Friday, 21 February 2014

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity Review

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Axew is a RPG style video game following the perspective of the Pokemon rather than the trainer. The games features the Pokemon navigating through a randomly generated dungeons using turn-based moves, trademark of Mystery Dungeon games.

These games are based in dungeons, where a floor map is randomly generated. In the dungeons, players fight other Pokémon while obtaining items, and finding steps to the next floor. Similar to Ertian Odessey and Guided Fate Paradox, this is not a style of RPG I like but I appreciated the animation and story.

At the beginning you choose a Pokemon to be Pikachu, Oshawott, Tepig, Snivy, or Axew, then you chose another Pokemon to be your sidekick. The game really utilises the 3DS' capabilities instead of the usual 2D sprites.

The story begins with you waking up as a Pokemon (of your choice) you bump into your partner (of your choice) and you run a farm together, I mean piece of land and it's all very romantic and you have to hire other Pokemon to make your land liveable and it means you have to go to the Mystery Dungeons to get gems and chase mean Pokemon. There are moral dilemmas in this game, Pokemon love to rob you. They add lots of popular Pokemon into the story and you pretty much have an easy ride.

The game also uses the 3DS' camera and sensors for the players to find round objects and turn them into portals, I haven't quite mastered it, it has to be obviously round, so checking people on the train is not advisable. The portals aka Magnagates need to be unlocked, and act as gateways to new dungeons.

The game features both free and paid downloadable content, in the form of additional dungeons. You can also go to the official site and play mini-games to unlock passwords to receive special items in the game too. The game has changed from its predecessors and is a great stand alone game to buy, people new to Pokemon can pick it up and play. It has an easy to use interface though walking through the dungons is a bit sluggish for my liking.

If your a Pokemon fan and enjoy more focus on them this would be a game to get, because of the difficulty. It's aimed at a younger audience, though that isn't to say you wouldn't find a challenge in the dungeons. The story is simple with comical conversations and lots of trait Pokemon behaviours. You can really appreciate the lush backgrounds and 3D Pokemon going about their day in the game. this is more for people who like more action than story.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

East Side Stories: Otakus in Love

Otakus In Love and Love Strikes! were recently part of the East Side Stories touring film festival by the Japan foundation at the ICA London and other locations.

Where: ICA London/ Belfast/Bristol/Dundee/Edinburgh/Newcastle upon Tyne/Nottingham/Sheffield
When: 31 January to 27 March 2014

Otakus in love (Koi no Mon) follow's tramp, or more accurately low maintenance Mon Aoki (Ryuhei Matsuda) - a mis-understood 'manga artisan' who can’t seem to hold down a steady job. Mostly due to his run down appearance and his stubborn belief that one day his art will actually sell.

The problem is that his concept of manga isn't a comic strip, he arranges and paints rock in wooden boxes which freaks most people out. One day as he follows a hand drawn map on his hand which wasn't too clever as the rain washes most of it off. He bumps into Koino Akashi, she promptly maims Mon with lethal stiletto heel as he reaches for a beloved rock and he proceeds to arrive late at his new part time job at Tsugino Happy Inc.

Coincidentally she also works at Tsugino Happy Inc. The boss is perpetually-enraged at Mon's lateness and poverty stricken look and fires him at his welcome party after Mon reveals his love for manga. Koino immediately becomes fascinated as she is a full bred otaku, and if you watch the film you will find out to what extent.

Thus begins their topsy-turvy 'relationship' complete with mandatory cosplay and panty shots. Imagine getting lucky with the girl of your dreams. This film has, as one of Koino’s fans would put it, “a gift for reckless plot twists” with lots of slap stick humour and geeky references. It's great to see an infusion of over the top otaku moments contrasted with the hatred of Mr Happy and Marimoda at the job trying to tear down Mon's beliefs and talent.

Director Suzuki Matsuo is best recognised internationally for  Ichi the Killer. Matsuo dabbles in playwright, stage direction, novels, columns, essays, and occasional manga artist. Otakus in love was his debut as a film director. His adaptation of Jun Hanyunyuu's manga is fast-paced and vibrantly whatever the mood of the character. Ironically Matsuo himself plays the most laid back character of the manga bar boss.

If you're looking for a film with two hours of geek culture, this is it. From 2004 you can feel it's a bit outdated but some of the references are classics so it wouldn't matter anyway. There are a wide array of characters from the odd circus troupe or band housemates who live with Mon to the quirky people hanging around the manga bar.