It’s been a crazy week in a month that is flying by and a year that nobody was expecting. The world is on edge with the coronavirus threat, people are hoarding toilet paper (?) and while many of us are preparing to spend more time at home than we’re accustomed to, others around the globe are putting their own lives at risk working extended hours to help keep this thing under control.
Some things will change suddenly- it’s unlikely, for example, that the cosplay project I’ve been working on will debut at Calgary Expo in April as planned, as I highly doubt that it will be safe enough by that point to have such a huge gathering of people in one place. My sister’s Worlds Cheerleading competition has been postponed, as have peoples’ trips, weddings, exams, surgeries, and other important events.
In a time when plans are being dashed, trips cancelled, work halted, and unprecedented stressful situations are unfolding daily, it is important to ensure we keep some normalcy in our day-to-day. It’s good for our mental health to have things to rely on, things to look forward to, things to distract us and give us some calming rituals and routines. For me, this will include activities like creating art, playing with my dogs, spending time with my husband, and reading. It will also include, in four days’ time, Animal Crossing: NewHorizons.
It’s been a while since I’ve awaited a game so excitedly. In our current goings-on, a new Animal Crossing game is just what I need to give my brain a break from the constant Breaking News.
If you’ve never played an Animal Crossing game before, they are extremely easy to recommend to just about anyone. The family-friendly series is known for being popular with everyone, their mom, and their grandma! The irresistible recipe of customization, decorating, crafting, improving the community, and making cute little animal friends gets better and better with each new installment. New Horizons offers so many cool new features, like landscaping, that I can’t wait to try out.
Sometimes, when the real world feels crazy, it’s nice to have a gentle, encouraging, somewhat predictable little oasis to call your own. I hope that Animal Crossing: New Horizons will be that for myself and many others.
If you are reading this, maybe there is a small chance- please hear my plea.
The tides of time are turning.
I’ve come from the future, the year 2036, with a warning of grave importance.
It is imperative that you play Steins;Gate.
It is the only way.
Alright, I know, Steins;Gate is old news- it came out in 2009!- but with a Live Action TV series recently announced to be in the works by Skydance Television, it’s a great time to consider playing or revisiting this twisty, dramatic, hilarious sci-fi visual-novel game.
I will admit that for a while Steins;Gate was a game that I played in intermittent bursts, often while travelling; I have a downloaded version on my PsVita, and the story begins as fun but sort of plodding. However, I recently picked it up again on my way home from Vancouver and got to the part where things really take off– after that I couldn’t put it down.
What begins as a bunch of otaku and their chuunibyou leader dabbling with internet message boards and dubious technological advances rapidly accelerates into full-blown world-altering time-travel with devastating consequences. I’ve finished 3 of the possible 6 main endings, and I’m questioning whether it’s possible to ever “have it all” (You’ll know what I mean if you play the game…).
I myself am very much a geek and already moderately well-versed in anime & manga tropes and lingo, but for someone who doesn’t know much about the vastness of otaku subcultures, this game would be an excellent introduction. Also be prepared for a lot of mind-bending wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey talk: The “tips” accumulated throughout the game point out and explain the references and vocabulary dropped by the characters time and time again.
Steins;Gate is actually the second release in this “Science Adventure” franchise, after Chaos;Head, but the latter has never been released in English- a cryptic tweet from creator Chiyomaru Shikira in 2018 hinted that an English port would “probably” happen!
Regardless, Steins;Gate is a separate story from Chaos;Head, with different characters, and you can absolutely play Steins;Gate without having played Chaos;Head (I haven’t, though I would love to someday!). Steins;Gate is available on Steam, Vita, Ps4, iOS, Android, and more. The remastered version of the game, Steins;Gate Elite is also available on Switch as well, and features animation from the anime adaptation.
I am definitely ready to start playing the sequel, Steins;Gate 0!
A month ago Dustin and I began our trip in Tokyo! So, as with our last trip, I’ve decided to copy out each day of my travel journal into my blog. Each day for the next 18 days I will share a post of what we did in Tokyo a month prior.
