With so much material gratification offered to today’s anime fans, growing collections and storage space is always a concern for collectors. Especially in a country where the available space is so limited, space issues are serious business and Animate Japan has started a new online storage organization service for anime merchandise collectors in Japan on November 20th.
The service is simply called Animate Collection and it is a physical storage service with an online catalog for subscribers with a fee attached. An interested customer can purchase a shipping kit customized for anime related collections such as manga, CDs, DVDs and BDs and ship it to Animate Collection.
Once the package is received, Animate staff will photograph each of the items in the collection and upload the photos into the online catalog for subscribers to organize. The catalog is customizable by the subscriber to turn it into a personal collection showcase and items stored are retrievable by request for an additional fee.
The service is 3000 yen for the first 6 month period and it includes the shipping kit, photos for up to 50 items, photo gallery maintenance fee, initial and retrieval shipping fees. The shipping package is 36cm x 54cm x 30cm and up to 25 kg (50 items). After the first 6 months, it will be 400 yen per month and 800 yen for shipping if you request an individual item retrieval. Currently, the service is exclusively purchased through a special site.
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A rash challenge from Per Mertesacker sees my Arsenal side concede a last-minute penalty. Bitter rivals Manchester United have one final chance to draw the game, and who else but Robin Van Persie steps up to take it. A television camera zooms in to watch him place the ball on the spot, while Arsenal’s goalkeeper stands steadfast on his line. But he’s not alone. Behind him a wall of red and white shirts take to their feet as the walls of the Emirates Stadium shake to the boos of 50,000 vengeful Gooners. This raw, angry tension is something I’ve never experienced in a football game before, but in a swipe of a boot, it’s over, replaced by a cacophonous roar as Szczesny dives to his right and palms the ball away to safety. When the final whistle blows a moment later, I can barely hear it over the screaming torrent of fans. I recently left London after four years of attending Arsenal games. For a brief moment, I was back.
While the next-gen versions of FIFA 14 retain most of the features of their current-generation siblings, the gulf in technology is immediately apparent once the teams take to the pitch. Dozens of subtle additions to the way players and fans react to each other make it a much more authentic experience. For instance, whenever a ball goes out of play, players and ball boys scurry to fetch it. Every now and again a second ball is accidentally thrown onto the pitch and must be returned before the referee will allow play to continue. The gormless doppelgangers that littered the stands in previous games have been replaced with detailed and varied fans that sway to the beat of the on-pitch action. Supporters at local derbies become embroiled in bitter chanting battles, and cup game underdogs shriek for the full time whistle. Stadium seats may lie empty if the opposition isn’t worth the ticket price, while away team goals will silence any cheering home fans. This isn’t the first time a football game has attempted to capture the magic of the stadium experience, but FIFA 14 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is the first where I’ve genuinely felt the presence of a 12th man.
The 11 on the pitch have been given new life, too. Though the game controls similarly to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, there’s a noticeable increase in the variety of animations and fluidity of motion. The entire experience is a lot less mechanical. The ball no longer sticks to your feet, so jostling for control and shielding possession are far more interesting. This freedom of movement also allows you to intercept passes and put pressure on individual players more effectively, so changes in possession occur more often. An interesting by-product of this increased jostling is that referees are more lenient. The familiar whistle blows after blocking off players or roughing them out of possession aren’t here. And though sometimes it can seem the referees have thrown away the rulebook, the pace of the match benefits overall. While past games in the series have more accurately mimicked the offensive back-and-forth of a game of basketball, possession in FIFA 14 is a lot less predictable.
The PlayStation 4 version of FIFA 14 comes with a multitude of other improvements. Impressively fast load times mean you barely have enough time to complete the loading screen skill games. The increase in resolution and graphical fidelity is apparent throughout. Better detail allows you to notice player balance and ball spin like never before, while jerseys ruffle and grass clippings are kicked up when players strike at goal. You can also press in the DualShock 4′s touchpad, or the Xbox One’s back button to switch control to the goalkeeper. It’s not a very useful addition, but at the very least, it serves as an alternative to hammering Y to rush the goalie out in one-on-one situations.
Whether you’re scoring in front of a screaming Kop or eking out an unlikely cup victory, FIFA 14 produces special moments that will live in your memory.
Off the pitch, FIFA 14 has a variety of modes which will be familiar to anyone who has played the series recently, but sadly, several of them have not made the cut between console generations. You can still play friendlies or take control of an individual player in Be a Pro. Career mode lets you manage a variety of teams or start a career as a player. Ultimate Team returns for fans of building their very own fantasy sides. Skill games and the practise mode are back, Pro Clubs allows you to create an online team with friends, and single-player or co-op seasons are available via Seasons mode.
However, there are some disappointing omissions. Tournament mode is nowhere to be seen, which means the many leagues and cups that make up world football are not playable independently. So if you want to enter the World Cup, take your team to the top of the Premier League, or compete in the Copa del Rey, your only choice is to invest hours into Career mode.
