Posts from the ‘Assignments’ Category

Tech Review – Battle Stadium D.O.N.

With the success of Nintendo and Sony in the technological and densely populated country of Japan, there are many games that are made completely exclusive to the country. One game in particular I became envious of its Japan-only playability was Battle Stadium D.O.N. The abbreviated characters stand for three very popular animes, Dragon Ball Z, Once Piece, and Naruto. These animes are popular in America as well, which is why I am perplexed as to why Japan isn’t sharing its title. I learned about the game during a company visit to Q-Entertainment, which happens to be one of the two developers of the game, along with 8ing. The game was released July 20, 2006 for Nintendo GameCube and Sony PlayStation 2, and received a game rating of 28/40 from Weekly Famitsu.

Front cover of the game.

Battle Stadium D.O.N. is primarily a multiplayer game, but it also has single player components as well. The multiplayer gameplay of Battle Stadium D.O.N. is very similar to the concept of Super Smash Bros.–a series of games in which popular Nintendo characters duke it out with combat styles mimicking their characters’ abilities in their host game. Each character in Battle Stadium D.O.N. has special abilities specific to that character, including the ability to morph a character into a new form, or transforming for a short period of time. The main difference between the two games though is the health gauge in Battle Stadium D.O.N. Unlike health gauges in traditional combat games where the opponents health must be reduced to zero to win, this game has a combined health meter, which means in order to win, the player must make the health of their character take up the entire gauge. In this way, the players can gain health back by reducing the health of the other players. This type of gameplay has the ability to create matches that never end, which is why time limits are an available setting. The multiplayer mode can have from two to four players during gameplay.

Single player mode is not much different from multiplayer mode. The player fights against a computer, only this time, the player has missions to complete during combat, beside just defeating the opponent. The number of missions given depends on the difficulty chosen. The reward for completing the missions is a quantity of coins. The coins are then used in a slot machine which has the ability to unlock certain aspects of the game.

The game appeals to me because it is so similar to Super Smash Bros. Melee, which was an immensely popular game when the GameCube was first released. It even utilizes the many of the same battle animations and combat items. It is as if they took the exact same game, replaced the Nintendo characters with anime characters, and added a couple new concepts, such as the health gauge. Another aspect of Battle Stadium D.O.N. I enjoy is how much more animated the gameplay is. It’s very colorful, fast-paced, and has silly voices that sound like the characters. Certain moments can be very intense, unlike Super Smash Bros. Melee, when characters perform super moves which halt the battle action momentarily to focus on a specific character’s intense moment of potential energy about to surge from their inner being, unleashing an attack that just about consumes all other battle animation for a short period on the screen. Animes tend to be extremely expressive hand-drawn cartoons, and the video game does a good job of mimicking that overall atmosphere and behavior of the characters.

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Sumo

Sumo, although it is a very simple sport, was surprisingly interesting to learn about and watch. Sumo has always been a part of Japanese history, dating back around 1500 years!

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The history, including rituals and ceremonies, surrounding sumo is more complicated than the sport itself! The way sumo wrestling is played is quite simple: once contact has taken place, the first wrestler to touch the ground with anything besides the feet or step out of the boundaries of the circle loses the match. Sumo is single elimination, so each game is won by only one match. Before the match begins, however, each wrestler must mentally prepare to face their opponent. This is done by doing a few things. First, the wrestlers will meet at the center of the circle, behind the thick wooden line, to crouch and stare at one another. Then they will step back to their corners, perhaps wash their faces or take a drink of water, and then face their opponent again. They will most likely step back again, possibly stomp their feet on the ground ritually, slap their belly, and/or throw salt into the arena. Then they will crouch and stare again. This can go on for up to four minutes before they are required to start the match. Each action has a meaning behind it. Rinsing the mouth with water is meant to cleanse mind and body, throwing salt into the arena is meant to purify it and rid them of injury, and stomping is meant to show higher ranking.

Most of all though, I just enjoyed watching them throw each other around with great force!

Shibuya

Shibuya was the city that I traveled to the most often on my trip in Japan. Shibuya offered a very exciting nightlife, as well as a short travel distance from our hotel. It was here that I saw the famous Shibuya scramble crossing!

This picture doesn’t even compare to what it’s like at night! An average of 3000 people cross this intersection when vehicle traffic stops, which is amazing to watch from the Starbucks built into the media store across the street. My first experience with Azuki was in Shibuya, which is a sweet bean. The azuki I tried was inside a fish-shaped waffle!

Man who served me my fish-waffle!

While wandering around Shibuya, I walked by some strange attractions that triggered my curiosity. It wasn’t until I went to Shibuya with Jared Wilk’s brother that I gained a better understanding of Japanese prostitution and love hotels. I’m not about to describe them on my blog, so if they make you curious as well, click on the links to read on!

It was also in Shibuya that I had my first Japanese karaoke experience! Unlike karaoke in America, where you sing at a restaurant or bar, embarrassing yourself in front of every person in the joint, Japanese karaoke requires you rent a room with a group of friends, and sing in the privacy and comfort of people who already know how terrible your voice is.

Shibuya is the city to go to for just about any weekend entertainment, and I will always love it for that reason!

Compact Lifestyle of Cityfolk

The living conditions in major cities like Tokyo and Osaka were very compact! As I mentioned before, walkways were often so compact that pedestrians or bikers would just venture onto the street to move more quickly and efficiently. But compact lifestyle in the city goes beyond just that. Vehicles were generally tiny, even if they were vans or trucks! At one point when our group was looking for a place to eat, we happened upon a fire truck, and it was the cutest fire truck I had ever seen!

Many of the stores and restaurants were compact as well. Japanese cities utilized multiples levels of a building to house many businesses. Signs on the wall would indicate what business was on which level of the building. Some stores would be very tiny in depth, but operate on multiple levels. I loved how the tiny stair cases would make me dizzy!

Parking structures amazed me. They worked like car elevators, lifting the car into a designated stop and storing it. Later, when you came to pick up your car, it would be brought back down via the same machinery, backed out onto a rotating platform, and then rotated to face the road!

Even the residential houses were compact!

But if you REALLY want to see compact, check out this video!

Strange Foods in Japan

Food in Japan was an adventure for me everyday. I worked toward finding new and unusual foods I could try, but I was not brave enough to try them all! The first night of our stay, Dr. C took us out to a restaurant and ordered us many unusual dishes. I managed to try the octopus ball, which was fried octopus mixed with a tasty sauce. I quite enjoyed it! Later on our trip we went to a festival, and many of the concession stands had some interesting snacks. One I liked had pieces of fruit that they stuck on a stick and then placed on a block of ice to freeze over.

One I didn’t appeal to me so much a mini octopi on a stick, like a kabob!

When our group visited Mt. Shosha, the set for the movie The Last Samurai, I tried a delicious dough ball filled with beef.

But the strange cultural concoction I enjoyed the most was Okonomiyaki. This Japanese pancake is topped with lettuce, noodles, meat/seafood, eggs, and sauce! Such a strange combination of items, yet incredibly delicious!

Chefs cooking Okonomiyaki.

JR Railway

Our last company visit was to JR, a railway station company.

It is actually the most successful railway station in Japan, with an average revenue of 25 billion USD per year. The company has many new concepts they are developing, many of which fascinate me.

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The new Shinkansen railway train in development now is called the Hayabusa, and it will be the fastest train in Japan, traveling at 320 km/hr (200 mph)! Also, the company is working to develop new ecological trains and devices including a diesel hybrid railcar, a battery rechargeable railcar, a power-generating floor (walking on it creates and stores power), and tissue made out of old rail pass tickets! Unfortunately, suicide can be a problem in metro stations, as an average of one person per day attempts suicide by jumping in front of a moving train. JR has plans to reduce this occurrence using LED lights, mirrors, special cameras, and barriers. In addition, if such an unfortunate event is to happen, JR plans to inform waiting riders of the train’s location, arrival time, and any mishaps using improved digital monitors at several places in each station. Right now, digital screens display this information with words and numbers only, but new screens will provide easy to understand images primarily for the purpose of displaying the location of the train and allowing people of all languages to understand. One of the most interesting new developments JR showed to us is their printable route kiosk, which allows the user to type in their starting and ending location, resulting in the kiosk displaying several different routes. The quickest, cheapest, least transfers, and earliest routes are all highlighted. Once the user selects a route, they can print it out for personal use. In fact, the demo machine allowed me to do so, and I happened to use it for my trip to the airport!

Waseda University – Day 2

Unlike Keio University, we got to revisit Waseda University the next day for a second session. This time, we talked to students in an English class with a Japanese professor, and the class was only a beginner class for English. Because of this, we had to take advantage of other ways to communicate, rather than using just words. For example, I would use hand gestures to describe nouns and/or action verbs. Other times I would point at objects or even draw images. This shows that imagery is a true universal language understood by all, except the visually impaired. The ability of Japanese residents to learn English makes me want to learn a language as well, in order to be respectful to the diversity of the world. English seems to be the language of the world in many cases, but to go to a foreign country and expect them to know English in my opinion is disrespectful. At times in my travel through Japan, I wished there was less English present, so that I had more motivation to integrate myself and to learn more of the language.