Saturday, May 22, 2010

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, eh?

Is the third Professor Layton title finally leaving Japan? It sure seems like it.

According to, series developer Level-5 recently registered a trademark for Professor Layton and the Unwound Future.

Sure, that's not a literal translation of the game's Japanese title (which would be something like Professor Layton and The Last Time Travel), but it's similar enough to suggest it will, indeed, be making its way westward in the near future.

In the meantime, enjoy the title's melancholy theme song.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I ♥ Mahito Yokota (and so should you)

After all, he's (partially) responsible for the Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 soundtracks--the later of which has, rather surprisingly, already been uploaded to YouTube.

My favorite track so far: "Final Bowser Battle"

Although, the "Puzzle Plank" tune is pretty awesome, too.

No worries if you're not the type of person who enjoys listening to video game soundtracks on YouTube in your spare time--if you live in North America you can pick up a copy of Super Mario Galaxy 2 on Sunday and listen to its tunes on your TV. (Japanese gamers can pick it up on Thursday, while European gamers have to wait until June 11.)

Buy: Super Mario Galaxy 2

Google + Pac-Man = the perfect end-of-the-week time waster

If you're a fan of Pac-Man (and who isn't?), make sure you stop by at some point today.

In celebration of the iconic arcade game's 30th anniversary (May 22), Google has created its first interactive doodle (home page logo). What does that mean? Well, if you're anything like me, it means you'll be spending a big chunk of your day playing the company's custom-made (using using JavaScript, HTML, and CSS) Pac-Man game.

By the way, an interesting article over at details how this project came together. Check it out--if you can wrench yourself away from

Thursday, May 20, 2010

It's not all fun and games

"It" being life--or, at least, my life at the moment. That's not to say I'm not spending some of my free time playing games. I am. I'm just not spending much of my free time playing them--and when I am playing them, I'm not playing recent releases.

What I am playing: PC Engine games. In particular, games like Bikkuriman World, Gekisha Boy (aka Photograph Boy), Honey on the Road, Mizubaku Daibouken (aka Liquid Kids), Obocchama Kun and Parasol Stars. I've also spent some time with Alien Crush, (the much-maligned) Deep Blue and Final Match Tennis.

Namco's Obocchama Kun

(Full disclosure: I've been playing all of these games via emulation. Now, before anyone jumps down my throat about the perils of piracy, let me say this: I will soon--very soon!--be the proud owner of an actual PC Engine and a number of PC Engine games. Also, I plan on owning physical copies of all of the above-mentioned games--and then some--in the not-too-distant future. So, let's just consider my current, questionable activities to be akin to trying on a shirt or a pair of jeans before buying them, OK?)

FACE's Honey in the Sky

Anyway, the thing that has struck me while playing many of these games is how innovative they are/were. Games like Deep Blue and Honey in the Sky could easily be called precursors of the current "bullet hell" (shoot 'em up) genre, for instance, while games like Honey on the Road and Obocchama Kun took what were considered at the time to be the rules of the platforming genre and ran with them. And then there are games like Gekisha Boy and Mesopotamia (aka Somer Assault), which defy classifications and rules altogether.

As such, it's sad that so few of these games left Japan--and the ones that did were largely ignored. Thankfully, some of them can be experienced through Nintendo's Virtual Console service and Sony's "Game Archives" download service. To experience the rest, well, you'll either have to pick up an actual PC Engine system or download an emulator.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

'Devil Cop' and other made-up game titles (and covers)

Before I continue, I have to share the premise of the made-up title (Devil Cop) mentioned in the header: "Play as a half-man, half-demon who uses his satanic powers for good by tracking down evildoers in the city, foiling their criminal plots and arresting them."

Is it wrong that I find that pretend premise more interesting than the premises of most of the real games that have been released in the last few years?

Anyway, that's not the point of this post. What is the point? To get you to check out K. Nelson's gnarly Made Up Video Game site. Each week, the site shines the spotlight on a piece of cover art--created by Nelson--that's based on a game idea (actually, a title and description) submitted by a reader.

Although all of Nelson's creations are well worth your attention, I suggest you begin by checking out Andrew Lloyd Webber's Castlevania: Symphony of the Night: THE GAME, H.P. Lovecraft's Zany Mini Golf and Spelling Champion: Earn My Love.


Let's play: 'Which box art is better?' (Dragon Quest IX edition)

The folks at Nintendo have announced (finally!) European and North American release dates for the eagerly anticipated Square Enix/Level-5 RPG, Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies. North Americans will be able to get their grubby little hands on the DS title on July 11, while their European counterparts will be able to do so on July 23.

Although the European and North American versions of the game will retain most, if not all, of the features and qualities that made the Japanese original a mammoth hit, they will not retain that version's cover art (below).

