Trip Roundup!


Another year, another trip over, but that just means its time to plan the next one! This trip was planned for the summer holiday season in Japan and it showed, as it was very crowded in most places. Well, Japan is normally crowded, but this is a whole lot more crowded than in years past.

Returning to the REMM Akihabara after a 3 year absence, the last stay being only 2 nights before.  This time though I seemed to have fallen into a bit of an odd room. All the prior times I had stayed in the REMM, the room layout was the same… this time however, the layout swapped and the giant window wall…overlapped the bathroom/shower.


I thought about opening up the shower briefly, but I could clearly see the diners across the street at ChompChomp, and if I could see them, they could see me. So those blinds remained shut for the majority of the time.


As for new stores in Akiba itself, there were a few and it seems like more may be opening up soon. The big draw many of the new stores have it seems is used goods. As its possible to find all sorts of items used out there throughout Akiba. Though I would never recommend buying any sort of Retro Game in Akihabara itself, you can take a Train 30 minutes north and find much much better deals. I’m also unaware if the non Kanji initiated tourists are aware they are buying used goods. As some of the new shops the only indicator is written in kanji “中古”.


Since last year a new restaurant called Yakiniku Like opened up right next to the KFC, This place is awesome as its a Yakiniku restaurant, or Japanese style BBQ, designed for solo eaters and being quick and pretty cheap. I got a full set meal with 200 grams of steak to cook on my little grill, rice and miso for roughly 1200 yen. I was in and out in roughly 15 minutes as well. If I could dine like this in the US for $11, I would never eat fast food again. This does bring me back to the dining scene in Japan in general. I really do feel at home there, whether its hitting up Ichiran Ramen, or small Yakiniku joints like this one, or even Yoshinoya.

One thing I do like to sneak in each year is a movie, while I was a few weeks early for the new Konosuba movie, I was glad to catch Weathering With You by Makoto Shinkai. For anyone considering going to a movie over in Japan. Paying a little extra for the Premium Box seats is kind of nice. Though definitely not recommended for couples. It’s pretty much like a first class seat, with privacy walls, and extra leg room with an extra plush chair.


No trip would be considered complete without a trek to see the Gundam as well as the Gundam base. Given that Comiket and Odaiba Summer Event were both going on in the near vicinity it would be doom to try to fit in many plans around Odaiba during that time. The best way it seemed to me was to squeeze in some time late night after most events ended on the island. And it always seemed to me at least that the Gundam is much better to be seen at night.


Unicorn is as cool as ever, though part of me does miss the original RX-78. Though it was super packed, and this was late at night when I had thought most would have been heading back by now. This was actually, easily, the largest crowd that I have seen centered around the Gundam itself. It’s possible others had the same idea as me. I also know I saw some who were still lingering around from Comiket.


So yeah, tourism is definitely on the increase over the last few years. I do fear what Tokyo is going to become during the Olympics. As I can only imagine a giant cluster of aloof tourists not really knowing about any of the unwritten rules of Japanese Culture. Or how crowded the trains will be, and I know the hotel shortage is become a thing too. Given how many business hotels exist… well.. that’s impressive to fill them up.


For the first time I did walk through the Diver City mall, as many of the stores and areas were having a special Gundam Festival for the anniversary this year, many restaurants had Gundam themed specials and there were various displays like the one pictured above set up throughout. One thing that did catch my eye is that there are a lot of interesting VR attractions in Diver City, most needed more than 1 person so I was unable to try any of them, but do look forward to possible future visits.



Starwing Paradox


One of the more cool and neat games to come out more recently in the Japanese arcade scene is Starwing Paradox from Square Enix. As with many of Squares arcade titles, it’s big and flashy. And does take up a lot of space in an area where space is often at a premium.


In Akihabara for example, one of the, if not the game center capital of the world, Starwing could be found in only a few locations. The only Sega location with it is Sega Gigo located on the south end of Akihabara, the area which used to be reserved for Gundam: Senjou no Kizuna has been replaced by a heck of a lot of Starwing Paradox, outside of Gigo, Tokyo Leisurland over by Kentucky Fried Chicken also carries a few machines. The cost model is different as well, the first play is 200 yen, the first continue is also 200 yen, but the third continue drops down to 100 yen. After that the game is over and you can either start again, or swap out if it is busy.


As mentioned, the game is crisp, colorful and a lot of fun. The character displayed on the main screen is fully animated and voiced and there are several to choose from. The one pictured above was celebrating her “Birthday” and there were special bonuses related.

But onto the game itself, Starwing does have a relatively sharp learning curve due to the control mechanics and mech customization parts you can unlock. The controls themselves consist of a left and right joystick, as well as a pair of footpedals. The joysticks each have two buttons as well as a scroll wheel type implement on the right joystick. Not to mention the aside from the gigantic main screen of Starwing, there also exists a sub monitor with touch controls.

The gameplay objectives are fairly straightforward at least and is easy to understand even with no knowledge of Japanese. Each map will have several control points, as well as each team will have their base. When one team controls a set amount of the points, typically half+1, then the base becomes vulnerable to attack. The first team to wipe out the enemy bases health wins. Or if it is a timeout, then it goes to the team with the most health remaining.

All in all the game is a blast to play and learn. It’s popularity seemed to be kind of low however, possibly due to the learning curve itself. Each arcade was handing out flyers with free play coupons as well, so they are really trying to push it. The production values are outstanding and the force feedback and the motion from the cockpit itself is a nice touch. I do hope Starwing hasn’t fizzed out by the time I return to Akihabara, because I do want to play it again. As for prospects on it coming to the US, via RD1. I would say its low to improbable and I don’t think I would want it to come either, knowing how well RD1USA upkeep’s their machines, I fear what would happen to a game with as much motion involved as this one.

Girls and Bombs


Spending some time at the Tokyo Leisureland in Don Quihote, I decided it was time to spend good yen by trying out Bombergirl. As the name implies, its a waifuized version of the popular Bomberman series from Konami. Complete with clothing damage and MOBA mechanics.


Theres a decent amount of characters to unlock and each have different classes they fit into such as Bomber, Blocker, Attacker and Shooter. As for what the classes actually do is adjust the stat maximums and minimums you can level up to in a match. For instance the character shown above is a very balanced Bomber type, so she can plant up to 5 bombs and upgrade her size and speed 5 times each.



The battles themselves take place in a large arena filled with blocks, bases and teleporters to capture. The blocks drop powerups and stop normal bombs just as you would expect them to. The Bases are the main objective to attack as destroying them will ultimately win you the game. As your team gains experience through bombing things or other girls. You unlock several skills and than be customized and unlocked.


If you take enough damage, your clothes eventually get ripped to shreds and a large cut pops up. Originally at release the censor bars were not present, but eventually they were added in, not all characters are of the developed type.

I initially wondered how new characters and items were unlocked, and was thinking there was an exp progression or something as it is not really explained, but then the after match happened and I was treated to a Gacha scene.


By spending an additional credit, you get a spin at the gacha, 2 pulls with the highest rarity items, the characters, having a 6% chance. I drew a few times and did unlock a new character, so I can see it not being too difficult to unlock more.

The gameplay itself was actually a lot of fun. If this game got a home release, minus the exploding clothes, I feel it would actually do really well as it offers the same kind of short burst fun that Wonderland Wars offers but in a Bomberman format.

Akiba Insights


Rounding up the first full day here in Japan after a year is always difficult since it’s usally very spread about between exploration and game centers. Awake oddly early due to Jet Lag and having nothing to do for 4 hours, I became acquainted with my Ipad and time killer mobile games before heading out. Day one started off at Sega Gigo with some serious Wonderland Wars action, having been sidelined for roughly a year, it was a harsh start as everything was going poorly at first, but that was expected, and eventually the games started going much much better.


Always willing to try a new drink or two when in Tokyo, I came across a coke energy drink, it was very small, probably only 5oz, and tasted like Pepsi, but it did pack a serious punch, I don’t know whats in this thing but not too many caffinated drinks give me the jitters. Gigo has moved higher on my list so far as usually its more or less the forgotten arcade. But with the re-concentration of games at the other centers, Gigo gives the more quiet and darker approach. Club Sega is still good however, depending on how rowdy the Fate crowd is at the time.

Moving onto Fate GO, a game that debuted last year and was covered in the blog post, this game is still going super strong, though I am not sure as exactly to why. I suppose the waifu factor definitely plays a part of it, but unless I’m missing something, the gameplay is fairly shallow. Some of the rare and desired character cards can fetch $400-$500, so maybe that is a part of it.

I plan to branch out to some other games that have released like Sword Art Online and Chrono Regalia… though both are pretty much non existent in player base.

Onto Akiba in General, It is really crazy to see the vast increase in tourism that has happened just over the past few years. Back in 2013 the hotel options in Akiba proper were pretty much limited to the REMM and Washington Hotel. Now in addition to those two there is the APA, Hotel Resol, Hotel Mets (Opening Soon literally across the street from a Sega buiding), There’s even a Best Western and more look to be in construction. It also shows from a crowded point of view, as many of the shoppes and restaurants can get very full and difficult to navigate.



They say Akiba never changes…


And they would be right, a short little update on the shortened day after arriving in Japan. I made it to the REMM Around 4:30 in the afternoon, so there was a good amount of time to explore or otherwise re-familiarize with the surroundings. Jet Lag was a major issue this time around as it seemed to hit me a bit harder than usual, probably due to lack of sleep the night before.

One thing I was very curious about was the new SEGA building that sprang up recently… I knew beforehand that the majority was crane games, which is true. What I didn’t know however was what the mysterious 4th floor, that my research only listed as “games”, could be… and I was actually surprised for the first time in awhile…. Sega for some reason decided to put in an American themed arcade floor….

It was pretty corny and did remind me of something like Gameworks from the U.S. the only real interesting thing were the pong machines.

After a bit more exploring and Pepper Lunch, I wanted to find Starwing Paradox, a newer mech combat game. It wasn’t in any of the standard arcades I visit, so I thought I would check out Leisureland, since they normally have some odd games here and there. My hunch proved to be correct, and upon discovering the machine, I could more than see why it is not in many locations… The game is frackin massive.


I sat down… put on the seatbelt (yeah there’s a seatbelt) and popped in my Yen. The game is very sharp looking and modern with very crisp art. I also got to take part in the 30 minute long tutorial. Usually I skip these things, but when faced with a control scheme of two joysticks, 2 foot pedals, a plethora of buttons and a touch screen. I felt it best to take part.

Without going too much into detail, that will probably come in a later post, this game is bananas. It has a very high level of complexity, plus the motion from the chair and force feedback really sold it. My Mech had a Beam Magnum type gun, and every time I fired it, I could really feel the force behind the shot as the entire chair would recoil.

Anyway, that’s all for the Day 0 post. Stay Tuned for more!