So, let’s get into it! (Or, start with day 1 here)
From Shauna’s Journal
Day 3, December 16th, 2019
I’m freaking exhausted but I need to get this incredible day down on paper before I go to bed! Today was tattoo day at Studio Muscat, so I headed out to the train station early to find the place (amidst some major construction in Shibuya). The train ride from Ikebukuro to Shibuya (around 7:50-8:20ish?) was INTENSE. I now know what it’s like to be squeezed into the train. I had never experienced it before, not even during our entire trip in 2017, but this was legit cram-packed. I had strangers intimately squished against me from every angle, and we moved and swayed as one big wave of humans. Something about it was sort of beautiful- everyone just stayed still and quiet and carried on with their routine despite having their nose pressed against a stranger’s armpit. The pressure against me from all angles reminded me of how a mother swaddles her baby- I was swaddled with and by humanity today.
So finally I made it to Studio Muscat and had wonderful sessions with Haruka (my tattoo of a cat resting on a traditional ball bell toy w. ribbon) and Eiji (my tattoo of a nephilia clavata spider). Both were very kind and professional, and thanked me for the cards I wrote them and the maple candies I brought them from Canada. I also chatted with some American tourists who came in to inquire about tattoos. 🙂
At some points I was cursing myself WHO’S IDEA WAS IT TO GET TWO TATTOOS IN THE SAME DAY?! (mine) as it was painful at times getting all stages of both tattoos done in one day with no numbing (the highlights of Haruka’s tattoo hurt like a BIIITCH) but I’m glad I got them done!
After my tattoos I visited the next-door cafe “Reism Stand” because I had the tattoo-shakes and needed to eat something. I got a hot cafe latte and some amazing, thick French Toast with apple and cinnamon.
Next, I headed to Shibuya to meet up with Dustin. I brieflyperused Village Vanguard (a claustrophobic cavern of novelties and trinkets) and then checked out the Punyus in Shibuya 109 where I could actually find clothes that fit me!
Dusty and I headed to the brand new Parco building and had a lot of fun exploring the new Pokemon store– huge glass tank with MewTwo suspended inside! Poke-nostalgia! The store also features a new graffiti art theme.
The Capcom and Shonen Jump stores were pretty cool, too.
We waited in line for about 30 minutes (a line that extended down a winding stairwell!) so that we could browse the extremely popular new Nintendo Store! I went to the one in New York years ago (2007?ish?) on my choir trip for High School, but this one is apparently the first one in Japan! I spent a significant amount of money there o.o
Lastly, we explored the basement level which is full of unique and quirky resturaunts and cafes. We stopped at Tyffonium Cafe, a whimsical spot with a sort of steampunk-circus vibe. The cafe uses AR cards for augmented reality that can be displayed on your table using a tablet. Each parfait you order comes with a different AR card (which you get to keep!) that gives you a different visual show, each seeming to be based on/tie-ins to particular video games. I chose the “Tarot” parfait, and it was so strange and wonderful! It had a gummy ball, clear and round on top, and an umbrella of gelatin which draped over the parfait. I love textures, so it was FUN to eat!
Check out day 4, Akiba Fun and Meeting Pikachu, here!
Matt over at Normal Happenings has finally revealed the character choices for his biggest blog collab project ever, The Characters That Define Us. The epicness will kick off in January 2020, with each week of the year bringing a different blogger and their chosen game character to the forefront, including tailored Daily Inkling writing prompts, themes, artwork, and of course uniquely personal blog posts!
Each participant is doing a different character- I wanted to represent the avatars that I’ve created for various RPG games over time, so my character will be… Alternate Shauna!
Without giving too much away, I will say that my contribution to this project will delve into the different types of characters I’ve created for role playing games of all sorts- from adventure games and MMORPG to more chill games like Stardew Valley, Animal Crossing and The Sims. In doing so, I hope to highlight how creating these alternate versions of myself has given me new ways to express myself throughout my life, as well as virtual role-models to look up to.
Thanks again to Matt for preparing this awesome collaborative project! This will be something fun to look forward to in the new year!
We just got back from Animethon, a 3 day anime convention in Edmonton. This is Animethon’s 25th anniversary, and it’s expanded so much over time that they had to move it to a new location this year: the Shaw Convention Centre.
I left work early on Friday afternoon (THANKS TO MY LOVELY MANAGER!!!) and hubby and I did the 5 hour drive to Edmonton. He was super tired when we checked into our hotel, so I did the 6 minute walk of awkward to the con solo in my InuYasha dress.
