Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A new Famicom game is coming and it's called Kira Kira Star Night DX

Who could've imagined we'd see new Famicom cartridges be produced and released 13 years after Nintendo officially discontinued its first real console?

I certainly didn't see such a thing coming, and yet here we are--thanks to a company known as Columbus Circle.

Actually, some of you've probably heard of Columbus Circle, or at least you may know one of its previous products: the 8bit Music Power Famicom cart.

I didn't buy that offering, but I'm seriously contemplating picking up the publisher's next one, which appears to be some sort of score-attack action-platformer.

This despite the fact that Kira Kira Star Night DX is far from the prettiest Famicom game I've ever seen. I like its color palette and its use of parallax scrolling, though, and Yuzo Koshiro had a hand in creating its soundtrack, so I still think its worth considering.

If you feel similarly, you might want to keep these details in mind: physical copies of Kira Kira Star Night DX are set to hit the streets in late July and when they do they'll cost 5,378 yen (about $50) each.

No word yet on where you'll be able to purchase these suckers, but I have a feeling amiami.com will be one option.

(Via japanesenintendo.com)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

CIB Sunday: Hyakumanton no Bara Bara (PSP)

If you regularly peruse any of the many social-media apps or sites available to the masses these days, you've probably come across #CIBSunday.

Don't worry if you haven't, as it's easy enough to explain. Basically, folks publish photos of complete-in-box copies of games and then include in their tweets or posts the hashtag mentioned above.

I participate in this "event" pretty much every weekend on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter. For some strange reason, though, I've never extended that participation to this blog. Until today, of course.

Will I continue to do so in weeks, months and years to come? Who knows. I'll do my best to keep it up, though--and I'll certainly whip up a post here whenever I think I've got a nice photo to show off, or some related content to recommend.

With that out of the way, what do you think about the snapshot of Hyakumanton no Bara Bara for PSP that can be seen above?

Hyakumanton no Bara Bara not ring a bell for you? How about Patchwork Heroes? That's what this Acquire-made title, which plays like an inverted version of Taito's Qix, was named outside of Japan.

If you'd like to see more photos of Hyakumanton no Bara Bara's lovely case, cover art, instruction manual and UMD, by the way, check out this "Nice Package!" write-up I published last year. Also, read my review of Hyakumanton no Bara Bara (or, rather, Patchwork Heroes).

Are any of you fans of this 2010 release? If so, please share your love of it in the comments section that follows.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Looks like I'll be blowing $18 bucks on the Romancing SaGa 2 mobile remake this week

If you read this recent post or this recent post, you know I've been drooling in anticipation of the English release of Square Enix's recently revealed Romancing SaGa 2 mobile remake.

Well, it seems my husband won't have to put up with my errant slobber for much longer, as the game will be made available to owners of Android and iOS devices this coming Thursday (May 26).

OK, so the damn thing's going to have a price tag of $17.99 attached to it, which normally would be way too rich for my blood (when it comes to buying a mobile game, at least).

I've wanted to play all three of the Romancing SaGa games in a language I can understand since I was a kid, though, so I'll do whatever's needed to keep those instincts at bay long enough to purchase this sucker on or shortly after its street date. I don't suppose any of you are planning to do the same?

Speaking of this wonderfully weird RPG series, by the way, the Romancing SaGa 2 Twitter account recently teased that a mobile remake of its third entry, which first hit the Super Famicom back in 1995, is on the way.

It even directed interested parties to romasaga3.jp. There's nothing to see there yet, although you can listen to some sweet music--taken from the 16-bit original, if I were to guess.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Nice Package! (Valkyrie no Densetsu, PC Engine)

I've had kind of an up and down history with Namco's ancient Valkyrie no Densetsu (aka Legend of Valkyrie). Early on, it was the kind of gaming experience that caused me to wrinkle my nose in disgust. In recent months, though, my reaction to this antiquated adventure title, first released as a Japanese quarter-muncher back in 1989, has softened.

As for what prompted this change of heart, well, I'd be lying if I said the 1990 PC Engine port's beautiful packaging--its eye-popping instruction manual, especially--didn't play a role.

Really, though, Valkyrie no Densetsu’s cover art, HuCard label and how-to booklet just gave me that last little nudge needed to get me to buy the game.

Before that, I’d actually come around to its initially off-putting visuals and its limited gameplay. The latter was easier to embrace than the former, despite the fact that it pales in comparison to similar offerings like The Legend of Zelda. (Whereas even the first Zelda effort allows you to wander and explore, Valkyrie limits you to a set path—which at times feels annoyingly restrictive.)

