Saturday, June 30, 2012

Introducing: The Nichiest Podcast Ever!

So, I have a bit of a surprise for you today. I actually considering bringing it up a month or so ago when it first came to light, but I decided against doing so because I didn't want to jinx anything. Anyway, what's the surprise, you ask? Well, it's that I recently--as in, just a few, short days ago--participated in a new podcast that I very much hope will become a regular (or at least regular-ish) gig.

This brand-spanking new podcast is called, as I'm guessing you've picked up by now (assuming you read the header above), "The Nichiest Podcast Ever." Shockingly, our first show focuses on all kinds of niche-y game-related stuff--like some of the smaller titles that were overshadowed during E3 2012 and a few recent, worthwhile releases that we feel have been overlooked by the masses.

We also spend a bit of time chatting about the 3DS XL and the Wii U, and have a lot of fun with a segment called "The Nichiest of Them All," during which we try to stump each other about some of the lesser-known games we've played throughout our lives.

As for who "we" are: Well, you know enough about me, I'm sure. (Or at least I hope you do by now.) You should know a bit about one of my, er, podcast costars--blogger, translator and yaoi enthusiast Anne Lee, otherwise known as apricotsushi--too, since she's not only left a number of comments here over the last few months and years but authored a post on this here blog, too.

My other costar--and, really, let's call a spade a spade and admit that this person is the star of this particular production--is writer and podcaster extraordinaire shidoshi. (You may recognize that name from seeing it in the pages of EGM, GameFan and Play magazines or from hearing it in WARNING! A Huge Podcast.)

That's all well and good, but what you really want to know is how can you listen to the first installment of "The Nichiest Podcast Ever," right? Don't worry, I'm getting to it. In fact, I'll get to it right now. If you're obsessed with getting your podcasts from iTunes, go here. (Note: should this podcast stand the test of time, it'll eventually get its own iTunes page.) Another option is to go to and either listen to it or download it there.

Should you actually check out "The Nichiest Podcast Ever," would you be so kind as to let Anne, shidoshi and I what you think of it? Feel free to do so in the comments section here or on Twitter (@apricotsushi, @pikoeri or @thegaygamer).

Friday, June 29, 2012

Manual Stimulation: Hany in the Sky (PC Engine)

For the longest time, I completely ignored this peculiar PC Engine shoot 'em up and its similarly titled (not to mention similarly odd) companion, Hany on the Road. Why? Honestly, it's because I found the protagonist of this pair of games--who looks to me like a condom with eyes and arms--to be on the wrong side of the creepy line.

As for what prompted me to have a change of heart and to give them the attention they deserve: Why, it was the art that graced the covers of their instruction manuals, of course.

I'm not sure which piece of cover art I prefer between Hany in the Sky and Hany on the Road, to tell you the truth. Although I consider both to be wonderfully creative, I'm tempted to give the nod to Hany in the Sky's cover illustration (below) due to its cotton-candy cloudscape.

Are the interior pages of Hany in the Sky's instruction manual similarly delicious? Overall, I'd have to answer in the negative, although things start off delectably enough.

For instance, there's the left-hand page below, which replaces the typical series of images warning boys and girls to not abuse their HuCards and such with images of ... actually, I'm not sure what the images on the page in question are supposed to depict. Regardless, I like them quite a bit.

Next up: A four-page comic that I'm guessing clues in readers to this game's completely wacky backstory. Again, I have no idea what's going on in the panels below, but who really cares when they're illustrated as well as these are?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Acquisition #134: Luigi's Mansion (GameCube)

Would you believe me if I told you that, until a few days ago, I'd never before played Luigi's Mansion?

Honestly, I can't tell you why I avoided this GameCube launch title all this time. I have a feeling it had to do with its rumored lack of length. (I've heard the game can be completed in just a handful of hours.) Another possibility: I was turned off by the fact that it wasn't a proper, Mario-centric platformer.

Whatever the reason, Luigi's Mansion failed to find its way into my shiny silver GameCube until now.

As for what prompted me to change my mind about this title and add the copy seen in the photo on the right to my collection: I'm going to blame it on all of the videos of the fabulous-looking 3DS follow-up, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, that popped up after E3 2012 (many of which have been watched over and over again by yours truly).

Actually, I shouldn't say "blame," as I'm really enjoying Luigi's Mansion so far. It took me a few minutes to come to terms with its controls, but since then I've had a blast. I especially like how Luigi's vacuum affects pretty much anything in its path: Hanging clothes, chairs, tables, vases--you name it, this little sucker reels them in (or at least attempts to) like so many fish.