Latin American soccer fans will be disappointed to hear that Mario Kempes and Fernando Palomo’s commentary is not in the next-gen version either. Unranked online friendlies have also been taken out, as has the ability to allow guests to play online with you. All in all, this means the local co-op play experience has been rather handicapped. It’s a disappointing blot on an otherwise outstanding product.
Regardless, this is the quintessential version of FIFA 14. It brings a level of authenticity never before seen in the genre and sets new standards for player control and stadium atmosphere. Too often have we seen football games flounder in the transition to new consoles, but FIFA 14 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is a step above it’s peers. Whether you’re scoring in front of a screaming Kop or eking out an unlikely cup victory, FIFA 14 produces special moments that will live in your memory long after you’ve put the controller down.
In the prior decade, fighting games (in particular 2D fighting games) suffered a serious decline in popularity and saw precious few games released, but in the past few years 2D fighting games have seen a revival that has given fighting game fans what they have wished for. The rise in digital releases has also allowed for smaller, niche fighting game titles to breach the market as well, and with Aquapazza, Atlus and developer Examu have contributed with their own. While its characters are unrecognizable to most people in North America, it’s still a solid fighting game in its own right.
Aquapazza is a crossover fighter featuring a mostly-female cast of characters from the visual novels released under the brand names of Aquaplus and Leaf. The roster spans 13 player characters and 13 partner characters and includes characters from Utawareumono, Tears to Tiara, the To Heart series, Kizuato, Routes, Comic Party and White Album.
Now, if all of that sounded like gibberish to you, you may be wondering why you should bother playing this game. For that, I’ll quote an e-mail from Atlus PR:
“Tree lasers. Deadly bookcases. Stampeding maid robots. That’s a pretty typical outing for AquaPazza.”
You heard that right. Tree lasers. Are you not entertained?…What, you need more convincing? Fine.
Aquapazza, like most other 2D fighters, is built with an emphasis on combos and opponent prediction to thoroughly decimate the opposition. The Active Emotion System boosts the power of attacks (including Super attacks) and cuts damage taken from enemy attacks. Staying on the offensive will keep the emotion level high, while playing too defensively will cause the emotion level to fall and you lose the benefits. Continuing to guard while your fighter is in a poor mood will lead to a Guard Crush, which breaks your guard. In this way, Aquapazza encourages players to go all out rather than sit back, making the matches fast paced and explosive. Guarding is still important though, particularly Impact Guarding, which occurs when guarding the moment before the opponent’s attack hits. Impact Guard increases Emotion, avoids Guard Crush and will prevent chip damage that occurs when attacked during a normal guard. The game features a meter system where attacking and being attacked boosts the meter, which can then be used to unleash special attacks. Regular special attacks consume 1 bar, while the extremely powerful Splash Arts abilities cost 3 bars.
The 13 playable characters each have their own fighting style and you should be able to find at least one that suits your own play style. They’re not quite as complex as those in the other recent Atlus-published fighting title, Persona 4 Arena, but there’s enough here for both casual and competitive fighting game fans to take advantage of. Though I can’t personally comment on the tier list, those players that have been playing the game in Japan have compiled a tier list that you can peruse here. Each player selects a partner character to team up with their player character. The partners stay in the background but can be summoned to attack with the press of a button. Each partner character has different abilities, so picking the right partner character is essential to a winning strategy. Player characters can’t be used as partner characters or vice versa, though, which is a bit disappointing.
The traditional fighter gameplay modes are available in Aquapazza. In Story mode Ma-Ryan has created a powerful potion called Aquapazza, which allows her to take control of people and have them do her bidding, thus setting up the battles. Completing Story mode unlocks Another Story mode for that character, which furthers the plot along. Also included for single player play is Score Attack (get the highest score possible) and Training (hone your skills).
Versus mode is for traditional off-line battles and online play is available through PlayStation Network. Ranked matches will be counted against your record while Player matches are meant to be just for fun. The Replay Theater holds replays of your previous matches so you can study them (or just gawk at how awesome that tree laser attack was). My experience with online was almost lag-free, with only a minor hiccup or two, but since I was playing before the game’s official release your experience may differ.
Aquapazza is a graphically pleasing game; the character sprites are all energetic and the game is full of vibrant attacks, abilities and explosions, all running at 60 frames per second without a hitch. There’s no dual audio in Aquapazzahowever – all characters retain their Japanese voice actors, a cast that includes popular voice actresses Rie Kugumiya and Aya Hirano. The constant chattering before, during and after the fight can get a bit annoying but it’s nothing a fighting game player hasn’t already become accustomed to.
Outside of the fighting, there is a gallery mode featuring pictures of the many characters in the game. Though the gameplay modes are a bit bare-boned, Aquapazza retails for only $30 through PSN and what is available in Aquapazza is certainly worth that price.
Just a few days after launch, the PlayStation had already earned a dubious honor: a nickname for its potentially fatal flaw. What some users are calling the Blue Light of Death, mimicking the infamous Red Ring of Death that plagued the launch of the Xbox 360 for years, has forced hundreds of PlayStation 4 owners to send their systems back to Sony and vent their frustrations in online reviews and forums. But just how widespread is the issue?
