Japan – White Mountain

Gamesmanship

Simply put, without Japan, we wouldn’t have the video games we know and love. Companies like Nintendo, Sony, Sega, Taito, Namco, Capcom, and Konami all originated in the land of the rising sun and gave birth to many of the most popular systems, games, and characters ever. Here are some little known facts about those great gaming corporations:

Nintendo

Nintendo has provided my favourite gaming systems growing up and even into my adult years. Titles starring the likes of Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, and others have made me a fan of the company that began operations all the way back in 1889 as a trading card enterprise. Nintendo even ventured into the love hotel business in the 1960’s, as well as a block building product meant to compete with LEGO. One of Nintendo’s first big releases, Donkey Kong, prompted legal action from Universal Studios, as they believed the character was too close to King Kong. Nintendo won the case, claiming the King Kong story and characters were part of the public domain. Finally, the company was a one-time owner of the Seattle Mariners… can you imagine a mascot Mario warming up in the on-deck circle!

Nintendo Raising

Sega

Originally a manufacturer of pinball machines, Sega entered the video game console market with the SG-1000 in 1983. While I never owned a Sega system, it was a treat to occasionally try exclusive games on it while visiting friends who owned them. Sega’s mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog was originally to have fangs, be in a band, and have a human girlfriend named Madonna, but those features were removed. Unlike Nintendo, Sega chose not to censor the bloodshed in the violent Mortal Kombat game, creating the Videogame Rating Council in response to the controversy that followed. After failed systems including the Saturn and Dremacast, Sega left the console world and became a game developer for other platforms, such as Nintendo, which is exclusively getting Sonic the Hedgehog releases.

Taito

Broski Sip and I loved a number of Taito games, particularly Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands. When a collection including these titles was released for PCs and other consoles in 2005, we were quick to snatch it up and spent hours reliving our childhood memories (and frustrations!). As a company, Taito moved from vending machines to jukeboxes, before finally settling on arcade games. In 1978, Taito released Space Invaders, which is one of video game history’s most popular titles and one which launched the ‘Golden Age of Arcade Video Games’. Today, Taito has been incorporated by Square Enix (developers of famous titles such as the Final Fantasy series) and operates a number of arcades throughout Japan, known as Taito Stations. I miss arcades, although I can’t say I ever frequented them.

Sony

Sony entered the video game console market when Nintendo ditched a partnership between the two to distribute a CD-ROM drive that would work with Super Nintendo systems. Sony decided to continue down the path they had already started and in essence, Nintendo created their own competition when Sony released the Playstation to compete with the Nintendo 64. The company’s name comes from ‘sonus,’ the Latin word for sound mixed with the slang term ‘sonny’, which for the Japanese meant smart and presentable young men, an appearance founders Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka believed they exhibited. Of course, we also recognize Sony’s branding from their Walkman and Discman music delivery devices and in other parts of the world, Sony even has financial institutions under their umbrella.

Sony Box

Namco

Namco originated as operators of children’s rides on the roof of a Yokohama, Japan department store and entered the arcade game business in 1970. In 1985, Namco would bid to purchase the struggling Atari for a whopping $800,000, dwarfing other offers, such as Sega’s $50,000. Namco’s Pac-Man, released in 1980, was one of the industry’s most famous creations, although the game could also be cited as a cause of the 1983 Video Game Crash, as Atari rushed to release the game on their home console and it failed to sell as well as hoped. Namco had plans to compete with the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis in the late 80’s and early 90’s and released the SuperGrafx console, which was another failure. In more recent years, the company has entered the amusement park business, as well as merged with Bandai in 2005.

Capcom

Capcom’s biggest title is arguably the Street Fighter series of games, which produced one of the most legendary gaming myths of all-time. In Street Fighter II, when you were defeated by Ryu, his taunt of “If you cannot overcome the Rising Dragon Punch, you cannot win!” was mistranslated to read “You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance.” This caused many players to theorize that Sheng Long was a hidden character in the game. Capcom eventually included the character in games years later and background graffiti in Wreck-It Ralph states that “Sheng Long was here!” Other popular series produced by Capcom include Resident Evil, Mega Man, and Devil May Cry. Capcom titles have been cited as some of the worst video game to movie adaptations ever, although the films are commercially successful.

