Missing Tokyo

Posted: May 31, 2015 in Japan
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It is hard to imagine that it has been two years since I first set eyes on what I truly believe is the home of my soul. There are moments that it feels like it was just yesterday, I was standing in the middle of Akiba being completely awestruck, and yet at the same time, I am starting to forget. I can’t quite remember the smells, or the feeling of being surrounded by so many people, and at the same time feeling more free than I ever have before. I am starting to forget that sensation when I realized how truly silent the city of Tokyo actually is, which sounds crazy, but yet is so true. The moment amidst the chaos when you realize… wait this isn’t chaos at all, just a different kind of order. But what I will never forget and what is with me every day is how much I miss Tokyo!

My journey in Tokyo lasted almost three weeks, which may sound like a long time but in all reality is not! I barely scratched the surface of that amazing megacity, and I spend every day hoping that I can return soon. I should have been able to travel back to Japan to enjoy the Sakura this year in Tokyo as well as Kyoto but sadly, I had to postpone. The fact that I had to put off my trip was truly heartbreaking and at the same time makes my desire to return even more intense. I know I will return to the Land of the Rising Sun, my spiritual home, I just don’t know when.

Come along with me as I go back in time and revisit my favorite moments of that trip. Some of these images may be familiar if you have followed my Tokyo Diaries series, and some I have yet to publish. The Tokyo Diaries series is still a work in progress but is a project I have not forgotten and will most definitely complete.

Journey with me now… as I revisit some of my favorite moments…

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This was so impressive to see, and fortunately I stayed so near to this amazing life-size Gundam I got to see hime every day!

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So much fun and I even won an Evee of my very own!

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 Was so not going to miss a stop at a Pokemon Center. I had complete intentions of going again before I left, but somehow never made it back.

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Must have for any Gundam fan. Made several stops at both Gundam Cafe’s, the one pictured above is in Akihabara.

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So serene and beautiful!

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An oasis amidst the skyscrapers!

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For a brief moment, I thought I had been transported back in time.

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Nihonbashi Bridge

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All you heard was a quiet rustle as they passed you by. All that was left was the faintest fragrance of flowers when they were gone.

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Two amazing achievements!

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The most delicious food!

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I had waited a long time just to come and visit him!

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Only by being there can you truly understand.

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I became obsessed with these delicious little treats!

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These images barely begin to scratch the surface of my journey in Tokyo, and reflect but just a few moments that I will never forget.

I can only hope that I will be able to return soon and embark on experiencing all that this beautiful country has to offer. I will not rest until I have explored it all, and am counting the days until I can return! Stay tuned for more as I continue with Tokyo Diaries.

It has been a long time since I have completed an episode of Tokyo Diaries, and for those that were previously following along, I apologize. For those of you that are coming across this series for the first time, if you like what you see take a look at some of the previous episodes. I have struggled as of late to be able to find time to continue chronicling my adventures in Tokyo, but I feel that I should finally make that happen.

It has been over a year since my feet were on Japanese soil and there is not a day that goes by that I do not miss it horribly! We have recently had to cancel our upcoming trip for Sakura season and that has left me quite sad so I hope that continuing to revisit my last journey will help me in my sadness.

In our previous episode we had a chance to visit Senso-ji and take a trip back in time. This episode we will be going on a whirlwind tour of Tokyo Midtown, Roppongi Hills, Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree! I cannot even begin to tell you how exhausted we were at the end of this day!

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I love the fact that when you arrive at certain station throughout Tokyo, you are greeted with amazing art. This was what greeted us that day as we arrived at Shiodome station.

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Tokyo Midtown entrance upon arrival at the station.

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As you ride the escalator up to the first floor of Tokyo Midtown, you come across this amazing water fountain. It is quite impressive and literally takes up the entire wall.

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There is quite a bit of fantastic sculptures and architecture all over. This sculpture was in the center of a very large circular skylight, and you can see from the small child that it is a fairly large piece.

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I found the Konami store!

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This is what you see as you gaze up into the large water feature that resides in the middle of Tokyo Midtown outside.

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This is the same water feature as you see it from outside. You can see the Konami Card Game Station peeking out at you from the other side.

