Saturday, August 29, 2015

Which Box Art is Best? (Hotel Dusk: Room 215)

After writing my recent #ADecadeofDS post about Hotel Dusk, I was forced to search the web for good-quality scans of its box art. (Sorry, I was too lazy to do it myself--although I'll surely do it before I publish my "Great Gaymathon" review of this Cing-developed adventure title in a week or two.)

In the process, I came across the cover illustrations produced for Hotel Dusk's Japanese and Korean counterparts. Both intrigued me so much that I decided I needed to work up another "Which Box Art is Better?" (or in this case, "Which Box Art is Best?") post devoted to them.

First up is the Japanese version's box art. In that region, the game was called Wish Room: Angel's Memory, which is just as appropriate as Hotel Dusk: Room 215, if you ask me.

Anyway, I find it interesting that this illustration completely ignores the ramshackle hotel that serves as the focal point (in different ways) of the North American and Korean covers.

The piece of box art below is well known to those of us who call Australia, Europe and North America home, of course.

Actually, the art that covers the frontside of my particular copy of Hotel Dusk is slightly different from what's showcased here--with a large orange banner sweeping across the top portion of the illustration and a "Touch Generations" logo appearing in its upper-left corner.

Finally, there's the Korean cover art, below, which takes the most straightforward approach and focuses on a hand-drawn depiction of the titular establishment. It also features headshots of Hotel Dusk's colorful cast of characters and even offers potential players a glimpse at how they'll hold their DS systems while working their way through this portable whodunit.

So, which one is my favorite? It's hard to say, although if I were forced to pick one over the others I'd probably go with the North American iteration, as I think it does the best job of emulating Hotel Dusk's contents.

That said, I'm also pretty fond of the Korean and Japanese cover illustrations. I like that the former actually shows the hotel and the game's book-like perspective, while I like that the latter takes a more creative approach to the same subject matter.

How about you? Which piece of Hotel Dusk (or Wish Room) box art do you like best?

See also: previous 'Which Box Art is Better?' posts

Thursday, August 27, 2015

#ADecadeofDS: Hotel Dusk

Amount of time devoted to this game since I started playing it just over a month ago--Six hours, 59 minutes.

Most recent boss toppled, location reached or milestone achieved--To be honest, Hotel Dusk really isn't the kind of game that prompts you to celebrate reaching a particular milestone--or even recognize that a milestone has been reached.

Still, I'll do my best to recall my last "accomplishment." I guess that would be me finally gaining access into a pair of Hotel Dusk's rooms that previously had been off limits to me and the game's hunky (and often grumpy) protagonist, Kyle Hyde.

If that doesn't sound like something to cheer about, consider that the titular establishment houses just a dozen or so rooms, and only a few of them are explorable at any given time, especially early on.

Overall comments on the experience so far--Hotel Dusk is an odd game. Actually, some may not consider it a "game" at all. In a way, I can see where they're coming from, as if any title deserves to be called a "visual novel," this Cing-developed one is it.

Admittedly, a couple of the other visual novels I've played to date--such as Hakuoki and Sweet Fuse for PSP--are fairly book-like, too, but both of those titles are more like digital, gamified "Choose Your Own Adventure" paperbacks than the far more straightforward, yet still surprisingly interactive, Hotel Dusk.

What I mean by the latter part of the above is that Hotel Dusk tells a single, set story from start to finish. No matter what you do while you stalk the halls of this out-of-the-way inn, and no matter which choices you make while you talk with its odd cast of customers, you won't change the course of the central tale.

I can appreciate that to an extent, although I also kind of hate it due to how it often causes a Hotel Dusk playthrough to come to a screeching halt. That's because whenever you can't figure out what to do to advance this game's story, you're basically forced to wander around aimlessly, poking your nose into the corner of each and every room while also clicking on anything that happens to catch your eye (and even a few things that don't), until you successfully "pick up the scent" again.

