Friday, June 06, 2014

Manual Stimulation: Ghostbusters 2 (GameBoy)

There are all sorts of reasons to like HAL Laboratory's Ghostbusters 2 for the GameBoy. This Japan-only title features some surprisingly unique--and fun, for the most part--gameplay and also sports some pretty snazzy packaging (see photos of it in this previous post).

Best of all, in my not-so-humble opinion, is the instruction manual that was included with every copy back when the game was first released in 1990.

Its first few pages aren't anything to write home about, although I'd hardly call its cover imagery disappointing.

The fifth page is where the Ghostbuster 2 manual hits its stride, thanks in large part to the juxtaposition of the film's in-character stars with their in-game, pixelated counterparts.

Is it me, or is the 8-bit-ified Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver's character) the worst of the bunch? Also, who--or what--on earth is that "thing" in the upper-right corner supposed to be? Creepy, regardless.

And here we have two of the manual's best pages. It looks like they detail the game's three stages? I've yet to get to the third one, I have to admit, so I can't say it for sure, but I'm pretty sure that's the case.

Don't you just love the screenshot included in the right-hand page below? Those sure were the days, weren't they--when companies literally had to snap photos of their games running on TV screens if they wanted to show off their wares in instruction manuals or elsewhere.

Behold, my favorite Ghostbusters 2 enemy: the little blob-like thing shown in the screenshots on the left. How could such an adorable creature be "bad"?

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Shall We Do It? (THE 'DENPA' MEN 3, Etrian Odyssey IV, Final Fantasy Adventure and Nontan to Issho: Kuru Kuru Puzzle)

I've got to be honest here: I haven't had a ton of time to play games since I published the last installment of "Shall We Do It?" a week ago. I believe I spent just enough time with the games mentioned above and below, though, to share at least a few thoughts on them here. So, let's get to it, shall we?

THE "DENPA" MEN 3 (3DS)--Speaking of the above, I only played this 3DS eShop RPG for an hour or so this past week. I would've spent more time with it, but ... I'm kind of lost. I'm guessing it's nothing a quick trip to GameFAQs couldn't help me through, but the fact is I'm not sure I'm interested enough in what's going on right now to bother perusing that site.

As for why that is, well, a big part of it is that THE "DENPA" MEN 3 is starting to feel an awful lot like THE "DENPA" MEN 2-- and I don't necessarily mean that in a good way. Way too many battles pop up while traversing part three's overworld, for starters--and this is coming from someone who usually likes grinding while playing RPGs. (I voiced a similar complaint while attempting to work my way through part two last year.) Combine that with the fact that it can be difficult to know where you're supposed to go to advance the story--even with the game literally pointing you in the general direction--and you've got a not-always-pleasant experience that sometimes veers directly into annoying territory.

Does that mean I'm through with THE "DENPA" MEN 3? Not at all. In fact, I'm going to do my best to put a good dent in it during the next week and a half. Should I get stuck again, though, or should that "good dent" not be enough to fully engage me in this game, I wouldn't be surprised if I gave up on it well in advance of the ending credits (just as I did with its predecessor).

Etrian Odyssey IV (3DS)--Although I think there's also a chance that I'll give up on Etrian Odyssey IV before I encounter its end credits, I have a feeling I'll find a way to finish it--and hopefully in the next week or two.

I'm still meandering my way through what I believe is its final dungeon, by the way--or maybe it's the dungeon that leads to the final dungeon? Regardless, I'm seemingly about halfway through it now. (I'm just about to start the third section--I think.) Like I said in my last "Shall We Do It?" post, I'm not at all sure why this game's designers or developers decided to make players go through portions of previously visited (and beaten) dungeons at the end of the adventure. For me, that's about the worst kind of buzzkill you can throw at me as a title nears its climax. In fact, I usually want and expect the opposite out of an RPG's closing salvo--as in, new enemies, new environments and new experiences. Otherwise, it can feel like a slog--as it is in Etrian Odyssey IV right now.

Final Fantasy Adventure (GameBoy)--It may sound strange, but I'm currently enjoying this "old" RPG--which is the first Mana, or Seiken Densetsu, game, in case you haven't heard already--far more than I'm enjoying either of the other, more modern examples of the genre that I just mentioned.

That said, I do have a few critiques to level against it. One such critique: it's far too easy to get lost within its dungeons and even while exploring its overworld. In fact, I found myself lost on three occasions the last time I played it (last weekend), and only one instance could've been blamed on my own ignorance. (As in, I forgot that I could use my battle axe to chop down trees to access otherwise off-limits areas.)

