Friday, July 04, 2014

Second Chances: Bubble Bobble Junior (GameBoy)

First things first: I am a longtime fan of Taito's Bubble Bobble series, the first entry in particular. That love didn't develop slowly over time as is usually the case; no, I fell head over heels for the title that started it all the second I laid eyes on its adorably decorated cabinet while perusing the arcade room of the local bowling alley as a skinny, bright-eyed, game-obsessed boy.

Despite my love for the series in general and the initial game in particular, I've never much cared for Bubble Bobble's portable iterations--namely, the non-port that's (still) known as Bubble Bobble (expect a post devoted to this one soon, by the way) and its sequel, called Bubble Bobble Junior in Japan and Bubble Bobble Part 2 in North America.

Although I've always considered the latter effort to be leagues better than the former (despite its completely fabulous Japanese box art), it's still not a game that's prompted me to think, I really enjoying playing that one--until fairly recently, I mean.

At first, I passed on it due to what I considered to be its wonky-looking protagonist. I also wasn't all that fond of the fact that its stages are larger than the GameBoy's diminutive screen and, as such, scrolling is required to see them in their entirety. And then there's the little fact that, as most (if not all) of you've probably figured by now, this game is a black-and-white--or black-and-green, I guess--rather than a rainbow-colored affair, unlike nearly all of the other Bubble Bobble games in existence.

So, what caused me to give Bubble Bobble Junior a second chance? Truth be told, I only decided to give it another shot after falling in love with its box art while writing this recent blog post. Maybe if I can find a way to at least somewhat enjoy its gameplay, I thought to myself, I can justify picking up a copy of it sometime soon. 

And what do you know? Shortly thereafter I started having fun--if not "a blast"--with this portable platformer. Now, I still don't love the fact that the levels scroll, and I can't help but wish Bub's and Bob's leaps were a smidge less "floaty," but other than those two aspects--OK, so maybe the game's not-horrible-but-also-hardly-amazing soundtrack could be thrown into the mix, too--Bubble Bobble Junior's actually pretty solid.

The enemy sprites are surprisingly well drawn, for starters. Also, similarly nice-looking bosses--like the one showcased above--pop up every 10 (or is it 20?) stages, and all of the ones I've battled so far have been a blast.

Other than that, there isn't a whole lot more to say, as this is a pretty standard Bubble Bobble outing--which of course is a very good thing, or at least it is in my opinion.

Unfortunately, should you want to own an actual, physical copy of this "pretty standard Bubble Bobble outing," you're more than likely going to have to pay dearly for it, as prices--for complete copies, especially--on eBay and elsewhere tend to be sky high. At least that nabs you some pretty packaging to ogle when you're not busy playing its contents, though, right?

See also: previous 'Second Chances' posts

Thursday, July 03, 2014

'Yr Surprising No-One'

I'm not entirely sure what inspired artist melonjaywalk to produce this lovely piece of art, but I think it may have been Far Cry 4's controversial cover imagery.

Of course, it's possible I'm just reading too much into this quote, which Francis (melonjaywalk's actual first name) posted alongside his pixelated painting:

"I feel lame to the max seeming as the only way I could identify a character as 'gay' in this is via the colour pink, but I guess being obvious is better than abstraction at this point."

The sprites included in this acrylic-on-canvas creation were pulled from 1995's Super Bomberman 3 (SNES/Super Famicom), by the way--which is one of the few Bomberman games I've yet to experience.

Anyway, if you'd like to check out more of melonjaywalk's stuff--and why on earth wouldn't you want to do that?--saunter over to his gallery at your earliest convenience.

See also: 'Don't get yr hopes up'

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

What can I say, I've always been a sucker for games that feature 'enemy flan' ...

Which is kind of funny, as I can't stand flan (as a dessert) in real life. Give this squidgy custard some eyes, a mouth, a couple of limbs and stick the resulting character in a video game, though, and it'll grab my attention as quickly as any hot-fudge sundae ever has.

Is that why I picked up the copy of Dungeon Land, a Japan-only GameBoy title released back in 1992, that can be seen in the photos below recently?

You could say that, I guess, although I think a more accurate reading of the situation would be that I picked it up because of the adorable flan enemies as well as the rest of the cute-as-buttons creatures that fill this game's colorful box art.

Dungeon Land was the very first GameBoy title published by the folks at Enix, by the way. Sadly, it's not an RPG. Rather, it's more of an RPG-themed board game. I was a bit disappointed when I figured that out, I have to admit, but I enjoyed it well enough once I got over that fact.

That said, it's not really the kind of game you should play all by your lonesome. I can't imagine I'm ever going to encounter other guys or gals who have a GameBoy system, a copy of this game and a link cable, though, so that's likely going to be the only way I'll experience this curiously obscure (outside its home country, at least) import.

Here (above) is a closer look at the adorable flan enemies I mentioned earlier--is it just me, or are they wielding cherries as weapons?--while the in-game version of the same baddie can be seen in the screenshot below (found on the back of Dungeon Land's box).

Going back to this title's gameplay, here's how things have proceeded when I've taken it out for a stroll, so to speak: first, each player (in my case, one was controlled by me and the other was controlled by the computer) takes turns clearing, one square at a time, a field full of question mark-themed tiles. A turn ends when a player encounters some sort of obstacle, like a bunch of rocks. Whichever character reaches the exit first is whisked away to a boss encounter that plays out much like it would in an old Zelda game.

If you think that sounds less than thrilling, well, I can't completely disagree with you. The boss battles I've experienced so far were a good amount of fun, though, so at least there's that. 

Also, I have to share that there are a lot of options to click through at the start of each game, so it's extremely possible I've only stumbled into one of Dungeon Land's many modes up to this point, with some others being more engaging than the one I've played.

Should that end up not being the case, though, I won't be all that miffed, as I paid just a few bucks for this particular acquisition and in my mind its packaging alone was worth the expenditure.

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

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Gay Gamer Giveaway™: Osawagase Penguin Boy (GameBoy) Edition

Are you tired of being given the chance to win free Japanese GameBoy cartridges? I hope not, because I'm offering up another one today.

This Gay Gamer Giveaway™ is for the cart showcased in the photo below, which contains an adorably fun little ditty known in Japan as Osawagase Penguin Boy. (Elsewhere it went by the name Amazing Penguin.)

If you've never played this Natsume-made joint, it basically combines elements of Kickle CubiclePengo and Qix.

Should that mean nothing to you, just know that the mash-up results in an enjoyable time-waster that calls to mind the kind of classic "quarter muncher" gameplay (see: Dig Dug, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man and the like--not that Osawagase Penguin Boy resembles these particular titles in any way) that's rarely revisited these days, even in the retro-tinged releases that still seem to be all the rage.

Anyway, should you want to own a copy of this unique title, share the name of your favorite retro arcade game (there are no wrong responses) in the comments section below between now and the morning of Monday, July 7--which is when I'll randomly point to one of those comments and send the person who published it the rather ragged-looking cart (sorry about that, it came that way) seen above.

See also: previous Gay Gamer Giveaway™ posts