Friday, October 03, 2014

A few photos (and words) that hopefully explain why I consider Konami's Moai-kun to be my favorite example of Famicom box art

How many times have I become smitten with a game simply because of its beautiful cover art--before I had much of a clue as to how it played or even how it looked?

I'm not all that sure I want to know the exact number, actually, although I'm guessing the answer could be summed up with "a few too many times."

Regardless, that certainly was what happened with Konami's Moai-kun. I mean, it's definitely possible I heard about this Famicom puzzler-platformer before I first came across--and fell in love with--its box art, but whatever I heard wasn't enough to spur me to look it up or attempt to play it via emulation.

As soon as I laid eyes on its adorably energetic cover imagery, I just knew I had to give it a go in some form or fashion. The only problem with that plan was complete-in-box copies of it can be both hard to find and expensive.

So, I bided my time and waited until I happened upon a copy that wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg. That copy--picked up earlier this year--can be seen in the pair of photos included in this post.

Honestly, I'm not sure which side of Moai-kun's box I like more--the front or the back. The front is where all the drama takes place, of course, but the back impresses as well by featuring adorable depictions of the game's monolithic protagonist, one of which is shown saying, "I'm hero."

Thankfully, in the end, this pick-up was about more than acquiring a wonderful example of Famicom cover art, as the game itself is nearly as worthwhile as its packaging. If you've yet to experience it, it's a puzzle-centric platformer that plays not unlike a sideview version of HAL Laboratory's classic Adventures of Lolo series.

In practice, that involves the statuesque title character (controlled by the player) rescuing his similarly stone-faced buddies by hopping onto, and off of, platforms, pushing boulders, busting blocks and even head-butting baddies à la PC Genjin (aka Bonk's Adventure) before bounding through the exit door and moving onto the next single-screen stage.

Admittedly, Moai-kun isn't exactly a looker, but it gets the job done aesthetically and that's all that really matters in a game like this.

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, October 02, 2014

Three scary games I'm playing as part of #HorrorMonth

Although I had a lot of fun playing the shoot 'em ups that I chatted about in these recent posts and that were inspired by my blogging and podcasting pal Anne Lee's #Shmuptember game-along extravaganza, I'm about ready to move on to another genre now.

Thankfully, Lee is one step ahead of me and already has announced another such event for October, with the theme this time around being scary games.

The thing is, I've never been one to play overly scary games--games like Fatal Frame and Silent Hill and Siren and Resident Evil. Oh, I love reading about them and watching videos of them and stuff like that, but playing them? Not really--which is kind of funny when you consider how much I love scary movies.

Still, I really want to participate in #HorrorMonth (that's the official name of Lee's latest game-along, by the way), so I'm doing my best to put my fears behind me and play through the following trio of terror-ific titles between now and Halloween.

Sweet Home (Famicom)--Those of you who have visited this blog for a few years now may remember me mentioning Sweet Home in previous posts that were published around this time of year. That's because this isn't the first time I've attempted to play through this spooky, Resident Evil-esque (due to its setting more than anything) RPG. I've never made it more than a couple of hours into it, though, so this year my goal is do do a bit better than that (if not make it all the way to the cart's credit roll).

Splatterhouse (PC Engine)--Here's a game I've been curious about since it first caught my attention back when the PC Engine was still in its infancy and its North American counterpart, the TurboGrafx-16, had yet to be released. I've barely played it in the ensuing years, although I couldn't tell you why that is--other than this genre generally isn't my cup of tea. Thankfully, the few minutes I spent with Splatterhouse the other day were a blast, so I have a feeling it won't be all that difficult for me to complete at least a handful of its stages before I call it a night, so to speak.

Clock Tower (Super Famicom)--Unlike the pair of titles discussed above, I've purposefully avoided this Super Famicom spooker over the years because I knew its scissor-wielding antagonist would be too much for my rather delicate constitution. Although that mostly was proven true when I played a fan-translated version of this unique point-and-click title over the weekend, I'm not going to give up on it--mainly because I want to learn more about the aforementioned villain, the titular mansion and protagonist Jennifer Simpson.

Are any of you participating--or planning to participate--in #HorrorMonth? If so, which titles have you short-listed for this particular game-along?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Manual Stimulation: Bubble Bobble (Japanese GameBoy)

I'm always a bit disappointed the first time I flip through an instruction manual that's associated with a game from Taito's Bubble Bobble series.

I guess it's because all of these single-screen platformers are so bursting with color and charm that it can be a bit of a bummer to discover their manuals tend to be black-and-white affairs.

If you can get past that initial devastating blow, though, you're likely to find that these manuals do have their moments, despite being (mostly) free of color.

The booklet below, made for the Japanese GameBoy version of Bubble Bobble, is a good example.

One thing I've really come to like about Japanese GameBoy manuals in recent years is how many of them feature a single color that bolsters and even brings a bit of softness to their otherwise monochrome pages.

The miniature illustrations on the following pages are completely fabulous--and tooth-achingly adorable--don't you think? And of course the subtle injection of color makes them even more so, in my opinion.

I particularly love one of the illustrations below, by the way--with the one in question being the one that depicts a couple of Zen-Chans being swept off a platform by water attack.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Like seemingly everyone else on the planet, I'm completely smitten with Nintendo of Japan's latest TV commercial (for the new 3DS)

I actually have a lot to say about the wacky TV spot that can be enjoyed below (and here), but all of it was rather eloquently summed up by NeoGAF user Oersted when he/she said the following earlier today: "Pretty much the Nintendo I want. No acting tough and serious. We are colourful, suck it."

Will this commercial prompt hundreds of thousands--or more--of Japanese citizens to race out and pick up one of the new 3DS systems that will hit store shelves in that region in just over a week (on Oct. 11, to be exact)? I have no idea, but it certainly has me contemplating buying one ASAP.

Final Fantasy Explorers will include bell weapons, which means I may have to buy a copy

Here's a queer little fact I'm guessing few people know about me: my favorite weapon type in my favorite Final Fantasy game--that would be Final Fantasy V--is the bell.

In fact, whenever I play through Final Fantasy V (and I've played through it a good many times over the years), I obtain the ninja job's "dual-wield" ability so I can give (at least) one of my characters a pair of bells to use against the game's bevy of baddies.

I bring up the above, by the way, because I just discovered that Square Enix's upcoming Monster Hunter-esque (or maybe I should say Crystal Chronicles-ish?) 3DS title, Final Fantasy Explorers, also will feature bell weapons--which of course makes me want to nab a copy of it as soon as possible.

The thing is, I'm still a bit iffy on the rest of this game. For starters, its graphics are underwhelming, to say the least, although I'd be OK with that if its overall art style were less ... generic, for lack of a better word.

And then there's its gameplay, which doesn't sound terrible, but also doesn't sound entirely interesting. Or maybe I should say it doesn't sound entirely interesting for someone like me, who is likely to play the game alone, rather than with others.

Still, I'm sure I'll strongly consider picking up Final Fantasy Explorers should it earn a North American release at some point in time--although given Square Enix's recent history (especially with the 3DS), I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

Are any of you also pondering this portable Final Fantasy spin-off?