Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fate/Unlimited Codes

Fate/Unlimited Codes is a 3D fighter based on Fate/Stay Night.  While the graphics and stages are 3D, it plays much more like a 2D fighter with sidestepping added.  The camera normally stays in a fixed point of view, but moves in for throws, supers, and anything else worth adding a bit more cinematic quality to, which is actually pretty damn cool.  It makes the gameplay a little less boring when the camera moves to show you how awesome the move you just inputted is.

The graphics are great and the animation is extremely fluid.  The characters are generally easy enough to pick up, though people new to the game may want to use Saber first, just because she's the most straightforward.  I haven't actually settled on a character yet, though I have played everyone, even the three unlockable characters.

If you're familiar at all with the visual novel or the anime (or the Unlimited Blade Works movie), you'll of course recognize pretty much everything.  I'll just leave this here: it takes a lot of time and dedication, but you can actually use Unlimited Blade Works.

The primary method of unlocking things in this game is completing Arcade mode.  Survival mode unlocks after a few times through Arcade mode (I forgot to count), and a few things are unlockable via Survival mode.

At the end of Arcade mode, while the credits are rolling, press a button other than start and you can play a minigame during the credits.  Skeletons will run in and attack Illyasviel.  She blocks, but to get the counter to go up, you'll need to hit your parry button (X by default).  Consistently parrying at the right time makes the counter go up faster.  If you want to play this in a more repeatable fashion, unlock and play Berserker's EX mission.

The game has a mission mode, which I can kind of follow but after a bit I get lost in trying to figure out what the hell it wants me to do in whichever mission, since the instructions are in Japanese.  Some of the missions are just crazy, like requiring you to perform a long combo, but others are much simpler.

Also available is Watch mode, which basically lets you set up a fight and let the CPU battle itself.  Protip: turn the difficulty up before going into this mode if you don't want to be bored to death.  Just remember to put it back where you had it when you're done.

It bears a few similarities to the Melty Blood series, which kind of makes sense seeing as how they're both Type-Moon games.  I won't delve very deep into the mechanics, but the magic circuit gauge works pretty much the same as in Melty Blood.  The way it does its supers is different though.

It probably goes without saying, since pretty much all Japanese fighting games have this in common, but the game is fairly import friendly.  All the menus are in English.  You'll only need to know maybe one Japanese word (or at least recognize the symbols, even if you don't know what they mean) to make your save file (select はい and press circle when you start the game up, then go into the options and turn on auto save), but that's the same for any other import game, and once you turn on auto save, it becomes less of an issue.  Also, as always, Circle is confirm and X is cancel.

Overall, Fate/Unlimited Codes is a pretty solid and fun fighting game.

I've reorganized this post slightly.  Information about the unlockables is now after the break.  If all you want to read is the review, you don't need to click "Read More".

An Exercise in Hilarity

Also known as: Fall Season Anime Post. Or, A Rant on CrunchyRoll Subs.

I know I've posted about them before, but here... Just the funny ones.  Which really, since Index 2 has had some funny moments with all the nuns lately, it should be here as well, but whatever.

Panty & Stocking has been funny since the beginning, but the first episode I had to watch again was episode 3, solely for its second half.  The color scheme, the imagery, the metaphor they're drawing...  I was laughing the moment I realized when I saw it the first time.  At first I was like "wait... no, really? really?" but then I was like "lolololololololololololololololololol".  Episode 4 was great too.  I dunno how much liberties crunchyroll are taking with the subtitles (and sadly, the only releases I can find are CR rips, though thankfully with better sub styling and typesetting), but the reference to that AnimeJunkies Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex subtitle was hilarious.  It fits with what had happened earlier, but I dunno...

Shinryaku! Ika Musume has been one laugh after another since the first episode.  Thankfully here, there's a group (that's right, one. One group.) releasing real fansubs instead of waiting out crunchyroll's 5-day delay between airing and when they release.  Thank you, FFFpeeps.  I've seen the CR subs, and I don't like them.  They modify their translation for every single squid pun, and seeing the word "squid" portmanteau'd with a random word every other line gets old quickly.  Anyway, what else can I say?  Every episode has been hilarious.  Oh wait, I already said that.

