Responding to the Retro Domination Saturn podcast

Retro Domination Saturn Podcast

Earlier this month one of my favourite local podcasts, Retro Domination, put together a Saturn special. After having a listen, I thought I’d write a response to fill in some of the gaps – here goes!

The Saturn launched at $799 in late 1995 locally – the extra $100 was justified with the traditional pack-in game, Virtua Fighter. The PSone retailed for $699 and came packed in with a demo disc. This was for the oval model Saturn and came in a larger box. The price had dropped by early-mid 1996 (probably between April and June) to $399. At this stage it was around the same price as the PSone and had the Sega Flash demo discs packed in from thereon and had the revised “Model 2” console design. I know this because I personally purchased mine by putting it on laybuy at Target when they had a 20% off storewide and finished my laybuy off in September 1996, whereupon I played the hell out of Sega Flash vol. 2, bought a copy a few months later 2nd hand of Panzer Dragoon and then finished up the year with VF2 and NiGHTS (with analogue controller) for Christmas. Was absolutely magic, though 1997 gave it a run for its money as that was the Christmas where I started importing Saturn games from the US and Japan!

At least one game will refuse to load if you have a 4-in-1 cart – Panzer Dragoon Saga; you can load it up with an official save cart, but nothing else. You also have to be wary of the damage third party carts can do to a Saturn’s cart slot. The EMS 4-in-1 cart currently sold is reasonably reliable, but earlier multi-carts would damage cart slots. I know this because my 4-in-1 cart (1MB version) did massive damage to my Saturn’s cart slot. Some games also misbehave, at least on earlier versions – Samurai Shodown 4 and other 1MB SNK titles would have corrupted graphics, and the first few revisions of the 4MB version of the cart had issues with 4MB games that came out after X-Men vs SF (Vampire Savior and so forth). Again, pretty sure the current builds work fine.

The 50/60hz switch affects some games differently depending on how they were programmed. Where a game was cleverly programmed it can corrupt graphics – the special stages in PAL Sonic 3D have all the 3D geometry disappear if you push the machine into 60hz (haven’t tested my Japanese copy in 50hz yet). Some games utilise the ability to have separate audio and video tracks for FMV, and when the refresh rate doesn’t match it causes problems (Magic Knight Rayearth and Sakura Taisen 2 both have this problem), and sometimes the codec simply plays up (Burning Rangers uses either the Duck motion codec or the newer ADX-driven versions of video codecs and skips/stutters if the refresh rate doesn’t match). Some games that heavily rely on complex refresh-rate driven audio and video coding also struggle in the wrong refresh rate – audio skipping is a huge problem on the Capcom 4MB games where the audio samples are loaded into memory, and in games with timed in-game rendered cut scenes (like Panzer Dragoon Saga), using the wrong refresh rate will occasionally cause some audio to skip as the cues are out of whack.

The multi-region mod is a bit tricky, but makes for a bullet-proof solution (i.e. your cart slot is free so it can be used for official carts). The other option is to remove the existing BIOS and install a region-free BIOS. The cart is an easy option, but won’t open up using the save cart for getting the ghost cars in an import of Sega Touring Car or using the ROM cart for KoF ’95.

Saturn’s are notorious for being tanks in terms of reliability – the hardware in the PSone (excepting the excellent DACs in early model PSones) is comparably precious. The exception to this rule is the cart slot – it’s rubbish.

Dynamite Deka is virtually arcade perfect because it was developed for the STV board, which was basically a Saturn with more RAM and used a cart interface for the game data/PCB. The same hardware was also used for the arcade releases of Cotton 2, Soukyougurentai and Radiant Silvergun, all of which received amazing Saturn ports.

Marvel Super Heroes actually has more slowdown in 60hz, as the 17% bump to the speed taxes the Saturn’s hardware as it needs to render faster to keep up. Adjust the refresh rate in-game to check out the difference.

