Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sweet Home Alabama



Considering Halloween is a little over a month away, we thought now would be as good a time as any to begin a ‘retrospective’ on all things disturbing. Sweet Home, published by Capcom, is considered by many as the first horror game to be released on a home console. While the depictions of gore and bloodletting may be primitive by today’s standards (Hotline Miami, anyone), when the title was released in the late 1980s, it was a revelation of violence.



Whether it be time constraints or the general malaise of those involved with a property they have no real say in, adaptations of existing intellectual property are generally regarded with contempt usually reserved for criminals. Nintendo was no stranger to these games as awful releases based on movies and television shows were readily available for the system; Total Recall, Knight Rider, Lethal Weapon, Cliffhanger, Air Wolf. While there is certainly no shortage of these derided titles, it was not until the latter part of the eighties that Capcom decided to approach licensed titles in a completely different way.  Beginning with Ducktales, Capcom started to take these releases seriously and instead of looking at these titles as a quick means of capital decided that these games could be so much more.
Sweet Home - 1989
Sweet Home was based on a Japanese horror movie of the same name. Released in 1989, Sweet Home was a disturbing film that explored the insanity one woman suffered after the accidental death of her only child. Lady Mamiya watched her son fall into her home’s furnace, burning him alive. Stricken with grief she began to kidnap children within her village. So consumed with rage, she threw the kidnapped children into the same furnace her son fell. Eventually she would throw herself into that same incinerator. Her ghost would later haunt the grounds of the estate, claiming that anyone entering the grounds would suffer the same fate as those of the murdered children.
Suffice it to say, Sweet Home dealt with some heavy subject matter. Nevertheless, famed director Tokuro Fujiwara was able to view the film and use only what he felt was necessary for the film’s game adaptation,


“I carefully considered how to go about bringing elements from the movie to the game screen” and used “whatever essence I thought would work in the game”
The game took on a life of its own, eventually becoming more frightening than its source,

“Everyone said the game was even scarier than the film”.

Don’t be fooled by Sweet Home’s survival horror leanings, this game is a role-playing game through and through. The game begins with a party of adventures that must traverse a mysterious environment, battles are random, and you must level up your party just like any other RPG of the era. You’ll have to grind, use potions, and backtrack. However while the RPG elements laid the foundation of what Sweet Home was; it was the horror that defined what the game became. The gruesome imagery, atmosphere, and moody score are what make Sweet Home so special.

One must consider that at the time of the game’s release that nothing like this had ever been done before. Survival Horror was not a thing. There wasn’t any Silent Hill, Resident Evil , or Fatal Frame. Gamers did not have a frame of reference for this type of adventure, thus the game is considered as the first of its genre, influencing many games even to this day. Take for example Resident Evil; the action largely takes place in a mansion, the protagonist fights the undead, you must solve puzzles to advance the plot, and the loading screens. Each time you open a locked door in Sweet Home, the screen cuts to a single door slowly opening. The door’s movement becomes tension and it is that tension that directly influenced the loading screens of Capcom’s Resident Evil.

Capcom’s unique approach to adapting licensed property can certainly be seen in Sweet Home. The game is unique, different, and something completely new: The game honors its source, it isn’t beholden to it. This simple approach eventually lead to many other successful adaptations of licensed material produced by Capcom but only Sweet Home can be called the progenitor of an entire genre. And while the elements that make Sweet Home so unique prevented the game from being released in the West, it is those same elements that would go on to influence a generation of gamers.

- John

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New Merchandise 9/25/2013

eStarland received new merchandise today. Check it out:

Mortal Kombat: Kitana 1/4-Scale Statue

Mortal Kombat: Kitana 1/4-Scale Statue - $287.95 (eStarland.com)

























This stunning polystone statue of Mortal Kombat's Princess Kitana stands 22" tall from the bottom of the "Wasteland" base to the top of her steel fan. Meticulously crafted and handpainted, you can practically hear her yell to her opponent, "You will learn respect!" 

This statue is strictly limited to 350 pieces and includes a signed Certificate of Authenticity.

Super One Piece Styling Kimono Style Trading Figures

Super One Piece Styling Kimono Style Trading Figures - $13.50 (eStarland.com)






















Bandai Candy Toy is celebrating sales 10 million pieces of the popular Super One Piece Staying series with this special Kimono Style installment. Dressed in Stylish Kimonos this assortment features Monkey D, Luffy, Roronoa Zoro, Nami, Sanji, and Tony Tony Chopper. Each PVC figure stands 5 1/2" tall.