Seriously though, I don't like CR's subs in general.  They put no effort into typesetting or making them readable at a distance.  If there's a light background, they're very difficult to read.  Also, they don't translate the opening and ending songs.  And people pay money for this?  Suckers.

Fortunately, the last series I'm going to talk about in this post actually has multiple real groups releasing it.  That would be Ore no Imouto.

The premise is interesting enough, that a guy finds out that his little sister, who is good in school and is popular and seemingly as normal as one can get, is in fact a massive otaku.  Every episode has been exploring various bits of being into anime, manga, eroge, and so forth.  After what happened at the end of the fourth episode, I honestly can't wait for the fifth.  The episodes are starting to link together in ways other than the overarching story.  It's been pretty funny too, perhaps not as funny as the other two series I'm mentioning here, but it's definitely in the comedy area of things.

So yeah.  Shinryaku! Ika Musume is the most consistently funny show I'm watching this season, by far.

Also, if you've been watching my twitter thing over on the right you may have noticed me talking about Fate/Unlimited Codes...  I'm working on a post about that.  There's one more thing I'd like to comment on that needs to be unlocked, once I have that I'll finalize the post.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Followup: Melty Blood: Actress Again

Original post:

There's only one reason I'd follow that post up: I now have Archetype:Earth Arcueid unlocked.  I'm not entirely sure how I did it, either.  I'd been fruitless at my attempts to beat Boss Rush without continues (even setting the difficulty all the way down, the damage all the way up, and doing nonstop beamspam with Neko-Arc), and I wasn't about to beat Arcade Mode with all characters.  I just turned the game on and there she was, like she'd been unlocked.  So yes, I saved.

This means I can now comment on Eclipse style.

Eclipse style: Basically, it's the "boss" style.  While it doesn't give you infinite Magic Circuit, it does generate it pretty quickly.  Also, on a successful EX-Shield, there's an automatic counterattack, just like in Half-Moon style, but the rest of the style's mechanics are like Crescent Moon style.

Through what I can only assume is a glitch, you can play with Archetype:Earth Arcueid in Crescent Moon style as well.  If you select her via the Random Character selection, she'll come up in Crescent Moon style.  Her move list is different and completely hidden.  A fair number of her sprites for Crescent Moon style also don't have proper transparency, which only contributes to thinking of this as a glitch.

You can only use Crescent Moon style and Eclipse style with her, and once you have her in Crescent Moon style, if you reselect her without moving your cursor, she'll still be in Crescent Moon style.  Moving the cursor away and back resets the glitch and will give you Eclipse style.  I guess this is good for the sake of Vs. mode, since Eclipse style is kind of overpowered.

Upon further inspection, she seems to have regular Arcueid's move list in Crescent Moon style.  So expect a similar gameplay experience when using her in Crescent Moon style.

Monday, October 18, 2010

My thoughts on this Guild Wars survey

A while back they had a survey about War in Kryta, and I made damn sure to fill it out to voice my discontent.  The results were posted earlier today and I'm not entirely pleased, though overall it skews in a direction I like.

I'll provide my responses to each question and then try to give some sort of constructive reasoning for why I feel the way I do.  As much as I really want to just type "holy fuck this shit was too fucking difficult" over and over, everyone's heard that and constructive criticism goes over much more favorably.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Slider Wars

I was at Giant today picking up some stuff and noticed TGI Friday's Anytime Sliders.  While my preference is definitely White Castle, I figured I'd give 'em a try.

So how do they stand up?

White Castle
  • 6 to a package, wrapped in twos
  • Cooking directions for two at once
  • Thin patty, mostly bun
  • Buns are soft once heated
  • No extra sauce packet or anything
  • Remove from wrapping before heating
TGI Friday's
  • 4 to a package, individually wrapped
  • Cooking directions are only for one
  • Thick patty, less bun
  • Buns tough when heated
  • Two sauce packets, and a paper tray that the instructions never mention
  • Heat in wrapping and remove afterwards
As for the taste, well, the sauce combined with the thicker patty weighs heavily in favor of TGI Friday's.  However, the overall ease of heating and eating award goes to White Castle.  Combine that with the fact that you get six from White Castle compared to four from TGI Friday's, and White Castle is the winner.

Let's face it: nobody eats just one slider.  That's why they're so small in the first place.  White Castle used to have cooking directions for an entire box, but those have disappeared somewhat recently and they only advise you to cook two at a time now.

The paper tray mystifies me.  It's the right size to hold two of the sliders.  You know, the ones you're only supposed to heat one at a time.  The serving size is also just one.  Don't they pay attention to how people actually eat sliders?  The serving size should at the very least match White Castle's, which is two.

Also, with the sauce, messiness becomes a factor.  White Castle's sliders are only messy if you add messy stuff to them.  Basically, don't eat these without a napkin nearby, and be prepared for sauce drips, because they will happen.

As far as instructions go, they have the already much-ranted-about "make sure they're 165°F before eating" note, and a useless "Caution: food may be hot after microwaving" warning.  Of course it's going to be hot.  I just put it in a 1200 watt microwave for 50 seconds.  If it isn't hot, there's something wrong with the microwave.  Also, the flavor packet didn't pack nearly as much of a punch as it's made out to.  It's just oversweetened BBQ sauce...

The fact that you have to take a piping hot slider out of a plastic bag is just crazy.  What were you thinking, TGI Friday's?

In summary: Just stick with White Castle.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall season kicks off.

I'm organizing this post in a very specific manner because what I actually want to post in regards to one series is sort of long-winded compared to the rest.

The only series I went into this season knowing I wanted to watch was To Aru Majutsu no Index 2 (A Certain Magical Index 2).  Having watched Index on a friend's recommendation and then following up with all of Railgun as it came out, it basically goes without saying that I'm watching this.

The first series I didn't know I'd be watching is Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt.  I've described it before, but it's basically Gainax parodying American animation.  It's been pretty funny so far, and I'll continue watching it.

Another series I picked up is Shinryaku! Ika Musume (Invasion! Squid Girl).  I'd heard that it was supposed to be funny, so I watched the first episode, and yeah, now I'm watching it.

If you're paying attention, you'll realize that's three rather short descriptions, and you may be thinking "XT, don't you always say you run into issues with watching more than three series in a season?"  Well, yeah.  I do.  However, I only run into those issues because for whatever reason I put off watching things.  It's the same exact reason why my backlog got so huge and why I never realized, even though I knew the time requirements very well, that I could marathon something in my backlog either overnight or in a couple days depending on its length.

Anyway, the final series is Ore no Imouto.  I don't really feel like typing out the full title, but it's My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute!  It's gotten a couple of my friends talking about various issues surrounding being an anime fan in a world that kind of looks down upon us, and while my story isn't as involved or screenshot-supported as theirs, I still feel like posting it.

I got into anime in high school, when my friends and I discovered it.  My friends and I were basically the people that hung out together because nobody else would hang out with us, and we didn't really know of any social stigma at the time, so we didn't even think about it.  We got in pretty much the same way everyone else did in America back then: mainstream shounen anime on Cartoon Network.  Basically, Dragonball Z, Gundam Wing, Tenchi, and Outlaw Star.

Going off to college really only furthered our discovery of what was out there.  For a variety of reasons, one of my friends and I both left our respective colleges after one semester and came back to Charlottesville.  He discovered that UVa had a comics and animation club and that they welcomed non-student members, so we went to a meeting, and didn't stop coming back after that.

At this point you may realize that my group of high school friends basically all went their separate ways after graduating.  I kept in contact with a couple of them, but one drifted offHell, I even lost the other for a while.  So for almost the entire past decade, the anime club at UVa has really been my only source of friends.  I do have friends outside the club, but most of my friends are anime club friends.

Funny thing about being a "townie" and having friends at a university: the age gap increases over time.  So basically, whenever I'm in a meeting or at any other activity taking place on grounds, I feel like "that creepy townie".  I'm basically the third oldest member of the club.  I feel especially awkward at the first meeting every fall semester, when we have the same meeting every single other club at UVa has: go around the room and introduce yourselves.  I generally always make sure to not be the first townie to introduce myself.

As far as social stigma goes, that's pretty much all gone for me at this point.  Almost.  There's a certain subsection of the club (who shall remain nameless) that continues to make fun of people's tastes (often behind their back, or unwittingly in their company as is the case with me) when they're not "normal", but for the most part, the majority of the club maintains a very open atmosphere that I'm comfortable with.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bosses, Weapons, and Dragons (oh my!)

After a randomly long period of time not playing Secret of Mana, I picked it up again.  A couple nights ago actually, but that was just weapon level grinding.

Continuing that into my most recent session, I now have everything level 5 except the gloves, axe, and javelin.  I have them forged with their fifth orbs, I just haven't gone around killing things to level them up.  Also, for whatever reason, the whip is now one level ahead of everything else, so it's forged with its sixth orb.

Elementals are at level 4.  I'd better get two more pretty soon if they're going to keep up with the weapons...

Story-wise, I killed my way through the area to the northwest of Empire Northtown, and then killed my way through the castle in Empire Northtown.  There were several bosses, but they were all pretty easy.  Just chain-cast level 4 Exploder with the sprite and use Faerie Walnuts as needed.  Most of the bosses I fought either didn't have a specific elemental weakness or were weak to one I don't have yet.

Once I defeated the Mech Rider 2 atop the castle, I finally got my world map transport: Flammie the dragon.  I then proceeded to get massively lost, as when you're flying on Flammie there aren't any labels to tell you where things are, you just have to feel around in the dark.  I guess you could eventually get used to the world map layout, but having textual labels would be nice.

After finding my way, I tried to land in Potos for fun, only to have the game put me down outside it, just next to the guy whose only purpose in life is to prevent you from getting back in.  However, now that I have Flammie, I can use the glitch to get back in whenever I want (and just call Flammie when I want to leave).  It's pretty simple, you hold up and mash select.  You'll move up a tiny little bit every time you press select, and eventually you'll be back in the town.  This was apparently fixed in the European version of the game (by way of adding a dialog box that shows up when you get close enough, it's still possible to glitch your way in, but it's harder).  I lol'd that the people in Potos will still interact with you and that you can still stay at the inn.  I saved there just for the lulz, then called Flammie and got lost again.

After realizing I was headed in the total wrong direction from King Truffle's place, I found the Lofty Mountains (which so very helpfully aren't labelled on the world map that's on GameFAQs).  You know, that parenthetical statement brings up a pretty good point.  Secret of Mana is not nearly as thoroughly documented as Chrono Trigger is.  The stuff on GameFAQs is missing a few things, whereas if you look at GameFAQs' Chrono Trigger section, practically everything you'd ever want to know about the game (and then some) is sitting right there.

So basically I'm ready to go into the Palace of Darkness.  I guess I'll level up the weapons that need levelling up here.  Since I now have world map travel, part of me wants to find the best armor that you can actually buy (the absolute best stuff is only available as drops) and see if I can outfit my entire party with it now, just to save money.

I do believe I'm overlevelled, which means that the game really wasn't designed for you to try to have everything as powerful as possible at any given time.  I haven't been specifically grinding experience at all, just weapon and elemental levels.  From this I've gotten a lot of experience and a lot of money.  The FAQ I'm following basically calls each armor upgrade expensive and says "get it if you have the money".  Well, I've never had to worry about that.  The amount of money gained while levelling up weapons and elementals is more than enough to cover each next set of armor and the next weapons' forging costs.  If it's wrong to be level 49 (and pretty close to level 50) at the point in the game I'm at, I think I'll enjoy being wrong.

Yet Another Anime Season

No fancy chart this time around, I don't feel like getting it and uploading it.

This season I really only planned to watch To Aru Majutsu no Index 2 (A Certain Magical Index 2), but somehow Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai (My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute!) snuck in there.  Since you'll need to have seen Index to really follow Index 2, I guess I'll just elaborate on Ore no Imouto.

Despite what you might infer from its name, it's not an ecchi show.  I mean, for that subject, we already have Kiss x Sis, right?  Rather, it's about a guy who discovers that his little sister, who does well in school and is popular and so forth, is secretly a massive otaku.  To make things even more fun, their parents are basically prejudiced against anyone into anime/manga/etc.

Index 2 hasn't aired yet, and only one episode of Ore no Imouto has aired, so there's not really a lot I can say.

