Friday, June 27, 2014

Shall We Do It? (THE 'DENPA' MEN 3, Pokémon Battle Trozei and Tomodachi Life)

A little warning for those of you who clicked on this link in order to learn more about my on-and-off experiences with THE "DENPA" MEN 3 or Pokémon Battle Trozei: I barely played either 3DS eShop title in the week since I published my last "Shall We Do It?" post.

So, the impressions I share in regard to those two titles are sure to be on the short side. The impressions I share in regard to Tomodachi Life, on the other hand, will be far more extensive. Given that, maybe I should start with my thoughts on THE "DENPA" MEN 3 or Pokémon Battle Trozei?

THE "DENPA" MEN 3--The sad fact about my playthrough of this digital title is that it probably passed the six hour mark a month or two ago (if the game's even been out that long), and all I've put in since is maybe an hour and a half at most.

Why? Because I'm quite literally lost at the moment--which, in the end, may say more about my own intellect than it does about this game's difficulty, but right now it sure doesn't feel that way. And, really, my being lost has very little, if anything, to do with the game being tough; rather, it has to do with the overworld often being surprisingly obtuse. Which is weird, because I've played a lot of RPGs over the years and I generally find traversing an overworld to be a confusion-free affair.

That definitely was the case during my first five or six hours with THE "DENPA" MEN 3, but not any more. I literally don't know where I'm supposed to go at the moment--even though the game has gone to some lengths to point out the location (a volcano)--and so for the last hour-plus of my playthrough I've just been running here, there and everywhere searching for the damn "crust rupture" while doing my best to avoid as many battles as possible (something that's far easier said than done in this game, let me tell you).

Sadly, all this particular experience has done is remind me of my ill-fated attempt at playing through THE "DENPA" MEN 2 last year. After putting about 17 hours into that game, I basically walked away from it without a second thought due to being tired of having to fight a bunch of enemies every few steps.

So, I'm not sure where this leaves me and THE "DENPA" MEN 3, to be honest. I think what I'll do is see if someone else has addressed my issue on line. (No one had done so last I looked, but that was a couple of weeks ago.) If someone has, I'll soldier on a while longer, but even then I certainly wouldn't put any money on me finishing this one, folks--a crying shame when you consider how much I loved the original game.

Pokémon Battle Trozei--Here's another 3DS eShop title that I initially found pretty darn appealing but have all but ignored for the last few weeks.

In the case of Pokémon Battle Trozei, I think that's mainly because I simply don't find its tile-matching gameplay to be all that strategic--or at least not strategic in the ways I'm used to when it comes to such puzzlers.

In fact, I often get the feeling there's no strategy to it at all, as a lot of levels seem to begin with me shifting around tiles in a capable-enough manner (that's a good thing) before ending with little to no input from me. And even when my actions do seem to bring about the end of a level, I just don't feel all that engaged or interested in the action.

Am I just not "getting" this game? Am I doing something wrong? If so, please tell me, because I honestly want to like the otherwise-adorable Pokémon Battle Trozei--but at the moment I can't.

Tomodachi Life--Let's get the silly stuff out of the way for this one, shall we?

First, you should know that I now have about 30 residents on my island--including a slew of Nintendo characters and employees, a handful of social-media friends (Adam, Adrian, apricotsushi, Bri Bri, Kaze and Zaphod65 among them) and a bunch of celebrities (such as Cher, Madonna and Michael Jackson).

Also, my lookalike Mii finally has a sweetheart: Ganondorf, who's looking mighty spiffy with his hot-pink hair and light-pink polo these days, I have to say. The big lug has yet to propose, though, which is starting to make both me and my digital doppelganger mad--especially since Nintendo's Bill Trinen just married Nikki (of Swapnote fame) after dating for about a minute.

Other than that, my favorite aspect of this weirdo life sim is Tomodachi Quest, the mini-RPG that can be played each and every afternoon if you visit the amusement park. So far, I've waged battle against bottles of perfume, glass slippers, truffles (the pricey mushroom, not the candy) and more and I've enjoyed every single second of those scuffles.

All that said, I can't help but admitting that every once in a while I feel kind of bad that I'm enjoying Tomodachi Life as much as I am at the moment. As in, I regularly ask myself some form of the following question: "Why on earth do I keep clicking on these apartment windows, feeding their inhabitants, playing games with them and peeking into their dreams?"

The only answer I've been able to come up with so far is: "Because it's fun." I keep doing the above-mentioned things because I want to hear the next funny thing these goofy-looking Miis are going to say, or I want to watch as they go on dates with their neighbors or play their Wii Us or simply hop around their fabulously decorated (thanks to me) flats.

I'm still more than a bit miffed that the only way to make the Miis that populate your Tomodachi island gay is to use a rather lame workaround, of course, but at least it works well enough that it's not completely jarring or irritating or keeping me from getting a kick out of the overall experience.

Are any of you playing, or have any of you played, the trio of games discussed above? If so, please share your thoughts about them in the comments section below.

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

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Second Chances: Hana Tāka Daka!? (PC Engine)

It sometimes amazes me how many PC Engine games I initially ignored due to what I considered sub-par graphics. Jigoku Meguri is one such title. Gokuraku! Chuka Taisen is another, as is Obocchama-kun.

The funny thing is, all of the above-mentioned games have since become favorites.

Some of you may be shocked to hear that I include Taito's Hana Tāka Daka!? from 1991 in this bunch. After all, this horizontal shoot 'em up could hardly be called ugly. Its does take a while to get used to its unique visual stylings, though--or at least that was the case for me.

That's mainly due to the game's rather unappealing protagonist. What can I say, his big eyes, long nose and dangling, geta-hooved feet just don't do it for me--and on top of that, he's positively huge (compared to his surroundings) when it comes to this particular genre.

Speaking of this game's surroundings, I used to find them pretty unappealing, too--mainly due to their chunkiness, for lack of a better word, as well as their garish use of color.

How did I get over these supposed shortcomings? It finally dawned on me that Taito was a top-notch game developer and that maybe I should give some of their less appealing (at first blush, at least) efforts--like this one--a second or even third chance before deciding they weren't worth my time.

Once that was out of the way, I basically fell in love with Hana Tāka Daka!? and its charmingly weird cast of characters, setting and even gameplay (although the latter definitely is the least captivating aspect of this now-pricey HuCard, thanks to its rather pedestrian--although by no means boring or bad--mechanics).

I say "basically" because a few sticking points remain for me, with the most newsworthy being that the game puts up a pretty stiff challenge despite its candy-coated visuals.

That's rarely completely kept me from enjoying a game in the past, though, so I'm not about to let it keep me from enjoying this one. Just don't expect me to publish a post about "beating" Hana Tāka Daka!? anytime soon.

I'm also not the biggest fan of the way the game forces players to choose between having inadequate firepower and a small hitbox (i.e., a tiny protagonist-slash-"ship") and having ample firepower and a gigantic hitbox. This wouldn't be much of a problem if Hana Tāka Daka!? were a pushover, of course, but it's not, so a lack of firepower is sure to be an issue for those who aren't shmup gods or goddesses.

Aside from this colorful side-scroller's handful of negatives, there are a good number of positives associated with it too, such as its pleasantly discordant soundtrack and its surprisingly complex level design.

To those of you who've also spent a bit of time with this title: do you agree with the above, or do you have a different opinion Taito's effort here?

See also: previous 'Second Chances' posts

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

And the winner of The Gay Gamer Giveaway™: Penguin Land Edition is ...

... Kaze. Congratulations!

Once again, sorry to all of you who offered up a hearty "yo!" but didn't walk away with the GameBoy cartridge. Don't worry, though, as I'm planning to hold two more such "Gay Gamer Giveaways" (at least) in the coming weeks--with the next one likely being announced this coming Monday.