While it’s impossible to accurately gauge how far the claims of broken systems extend, prior to launch Sony shared that their expected failure rate for the console was 0.4%. To put that in perspective, that’s about 1 in 250. With over one million PlayStation 4 systems sold, that comes to about 4,000 potentially broken systems. While that’s a small number compared to the 996,000 that do work, that’s little consolation if you’re one of the 4,000 affected waiting to mail a $400 paperweight back to Sony.
This is also the first console-launch since the wide spread of social media, where users can quickly and easily share their opinions with a world-wide audience ready to listen. And studies have shown that people are much more likely to share negative experiences over positive ones. We’ve grown accustomed to publicly berating companies that offer a subpar service and crowd-sourcing our troubleshooting needs, asking friends on Twitter or Facebook for advice before trying to go through any official channels.
Even still, the PlayStation forums have several constantly growing posts dedicated to broken PS4 systems, and the Amazon review thread is divided between 5 star and 1 star reviews, with most of the 1 star reviews specifically calling out the flashing blue light.
Exploring Sony’s Customer Service
A thread on the official PlayStation forums walks users through potential fixes for the flashing blue light, but if that doesn’t work, the best advice I’ve read online is to take the PS4 to a Sony store. Official Sony stores can sometimes perform maintenance on-site, and they’re generally able to offer immediate replacements without having to wait to mail anything back and forth.
While the PS4 I ordered from Amazon has been working just fine, I wanted to find out what the customer experience would be like if my system didn’t work. So after reading up on all the troubleshooting I would have done, I tried accessing the live chat system on the Sony support site. Over the course of an hour, I was only put in line to talk to a representative three times. Each time I was queued at either number 16 or 17 and given a 5-minute wait time. After two minutes, I was booted from the queue with no explanation.
Not a great start, so I tried calling the support system by phone. Although the automated voice on the other end told me that the wait could exceed one hour, I was patched through to a live person in 28 minutes.
I asked about the process for returning a console that doesn’t work and has a flashing blue light. First, I was told about the possible Sony store return policy I mentioned earlier, but if no stores were in my area, the representative would collect my shipping info. I’d have a return box in two days (or I could ship it to Sony myself right now via UPS), and after trying to repair the machine, they’d send me a repaired unit or replacement in 5-7 days.
The representative told me that, outside of the flashing blue light, she’d been able to fix most issues for users over the phone. However, she couldn’t verify how widespread the irreparable issues were nor what was causing the blue light issue. The representative was incredibly courteous, knowledgeable, and almost made up for the wasted time I spent waiting to chat with someone online.
Maybe the GameSpot office and I have been exceedingly lucky. The consoles we were sent by Sony for review worked fine, and held up to the brutal 12-hour gaming sessions they endured for our livestreams. The system I ordered from Amazon has been on and online for hours without a stutter, and all of my acquaintances that ordered a PS4 have been streaming weekend play sessions and posting images of their games.
But even if Sony’s estimates are correct and the issues users are facing only affect 0.4%, it’s obvious that a vocal minority is having an effect on public perception of the system. And the customer service experience on Sony’s side could be handled better, especially for compensating the gamers who aren’t near a Sony store and who might not have a better course of action than mailing their system back and waiting for a replacement.
For the potentially thousands of gamers who have had to spend the weekend after launch troubleshooting a system and waiting to talk to customer service, there’s a lot of justifiable unhappiness. But on the bright side, it doesn’t seem quite as serious as some reports seem to suggest. GameSpot will continue looking into these issues to determine just how widespread they are and if they affect more than Sony’s projected 0.4%.
If you’ve run into any issues, good or bad, we’d like to hear about them in the comments below. But if you’re looking for technical support, you probably don’t want to ask the commenters. For that, I’d recommend heading to the PlayStation support site.
Bungie’s upcoming open-world online multiplayer shooter Destiny will have a beta in early 2014 and it will be appearing on the PS3 and PS4 first, said Bungie COO Pete Parsons at Sony’s PS4 launch event last night in New York City. This likely is not the only benefit for Sony platforms, as Bungie had previously announced that the PS4 version of Destiny would have exclusive content.
Access to the beta can be acquired through pre-ordering the game or snagging a code during one of Bungie’s giveaways that they have previously held through social media.
No release date was announced for the Destiny beta on any platform (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One).
As Wii U launch buyers can attest to, attempting to download a Day 1 update at the same time as everyone else is a major pain. Sony is trying to alleviate the server stress by offering future PS4 owners the opportunity to download the Day 1 Update to a USB stick now.
By following the instructions at the above link, players can download the Day 1 Update now, then connect the USB stick to their PS4 when they purchase it, allowing them to bypass an online download through the console.
“Our systems that handle online gameplay, matchmaking, and login are offline for all of our titles,” EA said. “This means that you may unable to play online or may get dropped from multiplayer matches, and will not be able to login to EA sites.”
“We are aware of this problem are we are working hard to fix things as quickly as possible. We apologize for the interruption and thank you for your patience while we fix the problem,” the statement continues.
It is not clear what is causing the issue or when the problem will be resolved. GameSpot will update this story as more details become available.