Con Report: Mechacon 9

Sorry it’s been ages since my last post! Loki stole my attention. The last few weeks are a blur, to be honest, between work and getting Trust ready for Mechacon. It was successful – Trust is available on Smashwords for download! The link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/349840

Mechacon is an anime and video game convention that happens annually in New Orleans, Louisiana. This year was my third year going, though my first with a monetary interest besides spending money. I worked with my publisher and my mother, the artist Lepplady, to do a promo. The promo didn’t work out exactly as I hoped, but I did give out a bunch of business cards for my book. With any luck I’ll generate some sales from that. (I gave a coupon code for a free copy of my book to Johnny Yong Bosch. I mean, how awesome is that?) 

Without being able to buy anything this year save for the plushies I purchased ahead of time, this year’s con was much more devoted to experiencing the event. I arrived early Friday morning after working the night, so sleep deprivation was my immediate worry. Thank goodness the hotel provided a lot of coffee! Friday there weren’t many events I wished to attend. I honestly don’t remember much of it. I walked around the floor and got familiar with the locations of everything. There was one panel I wished to attend at 2pm, and I believe that it was the Mighty Morphin’ Bleach Ranger panel hosted by Johnny Yong Bosch. I managed to ask a question about the Tales of the Abyss anime series that was recently picked up by Funimation, so I’m happy. I also took my turn at my mom’s table in Artist’s Alley. There were plenty of of con-goers looking at the wares but very few sales. At the end of my day I went to the game room to play a round of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but I was unable to. I settled for a few rounds of DDR to work off the rest of the caffeine in my system so I could pass out – finally. My day ran for 27 hours!

Saturday was the busiest day of the con for me. I woke up early and was unable to sleep afterwards, but showers. I don’t have a shower in my house, just a bathtub, so I cherish every shower I can take. I took one Friday as well after a short nap, but Saturday’s shower served to reinvigorate me. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t slept. I was going to enjoy my day!

There were three panels I planned on attending before the Eyeshine concert at 8:30 and then the rave directly afterwards. The first was a Doctor Who 50th Anniversary panel where we all discussed aspects of the series and what could happen with the show. It was awesome hearing all of the fan theories about what could happen in the episode. Hearing that it was filmed in 3D made me happier. It wasn’t because I can view it in 3D. Knowing that the series was getting that much love and dedication made me happy to be a fan.

The second panel was another Johnny Yong Bosch Q&A. I mostly went just to hear him talk, to be honest. He has a lovely voice. He is also very amusing and I found myself embarrassed on his behalf many times. The stories he told in his Q&As were enough to keep me well engaged. Well, until my coffee wore off and I had to start stifling my yawns. Really, Johnny, I adored your panel! Please don’t be mad that the woman in the Tails hat was yawning every so often. 

The third panel I arrived at late because Johnny’s panel ran a bit over. It was an improv panel where two gentlemen impersonated Wheatley from Portal 2 and riffed on various subjects. I threw out two for them to riff on – Pacific Rim and Gravitation, and the gentlemen handled it splendidly. The highlight of that panel, however, was when someone walked in with a replica Wheatley core. After the improvers noticed it, the man with the core had it deliver the perfect line for the occasion. Nothing could top that!

Other highlights from Saturday are my few hours where I cosplayed as Mew from Pokemon. It was a gijinka cosplay where I wore a pink dress and a Mew tail. I planned on cosplaying all day but the flip flops I wore got on my nerves. I did get to be awesome when I had to venture into the real world in full cosplay. There were volunteers in front of the WalMart I went to who asked me why I was dressed as a kitty. 

The other panel I attended, though I don’t remember what day it was, was a panel about JRPGs. I got to play a bit of Tales of the Abyss, though I couldn’t find Belkend and the controls for the combat were remapped funny. There were bunches of games I saw that I hadn’t heard of before. Hell if I can remember their names though!

Then came the true highlight of my Saturday night: The Eyeshine concert! I managed to get a spot right at the front. It was close enough to the stage that I could see every member of the band clearly. The music was excellent and, even though I didn’t do much jumping, I screamed so much that my voice went funny. I called Mom in the room so she could hear my chipmunk voice. It was hilarious. Directly after the concert I got in line to have a badge signed by Johnny. After he signed it I gave him a coupon code for my book. I can only hope he really does download it – I told him that if my book was ever made into an anime, I’d want him to voice June. 

