No Sleep till Tokyo
We are off to Japan this week for a fortnight’s holiday. We usually plan these trips months in advance, to coincide with Tokyo Game Show, though we did skip last year thanks to a busy schedule and the extortionate price of September flights. This time we are taking advantage of a last minute, off-season deal and will be swapping shorts, t-shirts and Gari Gari Kun for winter coats, scarves and nabe.
Hopefully I’ll be able to find time to blog about our latest return, and may even include a few photos. I’ll be chatting away on Twitter (@toomanywiresUK) throughout the trip, so be sure to give me a follow if you haven’t already.
With my suitcases packed and checklists ticked, I want to share some final thoughts on the trip ahead.
1. The Flight
The flight from Heathrow to Narita takes twelve hours, and I'll be wide awake for the entirety. Past efforts to knock myself out have included depriving myself of sleep the night before, self-medication and quietly getting hammered on the plane, but nothing works. My inability to sleep sitting-up means that I must carefully plan activities to fill all twelve hours and keep my mind off swollen feet and the fidgety twat sitting in front. The flight should go something like this:
0.00 - 2.59: Belt-up, take off, read EDGE, eat lunch and watch the least offensive movie on offer.
3.00 - 3.59: Get pissed off at the person in front, who has just put their chair into full recline without warning. Play some Vita
4.00 - 4.59: Go to the toilet and wonder whether or not my genitals would be sucked clean off if I flushed while seated. After much deliberation, I’ll decide that it's not worth trying. Next, I’ll do a few weird stretches with the other ramblers, and then attempt to watch something on the mini-screen.
5.00 - 7.59: Play Persona 4 Golden until the Vita dies
8.00 - 10.29: Spend three hours staring at the headrest in front. This is the most depressing stretch of the journey. If I'm lucky, my despair will be interrupted by an ice-lolly. I mustn't forget to do my stretches between tears.
10.30 - 10.59: Time for breakfast, or is it dinner? Watch one episode of a TV comedy - Alan Partridge, Peep Show and Curb Your Enthusiasm are the standards - and remember how to smile.
10.59 - 12.00: Frantically study Japanese. Give up and read Game of Thrones instead, while sucking a mint.
2. Games for the Trip
I always make sure that I have at least one game to take on holiday. With twenty four hours of plane journeys and plenty of time spent riding the train from the in-law's house to central Tokyo (about 50 minutes, door-to-Akiba), I need something to keep me occupied. I expect Persona 4 Golden will do the trick, though the Vita's pitiful battery life means that it cannot be relied upon exclusively. I'm also bringing Lumines Electronic Symphony as a guaranteed time waster - I mean that in the best possible way. Failing that, I also have digital copies of Final Fantasy VII, VIII and IX, just in case I'm in need of some mid-commute nostalgia. The 3DS will be my Vita back-up, though it'll be running a DS game, 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, which I must finish before moving on to Virtue's Last Reward. I’d probably be better off leaving my 3DS at home, but I cannot resist Street Pass bounties the likes of which may only be found in a city where everyone is carrying a Nintendo portable.
3. Video Game Shopping List
While Akihabara may have lost some of its retro swagger over the last couple of years, it’s still my main port of call. Aside from the boozing and crooning, I'll be raiding the shops in search of gems both old and new. Although we still don't know if they'll be localised, I'll be keeping an eye out for reasonably priced copies of Yakuza 1+2 HD and Yakuza 5. I'm considering taking a chance with Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F, because I like pretty colours on my Vita, and I might buy Earth Defence Force 2017, if it's cheaper than the digital-only, UK version.
As for retro games, I really should pick up some software for my WonderSwan Colour. Square and Capcom put their full support behind the short lived portable, which means that there are plenty of quality third-party titles, and most of them are dirt cheap to boot. I still have a hankering for the MGS3: Snake Eater Limited Edition box set, and if I can find a reasonably priced Segagaga collector's edition, then that will also end up in my suitcase. I won't be able to resist picking up a few Saturn games, and a planned trip to a local Hard Off – a used-electronics store with an unfortunate name - may prove disastrous for my budget.
This holiday isn't all about long flights and video games, at least not entirely. Above all else, we are looking forward to spending quality time with family and friends; there will be beer, food, and karaoke will be mandatory. I have mastered some 80s J-pop as a horrifying, surprise gift for my mother-in-law, which blends perfectly with my Beastie Boy and Lionel Richie staples. I can say with confidence that I'm the best tone deaf singer you've never heard! We are hoping to take a day trip to Kamakura, a historical city and the former capital of Japan, as well as a longer excursion to Miyagi and Iwate to take in some stunning views and visit a couple of World Heritage sites. I just hope I've bought enough Yen.