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Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is like Super Metroid

Super Metroid is an action-adventure game that was released on the Super Nintendo 25 years ago. It was developed and published by Nintendo and is my favourite video game of all time. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is also an action-adventure game but developed by FromSoftware and published by Activision. It was released in March 2019. What does one have in common with the other? Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice reminds me of Super Metroid and that’s a good thing! There were certain game-play ingredients in Super Metroid that made it a masterpiece in my eyes – Sekiro has many of those same ingredients but I have not seen that comparison made.

super metroid samus and ridley

Genichiro is Ridley and Kuro is the Metroid

Genichiro is Ridley because all through the game; it is obvious he is your main rival. He is the overpowered tutorial boss, mid-level boss and one of the final bosses just like Ridley in Super Metroid. He also “captures” the poor defenseless Kuro (The Metroid) at the start, making your main mission to rescue Kuro, while on the way discovering the powers Kuro (The Metroid) has and your need to prevent its (his) exploitation.

Unlock new abilities and potential

Sekiro is Samus because at the beginning of the game you are weak and underdeveloped but as you progress, through the game you acquire new abilities, tools and skills. So, by the time you are at the end of this journey, you have changed a lot and also extremely powerful compared to when you first started the adventure. Samus has a gun arm, special suit and special training – Sekiro has his katana, a prosthetic arm and all kinds of shinobi techniques.

Defeat and struggles at the beginning – revenge in the end

In Super Metroid, Samus is really battered and bruised in the beginning by Ridley and the Space Pirates. The same can be said in Sekiro; as the Wolf squares up against that damn Ogre (the gatekeeper for so many players). Even after that challenge, I would argue that the game really doesn’t open up until after defeating Genichiro atop a certain castle tower, It is then the player starts amassing their arsenal of weapons and abilities in both games for their revenge and showdown in the end.

Sekiro

Punishing Bosses that teach game mechanics

Modern gaming has slowly eroded to the sense of challenge resulting in a reward after victory over the said challenge. Too many action games now are all about pushing a certain button when prompted to receive some flashy combo, explosion or scene. Sekiro (and Super Metroid) is similar as you have to use the skills you have developed or unlocked in the game to defeat a boss in order to progress. Whether that is mikiri countering a bosses thrust or rolling into a ball so you can put a bomb is the boss’s mouth.

Are you really the good guy/girl?

By the end of Super Metroid, you have a lot of information about why the Metroid was in that lab – Motherbrain and all. In Sekiro you really start to understand the power of Dragon’s blood and how it can be potentially used for good or evil. In both games, the protagonist really has to question if they are on the right side at all with Sekiro taking it even further offering not one, not two, not three but four different endings. Two of these endings have dramatically different outcomes depending on the choices of the player.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Tweet me @Jamaipanese or leave a comment below!

How to Love a Jamaican

The written word is a powerful thing. The now cliche Edward Bulwer-Lytton quote that “The pen is mightier than the sword” is well known by all. In the case of “How to Love a Jamaican” – the author’s pen is is the sword that has cut me apart while building me up and tickling me senseless all at the same time.

How to Love a Jamaican

Caribbean-themed Short Stories

How to Love a Jamaican is written by Alexia Arthurs an educated and award-winning Jamaican who moved to New York before she was a teenager. The book described simply, is a collection of short stories. It is fiction but seasoned to the bone with Caribbean flavour and nuance. As a younger man I was an avid reader – inhaling books as a teen, but somewhere in my early 20’s my love of reading and the fictional adventures reading carried me on waned. How to Love a Jamaican for me, was the first time in a long time I felt so excited and connected to a book/story, but instead of my usual Elves, dragons, superheroes, alien life forms and scientific theories it was me on the page, my neighbour, my family, my friends, my whole damn life and those around me.

I’m in every story

Ever single short-story in the book is memorable but my favourites are “Light Skinned Girls and Kelly Rowlands”, “Mash Up Love”, “Mermaid River”, “Shirley from a Small Place” and the dagger to my heart and mind the title story “How to love a Jamaican”. Topics such a colourism, infidelity, love, arrogance are explored with characters so relate-able and real to any Caribbean person no matter their colour, class or creed. How to Love a Jamaican is a wonderful book that I can’t recommend enough. Thank you, Alexia. Thank you.

How to Love a Jamaican

How to love a Jamaican is available on Amazon and other popular locations where books are sold.

E3 2019 โ€“ The 5 Most Exciting Games

E3 2019 didn’t disappoint even though Sony was absent. All the games I was looking forward to seeing were present although I didn’t get official news on a new Nintendo Switch model as I had hoped. My Ps4 will be happy for at least another 18 months with news expected on the Ps4 soon. Here are the 5 most exciting games I saw at E3 2019.