What Have I Gotten Myself Into
When I arrived at the centre, I registered and immediately got in line for the Hatsune Miku vocaloid concert. I was an hour early and the lineup was already out the theater hall, into the hallway, and down the stairs. After about half an hour of standing alone on the stairs and sweating in my voluminous yukata-style Robe of Rat, I started feeling a little gross and tired. I was very happy when we started moving into the concert hall.
As soon as I entered the cavernous room I scurried up to the standing area (which wasn’t as full as I was expecting- most people chose seats) and I got out my light sticks. Seeing adorable Miku, whose rhythm games I adore, dancing, singing, and playing guitar in front of me accompanied by some really talented musicians was SUPER COOL. @metadatastudios put on a great show.
After the concert I chatted with a few cosplayers and attendees, and met up with a friend to attend the idolish7 panel where the presenters showed us some clips and shared some info about the characters – now I really want to get into idolish7, it looks hillarious and cute!
After the panel I headed back to the hotel because I was exhausted.
Disqualified from the Cosplay Contest ^-^’
On Saturday morning, Dustin and I headed out to the con together and explored the vendors and artists alley. I couldn’t stop squeeing at all of the adorable plushies everywhere, there are just so many ridiculously cute stuffies from Japan!
I fell in love with a character named @pugliepug and bought a bunch of Puglie merch. I also found a new designer that I really like, 1percenttalent and I got a super cool tank with eyes on it.
After spending All The Money, we checked out the gaming hall, and I tried out the visual novel Love Hues ( @love_hues_game )- the full version isn’t ready yet (I played the demo) but it has a very cute style, college setting, diverse characters, and is LGBTQIA+ friendly! On their twitter it says the full release is expected later this year. They gave me a free poster and pin just for playing and filling out a short survey about my game experience.
I spent more time exploring and chatting with people, getting my Tsukimi (Princess Jellyfish) cosplay ready for the cosplay contest which would start at 2, but in a very un-Shaunalike move, I missed the cosplay rehearsal! I can’t believe I didn’t check my emails more thoroughly, but I was disqualified T-T oh well, no biggie. I still had the Take The Stage prelims later that day to look forward to…
Tap Dancing On Carpet Sounds Like Nothing
Take the Stage is like a talent show, and I had hastily prepared a little tap dance to the opening song of Princess Jellyfish (Koko Dake no Hanashi by Chatmonchy). It included some really basic tap techniques and of course my giant Clara plushie was part of it- I planned to lift her gracefully into the air and twirl her around. It all sounded really lovely in my head.
Anyway, even though the finals were to take place on the main stage, the prelims ended up taking place in a teeny panel room with a carpeted floor. The old thought experiment came to mind: If a Shauna tapdances on the carpet and no-one hears it, does it make a sound? After watching some of the others perform (singing mainly) it was my turn.
I’m not the most impressive tap dancer in the best of circumstances (I’ve only been dancing for 2 years), and Dustin came and took a video of my performance but I haven’t seen it yet… not sure if I want to to be honest! XD
The carpet threw me off a bit, as well as nerves, and I ended up forgetting my choreography halfway through, improvising some random moves. Heck, I had fun though, and I don’t regret it. If I go next year I think I’d like to try singing!
I was kind of low-key hoping I wouldn’t make it to the finals (which take place on Sunday) because we wanted to head out early and do some shopping and eating before driving back home, and I was in luck(?) because I didn’t manage to make it to the finals, haha.
Honey, Do You Love Me? WHAT HAPPENS AT ANIMETHON STAYS AT ANIMETHON (Except for blog posts, apparently)
Dustin peaced out to the hotel and I headed to my next attraction- I had bought a ticket to the Butler Cafe. I joined a lineup of people waiting and was soon ushered into the Riverview Cafe room. I was alone- my friend wanted to come but the tickets were sold out unfortunately- and I was escorted to a table of strangers. Once everyone was seated it was apparent that we had one extra seat beside me left, so I gave Clara her own seat!
Each table had their own butler assigned with a bell to ring for service. Our butler had a fancy name I can’t remember and horns on his(?) head. He served us tea and choice of dessert (tiramisu or vanilla creme brulee). I opted for the creme brulee, which was very tasty but didn’t have a seared top to crack T-T it was more like a delicious sugary pudding or custard.
