Saturday, July 09, 2011

A double dose of Cladun craziness

The focus of this two-part post: The fabulous, System Prisma-developed, NIS America-published Cladun: This is an RPG.

I've spent more than 10 hours playing this pixelated gem since I bought it last week and I have to say, if you like dungeon crawlers, roguelikes and RPGs (this game includes elements of all three genres), own a PSP and can afford to blow $19.99, you're sure to enjoy this game as much as I have so far.

Anyway, the point of this post isn't to talk about how much I'm loving Cladun; the point is to talk about how much I'm loving its soundtrack.

You see, when I first started playing Cladun, I opted to listen to its 8-bit-esque tunes rather than its standard ("real," according to the folks at NIS America) tunes. The former are appreciably chunky, but I'd be hard pressed to say they blew me away. Hoping to change things up a bit, I switched over to the game's standard tunes yesterday--and was astounded.

I'm especially fond of the following track, titled "Slicing the Wind":

For the sake of comparison, here's the 8-bit version of the song.

So, the focus of the first part of this post is Cladun's awesome soundtrack; what's the focus of the second part? NIS America's recently released trailer for the game's sequel, Cladun x2, which will hit the North American PlayStation Store sometime in August.

Sounds pretty fantastic, doesn't it? I mean, according to the trailer, Cladun x2, staying true to its title, will offer players more characters, more classes, more dungeons, more monsters and more weapons than its predecessors. It'll also give them more customization options by allowing them to alter their character's weapons and armor as well as their character's appearance.

The only thing that could make me look forward to this game more than I am already would be for the folks at NIS American to announce a physical, retail release that includes both Cladun and Cladun x2.

See also: 'File this under 'how in the hell did I miss this announcement?': Cladun x2 is coming to the States in August' and 'I spent my holiday weekend playing Cladun: This is an RPG, how'd you spend yours?'

Friday, July 08, 2011

GameBoy collage on masonite

The folks at Nintendo sure know how to design a slick piece of hardware, don't they? Case in point: The original GameBoy.

Honestly, I think it's the most attractive piece of portable hardware the company has ever created. The original GameBoy's only competitors, in my opinion: The DSlite and the DSi.

I'm guessing artist Laura Kelly is of a similar opinion, as the following collage--titled "Game On"--is the only one in her rather extensive portfolio that was inspired by a game system.

To see more of Kelly's art, pay a visit to her Flickr photostream or her website,

Full speed ahead!

Does it still take 30 seconds or longer for you to load this blog? I hope not!

I just got rid of some unneeded code (thanks to the assistance of a kind fellow named Peter McCartney) and that seems to have solved the problem on my end. Hopefully it's solved the problem on your end, too?

By the way, if something like this ever happens again--i.e., you can cover yourself in honey and have your cat lick it all off before the darn blog finishes loading--I'd really appreciate it if you'd let me know. I honestly didn't realize it was a problem until this morning, when someone decided to mention it in the comments section. (Thanks again, Justin!)

Anyway, thank you for your patience with this issue and sorry for any inconvenience it may have caused. Now that it's seemingly been put to rest, let's get back to business, shall we?


Have you noticed anything new about this blog in the last week or so? No, I'm not talking about the ads (more on them in a minute, by the way); I'm talking about the length of time it takes to load the darn thing!

Silly me, I've been thinking all this time that it was just my computer. You know, maybe I had to restart it or clean out my cookies or something. Last night, though, the hubs wanted to check out the blog. For at least 30 seconds he sat staring at a sea of pink.

Even then, I thought it was probably just related to our router or something. (Yes, I'm naive.) Until this morning, when one of you told me the blog was loading slowly for you, too.

Unfortunately, I don't have a clue as to what would be causing this problem. It can't be the ads, since they weren't added until last night.

The good news is that I've posted a question about the situation in Blogger's help forum. Hopefully someone there will be able to help me sooner rather than later. If any of you have any ideas as to what could be slowing this blog to a crawl, please let me know. I'm certainly up for hearing any and all suggestions at this point.

As for those above-mentioned ads: I hope they don't completely bug any of you--or at least don't bug you enough that you stop coming to this blog.

