Friday, December 19, 2014

Taiyou no Tenshi Marlowe: Ohanabatake wa Dai-Panic (GameBoy) is both a mouthful and an eyeful

Between May 27, 1994, and earlier this year, I was blissfully unaware of Taiyou no Tenshi Marlowe: Ohanabatake wa Dai-Panic's existence.

Then, someone on Twitter pointed out this post about the game on Hardcore Gaming 101.

A glimpse of its candy-coated cover art (see photo below) was all I needed to become completely infatuated with it--which of course resulted in me doing whatever it took to track down a complete-in-box copy this Technos Japan-published title.

For those of you who've never heard of Taiyou no Tenshi Marlowe before now, here's the gist: the angel and sun--Marlowe and Philip, respectively--shown on the game's box and cart-label art (see below for a photo of the latter) team up to rescue Marlowe's main squeeze, Nancy, from an evil witch named Amanda.

Oh, and along the way they do what they can to restore the wilted flowers of their world, called Bloomland.

Curiously, Taiyou no Tenshi Marlowe's tower-defense-esque gameplay revolves around the above-mentioned flower-blooming campaign.  

Specifically, during each of the game's single-screen stages (there are 40 of them, according to my calculations), Philip slowly meanders around the edge while players use the GameBoy's d-pad to move Marlowe about in a far less restricted manner. (They can place him wherever they want, basically, although there are a few exceptions to that rule.) 

That freedom of movement (on the part of Marlowe) is important, as the goal in each stage is to make all of its flower buds blossom, which is accomplished by positioning a particular bud between Marlowe and Philip and then pressing the GameBoy's A button. (This action also is used to incapacitate an enemy, while pressing the B button injects Marlowe with a bit of additional speed.)

Sound like a cakewalk? It's not, to be honest, but don't take that as a complaint. Even if Taiyou no Tenshi Marlowe's difficulty were a negative, it would be easy enough to overlook thanks to the game's wonderfully crafted (and animated) graphics and its ear-pleasing soundtrack.

Have any of you played this import-only title? If so, what do you think of it?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

(Just over) 10 years of PSP memories

On Dec. 12, 2004, Sony made its first portable game system available to the Japanese masses.

For whatever reason, I don't remember much about that date, although I have a feeling that may be because I wasn't all that interested in handheld games and systems at that point in my life.

What I do recall is turning attentively toward the PSP whenever intriguing games were announced for it; games like Loco Roco (2006), Patapon (2007), Gurumin (2008), Half-Minute Hero (2009) and What Did I Do To Deserve This, My Lord? (2010).

It wasn't until the release of Patchwork Heroes (aka Hyakumanton no Bara Bara), though, that I finally was pushed to pick up a PSP of my own. (It can be seen in the photo on the right.)

After that, I quickly added a number of quality PSP titles to my collection--with the two ClaDun games, Corpse PartyHakuokiOnore no Shinzuru Michi wo Yuke and Sweet Fuse among them.

If I were forced to name a favorite from among this cadre of quirky games, by the way, my response would include a whole lot of sputtering, as I like so many of them that placing one or two above the rest would be an impossible feat.

What I could say is that the games currently on my PSP short list are the aforementioned ClaDun titles, Hakuoki, Hot Shots Tennis, Patchwork Heroes and Sweet Fuse.

Of course, I've yet to play a bunch of other, similarly compelling PSP (or at least seemingly so) games like Jeanne D'Arc, any of The Legend of Heroes entries, either of the MonHun Nikki: Poka Poka Airu Mura releases or Valkyria Chronicles 3, so it's possible that list will change in the coming months and years.

In the meantime, do any of you have any fond PSP memories, or even just the names of some of your favorite PSP games, you'd like to share?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

(Almost) right on time, another episode of The Nichiest Podcast Ever appears

Those of you who enjoy listening to shidoshi, Anne and I wax poetic on anything and everything related to niche-y games and systems may recall that I ended my last blog post about The Nichiest Podcast Ever with an announcement that we're aiming to make this sucker a monthly thing from here on out. (Or from here until whenever we quit doing it, I guess.)

Although we didn't quite meet that goal this month, we got pretty darn close. We're only a week late, after all.

Anyway, this episode, take, whatever you want to call it touches on a ton of niche-y titles, including the Brandish PSP remake that's supposedly coming to North America (via PSN) by the end of the year, Etrian Mystery Dungeon (3DS), Hatoful Boyfriend's second-quarter 2015 release for PS4 and Vita, Keita Takahashi’s (Katamari Damacy) new game, Rodea The Sky Soldier (3DS and Wii U), Suikoden II's long-awaited appearance on PSN, Theatrhythm Dragon Quest (3DS) and Yakuza 5's just-announced localization.

During the much-loved "Cheerleading" segment, Anne discusses Monster Monpiece (Vita), I blather on about a curious Japanese 3DS eShop title known as Pinch 50 and shidoshi attests to the quality of Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth.

Oh, and before I forget: the three of us also spend a good amount of time at the start of this podcast chatting about the 10th anniversary of the DS' North American release and the 20th anniversary of the original PlayStation's Japanese launch. (Sadly, we completely forgot to acknowledge the 10th anniversary of the PSP's emergence. Maybe we can belatedly cover that in our January "take"?)

Should all, or at least some, of the above sound like something you'd like to hear me, Anne and shidoshi talk about, head over to at your convenience.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas comes early thanks to Justin Difazzio

Remember how, a couple of weeks ago, I devoted an entire post to the game-related items on my holiday wish list? (If not, you can read it here.)

The first blurb in that post focused on the handful of Japanese and North American DS titles I'd love to get as gifts--with Okamiden being one of the games in question.

Long-time reader and commenter Justin Difazzio apparently decided that particular portion of my list was aimed at him, as he promptly mailed his completed-and-now-just-collecting-dust copy of Capcom's portable sequel to Okami to me.

The copy in question arrived on our doorstep on Friday afternoon. Justin even wrapped the darn thing (see above) in some snazzy paper and included a rather adorable card inside the same package.

Here's a shot of the game in its unwrapped state. I'd kind of forgotten how nice its box art is. (Its Japanese box art is nice, too.)

I haven't started playing it yet, but I'll get to it shortly. (As soon as I wrap up Fantasy Life, which should happen in the next few days.)

In the meantime, I'd like to offer a heartfelt "thank you" to Justin for sending this wonderful (early) Christmas present and for being an overall awesome guy.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The question is: will SaGa 2015 for Vita be like Romancing SaGa, SaGa Frontier or (barf) Unlimited SaGa?

Actually, before answering that question, we probably should ask ourselves, "why in the hell did the folks at Square Enix decide to make a new SaGa game at all?"

After that, we could ponder, "and why did they decide to put it on the Vita, of all systems?"

Finally, with both of those questions out of the way, the three or four of us who still have an interest in this long-ignored series can move on to contemplating how SaGa 2015 (which I'm assuming is a placeholder name) will compare to its predecessors.

Personally, I'm hoping SaGa 2015 will follow in the footsteps of my favorite SaGa game to date, SaGa Frontier.

The worst-case scenario for me, on the other hand, would be for this new SaGa title to play like 2002's Unlimited SaGa and look like the PS2 remake of Romancing SaGa from 2005.

How about you? Do you have any hopes or fears related to this just-announced game?