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BanG Dream! Girls Band Party x Hatsune Miku Collaboration

Wednesday, June 12, 2019 / No Comments
It is not uncommon to see collaborations between vocaloids and anime music franchises. The EN version of the mobile rhythm game BanG Dream! Girls Band Party has released their update regarding their collaboration with Hatsune Miku from June 10th to 12th.


The update also sees a change in the game app icon, featuring Kasumi from Poppin’Party and Hatsune Miku. 



Additionally, three song covers have been added to the game as part of the collaboration and they were each released over the course of three days. The songs will be available for purchase in the music shop at CiRCLE in the game. 




“Lost One’s Weeping” by Afterglow (originally by Neru feat. Kagamine Rin) 






This is one of my favourite covers to play on the expert mode, despite the infuriating amount of slide notes in the beatmap. I’m still trying to FC this! Gameplay aside, it’s always refreshing to hear Ran’s (CV: Sakura Ayane) insane vocal range, especially during the chorus. 

“Alien Alien” by Hello, Happy World! (originally by Nayutalien feat. Hatsune Miku)


This cover only further highlights Kokoron’s (CV: Miku Itou) cute voice. Not so cute on the fingers, though. It’s fine on the hard mode mode, but it can be rather challenging on expert, with the occasional flicks surprising you here and there. It's definitely a fitting cover for Hello, Happy World.



“Romeo and Cinderella” by Poppin’Party (originally by Doriko feat. Hatsune Miku)



I'm not going to lie, I didn't actually expect Poppin’Party to cover this song as I thought that it would be a more mature-sounding sound for them. I wasn’t disappointed though, because I actually liked it a lot, and I definitely dig the deeper-sounding Kasumi (CV: Aimi) here. Edgy Poppin’Party is good. Really good. 

A login campaign following the collaboration has also been added, allowing players to receive shards, stars and exclusive live costumes to promote the song covers that were added. For players who have purchased paid stars, they will be able to roll for a *4 guaranteed gacha. 



As mentioned, all members of Afterglow, Hello Happy World and Poppin’Party were given exclusive live costumes. 


Adorable Kokoron with her twin buns and alien headgear.

 Himari with her hair down. Alternate hairstyles are always nice to see.




 And Kasumi with her hair up. (And gasp, her cat-like hairstyle is gone)  

On a side note, do check out the ongoing "Beatin in the Rain" event as well! The event story is pretty wholesome and fun, with eccentric personalities like Tomoe, Kasumi and Kokoro getting together for some Taiko fun. They even drag along Misaki and Sayo into their shenanigans, which makes way for some interesting conversations. Gather up event points with the VS Live in order to unlock prizes, event stories as well as the featured Kasumi and Michelle cards.






The BanG Dream! Girls Band Party x Hatsune Miku Collaboration Campaign ends on June 24th, so get tappin’ if you’re interested! Bang Dream! Girls Band Party is available on the iOS and Android for free.  

Written by kimizomi 

Game Review: Tokyo Xanadu

Tuesday, June 11, 2019 / No Comments

Tokyo Xanadu is a Japanese Role-Playing Game (JRPG) developed by Nihon Falcom for the PlayStation Vita. Dive into a unique and intriguing story with plenty of button-mashing action that will keep you hooked from the start to the end. The key focus of this review will be on the gameplay while providing a very brief overview of the storyline and main characters.



Game: Tokyo Xanadu
Genre: Action JRPG (Dungeon Crawler)
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Year Released: 2015 (Japan) & 2017 (Global)
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Available in: Japanese & English/Chinese subs


Storyline:

Tokyo Xanadu takes place in a fictional world where Tokyo was ruined by a massive earthquake in 2005. Fast forward 10 years later, Tokyo has been rebuilt and peace fully restored. Beneath the facade of tranquillity lies something sinister. The game starts of with the following event scene. One day after his part-time work, Kou Tokisaka who is a student at Morimiya Academy, spots a girl being harassed by two delinquents. He follows the trio into an alley in an attempt to intervene. Just as Kou is about to make a move, a portal appears out of thin air and the four of them are warped into an alternate dimension known as an Eclipse (Dungeon). Within these Eclipses are evil monsters termed as Greeds. After the introductory scenes and as the game progresses, Kou will meet new allies from his school and together they will fight the Greeds, hopefully closing the Eclipse portals for good!

