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Playing with puppets, a Link adventure and hardware envy

by Brian Ashcraft

An attack on sneakers

Popular manga-turned-anime (and game) “Attack on Titan” is now assailing fashion.

Tokyo shoe brand UBIQ is producing men’s and women’s hi-tops, featuring the “Attack on Titan” Survey Corps’ Wings of Freedom logo. In the manga and anime, members of the Survey Corps are mankind’s last hope in the fight against the Titans — flesh-eating giants. These sneakers aren’t your last hope in being fashionable, but they are pretty cool.

Made in sandy-colored canvas, they evoke the Survey Corps’ khaki uniforms, while the outer sides sport small flap pockets emblazoned with the logo. Not sure how handy the pockets really would be if you did find yourself hunting giants, but they could be useful for storing a little spare change.

Priced at ¥10,290, the “Attack on Titan” sneakers are available for pre-order until Dec. 26 to be delivered early next March.

www.2pm-works.com/feature/detail.php?id=40

Not so loud but still clear

One of this year’s most unusual, if not its most unusual, Wii U peripheral is the Mike Cover for Wii U.

Designed to be used with the singing game Wii Karaoke U, the officially licensed mike cover can turn an 80 decibel singing voice into 60 decibels. A useful product if you’re into belting it out, and your walls are thin. Use this and your neighbors won’t be upset, though you’ll have to get used to singing into a sink-plunger-like mouthpiece.

The Mike Cover for Wii U was released on Dec. 19 for ¥1,219.

www.hori.jp/products/wiiu/mike_cover

Another Link in Zelda’s chain

“The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds,” the latest addition to Nintendo’s long-running Zelda series, is basically a brand-new game. Titled “Zelda no Densetsu: Kamigami no Triforce 2,” this sequel to the 1991 Super Nintendo game “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past” is set 100 years later, and while familiar, the gameplay is quite different from other Zelda titles. Players are less restricted and can pretty much explore dungeons in the order they like; weapons are available right off the bat to buy or rent; and Link, the hero of Zelda, can turn into a moving two-dimensional wall-drawing to allow him to slip around tricky corners.

To mark the game’s release, Nintendo is also rolling out a special two-tone (gold and black) Triforce Nintendo 3DS XL.

“The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds” will be released in Japan on Dec. 26 for ¥4,800. Bundled with the 3DS XL, it’ll cost ¥22,800.

www.nintendo.co.jp/3ds/hardware/pack/bzlj

Become a puppet master

“Puppeteer” is one of those cute and intriguing games that Japan is well-known for. The storyline follows the adventures of Kutaro, a little boy who gets turned into a puppet. But this is no Pinocchio. Kutaro loses his head after angering a bear king, and in his quest to get it back, he is able to use different items for a noggin, including a hamburger, banana and skull. To help him on his way, Kutaro also wields magic scissors, which he uses to cut his way through the in-game world.

“Puppeteer” was inspired by bunraku, traditional Japanese puppet theater, and it’s set on a stage complete with elaborate set pieces and intricate puppets. Originally released on Sept. 5, the game was designed to charm both kids and their parents, and in this age when first-person shooter games tend to dominate, it’s quite the original.

On Dec. 12, Sony released a PlayStation 3 Puppeteer bundle for ¥24,980.

www.jp.playstation.com/scej/title/puppeteer

Gaining color control

Sony’s wireless PS3 controller the DualShock 3 was released in a new color this month. Or should we say a non-color, since it’s already available in a rainbow of hues. The Crystal DualShock 3 has a frosted casing that just about allows you to see the electronics inside and is priced at ¥5,500.

If you’re aiming for completing a cool and paler hardware palette, then Hori’s Fighting Edge joystick should also be on your list. Without a doubt one of the best-looking arcade-style joysticks you can buy, the Fighting Edge has, up until now, only been available in black. Now you can get it in white. At 47.5cm across and weighing 3.5 kg, this is designed to recreate the arcade experience at home. Hori developed original buttons and an original joystick called Hayabusa, which the company says is more durable and responsive. Interestingly, the Fighting Edge also comes with a touchpad to reassign buttons and LED lights to, well, look cool.

Beauty comes at a price, though. Available for the Xbox 360 and the PS3, the Fighting Edge is ¥19,800, with the white versions being released at the end of this month..

DualShock 3: www.jp.playstation.com/info/release/nr_20131101_ds3crystal.html Fighting Edge: www.horistore.com/index.php