Friday, October 17, 2014

I've quickly gone from having zero copies of Hoshi no Kirby (aka Kirby's Dream Land) to having two

Given my propensity toward cute games, the declaration in the header above probably strikes a few of you as odd.

Sadly, I can't really explain to you why it took me so long to acquire a copy of--or even play--this particular platformer, other than I just wasn't all that keen on this Kirby character when he first arrived on the scene back in 1992, and that lack of interest prompted me to ignore him and pretty much every one of his games until Kirby's Canvas Curse piqued my interest a few years ago.

Even after I had that change of heart--which was bolstered by the release of Kirby's Epic Yarn and Kirby's Return to Dream Land--about the little squeeze toy, though, I still couldn't be bothered to pick up the GameBoy cart that introduced him to the world.

That's mainly because I'd always imagined a "mainline" Kirby game without the series' trademark--the ability to take on enemies' powers--would be a waste of time. Then, a couple of months ago, I watched a video of Dream Land's first stage. I liked pretty much all of what I saw, of course, but what pushed me from "like" to "love," strangely enough, was seeing a couple of Grizzos--one of which had a Poppy Bros. Jr. on its back--hop to and fro in the most adorable manner.

So, I ran out--well, directed my browser to eBay--and bought a copy of the Japanese version of Dream Land, which is known in that part of the world as Hoshi no Kirby, or Kirby of the Stars.

Its packaging, as you can see in the photos shared throughout this post, is simple but effective. I especially like how the illustration that sits behind Kirby (on the front cover) looks like it may have been made out of fabric. (A precursor to the aforementioned Epic Yarn, perhaps?) That said, I think I prefer the even more simplistic cart-label art to the box art.

The back of the Hoshi no Kirby's packaging is pretty darn appealing, too--or at least I think it is.

I still haven't played a ton of the game, I'm embarrassed to admit, but I've played through a small handful of stages, enjoying every second of the experience, and as a result I can assure you I'll return to finish the rest of them sooner rather than later.

Do any of you consider yourselves to be fans of Hoshi no Kirby or Kirby's Dream Land? If so, please share your thoughts about why that is in the comments section of this post.

See also: 'I guess I've come around to Bubble Bobble Junior's box art as well as its gameplay'

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Game Freak is releasing a Solitiba soundtrack on Nov. 7 and I'm going to buy the hell out of it

I know what at least a few of you are thinking right now: "How do you buy the hell out of something?"

I don't know, to tell you the truth, but I'm going to figure it out between now and Nov. 7, which is when the folks at Game Freak, makers of those Pokémon games you've probably heard about (along with a number of other gems), will release a soundtrack for Solitiba--aka Soliti Horse, aka the game that's currently eating up most of my precious free time.

Anyway, I'm guessing the two or three of you who also are feeling this Japan-only eShop game will be happy to hear copies of its soundtrack are being sold for just 2,700 Yen (about $25) via it seems Amazon Japan will sell them eventually as well.

Want to hear a bit of said soundtrack before committing your hard-earned dollars to it? Here you go:

By the way, if any of you are curious to learn more about this addictive digital title, which wackily combines elements of solitaire with those of an adorable horse-racing sim, keep your eyes peeled for a post I'll be publishing early next week.

See also: 'Would somebody please translate these Solitiba (3DS) screens for me?'

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Would somebody please translate these Solitiba (3DS) screens for me?

While the rest of the 3DS-owning world obsesses over the latest Super Smash Bros. title (or the just-released Pokémon Alpha Sapphire/Omega Ruby demo), I am obsessing about a quirky little title that hit the Japanese eShop over a year ago: Game Freak's Solitiba (aka Soliti Horse).

In case this is the first you've heard of it, Solitiba ably--and shockingly--combines everybody's favorite single-player card game, solitaire, with a rather adorable horse-racing sim.

If that makes it sound like a snoozefest, well, I can't really blame you for feeling that way, but I can assure you the resulting effort is anything but a bore.

Anyway, I bring up all of the above because a few things are keeping me from enjoying Solitiba to the fullest: namely, the screens that can be found below. As such, if any of you kind souls could translate--or even just share the gist of--the Japanese text showcased in the following photos, I would greatly appreciate it.

The message above pops up whenever I try to play my existing save file. Clicking on the purple button returns me to Solitiba's main menu.

Speaking of the game's main menu, it can be seen in the shot above. I know the button in the upper-left corner (red jockey) takes me to Solitiba's "training" (practice) mode, while the ones in the middle (black jockey) and lower-left (orange jockey) take me to the main campaign and the options screen, but do any of you know what the one in the upper-right is supposed to represent?

Also, if I click on the "options" button shown in the last photo, I come to the screen above. Here, I know the button in front of the white horse takes me back to the previous screen, but what do the other buttons say or do?

Finally, the message above keeps popping up whenever I try to launch Solitiba. Is it telling me an update for the game's available on the eShop, or is it telling me about something else?

I ask because I pressed "Y" the first time I encountered it, but the only noteworthy thing I could make out on the resulting eShop page was that a demo (I think) of the game was available for download.

