Saturday, December 27, 2014

I also got this adorable 'Pupupu Friends' 3DS XL pouch for Christmas

So, the copy of Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley I chatted about yesterday isn't the only game-related present I received this holiday season. I also got the following 3DS case from my sneaky sister-in-law.

I'm calling her sneaky, by the way, because she figured out I wanted it by reading the "All I want for Christmas is..." post I published a few weeks back. (I honestly didn't realize until Wednesday that she occasionally checks out my blog.)

Anyway, this Kirby-themed case is pretty sweet, don't you think? And not only is its exterior the definition of adorable, but its interior is nicely cushioned and includes a couple of pockets for DS or 3DS carts.

Even better than either of those attributes, though, is that it perfectly complements my pink-and-white 3DS XL system--as should be evident for all to see in the photo below.

Now I just have to find a case or pouch that can be used to protect and carry my gold Pokémon Center 3DS LL. I've been considering this cute Monster Hunter airu one for ages now. What do you think?

Also, what kind of gaming-related gifts did all of you get this holiday season? Spill the beans in the comments section below--if you're willing to share, I mean.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Santa Claus brought me a copy of Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley, and I'm going to play it despite shidoshi's warnings against it

I've been curious about Natsume's homegrown take on the ages-old Harvest Moon series since it was announced earlier this year.

There were all sorts of reasons even then to give this recently released 3DS game a pass, with the Nintendo 64-esque visuals and the fact that it was being made internally rather than by series creator Yasuhiro Wada and the folks at Marvelous being the most noteworthy.

Still, I wanted it. So, I included it on my birthday wish list--and then, when I failed to get it for my birthday (I got Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call instead), I moved it over to my Christmas wish list.

Considering it was the only game I named on said list, I really shouldn't have been surprised to find it was among the Christmas gifts my parents sent to me, but I was.

Sadly, but not shockingly, I've yet to even start The Lost Valley. That's mainly because I'm still busying myself with three of the games mentioned in my last post (Fantasy Life, Slime MoriMori Dragon Quest 3 and Woah Dave!), but I'm planning to dial back my playtime with those titles over the next few days so I can find for myself if Natsume's effort is as crappy as everyone--including my podcast mate, shidoshi--says it is, or if it has even a couple of redeemable qualities.

I'll let you know either way in my next installment of "Shall We Do It?" In the meantime, are any of you playing Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley? If so, what do you think about it?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Shall We Do It? (Fantasy Life, Pinch 50, Slime MoriMori Dragon Quest 3 and Woah Dave!)

The last month or so has been so busy for me that I haven't had as much time as I would've liked to play games. Thankfully, things calmed down quite a bit this past weekend, and I took full advantage of the solitude to spend some quality time with the following four 3DS titles:

Fantasy Life--Would you believe that after 76 hours of play, I've finally finished this Level-5 RPG? Or, rather, I've finished its main campaign. I bought the game's day-one "Origin Island" DLC just before Thanksgiving, and I've yet to play--let alone conquer--it, but let's put that aside for the moment. (Plus, we are talking about post-game content here, so it's not like it negates my claim that I've completed the main part of the game.)

So, what are my near-final thoughts on this massive adventure? Well, for starters, I'd say it's easily one of the funnest, most engaging games I've played in 2014. That's mainly because of its MMO-esque gameplay, I have to say, although its job-swapping hook played an important role, too.

Speaking of Fantasy Life's job-swapping hook, my favorite jobs (or "lives," if you will) so far are the three "gathering" ones: angler, miner and woodcutter, though I'm also pretty fond of the blacksmith and carpenter ones. (Sadly, I've completely ignored the alchemist, cook, paladin or tailor professions up to this point.)

In less positive news: I still find this game's obsession with text to be annoying, and I worry that it's going to be the one thing that keeps a good chunk of folks from enjoying the experience as much as they otherwise would. Thankfully, it's limited to a quarter or less of the overall adventure. Most of the time, you're free to run around and fight beasts or gather resources, so keep that in mind if you're having a hard time with the wordiness of it all.

Anyway, I'm going to do my best to complete the aforementioned "Origin Island" DLC content as soon as possible, but don't be surprised if it takes me a while, as I'm pretty sure one of the other games discussed in this post (Slime MoriMori Dragon Quest 3) is going to take over my life for the next few weeks.

Pinch 50--I purchased this Japanese eShop title last month, but I barely played it until a couple of days ago. Which probably was for the best, as it's likely this game only would've added to the stress I was dealing with between then and this past weekend. That's because Pinch 50, made by Masanobu Endō (creator of classics like The Tower of Druaga and Xevious), is so masochistic it gives similar efforts like 1001 Spikes and Spelunky a run for their money.

