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Goodbye Japan, Hello World

So I’m leaving Japan.

It’s a simple thing to say, but it still feels pretty crazy to say it. I’ve been living in Tokyo for over 15 years. That’s a pretty giant chunk of my life, and that’s pretty much all of my adult life. 

But it’s time to move on.

I’ve been feeling the urge to leave this country for a while now. Not just me, but my wife as well. There are a great many reasons that we want to leave, which I may get into describing in more detail in future posts, but basically, I’ve really had my fill, and it’s time to refresh the batteries.

What’s next?

I’m actually not sure yet. We’ve made the decision to leave Japan at the end of March, and I’ll start by going to to my hometown to spend some much needed together-time with my parents, and then, well, it depends where I can find work. Yes, leaving Japan also means that I’m leaving my position as Executive Director at PechaKucha, a place where I’ve worked for the last 6 years of my life. PechaKucha is of course a global entity, but also proudly and happily headquartered in Tokyo. I’m sure I’ll still be involved with PechaKucha in some way or another even after I leave, as I do feel quite a bit of love for the family I’ve worked with, and this thing we’ve all helped grow over the years, but it’s time for something new.

What do I want to do? It won’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me or who follows me on Twitter that if there’s one thing I’m passionate about more than anything else – and something that’s been a true constant my entire life – it’s of course gaming. I want to be involved in the world of gaming, and that’s what I’m currently hoping to achieve.

Yup, that’s right, I’m leaving Japan and I have nothing lined up, no job waiting for me on the other side. We needed to make a decision sooner or later on when we were going to leave, and needed to make sure that we would have enough time to make that move happen – and with the rental contract for the house we live in being up for renewal at the end of March, that made for a natural endpoint. 

I’m scared shitless, but I think I’m at a point in my life where I need to be scared shitless. All I know is that I truly want to return to North America (we’re particularly interested in the Vancouver/Seattle area, followed by Toronto/Montreal, but still quite open on where to go), and that I hope I can find work sooner than later – and hey, if you are someone who has suggestions, tips, recommendations, ideas, or hell, even a job to offer me, do get in touch, I’M ALL EARS.

The next few months are the start of a big scary new adventure for me and my wife, but at the same time, we’re actually really excited for the first time in a long while.

As I tweeted at the turn of midnight on New Year’s Day, 2015 is going to be a big year for me, let’s hope it works out.

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The Interview

After everything that’s happened, it’s just not really that funny a movie. I was really hoping for a laugh riot like This Is the End, but it definitely wasn’t that. Sure, there are some funny bits here and there, but overall it’s pretty disappointing.

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Bayonetta 2

When I finished the first Bayonetta the other day, I did something I’ve never done before: I immediately started playing the sequel, because I couldn’t wait to play more. And as much as I had fun playing through Bayonetta, that first level alone in 2 was enough to let me know that I’m in for an even better and crazier ride. To be honest, I’ve been shocked at how much I’ve been enjoying playing these games, as I’m not usually that big into action fighting games – like Devil May Cry – but there’s just something about the accessibility of it all, and the scale of the levels and creatures that I so love. In fact, it gives me some of the same feelings of awe that I had when I played through Asura’s Wrath, which is a game I really loved. Oh, and I’m absolutely in love with the character of Bayonetta, she’s my kinda gal.

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Secret Ponchos

This was one of the games offered through PS+ in December (I think you can still download it, until next week’s update), and it was something I was looking forward to trying, if only because of the cool western aesthetics – I’m not much of an arena battler kinda guy. The thing I find the most frustrating is that it doesn’t offer any tutorial or practice room – when you start up the game for the first time, your only option is to play in an online match. I can’t say it was fun to be in an arena with others who were hellbent on killing me, while I was trying to figure out how the controls worked. I should go back and play some more, but that first experience wasn’t a particularly fun one.

