Friday, March 21, 2014

The Great Gaymathon Review #67: Kitchen Panic (GameBoy)

Game: Kitchen Panic
Genre: Action
Developer: Bits Laboratory
Publisher: Coconuts Japan
System: GameBoy
Release date: 1991

Let's not beat around the bush--or maybe I should say blender--here: if Kitchen Panic were edible rather than playable, it would be a McDonald's Happy Meal instead of a four-course meal from a three-star restaurant.

That's not me saying this Japan-only GameBoy title deserves to be dumped in the trash along with the spoiled leftovers, by the way. On the contrary, it's actually a pretty cute, "enjoyable enough" little game--just don't look for it to blow you away. And for crying out loud, don't go dropping a wad of cash on it (unless you're one of those crazy collector-types, of course). Go into it with the right expectations, though, and I think you'll have a reasonably good time.

As for what you'll be doing during that "reasonably good time," well, you'll be running around kitchen-themed levels of various sizes--they start off taking up a single screen but quickly grow to many times that--spraying insects of all sorts (cockroaches, mosquitos, worms and more) with Raid until a door appears and whisks you off to another one.

If that sounds less than totally thrilling, well, I can't blame you. Kitchen Panic is, after all, a pretty basic experience. Still, it all becomes kind of enjoyable after you've spent a bit of time with it. Also, the slightest smidge of depth enters the fray when you discover that the sun-, star- and moon-branded blocks that seem to randomly appear (I haven't figured out what prompts them to pop up, at least) after killing certain insects can be pushed together to boost your health, allow you to become invincible and more.

Toss into the mix a couple of bonus stages and boss fights, and you've got yourself an arcade-style action game that's sort of repetitive but also sort of fun--and sports some rather nice "cart art," if I do say so myself.

See also: some photos of Kitchen Panic's packaging, scans of its entire instruction manual, plus previous 'Great Gaymathon' reviews

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Shall We Do It? (I'm back in Seattle, and back to sashaying my way through Bravely Default)

Some of you may have noticed that I've published fewer posts than usual over the last two weeks. Don't worry, this recent dip in output has had nothing to do with a corresponding dip in my blogging interest or anything like that. Rather, it had to do with my husband and I traveling to Palm Springs, California, to take in a little sun and a lot of professional tennis. (A few photos of both experiences can be seen here, if you're interested.)

Sadly, we're back in Seattle now, which means I'm not only back to publishing blog posts five or six times a week but I'm also back to playing as many video games as I'm able. (Although I took my North American 3DS XL with me, I barely touched it during our week-plus vacation.)

It also means, of course, that I'm back to playing Bravely Default--a game that had nabbed more than 40 hours of my life before Palm Springs et al stole my attention.

Anyway, last time I checked in, I was just about to complete this 3DS RPG's fourth chapter, right? Well, I finally did just that in the days before my recent travels began. Currently, I'm meandering my way through the game's controversial fifth chapter.

I don't want to spoil for any latecomers what happens at this juncture in the game, so all I'll say here is that initially it had me rolling my eyes. I've since moved past my annoyance, thankfully, and I'm now back to mostly enjoying the experience.

I say mostly, of course, because I'm still a bit irked by this game's obsession with conversation. Every time someone starts speaking, my eyes glaze over. I feel kind of bad admitting that, as clearly a number of people spent a lot of time localizing Bravely Default's text, but I can't help but wish they'd simply removed, rather than translated, a good portion of it.

Other than that, though, I'm liking it well enough and I'm curious as to where this journey is going to take me in subsequent chapters.

Oh, one thing I should have mentioned earlier: in the days leading up to my vacation, I gained access to the game's "vampire" job--which, of course, caused me to obsessively scour the globe in search of "genome abilities." (The vampire job in Bravely Default is a lot like the "blue mage" one in Final Fantasy V, for those of you who've played the latter. And for those of you who haven't played it, the vampire occupation enables party members in Bravely Default to learn certain moves and spells from enemies.)

With that done, I completed the chapter and ... continued obsessively scouring the globe in search of genome abilities. (This will make a lot more sense once you've gotten to this part of the game, believe me.)

I've also been completing the other tasks that are required of players in chapter five, mind you, so it isn't like my last five to 10 hours with the game have been a total waste of time.

Aside from that, I'm not sure what else to say about Bravely Default at the moment--other than I'm kind of looking forward to finishing it so I can start playing Yoshi's New Island and a bunch of other games that have fallen into my lap in the last couple of weeks. (More on those in an upcoming post or two, of course).

In the meantime, are any of you still plugging away at Bravely Default? If so, what is your current opinion of it? And if not, what games are you playing instead?

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

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Manual Stimulation: Painter Momopie (GameBoy)

Now that I've published a review of Painter Momopie--as well as a few photos of my recently acquired copy of this import-only GameBoy title--I guess the only thing left to do is share some scans of its adorable instruction manual.

Those of you who examined this game's cover art with a magnifying glass may have noticed that its character designs were created by someone named Gen Satou. Unfortunately, that name doesn't ring any bells for me, and Google has done little to clarify things, so I can only assume it meant something to the small community of Japanese folks who bought copies of this Pac-Man clone back in the day.

Regardless, the design he came up with for Painter Momopie's protagonist is pretty darn cute, if you ask me.

The right-hand page above shares the game's backstory, by the way. Sadly, I can't understand a word of it. Hopefully it explains why this little witch (I mean that literally) is painting the floors of someone's home?

Admittedly, these first few pages are far from exciting. At least they feature a couple of cute illustrations, though, right?

Monday, March 17, 2014

I guess you could say my life is now complete

Why, you ask? Because the sweet "Yaranaika?" t-shirt my podcasting pal shidoshi bought me while in Japan late last year finally is in my grubby little hands.

Please accept my apologies for the rather crappy nature of the photo below. Apparently the camera on my MacBook doesn't like sunny mornings. (How Seattle of it!)

Hopefully you can make out enough of it to see that the shirt bears the same image found on this blog's header.

In case I haven't said it before, the text on the shirt is Japanese for “shall we do it?” and it comes from a  rather dirty--and gay--manga called Kuso Miso Technique that was first published back in 1987.