Saturday, November 12, 2011

I know what my first 3DS game is going to be

Most of you are expecting me to say Super Mario 3D Land or Mario Kart 7, right? Although I'm definitely planning to acquire both of those games shortly after I buy (or, hopefully, receive as a gift) a 3DS, neither of them will be my first pick-up for the system. No, that honor, at least as of now, will be the downloadable curiosity known as Freakyforms, which hit the North American eShop on Thursday.

The fact that this game has leapt to the top of my 3DS to-buy list is as surprising to me as it likely is to some of you, by the way--especially since my first reaction to it was something along the lines of, "eh, a lame-looking kiddie game."

After scrolling through the game's official thread over at NeoGAF, though, I decided it had to be mine, $6.99 asking price be damned. I mean, just look at some of the "Formees" owners of the Japanese version of the game have concocted:

This may be the cutest Link I've seen since Wind Waker.

Yep, that's Poo from EarthBound/Mother 2!

That's not to suggest North American owners of Freakyforms are a bunch of talentless slouches. All you need to do is look at the following creations to see that's far from the case:

Inspector Chelmey, courtesy of NeoGAF user artwalknoon.

Prinny, courtesy of NeoGAF user BooJoh.

To see more Japanese-made Formees, check out this site. For more North American-made ones, check out the NeoGAF thread mentioned earlier.

For more information on this wonderfully odd-looking game, check out its official site: freakyforms.nintendo.com. Also, check out this "Iwata Asks" video, which sheds a light on Freakyforms' history (for instance, that it began life as a DS title) and how Nintendo's president, Satoru Iwata, pushed producer Kensuke Tanabe and director Hiroshi Moriyama (creator of Chibi-Robo!) to "make it so people won't get bored of it."

Have any of you picked up this game, or are any of you planning to pick it up? If so, let me know--and share some of your creations in the comment section (if you can).

Friday, November 11, 2011

A somewhat gay review of Wizorb (PC and XBLIG)


Game: Wizorb
Genre: Brick-breaker
Developer: Tribute Games
Publisher: Tribute Games
System(s): PC, Xbox 360
Release date: 2011

In pretty much every post I've published about Wizorb thus far, I've described it as "Breakout with a smidge of an RPG." After spending some quality time with this downloadable title over the last week or so, though, I've come to the conclusion that I should have been calling it a Legend of Zelda-inspired brick-breaker instead. After all, while the bulk of Wizorb's gameplay brings to mind bat-and-ball titles like the aforementioned Atari release, its graphics, setting--named, ahem, "Kingdom of Gorudo"--and soundtrack bring to mind the game that's known in Japan as The Hyrule Fantasy: Zeruda no Densetsu. Wizorb's main town/hub area, the deci- mated Tarot Village--which the player can help rebuild by donating gathered gold--also recalls that Nintendo classic. (Said village is the only location players are able to explore freely, by the way. The game's five other locations, each of which houses 13 block-busting stages, are accessed via a board-game-esque world map.) At the end of the day, though, this basically is a gussied-up Arkanoid clone, so how does its bat-and-ball action stand up to its predecessors-cum-competitors in that particular genre? Pretty darn well. Although Wizorb features a par-for-the-course paddle--although here it's supposed to be a wizard's magic wand--and ball, players can do more with the former than they can in most such games. For example: Clicking the left mouse button (while enjoying the PC version, obviously) launches a fireball into the play area, while clicking the right one produces a gust of wind that blows the ball in the direction of the wand. Also, although most destroyed blocks drop coins, gems and potions that refill your magic gauge, some drop curses that shrink your wand or slow it to a crawl. Another of Wizorb's inventive additions to the brick-breaker oeuvre: Many of its stages include bonus rooms and shops that more often than not prove to be life-savers. All in all, Tribute Games' maiden release is refreshing, remarkably polished and well worth the price of admission (a measly $3) whether or not you're bonkers for Breakout and its ilk.


See also: Previous 'somewhat gay' reviews and previous Wizorb posts

Second Chances: Fantasy Zone

I know a lot of people who absolutely love Fantasy Zone. Until recently, though, I didn't share their adoration of this arcade classic.

Oh, I wanted to. After all, it was made by the folks at Sega (always a positive in my book--well, as long as we're talking pre-2002 Sega) and it's chock-full of color. Also, I've always been fond of the game's oddly named protagonist, a sentient spaceship who answers to Opa-Opa.


So, what's kept me from lusting after this pastel-soaked shmup? Its controls were the biggest hurdle--in particular, Opa-Opa's odd sense of gravity and momentum that takes some getting used to if you were brought up, as I was, on more traditional side-scrolling shoot 'em ups, like DariusGradius or R-Type.

Another control-centric issue that has long impeded my ability to accept Fantasy Zone into my heart: Dealing with the aforementioned gravity and momentum issues while taking out the game's thieving enemy forces is the definition of challenging.


A few weeks ago, after reading through The Brothers Duomazov's review of the PC Engine version for what must have been the hundredth time, I decided to erase my previous opinions of the game from my memory and give it a second (maybe third) chance.

