Friday, January 09, 2015

Shall We Do It? (Coming Out on Top, Fantasy Life, Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley and Slime MoriMori Dragon Quest 3)

The first eight days of 2015 have been a bit tumultuous for me, I've got to say, but thankfully that hasn't kept me from putting a good amount of time into the handful of games that are named in the header above.

(I've also been working on my weeklong not-quite-playthrough of Okamiden, of course, but you'll have to wait until Monday to read my thoughts on it.)

Anyway, as is par for the course for these "Shall We Do It?" posts, here are a few impressions of the titles that have hogged my attention since the holiday season came to an end.

Coming Out on Top (Mac)--For the longest time, this gay dating sim completely avoided pinging my radar. Eventually, though, I noticed that its official NeoGAF thread was getting a lot of action (pun intended) and so decided to see what was causing all the hubbub.

Two playthroughs later, and I can report, without hesitation, that Coming Out on Top is a blast if you're into visual novels that drop you into the trousers of a cute college boy and then let you, well, get into the trousers (eventually, at least--assuming you do and say the right things) of other cute guys.

As is typical of the genre, you're probably going to have to turn to some sort of walkthrough if you want to nab some of these studs, but if you can get over that hump you'll likely get a kick out of it.

A couple of highlights for me so far: the ability to modify, on the fly, the facial and body hair of each of your potential paramours; the amusing and clever writing; and the surprisingly effective sex scenes.

Fantasy Life (3DS)--Last time I published one of these posts, I mentioned that I'd finished this RPG's main story. In the ensuing two or so weeks, I've chiseled away at its post-game adventure, the bulk of which takes place in a unique locale called "Origin Island."

That journey got off to a rather bumpy start, I'm sad to report, thanks to the fact that Fantasy Life's overt chattiness continues well into its bonus content. Once I finished skipping through all of that blather, though, it wasn't long before I was back to giddily bashing baddies with the best greatsword I could get my hands on (or make myself, as a blacksmith).

The DLC pack adds a bunch of new areas, enemies, materials and even pets to the proceedings, by the way, so it's well worth buying if you enjoyed the main campaign.

I've now spent just over 90 hours with the game, in case you're wondering, which means I've put more than 15 hours into the add-on content alone. Not bad for $9, if you ask me.

Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley (3DS)--Although I got this controversial cart for Christmas, I failed to get past its title screen until yesterday. I've only devoted about two hours to it since then, but even that brief foray was enough to make me wonder if maybe this game isn't as bad as it's been made out to be (by my Nichiest Podcast Ever cohort, shidoshi, among many others).

The Lost Valley certainly looks better than I was expecting it to based on screenshots, though that doesn't mean I consider it to be a visual standout among 3DS titles. I'm also finding its gameplay to be acceptably entertaining this far, so it'll be interesting if that holds true after I've devoted a bit more time to it (which I'm planning to do tonight and this weekend) or if my attention and affection will deteriorate to some degree.

Slime MoriMori Dragon Quest 3 (3DS)--Sadly, I've barely given this Rocket Slime sequel any love in the last week or so, although I made some good progress on it early on in the new year. I'm now out on the open seas, tracking down new lands to explore and taking on any and all enemy ships that attempt to trip me up along the way.

That's one of the few ways in which Slime MoriMori 3 differs from its predecessor (the game known outside of Japan as Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime), by the way; rather than offering players more of the fairly infrequent tank-on-tank battles that were present in the series' second game, this third title ups the ante and not only increases their number (and switches them from tanks to ships, obviously) but also makes them more random, which I have found to be a welcome addition to the Slime MoriMori formula.

Another nice change of pace: it's possible to alter and upgrade your ship this time around, although I've yet to acquire the materials needed to accomplish that feat (or if I have, I've failed to figure out how to make use of them).

Although I've got plenty of other games on my plate at the moment, I'm going to do what I can to make sure Slime MoriMori 3 retains a spot on it for some time to come, as it's nearly as enticing as the DS title that came before it and that ended up being one of my all-time favorite games for the system.

See also: previous 'Shall We Do It?' posts

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Boy, does this piece of Pac-Land art (produced by madamluna) bring back memories...

Of all the games I've attached memories to over the years, Pac-Land has to be among the oddest. After all, it's not like this quarter-muncher from 1984 is one of Namco's most-loved releases. Hell, it's not even one of the company's most-loved Pac-Man spin-offs.

I guess Pac-Land just came into my life at the right place and time. The former is especially relevant to this story, I think, considering the setting of my earliest memory of the game is a shopping-mall arcade that was located a few hours away from where I grew up.

I'm sad to say I can't remember exactly how old I was when I first encountered the Pac-Land cabinet in the aforementioned arcade, but I'm pretty sure I was in my early teens. Regardless, I distinctly remember my incredulous reaction to it. After all, this was a Pac-Man game that looked and played like the original Super Mario Bros.

And don't forget: this was back when the Internet was but a gleam in Al Gore's eye. If you didn't read gaming mags at that time, you often didn't know which quarter-munchers were being released or when until you walked into your local arcade, bar, bowling alley and the like.

