Friday, January 17, 2014

Five favorites: Japanese Nintendo 64 box art

Another Friday, another post devoted to five of my favorite pieces of box art. (Don't worry, I'm not planning to devote every Friday post to this subject, but I am going to focus on it for at least a few more.)

Anyway, this week's write-up will be a Nintendo 64-centric affair, with the first selection being one of my all-time favorite titles (for any system):

Dobutsu no Mori--Don't let the "scan" above fool you: in person, Doubutsu no Mori's cover art is pretty darn appealing. That's mainly because it looks like a postcard, complete with stamps. The logo is a rather nice addition, too, though, as is the appearance of the one and only K.K. Slider in the lower-left corner.

Mario Story--Oh, look, another of my all-time favorite games. How funny that both were made for the sometimes-software-starved Nintendo 64. Anyway, is it just me or does this piece of box art (for the Japanese version of Paper Mario) resemble a pin that you'd wear on your lapel?

Sin and Punishment--Full disclosure: I think I'd like this game's cover imagery even more than I do now if that second logo (along the left edge) weren't mucking up the proceedings. Oh, well, it's still all sorts of fabulous thanks to the sketchy (in a good way) illustration that serves as its centerpiece and its futuristic logo.

Yuke Yuke!! Trouble Makers--Would Mischief Makers (this game's North American name) have sold more if its packaging had looked more like the above? I'm not sure, but it certainly couldn't have hurt. Oh, well, at least those of us who care for such things can pick up a copy of the Japanese version and then stare at it to our hearts' content should we so desire.

Zelda no Densetsu Toki no Ocarina--Of all the pieces of box art showcased in this post, I think this is my favorite. I love its simplicity and elegance and even drama--fitting, considering all of the same words could be used to describe the contents of the cartridge packed inside.

See also: previous 'five favorites' posts

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A piece of news that should surprise no one: I'm eyeing up another Japan-only 3DS puzzler

Pretty soon, my "collection" of Japanese 3DS games will consist solely of import-only puzzlers.

OK, so that's a bit of an overstatement, but only a bit. After all, I already have Osawari Tantei Nameko Daihanshoku (aka Touch Detective: Funghi's Big Breed), and pretty soon I'll have Zoo Keeper 3D, too.

Should I add Rocket Company's Kumamon ★ Bomber Puzzle de Kumamon Taisou to that list in a few months--and I likely will, as I've already pre-ordered it via puzzlers will make up just under 50 percent of my Japanese 3DS games collection.

This fruit-matching game's box art can be seen here, by the way, while additional screenshots of it can be seen over at

Kumamon ★ Bomber Puzzle de Kumamon Taisou will hit Japanese store shelves--as well as the 3DS eShop, I'm guessing--on March 13 carrying a price tag of ¥5,040 (about $50).

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Shall We Do It? (Attack of the Friday Monsters, Bravely Default demo, Hometown Story and more)

So, here we are, the very first installment of "Shall We Do It?" Like I said just under a week ago, this and subsequent installments will focus on short, but hopefully also sweet, impressions of some of the games named in the "Now Playing" list located on the right side of this blog. This time around, that means blurbs devoted to the following five 3DS titles: Attack of the Friday Monsters!, the Bravely Default demo, Gunman Story (aka Gunman Clive), Hometown Story and A Link Between Worlds.

Attack of the Friday Monsters!--Although I bought this eShop game right before Christmas, I didn't actually get around to booting it up until a week or so ago. Sadly, I'm already done with it--after just three hours of play time. They were a surprisingly enjoyable three hours, though; full of pseudo-nostalgia and nerve-racking card battles. If you're looking for a short game with a heart-warming (if a bit heavy-handed at times) story, I'd highly recommend picking up this one should you have the dough.

Bravely Default demo--I'm done with this one, too, although I played it about five hours longer than I played the title above. Anyway, considering I spent just over eight hours on this demo (and loved every second of it, I have to say) I'm fully expecting to love the full game, which hits our shores on Feb. 7, even more--especially if the word on the street is accurate and the retail release is far less focused on fetch quests.

