Now in Black and White

This past September, Nintendo and GameFreak released the most recent volumes of the Pokemon saga in Japan.  Called “Pokemon Black” and “Pokemon White”, the game has already been hugely successful in Japan.  A full month before the games’ release in the Nation of the Rising Sun, pre-orders topped 1.08 million.  This earns the games the honor of being the fastest game on the Nintendo DS to break the one-million mark.  Within two days of it’s release, the games had been purchased more than 2.6 million times — making it the biggest Pokemon launch in Japan’s history.  By November 3rd, the games had sold over 4.3 million copies.  Famitsu Weekly, a very popular weekly magazine in Japan, gave the game a perfect score.  For Famitsu, that 40-out-of-40 score has only been given 14 times previously, making Pokemon Black and White the 15th game to receive that honor.

Despite my tentative reservations about the game being set in another new region and introducing nearly 160 new Pokemon, I’m amazed at these numbers.  I suppose this very well means I’ll be pre-ordering my copy.

And if you’re reading this in America, the breaking news of the day is that you can preorder.  In a Press Release from Nintendo earlier today, the games were given an official launch date for the United States.

March 6th, 2011.

So get your styli ready, Pokefans.  Another fix is on the way!

Eyes on the Horizon

2011 is rapidly bearing down on us, and looking ahead, it’s shaping up to be a big year in video gaming.  With more highly-anticipated releases than you can shake a stick at, I thought I’d share with you the games that I’m looking forward to in the upcoming twelve months (though my wallet might disagree)!

1. Mass Effect 3

Commander Shepherd returns in Bioware’s third game of the series.  Also confirmed as the final game in the series (let’s hope that more series pop up in the same universe), Mass Effect 3 will pull on over 1,000 variable player choices from the first two games to create the final chapter in your very personal tale.  I’ve loved Mass Effect from the first time I sat down to play, and this title on the horizon has me chomping at the bit.  Due out “Holiday 2011” according to EA, you won’t find this on my Christmas list, as I’ll be running out and nabbing it the moment it’s available to me.  Who could possibly sit there and wait for it while it’s under the tree?!

2. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The next installment in the popular Elder Scrolls series, Skyrim is the first direct sequel to any game in the series.  Directly following the events of the previous besteller from Bethesda, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Skyrim will use a completely new engine, which is a big excitement for Elder Scrolls fans across the country.  Look out for this top-notch title on 11-11-11.

3. Little Big Planet 2

This is the sequel to the hilarious fun title that came out early for the PS3 — Little Big Planet.  With a scheduled release date of January 18th, 2011, Sony’s adorable game promises a continuation of the fun gameplay and mind-challenging puzzles.  The online community will also make a grand reappearance.  I swear I’m going to get a PS3 someday, and with this and others on the way in 2011, I might finally bite that bullet.

4. Dragon Age II


Scheduled for a March 8th release date, Dragon Age II is the next game set in BioWare’s Dragon Age universe.  While the story is not a sequel to Dragon Age Origins, it is set in the same world.  Unlike in Origins, the main character’s race is unchangeable, though players will have options to chance the main characters race and class.  With a more linear storyline, I’m very excited to see where BioWare is going with the Dragon Age games.

5. Deus Ex – Human Revolution

With new developers, no one is really sure if the newest Deus Ex will carry the feel of it’s predecessors, but from the videos out there now, I have to say that the graphics and gameplay look amazing.  Developed by Eidos Montreal and Published by Square Enix, the game is scheduled to hit stores in either March or April of the upcoming year.  With a strong emphasis on letting players focus on Stealth and Social skills if they choose, I’m very excited to see how the game plays out.

6. Patapon 3

The Patapon games are a wonderful little series for the PSP.  A charming rhythm game, the upcoming game follows the overarching story of the intrepid little natives as they work toward goals encouraged by the beating of different drum patterns.  Gameplay is said to be remaining mostly the same, though there will be a stronger emphasis on multiplayer gaming.  Rumored for a March 9th release date, I’d not get your hopes up on that one.  Though I think we can rest assured that we will have a new game of Patapon before the end of 2011.

7. Batman Arkham City

Batman is making a comeback against his enemies after his harrowing adventures in Arkham Asylum.  With a teaser trailer shown at last year’s VGAs, Arkham City is set for a release in the third quarter of 2011.  In addition to the familiar gameplay from the previous title, Rocksteady Studios is adding a multiplayer function — though what characters that will include and whether it will be cooperative or competitive remains to be seen.

 

8. Okami-Den

This title coming for the DS on March 15th is the direct sequel to the PS2 / Wii title “Okami”.  It’s an Action-Adventure game that has already seen it’s release in Japan.  I only had a chance to play a little of the original Okami, but the gameplay was unique and interesting, and the visuals were amazing.  Stylized, but amazing.  I’m really looking forward to a title I can play on the go that *isn’t* Pokemon.  Although speaking of…

 

9. Pokemon Black/White

Initially, I was extremely skeptical about the upcoming Pokemon titles.  More 3D graphics, 150 new Pokemon, a female character who at first glance looked like an overly-sexualized lead for something produced for an audience so young.  But as time has passed and the games have gotten more press, my Poke-fever is at full blast again.  I’m really looking forward to the new games.  People who have played them (as they are already out in Japan) have said that the games offer some unique gameplay aspects in a completely new world that seems to be isolated for the previous four regions.

