This latest unboxing post is a bumper edition – as I have been asked a few times about the variety in SoKawaii boxes and whether they are worth the subscription! During this uncertain times people may well be looking for subscription boxes to get goodies straight their door, so what can you expect to find with these?
So I don’t make a habit of posting really personal bits on my blog but I heard that it might help my mindset to write down how things are heading into 2020 – inspired by 2019 year round-ups.
2019 was generally a year of ups and downs for me and I didn’t make any new year resolutions for it. You’ll find write ups of some events I went to etc though! So apart from some wonderful trips I did have some health problems arise. I have always been a glass half full kind of girl rather than half empty, so I just tried my best to get on with the day to day.
The thing is, the day to day started to feel hard for me. My sleep was poor and my joints acted up, I also put on alot of weight and personally put it down to inactivity – despite swimming once a week and attempting the odd half a hour walk every other day or so.
In March of 2019 I woke up one morning to an excrution pain in my shoulder, which required an emergency visit to the docs. I had mentioned my sleep not being great at the time and aches in other joints – so after an arthritis test I was given the all clear, had a basic physio check and told to check back six months later if I had anymore problems…
My shoulder is still not 100%, but it’s not in pain – just a few clicks which apparently is not anything to worry about. Over that period though I noticed I was gaining more weight and had hit the heaviest I’d ever been in my life, my ‘lady cycle’ was also way out of whack, but I had that issue for years anyway. My joints are clearly under strain, and after feeling I needed some guidence, I visited the docs again just before christmas and had more tests…
It surfaced that my magnesium levels were on the verge of being lower than normal (I had horrid headaches on and off last year) and that I have higher than normal levels of testosterone (as a brief overview). Turns out that I have actually got polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and may well have been living with the condition for some years. I’ve been told there isn’t a cure and that the best start to improve my situation would be to lose weight – with a condition that is actually hard to do so. I now have to wait six weeks or so for a NHS scan to rule out other things.
So, I guess the intention of this update was to get things off my chest and explain why I haven’t posted much, why I stopped streaming games suddenly last year, dropped cosplay projects, why my podcast halted and why I lost the zest to be my typical creative self.
Okay, time for some positivity! >☆<
I’m happy to report that my mindset and health for 2020 is starting to improve! I have lost 5 pounds over the past month, started going swimming again as of this week and plan to cross train at home. I now have a Fitbit to monitor my daily activity and ultimately I must keep a more mindful eye on my diet (Christmas biscuits are finally gone!).
In the meantime I would really love to start streaming games again (Twitch or YouTube?) and have more upbeat cute geeky posts and reconsider the podcast as a monthly one.
We are in the day and age of constant media consumption so thanks for sticking with my irregular updates – as few and far between as they may be! Thanks so much for taking the time to read this and all the best for 2020! Bring it on!
In an effort to post a little more regularly here I thought a ‘late to the party’ write up for an older anime I have recently watched would be fitting – especially as I tend to glaze over more recent shows to surface in 2019.
In fact, apart from a bit of Fire Force and absorbing all of the 2019 Fruits Basket, the Summer 2019 anime season didn’t really pull me in. So far for the 2019 Fall anime season I have only got into Oresuki… so am I late to the party for some older popular anime?
(Just a note that the store is closed until November 2020) Blog took a back burner as I’ve been busily preparing to launch my new side project – Crafty Shiba! Debuting on Etsy today with my first project in time for Christmas, I’m really excited as this will give me the ignition I need to draw again!
First up on the store is its mascot, Crafty Shiba, ready and waiting for a mistletoe kiss! The Christmas tree decoration is hand drawn by me, so please check it out and let me know what you think!
Thank you for reading!
In just a few hours, I finally get my hands (well digitally anyway) on a remaster I have waited very patiently for – Final Fantasy VIII remastered. I may come off a bit biased with writing a hype piece about my all time favourite game getting remastered, however I feel like this is the perfect opportunity to list eight reasons why I am hyped and to help ease people into this game.
Now, Final Fantasy VIII isn’t liked by some FF fans or JRPG fans out there – but I feel that this game was an exceptional title and perhaps ahead of its time. In fact, a large barrier to get into FFVIII was it’s mechanics, as it wasn’t seen as a traditional FF game. FFXII was another title to be unique for its time (think of the gambit system etc) – so it wasn’t alone in the franchise, but to me at least, 8 remains my favourite and below are the reasons why I am so hyped for September 3rd.