Why did I add them to the blog after all of this time? Well, my answer is pretty simple, really: I thought they might help me bring in enough money to buy an extra game a month or something like that. If that doesn't happen, though, I'll drop them--no ifs, ands or buts.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Great Gaymathon Review #30: Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip (PSP)

Game: Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip
Genre: Sports
Developer: Clap Hanz
Publisher: SCEA
System: PSP
Release date: 2010

I've been a tennis fan ever since I watched Steffi Graf win Wimbledon back in 1989. That match did more than make me a fan of tennis, though; it also made me a fan of tennis games. Unfortunately, most of the tennis games that were available at the time completely sucked. In fact, the only good ones I can think of are Nintendo's Tennis for GameBoy (released in 1989) and Namcot's Pro Tennis World Court (aka World Court Tennis, released in 1988) for the PC Engine/ TurboGrafx-16. Thankfully, a number of truly great tennis games hit the streets the world over following my introduction to the genre--games such as Nintendo's Super Tennis (released for the SNES in 1991) and Human's Final Match Tennis (PC Engine, 1991). Well, after playing through--and thoroughly enjoying--it, I can without hesitation add Clap Hanz' Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip to that hallowed list. If I were forced to succinctly describe this game, I'd say it's a mixture of Super Tennis and Nintendo's Mario Tennis titles (especially the Nintendo 64 entry)--topped with a sprinkling of Pro Tennis World Court. I picked those three games as points of comparison because Hot Shots Tennis has an accessible quality to it like Super Tennis, plays and feels like the Mario Tennis games and features an utterly crazy, travel-around-the-world "story mode"--which tasks players with spreading the love of tennis to the depressed and otherwise downtrodden (read more about this mode here)--that brings to mind Pro Tennis World Court. You don't have to play the game's story mode, of course; also available is an exhibition mode, in which you can play singles or doubles matches against a number of computer-controlled opponents, and a multiplayer mode, in which you can compete against friends (or strangers, I guess) locally and globally using Sony's adhoc Party service. If you're anything like me, though, you'll spend the bulk of your time playing through Hot Shots Tennis' story mode--beating opponents, buying and collecting gear (including crazy "outfits" like panda suits and tutus) and visiting all kinds of weird and wonderful locales (like the top of a skyscraper, a river-side stadium and a rural farm). The only negatives I can ascribe to this adorably odd game: 1) It doesn't include a traditional career (aka "world tour") mode, and 2) Too many opponents turn to the hit-a-drop-shot-and-then-lob-over-your-head tactic.

July 21 can't come quickly enough

What will happen on July 21, you ask? Why, Minna no Rhythm Tengoku (aka Everybody's Rhythm Heaven, aka Rhythm Heaven Wii) will hit store shelves across Japan on that date, that's what.

In order to increase awareness about the soon-to-be-released title, the folks at Nintendo of Japan cobbled together the following commercial, which shows off a number of Minna no Rhythm Tengoku's wacky mini-games.

I'm especially looking forward to playing the ones that involve dancing crawfish (or are they shrimp?), mustachioed pigs spinning in chairs and shirtless wrestlers with odd-looking six-packs. Oh, and of course I'm looking forward to playing that Kid Icarus-esque mini-game shown at the 1:25 mark, too.

Two more Minna no Rhythm Tengoku commercials--the first of which is centered around the wrestler mini-game mentioned above while the second focuses on a mini-game that involves rolling seals--can be watched on the game's official Japanese site.

(Via and

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The pixelated woman of Robin Williams' dreams

I'm sure you've already heard that actor Robin Williams named his daughter after the titular heroine of The Legend of Zelda series. (If not, well, I guess you know it now!)

The illustration below--produced by Berlin-based artist, Barto (aka bartotainment)--appears to have been inspired by that fact.

For more examples of Barto's work, check out his Flickr photostream.

See also: 'Robin Williams' beard, daughter star in adorable Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D ad' as well as 'Real life Dr. Mario' and 'Somewhere over the Mega Man'

I know I'm supposed to be disappointed by this news, but I'm not

I'm sure gamers the world over groaned when they read that Square Enix's first real release for the 3DS--Bust-a-Move Universe doesn't count--will be a Final Fantasy-themed rhythm game.

Although I can understand the reaction, I didn't groan alongside them--especially after I saw the following scan, pulled from the current issue of Japan's Jump magazine.

As for how the game, called Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, will play, here's what Anoop at has to say: "The game has field scenes set in dungeons and towns, and battle scenes that resemble the side-view battles of older Final Fantasy games. However, everything is played like a rhythm game, where you tap the screen in accordance with prompts."

Sounds good to me! The question is: Will the brass at Square Enix have the balls to release the game in the US?

(Via and

I just pre-ordered Xenoblade (or, who needs Nintendo of America when you've got The Hut?)

