Thursday, July 30, 2009

1/100 Gundam Astray [Review]

At last, we come to the long over-due review of the 1/100 scale Gundam Astray from the Gundam SEED line. This model has been acclaimed for its incredible detail, master grade like construction, and flexible articulation. Well as this review will tell you, the compliments are not overblown.

The pieces are molded in white, red, gray, and a lightly toned black. There are foil stickers for the eyes, the red square on the stomach, and the green on the top of the head. There are also clear stickers for logos that go on the shoulder and the shield. The body is appropriately molded in the right colors and is incredibly detailed. Because of all the details, you'll probably want to do some serious panel lining to make the details stand out, especially on the legs. Overall it looks fine out of the box, but nowhere near its potential until you panel line it.

Surprisingly, the joints are connected by thick pegs instead of polycaps, kind of like master grade models, which make for much stronger joints that don't become loose after wearing it down. The red parts in the legs are thin and carry a lot of the panel lines. The white pieces go over the red parts to simulate the inner frame construction you mostly see in master grade. This is rather impressive. There are four hands. Two are closed fists, used for holding the katana and beam sabers. There is a hand for holding the beam rifles, and the last one is a clasped hand with the thumb sticking out, which is used for holding the katana sheathe rather stylishly.

Articulation is excellent. The shoulder armor moves separately and the joint also moves around. The elbow joint bends completely 180 degrees and allows for near complete freedom of movement for holding the katana sword. The legs are just as flexible; It can take that "crapping in the woods" position, which allows for all sorts of dynamic posing. The body spins around, but the head is limited and cannot turn all the way to the side.

The Astray comes loaded with weapons. It comes with a standard beam rifle, which isn't too excited. There is also the shield, which is also pretty boring. It also comes with two standard beam sabers, which is molded in clear pink. These weapons are not important because the main point of this model is the Gerbera straight, which is the katana sword. The blade itself is plastic, but it is painted in a metallic silver so it looks like its metal from a distance. The handle, unfortunately, is completely white so you'll have to paint it black and gold to make it look good. I didn't have gold paint so I went with yellow instead. The sheathe is also completely white, so gold and red painting is in order.

Pose it with the katana for some very dynamic stances and striking poses. As you can see, this model has strong joints, incredible detail, and unmatched articulation. It is definitely one of the best no grade models, and can be compared to older master grades rather than current 1/100 models because of its quality. I highly recommend this kit, and its only around $20 too so you would be getting it for a steal


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

MG Gundam Exia

In case you were looking for pictures/review for the newly released Master Grade Exia, here are a few.

I'm pretty impressed, the details and articulation seem to be fine. They could have done a much better job with the proportions though, something doesn't seem right. It also has that interesting light up gimmick (which is good for entertaining yourselves for 2 seconds then becoming obsolete afterwards), and it has parts for the Repair version.

While it looks like an excellent model, I'm conflicted as to whether I should buy it or not. I already have the 1/100 no grade model which looks just as good (albeit with a bad thigh joint). It would be a definite upgrade, but is it really worth it? I have other things on my wish list at the moment (like the bloody MG Wing Zero Custom). I've even considered getting the 1/144 Trans-Am 00 Raiser, it has caught my attention recently. We'll see.

All pictures are courtesy of There's a lot more to see, so you can redirect yourself to their page by going here.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

6 More Horror Games

The list of scary horror-survival games continues. These games are slightly more recent, as I have covered all the classics in my Top 10 Scariest Games List. Note that this time, the games are not in a specific order, they are just listed by number for hell of it.

6. Kuon

There's something about ancient Japanese houses that scares the hell out of me. Kuon is set during the Heian period of Japan, and as usual, the game follows a young woman looking for her father, a renegade exorcist, in a creepy mansion. Lighting is constantly dim, and all you have to illuminate your path is a small lantern. The creepy blood soaked environment and ambiance make for a rather Fatal Frame kind of psychological scare, complete with angry ghosts.