For a moment I was wondering if I had spent $16 for a scalding cup of tea and a dollop of pudding, but then the head butler went up onto a stage to introduce himself and the other butlers, and I realized that there was going to be some theatrics involved. Everyone at each table was given a slip of paper with a dare on it. They could issue these dares to the butlers as they pleased.
A wild hour ensued with butlers embarassing eachother, professing their love to eachother, performing kabe-don, singing on the stage, and other shenanigans.
While my butler was at our table fulfilling someone’s dare to draw her a picture, I asked if I could use my dare ticket: Your Butler must play “Honey, If You Love Me” with another Butler of your choosing.
“Honey, If You Love Me” is a game where one person gets in the face of the other and tries any trick they can to get them to smile while saying “Honey, if you love me, won’t you please, please smile?”. In my drama classes in high school, this usually involved silly voices and flirtatious gestures.
I chose Haru (the only name I remembered from the introductions). Our butler called him over and showed him my ticket, saying “She chose you”. Haru either misunderstood or chose to ignore the part where he was supposed to play the game with my table’s butler, and instead he came to face me.
“Oh, so you want to play with me?”
I stammered “wha- um, with me? Isn’t it- with the But- My Butler- I was not prepared for this…” I could hear the members of my table giggling behind me.
My butler decided it was more fun to watch Haru play with me instead, and allowed him to proceed. He got down on one knee in front of me where I was sitting in my chair, took my hand, and said “Honey, if you love me, won’t you please smile?” I summoned up the skills I had practiced in drama class more than 10 years ago and maintained a flat, resting bitch face, but then he leaned in and pressed his cheek against mine for just a second, and I looked away, blushing and smiling.
Yeah, he won. I was never good at that game…
When I went back to the hotel later that night I told my husband what happened and he teased me for “cheating on him with a butler” 😉
I Didn’t Make it To The Finals So I Guess I’ll Go To The Concerts
I got the email saying who got into the Take The Stage Finals, and I didn’t make it, which meant we’d be able to sleep in a bit and wouldn’t have to rush around the next day. As such, I decided to make the most of it and check out the concerts of the night. I headed once more to the concert hall still in full cosplay with my giant Clara plushie clutched in front of me.
Kanako Ito was first- she is a singer known for her work on visual novels, including Steins Gate, which I am a fan of! She was so cool on stage with her flowing dress, sunhat, and powerful voice.
Soon after, ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D came out and performed a full concert for us. They are so cool! I was especially taken with the bassist Ryota who was closest to where I was standing- headbanging and swinging his hair around wildly, aiming his bass at us like it was a machinegun. They really got the audience going, clapping, jumping- I got a good workout, and since I had Clara waved her tentacles in time with the music and raised her into the air while cheering after each song.
When the concerts were over I rushed back into the hall to get autographs. I bought a ROOKiEZ towel to be signed, and I used my basic Japanese to tell the band that the concert was really fun and that they spoke great English (because the lead singer had been apologizing for his lack of English, but he spoke very well!). They were very kind and thankful.
Kanako Ito signed my pass for me, and she was so sweet. I told her that I really enjoyed her singing, and she complimented my Japanese, then I complimented her English and she said 本当に!? HONTOU NI!? ありがと arigato! (REALLY!? Thank you!)
I staggered back to the hotel a sweaty mess, wig askew. I hastily changed into my nightgown (throwing my cosplay every which way), washed my face, brushed my teeth, and fell into bed sooooo ready to sleep.
It Ain’t A Trip To Edmonton Until I Get My Crepe
We checked out of our hotel and headed to West Edmonton Mall to do some quick shopping. Because we had spent most of the weekend eating complimentary hotel cheese and granola bars, I had one mission first and foremost: Get a crepe from Crepeworks. This has been my tradition at West Ed since I was a teen. I usually opt for the strawberry or blueberry options, but this time I chose a simple Custard Delight. Soooo gooood.
Satisfied after the custardy goodness, I did some speed walking, skirting and dodging the annoyingly slow and spread-out families and couples who were browsing at a snails pace and simultaneously blocking the walking path- in these situations I can’t help but quietly call to mind Ludacris’ “MOVE B*TCH, GET OUT THE WAYYYY, GET OUT THE WAY B*TCH GET OUT THE WAYyyyy”! I’d never say something like that out loud, but we don’t go to Edmonton that often, so when I have some shopping to do it’s SERIOUS BUSINESS, OK!?
