Saturday, August 31, 2013

The return of the PC Engine

Sadly, the header above doesn't refer to the return of NEC's PC Engine--quite possibly my all-time favorite console--to Japanese store shelves. Rather, it refers to the return of that system's relevance to my far-too-regular eBay excursions.

That's noteworthy because it's been many months since I last purchased a PC Engine game. In fact, I can't remember the last one I bought. Is it possible that it was Gokuraku! Chuka Taisen (read about it here), which I picked up last November? I think it is.

Anyway, that's neither here nor there, is it? Much more relevant to this particular discussion is the pair of PC Engine games I acquired a few weeks ago: Naxat Soft's Star Mobile and NEC Avenue's Splash Lake, both of which can be seen in the photos below.

Star Mobile, a CD-ROM2 game originally released in 1992, has intrigued me for ages thanks to the fact that it's a Zodiac-themed puzzle game that challenges players to stack stars of different weights on a gilded scale without dumping them into the intergalactic void.

Splash Lake, on the other hand, is an action-puzzler that puts players in the shoes of a legless ostrich (wait a second...) that's tasked with destroying various bridge planks--by pecking them--and sending each stage's baddies into the titular body of water.

I actually owned the North American version of this game, which hit the streets in Japan in 1991 and jumped the pond a year later, way back when, but I stupidly sold it along with the rest of my TurboGrafx-16 collection so I could buy a Japanese Sega Saturn at launch.

I really like the simple-but-cute label that's affixed to Splash Lake's CD, by the way. You can see it in the not-so-stellar photo above, or you can see an appealingly clear scan of it here.

Splash Lake's instruction manual is pretty nice, too--not to mention short--so look for a "Manual Stimulation" post devoted to it to be published sooner rather than later.

Friday, August 30, 2013

(Another?) LEGO GameBoy

Can one gaming blog feature too many posts that focus on systems made from LEGOs?

The answer, of course, is no--especially when said systems are created Flickr user lego27bricks.

I mean, seriously, is the contraption in the photo above not a thing of beauty?

This LEGO GameBoy is even more striking when shown sitting next to the real thing, which is what you get with the following photo:

To see more photos of the stunning product of lego27bricks's blood, sweat and tears (OK, so I don't know that he cried while making it), check out his Flickr photostream.

(Note: you'll have to scroll down a bit to find them. Believe me, though, they're worth the effort.)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

My wish list for Nintendo's 3DS successor

Yesterday's 2DS reveal got me thinking--and not just about the 2DS and its future success or failure. No, it got me thinking about Nintendo's next handheld, which I hope beyond hope will not be called the 4DS. (I'd also prefer that it not be called the HDS, as recently suggested by commenter Monster_Hunter2882, although I'd take that moniker over 4DS any day.)

My lame attempt at drawing a Nintendo 4DS
Specifically, it got me thinking about which features I'd like to see included in Nintendo's next handheld. Here's what popped into my head during that little brainstorming session:

* two screens, both touch-enabled
* both screens the same size/dimensions (a la the DS)
* two circle pads
* "HD" graphics (basically, a good bump up from those found in your average 3DS game)
* glasses-free 3D would be welcomed, but isn't needed
* backwards compatibility also would be welcomed, but isn't needed

That last one will shock a few people, I'm sure, and I included it here because I've come to the conclusion that I rarely take advantage of backwards compatibility when it comes to gaming hardware. To date I've played just one DS game (Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime) using my 3DS, for instance, and I believe I've only ever played two GameCube games (Animal Crossing and Super Mario Sunshine) using my Wii. 

I fully understand that offering backwards compatibility is a selling point for a lot of consumers, though, so I'd hardly shake my head if it were to be included. I'm just saying that I probably wouldn't make use of it and, as such, I wouldn't mind if Nintendo left it out in order to bring down the price of the system a bit.

So, that's my current wish list for Nintendo's 3DS successor. Is yours similar, or does it include different  (or additional) features and functions?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The 1,587,392nd Internet opinion of the soon-to-be-released Nintendo 2DS

As I'm guessing everyone who is at all interested in Nintendo and its products already knows, the Kyoto-based company announced last night that it will begin selling a new 3DS model in Europe and North America on Oct. 12--alongside a pair of games that are sure to sell a few copies in the coming months and years, Pokémon X and Y--for the bargain-basement price of $129.99.

Called the 2DS, this oddly designed system is shaped like a tablet--or, as others have pointed out elsewhere, a tombstone--and reportedly sports screens that are about the same size as the original 3DS. Oh, and as you may have surmised based on its name, those screens do not feature the same glasses-free 3D technology that's been the focal point of every previous piece of 3DS hardware.

As for what I think of this curious contraption: my initial reaction was something along the lines of "woof!" (that's not a good thing, in my case), followed by the kind of face I make whenever I decide to throw caution to the wind and see if my lifelong hatred of oatmeal has waned.

Chiefly responsible for that reaction, I think, is what I consider to be the system's generic, Fisher Price-esque design. I'm also not a fan of the color schemes being offered to North American buyers (the white-and-red 2DS--see below--that will be sold in Europe is a bit better, but only a bit). Also, there's the name--which seems like a potentially disastrous idea given how consumers continue to be confused by the differences between the Wii U and Wii, let alone the DS and 3DS.

All that said, I fully understand that this product is not aimed at gamers like myself. Rather, it's aimed at children and their cost-conscious (and 3D-wary) parents. Those folks very well may welcome the 2DS with open arms, especially if they spot it while searching for copies of Pokémon X and Y. Then again, they may reject it due to its less-portable form factor, its scratch-prone screens and its confusing name.

Those are just my opinions on the system, though; what are yours?

Raise your hand if you picked up a copy of Sweet Fuse: At Your Side (PSP) yesterday

Sadly, my own hand is not in the air at the moment.

I actually pre-ordered it after first becoming aware of it many moons ago, but I canceled that pre-order after surveying all of the games I've already bought yet failed to play this year.

Now, I'm not ruling out buying a copy later this year, or maybe early next, but for the moment I've decided to live my life Sweet Fuse-free.

In the meantime, maybe I should share a brief description of the game with those of you who've never heard of Sweet Fuse.

Basically, it's a visual novel aimed at women, as it stars a girl who, while navigating a bizarre amusement park filled with video game-themed attractions, must also juggle the relationships that are budding with a handful (six, to be exact) hunks.

Sweet Fuse, which was developed by Idea Factory and is being published in North America by Aksys Games, is noteworthy for a few other reasons, too--chief among them being that it features Keiji Inafune (aka the man who created Mega Man), who helped contribute to the game's development. It also features character designs from the hand of Kumiko Suekane, of Ace Attorney fame.

I don't suppose any of you picked up a copy of this intriguing PSP title? If so, why did you do so--and what do you think of it so far?

Buy: Sweet Fuse: At Your Side

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I'm probably going to pre-order Game Center CX 3 as soon as someone allows me to do so

The problem is, I need another 3DS game at the moment like I need a hole in the head. (I know I've said that many times before, but I'm writing this on the Monday following a week-long vacation, so please forgive me for resorting, yet again, to such a tired cliche.)

Still, I love me some retro-tinged mini-games, especially when they harken back to the 8-bit gems of my childhood, and that certainly describes the titles that will be included in this upcoming, likely-to-be-import-only compilation.

You can see two of those titles in action by zooming to the 26:50 mark in the video below (and here), by the way.

I especially like the first one, which is a blatant Mario Bros. rip-off, although the second one--which riffs on Namco's Sky Kid--looks pretty sweet, too.

Are any of you Japanese 3DS owners planning to pick up a copy of Game Center CX 3 after it hits the streets?


Monday, August 26, 2013

A few thoughts on (and a photo of) the new Club Nintendo Pikmin tote bag

You knew before now that as of a few weeks ago the North American Club Nintendo is offering a Pikmin-branded tote bag as one of its rewards, right?

Well, if you didn't, you know it now.

I picked one up as soon as I was able, of course--mostly because I'm a huge Pikmin fan, but also because I like cute-but-practical things.

Anyway, my tote arrived on my doorstep last week. Here's a photo of it in its current resting place (on the back of my office chair):

The tote's actually a bit smaller than I thought it would be, I have to say. Not that it's tiny; it's plenty big, but I wouldn't plan on using it to pick up a week's worth of groceries or anything like that. It's more suited for carrying, say, a laptop and a few notebooks, I think.

It also should be noted that the tote seems pretty sturdy. Of course, I'm not the most experienced tote owner in the world, so what do I know? Regardless, it doesn't feel flimsy--or it doesn't feel that way to me.

The question is: how will I be using it? Or will I be using it at all? The answer to both of those questions, sadly, is that I probably won't use it at all.

Who knows, though, maybe I'll use it the next time I travel--just so everyone at the airport can "oooh!" and "ahhh!" as I walk clutching this most fabulous looking tote.

Did any of you snag one of these beauties? If so, what do you think of it so far? And how are you putting it to use (if you're putting it to use at all?