Collection Haul #9 – In the Swing of Things

Oinkess m’doinkess, everybody! Like last time, that wasn’t a typo. In fact, I had it planned since before I finished the last post. This’ll be the last weird greeting though (for now.) I can’t think of any others and there shouldn’t be any problem with just saying “hi” once in a while, right?

This haul is a mix of things. Not only did I get a couple more figures, but I also got some games. At this point, I was still trying to figure out how best to post about games, so you’ll have to forgive the amount shown. I’m trying to avoid having a giant wall of text, as that can be a pain to read.  I imagine this would also help with the amount of backlog posts I have. Overall, it’ll be varied in terms of length, but I would like to be able to keep things reasonable. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear it. At any rate, let’s get crackin’!

Let’s start with the games. Here, I had a bit of a structure to it. I sought out games that were either sequels I was missing or games for a specific system, the Nintendo GameCube in this case. I got a bunch, as you can see. I was still trying to figure out how to handle the gaming side of these hauls. After this post, I decided on taking a picture of four games at a time and no more. That seems like a good number.

The first game on this list is Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc for the PS2. This was the last Rayman game I ever played and I never finished it, but what I did play was fun. The game has a bit more of a sense of humor than the previous Rayman games, I particularly liked Goblox’s quips. Starting off as Rayman without his hands was a nice change of pace, although that pace is a good several years slow. I never got very far in it, though. Got stuck on, like, the third level or something. I say level, but I’m referring to one of the transition warps from one world to another, which are obstacles in of themselves. Be warned, unless you’re good at video games unlike me.

Next up is Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing for the Xbox 360. Well, I guess the full title is Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing With Banjo – Kazooie, since Banjo and Kazooie are playable characters. It is because of their inclusion that I opted to get the 360 version over any other version. This game is basically Mario Kart with Sega characters, including Sonic the Hedgehog and even Ryo Hazuki from Shenmue, for example. You can play as your Xbox Live avatar as well, I believe. I’m not big into kart racing games but I do like playing them occasionally.

Ending the top row is WiiSports Club for the Wii U. This one comes built into your Wii U as a download most likely, so trying to track down a physical copy proved to be difficult, at least one that was reasonably priced. I wanted to get a physical version to save space on my Wii U, plus I bought mine thinking that any games bundled in would be physical discs and not downloaded into the system. The same thing happened with my PS3 when I had to get a new one and, unlike the Wii U, the included games were just the discs. There was no cases and yes it did bother me, but I would much prefer having just the discs than going digital. This game was pretty expensive for a Wii U game, running me almost $80. The game itself is okay for what it is, but seeing as how it’s built into most Wii Us by default, it might be best to think carefully about getting a physical copy.

Bottom row time. First up is Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 3: Night of the Quinkan for the GameCube. This is the final game in the Ty the Tasmanian Tiger game series, excluding that mobile game they tried to make as 4. If you’ve played the other two, you know what to expect here. I only played a little bit to just make sure the game works, but I’d like to play through the whole thing once I finish the first two. I never did finish Ty 1 back in the day. I play it every now and then, but never finished it. Maybe one day. Or I could just wait for that Switch version that’s being Kickstarted.

Going right is Super Mario Sunshine, also for the GameCube. This one is a classic and one of my favorite Mario games. I never got very far in it, but it’s always fun to play. The bright pastel colors makes me feel like I’m in summer time on vacation as a young lad. I never had my own copy as said young lad but I rented the game a few times and a couple of my friends had copies of their own that we played from time to time. It was on my list of games for the GameCube I definitely had to get and so I finally did.

Next is Super Smash Brothers Melee for the GameCube (you can see the trend by now.) This game is even more popular than Mario Sunshine and is also more expensive. Like Sunshine, I played this game a lot as a rental but never had my own copy until now. As soon as I got it, my first task was to unlock Falco, who is my favorite character to play as. I plan to unlock the other characters at some point in the future, whenever that is. Probably not for a while, if I’m being honest.

And finally, we have Animal Crossing, also for the mighty GameCube! Like the previous two games, I rented this game a few time but never owned a copy for myself. I was lucky to find one that included the special memory card with the sticker on it, which I’m happy to have. This game was famous for needing a lot of space on your memory card to play, since it’s about as open world as a GameCube game would get. I’ve redone my save file numerous times, though I think I’m going to try and keep this new one for now. I think that makes sense. Most people like to have the same file and progress to go back to when they play video games. Sometimes it’s nice to have more than one file, but it’s usually for safety or to go back and play your favorite part. I’ve done that a few times. Did that recently in Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition so I could hear all the unique battle dialogue with a certain boss. I have since screwed up and accidentally delete said file, but I have a backup from a few levels back.

Now let’s move on to a couple action figures. This first one is the “Batman Unlimited” Vampire Batman figure, based on his appearance in the Batman & Dracula Trilogy, one of my favorite Batman stories. The figure itself is slimmer than how Batman appears once he gets vampired, but it’s a nice figure nonetheless. He comes with a little red dagger, like how he had Alfred make a bunch to fight the vampires, as well as a pair of vampire bat wings so that he can fly like a… vampire bat… There are no interchangeable hands or anything so posing is limited but he’s still a nice toy.

The other figure I got was the “One Coin Figure Series” Lloyd Irving statue by Kotobukiya. While not as nice as ALTER’s version, this guy is much cheaper. The one I got happened to come with his Material Blade weapon, which I believe was essentially a 50/50 kind of thing. These days, it still is left to the luck of the draw (and by “draw” I mean what you happen to see online for sale,) but I’ve noticed that the special weapons versions of each figure is easier to find than not, which is kind of ironic in my opinion. As for Lloyd himself, he is one of my favorite protagonists in the Tales series. I feel like I have more in common with him than most other ones, specifically his idealism and pacifism. He’s also fun to play, with his two swords pokin’ and stabbin’ things. I believe he’s known to be slashin’ things as well. Also, please excuse my messy shelf in which I placed Mr. Irving on. That’s essentially my night stand. I’ve currently got him on top of my broken TV that I use for sleep aid (because of the white noise it produces) next to my Cress, Kratos, and Flynn figures, all of which are from the same company. Fancy that!

That’s all, folks! I’ve got plenty more where that came from, so I hope you’ll stick around to see what all I got.

Thanks for reading! See ya next time!

