Friday, May 22, 2015

Nice Package! (PoPoLoCrois Monogatari, PlayStation)

I've looked upon PoPoLoCrois Monogatari, a role-playing game that was developed and published by Sony Computer Entertainment and first released in Japan in the summer of 1996, with a curious eye for a number of years now.

I refrained from buying it, though, because of the language barrier. Although I was more than happy to attempt to play through Japanese RPGs as a teen, I've become less and less willing to do so as I’ve gotten older.

Or at least that’s how I felt until I returned to my Japanese studies earlier this year. Now that I’ve got the language’s hiragana and katakana syllabaries down pat (again) and I’ve started learning actual words and phrases and grammar, I’m feeling quite a bit more confident in my ability to tackle an adventure like this one.

Which should go a long way toward explaining why I finally picked up the copy of PoPoLoCrois Monogatari that can be seen in the photos scattered throughout this post a couple of weeks ago.

Although I’ve yet to start playing it, I’m planning to do just that soon. (Specifically, as soon as this night class I’ve been taking, on and off, for the last nine months wraps up in a couple of weeks.)

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few snapshots of the game’s packaging, which, in my humble opinion, is so pretty that it deserves every whistle and catcall thrown its way.

I find the game’s cover art especially appealing, I’ve got to say—although, really, only a person with a heart of stone would consider it anything less than stunning, wouldn’t you agree?

I decided to include the photo above here, by the way, because the sticker that is its focus shows that, at some point in its life, this particular copy of PoPoLoCrois Monogatari sat on the shelves of Tokyo’s world-famous Super Potato game shop.

There’s no need to explain the preceding shot, though, is there? After all, the art that’s splashed across the top side of this game’s disc is nearly as spectacular as the art that peeks through its case—or at least that’s how I see things.

I wish I could tell you why I failed to snap any photos of the interior of PoPoLoCrois Monogatari’s instruction manual, but at the moment I’m unable to conjure up any reasons. Don’t worry, I plan on rectifying matters this weekend, so look for some of the above to be published on my Flickr photostream within the next few days.

While you wait, you likely could do worse than waste a handful of minutes ogling the lovely sticker sheet that was hidden inside the manual in question.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

To whom it may concern: I'm finally spending some time with Contact (DS)

Almost two months after I announced I was putting my annoyingly titled #ADecadeofDS series on hold for a while (I know I said in that post it would only be back-burnered for a couple of weeks, but unfortunately life has intervened since then in a fairly aggravating way), I'm finally ready to return to it.

Actually, I returned to it first thing Monday morning, when I replaced the My World, My Way cart that's been stuck inside my trusty red OG 3DS for the last eight weeks or so with the Contact cart that I've been itching to play since I first picked it up just over two years ago.

In the meantime, I've put an hour and a half into this Grasshopper Manufacture-developed DS title--mainly while bussing to and from work each day. (Which means I should put a few more hours into it by the end of the week--and even more than that during the upcoming holiday weekend, especially since I'll be stuck in a car on more than one occasion.)

What do I think of it so far? My short and sweet response: I really like it. In fact, I think you could say I really, really like it--as along as you don't have an issue with me saying "really, really" in a blog post instead of something a smidge more descriptive.

In particular, I really, really like Contact's aesthetics--its surprisingly disparate graphics, especially. At first, I couldn't but but bemoan the fact that the entire game didn't utilize the pixel-y, EarthBound-esque look that depicts the professor's side of the story (not to mention screen).

After I let the experience settle a bit, though, my stance on the lower-screens more painterly approach to things softened to a pretty great extent, and now I'd even say I find it rather appealing. (Although I still prefer the decidedly 16-bit visuals used for the professor's portion of this charming-so-far adventure.)

I'm also fairly fond of what I've heard of Contact's tunes, although emphasis has to be placed on "what I've heard." Playing the game on a noisy bus, even with headphones, isn't the best way to get a feel for the quality (or lack thereof) of a game's soundtrack.

As for this title's story and battle elements, I'm enjoying the former more than the latter at the moment. Of course, the story's enticingly mysterious right now, and its penchant for breaking the proverbial "fourth wall" is proving to be both engaging and entertaining, so my current preferences probably shouldn't be all that shocking.

That said, Contact's battle scenes, which are of the hands-off variety in a way that brings Xenoblade Chronicles to mind, while somewhat boring at the outset, eventually become sort of interesting, if not entirely thrilling. Who knows, though, maybe there are some surprises in store for me in this regard that I've yet to experience.

Have any of you played this 2006 (2007, if you're Australian or European) release? If so, what did you think of it?

Look for more of my impressions of Contact early next week, by the way--in the form of my 10th #ADecadeofDS write-up.

See also: previous #ADecadeofDS posts

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Nichiest Podcast Ever gets even nichier in its 14th episode

Those of you who enjoy spending a couple of hours listening to three people blather on about all sorts of niche-y gaming experiences should get a kick out of the latest episode (or "take," if your name is shidoshi) of The Nichiest Podcast Ever.

This is the 14th time we've recorded together, by the way, which I think is pretty cool. Oh, and it's the first time my portion of the discussion was captured using a real microphone, pop filter, sound board and the like, which I also find kind of cool.

