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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


Don't forget to stop by our shop:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Collection Update: A Work in Progress

Haven't done a collection update (or much of anything else in a long while. Mostly because we've been pulling our old geeky stuff out of storage and sorting through it. It's a work in progress.

So far it's gone from making things that look like this:

 

Into things that look more like this:


 This is a large portion of our sailor moon collection. Though still not all of it.Of particular interest to other collectors is probably the Moon House, Our full set of Irwin pretty face dolls including super moon and Saturn, The lovely German Queen Beryl, Dancing Princess Serenity, Dream Pocket Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and Eternal Sailor Moon, A super rare Furoku bag of Usagi as Mermaid (currently holding sailor moon wrapping paper), and a music playing crisis locket. We've got a whole host of other stuff including some really weird things including a inflatable ring, a travel toothbrush set and an omelet maker. But if I cataloged it all I could be here for hours (and that's still not all of it).
And into things that look like this:

This is much more multifandom, but with a heavy emphasis on vintage Mario. Of particular interest in this picture is probably: The rare 1-up mushroom Japanese coin bank, The Mario Kart Phone, The Mario Puppet Cooler, an almost complete set of Japanese Pepsi Mario Brothers caps, and naturally more sailor moon stuff (it's everywhere!) including a materials artbook.  In addition that that there's a bunch of diecast X-men figures, some sonic the hedgehog stuff, more Pokemon than you can shake a stick and other geeky stuff we like(which is a lot).





And to a slightly Lesser extent, we've been making things that look like This:


We clearly can't be allowed to have figures. I mean sure it's hilarious that Picard and Warf are sharing a dance in front of a video game convention. But things are clearly gonna turn ugly as soon as Godzilla tried to cut in for the next dance. And you can't see it in that picture, but a little ways away Dr. Crusher has Stolen Epona and the master Sword, which can't be good for Hyrule.

Like I said before, it's been a work in progress. We've gone through 9 bins of our stuff, and there's still some more we haven't touched. So it's going to be awhile, but we're both looking forward to proudly displaying our years of wasted money, awesome collections of nerdy stuff.

Oh and by the way, the room that house our collection is also our guest room. So if you ever have occasion to visit, you know what you're in for. ;)

~Stephanie

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Retro Review Tuesday on a Friday?

We've decided to still aim for one Retro Review a week, but instead of posting them on Tuesday we'll do them whenever we have time. We first set them for Tuesday when we were working with a different Work/Life/Education schedule. So instead of constantly not posting them because we can't match our own deadline.

So sometime this week you've got a Review of the PC Sim Classic Princess Maker 2 to look forward to.

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