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Collection Haul #8 – Anime Ketchup

Howdy doodle everybody! No, that’s not a typo and yes, I’m sticking with it.

For this haul, I’ll be talking about some anime that I picked up. Primarily, it’s the other seasons of a couple series that I got the first season Blu-ray for. Hence the term “ketchup” in the title. Now, you might be thinking, “Wait a minute, doesn’t he mean catch-up?” Well no, reader, I do not. Although “catch-up” is correct, I used to say “ketchup” as a kid. The reason why is because in art class during my days at elementary school, the teacher would say we’re going to play “catch-up” whenever we were just going to use that day to finish our projects. I always misheard her and thought it was “ketchup.” I know better now, but it’s funnier this way. At least, I think so. Anyway, let’s get to it!

Firstly, we have Samurai Warriors on DVD! I’ve already talked about the show itself on a previous haul post, so there isn’t much new to say here, but the content itself is decent for the most part. Like I said before, my main gripe is with the English dub, as there are a fair amount of name pronunciation inconsistencies.  At this point, there’s not much reason to get the DVD version since the Blu-ray is out, though I imagine that this set will be cheaper than the Blu-ray one. The show itself is very enjoyable, so I’d recommend it, but primarily the Blu-ray version since the actual content isn’t any different and it’ll look nicer than it will on this DVD version.

Now this show I can recommend all day! What you see here is seasons three through nine of Dragon Ball Z on Blu-ray. Those who known me personally know that Dragon Ball is my favorite franchise of all time, and I imagine you readers are starting to pick up on that as well (and even if you haven’t, you will.) The series itself is pretty straight forward at first glance: Son Goku is a martial artist who goes on an adventure with a young girl named Bulma to collect seven magical orbs called Dragon Balls. That’s the basic plot of the original Dragon Ball. Then we get to Dragon Ball Z, where Goku is an adult with a wife and child. Season three, the first set in this picture, takes place around the climax of the Namek arc, where Goku meets up with his best friend Krillin, Bulma, and his son… Son Gohan… On the planet Namek to collect their versions of the Dragon Balls to revive their fallen friends during the big battle with Vegeta on Earth. At this point, Frieza has been introduced and I believe the first episode on this set will be after Goku has arrived, though I’m going entirely off of memory. Obviously, we go through the entire story from there up to season nine, in which Goku has helped prevented a traumatic future involving cyborgs and a genetic bug monster, as well as battle a magical being of destruction from their world’s history that once caused catastrophic mayhem in the realm of the gods. That’s about a basic of a plot summary as you can get. It’s not the most unique or even deep story, but the characters are incredibly amusing, especially the arrogant ones (which is a fair amount of the cast, haha!) The plot flows in a way that is very natural and, as a martial arts fan, has pretty much everything I want. The series covers so much ground that I’ve been left wondering how Dragon Ball Super is going to continue. If you didn’t already pick up on it, this show is a high recommend from me. That being said, these Blu-rays aren’t perfect. Unfortunately, the North American home releases of Dragon Ball Z are notorious for being in less-than-ideal quality. In this case, the footage is cropped to make it widescreen. The problem here is that the top and bottom parts of the image are not cut off. The image itself also has some over-saturation, due in part to FUNimation’s use of an automatic process removal of the film grain. While I personally am not really into film grain, there are better ways to remove it. Because of this, the image in the sets have a very pastel look to them. To be honest, you’d be better off tracking down the Dragon Boxes if you can, for those DVDs are great for the sake of having the film in its purest form. I really only got these Blu-rays because I’m a fanboy and also I wanted the extras, which include cast interviews and other features, most of which focus on an era long past for when Dragon Ball Z was, arguably, the most popular cartoon on American television.

Although if there is one anime out there that could compete with the legacy of Dragon Ball Z in North America, I think this one is the closest. These are seasons two though four of the Yu Yu Hakusho Blu-rays. In comparison to the DBZ ones, these look wonderful. No cropping, no saturation, very clean footage. There are even a fair amount of re-recorded lines for the English dub, most notably in season two, where the character “Suzuka” is renamed to “Suzuki,” which was apparently his name in the original Japanese version. His dialogue where he talks about his obsession with being beautiful is also rewritten an redubbed. Other voice over changes are minor and difficult to pinpoint without studying both the DVD and Blu-ray, though some are more noticeable than others. I actually re-watched the entire Sensui arc recently. According to one of two newly recorded commentary tracks, Justin Cook (the voice of Yusuke and the producer of the dub) explained that there was a lot more than just the occasional changed line and recast. I don’t have an ear for it at the moment, as I haven’t watched the original DVDs in a long time, but anything new sounded like it was recorded at the same time as the actual old stuff and fits in perfectly. If you want to watch this one, and you really should, I’d suggest picking up these Blu-rays. They look and sound great. You’ll thank me later.

And, that’s that! A pretty short one overall, though I had a lot to say about what I got, at least as far as the Blu-rays are concerned. The next one may be about the same length, though we’ll be back to video games so probably a bit longer. I’m finishing up this post in the morning, so I won’t keep you and instead go get myself some breakfast. I’d get you something too but… Well, y’know… You’re kind of far away.

Thanks for reading! See y’all next time!

Collection Haul #7 – Toy Time

Konnichi-freakin’-wa everbody! I hope you’re ready for another haul post! Because this one is gonna be hella short. Not because of anything in particular, I just only got three things for this one.

Around this time (once again, I’m writing these well after the fact), I started working on my figure collection. Growing up, I loved action figures and I rekindled that love several years ago when my friend introduced me to the toy YouTuber scene with the Pop Culture Network, formerly ran by Pixel Dan, who I was also shown. Since then, I started collecting some figures here and there. After focusing on games and anime for the past several months, I decided to make some progress in my figure collection. So there will be more toys going forward. Depending on the amount, the toy haul posts may be shorter than the others. It’s pretty much a mix of everything at this point: video games, anime, manga, and now toys. That being said, I think the figure side of things will have the most expensive items, so there will be a period where any new toys I get will be less fancy ones. And I know I said action figures, but I also collect statues and such. For some series, *cough* *cough* Tales *cough* *cough*, this is critical. Some of my advancements in this side of my collection have been shown in the previous haul specials, but this is where my attempt to make more progress started. Anywho, let’s get to it!

