Friday, July 01, 2011

Say hello to my Soda Popinski wallpaper

Could the following image--which currently serves as my desktop wallpaper--be any cooler? Actually, I think it could be--if it, say, featured one or more of the Punch-Out!! character's memorable quotes.



You know, like, "I can't drive, so I'm gonna walk all over you!" Or, "I drink to prepare for a fight. Tonight I am very prepared!"

(Via videogamesmademegay.tumblr.com)

Earth Seeker has some seriously sexy box art

My original headline for this post, by the way, was: "Earth Seeker, the Wii RPG that's being made by the guy who produced the first Monster Hunter game and that will never see the light of day outside of Japan, has some sexy box art." In the end, though, I decided that was a bit too wordy and went with the shorter-and-sweeter version seen above.

With all of that out of the way, let's look at this Crafts & Meister-developed, Kadokawa-published game's supposedly sexy box art, shall we?


If I knew Japanese I'd totally take one for the team and buy a copy of the game (which hit store shelves in Japan on June 23), but since I don't I'm just going to grouse about the fact that it's unlikely to be released in a language that I understand.

For more information on this intriguing game, check out any of these articles at andriasang.com or this discussion thread at NeoGAF.com.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Let's Play: 'Which Box Art is Better?' (Solatorobo: Red the Hunter edition)

I've never played CyberConnect2's Tail Concerto, but I've read enough about this "3D anime-style, action-adventure platformer" (per Wikipedia), released in 1998 for the original PlayStation, to know that I should add it to my collection sooner rather than later.

Another game I should add to my collection sooner rather than later, according to positive early impressions of it: The spiritual sequel to Tail Concerto, Solatorobo.

That game--which, like its predecessor, seems to focus on the exploits of an anthropomorphic pooch and his semi-humanoid mecha--hit the streets in Japan late last year and is set to do the same in Europe (courtesy of Nintendo; it was published in Japan by Namco Bandai) on July 1 and in North America (courtesy of Xseed Games; pre-order it here) on Sept. 27.

Speaking of this DS title's much-anticipated international release, here is the box art that will appear on the North American iteration:


The art that will grace the cover of the European pressing of the game, on the other hand, should look something like this:


Finally, here is the box art that was used in Japan:


As for my thoughts on this trio of box arts: Well, I kind of hate to say it, since I'm sure it's going to make me sound like a biased broken record, but once again I prefer the Japanese art. I especially like its sense of adventure and whimsy, neither of which are depicted in the European or North American designs.

That's not to say I hate the other options. Actually, let me clarify that: I don't hate the North American art. In fact, I really like its use of warm colors. I'm not so fond of the placement of the subtitle, but it's not enough to make me turn up my nose at the game.

I wouldn't say the European art is so bad it would prompt me to bypass the game, but it might push me to pick up the Japanese or North American version instead--if, you know, I lived in Europe and not in the US. Admittedly, I doubt many European DS owners will react as strongly to the art as I have, but I definitely think it's possible some of them--especially those who have never heard of the game and aren't looking forward to its release--may simply overlook it thanks to its bland, boring box art.

Anyway, that's what I think of the art that has appeared or will appear on the covers of the European, Japanese and North American versions of Solatorobo. What do you think?

See also: Previous 'Which Box Art is Better?' posts

The Great Gaymathon Review #28: Final Fantasy Tactics (PlayStation)


Game: Final Fantasy Tactics
Genre: Strategy RPG
Developer: Squaresoft
Publisher: Squaresoft
System: PlayStation
Release date: 1998