 

10. Portal 2

The original mind-bending puzzle game Portal was packaged with the Orange Box, and it became an immediate smash hit.  A cult-classic, almost.  In fact, the popularity reached such a fever pitch online that the Portal song “Still Alive” hit the ROCKBAND downloads.  My husband still wants to strangle me every time I start singing “This was a triumph!”  I don’t let it deter me, though.  And with Portal 2 fast approaching, the original game seems to have been expanded, tweaked, and revamped for a new and exciting experience with our Aperture Science portal gun!  Now with Co-Op action!

 

11. L.A. Noire

This game has gained a lot of press attention for it’s high attention to detail and motion-captured acting for characters.  A mystery-sandbox game, the atmosphere is very “film noir” and allows players to work to solve a number of murder mysteries.  Using a state-of-the-art technology, actors were surrounded by 32 cameras to capture facial expressions from every angle.  This immense level of detail makes me super excited to give the game a try!

12. Mortal Kombat

This upcoming Mortal Kombat title is a revamp of the series for the current generation consoles.  My husband has long been a fan of the Mortal Kombat games, and I am really looking forward to having the chance to experience this with him.  I’ve always really liked fighting games, (I’m a pretty good combatant in Soul Calibur), and the hype surrounding this game is so thick you could cut it with a butterknife.  While there isn’t a whole lot of information about the game out, there is a lot of skepticism surrounding the “pre-order exclusives” already.

13. Tomb Raider

With her cover feature in the most recent edition of Game Informer, miss Lara Croft is getting a lot of press.  This reboot is supposed to completely revamp the entire Tomb Raider franchise.  VERY little is known about this game so far, and a 2011 release date isn’t even certain yet.  But my interest has been piqued.  An “M” rating has been heavily alluded to, and with a “younger” Lara, I can only hope that this will be the start of something wonderful that will reinstate Lara as a strong, powerful female figure in the gaming world.

 

What games are YOU looking forward to in the upcoming year?

A Holiday Shopping Guide Pt 2

We took care of Part One, and now it’s time for Part Two!!  Not much time left to shop for Christmas, and if you’re ordering online, you’d best do it fast or you’re going to end up paying as much for shipping as the gift itself to get it on time!

Here’ a look at a few more things that will make that Geek on your holiday shopping list squee with joy.

Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters is truly a work of mastery. Pulled together by the wonderful fellows over at Gnome Stew, this 310 page book is one amazing book that will serve your tabletop gaming needs for years to come.  Each adventure plot is completely system neutral, meaning you can plug the themes and ideas in to just about anything.  Not only is this a great thing to read cover-to-cover, it’s great to have displayed proudly on the gaming shelf.  Purchase for $25 on Engine Publishing.

This little lovely is a white Xbox 360 Christmas ornament.  With Hallmark making a killing on Christmas ornaments, why not support a smaller seller and get something a little more personal for your resident video gamer.  After all, I know I’d be a proud Gamer to have this adorn my tree. Check out the Etsy Shop here.

“Keep Calm” is probably the classiest internet meme I’ve ever seen, and this little lovely will set you back between $11 and $17 (minus the frame) on Queen Spoof’s Etsy.  With loads of options to choose from, I think this is my favorite.  I’d like it in Brick or Clay to put in my entryway, thanks. ;)

This ice cube gives your drinks an extra nerdy flair!  Just be careful not to set up a full Tetris line, or you’ll lose all the ice!  A perfect stocking stuffer at only $7, you can find the Iceblox ice cube tray over at Think Geek.

The Mandalorians are pretty much the baddest of the bade dudes in the universe.  Yeah, they’re bad enough dudes to rescue the President.  But will they?  That’s another question entirely.  For the Wo-mando on your Christmas list, it doesn’t get much better than this adorable pj set from Her Universe.  In fact, just about anything from Her Universe would make a wonderful gift.  It’s like a treasure chest in an internet full of “unisex” and “manwear”.  But this pretty much takes the cake.  Purchase at Her Universe for $35.

Video Games 101

Welcome to another edition of Nerding 101 with your friendly Professor Nattata. ^.^ Today we’ll be discussing Video Games 101 — Current Generation Consoles.

On the market today, there are three home consoles that are available for purchase in this – the seventh generation of home video gaming. Please note that today we’re just talking about home consoles and not handheld. We can talk about handheld consoles at a later date. If you enjoy playing video games at all, or are simply looking to get into the newest generation of video gaming, you’ll need to educate yourself on your options to make the best choice for you. After all, a home console is an investment these days, and no one wants to make an unwise investment in this economy.

Console #1: The Xbox 360

The Xbox 360  is produced by the Microsoft company and is the second home video gaming console from the company.  Initially released in 2005, the Xbox 360 completely sold out in all sales regions (except Japan) in it’s initial month.  Today, over 41 million Xbox 360 systems have been sold worldwide.

Pictured here is the most commonly recognized form of the Xbox 360, though if you go out to purchase a brand new Xbox today, you’re more than likely going to be looking at one of the new models, which is slimmer than the one pictured here, and is also black.  The new models are very impressive, sporting five USB ports, integrated WIFI capabilities, and a 250 GB hard drive.

Currently selling for $300, this system is an investment.  But Microsoft has announced that with the release of the Xbox 360 Slim (the new black models) that they expect the system is only halfway through it’s life cycle and plans to continue producing it until 2015.  So even if you were to purchase this system now, you’d be getting a good solid five years out of it before anything new comes out, and you’ve got five years of games behind you already.