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I was awestruck at the beauty of this place. I think one of the things that amazes me about Tokyo is how much lush scenery you can find and how well they are able to combine steel, glass, and trees together without taking anything away from each one individually.

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Next stop, Roppongi Hills!

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Underground Passage… I’m there!

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Mori Tower

Sadly since we packed so much into this day we were not able to take the time to go inside, however we did explore the surrounding area.

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Louise Bourgeois’ giant spider named Maman.

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Water fountain that follows alongside Maman.

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Entrance to Mori Tower.

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In Tokyo it is disrespectful and basically not allowed to smoke in a random space. So they have strategically placed a bunch of “smoking areas” throughout the city and some are even in governmental buildings. I found myself being pretty obsessed with taking pictures of them all, and I dont even smoke! This was one of the ones with the best view of Tokyo Tower.

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View from the “smoking area”.

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There is a peaceful garden below the Mori Tower with a pond and lush green walkways, perfect for a picnic!

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Tokyo Tower was our next stop on this insanely busy day. Built in the 1950’s to resemble  the Eiffel Tower, although a little taller, this seems to be one of the most easily recognizable landmarks in Tokyo. Inside there are countless little stalls full of souvenirs and goodies that you cant help but want to take home. I did resist although in retrospect that was silly. The wait for the viewing platform was pretty long so we decided to go ahead and head out to our last stop of the day, Tokyo Skytree.

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As you disembark from the rail at Tokyo Skytree station you find yourself walking into a tall maze of escalators that will take you up into what I lovingly call the Tokyo Skytree compound.

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This is the site that greeted me as I rounded the corner after having arisen from the escalators.

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Completed in 2011, Tokyo Skytree stands 634 meters (2,080 ft.) tall and is surrounded by numerous shops and restaurants.

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Breathtakingly beautiful and awe-inspiring!

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I found another “smoking area”!

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Inside the shopping area I found a cute little Hello Kitty store.

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This is one of my favorite representations of Hello Kitty. There is something very classic and yet kawaii about Hello Kitty in a kimono.

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Fantastic sculture right outside the official Tokyo Skytree store.

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There is so much to look at and explore all around that by the time we decided to go get tickets for the observation deck there were none left for the day! We figured we would be able to come back before we left but sadly time escaped us and we never made it back so this is on the “To Do List” for our next trip.

This was such a fun-filled yet exhausting day, it is amazing that you could stay in Tokyo for a couple of weeks and still leave things undone!

Stay tuned until the next Tokyo Diaries!

Posted: October 4, 2014 in Pocket Quotes
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“Not all who wander are lost” J.R.R. Tolkien

What does it mean to be a “girl gamer”?

This isn’t really a question that I ask myself, I don’t really ever even think about that question. Until I see the look on people’s faces when they find out I play games. For me, and I would assume for most of us “girl gamers” we don’t think about it, because this is just the way that we are.
I am female, an adult, and I like, no dare I say, LOVE video games! I am just like the men/boy gamers of the world. So why are we seen so differently? For some reason females in gaming are seen as this elusive species, a legend, an urban myth, a unicorn. So let me let you in on a little secret, we exist! We are out there, you walk by us every day, you talk to us, you interact with us, in some cases we might even be your boss, and just in case you hadn’t noticed there are females in the gaming industry working hard to create these games we have all dedicated countless hours to, and guess what… They are doing it right alongside the men!

So why am I asking this question now?
I don’t think most people realize what women take on when they find themselves drawn to what, from an outsider (and even some insiders) feel is a boys club. Most of the time we are dismissed, and it is automatically assumed that we can’t play or that all we play are Hello Kitty and Disney games (absolutely nothing wrong with that) but there is so much more to us. We don’t all get into gaming because our brothers or boyfriends taught us too. Most of us found ourselves attracted by the amazing worlds that opened up literally at our fingertips, most of us taught ourselves how to play with countless hours of sometimes frustrating gameplay, and for most of us years later, we still love it!
So let me share with you the story of one such “girl gamer”.

