Category Archives: Uncategorized

Cover Image

C97 – A Changed Battlefield (Winter 2019)

1 Feb , 2020,
Levin Tan
,
No Comments

Oh man! What a game changer! Thanks (or no thanks actually) to the Tokyo Olympics this year, Winter Comiket (and the summer one as well!) has not been able to use a large portion of the halls available at Tokyo Big Sight. 東1~ 東8 were all being reserved as they prepare for the Olympics! It’s been a huge hit to capacity of the venue so much so that Comiket (both summer and winter) was a full FOUR day marathon this time round AND we’ve had to have the corporate booths shift to the 青海 site which is around 1km away! Hurry up and return us our halls!

We’ve definitely had the most number of participants in any Winter Comiket so far thanks to the 4 days. Although we had fewer booths per day, that allowed everyone to come back one more day to participate to result in an overall… 750,000 people!!! (D1:190,000 + D2:180,000 + D3:190,000 + D4:190,000)

A round up of the circles this year: The Fate series has inched up a little slightly, and are still maintaining their lead overall by a large margin to the second spot held by THE iDOLM@STER which shrunk very slightly. Third place last year was Kancolle (艦これ), and they only narrowly lost to iM@S, but this year they shrunk quite a bit so they’re now undisputed third. If they continue to shrink at the same rate, they’re going to lose to Touhou (東方) in fourth place which had the same number of circles as the year before. One important development to note is Virtual YouTubers have become a thing since last Comiket, although I didn’t mention it, but the number of circles covering them have almost doubled! They’re currently in fifth place, but we’ll see how this trend continues next year. Azur Lane (アズールレーン) which I had hoped would start to rise in the rankings seems to have stagnated and actually shrank a little to eleventh place. Seems like that’s going to be where it’ll stay.

The corporate side, however, is another different matter. We still have Yostar pushing hard. They’ve now started to launch Arknights (アークナイツ) as well. It’s newly launched for EN, but actually the JP server has been up for quite a while already! With these two games they had a nice booth up, and really long queues:

Yes, everyone in front of me in this picture is in the queue for the Yostar booth. There’s still more behind me and outside the hall by the way…
サイレンス (Silence) from Arknights in front of the Yostar booth. Corporate booths often hire cosplayers to help promote the booth!

I actually decided to enter it because I wanted some limited edition stuff. A corporate queue like that would easily take around 1-2hrs, but that was no matter since I had already finished my morning raid at the doujins side. But man, the walk was fairly long! I did mention earlier that they shifted to the 青海 site, which is across the bridge of the same name. A journey of about 1km means you absolutely can’t hop back and forth between the two (not that it was actually normal strategy before this).

Join the 1km march over the bridge to the other side for the corporate booths!

There were quite a number of people moving back and forth between the two sites. I actually moved back and forth twice due to some miscommunication, but the weather was great and so I enjoyed the walk!

Besides Yostar, Nekopara (ネコぱら) came back yet again! They had an anime to promote this time (which is currently airing), and there were of course the regulars like NBC Universal, Kadokawa, COSPA, etc. Saekano was also there since they’ve just finished their movie and basically wrapped up the whole series.

Featuring Chocola (ショコラ) and Vanilla (バニラ) with Chocola on the screen as well!
NBC Universal with their “flagship” Gochiusa banner
Saekano (冴えカノ) fine. I didn’t quite check if stuff had run out, but it looked like there weren’t any, which was surprising.

But enough of the corporate stuff and back to the main site! As I mentioned earlier, there were a total of 8 halls that closed. If that was the only thing that happened, there wouldn’t be enough space for Comiket, even with the corporate booths shifting “off site”. Thankfully, we had another few more halls that opened: 南1~ 南4. Along with taking over the space of the corporate booths, this meant that we had to come up with new tactics, because the battlefield was now 3D (the third dimension being height) instead of the usual 2D. (I shall leave some of you to chuckle over the 2D vs 3D inside joke, and whether this whole war is actually 3D or 2D ww). Yup, this is the new hall (which had been open since summer):

Same feel, same structure as the other halls, but its location is different, and that already is something to grapple with.

Now for this year’s featured participant among the unusual stuff I write about: 原田 ひとみ (Harada Hitomi). She’s a well known 声優[seiyuu] (voice actress), and some of her more prominent roles are in Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu (バカとテストと召喚獣), Hidamari Sketch (ひだまりスケッチ), THE iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls, and Senran Kagura (閃乱カグラ). However, in Comiket, circles are independent of any corporation (or else they’d be at the corporate site!), and so they never represent any commercial works. Hence naturally, Harada-san here was boothing as her own independent circle HoneyContrast!

