Friday, January 25, 2013

Manual Stimulation: Loopop Cube: Lup ★ Salad (PlayStation)

I know the last few "Manual Stimulation" posts have been, well, less than stimulating, but I'm hoping this one will make up for it.

The instruction manual produced for the PlayStation game known as Loopop Cube: Lup ★ Salad (although I'm going to call it simply Loopop Cube from here on out in order to keep those pesky stars to a minimum) certainly gets things off to a rollicking start thanks to its cover art (below), don't you think?

The, er, rollicking continues on the manual's first few inside pages as well, with three rather adorable donning of the titular Salad (that would be the blond-coifed lass) a selection of her in-game costumes.

From there, we get what looks to be a pretty cool comic. I have absolutely no idea what's going on in it, of course, but I'm guessing it's telling Loopop Cube's backstory or something. (Seriously, there has to be a reason this girl is pushing colored blocks into one another from here to kingdom come.)

The next few pages of the Loopop Cube instruction manual may not be as interesting, but that's OK. Things perk up again quickly enough. Plus, you need to learn the rules of the game while reading such a booklet, right? Well, that's the focus of the next handful of pages.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Five favorites: non-Enix, non-Nintendo, non-Squaresoft Super Famicom games

Well, well, well. Here we are again.

Why am I continuing this crazy series? I don't know, to tell you the truth. I guess I just like writing and publishing weird blog posts.

Anyway, as you hopefully can tell by reading the header above, this particular "five favorites" post is going to focus on five of my favorite non-Enix, non-Nintendo, non-Squaresoft Super Famicom games.

I know I could have (and maybe even should have) kept myself from including Super Famicom games made by Capcom, Konami and even Taito, but the fact is that I'm less of a fan of their 16-bit releases than I am of their 8-bit ones. So, I decided to allow them here.

Anyway, enough of my yammering. Here are five non-Enix, non-Nintendo, non-Squaresoft Super Famicom games that are among my favorites for Nintendo's second console:

1. Ace wo Nerae!--I'm guessing a good number of you will skip right past this selection because it's a tennis game. I understand that, but I have to say it's a shame. This is a top-tier tennis game, in my humble opinion, and well worth trying if you're at all into the sport. The main reason? Makers Telenet Japan make good use of the Super Famicom's famed "Mode 7" capabilities (as well as a special DSP chip, I believe) to produce a surprisingly successful three-dimensional tennis title. Sure, it's a bit awkward at first, but give it a few minutes and it feels great.

2. Kiki Kaikai: Nazo no Kuro Manto--Although it was renamed Pocky & Rocky when it was readied for North American release, this top-down, forced-scrolling shmup would be a favorite of mine no matter what developers (and publishers) Natsume decided to call it. Admittedly, that's partially due to the fact that this is one gorgeous game (one of the prettiest to grace the Super Famicom/SNES, if you ask me), but it's also due to the fact that it controls like a dream.

3. Sanrio World Smash Ball--I know I've written about this syrupy sweet game, cobbled together by the folks at Tomcat System, at least once before, but I'm mentioning it again because it is, simply put, one of the best pick-up-and-play carts available for this particular system. Gamers who have hearts of stone are sure to point out that this Character Soft-published title is little more than a pixelated take on air hockey that's been gussied up with the Sanrio crew, but what's wrong with that? All that matters in the end is whether or not the final product is a joy to play, and this one is (in spades).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A few thoughts on this morning's Nintendo Direct

As any long-suffering Nintendo fan knows, the company's "Nintendo Direct" broadcasts tend to be hit-or-miss affairs. Although some of them have produced bonafide megatons (like when Bayonetta 2 was announced), just as many others have been utter snoozefests.

Given that, I wasn't at all sure what to expect from this morning's trio of Wii U-focused Nintendo Directs (one for Europe, one for Japan and one for North America). I had a feeling at least a few bombs would be dropped thanks to the rather ho-hum launch of company's latest console, but would they be "we're working on a sequel to Wii Party" bombs or would they be "Bayonetta 2 will hit store shelves in May" bombs?

Interestingly enough, Nintendo is working on a sequel (of sorts) to Wii Party. That was about the least interesting of all of the announcements that were part of this Nintendo Direct, though, so I think it's safe to say that this particular broadcast was far more "hit" than "miss."

Specifically, here are what I considered to be the high points of this morning's address:

* The look inside Platinum Games' office, where the company's staffers seem to be hard at work on Bayonetta 2, was all sorts of awesome. Sure, we didn't get to see any actual gameplay footage, but we were given enough glimpses of in-the-works enemies and environments to know the final product probably is going to rock our respective worlds.

* OK, so it wasn't all that surprising to hear that new 3D Mario and Mario Kart games are being prepped for Wii U. To hear that both games will be shown in playable form at E3 2013, though, was pretty shocking--as was Satoru Iwata's utterance that we'll finally get to see some screens of the next Smash Bros. title at the same event.

* Considering it's been rumored for a while now, I doubt many people fainted or felt heart palpitations after Iwata revealed that the Wii U will receive a Yoshi-focused platformer in the near future. My own heart certainly starting racing, though, when I heard that it's being developed by the geniuses at Good-Feel and saw that it's going to look more than a bit like that group's Kirby's Epic Yarn.

