Saturday, April 28, 2012

Hello, Xenoblade Chronicles; goodbye, free time

Please note: I wrote the header above shortly after my copy of Xenoblade Chronicles arrived on our doorstep a couple of weeks ago.

At the time, I planned on spending a good portion of the following weekend playing this open-world, Wii-based RPG. The hubs threw a bit of a wrench into the works, though, when he suggested we leave town for an impromptu vacation (to Las Vegas and Tucson).

As I'm sure you can imagine, that last-minute getaway kept me from diving into this Monolith Soft-developed game. This weekend, though? No plans whatsoever. Well, other than playing Xenoblade Chronicles as much as possible, of course.

                       I have no idea where this location exists within Xenoblade Chronicle's 
                                            world, but I can't wait to experience it.

I played it for a few hours last night, by the way, and already I can tell I'm going to like it. The one aspect of Xenoblade Chronicles that I'm not yet sure about is its real-time battle system. It's a bit irksome, for instance, that your character automatically attacks enemies once you've engaged them in combat. Thankfully, the manually-activated special attacks (called "Arts") inject these events with just enough involvement and strategy to keep them from feeling like the game is playing itself.

I'll do my best to post more impressions of this title sometime next week. In the meantime, are any of you currently playing Xenoblade Chronicles? If so, what do you think of it?

See also: Previous Xenoblade Chronicles posts

Friday, April 27, 2012

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

Hey, don't look at me that way. I told you (last week, in this post) that I was a bit obsessed with Mr. Driller at the moment, remember?

Anyway, thanks to said obsession, I'm thinking of picking up another Mr. Driller title. (I currently only own the PS1 port of the arcade original.)

Specifically, I'm thinking of picking up the series' DS-based sequel, Mr. Driller Drill Spirits, which was released in Japan and North America in 2004 and throughout Europe in 2005.

Normally, of course, I'd just pick up the North American version, as it's sure to be the cheapest. When it comes to Mr. Driller Drill Spirits, though, that isn't the case, as all versions of the game (European, Japanese and North American) can be purchased for between $15 and $25 right now.

Also, I'm a bit wary of buying the North American release because it lacks a few of the features that are found in the Japanese and European releases.

As a result of all of the above, I've decided to devote an installment of "Which Box Art is Better?" to Mr. Driller Drill Spirits--in the hopes that your comments and opinions will help me decide which iteration I should add to my collection.

Here is the art that graced the cover of the European version of the game:

And here is the Japanese version's box art:

Finally, here is the art that was produced for Mr. Driller Drill Spirit's North American packaging:

Truthfully, I like all of the cover illustrations that were created for this game. If I had to choose a favorite, though, I'd probably go with the Japanese one--mainly because I like its use of pinks and browns.

I'm sure most folks consider the North American box art to be the "best," thanks to the fact that it's the only one that attempts to depict this portable puzzler's gameplay, but for whatever reason it doesn't appeal to me as much as the others.

So, those are my thoughts on this (completely silly) issue. What are yours? Which version would you pick up if you were me?

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

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hey, Square Enix: Now that you've told us when Dragon Quest X will hit Japan, when are you going to tell us your plans for the rest of the world?

The folks at Square Enix announced yesterday that the Wii version of Dragon Quest X will hit store shelves in Japan on Aug. 2.

They also released a new, four-minute-long trailer for the game, which can be viewed below (and here).

Although it's been clear for some time that Dragon Quest X is never going to win the "Prettiest Game on the Wii" beauty pageant (no joke, I've been considering hosting one), I think it looks rather nice in motion.

I especially like the battle scenes near the end--with the one involving the crowned pink slime taking the cake.

I also love how the characters in the trailer above hop around like they've been guzzling 5-Hour Energy like it's going out of style. I can't judge, though, since that's exactly what I tend to do in games that offer up a jump button.

Sadly, Square Enix has yet to say when Dragon Quest X will be released in other regions. My guess: Only the Wii U version will make it to Australia, Europe and North America. As such, I have a feeling us westerners won't hear anything about it until E3 at least, and we probably won't see it sitting on store shelves until sometime next year.

Hopefully the powers that be at Square Enix (and Nintendo, too) will use that time to find a way to make this MMO-ish RPG's price tag a bit more palatable, since copies of the game will cost ¥6,980 (about $86) in Japan while 30, 60 and 90 days of online play will cost folks in that territory ¥1,000, ¥1,950 and ¥2,900 ($12 to $35), respectively.


Seems I'll be importing another PSP game soon

The name of the PSP game that I'll likely be importing: Airu de Puzuruu.

Those of you who are Monster Hunter fans may know that in Japan the series' adorably devious-looking cat characters are known as "airu." (In other regions, they're called "felynes.")

