Did I Mention I’m in Japan… Again?

Jeez, it’s been a while — too long in fact. A ton has been going on and I’m going to attempt to tackle it all right here in one massive post.

First thing’s first: yup, I’m back in Japan.  The picture above is of a derelict building very close to the share house where I’m staying in Shibuya.  I’m nearly surrounded by Love Hotels which are easily recognized by a “Stay” option (about 3 hours instead of a full night).  I’ve seen my fair share of couples, laughing and staggering through the streets near my place — it’s always good for a laugh.  I can only imagine what the value is of the property where this building sits (or more accurately: leans)…

If you’ve got good eyes, you may have noticed that this haikyo actually has a tenant!  Yup, a lazy orange cat:

orenji I snapped this pic right as he decided to scratch the heck out of his neck.

But enough about cats. That’s not why I’m here (or so I claim…)

Why I’m in Japan

It all started with some innocent vacation plans which blossomed into something a bit different.  I’ve been in talks with the gang at 8-4 for a few years now — always been a fan of their localizations and passion for the industry.  When we met up at this year’s E3, they told me if a project ever came down the line that fit my skills, we might be able to work together.  Wouldn’t you know it: a project materialized!  And so my vacation has become equal parts cavorting around Tokyo and freelancing.  I’m loving every minute of it.  As far as the project itself: I’m sworn to secrecy.

Podcasts!

Ah, yes.  So I was in the middle of two amazing gaming podcasts: My Fair Hunter and Asobee: Dark Souls.  I had every intention of having an episode for each show announcing a hiatus, as Sarah is still in the States.  My sincere apologies to any of you wondering what’s been going on, but coordinating this trip required my full attention and it all happened rather quickly.  As it stands, these podcasts are not defunct, but there is no firm date when they’ll start back up.

Other Podcasts!

That being said, Sarah and I recently appeared on Chic-Pixel Plus talking about our various projects we’ve been tackling together over the last few years.

Give it a listen for some insight into how we get shit done.  You’ll also learn a thing or two about our views on Monster Hunter, Vocaloid, and what we’ve been into for anime.

I also made an appearance on the most recent episode of 8-4 Play.  I talk a bit about how Sarah and I took turns clearing Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMIX as I prepared for my exodus.  We had hoped to make a podcast out of it (because we don’t have enough of those as it is), but the game ended up becoming a much needed stress reliever for us both.  Sarah took the helm when it came to Gummy Shipping (thank God), and together we went through the game, having the credits roll the day before I left.

Being on the 8-4 podcast was something else — they’re a much more professional operation than I’m used to.

Pictures!

What’s that?  You’re getting sick of my yammering and want to see some more photos?  So impatient…

Fine, let’s do this.

IMG_2789Taken from my seat in Washington DC waiting to depart for Tokyo.  It was snowing pretty heavily!

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Wouldn’t you know it: it snowed so much that our plane needed to be de-iced.  This dude sprayed the whole plane down with some steaming orange liquid which I hope was beet juice.

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One night I went out for drinks with John and Mark of 8-4 fame at Hatos Bar in Nakameguro.  This demanding poster was on the wall in the bathroom, so I snapped a pic. Is that weird?  Anyway, I learned it’s proof of backing a successfully funded Kickstarter.IMG_2811

A park near the 8-4 towers has this sign in which a pigeon is refusing food.  I’ve never met a pigeon that does this. ramen!My ramen obsession is well documented.  Here’s one more for the books.
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Another cat. How many of these did I take?IMG_2816

Some cute graffiti near the office.hachikoThe famous Hachiko statue is also right near where I’m living.  If you don’t know the story about this faithful Akita, give it a read.
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A bento I ate the other day.  The veggies in it were out of this world.IMG_2821

You again!  This cat has been greeting me some mornings with this gruff expression.

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I took a trip to Akihabara today.  Look at those trees!

