Saturday, February 11, 2012

Coming this Monday: The second 'Mario Kart 7 Gaymer Night'

The inaugural "Mario Kart 7 Gaymer Night" that was held on Jan. 30 was such a success--and such a blast--that I thought I should schedule another.

So, anybody who has a bit of free time this coming Monday night (Feb. 13) and who is itching to race against a slew of open-minded gamers should feel free to pop their heads into The Gay Gamer community starting at 7 pm PST/10 pm EST.

In case you've yet to join The Gay Gamer community, here's the info you'll need to do so: 22-7203-7866-8075.

No worries if you won't be able to participate this time around for whatever reason; more "Mario Kart 7 Gaymer Nights" are sure to follow in the coming weeks and months.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Manual Stimulation: Hoshi no Kirby (Famicom)

Before I get to the meat of this installment of "Manual Stimulation," I have to say that few things in the gaming world can compete with the out-and-out cuteness of Hoshi no Kirby's (aka Kirby's Adventure's) box art.

This Famicom game's instruction manual gives it the old college try, though, and that alone makes it worth checking out.

Said instruction manual's cover certainly is adorable--and pink--enough, don't you think?

I'm skipping the manual's first two pages, by the way, because they're pretty boring. (They basically show players which buttons do what. Yawn.) The next few pages, though, are anything but boring thanks to a number of nice illustrations that seemingly help tell the story behind this pastel-splashed platformer.

After a few more yawn-inducing pages that feature lots of text and a smidge of screenshots, the manual gets interesting again.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Great Gaymathon Review #53: Fantasy Zone (PC Engine)

Game: Fantasy Zone
Genre: Shoot 'em up
Developer: NEC Avenue
Publisher: NEC Avenue
System: PC Engine
Release date: 1988

I have a feeling this particular port of Sega's classic, pastel-soaked shoot 'em up was maligned by more than a few people (including myself) back in the day for failing to be "arcade perfect." Those detractors had a point, actually: As good as this game looks, for instance, its graphics don't quite match the coin-op original's brightness or softness. (The ever-so-slightly harsh backgrounds in this version are the main culprits here.) This HuCard's rollicking soundtrack also suffered a bit (OK, a lot) in the transition from arcade cabinet to PC Engine console, thanks in large part to someone's bright idea (not) to raise it in pitch to the point that every song is the aural equivalent of being jabbed in the back of a head with a child's fork while attempting to eat at a fine-dining establishment. (Translation: It's really irritating.) The folks at NEC Avenue nailed the most important aspect of this home conversion, though--that being the gameplay. Just like the original, the PC Engine version of Fantasy Zone tasks players with piloting an adorably winged ship, named Opa-Opa, through looping, open-ended worlds--a la Defender--in an attempt to destroy all of the enemy bases that reside within them. Destroy all of said bases and, surprise, you face a dastardly boss. In the end, doing all of the above feels like it should, although that's not to say it's without flaw. For example, there's a sense of inertia to Opa-Opa that, when combined with the aforementioned wrap-around stages, can be awkward to deal with, especially at the outset. Also, the game is the definition of challenging. (Case in point: There are eight levels, but I've yet to get to the fourth without cheating.)

See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Reason #403 I could be considered an 'eccentric' (aka bat-sh*t crazy) gamer

Thanks to the North American copy of Rhythm Heaven that I picked up on the cheap a few weeks ago, I now own three copies of this wonderfully wacky music game.

Why on earth did I decide to buy three copies of this DS title? Well, I didn't set out to own three copies of it, for starters. When it was first released in Japan--as Rhythm Tengoku Gold--three-and-a-half years ago, I doubted it would make its way to the West, so I picked up a copy via

After the folks at Nintendo of America announced that it would, in fact, be brought stateside, I added it to my to-buy list ... and promptly forgot about it, especially after a I read a number of negative comments about its English vocals.

Later, I came across a cheap copy of the UK version--renamed, for some strange reason, Rhythm Paradise--and purchased that one instead. (In part because it was cheap, and in part because I wanted another Euro DS game. See this post for more on that.)

At that point, I pretty much gave up on adding the North American release to my collection. When I saw that a sealed copy of the game was being sold via Amazon for less than $5, though, I couldn't help but snatch it up.

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

The green-and-yellow dino on this t-shirt design isn't Bub, but I like it anyway

When I first came across the following t-shirt design last night (as always, click on it to take a closer look at it), I was sure the dino that serves as its focal point was supposed to be a Ren & Stimpy-esque re-imagining of one of my favorite game characters of all time: Bub (Bubblun, to some) of Bubble Bobble fame.

Sadly, that's not the case. Instead, the green-and-yellow character's name is "Hablaah the Magic Crocogator." Oooooookay.

Rather than let my disappointment get the better of me, I decided not only to vote on the design (at but to give it a good score to boot. (Note: I believe this may be the first time I've used "to boot" on this blog.)

I did that because I'm hoping the design will garner a high enough score to be "printed," as the folks at Threadless call it. Shortly after, I'll buy one of the shirts and then proceed to tell people that the puking creature at the center of the image is, in fact, Bub (or Bubblun, if that's your thing).

