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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Collection Oddities: Sailor Moon Curry Mix

With a show as popular are Sailor Moon there is going to merchandise all over the board including quite a range of food items from candy to canned pasta and a lot of things in between (like the selection of Japanese rice seasoning packets we have in the shop) but this is something a little rarer:

If you can't read Japanese and the picture isn't helpful enough, it's a curry mix.  This is the outerbox and inner pouch containing the actual mixture. This hasn't been used so the pouch is still full of liquid, we're nervous that it'll spring a leak if we feel it up too much so we're not sure if it's just sauce or a full on curry. As it's around 15 years old now we obviously had no intentions of actually trying it, but we do wonder what exactly makes it's sailor moon curry? Is it made of pure hearts and moon dust? Young girl's dreams and Pink Sugar? Rose petals and crushed spell scrolls? I could probably continue making ridiculous guesses but we'll probably never really know what makes it full of moonie goodness. What I can say though is that the art on the packet is super cute, the simplicity of the monochromatic line art is really appealing.

We've only seen this once so it's likely the there aren't still a lot of them floating around intact. So this is rarity as well as an oddity and we're happy to have it (until it explodes one day and covers everything in magical moon curry mix)


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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Collection Oddities: Vintage Mario Birthday Flag Pin

Throughout the years Nintendo has been there for you if you want to let Mario celebrate your birthday with you.  In our personal collection we have centerpieces, party horns, party hats, a cake pan and a gaggle of cards.

Recently we added this pin:

Right now it looks like a typical late eighties early nineties Mario item, but if you're sharp eyed you'll notice that Mario isn't just playing his own strange game of backwards foot hockey with that black puck, it is in fact a button. Pressing the button  is where the birthday part and some confusion comes in.

Pressing the button causes a a tiny "Happy Birthday" flag to pop up. If this was a stationary item, this would make a little more sense. You give it to your Mario loving friend they push the button and delight in their birthday wishes from everyone's favorite plumber. However this is meant to be worn. So do you buy the pin and wear on your friend's birthdays and invite them to push the button? Do you wear it on your birthday and communicate "happy birthday" to the world at large, because it's your birthday and you're gonna make sure it's happy for everyone you see? Or do you wear and push the button whenever you feel like you could use some upside down birthday greetings (assuming you're wearing it right side up on your torso in some fashion).

Clearly trying to wear this is only going to lead to  fashion confusion and heartache.  Luckily for us we keep it display in our collection, making it once again a stationary item and removing all those pesky "how the heck am I supposed to wear this questions."  Implementation issues aside,  it's a pretty fun item and fun way to add even more Mario to your birthdays.


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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Top 10 Notable Video Game Dads

In honor of Father's Day we present our top 10 list of notable video game dads. As in real life some of these dads are amazing and some of them are downright deplorable, but for better or worse these 10 are some of the most memorable.

 10. Big Daddies - BioShock Series

Big Daddies aren't really dads in any normal sense however, they're not just here in name alone. Like lots of dads Big Daddies don't say much and like power tools, especially drills. They're very protective of their little girls, murdering and maiming any no good looking degenerate who gets near them inspire of the fact that the little sisters frequently emasculate them by calling them names like "Mr. Bubbles". While I think many of us don't necessarily want mechanized dads with homicidal tendencies, you have to appreciate their careful guardianship.

9. Dracula - Castlevania Symphony of the Night

Dracula obviously appears in quite a few titles in the Castlevania series, but Symphony of the Night is where you get to see his fatherly side. Unfortunately for Alucard, the main protagonist in SOTN and Dracula's son, his fatherly side is severely lacking. Dracula lets a castle full of minions attempt to kill his precious baby boy and if they don't get the job done he eventually comes after Alucard himself after he  refuses his generous offer to eradicate the entire human race alongside him.  Nothing seals a father son bond like a death duel punctuated with vampiric super powers!

 8. Cervantes - Soul Calibur series

 Cervantes is one of the worst fathers ever, basically his only acknowledgement of his child is when he's beating her or attempting to consume her soul. To be fair it's a two way street, Ivy doesn't acknowledge Cervantes as her father the majority of the time and only really comes in contact with him in order to kill him. Though even if Ivy wasn't half the problem,  Cervantes is a undead pirate who also happens to be a self-serving egomaniac who murders people and eats souls, it's a pretty safe bet he'd never be a particularly good father.

