Tag Archive | Crappy camera

Room progress – 2012 Game corner update!

I wasn’t wasting money solely on my gaming & anime/manga collection during my absence but I also invested some money in re-doing my little gaming corner. Got me some proper shelving and a TV bench as well as the needed AV switches & selectors, cords and all that other stuff.
I won’t bore you with details so let’s look at some pictures instead! 😀

Before:

After:

Everything is not completely connected yet, as I need a few more cables and the like and some of the solutions are not very elegant, but this works pretty well actually. You might be scratching your chin and wondering, “why is there such a gap between the TV and the shelves?”. Well, I thought that I maybe would like to cram in another monitor or a small TV, like one of those 21″ Bang & Olufsen CRTs, can I find one for cheap. Not everything plays that well with my scaler, my unmodified PC Engine Duo, for example, so having an alternative could be nice. I also need to pick up some RGB cables for my PlayStations and since I’m just out of inputs, another scart box and maybe another RCA selector.

Also need to get rid of that chair and get a proper sofa or something…but that’s for another day!

The “I bought a lot of stuff” Special (part 2)

It’s time to look at what hides deep within the pages of those Newtype issues!
Let’s get started with this little announcement I found where it says that “Sasamoto Yuuichi’s popular novel-series ‘ARIEL’ will get an anime adaption! The OVA is planned to be released this summer”.

Fun stuff to find, especially now that I own the LD release 😀  Really puts one’s possession in historical context…

Here’s some of the rest:

Upcoming is some fun stuff I didn’t want to get lost in the picture flood. First up, model sheets from…yup, Angel Cop! That’s not really something I expected..

Next up is some model sheets & concept drawings from the Patlabor TV-series:

Here’s some (very small) backdrops from Yawara! TV-series:

And what better to end this picture dump with than some super expensive and at the time high-end but now utterly obsolete hardware:
😀

Actually, I would love to get my hands on those players, as they are looking absolutely gorgeous and much sleeker than pretty much anything I see in stores nowadays… : /

…right, where did I put my time machine?

The “I bought a lot of stuff” Special (part 1)

I’ve been absent for a while, but now I’m back…perhaps…?
While I wasn’t posting here I bought a few things off the net and they have pretty much all showed up now so, I thought we could take a gander at what I got this time.
However, I took so many pictures from the artbooks & magazines, that it felt best to split up the post to avoid having 73 or so images trying to load at the same time 😛

LD & Game stuff

With this I’ve got Gunsmith Cats complete and I picked up the whole ARIEL OVA series as well. The latter is actually a pretty charming and interesting show based on a SF novel series with the same name. It’s not top tier material but quite enjoyable if you’re okay with the slightly sub-par animation (looks like a better TV series form the time). Sadly, episode 1 of Deluxe ARIEL seems to be affected by laser rot, there’s speckles and stuff in the image. No audio drop-outs when I watched it tho’. Maybe I can find another copy of it somewhere…

Gunsmith Cats on the other hand was a bit of a let-down. The action was pretty good (but a bit too sparse) and the sound was well done but character artwork went out the window by the 2nd episode. 1st one does actually look good, but 2 & 3 looks odd and sloppy. Which is too bad because the rest of the show holds quite a high standard.

Aside from the odd game & Saturn USB controller, pretty much every thing pictured was bought from the seller “Yamatoku Classic” on eBay. Prices were seemingly good and well below the usual gouging. Well, for most titles, but then again, the expensive items are the ones that people got into bidding wars over and, if it ends up expensive you can’t blame the seller because they all start out cheap.
This should hold me over for a while, I hope 🙂

Artbooks & magazines

Okay, here’s the reason why I wanted to split the post! There was some interesting stuff inside some of this stuff I maybe thought could be fun to see so I tried take…well, a few photos but went slightly overboard…
Picked up a few more Gall Force artbooks/mooks because I could, and they were sold as a set with a very fair price. I just like to collect things like this 😀 Also, I’m quite the sucker for Sonoda Kenichi’s old artworks. Like Satoshi Urushihara, I feel his newer often work fails to capture the dynamism of the older ones, and ends up feeling stiff and…I don’t know, I just like the older ones better. Not sure if other people feel the same about the evolution of their styles. :/ Hmm…

Also, someone was selling a pretty big number of issues of a magazine called “Animedia” and I just had to grab a few to sample 😛 Looking back, I sort of wish I would’ve bought a few more but that would’ve ended up too expensive for sure. Bummer, as these are interesting. I did take quite a few photos of what’s inside of those but curiously, I took even more photos of the two Newtype magazines I picked up because….well…Patlabor. 😀 Did not contain as much patlabor as you’d be led to believe from the cover but some cool stuff was inside.