The Saturn port of Street Fighter Alpha 3 is arguably the best of the ports owing to the Saturn being able to run at the exact same resolution as the CPS2 arcade PCB. While the audio samples aren’t as good as the other 4MB games due to the different ways they utilise the extended RAM, the frame-count is virtually identical and the Saturn’s pad is still the best controller for 2D fighters.

Shenmue was actually well into development on the Saturn – the demo reel video you access via Shenmue 2 shows some considerably complex geometry rendering consider the machine’s issues with complex 3D tasks (thus a substantial amount of time would have been sunk into their dev tools and the game engine). The game was then moved to the DC around 1998 as Project Berkley evolved to become Shenmue as we know it.

The full title of the Segata Sanshiro game is “Segata Sanshiro: Shinken Yuugi”.

In terms of hardware, “Model 1” and “Model 2” are depreciated in terms of the internals, as it varies – I’ve modded Model 1 Saturns with Model 2 internals and vice versa. IIRC, the Saturn had around 9-10 mainboard variances and revisions over the years, some more reliable than others, and in most modding circles you work via mainboard revision rather than relying on the external case. My current machine is suffering an issue with an overheating power supply that seems to be disrupting the +9v output which is affecting the power supply to the CD-ROM’s motor and introducing noise into the video output when it heats up too much. The component in question currently believed to be behind it is unavailable for repair or replacement though, and even a re-cap hasn’t solved the issue. The workaround is to let it cool down for an hour and get back into it! This is in complete contrast with other “Model 1” machines that have run without skipping a beat after hours and hours of abuse!

Whew, brief as always. I’d also recommend everyone drops by the Retro Domination website to get an excellent Australian take on retro gaming, subscribe to their podcast and, if you’re keen-eyed, take a squiz at the first in a small series of posts I’ve written for them recapping my Japan travel adventures 🙂

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Japan 2012 Travel Diary, Day 7

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Day two in Kyoto continued the cultural expeditions. We started off by heading to Kyoto Station and jumping on the tourist bus to visit the Ginkakuji Temple – the place was absolutely mind-blowing and picturesque, and the grounds were much bigger than we had anticipated.

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At this stage in the trip my prosthesis had started causing me some grief due to all the walking/getting lost/exploring, so we decided to cut the walk around the temple grounds short and get started on the Philosopher’s Path. When my brother Tank and his wife visited earlier in the year during the cherry blossom viewing season the place looked beautiful, so it was awesome to get a chance to see it in autumn when the leaves were changing colour. As the rain and clouds had cleared up, it was also nice and sunny out (though a bit chilly since the humidity had gone with the cloud cover), so we made our way leisurely down the path, stopping to take photos, and at one point we dropped into a neighbourhood tea and coffee place for a couple of cake sets (Wifey has the cheesecake and coffee, while I enjoyed a green tea rolled cake with fresh cream and stuffed with red beans paste with a cup of tea).

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The real magic though happened at the end of the trail. As part of my Shenmue obsession I found a small deserted park with some play equipment at the end of the street, and so I asked myself – “What would Ryo Hazuki do in this situation?”. That’s right, he’d take the time to work on his moves. So, announcing to nobody in particular “Let’s get sweaty”, I decided to get my karate on and run through a couple of techniques, with the ever-patient Wifey indulging the experience by snapping some photos. Not having trained over the last 18+ months due to some health concerns my form was pretty rubbish, but the experience was worth it 🙂

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After making an arse of myself in public (again), we finished off the Philosopher’s Park walk to wander down along the backstreets of Kyoto to either grab a bus or walk to a nearby precinct some fellow martial artists had recommended I check out whilst in Kyoto. We ended up walking the whole way (probably about 40 minutes since we were taking our time), with Wifey’s iPhone (still on iOS5 and therefore still with the native Google Maps app) taking care of tracking our way thanks to a cached map of this area in Kyoto, because even with no mobile data, the GPS still kicked in. This eventually lead us to our next destination, the Kyoto Handicraft Centre.