Would you believe me if I told you I felt a bit "ho hum" about the PlayStation before I laid eyes on Final Fantasy Tactics? Well, it's the truth. Oh, other games--like Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash and even Ridge Racer--piqued my interest in the system, but none of them prompted me to go out and buy Sony's boxy, gray console like this one did. As for why I found Final Fantasy Tactics more appealing and irresistible than the aforementioned games: Well, I can't remember exactly--it has been 13 years, after all--but I think it had something to do with this title's Final Fantasy V-esque job system. I also recall being intrigued by its big, showy spells and strategic battles. There's more to Final Fantasy Tactics than those three back-of-the-box bullet points, of course--like a complex, convoluted and controversial (thanks to its negative depiction of religion in general and the Roman Catholic Church in particular) plot. Also, there's a bevy of controllable characters, an impressive array of battle locales and a beautiful, as well as memorable, soundtrack (composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata). So, what's wrong with Final Fantasy Tactics? Not much, if you ask me. In fact, I can think of only two things that could turn off the odd gamer: First, it can be confusing at times (thanks to the above-mentioned backstory) and, second, it can be brutally difficult. Don't let those negatives keep you from giving it a go, though, as it's easily one of the best games ever released for the PlayStation--or for any system at all, really, especially if you're a fan of strategy RPGs.


See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts

Nintendo of America gives the finger to Xenoblade, Pandora's Tower and The Last Story fans

In response to the recent campaign that called for a stateside release of The Last Story, Pandora's Tower and Xenoblade, Nintendo of America posted the following (rather annoyingly cheerful, if you ask me) message on its Facebook page yesterday afternoon:

Thank you for your enthusiasm. We promised an update, so here it is. We never say “never,” but we can confirm that there are no plans to bring these three games to the Americas at this time. Thanks so much for your passion, and for being such great fans!




The Redmond, Wash.-based company also aimed this tweet at folks foolishly clamoring for that trio of Japanese RPGs:

Thanks for being such incredible fans! Unfortunately, there continues to be no plans for NOA to release these 3 games right now.

Really, they could have just flipped us the bird, told us to buy Wii Play: Motion and been done with it, don't you think?

(Via gonintendo.com)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In this post: Proof that any piece of pixel art that borrows graphics from TwinBee is awesome

I've been a smidge obsessed with the TwinBee series of "cute 'em ups" (you know, shoot 'em ups that are cute) ever since I first laid eyes on the PC Engine port of Detana!! TwinBee as a teenager.

Actually, I'd say I was only intrigued by the series at that time; I didn't develop a real interest in it until I bought Detana!! TwinBee--it was the first game I ever imported--and played through it a few times, and I didn't become fully obsessed with the series until I picked up--and loved dearly, I might add--Pop'n TwinBee and TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventure for the Super Famicom a few years later.

Anyway, I'm sharing all of this in order to show that I have a definite appreciation for Konami's series of cute, overhead shmups. I also have a definite appreciation for the poster to the right, produced by artist Ashley Anderson for the Atlanta-based band, Little Tybee.

Anderson says (on Flickr) that he sifted through nearly 7,000 pixellated images before settling on the ones that appear in this colorful illustration. If you're at all interested in hearing how the artist pieced all of those elements together, check out this blog post at your convenience.

I think it's about time I played a bullet-hell shmup starring beefy boys in underwear (and, no, I'm not talking about Cho Aniki)

One of the reasons I'm not talking about the infamous Cho Aniki or any of its sequels in the headline above is that none of those Masaya-developed games are bullet-hell shoot 'em ups (or shmups). Another reason: Although Cho Aniki and its ilk feature plenty of beefy boys, none of them, as far as I'm aware (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong), feature beefy boys who gradually lose their clothing as they're barraged by enemy bullets.

So, which game am I talking about in the headline above (and in this post)? Why, I'm talking about Sugar Shooter, a shareware PC game developed by the folks at Dudedle Studios.



Just in case "bullet-hell shmup featuring beefy boys in underwear" isn't detailed enough for you, here's the developer's official description of the game: "Sugar Shooter is an erotic shoot’em up game! Taking control of Satan-kun, the prince of the Sweet Kingdom and protect your world from being eaten by the invaders. Beat them and make them pay for they’ve done to your kingdom!"

If none of the above--including that strangely alluring screenshot--makes a lick of sense to you, maybe you should watch the following trailer for the game. (Warning: Neither character winds up naked at the end of the video.)



