Saturday, November 26, 2011

Which games are you playing this weekend?

Before this holiday weekend began, my plan was to play a trio of games I've been meaning to finish for quite some time: Deadly PremonitionFinal Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light and Pokemon Black.

Instead, I've been playing a pair of old Famicom games, Chack'n Pop and Door Door (below), via emulation, as well as one other game I can't tell you about at the moment.

Door Door has some disgustingly adorable box art, doesn't it?

Actually, I could tell you about it, but I don't want to, as I'm saving its unveiling for a to-be-published-at-a-later-date post.

Anyway, those are the games I'm playing this holiday weekend. What are all of you playing (assuming, of course, you're playing games at all)?

Friday, November 25, 2011

What's on your holiday wish list?

With Thanksgiving in the rear-view mirror, it's time to look forward to all of the gift-giving and gift-receiving holidays that dot the December page on the calendar like so many pieces of candy on a gingerbread house.

Speaking of gifts, what gaming-related ones are you hoping to receive from the fat man in the red suit (or whoever presides over your winter holiday of choice) this season?

Surprisingly, my wish list contains just one item at the moment: A 3DS.

A red 3DS like the one above, in particular. I know I've spent a lot of time whining here and on Twitter about wanting a pink one--and only a pink one--but it's now quite clear that the pink 3DS that's already available in Europe and Japan isn't going to be released in North America anytime soon and, frankly, my desire to obtain a 3DS, any 3DS, by the end of 2011 currently outweighs my desire to own a pink 3DS at some future point in time.

Anyway, the point of this post wasn't to share my holiday wish list; it was to ask about all of yours. So, have at it!

It's like a bad Christmas sweater, but better

I can't remember with any certainty the last time I owned any kind of Christmas sweater, be it of the bad or good (is there such a thing?) variety, but I think it was back when I was a pre-teen and I think it (the sweater) had reindeers sashaying across the chest.

Well, I'd proudly own (and even wear) one again if said sweater used the t-shirt design below, created by Tim Shumate and called "8Bit Christmas," as a source of inspiration.

As a t-shirt, though, I'm not sure what I think about it. Oh, it's creative and interesting and all that, but I honestly couldn't see myself buying it and wearing it around town. How about you?


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I know it can be a bit annoying for folks to go on and on about what they're thankful for on Thanksgiving, especially given the holiday's history, but I'm going to do so anyway.

Along with being thankful for my family and friends, my health, my home and my livelihood, among other things, I'm thankful for everyone who has ever visited this blog. I'm especially thankful for all of you who comment once in a while and, as a result, help make this site feel more like a community than an electronic soapbox.

Now, get off your computer and go stuff your face with your family members and/or friends (if you celebrate Thanksgiving, of course).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A most agreeable gaming blog

If you're looking for a website to peruse this weekend, may I suggest the recently launched--well, back in July--A Most Agreeable Pastime?

This blog certainly has an interesting hook: Every post resides within "the Victorian Manor of Lucius P. Merriweather and Sir Gaulian, two stalwart enthusiasts of the new pastime of Video Gaming."

For instance, reviews of "long-lost classic games" can be found in the manor's cellar, while Lucius' and Sir Gaulian's backlogs can be found on its mantelpiece.

It's all rather cheeky--not to mention completely engrossing--so if you're at all into cheeky, engrossing blogs, check out amostagreeablepastime. at your earliest convenience.

Exposed at last: Mario's butt dimples

Did you know that butt dimples are also known as "dimples of Venus"? More importantly, did you know that Mario has them?

At least, that's how Perler-bead artist Danny Yama (aka Danny _8bit) depicts Nintendo's main dude in a recent creation called "Sexy Spa Mario."

Mario and his "dimples of Venus" aren't the only ones Yama has immortalized via Perler beads. Other sources of inspiration: Dragon Quest (Dragon Quest IV's Ragnar McRyan, in particular), The Legend of Zelda, Ninja Jajamaru-Kun and Spelunker.