Unlike the last airu/felyne spin-off title, the Animal Crossing-esque Monster Hunter DiaryAiru de Puzuruu will be--surprise!--a puzzler.

It won't be just any old puzzler, though. According to various sources (namely, Airu de Puzuruu will be based on Capcom's vaunted Puzzle Fighter series.

Given my dual love of the airu/felyne characters and of puzzle games, you can rest assured that yours truly will be picking up a copy of this title shortly after it hits the streets of Japan on July 19.

(We all know there's not a snowball's chance in hell of Airu de Puzuruu making it to the States, so why bother waiting?)


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The most adorable (and interesting) Pokémon illustrations you're ever likely to see

When I first read about the Pokémon Battle Royale art show that's taking up space at Minneapolis' Light Grey Art Lab through May 11, I was jealous that I no longer lived close enough to check it out in person.

Now that the show's 151 pieces--each of which are based on the the original 151 Pokémon--can be viewed on line, though, I no longer feel so envious.

Pokémon Battle Royale features so many fabulous works of art that it's hard to pick a favorite, but if I were forced to do so I'd probably single out Andrew Kolb's Ivysaur, below.

That said, I'm also quite smitten with Shane Richardson's pooping Pidgeotto:

And Diego Garcia's pixelated Paras:

Really, though, all 151 pieces are worth a look (here) if you're even the slightest bit interested in the Pokémon series.

See also: Chic Pixel's recent write-up about the same show

Animal Crossing x Time Cowboy!

I don't know about you, but I've been thinking of the next Animal Crossing game ever since Nintendo of Japan's Satoru Iwata mentioned it during the company's recent Nintendo Direct broadcast.

Sadly, it seems I'll be thinking of it for some time yet, as this 3DS game--which will be called Tobidase Doubutsu no Mori in Japan, with "tobidase" apparently meaning "leap out" or "jump out"--won't be released until sometime this autumn.

In the meantime, I'll satisfy my Animal Crossing craving by keeping a watchful eye on Time Cowboy!, the tumblog maintained by Melbourne, Australia-based illustrator, Jake Lawrence.

That's because Time Cowboy! regularly includes on-point, four-panel comics (like the one above) that are inspired by Nintendo's blockbuster social sim.

I'm also quite partial to this one, which casts a rueful eye toward what Lawrence calls "the disappointments of the sea."


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Acquisition #129: Final Fantasy (PSP)

So, over the last month or two I've mentioned quite a few times--or at least I think I have--that I'm slowly but surely working on increasing the size of my (heretofore rather meager) PSP game collection.

This portable remake--the 20th, I think--of the first Final Fantasy is one of said acquisitions.

There are three major reasons I finally decided, after much hemming and hawing, to hand over my hard-earned cash for this Tose-developed rehash of Square Enix's classic RPG:

1. I really like its cover art (see image to the right),

2. I kind of like what I've seen of this version's higher-resolution graphics (despite the fact that I'm a huge fan of the chunky sprites found in the NES original), and 

3. It was an absolute steal, setting me back less than $10 (including shipping).

I'm sure some of you are wondering, How many times can you play through the same, old game? I'm not sure how to answer that question, to tell you the truth, as I've played through the original Final Fantasy many, many times over the years and I'm still not sick of it. 

That said, it'll be interesting to see if I make it to the end this time around or if I stop somewhere short of the credits. Regardless, I'll get as far as I can and then work up a review of it that lets you know if I consider it to be a worthy remake or a waste of your time and money.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Is this a portable game system or a vending machine prize?

I don't think I've ever mentioned this here, but I've long wanted to own a GameBoy Micro. For various reasons, though, I've avoided buying one.

Until recently, of course.

My original plan was to buy one of the Special 20th Anniversary Edition systems--the ones that are red and gold a la the Famicom--but then I saw, on good ol' eBay, the hot pink GameBoy Micro seen in the photos below.

As you probably can tell (by, again, checking out the photos above and below), this particular GameBoy Micro is of the complete-in-box variety. And, surprisingly enough, the box in question is in pretty great condition--as is the system itself.

I haven't spent much time with it yet, but I've spent enough time with it to have come to the realization that these suckers are tiny! Too tiny? I personally wouldn't say so, although I'm sure some folks feel that way.

Anyway, would it surprise you to hear that this latest acquisition has piqued my interest in GameBoy Advance games? I'll bet not.

I haven't yet added any new GameBoy Advance games to my collection, but I'm planning on doing so soon. Which games? Well, I've been eyeing up (on eBay, of course) copies of Kurukuru Kururin and Legendary Starfy, for starters, so maybe I'll start with those.

See also: A few more photos of this awesome little system