Phantasy Star Online 2 Fashion Catalog 2017 – 2018

This 418-page monster is a very distinctly Japanese item. It’s a visual guide to fashion in PSO2. Specifically, customization options made available in 2017-2018.

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Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution (PS2 / Sega AM2 / 2003)

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Sonic The Hedgehog (GEN / Sonic Team / 1991)

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Phantasy Star in SEGA Master System: A Visual Compendium

Phantasy Star is arguably the marquee title for the Master System, so it’s no surprise that it gets a lot of love in Bitmap Books’ (excellent) visual compendium.

The book is filled with history, interviews, and reviews which tell the story of why this oft-forgotten (in the US at least) console is so important and beloved.

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Rad Sega Fanservice in Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax


I’ll be honest- I don’t know much about modern 2D fighting games, and I know even less about the publisher Dengeki Bunko and their work. Yet, I am having an absolute blast with Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax on the Vita. I’ve found the game to be really inviting and easy to pick up and enjoy, even as a total fighting game novice.

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Review Round-up: Sega 3D Classics




I reviewed some of the Sega 3D Classics for Nintendo World Report!

I also wrote a little blurb over there about my dream Sega 3D Classic:

Welcome to My Phantasy Zone: Why a 3D Phantasy Star Would Rule

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First Impressions: Phantasy Star Online 2 (PlayPark English Version)


Sega news doesn’t get much cooler or more random than what happened yesterday with Phantasy Star Online 2. As you may know, PSO2 does, in fact, have a localized English version. However, it is based out of Asia, and was previously inaccessible to those without an IP address in that region (or use of a VPN). But yesterday, the IP region lock was mysteriously lifted, with no fanfare or official statement.

As soon as I saw the news, I went to the PlayPark site and began downloading the client. The client itself is a hefty 14+ GB, and after installations and updates, the entire process ended up taking me about two and a half hours (I’m using Windows 8.1, btw).


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Thoughts – Gale Racer (Rad Mobile)


1994 / Sega Saturn / Japan-only

Gale Racer is a slightly modified port of the 1991 Sega AM-2 arcade racer Rad Mobile. Rad Mobile is probably most famous for being the first in-game appearance of Sonic the Hedgehog, in the form of a keychain (or air freshener?) that hangs from the roof of the car.

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Sonic the Hedgehog 2 enamel pin set

As far as rad and unexpected Christmas presents go, it doesn’t get better than this gift I received from my (amazing) wife this year.

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Sega Hard Girls: Hi-sCoool! SeHa Girls (anime)


Yesterday, on Christmas Day, my wife and I downloaded the Crunchyroll app for Wii U. We then watched Hi-sCoool! SeHa Girls in its entirety.

A day later, I still can’t get over how much I loved it.

The basic premise of Hi-sCoool! SeHa Girls is that three Sega consoles: Mega Drive, Dreamcast, and Saturn (who are personified as moe girls) are trying to finish high school. In order to graduate, they need to earn 100 credits, which they receive by completing tasks within Sega game worlds.

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9 MORE Ways to Celebrate the Dreamcast!


Back in 2012, I made a list of 99 Ways to Celebrate the Dreamcast in honor of the 13th anniversary of its North American release. To celebrate the 15th anniversary, I made yet another list of Dreamcast-related fun so you can make the most out of this significant day!

1. Listen to the Sega Bits Dreamcast Birthday Bash podcast with former staff from The Official Dreamcast Magazine!

2. Buy the Dreamcast Collection on PC or 360!

3. Watch the Shenmue postmortem with Yu Suzuki from this year’s Game Developer Conference!

4. Read this review of Bust-a-Move 4 from a very concerned parent!

5. Buy something from Dreamcastgaga!

6. Read my series “The Phantasy Star Offline Project”- a chronicling of my recent solo playthrough of PSO V.2!

7. Listen to the Phantasy Star 25th Anniversary Concert!

8. Wish you had this rad Comic Market 86 exclusive Dreamcast shirt!

9. Buy a copy of the excellent Phantasy Star Online strategy guide by Nick Rox and Casey Loe!

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Thoughts – 3D Thunder Blade

Prior to 3D Thunder Blade, my only experience with the game was the “Super” port for the Sega Genesis. I never even SAW an actual cabinet, despite my frequent trips to arcades. Super Thunder Blade was serviceable for a launch window Genesis release, but I found the movement slow and controls somewhat unresponsive. Aside from a few jokes here and there, I rarely thought of Thunder Blade over the years.