* So, let me make sure I'm understanding this correctly: Atlus is working with Nintendo to produce a Wii U game that brings together the characters and settings of the Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem series? If so, uh, I'm not sure what to think, to tell you the truth. I mean, it certainly sounds interesting, and I'm sure the resulting game will be stellar, but I can't quite picture it yet, you know?

* What I can picture: making my way through Monolith Soft's next game--which looks a lot like their last one (that being Xenoblade Chronicles), actually, but about a million times better--with a humungous grin on my face. You know, because of the gorgeous visuals. And the huge environments. Oh, and the transforming mechas.

Reed Bond's 'Pink Yoshi'

Remember the "Sexy Shy Guy" I wrote about a few days ago? (Check it out here if you don't.) Well, it appears it was part of some sort of concerted effort by the folks behind the Drawed Goods site to illustrate characters from the Super Mario Bros. universe.

Another of the pieces created as part of the aforementioned effort is the one seen below (and here):

It was made by Atlanta-based artist Reed Bond and is, in my humble opinion, the definition of "adorbs." (I'm especially fond of Yoshi's side-eye.)

To see more of Bond's work, hop on over to his you have a second. Also, I'd highly recommend checking out while you're at it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Once again I've been taken in by sexy box art

I guess I should have called this post "Acquisition #147: Contact (DS)," and you certainly can think of it that way if you so desire, but I decided to go with the header seen above because, well, I think the truth of the matter is more interesting than saying, "Guess what? I just bought the Euro version of Contact!"

As for why I bought the Euro version of this Grasshopper Manufacture-made title: that would be because of its awesome cover art, which can be seen in the first and third photos below.

It could go without saying, I'm sure, that I love the adorable little Mother-esque sprites that populate the front of Contact's Euro packaging. I'm also pretty darn fond of its retro-tastic logo, though, which I think gives off an appealingly '70s vibe.

The cart art (above) isn't bad either, although I'd like it a lot more if it featured fewer logos.

Unfortunately, I have yet to stick this cart into my DS, so I can't tell you if I think the game itself lives up to the promise of its box art.

Have any of you played Contact? If so, what did you think of it?

See also: Previous 'Acquisition #123' posts

Monday, January 21, 2013

Additional evidence that Shigesato Itoi is an awesome guy

The main pieces of evidence that Shigesato Itoi is an awesome guy, of course, can be found in the trio of quirky-yet-poignant RPGs he made for Nintendo systems between 1989 and 2006 known as Mother, Mother 2 (aka EarthBound) and Mother 3.

Another such morsel of proof just popped into my conscience, though, thanks to the stellar Yomuka! blog--with that morsel being that Itoi and his colleagues at Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbun (Almost Daily Itoi News) have a tradition of "celebrating the release of every Animal Crossing game by turning office-wide gameplay into an actual work project."

Not only that, but pretty much every employee at "Hobo Nichi," as Itoi's company is called, maintains a blog about their experiences. Check them out by visiting and then clicking on the heads of each staffer (scroll down to the bottom of the page). If you only want to see Itoi's Animal Crossing: New Leaf blog, go here.


I'm really liking the looks of Level-5's Pokémon-esque 3DS game, Youkai Watch, which of course means it ain't coming to North America

I wish I weren't as cynical as I am when it comes to the localization prospects of the Pokémon-esque RPG that is Youkai Watch, but it's hard not to be a bit of a grump when you consider how many great-looking 3DS titles have been Japan-only affairs thus far. (Yes, I'm looking at you Bravely Default, Fantasy LifeLabyrinth no Kanata and Taiko no Tatsujin: Chibi Dragon to Fushigina Orb, among others.)

Still, I'm crossing my fingers and toes in the hopes that my negative prediction is proven wrong, as it looks pretty darn awesome to these (horribly nearsighted) eyes.

I'm especially intrigued by Youkai Watch's weirdo "battle wheel," which can be spotted at the 42-second mark in the trailer above (and here).

Ol' Level-5 is really hitting it out of the park these days when it comes to the 3DS, isn't it? Not too long ago the company found a surprising amount of success with its Animal Crossing wannabe, Fantasy Life (which I've heard is pretty stellar, by the way), and now it's looking to capture a smidge of the Pokémon crowd with the still-without-a-release-date Youkai Watch.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Although I need another 3DS game like I need an extra hole in the head ...

... I'm still considering picking up Nintendo's Tokyo Crash Mobs, which hit the 3DS eShop this past Thursday.

Why? I tend to like puzzlers, for starters. Also, I've barely spent any time with the Magnetica/Puzzloop series on which Tokyo Crash Mobs seems to be based.

Oh, and then there are Grace's "bitch stare" and Savannah's "hair twirl" that can be seen near the beginning of the video above. (A proper trailer for the game can be seen here, by the way.)

Have any of you picked up this $6.99 title since its release? If so, what do you think of it so far? Also, would you recommend I follow in your footsteps sometime soon, or should I steer clear of it?