Saturday, November 13, 2010

Zapper duel

I don't know about you, but I have an irrational, nostalgia-fueled reaction to the NES Zapper. That's funny to me, because I barely used the orange-and-gray peripheral I owned back in the day. Sure, I played Duck Hunt every now and then, but it definitely wasn't among my favorite games of the 8-bit era.

All that said, I think I'd be drawn to Aaron Jasinski's "The Duel" (below) even if I didn't have an irrational, nostalgic reaction to the Zapper.

This acrylic-on-wood painting can be purchased (here) for a mere $1,100, by the way. To see more of Jasinski's work, check out his blog or his deviantart page.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Cement pie

It's been known for some time that the red Wii that just hit the streets in Europe would come with a copy of something called Donkey Kong: Original Edition (as well as copies of New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Wii Sports).

What wasn't known until a few days ago (yeah, I'm a bit late to the party on this one) is that Donkey Kong: Original Edition isn't, as some in the gaming press assumed, the arcade version of this Nintendo classic. It also isn't the Famicom/NES version.

Rather, it seems to be a combination of the two--or, more specifically, it seems to be the Famicom/NES version updated to include the arcade version's cement/pie factory level. (This version also re-introduces the animation that shows the titular ape picking up Pauline and taking her to the next stage.)

Here's a fairly horrible video of the whole thing in action:

Skip to the 58-second mark to see the previously absent (in the Famicom/NES version) animation and skip to 1:05 to see the cement/pie factory stage.


'It's not so bad in here'

Thanks to the vivid imagination of illustrator Keith Kuniyuki (aka Lucky1988), all of us old-school gamers *finally* get to see what happens after Pac-Man gobbles up a ghost or a piece of fruit.

For more of Kuniyuki's designs, check out his Flickr photostream.

10 video games that made my life gayer (#10): Rhythm Tengoku

How do I love this import-only GameBoy Advance title? Let me count the ways.

1) I love its hairy--and Arabian, apparently--onions and turnips.

2) I love its heart-shaped flowers and (smiling) star-filled skies.

3) I love its marching men in rabbit suits.

4) I love its safety-seeking rodents.

5) I love its tap-dancing primates.

6) More than anything, though, I love its amazing--and amusing--soundtrack.

For more reasons to love this Kazuyoshi Osawa-conceived game, check out Kurt Kalata's first-rate write-up over at

See also: all of the previous '10 video games that made my life gayer' posts

Thursday, November 11, 2010

This may be the most annoying game-related ad I've ever seen

To everyone who thought Nintendo of America's Dragon Quest IX TV spots (starring Seth Green) were lame: Please watch Nintendo of Europe's latest effort (below).


Five gaming-related items I'd buy if money weren't an issue

I know this probably seems like a silly and even stupid waste of time, but when has that stopped me in the past?

Anyway, as the header above implies, this post is all about the five gaming-related items I'd buy if money weren't an issue.

1) A Bubble Bobble, Donkey Kong or Ms. Pac-Man (below) arcade cabinet--No explanation needed, right?

2) Copies of CoryoonGinga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire and Madou Monogatari--The first is an expensive PC Engine HuCard game, while the second and third are expensive (PC Engine) Arcade CD-ROM games.

3) A Japanese Mega Drive and a copy of Panorama Cotton--The latter is an extremely rare Mega Drive cart that, unlike other entries in the Cotton series (well, except this one--but it doesn't count because it supposedly sucks), is a 3D shoot 'em up à la Sega's Space Harrier.

4) A PC Engine LT--Only the coolest handheld system ever. I mean, it has a four-inch screen and looks like a little laptop--who wouldn't want something like that?

5) A copy of Punch-Out!! Special--5,000 of these gold-colored carts were awarded to high-scoring participants of a Nintendo Famicom Golf competition, while another 5,000 were given away during a pair of raffles.

Honorable mention: A copy of Rakugaki Showtime--The obscure "arena combat" game created for the original PlayStation by the geniuses at Treasure. Sadly, I owned a copy of this game for quite some time before (stupidly) selling it a few years ago.