7. Big Boss- Metal Gear Series

It's kind of hard to blame big boss for being a crappy father when he didn't have a whole lot of say in the whole having children, or more accurately having clones process. Still though that doesn't really excuse the crap he's put his "children" through. Poor Solid Snake in particular has a lot of experience in both dodging his fathers bullets and cleaning up his messes and his "brothers" have a nasty tendency to turn  up dead. Honestly Big Boss is a pretty cool guy, but not one you'd ever want to be related to.

6.Mike Haggar - Final Fight

 Having your daughter kidnapped by terrorists/gangsters/thugs/neighborhood hooligans is pretty much a rite of passage for any mayor. Most mayors either send out the entire city police force, immediately give in to any ransom demands or send in the one man who can stand up to a crime wave on his own. Not Mike Haggar though, he teams up with Jessica's boyfriend and his best friend to take on the criminals with his bare hands. Notably Haggar is billed as a former pro wrestler and street fight champion, so it wasn't one of those ordinary people doing extraordinary things in the face of a tragedy, but  he's still very effective at both punching his way to a lower city crime rate and  smashing his way through the punks that took his daughter. Overall, Haggar is great mayor and an even better father, I think most of us wish we had a Dad who could pile drive all our troubles away.

5. Barret - Final Fantasy VII

For a man with a gun arm Barret is a pretty caring father. He spends a lot of time worrying about Marlene (and complaining about it a lot during your inter-party chats). Like most fathers he worrys about how to keep her safe in a bad part of town, though compounding things is that he is embarking on the extremely dangerous and often deadly quest to save the world at the same time. While it can be argued that leaving your child at home to mix drinks in the neighborhood bar while on an epic quest isn't great parenting, without Barret and the rest of the party Marlene wouldn't have a world to live in any more, so you kind of have to give Barret as pass on that.

4.Jecht - Final Fantasy X

Jecht was a terrible father (though really no one in FFX would be winning any father of the year awards) and basically every issue you have throughout your adventures in Zanarkand is all his fault in some way or another. It can be argued that he did make the ultimate sacrifice for good, but that really didn't make a lot of difference to Tidus who had to deal with years of  an emotionally abusive then physically absent father. Jecht's poor parenting culminates in  him being your final boss (as Braska's Final Aeon), which is his most egregious action, not just for the battle, but because he has the worst boss music of any Final Fantasy character ever which makes him not only a bad father but an all around bad character.

3. Heihachi - Tekken Series

Though there have been a lot of bad dads on this list. Hiachi is the worst of the worst. Tossing your young son off a cliff would generally be bad enough on it's own, but Heihachi won't settle for less than the best so he follows it up by later throwing him into a live volcano. Kazuya manages to survives his fathers many assaults and eventually has his own son with whom he has his own awful relationship. Being a terrible father to Kazuya and attempting to kill him on multiple occasions isn't good enough  for Heihachi so naturally he eventually decides to turn his fatherly evil on his grandson Jin as well. Wherein he spends his time constantly betraying and attempting to kill Jin (and Kazuya too when he pops up). Perhaps the thing that really makes him truly evil though is that he appears in every single Tekken game , so his evil just keeps getting a new platform.

2. Ethan Myers - Heavy Rain

Getting one son inexplicably hit by car and following that up by getting the other kidnapped by a murderous psychopath normally wouldn't make for a great father. Ethan however one of the best dads ever, while he probably shouldn't have taken a few more measures to keep Shaun from being abducted in the first place but once it happens he does things to find his son most of us would never dream of. I mean I don't have kids but there are people I would die for, but I'd still have a heck of a time cutting off my own finger using unsanitary tools in an abandoned building especially when it's just ONE of the insane things Ethan has to do to rescue Shaun. Ethan really goes the distance to not only atone for his early parenting mishap but also because he really, really loves his son and is willing to do literally ANYTHING to get him back.

1. Harry Mason - Silent Hill

Harry is the ultimate father. First he rescues Cheryl as an abandoned baby on the side of the road and raises her as his own child then 7 years later faces the worst demons and hell spawn imaginable to get her back.  Now as much as I was squawking about Ethan's seemingly super human ability to sever his own digits, I'd more sooner cut off every one of my limbs using a spoon than face Silent Hill. Harry however takes the experience like a champ, in spite of being an ordinary guy with no special skills who falls off stoops, harry manages to beat back the hell spawn and never lose sight of the fact that his little girl is somehow lost in this horror. Asking every reasonably human person he comes in contact with if they've seen a little girl after beating down scalpel wielding zombie nurses with a lead pipe. I personally would have probably given up on it  and just cried and/or killed myself as soon as I'd had by first experience with the rusted chain link nightmare that is the Otherside. Depending on which ending you get how Harry's quest ends changes pretty dramatically, but regardless if you get something good or something bad, Harry never, ever gives up on Cheryl. Given the tired trope of men ignoring/and or being less loving to kids who "aren't theirs", Harry shows there's a lot more to being a father than biology.


