Games I Play

A round-up of recent games I’ve been playing and enjoying (you’ll find all of them here).

  • Driver: San Francisco (PS3/360) — This is possibly my favorite game that came out in 2011 (or a close tie withForza 4). An absolute blast to play, with so many fun side missions, all focusing on driving and stunts.
  • Alan Wake’s American Nightmare (XBLA) — No reason not to get this if you liked the original Alan Awake game. Nice follow-up.
  • Pinball FX 2 (XBLA) — Having a lot of fun with the newEpic Quest table (pictured above), which even adds a few RPG elements.
  • Law & Order: Legacies (iOS) — The gameplay is reminescent of the inerrogations in L.A. Noire — which I liked — and it’s great to have the show’s theme play throughout. It’s available on a bunch of platforms, but it’s perfect for iPad, which is how I’m playing it.

More Videos from the Ice Climbing Trip

Here’s the final batch of 1-minute videos I recorded while on a recent trip to the Southern Alps in Yamanashi prefecture for some ice climbing (my wife, not me). They’re all embedded in this post, or you can go directly to the Vimeo pages (Falling Ice, Water and Leaves, Water and Snow, Climbing) — they’re up on YouTube too (Falling Ice, Water and Leaves, Water and Snow, Climbing). I think a nice way to watch these is through Apple TV if connected to a big TV, looks great that way. You’ll find all of my previous 1-minute videos here.

Stream

Here are two more “1 Minute” videos that I recorded while in our recent ice climbing trip in the Southern Alps (Yamanashi prefecture) — here’s the first one. These two videos are up on YouTube as well (here and here). In case you’re wondering why I’m doing so many of these, my plan is do at least 10 before moving on to a different project.

Bistro D’arbre

I will admit that I don’t go out for drinks that much anymore, and when I do, I find myself not really knowing where to go anymore (if I’m tasked with finding a place). With my good friend Luis Mendo in town this week — he’s working with me on some PechaKucha-related stuff — we ended up going out last night for dinner and then a bit of drinking in Shibuya, along with a few other friends.

Dinner was at the Royal Garden Cafe, and it was rather good — the menu focuses on organic offerings. We then met up with the rest of our companions in this wine bar. It was fine, but it’s a standing bar, and I’d much rather sit down and relax when I’m drinking and chatting, and so we then headed to a funky little hole-in-the-wall placed called Bistro D’arbre — there are apparently a few of them (as you can tell from the sign on the photo above), including a decent restaurant in Ebisu. Although tiny, there are 3 floors — we occupied the second floor (we were a cramped eight), and there was a tiny loft space on top of us.

All of this reminded me of the early years of my life in Tokyo, when I would cut out listings for bars and cafes, that I would past in a notebook, consulting it when I wanted to go out. It was a great research tool, and I had as much fun trying out new places as I had drinking at them.

Ice Climbing

I’ve got a new “1 Minute” video up, this time recorded during our trip this past Saturday to the Southern Alps in Yamanashi, so that my wife could do a bit of ice climbing. I recorded quite a few “1 Minute” videos while I was there, and I’ll be sharing them over the next few days. It’s up on YouTube as well.

The Passing of Combine

It was announced this week that the Combine cafe in Nakameguro will be closing for good later this month (on February 25). Although I didn’t really go that often, I did enjoy the times that I did, and it does feel like a revered (or much appreciated) part of Tokyo is dying off — I don’t know when it opened, but it feels like it’s been there for most of the decade I’ve been here.

Should we be surprised? It is after all one of the aspects of this city that we tend to like: the endless flux. Tokyo is constantly being reimagined, and new spaces go up, just as they go down. Combine already played a part in this growth/contraction: the Daikanyama spinoff closed down last year after a nearby studio complained about the noise.

And like I said, I didn’t really go to Combine much — to be fair, I don’t get to Nakameguro that often these days — yet I feel sad about its closing.

Maybe it’s because a lot of people I know liked to go there too.

Maybe I’m hit by a sudden regret for not going more often — it’s not like there are that many spots in Tokyo that offer a nice open view of the river during the spring/summer months.

Maybe I shouldn’t care, and just take this as an excuse to find the next great spot to hang out with friends in. I certainly find myself not exploring this city as much as I used to, and although there are many factors that contribute to this (busy with work, location where I live, being married, having a dog), I do often feel a bit guilty that I don’t take the time still properly take in this city of mine.

So goodbye Combine, thanks for the memories. And hello, Tokyo.

That photo at the top is taken from this blog — there are more here.

Games I Play

A round-up of game recommendations — in other words, games I’m playing these days.

  • Little Racers STREET (XBLIG) — A really fun little racer that sort of plays like Reckless Racers on iOS, and it’s only a buck. Surprisingly addictive.
  • Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet (XBLA) — Yes, I’m so very late on this game, but better late than never. Terrific art direction (pictured above), and I’m really enjoying the Metrovania-like (exploration) gameplay so far.
  • Sonic Generations (PS3/360) — I’ve hated pretty much every Sonic game of the past few console generations, and was cautiously excited when the demo for this came out. I finally picked it up, and I’m having an absolute blast with it. If you’ve enjoyed a Sonic game in your life, then give this a try.
  • The Hacker (iPhone) — Great aesthetic, love the feel of the interface (old school computing).

PauseTalk Vol. 57

Well, it was indeed a terrific start to 2012, withPauseTalk Vol. 57 attracting a really nice group of around 20 or so for some good old fashioned talk. I’m thankful for the great turnout, and again, let me remind you that I made a short 1-minute video recording after the official session was over.

Below, a partial list of the partipants (those who signed the attendance sheet). Please note that PauseTalk Vol. 58 will be held on March 5.