Friday, November 16, 2012

Five favorites: Japanese DS box art

Two weeks ago, I published a silly little post about my five favorite examples of Japanese Wii box art. Well, this week I'm going to cover something just as frivolous: My five favorite examples of Japanese DS box art.

Both of these posts were written up because I'm "mourning the passing," so to speak, of both the Wii and DS, by the way--which is kind of funny to me, as I'm absolutely loving my 3DS at the moment. Still, I doubt Nintendo's second dual-screened handheld will ever reach the heights of its first, so maybe that's where these feelings of abandonment (for lack of a better word) are coming from.

Anyway, you're probably wondering which pieces of Japanese DS box art I like the most. Here they are:

1. Awatama--This unique, Mekensleep-made title, which is better known as Soul Bubbles in the west, is one of those rare games that was released in Europe and North America before it was released in Japan. Japanese DS owners shouldn't feel too bad about that, though, as they got by far the best cover art, in my opinion. (Admittedly, it isn't hard to top the European creation, which can be seen here.)

2. Fushigi no Dungeon: Furai no Shiren DS--I've played a number Fushigi no Dungeon (or, Mystery Dungeon) games, but I've never played this one. That has nothing to do with its fantastic box art, of course--which may just be the best of the Fushigi no Dungeon bunch. (Only Torneko no Daibōken: Fushigi no Dungeon's cover offers up any real competition, in my opinion.)

3. Oideyo Dōbutsu no Mori--OK, so I may be a bit biased about this one. I am a fairly big fan of Nintendo's Dōbutsu no Mori (aka Animal Crossing) series, after all. Still, I think most folks would find this game's box art at least somewhat appealing--what with its adorable characters and abundance of color.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A somewhat gay review of Patchwork Heroes

Game: Patchwork Heroes
Genre: Action puzzler
Developer: Acquire
Publisher: SCEA
System: PSP
Release date: 2010

True story: This digital-only game, which is called Hyakumanton no Bara Bara in Japan and earned a full-on retail release in that country, is one of a small handful of titles that prompted me to pick up a PSP nearly three years ago.

Do I regret that decision now that I've finally (and fully) played through this portable puzzler? Not at all. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it's one of my favorite PSP-exclusive games (of the ones I've experienced, of course).

Heavily responsible for that, I have to sheepishly admit, are the superficial aspects of Patchwork Heroes--i.e., how the game looks and sounds. The former especially rocks my world--thanks to the colorful, textured and textile-filled art style used by Acquire's designers--although the latter's Middle Eastern-influenced soundtrack is nothing to sneeze at.

That's not to suggest Patchwork Heroes is a completely superficial experience. On the contrary, its gameplay and even story--something that isn't always a priority when it comes to puzzlers--more than hold their own against its music and graphics.

How so? Well, players are shoved into the shoes of a blue-hatted lad named Titori and then tasked with protecting his hometown from a never-ending stream of colossal, bomb-wielding warships, for starters. As for how they're supposed to accomplish all of that: Titori is flown up to said ships, latches onto them and then brings them down by cutting them into pieces. (You do this by pressing your PSP's O button and then moving its analog nub in the direction you'd like to slice.)

Frankly, it feels a lot like Taito's classic coin-op title, Qix, turned on its head, which is a treat for folks like me who grew up on such games. (Don't worry, it's sure to be a treat for those who've never experienced it, too.)

All of the above is sure to make Patchwork Heroes sound easier than it is, so let's get one thing straight: This game is not a push-over, nor is it simple. While you're cutting apart the giant ships that are threatening the protagonist's idyllic hamlet, for instance, you've also got to save a number of your fellow citizens who have, for some reason or other, become imprisoned within the advancing contraptions. Also, each ship is equipped with various forms of defense, all of which do their best to keep you from attaining your goal--and often succeed, if you're anything like me. 

Thankfully, a variety of power-ups pop up on occasion to aid you in your quest, although to assume that they'll help in any significant fashion would be the definition of foolish. Still, any form of assistance is welcome while working through Patchwork Heroes' story and challenge modes.

None of them assist this title's other possible shortcoming, unfortunately--with that shortcoming being the utensils that are used to control it (i.e., your PSP's analog nub and directional pad). Neither option makes Patchwork Heroes anywhere near unplayable, but both do their best to get in the way of things on a regular basis.

If you can get past that and the stiff challenge, though, you're sure to find this digital release to be more than worth its $9.99 price tag and a welcome addition to your PSP game collection.

See also: Previous 'somewhat gay' reviews

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Acquisition #147: Style Savvy: Trendsetters (3DS)

Considering this a warning: I'm going to be featuring quite a few 3DS games in posts like this one in the coming weeks and months. That's not to say I'm only going to write about 3DS "acquisitions" between now and the end of the year, mind you, but I am going to write about a good number of them in that timespan.

With that said, let's focus on this one. It is, after all, a game I've been looking forward to play for some time.

So, was Style Savvy: Trendsetters worth the wait? Very much so. Granted, I've only played it for about six hours so far, but I've enjoyed those six hours a lot more than I imagined I would before I obtained this syn Sophia-made title.