Main Characters:

Kou Tokisaka

Kou is the main protagonist of Tokyo Xanadu whom you will be playing as most often. A second-year student at Morimiya High School, Kou is portrayed as cool and aloof but also highly reliable. Aside from dungeons where you can swap over to other characters, you will be playing as him. 

Asuka Hiiragi

Hiiragi is the girl who was harassed by the two delinquents at the start of the game. She is also Kou’s classmate and has just returned from the United States. She is an enforcer from an organisation known as Nemesis, whose aim is to close the portals leading to the Eclipses.

Sora Ikushima

Sora is a first-year student at Morimiya Academy. She is a member of the school Karate Club and extremely talented, having learned the martial art from a young age.

Yuuki Shinomiya

Yuuki is a first-year student at Morimiya Academy. He is a genius and prodigy with a very high IQ. Yuuki lives in a lavish apartment and has a lot of money, earned using his exceptional intelligence. He barely goes to school, only attending the minimum number of days to successfully graduate. Many of his schoolmates are unaware of his existence.

Mitsuki Hokuto

Mitsuki is a third-year student at Morimiya Academy and the Student-Council President.

Shio Takahata

Shio is a third-year student at Morimiya Academy and the former leader of a delinquent group known as BLAZE.

Rion Kugayama

Rion is a second-year student at Morimiya Academy. She is a member of an idol group called SPiKA.


Gameplay:

The gameplay of Tokyo Xanadu is fairly standard as with most Nihon Falcom games. Discounting event scenes, the gameplay can be broken down into two parts, namely Free-Time Mode and Dungeon Exploration Mode. However, do note that after certain event scenes, you will be required to answer some questions. Depending on the choices you pick, you will be able to raise your Wisdom status parameter. There are three status parameters, Wisdom, Courage and Virtue. All three parameters must be raised to unlock certain events and to receive some items. 

Free-Time Mode

You will be playing as Kou in Free-Time Mode. In Free-Time Mode, you roam freely and talk to various Non-Playable Characters (NPCs) and the main characters. The two major things to do in Free-Time Mode are completing quests and attending bonding events. Depending on the quests involved, some are mandatory while others are optional. Bonding events are done by talking to the main characters and/or supporting characters at particular parts in the game. This will trigger an event scene showcasing the interaction between Kou and the specific characters you had chosen. Bonding events will consume one Infinity Shard for each character you interact with and raise your relationship level with them. You will only be given a limited amount of Infinity Shards during bonding events; therefore, it is vital to bond with the characters you prefer the most. 


Dungeon Exploration Mode

This is the main and combat portion of Tokyo Xanadu. You will get warped into the Eclipse via a portal where you have to defeat Greeds lurking inside and an Elder Greed (Boss) in the depths. You would probably be unfazed by the bosses if you have experience in playing dungeon crawlers, although some of the bosses were quite difficult to defeat. What I like about the combat in the dungeons is how seamlessly smooth the fights are. There is little to no lag while fighting the Greeds which is not very common in PlayStation Vita games but considering that this game was made specifically for the Vita, it is understandable.


Dungeon exploration allows you to use the main characters instead of solely playing as Kou. You can have up to 3 playable characters in your party but can only play as one at any given time. This enables you to freely change between characters in your party. The HP bar is the bluish-purple ring, as shown above, Hiiragi is at full health currently with 530 HP. The MP bar is the green bar towards the bottom which is next to the hp bar. You can use skills by consuming MP such as using Hiiragi’s ice strike as shown above. MP can be regenerated by using normal attacks on Greeds, hence you should alternate between the two.


