Friday, November 30, 2012

The Gay Gamer Giveaway™: PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (Vita) Edition

There's a rather awesome (in my opinion, of course) story behind this particular Gay Gamer Giveaway™, so I'm going to share it here. Don't worry, it won't take long to tell.

So, a few days ago (on my birthday, actually), I was blathering away on Twitter when Matthew Carrington (@Segamastermatt, also Segamaster dude on deviantart) asked me if I owned a Vita. After replying in the negative, I asked him if he had one. His answer: "No, I was going to wait on it for a while. I was asking you because I won a digital copy of PlayStation All-Stars for the Vita." After which he added: "Would you want it to give away as a contest prize or something?" Cool, eh?

As for the rules of this Gay Gamer Giveaway™: All you need to do is leave a comment below between now and 11:59 pm PST on Wednesday, Dec. 5. Don't worry about its content or length--even something like "Yo!" is fine with me. Just make sure you're identifiable in some way.

Also, should you throw your hat into the ring for this giveaway, be sure to pop your head into this here blog again on Thursday, Dec. 6, as that's when I'll announce the winner.

Please note: The code I send to the winner will only work with the US PSN store, so if you can't download Vita games in that way this probably isn't the giveaway for you.

See also: Previous Gay Gamer Giveaway™ posts

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Speaking of Japanese games with great box art ...

... here are a few recentlyish (don't worry, I know that's not a real word) revealed pieces of cover art that I can't help but find appealing.

1. Phantasy Star Online 2 (Vita)--As far as I can tell, the illustration you see above will only appear on some sort of special edition of Sega's upcoming (it's due out sometime in 2013) online RPG. I say "as far as I can tell," of course, because I know next to nothing about Phantasy Star Online 2. Based on how I feel about this particular piece of box art, though, I think I'm going to have to educate myself about it soon. (Note: I do wish this example featured about three or four fewer logos, as the bottom edge, in particular, is more than a bit cluttered at the moment.)

2. Fate/Extra CCC (PSP)--Oh, hey, another soon-to-be-released game that's as foreign to me as, well, soy sauce Kit Kats. Like Phantasy Star Online 2's cover art (above), though, this PSP RPG's packaging makes me want to know more about both it and its predecessor, Fate/Extra. (Speaking of which, have any of you played Fate/Extra? If so, would you recommend it to someone who generally enjoys dungeon-crawling RPGs?)

3. Fantasy Life (3DS)--Don't worry, I'm not going to say for a third time that I'm clueless when it comes to one of the games I'm highlighting here. In fact, I know quite a bit about Level-5's Harvest Moon clone, as I've been paying attention to it since it was first announced as a sprite-based DS title. Anyway, it's still unknown as to whether or not this one will make its way across the pond, but I'm hoping beyond hope that it is--especially if the folks at Level-5's North American arm decide to use this piece of cover art, too.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Five favorites: Japanese PSP box art

You didn't think the DS and Wii were going to be the only "riding off into the sunset" systems honored with one of these posts, did you?

If so: surprise!

Anyway, folks who have done their best to ignore Sony's first handheld while it was still au courant may be shocked to hear this, but the PSP has showcased some pretty great examples of box art since it hit store shelves nearly eight years ago.

My favorite such creations were produced for Japanese PSP games, of course, so those are the ones I'm planning to focus on in this post. (Oh, and look for me to highlight five more of my favorite pieces of Japanese PSP cover art in a follow-up post that'll be published next week.)

1. Final Fantasy Type-0--I nearly didn't include this one here simply because I'm still mad that Square Enix has thus far failed to release it in North America in any form. In the end, though, I just couldn't leave such a beautiful piece of cover art off of a list like this.

2. Hyakumanton no Bara Bara--This piece of box art is the main reason I wish Patchwork Heroes had received a retail release here in the States. Also, it's the main reason I'm constantly finding myself this close to picking up a copy of the Japanese version. Do I really need two copies of this adorable action-puzzler? No, but, man, I'd sure like to be able to look over and see this box sitting on my (non-existant) game shelf.

3. Parodius Portable--I'm pretty sure only folks who have hearts of stone fail to be impressed by Parodius Portable's colorful cover illustration. OK, so people who have phobias related to flying pigs, mustachioed octopi or bunny girls riding oversized bullets are likely to be unimpressed, too, but everyone else should grin from ear to ear upon catching a glimpse of it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Happy birthday to me!

I know it's a bit uncouth to wish oneself a happy birthday, but don't judge me too harshly. There's a point to this, er, self-celebratory post, after all.