A hearty thank you in advance to anyone who is able to help me with this admittedly silly request!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Shall We Do It? (Clock Tower, Fairune, The Legend of Dark Witch and Tappingo 2)

While I was in the shower the other day (don't ask), it struck me that it's been quite some time since I last published one of these "Shall We Do It?" posts.

To be completely honest, I had kind of forgotten this column even existed--until that fateful shower, I mean.

Thankfully, I think today's "Shall We Do It?" post should make up for some of that lost time. After all, it includes commentary on and impressions of four recently played (by me, of course) games.

Actually, I originally planned to cover a fifth game--Game Freak's Japan-only 3DS eShop title, Solitiba (aka Soliti Horse)--as well, but I decided to devote an entire post (look for it later this week) to it instead.

In the meantime, here are some thoughts on the other games I've played in recent days and weeks:

Clock Tower--I've wanted to play this 16-bit spooker, published by the fine folks at Human Entertainment in 1995, for eons, but I put off doing so until now because, well, I've been too chicken to deal with its scissors-wiedling antagonist. Blogger Anne Lee's "Horrogemonth" play-along is what pushed me to finally play it, by the way--in case any of you were curious.

Sadly, so far I've only played it long enough to get killed by Bobby, the aforementioned scissor aficionado, twice, but that's longer than I originally expected I'd spend with it, so I'm not about to complain.

The only other thing I have to say about Clock Tower at the moment is that I find it hilarious how, every time Bobby arrives onto the scene, I completely forget which button on the controller does what, which I guess goes a long way toward explaining the deaths I mentioned earlier.

Fairune--This adorable Ys clone, made by Japanese indie devs Skipmore and Urara-Works, began life as a mobile game. Don't hold that against it, though, as this 3DS eShop port is pretty darn great. Unfortunately, it's currently only available to people who can access the Japanese 3DS eShop, but I have a feeling the folks at Flyhigh Works will publish it elsewhere sooner rather than later.

Anyway, I've put about an hour into Fairune so far, and like I mentioned a couple of sentences ago, I've had a lot of fun with it in that time. That's largely due to the wonderful look of the game, I have to admit, although the gameplay's far from a slouch. I do wish there were a bit more to that aspect of the title, though, as in its present state it seems to offer less depth than the series it seems to try to emulate (Falcom's Ys).

I'm going to keep plugging away at it regardless, as I'm curious to see how its minimalist story progresses (if at all). Plus, it features a female protagonist, something I think is almost always worth supporting.

The Legend of Dark Witch--If you're anything like me, you probably didn't even know about this 3DS title's impending release--or you knew about it at one point and then promptly forgot about it. At any rate, you know about it now. Kind of. And now you know it's hitting the North American eShop in just a couple of days (on Oct. 16).

Surprisingly, I was granted a bit of a sneak peak at The Legend of Dark Witch this past weekend thanks to an unexpected e-mail--followed up by a review code--from one of publisher Circle Entertainment's PR staffers.

Do I think it'll be worth the asking price of $3.99? It's kind of hard to say right now, as I've only spent about an hour with it so far. What I can say is that it's a nice (at least nice--it could wind up being great, but I haven't experienced enough of it to know that) Mega Man-esque side-scroller that sports some really nice spritework. As such, I think $3.99 probably isn't a bad price if you consider yourself a fan of the genre.

Tappingo 2--Another 3DS eShop game? What a shocker. Seriously, though, a number of great games have been added to the 3DS eShop as of late, and this Picross-esque puzzler is one of them.

Of all the titles mentioned here, I've played this one, developed and published by Goodbye Galaxy Games, the most. In fact, of the 100 or so puzzles that are included in this $2.99 game, I've completed just over 60 of them, and I don't expect I'll stop until I've cleared every last one of them.

The beauty of this digital title, by the way, isn't its graphics or soundtrack, although both aspects are up to snuff; no, the real draw of Tappingo 2 is that it's fun and addictive in all the ways a worthwhile puzzler should be. This is one of those games that will prompt you to tell yourself, "just one more puzzle"--over and over again until, an hour or two later, you finally, reluctantly put your 3DS down because you have to eat dinner or go to bed or do some other task that seems completely unimportant in the face of such addictiveness.

Note: all of the screenshots showcased above were altered a bit because it drives me bonkers to have images of different sizes in the same post. Rest assured each of these games look far better on an actual 3DS or TV screen than they look here.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Looks like the Metroid-esque Xeodrifter will be my first Renegade Kid game

I guess it may surprise some of you that I've yet to buy any of Renegade Kid's previous releases--such as Dementium: The Ward, Moon, Mutant Mudds or Planet Crashers--but the fact is that I've never been a fan of first-person shooters (which explains my of interest in Dementium and Moon) and until this game I've never been much of a fan of this Texas-based developer's character designs (see Mutant Mudds and Planet Crashers).

Renegade Kid's latest effort, Xeodrifter, however, is a Metroid-esque side-scroller--see the trailer above for evidence of that fact--that stars an attractive-enough protagonist, so for the moment, at least, I'm planning to pick it up whenever it finally finds its way onto the 3DS eShop--assuming it's priced appropriately, of course.