Saturday, October 03, 2009

Bookmark these retro-riffic sites

Surprise, surprise--I spent a lot of time surfing the Interwebs last night. It wasn't a completely pointless experience, though, as I stumbled across a slew of great retro-gaming blogs and sites that I'm sure I'll be revisiting (and soon). Anyway, I thought I'd post them here in case any of you are looking to add a few new sites to your own web-surfing sessions.

* site "strive[s] to showcase the most obscure and really rare items that eBay may offer." It also strives to "point out items that are going at a steal, and other stuff that’s just plain interesting." Truth be told, I should stay far away from this site--I went a bit crazy on eBay a few years ago and bought a PC-Engine CoreGrafx II, a Super CD-ROM attachment, a SuperGrafx and a ton of games in a matter of days--but I think I can control myself now.

* are many reasons to read Kevin Gifford's blog, which focuses on "video games, Japan and assorted interesting things." The reason I'll be returning for seconds and thirds (and beyond): His "I (heart) The PC Engine" posts. I've rarely met a video game system I didn't like, but I have a soft spot in my heart for the good 'ol PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16 here in the States)--as you can probably tell from my eBay admission above :)

*, this blog, which bills itself as the "daily resource of retro gaming pleasure both for the collector and the nostalgic or historically inclined gamer," has been in "hibernation mode" since early May. The blog's owner hopes to be back in the swing of things sometime early next year, so I'll just check in from time to time until that day arrives.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Play this (free) game: Icycle

The guys and gals over at owe me, oh, at least a hundred dollars. Why, you ask? Well, they're responsible for turning me on to DampGnat's fabulously fun flash game, Icycle.

I spent a good hour or so--an hour I should have spent working--playing the damn thing earlier today and I only stopped after dying about ten times (OK, it might have been more) on the fifth level.

I'll hold off on sending the IndieGames crew an invoice, though, since I enjoyed that hour more than I would have if I'd worked :)

Given that glowing recommendation, you're going to head over to DampGnat's site and give Icycle a try as soon as you have a second (or a minute, or an hour) to spare, right?

Hmmmmmmmm... I'm sensing some hesitation. Are you the kind of overly serious person who refuses to jump into a game without knowing anything about it? If so, take a gander at this trailer:

Now, keep in mind that unless you're some sort of gaming god (or goddess) you'll be seeing those rather humorous death scenes quite regularly.

If you're anything like me, though, they'll make you laugh out loud--and they certainly won't keep you from continuing your cryogenically preserved character's quest.

Who ya gonna call? Kaiju Busters!

I have a confession to make: I've never played Monster Hunter. Not on the PS2, not on the PSP and not (yet) on the Wii.

I think what I need is some sort of Monster Hunter lite--an entry-level version of the game that will show me the ropes, so to speak.

I doubt Capcom is planning to produce such a title anytime soon, but that's OK because it seems Namco Bandai (strangely enough) has beaten them to the punch with the upcoming DS release, Kaiju Busters.

I know, the name isn't all that impressive, but the game itself seems impressive indeed:

Sadly, I have a feeling Kaiju Busters is going to remain a Japan-only affair, if you know what I mean.

Oh, well, maybe I'll just pick up a copy of the original Monster Hunter (on the PS2) and work my way up from there...

Nintendo, press pushing Wii Fit Plus' 'pet support'

Wii Fit Plus is hitting store shelves across the U.S. this weekend, so you know what that means: Nintendo's PR people are hitting the streets to give that sucker one last push.

Their hard work seems to be paying off, at least in terms of publicity. Quite a few news outlets have published articles about the Wii Fit semi-sequel in the last few days, including

The most interesting thing about these articles (to me, at least) is that many of them focus on the title's "pet support"--i.e., it allows players to create avatars of their dogs and cats and then use the Balance Board to weigh (and continue monitoring the weight of) their furry friends.

I probably won't be picking up Wii Fit Plus this weekend, but I can assure you that when I do I'll use it to track the weight of our cat, who could stand to lose a few pounds. Maybe I'll even post status updates (with pics!) from time to time :)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Nintendo's Art Academy titles: Mario Paint minus Mario?

I was a big fan of Mario Paint back in the days of the SNES. Of course, who wasn't? The title was (and still is) a fine example of Nintendo's ability to think outside of the gaming box.

The folks at Nintendo may be uninterested in bringing back that long-lost gem--it has yet to hit the Wii Virtual Console service--but that doesn't mean they're uninterested in bringing back some of the things that made Mario Paint so special.

Case in point: the company's recent Art Academy releases for its downloadable DSiWare service.

Nintendo's PR people promise the first title in the series, Art Academy: First Semester, for instance, will guide gamers "through the basics of using pencil and paints, which draw like the real things. With your own paintbrush set and color palette, you will learn texturing and blending techniques, along with how to depict light and shade."

Thankfully, you don't have to take their word for it--"zigg" over at NeoGAF recently posted his initial impressions of the title and seemed very, well, impressed.

"I've only done the first pencil-drawing lesson and there's already three thicknesses of pencil available (though the first lesson only had me use one) and also the ability to use them or the eraser on tip or side," he wrote recently. Here's the result of that first lesson (which I find rather impressive):

"I dunno if it'll make me an artist--I suspect there's something to be said for having the ability in the first place--but being an absolute novice, there's certainly some things to learn here," he added. "Regardless, it looks like the paint program is going to be rather good."

Read more of zigg's impressions of the title at the end of this NeoGAF thread.

Oh, Christmas tree... Oh, Christmas tree...

I know it's only October 1st, but I'm already thinking about the holidays. Why? Well, it probably has something to do with the fact that my husband has me on a strict budget right now. (Party pooper!) As a result, I'm spending a lot of time thinking about what *might* show up underneath the Christmas tree this year.

Among the games and gadgets that are currently occupying my daydreams:

1. Four Warriors of Light: Final Fantasy Gaiden--Before you ask, yes, I'm talking about the Japanese version of this throwback of a DS title. Square-Enix has yet to say if it will be released in the States, so I'm hoping to pick up a copy of the Japanese release--despite the fact that I don't know the language.

2. New Super Mario Bros. Wii--Can you imagine a better game to play with family and friends after the holiday feast is over? I can't. Of course, I doubt my husband--or any of our family or friends--will want to join in the fun, but that's OK. I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy the single-player mode all the same :)

3. Nintendo DSi (red)--I know this color hasn't actually been released (or even been announced for release) in the States, but I'm sure it'll show up eventually (after all, it's already available in Japan and will be available soon in Europe). As such, I'd happily accept an IOU from any of my family members until that day arrives...

4. PS3 Slim--I've wanted a PS3 since it launched in late 2006, but the high cost of entry (not to mention the anemic library) at the time kept me from handing over my hard-earned cash. Now that that system is down to $299 and is home to games like Katamari Forever, Little Big Planet and Valkyria Chronicles, though, I think I can fork it over--or convince someone else to fork it over for me.

5. Valkyria Chronicles--Well, I'll need something to play on my new PS3 Slim, right? This is the title that caused me to want a PS3 in the first place, so it just seems fair for it to be my first piece of software for the system, too.

Anyway, enough about my obsessions--which games and gadgets are *you* looking forward to this holiday season?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It looks like Zelda, it sounds like Zelda, but will it be as fun as Zelda?

That's the question that went through my mind as I watched the first gameplay videos of From Software's 3D Dot Game Heroes this morning. Here's one of them:

(Two more videos of the upcoming PS3 title can be viewed here.)

Boomerang? Check. Chickens that retaliate after they're attacked? Check. Secret caves revealed by bombs? Check.

Those similarities have some gamers crying "copycat," but not me. I love it! It would be great if Nintendo would create such a game, but since that seems about as likely as a Kid Icarus sequel I'll gladly spend some time with this homage.

I know, I know--I don't have a PS3! Well, that might have to change this holiday season thanks to the $299 PS3 Slim and titles like this one, Katamari Forever, Little Big Planet and Valkyria Chronicles.

Cool interview with Ryuji Sasai, composer of Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest

I'm a big fan of 16-bit RPGs--especially those that appeared on Nintendo's Super Nintendo Entertainment System/Super Famicom. Among my favorites is one of those games that almost everyone (else) loves to hate, Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest.

The folks over at have posted an extremely interesting interview with that title's composer, Ryuji Sasai. Sasai talks about many of the games he worked on while he was employed by what was then known as Squaresoft (now Square-Enix)--including Final Fantasy Legend III and Treasure of the Rudras--but most of his comments are aimed at the much maligned (and misunderstood) Final Fantasy spin-off.

