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Author: Emmanuel Aouad

Kojima’s Return to E3

PlayStation’s E3 conference was incredible this year! A full orchestra added a classy feel to the event, and there was stellar trailer after stellar trailer. But what gave me goosebumps was the introduction to one of video games greatest mind and creator, Hideo Kojima. As the curtain drew up, Mr. Kojima made his triumphant entrance, to a roaring crowd. Where after minutes of applause Mr. Kojima said, “Hello… I’m back.” The crowd, me included while watching the event unfold on an android screen, lost our MINDS!

I’m sure if you have no idea who Hideo Kojima is, your first thoughts are, “That’s the Metal Gear guy right? What’s the big deal?” Well, for us Kojima fanboys and girls, it’s like seeing your favorite creator who has been on hiatus return to life, so to speak. It would be like seeing the return of Hayao Miyazaki and revealing a new animated film he’s been keeping secret. For others it would be like George R. R. Martin revealing that the last two books in the Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire) series are completed and slated to release at the end of the year. To us Kojima nerds, seeing him on stage is a gargantuan deal. Many of us speculated we would see him, and I think many of us lost hope for a trailer, seeing that he had an interview earlier in the day.

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Before the Ubisoft conference began, Geoff Keighley had a sit down with Kojima. Along with talking about building up a team at his new studio, Kojima Productions, he also mentioned working on putting together something for the fans. He also talked about his twitter tour of different studios, like Naughty Dog and Media Molecule, and gleaning what he could from these amazing studios. As the interview continued on, I was hoping he would mention his new game, but the closest we got was Geoff trying to get Kojima to spill something. He asked about Kojima’s new studio mascot, what I have started calling the Skull-stronaut, Keighley said, “we’ve seen some amazing art you’ve put up online related to the game, I assume, or the character on the logo… there’s an image you put up last week… who’s the character there? People were like ‘is that Norman Reedus’ who is it? Can you tell us anything?” Kojima then explained how fans thought it was just a skull inside the space suit, but that it’s actually a person wearing a skull mask. That person is all of us, the player, which on his official site he has dubbed “Ludens”. The interview ends with Keighly saying he’s glad Kojima is back at E3 and that he will be here for the long run. And we are left to think, “Well, no game reveal, but at least we got to hear what Kojima is up to.” Which in true Kojima fashion, was all smoke and mirrors!

Ya boy was playing us from the beginning of the interview!!! He was repping a shirt with his new games initials. Geoff Keighley even pointed out, that Kojima is intentional about everything he does, and poked at his shirt. His SHIRT!!!! Here’s a pic from the interview:

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So when that curtain went up at the event and Kojima walked down those steps, the goosebumps set in. Then we get the first look at his new game, and in true Kojima style, the music is the first thing to grip you. Then in a buildup he reveals that the protagonist for the game will be Norman Reedus of Walking Dead fame, and star of the failed Konami-Kojima-Guillermo Del Toro Silent Hills game. We then get a confusing, yet spectacular looking, scene that reveals an infant, dead marine life, five floating objects in the sky, and the title reveal. Death Stranding…

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What does it all mean? Is Norman Reedus Death? Is he in some kind of limbo? Is he the Skull-stronaut and is that apart of the game? Did he give birth to a baby!!? Why doesn’t he have a belly button!!!? We’re all going to have to wait until the game is finished but we will have much to think and talk about until the game launches.

So what are your opinions on Kojima’s return to E3 and his new game Death Stranding? We’d love to read your thoughts on this and the rest of E3.

About Jake Lionheart: 

Jake is a riff raff, scallywag, gypsy of a man. He also also make videos about videogames & comics https://www.youtube.com/c/elcheapogames

NPCC Does Denver Comicon

Where to even start? Denver Comicon was an absolute blast. I want to sum up how this convention started with one quote:

Comic Book Classroom was founded in 2010, a Colorado charitable organization focused on enhancing and improving student’s learning experience through the use of comic book media.” “Denver Comicon.” Wikipedia.Wikipedia.org. n.p. Web

