Metal Gear Online

It seems that patience is the name of the game when it comes to "Metal Gear." After finally getting my MGO Premiere Beta code, getting through the 700+MB file download and installation, I was greeted with an emergency trip to Paris. As I flew over the Atlantic Ocean, new things were brewing and under extenuating circumstances, the actual gameplay date was changed from Monday to Friday. Upon setting foot in my room Sunday night, April 27th, I had 2 updates waiting to be downloaded and installed and a lengthy registration process just around the corner. With my jet lagged self and anticipation at an all time high, I finally was able to play the game come Monday morning, and as expected it was worth the wait.

Once players have their Konami and Game ID, character creation is next on the list. Choose from four different head types, adjust the pitch and sound of your voice, then choose the gear, under nine different categories, you want your character to sport. Next up is skills, then finally you are on your way.

Players can enter "Training Mode" to get a feel for controls and practice your stealth moves. Players can also choose to enter a map and blast respawning targets. Automatching is another nice feature and ensures that a veteran isn't playing against a novice. The two maps, Blood Bath and Groznyj Grad, offer a diverse environment for letting loose on the battlefield. While Blood Bath is a tightly contained area with underground hallways and paths, Groznyj Grad looks more like a miltary base set up that MGS3 fans would expect. And of course, Groznyj Grad is the home of the Man Cannons, which allow a soldier to be catapulted clear across a large area and onto unsuspecting enemies.

Though the game isn't without faults (like match types), it is impressive nonetheless. Konami should have plenty of feedback during this 2-week period to create a flawless gameplay experience.


Soul Eater Figure

Having just reviewed the first episode of "Soul Eater" a couple of days ago, I thought it appropriate to bring up this upcoming figure featuring our two main characters Makka and Soul. This striking figure is due out this July and is retailed at about 8,000 yen.


MGS4 Trailer Number 1,000,000

Let the deciphering continue, let the forums flood with new revelations, and let the analysis recommence. Kojima strikes again doing what only he knows best. The newest MGS4 trailer is anything but short of Kojima's true cunning and intellect. Rather than provide my own analysis, I leave any bias aside, and give the floor to you (Don't do it Snake! Don't do it). Enjoy...


GH + RB Compatible Guitars

When the hit sensations known as "Guitar Hero 3" and "Rock Band" hit the streets, an immediate lack of additional wireless guitars for 2-player action was apparent. Third-party guitars slowly surfaced but for the many gamers that own both GHIII and RB, a guitar solution on compatibility was no where to be seen. It was obvious that Red Octane and MTV didn't want to play nice. So gamers are left with 4 alternatives: wait patiently till a decently-priced and compatible guitar is released, utilize your expert mod skills and attempt to solve the problem yourself, end up buying more guitars than you really need (or even needed to spend), or sulk in the corner and play solo. Well this may be premature to state on my part, but relief may finally be coming.

Option #1: Nyko Frontman for the PS3 (Is compatible with GHIII and RB; is only 10 dollars cheaper than Red Octane's guitar; has a similar feel to GHIII guitar)

Option #2: The Ant Commandos Widow Maker for the PS2 and PS3 (is compatible with GH I, II, and III and RB; shipping late April, early May; also 10 dollars cheaper)


Miyavi Rock Tour 2008

Miyavi announces a new tour to hit the West Coast. I can personally say, having seen Miyavi perform live before, this tour is sure to be electrifying truly spectacular. Miyavi exudes innovation and we can all expect no less than perfection.

THIS IZ THE JAPANESE KABUKI ROCK TOUR 2008 will hit the following venues:

May 14, 2008
House of Blues - Anaheim, CA

May 16, 2008
Avalon - Hollywood, CA

May 18, 2008 (SOLD OUT!!!)
Slim's - San Francisco, CA

On a separate, but related note, Versailles will be playing at A-kon on May 30, 2008 and at The Knitting Factory in Los Angeles, CA on June 3.

Dammit people, you know CA and the rest of the west coast is not the only place where devoted J-rock fans are...


Nabari no Ou

"Nabari no O" follows a young boy, Rokujou Miharu, who has a hijutsu (a hidden technique) living inside of him. Incidentally, many ninja clans are seeking this hijutsu for whosoever possesses it becomes the ruler of the ninja world. Though reluctant at first, Miharu joins a Nindou Club (Way of the Ninja) with fellow classmate Kouichi and teacher Kumohira, both secret ninjas. Waves of ninja attacks in order to obtain this hijutsu are sure to follow.