Here's how the cover art will look on the European/North American versions of the game:

Which do I prefer? Eh, the Japanese version, I guess, although I can understand why the brass at Nintendo of America/Europe decided to change it (i.e., they probably considered the original art a bit too "Japanese" for Western audiences).

Anyway, if you want to know more about the European and North American versions of Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies, head over to or Or just click on this link to see the game's latest trailer.

See also: 'Let's play: 'Which box art is better?' (PaRappa The Rapper edition)'

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Curiosity of the day: Square's Aliens game

I don't know about you, but I didn't know--until a few hours ago, at least--that more than two decades ago the folks at what was then known as Square made a game (for the MSX) based on the 1986 film Aliens.

I found out about it after watching said film (for, oh, the 20th or so time) last night--which prompted me to search the Interwebs for games based on James Cameron's blockbuster and its Ridley Scott-directed predecessor. That search led me to this article and this Wikipedia page--both of which mention Square's Contra-esque shoot 'em up.

Here's what it looks like in action:

Honestly, I don't think the game looks bad at all. It certainly puts to shame the Pac-Man-esque Alien title that appeared (five years earlier, admittedly) on the Atari 2600.

See also: 'Curiosity of the day: Sega's Mega Jet'

Monday, May 17, 2010

'Sock It 2 Me'

This recent NeoGAF thread got me thinking about one of my favorite game-inspired music videos: Missy Elliott's "Sock It 2 Me."

Say what you want about Ms. Elliott and/or her track, but the video? At the very least, you have to give the lady props for the Mega Man-esque getup.

Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari 'Her'

Or as the game would be known in English (if it were real): Downtown Girls’ Hot-Blooded Story.

Actually, I shouldn't say the game isn't real; it is real, in that it exists, but it certainly isn't an official release. Instead, someone hacked Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari (aka River City Ransom) and replaced all of the game's male sprites with female ones. He/she then went a few steps further and made an actual cartridge and box for the title--and put the whole shebang up for sale on Yahoo! Auctions. The winning bidder handed over a whopping ¥25,510 (about $276) for it.

As cool as the game looks (a few screenshots can be seen at the bottom of its Yahoo! Auctions page), I think I'll stick with the original--which I bought ages ago for $5 via the Wii Virtual Console.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

In my oh-so-gay opinion: The five most iconic controller designs of all time

Well, I've become quite an opinionated old poof, haven't I?

Don't worry, I won't overdo these "in my oh-so-gay opinion" pieces--I just have to get a few of them out of my system before I return to the status quo.

Anyway, the focus of this one is pretty straightforward, don't you think? For those of you who don't think that, here's the deal: The five controllers below are the ones I consider to be the most iconic in terms of design.

Atari 2600 Joystick--If you're, say, under 30, you likely looked at the image above and thought: What in the hell is that? The rest of you, on the other hand, probably thought: Oh, yeah, I remember using that to play Crystal Castles! The latter response is reason enough to add the Atari 2600 joystick to this list, but it isn't the only reason. Another: It's the definition of sleek simplicity, which makes it the ideal bookend to the last controller on this list.

NES controller--If I had decided to put these controllers in order of iconicness (I know, not a real word) instead of in order of release, I would have placed the NES pad in the pole position. After all, it's pretty much a perfect storm when it comes to controller design--what with its understated, rectangular shape, its subdued black-gray-red color scheme, its game-changing (literally and figuratively) d-pad and its Konami-code-capacitating A and B buttons.

Super Famicom controller--In a way, Nintendo's designers didn't take all that many risks while developing the Super Famicom's controller. Basically, they added a couple of colorful buttons to the standard Famicom/NES pad and called it a day. Still, those colorful buttons and another seemingly simple change--which involved replacing all of the NES controller's sharp corners with ergonomic, eye-pleasing curves--were enough to secure this pad's place in the hearts and minds of gamers around the world.

PlayStation Dual Shock--I'm sure some will squawk that I decided to include this controller and not the controller that inspired it (the analog-enabled one that shipped with the Nintendo 64). The fact is, although I fully acknowledge that the folks at Nintendo were first to bring the analog stick to the table, I think Sony's staffers took the idea to the next level--from a design standpoint, at least--with the slick, sexy Dual Shock.

Wii Remote--Earlier, while describing the Atari 2600 joystick, I used the words "sleek simplicity." Well, those words ably describe the all-white Wii remote, too. Sure, Nintendo's designers may have stolen a few ideas from the folks at Apple, but you can't really blame them, can you? Plus, although it's easy to call their design choices "safe" today, they were considered shockingly risky when the controller was unveiled at the 2005 Tokyo Game Show.

See also: 'In my oh-so-gay opinion: The five most iconic systems designs of all time'