The convention uses the profits and sponsors a nonprofit program that takes place all year called Pop Culture Classroom. Pop Culture Classroom uses comics in classroom environments to increase literacy. I mean I played typing racing games all of the time as a kid and  I type 90 words per minute, so I would have to agree that kids learn very well when you wrap the lesson in something that interests them. 🙂

When I first arrived and saw all of the kids there for field trips on a FRIDAY I was a little jealous I won’t lie (then again I was there for a vacation day on a Friday so I shouldn’t complain) and as I read through the program more in depth I thought… “This is mad cool, there are a lot of educational panels! And they’re celebrating teachers all over these signs?! OK DCC I SEE YOU!” For those of you who don’t know me on that level I am a huge believer that we need to increase not only the amount of education we provide to everyone in the world but also the quality of methods we use to relay the information. So when I saw how excited kids were walking over to a “NASA – Women in Science” or “Science of Exoplanets” panel I had already signed off that Pop Culture Classroom / Denver Comicon had my support.

As for any con I perform at, I didn’t get to see as much as I would like to see but here is the rundown for what  Kadesh Flow,  Mega Ran  (Not Meg Ryan) and I smashed into one weekend.

Goosetown Tavern (Thursday): 

After some flight delays and really close calls Ryan (Kadesh Flow) and I made it to Goosetown Tavern Thursday night and got to perform with a bunch of cool cats. We had a lot of fun during our set laying some rhymes and jazz down, and we quickly realized that the altitude shift was no joke. We were cramping and out of breath like 6th graders running the mile for the first time in gym class.

I always love seeing Word Burglar perform, he is that dude you watch and you’re like “Man you’re chill, just want to grab a beer with afterwards!”

I have to say I was blown away by Felix Fast4ward’s set… like it was insanely awesome. To describe it would not do it proper justice, but I’m going to try anyway… Watching it I’m going to assume you will probably have that face you make when you hear something so awesome it’s disgusting (Or when you smell something funky). Smooth beats obviously, but the thing that grabbed my ear was not how he used a diverse sampling set of things (from anime themes to the king – Michael Jackson), but the way he used them. The mixes and transitions were so perfectly blended… It was like a perfectly seasoned four course meal with just the right amount of offset in flavors. Unfortunately the delay mentioned above meant we missed most of the acts before us (Adam SeleneAn Hobbes), but I was able to catch up with some of my friends from the high school and college days.

Felix Fast4Ward (Video Clip Download)

The Con and Maquis Theater (Friday – Sunday):

I’m used to the Dallas Comicon which is usually kind of low key the first day and partly the last day, which was not the case in Denver. While the attendance was obviously the most on Saturday (with that being the only sold out day) people were SHOWING UP with some of the most intense and intricate cosplay I’ve ever seen. There are no days off and almost everyone I spoke to gave about a three month estimate for the outfits.

Now I know The Dallas Fan Girls spend that much time and more on most of their cosplays but I guess I’m just not used to hearing the central tendency for time spent being that for EVERYONE. I will stick to music lol. Even though it took me forever to get a Gjallarhorn in Destiny I was able to find one in two days in Denver so note to self, whenever the Black Gjallarhorn is released in the next expansion… go to Denver, forget you Xur. Or I guess I could just pre-order (OH WAIT I ALREADY DID).

Denver Comicon

The NPCC had a handful of slots for the convention spanning from Friday to Sunday on the 5280 stage (located near one of the entrances to the show floor) if you couldn’t tell from our Facebook posts. I was a little bit worried about the acoustics, but the sound crew was on point and were doing adjustments every song for each act to make sure the artists could deliver wonderful music to the ear holes of each attendee. Mega Ran played on Friday after catching a flight from E3 with some backing horns from 1-UP and Kadesh, and per usual his presence was awesome commanded the floor… I mean what else would you expect from a Mega Ran show?

I hopped up onto DJ Alf’s 45 + 1 set right after which is an extremely cool concept if you haven’t checked it out before (don’t worry I’ll link you to one). He invites different artists up during a two hour time block and each artist performs either a jam or a song they’ve already written over a 45rpm record he spins to (artists choice). What we are left with is a wonderful smorgasbord of different genres and styles over some smooth records, and since I’m not the greatest freestyler I went ahead and did my 8-Bit hero song over the instrumental for  Wings of Honneamise.