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The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

I’d been looking forward to this coming out on PS4 and Vita – I’d played a bit of it on my laptop a while back – and my first impression was that I couldn’t stand what they did with the aesthetics on the console version. I’ve been told that they were going for some sort of 16-bit vibe, but to me, on my TV, it looked horrible, like it was just a low-res version of the game blown up. Thankfully, it didn’t bother me as much on the Vita, and I really do enjoy playing this game. Sure, the art in the game is grotesque, but it’s still addictive to go through the rooms/levels, hoping you’ll find some items that will make your journey easier. Definitely works well as a portable game, but now I do end up playing it on my PS4 as well, as an apéritif or digestif to other game sessions.

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Rainbow Moon

This is a neat little JRPG-like game that was released on Vita, and although it was offered up as part of PS+ in October, I had bought it the month before on a sale. I was enjoying it for the few hours I played it, but in the end, the fact that I stopped playing is probably a sign that it was lacking in something – although sometimes, I drop these games simply because something better comes along that I’m really excited to play.

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Pix the Cat

That was such a disappointment. I was actually pretty excited to play this – and did so on both PS3 and Vita – as I thought it would be a great looking arcade game to play here and there. It does indeed look great, and I love the music too, but either I’m really bad at playing it, or they just got it wrong. As far as I’ve been able to tell, there’s pretty much only one mode to play, going screen after screen (and it’s neat how the transition is done Inception-like), starting from the first screen each time. I pretty much got to the furthest I’d go on my first try, and never really beat that (although I got higher scores). The problem is in the way it controls, as turning your cat character (think Pac-Man) is already not as smooth as it should be in this kind of simple layout, and it just gets worst as you get further in because everything speeds up, which means you just frustratingly continue to have issues turning around properly in the mazes. It’s too bad, because it could have been a neat arcade game to jump into between long sessions on other games.

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Driveclub

I’m also realizing now that I never did put up an entry for this game – I think at the time I held off because I wanted to wait and see what it would be like after they sorted out the issues. What a weird game this has been. I got it on launch day because I was so excited to play a racing game like this again – not having an Xbox One, I couldn’t get Forza Horizon 2, so this was to be my first big sim-like racing game on this gen of consoles – and of course this was before we all knew about the online issues. Despite not being able to connect online for weeks, I still played the fuck out of it, and I imagine I’ve put in over 30 hours, just played the solo events. Weeks later I finally started getting access to some of the online features – and so got to be in a club with friends, but because I had done so much of my playing without being connected to it, it was hard levelling up to unlock new club cars. I have still never been able to play an online multiplayer race, but to be fair I haven’t tried in over a month. So what to say, I can’t hide the fact that I’ve had a lot of fun playing this game, and the visuals are absolutely stunning (best looking game I’ve seen on PS4), but the fact that it didn’t work as advertised, and for so long, just left a bad taste in my mouth.

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Dust: An Elysian Tail

I got this for PS4 back in October when it was offered as one of the PS+ games for that month, and I’m reminded now that I should go back and play some more, because I do remember enjoying the visuals, and the hacking and slashing was decent – in fact, I remember playing the demo for this when it first came out on 360, and telling myself that I should get it, but for some reason never gotten around to it. Oh the problems of having huge backlogs of things to play.

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Lucha Underground

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Gotta say I’ve been really enjoying this. It’s a new wrestling promotion that airs on the El Rey network, and focuses on the lucha libre style of wrestling – and is in fact connected to the Mexican AAA promotion. It does a great job of creating storylines to introduce all of these unknown (to me and probably most non-Mexican viewers) wrestlers, and also shoots the story segments in a slick TV style – not the “reality” style that we usually see on wrestling shows. And the matches themselves are quite exciting to watch, with a lot of high-flying moves and great interaction. After being out of following pro wrestling for at least a few years now, I’ve been slowly dipping my feet back in, and checking out what out’s there. This – which launched a couple of months ago, there’s been 8 episodes – is one of the things I’ve been enjoying the most.