Friday, August 01, 2014

PC Engine game recommendations for #PlatforMonth

Before we get to the PC Engine game recommendations that are promised in the header above, how about we deal the question that's sure to be on some of your minds: what in the heck is #PlatforMonth?

The answer, my dear readers, is that #PlatforMonth is yet another of Anne "apricotsushi" Lee's monthly game-alongs, with this one focusing on--you guessed it--platformers.

So why'd I decide to focus on must-play (in my opinion, naturally) PC Engine platformers in this post? Well, my original plan was to cover a whole slew of systems, but when I got to the PC Engine portion of said post I couldn't stop coming up with titles to recommend. So, I decided to devote an entire post to NEC's "little white wonder," as I like to call it.

Don't worry, I'm going to publish a second post that offers up platformer recommendations for other consoles and handhelds in a couple of days. For the time being, through, let's keep our minds trained on PC Engine run-and-jumpers.

Speaking of which, I know I could wrap up this post right here and now by suggesting you play all three of Red Company's PC Genjin--or Bonk, if you're a TurboGrafx-16 kind of guy or gal--titles, but I'd rather introduce folks to some new experiences this time around, such as:

Hany on the Road--Admittedly, this probably isn't the best place to begin a post like this one. After all, Hany on the Road isn't exactly a textbook example of the genre. Still, there's a lot of running and jumping to be done if you want to beat it, so why not include it here? As for how it plays: if you've played Capcom's ancient arcade game, Son Son, you've basically played this one, too--although I think Hany looks better and is more challenging than its archaic predecessor.

Jigoku Meguri--One lesson I learned some time ago is that the people who used to develop games for Taito know how to produce a top-tier platformer. This game--an arcade conversion, actually--is a prime example. At first, it appears to be your average side-scrolling, run-and-jump title--except for the fact that the shiny-headed protagonist is able to launch human-sized beads of various colors at his demonic foes. That simple action single-handed makes Jigoku Meguri a joy to play, by the way. There's just something fun about running around and tossing as many beads or marbles or whatever they're supposed to be at anything and everything in your way.

Mizubaku Daibouken--If you took Jigoku Meguri and exchanged its underworld setting for a bright and cheery one that wouldn't seem out of place in Rainbow Islands or Parasol Stars (two more Taito joints, coincidentally enough) and switched out its monk-like protagonist for the most adorable pixelated platypus you're ever likely to see, you'd have Mizubaku Daibouken (aka Liquid Kids outside of Japan). The only real difference: in the latter, the character you control tosses water bubbles at baddies rather than multi-hued prayer beads. If you've only got the budget or attention span for one of these two games, I say go for this one, although both are well worth your time if you've got money and mindshare to spare.

The New Zealand Story--One slight problem with the bulk of the titles discussed here so far is that a good number of them are ports of arcade games. That's rarely, if ever, a bad thing when it comes to Taito, though, so I say go with it. Of course, I'd say "go with it" in the case of this game even if it were a bit subpar, as it stars a cute-as-buttons kiwi bird who utilizes an array of weapons (including arrows, bombs and laser guns) and vehicles (balloons, blimps and even UFOs among them) to battle and/or avoid a menagerie of surprisingly relentless foes. Another of The New Zealand Story's positive attributes, in my opinion: its sometimes-perplexing, maze-like stages. Just do your best to ignore this iteration's ear-splitting soundtrack.

Obocchama-kun--Finally, an original effort! And I mean "original" in every possible way in the case of this odd-as-a-duck platformer, which focuses on the bratty star of Yoshinori Kobayashi's satirical manga from the 1980s. Like The New Zealand StoryObocchama-kun takes platformer fans to some strange and unique places--chief among them being the kooky cast of allies (my favorite being the crying teen who seemingly flings what appears to be hairbrushes at enemies) players can summon into action, although its eccentric bosses are pretty great, too. (For more on this HuCard, check out my "Great Gaymathon" review of it.)

You may have noticed that I've left a bunch of this system's single-screen platformers (aka Bubble Bobble clones) off this list. I made a concerted effort to do that, actually, as I could have filled this post with such games.

Should you prefer to play a single-screen platformer rather than a garden-variety one during #PlatforMonth, however, here are the PC Engine releases I'd most recommend: Don Doko Don, Parasol Stars, Pop'n Magic and Rainbow Islands.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Nintendo Power article that's responsible for my interest in Japanese culture and video games

Here's a piece of news that should shock no one who has visited this blog on a somewhat regular basis: I've been interested in--some would say obsessed with--Japanese culture and video games for a very long time.

How long? According to the filled-out-but-never-turned-in "Player's Poll" I just found in my well-worn copy of Nintendo Power's premiere (July/August 1988) issue, the answer is 26 years. (On the above-mentioned poll, I listed my age as 11.)

As for what the first issue of Nintendo Power has to do with all of this, well, if memory serves, the article above--which I just scanned from said issue--is what prompted me to fall in love with the Land of the Rising Sun in general and its video games in particular.

Seeing that throng of people standing in line, waiting for their copies of the just-released Dragon Quest III set my hear aflutter, as did the screenshot of the Famicom game's overworld. (For whatever reason, making all four party members visible while traversing said overworld completely blew my young mind.)