While talking about the track, “Mountain Range of Whirlwinds," for instance, Sasai says, that he included a french horn "because of its ability to really carry the length of the tune. My image of the mountains is represented by this song."

Regarding two other tracks that are popular among fans of the title--“Last Castle” and “Battle 3"--Sasai says, "'Last Castle' was written in a relatively short period of time. Given all the music from the other scenes and the graphics and scenarios themselves, I figured I would go with something that would represent a finale of sorts but when I wrote it I utilized the imagery of a field instead.

"I realized I would have only a small amount of space left in the ROM for writing 'Battle 3,'" he adds, "so within those conditions I did what I could. There wasn’t anything particularly difficult in writing these songs. I recall that they came off rather naturally."

Bookmark this site:

Considering how many hours I spend on this here blog, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise to hear that I'm a bit of a geek (at least as far as games are concerned). Some good things come from that geekery, though--such as, well, the nuggets of information that make their way onto this site.

As proud as I am of what I'm attempting to create here, I'm fully aware that there are zillions (yes, zillions) of other gaming sites out there (some gay, some not) that deserve your (and my) attention. So, every once in a while I'm going to post a link to one of them. Here's the first:

I'd be lying if I said I stumbled upon this great site on my own. Actually, someone I'm following on Twitter (thanks, whoever you are!) mentioned it recently in a tweet and I, always up for a new experience, clicked on the link. I'm glad I did.

Anyway, is the brainchild of Anna Anthropy, who describes herself as a "freelance scratchware game creator, critic and all-purpose pervert."

All three of those traits are on full display in the intriguing articles Anthropy (who is gay, by the way) posts to the site. For example, the one that prompted me to prance on over to her site breaks down the design trends that are present in that Shigeru Miyamoto classic, Super Mario Bros.

If that sounds interesting to you, check out the site when you have a second (a few minutes would be better, but beggars can't be choosers, right?). I think you'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Add this title to my (lengthy) "to buy" list: Four Warriors of Light (Final Fantasy Gaiden)

I've been keeping an eye on Square-Enix's soon-to-be-released Final Fantasy side story, Four Warriors of Light: Final Fantasy Gaiden, since it was unveiled earlier this year.

Although Square-Enix has posted a number of gameplay clips on the DS title's official website over the past few months, I don't think they've released an actual trailer until now. Here it is:

Instead of sharing my own reaction to the trailer, I'd like to share the reaction "batbeg" posted in the game's official thread over at NeoGAF:

"Giant baby-headed octopus will give me nightmares. Music is godly. Graphics are insane. Music is incredible. Art direction is fantastic. The music has it's hands down my pants right now."

I'm especially in agreement with batbeg when it comes to his (her?) second, fourth and sixth comment :)

Anyway, Four Warriors of Light: Final Fantasy Gaiden will be released in Japan on Oct. 29. If Square-Enix doesn't announce a stateside release soon, I'm going to import this sucker--despite the fact that I don't know a lick of Japanese.

Am I late to the LostWinds party? Yes, I think I am...

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this, but last night I played Frontier Developments' WiiWare title, LostWinds, for the first time.

I meant to buy it back when it first appeared on Nintendo's download service (last Christmas!), but for one reason or another I didn't--and then I forgot about it.

I remembered it last night, though, and promptly purchased it. What a wonderful little game! I've only played it for about an hour so far, so I can't exactly review it at this point, but I can say that I'm enjoying it quite a bit.

Anyway, enough with the gushing. The real reason I'm writing this is to remind everyone that Frontier's sequel, LostWinds: Winter of the Melodias, will be coming out in October.

For more information, check out the official site and the most recent trailer for what looks like a wonderfully worthy sequel:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Will fan-translated Fatal Frame IV frighten us in time for Halloween?

Well, it seems the fan translation of Fatal Frame IV (you know, the sequel that Nintendo refuses to bring to the States--or anywhere outside of Japan--even though it sold more than any of its predecessors) is nearly finished.

According to the folks actually doing the translating, the project is 93 percent complete. Considering they've only been working on the patch since late April, I think it's safe to say it will see the light of day soon. In time for Halloween? I sure hope so!

In the meantime, order a copy of the game (called Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen in Japan) and watch the following trailer, which shows off a bit of what the translators have accomplished so far: