Tuesday, June 28, 2016

About that GameBoy-centric podcast I recorded ages ago with Jeremy Parish...

I don't know if you've heard, but a podcast I recorded with Jeremy Parish, of 1UP.com and USgamer fame, made its way onto the Internet yesterday.

We actually got on the horn, as the old saying goes, and recorded the 'cast this time last year. Why is it only now seeing the light of day? Here's the explanation Parish shared in a related usgamer.net article:

"I've sat on this audio conversation all this time for a few reasons—chief among them being that I wasn't sure I really wanted to commit to another podcast project. And as much work as I'm putting into detailing the GameBoy's history, building yet another retrospective layer seems a bit like overkill."

You may have noticed that he described this as being part of a larger project. That's because it was--originally.

Parish approached me about a year-and-a-half ago to see if I'd be up for combining forces to create an on-going podcast that would complement his Game Boy World site and books. I agreed pretty much on the spot, of course.

It actually took us a good number of months to coordinate the recording session that produced the podcast that can be listened to here. (It covers the system's Japanese launch as well as its first four games--Alleyway, Baseball, Super Mario Land and Yakuman.) I want to say it was about six months, but it doesn't really matter in the end, does it?

Speaking of the end, despite what Parish himself said in the USgamer write-up mentioned above, it's possible he and I will reconvene to chat about Nintendo's first handheld system--and its underrated catalog of games--in future Retronauts Micro episodes.

In the meantime, give this "almost lost" pilot a listen. If you enjoy it, please let me know in the comments section below or on Twitter. Even better: pass it along to others who you think may get a kick out of it.

See also: pretty much every blog post I've published about the GameBoy

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Happy 20th anniversary, Super Mario 64

I almost can't believe Super Mario 64 made its way onto Japanese store shelves 20 years ago today.

I say almost because, well, it some ways it totally feels like it's been two decades since I first played this classic platformer.

It helps, I'm sure, that the above-mentioned experience took place during my freshman year in college. No matter how young I may (think I) look or feel, that was some time ago, and I know it.

That said, my memories of my initial Super Mario 64 playthrough are as clear as yesterday. My parents gave me a Nintendo 64 system and a copy of this game as a birthday gift. I hooked up the former as soon as I returned to my dorm room, after which my best friend and I put Super Mario 64 through its paces while it snowed like the dickens outside.

To say we were in awe of what we saw and heard and felt that night would be a massive understatement. Sure, Mario's first three-dimensional adventure was far from gorgeous--even then--thanks to the bevy of blurry textures on display, but its polygonal characters and environments still caused my pal and I to slobber like rabid dogs.

Far more thrilling to either of us than this game's graphics, though, were its controls. Using an analog stick to make Mario tiptoe, walk, run, jump and slide around each stage wasn't just a revelation, it was a blast. It was so much fun, in fact, that we didn't pull ourselves away from it until early the next morning.

In the ensuing days, weeks and even months, I spent more time than I probably should admit simply running and jumping and prompting Mario to yell "yahoo!" I also heard so much of its glorious soundtrack that to this day I regularly hum its boppy "main theme."

Admittedly, I haven't played much of Super Mario 64 in the last decade or so, despite my fond memories of it. As such, I can't really say if it's aged at all well. I suspect it hasn't, but even if that's the case, it aptly served its purpose back when it was the best thing since sliced bread, and that's more than enough for me.

How about you? Do nostalgic thoughts of this Nintendo 64 launch title cause you to feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Also, have you checked in with it in the last few years to see if the game is as great as you remember it to be?

Regardless, please share your own anniversary-fueled Super Mario 64 memories in the comments section that follows.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Help me remain strong as I wait for the Vita version of VA-11 Hall-A to be released

I've been curious about Sukeban Games' VA-11 Hall-A, which the developer describes as a "cyberpunk bartender action" title, since I first became aware of it some time ago.

Considering publisher Ysbryd Games' finally made it available to the world yesterday, you might assume I'm currently feeling ecstatic. Unfortunately, you'd be wrong.

That's not because I've reconsidered my stance on this lovely looking visual novel, mind you. Rather, it's because only the Linux, Mac and PC versions of VA-11 Hall-A are able to be purchased at the moment.

The Vita iteration, the one I've been dreaming of playing since this deliciously retro title was unveiled, is nowhere to be seen.

Apparently it'll see the light of day later this year, if the word on the street is to believed, so in the meantime I've either got to sit tight until VA-11 Hall-A Vita hits both virtual and physical store shelves, or I've got to bite the bullet and buy the Mac release for a not-inconsiderable $14.99.

While I decide which path to take, check out the game's final trailer (above). Or, if you've already played some form of VA-11 Hall-A, share your thoughts on it in the comments section below.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Maybe this is the kick in the pants I needed to finally play Falcom's Gurumin

I wish I could tell you why I've yet to play--or even buy a copy of--Falcom's Gurumin.

I can't even claim ignorance, as I've known of this adorable action-adventure game's existence for years now.

On top of that, I've heard nothing but good things about Gurumin's gameplay, which appears to be one part The Legend of Zelda and one part Mega Man Legends.

Although I could bite the bullet and buy the PSP port of the game--both Japanese and North American copies are pretty cheap these days, especially used ones--I have a feeling I'll pass on that option and instead plop down $14.99 on the just-announced Gurumin 3D.