原田 ひとみ (Harada Hitomi) holding out her new work which had just run out: 南條さんと原田さん (Nanjo-san and Harada-san). Yes! It’s Nanjo from fripSide! Cute isn’t it?

HoneyContrast (and hence Harada-san) has actually been a regular participant in Comiket (both winter and summer) for the past few years! Her works tend to be on the yuri side, and she even has a binaural audio CD or two which has the fantastic effect of making you feel as though you are actually there by playing around with the spatial placements of the audio. (You can read more about binaural audio from Wikipedia) This latest doujin that she’s seen holding is a 4-koma of her and Nanjo-san. It’s based off their real interactions, or so she says. It is pretty funny!

Moving on, we have a foreign participant circle! From Russia, Moe Era:

A circle from Russia releasing a demo version of their Visual Novel!

When I interviewed them, I found out that they had participated previously in Comiket as normal participants, but this was their first time as a circle! Their game, Moe Era, is a Visual Novel (or VN) with 5 main characters: a Russian, an American, a Chinese, a Japanese, and a mystery character! It promises to be a standard type of VN, but with an intriguing plot which they hope that everyone would enjoy. The game released at Comiket is only a demo version, but they were excited to tell me that the full release of the game will be free on Steam very soon on 4th February!

Over to the electronics section once more (I’ve mentioned before that there’s this strong connection between anime, manga, and electronics somehow), there are booths selling all kinds of things from nifty gadgets to manuals on how to program. This time I wanted to show you one of the circles doing Nixie tubes:

黒井電波 features Nixie tube meters that you can connect to your computer to display your CPU usage in a really cool manner!

There’s typically a whole row of circles showcasing Nixie tubes, and I think it became more popular since Steins;Gate had featured it a number of years ago. But then again, I hadn’t been to Comiket then, so I can’t say from personal experience. The circles doing Nixie tubes all focus on the aesthetics of it, after all, it’s long been superseded by seven-segment displays whether LCD based or LED based. Nevertheless, Nixie tubes definitely have a unique appeal and they are here to stay.

And so concludes the 1st Winter Comiket of the Reiwa era. I must say that I didn’t take any pictures of cosplayers (the non corporate booth ones) this year. I did have a look around the cosplay areas a bit for enjoyment, but because I was quite tired (we planned till around 1-2am every night to get our strategies right), I left pretty early on two of the days to get some rest, and spent the other two browsing the circles or stuck in the corporate booth lines ww. Nevertheless, it was definitely really fun to see how well we could adapt to the new battlefield. We had one or two “casualties” from our list on one of the days, but apart from that, we hit the rest perfectly! (You can have a look at my spoils of war on my Twitter if you want =p ) Once they return the East Halls back to us (should be the end of this year, 2020), the scenario will again change, and I’m again quite looking forward to that.

The change in dynamics had definitely an impact on the Comiket Committee and volunteers, not just us participants. Crowd control was different, and got a bit confusing at times, but everyone cooperated to allow things to continue to flow smoothly, because that’s the spirit of Comiket. Participants (not buyers, nor sellers) are all here to contribute to the atmosphere and zest of Comiket.

I was once again looking for the 現実 (reality) sign at the end of the last day which I had missed last year and the year before, but I couldn’t find it! Perhaps I had stayed too late this time round! Oh no! The hunt for it continues… at the end of this year!

現実に戻ります

Fate/Grand Order

3 Aug , 2015,
Crimson
No Comments

I don’t usually play mobile phone games, but for Fate/Grand Order (mostly because the Fate series is my one weeb indulgence), I decided to make an exception.

Grand Order is the latest in Type Moon’s long running Fate franchise. For those of you who have not been exposed to the awesomeness that is Fate, well, think of it as a history lesson for otakus on crack, with a heavy dose of the supernatural thrown in.

In the setting, magicians vie for supremacy in Holy Grail Wars, with the ‘heroic spirits’ of famous persons from the past as their battle companions. These spirits are categorized loosely into RPG style archetypes like Archer, Assassin, Berserker, Caster, Lancer, Rider and Saber, and possess both mysterious powers and arcane relics (called Noble Phantasms) inspired by their real-world legends.

I could go on and on about the setting and all, but it’s really easier to just scoot over to the Type Moon Wiki for a quick look.

Say hello to Mr. Genderswapped Rin Tohsaka.

Say hello to Mr. Genderswapped Rin Tohsaka.

Now, on to the review.

Fate/Grand Order puts you in the role of a fresh recruit in Chaldea, an organization that oversees human history (it’s kinda like S.H.I.E.L.D., but with magic users).

Naturally, being the typical spiky-haired anime-style protagonist that you are, you quickly get embroiled in all sorts of trouble, and have to plunge through time to save the world.

Of course, as in all things Fate, the Master (that’s you) isn’t capable of going it alone since you know, people tend to die when they’re killed. That’s why you’re relegated to more of a support role, slinging heals and buffs while your Servants handle the heavy lifting.

Gameplay switches between a simple map-based navigation, VN style narration, and fights with some repetitive mooks and the occasional stage boss.

The navigation's pretty straightforward. I mean, you can't get more obvious than that.

The navigation’s pretty straightforward. I mean, you can’t get more obvious than that.

The story reads like a visual novel. Also, who woulda thunk your kouhai would be part-Heroic Spirit?

The story reads like a visual novel. Also, who woulda thunk your kouhai would be part-Heroic Spirit?

Attempting stages consumes AP (like any other mobile game), and naturally, you have to conquer stages to progress in the story.

Combat is simple and essentially a spin on the Rock, Paper, Scissors (and in this case also Lizard and Spock) system, coupled with match-3 elements.

You can check out how the Servant classes interact by clicking on Menu. You can also select Menu if you want to Flee the battle.

Check out how Servant classes interact by clicking on Menu. You can also select Menu if you want to Flee the battle.

Each Servant has a predetermined pool of color-coded cards determined by their class, which contain Arts (Blue), Buster (Red) and Quick (Green) moves.

Check out your Servant's status screen to find out what Attack cards he has.

Check out a Servant’s status screen to find out what attacks they possess. Building a team with good synergies can go a long way.

In a nutshell, Arts cards increase the Servant’s NP (Noble Phantasm) gauge, which allows them to pull off their special attacks, Buster cards inflict a large amount of physical damage, and Quick cards add to your Critical chance in the following round, allowing for bigger numbers on a successful hit.

Each round, the game pulls five cards, and after making tactical decisions such as using Servant abilities or Master buffs, you can lock in three of the five cards to form an attack chain.

Plan your moves before you hit the Attack button, because there's no way to go back. Luckily, the cards you're dealt each turn are displayed prominently.

Plan your moves before you hit the Attack button, because there’s no way to go back. Luckily, the cards you’re dealt each turn are displayed prominently.

Chaining the same type of moves can grant a stronger effect (a successful Arts chain fills the NP gauge of all Servants participating in that attack by 20%, for example), while chaining three attacks by the same Servant (by picking 3 similar portraits rather than move types) grants an extra attack. You can combine both move chains and Servant chains for even greater effect, but such occurrences tend to be rare.

Filling up a Servant’s Noble Phantasm gauge lets you use their special attack. These stronger moves also fall under the Arts, Buster, or Quick categories, so chain them strategically to take down difficult enemies.  Each Noble Phantasm activation also comes with animation and cut-ins, so Fate fanboys who’ve always wondered how some of these attacks look like, rejoice.

Darius III's Noble Phantasm - who doesn't want to be trampled by demonic elephants and hordes of undead?

Darius III’s Noble Phantasm – Athanaton Ten Thousand. Who doesn’t want to be trampled by elephanthulhu and hordes of the undead?

There are currently 59 Servants and 36 Mystic Codes (called Craft Essences in the game) to be collected, and rolling for them is done lottery style through the Grand Summon interface.

These Servants include fan favorites like Arturia, Cu Chulainn and Gilgamesh, as well as brand new ones created just for Grand Order. Nasuverse followers will also recognize Mystic Codes such as the Black Keys, the Kaleidoscope and Rin’s pendant in the Craft Essence pool.

You get a free low-tier summon each day, which may result in a 1-star, 2-star (or extremely rarely) 3-star unit or item. You can also make additional low-tier summons with Friend Points acquired from fighting alongsideton your contact list.

Spend more in-game currency, why don't you?

Making ten premium pulls with 40 Saint Quartz has a guaranteed chance for a 4-star unit or item, so spend more in-game currency, why don’t you?

Expending Saint Quartz (acquired through completing objectives and stages or through real money microtransactions), by comparison, guarantees a 3-star or higher unit.

