Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Gay Gamer Giveaway™: Ashley Anderson Edition

Atlanta's one and only Ashley Anderson recently surprised me by sending me the poster--of his crazy, sprite-filled collage titled "Cabana Fever" (below)--that was showcased in a recent issue of Young Foxy & Free magazine.

As much as I love the poster, I thought it might be cool to offer it to one of you via the second Gay Gamer Giveaway™. After mentioning this idea to Anderson, he said he'd send another so I could keep one for myself and give one away. Awesome, huh?

A few details about said poster before I get to how you can win it: It's approximately 18 inches by 23 inches. Also, it's been signed by Anderson. Oh, and it'll be shipped rolled up and in a tube (as opposed to folded and stuffed into an envelope).

Winning this particular giveaway is just as easy as the last one, by the way. Just leave a comment below between now and the end of the day (let's say 11:59 pm Pacific Daylight Time) on Friday, May 25. I'll announce the winner of this oh-so-fabulous poster on Saturday morning.

Those who don't win may want to check out Anderson's society6 shop, where art prints, stretched canvases, stationary cards, iPhone skins and t-shirts featuring this image can be purchased for as little as $12.

See also: 'Ashley Anderson's Cabana Fever'

Friday, May 18, 2012

Let's Play: 'Which Box Art is Better?' (Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly edition)

I find it kind of funny that I decided to call this particular post "Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly edition." After all, neither of the games represented below is actually named Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly.

The following piece of art, for instance, will grace covers of the Japanese release of this Wii remake, which (I believe) will be called Zero: Akai Chō in that particular region.

The illustration below, on the other hand, will be used as the box art for the European version of the game, which will sport the rather unappealing title, Project Zero 2: Wii Edition.

Both titles will hit store shelves in their respective territories shortly, by the way, with Japanese gamers getting the title on June 28 and their European counterparts getting it a day later, on June 29.

Should this Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly remake be announced for North American release, which piece of art would I prefer to see on its eventual cover? I'm going to go with the European version this time around thanks to its more unsettling imagery. That said, I'm quite fond of the ghost-like logo that was created for the Japanese iteration.

Which piece of box art do you ladies and gents prefer?

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

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Manual Stimulation: PC Genjin (PC Engine)

Like many folks, PC Genjin (aka Bonk's Adventure, if you're a North American like I am) was the game that prompted me to pick up a PC Engine (or, rather, a TurboGrafx-16) back in the day.

I liked everything about it: The big-headed protagonist, the prehistoric setting (and the dinosaur-based baddies that populated it), the punchy, synth-heavy soundtrack. Oh, and I even liked the North American version's box art.

That said, I like the Japanese version's box art even more. And, of course, since the instruction manual of pretty much every PC Engine game serves as its box art (this system's HuCards are housed in fairly typical CD cases), I'm quite fond of the cover of PC Genjin's manual, too.

How does the inside of this platformer's instruction manual compare to its outside? Pretty darn well, if you ask me.

The colorful illustration above is nice enough, of course, but I much prefer the map that takes up the booklet's next two pages.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Second Chances: Pop'n Magic

Just in case you didn't receive the memo: I'm a card-carrying member of the "Single-Screen Platformer Fan Club." (As I'm sure you can imagine, it's a fairly small club.)

The game that's chiefly responsible for me joining this club is Bubble Bobble, of course. (That game's second sequel, Parasol Stars, prompted me to sign up for a life-long membership.)

Anyway, I'm always on the lookout for good single-screen platformer in the Bubble Bobble mold as a result. Some of the ones I come across, like Don Doko Don and Rod Land, quickly become favorites, while others, like Snow Bros., are played a few times and then all but forgotten.

I used to include Pop'n Magic, made by Riot/Telenet and released for the PC Engine Super CD-ROM2 in 1992, in the latter category. I'm not entirely sure why, to tell you the truth, although I think it had something to do with the game's slightly generic (although wonderfully colorful) graphics, stilted animation and stiff controls.

After re-reading The Brothers Duomazov's write-up of the game last week, though, I decided to give it another chance. And you know what? I'm now really digging it.