For more information on Sugar Shooter or any of Dudedle Studio's other games--one of which is a sequel to Sugar Shooter--check out the company's website at dudedlestudio.com.

(Via the completely-not-safe-for-work baragamer.com)

Square Enix's three-step plan to sell a million copies of Dragon Quest Collection for Wii

It's a pretty simple plan, really.

Step 1: Include video footage of the much-anticipated Dragon Quest X on the main disc (which, in the case of Dragon Quest Collection, also will include the first three Dragon Quest games in their original Famicom forms and the Super Famicom Dragon Quest I&II and Dragon Quest III remakes).

Step 2: Mention said footage on the game's packaging (below) and in any and all promotional materials.

Step 3: Sit back and watch the title sell by the truckload.


Sadly, it's doubtful the folks at Square Enix will be employing that plan anywhere else in the world, as the 16-bit Dragon Quest remakes weren't released outside of Japan. Thankfully, the footage is sure to be shared on YouTube shortly after Dragon Quest Collection hits the streets on Sept. 15.

(Via andriasang.com)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Great Gaymathon Review #27: Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon (Wii)


Game: Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon
Genre: Roguelike
Developer: h.a.n.d.
Publisher: Square Enix
System: Wii
Release date: 2008

If you've always wanted to get into the roguelike genre but didn't know where to start, Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon is the game for you. Well, unless you despise things that are cute. If that's the case, you may want to move along to another review. (How about this one? I can't imagine anyone would describe that game as cute.) Anyway, back to why you should play Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon if you're a roguelike virgin. Well, like I implied in my first sentence, this game is kind of a beginner's roguelike (i.e., dungeon crawler.) That's not to say it's for babies. Sure, it looks all cute and cuddly, but play it for a few hours and you're sure to find out that this precious-looking game can and often does pack a serious punch, especially once you start exploring its "special dungeons" (they're special because they tend to limit your level and the items you can bring in with you). Still, it's a lot easier than most examples of the genre, like the Mystery Dungeon games. Of course, the roguelike-curious aren't the only folks who should check out Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon; those who consider themselves fans of the Final Fantasy series in general and of the Chocobo character in particular should do so, too. Other gamers who should give it a go: Those who enjoy appealingly realized graphics (the ones in this title are among the most attractive on the Wii, in my opinion, despite the fact that they barely tax the hardware), those who like fabulously remixed Final Fantasy tunes (all but two or three tracks were taken from previous releases) and those who savor software that contains enough content to keep them busy for many, many hours. Oh, and those who proudly consider themselves cheap--the game can be picked up for less than $25 these days, after all.


See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts

A t-shirt that finally answers the question: What video games did folks play in ancient Greece?

I tried but failed to come up with a witty name for the game and system being used in the following t-shirt, designed by Esther Aarts. Any ideas?


Here's an up-close-and-personal view of Aarts' design, called "Classic Gamer," in case you can't make out all of the details in the image above:


Anyway, be the first on your block--or even town, depending on how large it is--to own one of these shirts by ordering one today at threadless.com.

(Via gamergrrlz.net)

Monday, June 27, 2011

LEGO Pokémon post #352

OK, so it only seems like I've published 352 posts about Filip Johannes Felberg's fabulous LEGO Pokémon creations. In reality, I've only published six (including this one).

Is the batch below (see it here, too) Felberg's best yet? Not in my opinion, although I have to admit I'm quite impressed with his blocky recreation of that slippery Pokémon Black/White character, Shelmet.


You know which Pokémon I'd like Felberg to mold out of LEGO blocks next? DarumakaVanillish and Whimsicott. Make it happen, Filip!

See also: Previous posts about Felberg's creations

Xenoblade, Pandora's Tower and The Last Story fans take out their frustrations on Nintendo of America via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube

Well, it seems that a rather sizable contingent of North American Wii owners has had it with Nintendo's failure to localize its recent trio of top-shelf Japanese RPGs: The Last StoryPandora's Tower and Xenoblade.

