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Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Shipping Dates

So it's 4:30 Monday morning and I'm furiously packing in the hopes of getting all of this weekends order sent out today to make sure everyone gets everything before Christmas. In light of this I thought it high time we addressed this years shipping Cut-off dates. We normally specify a a 5 business day handling time on orders but on orders made until December 21st we're specifying a 1-2 day time.

Below are the dates you'll have to place your order on and the service you'll have to use to ensure delivery before Christmas.


USA Domestic Mail:

Parcel Post: December 14th
First Class: December 19th
Priority: December 20th
Express: December 21st

Please note that many of our books are flat rate shipping for media mail which will not arrive in time for Christmas, if you're interested in ordering a book for a Christmas gift, please contact us about your shipping options prior to order, we'll be happy to send using another option.


International Mail (Excluding Centeral & South America and Africa):

Express Mail: December 15th

Express mail is the only service available that will arrive before Christmas for anyone outside the US.

So there's another week left for those of you in the US and another few days for international buyers. We currently have 615 items in stock, there's sure to be something for the geeky collector on your gift list!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Black Friday!

So if you're not one of those diehards who's already standing in line at your deal hosting shopping destination of choice, we're hope we can entice you with some Black Friday deals of our own, but since we know most of the Black Friday shopping happens in brick and mortar stores we're offering these special coupon codes until Monday. Also you get your choice for small spenders and not so small spenders:


Get $3 off any order with code: BFU2  (there are a number of items that come out to around $3 shipped in the US so you can end with something cool for only pennies or even FREE!)


Get $10 off any order over $50 with code: BFU5

Get $20 off any order over $100 with code: BFU20

So visit our shop:


And enjoy your shopping days.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Animation Meme

So I don't post in forever and when I do it's  a meme. But hey this meme is very relevant to my interests dang it!

- X what you saw
- O what you haven't finished/seen or saw sizable portions
- Bold what you loved
- Italicize what you disliked/hated
- Leave unchanged if neutral


CLASSIC DISNEY
-------------------------------
[X] 101 Dalmatians (1961)
[X] Alice in Wonderland (1951) - I really really like Alice, but I don't quite LOVE it.
[X] Bambi (1942) - So I don't love it but I cry every time
[X] Cinderella (1950) - Given that I'm a girl with a Princess complex, I enjoy Cinderella but less so as I age
[X] Dumbo (1941)
[X] Fantasia (1940)- One of my favorite movies ever. I love classical music and in my mind has some of the most beautiful animation ever created.
[X] Lady and the Tramp (1955)
[X] Mary Poppins (1964)
[X] Peter Pan (1953)
[X] Pinocchio (1940)
[X] Sleeping Beauty (1959) - Also with my princess problem I really Like sleeping beauty, but less so as I age
[X] Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
[] Song of the South (1946)

More after the jump

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Top Ten Horror Video Games

Happy Halloween!

Thia Halloween instead of candy, we're gonna to give you the Top Ten Horror Video Games. Clearly this list is very subjective but we'll do our best to explain our reasoning.

10: Friday the Thirteenth on the NES. Most people think of this title as the terrible epitome of LJN's game making career. However there's actually some genuine 8-bit terror going on here. The music is excellent, with the cabin theme taking the cake for some of the eeriest video game music of the 8bit era and the music when you encounter Jason is the perfect NES counterpoint to classic killer themes. The real terror though, comes when you make your way to one of the surprisingly labyrinthine cabins never knowing where exactly Jason going to pop up until BAM! he's on your screen.



See the rest after the break

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Collection oddities: Mario and Zelda II Halloween Decorations

It's October 30th so it's quite and understatement to say we're a little behind on doing Halloween themed posts, but I've got a good one today: Some super vintage Mario and Zelda II Halloween decorations. We spotted these on auction a few weeks ago and HAD to have them.


This is an official set from 1989 with the official Nintendo seal of quality so you know you're getting only the finest crack approved by Nintendo. They're flocked too so you can finally fulfill your fantasies of stroking Mario's Velvet-Soft Pumpkin.

First up the Mario 2 side:



I'm a little disappointed that it's clearly just the same art we always see from Mario 2 merchandise stuck in with some Halloween themed stuff instead of new art. However, that being said Mario + Halloween=Happy Nerd , so I'm still thrilled with the concept enough that it's OK that it's old art.

Naturally there are some things I'm not as OK, like why doesn't even freaking Nintendo know that Bowser wasn't in Mario 2?