I was young and completely unaware of the video game world. I had seen my uncle play with an Atari, but I was never allowed to play, because of course… I was a girl. One day I happened to find myself staring wide eyed at a Sega Genesis, I still remember what it felt like. I was just walking by, minding my own business at the local toy store, and all of the sudden behind this glass cabinet was this amazing shiny black box that literally screamed out my name. It was indescribable, I had to have it! It looked beautiful, and the worlds it promised, I literally stood there enthralled. I pressed my little face up to the glass hoping that somehow magically through osmosis I could just touch it. Fortunately the gods were smiling down on me, and my mom decided I had been a good enough little girl to warrant such a gift. You see I am the oldest of four, the only girl and she was about to have my first of three younger brothers so really, I think she was just trying to butter me up for permanent baby sitter availability.
This one moment is what started it all, from that moment on I was hooked. I spent hours completely immersed in so many games that to this day I still absolutely love, and fortunately some of them have even been remade, Castle of Illusion being one of those games I loved and after having a chance to play it again recently it is still amazing. I have to say my only regret of those early gaming days is never having beat Ecco the Dolphin (those were definitely my first nerd rage moments). As I continued to grow and my desire for games increased I discovered Nintendo, and let’s just say they stole my heart.
Throughout the years there have been so many games that I have enjoyed and I literally own every gaming console and handheld, in some case multiples that have come out since the Genesis (except a Neo Geo Pocket that was stolen and never replaced) but for some reason there is no other that speaks to my heart the way Nintendo does. There is a small exception to that, Gears of War, I don’t know what it is about that series that touched me but I actually cried more than once as I played through the trilogy (I say that because I didn’t play the last one, a slight boycott since Cliff Blezinski had nothing to
do with it).

So many years and so many games but one thing remains the same I am a gamer!
I wait with baited breath for word on the latest releases from my favorite developers. I subscribe to numerous gaming magazines. I follow news online about the goings on of the gaming world. I have even been known to cosplay now and again.
It’s no secret to those that know me that if you just but peaked inside my bag you would surely find my 3DS XL and that my little friend and I have only been parted twice, once for surgery, and once because it was stolen, the latter a very sad experience as not only did I not have my little friend but OH MY GOD, my save data!
It is also no secret that I rather spend quality time at home playing my latest game on a day off than wasting it at the mall or some other place that us girls are supposed to go. I strategically organize my schedule to ensure that I have release day and a couple of days off after launch to make the most of my gaming time (can’t wait for Destiny launch and 3 days off). My most recent acquisition was Diablo iii Ultimate (not enough games like this). I find myself wanting to jump out of my comfort zone and try games that I might not be as great at but am drawn by the world. I will even share another little secret with you… I am a damn good sniper!

So you see,we are not all that different from all the other gamers you know. So I ask you, in the end aren’t we all just gamers that love, hate, and dive in to these vast universe time and time again to experience and enjoy the possibilities at our fingertips?

*This was originally posted on shegotgamedoc.ca so I thought I would make it available on my own blog as well. Click on the link and check out all the great work that Cailleah Scott-Grimes is doing to highlight women in gaming!

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On Tuesday, September 9th 2014, Destiny launches!
Now for those of you that are unaware I am a pretty dedicated Nintendo Fan Girl! So there are very few things that can draw my attention away but Bungie has done it again. I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about this particular title, I know that Bungie has decided they want this to be a decade long adventure and I am willing to give them the time. I am looking forward to immersing myself in what will hopefully be a pretty epic adventure full of lots of story, dialogue, and snippering!

This is the plan for me and my PS4…
– Launch day plus two additional days off in a row for maximum binge playing, check!
– House cleaned, check!
– Advised all not to bother me for 3 days, check!
– Grocery shopping for gaming munchies, not check…
Have only one thing left to check off my list and hopefully I will be ready!

As of 9am tomorrow morning I will be standing in front of my local game shop not patiently awaiting my copy of the Limited Edition.
Two complaints so far…
– My local game shop sucks and they are not opening at midnight!
– Not enough Ghost editions!!!!!!!!

Good luck to all that will be embarking on a journey to be a Gaurdian, and save the world!