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Saturday we were joined by Danimal Cannon for some free roaming of the Con while I basically scoped out things I was going to buy the next day. Lots of really good artwork and crafty things but I was slightly saddened by the smaller “celeb” presence (which I had to remember this is focused on education) in comparison to what I think I’m used to seeing.

But back to the music, I finally got to see an entire An Hobbes set which was cool especially if you’re into story songs like myself. He performed a string of songs off of one of his recent albums in which he focus on just that – telling a string of stories. I won’t get into detail and give any spoilers, but you can check him out  here.

It was a great lead in because after he gathered up everyone’s attention we proceeded to steal it before they could leave.

DCC

Being our first time at DCC, sometimes I forget in these types of scenarios that people will sit when given the option. If you don’t think this is true… walk around a Con all day and then you can pretend like you don’t salivate when you see an empty chair. We jammed out both Saturday and Sunday (Sunday surprisingly being a larger crowd), I bantered, Kadesh threw some sick trombone down while I tooted the sax and we got to meet some really interesting and fun people from all over the state. Bonus find was we got to hang out with  The Fangirls Of Dallas  outside of Dallas which I will say it is always nice to have as many friends in the crowd as possible.

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We stuck around and see  Sunnydale High  after talking to them a little bit (also partly because I used to have a huge crush on Sarah Michelle Gellar) and then a little bit of ghostRADIO. I chatted it up a bit with the drummer’s (SDH) family and they were so nice which is always pleasant to get to hear good music while sitting around good people, and then watched a few songs from ghostRADIO and … wow. I know I keep using words like awesome and wow but that’s literally how I need to describe the awesome music I was exposed to this weekend. Contrary to what some people believe I really like rock shows. ghostRADIO was like a mix of Alien Ant Farm, Incubus and Creed’s studio sound (for their instruments only because I’m not going to insult ghostRADIO’s singer like that). High energy, connected with the crowd and had great musical ability – check them out  here.

Quickly following we dashed to the Marquis theater to catch Daminal’s set. If you haven’t gotten to see him yet he is as great live as he is mixed and mastered. Not just musical talent but you can almost watch the music flow from his heart into the guitar.

Danimal Cannon (Video Clip Download)

And then stayed to jam our tails off with Teacher-Rapper-Hero extraordinaire… MEGA RAN. I’ve already covered Mega Ran through videos so many times I figure you’re tired of hearing me talk about how great his shows are, so instead I opted to get some words from him and Kadesh about the con and how he felt about everything:

Mega Ran, Kadesh and 1-UP (Video Clip)

Mega Ran:

Mega Ran

“As a guy who can say he’s seen them all when it comes to cons, I thought I was ready for the Denver Comic Con experience. I was not.

It’s larger, more expansive and more inclusive than most other conventions in the US, and even the world.

First of all, let’s start with the most important side of things to me, music. DCC has a stage that runs all day, every day with nonstop local and national music talent, something I’ve not seen at any other major city’s Comic Con. It’s a great place to sit and escape from the hustle and bustle for a while, as well as hear some new and interesting music.

Outside of that, the atmosphere was welcoming, the staff was helpful, and the people had an amazing time. That makes Denver Comic Con a rousing success in my book. Can’t wait to visit again.”

Kadesh Flow:

Kadesh

“I’ve been wanting to get out to Denver and perform for over a year, so the idea of finally having an opportunity to do so — and at Denver Comic Con, at that — was exciting. I have compatriots in the nerdy hip hop community whom I did not know even lived in Denver! Playing with and hanging out with them was an immense pleasure.

Unfortunately, 1-UP and I were too busy doing shows and preparing for shows to really experience Denver Comic Con to its fullest. I’m completely okay with this result, but I do have an unanswered curiosity about the con’s programming. I had no idea the event was so huge. I guess I know now. While I do think the performance space could have been more conducive to a live performance, the sound guys were dedicated and professional, and the opportunity to rock multiple shows was an honor! It’s always a pleasure to make new friends/fans and impress those who see us do what we do. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.”