As for why that is: Well, I really like its "throw together an appropriate outfit for each customer" gameplay, for starters. There's also a rather meaty store-management aspect to Style Savvy: Trendsetters, though, that adds another dimension to the proceedings.

Wrap all of that in an attractive-enough art style and you've got yourself a portable title that offers players an enjoyably unique gaming experience--or at least that's what it's offered me so far.

I know that's a pretty general description for a game that's about more than simply playing dress-up, but that's all I can offer at the moment due to having played it for only a few hours. I'll continue working my way through it, though, and I'll do my best to share some more in-depth impressions (as well as a full-on review) sooner rather than later.

See also: Previous 'Acquisition #123' posts

A GameBoy only a Mother Brain could love

French artist Oskunk strikes again, this time with a Metroid-themed GameBoy that features a stylized Mother Brain on its front and a swarm of the titular creatures on its back.

If I had any say in the matter (and I don't), Oskunk would follow up this creation with a custom-painted GameBoy Advance SP that features some sort of Mother 3 imagery.

To see a few more photos of this playable piece of art (including two of its beautiful backside), though, head on over to Oskunk's blog pronto.

See also: Previous Oskunk-centric posts

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Reason #406 I could be considered an 'eccentric' (aka bat-sh*t crazy) gamer

Let's make this one really easy: Many a person could--and should--consider me an "eccentric" (aka bat-shit crazy) gamer because I'm seriously considering buying the 3DS game you see below.

How seriously? Well, not as seriously as you may think, but seriously enough for me to add it to my "save items list" over at, at the very least.

For those of you wondering what in the hell you're looking at: It's a soon-to-be-released Japanese 3DS game called Neratte! Tobashite! Rilakkuma Guragura Sweets Tower. (That's Aim! Hurl! Rilakkuma's Shaky Sweets Tower, for everyone who's like me and doesn't know a lick of Japanese.)

Oh, and it'll hit the streets in Japan on Dec. 13 carrying a price tag of ¥5,040 (about $63).

I'm sure at least a few of you are thinking, "That doesn't sound too crazy to me"--especially since I've hardly been shy about expressing my penchant for adorable games. Would you feel the same way, though, if you knew that Neratte! Tobashite! Rilakkuma Guragura Sweets Tower was little more than a cuter-than-it-has-any-right-to-be Angry Birds clone (a fact that is made painfully evident in the video below)?

That last bit is what's keeping me from considering Neratte! Tobashite! Rilakkuma Guragura Sweets Tower too seriously at the moment.

Should I find a copy of this pixelated confection selling for, say, $20 on eBay in the near or distant future, though, I can't promise I'll be able to keep myself from adding it to my collection.

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

Stomp on my heart a little harder, why don't you?

True story: For about a week in early October, I was the proud, er, "pre-owner" of one of the Animal Crossing-branded 3DS LL systems that just hit store shelves in Japan.

I eventually canceled my pre-order, though, because, well, I just couldn't deal with the idea of spending $400-plus on a handheld--even one as fabulous-looking as this one.

Anyway, I felt pretty good about that decision until I came across the unboxing video below (and here) the other day. Now I'm back to wishing I'd emptied my bank account just so I could stare at--or, you know, use--one of these beauties whenever I felt like it.

Is anyone else shocked by how small this system's box is, by the way? I know it doesn't include an AC adapter or charging cradle, but I'm still a bit surprised.

Unboxing videos not your thing? You may want to check out the "gratuitous Animal Crossing 3DS LL/XL photo shoot" over at the Chic Pixel blog then. (Yes, that means Anne just got an Animal Crossing 3DS LL and, yes, that means I'm more jealous of her than I've ever been before.)

So, what do you think the chances are that Nintendo of America, Australia and Europe will bring this system to their respective regions? Yeah, I'm thinking "slim to none," too.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cruise with me baby

I'm not entirely sure why, but I've rarely shared any photos of myself here or on Twitter. Of course, I also rarely share them on Facebook or Flickr, so maybe I'm just not a "share photos of myself with the masses" kind of guy.

Still, after seeing the photos my sister-in-law snapped of me and my husband, David, during out recent cruise, I felt compelled to share a few of them here. Hopefully you'll get a kick out of them.

And if not? Well, things will return to normal tomorrow morning. I promise.

This photo (above) was taken while our ship, the Island Princess, made its way through a segment of the Panama Canal. Why am I so peppy, you ask? I'm guessing it's because I was on my third soda of the day--and it was only 10 am.

In this photo, David and I are demonstrating our prowess (or not) at paddle tennis. I'm pretty sure we were the only people on the entire ship (of just under 2,000 passengers) to try our hands at this rather idiotic sport.

Do you see the look on David's face in the photo above? That's the face of a guy who has beaten his husband at ping pong (or "table tennis," if that's how you roll) in 1,000 out of 1,024 matches. Sigh.

Me and the hubs working on our tans (or not) in Aruba. You can't really tell by looking at this photo, but I was sweating like a pig at the time. What can I say? My body was meant for cooler temps.

I don't know about you, but I think this last photo should be used to promote tourism in Aruba.

So, there you have it: 10 days of fun whittled down to five photographs. Do you feel as though you know me a bit better as a result? Probably not, but at least now you know I'm an actual human being and not just a NSFW bara manga character.