No, nobody has hacked the main site. Just figured I'd sound off here and let the inter webs know that I'm alive and for the most part well. Dragon's Crown was released which seems to be the big news. I ordered one, but then cocked up the order so I'm stuck here w/o the game. Looks like there will be more released in another couple of weeks, but I won't really have the time to delve into it, so probably going to wait. It looks like it's doing well though, and that's good. Other than that, not really keeping up what's going on. The PS4 and X-Box One releases look horribly underwhelming to me. It took me a while to buy either of the last gen machines, and only got a handful of games thereafter. Probably going to pass this time, although Pikmin 3 has picked my interest, so to speak.

Photography has been one hobby that has been keeping me busy, and that I've been putting some energy in to. My real life is pretty hectic, but I can always carry a camera around in a back pack and then snap a few pictures here and there, or if I can grab a whole hour or so, even better. I've gone back to using film (something I did in high school, but rarely after) which is quite fun. There are tons of cheap cameras and lenses from the 60's to 80's that are quite capable of taking excellent photos. Best purchase in a while is the Yashica Electro 35. There are many models. I got a GSN for 1300 yen, and a GT for about 2000. Haven't tried the latter out, but the prior took some stunners. Good stuff.

Then yen weakening has made life in general easier for me. I'm not sure if most other locals feel it, but things are a bit better around here. The financial outlook is still pretty grim, IMHO, but Abe has at least stirred things up. There is more financial news to report than simply "everything is the same, and it's bad". We'll see how it goes though. I think Japan needs to reinvent itself in a lot of areas it is losing. Just my two cents.

Finally going to make an update here. I've started about 3 or 4 of these over the last year and a half or so, and have never posted any of them for some reason. I've had plenty to say, but have been doing so in various forums. For the most part, gaming has taken a major back seat. I've simply not had the time, nor the interest in new games. Every time I try to get into an old game, something comes up. I do bust something out from time to time, but it redefines casual play.

I recently went on a work trip to the US, which I often do these days. As usual, I stocked up on plenty of goods that I think are just way overpriced in Japan. Even with a "normal" yen, Japan is an expensive place. This recent run featured two jars of honey, and a jar of coconut oil. Apparently the latter is extremely healthy, and it doesn't taste bad. The rather large jar that ran me $16.99 at Whole Foods would cost a minimum of 3000 yen ($38ish). My luggage weight hit the max, but I made it. I guess since I take trips every month this isn't such a big deal, but I'm finding the inflated costs everything beyond irksome. Back when the yen was weak, I could at least buy Japanese "gear" (usually camera or DJ stuff) at least 10% cheaper than in the US. Well, those days are over, since appparently nobody likes to gouge themselves better than Japan. Great example is the new Canon 5D Mark III. In the good old US of A it retails for $3500, whereas in Japan, it's home, it runs 321,000 yen. A cool $563 more at the time of this writing. As far as I know, they are all manufactured in the same place. Again, irksome. Apple seems to be the only company that treats their customers equally horrible across the globe. I won't go into their products which I do think are overpriced (even though I purchase on occasion) but I admire them for their approach... at least between Japan and the US.

The other major thing I did was watch Prometheus, as it won't come out until August in Japan. I will admit, I drank the entire day before going to see it, as I met up with an old friend who has just relocated to San Francisco. While it wasn't exactly what I was expecting, I enjoyed it for what it was, and I wouldn't mind seeing a sequel which would hopefully wrap up a lot of stuff, and make a more distinct connection to Alien. I will give Ridley Scott props for not making it some PG-13 love fest.

We had what I would consider a pretty rockin' summer. It was hot as balls, yes, but it didn't rain that much, and the rainy season wasn't too brutal. I wear shorts and a T-shirt to work so other than almost dying when I run (even at night) it's not too bad. Enter September. Last week I jogged in 30 degree weather... it's been raining and about 15 tops for most days since then. I made a promise to myself not to be a huge vaj this year, so have been drudging through the rain on my bicycle to work each day, and am kinda proud. People look at me like I'm an idiot but that's not something that's entirely new.

For shits and giggles, I've decided to take the JLPT N1 this year. I'm curious how the new format works, and I'm also curious as to how crappy my "high level" Japanese has gotten. I still read a decent amount but the obscure vocabulary will likely crucify me. I'm not going to study a lick. If I take it again, I might just cram a bunch of vocabulary, but I honestly feel it's a waste of time if I actually don't see the words in action. It's not for another 2 months, and they don't send out the grades for a few months after that. One thing I have noticed differently is that the application packet is now in multiple languages. I remember it being Japanese only from start to finish, and was pretty shocked when the proctors in Hawaii giving the L1 4 years ago spoke a little English.

Other than all that exciting jazz, I've been burning the midnight oil at work. Quite a lot going on these days, so the games have been moved to the back seat, so to speak. I bust out a PCB every now and again, and have been getting a star or two a day in Super Mario Galaxy 2, but that's about it. The arcade monitor I bought last March has still not been flipped on it's side, so that tells you how much my Cave PCBs are getting played. One day maybe, but the DJ gear has been keeping me busy, and I even bought some production hardware which I've not had nearly enough time to enjoy.

I did something I swore I wouldn't do: let a year pass without writing some bullshit here for everyone's enjoyment. Needless to say, I've been busy. I've been clocking in some hours, which really takes a lot out of me, but with everything that's been happening in the world, being busy is good. I've never once complained about having too much work to do, and probably won't until things settle down. Who knows when the hell that will be.

At the moment, I have quite the World Cup fever, as I usually do every four years. I don't have any particular love of the sport as much as I like everyone supporting their various teams across the globe. In a city like this where you have quite a few friends from various places it gets interesting. The two teams I directly support as well, the US and Japan, have both made it to the quarter finals, which means I've got some late night games to watch.

Gamewise, I was playing MAME as usual up until about a month ago but I've since had to put it mostly aside. I picked up Super Mario Galaxy 2 which is good and very relaxing fun (unlike MAME) but I can only play a bit a night. I just don't have the concentration it takes to play any games competitively at the moment, so the gear is getting a much-deserved rest after years. Probably not a bad thing for both the consoles and myself.

Spring is in the air. Well, not really. It kind of came and went, and there was only a few sunny days. I guess it's retribution for having such a mild winter. I guess since June is usually pretty hot I should be thankful it was cloudy almost ever day. Rainy season will start here in a week or so, and that can really suck. I remember some years when it only rained twice a week, but of course the polar opposite holds true as well. I've gotten into the whole bicycle mode, and I'd hate to downgrade to the trains. It's quite good excercise (especially when I get off my ass and ride in the morning), cheap, and this is quite a fun city to go riding in.

I've not exactly been getting my game on. The 360 release of Death Smiles was better than expected, and I feel I gave a nice ass-ripping in arrange mode with an 8-billion score. I'll get it out again, but am on to less nerve-racking games at the moment. I pop into the arcades from time to time but there's nothing released in the recent months that has caught my attention. Death Smiles II is, as expected, awful on just about all fronts. The loli shit was forgiveable the first time around as the game was so well put together. This time, it's a lost cause. Hopefully Cave will pull their act together and realize that their fanbase doesn't want half-assed 3D based games which are easily ported. I would most likely not even buy a port of this turd.

For those of you dedicated viewers that are wondering what the hell is up with the site, there are updates coming. I throw some shit up in the omake area from time to time, which I hope isn't unnoticed. Those posters take ages to scan, and in a lot of cases doctor up. There is more stuff coming, but it's been a project going on for a very long time. It will be nice to see it finally out in the open. I'll have more on that in the coming weeks.

All scans copyright of their respective owner