Gunman Story (aka Gunman Clive)--I picked up this digital title early in the week while randomly perusing the Japanese 3DS eShop. I've only played a few stages (five, if memory serves) so far, but I liked them well enough that I'll definitely be coming back for more as soon as I'm able. I especially like the art style, by the way, which reminds me of the overlooked Wii gem, Ivy the Kiwi, of all things.

Hometown Story--This is another game that I bought long ago but ignored until now for all sorts of silly and stupid reasons. Anyway, I've now played this shop-owning sim for a little over an hour ... and I'm not entirely sure what I think of it. I really like its aesthetics--which surprised me, as I deemed it "cheap-looking" before I got my hands on it--but the gameplay seems kind of thin (as in, mobile-game thin) at the moment. Hopefully a bit of depth will be revealed when I put some more time into it later this week or this weekend.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds--Those of you who follow me on Twitter likely have heard me express my reservations not only about this title but about the series in general in recent months. (I haven't been excited about a Zelda game since Wind Waker's original release.) All that said, I'm really enjoying A Link Between Worlds so far. Not only does it look surprisingly lush in motion, but it feels like a classic Nintendo game--which is always a huge plus in my book. Here's hoping I stick with it longer than I stuck with Wind Waker.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I'm not entirely sure what I think of the box art produced for the North American version of Yoshi's New Island

One thing I am sure of: I think the name of this upcoming 3DS platformer is all kinds of lame.

I'm sure the folks at Nintendo have a reason for naming it as they have--such as, they want consumers to think of this as some sort of series reboot à la New Super Mario Bros.--but to me the result is awkward, boring and completely lacking in creativity.

That aside, who really cares what the game's called as long as it's fun, right? Of course, the jury's still out in that regard, too, but I'm holding out hope that, in the end, Yoshi's New Island will overcome its lazy title and its seemingly iffy aesthetics and prove to be a worthy--and wonderfully enjoyable--entry in this hit-or-miss series.

All of the aforementioned negativity aside, the North American version's box art is a step in the right direction, don't you think? I sure do. Or at least I think I do. Yoshi himself kind of creeps me out, as he often does (unless we're talking about the ones that appear in Yoshi's Story, in which case we're all good), but the rest of it's pretty ace.

What do all of you think? Do you consider the cover art above to be delicious, or a disaster? Also, are any of you planning to pick up this portable platformer? (I am; in fact, I pre-ordered it last week.)

Monday, January 13, 2014

I'd prefer a new Chocobo game, but I'll take a mug

Before I get to the focus of this post, which is the adorable Chocobo mug seen below, I have a question to ask the folks at Square Enix: when are you finally going to produce another console or, preferably, handheld game starring Chocobo?

Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon was one of my favorite Wii games, and Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales was pretty darn awesome, too. As such, I'd love to see another game that showcases the fluffy little fellow, especially if the game in question were to be made and released for the 3DS.

In the meantime, I guess I'll have to pacify myself by picking up one of the adorable Chocobo mugs being sold by Internet retailer NCS.

(You've got to love the shop's hilarious description of this item: "Whereas the front of the mug features Chocobo's face, the back sports a trail of Chocobo's claw prints on what we assume to be yellow snow.")

Just in case any of you are considering buying one and you'd like to know a bit more about the product before moving ahead with your purchase, each mug is 7.5 centimeters tall, holds 8 ounces of liquid and costs $16.90. Oh, and they'll ship in early February.

See also: 'Who wouldn't want to wake up to one of these slimy suckers?'

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Interactive Canvas

Sydney's Matt Sainsbury, who has been known to comment here from time to time (as "Matt S"), recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for a book, The Interactive Canvas, that will "champion the idea that games have artistic merit, and interview the people that make them."

I'm a big believer that "games are art," as folks like to say, and I'm guessing a lot of you are, too, so I thought I'd use this post to spread word about the project.

Sainsbury's goal is to raise $60,000 by Feb. 6, by the way, so if you've got cash to spare you might want to consider spending some of it on this project within the next 25 or so days.

To read more about Sainbury's vision for The Interactive Canvas--which hopefully will include interviews with Braid's Jonathan Blow and Deadly Premonition's Hidetaka Suehiro (aka SWERY65), among others--or to pledge a bit of money to the campaign, check out