Then, the rave. I avoided the line because I didn’t feel like waiting and ended up doing an interview on Electronic Dance Music. They said that they liked my answers to their questions, but I derped because I forgot one of the questions. So, who knows? Once I got into the rave, I sat in the back and just let the bass make my entire body vibrate. The thrumming in my sternum was so pleasant. Despite the loud music it was quite comforting and I think I managed to doze a bit. A cop woke me up though and I made sure to stay awake after that. At about three I left the rave. I knew I needed some sleep! Before that, though, it was time to game. I walked around the con floor with my Wii Remote and Nunchuck attached to my belt because that’s how I play Smash Bros. After the rave I was finally able to play a few rounds. Sonic + flat stage + neutral b attack spam. ❤ Then I did some Dance Central because I only ever get to play it at cons. It was fun 😀 Also of note was running into Eyeshine at the MechCorps simulators. I was gonna wait around to watch them play because a rock band in giant robots doesn’t happen every day. I eventually gave up and went to play my games.

Finally, Sunday. There was exactly one thing I planned to do, and that was to go watch the Bleach movie that was screened in the video room. It was the fourth movie, the one that took place in Hell, and I’m kicking myself over not watching it before. It was epic! After that I went to Artist’s Alley to help mom pack up. They left a bit earlier than I did. The very last thing I did at the con was play a round of Dance Dance Revolution.

I did come home with an army, though. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4540048439143&set=a.3601248449730.114674.1829139703&type=1&theater

Overall, I had a lot of fun this past weekend. I can’t wait for next year! 

Tales of Xillia

After fangirling about Loki for the past three weeks, the fires of his awesomeness have cooled. They have not faded, because Loki is awesome and he looked very cute as a catboy as well, but I can now move on to other things. Those other things are video games. I figure – I have a blog. Why not try my hand at reviewing?

So, Tales of Xillia was released yesterday (8/6/13) here in America. I posted a few impressions of it to my personal facebook page but I feel I should expand upon them now that I’ve played more. For disclaimer’s sake, I have played 11 hours (with perhaps three hours of that spent paused), recruited 5/6 party members, and did several sidequests. Additionally, I started with Jude.

The Tales name carries with it a set of expectations. My first Tales game was Symphonia back on the Gamecube and from there I have had an impression of this series. That impression boils down to three things: impressive real-time combat, gripping characters, and a fantastic story. Genis Sage, that bratty little half-elf mage, remains my favorite character to this day. Graces didn’t quite live up to those expectations (World map! Where are you?), so how does Xillia fare?

The combat is odd and takes some getting used to. I am admittedly a button masher and so I spend many fights alternating between mashing X and tapping O. With Xillia borrowing the CC system from Graces (now called AC), I find myself performing far longer combos than I am used to in the beginning stages of Tales games. The AC system in Xillia servers as a combo meter and dictates how many combat moves the character may use in a row. I can’t remember what I started at but I am now at 6 AC for Jude. I feel as if I am attacking for an insanely large amount of time before having to pause. The AC system also allows players to chain “artes” (special attacks) in with normal attacks. I attack, use Demon Fist, attack again, use Aqua Sweep, and can just go on like that until I run out of AC. In previous games it took special skills to be able to chain artes together and it feels a bit jarring. Graces managed to make chaining artes fluid, while in Xillia I find myself stalled.

Xillia’s combat trademark, however, is its link system. In battle you can choose another character to link to. Doing do yields bonuses, as some skills you equip are shared between the linked characters (Earth resistance, for example). In the midst of battle, when you approach an enemy, your linked party member will run around to flank the enemy. The only bonus to this is an increased chance for your party member to land a critical hit, though it does help when surrounded by enemies. Your partner will focus on the enemy you’re currently attacking until it’s dead or you switch targets. In some instances, your party member will attempt to defend you from an enemy that sneaks up on you, though I haven’t been able to pay enough attention to see how it works outside of the tutorial. Choosing your partner to link with is also important, since each party member has his or her own special skill.