Final Fantasy 8 Remastered

Cyberpunk 2077 – a game from a game company who listens and respects the feedback and input from its customers. You can tell when a game is developed out of a labour of love vs when it is pushed out the gate as fast as possible so the money can start flowing. CD Project Red is one of the biggest stars in the gaming industry at the moment and I am excited to play their Cyberpunk themed futuristic RPG come next year.

Final Fantasy VIII Remaster – Final Fantasy 7 usually has the fans screaming and rightfully so; its one of the best selling games in the series with memorable characters and a story. It has spawned so many spinoffs. However Final Fantasy 8 is my favourite in the series to this date, the story, the characters and the music is carved into my brain and I have been foaming at the mouth for news of a remake or remaster. I have finally gotten my wish as at times I felt that FF8 was like the ugly stepchild of the Final Fantasy series.

Fire Emblem Three Houses – Fire Emblem on the Gameboy advance was my first jump into the series. I also played Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones but then was unable to play any other games from the series since then. That changes with Three Houses as out of all the games on this list I have been following Three Houses closely and will finally buy a Nintendo Switch just so I can enjoy this game.

Star Wars Fallen Order – Star Wars games have been terrible in recent times. I don’t need to get into that backstory about why. However, Fallen Order showed me just enough to keep me interested and wanting more. I just hope I won’t be disappointed with the final product. I would have rather be playing as a Sith instead of yet another Jedi but alas let’s see how it plays and what possible expansions are made.

Elden Ring – Another of companies that command gamers’ attention just when their name is mentioned. From Software’s next project is already a must buy for me even without gameplay and just a teaser trailer. George R.R. Martin of Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire) fame is just the cherry on top that will ensure this is a mature detailed world to get lost in.

Are there any games revealed or showcased at E3 2019 that you are excited about? Leave a comment below or tweet me @Jamaipanese.

JLPT N4 Books and Preparation โ€“ CRUNCH TIME!!!

I am still very much on my journey to learn Japanese – a journey that will never end. A recent success was passing The first level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT N5). I am now prepping for the next level (N4) and I often wonder if I have left too much to do and I don’t have enough time. I’ve always had severe test/exam anxiety; I took a “break” from actively self-studying Japanese after passing N5. In hindsight that was a mistake as it has been quite difficult to get back into the grove.

I recently bought a couple of JLPT N4 books to help nudge me off of my lazy ass. I don’t attend any regular formal classes so self-studying is all I do. The books I got are:

My favourite of the three by far is Nihongo Soumatome. It is basically a 6-week course in the form of a book teaching all the relevant kanji and vocabulary. A daily lesson and quiz, then a weekly test containing material studied over the previous six days. It’s perfect for someone like me who needs structure, a clear goal and an easy way to see if progress is being made. My one complaint is the Vietnamese translations alongside the English ones all throughout the textbook. It was quite distracting and useless for me and I wish I could have gotten a version of the book with just English and Japanese.

Nihongo Soumatome N4

The New Kanzen Master Grammar book I have honestly not spent much time using yet. Grammar is always so difficult and I expect this book to take me more time to get through. The first couple lessons about conjugations etc I somewhat understand but the deeper in I get I start to get a drowning feeling. This is where most of my mental energy will be expended in the coming weeks as I need to get my understanding of Japanese grammar sharper and also to be able to read and comprehend faster!

The JLPT N4 textbook is the last of the JLPT N4 books I got. It is the official book from the test website and has example questions. It is the exact same book available for free on the website but I opted to get the physical version again because I have no discipline and can’t be trusted to view from my laptop or smartphone without getting distracted. Like I did with the N5 version of the same book I intend to attempt the questions in this book a couple of days before the test as a gauge to test my readiness. If I do well then I can relax if not then sound the alarm bells!

Japanese Language Proficiency Test N4
New Kanzen Master Grammar JLPT N4
Nihongo Soumatome N4

My Skirt, Where Did It Go? โ€“ Japanese drama

My Skirt, Where Did It Go? or Ore no Sukato, Doko Itta? is a Japanese drama about a cross-dressing gay teacher who starts working at a high school. I have not watched a J-drama series in years but this show was recommended by one of my JHS students and he seems very interested in getting me to watch it.

My Skirt, Where Did It Go?

I was burnt out on j-dramas set in schools many years ago but fast forward to now and I really like the twist on this drama. As someone now employed in the education system in Japan it’s interesting how relatable many of the characters are and how similar the school setting is. Mr Harada is hilarious, and as the series goes on you really get an understanding of his motivations. I’m only a couple of episodes in but I am hooked already.

