Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dragonball, Naruto, and One Piece at Shonen Jump's J-World Theme Park in Ikebukuro

During the summer of 2012 a brand new indoor theme park opened up at Sunshine City in Ikebukuro Tokyo.  It looks like Bandai/Namco run this property that is all about the Weekly Shonen Jump characters that have helped make anime and manga famous around the world.

Major attractions include themed areas with rides/activities for  One Piece, Naruto, and Dragonball.  Entrance is 1300 yen for adults and 1000 yen for children at opening and some rides look like they cost extra.  I haven't been there myself, but might pop in for a look see the next time I'm in town.
This amusement park occupies the third floor of the Import Mart building there and here is just a brief rundown on the various attractions.
  • The One Piece Zone has a ride in the Mini Merry or Shark Submerge through some sets and projected environments along with a carousel ride with the characters from the show.
  • The Naruto Zone has a Ninja Maze.
  • The Dragonball Zone has a find the hidden dragons and a do the Kamehameha power attack first person game.
  • A Heroes Arena featuring many small attractions from Gintama, Bleach, Hunter x Hunter, and more.
  • A large game center with UFO catchers and other games like skeeball, etc.
  • The massive gift shop of themed merchandise that the Japanese and Disney are so good at doing.  You never leave without getting something.
  • A food court with lots of themed food based on the franchises and characters.
For some articles about the hits of Shonen Jump:

I have compiled a list of locations of interest for Ikebukuro below and you can see a guide and the locations on the map if you click through.

View Ikebukuro in a larger map

While Sunshine City is not the newest mall out there, this mall has long legs and has many attractions that will grab your attention such as a skyscraper with a viewing deck, an aquarium, a planetarium, and several theme parks.  All of this is located near the Animate flagship store, a Gamers, Otome Road, a Tokyu Hands, and a bustling district full of shopping and dining.  I like Ikebukuro, but it is a little further out in Tokyo from many of the other attaractions (still accessible on the Yamanote Line though).  I previously posted a travelogue including Ikebukuro here.

My Tokyo Highlights Page.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Nissin Cup Noodle Shio Ramen and Big Cup Chicken Ramen with Summer Curry Tomato

I have a few new flavours of instant ramen this week.  These are mainly summer specials so they may not be available come fall and winter.
Cup Noodle Shio Ramen
Shio or Sio means salt.  This cup of noodle is based on a salt flavoured broth that is thinner than many of the other Nissin soup bases for their ramen, but full of flavour.  It contains a bit of olive oil, ground basil, garlic, and a chicken based stock if I'm correct.  The flavour is salty, strong, and good.  Big ingredients include big chunks of chicken and potato, egg, green beans, red pepper and possibly a bit of carrot.  It is a nice change from the curry or more soy based broths.

Nice big chunks of potato, egg, and chicken in it!

Chicken Ramen Big Cup Summer Curry Tomato
This was a really nice cup of instant noodles, and in a bigger size.  It is a summer noodle release from Nissin and I really enjoyed it.  There is a rich "original chicken ramen" stock flavour underneath a tomatoey broth.  Veggies include zuchini, green beans, red pepper and corn.  The chicken flavour is different from the Sio Ramen I reviewed above, and there were also pieces of pork in this one.  The combination of flavours was something that I was skeptical of, but it worked well on the taste buds.

I think the little chick mascot with the basket of summer veggies is pretty cool.
Zucchini Pieces!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Nissin Cup Noodles for 7-11, Italian Curry, and Kalbi Garlic Flavours!

Instant cup noodles are pretty popular in Japan for a quick snack or meal.  Nissin is one of the bigger instant ramen companies and they make many seasonal or limited edition noodles.  Whenever I visit Japan I always buy some instant noodles to bring home as they are hard or more expensive to import here.  The flavours and texture of the noodles are way better than what you can buy over here unless it is imported.

7-11 Exclusive Ramen Bowl
There were a couple of different types of instant ramen in bowls in the 7-11s when I was visiting back in February.  This one caught my eye as it is a collaboration with a famous noodle shop and it was nice and tasty with a pork broth flavour.  The neatest thing about this ramen was the inclusion of a little umi or pickled plum!  You can see from the pictures below there are plenty of ingredients, including a slice of pork to go with it.  The ramen was about 300 yen or $3 if I remember right.  This ramen hit the spot nicely one late night in the hotel room (you burn a lot of calories walking all day).

Italian Curry Cup Noodle
This was an interesting taste combination as it added tomato powder to the curry powder to produce "Italian Tomato."  I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but it actually tasted pretty good.  The combination was a little like a chili soup with a good dollop of tomato flavour with a curry base.  Definitely was enjoyable.  As you can tell from the pictures below there were pieces of potato, corn, green beans, cabbage, and freeze dried tomatoes (some of which melted into the soup).

I like the texture of the noodles.

Kalbi Big Cup Noodle
This instant cup noodle comes in the bigger size cup and features roasted garlic and beef bbq!  The roasted garlic was not overpowering, but gave it a nice caramelly undertone to the soup.  I still wouldn't eat this before a business meeting or a first date, but go for it if you're going to be up late gaming or something.  There were little dried slices of beef mixed in and it was really nice.  I haven't had a cup noodle I haven't like yet, but you'll find out here if I ever do.  Again, plenty of ingredients from roasted garlic, beef, corn, lots of cabbage, to pieces of egg.

