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Saturday, June 30, 2012

It's Usagi and Chibiusa's Birthday today!

If you're a Saior Moon lover like we are that means it's a cause for celebration! So in honor of the birthdays and the 20th anniversary, for the rest of today only you can get 20% off your purchase of in our shop! Just use coupon code Usagi20

But hurry about because it's only good until midnight tonight CST!

Be advised however we are on Hiatus from the shop for the weekend so most questions are going to have to wait until Monday to answer, but you can shop normally. :)

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Top 10 Female Videogame Characters who are a lot more than T&A

Let me start off this list with saying that I am a gamer and a girl, but that doesn't mean I hate every single busty super sexualized female character. I absolutely adore Ivy in the Soul Calibur series and while she certainly could beat the crap out of anyone who dared ogle her, no one can argue her character design is totally based on T and A, huge uncovered jiggling masses of T and A frankly. Also, I recently bought a copy of DOA: Extreme Beach Volleyball, which is based almost entirely based on watching jiggly scantily clad young ladies run around on sun soaked beaches, I mean there's the "hopping game" as mini-game for goodness sake. In my defense, I like extreme beach volleyball for the dating sim aspect, though that asshole Christie is always throwing away my presents... but I digress. The point is, I'm not making this list to villainize the sexy girls of video gaming. It's just that when a female character happens to be well developed as a whole rather than just in her chest area, it's a nice surprise.

Let me also add the caveat this only applies to characters in games I'm really familiar with so there's no Alyx Vance for example, because I never got into to Half Life 2. I also avoided characters who didn't originate in video games, are anthro, or who are robots/holograms/otherwise abiotic.

So, onto the list (some minor spoilers):

10. Lucca, Chrono Trigger:

Lucca is a genius inventor who carries a big gun, casts amazing fire attacks and is pretty much responsible for saving the world. (If not for Lucca's malfunctioning transporter Chrono and crew would have never known about Lavos)  She pretty much constantly saves the party's ass by being the only one smart enough to figure out how to overcome the things they encounter that can't be simply beaten into submission. Lucca is kind of lacking in the stats department, but luckily her father makes a variety of special items that help compensate for that. I'd like to complain about her needing her daddy to fix her problems, but I feel confident that she could design her own armor if she wasn't so busy doing anything even remotely intellectual in the party.  In spite of her weak base stats Lucca  has some pretty powerful magic though, she is essential to both the strongest  triple tech attacks in the game(Dark eternal and Omega Flare), the strongest double tech in he game (antipode 3) and her single tech, Flare, is the second strongest single tech in the game, so she's certainly not lacking attack power (unless it's a monster with magic resistance).

Unfortunately in spite of  her awesome qualifications she also gets relegated to being your archetypical smart nerdy girl in many ways. Short Hair, Check. Baggy clothes, Check. Glasses, Check. Never the main love interest, Check. Being a glasses sporting female genius who isn't romantically interested in her childhood friend isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just that it's so cliched and honestly Lucca deserves better than a sorry cliche. Though, in spite of being at least 70% walking cliche she still manages to be a pretty admirable character.

 9. Carmen Sandiego, Where in the World/Time/Space is Carmen Sandiego:

The first Carmen Sandiego game came out in 1985, meaning Carmen has managed to be the world's greatest master thief for the last 30+ years. I've played a lot of Carmen Sandiego, I mean hours and hours of my life have been spent on the many incarnations of that game and not once have I ever been able to catch Carmen, I've caught enough VILE henchmen to fill 10 prisons, but never the mastermind herself. Carmen's future and Carmen's past are shrouded in a mystery kind of like Carmen herself. She never appears without her trademark trench coat and red fedora (and ruby necklace if you believe the dossieres, though I don't recall seeing it on her) so you only catch glimpses of her face, but for a lady who lives in the shadows she's built a great empire for herself. Carmen Sandiego is the premier name in Educational games, she's lent her name video games, books, TV shows, and board games. Tons of kids grow up aspiring to be the one to put Carmen behind bars. Maybe master thief isn't the most positive career choice in the world, but Carmen does it well, entertaining us and educating us in the process.

8. Chun-Li, Street fighter Series:

Chun-Li is one of the first really recognizable token female characters. First appearing in Street fighter II in 1991 along with 7 male "world warriors" and was the first female playable character in a fighting game. In spite of being the token girl Chun-Li is consistently portrayed as being strong, muscular and capable of holding her own with the boys. In subsequent games she's been joined by a full roster of female fighters, but she's usually the only one who's fully dressed, as apparently for the "strongest woman in the world" the chain mail bikini principal does not apply. Sure there's a wealth of Chun-Li bikini figures endlessly flowing out of Japan and a few questionable alternative costumes so there's no denying she's sexy but she generally errs more on the side of badass. Chun-Li isn't just the first token girl though, she's a face of the game and often voted as the most popular characters in the entire franchise, beating out even Ryu and Ken. In her earliest incarnations she was a bit weaker than the rest of the roster, but over the years she's developed into one of the most solid and consistent fighters on the roster.