Should you want to support this endeavor, would you please go here and give Aaron Jacob Willman's whimsical design an appreciably high score?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Are you ready to blast the underwear off of another set of buff baddies?

You bet I am--especially if the bosses who appear in Sugar Shooter 2 are as cute (and, yes, as hot) as those who were featured in the first Sugar Shooter.

Unfortunately, I won't know if that's the case or not for a while, as this Mac/PC-based bullet-hell shmup, although finished, has only been sent to those who pre-ordered it thus far.

A note on the Dudedle Studio blog promises it will be made available to the rest of us shortly after the Japanese version drops on (or around) Feb. 19, though, so at least there's that.

In the meantime, why not busy yourself (as I am) by playing through the Sugar Shooter 2 demo that can be downloaded here?

From the back of my boyhood closet, part two

Remember how I mentioned in this post that some of the game-related treasures I pulled from my boyhood closet (while staying with my parents this past Christmas) surprised me while others brought a smile to my face thanks to the fond memories I have of them?

Well, the "find" seen in the photo below--the Nintendo 64 system that I received as a birthday present far too many years ago--falls squarely into the latter category.

One reason I have such fond memories of Nintendo's third console is that it was so uniquely--some would say strangely--designed and constructed. That bump on the top and those "wings" on the sides signaled to gamers of the day that this system was unlike any that came before it. (Its Batwing-shaped controller, which I also own but which isn't pictured below, suggested a similar changing of the gaming guard.)

Another reason the warm feeling of nostalgia washes over me whenever I think about the Nintendo 64: Despite its technical shortcomings, the system was home to a bevy of awesome games.

Speaking of which, I pulled more than just a still-in-great-shape Nintendo 64 system from my childhood closet a few months ago; I also pulled a pair of my favorite Nintendo 64 games from that cluttered space. One of those games, Paper Mario, can be seen in the photo above, while the second is none other than The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

Sadly, I couldn't find the boxes that originally housed these games. I was able to find a rather crumpled manual for Paper Mario, though, so all of my digging wasn't completely without merit.

See also: Previous 'from the back of my boyhood closet' posts

Monday, February 06, 2012

Hubba hubba, part trois

It's been almost a year since I last wrote about the guys I consider to be gaming's hottest hunks, so I think it's about time I chimed in on this steamy subject once again, don't you?

The five studs below have been placed in alphabetical order, by the way. If I were to organize them from hottest to hot-but-not-quite-the-hottest, I'd probably put either Garcia Hotspur or Sigma in the pole position.

Chuck Greene (Dead Rising 2)--I included this series' dark-and-scruffily handsome Frank West in my first "Hubba Hubba" post, so why not include the blond-and-scruffily handsome protagonist of its second entry in this one? It helps, of course, that Greene looks more than a bit like actor Aaron Eckhart. Sure, he shows up as a psychopath in Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, but nobody's perfect, right?

Dunban (Xenoblade Chronicles)--Dunban is a special guy. Not only is he one of the few people capable of wielding the Monado, the legendary "energy blade" that serves as the centerpiece of this long-awaited Wii RPG, but he has a jaw so square it would make even Viggo Mortenson jealous. And then, of course, there's his flowing locks and muscular, tattooed torso. The only strike against this studly solider, as far as I can tell: He has a rather questionable sense of fashion. Oh, well, who wants to see him clothed anyway?

Enoch (El Shaddai)--To be completely honest, Enoch, the protagonist of this PS3/Xbox 360 action title, isn't my type. Oh, he's easy enough on the eyes, but he's just a bit too ... pretty for me. (I mean, look at that hair! Is Fabio his role model or something?) His guardian angel, Lucifel, on the other hand, is much more my cup of tea, if you get my drift. Still, I thought I should include a blond or two on this list, so there you go. (Pointless aside: Go here if you'd like to see some fan art that depicts Enoch and Lucifel "in flagrante delicto.")

Garcia Hotspur (Shadows of the Damned)--On the surface, Hotspur is your typical bad boy: He's covered in tattoos, he's got a facial scar, he has an affinity for leather (jackets, especially), his hair is dark and unkempt ... you get the picture, right? Dig a little deeper, though, and you discover that this questionably-named hunk has a softer side, too. (During the course of this Grasshopper Manufacture-made game, he goes to hell in order to save his true love.) Can I get an "awwwwwwwww"?

Sigma (Extreme Escape Adventure: Good People Die)--The Wikipedia entry for this upcoming Chunsoft-developed 3DS/Vita title says that Sigma, its main character, enjoys making risque jokes. In other words, he's pretty much the perfect guy. After all, it suggests he has a (crass) sense of humor as well as model good looks and a penchant for wearing what looks like a (form-fitting) mechanic's get-up. Be still my heart.

Honorable mentions: Hawke (Dragon Age II), Lucifel (El Shaddai), Reyn (Xenoblade Chronicles) and Skyrim's "Nude Muscle Bears" (link NSFW).

See also: 'Hubba hubba' and 'Hubba hubba, part deux'