timeline, and the world was a better place:

With the Sailor Moon reboot launching in June (finally!) maybe this isn’t too far off? Or at least another Sailor Moon RPG? I need validation, damnit!
Shout out to DeviantArtist AkiDead for the awesome pics! She’s got a lot of other great work on her DeviantArt page.

Game Developers Choice Awards picks the best of the year from studios big and small

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Accolades keep piling up for Sony’s The Last of Us, as our pick for 2013’s Best Game in the Whole Entire World finds itself sharing the top spot among the nominees for the 14th annual Game Developers Choice Awards, slated for Wednesday, March 19.

Held as part of the heralded Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, CA, the Naughty Dog smash hit has been named as a nominee in five categories, vying for the titles of Best Technology, Best Narrative, Best Design, Best Visual Art, and Game of the Year.

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Tearaway 1   Gone Home 1

But those who may think the awards will be dominated by the big money studios may want to think again; sharing top billing with The Last of Us is a PlayStation Vita title and an indie downloadable, as both Tearaway and Gone Home garnered five nominations a piece.

Indie games were not restricted to the shadows, as game developers big and small received accolades from their peers, culminating in the awards ceremony during the industry-only event in March. Titles receiving the honor of nomination in various categories include Galactic Cafe’s The Stanley Parable, Lucas Pope’s Papers, Please, and Starbreeze’s Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.

Also faring well in the nominations was Nintendo, much to the chagrin of doomsayers throughout the gamersphere, as both Super Mario 3D World and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds picked up multiple nominations.

The full list of nominees, along with winners from previous years, can be found on the event’s website, at http://www.gamechoiceawards.com/winners/index.html.

‘UnEpic’ journeys to Wii U eShop January 16

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Of late, Nintendo has been making a hard push for indie game developers to either develop titles for or adapt present games for the Wii U. EnjoyUp Games took Nintendo up on their offer, and their 2011 release UnEpic will see the light of day on the eighth-generation Nintendo console beginning January 16 via the Wii U eShop.

A loveletter to both tabletop gameplay culture and old-school “Metroidvania” games, UnEpic surrounds a modern-day gamer who finds himself teleported into a mysterious castle while taking a leak. (Because if there’s one activity prone to dangerous teleportation, it’s urinating.) Originally released for PC gaming in 2011, the indie title has received positive acclaim, though many warn that the game harkens to a time when titles didn’t hold your hand through soft-core “tutorial modes,” so expect lots of dying. Or, as we first-generation gamers like to say, suck it up, whiners.

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Sony announces ‘PlayStation Now’ streaming service at CES

PlayStation Now

Blockbuster Video and Hollywood Video used to be a dime a dozen in major cities across America. Then along came Netflix and sent both major chains packing. This week, video game retailers were introduced to a similar threat, thanks to Sony.

At this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Sony revealed their plans for a new game-streaming service to be launched for Sony platforms this summer. Dubbed “PlayStation Now,” the streaming service will send games from the PlayStation 3 library to both PS3s and PS4s, providing a workaround to the issue of backwards-compatibility. In addition to home consoles, Sony will integrate PS Now compatibility into 8 of the 9 models of their Bravia TV lineup in 2014.

The service looks to replicate Netflix’s model for movie streaming – provide a gameplaying experience in multiple locations as seamlessly as possible. Gamers spending many hours with Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us can take their game from their home console in the living room to their Bravia TV upstairs, or to a friend’s house on their home console; as the program expands, they can also take their game on the go with the PS Vita and a WiFi connection, and eventually to other internet-connected devices.

Sony is test running the service on the CES floor this week with the aforementioned The Last of Us, as well as Beyond: Two Souls, God of War: Ascension, and Puppeteer. Prices and titles have not yet been released, but Sony says they will offer a rent-by-title option and a subscription option. The company also says most PlayStation Network features will be available on PS Now, including Trophies and online multiplayer.

Sony will start a beta of the PlayStation Now service in late January.

New Year’s Resolution: Make and Meet Goals, Stop Making Resolutions

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As another year closes and the next kicks off, I think I speak for many people when I say:

2013, you can just get right the fuck on out of here.

2013 was not without its good moments (E3, GaymerX) but for the most part, the whole entire year was a festering pile of poop. So there are very few people more excited for the beginning of 2014 than I, and while 2013 was a year of licking my wounds, 2014 will see me back on the battlefield. It will be cautiously at first, but I feel that the karma banked up over 2013 (or at least the penance paid) will show dividends this year.

