Saturday, August 11, 2012

Another (hopefully entertaining) episode of The Nichiest Podcast Ever is in the can

Two nights ago, apricotsushi, shidoshi and I pulled on our favorite gaming t-shirts, had our significant others make us a couple of stiff drinks and then whipped out another episode of The Nichiest Podcast Ever.

What did us game-obsessed lushes (OK, so that's just me) talk about during our two-hour recording session? Oh, a bit of this and a bit of that.

For those of you who prefer specifics: We discussed the trio of new, LGBT-friendly characters that will appear in the next BlazBlue title; the swimsuit DLC that will be made available for Tekken Tag Tournament 2's male, female and even animal characters; and the controversy currently swirling around the LGBT-focused game convention, GaymerCon.

We also chatted about an old Famicom game, Banana, plus newer games like Rainbow Moon (PS3), Rhythm Thief & The Emperor's Treasure (3DS), Sound Shapes (PS3/Vita) and Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (3DS). Oh, and the 3DS XL--which, admittedly, isn't all that niche-y but, hey, this is our podcast and we'll talk about whatever we want to talk about!

I'm not entirely sure when the finished product will be made available to the masses, but I'm guessing it'll hit the Interwebs sometime next week or so.

In the meantime, feel free to take in the aural bliss that is The Nichiest Podcast Ever's first program.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Manual Stimulation: Pop'n Magic (PC Engine)

Diabetics beware! The manual below--for the PC Engine CD game, Pop'n Magic--is about as sugary sweet as you're about to see in these "Manual Stimulation" posts.

Actually, both the manual's cover and one of its first two inside pages literally are sugary sweet, as both feature photos of colorful candy.

Strangely, that's it as far as photos of candy are concerned. I wonder if the designers of this manual were worried about putting readers into confectionary comas?

Regardless, they certainly didn't seem to be afraid that readers would suffer from an overdose of cuteness. The guy and gal seen in the spread below, by the way, are Pop'n Magic's rather adorable protagonists.

I really like how the folks at Riot/Telenet spruced things up throughout this manual with splashes of color and the occasional illustration--a number of which can be seen in the pages above and below.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Acquisition #140: Flash Koibitokun (WonderSwan Color)

Would you believe it if I told you that this is the game that prompted me to start buying Bandai WonderSwan games (despite the fact that I don't yet own one of these Japan-only handhelds)? Well, it's true.

As for how I became aware of this life-changing game (OK, so that may be laying it on a bit thick): Frankly, I found out about it while perusing one of my favorite websites, Kimimi's Blog.

Late last year, Kimimi published a rather glowing write-up of this Kappa Games-developed title. In particular, this line stuck out at me: "Your small ninja is tasked with making sure precious love hearts find their way across the screen and soften the hearts of the people on the other side." Cute, right?

Just as cute--and just as important in terms of piquing my interest in both Flash Koibitokun in particular and the WonderSwan in general--are the colorful screenshots Kimimi posted of this portable puzzler.

Sadly, I can't yet share any impressions of this acquisition since, well, I still don't have a WonderSwan (or, rather, a SwanCrystal) system. Hey, don't look at me like that. I'll get one soon. Or eventually. I promise.

For the time being, though, I'll just continue to stare at the boxes and flip through the manuals of the handful of WonderSwan I've bought thus far.

See also: Previous 'Acquisition #123' posts

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Reason #405 I could be considered an 'eccentric' (aka bat-sh*t crazy) gamer

A larger part of me than I'd like to admit wants to buy a complete-in-box copy of the Famicom version of Bubble Bobble 2.

I consider that to be crazy for a few reasons. One, I've never really liked Bubble Bobble 2 (released in North America as Bubble Bobble Part 2)--which I tend to consider inferior to Taito's original effort in every possible way. Two, complete-in-box copies of this game can be a bit "pricey"--as in, I could either buy Bubble Bobble 2 at some point next year or I could buy a 3DS XL (assuming prices for this rare title are trending low, that is).