And if that $300 price point is a bit high for you and you’re willing to sacrifice the storage space in the hard drive, a very new release has just happened in America – an Xbox 360 Slim with a 4GB hard drive selling for $200.

Console #2: The Nintendo Wii

Second, we have the Nintendo Wii.  Perhaps the most well-known home gaming console system currently available, it is produced by the Nintendo company – a leader in video gaming, both console and handheld.  Released a year later than the Xbox 360, the Wii has sold more units than either of it’s competitors, hitting nearly 74 million units sold worldwide since it’s initial launch.

The Wii has the ability to play both Wii titles as well as the titles of its predecessor, the Nintendo Gamecube.  It contains only 521 megabytes of internal storage and uses external memory cards to provide the user with space to store save files and such for games. It also features motion control – the first of the current generation consoles to offer motion-controlled gaming.  It has ports for 4 Nintendo Gamecube controller and can handle four Wiimotes (the name for the controller used to play Wii games).

The Nintendo Wii is currently selling for $150 and is the most affordable of the current generation systems.  And it’s honestly good that it’s the least expensive console, as Nintendo has not given any sort of lifespan expectancy for the Wii, stating only that they will continue to produce it until they have run out of ideas and meaningful content for the system.

Console #3: The Playstation 3

The last console on our list today is the Playstation 3.  Produced by the Sony company, it first hit the markets in 2006, the same year as the Nintendo Wii.  It sports the least amount of sales overall, having sold just over 38 million units worldwide since it’s release four years ago.

The Playstation 3 (often shortened to “PS3”) is the only of the current systems to provide the ability to play BluRay Discs — and in fact uses the BluRay as it’s medium for video games.  It comes with various sizes of hard drives, from 120 gigabytes to a full 320 gigabytes.  The current slim edition runs very quietly and smoothly.

It sports very little extra other than the BluRay, but for many, that is more than enough.  For those with big, flat-screen TVs and HD cravings, bluray is a great way to go.

The Playstation 3 sells for between $300 and $350 on the market today, depending on the size of the hard drive you’re looking for.  It is the most expensive console on the market, considering that bluray players on the market go for well over $100, that often factors in to the decision on purchasing this particular console.  There’s no word on how long the PS3 will be on the market, which may make some nervous at spending that much money on a home console system.

So how do you go about deciding on what console is the one for you?  I mean, it’s a big investment, and you don’t want to end up making a decision you’ll regret.  So here I’ll provide a bulleted list of the pros and cons of each system, and you can make your decision and get into the wonderful world of home video games!!

The Xbox 360

  • Wide Variety of Games
  • Intuitive Gaming Interface
  • Massive Amounts of Storage
  • Cordless and Corded Controller Options
  • Triple Core Processing
  • Durable
  • Good Warranty and Product Servicing
  • Reliable Company
  • Plays DVDs
  • Compatible with Netflix Streaming
  • Connects with PCs for Music and Video
  • Solid Graphics and Sound
  • Fantastic Online Play
  • Controller is big and sometimes clunky
  • Older models have over-heating problems

Nintendo Wii

  • Great for the Casual Gamer
  • Wonderful for Children and Families
  • Interactive Play
  • Streams Netflix
  • Intuitive Controls
  • Simple controller design
  • Durable, Reliable System
  • Long-standing, Reliable Company
  • Many interesting control add-ons
  • Small, Compact Design
  • Most Affordable System
  • Does not support DVD play
  • Very few games for the “hardcore” player
  • Motion Control can be quite finicky
  • Less impressive graphics than it’s competitors

Playstation 3

  • BluRay Compatible
  • Online Connectivity and Play
  • Superior Graphics and Sound
  • Solid Console-Exclusive Titles
  • Most Storage Space
  • IBM-Designed “Cell Processor”
  • Corded and Wireless Controller Options
  • Lots of “System Extras”
  • Access to the best Roleplaying Titles
  • Comfortable Controller
  • Most Expensive System
  • Limited Game Choices
  • Not Good for the Casual Gamer

The Ivories Man

Do you like video games or anime?

Of course you do.

Do you like good music?

You’d better.

Would you like to combine those two things into one, awesome, delectable, heart-pounding experience?

Well you can!  And lots of people do.  But perhaps the best of the best out there is a man by the name of Micheal Gluk, also known as Piano Squall.

Piano Squall performs arrangements of gaming and anime music on perhaps the most amazing instrument of all time – the piano.  (Now, I may be biased, after all, I’ve been playing piano since I was a mere four-years-old.)  His performances are all charitable, proceeds go to organizations like the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Race for the Cure, Baltimore Reads, the Maryland Food Bank, the Matthew Foster Foundation, and Tsunami Relief.  He’s been a guest at over thirty conventions, including some of the big-daddy anime conventions, like the massive Otakon.  Micheal has also been featured in such publications as IGN, MTV, Newtype Magazine, GamesRadar, GameDaily, The Otaku, and Destructoid.  He even toured parts of Brazil as part of a live orchestral game music concert series.

In 2007, Micheal released his debut album, also completely for charity, entitled GAME.  This album became the first ever video game/anime piano solo album to be entirely published by an independent musician. Proceeds from his album go to benefit the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Micheal’s inspiration comes from the fight he watched his grandmother struggle in with Multiple Sclerosis.  She battled the disease for forty years, and died peacefully in her sleep in 2006.  Micheal describes his grandmother as “…an endless giver both of her possessions and her love.”

