Saturday, June 09, 2012

My kind of art

You know what I'd do if my husband and I ever won the lottery? Well, besides retire and buy my family and closest friends anything they want (hey, we'd only buy tickets for one of those "mega" lotteries), I'd use a chunk of my portion of the winnings to buy a second home and fill it with all of my games and game systems.

Oh, and I'd cover its walls with game-related art. In fact, I think I'd have to devote an entire room to the console-centric pieces recently created (and shared on Flickr) by Aaron Kraten.

For instance, there's this PC Engine painting (technically it's "mixed media" on wood):

And there's this NES painting, too:

Kraten's also produced similar pieces that focus on the Sega Genesis and the SNES.

Sadly, it's unlikely the hubs and I will win the lottery anytime soon, so my little "game house" will have to reside in my head for now. Oh, well, at least I can check out Kraten's Flickr photostream whenever I want.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Pretty in Pikmin

While surfing the web for Pikmin art that could be used to wallpaper my MacBook (yeah, I'm that kind of nerd--or is it dork?), I came across the creation below.

The waving Rock Pikmin is adorable, of course, but the little pink Pikmin (I wonder what it's official name will be?) flitting around in the upper-left corner is really what caught my attention.

It was produced by artist Jared D. Weiss and published on his tumblog, The Works & Derps of Jared D. Weiss, a few days ago, in case you're curious about such things.

Anyway, as I'm sure you've already surmised, I'm fully obsessed with all things Pikmin at the moment. As such, here's hoping the Wii U and Pikmin 3 are released as soon as possible--and at a price that forces me to pick up both of them on day one.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Random blatherings about a bevy of recently revealed box art

The last two weeks have been great ones for fans of well-made box art. Case in point: The just-revealed illustration (below) that will grace the covers of Capcom's Monster Hunter-themed puzzler, Airu de Puzuruu.

Of course, I'm a complete sucker for the company's Felyne characters--especially when they're depicted in chibi form, as they are on this PSP game's cover art.

Another piece of box art that caught my attention in the last few days: The one that's been produced for the Wii version of Dragon Quest X.

I know some folks--die-hard Dragon Quest fans, especially--are upset about a number of things related to this particular entry in Square Enix's long-running RPG series, but surely its beautiful cover art isn't one of them.

Nintendo's New Super Mario Bros. 2 has been similarly divisive since it was revealed a short while ago, with some gamers calling it a cheap cash-in and others comparing it to the Second Coming. (OK, so I haven't heard such comments. Yet.)

I'm not entirely sure what I think of this 3DS release myself, but I am sure that I like its golden cover art.

Speaking of golden cover art: Check out the one below. It's for a PSP game called Super Dangan Ronpa 2, which will hit store shelves across Japan next month.

About the only thing I know about this adventure title--well, other than its name, general release date and the fact that it's a follow-up to another PSP game called Dangan Ronpa: Academy of Hope and High School Students of Despair--is that, thanks in large part to its box art, I wish it were being prepped for North American release.

Sadly, it's not. Which means I'll just have to make repeated return trips to this post so I can ogle its oddly captivating cover imagery.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

My two-word review of Nintendo's 3DS Software Showcase: More meh

Actually, saying that yesterday's 3DS Software Showcase was a "meh" experience is like saying my early teens were enjoyable.

A much more accurate description of the event, in my opinion, would be to say that it sucked. Or, rather, that it completely sucked.

The reason: The folks at Nintendo of America didn't show or even announce a single new 3DS game. Yes, you read that correctly--not a single new 3DS game, first-party or otherwise, was discussed during this so-called showcase.

Because I spent an hour of my time to watch it, though, I've decided to write a blog post about it. Be warned, though: I have almost nothing nice to say about Nintendo this time around.

