Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Five favorites: non-Capcom, non-Enix, non-Konami, non-Namcot, non-Nintendo, non-Square Famicom games

Is this "five favorites" post even more ridiculous than the PC Engine-focused one I published last week? Yes, I think you could say that--especially since this one is even more limited than its predecessor.

It had to be done, though, in order for this post to not be suffocated by Famicom titles that appear on nearly every such list. You know some of the ones I'm talking about, I'm sure: Hitler no Fukkatsu: Top Secret (aka Bionic Commando), Hoshi no Kirby: Yume no Izumi no Monogatari (Kirby's Adventure), Pajama Hero Nemo (Little Nemo: The Dream Master), Super Mario Bros. 2 and 3 and Wanpaku Dakku Yume Bōken (Duck Tales), just to name a few.

With that out of the way, here are five of my favorite Famicom games that weren't made by Capcom, Enix, Konami, Namcot, Nintendo or Square:


1. Adventures of Lolo 2--Would you believe this was the fifth Lolo game released in Japan? The series' storied history is too long to recount here (read about it at hardcoregaming101.net), but the short-and-sweet version is that the first three had the name Eggerland attached to them. Another interesting note about this game: it was known as Adventures of Lolo 3 in North America. Whatever you call it, though, it's an awesome little puzzler that's well worth at least a bit of your time and attention.


2. Binary Land--I'm pretty sure I've written about this early Hudson Soft effort before. (Fake update: yep, I mentioned it in a past post about my five favorite games featuring penguins.) Regardless, it's worth bringing up again, as I'm pretty sure it's one of those import-only puzzlers that's largely been ignored by the non-Japanese masses. It's more than a bit antiquated, and it's not exactly the deepest game around, but it's more enjoyable than the bulk of its flashier, lengthier counterparts.


3. Chô Wakusei Senki Meta Fight--Does the name of this game not ring a bell for you? How about Blaster Master, which is what it was called outside of Japan? My older brother and I spent more time than I'd like to admit playing through this as teens. You don't have to own a pair of nostalgia-tinted glasses to find this part-platformer, part-run-and-gunner appealing, though, as its tight gameplay and atmospheric soundtrack (don't worry, it's graphics are pretty ace, too) can and should be appreciated by gamers of all ages and stripes.


4. Otocky--A lot of games over the years have been called "experiences," but this one takes the cake as far as I'm concerned. It's also one of the only "art games" I've ever played that's not only wow-worthy in terms of its artistic merits but also in terms of its gameplay, which apes that of a traditional, side-scrolling cute 'em up (à la Parodius). Even more wow-worthy, though, is how both of these aspects are brought together--by Otocky's music-creation element (read about it here)--to form a thoroughly entertaining and even exhilarating product.


5. Meikyūjima--Here's another title that likely doesn't mean much to most of you. I'll bet, though, that at least a few of you have heard of Kickle Cubicle, right? Well, Meikyūjima is that game's Japanese name. For those of you who've never heard of either of them: this Irem-developed puzzler calls to mind Sega's quarter-munching classic, Pengo, which means the adorable, snowman-like protagonist turns enemies into ice cubes by spewing frigid air at them and then uses said cubes to gain access to the red "Dream Bags" that populate each stage. Don't worry, it's more fun, and less weird, that it sounds.

Honorable mentions: BananaFlying Hero, Penguin-Kun Wars

30 comments:

Justin Difazzio said...

Kickle Cubicle is one of my favorites! Love that frigging game! And Lolo always had me stumped...I'm sort of bad at navigating mazes and avoiding traps while being chased by enemies.

thegaygamer.com said...

Would you believe, Justin, that I only started loving Kickle Cubicle in the last few years? I avoided it like the plague as a kid--because of its box art, I think? Strange, I know. Anyway, I love it today.


Oh, and Lolo stumps me, too. Don't feel bad. I still love it, though. Of course, I'm a bit ... competitive--as in, I refuse to let the stages beat me. Ha!

michaelstearns said...

My top 5 NES games list actually includes two non-Capcom, non-Enix, non-Konami, non-Namcot, non-Nintendo titles, Battletoads (Tradewest/Rare) and Metal Storm (Irem). The NES certainly had a lot of 3rd party support!

Chalgyr said...

Ah, Blaster Master. Loved that game. It, Metroid and Kid Icarus were all played and beaten by me around the same time on my NES.

thegaygamer.com said...

Really, Michael? I'm kind of surprised by Battletoads, to tell you the truth. What is it about that game that makes it a 'top 5' pick for you?


Also, I've never played Metal Storm. I think it's because aesthetically it doesn't really look like something I'd enjoy. I guess I should give it a go at some point, though, eh?

thegaygamer.com said...

I think I'm in the same boat, Chalgyr! I can't remember that time perfectly, of course, but I definitely remember all three of those games coming out around the same time--and all three of them blowing my young mind. Good times, good times :)

Kaze said...

I love Kickle Cubicle!! My friend had it when we were kids and we would play it all the time! lol I loved the boss battles and the princesses you rescue from all the different theme lands! I didn't realize until recently that it was an arcade game first! Also, I got a Twin Famicom awhile ago and was thinking about getting Otocky, but picked up Castlevania instead

thegaygamer.com said...

Yep, Kickle Cubicle was an arcade game before it was a Famicom/NES one, Marty. You know what's kind of crazy? Apparently it was supposed to come to the PC Engine and not the Famicom, while The Legend of Hero Tonma was supposed to come to the Famicom and not the PCE? Screenshots of both of these games appeared in Famitsu back in the day, but in the end these versions weren't released :(


As for Otocky: I'd highly recommend picking it up at some point, if you're given the chance. Not only is it a great game, but it's just a cool thing to own thanks to its packaging, manual, etc.

michaelstearns said...

Well as with your list, these are "favorites," not necessarily an objective top list. Anyway!



I just get Battletoads! :) It's pretty much the game I wanted at the time, and I can't look past that! The difficulty is intense but not something that couldn't be overcome--a lot of people talk about the third level like it was this brick wall of difficulty, but really, that's far from the hardest part of the game (I can still breeze by it like its nothing even today). There are definitely points that benefit from having a Nintendo Power handy, which I certainly did at the time, and I think that "lore" that you gather around the game, the methods and how you get through certain areas, what can be done and what can't, the stuff you share with your friends and what they shared with you. It's one of those hard games that could be kind of obtuse--it's a bit like Druaga in that regard, so I'd admit that enjoying it in a vacuum might be difficult, but no one *really* is in a vacuum, even if today it's harder to get into. The 2 player mode actually requires you to play differently as well, which is something I found really compelling. (Suffice to say, I absolutely love the difficulty added by multiplayer in New Super Mario Wii!) And I love games that shake things up and change the gameplay--I know some people get turned off by that, but for me, the more times the game turns into something else, the better!

Metal Storm isn't pretty but I like its robot (I like robots :) and the gravity flip remains really interesting to me. The indie title VVVVVV arguably surpasses it in that regard, but does it by restricting your only action to the gravity flip. By attaching it to other mechanics, you really change up the way they work, and it creates some really hairy platforming situations, even if it isn't the greatest "exploration" of the concept. It feels really good!

thegaygamer.com said...

Thanks for expanding on your thoughts, Michael--I appreciate it :)


I hear where you're coming from with Battletoads, by the way. I've sadly barely played the game myself, although I do remember renting it on a few occasions as a teen. I'd like to go back to it someday, but I have to admit all of the Internet chatter about it has me scared--or maybe I should say "had" me scared? I think you may have convinced me that it's not as impossible as everyone makes it out to be :)


As for Metal Storm: I completely forgot that it has a gravity-flipping mechanism! OK, that means I'll be playing this one sometime soon, too. I'll do my best to let you know what I think of it.

thegaygamer.com said...

BTW, Marty, congrats on the Twin Famicom! I feel like you've talked about this before, but I can't remember any details. For instance, which color did you get? And what other games do you have for it at this point?

michaelstearns said...

Cool! If you can snag it (and don't mind it being in Japanese--you won't have the Dark Queen calling the toads "Wartybottoms" in the cut scenes there!), the Famicom version seems to be a bit more fair in tems of difficulty, but still represents a considerable challenge. Arino actually cleared it on Game Center CX and afterward said it was one of his favorite games--I was surprised (and pleased)!

thegaygamer.com said...

Ah! I'll have to check out the Japanese version then. Thanks for the heads up :)

thegaygamer.com said...

Woof! I just searched for copies of the Japanese version of Battletoads on eBay and ... they're not cheap. Well, maybe I'll have to start by playing it via emulation, and if I like what I see I'll consider picking up the pricey Famicom version :)

Reggie White Jr. said...

