Friday, March 07, 2014

A challenger to the 'Year of the GameBoy' appears

Why? Because, as you've hopefully already heard, the folks at Genius Sonority announced yesterday that THE "DENPA" MEN 3: The Rise of Digitoll will float onto the European and North American 3DS eShops sometime this summer.

Combine that exciting nugget of news with my recent A Link Between Worlds, Bravely Default and even Attack of the Friday Monsters obsessions and it's pretty clear the 3DS is going to give the GameBoy a run for its money when it comes to earning the top spot in my heart and mind this year.

After all, the first "DENPA" MEN adventure was my favorite game of 2012, and even though I wasn't quite as enamored with its follow-up I still plan to put a good few hours into part three, which appears to feature an Animal Crossing-esque house-decorating element as well as a number of interesting online modes.

The former can be seen in THE "DENPA" MEN 3's first official (in English, at least) trailer, by the way. Check it out here if you're curious.

Are any of you excited about this impending release (a demo of which is supposed to hit the eShop in May)? If so, did you also play--and enjoy--any of the previous titles in the series, or will this be your first time at the "DENPA" MEN rodeo?

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Edea's sax-filled special-move theme ('Baby Bird') in Bravely Default is my everything

Seriously, take a listen to it in all its '80s-sitcom-inspired, porn-tastic glory and then try to tell me it isn't the most fabulous tune in all of gaming:

That's not to suggest the other special-move themes that appear in Bravely Default stink, of course. On the contrary, I think all of them are pretty rad. (You can listen to them here, if you'd like.)

Edea's really takes the cake, though, in my opinion. (Even this vocalized version.) Or maybe I should say it takes the cheesecake?

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Shall We Do It? (more Bravely Default with a smidge of Weapon Shop de Omasse thrown in for good measure)

You know that old saying, "slow and steady wins the race"? Well, I'm beginning to think it applies to Bravely Default.

After all, I've now spent about 40 hours with this Final Fantasy-esque 3DS RPG and I've yet to complete its fourth chapter. I feel like I'm making good progress toward its conclusion, though, so don't take that last comment to be a complaint.

That's not to suggest this portable journey has been without its grievances, mind you. In fact, a number of little niggles have popped onto my radar in the last week or so, with the following being the most noteworthy:

* You know, I'm really glad Edea is in this game, because if she weren't, it wouldn't be half as good as it is. I mean, Agnès? What a dud--or worse. Tiz is kind of boring, too, but at least he's not a total stick in the mud like the aforementioned "wind vestal." As for Ringabel, although he's growing on me, I still find his schtick to be more than a little grating. We get it, you like the ladies! Sigh.

* Someone over at developer Silicon Studio really likes backtracking, don't they? There's no other explanation for all of the running around players are required to do in this game. That's far less of a problem after you reliably gain access to an airship (SPOILER: you gain access to an airship in this game), but when you don't have access to one it's really, really annoying--even if you go ahead and turn off random battles.

* Another semi-spoiler: at one point in Bravely Default, you're able to track down and defeat a certain number of dragons in order to advance a certain side quest. Sounds cool, right? Well, the damn things are nearly impossible to beat at that particular point in time--or at least they have been for me and my otherwise-overlevelled party so far. Not a good thing if you tend to be an obsessive gamer like I am.

Don't get me wrong, overall Bravely Default's still a great game and I can't see myself pushing it to the back burner anytime soon. Would I be enjoying it more than I am now, though, if it didn't feature some of the annoying quirks I just mentioned? Yes, of course. And I sincerely hope the folks working on the sequel address and fix all, or at least some, of them before Bravely Second "goes gold," as they say.

In the meantime, though, I'll continue chipping away at this fledgling series' first effort. Maybe by the time I write next week's "Shall We Do It?" post I'll have experienced the infamous fifth chapter that everyone's groused about here and elsewhere?

As for Weapon Shop de Omasse, well, I downloaded it a couple of weeks ago and I finally put two or three hours into it over the weekend.

If you've yet to hear about it, it's a 3DS eShop game that was developed, in part, by a Japanese comedian named Yoshiyuki Hirai and published by Level-5. In it, players are put into the shoes of someone who runs a weapons shop within an RPG.

So, would-be warriors waltz into the shop, ask for a weapon, you make (or polish an existing) one and then rent it out to them so they can go slay a beast, get back at a group of thieves, stuff like that. While they're on their adventures, all of their actions are relayed to you via a hilarious, Twitter-like stream of messages known as the "Grindcast."

Anyway, I'm getting a kick out of it so far. I love the game's low-poly, PSone-esque graphics; the computer-controlled warriors are, almost without exception, adorably realized; and the "Grindcast" has prompted more than one genuine guffaw, which means it's a certified success in my mind.