"Nabari no O" is not your deep, dark serious ninja series. Blending comedic elements, the series is more in the lines of "Naruto" (though only in minute respects) or at least a lot like "Jubei-Chan: The Ninja Girl." The variety of character personalities, thus far, are also by the book -- Miharu, the sullen student and hero, Kouichi, the cheerful classmate, Kumohira, the "smitten" teacher, and Raimei , the outspoken, determined, and in-your-face young girl. Background animation is especially noteworthy. The background is reminiscent of a picture book. It is quite beautiful, but I am still unsure if it is the appropriate approach for this specific title.

Though "Nabari no O" is a bit clichéd (why must the main character always seems to have the seat by the window in class??) and at some points feels a bit Yaoi, it does show some promise and is wittingly sarcastic. Two episodes in, it's hard to tell if this series will gain a large fanbase. [Revision: From the feedback I've been getting, I'm glad to see more people enjoying "Nabari no O." Though this series can't really be compared to "Naruto," only in so much as it's a ninja-based story, I am hoping more people will "broaden their horizons" and stray away from the latter. "Nabari no O" is worth your time.]


Vampire Hunter D: Volume 10

Kikuchi is back and extravagant as ever with his first and only "Vampire Hunter D" 3-set novellas.

In the title story, "Dark Nocturne", D is hired to unlock the secret of a siren's song that is drawing men to their deaths in the hills outside Anise Village.

In "Notes on Imagined Autumn" D finds himself caught between two lovers during a ritualistic sacrifice in the village of Shirley's Door, but if D can't stop the sacrifice will all in the village be doomed?

And in "Legend of the War Demons" two living weapons, genetically engineered creatures who are the last remnants of a war waged hundreds of years in the past, find that battle is not so easily forgotten. It's up to D to stop their unending conflict before it consumes the present as it did the past.

Each short story is beautifully written, each separate yet interconnected in so many ways. It's hard not to appreciate the subtlety and extreme style of Kikuchi. The 3 novellas share one certain trait among others -- their stories revolve around one particular season and subsequently moving in perfect concert, the first novella takes place in the Spring, second in the Fall, and to end it, Winter befalls.

Innovation must be one of Kikuchi's many many names. No one story is alike and none can be compared to other works. "Legend of the War Demons" was especially enticing -- a war that's been going on for millenniums seems unrelenting even though each castle's inhabitants have long died. If you've never picked up a "Vampire Hunter D" novel, this is sure to turn you into a regular. Vampire stories aren't really my forte, yet Kikuchi was able to achieve the rank of "My Ultimate Favorite Writer" with his little series called "Vampire Hunter D."

As always, he never ceases to amaze -- his abilities seem limitless. The preview of Volume 11 proves it without a shadow of a doubt. In "Pale Fallen Angels: Part One," D's newest employer is none other than a Nobility. This odd pair of Dhampir and Nobility is sure to be an interesting one. But we'll have to wait till October to read the tale.


MGO Premiere Beta/MG Saga Vol. 2 DVD

The word in Metal Gear world recently has been engrossed in the new "Metal Gear Online" Beta Premiere. Among the billions of MGS fans, some were lucky enough to score themselves those hard-to-find codes for the MGO premiere. After berating the Gamestop folks to find out if they are participating in the pre-program deal, I was doubtful in the hopes of grabbing my hands on the golden code. The email that I, and many others, received didn't elevate my hopes:

Dear Customer,

Thank you for contacting GameSt op.com.

Unfortunately the manufacturer has not communicated any beta information
for this title to us yet. As soon as they do we will post this on our
site. Please note that all free bonus event codes are in limited supply
from the manufacturer an d we cannot guarantee that all customers will
receive this.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to respond to this

Best Regards,
Customer Service Agent

But I'm glad I was mistaken. A package I hadn't expected to arrive, made its debut appearance in my mailbox on Saturday. So as I type, I await patiently as the 741MB file downloads and installs.


