Miku’s Rock Ballad

Here’s an awesome Japanese fan-made music video from virtual songstress, Hatsune Miku. This music video is actually based on a composition made in 2008 by 203 Soundworks. The song is called “Shining Ray” (or “shiningray” as 203 Soundworks prefer); even though it’s a simple rock ballad, the song resonates with a lot of Nico Nico Douga users. The song feels like an Aerosmith ballad, it has an emotional guitar solo, a heart-pounding marching beat of the drums and a voice that’s very soulful that you almost forget that it’s computer generated.

This music video you see here is created by the MikuMikuDance community at Nico Nico Douga, Japan’s version of YouTube. The video took about half a year to complete and was released this past February. Even though the graphics look like it was made with the Unreal 1 engine, the composition and direction of the video is wonderfully crafted, you have to be a cold-hearted bastard not to play this video on repeat.

Here are other awesome Shining Ray videos:

with English subtitles

Band Edition

Session Band Edition

Four Days of E3: Microsoft Press Con

Unsurprisingly, a lot of surprising stuff was announced at the Microsoft E3 Press Conference today. Some are the tried and true franchise we come to know and love, and some are on an extremely fine line of genius and insanity. Here is my post game analysis for the Microsoft E3 Press Conference, in conveniently laid-out bullet points!

Moar Sequels!

The titles announced at the MS presser aren’t really surprising. They’ve shown Beatles: Rock Band, Tony Hawk Ride and Modern Warfare 2 early on, and they all look fantastic. However, I still have my doubts on Tony Hawk Ride and its skateboard peripheral, especially since MS has revealed a revolutionary peripheral of their own, which will be discussed later. There are more sequels later on, in the “Exclusive Games” section.

Final Fantasy XIII Gameplay on the 360

feature_e3_ff13
I may have to rethink buying a PS3 for FFXIII.

A lot of gamers doubt how well Final Fantasy XIII will look on the 360. Personally, I thought that the FFXIII might choke constantly, kind of like Squeenix’s The Last Remnant. So far, it looks just like its PS3 counterpart. The FFXIII devs said the game will release in Spring 2010. What’s surprising about this demo was how short the FFXIII devs stayed on stage. I think they were there for 4, perhaps 5 minutes tops.

Exclusive Games

After last year’s impressive lineup of games for the 360, gamers are starting to wonder, what’s left in store for the oldest current gen console for 2009. Well, it looks like MS will do just fine. They’ve announced games that will be released in the next 12 months, with Shadow Complex, Crackdown 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Forza Motorsport 3 and two titles we haven’t seen in a while, much less demoed — Splinter Cell: Conviction and Alan Wake. Alan Wake reminds me of a cross between Resident Evil 5 and Fatal Frame (and Silent Hill as Joe mentioned to me on chat), presumably without the convoluted Japanese style survival horror gameplay.

Halo, Halo, and Moar Halo

Okay actually there are only 2 Halo announcements. One of them you already knew, Halo: ODST, while the other is the rumored Halo: Reach. Halo: ODST puts you into the perspective of a rookie soldier, set in the timeline before the events of Halo 3. Halo: Reach, according to Intarweb speculation, is presumably based on the events of one of the Halo novels, Halo: The Fall of Reach. I’m always excited for a new Halo game, though I admit, I still haven’t touched Halo 3 yet. LOLZ

I’m In Yer Xbawkz, Doin Sum Social Networking

feature_e3_twitterMS has announced that its Netflix integration has improved with the addition of actually queueing movies directly on your 360, which everyone feels should be a feature on day one! They’ve also announced the invasion of Last.fm, Facebook and Twitter on the 360. Basically it’s a way to tell your non-gamer and non-nerdy friends, how much of a nerd you are whenever you play your 360. Also, to increase your lameness, you can now post screenshots of your gaming achievements on your Facebook account! Sweet!

Metal Gear CONFIRMED! Wait, No Solid Snake?

After months, if not years of speculation of whether a Metal Gear game would jump in the Xbox 360, finally the joke has finally come true… sorta. Hideo Kojima made an appearance at the MS presser and announced Metal Gear Solid: Rising (the new tagline is “Lightning Bolt Action”, as opposed to “Tactical Espionage Action”), where you take the role of Raiden, also known as the poor man’s Snake. Okay that’s not really fair; I heard he was pretty cool in MGS4. Who knows? Maybe he’ll be more manly than his debut in MGS2. Release date is yet to be announced… of course.

Waggling is Apparently the Future of Gaming

Project Natal, Microsoft’s answer to Nintendo’s Wiimote and motion control, does look amazing. However, even though it’s forward thinking and seems to  improve a lot of the motion control problems that the Wii suffers when it comes to complex gestures and control, I think it’s a bit too late for Microsoft to jump in the bandwagon. It’s kinda like how the MP3 format is the defacto audio file format; sure it’s not quite as clear as an audio CD or the other file formats, but MP3s is more widely used and many audio and electronic devices recognize the format. Good luck in finding a reliable audio player that can play your FLAC files. Not to mention, brand recognition is also key. When you hear Nintendo, you know it’s going to be family friendly. Microsoft is not known to be a family friendly company for much of its history. Then again, the enthusiast press was floored after seeing the possibilities of this new peripheral. We will wait and see.

