Friday, October 16, 2009

I want Chris Kohler's life

OK, maybe that's pushing things a bit, but I certainly envy the guy in charge of the Game Life section of Wired.com.

Case in point:  The recent article, "Broke in Tokyo: Excavating 10 Weird Games for $10."

In it, Kohler works his way through the crowded game shops of Tokyo's Akihabara district in the hopes of finding 10 games for $10 (or roughly 1,000 yen).

It should go without saying that not all of Kohler's finds are long-lost treasures. In fact, most of them seem to be buried-for-a-reason trash.

Still, the article is well worth your time if you're a retro-gaming geek like I am. Oh, and if you read the article above and find it interesting, you'll probably enjoy this one too.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Five favorites: portable platformers

Truth be told, I prefer to play platformers on a TV. There are moments when that isn't possible, though--and in those moments I pull out my trusty GameBoy Advance (or DS, depending on the situation) and insert one of the following cartridges.

1. Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 (GameBoy)--I know Wario's first solo outing isn't considered by many to be his best, but for some reason it's the one I turn to whenever I need my Wario fix. That said, you can't go wrong by playing any of the Wario Land games that appeared on the GameBoy (or the one that appeared on the Virtual Boy, from what I've been told).

2. Balloon Kid (GB)/Balloon Fight GB (GB Color)--Let's count the reasons I keep coming back to this long-lost gem: 1) It's about a girl who has to rescue a boy, 2) it's no walk in the park (in fact, it's pretty damn difficult--take that, Super Princess Peach), and 3) it inverts the left-to-right progression that has become a platforming cliche. (Oh, and it features some fab tunes courtesy of Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka.) In other words, it's a portable platformer that's well worth your time, too.

3. Donkey Kong (GB Color)--Considering the quality of this title, it's crazy that Nintendo hasn't remade it once or even twice. (Actually, it seems they planned on releasing a remake of sorts, titled Donkey Kong Plus, for the GameBoy Advance, but canned it in favor of the similar-but-not-quite-the-same Mario vs. Donkey Kong.) Until they do, I'll be playing this classic platformer-puzzler combo on a regular basis.

4. Drill Dozer (GameBoy Advance)--Well, well, well ... what do we have here? Another platformer with a female protagonist--and it doesn't suck! Actually, it's the complete opposite of sucky. Like the aforementioned Balloon Kid, Drill Dozer turns the platformer genre on its ear, although this game accomplishes that feat with a gigantic drill instead of a bunch of balloons.(Fun fact: This developer of this title, Game Freak, also develops Nintendo's Pok√©mon games.)

5. Kirby Canvas Curse (DS)--When the crew over at 1UP.com reviewed this title, they called it "the DS's first great game." The guys and gals at IGN.com, on the other hand, hailed it as "incredibly innovative." Unfortunately, the critical acclaim didn't have much of an affect on consumer interest and it sold less than 150,000 copies (in the U.S.) in its first two months. If you see a copy (new or used) out in the wild, do yourself and your DS a favor and pick it up--you'll be glad you did.

As the kids like to say: "All over my face!"

A new-and-improved trailer for the soon-to-be-released New Super Mario Bros. Wii has hit the Web, and all I can in response to it is "wow."

Watch it for yourself and then share your reaction in the comments section below, if that's your thing:



In other news related to Nintendo's main man, the folks over at Gamasutra.com just posted an article that includes some choice quotes (from creator Shigeru Miyamoto) about the game's multiplayer focus.

My favorite: "At E3, somebody asked, 'is New Super Mario Bros. Wii going to be as easy as New Super Mario Bros. was on DS?' I think I said that it wouldn't be as easy. What we've created this time is in fact pretty difficult."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Calling all urophiliacs: Water sports game coming to the Wii

I know I'm being juvenile here, but I can't help it. How could I when the official site for said game (titled, unimaginatively enough, Water Sports) feeds into my sick sense of humor by stating:

"For the first time ever on the Nintendo Wii™, experience the world's most popular Water Sports! The Wii Balance Board™ puts you in the action with multiple levels of difficulty so anyone from 6 to 96 can join the fun."

To make matters worse, when I first read the latter part of the second sentence I saw it as "anyone from 6 to 69 can join the fun."

Sadly, gay gamers who plan on picking up a copy of Water Sports when it's released later this month shouldn't get too excited about the possibility of participating in virtual golden showers (though you'd think the Wii remote would be perfect for such an activity). After all, the title focuses on non-scatalogical water sports like kitesurfing, windsurfing and wakeboarding. Oh well.

Quote of the day

This quote of the day (the first for this site, admittedly) comes from Frank Cifaldi, former features editor at Gamasutra and editorial director at GameTap:

"In a 1991 interview, Macaulay Culkin said his favorite console is the TurboGrafx and his favorite games are Bloody Wolf and Splatterhouse. Macaulay Culkin is awesome."

Note: I stole the quote from Frank's facebook page (it was his status update as of 10:35 am today). Considering we're friends--at least of the facebook variety--I'm hoping that's not a problem.

Monday, October 12, 2009

15-pixel PaRappa the Rapper

You probably didn't realize the PlayStation classic, PaRappa the Rapper, could be reduced to just 15 pixels, did you? I'm not saying it's playable, but it's certainly pretty--or at least "visually interesting." Don't take my word for it; take a look for yourself:



Who on earth would do such a crazy thing? The folks at the Alaskan Military School, a London-based design collective, apparently. According to TimMaughanBooks.com, members of the group created the series of "minimalist interpretations" of popular games for GameCity Squared, an event that will take place in Nottingham (England) from October 27 to 31.

Intrigued by the PaRappa video? Head over to TimMaughanBooks.com to view 15-pixel interpretations of Noby Noby Boy and Street Fighter, too.

Toad is a friend of Dorothy?

Huh. I always suspected Luigi was the Mushroom Kingdom's resident closet case, but YouTube sensation brentalfloss seems to think Toad is the more likely culprit.



I have to say, while I'm usually a fan of brentalfloss' videos this one seems a bit uninspired. Judy Garland? The Golden Girls? Shopping for shoes? It's like he looked at a list of gay stereotypes from the 80s before putting pen to paper (and voice to video).

Anyway, although I think the whole thing would have been funnier had it been written by someone who's actually gay--brentalfloss sure isn't; in fact, he just posted a comment saying, "No, I don't like guys"--it's still good for a chuckle or two.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Blast from the past

I bought (or, more correctly, my parents bought me) a *lot* of gaming magazines back in the day. I've never counted them, but if I had to guess I'd say I had more than a thousand issues at one point.

I stopped buying them when I went to college (and when more up-to-date news started showing up on the Internet), but I never got rid of the mountains of magazines. (They're now neatly stowed in my parents' basement.)

Last year, my parents kindly brought me a few of my favorites when they came for a visit. (My husband and I moved from Madison, Wis., to Seattle about three years ago.)

They brought the first few issues of Die Hard Dame Fan, Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro, Nintendo Power and Video Games & Computer Entertainment. They also brought every issue I ever owned of Mega Play, Super Play and Turbo Play (the first two were produced by the folks behind EGM, while Turbo Play was produced by the folks behind the TurboGrax-16, I believe).

Anyway, I posted photos of a few of the covers (and an old print ad for the original Phantasy Star) over on my Flickr page, in case any of you are interested. If you'd like me to take photos or scan the covers or contents of any of the magazines not represented in the shots on my Flickr page, just let me know!