Having watched my own grandfather struggle with a disease, though not MS, I understand how touching and emotional the process can be.  The fact that Micheal Gluk has been able to channel his love for his grandmother into something so wonderful, so touching, is beyond my ability to accurately portray in words.   All I can do is feature him here on my blog and help to spread his amazing message of hope and triumph — his message of following your dreams and doing what you love.

His music is beautiful, his arrangements spectacular, and his technique amazing.  I could listen to him play for hours.

Please visit Micheal “Piano Squall” Gluk’s website and purchase his album Here. For $10 — and a charitable donation at that — you will not be sorry or disappointed that you spent the money.

And if you’d like to try out some of his original arrangements for yourself, you can! He provides all of his arrangements in the form of downloadable sheet music on his website. He merely asks that if you decide to keep any of the sheet music that you consider making a donation to the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

What an amazing, charismatic man with more passion than most will ever show. Let us all try to be a little more like Piano Squall. <3

Show Your Support

When Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver came out many months ago now, the English ROMs (a copy of a game playable on a computer with the aid of an emulator) were everywhere about a week before you could buy a physical copy of the game in the United States.  Someone I knew was playing on said ROMs.  My best girlfriend and I were determined not to give in to the temptation of playing the highly anticipated game before we could have our physical copies.

This sort of story isn’t odd today.  Games, anime, software, music… it’s all available for download for free in tons of corners of the internet.  And thousands and thousands of people download it for free every day.  And when that content is downloaded for free, the industry suffers.

People say it doesn’t make that much of a difference — that the downloads are a drop in the bucket for these giant celebrities and whatnot.  Well, this might be a decent argument for huge musical artists or even American movie stars, but that argument doesn’t hold any water when it comes to anime and gaming — especially anime and tabletop RPGs.  The people who work in these industries don’t make much money.  In fact, most animators in Japan make barely enough to get by.  Writers for tabletop RPGs are often freelancers, and even those that aren’t don’t make a ton of money.  These people are working very hard every day to make these things gamers and otaku consume.

When one person doesn’t pay for that product, it doesn’t make that much of a difference.  But when tons and tons of people stop paying for the products, the industry starts to fall apart.  The anime industry in America today is much smaller and crippled compared to where it was ten years ago at the start of the new millennium.  Many licencing companies in America have shut down.  Manga licencing companies are also shutting down at an alarming rate, and those that remain are cutting down on their titles to help stem off losses.

Now, I know I’m talking a lot about anime, but that’s because the results of pirating are so readily seen in that industry.  But if this trend continues in the gaming industry as well, similar results will start showing.  The cracks will become ravines, and the industry will crumble.

If the industry crumbles, there won’t be new games or anime for you to consume.  Period.

I hear lots of excuses for why people don’t pay for their anime or games.  I took care of the “it doesn’t really hurt anyone” above.  But I also hear “it’s too expensive” a lot as well.

If that’s the case, then you need to choose where you’re supporting wisely.  If you can’t afford every new game that comes out in a month, choose the one that’s most important to you and buy that.

In fact, here’s a list of ways to afford your gaming or anime habits legally:

  • Purchase a Gamefly account.  For about $20 a month, you can play as many games as you want.  They mail the games out to you much like Netflix does with movies.  You can play as many games for $20 as you can play during the month.  If you find a game you really like, you can buy it through Gamefly.
  • Speaking of, Purchase a Netflix account.  Netflix has a SURPRISING amount of anime, and with the Instant Stream features, you can watch some on your computer or TV (if you have an Xbox or other way to stream Netflix to your TV) just as fast as if you were illegally streaming online.
  • Buy used games.  Used games often come at a fraction of the cost, and are just as good.  If you can wait a little bit for the new title, or you’re looking for a game that’s a bit older, Used or Pre-owned is a great way to go.
  • Borrow from friends.  If you have gamer friends or friends who watch anime, share the wealth.  You can talk it over and if there are a couple games coming out you really want, each of you can buy one of them.  After all, it’s hard to play two games at once.  If you want to watch a new series of anime, talk to your friends first and see what they can lend you before you head to the internet to stream or torrent.
  • Look for discounts online.  There are lots of online retailers (Like eBay, Amazon, and RightStuff!) that sell anime for very reasonable prices.
  • Purchase legal PDFs.  If you can’t shell out for a physical hardcover copy of a tabletop RPG book, you can find legal PDFs for purchase on websites like Drive-Through Gaming.
  • Watch anime through Legal streams, such as on CrunchyRoll and Funimation.

But, you may be asking, is it ever okay to download something for free?  In my opinion, sometimes it is okay.  For instance.  I own a Nintendo64 and a copy of Ocarina of Time.  However, I can’t take those things with me everywhere I go.  So I also have an N64 emulator and Ocarina of Time on my computer.  (It’s fun to be able to play while I’m waiting for class to start or something.)  Also, if you own a hardcover copy of a gaming book, I also don’t see anything wrong with also having PDF copies, so long as you own the physical media.  Same goes for anime — if you have legally purchased the DVDs, it’s okay to have the files on your computer in addition to on the DVDs at home.