This is not only the single import figure of this haul, but it was also the most expensive, which is unfortunately common for this line. This is the “Myth Cloth EX” Scorpio Milo figure, from the Saint Seiya series. The Myth Cloth line is the official Saint Seiya figure line, produced by Bandai, featuring nicely articulated sculpts with plenty of interchangeable hands and face pieces. Of course, the big thing with these figures is the armor, some pieces even being made out of metal instead of plastic. Although they are not model kits, they are similar in that you have to put them together a little bit, at least with the armor, which has some articulation as well. Myth Cloth EX is pretty much a more detailed Myth Cloth, and even then there aren’t many differences in my opinion. They are cool figures, but the price is what’s going to make or break your interest. This figure was around $110 off of eBay, and the guy even cut down the price a little after I asked him a question about the condition of the figure. I think there were two factors for the price of this guy: the fact that he’s a Gold Saint, who are the most popular band of characters from the series, but it was also an older figure. Myth Cloth is generally best purchased right as they come out, unless you have hundreds of dollars to spend.  The Bronze and Silver Saints can be cheaper depending on who you get, but the Gold Saints are generally more expensive. Though, then you get into the special edition figures or the God Cloths, which are even more expensive than the Gold Saints! I picked out ol’ Milo here because he’s my favorite Gold Saint, besides Sagittarius Seiya. I went into my hunt to find him knowing that I would have to pay a lot for him, so I’m glad that the price I paid wasn’t too much. As you can see, he came in the box with everything included. Right now I’ve got him on my manga shelf doing his Scarlet Needle pose. That’s his special attack, for those who don’t know. He’s got one long red finger nail that can shoot needles that stun his opponents. The reason why he’s my favorite Gold Saint, besides that cool move and his general look, is that he was one of the few calm Gold Saints who listened to reason during the “Twelve Houses” arc. In this arc, he fights Cygnus Hyoga (who happens to be my favorite Bronze Saint) and nearly kills him, but is baffled by his resilience to continue fighting for Athena in opposition to the Pope Sage, who runs the Saints’ home in Greece. Or something like that. I’m fuzzy on the Pope’s role; the main thing I remember is that he’s the Gemini Gold Saint and he has a dark side. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched the “Twelve Houses” arc, I’m currently on the Hades OVAs. Anyway, the figure itself is very cool and a nice addition to my collection. My only gripe is that one of his shoulder pads broke at the joint, though I was able to fix it with glue and the articulation isn’t altered from it, thankfully.

This next one is the Dragon Ball Super “Dragon Stars” Beerus figure. This is my first Dragon Stars figure and I was pleased. The sculpt and paint job are good and the packaging is nice to look at as well. My only problem is that his biceps don’t have any articulation, so you can’t put him in any poses with his arms folded behind his back, as he is shown doing a fair amount of the time. You also can’t really move his torso that much, which is something a lot of figures these days tend to feature. Overall, for a first pickup in this line, they did good. They did good. Keep up the good.

Lastly, we have the “DC Universe Classics” Nightwing figure. As you can see, I got him loose, which means he didn’t come in his original packaging. Though he did come with his little baton things. The “DC Universe Classics” figures are known for using a lot of the same molds and parts for other figures, so while he does look a little bland compared to newer Nightwing figures, but he’s pretty durable. This is definitely one of the rare types of figures that are both for collectors and for playing with. The figure came in good condition as well, which I was a tad concerned with, since it’s an old figure. He has a very old school look to him so he’ll fit in well with my other DC figures, all of which totally aren’t Batman, at least as far as this post is concerned.

And that’s a wrap! These kind of haul posts will be fairly easy to write in a timely manner, so hopefully I’ll be able to catch up. Like I said before, I have a lot of hauls backlogged, so that’ll be my focus for the time being.

Until next time!!

Collection Haul Special – Christmas 2018

Hello, hello, hello! I hope you all had a good holiday!

I’m pretty late with this one, but I wanted talk about Christmas and to show you all the cool shizz I got, as I am known to do here. This year was difficult, gift-wise. Not only did I not really know what I wanted, but neither did my family. Shopping for my friends was the easy part, but I had to really work to get my family to tell me what they wanted. That being said, I wasn’t any particularly easier to shop for. I ended up giving my mom links to things I was going to buy for my collection and going off of that, which I don’t really like to do. I dunno, I just think it takes away some of the fun of gift giving when I ask for stuff I was planning to get myself like that. I know what you’re thinking. “But if you wanted it then it should be fine to ask for it.” And you’re right, it should be. But to me, its more fun when someone gets you something you didn’t think about. My family is easier to shop for in that regard, as none of them are collectors. My friends are a mix, some like to collect and others don’t. The theme I gave my sisters was “Kung Fu” which basically meant I wanted either a Kung Fu book or a Kung Fu movie. Both my sisters go me one of each. Meanwhile, I got one sister a plant pot set and the other I got winter socks and a candle! I was able to work with the others as well with gift deciding. I’ll go into more details about the season itself near the end, but why don’t we get to the part you’re more than likely here for.

Let’s jump right into the Kung Fu part. The first DVD you see is an instructional video on “Shaolin White Crane” style Kung Fu. I believe it is only the basic fundamentals, more advanced form and techniques likely being available in another DVD. According to the back of the DVD, the instructor has many credentials, including books he has authored. Although the DVD says “Shaolin,” my guess is that this is more academic than anything. I plan to watch it and see what I can learn from it.

In the middle is Kung Fu Hustle, the Stephen Chow movie. Funnily enough, I had been thinking about watching this movie not long before Christmas came, where I unwrapped this as a gift from my sister. I remember seeing commercials for it on TV back when it was being made, but I never saw it. All I know is that it’s a martial arts comedy, akin to Drunken Fist and Kung Pow. Sounds like a fun time.

And then we have Samurai Warriors: The Complete Series on Blu-ray. This was originally released on DVD only, but FUNimation decided to put it on Blu-ray, because they can. In all truthfulness, I think FUNimation likes to release another series on home video right before they lose the license. Of course, this is just conjecture, I’m not an industry professional. I have the DVD as well, as you’ll see in a future haul post. Unfortunately, there isn’t much different between the two versions and frankly, the English dub isn’t perfect. The casting and acting is good, but several names are mispronounced (such as “Mitsude” instead of “Mitsuhide”) and are even inconsistent in some areas. This was clearly a quicker, budgeted project and it shows. That being said, it’s not a bad dub overall. I had hoped that the Blu-ray would fix my concerns, but alas, they did not. The anime is a loose adaptation of Samurai Warriors 4, focusing on the brothers: Yukimura and Nobuyuki Sanada. It’s a short series, but fun to watch with great action scenes. I recommend it if you like the Samurai Warriors games or if you watched the show and liked it, but keep in mind that the English dub had a couple problems.

