Friday, January 08, 2010

And now a word from our sponsor

I recently put a few obscure Japanese PSone games on eBay in the hopes of securing some cash for future purchases. Here are the relevant links, in case any of you are interested in such things:

Dam Dam Stompland

Gunners Heaven

Mad Panic Coaster

All of the auctions end on Sunday afternoon, so don't dilly dally if you're interested in any of the games!

Sega Saturn fans: I'll also be putting two obscure Japanese Saturn games--Chibi Maruko Chan No Taisen Puzzle Dama and Terra Phantastica--on eBay soon.

Calling all graphics whores: Vanillaware seems to be working on a new game

If you're a lover of gorgeous graphics (especially of the 2D variety), you've also got to be a lover of Vanillaware--the Japanese development studio responsible for such sexy games as Princess Crown, Odin Sphere and Muramasa: The Demon Blade.

All of the above should be happy to hear that the folks at Vanillaware seem to be working on a new game. They haven't announced anything as of yet, but all signs point to that happening sooner rather than later.

For instance, Atlus (Odin Sphere's publisher) recently filed a trademark for Gungnir--the name of Odin's spear. Also, Vanillaware founder and president George Kamitani recently posted a painting of “The Three Graces” (Greek goddesses of beauty, charm and creativity) on his company’s website.

Considering Vanillaware tackled Norse mythology in Odin's Sphere (Odin is the chief god in Norse paganism), it doesn't seem like too much of a stretch to suggest the studio may be returning to that topic--and/or Greek mythology--in its next release (or two).

See also: "And the 'Best Box Art of the Year' award goes to..." and "New Super Mario Bros. Wii: One of my favorite Wii games of 2009"

Not sure if want: Xbox 360 Game Room

A few days ago (during the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show), the folks at Microsoft announced the "Xbox 360 Game Room," an application that will, when it's released this spring, allow 360 users to "relive the glory days of classic arcade games" by replicating "the old-school look, sound and feel of a retro video game arcade."

Regarding the latter, the "Xbox 360 Game Room" will allow users to "create a brand-new social environment [their] avatar can explore." It'll also allows them to "trick out [their] 'Game Room' ... and decorate each room with themes and animated icons from [their] favorite games."

More than 30 arcade, Atari 2600 and Intellivision games have been announced for the service so far, though only a few of them (namely the arcade versions of Crystal Castles and Tempest) seem worth the price of admission (40 Microsoft Points to play a game one time, 240 points to buy a game that can be played on a PC or Xbox 260 [not both] and 400 points to buy a game that can be played on both a PC and Xbox 360).

Here's a trailer that shows all (or at least most) of the above in action:

What do you guys and gals think of this? Is it appealing--or appalling?

Another reason to look forward to Fragile Dreams

If you've been coming to this blog for any length of time, you know at least a little about Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon.

What you may not know is that the game (which was developed by tri-Cresendo and will be published by Xseed in North America and Rising Star in Europe) features a gay kiss. It's even mentioned in the game's ESRB rating summary:

"During the course of the game, the central character [Seto] will encounter another wandering survivor of the apocalypse: one of their meetings involves a prolonged, deep kiss, which surprises and unnerves Seto ('But that was my first kiss ever!') but leaves the older fellow nonplussed ('Well then, I guess that makes me your number one buddy')."

Fragile Dreams will be released in North America on March 16 and in Europe sometime this spring. (North Americans can pre-order the game here.)

See also: And the 'Best Box Art of the Year' award goes to ...

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Speaking of Marios that scare me ...

I just came across this video of the Atari 2600 version of Mario Bros. in action (at the awesomely named and had to share it with all of you:

If you were to play the arcade version of Mario Bros. while tripping on some sort of psychotropic drug, I'm pretty sure the experience would be similar to what's on display in the video above.

Now, please excuse me--I have an Atari 2600 emulator and a Mario Bros. ROM to hunt down.

I like Mario as much as the next guy, but ...

... I'd rather play Hotel Mario, Mario is Missing, Mario Teaches Typing and Mario's Time Machine back to back to back to back than be caught wearing this:

That said, I have to give it up to the woman who made said sweater vest. I mean, the ground tiles, question blocks and even the clouds are pixel perfect!

For more information--and more photos--go to Oh, and while you're there, check out the "Baby Link" outfit.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

New Super Mario Bros. Wii: One of my favorite Wii games of 2009

I know what you're thinking: What a shocker! I mean, what blogger/critic/journalist/poet/writer hasn't placed Mario's latest two-dimensional romp through the Mushroom Kingdom at the top of his/her "best Wii game of 2009" list?

As much as I hate bandwagons (they're so bumpy!), I have to take a seat on this one. Sure, New Super Mario Bros. Wii isn't a perfect game, but it is a perfectly fun game. In fact, it's the funnest game I've played in a very long time.

That alone is enough for me to declare New Super Mario Bros. Wii my favorite Wii game of 2009. Yes, other aspects of the title--its charming and colorful graphics, its nostalgia-laden levels, its maniacal multiplayer mode--are worthy of adoration and praise, too, but all of them pale in comparison to its imitable "fun factor."

Since I have so little to say about New Super Mario Bros. Wii, why don't I share my thoughts on the games that nearly topped my "best of 2009" list?

Little King's Story--Yoshirou Kimura, the mastermind behind the bat-shit crazy Chulip, also made this simulation-slash-RPG, so you know it's a little weird and a lot wonderful. (Or maybe a lot weird and a lotter wonderful? You know what I mean.) It's also cute, charming and compelling--and well worth its (current) $43.19 price of admission.

Muramasa: The Demon Blade--button-mashing action RPGs really aren't my bag, baby, but I'll make an exception for Muramasa. Why? Well, for starters, the graphics are amazing. Actually, they're more than that--they're what I imagine heaven would look like if heaven was a two-dimensional video game created by the folks at Vanillaware. Second (and third, I guess), the game sounds and plays like a dream. A wet dream. A wet dream you experience over and over and over again, until you're completely wiped out. At least, that's what it's like for me.

Wii Sports Resort--This sequel/spin-off/whateveryouwannacallit to Wii Sports certainly is a steal. It includes 12 (yes, 12) different "sports," for crying out loud! The funny thing is, you'll probably only care about half of them--if that. It won't matter, though, because you'll really care about the half you care about. (You're following me, right?) For me, the "sports" (sorry, I can't help but use quotes here) that make this title worth the moolah: air sports, archery, frisbee, swordplay and table tennis.

Rhythm Heaven: My favorite DS game of 2009

Don't tell me: You expected to see the name of another game here, didn't you? Like Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside StoryProfessor Layton and the Diabolical Box or Scribblenauts?

Well, I played all of those games (and more) last year, and I certainly enjoyed them, but I don't consider any of them my favorite DS game of 2009. That "honor" goes to a little game known as (or maybe I should say little-known game) Rhythm Heaven.

Why was Rhythm Heaven my favorite DS game of 2009? Let me count the ways:

1) It's weird--Really weird. You participate in a glee club consisting of bald, bow-tie-wearing aliens (well, that's what I think they look like), you play ping pong with someone sporting a boxy, blue head and you pluck hairy beets from a farmer's fertile soil--all while attempting to match the beat of each level's background music.

2) It's difficult--I'm one of those cranky geezers who thinks today's games are too easy. I enjoyed having my ass handed to me while playing Kid Icarus and Metroid back in the day, for God's sake. Which means, of course, that I get a tremendous kick out of playing "Fillbots" and "Freeze Frame" and "Lockstep" (the hardest of Rhythm Heaven's mini-games, in my humble opinion).

3) It's addictive--If you're anything like me, you'll be unable to play "Crop Stomp"and "Love Lizards" and "Munchy Monk" just once. You'll play them over and over and over again. And then you'll play them some more. Why? Because the gameplay and especially the background music worm their way into your brain and turn you into a Rhythm Heaven-loving zombie, that's why.