Assuming at least some of you have a similar fascination with Japan and its games, what pushed you in that direction?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I'm surprised Nintendo has yet to release these games for the 3DS

There's no question that Nintendo has pumped out an impressive number of top-shelf games for the 3DS since its release back in early 2011.

Still, so far the company's failed to produce sequels for a number of previously successful titles, with the following seven being especially surprising omissions, in my opinion:

Mother Collection--I know Nintendo of America's disinterest in this series practically is legendary at this point, but even so I'm a bit shocked that its Japanese counterpart has yet to conjure up either a 3DS compilation that includes all three previously published Mother games or a 3D remake of the second or third title. After all, each of these endearing RPGs were able to rack up more-than-acceptable sales in their home country, and while North American sales of the second (EarthBound) were far from stellar, it's since gone on to develop an impressively cultish following. Surely some sort of well-packaged re-release or remake would garner enough interest (and consumer dollars) to warrant its development?

Ouendan 3--Here's another series that surely sold enough copies in Japan to deserve a 3DS follow-up, yet here we are, seven years after the release of Moero! Nekketsu Rhythm Damashii Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2, waiting for its third entry. Sadly, I have a feeling that of all the games discussed in this post, this one is the least likely ever to see the light of the day--and even if it does see the light of day in Japan, it probably won't earn a Western release.

Rhythm Tengoku sequel--Unlike the pair of titles mentioned above, I have little doubt that folks who own Japanese 3DS systems will be able to play a Rhythm Tengoku made specifically for their dual-screened handhelds before this "gen" has ended. Why? Because the previous two entries in this short-lived series sold like gangbusters in their country of origin. Again, though, I won't be surprised if said title fails to find its way across the pond--although it might serve as an easy-to-localize, late-generation release for Nintendo's American and European arms.

Super Princess Peach 2--OK, so I'm not actually "surprised" Nintendo has yet to make or release a sequel for this pastel-slathered platformer, as it hardly received universal praise following its release in 2006. There's so much about Super Princess Peach that could be improved upon in a "part two," though, that I personally think it would be a crying shame if the company that made Mario into a mascot that rivals the great Mickey Mouse didn't take a stab at some or all of them.

Tetris 3DS--Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Tetris DS a really popular pick-up for DS owners around the world? If so, why can't those same folks go out and purchase Tetris 3DS from their friendly neighborhood big-box store as we speak? Yes, I'm sure getting the go-ahead from the Tetris Company is a pain in the butt, as well as a pain in the pocketbook, but if the resulting game recoups its investment (and then some), who really cares, right?

Wario Land 7--This supposed next installment in the vaunted (by me, at least) Wario Land series would be its seventh, assuming you consider Wario: Master of Disguise to be its fifth and Wario Land: Shake It! to be its sixth. So, why am I surprised Wario Land 7 has yet to be published for the 3DS--especially when neither of its predecessors met with a whole lot of success? Because every Nintendo handheld before the current one has received at least a single Wario Land title, that's why.

WarioWare 3D --Although I'd love to be able to play Wario Land 7 on my trusty pink-and-white 3DS XL sometime soon, I'd love it even more if I could play a new WarioWare title on that two-toned system. Here's hoping we hear about one later this year or early next. I'd be pretty shocked if we didn't hear about one before the 3DS calls it a day, to be honest, as both the GameBoy Advance and the DS received multiple WarioWare games.

Now that I've had my say, what do all of you think? Are there any sequels you'd like to see Nintendo publish for the 3DS between now and when the company bids it a fond farewell?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Orioto x Final Fantasy VII

True story: I've only spent about a week of my life playing Squaresoft's (as Square Enix was known at the time) Final Fantasy VII.

This happened back when I was a freshman or sophomore in college, by the way. I used to rent a PlayStation system plus a game or two from a nearby Blockbuster (if memory serves) on a fairly regular basis, and on one occasion Final Fantasy VII was my chosen pick-up.

Oddly, I barely remember anything about this 32-bit RPG other than liking the rather chunky look of its protagonists (in the overworld segments, at least) and its soundtrack.

Which means, of course, that I'm going to have to buy a copy at some point and give it a proper playthrough. Maybe after I finally get a Vita?

In the meantime, I'll have to make do with staring at Orioto's Final Fantasy VII-inspired poster, seen on the right.

Should you want to own one of these posters, by the way, you can do so by heading to Don't dawdle, though, as apparently Orioto's only selling 50 of them (at $16.20 a pop).

To see more of Orioto's art, check out his deviantart gallery.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Gay Gamer x the Go For Rainbow podcast

In case you weren't already made aware via my Twitter account, the three-person crew--Laurie Banks, Jagger Gravning and Dutch Mogul--of the Go For Rainbow podcast invited me to join them for an episode a couple of weekends ago.

The resulting 'cast is now available for your listening pleasure, should you be the sort who enjoys such things.

One little nugget of information that may help sway a few of you in favor of listening to it is that it's less than an hour in length.

As for what the four of us chat about during our 58-minute tête-à-tête: for the first quarter we talk about my blog--what prompted me to start it back in 2007, what kinds of systems and games I've tended to blather on about in the ensuing seven-and-a-half years, that kind of thing.

After that, we dish on some of the games we're currently playing (or were playing at the time the recording was completed) before we move on to a rather lively discussion about difficulty in games.

Sound like a fun way to spend a smidge of your free time? If so, head over to at your earliest convenience and give it a listen.