Friday, May 22, 2015

Nice Package! (PoPoLoCrois Monogatari, PlayStation)

I've looked upon PoPoLoCrois Monogatari, a role-playing game that was developed and published by Sony Computer Entertainment and first released in Japan in the summer of 1996, with a curious eye for a number of years now.

I refrained from buying it, though, because of the language barrier. Although I was more than happy to attempt to play through Japanese RPGs as a teen, I've become less and less willing to do so as I’ve gotten older.

Or at least that’s how I felt until I returned to my Japanese studies earlier this year. Now that I’ve got the language’s hiragana and katakana syllabaries down pat (again) and I’ve started learning actual words and phrases and grammar, I’m feeling quite a bit more confident in my ability to tackle an adventure like this one.

Which should go a long way toward explaining why I finally picked up the copy of PoPoLoCrois Monogatari that can be seen in the photos scattered throughout this post a couple of weeks ago.

Although I’ve yet to start playing it, I’m planning to do just that soon. (Specifically, as soon as this night class I’ve been taking, on and off, for the last nine months wraps up in a couple of weeks.)

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few snapshots of the game’s packaging, which, in my humble opinion, is so pretty that it deserves every whistle and catcall thrown its way.

I find the game’s cover art especially appealing, I’ve got to say—although, really, only a person with a heart of stone would consider it anything less than stunning, wouldn’t you agree?

I decided to include the photo above here, by the way, because the sticker that is its focus shows that, at some point in its life, this particular copy of PoPoLoCrois Monogatari sat on the shelves of Tokyo’s world-famous Super Potato game shop.

There’s no need to explain the preceding shot, though, is there? After all, the art that’s splashed across the top side of this game’s disc is nearly as spectacular as the art that peeks through its case—or at least that’s how I see things.

I wish I could tell you why I failed to snap any photos of the interior of PoPoLoCrois Monogatari’s instruction manual, but at the moment I’m unable to conjure up any reasons. Don’t worry, I plan on rectifying matters this weekend, so look for some of the above to be published on my Flickr photostream within the next few days.

While you wait, you likely could do worse than waste a handful of minutes ogling the lovely sticker sheet that was hidden inside the manual in question.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

To whom it may concern: I'm finally spending some time with Contact (DS)

Almost two months after I announced I was putting my annoyingly titled #ADecadeofDS series on hold for a while (I know I said in that post it would only be back-burnered for a couple of weeks, but unfortunately life has intervened since then in a fairly aggravating way), I'm finally ready to return to it.

Actually, I returned to it first thing Monday morning, when I replaced the My World, My Way cart that's been stuck inside my trusty red OG 3DS for the last eight weeks or so with the Contact cart that I've been itching to play since I first picked it up just over two years ago.

In the meantime, I've put an hour and a half into this Grasshopper Manufacture-developed DS title--mainly while bussing to and from work each day. (Which means I should put a few more hours into it by the end of the week--and even more than that during the upcoming holiday weekend, especially since I'll be stuck in a car on more than one occasion.)

What do I think of it so far? My short and sweet response: I really like it. In fact, I think you could say I really, really like it--as along as you don't have an issue with me saying "really, really" in a blog post instead of something a smidge more descriptive.

In particular, I really, really like Contact's aesthetics--its surprisingly disparate graphics, especially. At first, I couldn't but but bemoan the fact that the entire game didn't utilize the pixel-y, EarthBound-esque look that depicts the professor's side of the story (not to mention screen).

After I let the experience settle a bit, though, my stance on the lower-screens more painterly approach to things softened to a pretty great extent, and now I'd even say I find it rather appealing. (Although I still prefer the decidedly 16-bit visuals used for the professor's portion of this charming-so-far adventure.)

I'm also fairly fond of what I've heard of Contact's tunes, although emphasis has to be placed on "what I've heard." Playing the game on a noisy bus, even with headphones, isn't the best way to get a feel for the quality (or lack thereof) of a game's soundtrack.

As for this title's story and battle elements, I'm enjoying the former more than the latter at the moment. Of course, the story's enticingly mysterious right now, and its penchant for breaking the proverbial "fourth wall" is proving to be both engaging and entertaining, so my current preferences probably shouldn't be all that shocking.

That said, Contact's battle scenes, which are of the hands-off variety in a way that brings Xenoblade Chronicles to mind, while somewhat boring at the outset, eventually become sort of interesting, if not entirely thrilling. Who knows, though, maybe there are some surprises in store for me in this regard that I've yet to experience.

Have any of you played this 2006 (2007, if you're Australian or European) release? If so, what did you think of it?

Look for more of my impressions of Contact early next week, by the way--in the form of my 10th #ADecadeofDS write-up.

See also: previous #ADecadeofDS posts

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Nichiest Podcast Ever gets even nichier in its 14th episode

Those of you who enjoy spending a couple of hours listening to three people blather on about all sorts of niche-y gaming experiences should get a kick out of the latest episode (or "take," if your name is shidoshi) of The Nichiest Podcast Ever.

This is the 14th time we've recorded together, by the way, which I think is pretty cool. Oh, and it's the first time my portion of the discussion was captured using a real microphone, pop filter, sound board and the like, which I also find kind of cool.

Another "cool" element of this particular Nichiest Podcast Ever take, in the opinion of yours truly: we cover even more ground than usual, or at least that's how it felt while we were chatting. For example, some of the games we discussed this time around were A-Train: City Simulator (3DS), Amnesia: Memories (Vita), Class of Heroes 3 (PSP), Fatal Frame V (Wii U) and Starlight Vega (PC).

That's far from the extent of what's included in this latest, greatest installment of The Nichiest Podcast Ever, mind you. We also talk about a few other 3DS, Vita and even PC games during its just-over-two-hour running time.

If you're curious to find out which PC, Vita and 3DS titles I'm talking about here, or if you're really itching to hear what Anne, shidoshi and I have to say about any or all of the aforementioned releases, head on over to at your earliest convenience.