Now let’s get into some figures! The first one you see is the Dragon Ball Super “Shodo” Super Saiyan Bardock figure. This was gift from my friend… Name. No, that’s not a placeholder. He legitimately told me that he wanted to be referred as only “Name” when I told him I was going to blog about the figure. I’m not sure why. My first thought was that it was some sort of internal identity crisis, but he also went by “Name” back during the Skype days, so my fears were diminished quickly. Anyway, this figure is a smaller one in scale, but the articulation makes it fun to play with. There aren’t too many Super Saiyan Bardock figures, but this one I’ve had my eye on for some time. At the moment, I’m not sure where I’m going to put it, but I’ll find a nice spot somewhere. Thanks again, Name! I won’t reveal his moniker at this time, if not solely because I’d have to rewrite this section and think of a new joke to go along with it, which I don’t really want to do. That being said, he is a host on my podcast. That’ll narrow it down a bit.

Speaking of online friends and podcast hosts, this next gift is the Fox amiibo from my pal Stan! Fox is one of my favorite characters to play as in Super Smash Brothers, so his amiibo was on my radar. I like his dash pose, it makes him look pretty neat. Right now I’ve got him placed in front of my Falco amiibo, the two of them doing a pass-by thing. It’s one of the few cool looking displays I’ve got. Thanks again, Stan!

This next one is kind of cheating, because I bought it for myself. It’s the Mitsurugi “Totaku” figure. The “Totaku” figures are similar to amiibos, but they don’t have any special features with any games, they are simply figures. I saw it at a GameStop during one of my few trips to the mall and I picked it up right away. Unlike amiibo, the Totaku figures are more varied and not just Nintendo characters. This one is specifically the Soul Calibur VI version of Mitsurugi, which makes sense, given that it’s the latest one. Though, the information on the character on the back of the packaging makes it sound like that this is the first time Mitsurugi has ever been in a video game, which is flat-out false. Either way, it’s a nice figure, although I think the paint job could have been a bit better. This series of figures is still fairly new, so it will be some time before it’s perfected. I’m finally glad to have a Soul Calibur figure in my collection, though!

In the bottom center, we got mah boi Goku! Specifically, it’s the Banpresto “Absolute Perfection Figure” Son Goku figure. It’s part of a small set that has a Vegeta along with it, though I only got the Goku one. My mom picked it out on the web site of that Box Lunch place, which is like a nerdier version of Hot Topic (I think they’re owned by the same company too.) This figure is very nice looking and I feel like it deserves its own shelf. Everything about the figure is iconic, right down to the charging Kamehameha pose. In this situation, the brand and title of the figure matches the end product completely. If you want a Goku figure to display as your center piece, this is one of, if not THE, figure to get.

Here’s something a little different. These are nerdy socks that my brother-in-law got me. The first pair is of Dragon Ball FighterZ and the other is themed on the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES for those who prefer acronyms. I’m not a big sock guy, but they were not only a funny gift but also one that may prove useful if I ever go to a nerdy party or something. Hell, I’ve already worn the FighterZ ones when I saw Dragon Ball Super: Broly on opening night! If all else fails, I’ll just slide across the hard wood floors in the kitchen and be a child for a few minutes.

At this point in my collecting (I’ve got a fair amount of hauls on the backlog), I started dipping into the controller side of things. I wanted to get a few different controllers for my systems, both for friends when we play something together but also to have more variety if one of my controllers goes out. As you can see, it’s mostly retro but there is the one modern thing at the top, which are red Joy-Cons for the Nintendo Switch. Red is my favorite color and I try to get as many red controllers as I can. They work well on my Switch and are comfortable to hold. My only concern is that the capture button seems a little pressed in, but it’s hard for me to tell, as I never used any other kind of Joy-Con besides the grey ones my Switch came with. It definitely makes my Switch look a lot more colorful!

Next, we have the platinum (or silver or whatever you want to call it) GameCube controller. One of my friends had one back in the day and I wanted to get one for myself. The color is bright and shiny, very easy to look at. It works well too, no complaints here. Same with the orange GameCube controller next to it. I had originally planned for it to be my main controller for the system, but I got another controller that you’ll have to wait and see to find out what it is. I’m not telling. Also BAM! Two items in one paragraph! I mean, it makes sense why I would bunch them up, but let me be proud of myself.

At the bottom center is Secret of Mana, the original version on SNES. My neighborhood friend showed me the game on emulator many years ago when we were kids. I specifically remember him showing me that glitch to get the Mana Sword permanently, as it was only available for a short time. Since then, I’ve gotten the virtual console version on the Wii as well as the recent remake on PS4 (that I don’t mind spoiling, the controller thing is actually kind of cool so hush hush.) I wanted to get the original cart as well so I asked for it for Christmas, hoping to find something that my family could get me, though you could say that for pretty much everything here that I asked for. The game is an action RPG, which is right up my alley. I imagine it might have been my favorite SNES game had I played it myself, but right now it’s just one I really like.

This is the book part of the Kung Fu gifts. Both are from both of my sisters, the first one being Kung-Fu by Wing Chun. Upon looking at it, this book seems to be a classic, if not solely because Bruce Lee is credited as a technical editor. I haven’t read it yet, but the book is likely one of the more popular pieces in martial arts text, though don’t quote me on that. Instead, quote me on saying that I look forward to reading it and learning what I can from it.

The next book is The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu by Wong Kiew Kit. It’s published by Tuttle, who also published the English translation for Hagakure, which is a book explaining the philosophy of the samurai. With that in mind, this book may be the more credible of the two, at first glance. I’m guessing it goes more into the history and mindset of Kung Fu, rather than teaching it like the first book. Of course, this is all based on assumptions.  I’ll find out for sure when I read both.

