Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Weekend In Tokyo

Upon arrival to Tokyo this past Friday night, I made my way from Narita airport outside the city into Shibuya, the very belly of the beast. Lonesteban and I met up at the well-known local meeting spot, a statue of a dog named Hachiko just outside of Shibuya station. We were soon joined by another American expatriate, Seth, AKA Thrakhath. The three of us found our way to an izakaya not far away and I was regaled with many tales of wonder from the inside of a Japanese game developer and publisher. From there we headed over to a Segafredo cafe and recorded Call of Podcast #10. Much about gaming was discussed.

That night, and a good part of the next day, Lonesteban and I hung out around his place playing Demon's Souls, passing the controller back and forth and trying to figure out why we kept getting our asses handed to us by a merciless spear-carrying knight with red eyes. Red Knight, as we dubbed our chief adversary, is apparently not meant to be fought the first time the player traverses level 1-1, the Boletarian Palace. In the end we were able to exploit some geometry in the environment to cause Red Knight to fall to his death from the top of a long spiral staircase. We must have spent 6 hours or more cooperatively gaming on Demon's Souls, and insanely difficult as it was, we were heartily enjoying ourselves. We wondered aloud several times whether the game would be as fun played solo, and I'm willing to bet that it would not be, but nevertheless, I can't wait to get home and pick up a copy for myself and flagellate myself with it. I won't play as a Knight like Lonesteban and I began, I'm leaning more toward the Wanderer class that wields what looks to be a falchion according to the manual and strategy guide. I wonder if I might still be able to find a copy of the collector's edition of the game with the soundtrack, strategy guide, and artbook.

That night the two of us headed out on the town to meet up with Cheapy D of Cheap Ass Gamer and CAGcast fame, and his wife. Lonesteban befriended him some time earlier at some sort of industry event, as far as I know. I'd met Cheapy once before at PAX 2008, but I didn't bother bringing that up, since there's no way he'd have remembered. He's a really nice guy, and just as funny and genial in person as he is on his podcast (which has like 13,000 times as many listeners as we get, incidentally). We went out for Tempura at a well-regarded place in Shinjuku, and then went for some karaoke after that. A fun time was had by all. Oh, and if you're reading this Cheapy, thanks again for coming out (not to mention picking up the tab--you didn't have to do that)!

After a while we Lonesteban and I headed back to his place, where I got in some time with Guitar Hero Metallica. It was about what you'd expect. I probably won't be picking that up unless it's on sale for $10 somewhere. Rock Band 2 pretty much finished the music genre for me. I can't really imagine needing much else unless it's another usability upgrade like with RB to RB2. I did find a cheap copy of Killzone 2 in a store near Lonesteban's pad, though. The American version, no less.

The next day it was time to leave Tokyo behind and head over into Kansai, where my in-laws live. I played a bit of Hero of Sparta, a God of War clone on my iphone, and in between sightseeing and meeting up with family here, I've started the Zerg campaign in Starcraft. My brother in law Jeff (Indonesian, married to my wife's sister, living here in Japan), is the guy who got me into WoW, and has himself recently returned to the game after a long hiatus. We had a good discussion about the modern endgame and gaming in general. And apparently, my six-year-old niece plays Street Fighter 4.

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