On account of some renovations, the bottom floor of the building was unavailable, which meant the usually-extensive selection on the street level of this complex was not available (the bottom floor of the neighbouring building was the acting substitute, but it was much smaller than the original one). Unperturbed we headed up a few floors to check out things, and were greeted by a large range of regional crafts, including ceramics, lacquerware, dolls, display swords (not suitable for training in kenjutsu or iaido) and one large iaito. Since I had already picked up a small wakizashi-sized iaito in Suidobashi I wasn’t specifically looking for another one, but was curious to see what was there just in case 😉 Looking at the lovely iaoto, due to the size of the sword it wasn’t appropriate to bring back since it wouldn’t fit in the suitcase, but it did look nice 🙂 For those keen on bringing something back, the display sword sets started around ¥8,000 and topped out around ¥13,000; the iaito was around the ¥84,000 mark.

While we were down this end of Kyoto, we also wandered across the road (literally) to visit Tozando, a specialist store for iaito, kendo equipment (shinai and protective gear), kobudo equipment, general training garments (including protector pads and mitts) and on the second floor they had an array of stunning swords and armour, including original antiques from various eras in Japan’s history. For those interested in bringing back an antique sword, you’re looking at investing a huge chunk of cash (and apparently it can be tricky bringing them out of the country as antique swords are considered part of Japan’s history and are thus treated as national treasures), but for the rest of us, simply walking through this area is an amazing experience. Luckily for Wifey, they have the unintended presence of girlfriend/wife/”I dragged along my other half” seats in front of a TV playing a documentary on the second floor that houses their mini-museum of antique pieces, so she sat there while I gushed. Tozando did have some very nice wakizashi iaito, but at this stage I was happy with my purchase from Suidobashi and decided to leave it be. If ever I came back to Japan and was heading to Kyoto though, I suspect I’d probably hit Tozando for another iaito – they’ve had some great reviews amongst other iaido practitioners and the gear looked really nice.

After wandering to the end of the street and grabbing a subway train back to Karasuma-Oike, we stopped off for a quick bite at Caffe Excelsior – I grabbed a beef stew wrap (literally, beef stew goodies/gravy inside a wholemeal wrap lightly toasted) and Wifey enjoyed a Paris Sandwich, which was a delightful roll filled with chicken, a yummy white sauce with fresh mushrooms, and melted Camembert cheese. Next on the list for Day 2 was a short meander up Karasuma-dori to visit another spot of hallowed ground – the Kyoto Manga Museum.

Given anime and manga fanboyisms seem happy to collocate themselves in a gamer’s psyche (I was a gaming nerd before I jumped aboard the anime and manga nerd train in the early-mid 90s), it probably isn’t too surprising this visit was another unforgettable experience. The museum is actually housed within an old Kyoto primary school that was vacated in the mid-90s, and contains an enormous collection of manga in serialised book format, manga in magazine format, displays, artwork and miniature exhibitions. The cool thing is that almost all the manga in book format can be taken off the shelves and read, with the majority of the available books the resulting donation of a commercial manga library run for many years when the owner closed up his business. This means when you’re picking up a copy of Ranma 1/2 or Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon (which I did!), you’re enjoying the same book that was originally printed when the title was released, and the same book has also been through the hands of so many other readers. It’s not just a piece of cultural history, it’s equally a tangible piece of social history as well. The museum actually offers pre-paid passes during the year so if you want to drop in on a regular basis (such as after school or work) to have a read before going home, you can do so and treat it as a reference library of manga.

One of the permanent exhibitions is a room that houses manga in chronological order, from the 50s onwards. Walking around this meant you were also able to see how the magazines have changed, alongside the stylistic evolution of manga over the years. I held original copies of Ranma 1/2, 3×3 Eyes, Berserk, Urusei Yatsura, Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon, Kare Kano, Astro Boy, Ghost in the Shell, You’re Under Arrest, Rurouni Kenshin, the list goes on and on and on. As hyperbolic as this whole thing is, there was a bit of magic nerd in the air that day.