Always looks yummy!

Puzzle and Dragons, Nimble Quest, and Other Games for Iphone or Ipad

I've posted about many other apps and games for the iPhone or iPad before and noticed that I hadn't done one for awhile.  Well, here is a great new post about some apps that have chewed up a wack of my time that I could have used to do something else.  I'm a big console game fan, but I have to say that some of the best fun out there right now is for cheap or free and it is on iPhones or Androids.

Puzzle and Dragons
Also on Android.  First of all, the biggest time sink I have run into for awhile is Puzzle and Dragons by Gungho Entertainment.  This was a big hit in Japan and it has gone world wide.  Just in the last week this game was finally release on the USA / Canada app store.  Best of all it is free, but look out for the in-app purchases for this one.  The game is another match 3+ item kind of puzzle game with a few twists.  You can move a tile as long as you have time on the timer and it can create all kinds of combos.  The game combines elements of Pokemon for monster collecting, levelling up, and team building; a bit of Puzzle Quest for the matching of tiles to do damage and for story, and of course Bejewelled for the whole match 3 type game play.  THIS GAME IS FUN, but beware of how you spend money.  I bought about $10 worth of stuff just to say I like the game and to support the developer, but you could sink a great deal of money to try and level up your team of monsters or get some super rare monsters that can help out your team.  This game requires PATIENCE if you want to have fun and not spend a lot of money.  The company drops freebies to so you can get gold eggs (to hatch a super rare monster) or runs other promos every so often.  Have fun, make friends as you will need them to help you with each level.  Enjoy it without spending a fortune.  BTW, there is almost always a better monster so resist the urge to buy more.  I still wish I could get the goddess Isis that some players got through lucky draws of their early monster.  Some of the Japanese online shops like HLJ and AmiAmi are also selling little figures from the game now too!

Some Tips:
  • Save any gems for free PAL eggs or Rare Eggs for festivals or events they run where you have a better chance to get high-level monsters or a god/goddess.  Gods are great, but you only have so many points to allocate to having monsters in your party and they chew up a lot of points - so two edged sword.  There are a few strategies to use the powerful gods and yet still have a party, but you need certain kinds of monsters to make it work.
  • Gungho runs promos, so you'll get gems for free.  I have to say buying gems and getting a substandard monster is very disappointing.
  • Get to a high enough level to enter the special daily dungeons with dragons (e.g. metal dragons).  These give more experience points to allow you to level up much faster.
  • Never spend gems on continuing a dungeon if you get killed in it, just let it go and restart since there are no additional penalties anyhow.  The gems are better used to expand your monster inventory box and purchase rare eggs.  Again, certain specific dungeons with guaranteed drops (you'll need to be fairly powerful already) are an exception to this rule.
  • Know your monster's abilities so you can build on your strengths to improve the other monster abilities. E.g. Dragons often have a leader ability that improves all monster attacks of the same element (e.g. fire).  Some other monsters acting as leader improve the attributes of the other monsters of the same classification.  E.g. All attacker type monsters get an attack bonus multiplier for some leaders.
  • Save special attacks for the final boss or a trouble spot.
  • Every turn should do damage unless you have some type of massive attack being set up.
  • Read this FAQ here.  It's very useful: 
  • Also check out this other encyclopedia for the game.
Candy Crush Saga
Also on Android. This is an amazingly addictive little match the candies game in the match 3 tradition with a number of twists.  I will not spend a cent on this game though as you buy consumable powerups which then have to be replenished through buying more.  If they had a fixed price to buy the game, I would consider paying it, but no way on consumables as the levels get quite difficult after level 30 or so.  I'm up at level 93 without spending money, but I've now pretty much stopped playing the game.  Still, play this game, don't blow a fortune, and have fun.

Nimble Quest
Also on Android. This is an awesome variant on snake.  You lead a trail of fantasy adventurers through dungeons and fight monsters with your various attacks.  It is like guiding a train on a path of your choice where each adventurer has a special attack and is shooting out of each train car at the critters around you.  You start with one character of your choice (you unlock new types by completing levels) and you gain treasure and new adventurers from drops as you kill monsters.  This isn't bloody or anything and is good for all ages.  It has retro 8-bit style graphics and you'll be playing into the wee hours of the morning if you aren't careful.

Infinity Blade I + II and Pacific Rim
These are fighting games where you guide a character or robot in the 3rd person view from behind and you fight opponents by pushing a few buttons or different finger swipes.  These are great games, especially if you can grab them for free via the occasional special offer.  The Infinity Blades are very nice looking games from the graphics point of view and the skill level ramps up fairly quickly after the first few levels.  Pacific Rim lets you take one of the big Jaeger robots to battle it out with Kaiju.  I liked the movie so the app stays on my iPad for awhile.  I need to unlock more robots by battling still and it seems fairly fun.  Both games let you inflict high damage combos on the enemy when you do a series of dodges or blocks right.  Note there are two Pacific Rim games and I'm talking about the one by Reliance Big Entertainment.

Thats all for now.  Have fun.

Other App Reviews on this site.