1 – Characters
Now, I couldn’t really start this list without a rough explanation of characters, but if you want a full breakdown I’d recommend googling as I don’t want to put spoilers here. You start as Squall, a 17 year old who is training to become a fully fledged SeeD, a group of soldiers that come from three academic schools – know as gardens – who get contracted to protect weaker countries. There is more to go into here, but by not writing the story like wiki – these soldiers are trained to fight and are able to junction guardian forces or summons (GF) enabling them to use magic and ultimately complete their missions to protect people with this boost in strength. Squall is my fav FF male protagonist because he just wants to get the job done. His personality is a world apart from more recent protags in the franchise. As the game moves on, more characters enter the fray and they do make an impact on his personality, making him a bit more soft – most notably a girl turns up called Rinoa. It’s obvious to see that something special is going to bloom with these two (the logo is a dead giveaway) but it is a gentle blossom and not sudden. The most memorable scenes are beautifully displayed in CGI, accompanying in-game text dialogue. Also worth mentioning are the Moomba creatures, they come in a bit later in the game and are super cute!
The remaster has enhanced the character models, enemies, plus other notable improvements – so anyone who has played this before will notice the changes and new players will likely appreciate how easy it is on the eyes. Considering FFVIII came out in 1999, I still believe the CGI has aged well and I personally look forward to sitting back and enjoying every single moment. One part that is disappointing is that some character models seem to have been censored, such as Siren, which is a shame. Hopefully this won’t take the shine of the remaster.
2 – World and music
The world of final fantasy is rife with magic and advanced technology, but rather than having entire continents flushed with these advances, every part of the world landmass feels unique. Indeed, as you go through the game you’ll see flushed forests, seaside towns, highly advanced cities, caverns and sailing over more in an airship. You don’t just use the world to visit places or do random battles – you can also find hidden spots to draw magic. Two islands where you’ll visit a bit later for this purpose are the islands closest to heaven and hell. One to the far east and one to the far west (full of holy and ultima and more). You’ll need to traverse the world to find certain monsters to gain items etc (I’ll explain a bit more below). The Encounter None ability wil be useful here.
During your travels you will be joined by beautiful music compiled by Nobuo Uematsu. I have to say with all honesty, FFVIII has my favourite music from a FF game. Blue Fields, which is the world map song, is my alarm clock ring tone and everytime I have a bath I listen to Eyes On Me and Fisherman’s Horizon at the very least. Whenever I do the washing up or have chores to do, I put on Force Your Way – a song which had an epic cover by The Black Mages. I fondly remember Waltz for the Moon playing at a Cosplay Ball and getting pretty emotional.
I think my fondest memory of the games music has to be Liberi Fatali – the epic opening music introducing you to the world with CGI. An overwhelming moment for me was having a seat at Distant Worlds with my husband and feeling the full force of this song via orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in London – yes I cried, happy tears though! Whether you play very little of FFVIII or squeeze it dry, the music will stay with you.
3 – Battles and beasts
The battles in FFVIII are turn based and you can either attack or make other moves – use an item, steal, summon a GF, draw magic or make a monster into card. Attacks can become limit breaks when the characters health is low and in the remaster you can make everyone max out if you wish. The draw magic system is a feature which took alot of time to take full advantage of, as aforementioned you can draw in the world, but you’ll spend more time drawing from monsters. Roughly speaking, if you draw a specific magic from a monster (taking around 10 seconds per time) you can get about 5 of that magic e.g 5 cures. If you are trying to max 100 you can see why this would take a long time, and it’s understandable to see why this might put people off. However, the remaster has fixed this with the 3x speed add on which you can turn on and off with ease and I am super excited for it.
Levelling up works similar to other FF, depending on what you do in the battle you can earn EXP and AP – but to earn gil you get paid as a SeeD. Exp levels you up, but monsters also level up with you! This makes things much more interesting, as you’ll never be ridiculously overpowered so you’ll feel like you’re accomplishing something. Personally I never got disgruntled about fighting the same enemy, because of these reasons you are always looking at how to take down an enemy by scanning, what can you steal, what can you draw, what card they become etc.