Then I found this write-up on the game, praising the merits of the arcade release and lamenting the lack of a quality home port.

It got me interested, but that didn’t change the fact that Thunder Blade cabinets are EXTREMELY rare. In the hundred-plus arcades I’ve been to in the United States and Japan in my lifetime, I’ve yet to see a machine. For years, I wondered if I would ever have a chance to play an arcade-perfect version of the game.

Luckily, M2’s Sega 3D Classics line exists, so the answer is a big YES.

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Gran Chaser (Cyber Speedway)

While it may be difficult to imagine now, there was once a time where the “futuristic racer” was a formidable sub-genre. The two kings of this space, F-Zero and WipEout, were fast and cool visual showcases for their respective consoles, through multiple generations. Yet in the shadows of these giants, there were many others vying for the throne. Some found moderate success, like Extreme-G, which started on the Nintendo 64 and spawned three sequels across multiple platforms.

Most futuristic racers, however, never found the success of F-Zero, WipEout, or even Extreme-G. From AeroGauge to Tube Slider, there are many games in the genre that are now almost totally forgotten. Sega Saturn exclusive Gran Chaser (or Cyber Speedway in the West) is one of those titles.

For a somewhat obscure title, Gran Chaser has some serious pedigree behind it. For one, the game is a spiritual sequel to the 1993 PC title CyberRace, which was developed by Cyberdreams (Dark Seed duology). Both CyberRace and Gran Chaser feature sled (the hovercraft vehicles you race) designs by Syd Mead. Mead is a legend in the field of sci-fi art and design, having worked on Aliens, Blade Runner, Tron, Short Circuit, Turn A Gundam, and more.

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Neon Genesis Evangelion Digital Card Library


Saturn, 1997

Neon Genesis Evangelion is my favorite anime series of all time. From the beginning to the bitter end of the series, I love it dearly. I bought VHS tapes with 2 episodes on each as they were released for $30 a pop. I ordered a VHS fansub of End of Evangelion, years before it was released officially in the west. I even wrote essays and showed clips from the series as parts of projects in my freshman year of college. Yes, I was *that* kid in your intro to psychology class.

Something that endears the series to me even more is the close partnership between Gainax and Sega during the mid to late-90s. Most of the Eva merchandise from this era has Sega branding on it, which makes it all even cooler to me. As Evangelion was in full swing, so was the Saturn (in Japan, at least), so it’s no surprise that the system ended up with some Eva games.

One of these releases was Digital Card Library. It’s essentially an Evangelion-themed minigame collection where you earn and collect “digital cards” showcasing art and animation from the series.

When you start the game, you only have a few cards and even fewer minigames to choose from. You can browse your cards, or by using the menu, jump to the minigames.

Select "minigame" here to jump to that page

Select “minigame” here to jump to that page

The nine minigames in Digital Card Library. For the sake of simplicity, I will be referring to them in order from left to right.

The nine minigames in Digital Card Library. For the sake of simplicity, I will be referring to them in order from left to right.

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Last Bronx


Saturn, August 1997 (Japan)

First off, if you’re curious about what Last Bronx is, or why it’s cool, check out this incredibly definitive article about the game over at Hardcore Gaming 101.

OK done? Cool. I’m going to talk a bit about the Japanese Saturn version, which I recently acquired for 20 yen (yes, about 20 cents) at Super Potato in Akihabara.

The game sports some pretty great packaging, full of goodies.


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Falcom Classics

Saturn, 1997

Three years ago, I wrote a bit about Falcom games on Sega platforms. Today, I have something to add to that write-up, as I recently purchased a copy of Falcom Classics!

Here’s a look at the packaging:

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Phantasy Star Online Blue Burst RAcaseal Redria Model Kit by Kotobukiya

My first experience with Japanese model kit building was over a decade ago, when one day Gundam Wing models showed up at my local Toys R Us. The kits were the most basic available, but I still snatched up every one I could and completed them all. From that point on, I’d grab a Gundam kit every few years, whenever the mood struck me.

This RAcaseal kit was my first attempt at a non-Gundam model, and it was initially a bit overwhelming.