Fansubbing is also alright, to an extent.  When an anime is released in Japan and hasn’t been licensed in the United States yet, fansubbing can help to create an active fanbase in America, which shows American licensing companies that the anime is popular enough to do well in the states.  The ultimate goal of fabsubs should be to get the anime licensed in America, not to cripple the money those companies are trying to make to recoop the fees they incurred through the licensing process.

The important thing for fansubbing is to take down the streams when the anime has been licensed in America.

So you’ll notice me trying to aid in the cause to support the industries that I someday hope to be working in on the blog.  Whenever I review something, I’ll be linking to places where the item can be purchased or watched (in the case of Netflix).  If the game can be rented, I’ll provide a link to Gamefly.  I will not ever provide links to torrents or illegal streams.  If there are ever links to fansubs, they will only be for unlicensed anime.

I hope that you all will raise your Nerd flag proudly and support the industries whose products you consume.  Someone worked hard to create that game you’re playing, that anime you’re watching, that book you’re reading.  It’s only right that they be compensated for the work they’ve done.

More Love for Your Audio Receptors

Welcome to the second part of podcasts I listen to!  Previously, I brought you a large chunk of the podcasts I have found to be a cut above the rest when dealing with the geek and nerd realms that Hot Pink Joysticks excels in dabbling in.  And considering I’ve been doing my research for months, wading through hours upon hours of podcasts, looking for the ones to really bring out their A games, I’ve come up with far more podcasts than would fit in one, reasonable sized post.  So instead of assailing your poor eyeballs with a one, long, massive post, I’ve split it up into two more manageable posts.

Anime Addicts Anonymous (Website)

Hosts “Chiaki” and “Mistugi”, joined by a rotating mix of “Kimiko,” “Hatake,” and “Roukou,” bring a fairly regular dose of tolerable anime goodness.  In fact, after my initial discovery of the Anime World Order podcast (detailed in the previous post), I’ve found that I often prefer the views of these anonymous hosts.  Continually discussing current anime while also reviewing years of backlogged “retro” anime, they also bring news tidbits that are always relevant and interesting!  (And the female voices don’t sound like bad loli impersonations.)  The reviews are sound, and while the cast is usually fairly adult in nature (there tends to be some graphic discussion), it’s a refreshing breath of air from neko girls screaming “KAWAII DESU” over and over in my ears.

ANNCast (Website)

ANNCast is the podcast put on by some of the staff at the Anime News Network.  ANNCast updates more frequently than the other two anime podcasts I listen to, and their content is top of the line.  Zac and Justin spend a few minutes off track every episode, but it brings a certain amount of charm to the cast.  These two have a deep amount of knowledge and understanding about the anime world and don’t pull any punches when it comes to honest opinions and the truthful news.  While this cast is a little more news-oriented than other casts, it’s definitely worth it.  Insightful reviews and top-notch reporting await you from the fellows over at ANNCast.

Deck Construct (Website)

What?!  A Magic: The Gathering podcast!  YES!  Deck Construct is a nice look at different trends within the game of Magic: The Gathering including typical deck set-ups as well as interesting ways to pull things off.  Alex hosts the show with a sense of ease and focus, covering current events in the M:TG world and many other topics revolving around the five-colored mana-pool.

Icosahedrophilia (Website)

Icosahedrophilia (say that five times fast) is a real-play podcast.  What this means essentially is that the hosts are all actually playing a game.  In Icosahedrophila’s case, it’s Dungeons and Dragons, 4th Edition.  The group meets on an almost weekly basis, and the casts come up very regularly.  It’s nice to “see” some real play, and listening to their adventures can really provide a springboard for your own games and characters.

Meanwhile… (Website)

Meanwhile is a SUPERGAMINGPODCAST.  Literally.  Meanwhile deals with all things roleplaying as superheroes.  MostlyJoe comes to you on a not-so-regular basis now, and when he does, he almost always brings a huge guest with him.  How he manages to get these guys on his cast is still a mystery to me, but I’m glad he does.  With talks of every system under the sun about super heroes, this cast is well worth the listen.

Minis Mayhem (Website)

I love Star Wars Miniatures.  And GM Brev and GM Teny also love Miniatures.  Even though the franchise has pittered away, this podcast is still running strong on the D20 Radio network.  Each week, they come to you with new ideas for squads and a host of other things.  I know they’ve cleared up some of my rules questions, and I’m sure they can help with any you have.  A very approachable podcast, GMs Brev and Teny don’t fall prey to using a million abbreviations and incomprehensible in-speak when discussing this exciting game — which is a welcome relief for anyone who doesn’t know every square inch of the rulebook.

The Minus World (Website)

While this cast hasn’t updated in some time, I haven’t given up hope yet.  Host Jake talks about video games and all such things.  I don’t listen to many video game podcasts, but I can tolerate this one.  ^_^  It’s similar to the problems I had looking for a good anime podcast, except in this case, I wasn’t finding neko personalities, I was finding intolerable fanboys.  Thankfully, The Minus World avoids the fanboy trap and instead provides quality podcasts on a broad topic.  This cast also belongs to the D20 Radio family.

The Power Source (Website)

This is a Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition podcast dealing with a lot of crunch and good times.  Jared and Ted explore things like Dungeons and Dragons related news as well as things being released on D&D Insider.  It’s a very good podcast with a number of entertaining segments, including Flurry of Blows, which is sort of an interactive segment that really makes Jared and Ted very accessible as hosts.  Fantastic quality values are in every episode, which is to be expected of a cast that boasts the D20 Radio family name.

