Friday, April 18, 2014

I don't get mad, I get Madou Monogatari

I have a feeling the headline above is among the worst--or at least the cheesiest--I've ever written. Sorry about that.

It's hard for me not to get a bit goofy when Compile's Madou Monogatari (Story of Sorcery in English, basically) series is involved, though. For me, these dungeon-crawling titles are like the "perfect storm" of gaming; on the one hand, they're cute as can be, yet on the other, they're tough as nails (or are from time to time, at least).

Given the above, along with the fact that I've been playing the game's fan translation via a patched ROM on and off for some time now, I recently decided to pick up an actual copy of the first Madou Monogatari title that was released for Sega's Game Gear back in 1993.

For whatever reason, I've long been a big fan of this game's flowery logo, which can be seen in the photo above (especially if you zoom in on it--just click on the image to do that).

Madou Monogatari I's cartridge label is pretty nice, too, although it's probably hard to tell that given the rather over-exposed nature of the photo above. (Sorry about that, too; I'm still coming to terms with using a new piece of software to clean up my snapshots.)

Thankfully, the photo above of the first page of this pint-sized dungeon-crawler's instruction manual is clear as day. By the way, the group of kids and other beings in this illustration constitute the bulk (if not the entirety) of the game's cast and crew--in case any of you were wondering. Oh, and if any of them look kind of familiar, well, that's because Compile later put them to use in its Puyo Puyo series of puzzlers.

Those same characters can be found on the back of Madou Monogatari I's box, which I suppose could be considered a bit underwhelming. You've got to love, though, that the box in question features such little text.

I mean, I'm guessing the Madou Monogatari series was pretty well known by Japanese gamers at the time and so most potential buyers didn't need to be told that this game was a dungeon-crawling RPG, but even then you'd think its packaging would include more than five lines of text.

See also: 'It was worth every penny (or, I heart my copy of Lunar: Samposuru Gakuen for the Game Gear)' and 'Manual Stimulation: Lunar Samposuru Gakuen (Game Gear)'

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An open letter to Nintendo of America about Tomodachi Life's presumed lack of gay, lesbian or bisexual relationships

Dear Nintendo of America,

Before I say anything else, I'd like to mention that I've been looking forward to playing this game (some version of it, at least) since the original Tomodachi Collection was announced for the Japanese DS back in 2009.

Given that, it shouldn't be too surprising for you to read that I was more than a bit excited when I heard you'll be releasing that game's 3DS sequel as Tomodachi Life in North America on June 6.

That excitement lost some of its luster a few days after that announcement was made, though, when it finally sank in that the game will very likely force me to "play straight" (you know, as opposed to "playing gay" as I'd obviously prefer to do).

Although I was pretty sure that would be the case the second I heard about Tomodachi Life's impending North American release, it didn't really bother me until I watched the Nintendo Direct broadcast devoted to the game and it struck me that I'd more than likely have to watch my male Mii woo (and possibly marry and maybe even have kids with) female Miis over and over and over again should I decide to pick up a copy of the game.

I'm sure that sounds like a silly complaint, especially since what we're talking about here is a rather silly video game, but to me it's anything but silly.

In fact, the whole thing makes me feel sad--sad that despite the fact that you're marketing this 3DS game as being all about "your life," that's not going to be true in my case or in the case of any of my LGBT brothers or sisters who similarly decide to buy and play Tomodachi Life.

All I want is for my Mii to be able to date, marry and, yes, maybe even have kids with any of the male Miis (those who aren't designated as family-members, of course) who populate my game--much like how my straight friends' female Miis will be able to date, marry and have kids with their games' male Miis. Is that too much to ask?

I know this game is going to hit store shelves in this country in a matter of weeks and, as such, it's probably too late for you to make the above-suggested changes. I hope, though, you'll consider producing and releasing a patch that makes gay, lesbian and bisexual relationships possible within Tomodachi Life as soon as possible.

I also hope you--and your cohorts at Nintendo of Japan, too--will consider making these relationships possible from the get-go when work begins on this game's sequel.

I say that because this is the kind of thing that could not only make an "old" gamer like myself feel welcomed and appreciated and accepted, but more importantly it could make younger gamers--boys and girls who may be struggling with their budding LGBT realities in all sorts of ways and for all sorts of reasons--feel like they're loved and supported and just as worthy of a big game company's consideration and attention as anyone else.

Thank you for listening,

Bryan Ochalla (aka "The Gay Gamer")

See also: 'The day we've all (or at least three or four of us have) waited for has arrived: Tomodachi Collection is coming to Europe and North America this June'

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Someone please tell me Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines (Vita) won't hit North American store shelves until at least September

I say the above because, frankly, I don't want to add another system to my "collection" until this fall at the earliest.

I'm not sure I'll be able to stop myself from buying a Vita, though, once the fascinating RPG known as Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines (aka Ore no Shikabane wo Koete Yuke in Japan, which translates to something along the lines of Go Forth Over My Dead Body) arrives on our shores.

In case this is the first you've heard of Oreshika, the gist (via the PlayStation Blog) is that it's "an RPG in which you take charge of an ancient Japanese clan that have been cursed with a maximum lifespan of just two years. Your task is to lead the clan on their quest to lift the curse and enlist the help of gods inspired by Japanese mythology to make sure each new generation of the clan is more powerful than the last."

Are any of you now itching to pick up this title? Or maybe you're planning to use your hard-earned dough to buy one or more of the other Vita games--like Freedom Wars, Soul Sacrifice Delta and Tales of Heart R--we've just learned will be heading West sometime this year instead?

Watch: Ore no Shikabane wo Koete Yuke's Tokyo Game Show 2013 trailer

Monday, April 14, 2014

If you like Yoshi's Island, you're going to love the Videri String Quartet's take on a handful of that game's classic tunes

In honor of the recent release of Yoshi's New Island, the members of Boston's Videri String Quartet decided to arrange, perform, record and share a medley of tunes pulled from the soundtrack of that game's Super Famicom (or SNES, if that's your thing) predecessor.

The entire composition is so wonderful I can't even point to a particular section as my favorite--although I guess if I were pressed I'd have to go with the quartet's sublime rendition of the game's "castle and fortress" theme. How about you?

See also: 'Raise your hand if you, too, are conflicted as hell about Yoshi's New Island'