Friday, June 01, 2012

And now I'm (finally) going to play that copy of Dragon Quest that Darwin Yamamoto sent me

I doubt any of you remember this, but sometime last year--at least I think it was last year--I decided to play through Dragon Quest (actually, Dragon Warrior, the North American version of the game) for the first time since it was released back in 1989.

That playthrough didn't last long, mainly because I had no idea as to where I should go or what I should do. The last thing I remember doing involved wandering into a pitch-black cave and getting ambushed by a giant green dragon that slayed me in about two seconds.

Thanks Darwin Yamamoto's generosity--he bought me a copy of the Famicom version of Dragon Quest while visiting Japan recently, as detailed in this post--I've decided to give the game another try. Because I don't understand a word of Japanese and also because I don't want to recreate my last attempt at playing through this classic RPG, I recently picked up a copy of the strategy guide that Nintendo Power produced (and published) for this game shortly after its North American release.

The scan above is of said strategy guide's front cover, by the way. Because quite a few awesome (or at least interesting) illustrations can be found between its covers, I'm seriously considering featuring this Nintendo Power publication in a future edition of "Manual Stimulation," although I doubt I'll be able to include every single page.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Looks like Pokémon Black and White 2 will be just as gay (literally) as their predecessors

Those of you who have been visiting this little, rainbow-splashed slice of the Internet may remember a post I published just over a year ago. It's headline: "There's something about Brycen (or, Pokémon Black is pretty gay, isn't it?)."

In that post, I rather cheekily suggested that Pokémon Black and White--or, more specifically, a number of those game's gym leaders--were gayer than the Golden Girls dressing up as Cher, Judy, Lady Gaga and Madonna and singing a mash-up of "I Will Survive" and "YMCA" (hey, it could happen) at Elton John's Halloween party. (Yes, I know I just dated myself with that remark.)

Thanks in large part to this recent post over at the Video Games Made Me Gay tumblog, I'm getting the distinct impression that Pokémon Black Version 2 and Pokémon White Version 2 will be just as gay.

What makes me think Shizui (right), one of this sequel's many gym leaders, is gay, you ask? Well, for starters, there's his glitter-covered coiffure. And then there's his broad shoulders, shaved bod and fashion-forward (not to mention skintight) trousers.

Granted, that nasty tan line around Shizui's waist is a bit questionable, as is his lack of nipples (aren't those, um, a requirement?), but I still think he's likely "gayer than a three-dollar bill," as my mom used to say. (Don't worry, I got her to stop long ago.)

Anyway, all of the above really is just a long way of me saying that I'll be plopping down my hard-earned cash on Pokémon Black 2 (or maybe Pokémon White 2) as soon as someone allows me to pre-order it.

Beware the Bulbasaur

Although I've played a number of Pokémon games over the years--including Red, Blue, Emerald, Diamond and Black--only the original pair entranced me to the point that I played it from start to finish.

Oddly, although I played the hell out of both Pokémon Red and Blue as a youngster, I don't remember ever picking Bulbasaur as my starter.

I now find that kind of crazy, as every time I see an illustration of the little bugger these days I can't help but think, "aw, what a cutie!"

That thought certainly crossed my mind when I happened upon the drawing above, which was conjured up by artist Reed Bond.

"Always seems to me like every Pokémon is hiding in the grass waiting to pick a fight," Bond says about his creation over on Flickr. "I imagine that's what is going through this guy's head."

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

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Second Chances: Kirby's Adventure

No joke: Despite my avowed adoration of adorable games, I avoided playing Kirby's Adventure, which was released all the way back in 1993, until I downloaded it via the Wii Virtual Console five years ago.

What kept me from giving this precious platformer a go? I honestly don't remember, although I'm guessing it had something to do with the fact that I, like many gamers, already had moved on to the SNES by the time it hit the shelves of my local ShopKo.

Anyway, for some reason I also can't recall, I finally picked up Kirby's Adventure in 2007 ... and promptly found myself bored by it. Oh, it looked nice enough, and it sounded nice enough, too, but the early levels were so easy that I couldn't help but wonder if I'd wasted my hard-earned money on the gaming equivalent of a lemon.

Rather than hanging in there to find out if later stages were less of a calk walk, I pretty much gave up on ol' Kirby and moved on to other pursuits.

After playing and thoroughly enjoying both Kirby's Epic Yarn and Kirby's Return to Dream Land, though, I decided to give this cudly character's first console release a second chance. I'm glad I did, because I now consider Kirby's Adventure to be wonderfully captivating experience.

Don't get me wrong, I still think it's easy. That said, I'm pretty sure that's the point. It's not supposed to be difficult; it's supposed to be fun. Not only that, but players are simply supposed to enjoy hopping and bopping through each of the game's colorfully charming stages--or at least I'm guessing that's what players are supposed to get out of the game.