7. Sniper Wolf, Metal Gear Solid:

I have to note sniper wolf definitely has sex appeal built right into her character design, there's zero reason for her to be running around half unzipped in the snow other than gamers like boobies. But she's a lot more than a busty girl with a bug gun.  She's a world class assassin supposedly able to wait days, even weeks for a target without moving or eating, while she doesn't have to wait that long for Snake and Meryl to wander out into the open, she proves what a single well placed shot can do to ruin your day. When Snake encounters her a second time, she proves that she's also a master of camouflage perfectly blending into to the snow field during your battle. All of the foxhound members that are part of the Shadow Moses uprising have interesting back stories, but Wolf's is a little more developed than most. She's not just a run of the mill super warrior Snake manages to best, she's a believable multi-facted person who just happens to be deadly.

6. Jill Valentine, Resident Evil 1:

Jill has evolved over the years to include a lot more T and A and have a lot less character development and depth, which is why I'm only citing the original game. In RE1 Jill's default outfit is pretty unflattering, not to the point where it makes her ugly, but it's pretty far from fan service. She also is one of the strongest members of her elite team of mercenaries, being one of a few that survives the excursion into the mansion. She also is one of the few female characters in the video game universe who can not only keep up with the boys, but she is much more useful than her male counterpart. Unlike Chris, she has a bigger inventory, plays piano and is the master of unlocking. She does fall victim damsel in distress syndrome a number of times requiring Barry to keep her from becoming a "Jill sandwich". However, because of Barry she doesn't have to carry around a bunch of  useless items in limited inventory space unlike poor Chris, so it's kind of a positive in this case. In spite of needing the occasional saving, Jill  is still a pretty kick ass character. She manages to mostly hold her own in mansion swarming with zombies, and defeats the nasty human civilization threatening bosses mostly unassisted.

5. Lara Croft Tomb Raider Series:

I have to point out that Lara is totally a sex symbol, she's been redesigned to be more "normal" now but she's still got an awful lot of T and a good amount of A bobbing across the screen. But being sexy doesn't mean you can't be a well developed interesting character and Lara actually does have a lot more going for her than her cup size. She's smart, strong and independent. Lara struts into ancient tombs all by herself, no silly local guides like the archaeologists use. She starts off armed with her wits, a pair of pistols and world class gymnastic skills. She has the strength to push aside those boulders blocking her entrance to the tomb, the intelligence to solve those insane puzzles ancient peoples seemed to litter their places of worship with, and the marksmanship to take out crazed creatures out for blood while she's doing it.  Should she encounter someone in one of those tombs, Lara doesn't fall in love with them or take it as her cue to wait to be rescued, she usually tells them to get away from her artifacts and GTFO before she starts shooting.

Lara's changed a lot over the years and in her many incarnations, but in spite of being one of the most recognizable sex symbols in all of gaming, she's managed to stay smart, strong and competent.

4. Faris Scherwiz, Final Fantasy V:

Faris is a cross dressing, sword wielding, trash talking pirate captain. Her crew (and the party at first) believes she's male, but she's still so charismatic they fall in love with her anyway. You find out later in the game she's a long lost princess, but she chucks away her royal duties and dress at the first opportunity to go back to being a pirate. If that's not weird (but awesome) enough she also has the highest base stats of any character in the game, a feat which hasn't been seen since the most recent Final Fantasy game. So not only does she have a great character concept and while I'm at it, a pretty fabulous character design, she easily has the best black trench coat in an RPG this side of Sephiroth, but she is undeniably badass. That's not just an opinion there's cold hard numbers to back it up.