As for what that is: Well, it's to point out that I recently bought myself (using birthday money from my parents) one of those pink-and-white 3DS XLs I've been fawning over since the Japanese version was announced in late August.

Here are two photos of the system's rather stylish packaging:

And here's a snapshot of the system itself:

Oh, and here's how it looks when it's open and about to play a game:

Don't fret too much over that yellow-ish bottom screen, by the way; in reality, it isn't noticeable (or at least it isn't to me).

What do I think of it so far, you ask? Let's just say I have a feeling that, from now on, I'll only pick up my original 3DS when I want to play it while I'm out on the town. In every other situation, though, I'll be reaching for the beauty you see in the photos above.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Great Gaymathon Review #62: Banana (Famicom)

Game: Banana
Genre: Puzzle
Developer: Victor Interactive Software
Publisher: Victor Interactive Software
System: Famicom
Release date: 1986

I have kind of a funny history (well, it's funny to me anyway) with Banana. For the longest time, I thought it and Takara's rather lackluster-looking platformer, Banana Prince, were one and the same. Then I came across (on Famicomblog) a photo of this game's packaging that made it clear the two titles were unique entities.

As for what prompted me to give this oddly named Famicom game a go: Well, the aforementioned packaging, which features an adorable mole wearing white gloves and what appears to be a pair of blue jeans, certainly got the proverbial ball rolling, but what kept it moving along was this YouTube video.

Admittedly, said video makes Banana look more than a little rough, but that's rarely deterred me in the past. Also, I'm one of those weirdos who actually likes the aesthetics of severely retro games.

Anyway, it wasn't just the colorfully chunky graphics that attracted me to Victor Interactive Software's maiden Famicom release. I also liked the looks of its gameplay, which at first called to mind such classics as Adventures of Lolo, Dig Dug, Magical Puzzle Popils and Wrecking Crew.

In the end, those comparisons aren't completely apt. A better one, I quickly came to learn, would be to compare it to First Star Software's Boulder Dash. That 1984 release is a cakewalk compared to Banana, though, thanks to the latter's devilish, "you'd better make the right moves in the right order--or else!" mentality.

Speaking of which, you'd probably like an explanation of how this pixelated puzzler plays, wouldn't you? The gist: You control the strangely dressed mole I mentioned earlier. He's plopped into each stage for some reason or other (sorry, I don't know the game's backstory--assuming there is one) and is tasked with gathering all of the fruit that's been deposited throughout each level (again, for some reason or another), retrieving the blue-haired lady mole who seems to be his girlfriend or wife and then somehow making it to the exit door.

That's harder than it sounds, of course, thanks in large part to the game's sense of gravity--which means that whenever you dig or fall or otherwise move in a downward direction, the only way you can move up again is to find a ladder and climb it. And if you can't? Hit the reset button and start over, because you basically got yourself stuck.

Oh, and most stages include boulders that, should you walk beneath them (and you will), fall into your path and make life even more challenging for you and your mole-y friends.

The good news among all of this doom and gloom: Banana is a lot of fun despite its sometimes brain-melting difficulty. Partially responsible for that are the game's cheerful (if basic) visuals, although the appealingly blippy background music, which calls to mind both Donkey Kong and Mario Bros., deserves a quite a bit of credit, too.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Who needs Thanksgiving leftovers when you've got a new episode of The Nichiest Podcast Ever?

OK, go ahead and enjoy those Thanksgiving leftovers, too. (Assuming you even have them, of course.) I don't think it would be a terrible idea to wash them down with a cold, refreshing glass of The Nichiest Podcast Ever, though, do you?

Especially since this "take" (our fourth) includes chatter about a whole heap of niche-y gaming goodness. Cases in point: Anne (aka @apricotsushi) talks about the Animal Crossing-branded 3DS LL (XL elsewhere) she recently acquired, while shidoshi (@pikoeri) and I continue salivate over the pink-and-white XL that just hit (some) store shelves in North America.

We also confer on Style Savvy: Trendsetters, the slew of niche-y PSP games due to be released throughout North America between now and next summer, the Deadly Premonition Director's Cut that's set to come out (for PS3) this coming March, and the possibility that the wacky PS2 title, Chulip, may soon find its way onto PSN.

Oh, and we also blathered on for a bit about the recent launch of the Wii U. Are Anne and shidoshi planning to join me in picking up Nintendo's next console at some point in 2013, or are they going to give it a pass?

Check out this episode of The Nichiest Podcast Ever (here) and you'll hear the answer to that question and also hear the three of us "cheerlead" in support of Dokuro (for Vita), Magical Whip: Wizards of Phantasmal Forest (DSiWare) and Persona 4 Golden (also for Vita).