This is how I wrapped finchiekins' Painter Momopie 
cart before sending it earlier this week.

In the meantime, Kaze, please send me your address so I can mail this copy of Penguin Land to you ASAP. We follow each other on Twitter, so maybe you could send that info via a direct message? If that's not possible, let me know and I can just share my e-mail address with you in the comments section below.

Congrats again, and thanks to everyone who participated!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Let's chat about (and check out a few photos of) two great Miyamoto-made GameBoy titles: Mogurānya and Donkey Kong

I know I've filled a lot of posts with words about (and photos of) some of the more obscure additions to the Japanese GameBoy catalog as of late, but I'm also interested in this iconic handheld's more common titles, too.

Two cases in point can be found in this very post.

The first is the once-little-known game known as Mogurānya in Japan and Mole Mania elsewhere.

In case you're among those who've still yet to hear about it, it's a cute little action game that was made by Nintendo EAD--led by the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto--and Pax Softnica, a for-hire development house that also helped produce Balloon Kid, Mother and Mother 2 (aka EarthBound), among other classic titles.

Anyway, I've been meaning to pick up a copy of the Japanese version of this game, which was first released in that region in 1996 and elsewhere the following year, for some time now, but I only got around to it a month ago.

I actually prefer this game's North American box art to the Japanese box art seen in the photo above, but I went with the latter option anyway because, as I'm sure you've guessed, I'm on a bit of a Japanese GameBoy kick at the moment.

The back of Mogurānya's box is even less interesting than its front, if you ask me, although I do like this odd little illustration that's found in its upper-right corner.

The game's cart label, on the other hand, is a completely different story. Just look at that adorable piece of art--how can you not love it?

As for the second "case in point" that I alluded to earlier, Donkey Kong, well, what else can be said about it? After all, most folks consider it a classic, must-have GameBoy title--and, personally, I consider it one of my all-time favorite portable games.

I also consider its box art, above, to be among the cream of the crop when it comes to Nintendo's first handheld system. 

Speaking of which, I've always wondered if this release's official name is GameBoy Donkey Kong. I mean, isn't that kind of what the cover art implies? Or did the designers at Nintendo of Japan just decide to slap a big GameBoy logo above the Donkey Kong logo for some added oomph--even though a smaller version of the same logo appears in the box's upper-right corner?

I didn't snap and share any photos of this game's cartridge, by the way, because the label art's just a cropped version of the cover art.

So, I nabbed a shot of one of the manual's pages instead, as some of them feature a nice mixture of illustrations and sprites, like the example above.

I've always had a soft spot for that ladybug "enemy," by the way. How about you? Do you have any favorite enemies--or other aspects--when it comes to the GameBoy version of Donkey Kong, or even when it comes to the aforementioned Mole Mania?

See also: 'Lucky Monkey? More like lucky me ...'

Monday, June 23, 2014

I know I've already declared it the 'Year of the GameBoy,' but I think there's room for Birdo too

Considering how hands-down fabulous Birdo is and always has been, it sure is a shame how shabbily Nintendo has treated her over the years.

Thankfully, Twitter user Markatansky decided to go ahead and do what the folks at Nintendo surely are unwilling to do at this point--which is declare this the "Year of Birdo."

Yes, that flies directly in the face of my own campaign that's centered around this being the "Year of the GameBoy," but I'm OK with that--especially since the focal point of Markatansky's effort is the awesome t-shirt that can be seen on the right.

(For anyone who's curious, here's what it looks like in real life.)

It's still possible to nab one or more of these hot-pink tees, by the way--or at least I think it is. As far as I can tell, should enough people go to, click on the "I still want this!" button in the lower-right corner and proceed to place a pre-order (as I did a week or so ago), Markatansky's design will be offered up for sale once again.

So, what are all of you "super glam" Birdo fans waiting for?