5. Siren

Once again, a game set in Japan. This time it is modern times, but the game is set in a rural village that seems to exist in a totally different plane of time and space. The villagers initiate a ritual that involves resurrecting a demon, and of course, it goes horribly wrong, turning all the villagers into zombie like creatures called shibito. The story follows ten survivors who must find their way out while avoiding the hostile shibito. A unique aspect of this game is the ability to sightjack, which is where the player sees through the eyes of a nearby shibito for a limited amount of time. The environment is almost pitch black all the time, with creepy fog further blinding you as the shibito creep around trying to kill you. The main scare comes from the design of the shibito. They are ordinary rural citizens, twisted into pale, ghoulish creatures with blood drizzling from their eyes. When one of them finds you, they alert nearby shibito and initiate a terrifying run for your life through an environment you can barely see. Oh, and these shibito aren't like your traditional zombies, they RUN.

4. F.E.A.R.

FEAR is not a traditional survival-horror game because...well...its not. It's a first person shooter. The game often switches from scary to heated gunfights very quickly, but the horror portions of the game are sure to mess with your head. All the horror involves a little girl named Alma, who seems to has psychic powers and thinks its funny to just fuck around in dark, badly lit buildings. Just see what I mean below. She'll pop out when you least expect it, causing many jump-out-of-your-seat moments.

3. Clock Tower

This is actually the sequel to the first clock tower game on the SNES, but they decided to just call it Clock Tower for some reason. It is, like before, a point and click style game. The game has you taking control of either Jennifer, the heroine from the first game, or Helen, her new guardian. And like before, Scissorman will be hot on your tail wherever you go. This time, he's bigger, scarier, has bigger scissors, and sports a strange limp every step he takes. With suspenseful music and heart-pounding chases as you look around for a hiding spot, Scissorman will, again, scare the crap out of you.

2. Condemned: Criminal Origins

In Condemned, you play Ethan Thomas, an SCU agent who must investigate a mysterious phenomenon that is turning people into vicious, murderous psychopaths. It is played in first person, and the creepy, almost inexplicable occurances throughout rather normal parts of the game really work in freaking the hell out of you. Like this part where 6 foot dolls are following you, but as soon as you turn around, they're not moving...

1. Silent Hill 2

The sequel to Silent Hill, of course, has you exploring the perpetually fog-ridden town of Silent Hill. This time, you are James Sunderland, a guilt-ridden man who receives a mysterious letter from his dead wife to come meet him in Silent Hill. Hilarity ensues...I mean, horror ensues as demonic representations of his guilt try to slaughter him as Silent Hill turns into the hellish world it really is. And as many gamers may be aware of, this game features one of the scariest creatures ever, Pyramid Head.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Top 5 Gundam Games

Ideally, Gundam + video games should equal awesome every time. Unfortunately, there's a lot to be desired in Gundam's vast library of games. A lot of them are hit-or-miss, and the ones that are worth mentioning are often Japan-only. How is a fan to discern what's good and bad in this confusion? Well, I'm here to recommend to you the top 5 games you should start with as a Gundam and video game fan. Western and Japanese releases are both included, as there wouldn't be much of a list without the Japanese games. If you have any recommendations of your own, feel free to share them in the comments below!

5.  Mobile Suit Gundam: Encounters in Space

This is one of my personal favorites, and definitely one of the best Gundam experiences on the PS2 and among US released games. This isn't saying much because most Gundam games available on consoles are sub-par at best, but I believe this is the best of that lot. The main thing I love is that it features hours of remastered footage from several UC Gundam anime. There's also plenty of new, remade footage for the original Mobile Suit Gundam as well. It's one of the fullest story experiences, and that's why I like Encounters in Space so much.

The main story mode covers the third Mobile Suit Gundam movie, which is also called Encounters in Space. There is a mode called Ace Pilot, which is a campaign mode for the most famous ace pilots in the UC timeline like Char Aznable, Kou Uraki, Shin Matsunaga, and Anavel Gato. This mode offers some pretty interesting looks into stories that are rarely covered by games, like the Blue Destiny side-story. Along with this abundance of story modes, you have a selection of basically every UC mobile suit in existence. There are also some bonus units, like the Wing Zero Custom and the Strike Gundam.

Gameplay is pretty typical of Gundam games; pretty much every battle takes place in space so you are always in flight. While this doesn't sound very exciting, movement is surprisingly smooth and it works, even if it isn't remarkable or ground-breaking. In the end, Encounters in Space offers a lot in terms of fan service and just enough in terms of gameplay. You can't miss it if you are a Gundam fan and own a PS2, and you won't be disappointed as long as you don't expect anything outstanding.