Ok back to me. Sunday I wasn’t really anticipating a large turnout but there were A LOT of people there. I also saw a handful of repeat faces in the crowd which made me feel like we had done something right to bring them back for more!

Post set I rounded up some art and trinkets for friends and family (and myself) to support the local scene which was probably the most time I got to spend in artist alley. It’s bitter sweet because I got some really cool stuff, but it’s good that I didn’t spend more time there aka send more money than I needed to. But I did score some sweet Power Rangers socks and you all know how much I love them rangers.

The Round Up:

Middle Photo : MarkDago

Middle Photo : MarkDago

Overall I give Denver Comicon an A. If you’ve ever been to one of my shows I’m all about quantifying everything including how I feel about things… just less ambiguous that way.

The amount of unique talent and art they bring in paired with staying on track with a goal that benefits the larger Denver community year round puts them on a level that a lot of people just can’t touch. On top of that the stage manager was very accommodating, always reachable and communicated all updates to us very VERY quickly. There isn’t much else I can ask for from a Con.

Got to see my friends, play multiple shows with my friends and had another excuse to go to a Comicon I hadn’t been to before!

I can’t wait to go back and it’s definitely worth it if you have yet to attend.

~1-UP

 

A Few Reasons You Might Like Anime

So my wonderful girlfriend committed to watching the first 700 episodes of One Piece with me sometime last week (Pretty awesome I know).
Mind you I’m currently on episode 702.
Around episode 30 she asks “I’m just curious, why do you love anime so much?”
 
*Stumped*
 
No one has ever asked me that question in a “I’m serious I actually want to know” tone, it’s usually…
“Dude why do you love that anime stuff so much?” or  “Yo, are you gonna watch cartoons all day?”
 
Because I REALLY like it a lot… Evidence Example 1:

Being the quick thinker that I am (or the fact that I take time for self-reflection a lot so I already knew the answer :P) I realized it boiled down to two things:
 
Honor and Integrity.
 
BACKGROUND THOUGHTS:
 
I think about the series which I enjoyed the most and there is such a stark contrast to what we see in the news and what occurs in the world every day.
It’s always “Drama this” and “Everything is terrible that.” We have to read about people shooting each other and fighting over petty things. The news basically chooses to show us stories that paint the illusion “In order to have or get ahead, you must take from someone else or make them worse off.” It’s almost like propaganda that makes a lot of people get into the “Better them than me!” mindset, and makes society look like the most self-serving group of people in history (which make or may not be true but that is another story).
Take for instance Lance Armstrong. Like anytime someone cheats or lies or steals or WHATEVER, my first thought is “What was going through this person’s mind and what happened in their life that they were fine throwing away their integrity to stand before people pretending to be an honest person?”
He stood behind the façade of “I’m doing this for cancer awareness! Here is the Lance Armstrong Foundation!” when in reality, it was all still for him. And before you argue “Oh he did great things for cancer research!” I know he did. And he also could have done it without cheating and lying, sooo if he were doing it purely for cancer awareness… the blood doping was unnecessary.

I could go on and on but just log this as Example: 1 – Getting rewarded for cheating and being dishonest.
 
MUSICS:
Even mainstream hip hop perpetuates this way of thinking. Talk about how much money you have, how bad the girls surrounding you are and how dope your whips are – add in a little sprinkle of “I will shoot any fool who crosses me” (even if you don’t have a gun). Like I love old school Jay-Z and Kanye but they are some of the most repeat offenders to be honest:
 
Jay-Z:
 
Just add another million to these verses
One million, two million, three million, four
And the money’s really worthless, I’m pissing you off on purpose
 
“Photo shoot fresh looking like wealth, I’m about to call the paparazzi on myself!”
 
Kanye:
 
“They ain’t see me cause I pulled up on my other Benz, last week I was in my other other Benz.”
 
Now I know there is a history that goes along with lyric types such as these and my thoughts are that in the era of Biggie and Tupac, artists were intending lyrics such as these to give a sense of hope and pride in a period of (more) oppression.
Once again… I could go on and on but just log this as Example: 2Elevating yourself by telling everyone how much better you are than them.
 
