Friday, May 23, 2014

Who you gonna call? HAL Laboratory's Ghostbusters 2 for GameBoy

I can't say I've ever been much of a fan of the second Ghostbusters film--which of course was given the imaginative title of Ghostbusters 2--despite the fact that I've long loved the original.

The (Japanese) game version of that 1989 comedy, though, is a completely different story. Granted, it was made by the always able folks at HAL Laboratory--you know, the ones responsible for the Adventures of Lolo series, most of Nintendo's Kirby games and a bunch of other intriguing titles--so that really shouldn't come as too much of a surprise.

HAL's involvement wasn't what originally drew me to this pixelated take on the Ghostbusters 2 story, though. That honor goes to the adorable sprites the company's designers and programmers created for the Famicom (known as New Ghostbusters 2, oddly enough) and GameBoy titles they released in the early 1990s.

A couple of the sprites in question can be seen in the photo that follows the one below--although, honestly, these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this game's spritework. (I'm especially fond of the enemy that looks like a Dragon Quest slime, of course.)

Don't worry, the gameplay in Ghostbusters 2 is nice, too. I'm not sure what I would compare it to, though. The only game that's coming to mind at the moment is Gauntlet and, believe me, that's pretty darn far off the mark. 

That said, the two games--HAL's Ghostbusters 2 (not to be confused with Activision's Ghostbusters 2--and Gauntlet--do share a few similarities. Both are viewed from a top-down, overhead perspective. Also, both task players with removing a slew of enemies from a particular stage before they can advance to the next one. 

In Gauntlet, though, players aren't required to kill a certain, specific number of baddies before the door they can be whisked off to the next level, whereas that is the case in Ghostbusters 2. Also, there are far fewer baddies to be found in each Ghostbusters 2 level than there are in a corresponding Gauntlet level.

And then, of course, there's the way in which players dispose of said enemies. In Gauntlet, you control a single character and shoot them using various weapons and implements, while in Ghostbusters 2, you control a pair of characters--one of whom zaps them with a proton pack and one of whom catches them with a trap.

The latter action is a bit awkward, I have to admit, but it's not so awkward as to be off-putting--or at least it hasn't proven to be in my case. 

One thing that has been proven to be a bit off-putting is learning that the GameBoy version of Ghostbusters 2 contains just three stages compared to the Famicom version's six. (Not that I've seen all of the ones that are featured in either version, mind you.)

Even with that shortcoming, though, I think both of HAL's Ghostbusters 2 releases are worth checking out if you're into cute 8-bit titles with somewhat-unique gameplay.

Neither of them is going to amaze you like some of the other gems that were created for Nintendo's first console and handheld, respectively, but they're interesting and fun enough that you hopefully won't regret spending time with them should you decide to do so. (Especially if you spend time with them via an emulator and a ROM.)

See also: previous 'Year of the GameBoy' posts

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A bevy of QR codes for folks who need to buff up their 'DENPA' MEN 3 parties

Like I mentioned in the "Shall We Do It?" post I published yesterday, I've only played THE "DENPA" MEN 3 for about five hours so far, but already I'm enjoying it more than I enjoyed its predecessor.

Also like I said in the aforementioned post, I'm not exactly sure why that's the case, although I think some of it may have to do with this "DENPA" MEN game being a smidge easier than the last, surprisingly enough. (I say surprisingly enough because I've always preferred my RPGs to be on the tough side.) Or it may have something to do with the fact that in THE "DENPA" MEN 3 you're able to scan QR codes--and, thus, bolster your parties--right from the word go.

Speaking of which, should any of you be looking for some worthwhile "Denpa" men to add to your teams, here are a handful of particularly interesting ones that I've nabbed while out and about the last few days.

I especially like Morgan (above) and his poop-shaped noggin, of course. If only he had an antenna. Oh, well, as my mom's always told me, nobody's perfect.

By the way, if the "Denpa" men above aren't enough for you, you may want to peruse the QR code posts I published for the first two "DENPA" MEN games. All of them should "play nice" with this third game in the series, too--or so I've read. (I've only tried a couple of them myself so far.)

Anyway, said QR code posts can be found here, here, here, here and here

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Shall We Do It? (THE 'DENPA' MEN 3 and Etrian Odyssey IV)

Well, folks, I have good news and bad news for you regarding my on-going playthrough of Etrian Odyssey IV. The good news is that I've now put about 60 hours into this 3DS-based dungeon-crawler and, as a result, I believe I'm now in the "home stretch" of the game, so to speak. The bad news? I haven't played it since I downloaded THE "DENPA" MEN 3 about five days ago.