Radio Free Hommlet (Website)

Coming to you on beam of radiant light — it’s Radio Free Hommlet!!  There are FOUR hosts for this podcast, and they are as follows: DM David, DM Kate, DM Tim, and DM Jackson.  This cast is very, VERY crunchy in nature, meaning that it focuses a lot on rules, ways to work with rules and powers, and the other number-related aspects of the game.  That game is specifically Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition.  They cover some news, but their main feature is The Map Room, a segment that they dedicate to a single, specific Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition topic and delve into very deeply.  It’s that deep discussion that really draws me in.  I hate to listen to something that ends up being so broad it becomes unusable.  Radio Free Hommlet is great at getting elbow-deep in whatever they’re talking about, and they make no bones about it!  (These folks are also part of the D20 Radio Network.)

Roll for Initiative (Website)

Does anyone out there still play Advanced Dungeons and Dragons?  DMs Vincent, Jayson, and Nick from the D20 Radio family do!  This podcast is an absolute necessity for anyone who still plays first edition Dungeons and Dragons.  With talk on rules and creatures every week, the boys bring you vital information on this very retro game.  However, I listen to the cast very regularly, despite having never played a game of AD&D in my life.  They talk about things that are extremely useful to players of any Dungeons and Dragons game — including topics on playing interesting characters and one of my favorite segments — Table Manners.

~~~~~

So that’s about all the podcasts I listen to regularly!  I hope you’ve found something somewhere in there that tickles your fancy.  Go out there and listen to some podcasts!  You’ll be glad you did!

Companion Cubes and Spock and Zelda – Oh My!

WELCOME!  Today is a brand new day and it happens to be a Fangirl Friday!  Now, usually, I’ll try to choose one fandom to squee over on these days, but today… I was poking around Etsy and decided to search for cell phone charms.

I did a post on cell phone charms a while back, but it was more… almost informational.  Since that post, I’ve absolutely fallen in love with the cute little buggers.  You can personalize almost anything with these charms — not just cell phones.  Handheld gaming systems (like the DS and PSP) have a place to hook them, you can attach them to zippers on bags or clothes, you can clip them on purse straps or keyrings.  I’m even using a bunch of them on my bouquets for the wedding!

So today, I bring you fourteen cell phone charms in thirteen images from twelve sellers on Etsy.  In fact, we’ll sort of view these as the twelve kingdoms of fandom, because I believe there are twelve fandoms represented here as well!


Cyathula’s Shop

Here we see Calcifer from the Miyazaki film – Howl’s Moving Castle.  I LOVE the detailing in this, and it captures Calcifer’s personality perfectly.  Look at the etching in the wood and the little bits of lighter orange along his “feet” and “hands”.  He is absolutely precious, and Cyathula did a fantastic job on him!


Until It Ends Studios

This little mushroom is similar to the Poison mushrooms in the Mario games.  Until It Ends studios did a crazy-good job on this little mushroom.  The spots are perfectly round and the paints settle perfectly on the mushroom’s head.  And the best part?  The shop offers these charms in EVERY COLOR OF THE RAINBOW!  The obvious of red and green are available, as well as blues, yellows, and even orange!  I think I’m in love.


Ikitzo’s Shop

Now, I could have put up ten or fifteen images of cell phone charms from Ikitzo.  However, I didn’t want to fill up the entire post with her amazing creations, so I whittled them down to these two.  (Which is cheating just a little, considering one of the images features two charms.)  On the top, we have Spock from the science fiction series Star Trek in all his Vulcan, blushing glory.  And on the bottom are my two favorite video game elves, Zelda and Link from the Legend of Zelda game series.  Just look at the detail on these!  Spoc has some serious eyebrows AND the proper insignia on his blue shirt.  Zelda is wearing earrings and a lovely gold headpiece while Link holds a tiny polymer sword and an adorable shield!  Check this shop out for more, including Avatar: The Last Airbender!


Akaii Designs

Portal was a video game to change the gaming experience.  It was a huge success and has garnered almost a cult-like following.  I still remember at my small, college Convention, we had signs of cake with arrows pointing nowhere, informing us that the cake was a lie.  However, this adorable Weighted Companion Cube charm is far from being a lie and can be purchased from Akaii’s shop!  Just make sure you don’t incinerate it.  It is your friend, after all…


Angry Owl

When you’re already the very best, why not show it off?  The Angry Owl shop has this perfect set of Pokemon Badges from the Kanto age of Pokemon.  (Also known to many as the Only age of Pokemon, or the Golden Age, but they’re just crabby old farts.)  The detail on these charms is really impressive for the Kanto badges, and I especially love the Soul Badge (the little pink heart).  Head on over to the shop and show off your mad training skills!


Mooglet P. Bear’s Fantasmogoric Shop O’ Wonders

Who remembers Animal Crossing?  Perhaps one of the best games from the Gamecube era (at least in my opinion), I spent hours playing my copy of Animal Crossing.  And this little charm is absolutely precious.  Fashioned after one of the fossils from the Animal Crossing game, it has already been cleaned off of the dirt from the dig.  The professional, perfect spiral and tiny star and dot are made from a glow-in-the-dark material.  The details are just stunning.  Notice the tiny speckles in the blue-purple background, and that TINY little bell added for a bit of extra oomph.  You’d best snap this one up before I do!


Angie’s Store