What are they doing about it? They're taking out their frustrations on the company via the usual channels--e-mail and snail mail, especially--but they're also doing so via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

For instance, nearly 3,500 comments in favor of a North American release for the above-mentioned games have been posted on Nintendo's Facebook wall in the last few days. Many similar comments have been aimed at the company's Twitter account thanks in large part to the folks behind Operation Rainfall.

Another way gamers are showing their support for a North American release of The Last Story, Pandora's Tower and Xenoblade: They're pre-ordering them (in the case of Xenoblade) and adding them (in the case of The Last Story and Pandora's Tower) to their wish lists on Amazon.com.

For more information on this campaign, check out this discussion thread at NeoGAF.com or click on the Operation Rainfall link above.

Four things I can't help but love about the adorably crazy Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip

As you can probably tell by the number of posts I've published about the game in the last week or two, I'm a bit obsessed with Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip at the moment.

I'd be lying if I said that surprised me; after all, I've always loved a good tennis title. Of course, most, if not all, of the tennis games I've loved over the years--such as Final Match Tennis for the PC Engine, Super Tennis for the SNES and Virtua Tennis for the Dreamcast--have been fairly straightforward approximations of the sport.


One of the few exceptions to that rule: Nintendo's Mario Tennis titles, which tend to eschew both tradition and seriousness in favor of good old-fashioned fun.

Although I'd definitely call the fun that can be had in Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip "good," I wouldn't call it "old-fashioned"--as I'm sure you'll see after you read the following list of four things I love about this crazy, Clap Hanz-developed title.


1. Crazy costumes--I mentioned in a previous post about Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip that I wore some sort of Elizabethan or Victorian gown during a recent match. Well, that crazy "costume" is just the tip of the iceberg in this wackadoodle game. Other head-scratching outfits currently taking up space in my characters' lockers include a grass skirt, a kimono, a panda suit (barely visible in the screenshot above) and a tutu.

2. An even crazier cast of opponents--I seem to be about half-way through the game at this point, and already I've competed against a chef, a cheerleader, a farmer, a Helghast (from the Killzone series), an "island dancer," a maid, a movie star, a ninja, a sumo wrestler and a surfer.


3. Loonier-than-the-Looney-Tunes story--Really, it's like a modern counterpart to the silly, strange story that supports the TurboGrafx-16 "classic," World Court Tennis. The goal in that much-maligned (although not by me) game: To bring peace to a place called Tennis Kingdom. The goal in Hot Shots Tennis: To bring the joy of tennis to, among other folks, the aforementioned cheerleader and movie star.

4. Wide variety of wacky settings--Most tennis titles give you a choice of three or four courts--clay, grass, hard (cement) and, sometimes, indoor--and that's it. Boring! All of them can be found in Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip, of course, but the crazy locales that surround those courts--including a mountaintop dojo, a TV studio set and a wooden pier--help separate this game from its yawn-inducing competitors.

See also: Previous Hot Shots Tennis posts

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I kind of want an R.O.B. too

Here's the thing: I've never used, let alone owned, one of Nintendo's Robotic Operating Buddies (aka Family Computer Robots in Japan).

There's a good reason for that, of course. Actually, there are two good reasons for it. First, the NES Deluxe Set--the one that included an R.O.B. and a copy of Gyromite--was pretty darn expensive when it was released back in the day (late 1985 here in the States). Second, the early word on the street--or the word in my small-town-Wisconsin neighborhood, at least--was that the R.O.B. and the games that utilized it were duds.



Anyway, as is often the case with my gaming obsessions, my childhood lack of experience with the R.O.B. and its games has me (somewhat) clamoring to own one as an adult. Unlike most of the games, peripherals and systems on my wish list, though, I can't really see myself buying an R.O.B. or copies of Nintendo's "Robot Series" titles anytime soon.

Someone calling himself Alan Rappa on Flickr seems to have three of these SAINT Number 5-esque accessories (as evidenced in the photo here and above), though; maybe he'd be willing to give--or even loan--one of them to me? Yeah, I doubt it, too.

See also: 'I want a Famicom light gun'