Dressing up Bowser like Wart does not make him Wart nor does it mean he was in the game. Wart was a frog if you played the game you know this, if you've forgotten here he is for reference:
Note how that's a frog and not the demon lizard turtle we've all come to love. The Bowser in Warts clothing problem plagued a lot of the merchandise from this period possibly due to Nintendo of America's inablity to make a frog character look like a frog instead of various other green creatures, but that's a long rant best left for another time.

Moving to more positive things, my favorite part is The Ninji with his little basket full of stars.



I never got stars for Halloween, but maybe it's because I never dressed as a Ninjii. I'll work on that for next year.

Next up the Zelda side:


As you can probably tell from many of my previous posts. I LOVE the Zelda series, I'm a little fanatical about it honestly. So I was even more excited about getting Zelda Halloween decorations than I was the Mario ones. That being said they're kind of a disappointment. They just used straight up Zelda art here they didn't even bother trying to incorporate random Halloween stuff. No I'm not saying that Stalfos aren't a creepy skeletons or that it's isn't an impressively rabid evil Goya.



But c'mon would it have been so hard to put Link in a pumpkin for me? Really?  Also not that I'm sad it's there, but is the Zelda II logo/title really an appropriate Halloween decoration? What's that supposed to say to the trick-or-treaters? Don't bother stopping here, the occupant is too engrossed in Zelda to care about candy? I can't see that there's really one highlight to this set, they're all great and full of Zelda-y goodness. Though if there's one thing I must point out it's that Link's tights are flocked which naturally just invites stroking, our set of decorations is sealed so I can't partake. However, I'm sure somewhere there's some fanfic which will allow me to live vicariously.

 Mostly though this set just makes me wish that Nintendo still made decorations so we could happily display these for a festive mood rather fiercely keep them in the original packing intact like the nerds we are.

~Stephanie

Be sure to stop by our shop:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Collection update: Zelda stuff straight from Japan

Just last week we got a box containing several months months worth of stuff purchased from Japanese auctions. There were lots of interesting things in it like some hand drawn shikishi and new cels. But what I was the most excited about was a bunch of cool Japanese Legend of Zelda items. Zelda was one of my earliest video game loves and while Mario is better represented in our collections (mostly due to availability) but the legend of Zelda is my favorite series of games so I'm always excited to add new things to my collection. So here's what I got:

Look at all that sweet wonderful Zelda loot. I was a very very happy fangirl the day all this stuff came in. Items in details after the jump


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Retro Review: Banjo Kazooie N64

Today's retro review is a very special guest review by the surprisingly porous, retro game enthusiast, Dex. (good friend of regular contributor Richard/RM)

-Introduction-

Ah, Banjo-Kazooie. It isn’t possible for me to play this game and not feel waves of nostalgia for 1998 and being a mere 8 years old. A time where everything was simpler. Everything, except for the games. It seems the further back in time you go the more complex games seem to become. Are there games that are complex and difficult today? Sure, but they don’t seem to be in as much abundance as they are when you deal with consoles like the SNES or Genesis.

And even though our old games will often kick our asses if we aren’t fully prepared for them, we still look back on them with fondness. Maybe it’s because it reminds us of that simpler time? Maybe it’s those old school blocky graphics that remind us how things used to be. Who knows?

All I know is: I love Banjo-Kazooie



Full review after the Jump

Monday, September 13, 2010

Retro Review: Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX

--Introduction--

The Legend of Zelda was a ground breaking game, offering a depth of adventure never before seen by gamers. As the years progressed several, equally as compelling sequels would spawn from the original classic. Those that would grace the heldheld genre proved to be some of the most unique spin-offs a video game series had seen. And as the first Legend of Zelda to be featured on Nintendo's own Gameboy system, Link's Awakening took the essentials that made The Legend of Zelda great with new, quaint features and gameplay that while not entirely traditional, were certainly not forgettable.

The story begins with our hero Link sailing across the sea for reasons not ever revealed, just presumably for another quest. A vicious storm brews and while Link struggles to keep control of his ship, a bolt of lightning strikes the mast, and Link blacks out. He washes up on the beach of a mysterious, unidentified island. He his found by Marin, a sweet young girl with a fondness for animals and an affinity for singing. She brings him to the house she and her brother, Tarin, share. Here, Link tosses and turns until his eyes snap open to see a worried Marin at his bedside. Relieved at Link's revival, Marin tells him that he has washed up on Koholint Island. Not only that, but monsters have appeared and are acting very violently ever since Link washed ashore.

