Saturday, March 31, 2007

See the trailer for the PSP Final Fantasy remakes

I've been a bit skeptical about the FF remakes Square has been prepping for the PSP, but after seeing the games in action (in an official trailer that just made its way onto the web) I have to admit I've changed my mind.

The graphics and effects look great, and considering these versions contain not only all of the extra stuff packed into the GBA update from a few years back (released as Final Fantasy 1&2: Dawn of Souls) but some new dungeons to boot, I think it's safe to say I may finally pick up a PSP when these games come to the U.S. later this year.

Apparently, near the end of the clip it's implied there's more to come for PSP owners. No one's sure if that means more FF updates (such as a 2D rehash of FF3, or maybe sprite-enhanced versions of FF4, 5 and 6) or something else entirely. If any of the aforementioned FF revamps are announced at the upcoming Square Party 2007 I may just keel over in excitement.

Friday, March 30, 2007

What it feels like for a gay game developer

As the little header at the top of this page says, I'm gay and I'm a gamer. I'm not sure which one I knew about first, but both aspects of my life are pretty important to me. Hopefully that comes across not only in what I write here, but in the articles I write for other media outlets as well.

My latest feature for (my third!) once again blends gay issues and gaming--this time taking a look at what it's like to be among the small minority of LGBT people in the gaming industry. I had a great time talking to people for this article and am very happy with how it turned out.

Hopefully a few developers will read it and think about the environment they help create every day--whether it's a welcoming or non-welcoming environment. If you'd like to read it, too, here's a direct link for you.

I think the U.S. will be getting its grubby hands on Grim Grimoire pretty soon

Funny that I just mentioned this game in my post last night about Odin Sphere.

Although it hasn't been announced yet, I'm fairly sure Nippon Ichi's Grim Grimoire is on its way to the U.S. sooner rather than later.

A slew of translated videos (including an official-looking trailer) and screen shots were added to today.

Go here to check them out--and stay tuned for what I'm sure will be official word from NIS America!

Hopefully this isn't an early April Fool's prank

Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle--the first screen shots of Sega's Nights sequel (apparently an exclusive for the Wii) have popped up on line, as has an interview with the game's designer.

I can't help but take these with a grain of salt until official word comes from someone at Sega or Nintendo or at least a more reliable source than some random foreign gaming mag, but call me excited nonetheless.

For more drool-worthy images, pay a visit to Also, someone has kindly translated the interview that accompanies the pics and posted the text on the NeoGAF forums.

Disgaea PSP coming to the States in August?

For me, the best reason to own a PS2 is that it allows you to partake in all of NIS America's lovely RPGs. La Pucelle Tactics, Disgaea, Phantom Brave, Makai Kingdom, Disgaea 2--all are extremely satisfying if you're an RPG freak like me.

Well, when news broke that NIS was updating the original Disgaea for PSP, I nearly lost my lunch. I don't own a PSP and I never planned on owning one either (the DS lite pretty much fills all my portable gaming desires, thank you very much), but the thought of playing a re-vamped version of NIS' wicked SRPG while commuting around town was just too much for me to take (OK, I'm being dramatic, but hopefully you know what I mean).

Although the game was released in Japan late last year, and the PS2 original was a bit of an underground hit here in the U.S., I really didn't expect it to make its way over here anytime soon (if at all). I guess I should start working my foot out of my mouth, though, as the folks at are now saying Disgaea will be coming Stateside in August. They even wrote up some early impressions of the game, presumably to whet our appetites until more information can be spilled. Thanks, IGN!

Turbo geeks get some Virtual Console love

Don't worry, I count myself among the TurboGrafx geeks out there. Heck, I not only owned the basic Turbo system back in the day, I also owned the CD-ROM attachment and purchased a TurboDuo when it came out, too. I loved the TG-16 then, and I still love it today.

Thankfully, Hudson is going to be releasing a slew of TurboGrafx-16 games onto the Wii Virtual Console in April. Making the cut this time around: Battle Lode Runner, Bonk's Revenge, Bravoman and Shockman.

I may be wrong, but I'm fairly certain Battle Lode Runner wasn't released in the U.S. If that's true, this will be the first time the addictive multi-player game will hit our shores. Nice going, Hudson!

The other "must buy" on this list, of course, is Bonk's Revenge. Personally, I think this is the best of Bonk's three adventures and it's well worth a measly 600 Wii points.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The PS2 ain't dead yet!

How am I supposed to even think about buying a PS3 when there are so many PS2 games I haven't bought yet?

Along with Chulip, Dawn of Mana and Grim Grimoire (which admittedly isn't out in Japan yet, let alone in the U.S.), my "desperately need to buy" list includes Odin Sphere, a 2D side-scrolling love fest crafted by the same people who made the wonderful Princess Crown on the Sega Saturn all those years ago.