As for characters, starting off with Jude was refreshing. He and Milla are co-protagonists and the player can choose which one to start as. He’s a medical student and hand-to-hand fighter, which makes him one of the very few non-swordsman Tales mains and the only male (to my knowledge) to start off with a healing skill. I was so used to not being able to heal at first that I forgot I could until after I joined with Milla in the game. I liked him immediately when I started, for his introductory scene has him barreling through a hallway of students. He’s in an obvious rush, but when he knocks over a student’s papers he stops to pick them up. He’s courteous and kind, but he doesn’t allow injustice to stand. It is this sense of justice that drags him into Milla’s path and into the plot.

Milla, on the other hand, is one of my favorite female characters to date. I tend to hate Tales females because I find them annoying (Looking at you, Cheria) but Milla immediately caught my heart. She’s a strong, no-nonsense character who (so far) hasn’t fallen back on any cliche female tropes. What made me like her the most was when she found out that, due to plot reasons, she could no longer use any of her high-level spells. Where most women in games would have pitched a fit (“How dare they?!”) or had an existential crisis (“How can I be of use without my powers?”), Milla accepted the situation calmly. She was like, “Okay, I can’t use my powers. Let’s change how we do things.” I only hope that as part of her “character development” she doesn’t lose this calmness and strength.

The story isn’t anything special, yet. Normal kid gets caught up in things, can’t go home, has to accompany girl instead. Sounds kind of familiar, right? There are hints of political intrigue but some of the tech speak is just kind of headscratching. What’s a mana lobe, again? Still, I’m at the point in the story where it seems like the over-reaching plot might finally be revealing itself so I shall be watching and waiting. It’s not a bad story, mind. It’s just not my favorite.

My last few notes are these. In a first for the Tales series, you cannot talk to everyone  you meet. Only the ones with little smiley face bubbles over their heads, or exclamation points, will allow you to interact with them. Another first is that once you’ve spoken to these people, the smiley bubble changes. This allows you to see who you have already spoken to and streamlines the process by which you explore towns.

The level design reminds me partly of Final Fantasy XII and an MMORPG, with a dash of the original .hack thrown in for flavor. The cities are packed and crowded like FFXII, but the feel of them reminds me a lot of .hack. The map levels would feel right at home in Eden Eternal or any other MMO. I do, however, like that the levels have a vertical component. Instead of just running around you must now climb ladders and ledges to get to every part of the area. In that respect it felt similar to Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

Also, I like that the opening theme wasn’t changed. Kudos to Namco-Bandai for figuring out that we didn’t mind the Japanese.

I’m not going to do a number rating or a “You must play this!” I’m enjoying my time with the game. If you want to buy it, it’s available online or in stores like Gamestop. Until next time, see everyone later!

Updates!

Argh, I don’t know why I get sidetracked. Maybe I should get on a monthly schedule instead of weekly. It seems I can only post that frequently, right?

But, that’s the future. For now, we have updates! I have made a facebook page for my upcoming book: [Edit: I changed the page into a general author page and the url changed. The new link is https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTheaLarson ]This page features the cover art for my book and, in the future, snippets and trivia. I also have a twitter: https://twitter.com/KuraHikari I’m still trying to figure it out, but at least hashtags are interesting. (Hashtags still need to get off of facebook, though.)

The few people who have read Trust blind (that is, without me telling them about it beforehand) have said that they love it so, yay! My ending has made many people feel exactly how I wished them to. I can’t wait until everyone else can read it too! There are only a few more steps left in the process before Trust is ready for the world. I’m so excited that I can’t stand it!

In other random news, I watched the Avengers movie for the first time two weeks ago. I decided to do so because Captain America looked interesting. Also, Iron Man 3 had the events of the Avengers as a major part of Tony’s story. The character I ended up enjoying the most, however, was not Steve or Tony.

It was Loki. Tom Hiddleston was perfect, so much perfection, that I fell in love with Loki immediately. I watched Thor a few days later – not because of Thor, but for Loki. As a writer I was able to get inside his head for a week or so and it was marvelous there. I need my own deliciously snarky character because I can’t keep Loki.

So, that’s been my life in a nutshell. Let’s hope I can post again before September, right?