I have copies of Adventure of Lolo, Blaster Master and Kickle Cubicle for my NES. I think my copy of Kickle Cubicle may be defective though. I've never been able to get it to work. The other two work great, but I've never played much of either. I picked up Blaster Master for the Virtual Console to make saving easier since I hear the game got pretty tough.

thegaygamer.com said...

That's too bad RE: your copy of Kickle Cubicle, Reggie. Did you buy it used or something?


Anyway, good idea to pick up some of these games via Virtual Console. I've been thinking of doing the same for the Lolo games--if they're available, of course.

Kaze said...

Haha, thanks! ^^ I have the black and green turbo model and really love it! So far, I don't have a ton of games only Kid Dracula, Magical Taruruuto-kun, and Castlevania! I have an NES adapter, though, so I use it to play all my US games too!

Also, I didn't know that about Kickle and Tonma! ^^ I'm kinda sad that Tonma just got pulled from the Wii virtual console! =[ I hope it'll come back.

IvaNEC said...

Never liked Blaster Master as much as everyone else, but did like Lolo an awful lot.


SNK's God Slayer (Crystalis) was a high-quality non-(all those companies) Famicom game.

thegaygamer.com said...

Oh, I like that black and green one! Of course, I like all Twin Famicoms, but still :P


How is Magical Taruruuo-kun, by the way? I know of the Mega Drive and GameGear versions of the game, but have never really heard anything about a Famicom version?


I didn't realize Tonma was pulled from the Virtual Console. I guess it makes sense, though, as Irem went out of business, eh? Sad...

thegaygamer.com said...

What is it that's always turned you off about Blaster Master, IvaNEC--if you don't mind me asking?


I've always rather liked it myself. I really think it was ambitious for its day. Plus, I've always loved the look of the protagonist during the overhead portions :)


As for Crystalis: I'm sad to admit that I've barely spent time with this game, despite its tremendous word of mouth. I'm not even sure why. I remember renting it a few time as a kid, but that's about it. Guess I'll have to go back to it again sometime soon, eh?

michaelstearns said...

Yikes! A friend of mine picked it up when he was in Japan some years ago--he didn't say anything about the price at the time, but that was in Japan (might have been a good find) and availability might have changed. I wonder if word of its changes have made it more valuable on the import collector market, as well? Interesting!

IvaNEC said...

I liked BM's ambitiousness, but I didn't think it played very well.


Crystalis' day has passed for me, but back when it was released, some of the ideas that went into it seemed so, so awesome.

thegaygamer.com said...

Huh. I've always liked how BM played. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. Nothing wrong with that!


As for Crystalis: it'll be interesting to see what I think of it, considering I've barely played it and harbor no feelings of nostalgia for it.


It sounds, though, like nostalgia doesn't help you enjoy it today?

thegaygamer.com said...

I'm guessing that's exactly what has happened, Michael--interest from NA importers has driven up the price, at least in places like eBay. It's extremely possible, though, that picking up the game in Japan is still a relatively cheap endeavor. I've certainly seen that before--where a game that's expensive on the US version of eBay is sold for much less in Japan.

michaelstearns said...

I took a peak on yahoo auctions and didn't even see it listed there. I have the impression they aren't as widely used as eBay, even though they do have lots of amazing Japanese stuff on it. :)

thegaygamer.com said...

Did you look at the US version of Yahoo Auctions, Michael, or the Japanese version? I ask because although eBay is the far bigger deal here in the US, I'm pretty sure Yahoo Auctions are the bigger deal in Japan. (In fact, that's where I bought my white PC Engine!)

michaelstearns said...

I was looking in the Japanese one. They definitely seem to be the bigger deal in Japan, but I meant that I think consumers and sellers there approach the whole online thing differently. There could be buckets of it at Super Potato but none online, is what I'm thinking..

thegaygamer.com said...

Oh, yes, I think you're right. I'm getting the feeling that the Japanese release wasn't all that widespread, though, so that may be a part of it, too.

IvaNEC said...

A lot of the concepts in Crystalis hold up, and it plays well. What prevents me from playing it these days is that it has a lot of same-looking, dull maze areas. Also, I've played quite a few better action-RPGs since Crystalis made such a huge initial impression on me. And some of the tasks it makes you do are just no fun (there's one part where the only thing necessary for making progress is grinding to a certain experience level).

All that being said, it's worth playing through. There are a lot of people who disagree with me and think it still holds up extremely well.

thegaygamer.com said...

Well, I'll certainly give it a try, IvaNEC. Someday. Not sure when that'll be, though. Regardless, thanks for sharing your thoughts on it!