Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Additional proof that Darwin Yamamoto is a pretty awesome dude

Remember how, in this post, I mentioned the photos that Darwin Yamamoto took of Tokyo's famous retro-games shop, Super Potato, during his recent trip to Japan?

Well, unbeknownst to me, Yamamoto used some of his hard-earned cash to buy me a game during one of his jaunts to the above-mentioned store.

Which one, you ask? Why, the first Dragon Quest game for the Famicom!

I've yet to free the cart from its tightly secured wrapping (I'm not sure why, but I want to leave it in this condition until I'm ready to play it), so please forgive the price tag and tape that can be seen in the following photos.

I've long desired a copy of this Enix-published RPG, by the way, and not just because I have fond memories of playing through the North American version with my brother as a kid. Another just-as-important reason for my Dragon Quest-focused lust: I absolutely adore the art that graces the cover of the Japanese release. (Here's a better look at said art, for those of you who are curious.)

Anyway, as you can see in the photos above, this particular cart is in pretty great shape. One thing I really like about it is that a previous owner made note of something on the cartridge's back label. I don't suppose any of you who know Japanese would be able to tell me what it says?

Oh, I almost forgot: Along with the copy of Dragon Quest, Yamamoto also sent me a rather slick pamphlet that details all of the wonderful games that are scheduled to be released (in Japan, of course) for the 3DS during the first three months of 2012.

I'm guessing all of the information contained within said booklet can be found elsewhere on the Internet, but I may scan it and post it here later this week or next anyway--just in case any of you are interested in it.

See also: 'Ain't nothin' like a stroll through Super Potato'


Viewtiful_Justin said...

Oh. MY. God. That's the greatest gesture of gamerly camaraderie I've ver seen! What a fantastic guy!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Yeah, I thought it was pretty damn cool -- and nice -- myself. He said he did it because I inspired him to start his own retro-games collection.

It's going to be interesting to attempt to play through this, given I don't know a lick of Japanese. I'm sure an FAQ will help a lot, but the language barrier's still there when it comes to figuring out menus and such (although I guess I could just look at screenshots of the NA version, too?).

Also, it'll be cool to finally experience some of the differences between the Japanese and North American versions of the game. You know, the main sprite is different (always faces the same direction), some of the overworld graphics in the JP version are rougher/simpler, etc.

You know what I'm going to do right now? Buy a copy of Nintendo Power's Dragon Warrior guide via eBay...

Darwin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darwin said...

Haha, thanks Bryan! Got surprised when I saw my name come up in my feeds.

You know what's funny about the game covers - I used to hate all the US versions during the 8 and 16-bit days... but recently I've been looking at them as being horrifically beautiful. Probably have my nostalgic glasses on.

Bryan Ochalla said...

You're very welcome, Darwin! And thanks again for the game :) You obviously didn't have to buy it for or send it to me, but I definitely appreciate that you did.

As for the box art that appears on the US versions of DQ I through IV: I have to admit that I don't hate the first game's box art, at the very least. It's no where near as great as the Japanese art, of course, but I think it's fitting and acceptable and even attractive in its own way.

I haven't looked at the cover art that appeared on copies of Dragon Warrior II, III or IV in ages, though, so I can't say what I think of them at the moment. Guess I'll have to go consult with Google in a minute :)

Kaze said...

Awwww! It's true! Darwin is the man! :D

I love all the DQ art too! I'm a big Akira Toriyama fan!

99% of the time I always prefer the Japanese box art for games but I know what you mean, Darwin, about American boxart having a kind of horrific camp appeal to them like a wolf painting on velvet or something. lol

I think my number one "Omg-I-can't-believe-the-coverart-is-so-bad" American boxart is the original Mega Man 1 cover. Followed by the cover for Panic Restaurant for the NES which used to scare me as a kid. lol

Oh and the writing on your cart, Bryan, says "Ishida" which I'm guessing is the last name of the original owner. ^^

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hello again, Kaze! Ah, another Toriyama fan :) Really, what will ever happen to this series should Toriyama stop being its main artist? I don't want to know!

I love that you compare the NA box art created for the first four Dragon Warrior/Quest games to wolf paintings on velvet, Kaze. LOL!

Also, I agree with you that the first Mega Man's box art takes the cake as far as "crappy box art" is concerned. I'm going to disagree about the cover for Panic Restaurant, though. Actually, I agree that it's scary, but even so I like it quite a bit. If only it didn't cost so damn much...

Finally, thank you for telling me what the Japanese writing on the back of the cart means in English! Much appreciated, as always :)

Kaze said...

Haha, maybe I just have bad memories about it cuz it scared me when I was a kid. (I remember when it was in an issue of Nintendo Power and I would flip past the picture of the cover art really fast. lol)

Yeah, it's crazy how rare/expensive the late US Nintendo games are! Bubble Bobble 2 is another super expensive one. =[

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ha ha! I love that it scared you so much you'd flip past it as soon as possible, Kaze :)

Also, yes, it's crazy how expensive the game is these days. I'd buy the NA version in a heartbeat if it were reasonably priced (I much prefer the sprite used for the main character in the NA version to the one used in the JP version), but even "loose" copies of the game go for about $175 on eBay. Yikes!

Bubble Bobble 2 being horribly expensive is a joke, though, since it's an absolutely terrible game, IMO. Fukio Mitsuji had nothing to do with it -- and it shows :(

chaosyoshimage said...

I remember buying the Game Boy Color version of Dragon Warrior III because of Toriyama's art as I was a huge Dragon Ball fan. And thus began my unending love for the series.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, chaosyoshimage! I think I know you from Twitter. Your avatar is quite memorable :)

Anyway, it's good to hear someone else loves Toriyama's art -- and the Dragon Quest series. Which DQ game is your favorite, if you don't mind me asking?

chaosyoshimage said...

Lol, yeah that's me, I started following you when Mr. Raroo mentioned you and I noticed you had a great blog on classic games. I think Dragon Quest IX is my favorite because of the abundance of content and charming stories (Although every Dragon Quest has those). Dragon Quest VIII is a close runner up, it really captures that feeling of old school adventure cartoons and anime. I'm hoping DQX ends up being a combination of what I love about both games.

It helps that the DS is my favorite platform. Although, I haven't got to the DS remakes because I found $40 to be an off putting price after paying that for Chrono Trigger and not caring much for what upgrades that were there. So, that means I've only played I-III, VIII and IX (I do have VII on PS1 though, just haven't gotten to it yet).

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hello again, chaosyoshimage! (Man, that is a hard name to type. LOL!)

Ah, so you're a follower of Mr. Raroo? That's great! I absolutely love him :)

I love that DQ IX is your favorite DQ, by the way. So many people on line like to bash DQ IX, while I think of it as one of the best, most enjoyable games I've played in a very long time.

I'm also glad to hear that you love, DQ VIII. I own the game, but have yet to play it. (I also desperately want DQ VII, by the way. Guess I'll have to add it to the collection soon.)

I've shied away from the DS remakes due to price, by the way. I've heard great things about them, but they just cost too much for me at the moment. May pick them up on the cheap eventually, though -- assuming I can ever find them on the cheap, of course :P

Darwin said...

Can I recommend that you guys try out Blue Dragon on Xbox:

Director: Hironobu Sakaguchi
Music: Nobuo Uematsu
Character Design: Akira Toriyama

Same team that did Chrono Trigger! It's only $9.87 on Amazon.

Honestly when I first started playing it, my bf asked - are you controlling it?? Such a beautiful game. Kind of a silly story though, but the world you explore is awesome. One of the rare next-gen games that actually has a great sense of adventure.

Oh and bonus: if you play Lost Odyssey it has all the same item names, and even some of the same enemies.

Darwin said...

Oh, and from what I understand, Microsoft went to Sakaguchi and said - we want you to create a Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest for Xbox, so:
Final Fantasy = Lost Odyssey
Dragon Quest = Blue Dragon

I really love those games, despite being panned critically.

I hate that it's tied with being an exclusive, just like Last Story. I personally would love to see an HD version of that game.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, thanks for reminding me of both of those games, Darwin! I was very interested in Blue Dragon when it first came out, but I didn't have an Xbox 360 at the time -- and didn't know if I'd ever get one -- so it kind of fell off my radar. Now that I have a 360, though, I should probably buy a few non-XBLA/non-XBLIG games for it, eh?

Do both Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey feature turn-based battles, by the way? I'm really old-school in that regard -- much preferring turn-based battles to real-time ones :)

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, and one more thing: It seems you've played some of The Last Story by now. What do you think of it? I've spent so much time looking forward to Xenoblade myself that I've barely put any thought into The Last Story, although I've heard some good things about...

Kaze said...

I've never played Blue Dragon but I will wholeheartedly back Darwin on Lost Odyssey! It's a great game and very Final Fantasy like. Although, sadly it's again another game on my pile of shame. I got to the last dungeon and randomly stopped playing. Which I am oddly known to do. lol

My favorite aspect is the dreams that the main character unlocks during the game as he's reminded of aspects of his past. I usually never get emotional or even close to the point of crying over video games/movies but the dreams are one of the few things that can get me close to that point. It's a strong testament to the writing, translation, and sound effects/music used. Some of the dreams are possible to miss so I recommend playing it with a walk-through that shows how to get them all.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, thanks for your insights, too, Kaze! Of course, both of you are now pushing me toward buying more games -- when I just told myself I had to stop it for a while. Hmmmm, we'll see ;)

Anyway, Lost Odyssey certainly sounds interesting. I love the idea of FF-like games, as the actual FF series has become more than a bit stale to me.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Question for Darwin and Kaze (and anyone else paying attention to this comment thread): Have either of you played Infinite Undiscovery or The Last Remnant?

I'm especially interested in the latter, as I've always liked Square's SaGa games (and I believe The Last Remnant was made by some of the same folks), but I don't know enough about it to know if it's worth picking up or not.

Kaze said...

Haha, if it makes you feel any better you're also influencing me to buy more games and start retro collecting too! :D

Infinite Undiscovery I played very briefly at a friend's house but didn't get into it. I know it got kinda bad reviews. I think I remember being really turned off by the English dub voices.

Last Remnant I shied away from because of the bad reviews and reports that it was really graphically glitchy on Xbox. Although, I've heard the PC version on Steam fixes a lot of the issues.

I can't speak for Blue Dragon but Lost Odyssey is strict old-school RPG turn based combat. ^^ Which I love but I think was one source of bad reviews for the game. The combat system wasn't "fresh" enough for a lot of critics.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Thanks, Kaze! I'm glad to hear that I've helped influence, in a way, you and Darwin to start collecting retro games :)

Thanks, too, for your thoughts on/experiences with Infinite Undiscovery and Last Remnant. Seems I'll have to do some research RE: the latter, as I definitely don't want to get a glitchy game.

I love hearing that Lost Odyssey is old-school, turn-based combat. I wish more games would feature such gameplay, personally.

Darwin said...

I have both Last Remnant and Infinite Undiscovery. Last Remnant is horrible. One of the few games that I gave up after a couple hours. I had no clue what was going on, and the battle system was confusing - even though I won. I'm actually curious to try it again now, hah.

I liked Infinite Undiscovery. It does lack a bit of polish - some areas look significantly better than others, audio cuts out, and interface is lacking. Good points is that there are a ton of characters with different abilities (you battle realtime on the map) and it has a decent story. I actually enjoyed exploring the world, but I stopped playing on the second disc because I seriously got lost. I might start over one day.

I personally think Blue Dragon has one of the best battle systems:
- all enemies are visible
- early on you get an ability to create a field ring - any enemy caught in the ring will be in battle. Interesting thing is that if you manage to group different types of enemies, they will battle each other, so its a bit of a 3 way.
- when your character get stronger, weaker enemies run away (every game should do this!)
- after a certain level (really high), you can get the ability to create an energy barrier around your character and you can instant kill enemies without going in to battle - sacrifice is lower xp earned, but it's a great solution to grinding.

I thought the story was goofy, but it's one of those rare games that is kinda charming - you'll instantly get what I mean when you see the title screen reveal.

As for Lost Odyssey, I'll admit that I cried during some of the stories! Have to note that the music in the game is fantastic. One of my favorite soundtracks.

Kaze, finish the game!! The ending was so good.

Bryan, I haven't started The Last Story yet. I'm waiting to hear if it will be released in the US before trying to plow through all the Japanese text. Fingers crossed!

chaosyoshimage said...

Lol, yeah, most people just type CYM when they need to address me online. And yeah, I've seen the undeserved hate DQIX gets for not being a console game, mostly from people who probably never even played it.

I got lucky with VII, I was even a decent sized town for shopping and a game store I came across was having a buy 2 get 1 free sale, so I picked it up as well as Final Fantasy Legend III for $15 and got another game for free.

I bought Blue Dragon as soon as I got a 360, but because I got one with Fallout 3, I was playing that for an indefinite amount of time. Once I finally stopped playing that I moved on to Blue Dragon and, well, the used copy I foolishly bought without checking to see if it worked, didn't work. I still haven't replaced it yet. One of the main reasons I bought my 360 was for the exclusive Japanese RPG's and yet, I haven't played any of them...

Bryan Ochalla said...

Thank you for the insights RE: Last Remnant and Infinite Undiscovery (what is up with that name??), Darwin! Guess I can cross the first game off my "to try" list. Not entirely sure about the second one at this point either, although that's OK because I have too many games at this point anyway.

I'm *definitely* going to have to give Blue Dragon a try, though, and likely Lost Odyssey, too. Blue Dragon especially sounds like my cup of tea -- and it's so cheap right now! Hmmmm...

As for The Last Story coming to NA: My fingers (and toes and other unmentionables) are crossed, too, Darwin. I have a feeling it will be released here, although likely in a limited way like Xenoblade Chronicles. Which is OK with me -- as long as I can buy it, I don't really care if I have to buy it through Nintendo themselves, GameStop, etc.

Bryan Ochalla said...

CYM: Yeah, I have a feeling a lot of the hate DQ IX gets is from people who are bitter it was released on a console -- and, more specifically, from people who are bitter it wasn't released on a PlayStation console. That said, I've heard a lot of people who are uber DQ fans complain about it, too -- mainly, I think, because it does quite a few things differently than previous entires in the series? I can't speak to that, though, because I've only ever played the first DQ and DQ IX. In my own experience, though, DQ IX was an absolutely wonderful game. The fact that it has rekindled my long-dormant interest in the series has to be worth something, right?

I'm jealous that you were able to pick up DQ VII and FF Legend III for just $15, by the way. Hell, I'd be happy to pick up just DQ VII for $15 at this point. I don't really mind that I'll likely have to pay somewhere between $30 and $50 for it, though, since I'm really looking forward to playing it.

As for your Blue Dragon story: That sucks! Hope you can replace it soon -- and give the game a try. It certainly sounds like an interesting game, based on what Darwin (above) has said about it.

Sean said...

Hey that was really nice of him. I like the art on that one too, the purple really stands out.

Not sure if anybody in the 26 comments abov has mentioned this yet, but the name written on the back of the cart is Ishida!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Thanks for the help, Sean! As for this game's box art: Yeah, I reallllllly like it. I think I'll have to take a nice, straight-on shot of the cart as soon as I open it. (I didn't do so for this post because the plastic around it makes it too reflective to photograph straight-on.)

Sean said...

LOL, I have that problem with cart cover reflectivity too. It is the curse of all retro game bloggers who like to put photos of carts on their blogs:)

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ha! Glad to know I'm far from alone, Sean :)

Dreamerartworx said...

Just use moderate amount of lighting when shooting the pic, NO flash is needed if you brighten up the room or place a table lamp near the object. And of course: look for reflections just before shooting the pic :) Common photography sense :)

thegaygamer.com said...

Hey there, Dreamerartworx! Oh, I know enough not to use a flash. Still, in average lighting a wrapped game like this one tends to show reflections--or at least it does for me.