Friday, July 18, 2014

With this copy of Donkey Kong Jr. no Sansuu Asobi, my Famicom 'Pulse Line' collection is now one step closer to being complete

A part of me has fretted (only slightly, I assure you) for some time that I'd never own a complete copy of Donkey Kong Jr. no Sansuu Asobi--a Famicom game that's better known to folks outside of Japan as Donkey Kong Jr. Math.

I know that probably sounds silly to a good number of you, especially considering we're talking about an educational title, but here's the thing: I really want to complete my collection of the 14 "Pulse Line" carts Nintendo released for its maiden console in 1983 and 1984. (Some of my previous purchases in this vein can be seen here and here. Oh, and here.)



Seems like an easy enough task, right? Actually, it would be pretty easy to accomplish if it weren't for one thing--complete copies of Donkey Kong Jr. no Sansuu Asobi (as well as Popai no Eigo Asobi, or Popeye's English) can be pretty darn pricey, especially on this side of the pond.

As a result of all of the above, I all but gave up on the idea of owning anything other than a loose cartridge of Donkey Kong Jr. no Sansuu Asobi some time ago.



That is, until the copy seen in the photos published throughout this post popped up on eBay a number of months ago. Although I can't remember what this particular auction's starting bid was, I have no such problems recalling its selling price: $30. Or was it $35? OK, so maybe my memory isn't the best in the world.

Regardless, I got it for a whole lot less than the $100 to $200 price tags I've regularly come across over the last few years.



Sure, the game's still only marginally fun--although I'd argue that it's more enjoyable than most let on--but as you can see here, that $30 or $35 nabbed me some really sweet Donkey Kong Jr.-branded box art as well as a rather nice cartridge and instruction manual.

See also: 'A few photos (and words) that hopefully showcase why I consider Yume Penguin Monogatari to be my second-favorite example of Famicom box art'

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Looking to add a few divas to your Tomodachi Life island? You've come to the right place...

Is it any surprise that my Tomodachi Life island is well-stocked with divas? I sure hope not.

Anyway, I can't imagine I'm the only gay (or otherwise) gamer playing this quirky 3DS life sim who likes his "pop stars," so I thought I'd share QR codes for a few of the ones that currently are traipsing around Rainbow Island. (Yes, that's the rather unimaginative name I came up with for my Tomodachi Life hub. What can I say? It wasn't my most creative moment.)

For starters, here's Bjork:


I can't take credit for her design, by the way, as I came up with it after finding an interesting looking one via Google and tweaking it a bit.

I also can't take credit for the amazing Cher design found below.


An Internet acquaintance, Adrian, came up with the following Grace Jones design, I believe:


I did create the design seen below, though, which is of Japanese pop star Hikaru Utada.


I also made this Madonna design:


Finally, here's a QR code for my own Mii design (yep, I'm a diva, too), should any of you want to add me to your isle.


Are you playing Tomodachi Life, too? If so, please feel free to share the QR code for your Mii in the comments section below.

See also: 'I'm having way too much fun taking screenshots while playing Tomodachi Life'

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A handful of my favorite Famicom games (in honor of the system's 31st anniversary)

In honor of the Famicom's release 31 years ago (as of yesterday), I thought I'd publish a post that focuses on a few of my favorite games that were made for Nintendo's first proper console.

Note: I don't necessarily consider the titles discussed below to be the "best" that appeared on Famicom carts or disks. Rather, I consider them to be among the ones I most enjoy playing.

With that out of the way, let's get to the list.

Bubble Bobble--When I first encountered this disk-based port of Taito's classic arcade game, I wasn't all that interested in it due to the fact that it's far from a perfect conversion. Once I got over the fact that the backdrops as well as the enemy and item sprites in this iteration differed from the original, though, I began to appreciate what it brought to the table--which is some wonderfully frantic platforming that's supported by one of the best backing tunes ever to appear in a video game.

My red Twin Famicom system
playing a copy of Donkey Kong
Door Door--This cart-based puzzler-platformer is far from perfect. That's an entirely forgivable offense, though, as it was Enix's first foray into the world of Famicom development. Also, despite its choppiness and rather languid pace, this adorably rendered title is a whole lot of fun--although don't be surprised if it prompts you to pull out a few clumps of hair, too.

Meiky┼źjima--Known as Kickle Cubicle in other territories, this Irem joint has long been a favorite of mine due to its brightly colored visuals and its surprisingly unique gameplay (although the latter almost assuredly was inspired by HAL Laboratory's Eggerland series or Sega's Pengo). Given that, why did it never receive a sequel? I guess we'll never know.

Moai Kun--Here's another fairly recent addition to my "favorite Famicom games" list. Of course, I didn't even know about this Konami-made cart until a year or so ago. Anyway, I'd say it's well worth seeking out if you like challenging puzzler-platformers--just don't go into it expecting to encounter the best graphics the Famicom has to offer.

Mother--Is this Americana-themed RPG a bit rough compared to its sequel, which is better known to westerners as EarthBound? No question. The original's still an intriguing title, though, as for me it's been just different enough from Mother 2 to be worth my time and attention. Of course, it hasn't yet proven to be interesting enough for me to finish, but I'm hoping to rectify that sooner rather than later.