WoW Tauren Hunter Figure

I vividly remember the first time I picked up "Warcraft: Orcs & Humans" way back in the day. And ever since "World of Warcraft" came out, I vowed never to pick up the MMORPG knowing that if I did I would forever be affixed to my computer. As of today, I am still steadfast in this stance (believe me it's not as easy as it may seem), but being the avid collector that I am, I definitely know a phenomenal figure when I see one.

Due out this December is this ultra-detailed deluxe figure of Tauren Hunter. I am sure that any WoW fan will be wanting this fiery piece of art.


Kino no Tabi Novel

The first novel, released back in 2006, was a huge hit and fans have been anxiously waiting for the second volume ever since. Unfortunately, our wishes may never be granted.

According to Anime Nation and other forum entries trickling in, TOKYOPOP has stated that due to a “licensing issue,” the English translated "Kino’s Journey" (Kino no Tabi) novels may be considered out of print effective immediately. Furthermore, the continuing English language release of the Scrapped Princess novels has been delayed indefinitely.

Though I am glad that I was able to pick up the first volume, many are sure to feel frustrated with the turn of events. I am sure my pre-order for the second novel (placed many many months ago) will be cancelled soon, unless by some twist of fate, TOKYOPOP's licensing issues will be resolved. Wishful thinking, I know.


Ghost in the Shell 3D Live Action

DreamWorks comes out on top, passing both Universal and Sony, for licensing rights to adapt Masamune Shirow's "Ghost in the Shell" cyber-police manga into a 3D live-action film. The story of an elite paramilitary unit in future Japan has already been adapted into three animated films and two television anime series.

DreamWorks has released the second animated Ghost in the Shell film, "Innocence," in North America. DreamWorks also released "Millennium Actress" and produced "Transformers," another live-action science-fiction film with Japanese roots. DreamWorks' co-founder Steven Spielberg expressed his enthusiasm for the project stating that "Ghost in the Shell is one of my favorite stories. It's a genre that has arrived, and we enthusiastically welcome it to DreamWorks." [Source: ANN]


MGS4 Headset

Is it real? or just fan made? Well sources confirm that this beautifully-rendered MGS4 Bluetooth Headset is indeed real.

Retailed at $59.99, this MGS4 Bluetooth v2.0 headset includes:

- ergonomic design for long wearing comfort
- a built in rechargeable Li-Polymer Battery with up to 8 hours of talk time & 160 hours standby time
- auto power off for extended battery life and operating range of 30 feet
- compatible for all PS3 game that support online voice communication, as well as your Bluetooth compatible cell phone
- a matching carrying case

This headset apparently shares the release date of the game in question making June 12th looking sexier than ever.


MPD-Psycho Vol. 4

After a little delay with some printing problems, DH makes good in delivering a high quality, uncut and uncensored manga (though 2 pages were less than perfect). The mayhem continues in "MPD-Psycho" Volume 4. The story takes a different approach, this time focusing on the one-eyed reporter Toguchi, as he embraces his dark side.

Feeling the weight of personal and professional rejection, and the horrors that haunt him, he resolves to pull of a violent "performance art show" in order to get the widespread attention he feels he deserves. Unfortunately, this involves killing a lot of people, transforming the happy-go-lucky guerrilla journalist into a modern monster.

Crazed Toguchi also makes some sensitive information public, enraging Zenitsu, another unbalanced villain with a knack for murder and a resistance to pain. Kazuhiko Amamiya arrives at the scene a little too late, but Amamiya-our favorite multiple personality detective-feels that there's some hope yet, and he risks his life to negotiate with Toguchi.

Otsuka does another spectacular and solid job. Entertaining, disturbing, and innovative, the mystery behind "Lucy" phenomenon continues to unravel giving Amamiya more clues and even more questions. The Otsuka and Tajima pair don't seem to be losing any steam, and their intricate attention to detail screams perfection on every frame. The horror continues in Volume 5 set to hit shelves this June.


Soul Eater Episode 1

"Soul Eater" has something for everyone. Combining a little bit of "Bleach," "Gurren Lagann," "Naruto," "Death Note," and a dash of "One Piece," BONES studio whips out an entertaining experience all with beautiful and fluid animation. The use of solid colors was a nice move for this particular series.