* I hereby nominate Nate Bihldorff to lead all of Nintendo of America's press events, E3 and otherwise, from here on out--Bihldorff, for those of you who haven't played through games like Animal Crossing and Paper Mario and read their end credits, is a senior localization manager and producer at Nintendo Treehouse. He was brought on stage twice during the 3DS Software Showcase--once to chat about New Super Mario Bros. 2 (below) and once to chat about Paper Mario: Sticker Star--and both times he showed that he has more presence than his superiors, Reggie Fils-Aime and Scott Moffitt, combined. Whereas Moffitt, who headed up this particular presser, was as awkward as can be, Bihldorff was relaxed and even witty. More Bihldorff, less Fils-Aime and Moffitt in the future, please!

* Thanks for offering up such specific release dates, Nintendo!--In a move that will surprise nearly no one, but will irritate nearly everyone, Moffitt reiterated during the 3DS Software Showcase that the numeral-phobic pair of upcoming releases known as Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (below) and Paper Mario: Sticker Star will hit store shelves (and the Nintendo eShop, too, I'm guessing) "this holiday season." Gee, thanks! I'll be sure to circle the entire months of November and December, and maybe even January, on my calendar in anticipation. Really, would it be so hard to provide us 3DS owners with actual release dates? I guess so. At least they didn't leave us hanging in regards to New Super Mario Bros. 2, which will see the light of day--both digitally and at retail--on Aug. 19.

* If Animal Crossing 3DS isn't released before the end of the year, I'm going to make voodoo dolls that look like Satoru Iwata and send them to anyone who wants one--Unexpectedly, the long-awaited (by me, at least), 3DS-based iteration of Animal Crossing wasn't even mentioned during this so-called showcase. Why? I have no idea. I'm guessing it's because Nintendo of America had too many other great 3DS releases to talk about during this hour-long event. Only they didn't. Like I said earlier, not a single new game was announced yesterday. Even worse, only a handful of previously-announced games were given center stage, with those games being Castlevania: Lords of Shadow--Mirror of Fate (what a great title!), Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, New Super Mario Bros. 2 and Paper Mario: Sticker Star (below). In other words, Moffitt and Bihldorff had plenty of time to toss out a sentence or two about the game that's sure to sell as much as each of the aforementioned titles combined.

* That's all right, Nintendo, I wasn't planning on buying any more eShop games this year anyway--OK, so that's a lie; I was planning on buying more eShop games this year. Sadly, Nintendo of America decided to mention just two of them during the 3DS Software Showcase: Pokémon Dream Radar and Pokédex 3D Pro. I'm guessing this means the Dragon-Quest-meets-Pikmin curiosity known as Denpa Ningen RPG won't be making its way to our shores anytime soon? If so, bummer.

I could easily add a few more complaints--such as, oh, the fact that Fire Emblem: Awakening was completely ignored--to the list above, but why bother? I'm sure you get the idea that I was more than a bit disappointed (disgusted may be a better word) by Nintendo's 3DS Software Showcase.

Were any of you similarly turned off by the event? If so, what were you hoping the folks at Nintendo of America would discuss or reveal?

See also: 'My one-word review of E3 2012 (thus far): Meh'

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

My one-word review of E3 2012 (thus far): Meh

After spending (some would say wasting) a good chuck of yesterday watching Nintendo's, Microsoft's and Sony's E3 2012 press conferences (I wasn't able to watch Sony's or Microsoft's live on Monday), all I can say is: Woof. As in, "woof, all three of them sucked, didn't they?"

OK, so saying they sucked may be a bit harsh. Saying they were awfully underwhelming, though, is as close to the honest-to-goodness truth you're going to get, in my opinion.

Why? Read the following blurbs to find out. I combined my thoughts on Sony's and Microsoft's pressers, by the way, because I only had a few things to say about the latter conference and I felt bad about leaving it out in the cold, so to speak.

Sony and Microsoft:

* Beyond: Two Souls looks nice, but that's all I can say about it--I have to give it to the crew at Quantic Dreams for coming up with graphics that nearly, but not completely, put to rest the notion that game consoles are unable to produce human characters that aren't at least a bit creepy. Unfortunately, that's about all I was able to glean from the trailer shown for this upcoming PS3 title, which features Academy Award-nominated actress Ellen Page, as it showed no actual gameplay footage. I'm guessing it'll follow in the footsteps of the developer's previous product, Heavy Rain, but it would be nice to know that (or not) for sure.

