Friday, December 12, 2014

Miss Lumpy's Holiday Gift Guide for the Lolitas in Your Life

Compilation of gift guide images for classic, gothic, and sweet lolita fashion
When did the holiday season happen?? I feel like I'm still in recovery mode from all the events of the fall, and at some point between naps and cups of spiked cocoa (maybe there's the problem?) we quietly transitioned from fiery foliage to pine trees and presents. As someone who considers herself casually Pagan, the holiday season really gets on my nerves- so much commercialism, so little respect for where mainstream holiday traditions come from. However, while I may not buy into the holiday spirit, I do enjoy giving gifts.

Problem is, I'm typically too broke to actually buy anything (sigh, travel/student loans/adulthood), particularly for those outside my immediate family, so I end up doing a lot of agonizingly fruitless window shopping. Is it rude to email people links to the things you WOULD buy them as a present if you could afford to? I imagine it would be, but what do I know? I am but a humble blogger, after all - a perpetual, shameless daydreamer, verily.

Holiday Gifting for Lolita Fashion Enthusiasts

So  this year, I'm taking it out on all of you - you're welcome! If you're worried about the people in your life buying you Milanoo, feel free to send this post, or any of these curated images, to friends/ family members/ lovers/ coworkers/ other people who normal folks buy gifts for if you feel so inclined. If not, sigh dreamily with me at things we may some day be able to afford (to buy for other people, of course). While I do believe that our traditional "style" names like classic and gothic have been blurring for the past few years (and for good reason!), I've still separated these sets out into the traditional Big Three. I think this will make it easier for the uninitiated to choose a gift for the lolitas in their lives that suits their style.

Items in this list range from handmade items on the lower-priced end to some of the most enviable items to ever grace my computer screen (that lariat! those rings!!), and are also all in stock at the (or were upon writing this). They're a combination of brand-name items, indie brand items, and even offbrand picks as well. Whether you're shopping for a Secret Santa, your lolita bestie, or your One True Love, something will surely fit both their opulent tastes and whatever your budget may be. And if you're so inclined to purchase any of these items, for yourself or for others (no judgment!), click on the small images of each item below the collection.

Classic Lolita Holiday Gift Guide

Guide for classic lolita gift ideas, separated by price point

It shouldn't surprise anyone that the classic lolita collection was the easiest and most enjoyable set for me to put together, containing as it is some of the most enviable and heartbreaking items to grace my computer screen in the past twelve months. I made it a point to include some trendier items, like the lace crown, as well as the old classics we've been lusting after for years - rosaries, pearl chain brooches, etc. My favorite of these pieces is the Waterhouse corset - the artisan has an entire line of "art history" corsets, including some glorious art nouveau ones. Judging by today's trends, I'd be surprised if this collection wasn't the most popular with my readers, and with good reason - don't mind me, I'll just be in the corner ugly-crying loudly into my wallet.

Gothic Lolita Holiday Gift Guide

Guide for gothic lolita gift ideas, separated by price point

I'm not sure why, but this was the most difficult set for me to put together. Maybe because the gothic scene is so established, especially outside of lolita - when you first start looking, you get amazingly beautiful pieces for exorbitant amounts or the more affordable ones of questionable quality. And while there are a few wildcards (such as the almost-$200 tentacle ring, or that absurd h.naoto scarf), there are certainly no duds. Gifting any of these pieces to the Gothic Lolita in your life won't send them running back to their crypt in horror (terrible joke, I know - bear with me, I haven't blogged in a while)!

Sweet Lolita Holiday Gift Guide

Guide for sweet lolita gift ideas, separated by price point

As always, I'm all about that indie lifestyle, so as well as a few items from the big brands (because necessary) I made sure to cram in a few Taobao and handmade items as well. It's been interesting to watch how sweet has morphed in the last year or two - it's (finally) gotten away from the babydoll sweet look with childish prints and pastel twin tail wigs and is instead in this really interesting intersection with classic that I am 100% supportive of. That's definitely reflected in this set - while it's certainly whimsical and youthful, I'm fairly certain nothing here looks like it came from the children's section of a local department store!

Dear Readers! Are there any lolitas on your holiday gift lists this year, or will you and your friends just be window shopping as well this year? I'm a little bit embarrassed by how curious I am!

