Friday, May 15, 2015

Five reasons I'm glad I finally shelled out a few bucks for the WonderSwan port of Squaresoft's Romancing SaGa

OK, so the “reasons” referred to in the header above are summed up by a handful of cartridge, manual and packaging photos rather than a bunch of words, but you can't have too many of the former, right?

That’s especially true when the art attached and applied to the aforementioned packaging, manual and cart is as gorgeous as it is in the case of this impressive portable port of Squaresoft's oddball Super Famicom RPG.

I mean, just look at the game's box art, for instance, which is showcased in the photo below.

Doesn't it make you choke up a bit? At the very least, it should bring a hint of a smile to your face, what with its vibrant use of color, bold logo and striking character designs.

Admittedly, Romancing SaGa's cart label, seen above, isn't anywhere near as thrilling, but who cares when every other aspect of this release is so spot-on?

Another case in point: the game's instruction manual, which is crammed full of fabulous illustrations like the ones shown in the preceding snapshot.

Another such illustration can be found on the back of Romancing SaGa's box, and it's the best of the bunch, if you ask me. Of course, how could it not be when it depicts one of the game's many party members horsing around with an adorable kitten?

Sadly (but not unexpectedly), I've yet to put this cart through its paces. As soon as I get a WonderSwan Color or a SwanCrystal system, though, you can bet I'll do just that.

And afterward, I'll write up some sort of report about the experience (which will be my first with any of Squaresoft's three 16-bit Romancing SaGa titles)--assuming its heavy use of kanji doesn't reduce me to tears.

See also: additional photos of WonderSwan games and previous WonderSwan-focused posts

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Bandai Namco's Ray Gigant (Vita) is giving me serious Tengai Makyou and Shining Force vibes, and that's a very good thing

Call me crazy for saying so, if you must, but after watching the following trailer for Bandai Namco's upcoming Vita RPG, Ray Gigant, for the first time a few minutes ago, I can't help but wonder if its developers weren't at least a smidge inspired by Sega's Shining Force titles or Hudson's Tengai Makyou series.

What do you think? Can you see where I'm coming from after checking out the trailer for yourself, or do you consider it a stretch of the imagination? Regardless, what are your early impressions of this late-July (in Japan only, for now) release?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Hooray, hooray, a brand-new Pushmo game is on the way!

Actually, if you own a Japanese 3DS, it's already here. Its name is Pushmo: Hippa Land, by the way, and it looks completely and awesomely adorable--or completely and adorably awesome, if that's how you prefer to butter your bread.

Don't believe me when I say this eShop game looks both awesome and adorable (as well as, er, complete)? Check out the trailer below (or here, if the video's borked).

For anyone who is left a bit confused by that two-minute-and-forty-eight-second slice of heaven, the gist of what sets this Pushmo apart from its three predecessors is that it features four distinct worlds.

One features puzzles that are typical of the series, one features puzzles that look like objects (such as the Tower of Pisa), one features puzzles teaming with enemies and one features puzzles that are inspired by classic Famicom (NES) games.

Oh, and you control a different Pushmo character in each world, although I'm sad to say I don't know enough about the series to know anyone other than Mallo.

Twenty-eight puzzles are offered up for free (seven from each world), but after that you have to hand over 500 yen for the 100 remaining regular puzzles and 300 yen each (900 yen total) for the rest of the other worlds' puzzles (50 per world, or 150 in all).

That comes to 1,400 yen for the whole enchilada--if you buy them separately. Those who know what's up will take Nintendo up on its offer to pay 1,000 yen (just under $10) to nab all of them at once.

Considering the original Pushmo and its two follow-ups, Crashmo and Pushmo World, eventually were released outside of Japan, I have to imagine the same will be true of Hippa Land. Here's hoping it doesn't take too for Nintendo to make that happen.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I'm pretty smitten with this pair of Splatoon (Wii U) commercials

I honestly don't know what's come over me in the last few weeks. In that time, I've become massively smitten with Nintendo's cartoonish and squid-filled shooter for the Wii U, Splatoon.

Admittedly, I won't be playing it anytime soon--due to the fact that I still don't own the company's latest system--but that won't keep me from slobbering over it all the same.

Actually, for the time being, I'm going to slobber over the commercials shown here, which the brass at Nintendo hope will spur throngs of people to buy their shiny new game.

The one above is, or will be, airing in Japan, while the one below will be shown in North America.

Although I'm overly fond of both of them, I think I prefer the Japanese ad to its North American counterpart. That said, I can understand why Nintendo isn't using it in every region, as it's perhaps too abstract (because it doesn't give viewers much of an idea as to Splatoon's gameplay).

What do you think? Do you like either of these commercials, or maybe even both of them? Also, are you as smitten by this upcoming Wii U title as I am at the moment?

Monday, May 11, 2015

11 questions, 11 answers and 11 supposedly interesting facts about myself

About a week ago, my blogging friend YvoCaro, proprietress of A Lady in Gaming, let me know via Twitter that she had nominated me for something called a "Liebster Award."

Apparently, "liebster" is German for "loveliest" and is a tag commonly used by that country's bloggers to highlight works they find especially appealing.