* The Last of Us was the most intriguing game of Sony's presser, and maybe the most intriguing game of the whole event so far--PS3 and Xbox 360 games look so good these days that it's hard to impress me anymore. That said, The Last of Us (above) impressed me. It looks amazing, the banter between the main characters was about as natural as you could hope for in a video game and the gameplay seems diverse. Can someone remind me why I don't yet own a PS3? Oh, yeah, it's because I can't afford one right now. I may have to buy a copy of this game, though, as soon as that situation changes.

* PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale: Most boring name of the event?--I sure think so. Granted, I've yet to come up with a better name for this Super Smash Bros. clone, but I can't help but think anything would be better than the current one. Thankfully, few gamers are going to care about its name. Will they care enough about its gameplay to add it to their collections? I'm guessing so, although I can't say it appeals to me all that much. (Full disclosure: I find Super Smash Bros. and its sequels similarly unappealing.)

* South Park: The Stick of Truth was the only Xbox 360 game that impressed me during Microsoft's press conference--Which is kind of sad, as this Obsidian Entertainment-developed RPG isn't even an Xbox 360 exclusive. OK, so I also kind of liked what I saw of Fable: The Journey and Resident Evil 6, but the former requires Kinect (which means it gets a big "hell no" from me) and the latter is a game I'd much rather watch someone else play than play myself. Oh, well.

* Vita? What's a Vita?--You know a system is having problems when the company producing and selling it barely mentions it during one of the biggest events of the year. Honestly, I think some people may have blinked and missed the Vita segment of Sony's conference altogether. That's how short and underwhelming it was. A few games were announced for it (including the above-mentioned PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale), as was PSone Classics support, but that's about it. Sigh.


* Does anyone else think the Wii U may support a few too many controllers?--As of now, players can use Wii U GamePads, Wii Remotes (and Wii Remote Pluses, along with Wii Nunchucks), Wii U Pro Controllers, Wii Classic Controllers and Wii Balance Boards while playing games on their Wii Us. Although I'm glad all of the peripherals I bought for my Wii won't just sit around and gather dust after I pick up a Wii U, I can't help but wonder if all of the control options will overwhelm some consumers and even developers.

* I'm not so sure NintendoLand is the killer app Nintendo thinks it is--That said, the Animal Crossing- and Luigi's Mansion-inspired portions of this mini-game collection (Animal Crossing: Sweet Day and Luigi's Ghost Mansion) look like a lot of fun. Personally, I think Nintendo should include a copy of NintendoLand with every Wii U console, but I'm not at all confident it will do so. If not, here's hoping it's no more than $19.99. Otherwise, I have a feeling a lot of gamers--myself included--may give it the cold shoulder upon release.

* New Super Mario Bros. U is more of the same, but I'm (kind of) OK with that--Although I'm not the biggest fan of the art style used in the New Super Mario Bros. series (I find it a bit generic), I am a fan of the tried-and-true gameplay that takes center stages in these titles. New Super Mario Bros. U looks to be the best yet thanks to the inclusion of the new flying squirrel suit (I'll die if the chicken suit is in here, too) and some adorable baby Yoshis. Oh, and some impressively detailed backdrops.

* Pikmin 3 looks and sounds wonderful, as expected--Not only that, but Nintendo wisely decided to allow gamers to use their Wii Remote Pluses and Wii Nunchucks (or their new Wii U GamePads, of course) while playing this, the latest entry in the vaunted Pikmin series. Combine that with the news that Pikmin 3 will include new captains and, well, you've got yourself a game that will be picked up by yours truly the day it's released (or the day I purchase a Wii U, whichever comes first).

* Uh, where's the rest of your games, Nintendo?--Nintendo only showed off a handful of first-party games during its presser: New Super Mario Bros. U, NintendoLand, Pikmin 3 (below) and Wii Fit U. (I'm not counting LEGO City: Undercover or SiNG.) That's pretty paltry, especially when you consider two of those titles were shown and one was announced at last year's E3. Hopefully a few more will be revealed by the end of this year's event (or in the coming weeks, at the very least).

