Saturday, May 05, 2012

Dad update #174

It's been a while (over a month, I think) since I published my last "dad update," so I thought I'd rectify that today.

The biggest news of the last few weeks is that my dad is walking again. He needs the assistance of a walker (or some contraption that's like a walker--I don't completely understand my mom's description of the one-handed device he's currently using to get around), at the moment, but even that's pretty amazing when you consider he only took his first steps about two-and-a-half weeks ago.

When will he take his first, unassisted steps? No one really knows. I'm hopeful he'll take them eventually, though, and that's all that matters to me right now.

Things are going well for him in other areas, too. He's talking more whenever we chat via FaceTime, and he's eating and drinking fairly normally at this point--although he still has some difficulty in swallowing "thin liquids" like water, something that seems to be an issue for many folks who suffer strokes.

As much progress as he's made in the last two months, though, my dad still has quite a way to go before he can return home with my mom. His left arm is still too weak to be used for much of anything, for instance, and his body is pretty weak overall, too.

Here's hoping that his progress continues in the coming days, weeks and months and that he and my mom are able to return to some semblance of normalcy as soon as possible.

See also: Previous posts about my dad

Friday, May 04, 2012

Manual Stimulation: Mr. Driller A (GameBoy Advance)

By Anne Lee

Mr. Driller A, or Mr. Driller Ace: Wonderful Pacteria, never made it outside of Japan, and it's a real shame, as it's my favorite title in the series (but I don't claim to be much of an authority). Though the manual isn't particularly outstanding, it does feature the series' iconic art style in the form of some character illustrations and screenshots.

This manual is surprisingly large for a puzzler, but most of the pages really aren't all that exciting. The first, and arguably my favorite, features a silly illustration of Susumu and his sidekick dog Puchi looking bewildered at a "Pacteria," the weird black blob thing that makes an appearance in the game's subtitle. Gotta love the professor urging Susumu to uncover the mysteries of the Pacteria, and the words "New Essence" splashed across the top left page.

Character pages are usually pretty fun, and this one's no different. Anyone familiar with Dig Dug should recognize the fellow down in the bottom-left corner! That's Taizou, Suzumu's father and main character of the iconic Dig Dug series. His birthdate, 1982, is the year Dig Dug was first released in arcades.

The subsequent pages are all relatively standard "how to play" fare. I wonder what's so wonderful about those Pacteria?

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Let's Play: 'Which Box Art is Better?' (Theatrhythm Final Fantasy edition)

In exactly two months, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy will hit the streets in the U.S. (This music-based 3DS title will be released in Europe a few days later, on July 6. I'm not sure when it will be made available elsewhere.)

Surprisingly, the graphic designers at Square Enix have used the three months since the game's Japanese debut to rework its box art.

Below, for instance, is the rather classy illustration that graces the cover of the Japanese version of Theatrhythm Final Fantasy.

The North American release (which can be pre-ordered here), on the other hand, will feature the following, re-jiggered box art:

Although initially I was impressed with the latter iteration's colorful cover art, after reflecting on it a bit I think it's just a bit too cluttered. Also, the logo is kind of tiny, don't you think?

So, I'm giving the nod to the Japanese packaging this time around. How about you--do you prefer one piece of box art over the other? Also, are any of you planning on picking up Theatrhythm Final Fantasy after it hits store shelves in your particular territory?

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

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Who wouldn't want to play a Famicom game called Pooh Goes for a Swim?

Especially when its cart art is as adorable as this:

Sadly, Pooh Goes for a Swim isn't a real Famicom game. Rather, it was conjured up for this year's My Famicase Exhibition, which annually collects a mountain of fake Famicom cartridge art and then displays them on line and in Tokyo's Meteor shop.

Another My Famicase Exhibition game that I'd love to play: Super Mosaic Maker. According to its creator's description, this faux Famicom puzzler puts players in the shoes of a porn maker. Specifically, it gives them the chance to pixelize the naughty bits of an adult film during post-production.

I'm also pretty fond of the following My Famicase Exhibition entrant, although I have to confess I have no idea as to what its title is or what the point of it is. In my mind, though, it involves running and hiding from a pompadour'd bully a la Human Entertainment's spooky Clock Tower series.

To see the rest of the carts that are included in My Famicase Exhibition 2012, check out


Acquisition #130: Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection

Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection is one of those games I've had my eye on for some time but haven't picked up (well, until a few weeks ago) because I just wasn't interested enough in it (despite the fact that the SNES original is one of my all-time-favorite RPGs) to spend $19.99 on it.

When I saw that some third-party Amazon seller was hawking this compilation--which combines Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy IV: The After Years onto a single PSP UMD--for less than $10, though, I couldn't help but hand over my hard-earned cash.

The only hitch, which I sadly didn't discover until the game arrived on my doorstep, was that said Amazon seller wasn't hawking the North American release of Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection; rather, it was hawking the European release.

