Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Shopping Japan, from Canada.

In late November, my earbuds finally gave up the ghost.  What I didn't realize, at the time, is that they were pretty frickin' awesome earbuds.  I hate those little rubber nub ones that you shove into your ear and are expected to stay put via... I dunno - suction?  'Cause they do suck - I can hear every rustle of the cord as I move, deep in my ears, and they're always popping out.  I like the kind pictured above that hook into the ear and stay put - but when my pair died on me, I went out in search of a reasonably-priced replacement.  

Which was stupid of me.  I bought them at the Sony Store when I asked them for earbuds for a PSP Go.   They gave me these, only they came with a little additional plug accessory that you didn't actually need to use - for $25.  I was kinda' bowled over by the price at the time, but Sony stuff doesn't usually steer me wrong, so I went for it.  

Turns out, they're some kind of excellent entry-level-price earbuds that are way better than anything else I've found.  Since they died in November, I found a sort-of-similar pair of Sony earbuds at a slightly lower price - $20 in Best Buy, bought 'em for $12 from The Source - that were like, all treble, no bass. 

Then I went for a low-price pair of wraparound headphones - not the big, bulky Beats By Dre style, just normal smaller headphones that wrap around the front of your ears and the back of your head.  They were... okay - particularly as the continent suffered through the polar vortex - but again, the deep sound wasn't quite there.  

I turned to Amazon and went searching for the earbuds at top.  Turns out they're called the Sony MDR-E818LP Fontopia Ear-Bud Headphones with Acoustic Twin Turbo Circuit, and there don't appear to be any in North America any more - a sting worsened by the incredible reviews the things got with all these Internet people going on and on about how high-quality the sound was at such a reasonable price... 

So I imported a pair from Japan.  Cost me about $30 - less than I'd spent on the two replacements in the past two months - and when they arrived, the package was festooned in some oddly erotic stamps. 

I know what you're thinking, and the answer is yes.  Yes, you can see her nipples.  Oh Japan.  Never change.  Also, thank you, Japan, for having my earbuds and your willingness to ship them across the globe.  I kinda' want to buy another three pairs just so I'll have backups when these eventually die (as all audio equipment does), but a friend at work suggested Skull Candy, so I may give that a shot next. 

Shortly after ordering the headphones, I was playing with my Vita (as I often do), and making room to download Sorcery Saga : Curse of the Great Curry God, and it hit me - why am I scraping around for room on my Vita when 64GB memory cards exist, out there in the wild world? 

Again, not in North America - of course - but they do exist.  So I took to Amazon and found a seller with a decent review history, and placed an order for a 64GB card.  Meet Koji. 

Never... never got a portrait from an Amazon seller, but okay.  Koji seems like a pretty chill dude, and my memory card arrived in a snap - with a hand-written note!  His penmanship is excellent.  

Given that my 32GB card cost me about $100 before tax and this little baby cost me $130 total, I don't feel it was a bad purchase.  

The PS Vita, thank goodness, has this handy little thing called Content Manager.  It's how I transfer all my screenshots from it to my PC for bloggy purposes, and it has a function where you can back up your entire memory card for safe-keeping, or situations like this. 

It took about a half-hour to transfer everything to the PC, and another full hour to transfer everything back, for some reason - but it was done by the time I left for work, so I didn't have to suffer through a lunch break without Dragon's Crown.  

When I got home I hopped on to the PlayStation Network and re-downloaded most of the games I'd shifted off my Vita to make room.  ...except for Little Big Planet Vita.  Just never got in to that one - though it enjoyed very positive reviews.  So, now, on my Vita - on a single unit that goes in my jacket pocket - I've got... 

[Vita games]
  • Dragon's Crown
  • Guacamelee
  • Muramasa : Rebirth
  • Rayman Origins
  • Gravity Rush
  • Uncharted : Golden Abyss
  • Sorcery Saga : Curse of the Great Curry God
  • Zero Escape : Virtue's Last Reward
  • Persona 4 Golden
  • Limbo
  • Plants Vs. Zombies
  • Hotline Miami
  • WipEout 2048
  • Super Stardust Delta
  • Retro City Rampage
  • Sly Cooper : Thieves in Time
  • Dokuro
  • Atelier Totori Plus
  • Velocity Ultra
  • Ys : Memories of Celceta
  • Stick it to the Man
  • Tokyo Jungle
  • Spelunky
  • Urban Trial : Freestyle
  • Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention
  • Sine Mora
[PSP games]
  • Valkyria Chronicles II
  • Persona 3 Portable
  • Patapon 2
  • God of War : Chains of Olympus
  • God of War : Ghost of Sparta
  • Metal Slug XX
  • Ultimate Ghosts N' Goblins
  • SEGA Genesis Collection, which includes...
    • Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle 
    • Altered Beast 
    • Bonanza Bros. 
    • Columns 
    • Comix Zone 
    • Decap Attack
    • Ecco the Dolphin 
    • Ecco: The Tides of Time 
    • Ecco Jr.
    • Flicky
    • Gain Ground
    • Golden Axe
    • Golden Axe II
    • Golden Axe III
    • Kid Chameleon
    • Phantasy Star II
    • Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom 
    • Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
    • Ristar
    • Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
    • Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
    • Sonic The Hedgehog
    • Sonic The Hedgehog 2
    • Super Thunder Blade
    • Sword of Vermilion
    • Vectorman
    • Vectorman 2
    • Virtua Fighter 2
[PS1 games]
  • Chrono Trigger
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Resident Evil 2
[Metal Gear Solid games!]
  • Metal Gear Solid (PS1)
  • Metal Gear Solid 2 : Sons of Liberty HD (Vita)
  • Metal Gear Solid 3 : Snake Eater HD (Vita)
  • Metal Gear Solid : Peace Walker (PSP)

...with lots of room left over for digital copies of Killzone: Shadow Fall (later today) and, eventually I trust, Tearaway (when it goes on sale).   My God.  The future is now, my friends.  I heart you, Vita.  

* * *

Finally, after doing up the Best Soundtrack post, I realized I loved the Muramasa soundtrack far more than I thought I did, and should have a physical copy of it.  Again, the only place to obtain the three-disc Basiscape opus is from Japan - but I couldn't find one from a reliable seller that offered expedited shipping.  

So this is gonna' show up sometime between now and the end of March.  Sixty bucks.  No regrets.

Thanks, Japan.

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