Does all of this drool-covered praise mean I’d suggest other folks add Valkyrie no Densetsu to their collections? I guess you could say that—if you own a PC Engine (or some other device capable of playing that system’s credit card-sized cartridges) and if you’re fine with playing games from an entirely different era.

Even if you can shake your head yes to both of those requirements, though, I’d still recommend playing Valkyrie in some form or fashion (such as through emulation) before handing over your hard-earned cash for it.

Thankfully, you shouldn’t find yourself in the poorhouse if you ignore my advice and purchase it anyway, as copies tend to be reasonably priced.

Plus, even if you end up hating the game—or even if you only play it a few times and then decide you’re done with it—you’ll still be able to enjoy its colorful instruction manual, a couple of pages of which can be ogled in the photos found above and below.

There's a lot more where all of this came from, though, believe me. I guess this means I have to hit the scanner soon and produce another "Manual Stimulation" post, eh?

While I get to that, have any of you played any iteration of Valkyrie no Densetsu? Although the PC Engine port is the focus of this write-up, the original arcade version was included on 1997's Namco Museum Volume 5 and it also made its way onto the (Japanese) Wii Virtual Console in 2009.

See also: 'Second Chances (Valkyrie no Densetsu, PC Engine)' and previous 'Nice Package!' posts

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I didn't love every single thing about Yo-Kai Watch, but I'm still excited the sequel will be released in North America this September

I've got to be honest here: I didn't love every minute I played of Level-5's "Pok√©mon killer," Yo-Kai Watch.

In particular, I found a good part of the last five to 10 hours of my 40-hour playthrough to be a slog. And I grew tired of the game's frustratingly ineffective ghost-catching mechanic long before reaching that point.

Still, I put 40 hours into this 2015 title--clearly I liked it at least a bit.Actually, I liked it a lot, even taking into consideration the above-mentioned complaints.

As such, I was pleasantly surprised when I heard yesterday that Nintendo is preparing to bring the second Yo-Kai Watch game to North America in late September. (On Sept. 30, specifically.)

The trailer above--which shows off the Japanese versions of Yo-Kai Watch 2, by the way--makes this sequel look like "more of the same" than some kind of extreme makeover, but that's OK with me.

Strike that: it's OK with me so long as Yo-Kai Watch 2's ghost-catching mechanism has been improved to make it less annoying.

Really, though, who am I kidding? I'll buy either Bony Spirits or Fleshy Souls (the subtitles tied to the two iterations of this follow-up) and I'll like it--even if it still takes 20 or 30 attempts to woo a particular spirit to my party.

How about all of you? Do any of you think you'll buy at least one copy of Yo-Kai Watch 2 when it hits the streets (or the 3DS eShop) in a few months?

Friday, May 13, 2016

How to succeed in Pocket Card Jockey without really trying (or without having to try so hard)

I've put over 15 hours into Pocket Card Jockey so far, and I previously put more than 60 hours into its Japanese counterpart, so I guess you could say I know this strange 3DS offering pretty well.

That’s not to suggest I'm some sort of Solitiba (that's the game's Japanese title) expert, mind you. Still, I’ve won more races than I’ve lost in during my 75-plus-hour playthrough, and I’ve also nabbed trophies at the majority of the title’s premier-level G1 events. As such, I’m OK with saying I’ve developed a better-than-adequate understanding of Pocket Card Jockey since I first booted up the Japanese version of the game three years ago.

If you've only just begun this digital oddity, or if you're a veteran of it in terms of playtime but not in results, I think you’ll find this post full of what I consider to be some of the most important Pocket Card Jockey tips and tricks helpful.

Practice really does make perfect--None of the advice that follows will make a lick of difference if you're rarely able to complete Pocket Card Jockey's solitaire rounds. So, if you suck at golf solitaire, do one or both of these things: restart your game and go through its opening tutorial as many times as is needed for you to feel comfortable with its oft-confusing components. Or, take advantage of the training mode that’s accessible via the main menu screen. I actually put a few minutes into the latter every time I boot up this Game Freak-made title—both to warm me up a bit and to give myself the best possible chance of winning a bunch of races once I transition to the real deal.

Focus from the word go--At the beginning of a race (during the "Start Solitaire" phase), keep a close eye on the cards that fall from the top of the screen. Specifically, do your best to not lose sight of the card that contains five blue spheres. Then, aim for it to get the best possible start—which in the case of Pocket Card Jockey means kicking things off with as much "Unity Power" as you can. That said, don't dally. It’s better to choose a less desirable card (one with fewer than five spheres on it) and earn a less impressive start than it is to not choose one at all and face a miserable start from which you and your foal probably won’t be able to recover.