This is the big boy present, though it came a little late. What you see is a Famicom Mini, the Japanese version of the NES Mini (or NES Classic or whatever) but it’s a special Shonen Jump version, where all of the games on it are based on manga from Shonen Jump, such as Dragon Ball and Fist of the North Star. According to the box and my limited katakana reading skills, I believe the title of the product is “Family Computer Jump.” The games vary from action games to strategy games and they feature different manga from the 80’s. Both Saint Seiya side-scrolling RPGs are present, as is Dragon Ball: Shenlong no Nazo, or “Mystery of Shenron.” It’s the one that was released in America as Dragon Power and it’s the one game I’ve put the most time in so far. And in case you couldn’t tell, yes, all of the games are in Japanese, there are no English language options. Though probably the biggest surprise to me is the inclusion of the original Dragon Quest. When I saw it, my mind was blown. It’s straight up the original too, not some altered version to go along with the set. It’s a really cool machine. The power supply is USB, meaning that you’ll need your own wall plug-in, should you get one of these for yourself. One of my iPhone chargers worked fine, though I’d like to get one for the machine itself. Hopefully they’ll make one for the SNES in the future, though it is admittedly not likely.

Finally, we have a gift from my pal Troy. It’s a PS4 controller in a nice copper color. He told me his family friend got a bunch sent to him and he decided to give one to me. So far, it’s only been used once by him when he came over, so it’s pretty much the Troy controller. Besides the clear red one I got for Christmas last year, this is one of the nicer controllers I have for PS4. Thanks again, Troy!

And that’s a wrap! It was a good Christmas. I had three or so days off, so it felt like I was back in school again. I took the time to relax and unwind. I was feeling pretty vampire (if not because I was writing the last post during Christmas) so I played some Legacy of Kain: Defiance on my PS2. I got to the part where Kain goes to the pillars, after Raziel does some shit in a crypt area or something. It had been so long since I last played that I had to look up what I was supposed to do! I also played a little of The Bard’s Tale and Champions of Norrath, both on PS2. I guess you could say I was feeling pretty retro! It was relaxing just to sit back and play a game for nothing but pure enjoyment, not to stream or review or something like that. I’ve gotten to where some games feel like I’m supposed to play them, particularly new games. That being said, I feel like I’ve mastered balancing the “work” and play mindset with my gaming. It was still fun to play something for little to no reason other than just for fun. I’d like to play through all the Legacy of Kain games in particular, as I’ve never completed one. But that’ll have to be in the future. I hope you all enjoyed this haul! Like I said last time, the next many posts will be haul ones, as I’ve got plenty to get through. There might be some different posts here and there, but we’ll have to see. Thanks for reading! See ya!

Also I got a Dragon Ball holiday sweater but that’s not important.

Collection Haul #6 – Coins & Noble

Hi there and Happy New Year!! Are you ready for another collection haul? I sure hope so! This one is all over the place, not just one specific theme. Well, I suppose that’s not entirely true. The games in this batch were the start of my attempt to get all the sequels of games I wanted and try to complete a few series pieces. Otherwise, I just bought some different stuff. I tend to flip-flop how I approach the game side of my collection, as you have probably noticed. I was going to try and have this out before Christmas, as I’m going to be doing another haul special for the holidays, but I have failed, both Christmas and New Years. I hope you can find it within your cotton candy flavored heart to forgive me. Anyway, let’s get to it!

These here are some coins I got. Besides all the games and anime and stuff that I follow, I also like to collect coins. They can range from special edition coins or even arcade tokens.  Once I saw those Mario ones, I knew I had to buy them! It was otherwise just a regular trip to Target, I don’t even remember why I went in the first place. They’ve got some cool stuff there, like that hour glass you can get, which I did at some point. Anywho, the two coins I got were Luigi and Toad. I wanted Mario, but I’ll make due. As I’m writing this, I’m reminded that Donkey Kong was an option too and that makes me want to go back and try to get him. Apparently there’s some battle game you can play with using the coins, or I at least assume so, given the numbers and shapes on the outer ring of the face on the coin. Has anyone tried playing any sort of game using these coins? It might be fun. You should try it.

I also got a booster pack of Pokemon cards for the same reason: I wanted the coin. Unfortunately, it was just some plastic crap. I was disappointed beyond that of a Super Saiyan Disappointment. Well, okay, maybe not that bad, but I was still pretty disappointed. As for the cards, nothing stood out to me. While I do collect cards as well, I’m not a big card game kind of guy in general. I just like the way the cards look.

This is that sequel batch I was talking about. As you can see, it’s pretty much all sequels to other games. The first in the top corner is the first of the Legacy of Kain series, titled Blood Omen, on the PS1. It’s an isometric action game where you play as Kain, a freshly made vampire trying to do vampire things like killing people (you can tell I’m not only very early in the game but I also haven’t played in months.) Graphically, it looks cool, but the game is very dark and hard to see. I’ve actually run into this same issue on emulation and in the “PS Classics” version on my PSP and PS3. I don’t know if this is a problem in the PC version, but it does hinder my enjoyment a little bit. I love hearing the narration voice over, both by NPCs and by Kain, who is played by an actor named Simon Templeman. The Legacy of Kain series is well known for having a strong story and lore, both being present fantastically here. I’d recommend it, despite the dark visuals making it hard to see.

Under it is Rampage Through Time, the third in the series, on PS1. This was the last new Rampage game for a while until Rampage: Total Destruction came out on the PS2 and GameCube and such. This game is exactly what you would expect from the series, though there are plenty more characters and all the levels take place in different time periods. I only ever rented it once or twice as a kid, but I won’t say no to more Rampage!

Let’s go back to vampires for a bit so I can talk about the game in the middle, Soul Reaver 2 on PS2. It’s a sequel to the first Soul Reaver on PS1, as you probably could guess. It’s part of the Legacy of Kain universe, except this time you follow Raziel, an undead wraith thing who was betrayed and killed by Kain from Blood Omen. I haven’t gotten far enough in the game to be able to save, so all I’ve seen so far is the opening part, in which Raziel gets to Kain and they fight a little while Kain monologues for a bit. The gameplay is the same as the first Soul Reaver, with a focus on using your environment and other people’s weapons to kill them. Raziel is voiced by Michael Bell, one of my favorite voice actors of all time, and his performance here is just as stellar as always. Finding a good copy of this game took a little extra work, and by work I mean a couple extra pages from eBay listings, but I finally snagged a copy, completing my Legacy of Kain collection. I took a picture of my entire Legacy of Kain collection and posted it on Instagram, so if you want to see then go look there. It’s a great series and I would love to see a new game in the future. I believe Square Enix would own the license at this point, since they own Eidos and Crystal Dynamics, who published and developed the game respectively. Here’s hoping!