Greeds in the dungeons are weak to specific elements. There are five elements in Tokyo Xanadu, Flame, Wind, Steel, Spirit and Shadow. As depicted above, the Greed is weak against the Flame element, therefore you should use a Character such as Kou. Using specific characters that are strong against different Greeds is important because it gives you considerable advantage in terms of damage dealt to them. Fighting Greeds in the dungeons allows you to charge your X-drive gauge. X-drive can be used when the X-drive gauge reaches 100%. Notice the bar labelled X-DRIVE, that is the X-drive gauge. When X-drive is used, your character will have increased damage, HP regeneration and heightened resistance against knockbacks. 


X-Strike is a powerful special attack that deals tons of damage to Greeds. X-Strike can only be unleashed when the X-Strike gauge is full. The X-Strike gauge is the yellow meter with the lightning symbol next to the HP bar. The gauge is charged by attacking Greeds, similar to the X-drive gauge. A good tip would be to save your X-Strike for bosses as using them on normal/cannon fodder Greeds is redundant. Each character has their own unique X-strike and is very eye-catching, fitting for their ultimate ability. 

Some of the Bosses in Tokyo Xanadu:





Pros (+) of Tokyo Xanadu:

I would like to reiterate the smoothness of the gameplay as lag is virtually non-existent. This is a major plus point of Tokyo Xanadu as I have played many PlayStation Vita games of which enjoyable gameplay is hindered due to lag and random screen freezes. The graphics of Tokyo Xanadu is also visually appealing like with most Nihon Falcom games. The bonding events allow you to enjoy event scenes with your favourite character. Note: Rion best girl! You will get more attached to the characters as the game progresses.

The combat system is really amazing as well. You are able to use a combination of moves to suit the situation, such as using skills while jumping in mid-air. The bosses in the game are challenging to a certain degree. For example, some of the bosses do not follow a easily predictable pattern of attack which makes the fights much more challenging and not boring. Besides the actual combat, the layout of the dungeons is also interesting as most dungeons are non-linear. There are many obstacles in dungeons which is typical in Nihon Falcom games, such as switches you have to engage in order to progress. This makes the gameplay much more fun and non-repetitive.  

Cons (-) of Tokyo Xanadu:

Majority of Nihon Falcom games suffer from the same inherent issue which is the long event scenes. Despite the fact that you can fast forward event scenes, you should watch the entire event scenes at least once in order to truly appreciate and understand the story. The second flaw of Tokyo Xanadu is the slow pacing. The pace was slow but not unbearable. If you are willing to look past these two issues, a truly exciting adventure in the Eclipses awaits you!

Overall Rating: 4/5
If you have a PlayStation Vita and have yet to play Tokyo Xanadu, I highly recommend picking up a copy because this is definitely one of the best Vita games out there.

Written by Kou

Anime Reviews for Spring 2019

Friday, May 31, 2019 / No Comments
Spring 2019 is truly a treasure trove for anime lovers. Encompassed in this list are some of the anime from Spring 2019 that I will be reviewing. Do note that at the point of writing this article, most of the anime are only aired halfway or slightly more and form the basis for this review. I have included my overall comments and personal rating for each show on this list but it is worthwhile to note that it solely based on my opinion. I hope this article provides some useful insight and please feel free to leave a comment. 

1. Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin (Season 3 Part 2)


Kicking off this list is Attack on Titan. This season can be described as phenomenal. Picking up from where we left off in Part 1, our beloved survey corps, otherwise known as the scout regiment, returns to Shiganshina to recapture Wall Maria. There are plenty of adrenaline inducing moments such as the fight between Levi and the Beast Titan. That scene got me so hyped up that I kind of wished I was Levi.


