Inspiration: Wednesday 26th April

I thought it might be cool to write a little post about the things that are inspiring me at the moment. Games and books, movies and social media, I constantly feel like I’m fully engaged. At the moment I am on holiday, and have nothing but time. So here are some things I’ve been into!

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The Imjin War – by Samuel Hawley

Lately I’ve been on a real samurai kick, its kind of all consuming. And this was the book that started it all! The Imjin War is the tale of just that, the Japanese attempt to invade and conquer China and all of Asia in the 16th century. Landing in Korea, the Japanese expected the Korean’s to simply let them march on Beijing. Instead, they would fight tooth and nail, making the Japanese pay for every inch of ground they covered. Impeccably well written, Samuel Hawley tells the tale from the point of view of the three main belligerents: the invading Japanese, the Koreans, fighting for their very survival, and the Chinese, initially dismissive of the entire affair, but forced to mobilise to stave off the very real Japanese threat. Incredibly readable, with very likeable characters and deeply informative, the epilogue in particular really stays with you.

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Samurai William – by Giles Milton

Samurai William is a book that had been on my to-read list for quite awhile now. I’m really glad I got to it, as its one of the better books I’ve read in recent years. William Adams was the first Englishman to reach the shores of Japan, in 1600. The two year journey itself is fascinating, but what follows is nothing short of incredible. Born into poverty outside of London, Adams was made samurai by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the Shogun himself. Adams taught Ieyasu about the Western world, and in return earned his trust and respect. Adams is still remembered today in Japan, there is even a district in Tokyo named after him (Anjin-cho). Also, the video game Ni-Oh is VERY loosely based on the events of the book. Its an incredible story, and a fantastic read!

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Sabriel – by Garth Nix

Other than history, I really only read sci-fi/fantasy (which is something I’m trying to change). Sabriel is a book I started reading years ago, and picked it back up on a whim. I’m glad I did too, because Garth Nix creates a really interesting unique and interesting world, in which the modern meets the fantastic. The first novel in the Abhorsen trilogy, Sabriel tells the tale of the titular heroine as she comes into her birthright as the Abhorsen, a sort of holy necromancer that banishes the restless dead that wander the world. It has a really interesting magic system involving bells, and the depiction of the afterlife (that is a place the protagonists regularly travel too) is truly unique. Really looking forward to continuing the series!

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Ran – Akira Kurosawa

I have a thing where I find it really difficult to watch older movies, basically anything pre original trilogy Star Wars is out of the question. I’m trying to break out of this though, and combined with the aforementioned samurai thing, I arrived at Kurosawa. Ran is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear, interspersed with segments based on the legend of Sengoku era daimyo Mori Motonari. It’s a long movie, but I actually really got into it. Its a very vibrant movie, with a lot of colour being thrown around. Most of the major characters have a colour theme that is used really well throughout the course of the movie. It even has pretty impressive battle sequences, Ran having the biggest movie of any movie made in Japan at the time. I’m a fan now, and after Ran I immediately moved on to…

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Seven Samurai – Akira Kurosawa

A timeless classic, and of course one I hadn’t seen. Released in 1954, this movie is over 60 years old, and is surprisingly watchable! I might sound really ignorant, but I truly thought movies of this era were unwatchable. But it turns out its a fun movie, and surprisingly really funny! The action is fantastic too, and the story has been adapted countless times: villagers, rather than giving their harvest to the roving bandits that demand it from them every year, instead use it to employ samurai to defend them. The Clone Wars animated series had a really great episode that was an homage to this, but with Jedi instead. That’s all the Kurosawa I have seen so far, but will definitely be exploring his other films.

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Persona 4 Golden

God, I love this game. Still plugging away at that platinum trophy, but I really forgot how vast this game is, and you really cant just steamroll through it. Even on normal difficulty I’m having some troubles with some boss’s, and having to grind a little. Still really enjoying this playthrough, and I’d say im a little past halfway (Void Quest dungeon). The plan is still to get a full review out, but I think I will save that until after this run, and maybe comment on the platinum process. Spoilers, its pretty difficult, and sometimes obtuse. Gotta have it done by the time I get home and start on Persona 5 though, so about two weeks left. No pressure!