Persona 4: Chess Piece Collection

Persona 4: Chess Piece Collection - $14.95 (eStarland.com)















Imported from Japan! Based on Persona 4, these chess pieces feature the characters of the hit anime! 

Collectors will find both black and white pieces. Collect them all! The chess pieces come in mystery box packaging. 

Sword Art Online: Asuna "Aincrad" Ani-Statue

Sword Art Online: Asuna "Aincrad" Ani-Statue - $67.95 (eStarland.com)




























KOTOBUKIYA Japanese import! The next beautiful Ani*Statue from Kotobukiya comes from Sword Art Online, a Japanese light novel series by Reki Kawahara with illustrations by Abec that's been adapted into manga, anime, and a video game. First up is the main female protagonist of the game Sword Art Online, ASUNA -AINCRAD-! 

A member (and sub-leader) of the Knights of the Blood Oath clan, Asuna's in-game avatar appears here in a stunning display as she seems to float in mid-air above a unique base with broken column and gold rings. The girl wears her clan's white and red "armor," a beautiful outfit highlighted by its blood red skirt, white top with long trailing coat, and tiny red crosses decorating the ensemble. 

In her right hand Asuna wields her iconic sword, though her smiling face reassures you that there's no danger she can't handle. The girl's dynamic pose and outfit are sure to be a hit with fans of the series as well as collectors of beautiful Ani*Statues! 

Sculpted by Hirotoshi Nakamura, Asuna is almost 8 1/2 inches tall floating above her display base.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

New Merchandise 9/18

Wednesday means new merchandise! Here's what eStarland received today:

I Don't Have Many Friends: Sena "Taisoufuku" PVC Figure

I Don't Have Many Friends: Sena "Taisoufuku" PVC Figure - $87.95 (eStarland.com)























Limited Quantities Available! This 1/8 scale figure of the arrogant student from the light novel/manga/anime series measures just over 6-1/2" tall. 

Marvel Ghost Rider Metal Bottle Opener

Marvel Ghost Rider Metal Bottle Opener - $14.95 (eStarland.com)























It's another awesome Marvel bottle opener from DST! This time, the designers have turned the Spirit of Vengeance into a bottle cap-removing force of nature. Simply insert the cap between Ghost Rider's upper and lower jaw and voila! This 4-inch solid metal opener features magnets on the back for easy refrigerator door display.

Marvel Heroes "Heavy Rain" Navy T-Shirt

Marvel Heroes "Heavy Rain" Navy T-Shirt - $14.50 (eStarland.com)






















When Magneto strikes, the Avengers heed the call to arms on this t-shirt! 
Available in:

Sanrio x Street Fighter Chun Li 6" Mini Plush

Sanrio x Street Fighter Chun Li 6" Mini Plush - $15.95 (eStarland.com)























Sanrio x Street Fighter is finally here! The ever-popular Hello Kitty is now available dressed as your favorite Street Fighter characters.
Featuring Chun Li, Ryu, and M. Bison, each Sanrio x Street Fighter Deluxe Mini Plush stands approximately 6" tall and is dressed in specially designed Street Fighter costumes.

Sanrio x Street Fighter M. Bison 6" Mini Plush

Sanrio x Street Fighter M. Bison 6" Mini Plush - $15.95 (eStarland.com)

































Sanrio x Street Fighter is finally here! The ever-popular Hello Kitty is now available dressed as your favorite Street Fighter characters.
Featuring Chun LiRyu, and M. Bison, each Sanrio x Street Fighter Deluxe Mini Plush stands approximately 6" tall and is dressed in specially designed Street Fighter costumes.

Sanrio x Street Fighter Ryu 10" & 6" Plush

Sanrio x Street Fighter Ryu 10" Plush -  $22.95 (eStarland.com)






























Sanrio x Street Fighter is finally here! The ever-popular Hello Kitty is now available dressed as your favorite Street Fighter characters.

 Senran Kagura: Ikaruga "Damage Version" PVC Figure

Senran Kagura: Ikaruga "Damage Version" PVC Figure - $104.95 (eStarland.com)
































From Griffon Enterprises. Standing approximately 7" tall (1/8 scale), the female ninja from the hit video game appears in her torn, battle-damaged costume with her sword poised for more combat. 