You’re probably like “Hey I thought this article was about Anime!”
Don’t worry young ones, we are about to get there J
 
THE ANIMEZZ:
 
So in these wonderful days where the massive media outlets want to show us the important things in life are 1. Getting ahead by cheating and 2. Telling everyone how amazing you are, anime provides an outlet to me where the important things are characteristics like honor, pride, integrity and perseverance.
Those of you who know me understand how important integrity and perseverance are to the DEPTHS OF MY SOUL, and to be able to watch shows that put those to the forefront really allows me to connect with the characters.
 
Starting with One Piece as an example (Since that’s the thing that brought this up):
I want to start by saying Luffy is just an awesome character. You get to see so much development from being a little runt getting angry at Shanks for not getting in an unnecessary fight, all the way to him fighting on par with enemies who initially outclass him (Arlong, Crocodile and Doflamingo for example).
All along his journey through the ups and downs he never brags about defeating enemies or being strong, but he engages in fights in his quest to become the king of the pirates.
If you think that him becoming the king of the pirates is why he fights, you are sorely mistaken.
Look at every fight he participates in and you’ll notice something :
Every time Luffy fights, he is fighting for someone else. Defending their home, fighting for their freedom, fighting for friendships etc… In all honesty I think Luffy doesn’t realize his real goal is to just sail around having fun with his friends

 

 

But he continuously is placed in this scenarios where he sees something unfair happening and immediately jumps in without question to fight for what’s right. In each one of these fights he seems initially outclassed but perseveres and in the end is rewarded forDoing the right thing.
Someone rewarded for DOING THE RIGHT THING. Those who were initially his enemies become his friends.
He becomes stronger and learns more about himself without throwing away his honor.
I’m sure Fox News head would explode if they had to report something like that.
 
 
Kiba (Minor spoilers below):
Another good example where in the beginning you are led to think Zed as the trouble maker and feel sympathy for Noah the upstanding citizen who is disabled by a disease. Throughout the series you get to watch Zed grow and develop fighting battle after battle in Templar, and when Noah reappears with power, he’s all of a sudden the bad guy. Basically the world in Noah’s head revolved around him and he wanted to be the strongest and blah blah blah, but who ends up saving a world that he didn’t even belong to?
That’s right. Zed the trouble maker.
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! When he returned to his world (Calm), the wind was flowing there again?REWARD FOR DOING THE RIGHT THING.
 
 
 
My Hulu anime watch list is overflowing with shows that exemplify the characteristics above:
Dragon Ball Z – How many times did Goku or someone else sacrifice themselves to save the world who has no clue they even exist? (Granted they were getting wished back to life but minor details… minor details.) Except for Krillin. He just got owned for the sake of getting owned.

Naruto – He is all about fighting for his friends and his village, even the people who scoffed and abused him. And SURPRISE! He eventually achieves his dream of Hokage WITHOUT THROWING AWAY HIS INTEGRITY!? (I’m looking at you Sasuke… >.>)

Pretty much every Gundam Series – The internal struggle every pilot has, but I guess if I was trained young to pilot a huge mech warrior to save my country or planet or whatever I would probably have some things to come to term with too.

 
The list goes on and on (Rurouni Kenshin, Samurai Champloo, Gurren Lagann and more) but the last example I want to give is..
 
Death Note (Minor spoilers below):
Light. So pompous. So Bored. This was an anime I started watching sometime late high school early college.
Light THINKS he is the good guy. And he kind of is on the surface. But his character development is one that shows what happens when an individual ignores the concepts of natural law to do what they think is right in an obsessive manner.
He starts off killing people who committed crimes but becomes so neurotic thinking he is god that he begins killing off anyone who stands between him and his goal of creating a “Utopia” where evil no longer exists. But throwing himself away to focus on his perceived justice and right vs wrong, he transforms into the very evil he is trying to rid the world of.
The series devolves into a string of manipulations and lies created by Light in order to maintain the power he accidentally stumbled upon.
And in the end when you’re REALLY starting to get annoyed by his arrogance, he is killed by the power (well Shinigami) which he used to kill others.

Eliminated (eventually) for years of DOING THE WRONG THING.
 
