Friday, November 18, 2011

Let's Play: 'Which Box Art is Better?' (Crush 3D edition)

Normally, the games that serve as the centerpieces of these posts are ones in which I'm genuinely interested. Not this time.

That's not a rip on the game, mind you. I've heard good things about the original Crush, developed by Zoe Mode and published by Sega (for the PSP) in 2007, so this one's probably going to be worth owning, too. (Here's an official trailer for Crush 3D, by the way.)

The question is: Am I more interested in Crush 3D's box art than I am in the rest of it? Well, when it comes to the game's North American box art, below, the answer is a solid, "Hell no!"

My main problem with said cover image: Those eyes! Honestly, I'm worried I'll have nightmares tonight after seeing them.

The box art for the Japanese version of the game (called Nightmare Puzzle Crush 3D, according to, on the other hand, is on a different plane of weirdness. I mean, how else would you describe this:

If I were forced to choose a favorite, though, I'd go with the latter, and mainly because it looks like one of those instruction-manual illustrations that are supposed to show people how not to treat their systems or games.

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

Second Chances: Chack'n Pop

Until a few months ago, I didn't know a game called Chack'n Pop existed. Actually, I'd still be ignorant of this Taito-made quarter-muncher (released in 1983) today if I hadn't decided to write yet another post about Bubble Bobble however many weeks ago. How so? Well, while writing that post I discovered (via Wikipedia) that Chack'n Pop is considered an ancestor to the aforementioned, Fukio Mitsuji-designed classic.

I don't know if you're aware, but there are times I love Bubble Bobble more than life itself. (On other days, I love it just a bit less than that.) So, it shouldn't be all that surprising to hear that after learning of Chack'n Pop's pedigree, I ran to my computer, downloaded a ROM of the Famicom version of the game and then proceeded to play it ... for about five minutes.

I stopped after such a short time because, honestly, I thought the game stunk more than my cat's litter box after a weekend getaway. It looked boring and, worse, it felt boring--thanks in large part to the plodding pace of its protagonist. Also, it was hard as hell. I'm pretty sure I failed to make it through Chack'n Pop's first stage during that initial, perfunctory playthrough.

After that execrable experience, I deleted the ROM from my computer--hey, why keep it around if I'm never going to play it again?--and decided to erase the game's existence from my memory, too.

How'd the game weasel its way back into my brain and earn another shot at my affections (this is a "Second Chances" post, after all)? Late last week, Simon Lethbridge published a rather positive review of arcade version of Chack'n Pop on his blog, Red Parsley, which, in turn, caused me to re-consider my previously snarky stance on this single-screen platformer.

Surprisingly, my second go-around with the game went pretty well. Actually, it went very well. (For proof, take a look at the "Now Playing" box on the right side of this blog.) In fact, it went so well that I made it to the fourth stage. Granted, it took me about 10 tries to conquer the first stage, but now that I've got the hang of things--as much as is possible in this challenging and often clunky game--I regularly get to the third and even fourth stage before losing all of my lives.

As for what prompted my "Chack'n Pop change of heart": Well, I guess you could say that, thanks to Lethbridge's prodding, I finally was able to look past the title's somewhat boring facade and see the quirky gameplay--like the protagonist's ability to stick to the ceiling and his ability to surprise (and blow up) the seemingly brain-dead Monstas by rolling bombs down stairways--that lies beneath.

See also: Previous 'Second Chances' posts

Thursday, November 17, 2011

'It's dangerous to go alone'

As many of you likely are aware, the latest entry in the Legend of Zelda series--subtitled "Skyward Sword"--will be released in just a few days (on Sunday, Nov. 20, to be exact).

To celebrate that fact--even though I'm not yet sure I'll be picking up the game myself--I scoured the blogosphere for awesome examples of Zelda fan art. The one was my favorite:

I found it on the Art Jumble blog, in case you're interested. Also, it was created by Cancún-based artist Carlos Lerma. (To see more of his illustrations, check out and

Are any of you planning to pick up a copy of this long-awaited Wii game?

Pre-order: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Tell me if you've seen this before

Speaking of the Gay Geeks and Gaymers tumblog, I just saw the Mario Kart-inspired t-shirt design below (order shirts bearing the design here) while scrolling through it.

Nintendo should have included one of these shirts with every copy of Mario Kart Wii, don't you think? Or would it have hit too close to home for players of that game?

Regardless, it's certainly an image I can relate to--since I've been eviscerated by many a blue shell while playing the last entry in the Mario Kart series.

Hopefully I'll have better luck while playing Mario Kart 7, which will hit store shelves around the world in just a few weeks. (Pre-order the North American version here.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Yet another great gayming tumblog: Gay Geeks and Gaymers

As you can probably ascertain from its title, the Gay Geeks and Gaymers tumblog doesn't focus all of its attention on gaming.

That's no reason to ignore it, though, especially if you consider yourself to be a gaymer and/or a gay geek.

