Friday, April 20, 2007

Hudson gets chatty about the Virtual Console

Sorry, I didn't mean for today to become "Virtual Console Day." I actually meant to post this earlier in the week, but I've been busy and couldn't get to it until today. recently scored an interview with Hudson's John Lee and came away from the experience with some very pleasant information. Not only did Lee spill the beans about some of the company's upcoming VC releases (Neutopia, Blazing Lazers and Ninja Spirit among them), he also suggested the cuddly TurboGrafx-16 mascot may be making an all-new appearance on the Wii at some point.

Is Red (the company that originally developed the Bonk games) even around anymore? If so, I hope Hudson puts them in charge of whatever idea comes out of such discussions.

Beautiful Katamari is living up to its name

Pretty much every gaming site under the sun has picked up on this news today, but I'm choosing to credit for first putting me on to it. The news in question? Brand new shots of Namco's Beautiful Katamari have made it onto the wonderful World Wide Web!

The game doesn't appear all that different from the PS2 original or its sequel, but that's fine with me. This isn't a game that needs all of the photo-realistic, high-definition bells and whistles the PS3 and Xbox 360 have to offer, if you ask me. Plus, the seemingly rudimentary graphics should make it all the easier for Namco to bring the game to the Wii where it belongs. Yay!

Speaking of which, hopefully news of the Wii version will drop soon. If not, I guess I'll just have to get of my butt and get a PS3 or Xbox, as much as it would pain me (and my wallet) to do so.

Wired assesses the current state of the Virtual Console

Wired's Chris Kohler knows how lazy we gamers can be (well, not me, of course, but the gaming masses). As such, he recently decided to take one for the team and spent what was sure to be a busy hour or two (I kid) surfing the Web to come up with an exhaustive list of all the games that have been announced in some form or other for the Wii Virtual Console.

The only real surprise is Kohler's discovery that certain previously announced games--such as the NES light gun games and a few SNES stunners like Super Metroid and Super Mario RPG--have been removed from the ESRB site. Does this mean they have been "cancelled" or were simply removed from the site until their release dates can be finalized? I'm betting (hoping) it's the former.

Not that you asked, but here are the releases (that have been announced) I'm particularly looking forward to:

NES - Metroid, Super Mario Bros. 2, Zelda II
TurboGrax-16 - Air Zonk, Battle Load Runner, Blazing Lazers
Genesis - Shining in the Darkness
Super NES and N64 - none :(

Tingle takes on Balloon Fight

Now here's a game that I've been keeping my beady little eyes on for some time: Tingle's Balloon Fight. Not because it's an amazingly crafted title, but because it's pretty darn rare and oh, so Japanese.

Well, it seems the editors at have gotten their hands on the game (only available to members of the Japanese Club Nintendo) and recently shared their impressions of it. Writer Anoop Gantayat's verdict? "I enjoyed playing a few rounds of this latest Club Nintendo bonus item," he says. "However, I'm not sure if it offers enough gameplay to warrant a purchase through an auction site, unless you're a collector."

Want to see the game in action? Check out this wacky YouTube video from Japan.

Too bad Nintendo doesn't seem interested in bringing the game to the U.S. in any form or fashion. Personally, I think it would be cool to either offer this alongside Tingle RPG (if it's ever released on this side of the pond) or offer it as some sort of premium download for those who pick up the sure-to-be-niche game.

Dewy makes a splash with IGN editors

I have to admit, when Konami first unveiled its second Wii offering, Dewy's Adventure, I yawned. It looked nice enough, and the control scheme piqued my interest (you hold the Wiimote sideways and tilt the world a la Super Monkey Ball to move little Dewy around), but at the end of the day it left me feeling more than a little bored.

I'm still not sure it's a title I'll be picking up for my Wii, but as more and more information is released about the game, my interest increases as well. The editors over at recently got to spend some time with the still-in-development game and seem suitably impressed with it. The images and videos they've posted of the game back up their praise, too.

A release date hasn't yet been mentioned for the title, so it could be a long time in coming. In the meantime, check out IGN's impressions here and get your own feel for the Wii-exclusive offering.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

SNK prez spills the beans on Neo Geo's VC offerings (sort of...)

In the not too distant past, Nintendo let it slip that games from SNK's Neo Geo system will soon join the rest of the retro-tastic line up on the Wii Virtual Console. No date was given, nor were any details on specific titles or prices.

To be honest, nothing much has changed since that initial announcement. However, the higher ups at SNK Playmore USA are beginning to talk to the gaming press about their plans for the Wii VC (as well as Xbox Live Arcade and whatever Sony is calling its PS3 download-and-play system), which suggests to me that the system's games are coming sooner rather than later.

Head on over to to hear what SNK president Ben Herman has to say about the situation. Be warned: The juiciest details you'll get out of the interview are that the company hopes to release two or three titles a month and that they'll be priced "just a little above" the VC's SNES offerings. If that means gamers will be left with the choice of spending $10 on a N64 game or $10 on a Neo Geo game, I think SNK may have a problem on its hands.

The only titles I can see myself buying from SNK are Twinkle Star Sprites and the relatively unknown action-puzzler, Zupapa. And maybe Samurai Showdown RPG, if they translate it (and I doubt they will).

Zombies ate my DS

Sorry, I'm not referring an update of the underappreciated 16-bit Konami game here. I just couldn't think of a better headline to write about the upcoming DS game, Touch of the Dead. (By the way, the aforementioned game, Zombies At My Neighbors, will be coming to the Wii Virtual Console soon enough, so those of you who have fond memories of it will be able to run around and slaughter the undead on your Wii anytime now...)