On the top right is Rampage 2: Universal Tour on PS1. This is the second game in the series and the first to introduce more characters besides Lizzie, George, and Ralph. Granted, the way they introduce them is by taking away the core trio and making them unlockable. As a kid, I wasn’t pleased. I usually played as the rhino guy, he was pretty cool. Another thing I noticed when I first played the game as a kid was that the punch animation changed. Instead of a vertical punch, we get a more realistic horizontal punch. I don’t know why that’s important, but I assure you that it is. I originally played the N64 version, but the PS1 version apparently came first so I want to get a copy for myself. I do plan on getting the N64 version as well.

Finishing off the right row on the bottom is Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro for the PS1, the sequel to… Spider-Man on PS1! Growing up, what stood out to me with this game is the open city players could explore, and this was before Spider-Man 2 on PS2. It plays the same as the first one, with some minor additions. I never finished it, but I hope to in the future, now that I have a copy. It was also fun running around as “Spider-Man in a hurry” where he is Spider-Man but wearing a jacket and jeans as if he’s being Peter Parker and the one costume where he has a brown paper bag over his face. Fun times.

This next batch of things comes from a trip to Barnes & Noble (hence the title of the post.) It’s a mix of books and DVDs, the first being Tales of Zestiria volume 1, the manga adaptation of the video game. Regrettably, I had completely forgotten that a manga adaptation of the game had been released in English, something that has only happened once with the Asch the Bloody comics that tied into Tales of the Abyss. Once I saw it, I knew I had to buy it. In total, there are apparently four volumes, which seems pretty short to me, though if it simply adapts the story of the game then I suppose it’s understandable. I haven’t read it yet, but now that I know there’s an English translated Tales manga I can read, with another on the way, I better get them all so I can read it real fast. Like, Dezel fast. Maybe.

Right under it is Dragon Ball Super volume 1. I’m hesitant to call it an adaptation of the anime, especially now that we’re skipping ahead to a new arc after the Broly movie. Maybe tie-in? The manga came out first, though the anime was announced first. Either way, we’re getting more Dragon Ball and I’m loving it! This first volume tackles the Battle of Gods arc where Lord Beerus is introduced. It then skips the Resurrection F arc (likely because a manga adaptation of the movie came out prior) and goes into what the dub calls “The Tournament of Destroyers” arc. There are slight differences, but the overall story is the same. The basis of the story was written by series creator Akira Toriyama, though the art and everything else was done by someone going by “Toyotaro.” In this instance, I think doing the credits on the front as “Story: Akira Toriyama, Manga: Toyotaro” would make more sense. Of course, like I said in my review of Dragon Ball Super episode #83, I could and am open to being wrong: this is simply my opinion based on what I know. Overall, the manga is good. My only concern looking back (saying this because we’re up to volume 4 that’s coming out soon in English, in Japanese it’s a bit further ahead) is that Goku seems to be slightly out of character. He acts like he’s more thoughtful and aware than I would prefer. I’m not one of those “Goku needs to be brain dead” kind of fans, but I do think his ignorance of things outside of martial arts is important to maintain. Other than that, the manga is a fun read.

Starting the middle row is The Legend of Korra complete series on DVD. It’s a sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender, a modern classic in American animation that takes plenty of influence from Asian film and even some anime. So far, I’ve only seen the first season back when you could watch the show on Nickelodeon’s web site. I enjoyed the plot and drama involving Amon as well as Korra’s character development. Tenzin’s development was also great and was written perfectly, with how he starts to loosen up. I can’t much without going into spoilers, so all I’ll say is that so far it’s a great follow-up to The Last Airbender. Well, okay, I’ll say this: Aang shows up in a flashback and he’s an adult so that’s pretty cool.

Right under it is Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase, my favorite of the Scooby-Doo films from the early 2000’s. The premise involves the gang going to a college to see a video game based on them, developed by a couple computer science students. Scooby and his pals get sucked into the game and have to use their wit to survive and try to escape. It’s a fun watch and I found the twist on who the bad guy is to be interesting. It’s Scooby-Doo, so it’s very creative and classic. I don’t think there are many extras on the DVD, but I highly recommend watching the movie if you haven’t already.

Lastly, we have Legends of the Samurai, a collection of different historical pieces from the Sengoku period, translated by Hiroaki Sato. I saw it and wanted to buy it because it had an academic feel to it, like something a teacher would assign readings from. Most of it is letters and small accounts on things, though I’m pretty sure I remember seeing Mitsunari Ishida mentioned, which would be one of the few names I recognize. I haven’t had a chance to read it all yet, but I plan to soon. Like I say with everything else I do.

Aaaaaaand, that’s a wrap! This one was a bit different, so I hope you liked it! I’m going to try and work through my backlog of haul pictures, so it’ll be haul posts back-to-back for a good while. Next is going to be the Christmas one, so it’ll be more than three pictures. I might do the 2018 birthday special after and try to catch up with those, so that all of the 2018 specials will be done.

Thanks for reading! See ya next time!

Collection Haul Special – Tales of Completion

Howdy!!

We’re back to the collection haul posts now, but this one is very special. For those who don’t know, my favorite video game series is the Tales of series. I became a fan ever since my first time playing Tales of Symphonia on the GameCube back in 2004 and have since made it my mission to collect and play every single Tales game out there. My original plan was to get one version of every Tales game, be it a port or a remake in place of the original (for example, I counted Tales of Phantasia: Narikiri Dungeon X as my point for the original.) However, with all this game collecting I’ve been doing lately, I figured I might as well just get all of them. And so, I did just that, plus some that I didn’t really need for the completion of the collection, but they are nice additions nonetheless. Let’s get right to it!

These are the last regular ones I needed. Starting us off is Tales of Innocence R for the PS Vita. I remember this game getting a lot of buzz when it was first announced, quite possibly more than the original on the DS did. Though, I imagine that was due to how popular the original is. This version is primarily a graphic and mechanic overhaul, though a new animated opening video with a new song was added, as well as two new playable characters. Unlike Tales of Hearts R, this game was never released outside of Japan. I was originally going to wait for the possibilities of an English version, but I doubt any sort of localization is coming. Granted, if one does come, I’ll be sure to get it. Otherwise, I’ve got this copy to play. And yes, I did go out of my way to get the “PlayStation Vita the Best” version. Why? I don’t really know. The only benefit to seeking out a “the Best” version of a Japanese game is the lowered price as well as the chances of getting the game in brand new condition. I bought the game off of Amazon, which for me was a nice throwback to how I imported games before I knew about Play-Asia.

Speaking of which, the game right next to it is Tales of Rebirth for the PSP, which I bought from Play-Asia, where most of my importing of Japanese video games has taken place, adding a teensy bit of extra significance to me. I also own the original PS2 version, which is the one I played through. Story-wise, it felt very different from the standard Tales game. The tone was darker and even the music sounded like it was being played at a lower octave. Despite this, the game looks wonderful and maintains a good color palette like most other Tales games. The gameplay is just as fun too and the “3-Line” system works well in making the game feel modern, to a degree. From what I understand, this PSP version doesn’t add much new content, though there is an arena now. That seems pretty cool, if I do say so myself. Like Innocence R, I did deliberately go for the “the Best” version of the game, though this time it was primarily due to the price and me not wanting to hunt down a standard version. This is definitely one game that I would recommend, and there’s even a multi-language fan translation in the works!

Third in the top row is Tales of Graces for the Wii, which I got off of eBay, like I have not only been doing lately for most of my game collecting lately but also I did for a few Tales imports when I was starting off collecting Tales games. Tales of Graces is probably my third favorite in the whole series, right under Eternia and Abyss. As such, I wanted to get the original Wii version, especially since the version we got in English was the updated PS3 version. That being said, the Wii version obviously is lacking the new content from the PS3 version, namely the extra story. It should also be noted that the Wii version had to be recalled due to the original release of it having a bunch of bugs and glitches. At the moment, I have no easy way to play imported Wii games, so I can’t check my copy to see if it’s one that needed to be recalled. Although doubtful, I suppose there’s no way for me to know either way. Not that it matters to me, mind you. I bought it for the collection, since it’s my third fave. Technically speaking, it wasn’t part of my main list, though I went ahead and got it so I could complete this collection. It’ll be interesting to hear the Japanese voice-over and see how the game looked completely in standard definition, for sure. What I loved about this game was the story and how the friendship trope that the Tales series is known for was used in this particular game. I did a video about this game on my YouTube channel, that was part of a series of reviews of every Tales game, though since it’s Tales I give it special treatment. The video is old but my opinions on the game haven’t changed, so if you want to know every detail about what I think, then there you go.

Starting the bottom row is Tales of Phantasia: Narikiri Dungeon for the Game Boy Color. This is the first spin-off to the Tales series and the first of the Narikiri Dungeon trio. The game was also remade for the PSP as Tales of Phantasia: Narikiri Dungeon X, which I also have and bought several years ago. Generally, I prefer the remake on the PSP over the original, because the original was made as a turn-based RPG that, while other people may enjoy, is not only not my cup of tea but also very un-Tales like. I wanted to get the original originally because I felt like it would be cool to have, and like Tales of Graces on the Wii, it wasn’t technically part of the main list but got bumped up. Oh, and I bought it on eBay. Sorry, I forgot how important that detail was.

Next up is Tales of the World: Summoner’s Lineage for the Game Boy Advance, also bought on eBay. This one is the Tales series’ first foray into the turn-based strategy genre. I haven’t played much of it, but story-wise it’s another spin-off to Tales of Phantasia. My friend, and fellow host on my podcast, Ryo has this joke where it’s his favorite. Haven’t heard that joke in a while though. I’ll bring it up the next time I talk to him.

Finally, we have Tales of Phantasia for the PlayStation. It’s a remake of the original version on Super Famicom and also serves as the base for the two enhanced ports on PSP that came after. The general consensus among fans is that this version is the best one to play, though I’d argue Tales of Phantasia: Full Voice Edition on the PSP is superior, primarily because of the battle sprite upgrades and the fact that all major characters besides the playable ones are fully voice acted (hence the title.) This is the strangest Japanese PS1 game I’ve ever seen, it’s more like a plastic clam-shell rather than the standard CD jewel case. Because of that, I was nervous buying it, but I saw several listings with different pictures of the same case style, so I can only assume that the game was sold like this. Like Innocence R and Rebirth, this is the “the Best” version and like most of the games listed so far, I bought it on eBay… I promise this isn’t a new trend for future haul posts. Anywho, I enjoyed Phantasia when I played the Game Boy Advance version back when they came out in English. Among most fans, the GBA version is not that popular, but I liked it. That being said, I’m happy to have this version in my collection.

This is one of the surprises for this haul. For those who don’t know, this is a boxed copy of the failed Tales of Eternia Online, which ran in the mid-2000’s. Most western fans were unable to play it, due to IP blocking, but those who got in didn’t play for very long, as far as I can tell.  Even then, there was a monthly fee after the free trial, which I think lasted a week or two, I don’t remember. I was only lucky enough to make it to the title screen back when a download was available, so I never played it myself. From what others have reported, the game was one of those point-and-click style games that used the function keys for attacks once a battle starts. I was pumped for it back when it was announced. I wanted to play it really badly. Even after the game and website closed down, I still had the installer. Unfortunately, I lost it as I moved computers over time. I wasn’t planning on getting it at all, but I found it for sale on a Japanese Yahoo Auction listing. My friend and fellow Abyssal Chronicles writer DimensionSlip helped me out as a proxy buyer and sent it over once it shipped. This was my first time doing the whole “getting a buddy to buy you stuff in Japan” thing and it was a safe and painless experience. The box was in good condition as well, with the discs still wrapped in their cases. A special DVD and card set was also included. I haven’t tried installing the game from the disc, though I imagine I would need an older computer, one that at least runs Windows XP. I’d love to see a private server for the came come around, though I think it would need to be heavily reworked in order to be worth while. Slip sells various Tales merchandise on her Tumblr page, so be sure to check it out if you want to grab anything. Thanks again, Slip!