All that said, I'm not entirely sure it's worth $8--or at least I have a feeling a good number of folks aren't going to think it's worth that much after they buy and play it. It's fun, but I can see it being a pretty short and superficial affair when all is said and done. As such, I might recommend waiting until Level-5 puts it on sale, as they are wont to do. Even at $5, Weapon Shop de Omasse would be quite a bit more appealing than it is now, I think.

Have any of you picked up this unique eShop title? If so, what do you think so far? Or maybe you're still spending the bulk of your gaming time on Bravely Default? In that case, how are things faring for you at the moment?

See also: previous 'Shall We Do It?' posts

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Next gen, schmext gen: I'll take this copy of Painter Momopie (GameBoy) over the bulk of its 'au courant' counterparts any day

It could be said that I've been a bit obsessed with finding a complete copy of Painter Momopie, a Japan-only Pac-Man clone that was released by Sigma Entertainment in 1990, since I first heard about it early last year.

Unfortunately, even loose copies of this game can be hard to come by, so imagine my surprise when a pristine, complete-with-registration-card copy of it popped up on eBay about a month ago.

I snapped it up the second I saw it, of course, and just about blew a gasket when it arrived on my doorstep last week.

Would you like to ogle a few photos of it? I hope you're shaking your head in the affirmative, because that's just what you're going to get in this post.

Painter Momopie's cover art (above) is nice enough, I guess, but it's nothing compared to the cuteness on display elsewhere. Case in point: the adorable illustration featured on the box's top flap.

Honestly, I wish that drawing had been used on the front of the box, perhaps in a wrap-around fashion à la Don Doko Don 2 for the Famicom?

The back of the box (above) is pretty sweet, too. The characters seen in the upper-right corner, by the way, are the bulk of Painter Momopie's baddies.

I couldn't help but share a close-up photo of a specific portion of the back of Painter Momopie's box--a screenshot that includes multiple examples of giggle-worthy "Engrish."

Sadly, there's no English, or even Engrish, to be found in or on this game's instruction manual, although it does feature a number of adorable illustrations that are akin to the ones seen on the top flap of its box. Don't take my word for it; see them for yourself in this "Manual Stimulation" post.

Speaking of this game's manual, I don't suppose any of you would be able and willing to translate what Momopie is saying in the speech bubble above (which appears on the manual's cover)?

Finally, here (above) is the whole she-bang--box, cartridge, manual and registration card--for anyone who cares.

As I'm sure I've said before, this game is a nice little diversion for folks who are still interested in playing the odd GameBoy title. Copies of it may not be tremendously easy to find these days, but there's always emulation, right?

See also: my Painter Momopie review

Monday, March 03, 2014

Five favorites: Japanese GameBoy box art

In the recent post in which I declared 2014 to be the "Year of the GameBoy," I warned folks that they should expect a good number of GB-focused write-ups in the coming weeks and months.

This isn't really the kind of post I was talking about, but it is related to them. After all, one of the things that has pushed me to turn my attention, once again, to Nintendo's first handheld system is the cool, quirky and even beautiful box art that was created for some of its Japanese titles.

The following five pieces of cover art certainly deserve to be tagged as cool, quirky or beautiful--if not all three--or at least I think they deserve to be tagged as such. What do you think?

Banishing Racer--I only became aware of this Jaleco-made platformer--which stars an anthropomorphic car that hops and bops its way across the US--a few months ago, but I've since made up for lost time by basically falling in love with it. Truth be told, the game itself is far from amazing and even can be downright frustrating at times, but I've never been overly picky and I've always been a bit of a masochist, so neither of those things bother me too much. Granted, I may be more lenient on the game than I should be because of its colorful--and kind of hilarious--box art.

Bubble Bobble Junior--Another kind of ho-hum GameBoy title, I have to admit, but, boy, do I like its box art. Of course, I like almost anything related to the iconic Bubble Bobble series, so maybe my interest here shouldn't be too much of a surprise. If only the gameplay were as tight and energetic as its arcade and Famicom/NES predecessors...

Hoi Hoi--Seriously, how can you not love a piece of cover art that features a gigantic, grinning--and winking--cockroach? I also like the kiddies that appear on this one, thanks in large part to the rosy cheeks that make them look like they belong in a cartoon or comic from the early 1900s. Thankfully, the gameplay--which can only be compared to modern tower-defense titles--in this one is worth a second glance, too.

Kitchen Panic--What? Another piece of Japanese GameBoy cover art that showcases illustrations of insects? Yep! Unsurprisingly, those bugs are the star attractions here, with my personal favorite being the bee or fly or spider or whatever you want to call the thing on the left (the one that's crying and holding its face with two of its many hands).

Lock 'n' Chase--After all of the drama above, you're probably surprised I'd decide to include such a "boring" piece of box art in this post. The thing is, I've always liked how this game's Pac-Man-like protagonist is depicted here. Plus, I like the overall use of color in this creation. A really attractive and well-balanced cover, in my humble opinion.

See also: previous 'five favorites' posts