Konami

While they have produced an extensive and memorable video game line-up, their Blades of Steel hockey release will be forever cherished by anyone who had the privilege of strapping on those virtual skates. The company’s name translates to “be creative” and they have certainly followed their own credo. Konami has dabbled in everything from health and fitness clubs around Japan to trading cards, anime, slot machines, and a slew of other products. Konami is also recognized for their Castlevania, Metal Gear, and Silent Hill franchises and even the most popular cheat code of all-time can be attributed to the company. Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A was usually good for some bonus power-ups and extra lives, which were usually necessary.

Japan: White Mountain

May 8

  • Rim glass with Coconut Shavings
  • 2 oz Sake
  • Top with Milk and Pina Colada Mix

While I’ve never been the biggest gamer, I definitely have a place in my heart and mind for video games. Last year, I did a two part series on my favourite releases ever and it was a wonderful trip down memory lane. You can check out those articles here and here.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (??? Sips out of 5):
xxx

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June 5 – Asian Mist

Spit Roast

I’m not sure if this is where the drink gets its name, but it’s a common gimmick in wrestling for a Japanese grappler – Great Kabuki, Great Muta, Killer Khan, Yoshihiro Tajiri, Kwang, and the list of foreign baddies goes on and on – to spit “Asian Mist” in their opponent’s eyes. The act is so common that the different-coloured mists even have diverse “effects”. Green blinds temporarily, red burns, black blinds for prolonged periods, blue puts rival’s to sleep, yellow paralyzes, and purple causes memory loss… only in the crazy world of wrestling! Here are some other well-known spitters:

Acid Reflux

In the Mortal Kombat game franchise, the character of Reptile can spit poisonous venom at his opponent – “forward, forward, A”– was the move combo, I believe. Reptile was one of my favourite characters to use in the game because of his bad ass ways. Over the years, his fatalities (a hallmark of the MK series) have included biting off the head of an opponent and regurgitating deadly acid upon a prone foe.

Bloody Hell

In a somewhat similar vein to the Asian Mist, gothic wrestler Gangrel was known to drink “blood” from a goblet and then spit it into the air, or into the face of a foe, blinding them in the process. Those crazy vampires… what will they think of next? If only us humans could harness a way to spit daylight in their faces and eradicate your Edwards and Bellas from the world.

Dilophosaurus Venomous

In Jurassic Park, these little bastards are known to spit blinding venom at their human creators and captors… you think the little monsters would have some sense of gratitude! On the theme park attraction based off the movie franchise, the first sign of danger occurs when some Dilophosaurs pop up and promptly spit at the passing vehicles and passengers. They’ve caught me a time or two and I have to say that I must be immune to their toxins because I reacted to it similarly to everyday tap water.

Dis-Service Industry

There has always been a fear amongst restaurant complainers that their food will be returned to them with a loogie special sauce added to their meal, courtesy of a disgruntled cook or cashier. I’m not a natural complainer (don’t you hate those people!), but this fear provides an additional reason not to do so in fast food joints or any other eatery. I like my burger sans spit, thank you very much.

food spit

Sports Salivation

There have been a number of spitting incidents in the realm of professional sports, each more disgusting than the last. It doesn’t seem to matter which sport is being played, as even golfer Tiger Woods had to deal with an incident after spitting on a green during a tournament in Dubai. Possibly the most famous spit scandal belongs to Roberto Alomar, who loogied on an umpire. He still managed to gain entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame, despite the controversy.

I’m Hit: The Keith Hernandez Story

This may be one of my favourite Seinfeld moments, as Kramer and Newman tell the story of baseball star Keith Hernandez spitting on them following a game. The entire scene mimics the movie JFK, and the recounting of the story is filmed in a similar fashion to the Zapruder videos of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Jerry takes the role of conspiracy theorist and proves that there had to be a second spitter to explain the outlandish tale.

Spit-Take

Comedian and actor Danny Thomas is often credited with inventing the spit-take. I wonder if he would have come up with the gag if he knew that many years later, wrestlers would be blinding their opponents and causing memory loss using the same tactic he used to get laughs!?

Drink #156: Asian Mist

Asian Mist Martini

  • 1.5 oz Malibu Rum
  • 0.75 oz Melon Liqueur
  • 0.25 oz White Rum
  • Top with half Lemon-Lime Soda and half Pineapple Juice
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wedge

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This drink was a little on the sweet side, but it’s relatively strong and, like always, that’s a good thing. The coconut and lemon flavours work well together, but sometimes I just can’t get my head around pineapple juice. I mean, I love Hawaiian-style pizza, but drinking the stuff has been known to throw me off.