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As an extra bonus, the museum’s current special exhibition was one focused on acclaimed anime studio Gainax, who have carved a delightful spot in my nerd heart for the likes of Kare Kano, FLCL, Nadia, Abenobashi and of course, Eva. The exhibition ran over two of their gallery spaces, the focus being to recreate the working studio environment to give visitors an insight to how they create their anime productions from start to finish. This means we’re seeing representations of the staff brainstorming, going through concept phases, animation checks, keyframing, colouring and compositing (showing both the traditional cel methods and contemporary digital methods), recording (dialogue, music and foley) and celebrating the end product (with various members of the studio looking suitably drunk!). This meant I was able to walk through and look at original sketches, keyframes and cells from some of my favourite series’, which is an experience I never thought I would have.

The only disappointing thing was that the museum hadn’t produced a publication to coincide with the Gainax exhibition I could take home with me, but they did have some awesome Astro Boy memorial coins that I picked up 🙂

After finishing up at the museum we went back to Kyoto Station to sort out our Shinkansen tickets for the next leg(s) of the trip, then it was time to hit the tourist buses again to visit Gion!

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For those unaware, Gion is the traditional quarter of Kyoto and houses some (ultra expensive) restaurants serving up some amazing cuisine among a variety of traditionally-styled houses and buildings. It’s also the spot where most Westerners would look at and associate with “traditional” conceptions of Japan. One of the reason’s it’s also popular is because it is where you can often spot geisha walking to and from businesses and occasions where their expertise and skills are requested. On the night we were there, Wifey and I happened to catch a glimpse of someone coasting along in their full attire – I think she was a maiko, but I’m not knowledgeable enough to discern from appearance alone if they were an apprentice or a qualified geisha. Regardless, I’ve never seen anyone in traditional geta move across the slippery surface with such poise and speed, so that was cool to see in motion.

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Given the cost of eating (and not being as comfortable in my spoken Japanese as I would have liked), the trip to Gion was more about getting a glimpse of the area and walking around. By far my favourite part of the evening though was walking past a middle aged Japanese man having a heated conversation with the person he was standing with about foreigners visiting Gion. Given this was the first and only time I heard a local grumble about foreigners, I was pretty surprised – while a lot of the tourists we saw were reasonably well behaved, there were plenty who could do with brushing up on their manners and learning how to go with the flow a bit better, especially when the human sea phenomenon kicks in.

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After enjoying the wander, we went back up the hill to catch the bus back to Kyoto Station, where we grabbed a delicious meal of tonkatsu in all its delightful glory. Bellies full, it was back to the hotel to consolidate our luggage and get ready for the next step of the journey – Hiroshima.

To view all posts on the Japan 2012 Travel Diary, just use the 2012 Japan Trip tag, as the whole series will be added to it over time.

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Japan 2012 Travel Diary, Day 6

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After an early night, we hit the streets relatively early to get started on our first culture day in Kyoto. After grabbing a pair of 2-day passes at the hotel’s reception desk that covered most of the local public transport we’d planned to use in Kyoto (only selected lines were covered by JR services, so this made it easy to use the Karasuma and Touzai lines, as well as the city bus services), we jumped aboard the subway to the main Kyoto Station and then transferred to the JR Nara local line to head to the beautiful Fushimi Inari Shrine. By the time we got to the station the rain had started coming down pretty hard, so I dashed out to the nearby convenience store to grab a pair of clear plastic umbrellas (¥550 each, and they were much more robust then equivalent-selling umbrellas back home!).

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To some people the rain may have been an inconvenience, but for us it made the experience that much more amazing as going through the temple and taking the scenic route back to the train station in the rain was so awesome. While going down a couple of the back streets filled with residential houses, the whole thing seemed reminiscent of walking through the streets in Sakuragaoka in Shenmue, especially since it was raining (Japan Is Shenmue was/will continue to be a big part of this holiday :)).

