Friday, July 29, 2011

Slow week ahead

Expect the next week to be a slow one, folks, as my parents--as well as the hub's dad and sister--are visiting for the first time in ages.

I originally intended to publish two posts a day--just as I always do--while they're here, but now I'm thinking it will be more intermittent than that. So, I may publish just a single post on Monday, nothing on Tuesday, two posts on Wednesday ... you get the drift, right?


Also, I would have published a few more posts yesterday and today, but I've been dealing with a nasty cold for the last two days and I'm so hopped up on medicine at the moment that I can barely think straight.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Will you buy a 3DS now that it costs just $169.99?

You're probably well aware by now that earlier today the powers that be at Nintendo dropped the price of the 3DS around the world.

In Japan, for instance, the system's price was slashed from ¥25,000 to ¥15,000 (from approximately $320 to $190), while in North America the price was reduced--or will be as of Aug. 12--to $170 from $250.

Some of you who bought a 3DS between its launch date and now probably are feeling a bit bummed at the moment, right? Don't worry, Nintendo has your back--at least partially. You see, starting Sept. 1, "early adopters" (those who buy or bought the system before the price drops) will gain access to 20 free NES and GBA games. Among them: The Legend of Zelda (NES), Mario Kart: Super Circuit (GBA), Metroid Fusion (GBA) and Super Mario Bros. (NES).

Don't worry, this isn't the 3DS you'll be getting when you fork over 
$169.99 at your friendly neighborhood game shop.

All that said, how do those of you who have yet to buy a 3DS feel about this? Are you planning to pick up Nintendo's latest handheld now that it'll soon be $80 cheaper, or are you still holding out for one reason or another?

Personally, as amazed as I am with its new price, I doubt I'll add a 3DS to my handheld arsenal until Nintendo releases either a killer app (Luigi's Mansion 2 could be it) or a DSlite-esque hardware revision.

(Via andriasang.com and tinycartridge.com)

Let's Play: 'Which Box Art is Better?' (Dead Island edition)

It doesn't take much for a zombie game to catch my attention. Really, all it has to do is include zombies--and lots of them.

OK, good box art often helps, too. After all, it kind of puts me in the mood to mow down zombies, you know?

Speaking of good, filled-with-zombies box art, I'd definitely use those words to describe the covers that have been created for Techland's Dead Island (trailers here), an open-world, survival-horror game that will be released for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on Sept. 6 in North America and Sept. 9 in Europe. (I'm guessing the Japanese version will be released in September, too, although I can't say that with certainty at the moment.)

As far as I'm aware, for instance, this piece of art will appear on all regular versions (i.e., in all territories) of Dead Island:


The following illustration, on the other hand, will grace the cover of a limited edition that will be released in Europe:


Honestly, I'd call the latter piece of box art the better of the two if it weren't a bit too close in execution to the covers that appeared on European releases of Resident Evil 4. Since that's not the case, though, I'm going to declare the stormy standard version the winner of this edition of "Which Box Art is Better?"

That's just my opinion, though. What's yours?

Pre-order: PC version, PS3 version and Xbox 360 version

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Great Gaymathon Review #34: Final Fantasy V (Super Famicom)


Game: Final Fantasy V
Genre: RPG
Developer: Squaresoft
Publisher: Squaresoft
System: Super Famicom
Release date: 1992

I can't remember if this was the first video game I ever imported from the Land of the Rising Sun or if that honor belongs to the PC Engine version of Detana!! TwinBee. Regardless, Squaresoft's second 16-bit Final Fantasy was one of my first experiences with a Japanese game. What prompted me to pick it up--especially when I had to pay a premium (over $50 for a banged-up used copy) for it? I absolutely loved its predecessor, for starters. I also loved what I had seen of its battle--which are as beautiful as they are brisk--and job systems in the gaming magazines of the day (namely DieHard GameFan and Electronic Gaming Monthly). The latter system is the main reason I keep coming back to Final Fantasy V today, by the way. Sure, the game's story--which involves a bunch of crystals, a group of heroes, 12 legendary weapons and a baddie named Exdeath--is enjoyable, if a bit thin, and its controllable characters are lovable, if a bit generic, but neither of those things can compare to the aforementioned job system, which allows players to freely choose and master up to 22 jobs or "classes." (My favorite is the geomancer, who not only can channel the powers of the surrounding environment but can wield giant bells as weapons.) One thing that can compare to the game's job system: Its music. I'm especially fond of Final Fantasy V's more somber tunes--such as "The Day Will Come" and "Dear Friends"--although I enjoy its upbeat tracks, too. ("Ahead On Our Way" and "Harvest" are two good examples.)


See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts

Praise Beckham! Inazuma Eleven will be released on August 26

Unfortunately, the date above refers to when this soccer-themed RPG will be released in the UK, not the US. The brass at Nintendo of America have yet to announce when or even if this DS title, which was developed by the able folks at Level-5, will make its way to the States.

Hey, at least the game--which first hit store shelves in Japan all the way back in 2008 and hit the streets elsewhere in Europe earlier this year--will, at long last, be playable in English, right?



Does Inazuma Eleven's horribly delayed UK launch mean there's still a chance the game will reach our shores eventually, too? I think so--especially since the crew at Level-5 International America (the company's North American branch) recently posted a poll on their Facebook page that asked people to vote for the currently-only-available-in-Japan titles that excite them most.

Inazuma Eleven is one of 10 games named in the poll, with the others being Fantasy Life (3DS), Girl's RPG Cinderelife (3DS), Inazuma Eleven Strikers (Wii), The Little Battlers (PSP), Ninokuni (DS and PS3), Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle (3DS), Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney (3DS) and Time Travelers (3DS).

It appears you can vote (here) just once and for just one game so choose carefully and wisely.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Got $10,000 to blow? Buy me this 'complete collection' of TurboDuo systems and games

OK, you can buy it for yourself if you'd like. I certainly wouldn't complain if you bought it for me, though.

Regardless of who you purchase it for, you'd probably like to know what this "complete collection" includes before hitting this eBay auction's "Buy it Now" button (here), right?

Well, for starters, it includes one boxed TurboDuo system in mint condition and three unboxed TurboDuo systems in excellent condition. It also includes an Arcade Card (which allows you to play all of the system's Arcade Card titles), a "Diving Board" card (which allows you to play imports) and 129 North American and 30 Japanese games.


                 Just a few of the games that could be yours ... if you've got $10,000 to blow.

Although I'm hardly the TurboGrafx-16 expert I once was, this auction's asking price seems a bit high to me--especially since a number of the included games are "loose" (they don't come with a case and/or manual). Also, this so-called complete collection lacks the most magnificent Arcade Card title of them all: Madou Monogatari.

(Via retro-treasures.blogspot.com)

'Mega Man Kicks Butt'

Are you one of the many fans who were left feeling heartbroken after the folks at Capcom announced they were canceling Mega Man Legends 3? I am, and I don't even own a 3DS!

It seems a number of the artists who contribute to the Drawed Goods tumblog were bummed by the cancellation, too, since many of the site's most recent uploads focus on the Blue Bomber and/or his compadres.



The one above, titled "Mega Man Kicks Butt," was was drawn by the fabulous Drew Green, by the way. To see more of his work, check out his blog, his deviantART gallery or his tumblog.

Monday, July 25, 2011

My wallet, marriage and I survived my maiden voyage to Seattle's Pink Gorilla store

After a long, hard day of yard work, the hubs and I treated ourselves to dinner on Saturday night. We didn't go anywhere classy, mind you--just the Chipotle that's located in Seattle's aptly-named University District.

Anyway, as we neared said Chipotle, I noticed out of the corner of my eye a pepto-pink awning that said "Pink Gorilla." I'm pretty sure I've talked about it before, but just in case I haven't: Pink Gorilla is a small game shop here in Seattle. Actually, there are now two Pink Gorilla stores in the so-called Emerald City--one in the International District and one in the University District.

I had completely forgotten about the latter location until we passed it on our way to Chipotle. Thankfully, David (aka the hubs) was willing to let me check it out before we stuffed our faces.

So, what did I think of my maiden voyage to Pink Gorilla? I thought it was awesome! I was a bit disappointed at first, as I thought the glass case near the front of the store--which housed a good number of complete-in-box imports--represented all of the Japanese games this particular Pink Gorilla location had to offer, but I discovered that was far from the case when I began surveying the rest of the store.

In a way, Pink Gorilla's University District store reminds me of a small Japanese game shop, with all sorts of Dreamcast, Famicom, Mega Drive, Nintendo 64, PC Engine, PlayStation, Saturn and Super Famicom imports hanging from the walls in clear plastic bags.

Among the games that caught my eye: Complete-in-box copies of Galaxian and Hoshi no Kirby (Kirby's Adventure) for the Famicom and a pristine copy of Twinkle Star Sprites for the Dreamcast. A trio of PC Engine titles I've been meaning to add to my collection--Detana!! TwinBee, The New Zealand Story and Parodius--for some time also captured my attention.

I didn't buy any of the above-mentioned games because, well, I'm a bit broke at the moment. As soon as I have some dough, though, you can bet your butt I'll buy at least a few of them, as the prices at Pink Gorilla were on par with what I've seen on eBay.

You can also bet that I'll do my best to snap some photos next time I'm in one of the Pink Gorilla stores--assuming they allow such things, of course.

Screw waiting, (I think) I'm going to buy Minna no Rhythm Tengoku, too

I was planning to wait and buy Rhythm Heaven Wii when it arrives on North American shores sometime later this year, but after reading these impressions and seeing these videos of the just-released Japanese iteration of the game I'm seriously considering changing those plans and buying the Japanese version now and the North American one this fall.



Another reason I'm considering altering those plans: You just know the folks at Nintendo of America will screw up the vocal tracks when they go to localize them--just as they did when they localized the tunes that appeared in the North American version of the DS-based Rhythm Heaven title. (Don't believe me? Watch this video and then this video. Yikes!)

(Photo above courtesy of true-gaming.net)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Which sites do you turn to when you're searching for Japanese box art?

Someone recently asked me (via Facebook) if I know of any websites that feature galleries of Japanese box art--especially of the retro variety.

Here are the ones that I've come up with thus far:

Box Art--An awesome tumblog that highlights box art from all countries, although it seems to favor Japanese covers, and all eras. (The Ninja Princess illustration to the right came from this site, by the way.)

Gamengai--I've spent so much time on this site--which features box-art scans and mini-reviews of all sorts of 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit games--over the years that it's gone from being silly to being a bit sad. Also sad: It doesn't feature any Famicom box-art scans and mini-reviews.

The PC Engine Software Bible--The name of this site says it all, really. If you're looking for information--including box-art images--on a PC Engine game, this is where you'll find it.

Segagaga Domain--A Sega-centric counterpart to The PC Engine Software Bible, Segagaga Domain caters to folks looking for box-art scans and other tidbits of info on Master System, Mega Drive, Saturn and Dreamcast titles.

Video Game Den--Much like Gamengai.com, this site features box-art scans and mini-reviews of tons of retro Japanese games. This one, though, focuses on just three systems: The Famicom, the PC Engine and the Super Famicom.

I don't suppose any of you can think of other such sites that should be added to this list?