Two fighting techniques that are enjoyable are the use of GFs and Limit Breaks. Standard attacks for Squall are improved by hitting R2 as he strikes, shooting the gun his gunblade. Limit Breaks for Squall are similar where you have to hit a window with the trigger to get a boosted hit. Other Limit Breaks for different characters are very unique, where it be Rinoa’s Angel Wing or Blue Magic from Questis – battles are interesting and fun. GFs are a big part of FFVIII, and they deserve it’s own point 4 for my hype. All in all, you will feel satisfied after every battle, whether it’s just for drawing magic, getting a new item or card, it’s likely you will hum the FF battle music!
4 – Guardian Forces
Guardian forces can be boosted in battle by hitting the Square Button repeatedly, once you’ve learned the technique with AP – you can also speed up the summoning time. When you junction a GF (see point 5 for more) it knows whether you have an opposed GF junctioned too – which is bad. You need to learn which GF to attach to each character and use them regularly to boost up the summon gauge. As an example, don’t junction Shiva and Ifrit together!
The reason why I love the GFs in FFVIII, more than any other FF, is that you can use them often and they are the cornerstone to your development in the game. Without them, you would have less power – statistical benefits from junctioning – so they are important to shuffle and pay attention to, plus in battle if you get hit whilst they are being summoned, they will take damage for you.
There are 16 GFs you can junction and four special ones you can’t. Many come along as you progress the story and some are hidden, so it is exciting to hunt them all down.
5 – Junction system
So the junctioning system may well put off new players, but I plead, please give it a chance and do a little bit of research first. This system is your best friend. Within just a few hours you can upscale your HP and Strength and Spirit stat significantly by drawing 100 of cure, blizzard, thunder and if you fight T-Rexaur and turn him into a card – you get 10 AP and avoid over levelling with EXP. GFs can learn abilities and boosts via AP and it is wise to share this out and target certain abilities early on.
Card is one of my favourite abilities, turning monsters into cards means you win the battle and earn AP. This is important when you are trying to forge items and them forge them into magic. Again, abilities learnt by GFs allow you to refine items etc to make use for forging new weapons or stockpiling magic. For example, T-Rexaur card becomes Dino Bone which becomes some Quakes.
Never underestimate the importance of this system, its unique and I am so excited to build my team from the ground up again.
6 – Collection heaven
Now point six is short…. but worth its own section as during FFVIII you’ll need to collect many things. Magazines can be found around the world and can teach limit breaks, such as with Riona’s, help you craft new weapons, and also unlock other mysteries. Its important not to miss these magazines as some can not be bought with the Gil you earn as a SeeD.
During the game you’ll collect magic, GF, magazines and items – the more the better as you’ll need every character to have a decent stockpile and to be prepared for the end bosses. I can’t stress enough how important it is not to neglect the stats for each character – not just through junctioning, but also the fact that enemies level up with Squall and co.
7 – Triple Triad
So, in order to keep this point short, why am I hyped for Triple Triad in the remaster? Well, to me it’s a card game worth investing in. As aforementioned, cards are a great asset to get items, some of which you need to get a specific GF (or you will need to keep fighting specific monsters for an item drop). The game itself can have its rules changed – you can visit the Queen of Cards to do this – but ultimately you want to take ‘All’ and see all cards in your opponents deck. If you want a ‘how to play’, I recommend researching this, as you’ll find step by step guides about the grid set up, numbering system and elemental influences. It’s kind of like top trumps, so once you get the hand of it, its super addictive!
I spent hours playing TT and in fact, when I got FFVIII on PS Vita, I spent hours at the start of the game collecting cards in Balamb Garden!
8 – Secrets
As is typical of FF, this game has its own secrets to uncover – away from the main story – the side quests are both interesting and rewarding (depending on what you personally see as a reward of course!).