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Once we made it back to the station we headed out to the bus terminal to catch the 101 Raku bus (can’t remember which terminal, but I think it was either D2 or D1) to the Kinkakuji Temple, helping a young Italian couple struggling with the maps and instructions who were also going to the same location. Their confusion was understandable given the Englsh language maps can be a bit tricky on their own, but adding into that another layer of translation (i.e. Japanese – English – Italian), and I think they were doing an amazing job, not helped by my terrible command of Italian either (haven’t spoken it in years!).

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The bus ride through Kyoto city proper was really interesting – the streets aren’t anywhere near as congested as Tokyo, which suggests that using a taxi service would actually be useful if needed. In comparison, it seemed like it wouldn’t be all that cost/time effective in Tokyo compared to hopping between subway stations.

Anywho, we hopped off and took a short walk up to the temple, and it was absolutely beautiful. What was interesting for me is that my impressions (or expectations?) of the temples in Kyoto are that you’d walk through a gate, and see the temple or shrine, and that’s about it. In reality the temples and shrines in the city seem to be situated on extensive land holdings with immaculate gardens and beautiful architectural companion buildings that make for a nice walk around the place. While there we also picked up a good luck charm for Wifey, made an offering to the local deity and also picked up a fortune each, both of which were favourable 🙂

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From here we weren’t sure how to knock out the rest of the day as it was starting to get a bit later than we anticipated, so we opted to jump back on the bus service to visit Nijo Castle instead of visiting Ginkakuji and treading down the Philosopher’s Path. Nijo Castle was amazing and awe-inspiring. Not only are the grounds massive and immaculately cared for, you also have the opportunity of walking through the main castle and view all the rooms and what-not that have been preserved over the years.

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Having watched, read and studied texts around Japan’s history over the years, the tangible experience of walking through the hallowed halls of dynasties past was incredible. After exiting the castle we followed the route around to the inner castle within the grounds, and to celebrate I picked up my umbrella and ran along one of the paths while trying to look like a ninja, much to the chagrin of my wife and to the bemusement of the Japanese tourists walking through the grounds wondering why another crazy gaijin was making an arse of himself in public.

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With Nijo Castle sorted we exited to head back to the bus stop while walking past a group of middle school students who I swear commented that we looked like a cute couple, unawares my terrible command of Japanese could actually pick up on what was being said (yay for eavesdropping!). Cramming into the bus, we eventually found ourselves back at Kyoto Station at sunset and figured we’d have a look around, starting at the department store attached to the station itself. While the luxury prices reflected the fancy surroundings, it proved to be a worthwhile experience to get an idea of the price of adding another piece to our luggage as we had been quickly filling up our bags with stuff (especially video games :P), with the realisation that the price of bags in the department store was obviously going to be at a premium compared to going somewhere else since most of the gear was at the more pricier end of the spectrum.

We ended up jumping up to the 10th floor of the building for dinner, as the entire floor was dedicated solely to ramen restaurants! We picked a place that offered a choice of different broths, so I went for a miso-based ramen with some sliced barbecued pork on top, while Wifey settled on a soy-based broth, also with some extra sliced pork on top, accompanied with some chilled oolong tea to drink. After polishing off the amazing meal we were originally planning on heading back to the hotel, but given we’d has an early dinner on account of not eating a proper lunch, we decided to explore a bit more around Kyoto Station.

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We began by heading out the main entrance and walked towards where the big Kyoto Tower Hotel stood lit up like a Christmas Tree, then decided to poke out way through some of the streets directly in front of the sightseeing bus terminals out the front of the station. The glowing love of gatchapon machines attracted us like moths to a flame, so we decided to grab some assorted stuff from the 50-odd machines lined up in a row, then figured we’d follow them to the entrance to the department store they were sitting outside. This store in question was actually a multi-story Yodobashi, and having never been in one since arriving in Japan, we thought we’d give it a whirl.