The story line is rather simple, you get the gist of it from the first episode alone. Students at the Shinigami Technical School must train by collecting 99 evil souls and 1 witch soul. Each of the students have a weapon companion who feeds on these vanquished souls. Once the 100 souls are eaten, the human weapon evolves to a death scythe, a status given to full-fledged Shinigami.
Animation, character, and basic plot line will get you hooked on "Soul Eater." The only aspect that seemed awkward was it's poor voice actors. I have to say I probably would have gone with a different voice for almost all the characters presented on the first episode. Nevertheless, that alone isn't enough to weigh it down. As a special bonus, T.M. Revolution provides an awesome OP. "Soul Eater" is one anime that everyone should give a shot.


MGS4 Battle of the Artbox

Rumors, speculations, and clarifications are swirling around a game that isn't even available yet -- MGS4. We've already known this from the start, but this is going to be, or already is, the biggest release I have seen in ages. The latest discussion focus on what players will actually be getting on the big day, or what they won't.

The biggest U.S. news would have to be in regards to the MGS4 bundle. What was originally supposed to be a Japan-exclusive release, is no more. In addition to the MGS4 PS3 standard edition bundle, Konami will also be selling (an extremely limited amount) of MGS4 PS3 limited edition bundle, yes, equipped with the "Steel" colored PS3. Konami stresses that this will be very, very limited, and this comes to no surprise. And just another quick FYI, the US MGS4 Limited Edition has become a GameStop exclusive. I don't think this was the best move, but you can just imagine how glad I am that my MGS4 LE pre-order (via GameStop) was not compromised.

Fans have been mining the web, collaborating with others, and reassessing the entire MGS storyline for any and all information MGS4-related. This, of course, does not exclude cover art. We know by now that places like the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Australia, for example, tend to get varying game cover art, and this is no exception.

When I first saw images of the MGS4 US box release, I was a little displeased, especially with images from Japan to compare to. The Old Snake cover art is animated beautifully and captures the visual theme of the game, but seemed to be disjointed from the other MGS games.

And seeing the cool and crisp art work adorned on Europe's MGS4 box, didn't make it easier to stomach the US cover art.

But then a light came, and granted me a sigh of relief when I saw the wondrous MGS4 US box art for the Limited Edition release. The color palette, art sketch feel, gives a nice blend of old and new. A refreshing complement to the MGS Saga.

Which version do you like? No doubt, as I type, more MGS4 news and goodies are brewing right around the corner. So I'm sure we'll be here yet again. Kojima we love you!!!


Condemned 2: Bloodshot

Finally got a chance to sit down and play "Condemned 2: Bloodshot" today, released on March 18th for the PS3, and also available on the XBox 360.

The sequel delivers a quick blow of horror and gore, in the bloodiest way -- definitely not a game for the faint of heart and most certainly not for kids. Visually stunning and disturbing, "Condemned 2" makes the right moves to becoming a very nice match to its amazing predecessor. The soundtrack is also just as perfect as ever.

The story picks up several months after the first game ended. Ethan Thomas, our unlikely hero, has fallen on hard times since leaving his job as an SCU agent, and constantly finds himself battling demons both real and imaginary. Ethan unwillingly finds himself thrown back into the line of action.

Minus the pointless multi-player online features and the less than perfect gun action, this first-person melee combat game is sure to please, if not scare the crap out of you. Last I checked, the game demo is available to download off the Playstation Store. It does a decent job giving you a taste of the creep-fest you are about to enter.


Sephiroth Epic Battle

By now, you have probably already seen the hugely popular "Crisis Core FFVII" battle scene between Sephiroth, Genesis, and Angeal, either before the game's release or during game play. No doubt that once you see this video, you'll be wanting to see it again and again. That is the point where I'm at.

WARNING: While this scene isn't really a spoiler, if you haven't seen the video yet and are currently playing "Crisis Core," you may want to skip this. The video comes at the perfect time, during game play. So to the few that I imagine fit in this category, consider yourself fore-warned. For the rest of you, indulge once more. This is the Japanese version of course (providing the perfect voices), but you can find the English version (though pretty decent thankfully) on GameTrailers.com.


Blassreiter Episode 1

Some use the power for what they believe as justice...
Some lose themselves in the immensity of their powers and abuse them...
Some use their power to realize their ambitions...
Some use it for the purpose of revenge...