Another "cool" element of this particular Nichiest Podcast Ever take, in the opinion of yours truly: we cover even more ground than usual, or at least that's how it felt while we were chatting. For example, some of the games we discussed this time around were A-Train: City Simulator (3DS), Amnesia: Memories (Vita), Class of Heroes 3 (PSP), Fatal Frame V (Wii U) and Starlight Vega (PC).

That's far from the extent of what's included in this latest, greatest installment of The Nichiest Podcast Ever, mind you. We also talk about a few other 3DS, Vita and even PC games during its just-over-two-hour running time.

If you're curious to find out which PC, Vita and 3DS titles I'm talking about here, or if you're really itching to hear what Anne, shidoshi and I have to say about any or all of the aforementioned releases, head on over to at your earliest convenience.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Five reasons I'm glad I finally shelled out a few bucks for the WonderSwan port of Squaresoft's Romancing SaGa

OK, so the “reasons” referred to in the header above are summed up by a handful of cartridge, manual and packaging photos rather than a bunch of words, but you can't have too many of the former, right?

That’s especially true when the art attached and applied to the aforementioned packaging, manual and cart is as gorgeous as it is in the case of this impressive portable port of Squaresoft's oddball Super Famicom RPG.

I mean, just look at the game's box art, for instance, which is showcased in the photo below.

Doesn't it make you choke up a bit? At the very least, it should bring a hint of a smile to your face, what with its vibrant use of color, bold logo and striking character designs.

Admittedly, Romancing SaGa's cart label, seen above, isn't anywhere near as thrilling, but who cares when every other aspect of this release is so spot-on?

Another case in point: the game's instruction manual, which is crammed full of fabulous illustrations like the ones shown in the preceding snapshot.

Another such illustration can be found on the back of Romancing SaGa's box, and it's the best of the bunch, if you ask me. Of course, how could it not be when it depicts one of the game's many party members horsing around with an adorable kitten?

Sadly (but not unexpectedly), I've yet to put this cart through its paces. As soon as I get a WonderSwan Color or a SwanCrystal system, though, you can bet I'll do just that.

And afterward, I'll write up some sort of report about the experience (which will be my first with any of Squaresoft's three 16-bit Romancing SaGa titles)--assuming its heavy use of kanji doesn't reduce me to tears.

See also: additional photos of WonderSwan games and previous WonderSwan-focused posts

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Bandai Namco's Ray Gigant (Vita) is giving me serious Tengai Makyou and Shining Force vibes, and that's a very good thing

Call me crazy for saying so, if you must, but after watching the following trailer for Bandai Namco's upcoming Vita RPG, Ray Gigant, for the first time a few minutes ago, I can't help but wonder if its developers weren't at least a smidge inspired by Sega's Shining Force titles or Hudson's Tengai Makyou series.

What do you think? Can you see where I'm coming from after checking out the trailer for yourself, or do you consider it a stretch of the imagination? Regardless, what are your early impressions of this late-July (in Japan only, for now) release?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Hooray, hooray, a brand-new Pushmo game is on the way!

Actually, if you own a Japanese 3DS, it's already here. Its name is Pushmo: Hippa Land, by the way, and it looks completely and awesomely adorable--or completely and adorably awesome, if that's how you prefer to butter your bread.

Don't believe me when I say this eShop game looks both awesome and adorable (as well as, er, complete)? Check out the trailer below (or here, if the video's borked).

For anyone who is left a bit confused by that two-minute-and-forty-eight-second slice of heaven, the gist of what sets this Pushmo apart from its three predecessors is that it features four distinct worlds.

One features puzzles that are typical of the series, one features puzzles that look like objects (such as the Tower of Pisa), one features puzzles teaming with enemies and one features puzzles that are inspired by classic Famicom (NES) games.

Oh, and you control a different Pushmo character in each world, although I'm sad to say I don't know enough about the series to know anyone other than Mallo.

Twenty-eight puzzles are offered up for free (seven from each world), but after that you have to hand over 500 yen for the 100 remaining regular puzzles and 300 yen each (900 yen total) for the rest of the other worlds' puzzles (50 per world, or 150 in all).

That comes to 1,400 yen for the whole enchilada--if you buy them separately. Those who know what's up will take Nintendo up on its offer to pay 1,000 yen (just under $10) to nab all of them at once.

Considering the original Pushmo and its two follow-ups, Crashmo and Pushmo World, eventually were released outside of Japan, I have to imagine the same will be true of Hippa Land. Here's hoping it doesn't take too for Nintendo to make that happen.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I'm pretty smitten with this pair of Splatoon (Wii U) commercials

I honestly don't know what's come over me in the last few weeks. In that time, I've become massively smitten with Nintendo's cartoonish and squid-filled shooter for the Wii U, Splatoon.

Admittedly, I won't be playing it anytime soon--due to the fact that I still don't own the company's latest system--but that won't keep me from slobbering over it all the same.

Actually, for the time being, I'm going to slobber over the commercials shown here, which the brass at Nintendo hope will spur throngs of people to buy their shiny new game.

The one above is, or will be, airing in Japan, while the one below will be shown in North America.

Although I'm overly fond of both of them, I think I prefer the Japanese ad to its North American counterpart. That said, I can understand why Nintendo isn't using it in every region, as it's perhaps too abstract (because it doesn't give viewers much of an idea as to Splatoon's gameplay).

What do you think? Do you like either of these commercials, or maybe even both of them? Also, are you as smitten by this upcoming Wii U title as I am at the moment?