Like many department stores, the place was an assault in the senses with glowing lights and TV screens complementing the running commentary advertising all the goods and specials in the store. We decided to hit the place one floor at a time, and I think it was the second floor that absolutely made our day, because it was the toy floor 🙂

I’m pretty comfortable being a big kid, so this was like a crazy trip back in time when toy sections in department stores used to be chock full of interesting stuff, with amazing displays and what-not to enjoy. There were sections dedicated to Transformers, One Piece, Gundam, Kingdom Hearts, Naruto, Hello Kitty, Godzilla and all sorts of other paraphernalia I didn’t recognise. We also found an entire subsection of the floor dedicated to gatchapon machines, so we got a little carried away there too! We walked away with a couple of goodies, but didn’t go too crazy since we were being conscious of our luggage size and weight at this stage of the trip.

While we there we also jumped to the basement floor to have a look at their supermarket section, where we were able to pickup a strawberry flavoured corn flakes/Special K thingie that would suffice for some brekkie for those hotels where we didn’t secure breakfast as part of the package.

At this point it was starting to get late, so we slipped past Mister Donut to grab an aperitif and head back to our hotel. Thus ended the first culture day in Kyoto.

To view all posts on the Japan 2012 Travel Diary, just use the 2012 Japan Trip tag, as the whole series will be added to it over time.

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Japan 2012 Travel Diary, Day 1

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We arrived at around 6am in Tokyo via Narita after a pretty reasonable 9 hour flight out of Sydney. By the time we got through customs and were ready to hit the airport limousine bus it was a little after 7am. The toilets here are weird, but in a cool way. At this stage I wasn’t game enough to use the bidet and shower functions yet 🙂 I tried speaking Japanese to the customs agent, but had to ask him to repeat everything in English because I got confused 🙂

The bus ride into Tokyo from Narita to Shinjuku station was amazing. We passed through rural areas and towns that we could see from the highway that immediately made me think of Shenmue, perhaps even more so because of the cloudy, rainy weather. Soon we found ourselves hitting Tokyo’s urban sprawl – it’s an amazing amalgamation of concrete, steel and insane yet orderly traffic. We drove past massive office buildings and apartment complexes intertwined with inner-city rivers that reminded me of, wait for it, the apartment complexes in Digimon Adventure 🙂

Soon enough we hit Shinjuku station, in itself a pulsing centre of activity. Thankfully we disembarked, picked up our luggage and turned our heads to spot our hotel, the Sunroute Plaza Shibuya (even though it’s more accessible from Shinjuku). We wandered down and checked in and asked the friendly staff to look after our baggage since we weren’t able to jump into our room until after 2pm. A few doors down from the hotel was a Segafredo coffee place (which we would later discover to be a readily accessible franchise around the traps), so we headed there to grab a morning set – combos/meal deals in Japan, we quickly found out, are called sets. A quick bite and some people watching later (and an induction to Japan’s prevalent indoor smoking allowances, something that’s generally been outlawed back home), we were ready to head off. So, fighting a crappy night’s sleep we decided to hit the Oedo subway line to head out to the Tsukiji fish markets.

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Tokyo’s public transport system looks like a rat’s nest to the uninitiated, but it’s not too tricky to navigate once you start using it. After a short subway ride and a quick walk we arrived at the fish markets. This was an awesome way to start out, though it was a shame that we weren’t hungry as the seafood there looked amazing. After managing to not get in anyone’s way, we then proceeded to get lost while trying to find our way to visit Ginza. We’ll call it the scenic tour, as it sounds better. We ended up at a place with a big sailing mast sticking out the ground, and eventually found an Oedo subway station and managed to get to Ginza, while at the same time finding a Pasmo vending machine so we could use a pre-paid IC card to take care of getting through any non-JR lines without having to worry about tickets (individual fare tickets confuse my brain).

