Saturday, February 18, 2017

Aural Gratification #5: 'Sea City' from Kirby: Planet Robobot (3DS)

I'm showcasing "Sea City" here because it's my favorite of all the songs that have wafted through my ears in the last week or so while playing Kirby: Planet Robobot.

(In case you forgot, I recently bought copies of Kirby's latest 3DS adventure and Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World as a reward for finishing Dragon Quest VII.)

Speaking of Planet Robobot, I've already put more than nine hours into its ample story mode. (I've also spent a good few minutes with its quest-centric "Team Kirby Clash" mode, which is surprisingly fun for something so light and superficial.)

That was just enough time for me to get all the way to and even defeat the game's final boss. I still have a way to go before I fully beat all of the stages leading up to that point, though. (I've found all of the "Code Cubes," which are needed to gain access to bosses and to unlock bonus levels, in the game's first three worlds, and I've found enough of them in Planet Robobot's later stages to earn an overall completion rate of 65 percent.)

Regardless, I've had a blast with this 3DS platformer. The "Robobot Armor" alluded to in the title probably is my favorite aspect of the game at this point, although I also adore a couple of the new copy abilities (doctor and ESP) made available to Kirby this go around.

Have any of you played Kirby: Planet Robobot? If so, what did you think of it? Also, how would you compare it to other Kirby games you've experienced (especially, say, Triple Deluxe)?

See also: previous 'Aural Gratification' posts

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Great Gaymathon Review #75: The Starship Damrey (3DS)

Game: The Starship Damrey
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Level-5
Publisher: Level-5
System: 3DS (eShop)
Release date: 2013

If you've heard anything about The Starship Damrey, it's probably that it doesn't last long. And it doesn't--my playthrough ended just short of the four-hour mark, while I've heard others have reached the game's credit roll just two-and-a-half hours after they started it.

Some people will tell you The Starship Damrey isn't worth buying because of its brevity. I'm not one of them. In fact, I think that in a world of 100-hour behemoths like Dragon Quest VII, this game's curtness should be looked at as a major selling point.

It helps, of course, that I purchased The Starship Damrey for a measly $2.99. (It's usually $7.99.) Still, considering this Level-5 release is at least as long as, and easily as compelling as, your average popcorn flick, I'd say it's well worth eight bucks, if that's what you have to pay to get it.

As for what makes The Starship Damrey so compelling, well, its setting--a derelict spaceship that calls to mind those depicted in the Alien and Aliens films--has a lot to do with it. Even better, the game begins with you waking up trapped inside a "Cold Sleep" capsule within the above-mentioned ship. And on top of that, it offers no explanation as to why you're there or what you're supposed to do to escape it.

From that point on, it's up to you to solve those mysteries by making use of the handful of "Assist Robots" situated throughout the craft and having them prowl its nearly silent interiors in your stead.

Thankfully, exploring Damrey's halls--from a first-person perspective, if the screens here don't make it clear--is both easy and intuitive. Your 3DS' directional pad controls movement (press up to go forward, right to turn in that direction, etc.), while its circle pad controls the camera. A press of the system's face buttons lets you interact with or investigate items in your path or field of view, like doors, bodies or other objects of interest.

It has to be noted, by the way, that you do all of the above while basically fumbling around in the dark. You also do it in almost complete silence. Some ambient noise, as opposed to an actual soundtrack, accompanies your journey through the Starship Damrey's claustrophobic innards, but only a smidgen.

Both aspects are sure to cause a certain percentage of players to wrinkle their noses in disgust--or at least annoyance. Although I'd understand such a reaction (to a point), I personally thought those design decisions helped solidify the sense of desolation and even dread that permeated my Starship Damrey playthrough.

In the end, I'd highly recommend this title, made by text-based-adventure pioneers Kazuya Asano and Takemaru Abiko, to anyone who doesn't consider first-person games set it dark, quiet and semi-claustrophobic environments to be deal-breaking turnoffs.

Just do your best to overcome any stumbling blocks without turning to a guide or an FAQ for assistance. After all, if you're only going to spend a couple of hours with a game, you may as well beat it on your own, right?

See also: previous 'Great Gaymathon' reviews

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Proof that miracles do happen: I finished the Dragon Quest VII 3DS remake yesterday

Anyone who has played through either the PlayStation or the 3DS version of Dragon Quest VII knows it's a long game. A really long game. In fact, it isn't unusual for people playing either iteration of this JRPG to put more than 100 hours into it before they encounter its credit roll.

My particular playthrough ended at the 95-hour mark. Based on what I've read about Dragon Quest VII's 3DS remake, it sounds like I could put another five to 10 hours into it if I had the desire. I don't, so this is likely is where the game and I part ways. (If I change my mind, I'll mention it here or on Twitter.)

Still, I'm glad I bought and played it. And I'm glad I kept at it until Orgodemir (that's the name of Dragon Quest VII's main baddie) was dead and buried.

I had a surprisingly good time with the last few hours of my Dragon Quest VII journey, by the way (a stark contrast to the early part of my playthrough), and I found the aforementioned last battle to be the perfectly challenging cherry on top of this polygonal sundae of a game.

I can't say I was entirely pleased when it dawned on me that Dragon Quest VII's ending wasn't going to be a straightforward affair. All I wanted was a few congratulatory scenes and a credit roll. Instead, I had to take my party members on a "victory tour" that lasted at least 30 minutes.

To be fair, I would've been a lot more OK with that if I'd been home at the time. Instead, I was in the car (don't worry, I was a passenger) with a 3DS that desperately needed to be charged.

