Thursday, December 18, 2014

(Just over) 10 years of PSP memories

On Dec. 12, 2004, Sony made its first portable game system available to the Japanese masses.

For whatever reason, I don't remember much about that date, although I have a feeling that may be because I wasn't all that interested in handheld games and systems at that point in my life.

What I do recall is turning attentively toward the PSP whenever intriguing games were announced for it; games like Loco Roco (2006), Patapon (2007), Gurumin (2008), Half-Minute Hero (2009) and What Did I Do To Deserve This, My Lord? (2010).

It wasn't until the release of Patchwork Heroes (aka Hyakumanton no Bara Bara), though, that I finally was pushed to pick up a PSP of my own. (It can be seen in the photo on the right.)

After that, I quickly added a number of quality PSP titles to my collection--with the two ClaDun games, Corpse PartyHakuokiOnore no Shinzuru Michi wo Yuke and Sweet Fuse among them.

If I were forced to name a favorite from among this cadre of quirky games, by the way, my response would include a whole lot of sputtering, as I like so many of them that placing one or two above the rest would be an impossible feat.

What I could say is that the games currently on my PSP short list are the aforementioned ClaDun titles, Hakuoki, Hot Shots Tennis, Patchwork Heroes and Sweet Fuse.

Of course, I've yet to play a bunch of other, similarly compelling PSP (or at least seemingly so) games like Jeanne D'Arc, any of The Legend of Heroes entries, either of the MonHun Nikki: Poka Poka Airu Mura releases or Valkyria Chronicles 3, so it's possible that list will change in the coming months and years.

In the meantime, do any of you have any fond PSP memories, or even just the names of some of your favorite PSP games, you'd like to share?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

(Almost) right on time, another episode of The Nichiest Podcast Ever appears

Those of you who enjoy listening to shidoshi, Anne and I wax poetic on anything and everything related to niche-y games and systems may recall that I ended my last blog post about The Nichiest Podcast Ever with an announcement that we're aiming to make this sucker a monthly thing from here on out. (Or from here until whenever we quit doing it, I guess.)

Although we didn't quite meet that goal this month, we got pretty darn close. We're only a week late, after all.

Anyway, this episode, take, whatever you want to call it touches on a ton of niche-y titles, including the Brandish PSP remake that's supposedly coming to North America (via PSN) by the end of the year, Etrian Mystery Dungeon (3DS), Hatoful Boyfriend's second-quarter 2015 release for PS4 and Vita, Keita Takahashi’s (Katamari Damacy) new game, Rodea The Sky Soldier (3DS and Wii U), Suikoden II's long-awaited appearance on PSN, Theatrhythm Dragon Quest (3DS) and Yakuza 5's just-announced localization.

During the much-loved "Cheerleading" segment, Anne discusses Monster Monpiece (Vita), I blather on about a curious Japanese 3DS eShop title known as Pinch 50 and shidoshi attests to the quality of Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth.

Oh, and before I forget: the three of us also spend a good amount of time at the start of this podcast chatting about the 10th anniversary of the DS' North American release and the 20th anniversary of the original PlayStation's Japanese launch. (Sadly, we completely forgot to acknowledge the 10th anniversary of the PSP's emergence. Maybe we can belatedly cover that in our January "take"?)

Should all, or at least some, of the above sound like something you'd like to hear me, Anne and shidoshi talk about, head over to at your convenience.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas comes early thanks to Justin Difazzio

Remember how, a couple of weeks ago, I devoted an entire post to the game-related items on my holiday wish list? (If not, you can read it here.)

The first blurb in that post focused on the handful of Japanese and North American DS titles I'd love to get as gifts--with Okamiden being one of the games in question.

Long-time reader and commenter Justin Difazzio apparently decided that particular portion of my list was aimed at him, as he promptly mailed his completed-and-now-just-collecting-dust copy of Capcom's portable sequel to Okami to me.

The copy in question arrived on our doorstep on Friday afternoon. Justin even wrapped the darn thing (see above) in some snazzy paper and included a rather adorable card inside the same package.

Here's a shot of the game in its unwrapped state. I'd kind of forgotten how nice its box art is. (Its Japanese box art is nice, too.)

I haven't started playing it yet, but I'll get to it shortly. (As soon as I wrap up Fantasy Life, which should happen in the next few days.)

In the meantime, I'd like to offer a heartfelt "thank you" to Justin for sending this wonderful (early) Christmas present and for being an overall awesome guy.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The question is: will SaGa 2015 for Vita be like Romancing SaGa, SaGa Frontier or (barf) Unlimited SaGa?

Actually, before answering that question, we probably should ask ourselves, "why in the hell did the folks at Square Enix decide to make a new SaGa game at all?"

After that, we could ponder, "and why did they decide to put it on the Vita, of all systems?"

Finally, with both of those questions out of the way, the three or four of us who still have an interest in this long-ignored series can move on to contemplating how SaGa 2015 (which I'm assuming is a placeholder name) will compare to its predecessors.

Personally, I'm hoping SaGa 2015 will follow in the footsteps of my favorite SaGa game to date, SaGa Frontier.