Ginza looks and feels like the luxury end of town, even down to the subway station. Very fancy. Apart from a bit of window shopping, we were down here to check out the Sony building. Since the building is nice and big, it’s hard to miss, so off we went. The main reason for dropping by was to check out the recently-installed 4K Experience show.

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Being a bit of a technophile, I was keen to see how much of a jump the move to 4K would be. The session began with a dramatic unveiling of an 85″ display showing off some unbelievable high resolution photography, and my gawd, the future of video is spectacular. Next I got to sit down in a fancy-pants driving setup to play Gran Turismo Concept on a massive projector display running natively in 4K (not sure what hardware it was on – the rumour mill online suggests Polyphony Digital are running a few PS3s in parallel), which was also delightful. The final interactive display involved sitting in a fancy wicker seat and watching some 4K footage of provincial Italy.

After that we picked up some amazing lunch from a Japanese family restaurant, which was also my first attempt at ordering a proper meal since we arrived. The waitress did a great job deciphering my poor Japanese, and Wifey enjoyed a deconstructed burger (meat pattie, rice, chips, steamed veg and a crumbed/fried prawn), while I had a sizzling stone bowl of something yum. After finishing eating, it was time to hit the public transport system again as we went to Harajuku.

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Even though it was only a weekday afternoon, Harajuku was alive and well. After gushing over something as mundane as pedestrian bridges over main streets (blame it on Jet Set Radio), we wandered around the place, being amused and entertained in relatively equal amounts.

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The typical gaijin assumption and assertion about contemporary Japan is that it is a country of contrasts. While I don’t necessarily agree with this as a standard maxim (I prefer the anthropological assertion that it is a harmonious melting pot that is happy to blend history and contemporary values much alike any developed country with a rich history of societal growth [and in many ways parallels its development towards modernism with the way it blends different religious belief within the traditional Japanese lifecycle], but that’s my wanky undergrad side so let’s not dwell on this too much), the juxtaposition of having the Meiji Shrine sitting at the tip of Harajuku’s shopping district is entirely palpable.

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Utter tranquility hits once you get off the streets and the shrine is beautiful and peaceful. We did the usual tropes – cleaning yourself prior to entering (which you do by rinsing your hands and mouth at a well at the entrance, with Wifey helping to fill the blanks since I missed that part of my etiquette research!), offering a gift and prayer at the shrine, and behaved ourselves by not taking any photos inside the main part of the shrine (unfortunately not all the gaijin present were being similarly respectful).

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We ended up heading out the way we came in to avoid a repeat of getting lost as per the morning’s Ginza incident, jumped onto the Yamanote JR Line in what was becoming peak time, then proceeded to become utterly lost when exiting Shinjuku Station. It wasn’t all for nought as we picked up something for dinner at the Takashimaya department store during this latest misadventure – a selection of sushi and sashimi, apples, cinnamon buns and Snoopy Water – props to the checkout staff as the service was better than anything I’d ever experienced in Australia.

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We finally got back to our hotel around 6pm, finished the check-in process and headed up to our room. With the first day sorted, things seemed a lot less intimidating after a decent shower, something to eat and watching a movie on the iPad before going to bed at 9pm. While a whirlwind, the first day went well and we managed to get everything done that we wanted to.

To view all posts on the Japan 2012 Travel Diary, just use the 2012 Japan Trip tag, as the whole series will be added to it over time.

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Shenmue looks amazing in 1080p

Watch that video in 1080p. Right now.

Amazing, huh?

Sega Addicts linked to the above video recently, and fellow gamer CG pointed me in its direction. As an irrational Shenmue fanboy, that video showed how Shenmue 1 and 2 on the DC would look being played in 1080p without any fancy filtering happening… and it looks amazing.

If Sega re-release a HD version of those two games (as already rumoured), I can only hope it looks that good. For now, enjoy the amazingly beautiful video above – it not only looks pretty, but it is also an amazing video showcasing some amazing compiled footage from both games.

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