This season is not lacking in the character development department either. In particular, I am pleasantly surprised to see the character growth in Armin Arlert. Armin has always been one of my favourite characters. What I like about Armin is his unwavering loyalty towards his comrades. For those unaware, Armin was first introduced as a timid and meek character with low self-confidence. Despite being physically weak, Armin’s intelligence is unrivalled, aiding his comrades on many occasions with his strategies. In this season, Erwin, the commander of the survey corps, gave Armin the authority to command a detachment. Armin gave firm orders to the troops which made me impressed considering how his personality is like. However, Armin’s steel resolve and sacrifice in order to buy time for Eren to defeat Bertolt was what left me flabbergasted the most. Armin is the kind of guy you would want to have as a friend, you will be able to rest easy knowing he has your back covered.

Overall Comments: Everything is spot on, from the Artwork, Voice-over, pacing to the captivating storyline making this a very satisfying watch. I highly recommend giving this show a watch if you have not yet done so.

Personal Rating: 9/10

2. One Punch Man (Season 2)


In the first episode, the focus is on the “World’s Strongest Man” known as King. We learn more about King who is the ranked 7th S-Class hero. King is a real disappointment to me and I only consider him to be comic relief. King looks imposing due to his large stature and scar running down his left eye but in reality is just a powerless otaku who took Saitama’s credit by being at the wrong place and the wrong time.


We are then introduced to Garou (pictured above), ranked 3rd S-Class hero Bang’s former disciple, and a major antagonist in the series. Garou is the first non-monster antagonist in the series, not including Sonic and the deranged scientist in Season 1. Garou is portrayed as a villain with morals. A villain with morals?! Now hold on, let me explain. Garou is someone who seeks to prove his strength by defeating the strong and not the weak, unless of course the weak decide to engage him in combat. Garou often chooses to analyse his opponent’s moves before striking as shown in his battle against Tanktop Master and Golden Ball. I really like Garou because he is extremely nimble and also relies on his wits in battle.


This section onwards will focus on my impressions of the fight scenes because let us be frank, we watch One Punch Man mainly for the action apart from the comedy of course. A fight scene that stood out to me was Metal Bat vs Centisenpai and Lafreshidon. Metal Bat pummelling them with his trusty weapon was very gratifying to watch. 


Next up we have the Martial Arts Tournament Arc where Saitama entered in the guise of Charanko. I have a huge gripe about this Arc because the fight scenes were dull. The fight scenes lacked energy and did not pique my interest. The arrival of Gouketsu, the first winner of the tournament who turned into a monster, did not alleviate this issue. I am hoping the show gets better as it progresses.

Overall Comments: This season pales in comparison to Season 1 mainly because the fight scenes are underwhelming and not as exhilarating. Season 2 is quite a let down so far and I am pretty disappointed.

Personal Rating: 5/10


3. Bungou Stray Dogs (Season 3)


Dazai and gang returns in the Third Season of Bungou Stray Dogs. Being an avid fan of the series, I am ecstatic that the third season is out. I have high expectations for this season and hopefully it does not disappoint. Read on to find out more about my impressions of the show so far.   


First episode in and I am already starting to think that this season looks very promising. There was a good mix of hilarious and tense moments which reminded me of the first two seasons. Thereafter, we get an interesting backstory on Dazai and Chuuya, showcasing how they met and their love-hate relationship.


Sadly, the show started going downhill past that. The main reason is due to the plot being all over the place. Do not get me wrong, the episodes after the Dazai-Chuuya backstory were still very interesting to watch. They were emotional and action packed albeit following a pretty random sequence. This would not deter me from continuing to watch the third season though, because of how invested I am in the series.

Overall Comments: The third season of Bungou Stray Dogs maintains a good balance of serious and comedic moments in conjunction with decent fight scenes that kept me glued. The voice actors receive approval from me and the opening and ending theme songs were fantastic. However, a major flaw is that the plot is all over the place and could definitely have been improved. Unfortunately, this season did not match up to the previous two. I would have given this show a higher rating had the plot not been weak.