The worst-case scenario for me, on the other hand, would be for this new SaGa title to play like 2002's Unlimited SaGa and look like the PS2 remake of Romancing SaGa from 2005.

How about you? Do you have any hopes or fears related to this just-announced game?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Re-introducing: Namco Gallery (GameBoy)

On my birthday last year, I bought myself the trio of games that can be seen in the photos throughout this post.

Even though they arrived on my doorstep shortly after, I failed to photograph them--or, you know, otherwise acknowledge their existence--until earlier this week.

Anyway, the boxes look pretty nice lined up as they are in the shot above, don't you think?

Something you probably can't make out by looking at said photo (unless you click on it to blow it up): the frames featured on each volume's box art include elements that tie in to one or more of the four games contained on that particular cart.

The frame featured on Namco Gallery Vol. 1's packaging, for instance, includes depictions of Mappy's titular police mouse (above) as well as Nyamco (below), the game's antagonist.

(The frames featured on the covers of the second and third volumes include similarly delicious depictions of Dig Dug, Sky Kid and The Tower of Druaga characters.)

The backsides of the Namco Gallery boxes aren't as thrilling as the front sides, unfortunately, but they do give folks a nice look at the colorized versions of each compilation's games.

Just in case you've forgotten which games are included on which Namco Gallery volume, the first one contains pint-sized versions of Battle City, Galaga, Mappy and Namco Classic (a golf sim); the second offers up portable iterations of Dig Dug, Famista 4 (baseball), Galaxian and The Tower of Druaga; and the third consists of Family Tennis, Jantaku Boy (mahjong), Sky Kid and Tower of Babel ports.

My favorites are the most well known titles of the bunch: Dig Dug, Galaga, Mappy and Sky Kid, with the first game's puzzlerific (no, that's not a real word) "New Dig Dug" mode alone being worth the price of all three cartridges, in my humble opinion.

This portable re-imagining of Dig Dug is the only one of the above-mentioned ports to earn a North American release, by the way. I've wanted to own a complete-in-box copy of it for ages now due to its striking box art, but price-gouging eBay sellers have kept me from realizing those desires.

See also: a previous post with a bit more information on the Namco Gallery games

Thursday, December 11, 2014

I wish we were getting a new Shiren the Wanderer title rather than Etrian Mystery Dungeon

Or a new Chocobo no Fushigina Dungeon game. Or a new Torneko no Daibōken adventure.

Both of which, admittedly, would have required at least a bit of (uncharacteristic) interest and action on the part of Square Enix, but the point still stands.

So, why have I gone from being blown away by Etrian Mystery Dungeon's unveiling to wishing the folks at Spike Chunsoft (or whichever developer is crafting this 3DS roguelike) had endeavored to make a new Chocobo no Fushigina DungeonTorneko no Daibōken or Shiren the Wanderer title instead?

For starters, I'm feeling a bit burned out on the Etrian Odyssey franchise at the moment. Or maybe you could say I'm burned out on the idea of the Etrian Odyssey franchise? Because, honestly, although I spent a good number of hours playing through the majority of Etrian Odyssey IV earlier this year, I haven't played or even bought any of the series' other entries since then. I guess all of the recent releases and announcements--Etrian Odyssey Untold I and II, Etrian Odyssey V, even the spinoff of sorts that is Persona Q--have taken a toll on me and my interest in this otherwise appealing IP.

Another reason I've cooled on Etrian Mystery Dungeon in the last few days: I'm skeptical as to how it's going to measure up to past Mystery Dungeon efforts. That's mainly because it seems likely that this title won't feature permadeath, something that's generally considered a series staple, although I'm also sort of stumped as to whether leading four, rather than just one (or sometimes two), characters through this game's labyrinthine dungeons is going to be an interesting change of pace or an annoying impediment. (Oh, and before anyone asks, yes, I know players won't fully control all four party members in Etrian Mystery Dungeon, but leading them around still may prove awkward.)

All that said, I'm very much looking forward to getting my hands on this game and giving it a thorough once-over--even if I end up being disappointed by it. In fact, I've already pre-ordered a copy of it.

Are any of you also itching to play Etrian Mystery Dungeon? If so, why?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Square Enix reveals the next Japanese 3DS game it'll surely fail to release in other regions: Theatrhythm Dragon Quest

Can you tell I'm a bit bitter about how the powers that be at Square Enix have treated 3DS owners outside of Japan?

Of course, it's hard not to feel kind of jaded when you consider that the company has localized just a small handful of its Japanese 3DS games--Kingdom Hearts 3D and the two Theatrhythm Final Fantasy titles are the only ones that come to mind at the moment--since Nintendo's most recent dual-screened handheld launched four or so years ago.

All that said, I'm still planning to pre-order a copy of Theatrhythm Dragon Quest well in advance of its Japanese release, which is set for March 26.

That's not yet possible, sadly, so while I wait for some online retailer (I'm looking at you, to allow it, I'll keep refreshing the game's official site until it offers visitors some screenshots or a trailer.