Link hops out of bed, and regains his inscribed shield from Tarin. He leaves their home, and ventures out into Mabe Village, a small, peaceful place with fluttering butterflies, frolicking animals, and playing children. Link travels down the lane, to the beach where he came ashore. Nearing the splintered wood of the wreckage site, Link finds the resting site of his trusty sword. As he approaches, he is accosted by a mysterious owl, who stops him and tells him that he will be unable to leave this island until he can wake the Wind Fish. Giving link instruction to start in the Mysterious Woods, the owl takes off back into the sky, as Link emphatically retrieves his sword.

The adventure begins.

Read the rest after the jump.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Collection Oddities: Sailor Moon Shabonda Magic Bubble Blower

Today I'm going to take an in depth look at a fun little item we acquired last year. I actually gave this to Jen as a  present for surviving another year of college. She graduated this year with an  accounting degree and what says "fiscal responsibility" like a ridiculous Japanese toy?




So here we have the Shabonda Magic Bubble Blower featuring Eternal Sailor Moon. Note the official Bandai logo so you can differentiate the licensed crack items from the bootleg crack items. The very existence of this brings up some important questions right off the bat.

First, why can't you just blow your own bubbles? Isn't the fun of bubbles blowing them?

Second, why on earth isn't it a Sailor Mercury branded bubble blower? She's the one who's got the bubble attacks.

Third, they really did slap sailor moon on to just every item imaginable didn't they?

Perhaps these questions can be answered by the box. Actually, I can just answer that third question, without the box. Yes, yes they did.  I still think we should check out the box though so  let's get to it.

The side of the box seems to show that this is indeed a bubble blower, just in case I was confused. Not much else there other than some stuff in Japanese I don't understand.  My Japanese is basically limited to what appeared in the Utena game on the Saturn and what I need to know for cel buying. And this box doesn't say, Anthy, Kendo, Garden, Cel, Sketch, or Doujin. So I have no clue what any of this says.

The back of the box features even more Japanese text that I'm not smart enough to read.  Luckily,though warning labels are pretty universal so perhaps I can decipher something out of that.

It seems to say:

Do not become Pac Man while using this item
Do not Face Palm while using this item.
Do not become Fry Guy while using this item.
This item will make children and adults happy.

So seems simple enough avoid video games and the Internet and you should be happy. This is our house so avoiding video games isn't really possible and I'm posting on the Internet so this is a dangerous proposition, but I'm going to tempt fate and open up the box anyway.



So here it is out of the box, isn't it cute with that little SD eternal moon on top? It came with an instruction sheet, which was naturally in Japanese so I don't have the faintest idea what any of it was saying. There were illustrations though, so I discovered the following:

1. You need to put two double AA batteries in the bottom of it or you'll be stuck blowing your own bubbles like a sucker.

2. In spite of it being in larger canister shaped object, you don't actually fill the can with bubbles at all. You fill a tiny cup bellow the wand with bubbles which will inevitably cause you to spill bubbles on yourself and your toy, every time you use it...

3. Above the bubble wand is a little lever you can adjust which will allow you to change the size of the bubble. In theory you could make fairly sizable bubbles with this, but we could never make them work no matter how hard we tried. Maybe it's just our inferior American bubble solution, but trying to set it to anything beyond the medium setting netted us zero bubbles.


Here it is in action:




It makes an absolutely ridiculous sum of bubbles and can be a lot of fun to play with. Especially fun if you sneak up behind someone sitting in a room and minding their own business. (Though it's a little bit noisy so they either have to be rather engrossed in what they're doing or listening to something). Additionally it could be great at raves or weddings any place where you want bubbles but can't be bothered to use your own breath. The small cup though means you've only got a solid 2 minutes or so before you have to refill. So, if taking it out in public it's best to bring a back up stash of bubble solution.

~Stephanie

Monday, August 16, 2010

August 2010 Coupon Code

We haven't had a coupon code in awhile and with everyone wanting to save money for the back to school season, it seems August is the perfect time for one. So for the rest of this month you can get 20% of anything in the store. Not Sure what you want? Here are some of our top picks:


Vintage Donkey Kong Mario trading card sized sticker from 1982. This sticker is 28 years old and has Mario's old drastically different character design. This was before Mario was even named Mario and was instead simply Jumpman. This is an awesome collectible for the vintage nintendo fan. We' suggest sticking it to your favorite notebook, but it's very vintage so we're honestly not sure how well it would stick. ;-_-  At $2.00 it was already not going to break the bank but with discount it's only $1.60, a tiny price for a collectible that's almost 30 years old.



