review

REVIEW: Samsung’s new fitness gadget makes a sleek smartwatch

REVIEW: Samsung’s new fitness gadget makes a sleek smartwatch

After releasing a critical dud last fall with its first major smartwatch release, the Galaxy Gear, Samsung surprised a lot of folks in the industry when it announced an attractive new entrant into the wearable computing category, the Gear Fit, just a few months later.

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I used the giant Samsung phone that Apple wants to kill — and I’m never going back to a tiny screen again

I used the giant Samsung phone that Apple wants to kill — and I’m never going back to a tiny screen again

When I first started using Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3, almost everything about its enormous size annoyed me. I couldn’t text with one hand. It barely fit in my pocket, or didn’t at all. I felt silly holding it up to my ear to talk on the phone. It was the least subtle or elegant phone I’d ever seen.

Even my friends were horrified. I’d plop the Note onto a table or I’d whip it out to take a picture, and anyone I was hanging out with would double-take.

“What is that thing?!” they’d gasp.

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Yes, Mountain Dew flavoured corn chips are a thing in Japan – and they taste…

Yes, Mountain Dew flavoured corn chips are a thing in Japan – and they taste…

We see a lot of weird stuff on the internet, but corn snacks made to taste – and fizz, no less – like the carbonated soft drink Mountain Dew are undoubtedly the oddest thing to happen since millions of adults across the globe simultaneously lied to their children about a bearded man sneaking into their home and leaving gifts for having refrained from murdering anyone or punching an otter since the previous December.

Nevertheless, as the internet chatter suggests, Mountain Dew corn snacks really do exist here in Japan, and so despite imagining that they’d taste about as good as minty orange juice, we tracked some down and, along with a can of actual Mountain Dew (or “Mtn Dew” as it’s now being branded in the US, because who has time fr vwls?) for comparison, conducted a little taste test of our own.

Full impressions after the jump.

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Does Xbox One’s new Kinect camera work in a tiny Tokyo apartment?

Does Xbox One’s new Kinect camera work in a tiny Tokyo apartment?

With its new home console, Microsoft is hoping to make Kinect – the motion-sensing camera that comes bundled in the box – one of the main features of the Xbox One experience. Far superior to the original Kinect camera released in 2010, the new unit is noticeably more accurate and can be used in almost complete darkness, also boasting a field of vision 60 percent wider than the original.

But for many Japanese gamers, Kinect simply isn’t a device that works for them. Compared to Western residences, Japanese homes are much smaller, in closer proximity to others, and in some cases with walls so thin that you might wonder whether you could punch through them during moments of nerd rage.

Can Kinect for Xbox One offer the same exciting, controller-free experience in Japan that it does in America and Europe? Our man went hands-on.

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Kaguya Hime no Monogatari: The other side of Studio Ghibli 【Review】

Kaguya Hime no Monogatari: The other side of Studio Ghibli 【Review】

Kaguya Hime no Monogatari (The Tale of Princess Kaguya) is quite unlike any Studio Ghibli offering that has gone before it. There are no benevolent forest spirits or spritely young witches to be found here; no soft, familiar faces or bright-eyed heroes with a passion for adventure; no piles of mouth-watering street food or freshly baked bread to drool over. This is a tale set in far simpler times, and although – with its thick, bold brushstrokes, muted colours and incomplete lines – it is quite the departure from the Ghibli releases many of us know and love, it still manages to be one of the studio’s most visually striking and emotive creations to date.

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PlayStation 4 impressions: An Xbox fan and a Sony lover go head to head

PlayStation 4 impressions: An Xbox fan and a Sony lover go head to head

Sony’s PlayStation 4 has been out in North America for over a week now, and is finally heading to Europe this coming Friday. Thanks to the efforts of our game-loving staff in the US, we managed to pick up a few units, and have been tinkering with them for about a week now, so felt it was time to share our thoughts on the new hardware.

Rather than getting all techy and giving you lists of stats or focusing on frames per second, however, we decided to take a slightly more human approach, and talk about how Sony’s newest console rates in the eyes of both a self-confessed Sony fan and a long-term Xbox lover.

Let the mud-slinging begin!

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7-Eleven’s One Piece “Gomu-Gomu no Mi”: Looks kind of like an alien brain, but it sure is tasty

7-Eleven’s One Piece “Gomu-Gomu no Mi”: Looks kind of like an alien brain, but it sure is tasty

Always keen to cash in and come up with some new character-themed promotions, Japan’s 7-Eleven recently began selling blueberry and whipped cream-filled bread made to look like none other than Gomu Gomu no Mi Devil Fruit from the One Piece manga and anime.

We couldn’t resist finding out what the fruit that made Monkey D. Luffy the man he is tastes like, so when we spotted the new sweet bread at our local combini we grabbed one right away. Join us after the jump for our full taste test.

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We try surprisingly delicious Miso Curry Milk Ramen in Aomori

We try surprisingly delicious Miso Curry Milk Ramen in Aomori

Locally owned ramen shops can be found spread out all across Japan. In fact, some of the best flavors aren’t found at the big chain restaurants, but at the hole-in-the-wall shops that you might never even notice without a proper introduction. Hence, we’d like to make it our duty to tell you about an amazing, little ramen joint in Aomori Prefecture, which is famous for its miso flavored curry milk ramen.

