Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hunky Space Harrier

I don't know if any of you noticed, but buried within this post about Darwin Yamamoto's recent trip to Tokyo's retro-games shop, Super Potato, was a brief note about the New Yorker being a designer and illustrator.

Well, a good example of Yamamoto's abilities as an illustrator can be seen in his recent--and rather hunky--portrait of Sega's Space Harrier:

Go here to see an animated version of this portrait, by the way. (The static version, above, was taken from here.)

To see more such portraits of famous and not-so-famous game characters--including Jennifer from Rule of Rose, Vincent from Catherine and Francis York from Deadly Premonition--check out this Flickr set.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Manual Stimulation: Mother (Famicom)

I'm loath to admit it, but I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the instruction manual that's included with every copy of the cult classic known as Mother (EarthBound Zero to some of you).

Why on earth do I hate the Mother manual? Well, for starters, it's not a manual, per se. Rather, it's a huge piece of paper--a poster, really--that's been folded into a two-inch-by-three-inch rectangle. (What can I say? I much prefer manuals that can be flipped through, one page at a time, to ones that require folding and unfolding.)

Another reason I'm not a huge fan of the Mother manual: There's a lot more text, and a lot fewer illustrations and screenshots, than I expected to see in such a production.

That's not to say it lacks any interesting art whatsoever. On the contrary, a number of interesting illustrations and photos (of what appear to be clay models) can be found within the folds of Mother's instruction manual. (They're fully responsible for the love I feel for this booklet, by the way.)

For instance, there are these models of the game's main party members (Ninten, Ana, Lloyd and Teddy):

I also like the models seen on this otherwise-text-filled page:

Click on any or all of the scans above or below to take a closer look at them, by the way.

Photos of even more clay models can be found on the following page, which details Mother's many enemy characters.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Great Gaymathon Review #50: Final Match Tennis (PC Engine)

Game: Final Match Tennis
Genre: Sports
Developer: Human
Publisher: Human
System: PC Engine
Release date: 1991

Some folks will tell you this is the best tennis game ever made. I'm not one of them. That's not to suggest I think Final Match Tennis is crap; on the contrary, I think it's a great, fast-paced, arcade-style offering. The "fast-paced" part is what keeps me coming back to this HuCard again and again, by the way. (Too many tennis titles flow like mud, in my humble opinion.) Well, that and a few of its other positive attributes: Like its appealing selection of players (all of whom seem to be based on real-life pros of the era, such as Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe), its small-but-nicely-animated sprites (case in point: the McEnroe-ish player's serve looks just like the real thing) and its uncomplicated-but-not-dumb gameplay. Oh, and competing against the computer in Final Match Tennis is a reliably and enjoyably challenging endeavor, something that, in my experience, can't often be said about this title's counterparts. So, what keeps me from joining the folks who proclaim this is the be-all and end-all of tennis games? Well, I consider its lack of female players to be a big negative, for starters. (Strangely, the CD-based Human Sports Festival features a ladies-only version of Final Match Tennis, along with golf and soccer games.) Also, each player has a fairly limited arsenal of shots--especially when compared to contemporaries like Ace Wo Nerae and Super Tennis World Circuit (both of which were released for the Super Famicom in 1993 and 1991, respectively). Finally, its "world tour" mode disappoints by ending rather unrealistically as soon as you lose a match.

See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Get that second pair of underwear ready, folks: Shinrei Camera is coming to the States on April 13

As anyone who has owned a Wii should be well aware, Nintendo isn't the greatest at localizing its Japanese games for the North American market these days.

As such, I fully expected the company's recently released, Fatal Frame-ish collaboration with Tecmo Koei Games, Shinrei Camera: Tsuiteru Techou, to remain a Japan-only affair.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I read that Nintendo of America is bringing this scary 3DS game to the States--as Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir--on Friday, April 13.

Nintendo of America's PR folks failed to mention the game's price in the press release they sent around yesterday morning, but it's a pretty sure bet they'll charge $29.99 for it. (The Japanese version costs ¥3,800, while most of the company's games go for ¥4,800.)

For more information on this sure-to-be-spooky 3DS offering, check out its official site.


Custom Miyamoto 3DS case

Although I need to spend more money on gaming-related goods about as much as I need another hole in my head, I can't help but crave the custom, Miyamoto-branded 3DS case below.

It was created by the proprietor of the KickassCases etsy shop, by the way, and it can be purchased (here) for just $20.

Looking for a custom 3DS case, but not interested in one that features the grinning visage of Shigeru Miyamoto? You still may want to check out the KickassCases shop--especially if you're a Mario, Yoshi or Zelda fan.

I'm pretty fond of this Kirby one and this Tetris one myself.

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'

Monday, January 16, 2012

It seems Rhythm Heaven Fever's North American localization won't be completely terrible

I've watched more gameplay videos of the Japanese version of Rhythm Heaven Fever--called Minna no Rhythm Tengoku, or Everybody's Rhythm Heaven--than I'd like to admit. As a result, I've already come to love quite a few of this wacky Wii release's mini-games.

The mini-game I'm most in love with at the moment: The one many people are calling "Wrestler Interview." Here's a video of the Japanese version, in case you've yet to see it:

Given my propensity to worry about things that are completely pointless (not to mention beyond my control), I've been fretting for the last few months as to how this mini-game's vocal track will sound after it's been translated into English and re-recorded by an American voice actor. (Rhythm Heaven Fever will hit store shelves in North America on Feb. 13, by the way. Unfortunately, the European version of the game, which will be called Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise, is still without a firm release date.)

Well, I can stop worrying. Someone just uploaded to YouTube the localized (for North American audiences) version of this mini-game, which apparently will be called, "Ringside." Here it is:

Although I can't say I find the English vocals to be as cute or as energetic as those that appear in the Japanese version, I also can't say I find them completely terrible. What do all of you think?

In related news: The fabulously altered version of this mini-game that can be viewed here and that features a Brazilian "male escort" named Ricardo Milos continues to bring a smile to my face more than three months after it was first appeared on YouTube.

Pre-order: Rhythm Heaven Fever

(Via, by way of

If someone doesn't bring Beyond the Labyrinth to the States, I'm going to bust some skulls

Thanks to the 20 minutes of gameplay footage (below) of Beyond the Labyrinth that hit the Interwebs over the weekend, I'm once again frothing at the mouth for an English localization of this tri-Ace-developed, Konami-published, dungeon-crawling RPG.

Although I'm still a smidge unsure about this 3DS game's battle scenes--what's with all of the shifting around of those blue, green and red tabs on the bottom screen?--I'm feeling the exact opposite about the rest of it. I especially like the seeming omnipresence of its chatty, white-haired (or is it blue?) protagonist.

Are any of you also hoping Beyond the Labyrinth makes its way westward sometime this year? If so, why?

See also: 'Beyond the Labyrinth's battle scenes are as beautiful as its box art' and 'Konami's Beyond the Labyrinth (3DS) has some classy box art'

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I can't get the Coconut Mall theme out of my head (and other musings on Mario Kart 7's soundtrack)

I'm sure this admission will surprise no one, but I've been playing a lot of Mario Kart 7 lately. How much is "a lot"? Well, I've played it for over 23 hours so far. That may not sound like a lot to some of you, but it's rare for me to play a game for that amount of time these days.

Anyway, all of that racing has produced a rather annoying side effect: I can't get the game's soundtrack out of my head! The worst offender: The song that plays while racing on the Coconut Mall course.

It isn't unusual for this jangly, piano-driven tune to be stuck in my head for hours at a time. Thankfully, I like the song about as much as I like the course (it's one of my all-time favorites), so there's no need to worry about my sanity. Yet.

That's not the only Mario Kart 7 track that has perked my ears, mind you. I'm also quite fond of the tunes that accompany the Daisy Hills, Music Park and Rainbow Road courses. (Listen to the last one by playing the following video.)

As much as I like all of the above-mentioned themes, I think they're a bit subdued when compared to the series' most classic tunes, don't you think?

Also, what do all of you think about Mario Kart 7's soundtrack in general? How do you think it compares to its predecessors? Finally, which songs are your favorites?

See also: Previous Mario Kart 7 posts