I squee over Harry Potter all the time.  In fact, there are really only a few things out there that I love as much as Harry Potter — Ben being one of them.  (Hello Kitty being another…)  Because of that, I was super excited to find this perfect little charm of a wizard’s hat with a “WWHD” plaque.  WWHD is a reminder to ask yourself “What Would Harry Do?”  The detailing and craftsmanship on this charm is absolutely wonderful, and when clipped to your DS or cell phone, you’ll always have that magical reminder of the world of Harry Potter.


Sonaxiom’s Shop

This adorable little kitten is a sort of obscure figure from the insanely popular and insanely adorable anime, Lucky Star.  This little charm has the most precious face I’ve ever seen, and the tail curves around so perfectly.  What is perhaps most impressive is that the ears and face are all so nice and even.  I’d be afraid to have this in my collection because I might huggle it to death!


Supernova Designs

I KNEW there was a good use for those tiny dice I’ve been collecting!  I actually have this set of blue dice floating around my giant dice bag, and I would have never thought to turn one into a precious cell phone charm.  This charm is absolutely amazing for any gamer, male or female.  Blue is such a gender neutral color now that this would make a perfect gift for any Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars Saga, or World of Darkness player!  Clip it to your phone!  Or better yet, to your dice bag!!


Yeller Crakka’s Charm Kiosk

Yeller Crakka has SO many adorable charms including Triforce charms and potion bottles and fairies and Mario stars and Pacman… But when I saw this Metroid charm, I fell in love.  And if you’re a little nervous about having this pint-sized protector outside and close to your hands, it is also offered contained in a perfect little bottle!  No missing fingers there!


Panduhmonium

Panduhmonium’s shop is full of adorable things.  But this little charm is absolutely squee-worthy.  It’s simply called an “angel wing” on the shop, but when I saw it, I was reminded of the little wings that one of the female characters from Kanon wears on her backpack.  It’s cute and not so nerdy that you’d be instantly found out (unless the person telling on you has also watched Kanon)!


Pomegranate PANIC!

Last but not least, this itty bitty charm from Pomegranate Panic.  The detail on this tiny charm is absolutely astounding, from the analog stick to the directional pad to the perfectly colored spread of A-B-X-Y buttons!  The detail work is so unbelievable because of how small this charm really is.  Plus, it’s an Xbox controller.  How cool is that?!

Well, here’s hoping you found a new seller to Heart on Etsy, or perhaps even a new charm to snap up before I get some more paychecks to get them before you!  So this ends the first of the new Fangirl Fridays, and I promise, next time, I’ll focus in on ONE fandom!

For Your Earstalk Love

This week, I’m bringing you a post I’ve said I was going to do for a little over a month now. >.>  I know it’s been a long dry spell here on Hot Pink Joysticks, but that’s hopefully going to start changing.  Now that I can finally taste the sweet relief of summer break, I’ve got time enough to get this lovely post up.

Today, I’ll be talking to you about podcasts.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, podcasts are to your iPod what radio shows are to your radio.  Podcasts are shows that range anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours in length and can be on absolutely any topic.  There are lots of Podcasts out there about different interests and hobbies, and of course, here at Hot Pink Joysticks, we only care about those interests and hobbies that tickle the nerdy underbelly of society.

After a number of months, I’ve finally come down to a list of podcasts that I listen to very frequently and thoroughly enjoy.  Be forewarned, however, if you stray from this list that I have provided you, you will be in the same boat I was for months.  For every well-produced, focused, and insightful podcast out there, there are at least ten podcasts that contain terrible production values, annoying hosts, bad information, and rancid stereotypes.  But when you find the few that are worth waiting for new episodes with bated breath, you’ll know that the weeks of wading through iTunes, knee-deep in wannabe “Yahtzee” Crowshaw, prepubescent voices was worth it.  (My fiancee was kind enough just now to inform me that he likes “Yahtzee” Crowshaw.  If you are in that ridiculous mindset, please fill that name slot in with another name, though I will keep my opinion that Mr. “Yahtzee” is a one-trick, blue-smoke pony.)

And now, without further ado, here’s the list of podcasts I’ve been listening to in alphabetical order.  (Because that’s how iTunes likes it. >.>)

Across the Nerdaverse (Website)

Across the Nerdaverse is an amusing podcast done by hosts Jessie and Mark.  These two individuals bring an interesting perspective to the i-waves on a fairly irregular basis.  I happened across this podcast completely by chance in my mass subscribing phase on iTunes, and boy, I’m glad I did.  They’re description on iTunes begins with “Nerd talk that hit’s you like a zerg-rush.”  That was more than enough to get me through the first episode.  I was nervous about this cast at first because of how unfocused it was.  They pair talk about everything and anything nerdy, from science-fiction to movies, from video games to technological advances.  The interesting hook that Jessie and Mark present, which in turn keeps this cast from becoming too broad, is the addition of a rotating third host.  This host changes every episode, and Jessie and Mark let us get to know someone else out there with nerdy interests.  Those interests are what usually help to shape any one particular show.  For a fluffy, ever-changing podcast, give Across the Nerdaverse a listen!

Anime World Order (Website)