I mean, it's pretty likely guys (and probably a few gals, too) in both camps would enjoy the photo--of Captain America himself, actor Chris Evans, during some sort of 3DS event--above, which was recently shared (and likely drooled over) on said tumblog, don't you think?

For plenty more, er, gay geekery and gayming goodness, go to

Chic Pixel x The Gay Gamer

I know I spend each and every day talking about myself (to some extent) on this blog, but if you'd like to know a bit more about me even after all of the blathering I do here may I recommend that you sashay on over to the Chic Pixel blog and read the Q&A I recently completed with that site's proprietress, Anne Whittingham (aka apricotsushi)?

Actually, I suggest you check out said Q&A--titled, "Talking games, importing, blogging, and more with The Gay Gamer"--even if you are bored with moi, since Whittingham deserves every hit/pageview she can get for putting up with my long-winded answers.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's like the sexy, wacky Out Run spin-off I've always wanted but never got to play

What do you think of when you look at the digital collage below?

When I first saw it, I thought of an only-in-my-dreams Out Run spin-off that features a wacky splash of Parodius. I'm not sure how such an idea would work as an actual game, mind you, but I'm sure it would be amazing if handed to the right developers.

Anyway, enough about me and my odd ideas. Instead, let's delve deeper into the aforementioned collage, which was produced by Atlanta-based artist Ashley Anderson.

It's one of three pieces that were commissioned by the owner of a local pizza joint, by the way. Although the commission fell through, Anderson completed the series anyway.

The one above is the series' first and is titled, "Memory Beach, Part 1." According to Anderson, it's about "an octopus who drives to the beach to forget about his ex-girlfriend, who has cheated on and/or left him."

Anderson doesn't say on his blog where he found each of the sprites that appear in this piece, but he does say that the "Japanese pornographic mahjongg video game industry" is responsible for the girl and the lipstick. (He also says he learned to operate a Famicom emulator while working on the "Memory Beach" series, so I'm guessing a number of the sprites were pulled from Famicom titles.)

For more behind-the-scenes info on how Anderson produced "Memory Beach, Part 1," check out this blog post. To order 7-3/4-inch-by-7-3/4-inch prints of it, check out Anderson's etsy shop.

See also: Other posts about Ashley Anderson and his art

Is that a banana in your pocket, King of All Cosmos, or are you just happy to see me?

I think you'll find the headline above to be pretty appropriate after watching the following video, which apparently will welcome gamers when they boot up their copies of Namco's Katamari Damacy Novita.

Anyway, I don't know about you, but the combination of the King of All Cosmos' skin-tight, banana-yellow jumpsuit and his colossal bulge has me feeling just a bit ... conflicted.


Monday, November 14, 2011

The Great Gaymathon Review #44: Katamari Damacy (PlayStation 2)

Game: Katamari Damacy
Genre: Arcade-Action
Developer: Namco
Publisher: Namco
System: PlayStation 2
Release date: 2004

I'm sure this has been said many times before, and by better writers than myself, but I think it's quite possible that Katamari Damacy's backstory--which involves the colossal King of All Cosmos getting plastered, destroying the solar system and then asking his diminutive son to rebuild it--is the best to ever appear in a video game. At the very least, it's one of the wackiest. It's only a smidge wackier than Katamari Damacy's gameplay, though, which puts players in the role of the aforementioned pint-sized prince and tasks them with rolling the titular katamari (Japanese for "clump" or "clod") over anything and everything in sight in order to make it grow as large as possible. (Most of the objects in each stage stick to said katamari if they touch it and if they're smaller than it. All of that junk is then somehow used to recreate the stars and other celestial bodies that were obliterated by the king.) Unsurprisingly, this Keita Takahashi-designed title's graphics and soundtrack are pretty wacky, too--the latter, the bulk of which was composed by Yū Miyake, especially. Don't take that to mean this is one of those games that is so weird it's no fun; Katamari Damacy has fun in droves. In fact, I'd say it's one of my all-time favorite titles. The only possibly negative thing I can say about it is that I wish every stage had an "eternal mode" and that said mode was unlocked from the start (as it is, each level begins with a strict time limit), as exploring the game's beautifully realized set pieces at will--with Miyake's energetic tunes blaring in the background--is an absolute blast.

See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts

Remember that interview in which Shigesato Itoi mentioned a Mr. Saturn spin-off game?

Unless you're Japanese and you're old enough to have read the November 1996 issue of The 64DREAM magazine, you're probably shaking your head in the negative right now.

No worries. Lindsey over at the Yomuka! blog has you covered. She recently translated into English the above-mentioned interview--in which Shigesato Itoi not only chatted (briefly) about a Mr. Saturn spin-off (an action-puzzle game, to be more specific), but also discussed his original intent to make Mother 3 two-dimensional (back when it was still a Nintendo 64 game), his role in naming the Nintendo 64 and more.

Is it strange that I drooled over this screenshot as a teen?

Despite its age, the translated interview--which can be found here--is well worth a read if you're any kind of Mother/EarthBound fan (and, really, what self-respecting gamer isn't?).

See also: Other Mother-related posts