4) It's fun--Whenever I play Rhythm Heaven, a huge, goofy grin wraps around my face. (Sadly, that accomplishment is less impressive that it sounds--thanks to my big mouth.) Not only that, but I giggle like a little schoolgirl--even when the game is slapping me around like I'm a redheaded stepchild. The sign of an amazingly awesome game, no?

By the way, if you're not averse to playing games in a language you don't understand--and you have the ability to play GameBoy Advance games--pick up a copy (if you can find one) of this title's predecessor, Rhythm Tengoku. I actually prefer it to Rhythm Heaven (called Rhythm Tengoku Gold in Japan), for a number of reasons I won't bore you with right now.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

What would Left 4 Dead look (and sound and play) like if it were released for the NES?

Here's your answer: Pixel Force's Left 4 Dead "de-make."

Go here to download the game.

Also, Eric David Ruth, the (one and only) man behind this retro re-imagining of Valve's "zombie-killing masterpiece" (Ruth's words, not mine), answers quite a few questions about the title here and here.

I've only played the game for a few minutes so far, but what I have played has really impressed me. My only complaint: That the game isn't an actual NES ROM.

Whoa: My mom wants a Wii

While talking with my parents this past weekend, my mom mentioned that my aunt and uncle (her sister and brother-in-law) bought themselves a Wii--and Wii Fit--over the holidays. She then mentioned, "We're thinking of getting one, too."

You could have knocked me over with a feather at that moment, I'm sure. I mean, my parents aren't exactly gaming virgins--my mom has had a DS for a few years and both have played Wii Sports and some of Wii Fit's mini-games--but I didn't expect them to jump on the Wii bandwagon anytime soon (if ever).

(That's not my mom and dad, BTW. I stole the photo from someone's Flickr page. Hopefully they won't mind.)

It'll be interesting to see if they go through with it. Considering how much my aunt and uncle seem to be enjoying their recent purchases, I think they will--and sooner rather than later.

Have any of you had similar experiences with your parents or relatives?

Monday, January 04, 2010

The best (and probably gayest) ESRB ratings summary ever

The Entertainment Software Ratings Board recently posted on its website a ratings summary for Namco Bandai's upcoming WiiWare release, Muscle March. To say it's hilarious is an understatement of monumental proportions.

"Bodybuilders dressed in super-tight Speedos chase down a "protein thief" through cities, villages, and space in this whimsical puzzle-action game. Pedestrians, straphangers, school teachers, farmers, police officers, and librarians are fully clothed as they go about their business; the bodybuilders—not so much.

"Players must perform correct poses to fit through dozens of holes-in-walls created by the fleeing thief. If players do not pose correctly while running, their muscle men (and one woman) will crash through the walls and lose their stamina. Losing stamina means collapsing to the ground face-first, buttocks-last (flexed gluteus facing the screen)

"It may also mean that between stages, the happy bodybuilders can dance together in space, throw rocks by the riverside, or flex their pectorales major on menu screens (the lone female bodybuilder flexes her chest muscles, too).

"But the running gag in the game is the odd juxtaposition of traipsing bodybuilders, scantily clad, with the fully clothed working city dwellers—librarians' eyes agape at seeing their reference sections destroyed by the Posing Ones."

I find the bolded portions particularly funny, by the way.

Oh, and if anyone knows who wrote the rating summary for this game, please let me know--I want that person's job :)

Sunday, January 03, 2010

So, when's a gay couple going to do something like this?

A few days ago, posted an article about a straight couple that decided to get hitched in Hyrulian fashion.

Yep, that means every aspect of the couple's "big day" brought to mind The Legend of Zelda--including the invitations, the processional music, the wedding party gifts and even the cake.

Here's a little video that shows all of the above and more:

That's cute and all, but when's a gay (or lesbian) couple going to do something like this?