Anyway, I was blown away the first time I laid eyes on Pac-Land. Admittedly, its odd control scheme--one button moves Pac-Man to the right, one moves him to the left and one makes him jump--leaves something to be desired, as does the repetitive simplicity of its overall gameplay, but this platformer's vividly colorful, "Saturday morning cartoon" visuals do quite a bit to make up for those flaws--or at least that's the effect they've always had on me.

All of the above should help explain why the piece of art that serves as the focus of this post resonated with me as much as it did when I first came across it late last week. Actually, I'm pretty sure it would have resonated with me even if I weren't an unabashed Pac-Land fan thanks to the unmistakable look of innocence and wonder that's splashed across Pac-Man's face.

Artist Pauli Kohberger, aka madamluna, is responsible for this winsome illustration, by the way. If you'd like to see more examples of her work--and, really, why wouldn't you?--head over to at your earliest convenience.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

What kind of idiot buys a Wii Virtual Console title in 2015? This kind!

Which Virtual Console game did I buy via my too-long-ignored Wii, you ask? The SNES version of Harvest Moon.

I bought it because I've had the Harvest Moon series on the brain ever since I received a copy of The Lost Valley for Christmas. Specifically, I've been thinking about the trio of Harvest Moon titles I've wanted to play for some time now: the aforementioned original, Harvest Moon 64 and Harvest Moon: Magical Melody for GameCube.

I pulled the trigger on this long-running franchise's first game yesterday because, well, it was a lot easier to trade in $8 worth of "Wii Points" and then download the digital version of that title in a matter of seconds than hunt for physical copies of the Nintendo 64 or GameCube sequels on eBay and then wait a week or two for them to arrive on my doorstep.

(That's not to say I haven't also done some of the latter over the last few days, but let's save that discussion for another day.)

Sadly, but hardly shockingly, I've yet to put more than a few minutes into this delightful-looking farming sim. I'm planning to devote an adequate amount of time to it this weekend, though, so look for a few thoughts on it in the "Shall We Do It?" post that'll be published late next week.

In the meantime, do any of you have any experience with the SNES version of Harvest Moon--or Harvest Moon 64 or Magical Melody? If so, I'd love it if you'd share your opinions of them in the comments section below.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Introducing: #ADecadeofDS

A couple of weeks ago (in this post), I mentioned I was planning to start a new series in 2015 that would ape the #YearoftheGameBoy posts I published throughout 2014.

Well, I can tell you now that the series is going to be called #ADecadeofDS, and although it was inspired by the above-mentioned GameBoy-focused posts, it's also going to go in its own direction.

(On a related note, the #YearoftheGameBoy posts that I publish in 2015, which will utilize the updated hashtag #AnotherYearoftheGameBoy, will be altered to follow in the footsteps of these DS-centric ones. More on that in a couple of days.)

Specifically, for this series' posts, I'm going to do my best to play through all of the DS games I've bought in recent years but have not yet started or finished.

My goal isn't to finish or "beat" all of these games, by the way; my goal is just to spend as many hours as I can with them in a single week. For example, I'm going to play my recently acquired copy of Okamiden for as long as I'm able this week, and when the week is over, I'll work up a post that will detail how many hours I put into it, how far I got (if applicable), whether or not I'll continue playing it, whether or not I'd recommend it to others and more.

At the end of each of these #ADecadeofDS posts, I'll announce which game will serve as the focus of the following week's write-up.

Sound interesting? I hope so. And even if it doesn't, at least it'll prompt me to hack away at my mountainous backlog over the next 52 or so weeks.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Here's how I spent my 2014 (3DS edition)

In case any of you are wondering: no, I won't be publishing other editions of this "series," as none of the other systems I used in 2014 were capable of recording how many hours I spent playing games on them.

At any rate, here's how much time I spent playing various 3DS games in 2014 (as per the "Activity Log" files on my Japanese and North American systems):

  • Tomodachi Life ... 127:43
  • Bravely Default ... 99:45
  • Fantasy Life ... 88:08
  • Etrian Odyssey IV ... 59:20
  • Solitiba ... 57:30
  • THE "DENPA" MEN 3 ... 42:19
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ... 20:30
  • Yoshi's New Island ... 12:31
  • Super Mario 3D Land ... 12:10
  • Rusty's Real Deal Baseball ... 6:30

The only "results" that surprised me were Etrian Odyssey IV and Rusty's Real Deal Baseball, as I had no idea I spent so much time with either title. Also, I'm kind of shocked I've yet to put more than six hours and 30 minutes into Slime MoriMori Dragon Quest 3. I guess that means I have to devote a bit more time to it in the coming days and weeks.

One last tidbit some of you may find interesting: apparently I spent just over 580 hours playing 62 "titles" (which includes the eShop, Activity Log and other apps, by the way) on my pair of 3DS systems in 2014.

Now that I've shared how I spent my 2014 (in regard to 3DS gaming, at least), please feel free to share how you spent yours in the comments section of this post.