I am on a mission! Im not sure why exactly, but I am on a serious mission.
Sadly this thought never occurred to me last year when I was standing amongst all the cuteness inside The Pokemon Center.
I think I was overwhelmed, I think if its possible I literally had “geeky goodness” overload. Sounds absolutely crazy I know, but now over a year later, when I am horribly missing my time spent in the “Land of the Rising Sun” its true!
By now your probably wondering, what is this mission?…
I am on a mission to collect EVERY Eevolution that I can get my hands on, in plushie and keychain form!
Sadly so far I have acquired just a few and my “collection”, (if you can really call it that) looks quite sad. But I guess all collections have to start somewhere.
Here are a few shots of what I am hoping is just the beginning of my “Complete Evee Collection”!

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Collection so far.

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I had her keychain too but it was stolen…

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Sad I know, but like I said… I am on a mission!

Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to attend Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and I must say I was not disappointed. I have attended several of these weekends and I have to say this might have been one of my favorites! There has been alot of skeptics out there ever since the announcement that Disney had acquired “Star Wars”, and I am still a little bit concerned about how they will handle a franchise that has shaped so many of our childhoods and adult lives. However, in this they did not disappoint!

They offered so much this year in the way of expanding the event that I left excited for what else was to come of “The Star Wars” universe under the Disney brand.

I did my best to capture as many of the special goodness as I could, but I must say there were a few times I was too busy enjoying those moments. From the amazing amount of official characters roaming about for picture ops, to the fans that were out cosplaying, to the ever fantastic “Darth’s Mall”, and new this year the “Star Wars” symphony led fireworks, I had a blast!

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This was one of the first “character” sitings we had. The line to get a one on one pic was crazy long!

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Absolutely had to take a picture with this Clone Trooper and my amazing little R2-D2 dress.

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Official Bounty Hunter with a great fan cosplay.

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Sadly I was unable to take a picture with Boba Fett because right as I arrived and saw the line was almost non-existent he left for break…

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Now on to “Darth’s Mall”, mecha of shopping for all things “Star Wars”

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There were so may cool things that were displayed above the venue. As long as you weren’t overwhelmed by all the goodies and remembered to look up.

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“I am watching you”…

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This got me squealing like a little girl! of course I absolutely had to buy an amazing Boba Fett tank-top, literally could not leave there without it!

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Great place to stop and get some refreshments.

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Some of my favorite artwork they had.

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Extra goodness on the way out too.

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The line here was the longest of all, it literally wrapped all the way around and outside of the dedicated Star Wars area.

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No matter how many times I go, I always have to walk all through here and ride “Star Tours”.

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And no visit is complete without making a pitstop here!

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How can you not love that face!

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Much needed for my “Magic Band”.

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Had to have the “Stormtrooper Stein”.

The evening ended with an amazing show, and for the icing on the cake fireworks set to the beloved symphony of “Star Wars”.

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Spectacular finish to the day that pictures just don’t do it justice. Cant wait till next year!

It has been just a day shy of two weeks since the video game world was shown the latest happenings and future releases that we should all be waiting with bated breath for. But are we…

I have been slowly processing all that I saw and heard over the several days of press conferences, demo’s, trailers, and interviews that normally leave me every year literally counting the days until said games will grace store’s shelves but what happened this year?

I have watched many an E3 throughout the years and there have been good and bad times as with all things there are ebbs and flows, but even two weeks later I am still wondering what did I really think of what was shown to us. In some cases leaving people wondering is a good thing but Im not really sure that in this case it is…

For a long time there has been alot of talk about how long the video game industry can sustain its epic growth and amazing ability to generate dollars, but for me its always about whether or not it can sustain its relevance. A lot of people find themselves gaming on other devices that are not dedicated to gaming and although I genuinely believe there should be a place for all gamers I am still of the mind that one can only experience the true heart, ingenuity, and world that video games open up on machines that have been designed from the ground up as just that, a portal to a new world.

This E3 left me wondering though if the companies that hold sway in the industry still have the passion and heart that existed when this industry was still in its infancy. Do they genuinely care about bringing good content and vast universes to their droves of fans or has the powerhouse of the financial dollars begun to tarnish their hearts and all they see is dollar signs…

As I continue to ask myself these questions there are a few things that I have come away with as far as the Big 3 is concerned…

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Overall Sony’s press event was a pretty good showing, awkward moments and all. I enjoyed the fact that they created an App that you could access directly from your console to keep you connected to all their goings on, however the execution could have been better as it would simply launch the browser for you instead of working itself out smoothly through the app. They kept the flashy lights and in your face arm flexing to a minimum which I appreciate as I think sometimes we loose what its really about which is ultimately the worlds that these developers have slaved over to bring to our greedy little eyes. That being said here is what I am most excited about from Sony…

Destiny- Although this is not exclusive to the PS4, I am very excited about the partnership that seems to have been cultivated behind the scenes between Sony and Bungie. They offered an opportunity for players to sign up for the Alpha and as a good little gamer I did and have succeeded in making myself impatiently await the Beta as well. With lots of still unanswered questions about the specifics of the game I have almost convinced myself that I will also be needing the Limited Edition Destiny White PS4 bundle that was announced releasing in September this year. Even though I am disappointed that an actual collector’s edition was not announced.

The Order 1886- This title is an exclusive and looks great. I love the spin on the Arthurian legend (I have a slight obsession and have watched, read, played everything that has to do with it) and I love the gritty, dirty world the game lives in. I am skeptical of a few things but am still looking forward to its release in February 2015.

DW Gundam Reborn and Ebzu also piqued my curiosity and I thoroughly enjoyed Journey and Flower so I am most looking forward to Ebzu! Entwined was a surprise as it reminds me alot of the concept of Journey and Flower so I am looking forward to checking this one out but have not found the time just yet as it was availible immediately after its announcement.

I like the fact that Sony is also looking for ways to expand the worlds created within games to movies and shows so I was excited to hear about The Ratchet and Clank movie as well as the Powers series that was announced especially the fact that PS Plus members will be able to watch the Powers episodes for free. And although Playstation TV was not necessarily a surprise announcement I am looking forward to its release as I feel it will work similarly to an Apple Tv and I feel is a good addition to the household.

Overall maybe not the most epic year for Sony but they do have my interest piqued and will acquire a nice chunk of money from me over the next six months or so. Mainly in my perception they seem to have started to remember what most important to us gamers… Games!

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Some people might call me a fan girl and thats ok but for me the bottom line is that I feel Nintendo speaks to my heart, what I mean is they keep it simple, uncomplicated, and just good fun!
This year their decision to forego the usual big flashy lights press conference to me was a good one.
Their digital event I felt was focused on what is the most important thing and thats games, I felt they also showed that they know there is opportunity and that they are not above poking fun at themselves in the form of the skits they had the peeps from Robot Chicken do for them and they kept it more real than I believe some of the other companies did with they’re talking head performances.
The Nintendo Treehouse was another example of keeping it about the games and I felt gave us a good opportunity to see how hard some of these developers work on their games and the passion that is behind every employee that works with or for The Big N!

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Bill Trinen

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Shigeru Miyamoto

Those are just two of the people that spent time in the Treehouse talking to you about all the upcoming games from Nintendo. There are so many more that were on during the three day event that kept me coming back time and time again!

Nintendo also hosted a Smash Tournanment which although I don’t agree with the guy that won (I think Kirby deserved it more) I truly enjoyed watching and was excited to see two girls make it pretty far through the tournament (I liked the Villager best), and I was most excited to see who stopped by for a few to chat!

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Masahiro Sakurai

If it wasn’t for the Limited Edition Destiny PS4 Bundle Nintendo would have won the “Who will take all my money contest” but here is the list of games that I am impatiently awaiting from Nintendo.

Hyrule Warriors – September 26
Fantasy Life – October 24 (This was a surprise for me as I hadnt really heard anything about it before and is the one I am literally jumping up and down for!
Captain Toad Treasure Tracker – Holiday 2014
Bayonetta 2 – Holiday 2014 (I am excited it comes with the original and was honeslty rather indifferent about this title until I watched the Treehouse interview with some of the devs.)
Xenoblade Chronicles X – 2015
Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Saphire – November 21
Yoshi’s Whooly World – 2015
SSB 3DS and WiiU – October and November
Zelda U – 2015 (of course this is just obvious!)