When we at RocketNews24 first heard about this place, we couldn’t imagine how so many different flavors could possibly achieve good balance within a single bowl of noodles, so we sent one of our adventurous Japanese reporters, Mami Kuroi, to try it out. Here’s what she had to say about the experience.

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Wonda Power Blend Coffee packs the “perfect” heart-jolting punch, our energy expert says!

Wonda Power Blend Coffee packs the “perfect” heart-jolting punch, our energy expert says!

We here at RocketNews24 know that time is money and sometimes you need more than 24 hours in a day. Until we figure out how to manipulate time, we will be relying on our energy drink expert, Energy Man, to find out which beverage gives us the most bang for our sleep-deprived buck. Energy Man downs at least one or two (sometimes four, he admits) of these stimulant-laden drinks a day and wants to share with us his new favorite drink to wake us all up.

Energy Man recently saw a new drink on the market that he had to try. Being a connoisseur of these jolting beverages, Energy Man wondered if the world needed Wonda Power Blend Coffee in the already crowded energy drink market. Click the link to read why our Energy Man found himself saying “bravo!” to the new coffee drink.

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A day with the new PlayStation Vita Slim: Unboxing, hands-on and screen comparison

A day with the new PlayStation Vita Slim: Unboxing, hands-on and screen comparison

It’s Thursday October 10, and that can only mean one thing: the PlayStation Vita Slim is finally here! Unveiled by Sony at the beginning of September and proudly displayed at this year’s Tokyo Game Show, the currently Japan-only handheld charmed us the moment we held it in our hands, so much so that for a moment we wondered just how strong the cable tethering it to the smiling Sony rep was and if we could make a break for it.

The new portable console went on sale here in Japan just this morning, our own unit arriving via courier delivery a little after 9 a.m.. We’ve been putting the console through its paces for most of the day now, so join us after the jump as we unbox, poke and prod Sony’s newest piece of gaming hardware, and see how it stands up against the previous model of PlayStation Vita.

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The price of immersion: Hands on with Sony’s new HMZ-T3 personal viewer headset

The price of immersion: Hands on with Sony’s new HMZ-T3 personal viewer headset

As well as showing off its new PlayStation 4 console, PlayStation Vita 2000 handheld and Xperia Z1 smartphone at last week’s Tokyo Game Show, electronics giant Sony was also quietly pushing its newly designed HMZ-T3 personal viewer headset into tech fans’ consciousness, with demo units popping up in a number of booths. Since bringing its first headset to the market back in 2011, Sony has been gradually tweaking and refining its tech in response to consumer feedback, with its newest iteration due to go on sale later this year.

With the HMZ-T3, Sony has produced its lightest, most compact headset yet, retaining the ability to watch movies and play video games in both 2-D and stereoscopic 3-D, as well as boasting smartphone connectivity and, for the first time, wireless operation thanks to a portable battery pack.

Our experience of the previous model having been something of a bittersweet affair, we were keen to see whether Sony had managed to perfect its headset the third time around, so with the help of a friendly booth attendant we slipped on the new HMZ-T3 and put it through its paces.

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Why Puppeteer is one of the grandest romps ever to grace the stage 【Review】

Why Puppeteer is one of the grandest romps ever to grace the stage 【Review】

We have to admit we fell quite in love with Puppeteer‘s visual style from the very first moment we saw it. Although essentially a 2-D platformer, the game is presented as a live puppet show, heavily influenced by Japanese Bunraku puppet theatre, with a healthy dose of pantomime thrown in for good measure, and it looked positively spellbinding.

Due to go on sale both on disc and as a digital download via PlayStation Store in North America and Europe this week, the game was in fact released in Japan on September 5, so naturally we rushed out to grab a copy right away. Three days of platforming, applause and magical scissor snipping later, we’re delighted to say that Puppeteer is not just a superb platformer, but one of PlayStation 3′s most inspired titles to date.

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Japan-exclusive Oreo Sticks – Can they compete with the real thing?

Japan-exclusive Oreo Sticks – Can they compete with the real thing?

There are few things with the power to excite and abhor travellers more than foreign versions of sweets and cookies that exist back home. Even though we pass them by dozens of times a day in supermarkets and convenience stores in our own country, spot M&M’s, Doritos or even a Kit-Kat in a land where everything else is alien, and immediately we feel like home is not so far away; it’s like running into a friend from your home town during your first week of college where everything else is scary and unknown. What happens, though, if that same friend has a weird new haircut and is affecting some peculiar accent just because they’re in an unfamiliar town?

Oreo Sticks, a snack exclusive to Japan, will likely have the very same unnerving effect on snackophiles. With packaging familiar to millions, yet containing a snack entirely different to those we’re used to, Oreo Sticks have the potential to shatter cookie fans’ dreams, but with a little courage they could also be something quite wonderful.