The cost is fairly prohibitive though, and with the very iffy RNG system (I’ve been rolling more Craft Essences than I have Servants), you’re better off saving them till later when the game gets patched and things become a little more stable.

I-it's not like my Luck stat is E rank or anything right? Right? ><;;

These pulls. T_T I-it’s not like my Luck stat is E rank or anything right? Right? ><;;

Needless to say, this means that while the game has it going with the story, the biggest woes plaguing it right now are all design related.

Fights tend to be repetitive and lacking in variety, the recharge rate for AP is tediously slow (which reduces replay value), and Servant balance is questionable at best.

For example, I’ve pulled some really abysmal 4-star Servants, while most 5-star ones I’ve seen are insanely overpowered, with ridiculous parameters and abilities. 1-star and 2-star Servants, by comparison, are little better than chump blockers and the same disparity applies to Craft Essences as well.

She sure can pull off that dress, but seriously, most underwhelming 4-star unit ever.

Sure, she can pull off that dress, but seriously, most underwhelming 4-star unit ever.

This, of course, begs the question – could the game have been tested more rigorously before release? It’d have definitely mitigated the slew of QQing the devs are seeing on social media to say the least.

Fixing these problems in the first few weeks will be crucial, since player satisfaction and retention pretty much makes or breaks mobile games.

Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if this title manages to take off once the teething pains are over.

While the system lacks in polish, the game is faithful to, and builds upon, the source material. It documents several Holy Grail Wars that never made it onto the small screen, and that’s sure to whet any fan’s appetite. The art is generally pretty, the animation smooth, and the sheer number of new Servants makes for more story and waifu (or husbando) potential. 

Fate/Grand Order is currently gated for Japan (to keep us ignorant gaijin types out), but we all know dedicated fans will find a way. It’s also unlikely that there will ever be an English port, but the game’s intuitive enough that you can manage without knowledge of moon runes. 

Final Verdict: 3.5/5

For more information about the game, check out the Official Site at: http://www.fate-go.jp.

REG Vol. 8: The Last Garden

9 Feb , 2015,
Crimson
No Comments

We’ve supported Real Escape Game in Singapore since it’s inception several years back, and they’ve never ceased to impress. Now into it’s 8th edition, they look set to wow us even further with The Last Garden, which appears to be their most ambitious adventure yet!

Promo image courtesy of Vivid Creations.

Promo image courtesy of Vivid Creations.

This time, the story revolves around a futuristic Singapore in the year 2065, and players are tasked with finding a legendary orb hidden in Gardens by the Bay to save humanity.

Unlike previous iterations, players have free range of Gardens by the Bay, and no time limit from the venue’s opening to closing to play and solve the puzzles. What’s more, the timing is near perfect for a perfect for geeky couples on the Valentine’s Day weekend, and there’s a couples promotion to make this a date with a difference.

We’re thinking of saving the date ourselves. If you’re a fan of Real Escape Games too, then this is definitely something to consider.

LAST GARDEN: Save Nature, Save Humanity

VENUE: GARDENS BY THE BAY
DATES: 13-22 FEB 2015
SESSION TIMINGS:
13-15 FEB 2015 | 20-22 FEB 2015: 11:00 – 20:00
16-19 FEB 2015: 15:00 – 20:00

TICKET PRICING: Limited Early Bird: $27* | Limited Couple Promo: $50* | Group Promo (buy 5 get 1 free): $165* | Standard Online: $33* | At‐the‐door: $35* | * Inclusive of ticket fee and entry fee to Flower Dome

For block / corporate booking, please contact 6522‐0527 or info@realegame.sg
Tickets are available on PEATIX platforms: http://lastgarden.peatix.com
For updates and more information, visit http://www.realegame.sg

2015 Events and a Site Overhaul

14 Jan , 2015,
Crimson
No Comments

Can you believe it? It’s been four years since we’ve been in operation. That’s why it’s no surprise our site is due for a massive, massive revamp.

While we’re retooling the corporate site, we’re keeping the blog up and running so we can keep you apprised of the latest news and happenings at NTP, and in Singapore’s pop-culture scene.

For a start, be sure to block 25-26 April 2015 and 22-23 August 2015 in your pop-culture calendars, folks, because we’ve set those dates in stone for our flagship events.

djmicds2015

Yep, like the image says. Save the date, folks!

We’ll also be launching the alpha test of our very own card game this year, a book about the positive impact of cosplay in Singapore, and more.

Watch this space, folks, because our corporate site will return better and more streamlined than ever. In the mean, why not follow us on Facebook?