One of the ‘secrets’ (which can be missed if you choose) early on in the game is the contents of the infamous Magic Lamp you get in Balamb Garden. Now, this is a spoiler if you haven’t already seen numerous screen shots since 1999, but by opening said lamp, you initiate a fight against Diabolos – a GF. Personally, I would recommend saving and having boost available on summon and junction 100 of cure magic to HP and magic to Spirit and Strength, as if you get Diabolos early inhe game, it’s a fantastic asset. One special move he can learn can be turned on with a quick click thanks to the remaster – Encounter None, but before this remaster that ability was gold! Still, the black hole Diabolos summons is great to sit back and watch as it pulverises your enemies!
Other side quest secrets include the unusual UFO sightings (just wait for the cute that is PuPu) and mysteries of Obel Lake – both of which earn you a trophy for the PlayStation version of the game – necessary if like me, you want the platinum!
Well, we’ve come to the end of this post, and as it goes live we are just hous away from 3rd September 2019. Just a few more to go until it’s time to relive my favourite game again!
I hope this write up has inspired you to give FFVIII a chance, it’s a unique and memorable game. It is thanks to this Final Fantasy title that I got into gaming properly, so it holds a firm place in my heart.
Thanks for reading! Let me know what your thoughts 🙂
Well, it has been over six months now since I posted about my gaming pile of shame, so how am I getting on? I guess things are progressing, albeit slowly, and I kind of blame a few reasons for this… (such as anime watching, catching up on TV docs and also planning my 2020 Japan trip).
If you haven’t seen my original post – Gaming pile of shame – Can you break old habits? Jan 2019 – Please do check it out, just so you can see my original never-ending list of despair.
Anyhoo, to quickly explain here, a gaming pile of shame could be down to procrastination or time spent doing other ‘important’ things like chores (yay), which suits me fine (cry) but also plays on the mind every single time I purchase a new title.
As my birthday rolled in last month I was blessed with a £10 PSN voucher from my mate Dom, so I did what any sane person would do and bought a new game to add to the existing pile.
Except it wasn’t a quick to finish indie title to make myself feel better…. I just bought Monster Hunter World….
This means I now have a game which could easily sap over 100 hours of my lifespan added to the pile…. oops!
Now, I started up this list to try and keep the yearly promise (to myself) to complete the main story of each title I own. So far for 2019 then I have only completed a quarter of individual titles that I did versus 2018… 3 vs 12… Oh dear…..
What Remains of Edith Finch
Breath of the Wild LOZ
Night in the Woods
Life is Strange 2
Final Fantasy XV
Ni No Kuni II Revanant Kingdom
Crash Bandicoot Insane Trilogy (1)
2019 is half finished already… where did that go!
Looking back at 2018 made me wonder how on earth I managed to finish them, but a few I did start back in 2017. So far this year I don’t feel like I’ve been able to keep up the pace…. However, one of the reasons for this is a huge time sapping draining JRPG you may have heard of, Dragon Quest XI. Therefore, many of the below games are still left unfinished
Almost finished games
World of Final Fantasy (PS4) – probably about 5-8 hours left
Kingdom Hearts (PS2) – dropped and re-started on PS4
Tomb Raider 2013 (PS4) – not touched since Jan
FFIX (PS1) – not touched since Jan
FFX (PS3) – not touched since Jan
TMNT (PS4) – not touched since Jan
Currently ‘playing’ from January list
Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu (Switch) – Played in the past week
Spider-Man (PS4) – not touched in last three months
Yakuza Zero (PS4) – not touched in last three months
Beyond Two Souls (PS4) – Little progress made
Octopath Traveller (Switch) – Little progress made
New games added and currently playing since last post (excludes casual)
Hitman collection (PS4) – One of the games I like to stream
Kingdom Hearts (PS4) – Just finished Alice in Wonderland
Overcooked 1 (PS4) – Final boss level to do
Overcooked 2 (PS4) – Started around my birthday
Monster Hunter World (PS4) – BRAND NEW
Nippon Marathon (PS) – Story mode to do
Tales of Berseria (PS4) – It’s a tales game okay…
Dragon Quest XI (PS4) – Not done a review yet, did some of the ‘post game’
Fe (PS4) – A review of which is up on my Pile of Shame thread, or you can read it here!
Crash Bandicoot Insane Trilogy 2 (PS4)
Played in the last 6 months
Seasons after fall (PS4) – Nice to play in between other games
Flow (PS4) – Nice to play once in a while
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (PS4) – Scary bit made me put it down
Not played but own
Uncharted 2-3 (PS4)
FF VI (PS1)
FF XIII (PS3)
Crash Bandicoot (3) (PS4)
Unfinished games that have been played in the last few years
Tales of Zestiria (PS3)
Tales of Xillia 1-2 (PS3)
FFVIII (PSVita) (Dropped to wait for the FFVIII remaster!)
FF XII (PS2)
Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)
No no kuni (PS3)
Yoshi’s Wooly World (Wii U)
Uncharted 1 (PS4)
The Last Guardian (PS4)
Persona 4 Golden (PSVita)
Tales of Hearts R (PSVita)
Tokyo Mirage Sessions (Wii U)
Casual games for me
Sims 4 (PS4)
Stardew Valley (PS4)
Catalatiral damage (PS4)
Akiba’s Trip (PS4)
Finished games from 2017
What Remains of Edith Finch
Ratchet and Clank (PS4)
Persona 4 Dancing all Night (PSVita)
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapure
Share the shame – repent!
Have you got a pile of shame? Want some support (there, there, we are in this together) then drop me a tweet or feel free to share this around to impress or stun the daylights out of those who you know, loves the games I have yet to finish.
So winding back to Christmas 2018 I was fortunate enough to receive a big surprise under the tree – tickets to AnimeCon in Rotterdam! It’s hard to believe the big adventure as already been and gone, as I attended the even last month in June, and got to visit some friends out there too.
While AnimeCon is a three-day event, I went with the hubby for the Saturday only – penned in to be the biggest and most popular day.
It was simple to get there really, being in Norfolk we had to track down to London (which we did straight after work) and stayed over in a hotel near St Pancras International. The morning after (and I mean 5am in the morning – ouch) we got up and caught the Eurostar direct to Rotterdam. It was a simple journey and we arrived before 12 mid day! This was the Thursday, so we had a couple of days to enjoy the sights and foods of Rotterdam (Market Hall, Food Factory etc). Our hotel (The James) was fantastic and was in the perfect location for us, plus we had great views!
Then Saturday arrived, the big day!
Mt first impressions of where the event was held were good – it was a simple Metro ride away and was located at the Ahoy (which has even had the darts there before!). A very spacious venue, quick to check in and get our badges too and we were then greeted by a big food hall, which was separate to the conventions Japanese one further inside!
The main draw of the event for us was just to absorb the atmosphere and see how the convention compared to the UK events. Plus, there was an empathis of the dealers room supporting artists – which I am all for!
Panels: The one panel we did attend was more of a mini show! It was the Lip Sync battle which was pretty fun and the host was really energetic and even spoke English for us few of us that didn’t speak Dutch!
Main stage: Two events were on our ‘must see’ list, the Clara Cow’s Cosplay Cup and a live performance by Myth & Roid. I was quite impressed by the performances, but the China contestants were probably my favourite due to the visuals!
I’ve been interested in the CCCC for a few years now, so it was really cool to watch it all live. So much work goes into both the costumes, performance and set pieces – so well done everyone!
We thoroughly enjoyed Myth & Roid – a popular Japanese music duo who have done music for various anime titles, such as RE:Zero and Overload. It was an interesting take on live music at a con – as we had the option to sit and enjoy it like a concert (which we did) or go up closer. There was even a bar in the main hall at this stage (which a little odd as we were refused entry with our drinks!)
Gaming area: While we were confused by the bag rules, we eventually got into the main gaming area and really enjoyed ourselves. There was lots of retro games, a huge gaming truck, and a e-sports type screen – so plenty to see! There was also a seperate gaming section above the the food hall, towards the panel rooms, which included: DDR, rhythm games, taiko drumming etc.
Food court: Now this was pretty exceptional, there was tonnes of choice for Japanese food and plenty of drinks to go round, only downside was the queuing… Some of the most popular stalls had just one or two staff and with multiple food items the queues backed up quickly (like the crepes, bubble tea). However, we just decided to try other food with smaller queues to not water time. There were also mini maid cafe’s, but I would have preferred this in a separate room with some ambient music etc.
We ate… takoyaki…
And, shared a melon pan…
Plus we shared a creme taiyaki!
