Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Club full of Bishies - Ouran High School Host Club

FanGirl Alert

(Anime Pick of the Week)

Finally Ouran High School Host club is available in North America. The anime which previously premiered April 5, 2006 in Japan (Why does it take so long for anime to reach the states i.e Death Note) is now available in English for your viewing pleasure. As a long time reader of the manga I nearly cried when I heard Funimation was premiering all 26 episodes. Although not the most complex anime it still manages to entertain even the most picky anime viewer (i.e. me). Little is known about Ouran outside shoujo circles but hopefully this will bring more recognition to the series. If you like shoujos and a healthy dose of bishies then this is the show for you.

Note : Bishie - Short for bishounen, translated roughly meaning "pretty boy." Used for attractive male anime characters, and sometimes real life.

Watch Episode One

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Games in Review- (Valkyria Chronicles -Playstation 3 best kept secret)

Among a year of heavy hitters from Capcom with sequels to hit franchises resident evil and the long anticipated Street fighter Sega makes a comeback in a big way adding the systems first real SRPG.

O.K. I’ll be the first to admit. I’m not a big fan of SRPG. Titles like Disgaea and FFT advance left an unsettling bad taste in my mouth. Honestly I had grown quit weary of the genre and avoided it at all cost constantly arguing with EB employers who casually recommended the games to unsuspecting gamers. But that all changed when desperation reared its ugly head seeking an RPG to stand up to the caliber of old favorites like Square Enix’s RPG powerhouse Final Fantasy and their less famous disabled step child Star Ocean. That’s when luck struck and I stumbled upon Valkyria Chronicles for the Playstation 3. Little is known about this game seeing all the marketing goes to the proven franchises but we all know the great games often come out of the dark (i.e. Final Fantasy 7) Trust me this game is worth every penny you spend on it.

The Story: One of the most important things in a RPG is the story and Valkyria Chronicles delivers bringing you an interesting story of love, racism and survival in the midst of a World War type era in Europe. I’ll try to keep this brief without revealing too much of the story for all those trying to avoid spoilers. Set in the fictional country of Europa (yes I said Europa) it follows the story of the protagonist and his military unit Squad 7 as they fight to defend the independent country of Gallia caught in the middle of the war between the two military superpowers that surround them. The game offers a real feel of military warfare combining elements of strategy and tactics while maintaining RPG elements. The characters personality range from the complex to the incredibly simple as clich├ęs and misused vocabulary run rapid throughout the battles (Yes I mean you Largo) but trust me by the end of the game you will grow to love all of them as they deliver in bringing this epic story to life. Although the game features many playable characters most of the characters refrain from commenting saving all their pent up frustration for the battle field.

Game Play: Setting its self apart from its grid mapping predecessors Valkyria Chronicles introduces a new style of SRPG combining real time to its wonderfully designed turn based system. In the Command Room you can build your killer unit from a assortment of colorful characters all with their strengths and weakness (traits like passive and panicky I generally stayed clear of) With five classes to choose from you have everything you need to build a unstoppable team of blood thirty killers. Characters can charge enemies in one on one battles and combo their moves with the people in your squad they get along with (i.e. friends). The battles are immense and can take quite a bit of time planning and patience conquering the enemy but totally worth it once your plan goes into action and your foes fall by the might of your superior battle skills. Although a great game there are a few minor things that bothered me while playing. The game is placed in story book mood and separates chapters unnecessarily as a sense of redundancy rises when you stroll from chapter to chapter. Also the design of my general in the form of an ill-designed tank caused much frustration as it easily fell victim to the gun fire of lone rouge soldiers (Who makes a tank with its weak spot on the back uncovered) All in all these where only minor as I grew to love every element all the same.

Visuals: Once again Sega steps up its game presenting an almost refreshing style of artwork and scenery in a world filled with blocky graphics. It combines beautiful cel-shaded graphics with anime style art giving its world a wonderful storybook feel. From the battle field the world is masterfully orchestrated into the background offering great views in camera angles and simplistic effects. Best cel-shade game so far

Overall: This game was a pleasure to play and one that I’m glad that I invested in. From the lovable characters to the thought provoking story Valkyria Chronicles delivers on all fronts (I never grow tired of Largo’s stupid catch phases.) A definite must have for any Playstation 3 owner 10/10