Although I'd be lying if I said this latest experience with Fantasy Zone was smooth sailing, er, flying, from the get-go, I'd also be lying if I said I didn't enjoy the title a lot more than I had in the past. Sure, I died a lot--I'm pretty sure I saw the "game over" screen too many times to count before I made it to the second stage--but I didn't much care thanks to my newly minted appreciation of the game's uniqueness (not to mention its odd, and other-worldly, assortment of environments and enemies).


Can it now be said that I, too, adore Fantasy Zone? Yes, I think it can. As for whether it also can be said that I'm any good at it, though, is another conversation entirely.

See also: Previous 'Second Chances' posts

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ten questions with one of the main dudes at Dudedle Studio

I had such a blast playing through Dudedle Studio's Sugar Shooter a few months back that shortly after I finished my review of it I reached out to Punipen, the studio's chief designer, programmer and scenario writer, in an attempt to get to know the guys behind this boss-rush, bullet-hell shmup that's aimed at the bara-loving set a bit better.

Thankfully, he wasn't at all turned off by my (completely honorable, I assure you) advances and graciously agreed to answer a handful of questions--I know only nine appear below, despite the promises of the headline above, but the first one originally was split into two--about the company's background, what prompted him and his colleagues to create the sexy Sugar Shooter and why they make gay games in general.

The Gay Gamer: Can you tell me a bit about Dudedle Studio's back- ground? When was the company founded, for instance? Also, why was it founded? What were your goals for the company?

Punipen: First of all, I think we're more of a studio or group of indie developers than a company. We started making games as a hobby, just for fun. And since we're all gay, we [decided we] would develop erotic games for gay people.

If you know about H-games, you'll see that there are literally tons of them on the market in Japan. Many of them are very good and were turned into animation afterwards, such as Air, Kanon, To Heart, etc.


Sadly, the gay audience is neglected [by the makers of these games]. If you're talking about gay games that feature manly men, they hardly exist. The only company that stands out [for making such games] in Japan right now is Underground Campaign, which is led by Senga Migiri-san.

When we checked [the availability of these kinds of games] outside of Japan, we found that the scenario wasn't so different. While there are Flash games that target gay people who prefer manly men, none of these are big games like the ones Underground Campaign has made. Also, there are many people who wish these kinds of games were available for English speakers.

So, you could say that we've been toying with the idea of making a gay game [for a worldwide audience] for a while.

We didn't actually start making one, though, until Takezamurai-san, the main artist for Sugar Shooter, tweeted me saying that he wished he could make a game. He's a great artist, and I've always been a big fan of his, so I was like, 'Why not?' I got in touch with him and that's when we started working on Sugar Shooter.

So, you could say that our group was founded on November 14, 2010--which is when Sugar Shooter was first released in Japan.

The world's greatest tennis player is now promoting Wii Sports

No, I'm not talking about Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic or even Serena Williams. I'm talking about the peerless--and often ponytailed--winner of 22 Grand Slam singles titles, Steffi Graf.

Admittedly, the blond, leggy German stopped playing the sport more than a decade ago, but I'm a firm believer that if she re-entered the pro game today she'd quickly return to the top of the rankings--despite being 42.


Stefanie Graf on WhoSay

That's all well and good, but you'd probably like to know how Graf is, as this post's headline suggests, promoting Wii Sports, right? Well, she's doing so in a series of TV ads--including the one above--that will be aired inter- nationally (which I'm guessing means throughout Europe and not in the US), according to a recent post on her official website.

Although I think it's a pretty by-the-numbers Wii commercial, I can't help but like the smile and wink the mother of two--and wife of Andre Agassi--aims at viewers in the ad's waning seconds.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Manual Stimulation: Guru Logi Champ (GBA)

In the review I published earlier today of Compile's Guru Logi Champ, a wacky little puzzler released (in Japan only) for the GameBoy Advance in 2001, I described the game as both fun and silly. Unfortunately, its rather long-winded instruction manual is neither of those things.

Actually, I take that back. A select few of its 38 (yes, you read that correctly) pages are well worth shining a spotlight on--such as the manual's front and back covers that can be seen below:


After that, though, you have to flip all the way through to the manual's 30th page to see anything that could even remotely be described as fun or silly.

So, what appears on the 30th page (below)? As far as I can tell, Guru Logi Champ's "good guys." They also appear on the 31st page, by the way.


The Great Gaymathon Review #43: Guru Logi Champ (GameBoy Advance)


Game: Guru Logi Champ
Genre: Puzzle
Developer: Compile
Publisher: Compile
System: GameBoy Advance
Release date: 2001

If you want to know why I bought a copy of this game, check out its cover art (above). OK, so that wasn't the only reason I picked it up, but it was a rather prominent one. A few others: it was developed by the folks at Compile (makers of Aleste, GunheadPuyo Puyo and more) and it has garnered rave reviews over the years. Oh, and it's portable--as is the case with pretty much all of my favorite puzzlers.

So, has it lived up to expectations, despite the fact that I dropped a pretty penny on it? Definitely. That's mainly due to the fact that it differs from just about every other puzzle game I've ever played. If I had to name one it's similar to, I'd go with Picross. Even that isn't the greatest comparison, though, as while the two titles are alike in some ways, they're otherwise quite unique.

