Friday, April 06, 2012

Let's Play: 'Which Box Art is Better?' (Dragon Quest Monsters: Terry's Wonderland edition)

This edition of "Which Box Art is Better?" is going to be a trip down memory lane. Or at least it will be for me. I'm guessing some of you (many of you?) have never even heard of the original Dragon Quest Monsters title, let alone played it.

Still, I'm going to devote a post to the game because, well, I like the box art that's been made for its many iterations.

Speaking of which, here's the art that appeared on the cover of the initial release of Dragon Quest Monsters: Terry's Wonderland (called Dragon Warrior Monsters in the States):

And here's the box art that was produced for the PlayStation remake, released in 2002, of the same game:

Finally, here's the art that will grace the cover of the soon-to-be-released--in Japan only, for the moment--3DS re-imagining of this portable, Pokémon-esque RPG:

As for which one I like best: Although I quite like the art that was conjured up for the latest iteration of this charming game, I think it's my least favorite of the bunch.

The cover of the GameBoy Color-based original is really nice, too, and I'd probably put it at the top of my list if the rainbow-hued illustration were a bit larger. As it is, though, I'm going to have to give that honor to the box art made for the PSone-centric Dragon Quest Monsters 1+2.

Now that I've had my say, what do all of you think?

See also: Previous 'Which Box Art is Better?' posts

Thursday, April 05, 2012

The Great Gaymathon Review #54: Rhythm Heaven Fever (Wii)

Game: Rhythm Heaven Fever
Genre: Music/Rhythm
Developer: Nintendo, TNX
Publisher: Nintendo of America
System: Wii
Release date: 2012

Is it really possible that the folks who make up Nintendo's SPD Group No.1 and TNX have been able to produce three Rhythm Heaven (aka Rhythm Tengoku) games in just six years? I don't pose that question because I've had enough of these titles; rather, I pose it because I can't believe they're so full of creative juices that they could create the 150 or so mini-games that have been crammed into each release. Are the ones that were made for Rhythm Heaven Fever--which returns the series to the Simon-esque, "press the A button (and sometimes the B button, too) to the beat" gameplay of the original--on par with those made for its predecessors? Yes, for the most part. As is often the case in such games, some are better and some are worse. The ones I consider to be the best--Air Rally, Double Date, Flipper-Flop, Flock Step, Launch Party and Samurai Slice--share a number of similarities: Charming and colorful graphics, a catchy-as-hell backing track and a sense of momentum that not only grabs the player's attention but also helps him or her quite literally feel the beat. Rhythm Heaven Fever's least appealing and successful mini-games, most of which look and even sound nearly as good as the mini-games I just mentioned, tend to fail when it comes that final bullet point. (I'm looking at you, especially, Love Rap--although Cheer Readers, Exhibition Match and Shrimp Shuffle are getting a bit of a side-eye from me, too.) Thankfully, the standouts outnumber the duds by quite a wide margin, and even the less-than-stellar mini-games tend to be enjoyable enough to keep you coming back for more. All that said, I don't consider this game to be the best point of entry into the Rhythm Heaven/Tengoku series. Although Rhythm Heaven Fever's graphics are both clean and cute, for instance, they lack the minimalist charisma that's present in pretty much every one of the first title's mini-games. Another thing keeping this iteration from reaching the heights of its precursors, in my eyes: It's far too lenient, not to mention inconsistent, when it comes to the rewarding of medals. So, I'd personally suggest starting with the import-only original, Rhythm Tengoku, or its cheap-as-sin, DS-based follow-up, Rhythm Heaven, before moving on to Fever if you want to get the most milage out of this toe- and finger-tapping trilogy. If you've already played one or both of those titles, though, by all means drop the $19.99 needed to pick up this one, too.

See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts

Nintendo is doing its darndest to kill my marriage

How so, you ask? By releasing so many "must buy" games for their many systems over the next few months, that's how.

Specifically, by releasing Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii sometime this month (this week? next week? I have no idea...), Mario Tennis Open for the 3DS on May 20 and The Last Story--also for the Wii--on June 19.

Oh, and Pokémon Conquest--the Americanization of the just-released-in-Japan Pokémon + Nobunaga’s Ambition--for the DS on June 18. (Here is Pokémon Conquest's box art, by the way, and here is the game's first English trailer.)

In case you didn't know already, Pokémon Conquest's stateside release was announced yesterday by the folks at Nintendo of America.

More information about this strategy RPG, developed by Tecmo Koei, can be found at, so head over there if you're at all curious about it. (You are, aren't you?)

(Via and

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Tokyo Jungle's box art will be altered to feature a Rottweiler or Doberman if the game's actually brought to North America, won't it?

As much as the possibility mentioned in the header above depresses me, I may be able to forgive the graphic designers at SCEA that are sure to be responsible for such a travesty if they alter the title placement on said box art (to the right), too.

In case you've never heard of Tokyo Jungle, here's the scoop: It's a "survival action" game set in a deserted, futuristic Japan that's been transformed into a "vicious wildlife wasteland." Also, it was developed by the folks at PlayStation C.A.M.P. and Crispy's (nice name for the development studio, no?) and will be published by Sony Computer Entertainment.

Oh, and it will be released--in Japan only, for the time being--both digitally (via PSN) and physically on June 7.

Should Tokyo Jungle (here's a trailer for it, by the way) actually see the light of day in North America, I'll add it to my ever-growing list of awesome games I need to pick up once I finally get around to buying a PS3.

I don't suppose this Pomeranian-focused title appeals to any of you fine folks, does it?

(Via and

Cory Schmitz x Journey

And of course I'm talking about Journey the highly-acclaimed PSN game, not Journey the award-winning band.