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Twitter

Kind of weird thing to be inspired by, but I’ve really been into Twitter lately! I’m trying to make a conscious effort to engage with people, write some jokes and generally get involved with the platform. And while its still early days, I’m noticing an increase in followers ever since I started making a conscious effort, which is kind of rewarding in its own way. I guess I’ve never been a big Facebook or Instagram guy, so I’m seeing the addictive nature of social media. Feel free to follow me @ https://twitter.com/KhaylAdam, its mostly jokes, Persona memes and Star Wars ramblings.

 

What are you into at the moment, got any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

K.

Persona 5 – Review Roundup

Take Your Heart

The long wait for Persona 5 is over, and the reviews are in. The highly anticipated next entry in Atlus’s fan favourite JRPG series, known for its stylish visuals and complex character development, is a game I’ve been looking forward to for what seems like an eternity. Its predecessor, Persona 4, set an incredibly high standard for the genre. With its addictive mix of gameplay elements and refreshingly adult themes, combined with its wicked soundtrack and slick aesthetic, P5 has some incredibly big shoes to fill. Initial impressions have been overwhelmingly positive, but lets see what the industry’s critics think:

thumb-1920-656813“A strong story and tremendous sense of style make this the best entry in the series yet.”

 Andrew Goldfarb, IGN. 9.7 / 10  – Amazing.

@garfep

“With more to do than ever and the series’ strongest story to date, it stands out as an extraordinary, memorable experience and easily one of the deepest JRPGs of the last decade”

I’ve been following Andrew Goldfarb ever since his days as the Dark Knight of News, on IGN’s PlayStation podcast Beyond. His passion and admiration for the Persona series is, at this stage, world renowned. This positively shines through in his review, and as a proven series veteran (seriously, anyone that earned the platinum trophy in Persona 4: Golden is deserving of respect) his opinion carries a lot of weight with me.

persona_5_wallpaper_2_by_de_monvarela-d8ho6fh“Style and substance.”

Lucy James, Gamespot. 9/10

@lucyjamesgames

“There’s an overwhelming level of artistry in every part of Persona 5, making it a truly standout entry in the series. It’s a refined, effortlessly stylish RPG that will be talked about for years to come.”

I really appreciate Gamespot’s more longform written reviews. Lucy James isn’t a reviewer I am particularly familiar with, but I really enjoyed her review of Persona 5. It’s insightful, wonderfully worded, and I’ll be following her work with interest. While this is another very positive review, Lucy draws attention to an at times problematic camera, and issues with context sensitive climbing prompts, but admits these are very minor complaints in the grand scheme. I appreciated her description of the game’s lighter moments. Persona games have always balanced darker themes with moments of levity, and I’m glad that trend continues in P5.

maxresdefault“Yes, this is exactly how I remember high school”

Kirk Hamilton, Kotaku.

@kirkhamilton

“Persona 5 is one of the most stylish video games I’ve ever played. It restlessly pulses toward the corners of your TV screen, as if unable to contain its overabundance of verve. This game doesn’t run, it bounces, helped along by a giddy and unusually cohesive audio-visual aesthetic.”

While Kotaku’s review system eschews numbered scores, Kirk Hamilton’s review was definitely positive. He was particularity impressed with the music and artistry of the game, and his descriptions are incredibly vivid, the sign of a great writer. While his review did stray into what I thought were unnecessary plot spoilers for a couple of paragraphs, his writing style is striking and infectious, and I can respect that.  

thumb-1920-678024Persona 5 hits store shelves on April 4th, and from all accounts looks to be an outstanding game in a year already overloaded with high quality releases. Are you excited for P5’s launch? Sound off in the comments below, and let me know who wrote your favourite review! 

K.