Tag Archives: para para paradise

The Idol Arrives

People came from far and wide for a chance to walk the Great Hall where machines line the walls; altars of entertainment where the faithful come to worship.  When a soul stands before these cabinets, dreams are fulfilled.  Some titles present the chance of being a rock star, others provide the cure to dancing fever, but only one game offers the opportunity of ascension.  Most of the convention attendees passed by the station of flashing lights and colorful antics, too frightened to even attempt a play.  Only a few brave souls learned the joyful truth during their first encounter: the stage makes no prejudice; everyone gets a turn.

To those watching, the experienced players stand out immediately.  Novices are marked by their spastic in-and-out gestures; a strange hokey-pokey sort of movement.  Intermediate players perform with a sense of fluidity, their arms twine and bend like awkward snakes through the air.  But even the initiated have only glimpsed the true potential of Para-Para.  The throng of viewers grows weary of the mediocre performances, tired of uninspired dancers.  When all seems lost, and the crowd is about disperse, she arrives.

ParaParaStageInitially, the young lady seemed to be just another cosplayer watching from the sidelines.  Many of those waiting to play had ignored her until now.  After watching yet another average dancer step away from the machine, this girl with multicolored hair rises from her place in the masses.  Her bag, heavy with toys and art from the convention is set before the machine; an offering for the J-Pop gods.  An insulated peacoat is removed, revealing the elaborate costume underneath.  Silver-infused violet fabric clings to her torso, a series of petticoats blossoms from her waist, and two striped legs in knee-high boots support the entire ensemble.  The costumed player takes a deep breath, and raises her arms to the machine.

In spite of her limited knowledge of Japanese, the girl navigates the foreign menus with ease.  The crowd is impressed; she knew it was worth importing the home version to learn the logistics.  A selection is made, and the familiar cry of “THE STAGE IS READY FOR YOUR DANCE” resonates from the speakers.  She takes out a pair of glow sticks from her pockets, and cracks each magic wand to illuminate her limbs.  The music begins, and with it a flurry of arrows covers the screen.

ParaParaScreenOnlookers can barely keep up with the rapid pace of the flashing markers on-screen, but the girl seems to have no trouble.  Her arms cascade one over the other, flowing through the sensors as the song plays.  Not content to utilize only her upper torso, she steps in time with the beat, kicking her striped legs with each flourish of the music.  Her voice matches the pitch of the singer coming from the speakers, and for a moment, the crowd forgets the machine entirely.  The girl who took the stage is transformed into a diva, she has ascended and become an idol.

DealersRoomAs the music ceases, the once-human girl spins to face her audience with a quick wink in her eye and a V-gesture on each hand.  The crowd does not applaud, they simply stand in silent awe of the excited performer at the machine.  A perfect score tallies on the screen behind her, but she need not view the results; the impressed gaze of the crowd is enough for the diva.  The idol gathers her belongings and fades into the mass.  She packs up her wig and dons her peacoat, still shaking from the adrenaline rush of greatness.  With a deep breath, she becomes just another attendant at the convention.  The various booths of the Dealers’ Room call to her, beckoning for just one more piece of art to be purchased.

The idol departs.

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Feel the Rhythm

magfestarcadeTo start the new year on a strong video game note, Chip and I attended our first MAGfest (Music and Games Festival) together last weekend. Apart from an excellent lineup of musical acts and entertaining panels, this convention boasts an impressive arcade set up. Nearly every kind of title you can imagine was available. From vintage arcade cabinets to pinball machines to numerous fighting games, all were free to play. Instead of overwhelming ourselves, darting back and forth between childhood favorites (most of which we could easily download from the Xbox Live Arcade), we decided to focus our attention on the pile of rhythm games we wouldn’t be able to play at home.

magfesttaikoUpon returning from MAGFest, we had a number of discussions about simulated dancing/drumming/guitar…ing, which inspired us to spend this month exploring the rhythm genre. One reason we chose to examine this particular genre here on GIMMGP is because these titles are by far and wide the easiest way to introduce a non-gamer to the world of video games. Rhythm games often feature intuitive controls and encourage group participation. Most people won’t play these types of games for nearly as long (or at all) if there isn’t anyone else around to share in the experience. It’s an awesome genre of gateway games that anyone can enjoy.

Many of the games we will be covering are more common in arcade culture than at-home gaming, but we’ll look at some rhythm games available for mobile devices and consoles as well. So to get us started, here are a few suggestions worth checking out.

The Arcade
Arcade culture isn’t as prevalent in Western society as it used to be, but it is definitely still around. For example, Dave & Buster’s has about 55 locations across the US. Most of the locations I’ve been to offer many of the games we are going to cover. While this option can become a little pricey, it’s still provides a great experience: rhythm games and alcohol, dancing and drinking. It’s like going to a club, but better because everyone is actually having fun.
Recommendations: Dance Dance Revolution, Pump It Up

Mobile Devices
Between the iPhone and the 3DS, we have managed to acquire an impressive array of mobile rhythm games. If your girlfriend is looking for a way to share in your hobby, point her in this direction. These games are normally short and easy to learn. Be warned: if she doesn’t like them, it probably means she doesn’t like fun, so you shouldn’t be dating her anyways.
Recommendations: Reflect Beat (iPhone), Rhythm Heaven (DS)

If you don’t have an arcade nearby or you aren’t looking to interact with the outside world, there are certainly options still available. Rhythm games for home consoles normally fall into three categories, based on their input devices:

Instrument Controllers: These games generally require use of accessories based on real-life instruments to play the game properly. Most likely you already own these items, or you know someone who isn’t playing theirs anymore that you can borrow.
Recommendations: Rock Band, Guitar Hero

Motion Controls: These games are played with existing motion-sensing hardware [Wii] or with peripherals that can be used with other games [Kinect, Playstation Move(haha j/k, no one uses the Move)]
Recommendations: Dance Central (Xbox + Kinect), Just Dance (Wii)

Traditional Controllers: Some of GIMMGP’s personal favorites are from back in the days before these new fangled gidgets and gadgets hit the market. These games were great fun and many are available for cheap download, check them out.
Recommendations: Parappa the Rapper, Bust-a-Groove

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