I severely doubt I'll ever go through with this rather harebrained scheme, but you never know. I've done some completely bat-shit crazy things over the years because of cute box art, after all.

See also: Other reasons I could be considered an 'eccentric' (aka bat-sh*t crazy) gamer

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

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

Did you know that Final Fantasy III will soon see another release? Granted, it's based on the rather underwhelming (in my opinion, of course) DS and iOS remakes of the vaunted series' third title, and it's about as likely to hit store shelves in the States as, say, the Wii version of Dragon Quest X (that one was a low blow, I know) due to it being a PSP game, but it's still worth paying attention to--if only for its colorful box art.

Speaking of which, here is the cover of the PSP iteration (which is set to see the light of day on Sept. 20):

Compare that to the covers of the DS versions (the first appeared on European and Japanese copies of Final Fantasy III, while the second appeared on North America copies), which can be viewed below.

Last, but not least, here's the box art that was produced for the original, Famicom release of the game:

If I were to award medals--we are in the middle of the Olympics, after all--to three of these four illustrations, I'd probably give the European/Japanese DS box art gold, the Famicom one silver and the PSP one bronze.

Do you agree, or would you award your imaginary medals in a different order?

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

Monday, August 06, 2012

The Great Gaymathon Review #58: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (3DS)

Game: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
Genre: Music/Rhythm
Developer: Indies zero
Publisher: Square Enix
System: 3DS
Release date: 2012

Although I can't quite remember my reaction to hearing that the folks at Square Enix were working on a Final Fantasy-based rhythm game, I have a feeling it involved scrunched eyebrows and a puckered mouth. Well, after playing the finished product for more than 30 hours, I can say without hesitation that my initial skepticism was unwarranted. That's because Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is one of the most enjoyable--and most polished--rhythm games I've played in a long time.

As for why that is: First, there's the art style. I know some hate it, but I see it as a welcome evolution of the style that was used on the packaging produced for Final Fantasy IV and V. Second, there's the music, which includes 70 (or so) songs that were gleaned from the 13 "mainline" Final Fantasy titles. (If you're anything like me, some of the tracks featured here will push you to play the Final Fantasy releases you've thus far avoided.) Third, there's the gameplay, which loosely--and rather addictively, I should add--apes the mechanics used in Nintendo's Elite Beat Agents. (Basically, you tap, slide or hold the stylus against the 3DS' touchscreen in time with the above-mentioned tunes.) Fourth, there are the many modes and stages that wrap around the gameplay and provide Theatrhythm with a much-needed sense of cohesion. (The "Chaos Shrine" mode is where this cart truly shines, by the way, and where it shows the prowess of its designers and developers. Some of the rhythm patterns highlighted here are confounding at first, but stick with them and they'll not only "click" but blow you away with how well they, er, harmonize with the songs in question.)

Like pretty much any game, this one features a few missteps--although in this case, they're fairly small ones. For starters, the opening and ending theme segments of the "Series" mode are a bit pointless. Also, that mode's "Event" stages--which task players with tapping to music while Final Fantasy FMV scenes run in the background--don't quite gel, if you will, with the "Battle" and "Field" stages. (That said, I consider the "Waltz for the Moon" event sequence to be a stand-out.) Finally, it has to be said that things are sure to become at least a tad (if not more so) repetitive after about the seven-hour mark, since that's when you start spending the bulk of your time in Theatrhythm's "Chaos Shrine" (in order to bolster the abilities and stats of your existing characters as well as to unlock a handful of "hidden" ones).

I can't say I've minded playing certain tracks over and over again (in fact, in most instances it's the opposite), but I'm guessing that won't be true for everyone. As long as you go into it knowing that--and as long as you have at least a passing interest in the Final Fantasy series--you should get a lot of enjoyment out of this melodious 3DS title.

See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts