Friday, January 13, 2012

Five Wii games you should have played, but probably didn't

Unlike the DS, there's still a smidge of life left in the ol' Wii--thanks to 2012 releases like Mario Party 9, Rhythm Heaven Fever and Xenoblade Chronicles. That trio of titles is about all that's worth picking up for Nintendo's little white wonder next year, though, which means it'll be all but dead by the time the Wii U hits store shelves later this year.

As such, this is a good time for new and old Wii owners alike to pick up a few of the system's should-have-been-classics (in my opinion, of course)--like the ones included on the following list--before they become impossible to find or impossible to afford:

1. Art Style: Cubello--This often-frenetic puzzler (called Cubeleo in Japan, for some strange reason) was one of the first WiiWare titles, yet it's still among the very best the service has to offer. All you really need to know about this pleasingly and colorfully 3D release: It was made by the folks at skip Ltd.--aka the same folks responsible for the Chibi-Robo! series as well as wackadoodle titles like Captain Rainbow and GiFTPiA.

2. Endless Ocean--Here's another game, like Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, that I've mentioned so many times that half of you (if not more) probably let out a huge sigh when you saw I was going to talk about it again. Sorry about that. It's just that this "scuba simulator" was all but ignored in every region, as far as I'm aware. Curiously, this game's sequel, Endless Ocean: Blue World, is cheaper at the moment, so you may want to pick up that version instead. Just be warned that I've yet to play it, so I can't say if it's better or worse than developer Arika's original effort.

3. Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon--This recommendation comes with a disclaimer: If you're not at all interested in or at least curious about roguelikes and/or dungeon-crawling RPGs, you're probably not going to get much enjoyment out of this game. To everyone else: Go into this one (order it here) with an open mind and expect to grind, old-school style. Oh, and don't be afraid to say "awww" whenever the titular Chocobo does something cute (which will be often).

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Five DS games you should have played, but probably didn't

I hate to start posts like this with a disclaimer, but in this case I really feel I have to do so.

You see, although I've played a ton of DS games over the last few years, I've yet to play a number of the titles that tend to be included on lists such as this--titles like Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure, Kirby Mass Attack (which is on its way to my doorstep), Solatorobo and The World Ends With You (which I'll be picking up shortly).

Still, I've played and enjoyed enough of the system's releases that have been overlooked by the masses that I'm fairly confident the following list--which is organized, for once, in reverse alphabetical order--will be helpful to at least a few game-starved DS fans.

1. Rhythm Heaven--Sure, this is hardly an unknown game, thanks in large part to Nintendo's use of Beyonce in its TV ads, but it also hardly lit up the charts. That's too bad, because it's one of the funnest, wackiest games I've ever played. It also includes one of the best soundtracks you'll ever hear in a handheld title. It's horrendously cheap these days, so you may want to pick it up now if you've yet to give it a try.

2. Retro Game Challenge--This one has received a lot of press since it was released in 2009, but even then it didn't make enough for the folks at Xseed to translate and release its much-wanted sequel. Why is that unfortunate? Well, Retro Game Challenge is chock-full of witty writing, which ties together a bunch of well-made retrotastic titles that call to mind the classics of old (like Dragon Quest and Galaga). If you're a fan of such games, you're sure to quickly become a fan of this one, too.

3. Kirby: Canvas Curse--For me, this was one of the first games to really show the potential of Nintendo's dual-screened handheld, thanks in large part to its intriguing stylus-only control scheme. Sadly, I seem to be one of just a handful North Americans to feel that way about the game, as it was all but ignored by my brothers and sisters despite the fact that it bore Kirby's name (usually an attention-getter in the States, as far as I'm aware). Used copies can be found on eBay for a song, though, so it's not too late to snatch one up if you're at all into innovative platformers.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sega's doing its darndest to lead me @field

Specifically, the folks at The House That Sonic Built are doing their darndest to get me to buy a PlayStation Vita.

How so? Well, they're preparing to release--in Japan only, of course--a game called @field, which combines golf and pinball (in terms of gameplay) and is covered with a smear of the company's out-of-this-world--in more ways than one--Space Channel 5 (in terms of graphics).

