Friday, February 13, 2015

#ADecadeofDS: Pop Cutie! Street Fashion Simulation

Amount of time devoted to this game in the last week--Four hours, two minutes.

Most recent boss toppled, location reached or milestone achieved--Sadly, I'm still working my way through this game's second stage, which won't mean much to those of you who've yet to play the game (and may not even mean much to those of you've actually played it, truth be told). Also, I've competed in--and was declared the victor of all but one--five of Pop Cutie's fashion battles so far.

Overall comments on the experience--To be completely honest, I bought Pop Cutie! assuming it was going to be little more than a half-assed knock-off of Nintendo's criminally under-appreciated (outside of Japan, at least) Style Savvy games.

Boy, was I wrong.

After all, though the two titles mentioned above are similar in terms of theme--both focus on fashion and on running a clothing shop--that's where the likenesses end.

The aesthetics of Pop Cutie! are far, well, cuter than those of Style Savvy, for starters. Specifically, whereas the latter's art style leans toward slick and even sophisticated, the former's is more "precious" and cartoonish.

Speaking of which, the look of Koei's (yes, the same Koei that brought the world the Dynasty Warriors and the Nobunaga's Ambition series also made Pop Cutie!) contribution to the portable fashion genre is sure to turn off more than a few people at first glance. Hell, my initial reaction to it was to scrunch my face in sour disgust, and I tend to like adorable-looking games more than your average Joe.

Over time, though, the weird aesthetics of Pop Cutie! grew on me to a surprising degree--to the point that I'm nearly ready to say I actually kind of like them.

Anyway, Style Savvy and Pop Cutie! also differ pretty substantially in terms of how they play. In the former, designing clothes and running a "très chic" boutique are fairly detailed, hands-on experiences, and players are given a lot of control over how they accomplish those tasks. The corresponding activities in the title that's at the heart of this post, on the other hand, feel far more "detached," if that makes any sense.

I guess you could say that in Pop Cutie! fashioning frocks and selling them from a showroom floor are depicted as they may be in a mobile title. They're almost mini-games, but not quite. (A couple of examples: while in your shop, you can man the cash register, but only with the most minimal of input, or you can restock the shelves; outside your shop, you walk the streets and pick flowers to discover new colors for your designs or chat with passersby to learn of new clothing styles.)

Don't take that as a complaint, by the way. Although I found this cart's gameplay a bit basic and even disappointing at first, I had a pretty drastic change of heart after wrapping up my first hour or two with it. Now, I find the whole she-bang to be sweet and endearing and breezily fun.

Will I continue to play this game in the coming days, weeks and maybe even months?--If I'd have had to answer this question a week ago, I likely would have said, "I doubt it." Today, though, I'm far more open to the idea. 

Once you come to terms with this game's quirks--its sometimes-awkward controls, its far-from-appealing-at-first art style--it's actually quite a lot of fun. As such, I have a feeling I'll put at least a few more hours into this cartridge before it goes back into its pastel-plastered case.

Do I recommend it to others?--I guess so, but with some reservations. What I mean is that I think only a small percentage of people who own a DS or 3DS are likely to bother playing Pop Cutie! long enough for it to get under their skin, so to speak, so I'd say that if you've spent some time with any of the Style Savvy games (or anything remotely like them) and enjoyed the experience, you may want to give this one a go, too--especially if you can find a fairly cheap copy.

Next up--Maestro! Jump in Music

See also: previous 'A Decade of DS' posts

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Please share your iOS game and app suggestions and recommendations here

In news that is sure to thrill my pal Simon, the oh-so-British proprietor of the Red Parsley blog, I recently bought my first smartphone.

Specifically, I got an iPhone.

Which means, of course, that I'm in the market for a whole bunch of iOS games and apps.

Have any of you played any iOS games or used any iOS apps that you think I should experience as soon as possible? If so, I'd really appreciate it if you'd name them--and tell me why you like them, if you're willing--in the comments section below.

Just so you know, I've already purchased the following: Drop Wizardrainblocks and Sunburn!

I spent a few minutes with both Drop Wizard and rainblocks over the weekend, and I found the former game, especially, to be a lot of fun. (I also liked the latter, but I'm not sure it's something I'll return to all that often.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

There's no such thing as too much Zombie Daisuki

Chunsoft's Zombie Daisuki may not have been all I had hoped for given its pedigree, pixel-rific graphics and its focus on the undead, but that doesn't mean I consider it to have been a complete waste of my hard-earned cash.

In fact, despite my rather ho-hum reaction to this import-only DS game (read all about it in my latest #ADecadeofDS post), I'm still pretty darn glad I picked up a copy of it some time ago.

Of course, how could I not feel that way when Zombie Daisuki's packaging is so cute? Seriously, check it out in the photo below:

The little zombie illustrations that parade across the game's cover imagery is awfully adorable, too, as should be obvious from the following snapshot:

Comparably, this game's illustration manual is a wasted opportunity, if you ask me. A few of the zombies from the box art pop up here and there, but for the most part it's your basic DS manual--a lot of text, a good number of screenshots and a select few illustrations or other embellishments. 

If only more designers had skewed things more in favor of the latter elements like they did in the "good old days."

At least it's "story" page (above) shows a few signs of life. Not that I can understand a word of it, mind you--well, aside from "story" and "zombie," I mean--but who cares when the imagery behind it is so whimsical? 

Zombie Daisuki's cart label features the same art--albeit in a slightly altered form. I have to say, I really like how the game's curvy, bubbly logo looks smooshed between the helicopter in the upper-left corner and the farm buildings that sit below it.

Have any of you played this Japanese curiosity? If so, what are your thoughts on it? Or, what are your thoughts on its box art, cart label, manual and more?

See also: my #ADecadeofDS post about Zombie Daisuki

Monday, February 09, 2015

'Bitch, I'm Madonna' (8-bit Remix)

There isn't much "grey area" when it comes to Madonna. You either love her, or hate her.

Me, I love her. Always have, probably always will.

Which should go a long way toward explaining why I'm posting the following "8-bit remix" of one of the Michigan-born popstar's latest songs, the fabulously titled "Bitch, I'm Madonna." (Actually, I believe the official title of this "Rebel Heart" tune is "Bitch I'm Madonna," but I refuse to refer to it in its comma-free form.)

Of course, it's not like showcasing this remix here is a total stretch. The person who produced it was inspired by "classic Nintendo songs," after all.

Plus, its YouTube cover art (or whatever you're supposed to call the imagery that fronts the rest its content) features a pixelated Madonna.

Anyway, check it out if you're a fan, and obviously feel free to ignore it if you're not. Oh, and if you'd prefer to hear version of this remix with vocals (from someone other than the "Vogue" songstress), here you go. (Personally, I think the latter iteration sounds a bit too much like a Kidz Bop recording, but that's just me.)