I’ll dump the some of the interesting stuff Animedia here while everything from Newtype will be featured in part 2 😉

Some interesting stuff in there for sure! I love it when they throw in concept sketches and production artwork. Happy to see Zillion in there as well. I’m not overly familiar with Zillion as a show but I watched an OVA not too long ago and I know there are games on the Master System. Also just had to throw in that Gunbuster advert near the end – fancy the volume 1 LaserDisc? It’s yours for a measly 7,800yen which is about a 100 dollars were it today. Crazy!

Alright, stay tuned for part 2!

Room progress 2012-08-20

Done.

Well, almost. But it’s 100% usable now. Too bad my camera refused to cooperate : /
The old layout was fun but not that well thought out – also cords friggin everywhere. I also had some problem with electricity and fuses going. I tried divide my stuff over a couple of different power switches, but it didn’t always work that well. The solution turned out to be the Brennenstuhl Power Manager (available here) – this way I have more control over what’s getting power and, more importantly, what isn’t. Of course, it’s designed for use in Europe so your mileage may wary.

With a bit of help, my PC got itself a little rolling CPU stand so that I can access it more easily and I also have monitor risers, as well as a little wagon-thing that houses my PS3, XB360 & amplifier. I was getting tired of PC speakers and wanted to try something different.

Both the amp and speakers have been sitting around in my room for quite a while, I just didn’t have any place to use them until now. Considering I gave 500 sek (~$75) for the amp. and 300 sek (~$45) for the speakers I’m quite happy with how it sounds.
I also picked up a sub for an additional 500 sek. Granted, for that kind of money, you’re getting close to premium-level PC speakers but I just didn’t feel like it. Also, it’s easier to switch things out in this kind of setup.

The rest of the room is calmly chaotic, best way to describe it I guess. I’m planning something similar for the TV setup – amp & speakers already secured. 😀

UppCon 2012


Phew.
Another UppCon comes and goes. Rumour has it this year’s was the last. If true, then it’s with mixed feelings I bid farewell to what was, if wikipedia is to be believed, the biggest nordic anime/manga-convention.
I have been attending UppCon with a couple friends since a few years back and during these years the con has switched locals what must be at least 3 times (though we missed the first move, I think). So it has grown considerably and in my eyes, become a bit too big for it’s own good in recent years. The price for entry tickets have skyrocketed, mostly thanks to increased costs of operation, but this (and maybe last year?) the 3-day pass also doubled as a ticket for the live performances on the main stage.

At the same time, it has been a pretty fun experience. Good things have been bought in the dealers area and since 2010 there were also an artist’s alley – something I’ve envied after hearing about conventions in the US. This was also the first year I could attend 2 days instead of only 1, which made the “big” day (Saturday) a slightly less hectic experience. This also allowed me to collect more swag, of course.
In the end, despite the increasing costs and crowd, good times have been had and I’m left to wonder what will replace it.

On to the l00t!

As has been proven in previous years, the con-run booth that specializes in selling what attendees bring with them is the most interesting place in the sellers area. Even I managed to get some stuff I didn’t need sold there.
It’s probably the most varied booth in terms on what’s on sale and it’s also possible to find some very good deals there. Also, games.

I picked up Ikuruga and a roughed up copy F-Zero GX for the Gamecube. Mega Man X: Maverick Hunter for PSP and lastly Paro Wars for the PS1.
That’s a good haul, I’d say! Speaking of which, I also found a loose PAL PS1 for a very low price. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with two of these but despite needing a little clean up, it works. It’s also an older revision than the one I already have, having both the serial and parallel ports on the backside, so that’s interesting I guess.

Speaking of games, I also found collectable figures based on Galaxy Fraulein Yuna, so naturally I had to buy one. The price was a bit above what I wanted to pay but the seller was really nice and offered me to find the figure I wanted.
After assembly, I have to say that Yuna’s build quality is a bit shoddy, at least compared to collectable figures from more contemporary series, but really, when was the last time you saw Galaxy Fraulein Yuna merchandise? Thought so.

