Saturday, August 20, 2011

Me on a swing

To those of you who came here expecting to see me in a sling: Sorry.

To the rest of you: Enjoy this rare glimpse of my rear end!

This photo was shot--by my sister-in-law--during our recent family vacation, by the way. All six of us were walking through a park (I think) in Leaven- worth, Wash., when we came upon a swing set. Being the juveniles that were are, David (the hubs) and I raced toward and jumped into the swings. Thankfully we didn't break either of them!

Since the photo above doesn't show my face, I'll share one that does. I'm all the way on the left, wearing the same outfit seen in the first pic (hopefully both photos were taken on the same day?), while my mom is over my right shoulder, my dad is over my left shoulder (in the baseball cap) and David's dad is all the way to the right, shrouded in shade.

So, there you have it. I know none of the above has anything to do with gaming, but I thought some of you might be interested all the same.

Friday, August 19, 2011

More like Angry Kirby Mass Attack, amirite?

I don't know how many of you are aware of this, but for some strange reason Nintendo of America's designers are seemingly unable to produce a piece of Kirby box art without making the little pink blob look angry.

In fact, I'm pretty sure "angry Kirby" has shown up on all North American Kirby game boxes with the exception of Kirby's Epic Yarn.

Well, it seems that trend will continue with the upcoming DS title, Kirby Mass Attack (Atsumete! Kirby in Japan). Here's the cover of the Japanese version of the game, which hit the streets a few weeks ago:

And here's the cover of the North American version, which will be released on Sept. 19 (pre-order it here):

Although I generally roll my eyes at Nintendo of America's obsession with turning Kirby's smile into a frown, I'll refrain from doing that in regards to the cover art above--which I find quite captivating despite the main character's furrowed brow.

Someone really needs to make Famicom Gamer and Mega Drive Gamer magazines, too

As much as I love PC Engine Gamer magazine, I really wish someone would follow in publisher Sunteam's footsteps and produce similar online magazines focused on the Famicom, Mega Drive and every other 8-bit and 16-bit system, too. While I wait for such 'zines to materialize, though, I'll continue flipping through the latest issue of the aforementioned PC Engine-focused publication (the cover of which can be seen below).

Those of you who are at all interested in NEC's little white wonder, as I like to call the PC Engine, should read it (here), too, as this issue includes a "final countdown" of the system's 10 best continue/game over screens, a quick peek at a trio of in-the-works homebrew titles and reviews of Atomic Robo-Kid Special and Ys Book I & II.

A sneaky peek into one Japanese game store's retro section

True story: I've spent waaaaaay too much of my free time over the years searching Flickr for photos of Japanese game shops.

As such, I did a little "gay geek jig" when I discovered a post titled, "Anatomy of a Japanese Video Game Store's Retro Section," at one of my favorite sites, Famicomblog.

In said post, blogger Sean walks his readers through Fukuoka's Omocha Souko game store in both words and photos. Discussed (and shown) during this walkthrough: The shop's Dreamcast, Famicom, Gameboy, Mega Drive, Neo Geo, Nintendo 64, PC Engine, Saturn and Super Famicom sections. (The pic below is of the Famicom section, by the way.)

Stats of note: The Famicom section is the largest in this particular store (the Super Famicom unsurprisingly comes in second), while the Neo Geo section is the smallest.

Sean has published a series of similar posts that focus solely on the Famicom sections of Fukuoka's many game shops, by the way. Check them out at your leisure here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I love air, too, Susumu Hori

You know how I mentioned a few days ago that I'm itching to finally play a Puzzle Bobble title? Well, I'm feeling similar "symptoms" in regards to the Mr. Driller series--especially after laying eyes on the following illustration, titled "i <3 air," produced by artist Dan Taub (aka 1oddgent):

Framed copies of this cute-as-buttons print can be purchased for just $20 from the 1oddgent etsy shop. Also available for a song from said shop: Framed copies of a similarly fantastic Tanooki Mario print.

Wizorb has awesome box art

Which is funny, because this Jonathan Lavigne-developed Breakout-clone-slash-RPG is--or will be, once it's finally released--a download-only (for Xbox 360, via XBLIG) affair.

Sadly, Wizorb doesn't yet have a release date. It does, however, have a rather scintillating-looking trailer, which can be viewed on Lavigne's blog,

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Great Gaymathon Review #35: Pinball (Famicom)

Game: Pinball
Genre: Pinball
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
System: Famicom
Release date: 1984

Back in the early days of the NES, just one of Nintendo's launch-window (aka "Black Label") releases was a "repeat renter" in our household: Pinball. Admittedly, the gameplay, graphics and even sound in this title are as simplistic and straightforward as its name, but that doesn't mean the overall product is boring. At least, not entirely. Now, boring is exactly what it would be if all it offered was a two-screened pinball table and a single bonus stage, but as is nearly always the case with Nintendo-developed games this one includes just enough bells and whistles (although I hesitate to call them that) to make things interesting. For instance, there's the little ditty that plays during the title screen and before each round. Sadly, that's all the music you'll hear while playing Pinball, but at least what you do hear is enjoyable. Also, there are the charming characters--including seals, penguins and just-hatched chicks--that populate and enliven the title's otherwise sparse play area. (Two similarly charming characters, Mario and Pauline, star in the title's Breakout-esque bonus stage.) None of the above would matter much if Pinball played like crap, but thankfully that's not the case. Sure, it doesn't feature realistic physics like most modern pinball games, but it feels good all the same--and that's all my brother and I looked for back when we scanned the aisles of the local grocery store for our next weekend rental. It's also what I look for today when I scan my collection for my next five- or 10-minute gaming fix.

See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts

Review copy of Cladun X2 incoming!

In the four-and-a-half years since I started this blog, I've received just two free games from developers and/or publishers: The Most Addicting Sheep Game for Xbox 360 and Sugar Shooter for PC. (Look for a "somewhat gay review" of the latter title soon, by the way.)

I don't want to jinx it by saying so, but it appears I'll be receiving a third free game sometime this week. Which one? Cladun X2.

Yep, that looks like Cladun!

As I did with its predecessor, I'll share my thoughts on Cladun X2 as frequently and thoroughly as possible. (Assuming my contact at NIS America comes through, of course. If not, I'll likely have to wait a bit before picking it up.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A face only a mother Eelektrik could love

When it comes to Pokémon, I tend to prefer cute ones to ugly ones. As such, I'm not the biggest fan of Pokémon Black's Eelektrik.

Given that, I'm a bit surprised that I like Filip Johannes Felberg's LEGO Eelektrik (below and here) as much as I do.

To see Felberg's blocky takes on Pokémon Black's Basculin, Joltik and Whirlipede, check out his Flickr photostream.

See also: LEGO Pokémon posts

My copy of Xenoblade Chronicles has been 'despatched'

Oh, suuuuuuuurrrrrrre. I was all ready to make fun of the folks at The Hut/SendIt/Zavvi for telling me my copy of Xenoblade Chronicles had been "despatched"--and then I discovered (via that "despatch" is an acceptable alternative to "dispatch." Harrumph.

Whatever. All that really matters is that this open-world RPG, which will be released throughout Europe on Friday, is on its way across the ocean to our doorstep. How long it takes to arrive on said doorstep, of course, is anyone's guess. I'm expecting it to take a few weeks, but I won't be at all surprised if it takes longer.

Regardless of when my copy of this Monolith Soft-developed game shows up, you can rest assured I'll take and post a few Glamour Shots-esque photos of its packaging shortly after I rip it open.

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

Monday, August 15, 2011

Let's Play: 'Which Box Art is Better?' (Bubble Bobble edition)

Most of the "Which Box Art is Better?" posts I've published over the years have focused on current or upcoming titles. Today's is going to focus on a classic: Bubble Bobble.

Fukio Mitsuji's single-screened platformer has been ported to a number of home systems since it first made a splash in arcades around in the world in 1986. Among the systems to receive said ports: The Sega Mark III (aka the Master System), the Game Gear, the FM Towns and the Famicom Disk System. (It was released in cartridge form for the NES).

For some strange reason, the game was re-titled Final Bubble Bobble when it was released for the Sega Mark III. Here's that version's box art:

Every other home version of the game retained the original title. Only the Famicom Disk System's cover, however, made use of the original concept art (as seen in the cover art below).

The NES version's packaging (below), for instance, featured art that was less precious and more cartoonish than its Japanese counterpart.

The art that graced the cover of the Game Gear port of this popular quarter muncher was created using a similar style.

As unique as the illustrations above are, they pale in comparison to the imagery that was created for the cover of the FM Towns iteration of the game.

Which do I prefer? I hate to say it's a tie, but that's what it is for me--with my two top picks being the FM Towns and the Sega Mark III box arts. Anyway, that's just my opinion on the matter. What's yours?

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

Surprise, surprise: Nintendo slipped Twinkle Star Sprites onto the Virtual Console late last week

Unfortunately for many of us, the company only slipped the game onto the Japanese Virtual Console.

Does this mean ADK's shooter-slash-puzzler, which began life as a Neo Geo title before being ported to the Saturn and Dreamcast, will soon be slipped onto the Virtual Console in other regions, too? I sure hope so.

If the possibility of playing Twinkle Star Sprites on your Wii doesn't excite you, may I suggest acquainting yourself with the video above, which shows off a good portion of the game's Dreamcast port?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Any Puzzle Bobble fans out there?

I ask because I'm itching to jump into this Bubble Bobble spin-off (called Bust-a-Move in North America), but I'm not sure where to start.

I know what some of you are thinking: Start with the first one! Don't worry, I will. But I'd also like to know which of the series' 26 iterations are considered by fans to be the best.

I'm especially interested in versions that were released for the Dreamcast and the original PlayStation, by the way, although I'm willing to consider those released for other systems (even handhelds), too.