Sadly, I can't seem to find any videos of this oddly titled game, which is supposed to be released sometime this winter, so the screenshots above and below will have to suffice.

Actually, I'm kind of glad I can't find any videos of @field, as I really don't need to add any games or systems to my "to buy in 2012" list, which already includes a slew of 3DS, PSP and Wii titles, as well as possibly a PS3 and/or a Wii U.

Should @field be positively received by the few brave souls who pick it up and play it, though, I definitely could see myself buying a copy of it alongside a Vita system--sometime after the Vita lands in the bargain bins in the States, of course.

See also: 'Are you planning to pick up a PlayStation Vita?'

I cannot tell a lie: I completely loathe Mario Kart 7's Neo Bowser City course

The headline above is my way of letting all of you know that I'm finally the proud owner of a copy of Mario Kart 7.

Actually, I've been not-so-secretly playing through this 3DS title for the last week or so (I say not-so-secretly because I've tweeted about my experiences on a few occasions), but I didn't want to say anything here until I was ready to race on line.

Why did I wait? Well, I'm one of those odd folks who have to unlock as many of the game's characters, karts and wheels as possible through solo play before I compete against actual human beings. (I've unlocked all of Mario Kart 7's racers so far, but I've got a ways to go before I can say the same thing about its karts, gliders and wheels.)

                          Does anyone actually play the game this way?

Speaking of racing on line, I recently set up a community for readers of this blog, in case any of you are interested in such a thing. Here's the community's code: 22-7203-7866-8075. (If you've started a community, or if you know of any that are "open and affirming," so to speak, let me know in the comments section, will you?)

Anyway, back to my experience with Mario Kart 7 thus far and which courses I love and which ones I loathe: My favorite of the game's new courses at the moment Music Park and my least favorite is the aforementioned Neo Bowser City. Which courses are you guys and gals liking and which ones are you hating at the moment?

Buy: Mario Kart 7

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Let's Play: 'Which Box Art is Better?' (Uncharted Golden Abyss edition)

Full disclosure: I really wanted the first Vita-focused "Which Box Art is Better?" post to feature Touch My Katamari, but that game's cover art is the same in every region (as far as I'm aware). So, I went with my runner-up choice: Uncharted Golden Abyss.

Speaking of which, this portable iteration of Naughty Dog's popular IP was released in Japan on Dec. 17 with the following box art:

When the game hits European and North American store shelves on Feb. 22, however, it'll feature this piece of cover art, which focuses more on protagonist Nathan Drake:

Although I think both options are completely fine, I personally prefer the sunny Japanese box art to its gloomier European and North American counterpart. Which cover do you guys and gals prefer?

Pre-order: Uncharted Golden Abyss

Monday, January 09, 2012

Just in case anyone cares: Here's a teaser trailer for Rhythm Heaven Fever

I know most of you aren't all that interested in the North American release of Rhythm Heaven Fever, but those of you who are interested in it should get a kick out of the following teaser trailer, which I believe is the first to shine a light on the game's English translation.

As much I like it, I wish it included clips of a few more mini-games (especially those featuring vocals). Of course, maybe the marketing wizards at Nintendo of America are saving them for a second, even wackier teaser trailer? After all, the game isn't due to hit store shelves until Feb. 13. (Pre-order a copy of it here.)


Ain't nothin' like a stroll through Super Potato

Or at least that's what I've been telling myself ever since I came across the photos Darwin Yamamoto--a New York City-based designer and illustrator who has commented here on more than a few occasions--took of the famous retro-games shop during a recent trip to Japan.

The following photo is my favorite because it includes colorful Famicom carts as well as Super Potato's similarly colorful signage.

For pics of the store's Dreamcast and Mega Drive sections, as well as photos of Yamamoto's pick-ups, check out this Flickr set.

Said Flickr set includes photos of other drool-worthy sites, by the way--such as the Dragon Quest-themed Luida's Bar, a shot bar called Muteki Mario and the life-sized Gundam statute that resides on Odaiba, an artificial island near Tokyo.