To see more examples of Yama's work, pay a visit to his blog and/or his Flickr photostream.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Donkey Kong's mundane instruction manual: seemingly the rule, rather than the exception, when it comes to early Famicom releases

Ever since I introduced the "Manual Stimulation" series last month, I've been flipping through the instruction manuals of all of my games (the Japanese retro ones, especially) to find those that are most likely to cause, er, stimulation.

Before all of that flipping started, I imagined that my Famicom and PC Engine collections would be responsible for the bulk of the booklets that will be highlighted in future "Manual Stimulation" posts. Surprisingly, I was only half right--or at least that's the case as of now.

You see, while I've come across plenty of awesome PC Engine manuals, just two of my Famicom game manuals--those being the ones produced for Mother and Super Mario Bros.--could be described as such. A more apt description for the rest of the bunch: Boring.

Take, for example, Donkey Kong's instruction manual (below). Admittedly, its front cover isn't the most boring ever produced, but it's also not exactly thrilling. (Click on it or any of the other scans to take a closer look.)

On the other hand, this particular manual's first four pages are, in my humble opinion, the definition of "ho hum."

Things perk up just a bit half-way through Donkey Kong's manual, though, thanks to the inclusion of a few black-and-white sprites.

Manual Stimulation: Mizubaku Daibouken (PC Engine)

There are a whole host of reasons to like the PC Engine version of Taito's Mizubaku Daibouken (known as Liquid Kids outside of Japan). One of them is that its gameplay, graphics and music are remarkably close to those that appear in the arcade original, released in 1990. Another is that its instruction manual is really cool.

The only bummer associated with Mizubaku Daibouken's manual: The front and back covers (below) are the only ones that appear in color.

The rest are in black and white. (Well, and a bit of gray.) I don't consider that to be a huge negative, though; on the contrary, all of the illustrations that appear in the Mizubaku Daibouken manual are so nice that after a bit you basically forget about the lack of color.

Anyway, the manual gets off to a rollicking start thanks to a two-page comic that seems to tell the game's backstory.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Great Gaymathon Review #45: Street Fighter II' Champion Edition (PC Engine)

Game: Street Fighter II' Champion Edition
Genre: Fighting
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: NEC Home Electronics
System: PC Engine
Release date: 1993

Nowadays, this port is the definition of "meh-worthy," thanks in large part to Capcom's milking of the Street Fighter franchise. Back in the day, though, it was a marvel, as it proved, once and for all, that NEC's pint-sized--and basically 8-bit--PC Engine could compete graphically with its 16-bit competitors (those being Nintendo's Super Famicom and Sega's Mega Drive, of course). Admittedly, the music and sound effects took a pretty big hit in the transition from arcade to (20-Megabit) HuCard, but everything else in this port is pretty much spot-on--it even includes the barrel-breaking bonus stage that was cut from the Super Famicom version of the game. All that said, I rarely play Street Fighter II' Champion Edition. In part, that's because I'm not the world's biggest fan of one-on-one fighting games, but it's also because I have yet to pick up the six-button controller that was released alongside this title and is a required purchase if you want to get any enjoyment out of it at all.

See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts

The Hyrulian Book of Biology

By the end of this week, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword will be available pretty much everywhere in the world. How many of you have picked it up already or are planning to do so in the next few days?

Those of you who are Zelda fans but have yet to buy Skyward Sword should do what I've been doing for the last few days--which is stare at artist Andrew Kolb's "The Hyrulian Book of Biology" and then contemplate all of the wonderful things (including more illustrations like the ones that appear on the imaginary book's cover, below) that could be contained within such a compendium.

Kolb created "The Hyrulian Book of Biology" for an awesome Zelda tribute blog called Fill Up Your Hearts! (or is it Well, Excuse Me Princess?), by the way. Check it out here if you're so inclined.

Buy: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mario + Matryoshka = Marioshka!

What do you get when you toss Mario (Tanooki Mario, to be more specific) and a trio of Russian matryoshka dolls into a blender and make a t-shirt design out of the resulting sludge?

If you're Mat Hudson (aka Orphan Elliott), you get the following:

Tees bearing Hudson's design will be sold via Threadless should the design garner enough positive votes within the next two days. (Go here if you'd like to add to the tally.)