What on earth is Gurumin 3D, you ask? Why, it's a 3DS port of the game that'll hit the North American eShop sometime next month. (It'll hit the European 3DS eShop later this summer.)

Yes, that means Gurumin 3D is a digital-only title. No, I'm not thrilled about that. Yes, I'd prefer to purchase and own a physical version of the game.

Despite the above, I'm pretty sure Gurumin 3D will soon take up space on one of my North American 3DS systems, as it's far more likely I'll actually play it than the above-mentioned PSP release.

Here's a trailer for the game, for those of you who are curious. Once you've watched it, let me know what you think. Also let me know--in the comments section below, naturally--if you intend to buy this title or if you've already played some other iteration of it.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Special delivery: Kaneko's Peetan for GameBoy

I don't think I've ever mentioned this here or anywhere else, but for some time now I've dutifully--some would say obsessively--maintained a list of "Holy Grail" GameBoy titles.

Basically, the games named on it are ones I desperately want to own before I kick the bucket.

The list used to be pretty long. I've been able to lop a number of games off of it in recent years, months and weeks, though, thanks to some timely perusals of eBay, Yahoo Japan Auctions and the like.

A few of the titles that have made the transition from my handy text file to my grubby little hands: Tumblepop, Totsugeki! Ponkotsu Tank, Taiyou no Tenshi MarloweSnow Bros. Jr., Painter Momopie, Noobow, Bubble Bobble Junior and Astro Rabby.

Oh, and Kaneko's Peetan.

Tracking down and acquiring a complete-in-box copy of that 1991, Japan-only release has been more difficult than you might think. After all, the game rarely pops up on any of the auction sites or online shops I eluded to earlier, and when it does, it usually goes for an obscene amount of money. (Here's a good example.)

So, when I came across the far-cheaper-than-four-hundred-dollars copy of Peetan showcased in the photos found throughout this post, you can bet I jumped on it.

It's not perfect. The colorful outer box is ever-so-slightly torn on its rear side, and the instruction manual is a bit crumpled. Still, it's complete and the game cartridge works like a charm, so I'm more than satisfied.

If you've never played, or even heard of, Peetan, the gist is that it's a lot like one of those old Game & Watch titles Nintendo produced during the 1980s. How so? Well, the whole she-bang is depicted in black and white (or black and green, if you're using an original GameBoy model), for starters. Also, each and every stage sticks to the confines of the brick-like handheld system's screen.

Beyond that, Peetan's gameplay is refreshingly simple. You control a mama chicken who patrols the top fifth of the play area. Below her are a trio of helpless chicks as well as a bunch of seesaws. Throwing a wrench into the works: a hungry mutt (or wolf) who has his eyes--and terrifying chops--set on the above-mentioned hatchlings.

As he stalks your offspring, you press the GameBoy's directional pad to move left or right and jab its A or B buttons to drop eggs that either knock the canid on the head or catapult your chicks toward safety (aka the top of the screen).

It's all rather stressful--something that probably isn't obvious in this Peetan gameplay footage--although the boppy tunes that percolate in the background help cut the tension a bit. (But only a bit.)

Would Peetan have earned a place on the "must buy" list mentioned early on in this post if its gameplay weren't so compelling and exciting? Honestly, I think it would have. Look at that cover art and tell me you wouldn't say the same--if you had any interest in collecting GameBoy titles, I mean.

This Inter State-made game's instruction manual's quite a looker, too, although I hesitate to compare it to its cartridge label. Still, I'm sure you get the point: that Peetan's packaging is top notch all the way around.

What do you think? Also, have any of you played this old game? If so, what did you think of it?

See also: 'Nu-Bo, Nuubou, Noobow, New--oh, whatever...'

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild's first real trailer is pretty magical, don't you think?

I haven't paid much attention to this year's E3, I have to admit. That's not because I don't care about the current-gen consoles, mind you; it's because I'm busy as all get-out (at work) right now.

Still, I couldn't help but step away from it all yesterday and spend a few minutes watching the following trailer, which is for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Which is kind of funny, when I think about it, as I haven't been too keen on the Zelda series since, oh, The Wind Waker was first released back in 2002 and 2003.

That's pretty appropriate, actually. After all, Breath of the Wild's art style brings to mind the one showcased in The Wind Waker.

All that said, there's almost no chance I'll pick up a Wii U so I can play through this beautiful, open-world adventure. I've very likely I'll buy an NX--or whatever Nintendo's next system is called--down the road, though, so assuming that happens, maybe I'll get to experience that iteration of Breath of the Wild.

How about all of you? For starters, what do you think of the footage seen above (or here)? Also, are any of you chomping at the bit to purchase either the Wii U or the NX version of this latest entry in the Legend of Zelda series?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

CIB Sunday: Pizza Pop! (Famicom)

It's Sunday once again, and you know what that means: it's time to share a photo of a complete-in-box copy of some video game or other.

This week, I’m going with Jaleco’s Pizza Pop! By most accounts, this Famicom title, released all the way back in 1992, is not a great game. Still, I've long been a fan of it due to its colorful graphics and old-school platforming gameplay.

OK, so it's also due to this import's vivacious packaging, which is on full display in the snapshot above.

Want to learn more about Pizza Pop! or see more photos of its box, cartridge or instruction manual? Check out this old post of mine.

See also: 'CIB Sunday: Hyakumanton no Bara Bara (PSP)'