4. Gundam Battle Universe

The PSP has an excellent lineup of Gundam games for it, and while there are a handful of them, Gundam Battle Universe stands out as the best in its series (even superior to its sequel). After dealing with the mediocre console games for years, I was pleasantly surprised when I gave this a try. The gameplay is fun and responsive, considering you have limited jump and boost movement. You can execute special attacks, and some mobile suits have a unique set of weaponry. You can even equip certain abilities for each unit.

Battle Universe has a comprehensive story mode that covers pretty much every period in the U.C. timeline. Though, the highlight is that it features over 200 U.C. mobile suits, including some rarely seen Gundams like the Hi-nu Gundam and the Ξ Gundam from Hathaway's Flash. The graphics are excellent as well, so this is basically a Gundam fan paradise. Within the category of story-based Gundam games with a large selection of playable mobile suits, Gundam Battle Universe is about as good as it gets. 

3.  SD Gundam Generation series

The SD Gundam Generation series is an extremely long running series of strategy games that has been on almost every major console and handheld that has come out. As a Gundam game, it has been a mainstay for over a decade. If you haven't played any of the games, it's probably because these games are rarely available in English. Fortunately, there isn't much to read, as it is a pretty straight-forward strategy game that hasn't changed much since its debut. So now, you're probably wondering what makes this series so special.

Honestly, it's not the gameplay. There's nothing particularly exciting or ground-breaking about its strategy gameplay. As a fan, I'd have to say that the main allure of this series is its incredible fan service. It is the dream mash-up every Gundam fan craves. The games usually feature almost all of the most popular Gundam series, and give you access to all of your favorite mobile suits. With this, the SD Gundam Generation series can flaunt its best feature, which are the epic attack animations that make each battle explosive and exciting. Check the video below to see what I mean. As a Gundam game, it certainly gets the "Gundam" part done right.

2. Gundam Wing - Endless Duel

Endless Duel is an old-school 2D fighting game for the SNES, and one the first Gundam games I ever played. It is also one of the best Gundam games I have ever played to this day. It features a Street Fighter-based combo system that gets frantically fast-paced when played at a high level. I've been a fighting game fanatic for years, and I can safely say that this is definitely an excellent fighting game, even by mainstream standards. It is also gold for Wing fans, as it is based on the Gundam Wing series.

The graphics are colorful and vibrant, and each Gundam's sprite is well-made and nicely animated. The soundtrack is excellent as well; each theme sounds like something right out of the anime and it really gives off that Gundam Wing feel that fans would enjoy. Fans will also appreciate the character roster; it features every notable mobile suit from the series. I'm aware of the Battle Assault series, but as a fighting gamer, I have to say that those games are a mess and impossible to play competitively. Endless Duel, on the other hand, can be played competitively and is loads of fun. Even if you don't like the Wing series, there's little reason not to give this a try.

1. Gundam Vs. Gundam series

The main problem with most Gundam games is the gameplay; they can't seem to shake that generic, bland fly-and-shoot gameplay. Well, here is the solution to that problem. The Gundam Vs. games are a series of arcade fighting games that finally put the fun in controlling a Gundam. While the control scheme will remind you of the Gundam Battle series, there is a combo system that allows for some pretty competitive play. Coupled with a dash mechanism, each match can get pretty hectic and will require the utmost skill to win. Finally, we have a Gundam game that requires skill, and has competitive replay value.

The most notable entries at the moment are Gundam vs. Gundam Next Plus and Gundam: Extreme Vs. While they are Japan-only, they are worth the import. The games feature a nice selection of all the most popular mobile suits from every major Gundam series. Each unit is unique in their special attacks and combos, so don't be expecting identical play from every Gundam. Gundam Vs. is everything we love about Gundam games. You get to play as your favorite Gundam, the gameplay is actually fun, and you can play it over and over again for good reason. Surely, this is the game that finally got it right.

Check out my other Gundam Top 5 lists~


Yukie Kawamura

I'd like to take this time to present to you, Japanese gravure model Yukie Kawamura.

She has it all, a gorgeous face, an extremely cute way of talking, and an impossibly stacked body. This is my gift to you.