Anyway, according to YvoCaro, those who are nominated for a "Liebster Award" have to answer 11 questions and also share 11 interesting facts about themselves. Oh, and at the end of it all they have to nominate a few others to do the same.

I've always been an agreeable chap, so here are my responses to the 11 questions YvoCaro came up with for me, followed by 11 supposedly interesting facts about myself.

1. Can you tell something typical about the country you live in?

I'm going to take a few liberties with my answer for this one, if you don't mind, as I live in the US and I doubt I could share anything "typical" about my country that isn't already known by everybody and their brother.

So, I'll say something typical about the city in which I currently live: Seattle. (Which is in the state of Washington, on the northwest coast.) Anyway, something that's typical of Seattle is that it rains a lot, as you've likely heard. In fact, it rains on and off for about eight or nine months of the year.

That said, it rarely rains hard--it's usually just drizzle, or really light rain--and it doesn't rain every day. Instead, it'll rain (drizzle) for a couple of hours one day, be dry the next, drizzle a bit more the next day and then be dry for the next two or three days.

This probably surprises some of you, as Seattle's always had this reputation for being wet all the time. I can tell you it's not. That said, the fact that it's likely to drizzle on and off over the course of nine or so months each year can get on the nerves of us Seattlites, especially as summer approaches--which never really begins here until July 4.

Once summer finally kicks in, though, we get three solid months of sun and warm temperatures--and pretty much no rain at all. Seriously, it pretty much doesn't rain here from the beginning of July through sometime in October, which is another thing that's sure to surprise some of you, too.

2. Why did you take up blogging?

Although I had some friends who enjoyed playing video games when I was younger, as an adult I've rarely had friends (or even acquaintances) who had any interest in them. That's meant, of course, that I haven't had many opportunities since college to "talk games" with living, breathing humans.

So, in 2007 I started this blog in the hopes that it would be a place where I could "geek out" about all of the systems and games that cause my heart to race, bring a smile to my face and all that jazz.

At the time, I never thought anyone would follow me, or comment on one of my posts or anything like that. I just wanted to share my feelings and thoughts and obsessions with that void known as the Internet. As a result, it's been really cool to connect with so many people not only here, but on Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and elsewhere over the last few years.

3. Do you set yourself a goal of number of blogs per week or month?

Oh, yes. I used to try to push as many as I could in a week--which sometimes resulted in more than 10 being published within a seven-day period. That wasn't all that sustainable, though, so a couple of years ago I scaled back to about five per week.

Now that I'm no longer freelancing full time, even five posts per week isn't always possible. I still try to publish at least three each week, though, and usually succeed in meeting my goal of publishing four or five.

4. Where do you get your inspiration to write?

I write about games and systems that interest me. Period. If I'm not interested in a system or a game, I don't write about it, even if I think it'll attract more attention to my blog.

This is why you'll sometimes see me temporarily focus on one system or company at the expense of others. Like anyone, I have periods where I'm obsessed with, say, the DS or the PSP or the PC Engine, and for a number of weeks or even months that's all I want to talk about in my posts.

Eventually, though, my interest wanes and I move on to something else. So, if you ever find yourself getting bored with my obsession of the moment, rest assured another game or system will steal my attention sooner rather than later.

5. Do you own more then one gaming device, and which ones?

Oh, boy, do I. Off the top of my head, here's are the systems I current own (in alphabetical order, naturally): 3DS, DS, Dreamcast, GameBoy, GameBoy Advance SP, GameBoy Micro, GameBoy Pocket, Game Gear, Genesis, Nintendo 64, PS2, PSone, PSP, SNES, Twin Famicom, Vita.

I have three 3DSes at the moment, by the way, and two DSes. I also have two of the original GameBoys (although the screen of one of them is in awful condition), two PSones (one North American, one Japanese--and both have monitors) and two PSPs.

6. What are your favorite kind of games?

When I was younger, I loved RPGs and platformers above all else. Now, my favorite games are puzzlers and RPGs, although I rarely have the time (or attention span) needed to finish games in the latter category these days.

I still like a good platformer, though, and I also really like "life sims" (à la Animal Crossing) and roguelikes.

7. What are your three favorite movies?

Oh, this is an interesting one! Also, don't hate on me too much if you think my answers are stupid or silly, OK? Anyway, I'd say the three movies I most enjoy watching are Aliens, Groundhog Day and Working Girl. If I were allowed to add a fourth and fifth, they would be the original Alien and The Evil Dead.

8. What is your go-to music when you feel sad?

Actually, I don't tend to listen to music when I'm sad. If I did, though, I'd probably turn to Sinead O'Connor. I used to be obsessed with her, and a number of her older albums provoke strong emotional responses from me. I love that so many of her songs are about love and loss and being treated like shit and then picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and moving on with your life.

9. Does your work or study match your blogging topics?

Not at all. As a writer, I've rarely gotten to write about video games. Actually, I had a few gigs early on that allowed me to write about them, but they've since ended. Oh, well.

Instead, most of what I write professionally is aimed at people in business world--executives and the like. Specifically, I've written a lot of articles for sites and magazines maintained and published by non-profit (or not-for-profit) associations.

That probably sounds boring, but I really enjoy it. I get to interview a lot of people who are passionate about what they do and in the meantime I get to educate myself about all sorts of topics I'd never know about otherwise.