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Differences Between the Saturn and PlayStation 2 Sega Ages Phantasy Star Collections

Last year, I wrote about the Sega Ages Phantasy Star Complete Collection for PS2 (which had recently been made available on the Japanese PSN for PS3). After years of pining for the Saturn Phantasy Star Collection, I recently, while on my honeymoon in Japan, found a complete copy for a cool 1300 yen…

IMG_2429[1]Turns out, there are a few differences between the Saturn and PS2 collections. First off, the obvious- the PS2 collection is far more fully-featured. The options M2 added are simply staggering. Take Phantasy Star I for example. On Saturn, your options are, well, hiragana or katakana text.

IMG_2422[1]On PS2 however, you can choose the Mark III (Japanese) or Master System (English) version, and tweak the difficulty, gameplay, and performance. Continue reading

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Japanese Phantasy Star II Futabasha Hint Book

photo 1 (10)

Purchased at Super Potato in Akihabara for 880 yen last week, this hint book/mini strategy guide is one of the coolest Phantasy Star items I own. Continue reading

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Shopping for Sega Saturn Games in Japan

The Sega Saturn was a great system with an incredible library of games. Unfortunately, many of the best games never made it to the west, or were released in limited quantities and are now prohibitively expensive. In Japan however, it’s a different story. In its prime, while the Saturn couldn’t compete directly with the Playstation, it had a solid amount of retail presence thanks to its somewhat niche library of arcade, fighting, and dating games.

And now, those games are available in used stores, and the majority of them are dirt cheap. For example, yesterday in Akihabara, I spent 6000 yen (roughly $60 USD) solely on Saturn games, and this is the haul I walked away with:

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The Hazuki Diaries Part Four – Let’s Get Sweaty

“The Hazuki Diaries” is a project in which I chronicle my replay of the original Shenmue on the Dreamcast. Check out part one here.

After asking around a bit, I learned that Charlie often hung out at a tattoo parlor in an apartment complex (and that Charlie was a total low-life). I tracked down the location of the tattoo parlor, but it wasn’t open yet, so I decided to train to kill some time.

I found an abandoned parking lot and “got sweaty.”

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The Hazuki Diaries Part Three – Kickin’ Ass and Feedin’ Cats

“The Hazuki Diaries” is a project in which I chronicle my replay of the original Shenmue on the Dreamcast. Check out part one here and part two here.

If the previous day was one of sloth and distraction (paralleling my own real-life Sundays), I made up for it today.

Upon learning that the men in suits and Lan Di were Chinese, I sought out other Chinese people in Dobuita for clues. Kinda weird to assume that every person of Chinese descent knew all the other Chinese folks, but everyone seemed to be cool with it.

I was pointed in the direction of a 2nd generation Chinese barber…


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Dangerous Business

I randomly stumbled across this review of Bust-A-Move 4 on Dreamcast:


…which inspired me to create this, in the style of Jack Chick Publication tracts:

chicktractIt’s important to be able to amuse yourself, I think.


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The Hazuki Diaries Part Two – I’ll Find Lan Di, Just Hang-On

“The Hazuki Diaries” is a project in which I chronicle my replay of the original Shenmue on the Dreamcast. Check out part one here.

I left my home in search of anyone who knew anything about the people involved with the incident at the Hauzki Dojo on “that day.” I followed the timeless RPG adage of “talk to everyone” and gathered some clues about the “men in suits” who “drove a black car” and set off towards Sakuragaoka with vengeance on the brain. My mind was racing with thoughts of the sweet roundhouse kicks I would use on those suited suckers when…



I entered the shrine to find a little girl hovering over a cardboard box. The girl’s name was Megumi, and she was caring for the sick kitten inside the box, whose mother was run over by the black car. Another orphan from that day…

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The Hazuki Diaries Part One – December 3, 1986


I had a lot of fun documenting my replay of Phantasy Star Online Ver. 2 on the Dreamcast, so I decided to do it again, but this time with Shenmue! I’m calling it “The Hazuki Diaries” and it’s going to follow the same format of as the Phantasy Star Offline project. I still don’t have a capture card, so all the screens will be taken with my iPhone 4, BUT I recently purchased a VGA cable for my Dreamcast, so the visual quality should be a bit better.

I feel like Shenmue was on my radar since the late-90s when it began showing up in western game magazines as “Virtua Fighter RPG.” I was a day-one Dreamcast owner and I followed the development very closely- from early screens to hands-on impressions to the 10-out-of-10 Official Dreamcast Magazine review, all the way up to the point when I arrived at a Target fifteen minutes before they opened on November 8, 2000 to purchase the game. Continue reading

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