(By the way, if you haven't played that game and have a nicely endowed computer, go download a copy of the game and a good Saturn emulator--such as SSF--pronto. You'll be a very happy camper.)

Odin Sphere looks similar to Princess Crown, although it looks like you get to choose from five different characters from the start. After that, though, it looks like more of the same side-scrolling hack-and-slash action, with a bit of RPG thrown in for good measure.

Check out a trailer featuring all that and more at Atlus' official site. Click on "Archives" and look for the link to the trailer.

Japan, say 'hello' to Gears of War

Gears of War may be tearing up the charts in the U.S., but first-person shooters don't make the Japanese as hot and bothered as us Westerners (or so I've heard).

Microsoft isn't going to just give up on the game in the Land of the Rising Sun, though. No sir. Considering what a behemoth the company is--and that they're not exactly known for their creative marketing exploits--the series of viral videos they've released on the other side of the pond are all the more impressive.

I won't say any more than that. If you're titillated, go to to check them out (especially the first one).

Squeenix opens up about FF Tactics A2

It seems like we've been waiting an eternity for some real news about Square-Enix's 10,000th DS release of the year: Final Fantasy Tactics A2. Sure, we could all guess it would be an extension of FF Tactics Advance, but that can only take a guy so far.

Well, the company that made Cid a household name (at least in my house) has finally let loose a few screen shots and background information on the game in the current issue of Jump magazine (a Japanese gaming pub). The guys and gals at were kind enough to post a scan of said magazine, while the crew at translated some of the text and shared it with nerds like me (and you, I guess):

"Adel is a young girl who lives her life as a hunter. She's known amongst fellow hunters as 'Cat Adel.' Luso is a school boy who happens to hate ghosts. He's the type of boy who always gets into trouble with the teacher. These characters meet when they enter the strange world of Ivalice."

That's it, unfortunately. The screens look promising, at the very least. And maybe we'll learn more at Square-Enix's Final Fantasy-themed party set for May 12.

Is Resident Evil 4 getting a Wii re-vamp?

Now this is a curious bit of news. If it was April 1st today I'd be even more skeptical than I am, but considering it's still March I'm only somewhat skeptical.

According to the folks at, GameStop has added a new Wii release to its site: Resident Evil 4-Wii Edition. Along with saying the game will be available this June, the blurb says it will retail for just $30!

It's definitely possible, and I'm sure we'll learn more soon when Capcom holds their little shindig in Japan (about upcoming releases), but this is definitely one bit of gossip I'll take with a grain of salt until someone with a bit more clout opens up about it.

Ah, another DS game to add to my "to buy" list!

For some odd reason I've been waiting patiently for Nintendo of America to announce the stateside release of Picross DS. It's odd because I've barely played Picross--I'm not sure the few minutes I've put into Mario's Picross on the old GameBoy really even counts as "play time."

After reading about the DS version, though, and seeing a few pictures of it in action (which seems like an oxymoron, for some reason), it strikes me as the perfect morsel to satisfy my hunger for pick-up-play games.

Although Nintendo hasn't quite given in to my demands--it just announced that the game will be released in Europe on May 11--I'm guessing the press release is forthcoming. You have my new address, right Nintendo?

Get ready to blow some more dough on retro releases

Hoo boy. First we hear that Shining Force will be appearing soon on the Wii Virtual Console (at least in Europe, though I think it's safe to assume it'll come out in Japan and the U.S. as well), now we hear a slew of NES classics are on the schedule, too. today reported that Australia's version of the ESRB has given rating to four NES games (which means they'll be released soon): The Adventures of Lolo, Donkey Kong Jr. Math, Metroid and Super Mario Bros. 2.

Sure, Donkey Kong Jr. Math isn't anything to get excited about (unless you're a complete dweeb), but the other three sure have me tingling with excitement (really, you should see me). What's next? The original Final Fantasy, Secret of Mana and maybe Earthbound? Oh, I hope so!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

My prayers have been answered: Shining Force is coming to the VC!

Of all the games Sega has ruined since it fell from the pinnacle of the gaming industry, its worst offence (in my opinion, obviously) has to have been its mauling of the Shining Force series. Everything seemed fine when Sega moved from the Genesis/Mega Drive to the Saturn (Shining Force 3 was a sight to behold, and Shining the Holy Arc and Dark Savior were similarly stunning), but once the company started releasing games for the PS2 and other competing systems, all bets apparently were off.

So, although I completely avoid anything Sega releases with the word "Shining" in the title these days, I still enjoy putting some time into the series' first releases: Shining Force and its sequel, Shining in the Darkness and Landstalker.