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As such, I’m trying something different. No New Year’s Resolutions, since we all know “New Year’s Resolution” is code for “I’ll do it for a few weeks til people stop paying attention.” This year I’m going to try New Year’s Goals, and here they are:

 

Be More Positive – I’m going to try to see more positive in things. Be happier. Smile more, rage less. Don’t get into arguments so often. However…

Be More Negative – I’m also going to not be afraid to call out bullsh*t and talk about negative experiences. I’m not going to be afraid to admit, I’m not having a good day. Or that something isn’t right and needs to be fixed. If I call out more negative BS, it forces it out in the middle of the arena and exposes it. That takes the power of the negative away, so I can laugh it off (Be More Positive) or deal with it. This also means no Upworthy, feel-good, “you gotta see this” bullsh*t. The positivity in my life will be real, genuine, strong, and that means no fake fuzzy-feels crap.

Be More – It’s been a long time since I’ve learned anything new, and I don’t like that. I plan on learning something new in 2014. Maybe a new language, sport, hobby, something that I can work towards.

Worlds Away – I have three goals for travel this year: LA in June for E3, Walt Disney World around September, and a weekend in Catalina at some point. My short day trip to Catalina a few years ago was so much fun, and it helps me destress. Plus, the added bonus of my friend Lisa, which always makes me smile.

Lighten Up – I’ve done a good job losing some weight over 2013, but it’s time to shed more. Whether that means getting back to the boxing gym or in a regular one, I do need to start working out again. BUT it will be on MY terms, no one else’s. I know people pushing me, whether it has good intent or not, tends to push me in the opposite direction, so when I’m good and ready is when I’ll start. But it will happen.

Cherish What You Already Have – And by that, I mean start getting through my video game Stack of Shame… haha!

Onward and Upward – As much as I love my writing gigs, it’s time to start making some good money off of it. My goal is to increase my content (in quantity and quality) and try to parlay that into serious (and hopefully full-time) money. In the meantime, my writing gigs (including GotGame!) will reap the fruits of my labors.

Write That Down – And speaking of writing, I plan on using this blog more often for various stuff. Also, I plan on starting my own Disney blog on 1/4/14 called Forever Mickey’s – a blog for the Young at Heart (“grown up” is such a nasty term!). I’ll have more details on that coming soon.

Home is Where the Art Is – I love my roommates, but it’s time to find my own place. By the end of 2014 I intend to find my own spot that I can call home. Where it’s at depends on the next part…

Take This Job… – I need to step up my job hunting efforts. My goal, starting next week, is a minimum of two applications submitted to good, quality jobs per week. Something’s gotta give, and I am ready to find it.

…and Shove It – And once I find it, make sure that 2014 is my last year in front line operations at a hotel!

 

Oh. I guess I do have a resolution too: Get more organized. It’s been a resolution for the past 15 years… one year it’ll stick, right?

Golf arrives as newest activity on ‘Wii Sports Club’

Golf

The gaming world was set abuzz by this morning’s Nintendo Direct which announced both Hyrule Warriors and Rosalina as a Super Smasher, among other news. Now, pairing perfectly with that news is that golf will join the lineup at the Wii Sports Club.

I know, I know. I’m excited too, just settle down.

Wii Sports Club – Golf launches today in the Nintendo Wii U eShop, and it features a bit of a different dynamic than the original. The Wii Remote will still be used to swing the golf club, but players can now place the Wii U Gamepad on the floor and be able to see the ball. Hitting the ball will cause the ball to fly off the surface and onto the TV screen.

Yeah, how ’bout that? Who’s king of the ring now? Mario Kart what??

Wii Sports Club – Golf joins Bowling and Tennis as digital downloads on the Wii U. Players can buy a day pass to all sports for $1.99 for 24 clock hours, or buy a club pass for one individual sport for $9.99 per sport.

Remembering a Queen

Normally when you see my name attached to an article, it’s probably about video games or the gaming world. Today, I would like to detour from the usual, if I may.

Often times, when I talk about video games, I am captivated by the worlds concocted by the game creators, from the gritty streets of 1940’s Hollywood in L.A. Noire, to the vast expanses of Hyrule in the various Zelda games, full of fantasy and magic. But today, I would not like to talk about a make-believe world; today I would like to talk about a real one. Our world. And while Hyrule may have had a princess, our world had a queen. A real-life, beautiful queen.

I would like to share with you, my readers, this beautiful queen.

Raylene1

Raylene holding me. I don’t know exactly when this picture was taken. It had to be in the early ’80s because that’s our old house in Pacoima, CA. As you can see, good genes run in the family. :)

Raylene Robinson would grace our world with her presence beginning several years ago on this day, the 17th of December. Some would say many years ago; some would say a mere handful. In the larger perspective of the cosmos, it was a mere sliver of time anyway. I hesitate to say just how old she was, because I full well know that if I do, someone may be able to deduce how old my mom is, and I would never ever hear the end of it.

Born to the Booths, she later married into the Evans family. Raylene was a young mom, as was her mother before her, as was her mother before her, as was my mother after all of them. In fact, while it certainly ranks low on the notable scale, my mother still has a photo clipped from the local paper of me as a fifth-generation baby – held by my mother, with my grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother looking on. Raylene would have two children, my mother and my uncle, who would go on to have five grandchildren, of which I was the oldest. She eventually would divorce from my grandfather, but later in life would be blessed to find a new prince in Troy Robinson, her smiling partner until the day she died. The two were inseparable.

 

This queen, Mrs. Robinson, never touted herself as royalty. She went out amongst the public all the time to support my sister’s softball, my cousins’ various sports, and my theatrical works. (Guess who was the odd child out in my family.) This carried over to the children in the extended Robinson family as well. If someone had an event, it wasn’t a matter of if she would be there to support them, it was simply when she would arrive.

Raylene2

Raylene with my uncle at his wedding, which I peg sometime in the mid-1970’s?

Raylene’s magic was equal to Princess Nadia’s in Chrono Trigger, but she never cast spells. She cast hugs and kisses, the lightest of which was guaranteed to make happy kids happier, make pouting kids calm, and make boo-boos disappear. She cast cookies and cakes, bound to replenish any child’s (or adult’s) HP to max, though we didn’t know that’s what was going on inside our bodies, for we knew little of science. She cast kindness, love, warmth, and wisdom, all of which sit with me today.

Queen Raylene was much slower to wrath than Princess Kitana of the Mortal Kombat series (and there were markedly fewer deaths than Kitana… like 0 versus 893,000 – approximately). She knew that you could catch more flies with honey than vinegar, and we all turned to her when our respective parents were angry with us. But she also wouldn’t take any guff; she had been in our parents’ positions before, and spoke to us with a tongue that emit so much love, we would never realize we were being scolded or disciplined.

In fact, her eternally-optimistic outlook on life wasn’t confined to just her family. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who met Raylene who would have anything bad to say. She had a kind word for everyone she met, and didn’t believe in letting the world get her down. Even after three heart attacks, and a long wait for a heart transplant, she never let her smile fade on her face or anyone else’s. “I’m not scared,” she would say. “We’ll get through this.”

Queen Raylene did get through it, and her new heart was more powerful than any Heart Container Princess Zelda could produce. Just one blessed her, and us, and the world, with ten more years of healthy, vibrant life. It was a zest reborn, nothing brand-new, and it was tangible. Raylene loved being outdoors and working in her yard with Troy, loved visiting my family when we camped on the shores of Ventura County, and simply loved. She loved and she loved and she loved.

And this queen was always much easier to find than Princess Peach. One of my favorite stories to tell about her involves this time of the year: Christmas time. In my family, Christmas is a three-day event – Christmas Eve, back then, was spent at my Uncle John’s house celebrating with my dad’s side of the family; Christmas Day was spent at my great-grandmother’s house on my mom’s side, and we would visit with my grandfather, my mom’s dad, the day after. As we made the drive back from the city of Orange in California to our house, my mom would always try to find a red light atop a skyscraper or antenna or something and say, “Look, Ryan, Santa’s making his rounds!” I was always so excited to hurry home and wake up the next day to see what Santa Claus had left me.

When we walked in the door on Christmas Eve, every year, there would be Raylene, lying on our couch, wrapped in a blanket, and she would wake up when she heard us come in. And she would look at me and say “Surprise!”

“Grandma, what are you doing here?” I would excitedly say.

“Santa dropped me off!” she would reply. “I hitched a ride on his sleigh!”

I was really little when this tradition started; of course I bought every ounce of it. And my Christmas Eve present was a big hug and kiss from her. And it’s something I cherish still to this day.

 

My grandma, Raylene, has only been gone from this mortal plane a little over five years. They say that time heals all wounds, but this isn’t so much of a wound as it is just a gap. I have memories and feelings and emotions that work the best they can to fill the gap, but nothing can close it permanently. When I go home to visit my parents every year for Christmas, I look at the tree on Christmas Eve. It sits in our living room, and in that living room is a couch and a loveseat. And every year I look at that couch and I pray that just one more time I’ll look and she’ll be wrapped there, in a blanket, open her eyes and go “Surprise!”