Previous Winter Holiday Posts:

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Child of Light: Lolita-Friendly Video Game Review

Lolitas are a complicated bunch; I don't think there are many fashions around today that have so wide-reaching an aesthetic associated with them as lolita does. For example, it's a lot easier to consider a piece of media lolita-esque than, say, Steampunk-esque or gothic-esque; with the latter two styles, while certain themes will resonate with Steampunks or goths, those pieces of media will require a certain fashion element to merit that description.

In contrast, songs or movies or TV shows can be considered "loliable" or "lolita-friendly" based on their themes and design, even with basic or mainstream sartorial styles. Most lolitas have an affinity for fairy tale princesses, magical girls, and any heroines who kick serious tail in one way or another; place one of them in an old-fashioned or childlike story and set the whole thing in a beautifully-designed environment, and your creation is probably going to have at least some appeal to the lolita market. Our comparatively low standards for considering media loliable probably relate to our relative obscurity as a fashion; despite our relatively sizable following for the alt-fashion world, lolita still doesn't really fall on the Western radars. That's probably why so many of us follow diverse styles of media, whether it's magical girl anime or Broadway: we don't really get catered to as a market that often (or that well), so our standards have to be a little broader to fit into our aesthetic.

But while lolitas are not a big enough market to cater to specifically, women in general certainly are. Women and girls can find media geared towards them in many outlets; chick flicks and chick lit are both ubiquitous (and, ugh, utterly cringe-worthy) facets of the movie and literature industries, and have been for ages, and recently video games have finally been catching up. The end result is a lot of games coming out right now that cater to women in their characters, themes, and aesthetics. The fact that women in general are being catered to means that lolitas specifically are more likely to find games that are not only appealingly aesthetically but also almost addictively amusing, too.

One of those games? Child of Light by Ubisoft Montreal. The game came out in April, but I recently hooked myself up with a copy care of the lovely Play Station Store for PS4. It follows Princess Aurora in her quest to return home from the strange land of Lemuria. Here's official summary from the Ubisoft website:
The duke’s daughter Aurora is dead… and yet, she lives. Join Aurora across the mysterious kingdom of Lemuria on her quest to return home. Helped by Igniculus the firefly, Finn the Capilli and many more, she must defeat the Queen of the Night who has stolen the sun, the moon and the stars.

Guilty admission time: I'm really not a huge gamer. Once or twice a year I casually pick up a game, get really into it for a few weeks, and then never go back to it. Too much ADD, maybe? I think I'm just really picky about minor details - graphic quality, story lines, and battle mechanics can really ruin a game for me if they aren't up to a certain standard. There has to be a pretty deep connection for me to really relate to a game enough to even finish it. Child of Light, however, really ticked all the boxes for me in a way that's hard to put into words - but I'm a blogger, so obviously I'm gonna spend the next couple hundred words trying to do exactly that.

Story: 4/5

There is so, so much I love about the story. First on the list? The characters. Not only is the main heroine relatable and down to earth, she also demonstrates a fairly impressive level of badassery: she wields a sword bigger than she is for much of the story line, and can easily hold her own in battle without any handsome prince's protection, thank you very much. She and the rest of the characters undergo substantial growth over the course of the game, such as the merchant who comes to understand that people matter more than success.
From the official Child of Light blog on Tumblr

But where the characters are concerned, what matters to me almost as much as what they say is what they don't. At no time did anyone in the game remark on Aurora's gender or age as indicative of her ability, and there's no notion of romance whatsoever with any other characters. While she certainly falls fairly squarely into the Waif-Fu trope, the game designers did fairly well at avoiding other stereotypes associated with female characters. It doesn't feel like the game designers made Aurora female to pander to the female audience; in fact, for all intents and purposes, her gender is entirely irrelevant to the game itself. She's a well-written character with flaws as well as strengths, who happens to be female; a lot of other game designers could really learn something from Child of Light.
An example of the use of rhyme in Child of Light's dialog
[Image source]
As a literary person, I find it to be absolutely necessary for a game to have a well-developed story line. Not only does Child of Light feature this, but it's obvious that the writers also put a lot of thought into their craft, which is my complicated way of saying that it's pretty impressively well written. The themes of family, the human connection to nature, and the necessity of accepting people as they are without trying to change them are topics I always relate to in some way, but here they're also subtle enough that anyone who disagreed on their importance wouldn't feel alienated in any way. Also? Everyone speaks in rhyme, and it's adorable. Little touches like that really elevate this game for me above most of what's churned out by the video game industry these days; Child of Light truly feels more like a piece of art than casual entertainment. That said, I did feel there were a few story lines that ended abruptly (maybe planting seeds for further expansions?), and in many places the dialog felt forced and unnatural (the rhyming was often to blame for that), hence the imperfect score.

Graphics: 5/5

I can say literally nothing bad about the graphics in this game. Seriously, they're beautiful and put tons of comparable games to shame - games like this are why I'm too spoiled to go back and play older games like much of the Final Fantasy series. The setting and landscapes were frankly flawless; they're all done in the in the style of watercolor paintings, down to the grain of simulated watercolor paper that's visible in some shots. The game features lush forests, quaint pseudo-European towns, volcanic caverns full of magma, and crystalline underwater palaces, among others. No matter what you find loveliest, there's at least one environment that felt specifically designed to cater to your tastes. My favorites were Mathildis Forest and the Old Monastery, which should surprise no one who knows me in any way.

Character designs for Child of Light - click the picture for more!
The character designs are amazingly varied, from humans to dwarves and anthropomorphized mice and even a race who look like they were inspired by water lilies. While I would've liked more characters of color, the Earth parts of the story line take place in Austria, so maybe that's probably why they went with mostly white people. Aside from that, my only other graphical nitpick: during battle, when Aurora is casting a spell in her adult form, her ankle-length dress flies all the way up to her neck. I mean... seriously? Was it really necessary for gameplayers to see her skivvies every time she casts Starlight? It didn't really take away from my enjoyment of the game, but it just seems like an odd design choice if Child of Light was indeed designed with parents and children playing together in mind.

Gameplay: 3/5

Maybe I'm weird, but I love turn-based fighting systems. While I'm certainly a fan of button-mashing in the heat of battle as enemies pile up around me, for serious games that I want to pay attention to, it has to be turn-based. So while I liked the mechanics behind the battle system, I found actually battling to be a bit of a mixed bag in this game. I both liked and disliked the abilities given to the characters; while they were varied and creative, for the most part it felt like the abilities were sort of randomly assigned to each character. Some of it made sense, such as Aurora being the only character with Light magic abilities, but for the most part I found myself struggling to remember which characters possessed which abilities. The archer was the only one who could cure status ailments for some reason, and the jester alone could heal other characters... but why? While it didn't make a ton of sense to me, I appreciate that they steered away from using a more rigid caste system like most RPGs feature. However, the learning curve was fairly detrimental to my playing experience, so I really couldn't give it a perfect score.

Child of Light battle system care of

In terms of general gameplay, I really didn't have any complaints, except that it felt like there was also a bit of a learning curve on the controls - I felt like I was fairly clumsy at actually maneuvering around the landscape for a sizable portion of the game. While habitual gamers probably wouldn't have a problem with it, for a game that has such power to attract much more casual gamers like me as well, I feel that a little more finesse would've been appreciated. That said, it didn't really take away from my experience too drastically, it did cause more than a bit of frustration during this first play-through.

Total rating: 4/5

I did have a few concerns with the game, such as incomplete story lines (what's the deal with the Confessions?), confusing game play mechanics (why does the jester have Unstoppable? Why is the plant-girl's weapon a lyre?), and completely unnecessary panty shots (seriously, whyyyyyyy?). That said, my criticisms are beaten out by the thought and effort that obviously went into creating a work of art that really feels more like a playable painting than a mere video game. I think many of my negatives could be dealt with fairly easily in downloadable content, and I'll be curious to see if they are.

While some critics feel that Child of Light lacks staying power, I wholeheartedly disagree, and not only did it hold my adult attention span far longer than any game I've attempted in literally years. The story of the struggle of good over evil is eternal and iconic, and both the story line and the gameplay mechanics remind me of plenty of the games I grew up with, such as the Legend of Zelda games that most of my generation have treasured memories of. I could also see children who play Child of Light in their youth to carry fond memories of Aurora and her friends for many years to come, and when we're talking about such a genuinely positive game, the importance of that really can't be overlooked. 

Now that I've finished Child of Light, I'm aching for more! Can anyone recommend me any similar games I might enjoy? Maybe I have hope of becoming a real gamer girl yet~~~

(will Gamer-senpai notice me then...?)

Child of Light is available on:


Related Posts with Thumbnails