Perhaps a littler more appropriate for back to School time a Sailor Moon Memo Pad:



This is an official Sailor Moon Japanese memo pad and even has to official Toei seal on the back. Each sheet has this same image of Usagi on it and lines on the back. The R season ran in Japan from 93 to 94 so it's 16 years old now, but still looks factory fresh. It's very cute for use (there's a large number of sheets 30+ approx., unlike most shaped memo pads)  or great as a collection piece given it's age and fantastic condition. It's normally $7.50, but with discount would only be $6!







If you're college bound you're likely to moving into your own place be it a dorm, or an apartment and one of the things you're going to need is your own dishes. So for you pokemon fans we have this rare glass bowl.



This is a rare Japanese item featuring Manaphy from Pokemon Diamond/Pearl. Bowl is heavy glass and features different cute images of Manaphy. It holds approximately 1 cup, so it's a little too small for ramen, but would be perfect for cereal or snacks. Because it's rare it's normally $28 but with discount it would only be $22.40.



Everyone knows that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy (or Jack Nicholson a crazy murderer, but it's not Halloween time yet so let's skip that for now) So why not take a little respite from text book reading with some book selections of your own?



Vampire Hunter D, the first in a series of novels about the mysterious sexy half vampire (Dhampir) who simply goes by D. This is the perfect distraction, it's got a little something for everyone, part sci fi, part fantasy, part drama and a wee bit of romance. Not to mention everyone's favorite fantasy is a sexy vampire these days, and the D novels offer you a more guilt free means of enjoying the genre with no sparkling and a lot less teenage angst than some other choices. This is usually only $1, but it's even cheaper at $0.80 with discount.






If you think maybe you've done too much reading already there's always artbooks:



Kaori Yuki, is most famous for her manga turned anime Angel Sanctuary and we've got two official Japanese print artbooks on hand from it right now. Lost Angel (seen at left) and Angel Cage. These are full of some of the most beautiful manga style illustrations you'll ever see. We really weren't big fans of Angel Sanctuary, but you don't need to be to enjoy this gorgeous artwork. If you like manga style art or fantasy art at all, these gorgeous books are worth owning. The scans are actually pretty readily available online for these, but they are nothing compared to the high quality image printings contained in the books. Lost Angel is in excellent condition and even comes with it's OBI. Normally a very reasonable $15, only $12 with discount.
Still not convinced you want to buy an artbook for any anime/manga you didn't like or are unfamiliar with? Here's a sample image:

And that's just a handful of the almost 100 items we've added just this month with more being added on pretty much a daily basis. Check out our full catalog to see much much more. And as always we can sometimes accommodate special requests we currently have 100's of items waiting to go on to the site, so feel free to ask, we might have what you're looking for.

Naturally by this time you just want to shop and use your code. So it's: August1020 simply enter that at checkout and you'll get 20% off everything in your cart prior to shipping, It's only good until September 1st so use it quickly!

~Stephanie

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Manga Review: Return to Labyrinth

So I know that only three volumes of this manga have been released thus far (as of when I read it), so this isn't technically a completed manga review, but given my love for Labyrinth I felt the needed to give this a proper looking at. First thing that I want to get off my chest is this is NOT a manga. With a few small exceptions, Americans do comics, not manga. It just irks me that they need to call this American comic a manga to get it to sell. Anyway, moving on.

I enjoy sequels to my favorite things as long as they are treated like sequels. This seems to me that the writer obviously loved the story of labyrinth and wanted to write a continuation. He seemed to have a few interesting ideas however seemed to get stuck quite often and reverted to reminding the reader of how much it was still trying to connect to the original movie. Which would have been fine of that connection was based on researching the original story, locations and character backgrounds instead of relying on quotes and irrelevant cameos.


This book was written by Jake T. Forbes, illustrated by Chris Lie, with the first three volume covers done by Kouyu Shurei. I felt compelled to pick this book up at some point as I love Labyrinth and this cover art actually does David Bowie a bit of justice ( in my sick Jareth loving little fan girl heart anyway). Now, I was highly disappointed to find that the cover art is just that. The art within the rest of the book looks nothing like this. I'm not sure how you get from
This to this

What is sad is this is one of the nicest shots of Jareth in the whole story and he's probably the best drawn character in the book. The rest of them look like they were done with the help of one of those scholastic "How to Draw Manga" books, you know the kind drawn by people who have never in their lives seen a manga. Had the art been done by the same person who did the cover, I wouldn't have felt so compelled to stab out my eyes. Thankfully they grew back in time for me to write this review.  They also went on to ruin one of the best characters from the movie! What did they do to the worm?!