Well, according to, the first game mentioned above (Shining Force) is set to come to the Wii Virtual Console sometime soon. As far as I can tell, the site is referring specifically to a European release, but I have to imagine the game will come to the U.S. as well. Hopefully Sega is working on bringing all four games to our shores--and soon!

Gaming press unfolds over Super Paper Mario

Thankfully I've already pre-ordered a copy of Super Paper Mario--considering the hype that's building around Nintendo's next big Wii release, I think it's going to be pretty hard to come by on launch day (which is April 9, for those of you in the U.S.).

IGN and CVG (Computer and Video Games) both have posted hands-on impressions of the 2D/3D title in the last 24 hours. Both heap loads of praise onto Intelligent Systems' latest foray into the world of Paper Mario, with CVG winning the title for best synopsis: "One of the best games we've ever played."

Mario and Sonic, together at last

If you surf the gaming web at all, you've already heard the news: Nintendo and Sega are working together on a game that combines both companies' mascots. You heard that right--Mario and Sonic will finally appear in the same game.

Unfortunately, the game they'll appear in doesn't sound all that interesting to these ears. Its title? Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. I don't know about you, but it sounds like something that would have been released on the tragic CD-i machine back in the early 90s alongside Link: The Faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon.

In reality, this one will be appearing on the Wii and DS later this year. Not a whole lot is known about it at this point other than "players will compete in events that take place in environments based on the official venues of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games" and that "gamers will be able to compete as or against a range of lovable personalities including Mario, Sonic, Luigi, Knuckles, Yoshi, Tails and more." (Those quotes are from Nintendo's press release, of course).

Personally, I think this idea would have been an interesting one back when Sonic actually had some clout (and a fan base), but I doubt I'm part of the target audience anyway. If you're part of the targeted crowd for this game and want to keep an eye on it, here's the official website:

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

News of Nights sequel may be coming soon

Well, the Internet's abuzz today with the news that GameReactor magazine (a Brit publication, I think) has let it be known that their next issue will feature information on a sequel to the addicting Saturn game, Nights.

The cover image released by the magazine doesn't say whether it will be on Wii or the PS3 or Xbox 360, but most sites are saying it will, in fact, show up on the Wii. I'll guess we'll see soon.

Unfortunately, the original game's creator (Yuji Naka) recently went on the record saying he is not working on such a game. So, unless he was lying (doubtful) the soon-to-be-announced sequel will be developed by someone else entirely. Drat.

Katamari comes to the DS

OK, so that's a bit misleading. A more accurate headline would have been "Katamari clone comes to the DS." My bad :)

Anyway, the game in question (which is being developed by Koei) actually has a name: Prey the Stars. Strange name, I know, but the game's graphics and premise more than make up for the weird moniker.

Not much is known yet about the game's story (if there is one, of course), though information about how it plays has been making the rounds for some time. Players select one of four dogs and then move them around environments as they gobble up everything in sight. Like Katamari Damacy on the PS2, the dogs in Prey the Stars start out wolfing down small items (such as food and TVs) and eventually progress to bigger feasts (cars and buildings).

No idea why a dog would want to do any of this, but the screens that have been released thus far make it all look pretty fun. Speaking of which, posted a bunch of great images of the game today--check them out here.

How do you do a triple toe loop with a stylus?

Figure Skating DS seems to be the game to chat about today. Not one to be left behind by the party, I followed a few links (from and and learned as much as one can without knowing a lick of Japanese.

Although I'm sure macho gamers will deride the game (produced by Spike) as being a piece of powder-puff fluff, I think it looks pretty good. Although it seems there's a lot of chattery relationship building (something those wacky Japanese seem to love), the sections that actually take place inside a skating rink appear spot on, with great graphics and intriguing use of the stylus.

The game's official website offers up lots of screen shots as well as what I can only guess is a TV spot depicting a bit of the game in action.

No word on whether this will come to the U.S., but I'm guessing someone will pick it up, if only to grab a chunk of that elusive "girl gaming community."

Monday, March 26, 2007

Namco may be bringing back the classics ... again

Obviously, it should go without saying (especially considering I started this blog/site) that I love video games. What you may not know, though, is that I particularly love classic video games--especially the arcade variety. I have just as much fun playing through Bubble Bubble, Dig Dug, Donkey Kong and Ms. Pac Man as anything released today, mainly because you can start them up, get right into the game and turn them off a few minutes later if you need to.

Along with Nintendo, Namco has produced most of the classic arcade games that I fell in love with all those years ago. Unlike Ninty, though, Namco has never been shy about packaging it's old school hits together in random compilations, starting (I think) with the Namco Museum series that appeared on the PSone in the 1990s.

Admittedly, the series has become a bit long in the tooth thanks to Namco's obsession with releasing the games over and over again as new systems are released. That said, I'm hopeful a newly discovered entry into the Gamefly database--Namco Museum Remix for the Wii--will break that horrible cycle.

