Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Amazon Japan Trick: How to Import Manga for Super Cheap

Amazon Japan can be a little intimidating for importing Japanese products, but it's also has some of the best deals on books and manga. On top of that, recent decrease in its international shipping costs means that you can get a packaged shipped anywhere in the world faster and cheaper than ever. But did you know that you can get virtually any number of manga shipped for just $10.50? I thought it was too good to be true, but I can confirm that it works. The secret is buying manga lots!

Ten volumes of The Rose of Versailles and a magazine for only
$54.42 shipped! (and it arrived in two business days!)

Friday, March 20, 2015

English Version of Visual Novel Studio TyranoBuilder to Launch Next Week

Who doesn't love a good visual novel? English speakers are slowly catching on to what might my favorite video game genre, one that focuses on text-heavy narratives and "choose your own adventure"-like branching story lines instead of complicated, action-based gameplay. Whether it be a traditional dating sim, otome game, or something else entirely, visual novels are unique and now, even easier to make yourself!

Nyu Media has just announced plans to release an English version of the visual novel studio TyranoBuilder on March 27th for just $14.99. While Ren'Py, the go-to visual novel engine for many indie creators, is open source and supports Windows, Mac, Linix, and Android, TyranoBuilder appears to be much more flexible,* and may be even easier to use for newcomers to game development. Take a look at the launch trailer to get an idea of what the software looks like:

TyranoBuilder touts the ability to create games for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android (requires porting through a free thirds party app), as well as gaming devices that run HTML5, such as the Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita. While Linux is surprisingly absent, the HTML5 and iOS compatibility coupled with the studio's very intuitive-looking interface make it look very appealing!

While developers familiar with Ren'Py may not be looking to switch, TyranoBuilder looks like it could be a great tool for those interested in trying out visual novel game development! Coupled with a Steam release, it has the potential to get even more people interested in visual novels, which can only be a good thing in my book! There will also be a demo available on the official site at a later date, so keep an eye out for that.

*I confess to know not much of anything about game development, so I am only saying this from the perspective of someone who has had a cursory look at both TyranoBuilder and Ren'Py! People familiar with Ren'Py, please feel free to chime in with your thoughts in the comments.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Quick and Easy Light Box Tutorial for Bloggers

One of the things I struggle most with when coming up with content for Chic Pixel is photos. I'm by no means a pro photographer, but at the very least, my previous apartment was blessed with great lighting that allowed me to pull off relatively decent photos with minimal preparation. My current dungeon of an apartment, however, gets very little light during the day, making it very difficult to pull off anywhere near the quality of photos I was taking before. Combine that with a little nudge from my pal Ayu, and I finally had the push I needed to make my very own light box! 

Friday, March 13, 2015

It's time to announce some otome games, Idea Factory International!

Idea Factory International is scheduled to have their first ever press event sometime next month, and I'm crossing everything that can be crossed in hopes that they announce an otome game localization for the PS Vita. It's been a little over a year since they first commenced operations on September 30th, 2013, and despite a wealth of otome games in the Otomate line at their disposal, they have yet to release, let alone announce, a single title.

Hakuouki English screenshot
Hakuouki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom for PSP. To learn all about the localization,
listen to episode 18 of Chic Pixel Plus featuring localization editor Ben Bateman!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Visiting the Ghibli Museum!

You may have thought my recap posts from my trip to Tokyo last summer were finished... But you are wrong! A whole eight months later and I've still got tons of things I'd like to cover, and what better way to get back in the swing of things than with a roundup of photos from my visit to the Ghibli Museum

Sign at the bus stop! 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Unboxing Japanese Goodies: February Haul Edition

I buy a lot of stuff. When I moved last month, I became acutely aware of exactly how much stuff, and while it's not exactly more than I initially thought, you get a whole new kind of appreciation for the paraphernalia you've amassed when you move from one tiny apartment to another. 

There are lots of things I purchase that would be relevant to this site that I never get around to covering (usually due to time constraints, admittedly), so I thought it might be fun to start a monthly unboxing series where I show off some of the goodies I've picked up. Then, if you want to see a video or feature about a particular item I picked up, you can leave a comment or message me on Twitter to let me know. That way, I know there's interest so I can make sure to allot time to do a feature or video on it! 