Personal Rating: 7/10

4. Kono Oto Tomare!


I love to find hidden gems each season that are often overlooked or underrated due to the fact that they are usually overshadowed by the more prominent titles. Consider it a hobby of mine but I like to spread awareness about them so that people do not miss out. My hidden gem pick and review for Spring 2019 is Kono Oto Tomare!


A heart-warming show that emanates good vibes is what best describes Kono Oto Tomare. Chika Kudo (pictured above), a first-year “delinquent”, joins the school Koto (Japanese Stringed Instrument) Club. The first episode is very emotional and I was trying desperately to hold back my tears. Kono Oto Tomare only gets better as it progresses with the introduction of new characters and the bonds forged between them as they seek to overcome trials and tribulations to prove their worth to those that doubt them. The anime evoked strong feelings from me due to the deep connection I felt with the characters.



Kono Oto Tomare is a perfect example of an anime done right. Primarily belonging to the music genre, we also get a beautiful display of friendship and obvious hints of romance coupled with a medley of serious and humorous moments. The plot is deep, creative and well thought out, it tackles complex issues that many of us can relate to. Character development is incredible and makes you increasingly connected to them as the show progresses. The perfection of this anime cannot be merely described in words, do yourself a favour and watch this anime to experience a roller coaster of emotions.

Overall comments: The plot together with fantastic character development and pacing made this anime surpass the others on this list even though the others are much more well-known titles. Labelling this anime as a gem is an understatement. Kono Oto Tomare is so surprisingly good that I am thinking of giving it a spot in my Top 10 Anime. Please give this amazing show a try. I promise it is worth your time!

Personal Rating: 10/10

Written by Kou

Alien Hunter 4 - Amaya Nagi

Wednesday, May 1, 2019 / No Comments
Since I last created Alien Hunter No.3, I took a hiatus for almost a year to design the next Alien Hunter.The break was deliberate to allow fans to familiarize with our girls. Following Yuumi, Amami Kisa (Queen Bee) and Asuka Rie, the new Alien Hunter 4 girl named Amaya Nagi joins the team of gorgeous and moe-looking warriors. Her birthday is on 2 May 1994.


Illustrated by Resident Illustrator Gaby

Amaya stands at 1.7m tall, 52kg, 34C-25-33. I designed a set of attire for her, playing with sharp edges and lines. You will see two "4" designs in her attire (belt and top of her blouse), depicting Alien Hunter 4. So far most of my OCs either wear skirts or pants so this time I designed shorts for her, much like what Lara Croft wears in Tomb Raider. But while Lara has 2 pistols, Amagi is equipped with some serious kick-ass weaponry. Attached to her right thigh is a set of twin Cannon Guns, capable of taking down tanks, not to mention Aliens. On her left hand is a intuitive metallic arm piece which activates a kaiju-slicing Laser Sword (Don't mess with Amaya).


                                                              Illustrated by Resident Illustrator Gaby

Unfortunately, Amaya doesn't have a lot of friends because of her strong nature and fearsome capability. And it says in her name:
.
雨夜・薙 (Amaya Nagi) 

雨(あま) 夜(や) 
(Ama) (ya)
雨- kanji for rain, it is a lonesome feeling as usually rain depicts lonely and sombre.

夜- kanji for night. Similar to the rain kanji, night also usually depicts lonely, alone, quiet time etc. The opposite of the bright day.

薙 (なぎ) 
(Nagi)
A kanji that includes the meaning of mowing down the enemy, to knock someone off their feet. (なぎたおす)

Do download the following Amaya Nagi illustrations as wallpapers to your desktop or mobile.











                                                                 Illustrated by Resident Illustrator Gaby

Hope you like our 4th Alien Hunter, Amaya Nagi. 

Designed by Max