As for the third in the Big 3 I have to say I am very disappointed and I know some people might not agree with me but Microsoft did nothing to impress me (except this exclusive title called Ori and The Blind Forest) in fact I was really hoping that I would see something that would convince me to run out and buy an XBOX One and aside from Halo which will inevitably force me to go buy one I got nothing! All I saw was a bunch of talking heads and flashing lights screaming that it was all about the games and players. I saw them awkwardly roll out some of the devs and peeps behind the scenes (which I am glad they finally did) but it didn’t feel genuine, it felt like a sales tactic, a pitch to convince you that they really have had the players in their main thoughts all this time. Which for me it just seems that they have seen their profits impacted so they are gonna tell you what they know you want to hear, like I said alot of people might not agree with me but that was the impression I got, I just hope one day they actually start believing the things they are saying…

Overall I thouroughly enjoyed all the aspects of E3 2014, good and bad.

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Aside from my TV and Consoles, this is what my E3 setup looked like (for some reason my cat loves electronics).
I am sure we all spent E3 differently and we all have equally different opinions on what and who we thought was the best but no matter whose side we have chosen for me what will always be most important is the games and the developers that have worked, sweat, and sometimes bled to bring them to us!

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One year ago today I landed in “The Land of the Rising Sun” and there is not a moment that goes by that I do not wish that I was back there again. To this day, one year to the day later I am still amazed at how completely welcome and at home I felt in what is to me a foreign land, how at peace and soul-fulfilled I was the moment my feet hit the ground. Its hard to describe the sensation of feeling like you have finally found your home when everything around you is so completely different than anything you have ever known and yet at the same time there is a little voice inside of you that sighs and says, your here, your home.

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There were so many moments for me that made the breath catch in my throat and on a few occasions even made me cry. The sights, smells, sounds (sometimes the silence) and the people have forever changed my life and I am counting the days until I can return again!

This past Friday the 23rd, Disney hosted an all night event that lasted from 6am on Friday to 6am on Saturday and I was one of those crazy people that stayed up all night to Rock my Disney side!

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This is what greeted you as you walked up to The Magic Kingdom (we arrived at around 2am after awaking from our late night nap)

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Not sure if it was the middle of the night delirium but I swear the castle looked better than I’ve ever seen it!

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In honor of the Malificent movie about to be released I acquired an amazing headpiece on Mainstreet I had to put on right away, the dress was another must have purchase from Hot Topic (forgive the sleepy face but it was after 3am). Behind me is a sea of people at the base of the castle with a DJ pumping out some crowd pleasing tunes.

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Funny, I have been to The Magic Kingdom a ton of times but I have never noticed this statue… Adorable!

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So many places that I swear looked better than ever, possibly sleep depervation as it was around 4am at this point.

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Entrance to Be our Guest Restaurant in Fantasyland

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So many times I looked up at Cinderella’s Castle as if I had never seen it before!

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One of my favorite parts of the night was getting to ride the yet to officially open ride in Fantasyland!

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Several adorable games to keep you occupied during long wait times (only showed you one so as to not ruin the surprise). Although the ride was cute and there is a part that I truly loved there were so many times I was upset that the breaks seemed to be put on so as to not give the kiddies a jump. I guess it is Disney afterall…

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They even thought of setting up areas where exhausted Disney goers could take a nap.

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At about 5am we made a much needed pit stop in the Starbucks on Mainstreet and acquired a delicious Cinammon Dolce Latte that is available nowhere else but there, and came across these naughty looking cupcakes too!

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As the sun rose I found myself making my way back to Cinderella’s Castle again…

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I have seen many a sunset but never a sunrise over The Magic Kingdom

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This was the last shot of the castle I took that day.

Overall the night/morning was a blast, my only compaint is the lack of rare Villian’s that were to be featured throughout the part for your picture pleasures. They might have been more visible earlier in the day but I absolutely enjoyed the time that we went, afterall how often do you get to see the sunrise at The Magic Kingdom!

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Good morning world!

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This is the beauty that greeted us as we made our way across Discovery Lake on the Ferryboat

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Alas it was time to leave the magic that is The Magic Kingdom…