In terms of more classical anime/manga-con loot I secured two DVDs, the 1st Cardcaptor Sakura movie and a Japanese release of Di Gi Charat Nyo! volume 1.
Along with this I picked up two manga books, a free compilation of manga-styled short stories by Swedish artists and volume 4 of Master Keaton, which I dug out of a cardboard box of cheaply priced, to me, mostly unknown Japanese manga. No, I don’t have the 3 preceding volumes 😛 But my curiosity go the better of me and it was cheap. Speaking of cheap random pickups, I found this magazine called “CUT”. I guess it’s normally a movie/cinema-kind of magazine. This one had a Studio Ghibli feature (mostly interviews) so I thought that maybe could be interesting to flip through.

Last up is two CDs I picked up. The Tackey & Tsubasa Best collection (say whatever you want, some tracks are pretty good) was offered for a really good price in the mentioned attendees booth while I picked up Mai Otome/Z-HiME Best Collection from a normal seller.
Sadly, that turned out to be a bootleg. Bummer. The label “Miya Records” caught my eye and after getting home and comparing it to a scan off the real thing, the cat was out of the bag. Upon further inspection, I found two other CDs I’ve had for a while with the same label. Quality seems pretty great tho’, so that’s a good thing I guess.

Returning to the topic of UppCon for a bit, there were loads of cosplayers if that’s your thing 😛
My camera didn’t really take that many good shots, especially not during the actual cosplay competition, but there’s always this site if you’re interested. I also believe some of the other performances and events will be uploaded to youtube.

I think this might be a fitting picture with to end this post and also say goodbye to UppCon.

Loot 2012-04-10

It’s been what feels like just a little while and we’re already having another LD-licious loot-post? Well, to be fair, last time I had some LD-lootage was back in February so cut me some slack :p Since it’s only LDs and there isn’t a need to really get down & dirty on the details, this will be a brief post.
With this haul, the Birdy the Mighty OVA-series is complete. It was quite a while since I saw the last two episodes, so I can’t comment on those but overall this is a series I very much enjoy.
Not only is it well animated, I like the style and “feel” of it. Also, it has a quality soundtrack, so it’s an thoroughly enjoyable experience which I really prefer over the franchise reboot which is Birdy DECODE. Happy to own it!

Other than that, we have the first episodes of the ToHeart TV-series & Battle Athletes OVA. Also, with these two episodes halfway to completion, 卒業 Graduation is based upon a series of games with the same name which for some reason mostly was released on the more niche gaming systems. That is to say, PC Engine, PC-FX & Saturn.
I’m not sure about this but I think it’s fairly unfamiliar to most people, especially since it never gained the kind of fan-following that ToHeart & Tokimeki Memorial did.

Last, but certainly not least, we have the premium item of today; the You’re Under Arrest the Movie TUNE UP BOX.
Actually, it seems special and all that, but I don’t know if I have seen any other LD-release of it so maybe the TUNE UP BOX is just a regular box :p
Inside there’s two discs & a booklet with some illustrations, commentary and such. Always nice to have.

And there we have it.

Book lootage 2012-03-25

Went a little shopping around on eBay for once – didn’t know you could find cool books like these on there for prices that doesn’t cost X amount of limbs or your eternal soul. Or both. Generally, I only buy electronics & the occasional game from eBay, and I know what things can cost there sometimes – the word “eBay gauging” wasn’t coined for nothing.

Man, taking photos of artbooks like these is a pain, some even needed a little bit of photoshopping afterwards to make them readable.

For the keen-eyed reader, there’s two MM-games in there as well: Rockman EXE 2 (Mega Man Battle Network 2) and Rockman DASH 2 (Mega Man Legends 2). I’ve played both of these before and the reason for getting them is a bit…weak, perhaps but why not. I’ve played through MMBN 2 a few times before using the excellent VisualBoyAdvance emulator, but I’ve felt a craving for the early MMBN-games again recently. So, I thought that I could try to play them “for real” this time, on real hardware & no save-states, and then in Japanese for kicks just to see how far I will get.
As for Rockman DASH 2…well, I already have it for PC and I’ve actually reached what I believe to be the final boss BUT, I’m sort of stuck. The controls are a bit wonky, the added mouse-support really can become problematic sometimes. Soo, maybe it will go better with the PS1-controller…not sure, but I’m happy to have it anyway.

Now for the good stuff~! They say a picture can convey a thousand words, and I can’t be arsed to write that many words. Picture spam imminent!