Dealers room: Well, there were plenty of pretty things, but I mainly search for figurines at conventions, but I didn’t really find any within the price-range I was looking for honestly. Instead, I went through the artist tables a few times and the kawaii plush stalls, and ended up with some cute key rings, earrings and a hedgehog! (a plush one mind, I didn’t get a real one, booo). Thinking about it, I guess I am much savvier now when it comes to figurine collecting – perhaps I should do a tips blog on that!
Overall opinion: We would definitely go again, the venue is easy to get to, there is lots of space, a friendly atmosphere and fun events! o(≧∇≦o)
If this sounds interesting to you, check out AnimeCon o(≧∇≦o)
Hey guys! So it’s July now and I’m so excited to have had some post this week! My Cakes with Faces delivery arrived so I thought I’d do an opening video and also cover why I support them!
This is the Party of your Afterlife dress and Amy was so kind enough to throw in a cute Zooshi pin! Thank you so much and congrats again on your CWF full-time five year anniversary!
You can watch the video here
You can check out all the designs on their website and get in touch via many different ways (as explained in the video!). These cute 100% original designs make perfect gifts, either for yourself or someone you like!
Again, this post and video is not sponsered, I just feel more people should know about Cakes with Faces!
Contact me here (or via Twitter) @RayeRayeChan – Let me know what you think!
Pile of shame of progress at last. This week I finished a charming little game called Fe. I’ll admit that despite its enchanting world and adorable creatures, the game sat unfinished since I snapped it up from the Playstation Store in 2018. Oh the shame…
Fe is one of those titles that can easily be finished in a few hours (well the main story at least), but I’m pleased to have spent time to get a feel for what this game is all about.
You are Fe, a fox-like singing creature whose mission is to communicate with nature and protect it from unknown enemies. This is where the Silent One’s enter, mysterious space-like robot suits whose sole mission appears to be capturing any living creature to catch their spotlight gaze.
The game expects you to venture into the world and learn songs with enchanted beasts so that you can communicate with difference species and open up exploration. In doing so, you find shards along the way which enable you to gain different abilities – tree climbing and gliding and running in a sprint for example. These abilities help you traverse different forests, oceans and the snow, extending the little creatures reach.
Whilst it’s an easy game to understand, there are a couple of difficulty spikes along the way (such as climbing a giant moving target and trying not to fall off repeatedly), but once you get the hang of it you will honestly enjoy exploring the world. As you progress you’ll find it hard not to anticipate the end of the story.
The game plays really well too, just be sure to keep tabs on your surroundings at all times using the camera tilt and map, and take advantage of the call feature to get birds to help you find your way (turn map markers on too). Some points need good lighting, so keep this in mind so you don’t fall down a black hole by accident (yes I did that, I learned my lesson).
As I avoid the spoilers in this mini recommendation post, I will say that the end does have a surprising twist, and honestly, I was really pleased to see the story come to ahead and have the credits roll. The story may be short in some reviewer’s eyes (reviews have been pretty average it seems), but as a full-time worker and a JRPG fan, the journey through Fe was at a digestible pace. There is replay value for those looking to get trophies too, as a platinum is on the table for completionists (but you’ll need every shard and a few other things in the process to get one).
You can get Fe on many different platforms, not just Playstation, so personally I think the Switch would be a great choice if you’re not fussed with trophies and want to play on the go.
So if you’re interested, do check out Fe and give the indie dev some love (Zoink), they have other games coming and I know I for one will be keeping an eye on what’s coming next! 🙂
My first proper unboxing video!! Loads to go through after my holiday, SoKawaii subscription box, a new figurine and last but by no means least, my LoveLive Aqours 4th live show DVD special – All from Japan!!!
Feel free to watch the video here: YouTube Japan Goodies Unboxing Video!
The delights of the box above include:
- A unicorn plush bag
- Cardcaptor Sakura tea cup
- Kawaii ribbon cup lid
- Pokemon gatcha figure
- Cinnamoroll character goods pencil
My new figurine from Japan! Kyoko Sakura from Madoka Magica.
Love Live Aqours 4th DVD! This is playable on my PS4 and is absolutely fantastic!
Contact me here or via Twitter @RayeRayeChan – Let me know what you think!
Also, my podcast will be returning soon – whoop! Possibly monthly going forward!