Friday, April 20, 2012

Manual Stimulation: The New Zealand Story (PC Engine)

There's a lot to like about the PC Engine port of The New Zealand Story. First, there's its premise, which tasks players with traveling the world as a sneaker-sporting kiwi named Tiki in order to rescue said kiwi's kidnapped sweetheart, Phee Phee. (Just go with it.) Also, there's its crazily colorful graphics, which both call to mind and are a far cry from developer Taito's similar efforts--Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands, etc.--from the same era. Finally, there's its instruction manual, the front and back covers of which can be seen below.

Sadly, this manual's front and back covers are the only pages that feature any color whatsoever.

That's not to say this manual's inside pages should be ignored. On the contrary, a good number of them feature absolutely adorable black-and-white illustrations like the ones included on the following pages (which I believe share some of the game's backstory).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Let's Play: 'Which Box Art is Better?' (Mr. Driller edition)

So, I'm currently feeling a bit obsessed with the Mr. Driller series.

I'm not sure what brought about this obsession, to tell you the truth, although I think it may have branched off of my Wonderswan obsession (which I'm still in the throes of, by the way).

Regardless, this obsession recently prompted me to do a bit of research on this Namco-developed and -published series--which in turn prompted me to realize that some really adorable box art has been produced for the different versions of this pastel-filled title.

Here, for instance, is what I'm guessing is the most widely known piece of Mr. Driller cover art, which appeared on copies of the PlayStation version of the game when it was released in North America:

The following piece of box art, on the other hand, appeared on copies of the Japanese PlayStation version of Mr. Driller:

While this one appeared on copies of the European PlayStation version:

And then there are the Dreamcast ports of Mr. Driller. The Japanese release featured this rather precious illustration on its packaging:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Haggar the Horrible

During my recent three-week stint in Madison, Wisconsin, I discovered the magazine below--Vol. 28 of Nintendo Power--while digging through a pile of old gaming publications sitting in the corner of my childhood bedroom.

That in and of itself isn't all that noteworthy, I admit--unless you're a huge fan of Super Mario World, of course--so why am I mentioning it here? I'm mentioning it here because of what I found on page 78 of said magazine.

If you click on the scan below and then zoom in on the guy standing in the left-hand corner of the page, you'll see what I consider to be one of the most hideous illustrations of Final Fight's Mike Haggar ever created.

Nintendo Power's take on the same game's Cody--apparently he's a mononymous person like Cher and Madonna--isn't much better, sadly:

I tried to wipe these despicable drawings from my mind by finding some filthy fan art featuring this dynamic duo, but all of my searches came up short. Thankfully, this GameSetWatch article--about a pair of rather roid-y Cody and Haggar figures--popped up just in time.

See also: 'Hubba hubba, part deux'

Acquisition #128: Steel Diver

Remember how I said in my last "Acquisition #123" post that I recently picked up Pilotwings Resort (via Best Buy) for a song? Well, I picked up another first-party, launch-window 3DS release, Steel Diver, at the same time and for the same price--that being $4.99.

Sadly, Steel Diver has yet to experience the inside of my 3DS (that sounds dirtier to me than it should), so I can't tell you what I think of it in this post. I promise to give it a go sooner rather than later, though, and then bore you all with my impressions.

I haven't kept it in its shrink wrap because I'm uninterested in its content, mind you. Actually, I'm really quite curious about it, as I don't believe I've ever played a game focused on piloting a submarine.

Have any of you taken Steel Diver for a spin? If so, did you enjoy it, hate it or feel something in-between for it?

See also: Previous 'Acquisition #123' posts

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Acquisition #127: Xenoblade Chronicles

It could be said that I've been looking forward to getting my grubby little hands on Xenoblade/Xenoblade Chronicles for some time. In fact, I've been looking forward to it since at least June 9 of 2010, when I published this post about how it's possible to strip characters down to their skivvies.

As some of you may remember, I should have added the European version of this open-world RPG, made by the more-than-able folks at Monolith Soft, to my collection as far back as September of last year. Sadly, the copy that I pre-ordered from either was never shipped or was lost while crossing the ocean. Thankfully, Nintendo of America announced its intention of releasing Xenoblade Chronicles in the US shortly after I gave up on ever receiving said copy.

I know this is becoming commonplace in these "Acquisition #123" posts, but I have yet to play my just-acquired (late last week, to be more specific) copy of this game. Oh, I've unwrapped it and spent more time than I should have gazing at its disc (which, I must say, is quite pretty) and manual, but I haven't popped the darn thing into my Wii yet.

I plan on doing just that this weekend, though, so expect a slew of (hopefully positive) Xenoblade Chronicles-centric pots in the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, why don't those of you who also added this game to your collections tell me what you think about it?

See alsoPrevious 'Acquisition #123' posts

Monday, April 16, 2012

On how the Bandai WonderSwan wormed its way into my head (and heart)

Those of you who follow me on Twitter likely are aware that the Bandai WonderSwan--aka one of the few handhelds that dared to compete with the GameBoy, GameBoy Color and GameBoy Advance in the late 1990s and early 2000s--has worked its way into my brain as of late.

What prompted this (quite frankly baffling) fascination-bordering-on-obsession? Honestly, I think it was this recent post over at Kimimi's Blog. After I read Kimimi's commentary about the WonderSwan RPG, Namco Super Wars, I recalled being intrigued by a few earlier posts dedicated to games--Flash Koibitokun and Tane wo Maku Tori, especially--that were released for this odd, Japan-only portable.

The original, monochrome WonderSwan.
As much as I'd like to say this is nothing more than a passing fancy, that would be far from the truth. After all, I've already picked up a few WonderSwan games via eBay (don't worry, I'll reveal which ones sooner rather than later), and I've currently got my eye on a rather sweet looking SwanCrystal system.

(Quick aside: The SwanCrystal, released in 2002, was a fairly capable, and comparable, competitor of the GameBoy Advance--what with its screen resolution of 224 by 144 pixels and ability to display 241 colors at once. The WonderSwan Color, released in 2000, was similarly capable, but its screen was quite a bit less desirable than its curiously-named successor, while the original WonderSwan, designed by Gunpei Yokoi and released in 1999, had a monochrome screen à la the first GameBoy.)

Anyway, do any of you have a WonderSwan, or have you ever dreamed of owning one, as I currently am?