Of the three Japanese RPGs game-starved Wii owners have been begging Nintendo of America to bring stateside, the one I'd most like to add to my collection is Xenoblade. Thankfully, that Monolith Soft-developed game will be released in Europe in just a few months--on Sept. 2, to be more specific.

When the game hits the streets of London--or Paris or ... wherever else it'll be sold in Europe--it won't be called Xenoblade, though; no, the powers that be at Nintendo of Europe had to spruce it up a bit, make it sound more "epic." As a result of their shenanigans, it'll be called Xenoblade Chronicles when it arrives on European shores.

Although I think it's a completely silly, not to mention completely unneeded, change, it didn't keep me from pre-ordering a copy of it this morning after hearing that is selling the standard version of the game (not the special edition pictured to the right) for the bargain-basement price of £29.85 (about $48).

Before any of you follow in my footsteps, I should warn you that I've never before ordered a game (or anything else) from The Hut and as such I can't vouch for their reliability as sellers or shippers. (Side note: I've heard that shipments, especially overseas ones, can take some time--up to a month--to arrive, but I'm willing to deal with that because I really want this game.)

I should also add that, had it been an option, I would have pre-ordered Xenoblade Chronicles from instead, as I've ordered Euro-only games from them in the past and have never experienced any issues. Unfortunately, they aren't allowing people to pre-order it at the moment.

Anyway, I'll let you know what comes of all of this. I'll also let you know when and if the other two Japanese RPGs North American Wii owners have been clamoring for--The Last Story and Pandora's Tower--are given European release dates.

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

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

I spent my holiday weekend playing Cladun: This is an RPG, how'd you spend yours?

So, the hubs and I traveled to Vancouver on Saturday--we came home yesterday afternoon--to celebrate our upcoming anniversary. (We were married in Toronto seven years ago--as of July 9.)

Don't worry, I didn't, as the headline above implies, actually spend the entire getaway playing NIS' quirky PSP game; in reality, I only played it while we were in the car. (OK, so I played it for a bit while we were in our hotel room--but only while David was showering or sleeping!)

Still, that was more than enough time for me to come to the conclusion that this is a great little dungeon crawler. Although I wasn't initially too keen on its mix-and-match graphics (the character sprites have a chunky, 8-bit look to them while the backgrounds are more lush, like something you'd see in a 16-bit game), they've since grown on me. The gameplay, which seemed bewilderingly and harrowingly complex at the beginning, has similarly wormed its way into my heart.

Speaking of Cladun's gameplay: It really is, as someone slyly suggested shortly after the title was released in Japan, a combination of Disgaea, Shiren the Wanderer and Ys. (It controls like Ys, features tons of dungeons--one of which has randomly generated floors--like Shiren and, uh, includes humorous story sequences like Disgaea.)

Anyway, that's how I spent my holiday weekend. How did all of you spend yours? Did you play any video games? If so, which ones? If not, how did you spend your time?

The Great Gaymathon Review #29: Warpman (Famicom)

Game: Warpman
Genre: Action/Arcade
Developer: Namcot
Publisher: Namcot
System: Famicom
Release date: 1985

If I told you a game was "part Bomberman, part Robotron," would you be interested in it? Well, those of you who answered "yes" should check out Warpman as soon as possible. Granted, this Famicom-only sequel to Warp & Warp, a not-so-classic quarter-muncher from 1981, isn't nearly as good as either of those aforementioned games, but it's far from a stinker. In fact, it's pretty darn fun.

The premise, for those of you who care about such things: you control a spacesuit-sporting dude who has to warp between two worlds, Maze World and Space World, in order to combat hordes of strange--and kind of cute--alien creatures. While in Space World, the game plays like a less-frantic Robotron, with the titular Warpman taking out his rather tongue-y foes with some sort of ray gun. Warp over to Maze World, however, and it plays more like a poor man's Bomberman, with the game's extra-terrestrial adversaries being dispatched with time-delay bombs.

As for why Warpman is trying to exterminate these eight-bit baddies: sadly, I haven't a clue. Of course, such story-free games were the rule rather than the exception back in 1985, weren't they?

Anyway, although there's definitely something a bit archaic about Warpman--its sprites are well drawn but its backgrounds are barren, while its soundtrack, if it can even be called that, is a cacophony of ear-splitting blips and bloops--it's worth picking up if you're partial to Namcot's particular, and often peculiar (see: Dig Dug, Mappy and Pac-Man), brand of old-school arcade titles.

See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts