Saturday, February 12, 2011


Hi guys, I have been quite inactive here .
As a matter of fact I am just waiting to leave for Japan next month but I really fell into... this:

二ノ国 ("Ni no kuni", The Other/Second World), is a DS and PSP game by Japanese developer Level-5 and animation studio Studio Ghibli. The Nintendo DS version was released in December 2010.
See the beautiful trailer below:

I couldn't wait March to play it so I was going to gave a friend to bring it from Japan when I found the same package with 30% off on Play-Asia for a limited time. Yay !
The game is quite expensive, 6 800 yens (around 60 euros). You can understand why easily and I definitely do not regret it. First, the game comes in a big book-shaped package of around 1kg:

Removing the cover... It feels like I am about to open an antic book or something:

Inside, you will find:
  • the regular DS box that contains the cartridge
  • a jewel-encrusted book called Master Systems with all the runes you will need in the game, details about the monsters and items
  • which can also be used as the book's index

A random page inside the book:

Do you remember old times when there were not so many games to choose between and no "casual gaming" yet? Like, you were saving your pocket money month after month to buy one? I remember I was checking every single thing inside the box when I finally got a new game, reading the introducing book again and again. I was like discovering new territories, getting on an epic adventure.

Nowadays I don't have time anymore to get involved in a game, and most of the time I stick to puzzle games and "fast gaming" such as apps on iPhone. I read a lot newspaper, economics, politics, etc. I guess when you grown up you loose that part of imagination that pops so easily for children.

But as I said, Ni no Kuni totally caught my attention as a Role Playing Game, some of the cinematics are just wonderful:

It feels like moving around in a Miyazaki film!

As I said earlier, sometimes you will need to refer to the book to find the required rune and go ahead in the adventure. Also, you can catch/be friend with most of the monsters encountered in the game.


I am about to reach my 18th hour of play and I feel I still have a lot to discover.
I also read some negative comments on the game, like "having to play with the book is a pain as you need to carry it with you in the train or metro" but come on, Ni no Kuni is not a fast-game! Otherwise you won't get into the game and the magic won't work!

Anyway, I am back to the game!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

..Getting a keitai in Japan is getting on my nerves..

Hi guys! Irié there !
Getting closer to departure time! My tickets are booked, I will be arriving at Tokyo HANEDA airport in the middle of March with Japan Airlines . Around 11 flight hours eek.

So I am busy with boring papers. One thing that I hate in Japan is that fees are hidden everywhere so you never know how much you end up paying on housing, mobile phone, etc. Wanna see how far it goes? Okay let's talk today about keitai, or mobile phone in Japan!

Yes! That's a mini-Irié playing on her iPhone.
Credits to my gifted friend Nyanyo, check her page!

First I thought about getting one of the Shibuya 109 co-branding keitai...

"For gyarus that always desire to shine"

Huge marketing campaign, cobranding CM

But wait...
What's the point of getting a cell phone with purikura-type features when you already have an iPhone with the same apps and even more! OMG, marketing is so devilish lol. Anyway, the technical information doesn't look good either and to say the truth, I really hate this opening style for cell phones (popularized by the movie Matrix haha).

I felt in love with this one but I guess it's already out of stock :
Style DoCoMo SH-04C
15 December 2010, limited edition, 15.000 units for each color

But once again, it will never be as convenient as a smartphone. I rely to much on my apps now especially the GPS function when I get lost in the streets, Around Me app, train schedule app, etc. So I will rather keep my iPhone and get a lot of kira kira deco on it!

And this is where things get complicated.
  • First, it is unlikely to get a SIM card or mobile number in Japan without buying a phone. The official reason is to prevent any criminal use since you will need to register the cell phone with your ID documents such as ID card, driving license or passport if the shop accepts foreigners as customers.
  • For short stays, a rental phone can be used. You can get one easily in Haneda or Narita airport. They will keep a copy of your Credit Card and passport and charge you around 400 yen per day in addition to communication time (you can only call or receive emails).
  • For longer stay, you can get a prepaid phone that works with rechargeable cards. But even if the phone is 3G, you won't be able to use "data connection" features such as going on the Internet. To really benefit from 3G possibilities, you need to buy a subscription plan + phone which requires an alien registration card and a Japanese bank account. Oh and the contract is 2 years minimum with penalty fees if you want to free it.

And what if you bring your own (unlocked) phone with you for longer stay? Well the staff will probably ask you to buy their own phone anyway. Or not allow the subscription plan at all if your alien registration card expire in less than 2 years (which is almost always the case). But I heard that sometimes it can work and you can be granted a subscription plan without the phone... I will try to look nice and charming in front of the staff lol. Or ask a relative/friend there to open it for me but I wonder if the bank account should bear the same name. Probably yes, that would be to easy otherwise haha.

Struggle is not over yet. What an epic gameplay ビックリ...
Now I understand why people talk about their phone so much in Japan, investment in time and efforts is almost equivalent to buying a car of a house! For example the welcoming pic on Softbank's website for smartphones subscriptions (main company in Japan with Docomo) うひゃあー:

Remember about fees everywhere?
  1. Well first, you are supposed to pay for a mobile phone.
  2. Then you are supposed to buy a first pack for call services (basically, it is 980 yen per month + 21 yen per minute, I won't mention all the conditions and rates).
  3. Then you are supposed to buy a second pack for unlimited email and SMS/MMS (315 yen per month)
  4. Then you are supposed to pay for the data connection pack, and wait... there are 2 formula depending on how much you want to download data!?
2 possibilities: Packet houdai S in grey and Packet houdai Max in blue

Honestly, it looks more like a financial derivatives payoff profile rather than a price explanation lol.
And I didn't even mention discount possibilities!
Nor did I talk about "packet" unit which is different than bytes/octets and makes it almost impossible to estimate your data consumption. 

Enjoy Japanese keitai!