Shining Blade Misty (Mistral Nereis) Ani-Statue

Shining Blade Misty (Mistral Nereis) Ani-Statue - $84.50 (eStarland.com)





























Limited Quantities Available! A KOTOBUKIYA Japanese import! The lovely ladies of the "Shining" series from SEGA have made for an incredible line of Ani*Statues, and now Kotobukiya is proud to continue that tradition with the latest incarnation Shining Blade and the spoiled but powerful leader of the pirates MISTY (MISTRAL NEREIS)! 
Sculpted by Koei Matsumoto, Misty stands 9 1/2 inches tall (1/8 scale) on a special star-themed display base. Whether you display her by herself or with other Shining series Ani*Statues, Misty is sure to be the jewel in your collection!

Sonic Scent Blasters Air Fresheners

Sonic Scent Blasters Air Fresheners - $2.50 (eStarland.com)





















Let Sonic race odors away with the Sonic Scent Blasters Air Fresheners!


Sonic the Hedgehog Team Chaotix Action Figures - $25.95  (eStarland.com)

















From SEGA's best-selling Sonic the Hedgehog games, this boxed set brings you the entire active Team Chaotix core member line-up - Vector, Espio, and Charmy Bee! Highly articulated and poseable, each figure includes a cool accessory, too. Charmy Bee has the Warping Flower, Espio his Kunai and Vetor his Walkie Talkie. Blister card packaging.

Sword Art Online: Asuna Titania Version PVC Figure

Sword Art Online: Asuna Titania Version PVC Figure - $139.95 (eStarland.com)































Limited Quantities Available! Standing just over 8-1/2" tall, this 1/8-scale figure sculpted by Katori Iroha brings the heroine of the light novel/anime/manga/game series to life!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

New Merchandise 9/11/2013

It's Wednesday so that means new merchandise!

Here's what eStarland is receiving this week:

Ore no Imoto Ayase Aragaki as Thanatos Ani-Statue

Ore no Imoto Ayase Aragaki as Thanatos Ani-Statue

A KOTOBUKIYA Japanese import! Up next in the Ani*Statue lineup from the popular Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai ("My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute") franchise is a new version of the part-time model and Kirino’s best friend AYASE ARAGAKI -COSPLAYED AS THANATOS-! 

Portal 2 Portal Gun Molded Vinyl Keychain

Portal 2 Portal Gun Molded Vinyl Keychain
Carry your keys on these molded keychains based on the best-selling video game Portal 2! Choose from Original Companion Cube, Defective Turret, Space Sphere, Wheatley, Portal Gun, or Refracting Box designs. 

Star Wars Jango Fett Attack of the Clones ARTFX+ Statue

Star Wars Jango Fett Attack of the Clones ARTFX+ Statue

You can display the bounty hunter from two different scenes in the film with interchangeable screen accurate backpacks from his battles on Kamino and Geonosis. Finally, interchangeable arms let you pose Fett in a classic "draw" stance or aiming his blaster pistol, while magnets in his feet give him extra stability on his included display base. ARTFX+ Statues are fun-to-assemble, pre-painted snap-fit kits that can be easily put together in seconds without glue or modeling skill. 

Jango Fett stands over 7 inches (1/10th scale) and looks great displayed alongside other Star Wars statues like the Clone Troopers and, of course, Boba Fett!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Pacman Fever

I listened to Jawbreaker's Dear You for the first time in about 10 years today on my way to eStarland. During the 8th track, “Lurker II: Dark Son of the Night” some of the lyrics caught my attention:




“A can of dinner. Hard to get a rise. Hook up the Sega. Have sex alone.”


Turns out Blake Schwarzenbach, the singer and guitarist for Jawbreaker, is quite the video game fan. In 1997 he reviewed Pandemonium (review), Independence Day (review) and HeliCOPS for GameSpot.


This made me wonder what other video game references are there in music. I can only think of a few


Notorious B.I.G. - “Juicy”



A classic for all hip hop fans. Biggie famously rhymes “Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis when I was dead broke man I couldn't picture this.”


The music video even shows Street Fighter 2 being played on a Super Nintendo!


