Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mucha Metroid

What can you get for $10 these days? If we're going to keep our options within the realm of gaming, it can (almost) get you a copy of Elite Beat Agents for the DS, it can get you Pac-Man Championship Edition DX (via PSN or Xbox Live Arcade) ... or it can get you the following Metroid-inspired and Mucha-styled t-shirt:

Get your butt over to tout de suite (aka pronto) if you find that last option particularly titillating, as the ninjaink-designed shirt will be pulled from the site in less than 10 hours.

Get yer pipin' hot Lesbian Spider-Queens of Mars soundtrack here!

Now that you've not only played auntie pixelante's Lesbian Spider-Queens of Mars, but read a review of it (here), and read a pair of interviews about it (here and here), too, I'd say it's about time you downloaded the game's soundtrack, wouldn't you?

For those of you nodding your heads, here's a link to the site of Amon26, the man responsible for the twitchy title's wicked soundscape. Scroll down to and then click on "Lesbian SpiderQueens of Mars--OST" and, whamo, your day/week/month/year/life are set.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Eight more questions with auntie pixelante (or, why she won't make a game about 'a boy who hates his dad and wants to bone a princess')

In an interview I posted earlier this week, Anna Anthropy (aka auntie pixelante) kindly answered a few questions about her latest creation, the fabulously addictive Lesbian Spider-Queens of Mars.

Well, consider today's follow-up to be a "bonus round" of sorts--in which the affable Anthropy answers questions related to two subjects that are near and dear to my heart: LGBT content in games and... Bubble Bobble.

The Gay Gamer: Pretty much every one of your games includes an LGBT character or storyline of some sort. Is that simply because you're gay, or are there other reasons you tend to include LGBT characters/storylines in your games?

Anna Anthropy: Well, who would I make games about if not myself? I'm a perverted queer transwoman--I'm not going to make a game about a boy who hates his dad and wants to bone a princess. That's why it's so important to me to make my voice heard, though: There are so few games by and about queer women.

Screenshot of Mighty Jill Off

GG: Why do you think so few of your colleagues in the industry do the same (include LGBT characters/storylines in their games)? Is it because most of them aren't LGB or T? Or maybe it's because even in this day and age there still isn't a much of a market for games that feature LGBT characters and/or storylines?

AA: Video game publishers cater to a very specific, exclusive culture: Straight manchildren. Because they're the ones immersed in the culture of video games, the ones who all the video games are designed for, they're the ones who become excited about making games and become the next generation of game developers. then they make games with their values, intended for an audience that is themselves. It's a vicious cycle. People to whom video game culture is hostile and dismissive do not tend to be the people who make space in their lives for making video games. That's something I'm trying to change: To get people like me excited about creating games outside the established games culture.

Screenshot of REDDER

GG: What is the key, in your opinion, to making LGBT characters and storylines more palatable to publishers, developers and even so-called mainstream gamers?

AA: Don't ask me how to make queers more appealing to publishers. I had to argue with Adult Swim for the inclusion of the word "lesbian" in the title of [Lesbian Spider-Queens of Mars].

GG: Part of me wonders if the key, or at least one of the keys, to this may be to treat LGBT characters/storylines like you seem to, which is to adopt an attitude along the lines of, "Don't like it? Too bad!" Would you agree with that?

AA: Video games are never going to have anything to say to anyone until they become a place where sex and identity can be discussed in a healthy way, the same as any other form. I don't see any reason to be apologetic or coy; mainstream developers certainly don't apologize for their dull male power fantasies.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Speaking of Tomohiro Nishikado ...

I didn't know until last night, when I wrote my review of Taito Legends 2 (read it here), that more than a decade after Tomohiro Nishikado designed Space Invaders he designed one of my all-time favorite PC Engine games, Parasol Stars.

That was a mind-blowing discovery to yours truly. After all, few, if any, of Nishikado's other noteworthy titles--like Chase HQ II: Special Criminal Investigation, Darius II and Darius Twin--could be described as bright or cheerful (two words that are practically plastered across the front of Parasol Stars' manual, below).

Of course, Nishikado also had a hand in creating the SNES RPG, Lufia & the Fortress of Doom (known as Estopolis Denki to Super Famicomers), so clearly the man wasn't against creating a colorful game or two.