Final Verdict: 7 out of 10(TM)

I wrote way too much, so I’ll summarize this quick. Sequels are unsurprisingly amazing, details on new titles are murky at best, Project Natal might happen, but it might end up becoming like Microsoft Surface. The other dudes will have their own analysis of the Nintendo and Sony press conferences in the coming days. See ya then!

Welcome to the New Unwound Web Site!

Welcome to the new and improved Unwound web site. First off, I’d like to apologize for getting rid of our forums. The forums might make a return in the future, so keep your fingers crossed! So, you must be asking, “why redesign the site?” and “didn’t you just redesigned the site a few months ago?” The answer is “why not?” and “yes.” Seriously, as much as I begrudgingly like our trusted forum/blog system, I think it’s time for a change. We now have a brand spanking new WordPress-based setup, complete with Twitter,  Feedburner and YouTube capabilities (thank you volunteer WordPress programmers!) With WordPress, blogging has never been easier and it should be a breeze to post more useless information to you, our visitors.

Please excuse the mess, as we migrate a few of our old posts and add new posts to the site. The Unwound show web site will be fully operational in a day or two. So sit back, relax and unwind! (See what I did there?)

Shion no Ou

Every season on Unwound, we (read: I) go through a rigorous selection process of what anime series and films we should review on the show. It doesn’t involve darts with anime titles stuck to a wall or paper fortune teller/cootie catcher. Usually, I choose anime series that garnered a lot of hype like Code Geass or Gundam 00, mainly because they are hyped. However, I also choose anime series that no one wants to talk about, much less watched at all. Shion no Ou is a perfect example of one of the best anime series nobody watched.

Shion no Ou’s story revolves around a gifted middle school shogi (Japanese chess) prodigy named Yasuoka Shion. When she was five years old, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murder. The ordeal was so shocking, Shion lost the ability to speak and can only communicate through writing on a notepad. The one part that Shion remembers about the tragic event was that the murderer took her father’s shogi piece, a king, which leads her to believe that the murderer is a shogi player. Following the event, Shion’s neighbor, the Yasuoka family, adopted her and has taken up the game of shogi. Under the tutelage and influence of her foster father, Shion is in love with the game of shogi and is fast becoming a professional player. Shion’s love for shogi is also a double edged sword, as she discovers that shogi is not child’s play at all.

The beauty of Japanese animation is that anything under the sun can be told in an interesting way. It’s proven with Hikaru no Go, and it’s a similar case with Shion no Ou. Even though Shion no Ou’s story seems like it’s a “been there, done that” situation, it is different and interesting enough, that it can stand on its own legs, despite Hikaru no Go’s existence.

What got me hooked with Shion no Ou is the titular character herself. Shion’s bubbly attitude and roller coaster experience with the game of shogi and the other characters are captivating. Also, she’s a character who’s easy to root for, since many of her opponents, mostly adults, are just plain cruel to her. (Come on! She’s only a kid. Pick someone your own age!) Some of the other characters have extraordinary back stories. In the first episode of the series, we learn that Saitou Ayumi is a male shogi player, who crossdress because earning money in the female competition is easier and more lucrative. On the other hand, other characters are missed opportunities, like Nikaido Saori, a female shogi player who came from a rich background. The only interesting fact about her is that she plays shogi for self-respect and to be respected as a player.

My only complaint about Shion no Ou, was that even though the writers somehow combined a compelling story about a cold case and shogi, I wish they somehow explain about the basics of playing shogi. But then again, perhaps the writers and producers of Shion no Ou probably didn’t account for this series to be viewed by people outside Japan.

Even though it seemed like it ended so quickly, Shion no Ou was a surprising ride. Just when you think Japanese animators are running out of ideas, they keep churning out more of the good stuff. It’s without question that we like Shion no Ou and we hope that you’ll give it a try as well.

What Street Fighter IV Could Have Been

In our 5th episode of the Unwound show, we’re going to cover our thoughts about Street Fighter IV and the Street Fighter universe. However I came across this today and felt it’s worth sharing to get everyone pumped up about the upcoming show.

Some of you may not remember way back when there were an over abundance of cartoons on the air that weren’t just all edited anime or stuff that’s supposed to look like anime. No we had it good with our Teenage Mutnant Ninja Turtle clones and horrible cartoons based off of video games. theswitcher takes these fond cartoon memories and combines it with the here and the now to bring you the music video monstrosity you see above.

Strangely, the theme Indestructible from Street Fighter IV is incredibly catchy and has become one of gaming’s guilty pleasures. Anyone else out there who wants to admit to this too? I can’t be the only one who’s loved one walked in on him while practicing dance moves to go along with the song.