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Hom-Bot Square: Cleaning those hard to reach places

Hom-Bot Square: Cleaning those hard to reach places

Though we haven’t gotten our flying cars or cyborg super-strength arms yet, the future has kind of arrived in the form of robot cleaning machines. The Jetsons this isn’t, but at least it’s quiet, right?

One of our distinguished reporters over on the Japanese side of RocketNews24 happened to pick up the “Hom-bot Square” and wrote the following review. Now you’ll know what to put in your home so you can more like us! (A worthy ambition indeed.)

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McDonald’s Japan’s Texas Burger: Our Reporter Takes One for the Team

McDonald’s Japan’s Texas Burger: Our Reporter Takes One for the Team

McDonald’s Japan’s Texas burger is back, but it won’t be around for long! Having missed out on the chunky beef sandwich the last time they invaded the country, our man Kuzo headed down to his nearest restaurant and grabbed a couple to poke, prod and shove down his gullet. The experience left him confused: there’s plenty here to delight burger fans, that’s for sure, but not everything about this little slice of Texas is worth writing home out. Kuzo’s full impressions after the break.

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New iPad App “The Legend of Momotaro” Brings Japanese Folk Tale to Life

New iPad App “The Legend of Momotaro” Brings Japanese Folk Tale to Life

Telling the age-old story of a hero born from a giant peach, Ghost Hand Games’ new app The Legend of Momotaro landed on our iPad last weekend. Promising an inspiring interactive experience while telling the classic Japanese tale, we fired it up right away. A couple of hours of reading, listening and screen-tapping later, we were left with no doubt in our minds: technology really can do great things for an old reading experience.

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Tokyo’s Pico Pico Cafe: Where Video Games Meet Coffee

Tokyo’s Pico Pico Cafe: Where Video Games Meet Coffee

Despite having visited the town of Kichijoji in Tokyo on a near daily basis for over a year, it wasn’t until I sat down with video game developer James Kay and started chatting about our mutual love of pixels and coffee that I learned about Pico Pico Cafe, a cosy corner perched at the top of a eight-storey building just minutes from Kichijoji station.

After dropping the staff a line, RocketNews24 headed over for a coffee and a chat. We hadn’t gone two steps inside, however, before we found ourselves completely enamoured with the unique cafe’s warm, homely interior and – perhaps most of all for this life-long gamer – the subtle dashes of video game culture in every other nook and cranny.

Tons of cool photos after the jump.

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Attention, Hipster Bibliophiles: Brooklyn Parlor Is Tokyo’s Newest “It” Cafe

Attention, Hipster Bibliophiles: Brooklyn Parlor Is Tokyo’s Newest “It” Cafe

Generally speaking, cafes are good places to grab a cup of coffee and relax a bit, but a truly great cafe will have such delicious food and such a chill atmosphere that you can while away hours in complete contentment. If you are looking for a place like that in Tokyo, let us introduce you to Shinjuku’s Brooklyn Parlor. Read More

From Portable Toilets to Fake Eyelashes: A Guide to Japan’s Awesome 100 Yen Shops

From Portable Toilets to Fake Eyelashes: A Guide to Japan’s Awesome 100 Yen Shops

There’s no denying that 100 yen shops in Japan are great. They sell everything from soft drinks and chocolate to reading glasses and ashtrays, all for ridiculously low prices, and the quality of their merchandise is surprisingly good.

Of course, not everything is 100 yen (US$1.20), but it’s rare to find anything costing more than 400-500, and the variety of products available is astounding. But with so much on offer at such a low prices, it’s easy to throw things into our baskets without really thinking about how much we’re spending, and on more than one occasion I’ve found myself buying things that I didn’t even know I wanted.

A six-pack of AA batteries for 200 yen? You never know when they’ll come in handy! A pair of mugs featuring the Japanese and UK flags? How could I not? An in-car charger for my iPhone? At that price I’d be mad not to buy one, right!?

But are these things really worth buying? As cheap as they are, in the long run are we actually wasting our money?

Well, luckily for us, Japanese website Zasshi News has, with the help of an extensive consumer survey, compiled a list of items to avoid and things that we should snap up from 100 yen shops whenever we can…

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Middle-Aged Man Reviews Cute and Girly DS Fashion Game: “This Game Opened My Eyes to Style!”

Middle-Aged Man Reviews Cute and Girly DS Fashion Game: “This Game Opened My Eyes to Style!”

While browsing online store Amazon, you’ve no doubt stumbled upon a few interesting or downright strange reviews of products written by fellow shoppers. Some of the reviews are both well written and informative, helping us make the best purchasing decisions possible; others, meanwhile, might cause us to wonder how the human race has survived this long, or make us consider contacting the authorities.

One review on Amazon Japan, however, has caught the attention of hundreds of shoppers and has become something of a talking point online.

The review, written by a self-professed middle-aged man, is of a videogame that sees gamers select clothes for, dress and style young women as fashionably as possible, and is intended mainly for the younger female audience.

This male reviewer, however, was incredibly taken with the title, going so far as to say that it has changed the way he sees the world…

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