* Wii Fit U will be bought for one reason, and for one reason only--With that reason being that it can be used while watching TV. Honestly, one of the only reasons I haven't used Wii Fit Plus in a few months (I used to use it two or three times every week) is that I prefer watching TV while I work out at home.


* I'm completely sick of the "let's have four guys (OK, maybe one girl) stand on the stage and seemingly play the game we're currently talking about" strategy employed by each of these companies--I understand what they're trying to do (make us believe that what we're seeing on screen is actual footage of the game they're promoting), but it's always seemed rather lame to me.

* Next year, let's hear from some new "suits"--I'm sure Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aime, Microsoft's Don Mattrick and Sony's Jack Tretton are great at whatever they do when they're not on stage at E3, but when they are on stage at E3 they are about as awkward and unappealing as can be. No personal offense meant to any of these men, of course; I just wish their employers would ask someone else--someone with a bit more personality and presence--to front these particular press conferences.

* What's up with the 10-minute-long gameplay videos?--Both Microsoft's and Sony's conferences could have been a good half-hour shorter, if not more, had they limited gameplay videos to about three minutes. Instead, they went with gameplay videos that seemed to last an eternity. A good portion of the live crowd seemed to enjoy them, but I found them to be snoozefests.

So, those are my rather long-winded thoughts on E3 2012 so far. If you've been paying attention to this event, what do you think of what's transpired?

Monday, June 04, 2012

My entirely reasonable wish list for E3 2012

E3 2012 starts tomorrow. Here are a few of the things I hope to see--or at least hear about--between then and the end of the event on Thursday.

* Acknowledgement that Fire Emblem: Awakening is coming to North America--And soon. Granted, I'll buy this 3DS game whether it hits store shelves next month or next year. Next month would be preferable, though.

* A final name and release date for the North American version of Animal Crossing 3DS--Oh, and a few details that make me a bit more excited about this particular entry. A much-improved online aspect would fit the bill, I think.

* A number of completely new and unexpected 3DS game announcements--From both Nintendo and third parties, if possible.

* Glimpses (in-game ones, especially) of a few first-party Wii U games--I don't care which ones. I'll take anything at this point. Well, anything other than Metroid x Star Fox. Also, as much as I'd love to see a new 3D Mario title, I'd prefer to be shown something new and unique. That said, footage of a near-final Pikmin 3 surely would make me swoon. (For a bit of pre-E3 news about the Wii U, check out the "Nintendo Direct" video that was posted on Nintendo's website yesterday evening.)

* Signs that Sony and third parties aren't completely giving up on the Vita--A nice price drop would be welcomed with open arms, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

* Teases (or, hell, even whispers from anonymous sources) related to Microsoft's and Sony's next consoles--Surely they aren't going to let Nintendo have the E3 spotlight all to itself? Even if they do combat the Kyoto-based Mario maker, though, I don't expect them to talk about anything concrete.

Anyway, that's my fairly reasonable wish list for this event. What are some of the things (games, systems, whatever) all of you are hoping to see or hear about during this year's E3?

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Additional proof that I have awesome readers

A few months ago, I mentioned (OK, whined) in this post that I was sad that the copy of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time that I pulled from my childhood closet while home for Christmas was "sans boîte," as the French might say. (Sans boîte = without box, basically.)

Enter The Gay Gamer reader "sharc," who wrote in the comments section of that post: "Pretty sure I have a box for Ocarnia of Time sitting around somewhere. Gotta double check first, but you'd be welcome to take it. Encouraged, even."

After sharc and I exchanged e-mails on the subject, I promptly and rather surprisingly forgot about it. Until a few days ago, that is, when the box in the photo below arrived on my doorstep.

Please note the superb condition of said box. The reason it's in such great condition is that sharc packaged and shipped it with so much care that my usually cold and cynical heart (OK, that's somewhat, but not entirely, overstating things) nearly melted.

As you can see, the box and cartridge are getting along famously--despite the fact that they met just minutes before the photo above was snapped. Anyway, thank you, sharc, for making this, er, peculiar love affair possible!