When two is better than three--It can be tempting to keep your trusty steed stuck within Comfort Zone Lv. 1 (where the solitaire rounds are the easiest to complete) or Comfort Zone Lv. 3 (where you enter “Super Unity” if you earn a "Perfect Score" by successfully clearing the solitaire tableau) during each and every race. Hell, the game's tutorial rather stupidly--in my opinion, naturally--suggests that sticking to Comfort Zone Lv. 3 should be one of your main goals whenever you hit the track. If you ask me, though, you're far better off aiming for Comfort Zone Lv. 2 somewhere between 50 and 75 percent of the time. The solitaire rounds there are more difficult than those in Comfort Zone Lv. 1, but they're easier than those in Comfort Zone Lv. 3. Plus, you add more points to your "Energy" meter while in this position than you do while in the safer one. (Looking for a specific strategy here? Try to get into Comfort Zone Lv. 3 during a race's straightaways, and move into Comfort Zone Lv. 2 whenever you begin to round a corner. Accomplishing this is easier said than done, but it can really pay off when you nail it.)

Don't put the card before the horse--During a race, grab as many of the horseshoe and lightbulb cards as you can--they're the only way to level-up your horse and increase its speed, strength and skills, after all--but don't go crazy. Sometimes they're enticingly placed in positions (within the jagged red-orange-yellow portions of the track) that will leave you vulnerable—aka, hit you with a "turning loss"—while rounding a bend. Speaking of that fiery curtain that descends onto the field every few rounds, feel free to venture onto it after you clear a hand of solitaire while in Comfort Zone Lv. 2 or 3, as this is the only time you can do so without being penalized.

Boxes are for video games, not jockeys and ponies--Just before the homestretch, make sure your horse is in a position that makes it unlikely it’ll get boxed in by its competitors. Usually this means moving it to a higher spot on the track (as opposed to hugging the inside edge). Being surrounded by other steeds isn’t such a big deal if you manage to snag one or two of the "Boost" cards--the ones featuring a blue flame--that pop up each race, as they help you break through such bottlenecks. Fail to grab one, though, and you can kiss the current race goodbye if you find yourself tied up.

I can't believe I'm suggesting this, but save your spending cash for the $10,000 puzzle pieces--Early on, it makes sense to spend some of your winnings on the items--carrots, gloves, riding crops--sold at Chirp's Happy Horses shop. They can give you the edge you need to place in those initial races. Later on, though, the Chirp sends her prices through the roof. Should you still buy one of her carrots when they cost $10,000 or even $30,000? Not in my opinion. Instead, I suggest saving up your dough until you have enough to buy one or more puzzle pieces. Without spoiling anything, they'll end up providing you with more of a boost than the above-mentioned accessories ever will.

This ain't no place for ageist jockeys--I've read quite a few comments on line that recommend passing on Pocket Card Jockey's mature mode and instead focusing on its growth mode. I disagree. A lot of good can be gained from the former, even if it doesn't help you level-up your current undulate. First, it allows you to win more money that can be blown on the pricey puzzle pieces mentioned above. Second, it lets you win more races. In particular, it lets you bolster your collection of GI trophies--and that's what you need to do if you want your horses to retire champions. Which you do want, of course, as the easiest way to produce the best Pocket Card Jockey companions is to breed champions after they've been sent to the farm.

Are any of you also enjoying--or at least playing--Pocket Card Jockey? If so, please let me know in the comments section below if you agree or disagree any of the pointers I've shared above. Also feel free to share your own tips and tricks related to this 3DS game.

See also: previous Solitiba and Pocket Card Jockey posts

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Okaeri! Chibi-Robo! Happy Richie Oosouji (DS) now playable in English

Until a couple of days ago, I had no idea anyone was working on an English patch of this previously Japan-only DS game, which is a direct sequel to the first Chibi-Robo! game released for the GameCube back in 2005.

Specifically, Okaeri! Chibi-Robo! Happy Richie Oosouji (localized here as Chibi-Robo: Clean Sweep!) "takes place a couple of years after the original game’s story, where little Jenny has grown up and has a family of her own," according to romhacking.net. "However, they live a hard life--dealing with poverty and a very dirty home."

Chibi-Robo sweeps in to save the day, of course. In Happy Richie Oosouji, the adorable tin can toils away to "solve the problems of the family [as well as] the toys found around the house." He also does what he can to rid the not-so-humble abode of the grime that covers nearly every surface.

Want to learn more, or even download Cjuub's patch, which supposedly translates all of Okaeri! Chibi-Robo! Happy Richie Oosouji's dialogue and graphics into English? Click on the Romhacking link above. Additional info can be found at gbatemp.net.