A sense of justice that rarely seems to get served or surfaced in the world today. People interfere with the well-being of other humans, and people remain apathetic, but in these anime series, individuals get rewarded for doing the right thing.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a Namekian, if you are from a rich background, a poor background or from another galaxy.
The lesson taught is, do the right thing. Everyone as a whole benefits when each person holds themselves accountable to being the best person they can be.
 
Whether or not you realize it, you are being taught a lesson in integrity, honor, pride and character.
You are taught the balance of believing in yourself without being arrogant.
You are taught to value your integrity over your socioeconomic status or heritage.
 
And THAT’S why I love anime so much.
 
~1-UP

 

UP UP DOWN DOWN… XAVIER CODE!

Yeah, I knew that title would rope you in.

Now that I have your attention… I will ask you one very… important… question.

HAVE YOU SEEN XAVIER’S NEW GAMING CHANNEL!?
I mean if you haven’t that’s ok too because he just tweeted it earlier.
BUT ANYWAY IT’S AWESOME AND LINKED HERE!!!

And because I am studious and expect everyone else to be, here is the description STRAIGHT from his youtube page:

UpUpDownDown is your cheat code to the best gaming content around. Join lifelong video game aficionado Austin Creed a.k.a. WWE Superstar Xavier Woods as he plays games of all kinds while providing side-splitting commentary with friends and special guests. Enjoy him and other personalities on our shows, which include UpUpDownDown Plays, For the Lolz, Jump Scares, Superstar Savepoint and Gamer Gauntlet, airing on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, respectively. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for bonus videos, such as UpUpDownDown’s trip to E3 2015. We like to think of them as hidden levels.

 

Anyway, check out his featured video right here and give him a sub and a thumbs up!!

ONGAKU OVERDRIVE III

Tribe One

Lightning struck, thunder crashed, and Atlanta’s own TribeOne was born with a smile on his face and a rap in his heart. It took him a few years to figure out how to write and then many more years to figure out how to write a decent rap. But eventually he sorted it all out and his been at it ever since.Years later, he continues doing the raps, nerdcore and otherwise. He’s a man of few words but many names, Dirty South Swamp Thing, Devil Rhymeosaur, Ol’ Dirty Batroc.

FIRST TIME IN FLORIDA! Ryan “Kadesh Flow” Davis is a rapper, producer, and trombonist who has been performing since his early teens. Desh has managed to collaborate with renowned voice actors such as Steve Blum, produce theme music for Toonami Asia, perform live at the Cannes Film Festival, and be publicly lauded by gaming/tech journalism giants such as IGN, Kotaku, and the Jace Hall Show.Most recently, Kadesh Flow has appeared in the Buyer’s Remorse, produced under the creative direction of David Cross, worked on the scores for the One Piece Podcast Goes to Japan documentary and USC launched web series Sassy Batman, and released his well-received and reviewed album, Gateways.

 
Under Polaris is a duo/trio outside of Central Florida. Together, they write videogame-inspired rock and pop with a slant of chiptune influence. Their goal is to not only make you feel nostalgic, but to make you dance while you do.
 
Shammers is a nerdcore hip hop veteran who just released the critically acclaimed “Pallet 2 Plateau: The Pokémon Hip-Hop Album”. Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind musical experience as Trainer Red and Professor Oak take you down the path of the original Red & Blue games through rhyme and comedy!
 
Hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana, Benjamin Briggs is a self-made musician who has been producing consistently throughout the last decade. Though he is best known for remixing video game music, he also creates original work with a strong focus on fusing chiptunes with modern soundscapes.Benjamin has produced hit albums such The Briggs Effect trilogy and his most recent release, Fearless Living. Now he is taking his love for video game music to a whole new level by composing soundtracks for independent video games.

As seen onstage at major music festivals and conventions across the nation, Ben is very passionate about his ability to help people with music and his role in the nerd community. As such, he believes his only true purpose in the world is to create positive memories and spread smiles to as many faces (and ears) as possible.

Venue Information:
Will’s Pub
1042 N. Mills Avenue
Orlando, FL, 32803
http://www.myspace.com/willspub