Otocky--This is the game you show those naysayers who try to tell you that games from this era were little more than simplistic button-mashers. Actually, this one--developed by SEDIC (don't worry, I've also never heard of them) and published by ASCII--is a button-masher, of sorts, but it's far from simplistic. How so? Well, for starters, it's basically a mash-up of a shmup and a music or rhythm game. On top of that, it's one of those rare games that's a joy to experience due to the manner in which the two aforementioned genres are so seamlessly incorporated.

These early Famicom games
are pretty great, too
Pajama Hero Nemo--I'm probably not alone in admitting this, but I have a love-hate relationship with this Capcom platformer, which was given the title Little Nemo: The Dream Master when it was brought to the States. On the one hand, its cartoonish aesthetics are absolutely astounding, especially for the era in which it was produced, while on the other, it's one of the toughest Famicom games I've played. Still, for me its positives far outweigh--OK, mostly outweigh--its negatives.

Super Mario USA--I know a lot of people would name Super Mario Bros. 3 rather than its "fake" predecessor, but the fact is I've always preferred the latter to the former. In part, that's because of Super Mario USA's expansive roster of playable characters (compared to most other entries in this famed series, at least), although I also really enjoy what I consider to be its "softer" visual stylings.

Wanpaku Kokkun no Gourmet World--Truth be told, I prefer the North American localization of this EIM-developed, Taito-published platformer--mostly because the western version, Panic Restaurant, stars a far more adorable protagonist--but the Japanese sports some pretty impressive box art and, as such, shouldn't be ignored completely. Regardless of which one you decide to go with, get ready for a surprisingly tough, and surprisingly well realized (in terms of its sprite work), title. (Oh, and get ready to empty your bank account as well. Sigh.)

Warpman--This Famicom follow-up to Namco's Warp & Warp (or Wapu to Wapu) likely isn't all that well known outside of Japan, and that's a real shame, as it's a thoroughly enjoyable arcade-style romp that I like to think of as one part Robotron (although not entirely) and one part Bomberman, if that makes any sense.

Honestly, I could go on about my favorite Famicom games for another day and a half, at least, so I'll stop here. How about all of you, though; which 8-bit Nintendo titles do you consider to be the most enjoyable or fun?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A new gaming blog draws near: Gaymer Quest

Although there are a lot of positives associated with maintaining a gaming blog, I'd be lying if I said some negatives didn't also come with the territory.

A particularly noteworthy negative, given the focus of this post, is that it can be difficult to keep up with all of the great gaming blogs other folks are busily maintaining.

I'm going to do whatever I can to keep up with a new gaming blog I was introduced to late last week, though--with the blog in question being the fabulously titled Gaymer Quest.



It was started by--and will be maintained by, obviously--a bloke who calls himself "Kaze" (kah-zay), who some of you may have spied in the comments section of this very blog.

Kaze, a self-described gaymer and aspiring Japanese translator, says he launched Gaymer Quest "as a fun outlet to discuss all the nerdy things I'm passionate about. So, expect a lot of posts about retro video games, modern video games, anime, manga, Japanese culture, gay culture and who knows what else."



Gaymer Quest's home to just three posts so far, but two of them--one of which focuses on the first Final Fantasy Legend GameBoy title, while the other discusses the GaymerX event and "the power of safe spaces"--proved to be intriguing reads (the first was little more than an introduction), so I'd say this is a blog that's well worth keeping an eye on for some time to come.

Oh, and should you want to check out or follow Gaymer Quest elsewhere, its Facebook page can be found at facebook.com/gaymerquest and its Twitter account can be found at twitter.com/gaymerquest.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Gay Gamer Giveaway™: Snow Bros. Jr. (GameBoy) Edition

So, here we are: my final Gay Gamer Giveaway™ (for the foreseeable future, at least).

As was the case with the last three such giveaways, this one features a loose copy of a Japanese GameBoy title. Specifically, a loose copy of the Japanese GameBoy port of Toaplan's Snow Bros.

To those of you who've never played--or even heard of--this single-screen platformer, it's an oh-so-capable Bubble Bobble clone that stars a pair of creepily cute snowmen (ignore the cart label art, below--the "official," in-game versions are far less adorable) who toss what I'm assuming are handfuls of snow at even creepier-looking adversaries until they're encased in towering snowballs that can then be rolled into other baddies or into the walls that line each stage.

It's all quite fun, plus it looks and sounds great. (I especially like its soundtrack--with the first level's backing tune being a particularly pleasant little earworm.)


Anyway, should my description of Snow Bros. Jr. make you want to own a copy of it, share the name of your favorite single-screen platformer (again, there are no wrong responses) in the comments section below between now and the morning of Monday, July 21--which is when I'll randomly point to one of those replies and send the person who published it the slightly abused cart seen above.

Speaking of this cart's slightly abused condition, I have to warn all interested parties that I've had a bit of trouble getting this game to boot on my GameBoy Pocket as of late. Sometimes the title screen pops up after I turn on the system, and sometimes it doesn't. Sadly, I don't know if a proper cleaning of the cartridge's contacts will put the kibosh on that little problem or not. So, just know that the cart that arrives on your doorstep--should you win the giveaway--may only work intermittently (or may not work at all).

See also: previous Gay Gamer Giveaway™ posts