Should I change the cover image to something else so my "haul" items are a surprise? Do I blab on about nothing for too long? Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated, so do please let me know what you think! 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Celebrating the Second Annual MonMonth!

The Monster Hunter Community Game-Along is back! First held last March for Monster Hunter's 10th anniversary, this Game-Along was by far one of the most popular themes of the year, and effectively got more than one person (including myself) completely and utterly obsessed with the series! How could I do another year of Community Game-Alongs and not include it?!

What's more, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate just launched in English last month, meaning a good number of you are probably already playing a Monster Hunter game! Let #MonMonth be an opportunity to go online with fellow hunters, or just swap tips and achievements using the hashtag... You can also add your name and friend code to the Monster Hunter Google Doc master list and make some new hunting pals! 

If you're someone who's never been able to get into the series, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is by far the best place to start. But, if you're not interested in Monster Hunter, MonMonth is about all Monster Hunter-like games, so there might be another title in the genre that strikes your fancy.

Head over to the original Monster Hunter Community Game-Along post for some alternative game suggestions. For folks who like to import, you may want to try God Eater 2: Rage Burst, which also released last month.

I hope to play Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate with some of you in the upcoming weeks!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sony celebrates PS Vita's 3rd birthday with massive sale and freebies

My, how time flies! If the Official PlayStation Blog hadn't mentioned it, I would never have realized that the PS Vita is now three years old. I bought mine on launch day and haven't been shy about sharing my love for the somewhat neglected handheld, and while Sony hasn't been extremely supportive of the system in recent months, it's great to see them celebrating the occasion with a big digital sale!

In addition to the large list of titles on sale from this week's PSN update until March 2nd, PS Vita owners will also be able to download the adorable Toro and Friends theme (normally $1.99) from February 26th until the end of the sale. There are also a couple of free items for Destiny of Spirits and Fat Princess – head over to the official post to get all the details.

While you can read the full list of games that are part of the sale over on the Official PlayStation Blog, I thought I'd take the opportunity to recommend a few of my personal picks from the list:

Atelier Rorona Plus, Atelier Totori Plus, Atelier Meruru Plus ($15.99 each with PS+) – If you haven't had a chance to play any of the games in the Arland Trilogy of Atelier titles, I highly recommend picking at least one of the updated PS Vita versions up. While everyone has their own favorite, Atelier Totori and Atelier Meruru are generally much more polished than the first game in the trilogy, Rorona, and the stories aren't connected in a significant way that requires each title to be completed before moving on to the next. These RPG's are prefect for portable play, and if you're looking for something that is a little more relaxing than a regular JRPG, all three are great options.

Deception IV: Blood Ties ($15.99 with PS+) – I normally wouldn't recommend a game I haven't played, but I recently purchased a physical copy of Deception IV: Blood Ties solely based on my Nichiest Podcast Ever co-host shidoshi's glowing recommendation. But let's face it, how many games  that came out in 2014 are based entirely around executing elaborate plans to murder people? That doesn't sound creepy at all, right? Wait, where are you going?!

Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd ($19.99 with PS+) – The Project Diva games are by far my favorite rhythm games on the PS Vita (not that there's that much competition), and while they're also available on the PlayStation 3, I highly suggest getting the handheld versions if at all possible. While 2nd is the only Project Diva game in the birthday sale, it's definitely the better of the two, so I'd say it's a great place to start. Even if you're not sure you enjoy Vocaloid music, I can guarantee you'll find at least a couple tracks to get your toes tapping! If I still haven't sold you, check out my full review.

Monster Monpiece ($11.99 with PS+) – Okay, I know what you're thinking. Yes, this is the controversial game where you literally rub your PS Vita suggestively to level up your female monster cards. Funnily enough, the game is actually quite fun outside of the blatant fan service, which I could quite honestly do without. For only $12, though, I'd still recommend it as one of the only card battling games to ever come out in English! You just might not want to whip it out in public...

Unfortunately, my favorite games of 2014, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair aren't part of the PS Vita's 3rd birthday sale, but as you can see, there are still quite a few great titles that made the cut! I actually own nearly everything I'd want on the list, but I am eyeing Tales of Hearts R... If anyone's played it, let me know if it's worth picking up in the comments!