(credits for this image go to ToughPigs.com)
I have to agree with everything I have seen about this. The worm turned into a soul eating zombie! Seriously. One of the nicest goblin/muppet characters gets turned into this. I understand that he may have gotten a little older, but this is ridiculous. Anyway, getting beyond my hate for sub-par "manga" art, lets move on.

CHARACTERS:

Toby(Sarah's baby brother) - Toby is a rather unlikeable character. He has very little personality, is incredibly selfish, and has very little in the way of redemption. If you were like me you didn't like him in the movie either, but then again I have very little patience for babies, especially in movies. That being said whiny baby Toby is approximately 100 trillion times better than angsty teen Toby.

Sarah - She has turned into the adult every kid is scared they will grow up to be. She has forgotten anything and everything fun and become rather bland and uninspiring. I realize this is part of the story, but it still doesn't help me to like her or feel bad for her. Additionally her character desgn has degraded in to your basic sidekick quality nerd girl. A far cry from the Sarah every girl in the 80's aspired to be.

Jareth - Poor poor Jareth is a pathetic excuse for the witty and sly goblin king he once was. The author tries to portray him as just as cunning as he was before, but failed to capture the feeling of what made him Jareth. Now he's just a generic "sexy" bad guy type character with all the personality of a bowl of pudding who's become he's a whining, sniveling little emo boy because Sarah didn't want to stay in his incredibly awesome castle.

Mizumi -  She is one of the more interesting characters. I thought her addition into the story was one of the few things that actually make this feel like a sequel and not just a poorly written rehash of the first story.

Hana - The usual sidekick. Not much to say about her. She is not exactly likable but not hate-able either. She is just kind of there.In spite of having a stock character personality, she's at least sort of a new creation.

There are others, but these are your main annoyances characters.

As the storyline goes, it was a relatively unique concept that could have been very interesting. Toby  has grown up and has been sucked into the same Labyrinth his sister went through many years before. Jareth tricks Toby into tthe labyrinth because he wants him to become his successor as Goblin King. Toby has only mild weak whiny objections before agreeing. He then prepares to become the gobline King by spending a good deal of time within the Goblin City learning of it's history and the way of Goblin culture. Which honestly could have been made really interesting as there's a wealth of Goblin society underpinnings that were never discussed in the original movie. The author could have really ran with things here, but instead choose to stick with the bland mediocrity that characterizes the "manga". 

I honestly wish this could have been if not a good book a least enjoyable one if more time was on the present  than constantly and needlessly rehashing what  happened 18 years ago. Surely in a society that's exisited for at least the last 1300 years, there'd be at least a few other things to discuss. Instead we get random quotes from the first movie that have no real bearing on anything, and what amount to walk on cameos of characters that were annoying and unimportant the first time. That almost completely lack of any original contents just reminds you that this is just some fan-boys' poorly thought out fan fiction.

Overall this is a poor excuse for $10 a book. The art inside is pathetic, the storyline might be interesting but relies too heavily on retelling the original story rather than expanding on it like it was supposed to.The whole thing has a high school notebook doodle feeling to it. If you have any love for this movie don't break your childhood memories with this poor excuse for writing.

~Jen

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Collection Update: A Work in Progress Version 2

So last month I posted that we had been spending a lot of time going through our collections and properly organizing/displaying/loving them and while we've been greatly delayed due to some family things that needed attending to we've gotten a lot of work done on our collection room. It still needs a lot of work, but we're getting there.

First up, the doorway, because well, it's a small room so even the doorway needs to be utilized to display stuff.




In this Picture is: A Mario Brothers 2 clock, The Mario Brothers TV tray, The Link Mask, A Mario Transitor Radio, Rare official Nintendo promo pixel graphics,  A vintage (though unofficial) final fantasy 7 poster,  Nintendo Power Backpack with Mario and link (there's also a matching folding inside), Metal Gear 2 complete set of McFarlane figures, Kyo plush from Fruits basket, a unicorn puffkin, Some random unicorns plushies, a stuffed octopus and Matel Legend figure set of Matel and Emeraldas. Off to the left side you can see the first shelf which I'll be describing next.





Now on to the first Shelf MWA HA HA HA!