Truth be told, I'd prefer to own the North American copy--mainly because I like its box art more than I like the garish art that graces the packaging of the Euro version. I don't think the North American cover art is worth spending an addition $10, though, so I've decided to keep, rather than return, the copy that can be seen on the right.

Alas, I've yet to open my copy of Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection. (I'm starting to sound like a broken record in this regard, aren't I?) Rest assured that as soon as I do so I'll let all of you know what I think of this curious PSP release.

See also: Previous 'Acquisition #123' posts

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

A somewhat gay review of Escape Goat (XBLIG)

Game: Escape Goat
Genre: Platformer/Puzzler
Developer: Magical Time Bean
Publisher: Magical Time Bean
System: Xbox 360
Release date: 2011

I'm sure this will sound weird to some, but games like Escape Goat were chiefly responsible for me getting off my butt and picking up an Xbox 360 just over a year ago. I know Microsoft's second console has plenty of high-quality "packaged" games, but I didn't buy the system for those. (Deadly Premonition being the exception, of course.) Rather, I bought it so I could play the accessible, attractive and cheap titles that are par for the course on the system's XBLA and XBLIG services and that can called upon whenever I find myself longing for a little digital entertainment but don't have a ton of time to expend on it. Well, the focus of this particular review checks all of those boxes and then some. For starters, Escape Goat keeps things simple by providing players with a fairly small set of moves--the titular (purple) goat can run, jump, double jump, dash and air dash, while his beady-eyed friend (an orange mouse) can squeeze into otherwise inaccessible areas--which allows them to focus on the devilishly puzzling stages that are packed into this downloadable title. Actually, I shouldn't suggest all of Escape Goat's Rube Goldberg-esque single-screen stages, each of which takes place in a prison of sorts (you've been locked up for practicing witchcraft, apparently) and tasks players with making their way from a starting point to a (typically blocked or locked) door while pushing blocks, hitting switches and avoiding various obstacles and enemies, are devilish--in reality, a good number of the first ones are quite easy. Many later levels are sure to stump all but the brainiest of gamers, though. Thankfully, the sounds and views that can be heard and seen while playing Escape Goat are appealing enough to make even the most stressful and confounding moments enjoyable (or at least acceptable). The title's wonderfully rendered graphics, for instance, evoke the good ol' days of the Genesis--always a good thing in the opinion of this aging gamer. Also a good thing: The little touches that are strewn throughout this title's 50 levels, like the humorous animation that's triggered whenever Mr. Goat nears the edge of a ledge. The game's soundtrack is similarly noteworthy and is comprised of a number of suitably-epic tunes. With all of that said, the only negative comment I can make about Escape Goat is that it ends a little too quickly and that it likely won't be a game you'll return to after beating it. Considering it'll set you back just a buck (80 Microsoft Points), though, that's really not much of a problem, is it?

See also: Previous 'somewhat gay' reviews

Monday, April 30, 2012

I'm still liking the looks of Etrian Odyssey IV

About two months ago, I suggested (in this post) that I was quite smitten with the polygonal enemies that are set to appear in Atlus' upcoming Etrian Odyssey IV. Do I still feel that way about the game's three-dimensional baddies after watching the latest trailer (below and here) for this 3DS title, which will hit the streets in Japan on July 5? Without a doubt.

What do all of you think of what you've seen of this latest entry in the hard-as-nails series of dungeon-crawling RPGs that's known in its homeland as Sekaiju no Meikyuu (aka Labyrinth of Yggdrasill)? Are you praying that Atlus localizes and releases it in your particular region, or could you care less about this title's outside-of-Japan prospects?


I'd love to have a chat with the person selling this sealed copy of Bubble Bobble Part 2

Said conversation would begin, of course, with me asking the seller, "You're completely bonkers, aren't you?"

I can't think of a better question to ask someone who is trying to sell (via this auction) a factory-sealed copy of Bobble Bobble Part 2 for the oh-so-reasonable (insert eye roll here) price of $19,999.99.

Sure, the seller is accepting offers from interested parties, but I can't imagine any of them are going to walk away with this particular copy of the game for, say, a few hundred dollars (which, although a lot more than I'd personally be willing to spend on an NES title, is sure to be closer to what this one is worth) when all is said and done.

And then, of course, there's the fact that this eBay auction is for a copy of Taito's Bubble Bobble Part 2, a game that pales not only in comparison to its predecessor, but in comparison to that release's "real" sequels, Rainbow Islands and Parasol Stars, too. (Truth be told, I'd much rather play the oddly-expansive GameBoy title that goes by the same name than this ugly duckling of the series.)

Even if this not-made-by-Fukio-Mitsuji pseudo-sequel were the best game ever made, though, I guarantee you I wouldn't spend nearly $20,000 on it.

Much more likely to be bought by yours truly: The Famicom version of Bubble Bobble Part 2--in part because it can be purchased for a lot less than $19,999.99 and in part because I find its box art (which can be viewed here) a lot more appealing than the art (see above) that's plastered across the front of the North American release.