Anyway, back to the topic at hand: Touch of the Dead. I'm sure this game, being developed by Dream On Studio and published by Eidos Interactive, is far from unknown or underappreciated, but I personally just heard about it yesterday. I had seen the title here and there and wondered what it was all about--is it another of Sega's great House of the Dead games?--but that was about as far as my curiosity took me.

A preview posted yesterday to clued me in to what this upcoming game (release date: May 15) has to offer. And while it isn't technically a part of Sega's series of lightgun-based shooters, it's certainly inspired by it. To learn more, check out IGN's preview here.

Want to learn more about Zombies Ate My Neighbors before it's unleashed on the Wii? Here's a nice rundown of the title (which was released on the SNES and Genesis back in the day) on Wikipedia.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Square shows off a bit of FFCC for the DS

My god, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates has to be one of the longest video game titles ever.

Nearly as long has been the wait to see this promising looking DS game in action. Sure, Square-Enix showed a bit of footage when the game was first announced, but since then all we've gotten are still images.

Today (or yesterday, or sometime this past weekend) Square updated the FFCC website to include a short but sweet video depicting one of the game's battles. It's not much, but definitely shows the game to be clean and smooth, both in terms of graphics and gameplay.

For the life of me, I can't remember when this game is set to be released in Japan, though I'm pretty sure I remember that a U.S. date hasn't been mentioned yet. C'mon, Square, let us know when this game and FFXII: Revenant Wings will be following Heroes of Mana to our shores!

Will Escape from Bug Island be worth our time (and money)?

The publisher bringing the much maligned game to the U.S. seems to think so.

According to a recent interview posted to, the folks at Eidos Interactive have tweaked some of the graphics and tightened up the gameplay, making the Escape from Bug Island a better experience than the Japanese original, Necro-Nesia. Whether or not that means it's an overall worthwhile experience has yet to be determined, though the hands-on account from IGN's writers provides at least a glimmer of hope.

I've had my eye on this one since it was first announced, mainly because I love the idea of running around and slaughtering disgustingly huge insects (and shining a flashlight on them using my trusty Wiimote!), but I'll await some actual reviews of the U.S. build before handing over my hard-earned dollars, thank you very much.

For those who really want to play the original Final Fantasy again...

Not sure how many people out there are interested in buying and playing through the original Final Fantasy one more time, but word has hit the street that the PSP remakes of Final Fantasy I and II will be released in the U.S. on June 26 and July 24, respectively.

Personally, the original Final Fantasy is one of my favorite games ever, so I may have to give it a whirl if I ever pick up a PSP. I've played nearly every incarnation of the game that's been released and re-released over the years--on the NES, the PSone and the GBA--so why not do it all again, especially considering the graphics have been overhauled?

Final Fantasy II, however, I've never been so keen on. I tried playing through it on the PSone, but found it boring and never made it too far. I'd be more willing to give it another go if it and the original game were packaged together for the PSP, but as of now the games will be sold separately for $29.99 each.

Super Paper Mario: The minds behind the lines

Thank goodness for MTV's Stephen Totilo. It's rare to find someone in the mainstream press who not only can write about video games, but write about them with accuracy and authority.

Totilo proves his worth again in an article just posted to that gives gamers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Super Paper Mario--in particular, the writing of Nintendo's latest platforming RPG.

Sounds like the two Nintendo of America writers who tackled the translation--Erik Peterson and Nate Bihldorff--had a blast and love the resulting wackiness as much as everyone else does (critics included).

Monday, April 16, 2007

Another reason (the first?) to buy a PS3

Everyone's favorite sport these days is to dog on the PS3. Considering the price of the system, the problems folks have had playing it, the overall lack of decent software and the idiotic phrases that come out of the mouths of Sony executives, it's completely understandable.

That said, it is the PS3, and Sony more than proved its gaming prowess with its first two systems, so it would seem dangerous to count Japan's big boy out.

Take Folk Souls, for instance. A single glance at the screen shot to the right is all it takes not only to make my mouth water but long for a PS3.

I don't know much about it at this point, other than it's being prepped by Kouji Okada, the father of the legendary Shin Megami Tensei series, and that it's due out in Japan in June (with a possible U.S. release coming in the fall).

If Sony can work out some of its system's kinks and bring the price down to an appropriate level, I think this may just be my first PS3 purchase.

Want to learn more about the game? Check out the discussion going on at

The Wii gets another "obscure" game

Ever heard of the survivor horror game, Obscure, produced by Dreamcatcher Interactive? Don't worry if you're shaking your head or furrowing your brow--you're not in the minority. The fact is, most people haven't heard of the game, mainly because it was overshadowed by the release of Resident Evil 4.

Dreamcatcher will be giving gamers a second look at the game later this year when the sequel is released on the PC, PS2 and the Wii (in Europe, at least). Hopefully for the developer's sake, Obscure II will come out before or after Escape from Bug Island, which looks to be a campier take on the same premise.

Snatcher announcement imminent?

This past weekend, an event took place in Japan that featured a keynote between Suda 51 (director of No More Heroes) Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear Solid) and Shinji Mikami (Resident Evi).

At one point, while Kojima and Mikami were sharing stories of their first encounters with each others' works, Mikami mentioned that he preferred Snatcher to Metal Gear Solid. Both Kojima and Suda 51 reacted, "Ah yes, Snatcher."

"Oh, should we announce it here?" one of them continued. "Maybe later," the other replied, "during Hidechan Radio?" (The show later lead to the live recording of Hidechan Radio by Kojima Productions).

Does this imply a Snatcher remake/update/sequel may be in the works, and an announcement can be expected soon, or were Kojima and Suda 51 simply playing with the audience? Having played--and loved--the Sega CD version of Snatcher back in the day, I can only hope it's the former.

Read's great recap of this event here.