I also really like this game's atmosphere. It's spooky, but silly, too. And the soundtrack? Subtle, but also oh so sweet. I especially get a kick out of how Luigi hums along with the main theme.

Have any of you played through Luigi's Mansion? If so, what are your thoughts on it? And are you looking forward to the sequel, or was one spooky Super Mario Bros. spinoff enough for you?

See also: Previous 'Acquisition #123' posts

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Warm up your Xbox 360s, boys and girls: Spelunky's finally on its way

And when I say "on its way," I mean it: This highly anticipated part-platformer-part-roguelike title, made by Derek Yu and Andy Hull, will hit XBLA a week from tomorrow (that would be Wednesday, July 4) with a price tag of 1,200 Microsoft Points.

Although I've never played the original freeware version of Spelunky, I've looked forward to the release of this XBLA-based remake ever since I first heard about it this time last year.

Here's the trailer that announced the XBLA re-imagining of this platformer-cum-roguelike, by the way. It includes footage of both versions--in case you've never heard of, let alone seen, Spelunky before now.

Curious about the history behind this well-regarded game? Check out Russ Frushtick's recently published (over at article, "Spelunky: The Everlasting Platformer."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

So, how would you 'translate the gay experience' into video games?

If you have a few minutes this morning, and if you're at all interested in the subject of gay characters and storylines in video games, you may want to check out an interesting article that was published at yesterday.

The article in question, which was written by Cassandra Khaw, focuses on how designer, developer and writer Robert Yang thinks the "gay experience" can be translated into the gaming sphere.

A few choice quotes for those of you who may be unsure as to whether or not you want to click on the link above:

* Yang says one reason developers should include gay characters and storylines in their games is that "if I can't escape from reality through video games, [heterosexual people] shouldn't either."

* While talking about BioWare's games in particular, Yang quips that "sex is the result of talking to an NPC, saying pleasant things to them, then watching some barely PG-13 dry humping. I doubt that's how most people think of sex. Sex is one of the most compelling interactions in the realm of human experience, and the best we can do is a cut scene that you get by (easily) manipulating others?"

* As for how Yang would like to see developers deal with this topic: He shares, at one point, that instead of saying "this is how [LGBT] relationships are," game makers would say something like "this is how a transgender person dealt with body image at this particular time and place." A good game about relationships or sexuality, he adds, "will actually question how it goes about abstracting it."

Do I agree with the assertions Yang makes in this article? For the most part, yes. Although I can understand, somewhat, why many developers and publishers continue to shy away from making games that feature, say, openly gay protagonists, I think only the most disingenuous person would argue that's the only option for the folks interested in creating more LGBT-friendly titles.

Personally, I'd be happy if developers began by spending a bit more time thinking about who will play the games they make. Maybe if they realized that some of the people who buy and enjoy their products are gay, or lesbian, or bisexual, or transgender--or, hell, even straight women or folks of either gender who aren't white--they'd find it much easier to make all-inclusive games.

Those are just my thoughts on this topic, though; what are yours?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Which systems can you spot in this drawing?

I stumbled upon the illustration below (and here), produced by artist Aaron Kraten, while perusing Flickr yesterday afternoon.

It features a Famicom (stacked on top of a Famicom Disk System, no less), an NES-101 (or NES 2, if that's the verbiage you prefer) and a TurboDuo (or is it a PC Engine Duo?), so of course I had to share it here.

I also see a Dreamcast, an NES, an Xbox 360 and a Wii in the drawing above. Can you spot any others?

For another example of Kraten's abilities, check out "My kind of art."

A game convention for everyone

You know gaymers and gayming have come a long way when a convention is planned around them. Which convention am I talking about, you ask? Why, GaymerCon, of course.

In case this is the first you've heard of it, GaymerCon, according to its recently launched website, is "a gaming, tech, and geek culture convention with a focus on the alternative and LGBT lifestyles that encompass those worlds."

For a bit more on why GaymerCon is needed and what it hopes to provide to and for attendees, check out the following video of the convention's founder and key organizer, Matt Conn:

Additional information about Conn and his event can be found in this recent interview with

GaymerCon will be held on August 3 and 4 of next year (yep, 2013) at an as-yet-undisclosed venue, by the way. Keep up to date about it by liking its Facebook page or following it via Twitter.