A LOT more geekery after the jump

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sailor Moon Surprise

If you follow our twitter account you're aware that we've been out of town dealing with a family emergency. Which means we've been having packages pile up for over a week now. Today I went through them and found quite a surprise. In a lot of random sailor Moon Stuff we got a boxed Moon Cycle. If you're unfamiliar with the craziness that is the moon cycle, here's the front of the one I was examining today.


Sure the moon Cycle is a completely ridiculous item, but it's not something we're unfamiliar with. As a matter of fact ,we already have 2 in our collection as they're essential for Senshi Race Competitions. Besides I knew it was a part of the group of items we were getting. So there's more to this surprise than half baked marketing ploys.

In any case, I picked up the box and noticed it was rattling, I didn't see anything from the front that should be rattling so I flipped it over.



Everything is still normal from the back, except you know the fact that the moon cycle is a thing. So I Pulled out the tray...and what's that sitting in the plastic tray of a child's toy from the mid-nineties?


Why it's a Bunch of expired condoms, and a few empty condom wrappers.


Yes, friends, there's the surprise. They've been sitting there for awhile  as the expiration date in in 00...Seriously....WTF. I'm kind of at a loss now though, do I email the seller or just let go? If I let it go what do I do with the moon cycle? I'm not sure I can sell it in good conscience now.

~Stephanie


Don't forget to stop by our shop (which currently does not have any condom bearing toy packages that we're aware of):

Monday, July 19, 2010

Retro Review: Legends of Murder 2: Greyhaven

Greyhaven was one of my favorite games as a child, I was so happy to find that my old 3rd or 4th generation floppy of it still functions after 20 years, especially as it's not available for download anywhere on the Internet. We currently have this game available for download.

Introduction

Greyhaven is a fantasy murder mystery RPG published to Big Blue Disk magazine in 1991 (though the game itself was apparently made in 1990) which was a computing magazine solely for DOS games. It wasn't one of the most notable games to ever by published in Big Blue Disk (Like Apogees Kroz series, or ID Software's Catacomb series) But it is the one I remember most fondly from my childhood.


Rest of the review after the jump...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Collection: Cel Gallery Update!

We've recently updated a LOAD of cels to our cel galleries so I thought it was time for another cel gallery update post. As always if you want to see our full collections you can stop in at Acetate Addiction for our full cel collection encompassing various series and genres or Millions of Cats for Jen's cats only cel collection.

Meanwhile if you're not into browsing, here are the highlights from our most recent adds:


 Last unicorn Wishlist cel. The last unicorn is my favorite animated film so I am always excited to add ANYTHING from this film to my collection. But this piece is really, really special. I always loved the scene of the unicorns crossing horns, it's such a beautiful iconic image of them, but given the rarity and expense of last unicorn cels I was sure I'd never get to own one. Luckily for me a few months ago I was proven wrong. One of my favorite pieces in the whole collection.

Balloon Mario. I ridiculously hardcore loved the awfulness that was the Super Mario brothers super show as a child. I still obviously haven't given up my love of Mario even in adulthood so naturally I'm always thrilled to add cels of Mario to my collection. I mean he's a big round ball here, what's not to love?


 She-Ra Princess of Power, Swiftwind. In case it isn't clear, I've got a unicorn problem, I had an insanely huge collection of them as a kid and it was always my dream to be one of those crazy people you see articles about that have like 1 million of one item. I changed my collecting focus a lot since then. But sometimes my unicorn hoarding problem rears it's ugly head. My She-Ra cel section is a a really obvious example of this, there's nothing but unicorns and probably never will be, But c'mon Swiftwind is awesome, he's a rainbow winged unicorn, that alone makes him cooler than pretty much anyone you know.


Keith Harrington Seasame Street cel. The end of a short animation designed by Keith Harrington about about counting to 10. This was Jen's graduation Present for getting her accounting degree, so now she can officially tell me how much money we've wasted on silly geeky stuff over the years and charge me for the privilege.


One of the Lee Brothers from the double Dragon Cartoon show. I don't remember which Lee brother this is because in the cartoon show because they look nothing like their video game counterparts. In fact NOTHING in the cartoon show is anything like the series. We pretty much enjoy this show on a so awful it's funny basis. Seriously the Super Mario Brothers Super Show is serious film making comparatively. But, hey they're video game characters so naturally we have to add them to the collection.

So that is just a little taste of our recent acquisitions (recent being a relative term as these were all acquired sometime in the last six months) If you're interested enough, going to our galleries will net you a lot more cat cels, and tons more cels from various series including: Utena, Tenshi Ni Narumon, Frogger, Donkey Kong,  Patalliro, A Kite, more Sailor Moon and others I'm probably ignoring right now.