Now that I understand that, I happily, leisurely and regularly play this HAL Laboratory-developed NES title as I believe its makers intended it to be played: Smiling and swaying my head to its lilting soundtrack as I stroll through and take in, with no small amount of awe, its lovely, almost dream-like landscapes.

(Note: All of the images above were taken from, a great little blog that sadly hasn't been updated since early 2010.)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Let's Play: 'Which Box Art is Better?' (Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch edition)

I've said this before, I'm sure, but I'll repeat it now just in case my memory is failing me (again): If I owned a PS3, the game that would top my lengthy buy-as-soon-as-it's-available list would be Level-5's Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch.

Until the day I buy a PS3 arrives, I'll content myself by comparing and contrasting the different cover illustrations that have been produced for this beautiful, co-developed-by-anime-company-Studio-Ghibli RPG.

To kick things off, here's the imagery that appeared on the original Japanese release's packaging:

And here's the art that will grace the cover of the upcoming (it'll hit the streets on July 19) "All-in-One Edition" of the game:

Finally, here's the rather sparse illustration that may or may not be used as the North American version's box art when it's released here in 2013:

Will it shock anyone if I say I prefer the colorful re-release's box art over the other two options? I doubt it. It could be considered a bit garish, I guess, but at least there's some life to it--something that can't be said of the original Japanese version's box art.

As for the North American cover: I have a feeling it isn't final, so I'm hesitant to say much about it. What I will say is that, even in this likely-unfinished state, I think it's classy and elegant. Should it end up appearing on store shelves, though, I wouldn't expect your average Canadian, Mexican or US gamer to pick it up--or even notice its existence.

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

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cyrus and his magic rod are coming to PS3, PSP and Vita

OK, so the header above is a bit childish. Sorry about that. I have a good reason for coming up with and using it, though--with that reason being that I wanted this post to grab the attention of as many people as possible.

Why is that? Well, it's because this post is about Wizorb, a game that I believe has not received nearly enough attention since it was released last September.

As for why I'm writing about it again (yeah, I've written about it a few times already): This Breakout-with-a-smidge-of-RPG is going to be made available to PS3, PSP and Vita owers--as a PS Mini--sometime this June.

Oh, and according to the fine gents at, this version of Wizorb will be sold for the entirely reasonable (in my opinion) price of $3.99.

News flash (or maybe not, given all the love I've showered onto this title thus far): I'll be picking this up day one, despite the fact that I already have copies of Wizorb sitting on my Xbox 360, PC and (I think) Mac.


And the winner of the Ashley Anderson-signed 'Cabana Fever' poster is ...

... Viewtiful_Justin.

Congratulations, Justin! I'll be in touch shortly (via Facebook) in order to nab your contact information. Or, feel free to preempt my touching (hmmm, that sounds wrong) by sending your info to me through whichever channels you prefer.

To all of you who didn't win this awesome poster: My apologies. Thank you, though, for throwing your hats into the proverbial ring. Also, best of luck next time--since you know I'll have another Gay Gamer Giveaway™ as soon as possible (i.e., as soon as someone sends me something I can give away).

One more comment for those of you who don't win: You may want to check out Ashley 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'

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I don't know about you, but I've always wanted to play a game called St. John's Wort

In this recent article about Level-5's Guild 02 over at, that site's proprietor mentions that one of this 3DS-based release's contributors (like its soon-to-be-released predecessor, Guild 02 will be a compilation of sorts) previously worked on an old Super Famicom "sound novel" called Otogirisō--or St. John's Wort, in English.

Thanks to my love of the Mystery Dungeon series--Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon, Shiren the Wanderer and Torneko: The Last Hope, especially--I'm always up for a ChunSoft-made game.

As such, I followed's link to Otogirisō's Wikipedia page, which describes the 1992 title thusly (and, yes, I do believe this is the first time I've ever used the word thusly on this blog):

"Kohei and his girlfriend Nami were on the midway when their car got accidentally hit by a tree felled by lighting. After that main characters got stuck in a forest in the middle of nowhere. They decided to spend the night in a large deserted western-style mansion nearby."

Aside: It took nearly all of my willpower to not fix the many spelling and grammatical errors in the paragraph above.

Anyway, despite the rather, um, quaint nature of the aforementioned description, I'm finding myself intrigued by this so-called sound novel. In part that's because it takes place in and around a deserted mansion (I've always been a sucker for such settings) and in part it's because of Otogirisō's ominous box art (right), which seems to include a depiction of said mansion.

Unfortunately, there's no reason for me to add this game to my ever-growing (much to the chagrin of my husband) collection, as I neither know Japanese nor own a Super Famicom. Thankfully, I've been able to experience a bit of it by watching the segmented playthrough--it's broken up into 22 parts--that YouTube user reinofheart uploaded a few years ago. (Watch part one here.)

I don't suppose any of you have played Otogirisō--or are interested in playing it now that you've read this post?