Which games or gaming-related items would you buy if money weren't an issue?

Hey, a Ghostbusters game that doesn't suck!

Thanks to the Francophone folks at, I've finally found a Ghostbusters game that doesn't suck.

That's really kind of sad when you consider how many Ghostbusters games have been released since the film first hit the big screen in 1984.

So, which game is now the sole entry on my personal list of non-sucky Ghostbusters games? HAL Laboratory's rather obscure--and oddly named--New Ghostbusters II, released in Europe and Japan in 1990. (Actually, Sega's 16-bit Ghostbusters title, also released in 1990, was pretty good, too, so let's be generous and say my "non-sucky" list consists of two games.)

What do I like about this Famicom/NES title? I like its graphics, which remind me a bit of Mother/Earth- bound, for starters. (Which makes sense, as HAL Laboratory had a hand in making all three of the Mother games.) Also, I like its tight, arcade-y gameplay.

Unfortunately, the review at is in French, so unless you can understand that language it isn't going to do you much good if you want to know more about this game. Thankfully, it's been reviewed in English, too--here and here, for instance.

If reading isn't your thing--or if you'd rather just see the darn game in action--check out this YouTube playthrough of the title's first two (of six) levels.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The 10 fruitiest games (of which I'm aware)

Here’s an admission you won’t come across on just any gaming blog: I love fruity games.

Now, when I say “fruity games,” I’m not talking about Captain Rainbow or Cho Aniki; I’m talking about games that are packed with so much actual fruit they should accompany every Edible Arrangements® order.

Anyway, I've played a good number of “fruity” games over the years, with the following being my favorites:

Animal Crossing--I wouldn't say shaking fruit out of trees is the highlight of this "life simulation" game--for me, that would be catching bugs, butterflies and fish--but it's certainly a hell of a lot of fun. (My favorite fruit in the game? The peach!)

Bubble Bobble--My favorite moment in this Fukio Mitsuji-designed quarter-muncher occurs when I defeat the last enemy and a giant piece of fruit (or some other food item) drops from the top of the screen. Why can't every level end this way?

Coryoon--This crazy PC Engine cute ‘em up would be well worth the price of admission even if fruit didn’t pop out of defeated enemies like they were the world’s healthiest piñatas (see screenshot above) thanks to its crisp, colorful graphics, cheerful music and tight controls. Plus, it stars a baby dragon!

Don Doko Don--Sure, this Taito-developed title has nothing on the fruity games that seemingly inspired it (namely Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands), but that hardly means it's bad. In fact, it's pretty darn good--especially if you like hammer-wielding dwarves.

Monster Lair--Is there anything more satisfying than coming across certain pieces of fruit in this game (above) and then shooting them until they erupt into even more pieces of fruit? OK, so I’m sure there are many more satisfying experiences in all of video game-dom, but I’m not sure there are in this particular title.

The New Zealand Story--I have to admit, the fruit in Taito’s cute-but-challenging platformer (see screenshot below) pales in comparison to its cool bosses, inflatable ducks and laser guns. Still, the apples, grapes and melons (no, not those kinds of melons) eradicated enemies leave behind serve to make this already sweet game even sweeter.

Pac-Man--The arcade classic that prompted my semi-obsession (is there such a thing?) with fruity games. Why does the titular Pac-Man collect fruit? I have no idea, although I imagine the answer to that question makes about as much sense as the answer to this one: "Why does he chase ghosts?"

Parasol Stars--Like its predecessors, Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands, Parasol Stars (below) throws more than just fruit at players; it throws jewelry, pastries and vegetables at them, too. Is that more enticing and exciting than the title’s frantic gameplay? Actually, sometimes it is.

Rainbow Islands--What does Rainbow Islands offer gamers that Parasol Stars doesn’t? Rainbows, for starters. Oh, and stars! That’s not to say it’s a prissy pushover--in fact, it packs quite a punch in terms of bosses, enemies and levels. Just think of the fruit--and treats and veggies--you collect along the way as sweet rewards for your troubles.

Yoshi's Story--I know this fruit-filled platformer gets a lot of hate (probably because it pales in comparison to its predecessor, the amazing Yoshi's Island), but I've always had a bit of a weakness for it--and its (admittedly saccharine) theme song.

Note: This post was adapted from one that originally appeared on my other gaming blog,


Of all the threadless t-shirt designs I've mentioned over the last few years, this one (titled "Haunted by the 80's") may be my favorite:

Its only competition (in my mind, of course) is "Medium Difficulty," which, interestingly enough, also features that icon of the 1980s, Pac-Man.

Anyway, if you like Terry Fan's design enough to buy it in print or t-shirt form, go over to when you have a second and give it a good score.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

'Super Utamaro Bros.'

If I were a real artist (and, no, I'm not saying that facetiously), this is the kind of thing I'd attempt to create:

For those of you wondering what in the hell you're looking at, well, it's a piece produced by blogger, designer and illustrator Jude Buffum. (I mentioned him earlier today in this post.)

In the description that accompanies this image on the artist's Flickr page, Buffum says he "chose to focus on the erotic fantasies of abalone divers that are quite popular within the art form known as 'shunga.'"

He also mentions that the piece is an homage to Utamaro's "Underwater Assault."

See more of Buffum's stuff here.

Yoshi tastes like chicken, too?

Have you ever looked at a Cheep-Cheep, Chocobo or Yoshi and thought, I wonder how many meals I could get out of that thing?

I can't say I have either, but blogger, designer and illustrator Jude "The Jude" Buffum has, and this is the result of that thought:

To see more of Buffum's imaginative prints, produced for the Pixel Pushers show that's being curated by Giant Robot magazine, check out this blog post.


LTTP: PC Engine Gamer Issue 2

Before I go on, I have to point out that in this instance, “LTTP” means “Late to the Publication,” not “Late to the Party.”

With that out of the way, the publication I (foolishly and sadly) overlooked until today is the second issue of PC Engine Gamer magazine.

Much like this online publication’s first issue, the second issue is short but sweet. It’s also a bit silly, as evidenced by this “Fish and Tips” comment: “If you’re fed up playing [Mesopotamia], why not try this little trick to … play a secret shoot ‘em up. It might be crappy but it’s better than Deep Blue.” (Also worth a chuckle or two: the “Translation Fun” section of “Feedback.”)

There’s more to this magazine than batty bon mots, though; there’s also a countdown of the best shoot-’em-up bosses, an interview (with Feena of Ys Book I & II) and a pair of reviews (of Dragon Spirit and Ninja Spirit),

Anyway, I highly recommend checking it out (here) if you're a fan of the PC Engine or TurboGrafx-16.

See also:It ain’t over ’til the fat Pithecanthropus Computerurus sings

Monday, November 08, 2010

More Flickr-ized Famicom cartridges

Yep, I recently picked up--on the cheap, thankfully--a few more of the "pulse line" Famicom carts via eBay. Specifically, I bought Devil World, Donkey Kong Jr. Math and Popeye English--each of which can be seen below. (Click to view larger versions.)

Famicom 'Devil World' box + cartridge

Famicom 'Donkey Kong Jr. Math' cartridge

Famicom 'Popeye English' cartridge

To see a few more shots of Devil World, check out the first page of my Flickr photostream. Photos of the rest of my (still small) Famicom cart collection can be seen here.

See also: 'On being an anal-retentive game collector'

You say bento, I say brilliant

I love re-tweets. You know why? Because they make me aware of some awesomely random things, like the following Costume Quest bento box (created by the lady behind

(Software consultant and ludologist Jason McIntosh is responsible for the re-tweet that made me aware of the above-mentioned bento, by the way.)

Anyway, if you think Anna's Costume Quest bento is awesome, just wait until to see some of her other creations--like this Katamari Damacy bento, or this Noby Noby Boy bento, or this Tingle bento. (I also like this Pink Castle Crasher bento quite a bit.)

To see more photos of her Costume Quest bento (and her other bentos, too), check out her Flickr photostream.