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Some goods celebrating the Persona 3 movie.
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…and a Persona 3 Colab Cafe.  Gonna have to eat here soon.

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Last cat picture; I swear.  For whatever reason a mommy cat and her kittens were sitting (or intentionally placed) on this map.  They attracted quite an audience!

Well, that should more or less bring you up to speed on what’s going on with the blog and my recent exploits.  Expect a higher frequency of posting from me, with a lot more from my travels in Japan.

Friday Link Roundup 11/9-11/15

feature-friday Every Friday I make a post containing links to interesting articles I have found throughout the week. If you already follow me on Twitter, then you will have probably seen most of the following links. Don’t forget to like the Kotowari Facebook page as well. Enjoy! feature-look

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Someone with too much money and time shot a .50 caliber rifle at a PS4. When will the ravages of this console war be enough for you people!

Long live the king.

A new PV for the live action version of Kiki’s Delivery Service.

Dark Souls 2 Network Test 4 Impressions

Last Saturday I stayed up until 5 AM taking part in the 4th Dark Souls 2 network test.  I recorded most of the gameplay and made a short highlight video which you can check out above.

So what’s changed?  Well, the biggest update I noticed concerns the humanity system.

In the original Dark Souls, one could clear the entirety of the game without ever reviving from a hollow.  This would prevent the player from summoning allies and being invaded — but it was possible.

Dark Souls 2 gives much more concrete incentive to revive: each time your character falls as a hollow, their maximum HP drops.  Reviving with a Human Effigy (the new consumable form of Humanity) is the only way to restore your maximum health.  What a great blend of the Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls systems!

Weapon performance seemed more realistic as well.

I stumbled across a Zweihander early on in my Network Test.  If you’ve never seen this weapon, it’s a sword that hits like a truck that is about the same size.  In swinging my Zweihander around, I quickly became aware of a bad habit I’ve developed: I take a step back before committing to a swing.  In Dark Souls this was my means of altering my distance from enemies at the last second.

In Dark Souls 2, instead of taking a slight backstep, my habit caused my character to turn around and swing in the opposite direction of my enemy!  This left my squishy posterior completely defenseless.  But it makes sense, I suppose.  With a weapon so large and heavy, it would require a solid footing to swing with any real force.  Either that or it’s a bug…  Overall it seemed like heavier weapons were harder to control while quicker weapons were easier to deflect, which makes sense.

Enemies were quite varied.

Early Dark Souls 2 info promised enemies with improved AI who could identify openings in the player’s defenses and strike accordingly.  Enemies did seem to do more damage and take more hits to go down, though I didn’t see much evidence of improved AI.  (Again, this isn’t the retail version of the game so I’m still optimistic)  What I did notice was a broad assortment of enemies, including speedy rogues who attack in groups, dual sickle wielding giants, and red phantoms equipped with different weaponry.  This had me frequently adjusting my strategies and gave me a lot to learn as a new tester.


The Dark Souls 2 Network Test left me not only exhausted, but wanting to see and experience more.  It’s too early to say if the game will leave the same impact on me as its predecessor, but given the few tweaks I’ve seen, I can say I’m hopeful Dark Souls 2 will be one of the last greats of this generation.

Asobee: Dark Souls – Episode 04

In episode 4 we take our viewer’s awful advice and face off against the Bridge Wyvern.  After having our charred remains battered around enough times we dive deeper into the Undead Burg and make our way back to Darkroot Basin.  Best of all we find some new armor and a sweet shield.

Asobee: Dark Souls – Episode 03

This week we push forward into the Undead Burg… that is until we come up between a rock and a hard place — a rock named Havel! Hah. He smashes us. A lot. WHAM. Just like that.

We also have a new dilemma for you guys to help us with! Should we: A.) Proceed beneath the Bridge Wyvern. B.) Face it head on or C.) Seek the key to the lower portion of Undead Burg? Let us know!

Here is a comic all about Havel the Rock trying to make it in this economy.