GALL FORCE MOOK*

The fighting gallant girls

GHOST IN THE SHELL OFFICIAL ART BOOK

3D action-shooting game for PlayStation

PATLABOR – Pulsation

Dragon Magazine Special**

Maybe, just maybe, this amount of photos is a bit overdoing it : |

* “Mook”, in this context, refers to a book styled and laid out similar to that of a magazine.
** While Wikipedia says that Dragon Magazine is a publication mainly for light-novels, they have released a number of artbooks as well. I have another one, featuring art from Michitaka Kikuchi (Silent Möbius, Borgman) and I’ve seen some for Slayers as well. The ones I have are very good, so keep a look out!

I forgot to mention…

…that I also got another Dreamcast. An NTSC-J unit, to be more precise. I totally forgot about it when compiling that last loot-post.

A new seller appeared on Tradera, which is the Swedish equivalent of eBay (actually, it’s owned by it, IIRC) that sells Japanese systems and games, ranging from the Famicom to the Dreamcast.
He had some loose DC units that were sold for quite cheap so I had to pick one up, seeing that I probably had most stuff needed to hook it up.

It’s got a few scratches and scuff marks but it works fine. I also picked up Deadly Skies for it, but I haven’t really had the chance to try it out thanks to me sticking it next to my PAL unit, which is a bit too far away from the step down converter and powerstrip I use for import systems. That sounds like a very stupid reason, and it is, but I’m planning on moving some things around, should I get my hands on the things I need soo…we’ll see. Happy to have it, anyway!

On and ending note, there’s an interesting little difference in details between the two units, besides the color of the swirly logo. The upper part of the inverted triangle shape near the top front edge is solid grey plastic on my PAL unit, while the NTSC-J unit sports one made out clear plastic.

Intriguing.

Loot 2012-02-21

Alright, first loot post in 2012!
There’s games, books, music and anime both in LD & Blu-ray. Yup, think we have all bases covered this time…
The How to draw Manga-books came from the same Amazon purchase as the collectors edition of REDLINE, since I wanted to reach the amount needed for free shipping. As far as how-to-books goes, they’re neither bad nor great. They feature some interesting inteviews but they don’t teach you any techniques besides “draw more” :p
And as for REDLINE, haven’t watched it yet. I’m thinking of watching it the first time with some friends for maximum effect.

Moving on then, to music! Let’s just get those Sailor Moon CDs out of the way first. One turned out to be some sort of drama cd, but giving it a quick listen, Usagi’s voice is all I can hear. Upon closer inspection there are songs in there, they just start after 1 or 2 minutes of the characters talking. Weird that they didn’t separate the tracks. The full OP & ED is included though so it’s not that bad I suppose. As for the other one, it refuses to play. I’ve tried that disc in, basically, everything that I own that can play a CD and it just doesn’t work. Weirdest thing is, the CD looks pretty good too. No big fingerprints, hardly any scratches…but there seem to be some kind of…something just around the inner area. Maybe that’s it. I’ll need to see if I can clean it somehow.

Aside from Sailor Moon, there’s also two albums from Mariko Nagai, who I discovered late last year through youtube and the anime Yawara!. There’s mostly good early 90’s j-pop in there and some slower songs as well. Good stuff!
Lastly, there’s an album by the group Pink Sapphire. A “tv-sized” version of their song “P.S. I Love You” is played in the main menu of the first Galaxy Fraulein Yuna game, so that’s where I heard it. Sadly, it also has some kind of playback problem during the first track. Wonder what I can do about that…


1st OP for Yawara! The song is “Miracle Girl” by Mariko Nagai


“P.S. I Love You” by Pink Sapphire

On to the games, then. There’s Bomberman ’94 for the PCE (HuCards are totally rad), which needs no introduction since it’s well…Bomberman. Same goes for Daytona USA. Then there’s JetMoto, which I have fond memories of playing the PC-version I borrowed from a friend when I was younger. And finally there’s Racing Lagoon, which is this rather interesting tuning-racer mixed with a healthy dose of RPG-elements (complete with an over world mode and “enemies” that forces you into a quick battle should they hit you with their car), from Squaresoft, of all companies. Now, the character CG models haven’t aged well at all, the driving feels floaty and slightly off but the music is, for the most part so far, bloody fantastic. Oh, and then there’s Noël – Not Digital, because I could. I’m not very good at these kind of games (Noël 3 on the Saturn gave me a bad end, oops!) but I’m strangely attracted to them.

And with that we move on to the last group, the LaserDiscs. Last time there were 5 of them, this time it’s only 4 but all very good. With this I can add Idol Defense Force Hummingbird to the list of completed series, and Bubblegum Crisis, Birdy the Mighty & All Purpose Cultural Catgirl Nuku Nuku gets another one each.