Don't get me wrong: I still think the game's art style is a bit generic, but I find it kind of charming, too. (I especially like the blue blobs that appear throughout the first world and the surprisingly cute zombies that appear throughout the second.) Also, I still think the animation's a bit stilted and the controls are kind of stiff, but neither aspect is so off-putting that the game seems unplayable or unenjoyable.

Re-playing Pop'n Magic has helped me recognize and appreciate some of its other aspects, too--such as its backgrounds, all of which seem to feature some amount animation, and the strategic nature of its gameplay. (As in Bubble Bobble, the protagonist in this game encases enemies in bubbles. What sets Pop'n Magic apart, though, is that every enemy turns into a bubble of a different color, and to rid a stage of them you have to throw bubbles of different colors against each other.)

I also can't help but like how, when you throw one bubble against a number of others (as opposed to just one other bubble), candies and fruits and other power-ups pour from the broken bubbles like treats from a piñata.

Do I now hold Pop'n Magic in higher esteem than, say, Parasol Stars and Bubble Bobble? Not quite. I do consider it to be a top-shelf single-screen platformer, though, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the genre.

See also: Previous 'Second Chances' posts

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Acquisition #131: TwinBee (Famicom)

True story: I've never been much of a fan of the first game in Konami's TwinBee series.

The PC Engine port of the series' second quarter-muncher, Detana!! TwinBee? Always up for a round or two (or more) of it. And that game's Super Famicom-centric follow-up, Pop'n TwinBee? One of my all-time-favorite shmups.

The original TwinBee, though, has never impressed me. Actually, it's generally produced the opposite reaction--thanks to its pedestrian graphics (especially when compared to its above-mentioned counterparts) and its plodding gameplay.

So, imagine my surprise when I came across a complete-in-box copy of the Famicom version of this antiquated "cute 'em up" on eBay recently ... and found myself wanting to buy it.

I have to (rather sheepishly) admit that the main reason I found myself wanting to buy it was its box art. I mean, just look at it: 

Although I wouldn't say TwinBee's packaging is the among the best I've ever come across, it's certainly among the most colorful. Also, it features flying frogs, knives and strawberries--what more can you ask for in a piece of cover art?

Anyway, as I'm sure you've figured out by now, I went ahead and bought that complete-in-box copy of TwinBee. It helped that it was fairly cheap, of course, but it's possible (OK, likely) I would have picked it up even if it had cost me a few bucks more.

Now all that's left for me to do is put down my computer (and the camera that took the photos above), hook up my trusty Twin Famicom and finally take the game for a spin. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

I'm not sure what I think of Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise's box art

Although I'm not planning to buy a copy of Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise after it hits the streets of Europe on July 6, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit envious of my European compadres who are planning to pick up a copy of this Wii game (which goes by the name of Minna no Rhythm Tengoku in Japan and Rhythm Heaven Fever in North America).

That's mainly because Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise, unlike Rhythm Heaven Fever, will feature both English and Japanese vocal tracks.

Is Beat the Beat's box art (above) also responsible for me feeling a bit envious of Euro Wii owners? Not really. Although I'd hardly call it ugly, I also wouldn't call it beautiful. (I much prefer Rhythm Heaven Fever's wildly colorful cover illustration, which can be viewed in this previous post.)

What do all of you think? Does Beat the Beat's packaging get you all hot and bothered, or does it leave you feeling limp?

Pointless confession of the day: If Nintendo somehow brings Calcio Bit 3DS to the US, with this box art, I'll probably buy it

Keep in mind that the confession above is being made by someone who is no real fan of the sport known in some regions as football and in others as soccer. 

Still, I can't help but love the box art (below) that Nintendo of Japan's designers came up with for this soon-to-be-released 3DS game.

Considering Nintendo of America has thus far passed on bringing any of the Inazuma Eleven titles to the States, though, I can't imagine it will give the green light to a soccer sim filled with adorable chibi characters.

Oh, well, it's probably for the best. After all, I know as much about football/soccer as I do about crochet (which is to say, not a whole lot).