This podcast is literally the first anime podcast I have so far found that I can stomach.  Every time I found a podcast that had decent content revolving around anime, I would listen for an average of three minutes before an annoying voice like this would suddenly assail my poor ears.  (Sorry, Boxxy fans.  I can’t stand her videos or her voice.)  Usually, this voice would be accompanied by a terrible attempt at a moe or neko personality type.  I had almost given up on finding a podcast about anime that would actually be enjoyable to listen to.  But after wiping a little blood from my ears, I gave the Anime World Order a try.  Thank heavens I did!  Their website describes the podcast as follows: “The Anime World Order podcast began in 2005 and is run by three holier-than-thou know-it-alls that are…anything but. … Each week…er…month…ish, we review Japanese cartoons and/or comics. None of us knows how to shut up.”  Hosts Daryl, Gerald, and Clarissa also write for the OtakuUSA magazine (both print and web editions) and the podcast itself was given a Parsec award for Best Anime Podcast.  Please, please, don’t go listening to the squealing fangirl podcasts.  Stop over to the AWO site and give them some love.  (Keep in mind that this cast puts out shows in parts, usually labeled with letters.  It takes a little getting used to.)

City of Doors (Website)

The City of Doors podcast is a newer addition to the D20 Radio Network (which includes a few other casts I listen to below).  It’s important to know that all of the casts on the D20 Radio Network (found here) are all wonderful podcasts.  City of Doors is no exception to that rule.  While technically a 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons podcast, the City of Doors is a great podcast for any Dungeon Master, Game Master, or Story Teller running a roleplaying game for a group of players.  They provide amazingly insightful information and fresh ideas that can be adopted for any game, any play group, and any play style.  While the cast updates much less frequently than I’d like, about once a month, ReaperBryan and The Hoff come to you with a solid cast that was well worth the wait.  Come join your fellow Travelers in The City of Doors!

Fantastic Forum

Finding a website for this podcast was more difficult than I would have liked.  However, this does not lessen the quality of the cast itself.  I don’t read a whole lot for comic books (in fact, precious little), but I understand that it is one of the Geek’s most well-loved weapon in the Nerd Arsenal.  Because of that, I sought out a good cast on comic books.  While the Fantastic Forum isn’t really a newscast and thus has very little in the way of comic book news, they do a fantastic job discussing different aspects of comic books (including why there seem to be so few female role models in this also male-dominated geek-genre).  This cast can be downloaded through iTunes.

Game-On! (Website)

This is honestly perhaps my favorite podcast.   Ever.  I think it probably has a lot to do with Brian’s voice.  I can’t help it.  I could listen to him read the phone book.  >.>  This cast is about board games and is hosted by Brian and Kat.  Brian and Kat talk about different aspects of board gaming, as well as a lot of games that most people don’t think of when they think about board games.  (You’ll learn quickly not to talk about Monopoly or such petty games in Brian’s presence. XP)  It may seem like an odd topic for a podcast, but a good nerd knows that there’s more to board games than Yahtzee and Sorry!  If you’ve ever wanted to play more “adult” board games like Apples to Apples (to throw out a commonly known name), give these two a listen!  This podcast is also part of the D20 Radio Network.

Order 66 Podcast (Website)

The cast to end all casts.  You think I’m kidding, but I’m really not.  From episode 1, the Order 66 Podcast excels in production values.  Now over 100 episodes in, the quality has only gotten better.  GM Chris and GM Dave bring you an (almost) weekly dose of crunchy goodness about the popular roleplaying game, Star Wars Saga Edition.  Every episode brings you a number of discussion on crunchy rules topics, specific instances and questions, interviews with developers, more creamy discussions on actual roleplaying, and much much more.  The Order 66 Podcast is the only podcast devoted entirely to SWSE, but make sure you don’t let them know you’re listening (podcast joke, listen to understand)!  GMs Chris and Dave also started the D20 Radio Network, and thus, the Order 66 Podcast is a part of said network.

Pottercast (Website)

Everyone needs more Harry Potter in their lives.   I don’t care who you are or what you think, this podcast is necessary.  On your iPod.  Right now.  Melissa, John, and Frak bring you a slightly sporadic dose of Harry Potter news and views, and ever cast is worth a listen.  While the older podcasts include news that isn’t really relevant anymore, the in-depth discussions are completely worth a listen.  Lately, the cast has been moving toward a dual-production in audio and visual, and while I prefer the audio podcasts, Pottercast makes the videocast work fairly well.  This podcast is also affiliated with the biggest fan-produced Harry Potter website in the world — The Leaky Cauldron.

A Way With Words (Website)

This podcast is devoted to delving into the amazingly complex and exciting world of the English language.  A public radio program in truth, this podcast is hosted by two smooth-talking, amusing characters who know far more about English idioms and sayings than any two humans have a right to.  Hosts Martha and Grant never fail to amuse.

WTPT – Pokemon Radio (Website)

There are very few Pokemon podcasts on the airwaves, and among those few, WTPT – Pokemon Radio stands a mile above the rest.  While there haven’t been any updates recently, members of their forums (myself included) have been assured that things are not ending completely.  There’s some worry about this podcast’s future, but the backlog of episodes are all absolutely wonderful and are more than worth your time to listen through if you have any interest in Pokemon — especially the video games!

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The Humble Indie Bundle

Okay, I just got linked to this, and needed to share right now.  It is apparently equally important as my English final paper. XP

The website can be found HERE.

They’re average price is REALLY low right now, which is pretty sad.  I’d really like to see that go up myself.  It’s $80 worth of games, and it’s going until Friday (I believe).  Pay what you want for it.  Though I’m hoping you don’t pay less than $20.  Get going, though!  These are some good games!