Friday, April 10, 2015

Another Year of the GameBoy: Pitman (aka Catrap)

I've mentioned this GameBoy title, which began life as a (Sharp MZ-700) computer game, a number of times on The Nichiest Podcast Ever, but I'm not sure I've ever mentioned it here.

That's a shame, as it's easily one of my favorite of the multitude of carts that were made for Nintendo's first handheld thanks to its unique blend of puzzling and platforming gameplay.

I also really like its rather rough-hewn graphics, which are made a lot more appealing by all of the little animations that are attached to them.

And then, of course, there's the packaging that was produced for Pitman, which is the name given to the Japanese version of this Asmik-made game. (It was called Catrap in North America.)

The photo below showcases Pitman's box, cartridge and manual art. Sadly, unlike some Japanese GameBoy titles, this one's various components don't feature different pieces of art.

Pitman's instruction manual goes a lot way toward making up for that, though--something that's made pretty clear from the get-go, as the snapshot below should prove.

I really like how the illustrations that are included in this manual look like they could have appeared in a cartoon made in the early part of the last century.

Above is another example of the sort of adorable drawings that accompany all of the instructive text and screenshots that otherwise fill Pitman's manual--although this particular drawing appears on the back of the manual rather than inside of it.

Getting back to how this game "plays" and why it's such a standout, even among all of the other sublime titles that were released for Nintendo's brick-like system in the many years it was on the market: for me, the gist is that it's an all-around fun--if also fairly challenging--experience.

Hopping around, pushing blocks, climbing ladders and bashing into enemies--all of which take place in your average Pitman (or Catrap) playthrough and can be seen in action in this video--just feels nice, and all of those actions are made even more enjoyable when accompanied by head-bopping, toe-tapping backing track.

A few other reasons this game deserves attention as well as praise: it allows players to choose between controlling a male or female character at the beginning of each and every stage, and it includes a really cool time-bending element that basically lets you rewind whenever you make an errant move. 

If you'd like to give Pitman or Catrap a try, but you're not the sort who collects GameBoy cartridges, you can pick up a digital version via the 3DS' eShop--assuming you have some iteration of Nintendo's latest entry in the portable-gaming arms race.

See also: previous 'Year of the GameBoy' and 'Another Year of the GameBoy' posts

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

This Yokai Watch Busters trailer almost makes up for Fantasy Life 2 being a (barf) mobile title

In case you haven't already heard, during the Level-5 Vision 2015 event held in Japan a couple of days ago, the company that brought the world the Professor Layton series and a bunch of other intriguing games announced that the sequel to one of my favorite 3DS titles so far, Fantasy Life, is going to be released for ... Android and iOS.

Cue the "sad trombone" sound effect, right?

Thankfully, Level-5 also showed off a couple of games that actually will see the light of day on the 3DS. One of them is a spin-off of the company's super-popular Yokai Watch series that'll be called Yokai Watch Busters.

When Yokai Watch Busters was first revealed about a month ago, I responded to the news with a yawn. That was far from how I reacted to the game's initial trailer, though, which can be viewed above.

Since we now know that at least one of the three mainline Yokai Watch titles currently available in Japan will making its way across the pond to Europe and North America (with Nintendo's assistance, it seems) next year, I hope Yokai Watch Busters also will make the trek to our shores at some point.

What do all of you think about the news regarding Fantasy Life 2Yokai Watch's Western release, Yokai Watch Busters, or even Snack World and Layton 7? As always, share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Monday, April 06, 2015

#ADecadeofDS: My World, My Way

Amount of time devoted to this game in the last week--Six hours, 44 minutes.

Most recent boss toppled, location reached or milestone achieved--In order: I defeated the Succubus Queen that laid in wait at the bottom of the straightforwardly titled Succubus Field Dungeon, after which I sashayed into Bonfire Town and fulfilled its mayor's inane quests (I put up with them because they netted me the Merchant's License I was so desperately seeking at the time) before moving on to the Underground Farm Dungeon, where I mowed down all of its creepy comers.

Overall comments on the experience--As I mentioned in my very last post, this Atlus-published DS RPG (it was developed by a company called Global A) shows right from the start that it's going to do things a bit differently by focusing its story on a princess who's basically a spoiled brat. She's also pretty darn stubborn, a character trait that's put on display nearly from the get-go when Elise (the afore-mentioned princess) decides to exchange her beautiful tresses and her comely dresses for the more practical and utilitarian wares of an adventurer--all so she can attract the attention of a mysterious and not easily impressed stud.

As you can probably imagine, it's a nice change of pace from the tried-and-true, straight-faced fare that serves as the backbone of your typical Japanese RPG, and it certainly put me in the mood to tackle its pastel-hued adventure.

Has it lived up to all of that early-game hype? In many ways, yes, as I've come to absolutely adore its puerile protagonist and its silly story. I'm nearly as fond of the couple of unique contributions it offers to the RPG genre, with the main ones being its much-ballyhooed "pout system"--which allows Elise to alter the landscape that surrounds her as well as attract additional enemies to an area and more--and its weird, board game-esque overworld.

That last component is kind of off-putting at first, I have to admit, but after a while it feels something akin to refreshing. After all, if you're anything like me, shuffling back and forth across an RPG's seemingly endless map screen is thrilling at first but quickly loses its luster, and this alternative--every area is made up of anywhere from 12 to maybe 30 squares, and players can traverse each one in a single step--is a lot more streamlined.

Aside from all of the above, the only other aspects of My World, My Way that are worth mentioning are its battles, which are decidedly mundane but not altogether boring thanks to their zippy nature, and its soundtrack, which is banal to the point of being completely forgettable.

Will I continue to play this game in the coming days, weeks and maybe even months?--Absolutely. Actually, I plan to complete it--assuming it doesn't overstay its welcome by taking up more than, say, 20 or 25 hours of my time.

Do I recommend it to others?--Yes, but not without a few reservations or words of warning. After all, as thoroughly as I've enjoyed playing My World, My Way so far, I still get the distinct impression that many gamers will be bored silly by it. Yes, the writing often is silly (in a good way), and the much-touted "pout system" is unquestionably unique, the remaining components of this portable RPG are far less riveting. In fact, some are sure to find its graphics to be downright ugly and its Dragon Quest-esque battles to be snooze-worthy. Both of these aspects ended up growing on me mightily over the course of my multi-hour playthrough, though, so maybe the same will be true for other folks (especially those with fairly open minds), too?

Next up--Nothing, as I'd really like to play My World, My Way for one more week before moving on to another DS game.

See also: previous 'A Decade of DS' posts