Friday, December 02, 2011

Coming to America after all: Xenoblade Chronicles

Oh, Nintendo of America. You are a conundrum, aren't you?

After suggesting again and again over the last few months that you had no plans to bring the much-ballyhooed Xenoblade Chronicles to the States, you rather non-chalantly send out a press release this morning revealing that the Monolith Soft-developed RPG will hit store shelves across the good ol' US of A this coming April.

Strangely, said press release also revealed that this open-world RPG will be sold, for $49.99, exclusively through GameStop stores and Nintendo's website. (Although GameStop's already taking pre-orders for the title, Nintendo won't be taking them until Dec. 19.)

So, how many of you are planning, as I am, to jump on the Xenoblade Chronicles bandwagon as soon as it hits the streets?

See also: Previous Xenoblade Chronicles posts

Manual Stimulation: Super Mario Bros. (Famicom)

I'd be hard pressed to call Super Mario Bros.' instruction manual disappointing, but I'd definitely call it a bit underwhelming considering the status the game has achieved since its release in 1985.

Still, I think it's nice enough to highlight in one of these "Manual Stimulation" posts--thanks in large part to its not-at-all-stingy use of illustrations and sprite art.

You may want to skip past the next few scans (as always, click on them for a closer look) if all you're interested in are the above-mentioned illustrations and sprites, by the way, as Nintendo's designers take their sweet time getting to them.

In fact, the first one that's at all worth mentioning doesn't appear until the manual's seventh page. Sure, it's a wonky drawing showing regular Mario and super Mario both standing still and jumping, but it's better than a bunch of text, don't you think?

Thursday, December 01, 2011

I'm dreaming of a DSi-enhanced Christmas

Before anyone asks: No, I'm not dreaming of getting a DSi for Christmas. That would be a bit strange, don't you think? Especially since I've been pining for a 3DS for so long.

No, the headline above has to do with the trio of holiday-themed drawings artist and musician Billy Polard created using his DSi (and a copy of Nintendo's Art Academy).

My favorite of the bunch is Polard's depiction of Yukon Cornelius (from my all-time favorite Christmas movie, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"):

That said, his spot-on renditions of The Grinch (see it here) and Frosty the Snowman (here) are nothing to sneeze at.

Sadly, I've yet to "play" my own copy of Art Academy for even a few minutes. Maybe I'll finally do so over the holidays.

Three Famicom games I want to like, but can't

I'm sure this will sound a tad fanboy-ish, but it can't be helped (since, for me, it's the truth): I've rarely encountered a Nintendo-developed game that I didn't end up liking after spending some quality time with it.

Interestingly, most of the ones that haven't clicked with me were released during the Famicom's--or the Nintendo Entertainment System's, if that's how you roll--first year or two on the market.

Case in point: The three Nintendo-made carts below, each of which I've tried my darndest to enjoy but in the end just couldn't bring myself to do so.

1. Clu Clu Land (1984)

Why I want to like it: It's colorful. It's cute. Its box art is appealing. Uh, isn't that enough?

Why I can't: For some strange reason, Clu Clu Land's controls don't agree with me at all. I feel like I'm drunk whenever I play it--or that I've lost all sense of coordination, at the very least. Maybe my brain just isn't wired in a way that allows me to enjoy this superficially appealing game?

2. Tennis (1984)

Why I want to like it: I'm a huge fan of the sport. As such, a tennis game really has to suck for me to not like it.

Why I can't: Although I wouldn't say this is the worst tennis game ever made, it's pretty close to earning that title thanks to its slippery and severely limited controls. (Also, defeating computer-controlled opponents often is hair-pullingly difficult.)

3. Urban Champion (1984)

Why I want to like it: It's one of the earliest one-on-one fighting games to hit the home market. Also, it features some fairly unique and even innovative controls for an 8-bit brawler. Finally, I find the Japanese version's box art completely charming.

Why I can't: Despite all of the above, and despite how much I desperately want to enjoy it, Urban Champion has always bored me to tears--when it isn't making me want to chuck my controller through the TV screen.

See also: 'Three PC Engine games I want to like, but can't' and 'Three more PC Engine games that I want to like, but can't'

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

'The old hero' by Pakoto

I've long drooled over the paintings created by Spanish artist Pakoto, so whenever he produces a game-inspired one I do my best to spread the word about it.

Which game did Pakoto turn to while working on his latest masterpiece? It's pretty obvious, don't you think?

Pakoto produced "The Old Hero" for one of my new favorite blogs, by the way--that being

To see more examples of this talented artist's abilities, check out his blog at

Not-so-shocking newsflash: Final Fantasy Type-0 will be released 'overseas'

According to various sources (here's one, and here's another), the most recent of Square Enix's "Ultimania" guides confirms that Final Fantasy Type-0 will be released overseas.

Unfortunately, no one seems to know exactly what "overseas" means. (Will it be released in both Europe and North America, or will it be released in just one of those regions?) Also unknown at the moment: When and in what format the localized version(s) will be released.

I'm guessing that if this news is true and the game is indeed being localized, it will see the light of day in North America, at the very least. So, that's not much of a worry for me. I'm also not all that worried about when it's released, as I'll probably pick it up whether it's released early or late in the year.

What I am worried about: In what formats will the game be released? I have a feeling a UMD release is the least likely to happen, which is unfortunate as that's the format I'd prefer. (I mean, just look at the game's box art, right.) A PSN release is a much better possibility, and I wouldn't turn my nose up at it unless it was too pricey.

The only way I won't be adding Final Fantasy Type-0 to my collection shortly after it's released (assuming that even happens) is if the brass at Square Enix somehow make the bone-headed decision to release the game only for Vita. They wouldn't do something so dumb, though, would they?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mark your calendars, folks!

Rhythm Heaven Fever will hit store shelves in North America sometime in February, according to latest issue of Nintendo Power.

The third game in Nintendo's vaunted Rhythm Heaven series--the first one, Rhythm Tengoku for the GameBoy Advance, only saw the light of day in Japan, while the second, DS-based one was released around the globe in 2008 and 2009--hit the streets in Japan back in July and has sold somewhere around 600,000 copies since.

Will the North American and European versions--the latter of which has yet to receive an official name or release date--of the second Rhythm Tengoku sequel sell anywhere close to that amount? I doubt it, but who cares? All that really matters is that those of us who want to play yet another iteration of this wacky game will be able to do so in our native languages (and without spending an arm and a leg on an import), right?

Anyway, while we wait for Rhythm Heaven Fever to "drop," as they say in the record business, may I suggest watching the video above, which turns a spotlight on the mini-game I'm most looking forward to experiencing?


This one's for you, Sean

I couldn't help but think of Famicomblog proprietor Sean upon seeing this morning's addition to the Retro Treasures blog, which turned followers on to an eBay auction for a complete-in-box Donkey Kong Pocketsize Game & Watch system.

That said, I can't see Sean handing over the kind of cash that's surely going to be needed to win this particular auction. After all, the bidding's already up to £720 (approximately $1,120) and the auction doesn't end until around this time on Thursday.

All of this could be yours for $1,000 (or more)!

Although I'm sure that's way more than anyone reading this post is willing to spend on such an item, the eBay listing (here) is still worth a look if you're at all interested in Nintendo's Game & Watch products--especially since it includes a number of additional photos of the system taken from different angles.


The perfect gift for the Mother fan in your life

I've barely played the fan translation of Mother 3 thus far, but I've played enough of it to know that I want to play more of it--and that I want a copy of the awesome "Mother 3 Handbook" created by the folks at Fangamer.

Actually, the first edition of said handbook--all 240, full-color pages of it--was sold via Fangamer back in early 2009. As far as I'm aware, though, it quickly sold out and, as a result, many Mother 3 fans have been clamoring for a reprint ever since.

Well, it appears their wishes have been granted--and then some. Not only is it up for sale once again, but this version is some 30 pages longer than the original printing and is available in both hardcover and softcover formats. (The former will run you $29 plus shipping while the latter will run you $20.)

For more information on what's included in this 270-page guide, or to order one for the EarthBound/Mother fan in your life, go to

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Great Gaymathon Review #46: Ice Climber (Famicom)

Game: Ice Climber
Genre: Platformer
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
System: Famicom
Release date: 1985

It could and should go without saying that Ice Climber is unlikely to be everyone's cup of tea. Hell, it wasn't even my cup of tea until a month or so ago. Why? For me, it began and ended with the game's frustratingly stiff, Mario Bros.-esque jumping mechanism.

If you've never played this early Nintendo-published title, that's a problem because the point of Ice Climber is to help its parka-wearing, mallet-wielding protagonists--Popo is the guy, Nana is the gal--make their way from the base of some 20-odd mountains to their peaks. You do this by forcing them, via your controller's A and B buttons, to bound from platform to platform while bashing, or even avoiding, pesky enemies like tottering seals ("Topi"), swooping birds ("Nitpickers") and sunglasses-sporting polar bears. (For some weird reason, a blood-red condor stole Popo and Nana's cross-eyed vegetables and stashed them atop said snow-covered bluffs.)

Is the game's stilted jumping mechanism a deal-breaker? It will be for some, and it was for me originally, but it doesn't have to be. The key is to embrace and accept it. After that, things become much more manageable. You'll still struggle, of course, but it won't be a pull-out-your-hair kind of struggle--or at least it isn't for me.

That's because there's a lot to like about this game once you get over Popo's and Nana's leaping abilities (or lack thereof). For instance, there's the game's rather jazzy soundtrack. Its graphics are pretty nice, too, although a bit repetitive. My favorite part of this classic platformer, though? Those aforementioned veggies. What can I say? I like games with produce.

See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts

L is for Link, Z is for Zelda ...

Upon seeing the print below, it should be pretty clear to just about everybody that Houston-based artist (and blogger) Lizzy House is a big Nintendo fan.

After all, out of the 26 images that appear in the following alphabet print, three of them (L, N and Z) are related to the company that's best known for introducing Link, Mario and Pokemon to the world.

House is selling a limited number (125) of these prints via her etsy shop for $50 apiece (plus shipping). Each one is 18 inches by 24 inches and is printed on archival paper.

To see more examples of House's abilities, check out her blog, her etsy shop or her Flickr photostream.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy birthday to me!

I originally felt kind of weird mentioning this here, but then I thought, 'If I can't mention my birthday on my own blog, where can I mention it?'

So, there you go. It's my birthday! Yay me :)

What am I doing on this most glorious of days? Well, aside from sitting at my computer ... not much. I've been sick since Wednesday, though, so "not much" is actually preferable to most activities at the moment.

I am doing one fun, game-related thing (besides blogging) while I sit at my computer, by the way: I'm finding all sorts of ways to spend the chunk of change my parents sent me as a birthday gift.

Specifically, I'm buying some of the games (mostly Japanese ones, but not all) that I've been dreaming about for the last few months while I've been broke.

(Note: The cake in the photograph above is a recreation of the birthday cake that appears in the Animal Crossing games. To make one for yourself or someone you love, check out the Gourmet Gaming blog.)