Saturday, January 07, 2012

Five more retro games and systems I'm looking forward to playing in 2012

Yesterday, I wrote about five retro games and systems--like Chack'n Pop for the Famicom and the Sega Game Gear--that I'm looking forward to buying (if need be) and playing in 2012. Here are five more:

1. Kaettekita Mario Bros.--To those of you wondering what the hell Kaettekita Mario Bros. is: It's an updated version of Nintendo's arcade classic that was released, with the help of Japanese food company Nagatanien for the Famicom Disk System back in 1988. The main reason I want to own and play it: Honestly, I like that it's a somewhat-rare oddity. There are other reasons, too, though, such as that the graphics and music in this version are a smidge better than those seen and heard in the Famicom cart release and that the titular Mario brothers (finally) can change direction in mid-air.

2. Madou Monogatari--This is the other "holy grail" PC Engine game I eluded to in my last post. Unlike the first one, this one is a CD-based dungeon-crawler that stars a doe-eyed little girl and a slew of characters that later appeared in Compile's Puyo Puyo series. The only reasons I haven't already acquired a copy of Madou Monogatari: It's awfully expensive (copies go for well over $100 on eBay, plus it requires an Arcade Card, which tends to go for about $40) and it's entirely in Japanese.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Five retro games and systems I'm looking forward to playing in 2012

Last week, I wrote about the 10 soon-to-be-released games that I'm looking forward to playing this year. (Check out this post and then this post if you'd like to see which games made the cut.)

Anyone who has been coming to this blog for any period of time knows that old games are just as likely, if not more likely, to appear on my "now playing" list, so it only makes sense for me to write about the retro games (and systems) I'm looking forward to buying (if need be) and playing this year, too, right?

Five such games and systems are detailed below. Look for five more games and systems to discussed in a similarly titled post that will be published tomorrow.

1. bit Generations series--I've had my eye on these indie-esque GameBoy Advance titles, developed by Skip/Q-Games and published by Nintendo of Japan, for a while now, but I've yet to pick up any of them because ... well, I can't tell you why. I'm sure, though, that my procrastination has some- thing to do with it costing me a pretty penny to buy all seven of them at once. Maybe I'll satisfy my craving for this series by acquiring them slowly but surely (beginning with, say, Dotstream or Orbital).

2. Chack'n Pop--Like Ice Climber and numerous other games before it (hello, Fantasy Zone!), this Famicom port of Taito's arcade should-have-been-a-classic has gone from being one that I hated to being one that I quite honestly adore--despite its overt difficulty. As such, one of my main goals for 2012 is to obtain a complete-in-box copy of this Bubble Bobble precursor. (The box is necessary because the art splashed across it is completely adorable.)

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Five favorites: portable puzzlers

Why is that portable systems and puzzle games go together like peanut butter and jelly? Regardless of the reason, that's how it's been--for me, at least--since 1989, when the one-two punch of the GameBoy and Tetris were unleashed upon the world.

Despite the number of portable puzzlers that have flooded the market since then, I had a relatively hard time coming up with the following list. That's not to suggest any of the games below aren't really "favorites" of mine; rather, it's to suggest that, surprisingly, I just couldn't think of many others that could take their place. (Two that did come to mind but didn't quite make the cut: Orbital for the GameBoy Advance and the Professor Layton series for the DS and 3DS.)

So, which portable puzzlers impressed me enough to not only be remembered but be included in this post? I thought you'd never ask. Read on to find out.

1. ChuChu Rocket! (Sega, 2001)--Would I rather play the graphically superior Dreamcast version of this Sonic Team-developed game than this GameBoy Advance version, if given a choice? Probably, but this pixelated port is nothing to sneeze at. Both versions feature basically the same gameplay, after all, and both feature a slew of options. As such, I highly suggest every puzzler fan out there do what I've done: Get 'em both.

2. Guru Logi Champ (Compile, 2001)--If you like Picross, you'll probably like this import-only oddity, produced by the folks at Compile (makers of the Puyo Puyo games). And if you don't like Picross? You'll still probably like it, thanks to its wacky graphics, music and, most importantly, sense of humor. Unfortunately, this GameBoy Advance title isn't all that easy to come by these days, so your best bet is to download a ROM and play it via emulation. My advice: Give your morals a rest and do just that.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Five things I love about Kirby's Return to Dream Land (thus far)

You may remember how I mentioned in this recent post that I've already "beaten" Kirby's Return to Dream Land. I've hardly experienced all it has to offer, though, as I haven't found each and every "Energy Sphere" (this game's take on the star coins that populate the New Super Mario Bros. series) and I've barely spent any time in its "extra mode."

Still, I've played enough of this rather precious Wii platformer to know that I completely love the stuffing out of it--with the five following aspects being chiefly responsible for said love:

1. The graphics--I know some people have complained about the graphics in this game. Specifcally, they've called them "GameCube graphics." Those people are stupid. Even if these were GameCube-level graphics, they'd be wonderful ones, in my opinion, and as such gamers certainly shouldn't complain about them. Well, unless they're stupid.

2. The locales--Honestly, the settings in this game are the best I've experienced in a Wii platformer thus far. They're all bright and colorful, as I suppose should be expected of a Kirby game, but what I didn't expect was all of the little (and sometimes big) details. The background on one late-in-the-game level--which finds Kirby strolling through a cloud-based stage while a neighboring planet spins in the distance--especially blew me away.

3. The abilities--In particular, I'm completely obsessed with the stone one. It is unfathomably fun to jump into the air and turn Kirby into a statue, or a stone fist, or a boulder that then squashes an unsuspecting enemy. (Sliding down a hill and bowling over baddies is a blast, too.) Yeah, I'm evil like that. Also mighty impressive: All of the super abilities that are made available to Kirby throughout the game--each of which are more enjoyable than they have any right to be.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Reason #401 I could be considered an 'eccentric' (aka bat-sh*t crazy) gamer

Let's make this one simple, shall we? Thanks to my recent acquisition of the Famicom Disk System version of Ice Climber, I now own three copies of this Nintendo-made platformer.

Why on earth do I need three copies of one game? Well, I wouldn't say I need them, for starters. Also, all three copies aren't exactly the same.

That said, two copies of the game are pretty much the same. You see, the first copy I bought was a "loose" one--consisting of just the Japanese Famicom cart. The second copy, picked up in early November and detailed in this previously published post, on the other hand, is of the "complete in box" variety.

The third copy (seen at right), though, is of the Famicom Disk System version of the game. That makes it different from the others in format, of course, but did you know the disk version differs from the cart version in other ways, too?

For instance, the FDS iteration features an animated intro screen--seen at the start of this video--that shows Popo and Nana chipping the words "Ice Climber" out of a block of ice (or something like that). It also includes a stage-select screen, level layouts that differ from those found in the cartridge version, occasional weather effects (wind and snowstorms that impede your progress through a particular stage) and more. (More info on the differences between these versions can be found in the description of this YouTube video, by the way.)

Does all of the above make me any less bat-shit crazy for owning three copies of a game I used to despise? Probably not, but I don't care. Now please forgive me while I attempt to get past this version's fifth stage...

See also: Other reasons I could be considered an 'eccentric' (aka bat-sh*t crazy) gamer and previous Ice Climber posts

Monday, January 02, 2012

Hey, Nintendo of America: Where's my free copy of 3D Classics Kid Icarus?

The question in the header above popped into my head while reading these hands-on impressions of the Japanese version of 3D Classics: Kid Icarus over the weekend.

I know I probably sounded less than excited when I wrote about this 3D-enabled update of one of my all-time favorite Famicom and NES games early last month (in this post), but I have enough interest in it to want to give it a try, especially if it's free.

For some strange reason, though, Nintendo has yet to extend to North American 3DS owners the same offer--folks who register at least two of about 13 3DS games with Club Nintendo by a certain date receive a free copy of 3D Classics: Kid Icarus as a reward--it recently extended to Japanese and European 3DS owners.

Here's hoping the company's North American branch throws us a bone--or maybe I should say eggplant?--soon.


Is Mickey Mouse sticking his nose where I think he's sticking it?

Artist Ashley Anderson recently shared (on his facebook page) the following "sneak peak" of a piece he was producing for a show at Beep Beep Gallery in Atlanta.

Is it wrong that my initial reaction to this piece was, "Where'd he get those strawberry sprites?"

The Mickey-centric and probably-not-certified-by-Disney image above takes up but a small portion of the completed illustration, which is called "The Human Centerpiece," by the way. Check it out in all of its not-entirely-safe-for-work glory after the jump.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy new year, everyone! Are you ready for 2012 to rock your world? I hope so, because it's here whether you're ready for it or not.

In terms of games and systems, are you looking forward to anything in particular this year? For instance, are you looking forward to the release of the Vita or the Wii U? Or maybe you're looking forward to the release of a certain title (or two or three)?

Personally, along with the games I wrote about in this post and in this post, I'm very much looking forward to learning more about the Wii U. I'm also looking forward to learning more about Microsoft's and Sony's next-generation consoles.

The image above was created by bartotainment, by the way. It's actually an animated GIF, but apparently Blogger doesn't like such things. (Either that or I just don't know how to imbed them properly, which wouldn't surprise me at all.)

Anyway, if you'd like to see how the Galaga-esque (or maybe I should say Aleste-ish, thanks to the ship?) creation is supposed to look--you know, moving and all that--check out this post on the artist's blog, PIXELkitsch.