Thankfully, my 3DS didn't die on me, so I was able to enjoy the second half of Dragon Quest VII's finale after I returned home.

I even beat Orgodemir a second time this morning--with a slightly different party (my first attempt consisted of the hero, Aishe, Maribel and Ruff, while I swapped out Maribel for Melvin during the second)--just so I could take the photo that appears above.

With Orgodemir finally out of the way, I'm going to move on. Specifically, I'm going to move on to the 3DS games showcased in the snapshot above--Kirby: Planet Robobot and Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World.

I'm also planning to devote some quality time to Pop Cutie! for the DS--it is #FashionGameFeb, after all--as well as the Vita release of Dragon Quest Builders.

I'll share my thoughts on each of these titles in an upcoming post (probably in a "Shall We Do It?" write-up) or two, so keep your eye out for them. Also keep your eye out for my inevitable review of Dragon Quest VII.

In the meantime, feel free to share your own thoughts on the Dragon Quest VII 3DS remake in the comments section below. Or let me know which games you're playing (and hopefully enjoying) at the moment.

See also: these previous posts about my Dragon Quest VII playthrough

Friday, February 10, 2017

Manual Stimulation: Bubble Bobble (Famicom Disk System, Limited Edition)

A few weeks ago, I published a post about the manual that came with copies of Bubble Bobble bought from Japanese Famicom Disk Writer kiosks back in the late 1980s. (I also published a post filled with photos of that version's packaging.)

The booklet you see here was stuffed inside of an adorable plastic pencil case along with a copy of Bubble Bobble's surprisingly adept Famicom port. I refer to that release as a "limited edition" in the headline above, although I have to admit I'm not entirely sure it actually was limited in quantity.

Regardless, it helps differentiate this Bubble Bobble package from the previously mentioned Famicom Disk Writer one, so I'm sticking with it unless otherwise corrected.

At any rate, this Bubble Bobble Famicom instruction manual is similar to its Disk Writer counterpart with two major exceptions: the former is a lot larger than the latter (in fact, it's probably the biggest Famicom manual I've seen to date) and it's also in full color rather than in just pink and green.

The size of the Bubble Bobble Limited Edition's booklet is to blame for this post featuring single-page scans rather than double-page ones, by the way. My scanner just isn't big enough for me to capture entire spreads, so I was forced to go with what you'll encounter throughout this write-up.

In the end, some of you may consider that to be the preferred option, as it allows you to focus on the beauty that is this particular version of the Bubble Bobble Famicom manual.

And it is pretty darn beautiful, wouldn't you agree? OK, so the first few pages aren't mind-blowingly amazing or anything like that, but they're still packed with both big and small details that make them decidedly appealing--or at least that's how I think of them.

Take the adorable little illustrations that can be seen above and below. If you can't quite make them out, click on the scan in question and you'll be able to take a much closer look.

My favorite components, though, are the more substantial pieces of art, like the massive Super Drunk--or Super-Drunk as the back of this booklet proclaims--situated in the lower-right corner of the following page.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Nice Package! (Cid to Chocobo no Fushigi na Dungeon: Toki Wasure no Meikyuu DS+, DS)

Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon was one of my favorite Wii games. (You can read my succinct review of that title here, if you're curious.)

As such, I was keenly interested when I heard--some time ago, of course--Square Enix was prepping an enhanced DS port of the game that was known in Japan as Chocobo no Fushigi na Dungeon: Toki Wasure no Meikyuu.

For whatever reason, though, I didn't actually buy this portable roguelike until recently. This despite the fact that it hit Japanese store shelves all the way back in late 2008 (just under a year after the Wii version was released).

How does the DS port, which allows you to play as that old Final Fantasy standby, Cid, as well as the titular Chocobo, compare to the Wii original? I wish I could tell you. Unfortunately, I've yet to even pop the cartridge shown in one of the photos below into any of my DS or 3DS systems.

I brought said cart with me on sabbatical, though, so expect me to at least start my way through its dungeon-crawaling adventure sometime in the next few months.

In the meantime, let's ogle the packaging produced for this surprising DS game (called Cid to Chocobo no Fushigi na Dungeon: Toki Wasure no Meikyuu DS+, in case you missed that earlier).

I'm pretty fond of its cover illustration, I've got say--even with that brown band of text obscuring its bottom fifth.

Does anyone know what it's trying to convey to potential buyers, by the way?

I see the word "dungeon" in there a few times, but that's about it. I know this port doesn't contain 1,000 dungeons, though, so what does that figure refer to--the number of weapons in the game? Enemies? Facial expressions made by Chocobo? Any help here would be greatly appreciated.

As for the instructional manual that accompanies complete copies of Cid to Chocobo no Fushigi na Dungeon: Toki Wasure no Meikyuu DS+, I'm fond of it, too.

That shocks me a bit, if I'm to be honest. Why? Because I find most DS manuals to be disappointing. Sure, they offer up a couple of nice visuals, but other than that they're usually filled with text.

Although that's largely the case here, too, there are enough brilliant illustrations (like the one above) to make the whole shebang appreciably impressive--to my eyes, at least.

Have any of you played this updated version of Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon? If so, what do you think of it?

Whether or not you've played Chocobo no Fushigi na Dungeon: Toki Wasure no Meikyuu DS+, what do you think of its outer case, cartridge and manual? As always, share your thoughts in this post's comments section.

See also: previous 'Nice Package!' posts