Friday, March 23, 2012

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

To those of you wondering why I'm not including retail or even XBLA releases in this post: I'm not including the former because I have just one such game (Deadly Premonition) and I'm not including the latter because pretty much all of the XBLA titles I've purchased thus far are high-profile ones, and I'm trying to focus on under-appreciated releases in this series of posts. (Here's one that focuses on DS games you should have played, but probably didn't, and here's one that focuses on Wii games.)

1. Arkedo Series: 03 Pixel!--Can a more charming platformer be found via the XBLIG service? If so, I've yet to come across it. Even if one were to present itself to me, it wouldn't cause me to change my mind about the fact that Arkedo Series: 03 Pixel! is more charming than it has any right to be. How else would you describe a run-and-jump title that puts you in the, er, paws of a big-headed cat who has to--you guessed it--run and jump his way though a bunch of beautifully rendered (in blue and white) stages while avoiding assorted baddies. Admittedly, Pixel! won't win any awards for uniqueness (although it incorporates occasional mini-games in a rather clever manner), nor will it win any awards for length or difficulty, but who really cares when the overall experience is this tight, simple and fun?

2. Escape Goat--If you're looking to pick up a great puzzler-platformer via XBLIG, Escape Goat is your game. Why? It looks like a Genesis game--a good one, mind you--for starters. (It kind of sounds like one, too, now that I'm thinking of it.) I can't say it plays like one because, well, I don't believe I ever played a puzzler-platformer on Sega's 16-bit system. Regardless, this one is a joy to play. In part that's because controlling the main character--the titular goat--feels great, which makes traversing the game's many obstacles (it is a puzzler, after all) a snap, and in part it's because everything--the gameplay, graphics and music--comes together to produce a most captivating experience.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Can you feel the Theatrhythm?

I sure can--or maybe I should say I'll be able to feel it soon, since Square Enix's Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is set to be released stateside sometime this summer.

For those of you who've never heard of this game, it's a tap-and-swipe-the-touch-screen rhythm game--not unlike Nintendo's criminally under- appreciated Elite Beat Agents--that features characters and music from the Final Fantasy series.

I've had my eye on Theatrhythm Final Fantasy since it was first announced (for Japanese release) last July mainly because of its oddly charming art style, although I'm attracted to its filled-to-the-brim-with-classic-tunes soundtrack, too.

As far as I can tell, the folks at Square Enix have not yet announced a solid release date for this 3DS title. (All they've said thus far is that it'll hit the streets in Europe and North America "this summer.")

They also haven't revealed the Western version's box art, which I'm hoping will be an altered-as-little-as-possible rehash of the art that graced the cover of the Japanese release.

Are any of you similarly excited that Theatrhythm Final Fantasy will soon be available outside of Japan?

Manual Stimulation: Pro Tennis World Court (PC Engine)

The instruction manual included with every copy of Namcot's Pro Tennis World Court for the PC Engine begins rather boringly, if you ask me, with the cover art shown below. (That said, I quite like the perspective used. Bravo to the illustrator responsible for it!)

The first two pages aren't much more interesting--unless you like adorably-drawn anime-ish girls in tennis drag--but I'm including them anyway because of the sticky note that's attached to the second one. I'm guessing the scribbles that cover said note are codes for the game's RPG-esque "quest" mode?

Here's how the same pair of pages look when not obscured by a sticky note, in case anyone cares:

The instruction manual's next pages are pretty yawn-inducing, too--until you notice the image that takes up a portion of the lower right-hand corner. Is that a warrior-ish tennis player attacking a zombified tennis player? Yes, I think it is.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Is it crazy that the Tempura Wizard's inclusion in Kid Icarus: Uprising has caused me to completely change my opinion of the game?

More specifically, it's caused me to change my opinion of Kid Icarus: Uprising--which will hit store shelves in Japan tomorrow and throughout North America and Europe on Friday--from "no thanks" to "just take my money already, Nintendo."

If you have no idea who or what a Tempura Wizard is, check out the recent-ish Kid Icarus: Uprising trailer below. (The battered baddie first shows his craggy face at the 1:38 mark.)

Anyway, thanks to the rather surprising and hilarious inclusion of Mr. Tempura Wizard--as well as the positive word of mouth that's slowly making the rounds (here's a good example)--I'm now seriously considering picking up a copy of Kid Icarus: Uprising.

Are any of you thinking of doing the same in the coming days, weeks or months--either because of or in spite of the inclusion of the aforementioned Tempura Wizard?

Buy: Kid Icarus: Uprising

From the back of my boyhood closet, part five

The following photo shows off the fifth (as well as sixth, seventh and eighth, I guess) game-related treasures I pulled from the closet of my childhood bedroom over the holidays. For those of you who can't quite make out the names of the SNES games in said snapshot, the one at the front of the line is Secret of Mana, followed by Final Fantasy II, Super Tennis and Yoshi's Island.

Would you believe it if I told you these games are among my all-time favorites for Nintendo's 16-bit system? Well, it's true.

Secret of Mana, for instance, will forever have a spot in my heart thanks to its lush graphics, laid-back soundtrack--and gobs of loot. Super Tennis, on the other hand, earned a place within my left ventricle (or is it my right one?) by bringing tons of late-night enjoyment to me and my childhood BFF during our frequent sleepovers.

Anyway, as stoked as I was to dig these four titles out of my old closet, I was saddened that I didn't also find a few other SNES games I know I used to own, such as Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy III, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario Kart and Super Mario World.

Oh, well, there's always eBay, right? Speaking of which, I'm going to need to pay a visit to everyone's favorite auction site at some point in the near future in order to pick up either an SNES or a Super Famicom system, as I'm currently unable to play any of the above-mentioned games.

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

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Acquisition #125: Rhythm Heaven Fever

One thing you should know about these "Acquisition #123" posts (as I'm calling them): They're not going to be published in the timeliest manner.

There's a reason for that, of course, and that reason is that I bought way too many games between Christmas and now. Had I decided to tell you about each of those purchases in a timely manner, it's likely all you would have encountered on this blog for long stretches of time would be "Acquisition #123" posts, and that would be a bit boring, don't you think?

So, rather than torture all of you by publishing timely post after timely post about my recent-ish acquisitions, I've decided to spread them out a bit.

With that said, let's move on to what's supposed to be the focus of this particular "Acquisition #123" post, shall we? That being the copy of Rhythm Heaven Fever that recently landed on my doorstep, of course.

Actually, it landed on my doorstep about four weeks ago--the day I headed to Madison, Wisconsin, to be with and take care of my mom and dad--but given what I said above that's really neither here nor there, is it? I'm bringing it up, though, because it helps explain why I've barely spent any time with this particular acquisition thus far.

I've played enough of Rhythm Heaven Fever to have fallen madly in love with it, though. My favorite mini-games thus far: Double Date, Monkey Watch and Tambourine. Oh, and Remix 1. (FYI: I've only played through Remix 2.)

Have any of you picked up this frenetic Wii title? If so, are you enjoying it? Also, what are your favorite mini-games?

See also: Previous 'Acquisition #123' and Rhythm Heaven Fever posts

Monday, March 19, 2012

What would you rather spend 950£ on: Food, rent or a PC Engine LT?

It's a fairly well-known fact that I fancy the portable PC Engine--branded the "PC Engine LT" because it folds up like a laptop--that the ballsy folks at NEC released back in 1991. (Or, rather, it should be a well-known fact, since I've mentioned this sexy system in a number of posts--including this one and this one. Oh, and this one, too.)

Will I ever actually buy one of these sexy-but-bulky (for a handheld) systems? I'd love to tell you "hell yeah," but I'm not so sure--especially after seeing this eBay listing.

For those of you who aren't interested enough in the PC Engine LT to click on the link above, it takes you to an auction for an unboxed PC Engine LT, a blue-and-gray PC Engine controller and copies of four shoot 'em ups (Final Soldier, GunHed, Solider Blade and Super Star Soldier).

Oh, and the whole shebang will set you back just 950£ (about $1,500).

Hey, at least shipping is included.

As appealing as that price is, I think I'll pass--especially since I've seen plenty of unboxed PC Engine LT's appear on eBay with much smaller price tags (usually between $600 and $800).

Also, if I were to drop that kind of dough on a PC Engine LT--you know, if I somehow won the lottery and didn't mind spending nearly $2,000 on a game system--I'd drop it on a complete-in-box PC Engine LT like this one.


And the winners of the Wizorb Steam codes are ...

Notice how I said "winners" and "codes" as opposed to "code" and "winner"? That's because the gracious guys at Tribute Games gave me a total of three download codes for the Steam release of their brilliant Breakout homage, Wizorb.

Illustration by Yannick Belzil
How did I decide who will receive said download codes? I wrote all of your names on a piece of paper, cut them out, folded them up, tossed them into a hat and then had my husband draw the winners, that's how.

As for which names he pulled from my hat, here you go:

* diaglyph
* Kevin
* Marcus

Congrats, you three!

When you have a chance, let me know in the comments section below where I should send your code. If you'd rather not share your e-mail address here, feel free to contact me at bochalla(at) yahoo(dot)com.

To all of you who didn't win: Thank you for participating. Also, if you have any interest at all in Wizorb, I would highly recommend buying it. It's only $3 and it's packed with content that will keep you busy (and happy) for many hours.

See also: 'A somewhat gay review of Wizorb (PC and XBLIG)'