Sadly, I can't play thatgamecompany's Journey--as I'm sure many of you are aware, I don't yet own a PS3--so I have to scratch my itch for the game by reading articles about it and staring at art inspired by it.

Case in point: The wonderfully minimalist illustration below (and here) that was created by Cory Schmitz.

This illustration was made for a well-worth-reading article, written by Kevin Nguyen, for The Bygone Bureau, by the way. Check it out in all of its originally-intended glory here (and check out Nguyen's article, too, while you're at it).

To see more of Schmitz' work, pay a visit to his Flickr photostream or his online portfolio.

Before you click on the links above, though, please tell me this: Have any of you played Journey? If so, what do you think of it?

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

From the back of my boyhood closet, part six

Have any of you played--or even heard of--the PC game called Planet's Edge? (It was made by New World Computing, perhaps best known for producing the Might and Magic series.) No worries if you haven't, as the game came out all the way back in 1992 and I've yet to run into anyone who claims to remember it.

Regardless, I have fond memories of playing the hell out of this outer-space-based RPG as a teen. In particular, I have fond memories of exploring--on foot, with my four-member party--the many, many planets (Wikipedia says there are hundreds, which means I barely scratched the surface of the game when I played it) of Planet's Edge.

I also remember enjoying the title's mining aspect. (You're often able to transfer some of a planet's raw materials to your ship, which can then be taken back to your home base and used to make bigger and better ships and, if my memory's not failing me, weapons.)

All that said, I'm not entirely sure why I brought the game's box and disks from my boyhood closet to my current home in Seattle, as our PC doesn't have a disk drive. For nostalgia's sake? It wouldn't be the first time.

Thankfully, it seems I should be able to download a copy of Planet's Edge fairly easily (such as here and here, I think). Should I be able to get it up and running, I'll give it a go for old times' sake and then (attempt to) write up a "somewhat gay" review of it.

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

You've never looked more beautiful, Binary Land

If you ask me, it's a crying shame that one of Hudson Soft's earliest Famicom games, the rather romantic Binary Land, was never released outside of Japan.

That's because Binary Land is one of the cutest, not to mention one of the most unique, titles to hit the console that was called the Nintendo Entertainment System everywhere else in the world.

Sure, it's more than a bit archaic in terms of graphics--although the main characters, Gurin (the blue penguin in this video of Binary Land's first level) and Malon (the pink penguin), were crafted with a good bit of care and skill--but the boring-ish visuals never detract from the gameplay, which calls on players to lead Gurin and Malon through each maze-like stage until they meet at the caged heart in the middle. (This is more challenging than it sounds, as players control both players at the same time.)

Anyway, I'm guessing that even if Binary Land had been released in Australia, Europe or North (or South) America, its cartridge label likely wouldn't have been half as cute as the one seen in the photo above.

Said label was made by the proprietor (or proprietress) of "the laboratory" tumblog, by the way. If you like his/her style (and you should), you'll probably like these Famicom label mockups and these mockups of a make-believe series of games called Wander World, too.

(Via the comments section of this famicomblog post)

Monday, April 02, 2012

Reason #404 I could be considered an 'eccentric' (aka bat-sh*t crazy) gamer

I recently bought a Game Gear game--the Japanese version of Tengen's Magical Puzzle Popils, to be exact--despite the fact that I don't yet own a Game Gear system.

There's a method (well, kind of) to my madness, though; you see, in part I bought a copy of this Fukio Mitsuji-designed game because I hoped it would push me to (finally) pick up Sega's first handheld. (Its second being the Nomad, of course.)

Another reason I bought the copy of Magical Puzzle Popils you see in the photo to the right: Its cover art. Duh! (For a bit more information on this precious puzzler, read these previously-published blog posts.)

Don't worry, I won't hold off on reviewing this titillating title until I actually acquire a Game Gear system. I've played it enough via emulation to know it inside and out, so there's no real reason for me to wait. Anyway, keep an eye out for it if you're so inclined.

In the meantime, have any of you ever bought a game or two for a system (console or handheld) that you don't yet own?

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

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Another update about my dad

So, it's been a few weeks since I last wrote about my dad. I thought some of you may be curious as to how he's doing, so here's a bit of an update on his recovery (from the trio of strokes he had in mid-February).

The short and sweet of it is that he's doing really, really well. He's still in a nursing home and he still can't use his left arm or leg well enough to walk or otherwise fully take care of himself, but he's able to use both limbs a little bit more each and every day.

My mom and dad during our most
recent family vacation.
In fact, earlier this week my mom surprised me by telling me that he stood up, on his own, for the first time since he had his strokes. Previously, the most he had been able to do with his left leg was kick his foot back and forth while sitting in a wheelchair and raise his knee while lying in bed.

Anyway, how big of a deal is it that he was able to stand up on his own, you ask? Big enough that my dad's physical therapists did a little "dance of joy," according to my mom.

Sadly, I wasn't able to see any of the above in person. I'm hoping I'll be able to witness, from afar, at least some of his future "momentous occasions," though, since my mom recently picked up an iPad and has been using it--and Apple's completely fabulous FaceTime app--to make video calls to me (and to David, too, when he's not working) pretty much every other day.

Thanks again for all of your support, by the way. It's been extremely helpful and my dad, mom and I have greatly appreciated it.

UPDATE: I hate to update this post already, especially with not-so-great news, but I wrote this on Friday night and didn't expect anything negative to happen between then and now. Unfortunately, something did. Basically, my dad had to have his gall bladder removed yesterday. Thankfully, the infection that brought about its removal had nothing to do with his recent strokes. Also, he's expected to recover from the surgery and return "home" to the rehab facility fairly quickly. Anyway, here's hoping this is my dad's last step backward on his road to recovery.

See also: Previous posts about my dad