Additionally if you're looking to add cels to your own collection we've recently updated a few for sale including this Gorgeous shot of mamoru.You can find him, more cels and lots of other fun stuff in our shop.

~Stephanie

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Retro Review: Princess Maker 2

Unlike the majority of game reviews we do, I don't actually own Princess Maker 2. It was briefly licensed in English, but was never actually brought to the market. It's largely considered to be abandonware, though the English translation/conversion company says that it's not, though they no longer retain any rights. We don't generally condone anything that remotes resembles piracy, but given that there is not a way to own the English translation, no one is profiting (or not profiting) off having it, and  I can't go out and buy it, we've made peace with the download..  When I wrote this review Princss Maker 2 occupied nebulous legal status and I was playing the abandonware version. Now Princess Maker 2 (as well as the original) are now available legally download from Steam.We bought it right away and highly recommend it for time wasting fun!

Introduction

The Princess Maker series of games, shuns convenient categorizations. It is many things: a life sim, a strategy game,  a dating sim, an RPG,  and a dress up game. It all depends on how you play it.

Princess Maker 2 Title
Look up there in the sky it's a LOGO! It's an ill omen!



Overview


The premise is simple if not a little crazy. You play the part of a famous swordsman who is granted a child from the heavens.It's your duty to raise her until the age of 18. You choose her activities, her lessons, her jobs, her clothes and just about everything else she'll do with her days. Your choices will determine how her life will go. Will she be a famous warrior, a magician, a homemaker, the princess of darkness or a loveless spinster? It all depends on your skills as a father.

Princess Maker 2 Artist
Hopefully she'll spend her days painting happy trees


Controls are simple, it's a classic point and click. The only time it's different is in the Adventure Mode, where you can either use the mouse or the arrow keys. She moves a bit stiffly and awkwardly in this mode, but for the most part it doesn't cause problems as it's turned based fighting and random encounters. You might get hung up on rock or something and waste a bit of time, but that's the extent of the control issues.

Graphics are surprisingly good for a game that first came out in 1993. They're very lovely high quality manga style images that still stand up very well. They still have that early 90's VGA look to them, but they're quite detailed and look better than plenty of modern anime style games I've seen.

Princess Maker 2 Dance Class
We would have killed for tappa tappa tappa!


Sound is what you'd expect from a sim game from 1993, repetitive midi songs which eventually just fade into the background. They're not great and they're not terrible. There isn't a whole lot else going on sound wise, just a few noises during special events but that's about it. So, if uninspired repetitive music bothers you, it's probably just best to turn all the game sounds off and listen to your own playlist.

Sexism
I can't talk about this game and not talk about sexism. This game is flagrant in your face stereotypical "girl game". Your best ending means you marry the prince, even if you don't marry the prince, you need to marry someone. In endings where you don't get married at all even if she's otherwise successful are often viewed as failures.

Princess Maker 2 sexy outfit
I didn't put her in this outfit until she was 18 but it's not a requirement..ugh


 You've also got your required girl game dress-up features.  Your daughter can wear a variety of different outfit
s, several of which are quite questionable for a young girl, putting it mildly. Even if the skimpiness doesn't bother you, unless you spend a lot of time making her diet, she'll often be "too fat" to fit into many of the outfits.  Not exactly a positive message for women and girls everywhere. On that note in her stats screen you see her, height weight, bust size, waist size and hip size, because I mean that's exactly what I'd want to know about my 12 year old. It wouldn't make me a creepy freak of a father at all. Perfectly on the level, no questions here at all.

Always a great day at the Sleazy Bar

In addition to questionable outfits, there are also some questionable job choices, including gems such as sleazy bar and cabaret. Though other than the moral objections involved, when your other options include doing masonry or working in a graveyard, cabaret might not be so bad.

The worst offender in terms of sexist content though, (other than the nude patch, but that's not unlocked in the game through any normal means) is that, if you're an especially sleazy kind of parent you can pick up the buxomize pill from a wandering merchant. Which, as you could guess from the name, increases her chest size. Which (as far as I know) does nothing other than alter the sprite of an underaged girl.

However, as I'll say a number of times in this review, this game is almost completely changed by how you personally decide to play it.  You can avoid focusing on having her cook, clean and be pretty. You can have a scholarly lumberjack daughter or an artistic warrior daughter and you won't have to worry too much about a lot of the more offensive content. However, that's not without it's pratfalls too. I specifically tried to go down the warrior path with one incarnation of my daughter, but when she lost the annual combat festival the family butler, Cube, couldn't resist pointing out that "Girls are cuter if they aren't incredibly tough."