Don't get me wrong, I was enjoying Etrian Odyssey IV a great deal while I was still playing it (and I'll get back to playing it soon enough, I assure you), but I have to admit I was starting to enter another one of those "interest lulls" I mentioned in my last "Shall We Do It?" post when THE "DENPA" MEN 3 took over. Of course, I guess that's to be expected when you keep ducking in and out--and in and out, and in and out--of what very well could be the gaming world's longest series of interconnected dungeons.

And then there's the related fact that the final section of Etrian Odyssey IV was beginning to give me some serious Bravely Default vibes thanks to the semi-recycled locales and color-swapped baddies. Now, it's not anywhere near as bad in Etrian Odyssey IV as it was in Bravely Default, mind you, but it is a bit ... deflating to make your way to the end of a game only to find you have to go through a bunch of old dungeons again before you can face the final boss.

So, enough about that one for the time being. Instead, let's talk about THE "DENPA" MEN 3 for a bit.

I've put about five hours into this eShop RPG so far, and for whatever reason I seem to be enjoying it more than I enjoyed its predecessor. Unfortunately, I'm not sure I can say why that is. It very well may be that, despite the fact that I nearly had my ass handed to me during my very first battle, this third entry in Genius Sonority's series feels a smidge easier than the second (although I have to say that the difficulty level of the first one, which I consider to be the "worst" of them all, didn't bother me at all). Or, it may be that this game's overworld is less annoying than the one featured in the last.

One thing I'm not completely stoked about when it comes to THE "DENPA" MEN 3 is that it includes a bunch of enemies that also appeared in the last two titles. Plus, the new ones that have shown their faces so far aren't what I would call the most appealing or creative in terms of their designs.

I'm finding this game's soundtrack kind of disappointing, too. Thankfully, the surprisingly tender tune that plays while exploring "Cannon Village" pretty much makes up for all of the lackluster ones that accompany it.

Despite those two rather minor complaints, though, I'm really liking THE "DENPA" MEN 3 thus far--although I've yet to even think about pimping out the homes of my "Denpa" men, à la Animal Crossing. I guess that means I have something to look forward to if (or when) my interest in the main adventure wanes a bit?

Are any of you also making your way through THE "DENPA" MEN 3 at the moment? If so, what do you think of it?

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

Monday, May 19, 2014

On why I'm still planning to buy Tomodachi Life

Given all the bitching I've done on Twitter in regard to the lack of gay relationships in Nintendo's upcoming Tomodachi Life, I can't blame anyone for assuming I've decided to "boycott" the game when it hits North American store shelves (as well as the 3DS' eShop) on June 6.

I haven't.

Have I considered it? You bet--especially after reading Nintendo of America's awkward-at-best-insulting-at-worst PR response to the situation that was published in this recent article. (Thankfully, the company later apologized, at least somewhat, for those rather tone-deaf comments.)

The fact is, though, that I really want to play this game. I've wanted to play it ever since I heard someone describe its Japan-only predecessor, Tomodachi Collection, as "Animal Crossing with Miis." (Which isn't the most accurate summation of the game, I have to say, but let's save that discussion for another post, shall we?)

And then there's the fact that, surprising as it may sound, I kind of see where Nintendo of America is coming from with Tomodachi Life's unfortunately gay-free localization.

After all, the game was made in Japan, where "gay rights" and the LGBT community are far less visible and are far less a part of the cultural conversation, if you will, than they are in, say, North America or Europe at the moment and, as such, likely were far less of a consideration for the folks who developed Tomodachi Collection than they would've been had the game been made by a Western team.

Speaking of which, I have to imagine Nintendo's American and European arms probably were stuck between a rock and a hard place once they were tasked with localizing this game. Specifically, I have a feeling the brass at Nintendo of America may have pressed their cohorts at Nintendo of Japan to rejigger the game so it would allow for same-sex relationships, only to be rebuffed. That's just a guess on my part, of course, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if that's in line with what actually happened given the latter's rather odd way of handling "gay content" in past games.

All that said, I'm still disappointed that Tomodachi Life won't allow for same-sex relationships and I'm still a bit irked by how Nintendo of America's press team handled the controversy surrounding this situation (early on, especially), bit I'm also still picking up a copy of the game once one finally is available.

Now, should the "workaround" that supposedly tricks the game into allowing same-sex relationships (make a female Mii that looks like a guy, give it a guy's name and, bam, you have a gay guy--and I'm assuming doing the opposite will make a lesbian) not actually work or should its insistence on attempting to hook up my male Mii with female Miis piss me off or depress me or anything of the sort, I can guarantee you I'll be selling my copy faster than you can say "Tomodachi!"

How about all of you? What are your current thoughts on and opinions of this game, or the (rapidly cooling) controversy that surrounds it? Also, are you planning to buy it or ignore it upon its release?

See also: Gamasutra Blog Director Christian Nutt's well-worth-reading thoughts on this issue