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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Shop Spotlight: Pokemon Collectibles

 Pokemon is probably one of the most popular anime and game franchise ever and as such there's an absolutely mind blowing amount of merchandise available. There are 600+ Pokemon now most of which have at least one piece of collectible merchandise available and popular Pokemon like Pikachu have thousands of items available on their own. We don't have anywhere near the millions of items ever made for Pokemon but we do carry hundreds of Pokemon items so we have ton of great collectibles available all times. These are some of our in stock favorites.

This Pokemon Puzzle is a US release by Milton Bradley from 1999, making it 14 years old now. It prominently features Team Rocket's Jesse and James. Puzzle itself is in great shape and is complete. A really fun addition to any Pokemon collection for just $5.

This Pikachu and Pichu bag is promo from the 12th Pokemon Movie. This was a promo bag from coke and is extremely rare! It's never been used and is in fantastic shape! This usable collectable can be yours for $20.

Rare Pokemon Gashapon porcelain dish. This is from a series of tiny doll sized pokemon dish wear. This one has a Spinda on it and though it's got a little wear, it still looks great. This unique collectible is $6

Japanese Minun special Festival UFO plush. This little guy has great embroidered face details and holds and fan and bag.  An adorable addition to your Pokemon collection for $19

We have lots of these small PVC figures by Tomy (which are some our favorite items to collect personally) This Dragonite figure is great example. It can grace your collection for $7.00

This is an official Pokemon Camera with Pikachu on it. This one is not quite as cute as the camera that gives you Pokemon borders on your pictures, but in our experience this one is actually rarer. A unique addition to your collection for $5.

This Pokemon sheet is perfect for it's intended use or as fabric for crafts. It's got a super cute all over pattern of multiple Pokemon and the Pokemon logo. This sheet is in great shape and is $13.

 This is a rare Arbok Bowl Pal. Arbok sits on the edge your bowl supervising your breakfast rituals. This is brand new and sealed, it can be the next piece in your Arbok collection for $8.

This is from the Jakks line of figures from Pokemon Black and Pokemon White. The Jakks  Woobat is complete with stand and is in excellent condition for only $4.50.

 This is just a itsy bitsy teeny tiny amount of the Pokemon we have available at any given time and we currently have at least 100 Pokemon items just waiting to be put into the shop so our selection is always growing and changing! You're sure to find something perfect for you or your Pokemon loving friends.

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Retro Review: Vegas Dream NES

Vegas Stakes is one of my favorite games so it’s seems weird I didn’t know about the predecessor until a few years back even though Vegas Dream was released for the NES back in 1988. At this point it's been 25 years if 8-bit gambling goodness.

The concept of Vegas dream is pretty simple, you’re in Vegas to win money. You encounter people and events, but all of it is to your ultimate goal of getting as rich as possible at the casino’s expense.

Controls are simple and intuitive, I didn’t notice a lag or delay but it’s not the sort of game you’d notice it in anyway. 

It doesn’t look great and it doesn’t look horrible. They’re pretty standard NES level graphics, though given that’s there’s very little movement taking place in the game they could probably look a lot better. Overall they don’t really add anything to the game and they don’t really take anything away from it either.

There’s not a lot for random sounds or ambient noise, there are some minor sounds when you make menu selections and when you win at a slot machine, but most of the sounds in the game is in the form of musical themes. Each game has its own theme song and things like the news cast and the marriage have their own individual melodies as well. The music isn’t fantastic but it isn’t bad either. My biggest complaint it that it over uses the high tones a bit.


You’re not going to make your fortune in Vegas by simply standing around hoping the $700 your start off with is going to attract some companions into your pocket,  so naturally the gameplay is largely made up  of playing gambling games.   You have 4 choices on your road to fortune, Blackjack, Roulette, Slots and Keno. Once you select a game you’re presented with a dealer/game attendant who seems to randomly be a man with a square hair cut or a woman with a bob, except in Keno which is always the same girl.

Blackjack plays like any digital Blackjack game I’ve ever played. Place a bet trying to get 21 failing that just beat the dealer’s hand.  It uses standard rules and options, double downs, splits, and insurance. I made most of my fortune in the game making ridiculous black jack bets so I’d say they odds are pretty in your favor, but there’s plenty of times I hit a 5 game losing streak so it doesn’t baby you either.