Del the Funky Homosapien - “Proto Culture”




A video game and anime fan? Del covers the Wex, Gex, Klonoa, Capcom, Donkey Kong, Rival Schools and even Xenogears in this song. See the end of the post for the complete lyrics.


Placebo – “Bigmouth Strikes Again”




Placebo's (unfortunate) cover of the Smiths “Bigmouth Strikes Again” changes the lyrics of the songs from “As the flames rose to her roman nose and her hearing aid started to melt” to “As the flames rose to her roman nose and her Megadrive started to melt” to make to more relevant to the 90s.


Buckner & Garcia - “Pacman Fever”




This one does not need an explanation, The whole song is a testimony to the joys of playing Pacman.


I’m sure there's many more songs that reference videos games but those are all that I can think of at the moment. As a closing, here a picture of Tupac and Suge Knight playing Sonic 2.







Del the Funky Homosapien - “Proto Culture”

Let me tell you about the Proto Culture
If you don't know the culture here's the whole structure
We've had enough of the lackluster, trust us
We get the kind of games you can't rent at Blockbuster

Game related, raise it bit by bit
Yo D, link up the cable we'll go hit for hit
Phantasma plasma particle beam means I have you
On the run, the rendered effects hot like magnas

I play games by Capcom with a power glove strapped on
On any platform, I don't spend my dough on Phat Farm
Video games, I got many to play
Before my life expires to fill my desires

Mastering your hardest boss, shattering all stars across
Ain't hard to cross the finish line, floatin' on Daytona
Wex, Gex or Kloana, I get 'em all at cost
RPG, Platform we transform like Macross

Rival schools, Batsu purchase you ought to
It came with one free CD, it's like I bought two
I hope they make part II for Dreamcast
'Cause games I've seen in mags, you won't believe they have

Getting callouses turning over asteroids, graviton bombs destroyed
Getting moms annoyed, now I'm hacking Nightmare Creatures
Their features splattered across the screen
It gets more clean each year

I remember, my homie Ed Coats had the most
A Colecovision, every week I'd visit
Playing Donkey Kong Jr., Venture, Rock and Rope
Games I thought was dope while my mom's was watching soaps

I'm on the next level
I got a double barrel shotgun in the Doomworld
Waiting on the next devil, armor's low, check the arsenal
Rupture the main conductor playin' Disruptor

I remember Ninja Gaiden finished it finally
With Ramone wouldn't answer the phone
This was before getting blown, I own the first Nintendo Power
With the maps of Zelda help me conquer in an hour

Let me tell you about the Proto Culture
If you don't know the culture here's the whole structure
We've had enough of the lackluster trust us
We get the kind of games you can't rent at Blockbuster

Hey KU, you know my SEGA collection is massive
Got all the past hits and classics
Herzog Zwei now Panzer Zwei
Originality that made me a fan today

It's Pandemonium, it's like Toys R Us
Flippin' the next Saturn game brings out the boys in us
It's poisonous taking out the boys in blue
In Grand Theft Auto, snatch a Rolls Royce to use

Yeah, I'll admit PlayStation improved
Come visit Feudal Japan with me and Tenchu
Bushido Blade 2 with sword play so accurate
Mega Man Legends but I had to buy a map for it

I fence Hyo to get a Neo-Geo
For Samurai 64 in full rendered splendor
Rival counter and enter, my sword in his innards
My joint was being Leonardo wuppin' on Splinter

I gotta get Xenogears, that's the type of game that relieves my fears
Get it from overseas to here
I gotta get Psychic Force, authentic arcade that I can endorse
They got me liking imports

I'll need to be at the next E3
What's the next CD? I need to see, me and D signing checks
Let's float overseas, mingle with game companies
Giving tips to Capcom and SEGA, you can't front on these

To anyone who knew me better
Know I chose Saturn first 'cause it's 2-D heaven
Bernie Stolar dropped the ball with the RAM cartridge
X-men Vs. Street Fighter could've expanded the market

Marvel Vs. Capcom beyond fathom
Tell the truth, PlayStation ain't ready to have em
Come on I'll bring the onslaught, Alpha and Omega
Khaos Unique brought to you by SEGA

Let me tell you about the Proto culture
If you don't know the culture here's the whole structure
We've had enough of the lackluster trust us
We get the kind of games you can't rent at Blockbuster