Who asked for your opinion anyway?

On the whole, I think the positives of the game outweigh the negative sexist overtones, but maybe I'm just repressed enough by the patriarchy into not being bothered.


Gameplay

You start off the game by setting your family name, your daughters name, your name, her birthday, your birthday and you daughter's blood type. This information does affect the game. Your daughter's birth-date determines her guardian deity, who in turn effects her stats, and her blood type determines her personality type.


For example my daughter Lily, had a birthday of June 20th and blood type O. Which meant her deity was mercury, she got an intelligence stat boost and she didn't gain or lose extra stress at the end of the month. There are loads of informative guides on the internet about choosing the optimum combination depending on the ending you're trying for but I think part of the fun of Princess Maker is the experimentation. With the initial stuff out of the way you get some very brief and barely coherent storyline before you're ready to start raising a little girl.

No pressure though...

When you start the game she's 10 and has whatever stats are determined by her birthday. The individual deity stat boosts aren't particularly generous, so it's possible to lead your daughter into any path you want. You decide what she eats, what she wears, where she goes, who she talks to and and most importantly her weekly schedule. Her schedule consists of work, school, adventure or free time. You choose the subjects you want her to study and/or the part time job you want her to take and charge the family's butler with making your daughter carrying out your plans. Why you can't do it out yourself since all you seem to do is sit at home, I do not know. Perhaps it's because dictating all that down to the letter and then pushing it on her too would be just be crossing the line. Using the butler as a buffer naturally means you're not a crazy control freak, just a dedicated father.

Your laziness and control problems aside, for the most part all you do is watch a small animation of her days spent on the schedule and see how well she did, how much her stats changed and how much money she's made. You're not in direct control over any of it, it's all ruled by your daughters stats. They only time you're active in her scheduled time is when you send her out adventuring. The adventuring interface works like a very basic RPG, and can get surprisingly addictive. I often felt sad when my 9 days were at an end and she had to go home.

Random encounters HO!


Whatever you choose to schedule for her, should be thought out carefully. Just about everything you do in this game will effect your daughter's destiny in one way or another. Again there are several guides online which will tell you detailed information if you're really dying to get a certain ending, but experimentation is more fun. This game has over 50 endings (I've seen conflicting reports on what exactly the number is ranging from 56 to 70+) I've played it through multiple times and have never gotten the same ending twice. One other thing to be aware of while scheduling, is that school is very expensive. When you start the game you can pay for one period of class and that's it, you can schedule her for more, but the instructors will just complain about her not having enough money and won't teach her anything, and having spent all your money, you won't be able to afford to feed her for the following months. So while it seems like pretty bad parenting to send your 10 year old off to work, it's a necessity here.

 Regardless of what you choose for her, even though you have almost complete control over every aspect of her life, there are some limits. If you don't give her any time off and she ends the month with stress she's likely to become delinquent, refusing to work or do schoolwork and potentially sneaking off to do unsavory things during free time. If you make her do too many things she doesn't like, she'll run away from home for a month wasting precious skill building time and not bringing in any family income. Similarly being too lenient with her and giving her too much free time nets similar results. Every girl is different so you'll have to experiment before you find just the right balance with your particular daughter.

It's OK Lily we all have loaf days

After you've hit your groove with successfully scheduling your daughter, she will eventually be visited by deities that give her stat boosts depending on what she's been excelling in. Additionally if she does particularly well at the harvest festival held at the end of every year she can gain a rival. These have different effects depending on your daughters stats. Additionally there are a few other random events as the result of adventuring, winning a contest or buying a special item that will give you random effects.

After 8 game years of working, adventuring, networking, festivals and education your daughter will turn 18 and you'll see what your choices have lead to. Will you have been a good father and pleased the deity with their decision to grant you a child? You'll have to find that out for yourself.

Thank goodness making kids work at 10 is smiled on by the heavens.

Conclusion 
Princess Maker 2 one of the most sexist stereotype driven games I've ever played that's still PG. That being said it's also a lot of fun. This game is what you make of it and has tons of little surprises (like all the different paintings your daughter can make and hang in your home) to keep you interested and make playing through it again and again worth your while. If you don't like sim games or games with very little action, this isn't a game for you. But just about anyone else could have a lot of fun with this.


~Stephanie


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