3. The Boss, Metal Gear 3: Snake Eater:

The Metal Gear series actually features a pretty large number of well developed capable and confident female characters, as it's a series that really excels in making fully developed  wonderfully realized characters of any gender. The Boss though, has to be one of the most impressive. She influences the entire series, being the director mentor to big boss, and in turn the indirect mentor to solid snake and liquid snake. Not to mention her connection to Ocelot who is consistently causing problems for everyone. Though just being the Metal Gear equivalent of a King maker would be enough, but The Boss is pretty awe inspiring on her own terms. She's the head of the Cobra unit, which contains some of the most intimidating bosses in any of the Metal Gear Games, Co-Created CQC, saved the world from nuclear destruction, gave birth on the battlefield and made battling in a field of flowers completely badass.  In spite of being a main antagonist and intimidating killing machines she's also likeable and you finish the game respecting the hell out of her. She also manages to be pretty and feminine (and not just when her sneaking suit is half zipped) in a slightly more mature and completely believable way. For the most part she embodies everything a well written strong female character should

2. Samus Aran, Metroid Series:

Samus has got to be the mother of all strong female video game characters.  In her first several appearances, she spends most of her time covered head to toe in an impenetrable suit of armor, nary a jiggle to be seen and her profession is bounty hunter, a far cry from things like princess or daughter or girlfriend like most of the female characters of her day. Appearing in the first metroid game in 1986, Samus ran around in her Varia suit looking like the typical one man army in vast nest evil that was so prevalent in that era. Boys who'd NEVER even look at a game with a female protagonist picked up Metroid and if they managed to get one of the right endings, got their mind blown with the knowledge that the badass bounty hunter they'd been using to blow away Space pirates and freaky aliens was perhaps the first non-token female character they'd ever encountered in a game. Notably Samus does appear less than dressed when she's out of her varia suit and the zero suit doesn't leave much to the imagination, but she's spent a good chunk of her decades long career largely unsexualized. Generally speaking, you don't play Metroid because you're thinking about how hot Samus is, you're playing it because she's the most badass bounty hunter in the video game universe.

1. Heather Mason, Silent Hill 3:

Silent Hill is no place for anyone ever, let alone a young girl who hangs out at the mall in her free time, but Heather doesn't care. Unlike most of other protagonist in the series Heather doesn't go into the accursed town looking for ghost stories and giggles, Silent Hill comes to her full force. Instead of cowering in a corner and crying like any sensible person would do, she hesitates enough to be human, then picks up a gun and starts blowing away the nightmare fuel so she can make her way home. Arriving home with her world turned upside down, she doesn't take this opportunity to cry or breakdown or get someone to fix it for her. Instead, she vows revenge on the whole evil town and goes out to take care of business.

Heather is one of the most believable game characters of any gender. One of the few characters who when faced with insurmountable odds and a mind blowingly awful situation doesn't just spout manly one-liners, ask inane questions, or mindlessly stick her hands where no thinking person would. Heather basically tells you: Look, that nasty pile of  bloody monster parts on the stretcher, yeah it's upsetting and I'm certainly not touching it, but I don't have time to be upset by it right now, get back to me later and I'm sure I'll have some words for it.  Heather manages to be feminine in her sporty skirt and vest combo, without being distractingly sexy and manages to be strong without any of the sometimes grating (even for another woman) archetypical strong female character traits. Overall, Heather's gender is about as important as her shoe size. It's a part of her, but doesn't define her life or her character. That her gender is so gloriously unimportant, is one of the things that makes her one of the best portrayals of a woman in any video game ever.


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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Collection Oddities: Sailor Moon North American Travel Kit

This is another one of those items that is really at it's core a sensible item. It's the Sailor Moon branding that makes it weird. This is a North American Travel Kit:

Sailor Moon Says: Cleanliness is next to Scoutliness

This includes everything you might need for a short overnight, all branded with the Sailor Moon logo. Runny nose? Don't worry these Sailor Moon facial tissues will banish them like a Negaverse* creep! (*this is a North American release might as well use the dub terms). Snarls in your hair? You've got your choice of a cheap plastic brush or cheap plastic comb to punish them in the name of the moon!  Or, perhaps my favorite part though is the official Sailor Moon travel soap which comes with it's own Sailor Moon soap holder. It's still sealed so we didn't open it to check if the soap itself is also emblazoned with the logo, but I feel like it probably is.

I mean I get I guess if I was at the store and had to buy a child's travel kit I might have picked the cartoon branded one to try to encourage them to clean. But if that's the motivation, shouldn't it maybe have included a colorful recognizable character or two instead of just the logo everywhere. Logos are recognizable, but not fun or particularly interesting to most children. It seems like this was mostly more of the extremely lazy branding that plagued 80% of the North American merchandise brought out for Sailor Moon. On the other hand, Sailor Moon Soap. It's hard to argue with that.


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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Collection Oddities: Resident Evil 5 Sand Globe

We don't normally  highlight things they have come out in the last decade, because A) They're not as fun, B) we mostly collect older stuff and C) most people on the internet have already seen it. However this is such a weird thing we can't help but share.

The Resident Evil 5 Sand Globe:

If any zombies get under this glass, we are prepared.
This was apparently a pre-order bonus. We bought RE5 with the special red xbox360 when they came out, but didn't pre-order for any fun bonuses :( So we bought this on the secondary market. Honestly though I'm not even sure which store it originated from.

It features an incredibly poorly painted Chris and Sheeva back to back guns drawn ready to take one the zombie menace. There's a resident evil 5 logo on the Sheeva side and a Capcom logo on the Chris side. though if I were Capcom I wouldn't have wanted to put my name on this. The painting on Chris and Sheeva is worse than a dollar store bootleg.

When you shake it up Chris and Sheeva are assaulted by a swirl of glittery sand. The sand is a fun concept as it's supposed to be Africa, there's not a lot of snow. However, they should have colored normal snow globe flecks the sand is pretty heavy and doesn't get good air time. It's mostly settled before even have a chance to put the globe back down. It does however make it look like it's drastically reduced their visibility fr a few seconds:
Why is the BSAA setting up camp in the east African glitter desert?

 Overall it's a shame the figures are painted so poorly otherwise though it's really cool item.  Just a bit strange, I can't image there'd be that many Resident Evil fans who also happen to think snow globes are awesome.


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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Collection Oddities: Sailor Moon Nakayoshi Luna Pencil Case

We really like collecting the Sailor Moon items that were Furoku or Zenin for Nakayosi Magazine. Most of the items feature unique art not found on any other items. Although they're unique most of these items aren't particularly weird. The Luna Pencil case however is an exception.

Somehow I remember Luna looking more like a cat less, like a fuzzy sausage.
This fuzzy black thing is a pencil case that's suppose to resemble Luna, though really the only indication of that is pointy ears and a crescent moon. I'm not sure what's going on with the little pink bowtie, you'd think they'd have at least wanted to make it yellow since that's the only ribbon you ever see her have. It is still pretty cute in a completely ridiculous manner.  The inside is probably the better part though:

It's hard to see because of the camera flash but the inner pocets have an all over pattern with Luna's head and Nakayosi. There are 5 compartments in all, but it only comes with two desk items, a pencil and a ruler. What they lack in quantity though they make up for in quality:

It is physically impossible not to fall in love with winking Luna. You might think you're immune to her charms, but you aren't. Notably we haven't actually tried to use either of these items, so we're not sure if they're functionally high quality, but in cuteness quality they're clearly a 10/10. The only weirdness is why Artemis' head is on top the pencil when it's otherwise a completely Luna set.

This item isn't completely cracked out insane like a lot of the other items we feature as it does have legitimate art and a pretty reasonable purpose.  A plush pencil case does sort of push the bounds of reasonable in general, but it's mostly the why the fuzzy sausage that only vaguely resembles Luna, that really makes it weird. It's cute in it's own way and we're pretty committed to getting anything with the moon cats on it so it's perfect in our collection.


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Friday, June 1, 2012

Collection Oddities: Sailor Moon Bubble Blower Version 2.0

If you've check out our oddities posts before you'll know that we've done a Sailor Moon Bubble blower before. This is a Sailormoon World bubble blower, making it a bit newer than our StarS bubble blower.  Is it new and improved? Let's find out:

 We haven't taken it out of the package so we can't say if it's functionally better, but we can see right off the bat that it comes with it's own bubbles which is an improvement from the old model. This one isn't electronic, you have to blow it like an old school bubble pipe. So it's less technologically advanced, but no batteries to worry about, I'm not sure whether or not that counts as improvement, so we'll just say it's different for now. There is some assembly required, the figure comes separately from the bubble maker and you have to put it on yourself like a sucker. Our other bubble maker has a preattached figure, no fuss no muss. Though according to the back of the package, this figure can be used as a pencil topper when you're done. So we'll still count that as an improvement. Speaking of the back lets check it out:

I have to wonder about that stamp? Is it the date for maximum bubble freshness?
So from looking at the illustrations and ignoring all the Japanese characters I can't read( 99.9% of them) it seems that item uses both water and bubble solution to function and a fun wheel mechanism. Also, contains the ever popular, do not become Pacman while using this item warning. The Japanese seem to be preoccupied with people becoming Pacman, was there some sort of epidemic of this I'm not aware of?

Overall this bubble maker is a lot different than our other one, not just in looks, but in functionality as well. So perhaps it was aimed at people who wanted more of a role in their bubble production? Maybe parents who didn't want their children taking the lazy path of push button bubbles? It's hard to say. though it does beg the questions just how many Sailor Moon bubble makers are out there? and just how many bubble makers does one series need?


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