Also, I watched Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works.  The exposition covers some things the anime covers, but in less detail, then it gets on to its own stuff, which is pretty awesome.  We find out who Archer is (as in, his real name, which is of course a spoiler).  Overall, if you liked the anime, you should like the movie.  Of course, if you've played the visual novel, then chances are you pretty much know what's going to happen, as Unlimited Blade Works is one of the routes in it.  I haven't played the visual novel, so I don't know much more about it than that.

Maybe next season (winter season) we'll get the last Negima OAV episode?

Edit: Oh and add Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt to the list.  It's a pretty funny show, with an animation style more like Powerpuff Girls.  So similar that Jhonen Vasquez had to comment on it.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

OK seriously fuck this traffic light

I mentioned it briefly in vague terms a long time ago, but there's a traffic light in UVa grounds that's just fucked up.

During the day it's fine.  But overnight it refuses to turn green on the side road.

For anyone reading this who knows the area, it's the traffic light at the JPA/Brandon Ave. intersection.

Leaving Bice earlier this morning, I wanted to turn left to drop friends off at their dorm.  I pull up to the light, and naturally being the law-abiding citizen I am, I stop since it's red.  There's a nice sign that says "no right turn on red" at this intersection, but whatever, I'm turning left.

We sit there.

And sit there.

And sit there some more.

Then I realize I'm wasting fuel and turn the car off.

Then we sit there some more.

And some more.

And some more.  I don't know how long we sat there, but it felt like an eternity.

Meanwhile, the number of cars that have driven through the intersection on JPA can be counted on one hand.  This is around 5 AM, mind you.  There are zero pedestrians, because nobody with common sense would be out walking around at 5 AM when it's really cold.

We finally get tired of sitting there (and it's really cold), so I turn the car back on and turn right (on red).  I go down to the next side road and u-turn, then we proceed back on our merry way.  I drop my friends off, then go back through this very intersection on my way home.  As far as I know, the light never turned red for JPA.

This light turned green for me as recently as YESTERDAY FUCKING MORNING AROUND THE SAME GODDAMN TIME.  But in the past, it's done this a lot more often.

What the hell?  Traffic light fail.

This is what having a traffic light go into blinking mode is for.  It should blink yellow along JPA and red for Brandon Ave.  This would basically turn it into a stop sign for Brandon Ave. (and technically speaking, a yield sign for JPA) and fix the issue entirely.

Friday, October 1, 2010


I've seen these things on the frozen aisle for a while now, but for whatever reason never picked up a package.  But Giant threw me for a loop by having basically nothing that I usually get in stock, so I got a bunch of random stuff and decided to grab a box.

First off, is Tequeños even a real Spanish word?  I popped it into Google Translate in both plural and singular form, and it draws a blank in both places, so I'm going to lean towards no.

They're pretty simple.  It's cheese wrapped in dough.  Basically a Mexican miniature mozzarella stick, except the cheese in use is only listed as "queso blanco", which just translates to "white cheese" (hey, high school Spanish is coming in handy, who'd'a thought?).  Maybe it's just a fancy name for a Mexican mozzarella cheese, I dunno.

They bill themselves on the front of the box as having "No Trans Fats", but the ingredients list includes two partially hydrogenated oils, so they're lying.

The inner packaging is ballin' out of 1990.  Seriously, styrofoam?  Did they take a lecture from BP on environmentally friendly business practices?

The directions are simple, but with a slight quirk.  Preheat oven to 450°, then turn down to 425°, bake for 12 minutes, turning them over after 6 minutes if you care about aesthetics.  Then, of course, let 'em cool down for a few minutes so you won't burn your mouth off trying to eat them.  See that phrase I boldfaced?  Yeah, that definitely isn't boldfaced in the instructions.  I missed it entirely, and it's probably the reason why every single one of mine burst open.

The box says they're made with artisan dough, but really, the dough tastes about as plain as anything normal.  The cheese is good though, and melts quite well.

The serving size is pretty darn small.  They expect you to only eat two of them.  I guess they're more intended to be made as snacks for a party or something.  But who the hell serves frozen foods as party snacks?

It's suggested on the back of the box that you dip them in something.  I broke out a jar of Tostito's Chunky Salsa, Medium level.  They're definitely better that way than plain.

Overall, I'd have to say...  meh.