Now this bad boy is the highlight. What you see there is the Tales of Eternia Premium Box, which is basically the Japanese collector’s edition. Before there were the different special editions by Famitsu and whatnot, Namco would produce special editions of the Tales games, though seemingly on rare occasions. In fact, I believe the last one they did on their own was the Link edition for Tales of Hearts R. There was also a special edition for Tales of Destiny: Director’s Cut on the PS2, which I have (zing!) Other than those two, it’s been special editions made by Famitsu or other publications. I don’t know if this was the first special edition ever produced in the series, but it’s definitely one of the earliest. Included in the box is the game (obviously), a cool Quickie clock, a figurine set, a design book, and a cool lanyard. I filmed an unboxing video for it, so if you want a better look inside, then you should give it a watch. The only negative thing I can even come up with is that the amount of goodies included in the box is small, overall. That being said, since this is one of the first special editions they ever made for the Tales series, it’s understandable why they wouldn’t include a thousand little knick-knacks. Despite this, I’m glad to finally have it in my collection.

And that’s a wrap! It feels surreal knowing that I have all the Tales games. Though, technically speaking, there is the CGI version of Tales of Hearts on the DS, though the only thing that is different is the cover art and the anime scenes are replaced with CGI ones. Otherwise, it’s the same game as the anime version. I’m planning to get it anyway, though. Same with the PS4 version of Tales of Zestiria. I plan to get the Collector’s Edition so I can get the “Dawn of the Shepard” OVA dubbed (more on that in a future haul post.) If I wanted to be even more persnickety, there is a rare Chinese dubbed version of Tales of Destiny 2 that I think would be fun to have, as well as that special edition of Tales of Legendia that was only released in South Korea. Those are pipe dreams, however, as I’ll likely never find copies of them. Even still, I’m very proud to have (almost, technically) every Tales game.

The next several posts for the foreseeable future will in fact be more hauls. I know I said I didn’t want to do too many back-to-back, but they are piling up and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t post about them. Maybe there will be a non-haul post somewhere in between, but until then you can count on semi-regular haul posts.

Thanks for reading! See ya next time!!

Early Impressions – Tales of the Rays (iOS)

Hi there! It’s been a while! How’s it going?

Apologies for the lack of posts lately. I’ve been sidetracked by other interests (including a random binge of Gilmore Girls) and busy with life and other projects. But you’ll be happy to know that I’m breaking the no-post-streak by doing the exact opposite: writing a post. Wow, that was kind of long-winded.

Anywho, the plan here is to start another series of potential posts in which I give my early impressions (hence the name) of something, typically a game. My progress in these pieces of entertainment will vary from barely getting into the first battle to being a quarter of the way done. And like all my other posts, they will be sporadic. For this first one, I will be talking about my experiences playing Tales of the Rays for the first time!

Tales of the Rays is a console-style game for mobile devices made by Namco Bandai in the Tales series. It was announced back in December of 2015. Post-launch, it remained in Japan for a time, until it was finally released globally in 2017. I played the iOS version on my iPhone 5S.

While the graphics are very much of the “budgeted phone game” quality, the game looks good visually. If I were to compare it’s graphics to an actual game system, I’d say it looks like a PSP game in HD, which is fitting for the smart phone hardware. As you can see, there is an anime intro as well. I believe it’s done by WIT Studio, who did the animation for Attack on Titan. It feels like a mix between the simpler style of Production IG’s animation for Tales and the newer, more vibrant animation from Ufotable. Because of that, the animation reminds me of the ones from Tales of Innocence, though the proportions of the characters is more in line with something akin to Tales of the Abyss. It works well for the smart phone hardware and assumed smaller budget.

One aspect that is definitely from the modern era of Tales is the script. Characters speak in a highly stylized fashion that is not only contemporary but also personalized to each of their personas. I didn’t notice any typos either, so the text itself was structured and edited well.

Mileena in particular was written well. I liked her friendly, bright tone and diction. You can tell she and Ix have a long history with each other and that she trusts him greatly. I found it refreshing to see such chemistry in the series, as I feel that previous relationships between the male and female leads were really only up to the “we’re childhood friends but not like BFFs so we can’t be that quirky” level before becoming romantically involved. This may be due to the writing, however. It would be interesting to see how the original Japanese script was written, as this English adaptation is very clearly punched up for style.

The only criticism I have with this game at the moment is that it moves a little too fast. Within an hour’s worth of play, the game started throwing heavy plot points at me that, while enticing, fell a little flat. I feel like I don’t have a clear understanding of the world around me and what’s entirely at stake. Some shady lady named Gefion gave a fair amount of exposition regarding the big conflict of this game, but it came across like it only affects a small group and not the world at large. That being said, these kinds of stories tend to build themselves that way, so it’s not a major criticism, certainly not one new to the Tales series. I was most interested in Ix’s backstory involving his accident with using a mirrist arte that hurt the people around him, including his gal pal Mileena. That alone makes me interested in seeing the rest of the story.

Okay, maybe I have one more issue. The drop rates for this game seems a bit unfair. I spent like a bajillion of the prism stone things, and what do I unlock? A bunch of weapons and… Chester. From Tales of Phantasia. I mean, that’s kind of cool, I guess? I know that I’m not going to get who I want every single time, but I think there should be separate summoning things for weapons and characters. It’s not fun to grind a bunch of stones for my hero collector game and, you know, not collect heroes. My only thought is that they wanted to avoid instances where players would get multiples of the same character, but perhaps they could have done it to where you get a bonus or something? Or maybe the drops get lesser and lesser with each character you get? I’m just spit balling here, but spending a bunch of prism stones just to get one character seems to be taking the hero collecting game a little too far.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised. Despite being on mobile, the game runs and plays well. Obviously it would be perfect with a controller, but this is certainly doable. The writing was very tasteful and fun to read. The plot hooked me, despite trying to be fast like Sonic, and even then it was really just the one thing with Ix’s past. The only real cocnern I have with this game is the drop rates and how the hero collecting aspect of the game is handled, but it’s not a major deal breaker. I’m sure they give you guest characters to use throughout the story, if not permanently. This was a nice little Tales appetizer that will hold me over until the next big one is announced, whenever that is. I can’t wait to play more–

Oh…

… Anyway, thanks for reading! The next post will be another collecting haul, which I may start doing more often so that I can be more active, as those posts are pretty simple and will have some shorter chunks as we go along. It’ll be another Tales themed one, due to events I discuss in a video I posted recently about the state of the series. It’s an opinion piece for the most part, so I hope it’ll be interesting to you readers. Otherwise, I’ll see you in the next post!

Have a good one!