No subtitles

I am watching each episode of Ore no Sukato, Doko Itta (My Skirt Where Did It Go) without subtitles first, then I watch a second time with subtitles. In a big way, this is also Japanese language practice for me, similar to how I have been trying to play my video games in Japanese. The school setting allows conversations that I could definitely find useful in my own day to day job as an educator and the comedy has been golden so far. I try to consume only one episode in a sitting to keep my brain fresh to all the translating that my brain has to do while watching.

My Skirt, Where Did It Go? - Japanese drama

I am looking forward to more of Mr Harada’s adventures in My Skirt Where Did It Go. Check it out if you think its something you would like and share your thoughts in a comment below or tweet me @Jamaipanese. Also please recommend any comedy j-dramas as well!

Gaming in Japanese โ€“ Mortal Blade โ€“ Sekiro Shadows Die Twice

I’m having so much fun playing Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and one of the best things about the game is that it comes in Japanese with English subtitles as default right out of the box. So I am really enjoying learning and practicing my Japanese while being a badass ninja fighting insane bosses. Sekiro’s story is complicated but you are a basically an immortal shinobi who is tasked with rescuing your master. Before I begin this episode, be warned that there is a major plot spoiler for Sekiro, if you don’t care then no problem, but if you do, can’t say I didn’t warn you! let’s begin.

Mortal Blade – Sekiro Shadows Die Twice – Vocabulary

ใ‹ใใ”ใ€€่ฆšๆ‚Ÿ – to be ready
ใŠใ‚ใ‚Œ – to finish
ใชใ‚Œใฐ – in that case
ใ‚ใ‚ŒใŸ – to be astonished
ใ‚ใ€€็›ฎ – eye
ใ‚„ใ‚Œ – to glance upon
ใชใœ – why
ใฟใ‚“ใชใ€€็š† – everyone
ใ‚ใชใŸ – you
ใ„ใฃใŸใ„ใ€€ไธ€ไฝ“ – WTF
ใ‚Šใ‚…ใ†ใ€€็ซœ – dragon
ใฎใ‚ใ„ใ€€ๅ‘ชใ„ – curse
ใ†ใ‘ใฆใ€€ๅ—ใ‘ใฆ – to be a receiver
ใตใ—ใ€€ไธๆญปย  – immortal
ใใ‚Š – to stop
ใŸใ—ใ‹ใซ – to be certain
ใ‚‚ใ‚‰ใ„ – to receive
ใ‚†ใใ€€ๅพใ – to conquer

Ryuu - Dragon - Japanese

Gaming x Japanese

This is a friendly reminder that I’m studying Japanese and still at a very low level so this video is just me sharing my learning tactics of combining video games and Japanese. I did another post and video with Japanese featuring The Witcher in Monster Hunter. Leave a comment below with your thoughts, a correction or anything and subscribe to my youtube channel for more. I usually post videos about life in Japan, video games and learning Japanese.

Rurikoji โ€“ Buddhist temple in Yamaguchi

This year the Golden Week in Japan was a 10 day stretch of holidays due to the New emperor ascending to the throne and the change of eras from Heisei to Reiwa. For 3 of those days I went on a multiplayer road trip around the southern tip of Japan’s main island and passed through Shimane (my home prefecture), Tottori, Hiroshima and the main highlight – Yamaguchi. The main stop was Rurikoji.

Rurikoji - Buddhist temple in Yamaguchi
Rurikoji was built in 1442

Yamaguchi

Yamaguchi deserves its name (Mouth of the Mountain); it’s such a beautiful, lush, green and mountainous prefecture – the perfect spot to sight-see after winter. My favourite spot we stopped at was Rurikoji Temple (็‘ ็’ƒๅ…‰ๅฏบ, Rurikลji). Rurikoji was built in 1442 and is a Buddhist temple with a five-storied pagoda designated a national treasure of Japan. Surrounding the temple is Kozan Park which was such a joy to explore in perfect weather. I didn’t visit the museum or the tea house on the grounds but maybe I will in a future revisit.

็‘ ็’ƒๅ…‰ๅฏบ, Rurikลji
Rurikoji – Buddhist temple in Yamaguchi

I shall return

I am usually not fond of visiting temples and shrines in Japan as there are so many that sometimes it feels like more of the same with a slight twist to the backstory. Rurikoji Temple wasn’t,ย  and is definitely worth a visit. There is so much I didn’t get to to see and do in Yamaguchi so I definitely want to go back. Have you visited or want to visit any spots in Yamaguchi? Leave a comment below and tell me where or tweet me @Jamaipanese.



็‘ ็’ƒๅ…‰ๅฏบ, Rurikลji


Scrutinized by police in Shibuya

The dreaded day I feared has arrived. I was stopped, searched, probed and embarrassed in a crowded Shibuya 50 metres from the Hachiko statue with what felt like thousands of pairs of eyes looking on. My friend and I were enjoying our multi-day trip to Tokyo. I have been to Tokyo many times and we have similar interests so I was showing him the geeky sights. We had already spent most of the day is Akihabara then had a late lunch at a Jamaican restaurant in Shibuya. The next stop was to enjoy the evening in Odaiba and watch the lights come on at the lifesized Unicorn Gundam as the sunset.