No one outside Namco knows anything about the game other than its title, of course, but that hasn't stopped folks from speculating. Over at, for instance, a writer wondered aloud if the company's latest compilation may include Wii-specifc controls (such as turning the Wiimote on its side to control Pole Position). Personally, I'm think updated graphics may come into play as well (though I hope we're given the option to choose original graphics, too).

Coming to America: Heroes of Mana

I guess it shouldn't be considered much of a surprise, but it's still good to know: Heroes of Mana will be landing on U.S. later this summer, according those in the know over at An actual date wasn't provided, just "late summer 2007." Hopefully FFXII: Revenant Wings will follow shortly?

In case you missed it, here is a great hands-on preview of Heroes of Mana that Cubed3 posted a while back that should be considered a must read for any Mana fans.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Past-Due Review: Chip Chan Kick! (PC-FX)

I've always loved games like Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands and Parasol Stars. Sure, they look awfully cute and cuddly, but play any one of them for a few minutes and you quickly come to understand they're hardly "kiddie" games.

Chip Chan Kick, released by NEC for the PC-FX in 1996, follows in the formidable footsteps of those classic games, with its cartoonish cadre of characters who put up a fight that belies their pastel-colored exteriors.

Like the aforementioned games, Chip Chan Kick features big-eyed, cute-as-buttons protagonists who make their way through a series of single-screened levels on their way to fighting tough-as-nails bosses. Each level features a host of baddies (though considering how cute they are, "baddie" hardly seems to be the best word to describe them) that have to be dispensed with before you can move on to the next.

Deciding how to clear each level is pretty easy thanks to the limited number of options given to players. You move your character with the d-pad and use one of the controller's action buttons to jump while the other button allows you to throw your little blob friend in the direction of your enemies. If the blob makes contact with an enemy, he/she/it keels over, apparently knocked unconscious. They're finished off with a well placed kick (accomplished using the same button that allowed you to throw the little blob thing).

Pretty much every enemy--from animated soda machines to dolphins to monkeys to storm clouds (it all depends on what stage you're on at the moment)--is defeated in this manner. The only exceptions are the bosses, which appear at the end of every ten levels and have to be clobbered many a time before they go down in flames. Although they're a sight to behold, they're also a pain in the butt. Expect to go through more than a few lives taking them out, as well as a few of your precious continues (if you're anything like me).

Gamers spoiled by the likes of the Xbox 360 and PS3 may have a hard time appreciating Chip Chan Kick's simple pleasures. Even when compared to other 2D games, NEC's Bubble Bobble clone can pale in comparison (though I personally love the game's aesthetic and think it compares favorably to a Neo-Geo release). That's not what Chip Chan Kick is about, though--instead, it's about sitting down to a bit of simplistic, old school fun in the comfort of your own home (as opposed to the arcade, where this type of game used to reign supreme).

By the way, you don't have to search the globe for a used PC-FX system to enjoy this game. Download the Magic-Engine FX emulator (available here) and then look for a cheap copy of the game on line (or an ISO of the game, if that's your thing). If you likewise consider yourself a fan Bubble Bobble or Rainbow Islands, you'll be very happy you did.

Site suggestions for a slow Sunday

As much as I love weekends, they sure do suck as far as video game news is concerned. I haven't seen anything over the last two days that really seems worth posting. So, to fill the rest of your Sunday with a bit of video game enjoyment, here are a few gaming sites that I love to check out on random occasions. If you'd like to learn more about systems and games you may have missed over the years, take a few minutes to pay them a visit:

1. Hardcore Gaming 101--I can't remember how I came across this site, but I sure am glad I did. The site's owner posts detailed "articles" about past games and series such as Bionic Commando, Cho Aniki, the Marl Kingdom games (Rhapsody on the PSone and La Pucelle Tactics on PS2 among them) and more. Very worth your while if you love to read about every available version of a particular game and the history behind them.

2. PC Engine Catalog Project--This site does what you would think it does: It compiles information (including screenshots) of every PC Engine, TurboGrafx-16, SuperGrafx and PC-FX game ever made. It's less of an encyclopedia than the site mentioned above, but is thrilling (to PCE geeks like myself) nonetheless. Half the fun is pulling up every Turbo CD game released, for instance, and checking them out, one by one.

3. Segagaga Domain--Are you a Sega fan? If so, you have to make a visit to Segagaga Domain. Mini-reviews of more than a few Master System, Genesis (Mega Drive), Saturn and Dreamcast games can be found here, as well as a few snapshots. It's actually a lot like the PCE Catalog Project in that it doesn't include a ton of information on each game, but if Sega's your thing (and it is mine) you'll be amazed all the same.