Review: Modnation Racers

“This Isn’t Mario Kart. It’s better!”

Remember five or so years ago. When Mario Kart was the only decent kart racer available and no other kart racer was worth playing. Well, that’s all changed now, thanks to United Front Games attempt at the next Play, Create, Share game.

Gameplay – 10/10
The gameplay is pretty much perfect! The driving feels right and doesn’t feel too loose or stiff, it finds that spot in the middle that just screams ‘PERFECT!’. Unlike most racing games, you can set a speed class for your race which means whether you want a super fast race or a slow cruise you can change the settings right before the race. The Computer controlled opponents can get annoying due to the fact that they always seem to be right on your trail, but anyone with enough skill can still win if they have patience. 

Customization – 10/10
You can pretty much create anything you want. I’ve managed to create Naruto, Gordon Freeman and Mucking Howe (A random eye with a beard and top hat that a friend of mine came up with during a boring science class), A seaside city and the Capitol Wasteland from Fallout 3. If you can dream it, you can create it.

Controls – 9/10
The controls are just like any other racing game this generation. R2 is accelerate, L2 is reverse, X is drift/handbrake. The only annoyance is that you can’t customize the controls, but it’s a very minor problem.

Graphics – 8/10
The graphics look great and the cartoon style suits the game very well. The characters have a nice vinyl look to them and the cars look strangely realistic for a kart racer. There are some annoyances and glitches but they are very rare and hard to notice when you’re speeding down the track in your miniature dream car.

Sound – 9/10
The sound is great. An engine sounds like an engine and an explosion sounds like an explosion. The music is just like LittleBigPlanet’s music, it’s very child friendly but somehow entertaining to an older audience as well.

Story – 6/10
The story is you usual cookie cutter story you find in a racing game. You find out about a contest, find an old man to be your pit crew and then you try to achieve you dream of being a champion. What really makes the story unique is the two commentators, Biff and Gary. They add a lot of humor to the game and make yo want to play until the end, just to see what they say next.

Online – 7/10
The online is a mixed bag. You can usually find a good game, but some games and the ModSpot can get so much lag that you would think the game has frozen. I’m not sure if it is just me or if it’s the servers so I can’t really say too much about the online modes.

Overall, the game is a great kart racer that will last you a long time no matter how old you are. If your one of those people who think this game is too ‘kiddy’ for them, then your missing out on a great game! Remember, It isn’t Mario Kart, it’s better! 9/10

Score: 9 out of 10

Ghost Talker’s Daydream Puts the S&M in Exorcism

With the news that Dark Horse is going to continue publishing the Ghost Talker’s Daydream manga after a year and a half of no news for the series, I feel this is a fine time to highlight this mature, yet delightfully creepy story. After Perfect Blue and Ninja Scroll, Ghost Talker’s Daydream was easily the most ‘adult’ anime I’d ever watched. Likewise, when Dark Horse first began publishing the manga, I picked it up as my first horror manga series ever. Like so many anime, the manga develops the story further, and after being hooked by the OVAs I knew I had to continue exploring what Ghost Talker’s Daydream was all about.

The story centers on a young woman named Saiki Misaki whose 2nd job as a ghost talker (or exorcist) is perhaps only eclipsed in strangeness by her day job as an S&M dominatrix. Misaki is reluctant to use her talent to talk to ghosts, but she is continually pressured to exorcise ghosts by her friend Soichiro Kadotake, who works for the Tokyo Metropolitan Quality of Life Dept. Exorcism is serious business as one would imagine and throughout Ghost Talker’s Daydream Misaki encounters cases of all sorts, dreary, horrific, and often violent.

When I first watched the OVA I will say I was honestly shocked by the show. Indeed blending dark, horrific tales of murder, suicide, exorcism and more would do that; however, I was equally surprised by Misaki’s frequent ‘wardrobe issues’. In the manga, while little about Misaki’s penchant for revealing herself (usually accidentally) remains unchanged, I feel it’s comparatively underplayed. Perhaps though due to the black and white nature of the manga the visuals leave less of an impression on me? Or maybe since I’ve seen the OVA I knew what to expect? Regardless the manga and anime both earn their mature rating, not just due to sexual content alone but also due to the violence and death shown covered the story.

Of course, instead of just writing what surprised me about the story, I want to cover what I truly loved about Ghost Talker’s Daydream. Simply put Japan knows how to do scary stories, and Ghost Talker’s Daydream truly excels at bringing the creepy to life. Add in kooky characters such as Misaki, and the in between moments of comedy that ensue, and I think you’ll soon see that Ghost Talker’s Daydream is an enthralling experience. Like so many stories of suspense and fright, the further you go into the story the crazier the exorcisms become, and as the reader/viewer I just have to keep going to see what happens next! In particular, I’ve been quite interested in Misaki’s own skill and a certain added ability she has, which to prevent spoilers I’ll merely say is fascinating.

Since the manga paces differently then the OVAs, I know I’ve probably seen a lot of the story between the two mediums. However, I wanted to explore Misaki’s world further and thankfully with Dark Horse’s choice to continue publishing the series I may get that chance. While I hope to write an in-depth review of both the OVAs and the manga in the future, let me say for now if you like gruesome ghost tales, and don’t mind depictions of S&M and nudity, then I would definitely recommend giving the anime/manga Ghost Talker’s Daydream a shot.

My Dream Convention… *SQUEE!*

Ok, so it’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these things but I think I can still do it!  This edition is going to be my “Dream Convention” squee!  I’ll outline my favorite convention and explain why…hilarity is sure to ensue!  Read on and let me know if you agree with my choices! πŸ˜‰

Ok, first off I will start with THE MAN POWER!  I first saw them at Persacon 2009 and was completely enamored!  These guys are an amazing local group of out Nashville, TN and play songs based on comic books, anime, video games, and JACKIE CHAN!  They’re super sexy, super talented, and it wouldn’t be a convention without one of their concerts!  Plus, they signed my laptop!  How freaking cool is THAT?!  That is one of the many reasons why I love this band!  Their new full length cd comes out in August and all of you should go pick it up!  You can thank me for it later πŸ˜‰

Next up is another con circuit band that I really love: Electric Attitude!  I also saw them at Persacon 2009 and had a great time at their concert. They’re from Dallas, Texas and they have more of a bluesy rock sound, and put on an incredible live show!  Seeing them and The Man Power back to back at Persacon last year was almost too much for this poor little fangirl to bear!  Hehehe…but seriously, their band rocks and their lead singer is also a voice actor!  Blake Shepard to be exact!  You may know his voice from such anime as Air Gear, Detective Loki, or Tactics!  The band was also super nice; I chatted with them a lot at their merch table and loved every minute of it!  I also highly recommend their live show to anyone that has a chance to see, it’s phenomenal!

Ok, now I’m going to switch it up just a little with some voice actors:

Travis Willingham – The man the myth the legend!  I first met him at AWA 2008, and was completely taken!   He is incredibly nice, super hot, and lots of fun at a panel!  He is great with his fans, and definitely knows how to have fun wherever he happens to be.  He made my first AWA incredibly memorable, and did the same at this year’s JAMPcon!  Plus, he signed my laptop too!  EEEEEEE!  I love that he does voice acting, trains for triathlons and STILL has time to go to cons and meet his fans!  I look forward to seeing him at AWA later this year!

Troy Baker, yet another smoking hot voice actor!  I got to meet him last year at AWA and he was such a doll!  Very sweet and funny, much like Travis.  Come to think of it…maybe that’s why I like him so much πŸ˜„  He’s usually known for voice acting in such anime as Trinity Blood, Darker Than Black and Beck but did you know that he was actually in a band before he became a popular voice actor?  Pretty awesome, right?!  The band is called Tripp Fontaine and they released a cd called Random Thoughts on a Paper Napkin in 2003.  You should definitely give it a listen, their song “Burning Out” actually got some radio play when the album was released.  He’s currently in another band called Sons of Lawless, which is also a great band to check out!  Go Troy!  Such the multitasker!

I love ALL of these people, and think they make a great addition to any convention guest list!  I am hoping  that one day, someone somewhere can bring them all together under one convention roof for me to enjoy!  I would probably phase myself out of existence…

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JAMPcon through a fangirl’s eyes

So as some of you may have heard, we had a convention called JAMPcon last weekend!  In one word, I would say it was Awesfantabuful!  There were games, panels, concerts….craziness!  I have to say, for a con in their second year I really think they got it down! ^_^  This is my experience at JAMPcon:

Day 1 – Friday

The first day was a little hectic because I had to work, but once I made it to the convention it was fine.  I helped out a little with registration, then went and sat in on the beginner’s dance panel (which was AWESOME by the way).  Next, I had food then sat in on The Man Power’s Q&A panel.  If you don’t know who these guys are…you are definitely missing out. 

After the Q&A, I hung out with some friends for awhile, and then it was time for me to host the Yaoi panel!  For those of you who don’t know, I hosted my very first panel (which just happened to be a Yaoi panel) at ConNooga this year! So naturally, I was definitely looking forward to this one as well!  Now I’m not going to lie, we DID have some technical problems.  I couldn’t find files that I had previously saved on my computer, but the panel was saved when one of the audience members came forward with an external drive with a pretty extensive Yaoi collection on it πŸ˜„  This humorous mishap was followed with games, dramatic readings, prizes, and a little bit of Yaoi viewing! 

Oh, and I forgot to mention that while I was setting up for my panel, the President of the con brought one of the guests, Travis Willingham, to say hi and meet the staff.  My face was SO red!  He was very nice though and we had a laugh at my sudden muteness πŸ˜„ After the Yaoi panel it was time for the con to shut down, so that was the end of my first day.

Day 2 – Saturday

Saturday started MUCH earlier than Friday did, but that was ok.  To me, this was the most important day of the con: Travis Willingham was doing an autograph signing, and The Man Power was going to have a concert!  Happy day, indeed!  For starters, I met up with the President to find out where I was needed that day.  Turns out, it was TRAVIS’S SIGNING TABLE!  He remembered me from the night before, and luckily this time I was able to talk!  So for the next hour or so, I sat right next to Mister Roy Mustang while he signed things, cracked jokes, and made video messages for his fans.  I got my autographs and picture just like everyone else, and honestly could have died happy.  Since I’m a HUGE Travis fangirl, that was DEFINITELY one of the high points of my day, no doubt about it.  I love that man…but that is a blog for a different day! πŸ˜„

This high point was followed by even more good things!  I got to chat with The Man Power for a bit at their merch table, and looked around the Artist Alley where some of my friends had tables set up.  After that it was a quick lunch, then on to the next event: Vic Mignogna’s signing table!  For those of you that have been to a convention where Vic was a guest, you know how insanely long the lines can get…he did not disappoint at JAMPcon!  It definitely kept us staffers busy let me tell you.  Once the line was finally finished, I got my autograph from Vic and then my friends and I went and hung around the Dealer’s Room for awhile.  Eventually, it was finally time for THE MAN POWER: IN CONCERT!  Despite some technical difficulties at the beginning, these guys went on to put on an incredible FACE MELTING experience that we like to call a concert.  I am a huge fangirl for these guys as well, so I thoroughly enjoyed dancing, singing along, and getting to dance onstage. (Yes, you heard me!)  These guys are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and are extremely talented musicians.  If I can afford it, I try to go to as many cons as I can that I know they’ll be playing at.  Those of you who haven’t seen them live, what are you waiting for!?  Go look them up and find them at a con, you won’t be disappointed.

After the concert it was time for food again, and then we just sort of hung around until it was time for Travis’s unplugged panel.  I’m pretty sure he does at least one of these at every con he goes to, and EVERYONE should go if they have the chance.  It is 18 and over, but it is TOTALLY worth it for the experience and giggles.  Once the panel ended, sadly it was again time to go home and rest up for the last day of JAMP.

Day 3 – Sunday

The last day was MUCH more relaxed…we got there sort of late, and just people watched.  There was a cosplay human chess game going on that was very entertaining while I was sitting in line waiting to get one last Vic autograph.  I got to talk to some very interesting people in line too, which helped to pass the time.  I also browsed the Artist Alley one last time and put in some requests for commissions (WOOT!)

After I got my autograph, the chess game was still going on so I sat in and watched.  When that was done, we decided to go get some food since no one had eaten yet.  When I got to the restaurant, you will NEVER guess who was walking out the door…TRAAAVVVIIISSSS! πŸ˜„  I got my one last hug in, and then sat down to eat.  With full stomachs and empty plates, we walked back to the convention to see what was going on.  Closing ceremonies were starting up, but our group was so exhausted that we decided to sit it out and lounged in some chairs to try and nap.  Once closing ceremonies were over, it was once again time to go home, this time for the last time. 

The last day of a con always makes me sad.  No matter how good the day is or what happens to me, in the back of my mind I can’t help thinking it’s all over and the very next day I have to go back to the real world like none of it ever happened.  Boo I say! 

All in all, the con itself was a HUGE hit.  There were lots of happy faces, fun times, and good things all around!  The only regret I have is that I didn’t get to see The Man Power’s acoustic show because we were eating.  I am STILL kicking myself over that one!  Other than that, it was a perfect weekend and I have the staff of JAMPcon and its guests to thank for that!  I absolutely cannot wait for next year to do it all over again!