Aloof in Shibuya

So there we were among the crowds, just through the famous Shibuya scramble crossing. I gestured to him to do his touristy thing and snap some shots of the famous Hachiko while I stood away from the crowds plotting our train commute to the Unicorn Gundam via Google maps. I look up and my eyes made four with those of a police officer, but I thought nothing of it and went back to my phone poking. My friend returns and we start rushing to cross the road a few metres away before the crossing light turns red. That’s when we are surrounded in the crowd by three officers. Before coming to Japan I read about the experiences of other expats via there blogs or watched their videos on Youtube extensively. So many black males have that post/video about how they have been stopped by the police in Japan and felt unfairly targeted. I guess it was my turn.

Sniff all the things!

The policemen surrounded me and my friend and I protested. Why are you stopping us? Apparently, we looked suspicious and we are told that there has been a lot of drugs in Shibuya, Shinjuku and other areas so they need to check us. I inquire if it’s because we are brown? They look at each other and LAUGH. I ask for the name of the one talking to me and express how uncomfortable this is. Meanwhile, a big bubble with the 2 black men surrounded by police opens up on the busy street as onlookers point and whisper as they pass by. He taps me down and when checking my pockets acts startled when he feels my f*ck*ng lip gloss. A great Japanese policeman startled by organic black cherry lip balm. He moves on to my bag and opens every compartment and I kid you not; starts taking out and smelling everything. That package from Yodobashi Camera? Sniff. That power bank? Sniff. That packaged piece of pastry left over from my Burger King breakfast? Sniff. All while the crowds parted around us and the eyes continued to focus on us. They then checked my hat AND MY DAMN SHOES. They found nothing and sent us on our way.

I felt so violated. I was so scrambled mentally that we started going in the wrong direction looping back around towards the Jamaican restaurant we had lunch at and guess who we run into? The same group of three officers patting … down … another … black … man.




My whole Tokyo experience was soured. So many things running through my mind. Was it how we were dressed? Was it my red, gold and green cap. Why us, why then? In all the time I’ve been in Japan every time I have been offered drugs in Japan it has been from Japanese people. Maybe I am naive, maybe I was too happy-go-lucky. One thing I do know is this experience has changed me. Another thing and maybe the only positive is that I spoke Japanese during the ordeal; I guess we can add “emotionally compromised” to the list of times when my Japanese ability peaks, right under “drunk”.

Follow me on Twitter (@Jamaipanese) for my frequent updates about my experiences living in Japan (Good and bad) and be sure to subscribe to Jamaipanese on Youtube.

Beginner Japanese Kanji and Vocabulary books GIVEAWAY

So you have started studying Japanese? Or maybe you have been studying for a while? or stopping and starting over many years? You’ve learnt Hiragana and Katakana and want to tame the Japanese language demons called kanji, grammar and basic sentence construction? Do you have at least a dozen Japanese learning apps on your phone or learning websites bookmarked but almost never use any of them? What if I told you that the secret to learning Japanese is to do it the way the Japanese learn Japanese? Connect with your inner 6-year-old and level up your basic Japanese by clicking the link below to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a beginner Kanji book AND a beginner vocabulary book. Both books are from Daiso – the King of the 100 yen shops in Japan. If you are outside Japan and studying Japanese this is your chance!

View Giveaway

  • The Kanji book teaches you how to write and read your first 80 kanji including simple practice sentences and quizzes. It’s one of the tools I personally used to pass the JLPT N5. Its really useful stuff like counting, days of the week, body parts, directions, colours and more.
  • The vocabulary book is awesome because it starts you slow and slowly raises your level until you are writing and hopefully speaking those basic Japanese sentences by the end of the book. It has some interesting quizzes and tests as well that are honestly fun to do.

The giveaway runs from April 10th to 24th 2019 and I will mail the books to 3 lucky winners anywhere they are in the world, just provide me with your snail mail address when I request it via email if you are one of the winners. Tweet me @Jamaipanese if you have any questions. Good luck.

RULES

  1. The giveaway runs from 12:01 AM April 10th to 11:59 PM on April 24th 2019 (Japan Time)
  2. Must be 13 years old or older to enter
  3. Must be living outside of Japan to enter
  4. Must provide a mailing address if you are one of the three winners so prizes can be mailed
  5. Winners will be announced on April 25th 2019 after being selected by the GiveLab application
  6. This giveaway is not endorsed or sponsored by Daiso Japan
  7. Please direct any questions about the giveaway to @Jamaipanese on Twitter