I mainly did some shopping at Oomomo, the new Japanese store where most items are $3. They have these really great acrylics that I love for raising my figurines in their case, and for displaying items at craft shows.
After the mall we stopped at another of our usual spots- New Indian Village (formerly New Asian Village)- they have an amazing buffet spread with curries, naan, spring rolls, salads, chicken, all kinds of stuff. I also love their desserts, like gulab jamun, kheer, and jalebi.
Lastly, we visited the new Miniso for the first time. It’s super cool! Dustin loved the fun tech accessories they have, while I lost my mind over the super cute plushies and beverage containers.
We drove back home singing to rock ballads most of the way. It was a fun little weekend trip!
I made a list of Favorite Fictional Moms on Mother’s day, so I figured I better do one for Father’s day lest my blog become horribly unbalanced!
For some reason it was harder to come up with a list of Favorite Fictional Fathers than Mothers… I don’t know if this says something about me, or about society, or maybe the entertainment industry? Who knows, but I decided to just write about Dad from Fallout 3, because who doesn’t love James?!
James is the only Dad who immediately came to mind when I began to reflect for this post a couple of weeks ago. Hes a talented doctor and scientist, and really just wants his kid to be happy (he even throws you a makeshift birthday party in the underground vault! Sure, it’s somber as hell, but at least he tried!)
^”You should stay and enjoy your birthday party” the game reminds you if you try to leave. >.>
^Dad still loves you even when you’re a total ass.
His backstory is super cool.
When James left his child behind, it was with safety in mind, and an important purpose for the betterment of all. Fallout 3 is still my favorite Fallout game, and I love the role that Dad plays. No spoilers, but if you haven’t played Fallout 3, you really should.
His Voice is The Best
Dad is voiced by Liam Neeson (!) His quiet, reassuring voice is one you can’t help but love. ‘Nuff said.
Design of Dad
Depending on how you design your character, his design will also change to look more like you. (While this SHOULD be the norm for video games, and perhaps more diversity options are emerging in gaming nowadays, that wasn’t always the case).
And there you have it! Everyone loves Dad. Or should. And if you don’t, be careful…
I’d been waiting for this game to come out, but I didn’t realize it had finally been released 2 days ago until my hubby said “I bought you a present” and dropped it in front of me. So, I spent a good chunk of my weekend completing my first play-through.
I am super impressed with this game. It far surpassed my expectations. I’ve always enjoyed these types of episodic, storytelling, quick-action games, and I am a huge fan of other Quantic Dream titles Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls. Detroit Become Human is right up there at the top of my list now.
This game is so engrossing that I think even people who don’t usually play video games should give it a shot if they have the chance. Anyone who has enjoyed stories like Ex Machina or I, Robot will surely love this game.
The plot of Detroit Become Human takes place 20 years from now, and revolves around the stories of three androids and the humans they encounter. Exploring the various detailed scenes of a futuristic (but still recognizable) world is a treat for the eyes. Some scenes are set in places so enchanting or lively that I don’t want to progress and leave, while others present a much more bleak or serious mood.
The various androids and humans in the game have interesting personalities, including the side-characters, and I found myself rooting for my favorites.
^Who wouldn’t love Ralph?
^and Luthor, the strong and quiet guardian.
The voice acting is, for the most part, really good. I especially love Clancy Brown as Inspector Hank Anderson. Clancy Brown is one of my favorite actors, so I was pretty excited when I saw him in the beginning of the game.
His deep, throaty voice works well with the grumpy, foulmouthed, but otherwise loveable character.
The gameplay itself felt pretty solid for the most part once I got used to remembering the touch-sensitive pad (“playing” the piano is especially fun).
I played on experienced mode because I wanted my actions to really count, and sure enough I made a handful of oopsies throughout, especially near the end. I finished with what was probably one of the most tragic endings in the game. But, it was a wild ride and had me on the edge of my seat!
Did I mention yet? The graphics in this game are seriously amazing.
Detroit Become Human addresses questions of humanity and identity. It surprised me with some of its more blatant allegories to the darkest parts of our real world history- these were definitely heavy-handed at times, but regardless, I still enjoyed the story very much.
There are tons of twists and turns, and I am certainly going to do at least one more play-through soon to see what different outcomes I could have gotten.
Overall, I loved this game, and I highly recommend it!
Edit: I forgot to mention that, as a Canadian, the role Canada plays in the game made me excited XD