See also: Other posts about Parasol Stars

The Great Gaymathon Review #23: Taito Legends 2 (PlayStation 2)

Game: Taito Legends 2
Genre: Arcade Compilation
Developer: Taito
Publisher: Destineer
System: PlayStation 2
Release date: 2007

Although it's not as immediately appealing as its predecessor--which features such arcade classics as Bubble Bobble, Elevator Action, Rainbow Islands and Space Invaders--Taito Legends 2 offers its fair share of old-school entertainment once you scratch the disc's surface (figuratively, not literally). Even without the benefit of nostalgia, for instance, games like Cameltry, Kiki Kaikai, The Legend of Kage and Qix are a blast. And then there are the slew of Bubble Bobble-esque games in this collection--Chak'n Pop, Don Doko Don, The Fairyland Story and Liquid Kids--each of which are enjoyable and unique enough to stand on their own. Sure, there are a few duds--I'm lookin' at you, Crazy Balloon and Wild Western--but even those tend to have a redeeming value or two. I'd highly recommend giving each of the 39 games included on Taito Legends 2 a try at one point or another regardless, as you never know which previously unknown (or ignored) title will surprise your heart into skipping a beat. For me, that game was the Parodius-esque--or maybe I should say Pop'n TwinBee-esque--Space Invaders '95, which introduces bosses, cute protagonists and (most importantly) pastels to Tomohiro Nishikado's magnum opus.

See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts

I will obtain one of these if it's the last thing I do

OK, so I'm being a bit dramatic. I'd certainly like to own a beautiful, customized Master System like the one below some day, though--along with a copy of Bubble Bobble, of course.

Go here to see a few more images of this magnificently customized console.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

If loving Nyan Cat is wrong, I don't want to be right

Look! Up in the sky! It's a cat! It's a Pop Tart! It's Nyan Cat!

If the name Nyan Cat doesn't mean anything to you, check out this site or just click on the following video:

I'm sure some of you (OK, most of you) find this particular Internet meme annoying, but I find it kind of adorable. Of course, I'm a complete sucker for cats, Pop Tarts, rainbows and 8-bit-era graphics.

Given all of that, I'd love to play a Nyan Cat game at some point. I could totally see him (her?) starring in a Parodius-esque shooter, for instance.

I'm not sure that will end up describing the game the guy behind Nyan Cat--an illustrator who goes by the name of prguitarman--is working on at the moment, but we'll find out soon enough. (He recently said via Twitter that his Nyan Cat game is "looking good" and that he'll reveal more information about it shortly.)

In the meantime, why not show your love for the frosting-covered critter by buying (here) a t-shirt bearing his image?

Seems I'll be dressing as Mario this Halloween

I saw the following photo--taken during Anime Expo 2010, according to the lovely ladies over at Friday afternoon and decided then and there that I, too, would dress as gay Mario this Halloween. Assuming, of course, I dress up at all.

The question is: Where am I going to get a Mario cap? After all, I've already got the fishnet top, denim cut-offs and furry boots...

More LEGO Pokémon, anyone?

Honestly, I think this batch of LEGO Pokémon may be even better--or at least cuter--than the last batch made by Filip Johannes Felberg. (Here's his last batch, for the sake of comparison.)

My favorite this time around: The Lillypup in the center, although the Axew (left) is pretty darn precious, too. (Oh, hell, all four of them--even the Klinklang in the back--are cuter than cupcakes.)

I just recently added an Axew to my, er, collection in Pokémon Black, by the way. Shortly after that monumental occasion, I beat the eighth gym leader, Drayden--on my first attempt! Now I'm off to battle the Elite Four (I think?). Anyway, wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A trio of not-so-recent acquisitions

I bought the three European DS games pictured below a while ago, although I can't remember when. It may have been before Christmas, or it may have been just after the start of the year. It doesn't really matter, though, does it?

It should be obvious why I bought Last Window (see a close-up shot of this game's cover here), the sequel to 2007's Hotel Dusk: Room 215 that was released in Europe and Japan but has yet to see the light of day in the US, but why did I buy the other two?

Well, I bought the Euro version of Electroplankton simply because it was cheaper than the US version. I bought the Euro version of Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, on the other hand, because I prefer the series' Euro covers to their North American counterparts.

Also, I have a peculiar fondness for the clear plastic cases that accompany Euro DS titles. Does that make me odd? Yeah, I suppose it does.

Anyway, I've only played Electroplankton thus far. It's one of those games I've wanted to play for some time but never got around to for various reasons. I'm planning to review it--as part of "The Great Gaymathon," naturally--soon, so be on the lookout for that if you're at all interested.

After I'm done toying with Electroplankton, I'll probably move on to Last Window, as I have to finish the first Professor Layton sequel (Pandora's Box) before moving on to the second.

The Great Gaymathon Review #22: Alien Crush (PC Engine)

Game: Alien Crush
Genre: Pinball
Developer: Compile
Publisher: Naxat Soft
System: PC Engine (HuCard)
Release date: 1988

Considering the PC Engine is one of my all-time favorite consoles and Aliens is one of my all-time favorite films, is it safe to say that Alien Crush is one of my all-time favorite games? I wouldn't go that far, but I'd definitely say that this H. R. Giger-esque title, which was developed by Compile and Naxat Soft, is one of the better--or at least one of the more enjoyable--pinball games I've ever played. (Controversial aside: I prefer this title to its generally-better-received sequel, Devil Crash.) Chiefly responsible for my love of this game are, of course, the aforementioned Aliens-inspired graphics. (I'm especially fond of the multi-eyed "queen" that takes up a large portion of the lower playfield.) Granted, you'll become well acquainted with those graphics, as the play area in Alien Crush is just two screens high, but at least they're gorgeous. (Thankfully, a bonus round helps break things up a bit.) Also adding to this game's allure: Its throbbing, rock-ish soundtrack. Sadly, said soundtrack consists of just two tunes--a few more if you count the tracks played during the bonus rounds and on the game-over screen. So, what's not to love about Alien Crush? Well, aside from its somewhat-repetitive graphics and music, I'd say the game's biggest negative is one shared by most pinball games of the time: The physics are far from perfect. Oh, and the screen doesn't scroll smoothly from one section of the playfield to the next; rather, it uses what some folks call a "flick-screen mechanism." If you're not anal about such things, though, you should find a lot to like in this release.

See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ten questions with auntie pixelante (or, why the woman behind Lesbian Spider-Queens of Mars wants you to have a 'big fat orgasm')

Shortly after her latest, greatest--in my opinion, at least--creation, Lesbian Spider-Queens of Mars, hit the 'net, Anna Anthropy (aka auntie pixelante) agreed to answer a few questions about what prompted her to make this turned-on-its-ear Wizard of Wor clone, why she had to censor it and how she feels about the LGBT media's "dismissive" response to it.

The Gay Gamer: You wrote on your site that you've been thinking about this game for four years (after Owen Grieve and his students gave you the name). What prompted you to finally create a game around that name? Did it come to you in the middle of a marathon session of Wizard of Wor?

Anna Anthropy: I was really focused on Wizard of Wor for a while, yes. I've always been impressed by how conscious the designers seemed to be of tension and pacing, between the speeding up of the maze, the radar-only invisible monsters, the high-stress worluk encounter at the end of each dungeon, and the surprise confrontations with the wizard himself. I like to use my games to get people to investigate older works that i want more people to play, like Bomb Jack with Mighty Jill Off and Monuments of Mars with REDDER.

GG: My first reaction upon playing Lesbian Spider-Queens of Mars was along the lines of, "Man, this would have been perfect alongside the games at my childhood bowling alley/arcade." It gives me a vibe--in terms of sound and graphics and even gameplay--similar to the one I get/got from games like Robotron and Sinistar. Is that the kind of reaction you were shooting for?

AA: I've always admired the sort of design decisions that the arcade format promotes: Games need to be fast, to teach the player the rules as quickly as possible, to communicate everything that happens in the game clearly. These games from 1980s arcades--particularly Vid Kidz and Midway games--informed a lot of my ideas on game design, and I wanted for a long time to make a game that I could place side-by-side with them.

GG: I really like the one-handed nature of the game. Why did you decide to go that route--by eschewing the shoot button?

AA: Because it was an extra button I didn't think I needed. I felt like I could fit the player's entire vocabulary into the buttons she uses to move the protagonist. Relegating some of the most important actions to a secondary function is distance I thought the game didn't need. And I think it does a lot to characterize the spider-queen: She's powerful enough that just a glance at a woman is enough to ensnare her. So much of the game followed from that decision.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Saucy or simple?

I'm a bit torn when it comes to choosing a headline for a post--a Q&A with Anna Anthropy, aka auntie pixelante--that's going to be published this coming week.

Should I go for something "saucy": auntie pixelante's goal for Lesbian Spider-Queens of Mars: to give gamers 'a big, fat orgasm'

Or should I go for "simple": Ten questions with auntie pixelante

It probably won't surprise anyone to hear that I prefer the saucy option, but I have to admit that it also gives me pause. Is it too sensational? Does it scream, a little too loudly, "click on me! PLEASE!!"

Regarding that latter comment, the fact is that I do want people to click on it. Not because I'm desperate for hits, pageviews, etc., but because I think Anthropy is a brilliant woman and I want as many people as possible to read what she has to say about her latest creation, Lesbian Spider-Queens of Mars.

The question, then, is will the saucy headline draw people in or turn them away? 

Of course, the same could be asked of the simple option. Sure, it's the complete opposite of sensational, but it's kind of boring, too. Also, it doesn't really give any indication as to the content of the post.

What do all of you think? Should I go with saucy or simple--and why do you think I should use that option?