Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy birthday to me!

Yep, not only is it Thanksgiving here in the U.S., but it's my birthday, too.

Which is kind of weird, to be honest, but I've never been big on celebrating my birthday, so that's OK.

It's especially OK now that I've opened the presents my parents gave to me this morning, one of which contained the copy of Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call that can be seen in the photo to the right.

I'm kind of surprised Amazon et al still had copies of this game's limited edition, to tell you the truth--not that I'm complaining!

Anyway, it's a pretty safe bet that I'll spend some quality time with it tomorrow--along with Fantasy Life and Solitiba, of course. (Yes, I'm still putting a ton of time into both, especially Fantasy Life.)

My parents also gave me a nice chunk of change, I have to add. Would it surprise you to hear I've already spent a portion of it on Japanese 3DS games?

Don't worry, I'll write about all of them here after they finally arrive on my doorstep (and after I've spent at least a little time with them).

In the meantime, I hope all of you have a wonderful Thursday--whether it's Thanksgiving in your neck of the woods or not.

Monday, November 24, 2014

In honor of the 10th anniversary of the Nintendo DS' release: 10 of my favorite DS games

Rather than refer to the following titles "my 10 favorite DS games," I've decided to call them 10 of my favorites. That's because I love so many DS games that choosing absolute favorites would be like choosing a favorite ... beer? Candy? Diva?

Actually, I think I'd have a far easier time selecting and writing about a favorite candy than I would settling on 10 titles I consider to be my all-time favorite examples of the DS' wonderfully varied game catalog.

As such, you may want to take the following list with a giant grain of salt--or, rather, you may want to read it knowing that if I were to update this post tomorrow, and the next day, too, and then again the day after that, each iteration likely would include a few unique entries.

For this exact moment in time, though, I can somewhat confidently state that the games discussed below are 10 of my favorites for the now-10-year-old Nintendo DS system.

Daigasso! Band Brothers--You know how I mentioned in last Friday's post that I wasn't all that impressed with the early-2004 reveal of the DS? The one part of Nintendo's DS reveal that did impress me was this game. Sadly, it never made it to our shores, so I wasn't able to experience it until a good couple of years after its Japanese release. Was it worth the wait? I sure think so. Mind you, it's a very basic rhythm game--although calling it a "music" game may be more accurate. Regardless, I think Daigasso! Band Brothers' simplicity is a big part of why I enjoy it as much as I do.

Dragon Quest IX--I was pretty sure I was going to like this one before I ever got my hands on a copy of it. It just looked like something I would enjoy, if that makes sense. And you know what? Not only did I enjoy it, but I fell in love with it and played it until I'd wrung every last ounce of enjoyment out of it. (I believe I put just over 80 hours into it before calling it a day, but don't quote me on that.) I know some folks who are long-time fans of the series were a bit disappointed by this entry, but it captivated me completely with its engaging battles and touching storylines.

Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime--Do you want to know why I ignored Rocket Slime, a game that's been called a classic from one end of the Internet to the other (whatever that means), until a couple of years ago? Because I didn't like how it looked, for starters. Also, I didn't much like the idea of its gameplay. I guess I wanted it to be a more traditional RPG, a la its "mainline" namesakes. Boy, was I an idiot. I know I suggested earlier that it would be impossible for me to set aside a single DS game as being my absolute favorite, but if I were forced to engage in that kind of tomfoolery, it's quite likely Rocket Slime would be one of the top contenders for that title.

Etrian Odyssey--I was a late comer to this DS title, too, although that had nothing to do with me initially finding it unappealing in any way. Instead, it had to do with the fact that for some time new copies of it were pretty pricey. It finally got a reprint a couple of years ago, though, which caused prices to drop to far more acceptable levels, and that's when I jumped on board. It quickly earned both my admiration and respect thanks to its demanding gameplay and delectable soundtrack.

Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light--If I were forced to pick a favorite between this game and Dragon Quest IX, I'm honestly not sure which one I'd go with in the end. That said, I prefer most what's found in The 4 Heroes of Light--battles, graphics, overall art style, story, soundtrack (this last one's kind of a toss up, admittedly), chief among them--to the same elements that are showcased in Dragon Quest IX. Two noteworthy exceptions: the latter title's optional quests and visible-from-the-overworld enemies. So, I guess you could say I consider both games to be standouts in one way or another.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A decade of the Nintendo DS

The Nintendo DS system hit store shelves across North America exactly 10 years ago today, on Nov. 21, 2004.

Its Japanese release followed on Dec. 2 of the same year, while it didn't arrive on Australian or European shores until Feb. 24 and March 11 of 2005, respectively.

Although I now consider the DS to be one of my all-time favorite systems (along with, say, the Famicom, the PC Engine and the GameBoy), it took some time for it to worm its way into my heart.

What can I say? Aside from its dual-screened design, I wasn't all that impressed with the system or its initial selection of games following its early-2004 reveal.

A stack of some of my favorite Japanese DS games.

In fact, I waited until sometime in 2006, after the DS Lite had been on the market for a couple of months, to join the fray. (I believe I did so because I was about to travel and I wanted to play Animal Crossing: Wild World while I was on the road, but don't quote me on that.)