Hummingbird is probably the only anime in my LD collection so far, with the possible exception of the Dirty Pair TV-series, that I haven’t watched in any shape, way or form before actually getting it. As a whole, it’s a pretty nice series, but the later two episodes, while trying to build up tension and be all serious-like (well, not really) wasn’t as enjoyable to me as the first two. Specifically, episode two is my favorite by a clear margin. It’s the most consistently animated, having lots of good key frames, introduces two new likeable characters and out of all four LDs is the only CAV one. Which is weird since both episode three & four clocks in about 30 minutes as well. Also, 3 & 4 has a different art direction where the girls doesn’t have the same colorful hair and the drawing style is slightly changed as well. Still, quite enjoyable for what’s it worth. : )

Also, yes, my bedsheets have an elephant-theme going on. You are now jealous.

Until next time.

Mini review: Scart to HDMI 1080p scaler.

I’ve got a pretty big loot post coming up, but before that I want to share my experiences with one of those scart to HDMI upscalers in a little mini review of sorts.
If you’re interested in reading more about scalers & gaming, here’s a great site to check out!

You see, the CRT TV I’ve been using for retro gaming & LD watching isn’t actually all that great. It’s a big, chunky 32” widescreen Sony WEGA CRT that 99% percent of the time only gets feed with 4:3 content. It’s got the wrong shape for the job, really. Also, when viewing a 4:3 image on it, it squishes the edges, ever so slightly. Once you notice it, you will see it every time though. It’s especially evident in horizontal scrolling games but also any time a movie or whatever pans horizontally.
One simple solution would be to get another CRT TV, and that is a solution I’ve been thinking of for a while but haven’t been able to go through with. There is two reasons for this:
1) People often don’t specificate what TV it is they’re selling. “Sony CRT” will be the most detailed description you will see. Also, almost never any pictures of the back or information about the inputs available. They will say if it has scart, because scart is important to people here, but s-video? Composite? Component? No. You simply won’t get that from 99,99% of all sellers looking to get rid of their old, fat TVs.

2) They’re big, heavy and generally cumbersome. I can’t lift one myself and in order to get to my room, you have to climb a set of stairs. Not fun with a TV.

So, I’m kind of looking to save space by getting rid of my current CRT and plug everything back into my LCD TV, the proper way this time. I used to just plug things in and it worked all right, didn’t notice much input lag, but with the PCE I got image problems with interlacing and artfacts in some games.
With a scaler, though, you let it take care of the image from your preferred video source and scaling it up to the native (or close to) resolution of your LCD TV.

Problem is a good scaler, like those home cinema ones, are disturbingly expensive. Though, brand name is part of what you pay for and there happen to be tons of Chinese no-name scalers listed on eBay. So, I tried my luck with one of these, a scart one because what isn’t directly connected to my TV goes into my scart boxes.

Behold, the scaler

This isn’t a proper review, to get that out of the way, I didn’t actually play much with it, as I was more focused on how things would look, would it work at all.
The unit itself feels very solid. It’s got a metal casing and certainly weighs a bit. Setting it up couldn’t be any more simple; Scart goes into the scart socket in the back, HDMI cable goes into the HDMI socket on the front. Add power and you’re done. But what’s the end result? Well, here are some pictures I took:

PS1 - RR 4 - PAL scart

PS1 - GitS - NTSC s-video

PCE - NTSC-J composite to scart

Let’s analyse these, shall we? First up was Ridge Racer 4 running on my PAL PS1 through scart. The result is a bit odd. The image has black borders and isn’t centered. Also slightly squished. Ghost in the Shell was running on my NTSC-J PS one through s-video through scart and as you can see, the scaler didn’t like s-video. No color, just black & white. Although in full screen. PCE then? No. Won’t work. Don’t know why. Technically, it’s a NTSC-J composite signal put through one of those Xbox 360 scart connectors, but running it directly into the composite inputs in my scart switches didn’t change the fact that I got no image.

The best result was achieved by my Laser Disc player, which outputs an NTSC composite signal that goes directly into one of the scart boxes. Still stretched to full screen, however.

This highlights the biggest problem, aside from getting a proper image, everything is mercilessly stretched to 16:9. And for some reason, I can’t change the aspect ratio to 4:3 on my TV. Actually none of the two TV sets I’ve tried this on allowed me to change the aspect ratio to 4:3 once the scaler was powered on.
And therefore, it is to me quite useless. Sadly.

As I stated earlier, there are many many many no-name scalers available on eBay (but also Amazon). It might be worth a shot, but don’t be surprised if you get a similar result. : /