For instance, each "stage" in Guru Logi Champ starts with a semi-finished image. The player's job, then, is to complete the image by shooting blocks (from a cannon, using the GBA's A button) up into the play area. That's easier said than done, though, because: 1) you're given just enough blocks to complete a given stage and 2) blocks continue to slide across the play area until they run into another block. The good news: blocks can be sucked back into the aforementioned cannon by pressing the GBA's B button. Also, the play area can be rotated using the system's shoulder buttons.

Anyway, as is often the case with such games, it all begins rather easily before ramping up to a level of difficulty I like to refer to as "brain-breaking." Thankfully, it never crosses the line to "game-breaking"--as in, you get so frustrated you want to yank the cartridge from the system and smash it to smithereens.

In fact, it's nearly always completely enjoyable, due in no small part to Guru Logi Champ's wonderfully silly (and colorful) characters and graphics, which includes (in the game's single-player story mode) a number of hilarious intermissions, and its everything-but-the-kitchen-sink soundtrack, which includes both tropically-inflected and hip-hop-esque tunes.


See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Mario's mad mushroom man

Have you ever wondered how all of the power-ups that dot the Mushroom Kingdom landscape got to be placed within question blocks?

Artist Dan Taub (aka 1oddgent) has, and the result of his daydreaming is the decidedly creepy t-shirt design seen below (and here).


If you're a daring sort, check out oneoddgentleman.com to take a closer look and this mad mushroom man's Pac-Man-like eyes razor-sharp teeth.

Sadly, the t-shirt Taub is wearing in the photo above isn't yet available via his etsy shop. If you're itching to buy something of his, though, may I suggest picking up one of his "Arsenal of Power-Ups" prints?

See also: More of 1oddgent's art

Queer pixels

One of my favorite gayming-related tumblogs, Video Games Made Me Gay, recently turned me on to a similarly themed (and similarly fabulous) tumblog called 48 Pixeles.

I'm not yet sure why it's called 48 Pixeles, to tell you the truth, but it really doesn't matter. What does matter: It shines a light on gay-positive illustrations that were created by the tumblog's proprietor (or is it proprietress?) by combing--and sometimes slightly editing--game sprites.

This Yie Ar Kung-Fu image perfectly exemplifies the content of this wonderfully fun--and totally gay--tumblog:


This Final Fantasy V-inspired illustration is pretty darn magnificent, too, don't you think?


I'm also quite fond of this Bomberman-inspired one:


Other games currently represented on 48 Pixeles: The Adventures of Link, Harvest Moon, Ice ClimberThe Legend of the Mystical Ninja (Ganbare Goemon), Maniac Mansion and Tetris.

See also: 'Another great gayming tumblog: Games With Boys' and 'Video games made him gay'

Monday, November 07, 2011

PC version of Wizorb available now

OK, class. Raise your hands if you didn't buy Tribute Game's fantastic, Breakout-with-a-smidge-of-an-RPG XBLIG title, Wizorb, because you don't have an Xbox 360.

Great. Now, keep your hands up if you would have bought the game if it had been released for Windows-based PCs, too.

Well, I have good news for you guys and gals: A PC version of Wizorb is, as of today, available for purchase via GamersGate.com.



Those of you who didn't keep your hands up dropped them because you're waiting for Linux and Mac versions to be released, right?

Ah, I have good news for you, too! The guys at Tribute Games expect to release Linux and Mac versions of Wizorb in the next two or three weeks.

Don't worry, class, I'll let you know when they're available. Also, expect to receive a special homework assignment from me soon (as in, hopefully by the end of the week)--one that involves reading my long-time-in-comin review of this wonderfully retro game.

See also: Previous Wizorb posts

The wait for Rhythm Heaven Wii's North American release just got a whole lot tougher

Although Japanese gamers have had access to Minna no Rhythm Tengoku since late July, the rest of the world's gamers are still waiting to experience this latest entry in the Nintendo- and TNX-developed series.

Anyway, considering it's been four months since Minna no Rhythm Tengoku (aka Everybody's Rhythm Heaven) hit store shelves in Japan, why am I only getting around to complaining about the wait now? Well, I just came across the following, rather hilarious video of one of this Wii title's mini-games:



Obviously someone with way too much time on his or her hands (and thank goodness for that!) decided to have a bit of fun and replace the mini-game's masked wrestler with a muscle-bound stripper. As much as I appreciate that, what I appreciate even more is that the video above made me aware of the real version of this mini-game (yes, I've somehow kept myself from watching every video ever posted to YouTube about this title since its Japanese release), which seems to be just as hilarious as the altered one.



As much as I'm willing and planning to wait for the release of the North American version of this game--which will be called Rhythm Heaven Fever, by the way--I'm also seriously considering picking up the Japanese version sooner rather than later, as I have a feeling some of the vocal tracks (like the one in the video above) are going to be mangled, if not altogether ruined, while being translated into English.

See also: Previous Rhythm Heaven Wii posts