Speaking of getting lost on this game's overworld, the map that's made available by pressing the GameBoy's "Select" button is some kind of cruel joke, right? I mean, what's the point of it otherwise? Sure, it displays towns and a few other points of interest while also showing the player's proximity to them, but that's about it. It's so bare bones that I'm honestly confused as to why it was included.

Other than the above, though, I'm really, really digging this portable adventure--which is one part Final Fantasy and one part Zelda, if you've yet to play it yourself--and I fully expect to "beat" it before long (and most likely before I beat either of the aforementioned titles).

Nontan to Issho: Kuru Kuru Puzzle (GameBoy)--Those of you who've actually heard of this adorable import-only puzzler deserve some sort of prize. Sadly, I'm all out of prizes at the moment, so, uh, give yourself a pat on the back?

Anyway, I started playing this one after my blogging friend and podcast cohort Anne Lee announced her #PuzzleMonth game-along event a couple of days ago. (Go here to learn more about it.)

If this is the first you've heard of Kuru Kuru Puzzle, for the most part it's your typical match-three--or in the case of this game, match-two--puzzle game. It does offer up a slight twist on the tried-and-true formula, though; that being that the tiles can't be rotated as they can in other such games. Rather, they can be flipped--with the image on the flipped side generally being an alternate take of the previous side's imagery. (Examples: a whole apple and a half of an apple, a fish and fish bones, etc.)

It's not what I would call a mind-blowing change to the genre, mind you, but it definitely helps make this particular game just interesting enough to be worthwhile for folks who like puzzlers that require them to match tiles.

Finally, a couple of fun facts about Kuru Kuru Puzzle: the cat with the fly-catcher mouth that serves as this game's protagonist also served as the protagonist of a series of children's picture books first published in Japan in 1976, according to this HardcoreGaming101 article. Also, the folks behind the Pokémon series, Game Freak, developed a Super Famicom version of this game. (Some company called Access made the GameBoy iteration.)

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

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

The Gay Gamer Giveaway™: Painter Momopie (GameBoy) Edition

So, I'm going to do something a little silly over the next few weeks--I'm going to publish a handful of posts (like this one) that will result in one of you fine folks walking away with a free Japanese GameBoy cartridge.

Sadly, none of these copies are "complete"--you're only going to get the cart, not the box, the manual or even the plastic case--and all of them are a bit beaten up, but on the other end of the spectrum, they work and they're free, so who really cares, right?

The only rule for this particular giveaway: leave some sort of comment below that indicates you'd like to throw your hat into the ring for the copy of Sigma's Painter Momopie, a cute Pac-Man clone that never saw the light of day outside of Japan, seen above and below. (And if you're commenting anonymously, please share some sort of username so I can properly and easily identify you if you're victorious.)

I'll ship to wherever the winner may reside and I honestly don't care what the winner dos (keep, sell, turn into a piece of nerdtastic jewelry) with the cartridge he or she receives--although of course I'd love it if some or all of them actually get played by recipients.

The winner of this particular Gay Gamer Giveaway™ will be determined first thing in the morning on Monday, June 19. Shortly afterward, I'll publish a post that reveals the winner, and then I'll follow that with yet another post about the next giveaway--assuming there's any interest whatsoever in this first one.

Finally, should you want to read up on Painter Momopie before deciding whether you even want the cart shown above, check out this introductory post, this "Great Gaymathon" review or this "Manual Stimulation" installment that's devoted to this adorable title.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Recommend me some GameBoy RPGs

My recent obsession with Final Fantasy Adventure--and the memories that game conjured up of my past obsessions with the first two Final Fantasy Legend titles--has me itching to check out a few other quality GameBoy RPGs.

The problem is, I don't know of many. In fact, the only ones coming to mind at the moment are the following:

* Dragon Quest I, II and III
* Dragon Quest Monsters I and II
* Final Fantasy Adventure
* Final Fantasy Legend I, II and III
* For the Frog the Bell Tolls (aka Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru)
* The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
* The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons
* Pokemon Blue, Green, Red and Yellow

Am I missing any that you think would be worth a look?

I'm primarily interested in RPGs that were made for the original GameBoy as opposed to the GameBoy Color, by the way--despite the fact that a couple of the ones mentioned in my bullet-pointed list were GBC releases.

Oh, and feel free to name Japanese RPGs that weren't translated into English--as long as you're sure they're top-notch examples of the genre.