Friday, December 12, 2014

Re-introducing: Namco Gallery (GameBoy)

On my birthday last year, I bought myself the trio of games that can be seen in the photos throughout this post.

Even though they arrived on my doorstep shortly after, I failed to photograph them--or, you know, otherwise acknowledge their existence--until earlier this week.

Anyway, the boxes look pretty nice lined up as they are in the shot above, don't you think?

Something you probably can't make out by looking at said photo (unless you click on it to blow it up): the frames featured on each volume's box art include elements that tie in to one or more of the four games contained on that particular cart.

The frame featured on Namco Gallery Vol. 1's packaging, for instance, includes depictions of Mappy's titular police mouse (above) as well as Nyamco (below), the game's antagonist.

(The frames featured on the covers of the second and third volumes include similarly delicious depictions of Dig Dug, Sky Kid and The Tower of Druaga characters.)

The backsides of the Namco Gallery boxes aren't as thrilling as the front sides, unfortunately, but they do give folks a nice look at the colorized versions of each compilation's games.

Just in case you've forgotten which games are included on which Namco Gallery volume, the first one contains pint-sized versions of Battle City, Galaga, Mappy and Namco Classic (a golf sim); the second offers up portable iterations of Dig Dug, Famista 4 (baseball), Galaxian and The Tower of Druaga; and the third consists of Family Tennis, Jantaku Boy (mahjong), Sky Kid and Tower of Babel ports.

My favorites are the most well known titles of the bunch: Dig Dug, Galaga, Mappy and Sky Kid, with the first game's puzzlerific (no, that's not a real word) "New Dig Dug" mode alone being worth the price of all three cartridges, in my humble opinion.

This portable re-imagining of Dig Dug is the only one of the above-mentioned ports to earn a North American release, by the way. I've wanted to own a complete-in-box copy of it for ages now due to its striking box art, but price-gouging eBay sellers have kept me from realizing those desires.

See also: a previous post with a bit more information on the Namco Gallery games

Thursday, December 11, 2014

I wish we were getting a new Shiren the Wanderer title rather than Etrian Mystery Dungeon

Or a new Chocobo no Fushigina Dungeon game. Or a new Torneko no Daibōken adventure.

Both of which, admittedly, would have required at least a bit of (uncharacteristic) interest and action on the part of Square Enix, but the point still stands.

So, why have I gone from being blown away by Etrian Mystery Dungeon's unveiling to wishing the folks at Spike Chunsoft (or whichever developer is crafting this 3DS roguelike) had endeavored to make a new Chocobo no Fushigina DungeonTorneko no Daibōken or Shiren the Wanderer title instead?

For starters, I'm feeling a bit burned out on the Etrian Odyssey franchise at the moment. Or maybe you could say I'm burned out on the idea of the Etrian Odyssey franchise? Because, honestly, although I spent a good number of hours playing through the majority of Etrian Odyssey IV earlier this year, I haven't played or even bought any of the series' other entries since then. I guess all of the recent releases and announcements--Etrian Odyssey Untold I and II, Etrian Odyssey V, even the spinoff of sorts that is Persona Q--have taken a toll on me and my interest in this otherwise appealing IP.

Another reason I've cooled on Etrian Mystery Dungeon in the last few days: I'm skeptical as to how it's going to measure up to past Mystery Dungeon efforts. That's mainly because it seems likely that this title won't feature permadeath, something that's generally considered a series staple, although I'm also sort of stumped as to whether leading four, rather than just one (or sometimes two), characters through this game's labyrinthine dungeons is going to be an interesting change of pace or an annoying impediment. (Oh, and before anyone asks, yes, I know players won't fully control all four party members in Etrian Mystery Dungeon, but leading them around still may prove awkward.)

All that said, I'm very much looking forward to getting my hands on this game and giving it a thorough once-over--even if I end up being disappointed by it. In fact, I've already pre-ordered a copy of it.

Are any of you also itching to play Etrian Mystery Dungeon? If so, why?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Square Enix reveals the next Japanese 3DS game it'll surely fail to release in other regions: Theatrhythm Dragon Quest

Can you tell I'm a bit bitter about how the powers that be at Square Enix have treated 3DS owners outside of Japan?

Of course, it's hard not to feel kind of jaded when you consider that the company has localized just a small handful of its Japanese 3DS games--Kingdom Hearts 3D and the two Theatrhythm Final Fantasy titles are the only ones that come to mind at the moment--since Nintendo's most recent dual-screened handheld launched four or so years ago.

All that said, I'm still planning to pre-order a copy of Theatrhythm Dragon Quest well in advance of its Japanese release, which is set for March 26.

That's not yet possible, sadly, so while I wait for some online retailer (I'm looking at you, to allow it, I'll keep refreshing the game's official site until it offers visitors some screenshots or a trailer.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

A custom-painted Dreamcast that supposedly features the system's 'best games' but forgoes ChuChu Rocket! and Space Channel 5? Hmmm...

Granted, it's kind of hard to fault artist Oskunk for focusing on other Dreamcast "classics" like Crazy Taxi, Jet Set Radio and Shenmue while conjuring up his latest creation--although I'm sure some folks would do just that in regard to his decision to feature Sonic Adventure.

(I can't join them because I've never played any version of Sonic Adventure. In fact, I don't think I've played any Sonic the Hedgehog game past ... the third Genesis game?)

At the very least, I think a fifth character--Space Channel 5's magenta-coifed Ulala--should have been added to this custom-painted Dreamcast's lid, especially since it would've injected some much-needed femininity into the proceedings.

(Switching out Jet Set Radio's Beat for Gum would've done the trick, too, but I fully understand and appreciate that the former is far more likely to be that game's "mascot" than the latter.)

Even in its current, Space Channel 5-free state, though, this concoction is pretty darn sweet, don't you think?

If you'd like to take a closer look at the console or its similarly colorful controllers, by the way, I'd suggest heading over to at your earliest convenience.

See also: previous Oskunk-centric posts

Monday, December 08, 2014

'Tis the season for Snow Bros. Jr. (GameBoy)

There was a time--not too long ago, in fact--when I wasn't all that interested in Toaplan's painfully short-lived Snow Bros. series.

Its garish use of color and its nightmarish cast of characters--including the titular Nick and Tom--just didn't sit well with me, I guess.

At any rate, I pretty much ignored the handful of Snow Bros. ports and sequels that were released over the years until I came across the cover art showcased in the photos below. (Check out my Flickr photostream if you'd like to see a few more.)

The game in question is 1991's Snow Bros. Jr., by the way, which was published in Japan by Naxat Soft. (Capcom brought it to North America the following year as Snow Brothers.)

Admittedly, this version of the game lacks the color that abounds in pretty much all of its counterparts, but that doesn't impact the experience as negatively as you might think.

It helps, of course, that the gameplay found in the arcade original seems to have survived the transition from big screen--or at least bigger screen--to small mostly intact. Also, the portable port's soundtrack is just as zippy and energetic as it is in any other Snow Bros. release.

Let's be honest, though: even if I considered every other aspect of this GameBoy title to be a bit crappy, I'd probably still have searched far and wide for a complete-in-box copy.

After all, just look at its box art--and the contents of its instruction manual, too. I mean, it even includes a little comic strip. What's not to like about that? (Sadly, I don't understand a lick of its story.)

Sure, the back of Snow Bros. Jr.'s box is by far the least enticing aspect of this otherwise-precious package, but you can't always have everything, can you?

Have any of you played this portable take on Toaplan's somewhat-sinister, single-screen platformer? If so, what do you think of it?

See also: previous 'Year of the GameBoy' posts