Before you get the wrong idea, Pinch 50's gameplay is a thoroughly different beast than that found in the aforementioned pair of titles. In fact, Endō's game is remarkably similar in feel (and look) to that old Activision Atari 2600 classic, Pitfall, although Pinch 50 is about ten times tougher than the game that surely inspired it.

That's all I'll say for now, as I've only beaten the first 11 of this digital title's 50 stages as of last night. (Oh, and I died about 20 times while trying to finish one of the latter stages, with my giddy giggles rising in volume with each death.)

Slime MoriMori Dragon Quest 3--As I mentioned in Monday's post, I've had a copy of this Dragon Quest spin-off for more than a year now. Sadly, it's done nothing but sit in a drawer ever since--until this past Saturday, I mean. Now that I've started it, though, I have a feeling I won't stop until I've finished it--or until I've gotten so hopelessly stuck (or lost) that I give up on it. That's how much it's got me by the short and curlies at the moment.

Oh, sure, it isn't the best looking 3DS game in the world (the low-quality polygonal backdrops are far less appealing than the sprite-based ones found in this game's GameBoy Advance and DS predecessors), its soundtrack features a ton of tunes that also appeared in the first two Slime MoriMori titles and its gameplay isn't all that different from the second one (known as Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime in North America), but none of that has kept it from being a thoroughly thrilling affair.

One new element in Slime MoriMori 3 that's really impressed me so far is its watery overworld, which is traversed by ship. It kind of recalls the sailing sections of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, although this 3DS game's ship-centric action is far less annoying and monotonous than what's found in that GameCube effort.

Also, the boss battles in Slime MoriMori 3 have proven to be surprisingly entertaining thus far, although I've only experienced three of them to this point. (Oh, and they make great use of the stereoscopic 3D technology packed inside the 3DS, with most of these encounters featuring impressive pop-out effects.)

Should folks who can't currently play this Rocket Slime sequel be upset that it's failed to make it to their respective region? I'm not sure, to tell you the truth. Although I'm having a lot of fun with it at the moment, it's so similar to the aforementioned DS title that I don't think you're missing out on a whole lot by not having easy access to the 3DS iteration.

Woah Dave!--Is this eShop game still on sale (in North America, at least) for just 99 cents? If so, I'd highly and heartily recommend nabbing a copy of it as soon as you're able.

Normally, I'd attach a little disclaimer--such as, "if you like single-screen platformers that feature old-school graphics and twitch-y gameplay"--to a recommendation like the one above, but in the case of Woah Dave!, I'm pretty confident that almost anyone who owns a 3DS (or a PC or smartphone) will get a kick out of this game.

Should you require some sort of description of its gameplay before handing over your hard-earned 99 cents to this title's developers, does "it's like the original Mario Bros. on speed or 'shrooms--or both" suffice?

Even if it doesn't, do yourself a favor and pick up some version of this trippy soon-to-be-classic. It won't disappoint.

Monday, December 22, 2014

I think it's finally time I played Slime MoriMori Dragon Quest 3: Taikaizoku to Shippo Dan (3DS)

After all, I've had the copy showcased in the photos below since April of last year.

Why on earth have I sat on it since then? I have no idea, to tell you the truth, although I'm guessing it had something to do with it arriving on my doorstep while I was in the middle of playing some other game that I can't remember at the moment.

Now that I've finished Fantasy Life (basically--more on that in the "Shall We Do It?" post I'll be publishing tomorrow), though, I have time to start playing Slime MoriMori Dragon Quest 3.

In fact, I did just that this past weekend, although I only spent about an hour with it, to be honest.

Before I say anything about how it looks and plays, though, let's talk about Slime MoriMori Dragon Quest 3's cover art. It's pretty fabulous, don't you think?

Now, I don't know that I'd proclaim it to be better than the cover art produced for its predecessors--see the GameBoy Advance iteration's here, and the DS sequel's here--but it's still pretty great.

This import-only 3DS game's instruction manual is similarly slick, with its pages of text peppered with loads of adorable illustrations like the ones shown in the photos above and below.

As for my thoughts on the contents of Slime MoriMori Dragon Quest 3's cartridge, I'm going to save most of my impressions for tomorrow's "Shall We Do It?" post (sorry), but what I can say here is that I find this game's aesthetics to be less appealing than those of its fully sprite-based predecessors. (In Slime MoriMori 3, everything is made of polygons except the characters--including enemies--and items, which are sprites.)

Thankfully, the sometimes-wonky visuals don't negatively impact its gameplay. In fact, Slime MoriMori 3 seems to play almost exactly like the DS game that's known to most in the English-speaking world as Rocket Slime so far. 

Although that's fine with me, I wouldn't complain if this 3DS title eventually differentiated itself from Square Enix's earlier Slime MoriMori efforts. Of course, I haven't experienced any of this one's ship-on-ship battles, so it's possible they'll provide the uniqueness I crave.