Once I experienced a handful of the DS' most noteworthy games, though, I fell head over heels in love with it--and those feelings have only grown stronger in subsequent years. (In fact, I'm just about to splurge on a rather large assortment of Japanese DS games.)

Do any of you also consider yourselves to be DS fanpersons? If so, please share some of your most cherished memories of this unique system in the comments section below.

(Note: this isn't the extent of my "decade of DS" coverage. Look for another post related to the system's anniversary on Monday--and for additional posts to follow early next year.)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I'm sure I'd love this in-the-works Bubble Bobble clone called Drop Wizard ... if I could play it

It's no secret that I love so-called Bubble Bobble clones.

As such, I guess it shouldn't be much of a surprise to hear that I'm feeling a bit gaga about the game, called Drop Wizard, showcased in the trailer below. I mean, it's got an adorable, cherubic protagonist, similarly aww-inspiring enemies and all kinds of collectible fruit--how could I not go a bit gaga over it?

And then there's the cherry on top: its gameplay looks to include elements of one of my favorite Bubble Bobble clones, Snow Bros.

The only downside I can see to Drop Wizard at the moment is that the levels shown in this trailer seem a bit sparse--although that may be due to it being an iOS game?

Actually, it being an iOS game is another downside, if I'm to be honest. That's not me ripping on iOS game, mind you; it's me whining about the fact that I can't play this particular one because I don't own an iOS device.

Developers Neutronized suggest in the comments section of the trailer above that they'd like to follow up the initial iOS release with Android, PC, PS3/4/Vita, Wii U and 3DS versions, though, so here's hoping they're able to make that dream a reality sometime soon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Does the impending North American release of Brandish: The Dark Revenant (PSP) mean I can continue to dream of a similar localization of MonHun Diary: Poka Poka Airu Village?

OK, so we all know that isn't going to happen. MonHun Diary: Poka Poka Airu Village finally getting a North American release, I mean.

I can't help but wonder, though, if some adventurous company--you know, like Xseed Games, for instance--would have brought it out here if it weren't a Capcom property.

Oh, well, why bother fretting over that when games like Brandish: The Dark Revenant actually are coming to our shores, and likely before the calendar flips over to 2015?

Unfortunately, Brandish: The Dark Revenant's impending North American release will be of the digital-only variety (something that's likely to limit buyers to Vita owners, I believe), but it's kind of hard to fault publisher Xseed Games for going that route in this day and age.

Anyway, to learn more about this curious-looking, Nihon Falcom-made dungeon-crawler, check out the trailer above (yes, the Japanese version actually came out all the way back in 2009) or the rather cool "localization blog" that was published on Xseed's Tumblr last week.

P.S. I'm pretty sure this is the longest header I've ever written for a one of my blog posts. Don't worry, I won't make a habit of it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

For the two or three of you who've been dying to check out photos of the box, cart and manual made for Bitamina Oukoku Monogatari (GameBoy)

I wish I could remember who turned me on to the existence of this game, which was released in North America in April of 1993 as Great Greed. (Its Japanese launch occurred in September of 1992.) I know it was someone on Twitter, but that's all I can recall.

At any rate, I'd like to extend a hearty "thank you" to that (at the moment) nameless, faceless person--should he or she happen across this post or any of its related social-media accompaniments.

For those of you who've never heard of either version of this GameBoy title, it's a rather odd turn-based RPG that features, among other curiosities, a corrupt politician, pollution and a surprising number of characters, enemies and locations named after food.

Actually, I'm not completely sure the above is true of the Japanese version as, duh, I can't understand much of its text at the moment, but it's certainly true of the North American version.

Some of you probably are wondering right about now why I decided to buy the Japanese version of Great Greed rather than the English one. My response is pretty straightforward: the copy of Bitamina Oukoku Monogatari shown throughout this post set me back a whole $5. Also, I liked its logo, box art and overall pinkness.

The game's instruction manual is pretty nice, too, as you should be able to see from the photographic glimpse above. (I'll hopefully be able to show off the rest of it in an upcoming "Manual Stimulation" post.) 

Have any of you played either Bitamina Oukoku Monogatari or Great Greed? If so, please share your opinions, if you're willing, in the comments section below.

See also: previous 'Year of the GameBoy' posts

Monday, November 17, 2014

Let's chat a bit about the awesomeness that is Kirby and the Rainbow Curse's Japanese box art

Also, let's chat a bit about how awesome it is that games like this are still getting released via retail--as opposed to only being sold digitally. Speaking of which, copies of this absolutely amazing looking Wii U title will hit store shelves in Japan on Jan. 22 and in North America on Feb. 13--although European (and I'm guessing Australian?) store shelves won't be stocked until sometime in third or fourth quarter of 2015.

The question is: will Western copies of Kirby and the Rainbow's Curse sport the same great cover art that was created for Touch! Kirby Super Rainbow (that's the Japanese version's name), or will Nintendo's European, Australian and American artists once again ruin everything by transforming this cuddly cover boy into "angry Kirby"?