And I, at the curmudgeonly-old age of 32, will look over and exclaim, “Grandma! What are you doing here?” And she’ll look at me with her warm, loving eyes and say to me, “Santa dropped me off! I hitched a ride on his sleigh!” And I will believe every word of it. And my Christmas Eve present will be feeling her hug me and kiss me once more.

It’s a joy, a blessing, an experience I wish, I pray, more people could have had.

 

I miss you, Grandma. You will always be my queen in a world full of mere princesses. Thank you for raising my mom to be a queen herself, for constantly giving us grandchildren the royal treatment, and thank you for loving me then, and loving me from afar now. Your love is a blessing no game studio could ever recreate.

Need fuel for your nightmares? Bethesda releases new ‘Evil Within’ screenshots via Facebook

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HEADS UP: This is probably the most tame screenshot of the bunch. If you’re easily queasy, proceed with caution.

 

Remember The Evil Within? Last we heard of it was in September when Bethesda released a phenomenal yet pants-wetting second trailer at Tokyo Game Show as well as extended gameplay a couple of weeks later.

Today, like a recurring nightmare, Bethesda and Tango Gameworks have released new screenshots designed to heighten anticipation — and terror — from what lies within the walls of Detective Sebastian Castellanos’ captivity.

The game’s official Facebook page promises more gruesome screenshots tomorrow.

Calvin Harris, Swedish House Mafia, Lady Gaga featured in new DLC for ‘Just Dance 2014′

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For those of you who can’t get enough Just Dance 2014 (and as long as there are video game consoles and alcohol-fueled shenanigans, there’s always room for more Just Dance), Ubisoft announced today the release of seven new tracks for the boogie bonanza, including five new songs from today’s pop hits.

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The five new songs cost $2.99 each and include the track you’re hearing right now, “I Need Your Love” by Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding, as well as Swedish House Mafia’s “Don’t You Worry Child,” Mainstreet’s “My Main Girl,” and “Can’t Get Enough” by Becky G feat. Pitbull. And, in case you missed it on Just Dance 4, this little ditty came back:

 

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In addition, Just Dancers can pick up alternate choreography for “#thatPOWER” by will.i.am featuring the Beibs, as well as a routine featuring Lady Gaga’s official choreography for “Applause.” Both alternate tracks are available for $1.99 each. All seven routines are available for all seventh- and eighth-generation home consoles.

UK studio, crime novelist team up for ‘Bedlam’ project

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It’s no secret that many other forms of visual media gather inspiration from video games, with varying levels of success; as more and more video games come close to cinematic quality in visuals and storylines, gaming taking cues back from other media appears to be the new form of flattery as well. But a team of developers in the UK have taken an intriguing approach to this partnership by developing two independent projects in tandem. And while tie-in projects have been around almost as long as video games have, rarely do they involve a game and a novel.

RedBedlam Ltd., a development studio based out of the UK, has teamed with Scottish novelist Christopher Brookmyre, on the aptly-named Bedlam, the title of both Brookmyre’s upcoming novel and an original first-person shooter released on Steam. In the novel and game, both of which will be penned by Brookmyre, a regular everyman will find himself thrust into the world of video games, but not in a heroic aspect – his design makes him a common enemy. To escape his fate of being common “cannon fodder,” the protagonist will traverse various worlds ranging from an ’80s arcade platformer to the glossy immersive experiences of today, to find the answers to how he got there, how to get out… and who or what is behind the mysterious organization pursuing him known as Integrity.

“A lot of my writing has been inspired by video games and it has always been a big part of my life. When the guys at RedBedlam got in touch to see if I was interested in creating a game with them, I jumped at the chance and have since been consistently thrilled to see my own literary worlds visualized so accurately,” said Christopher Brookmyre, whose previous works include the critically-acclaimed Quite One Ugly Morning and All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses an Eye. “Bedlam is a tribute to gaming in all its forms and the part it has played in all our lives – as well as being a top quality FPS adventure in itself. I look forward to seeing more of these fantastic characters and worlds fully realized and I think people are going to really enjoy what we’ve put together.”

High praise travels both ways, with RedBedlam singing the praises of the Tartan Noir author, including RedBedlam’s marketing director and self-proclaimed Brookmyre fan Nick Witcher. “We’re hugely excited to be working with him on this unique project. With such a talented mind behind the invention of the game world and writing the game itself, it’s going to be a tremendous title that surfaces in 2014.”

Bedlam, the novel, will hit real and virtual bookstore shelves January 21, 2014; Bedlam, the game, will surface on Steam shortly thereafter in summer. Christopher Brookmyre’s other works can be found at his website, www.brookmyre.co.uk.