Each uses their powers to survive, and to fulfill their individual purposes. However, using the special power comes with a price: their human minds gradually begin to debilitate...

The burdens and dualities of power are explored and depict a life of agony, solitude, and suffering in "Blassreiter." In a world where humans live seemingly normal lives, there are those that transform into violent-hungry creatures with an outbreak of demonic blood. And in the middle of it all stands one man able to control his cursed demonic form, Joseph Jobson, who oddly enough, makes a mere 5-10 second appearance in episode one.

Absolutely stunning visuals and mature storyline make "Blassreiter" a very attractive anime series, similar to "Strait Jacket," for example. But unlike "Strait Jacket" and even "The Tower of Druaga," episode one of "Blassreiter" falls a little short, not by much, but definitely a little lower than my original expectations. Nevertheless, it may take more than one episode the develop a deep storyline. A foundation has been set, and I look forward to seeing what else is in store.

The overlying theme and story is intuitive and enticing enough to keep fans of this genre watching. Watch the first episode, now for free, on BOST TV, Crunchyroll, and YouTube.


The Tower of Druaga Episode 1

Probably one of the most anticipated anime titles this spring season, "The Tower of Druaga: the Aegis of Urux," premieres today in a quite special way. It appears that Gonzo has teamed up with several online anime distributors to bring the first ever worldwide simultaneous release of "The Tower of Druaga" and later "Blassreiter." Episode one of "The Tower of Druaga" is now available, in its original japanese format with added english subititles, on YouTube, Cruchyroll, and BOST TV.

Drawing its inspiration from the hugely popular 1980s arcade games of the same name, GONZO and a team of today’s top creators have joined forces to write a new chapter in the epic Babylonian Castle Saga! The legendary Tower of Druaga is resurrected eighty years after the hero Gilgamesh has taken it down. In order to destroy the evil deity Druaga, the Kingdom of Uruk dispatches its troops to the tower, but the expedition repeatedly fails in its efforts. A young man named Jil who has been blessed by the goddess Ishtar, is awarded a set of brilliant golden armour and a sword from Gilgamesh as tokens to defeat the maumet. Sent off by the cheering crowd, our young hero Jil confidently sets out to confront the evil deity inhabiting the tower. Helped by great friends such as the archer Neeba and a Mage called Fatina, he heads for the uppermost floor of the Tower!

Hidden within the exterior of a serious adventure series, lies a lighthearted fantasy game and comedy. For those who play MMORPG and RPGs will find an even deeper connection and will probably be those who laugh the loudest in this series. Even the most simplistic connotations spread throughout the episode proves effective with flying colors. First impressions of this series are great. With its nice animation and a potentially concrete and solid story line, "The Tower of Druaga" should exceed everyone's initial expectations. The OP and ED tracks seem to be the perfect match and hint at the duality of the game, perhaps. The world inside MMORPGs and the world outside it. Time management is a plus as the anime accomplishes a lot in the first episode alone. You will definitely want to know what happens next, but at the same time get a quick read on all the characters and leave with a good idea on the title's direction.

Check out the trailer below, or better yet, watch the first episode in the links provided above.


Stunning PS3 Ads



This is a story about two sisters: Shizuru is a high school student who is able to see ghosts while her younger sister, Mizuki, is haunted by these apparitions. Frustrated by their abilities, their parents decided to entrust the sisters into the care of their grandparents who live in the countryside. As they adapt to life in the countryside, Shizuru and Mizuki begin to learn about the importance of coexisting nature with these apparitions.

"Mokke" is a nice and pleasant yet sad story that has probably stayed below radar as far a hype and popularity go. It's a solid series that definitely deserves more recognition, or at least more time in the spotlight. The animation and color palette is rather simple, but don't be dissuaded. This trait blends nicely with the lighthearted yet serious plot. While episode one starts out a bit slow, the series picks up and delivers.


Hisaishi + Miyazaki Commemorate 25 Years

As stated in Joe Hisaishi's official website, Tokyo's Nippon Budokan complex will host a large-scale concert event in August titled, "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea Movie Opening Commemoration." This event will commemorate 25 years of cooperation between Hayao Miyazaki and Joe Hisaishi. Hisaishi will be accompanied by a 200-piece orchestra and a 400-member chorus. Songs for all of Hisaishi's collaboration with Miyazaki will be performed.