Roulette is roulette. Pick a number, a group of numbers, or a color and hope for the best.  Roulette doesn’t do you any favors no matter which bet I made I always seemed to be picking the wrong thing. In the session I played for this review I tried maybe 15 bets of varying types and not a one of them paid. As in real life though, if you’re lucky Roulette really pays off.

Slots come in 2 flavors Pot-O-Gold and Jack Pot Bar. Pot-O-Gold comes in multiple Denominations ranging from $1 a line to $100 a line. You can bet on one two or three lines that pay left to right, no diagonals or the other crazy stuff we’re used to now.  Seems to have pretty normal slot machine odds, I didn’t win a million and I didn’t lose my shirt either. Jack Pot bar only has one pay line, right in the center which you can make a $1, $5, $25, $50 or $100 bet on. Odds aren’t as good as on the Pot-O-Gold machines, but when you do win it pays well.

Unlike the other games, keno is always hosted by a girl who looks suspiciously similar to Fuijiko from Lupin III.  Pseudo Fujiko takes the bet you choose (your select it yourself so it can be in any amount from $1 up)  on the amount of numbers you choose from 1-15. You get paid based on the quantity of numbers you hit out of the numbers you selected,  IE. 1/1 is a winner, 2/15 is not.

If navigating the waters of Vegas gambling isn’t enough, you also have to deal the denizens of The Hal Palace Casino in a variety of interactions.  Sometimes is in the form of hotel staff informing you you’ve  got a phone call or a visitor which can result in big pay offs, or more often than not (at least in my case) a fall down the stairs or a chandelier to the head.  In fact in my game I feel down the stairs at least 5 times, several times because of the mysterious phone call and once due to an “accident” at the bar where it’s heavily implied my character got drunk and fell down the stairs. Injuries while hilarious are $200 a pop for hospital bills so it can add up pretty quickly, but often times  the payoff is $5000, so it’s worth the gamble if you’re far enough into the game where a $200 loss isn’t going to bankrupt you.

 Another common interaction is Marriage.  Mr.James  (Ms. Sophie if you’re playing a male) will decide he’s in love with you and wants to marry you after a single date in the hotel bar. If you agree to his proposal it can either result in a con where he takes $200 from you or a $5000 wedding gift from the hotel. Also interestingly even after you’re married Mr. James will date and marry you again in a seemingly endless loop. We got married 4 times in my game and only once was conned obviously YMMV.

The other interactions pop up a little less frequently, a waitress who spills a drink on you and either steals your wallet or gets you a pay-out from the hotel. A man who takes you to the bar to buy stocks, a man who buys you drinks to celebrate your luck (which is how I ended up on that drunken trip down the stairs), and a young man who’ll sometimes ask for change or sometimes ask for $200 with his watch as collateral. Frankly the game is a bit racist as with those last two interactions the guy who approaches is black and it’s more often than not it’s a con. I only got a payout once in the watch scenario, including in previous play sessions, and it was only for $1000 so not really a great gamble.

Naturally, as with any trip to Vegas you risk ending up completely penniless.  If that happens you get one last chance spin on the Jack Pot Bar Slot. If you win some cash you get to keep gambling. If you don’t it’s game over and you’re back at the airport on your way back to wherever it is you came from shamed and sad. If your luck in gambling holds up and you don’t get conned too many times you’ll eventually hit $10million, which is the winning point for the game. When you win you get a small ending scene which shows you being a jerk to what we can assume are your servants at your mansion before heading out to a show. Because that’s the ultimate Vegas dream, finding people poorer than you to belittle! 

 Winning is actually pretty difficult to do in one sitting unless you’re A) insanely lucky or B) playing via emulator and using save states.  So there’s a handy password feature you can use after each big win to make sure you’re never totally at the mercy of mere luck or  in case you don’t feel like doing 8 bit gambling  for endless hours. Unfortunately, The passwords are 26 characters longs consisting of numbers, letters and symbols, so copy everything down carefully  and it’s very easy to get one character wrong and lose your hours of masterful blackjack playing forever. 

Vegas Dream is nowhere near as fun as its much beloved (by me) sequel, Vegas Stakes. But it is decent NES gambling goodness. The random interactions really give it a fun twist as opposed to playing something like Caesars palace, but there are definitely things that could have made it a better game. I personally would have really liked to have seen a Poker option.  I think if I were rating  this back in 1988 when it were new I’d have probably given it a 3 or 4 but by today’s standards I give it a 2. It’s fun, it’s playable, but after you’re over the amusement of falling down the stairs and entering sham marriages, there are better options for gambling games out there.


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