Thankfully, that hasn't happened too often during my maiden voyage through this 2007 release--although I think it could be argued that even a handful of times are a handful too many. 

Anyway, despite that above-mentioned quibble, I've gotten a lot of enjoyment out of Hotel Dusk so far. The mystery that serves as its centerpiece is only passable, in my humble opinion, but I still want to see how it wraps up.

I’m also pretty fond of the numerous guests who share the hotel with you. Each one has a distinct personality and all are surprisingly likable or dislikeable. (OK, so that’s not entirely true, as I just thought of one character who straddles that line due to how boring she is—but she’s definitely an exception to the rule.) My favorites: the saucy maid, the stoner bellhop and the old lady who sports an eye patch.

And then, of course, there’s the art style that’s so effectively put to use throughout Hotel Dusk. Specifically, I’m talking about the rotoscoped graphics that call to mind A-ha’s iconic “Take On Me” video, although that’s not the full extent of why this game’s aesthetics are so noteworthy. Also playing a role here is the game’s 1970s-tastic sheen, which helps make even the most mundane passages seem interesting from a visual standpoint.

Will I continue to play this game in the coming days, weeks and maybe even months?--Oh, I'm definitely going to finish it; that's not even in question. Will I enjoy it all the way to the end, though? That's far more in question, if I'm to be honest.

I say that because it seems like Hotel Dusk's more annoying traits are becoming more frequent, not less, the deeper I delve into its story. Assuming that trend continues, I can guarantee my final opinion of this game will be far less rosy than I initially imagined it would be.

Do I recommend it to others?--Are you a mystery buff? Are you also a fan of the 1970s—or are you at least not turned off by books or games or movies that are set in that shagadelic decade? If you're able to answer both of those questions with at least a tentative yes, you’ll probably enjoy your stay at Hotel Dusk--or at least you probably won't regret your purchase.

Even then, you're likely to encounter at least a few aggravating moments, but all of what I've said here so far should help steel you for them a bit.

Next up--9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors

See also: previous #ADecadeofDS posts

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Introducing: Swan of Wonders

I may not yet own a WonderSwan—which, for those of you who are out of the loop when it comes to Japan-only handhelds, is a portable gaming system that was first released in that region back in the late 1990s—but I still know a lot about this curious contraption.

Of course, I guess you could say I should know a lot about the WonderSwan, as I already own 11 games that were made to run on it. (I wrote about—and shared some photos of--10 of those titles in this recently published post.)

Even so, I’ve enjoyed perusing a just-launched site--called Swan of Wonders--that’s devoted to Bandai’s answer to Nintendo’s line of GameBoy products over the last few days. 

Admittedly, Swan of Wonder is a bit thin content-wise at the moment, but I’m sure that will change in due time. Thankfully, the little amount of text that’s currently available is a joy to read—with the site's "Top 15 WonderSwan Games" post being the highlight, in my opinion.

Are any of you also WonderSwan fans? If so, don’t be shy about it—share your WS pride in the comments section below.

While you’re at it, let me know which WonderSwan game most tickles your fancy or piques your interest. Or, let me know which WS system—three different iterations saw the light of day between 1999 and 2002, and each of them came in a wide array of colors—you like best.

See also: my WonderSwan-focused Flickr album

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Nichiest Podcast Ever: Take 15

Did you think The Nichiest Podcast Ever was a goner? If so, I'm happy to inform you that you were mistaken--as a new episode is now available for your aural pleasure.

That's not to say this particular "take"--which is The Nichiest Podcast Ever's 15th, if you can believe that--is of the "par for the course" variety. For starters, some exciting news is shared in its first few minutes. I won't spoil that news here, but I will say that it involves the podcaster formerly known as shidoshi.

Other than that, we spend the bulk of this episode chatting about the slew of niche-y games that have been announced since we last found the time to sit down and record together--which was all the way back in May.

Specifically, we talked about: Crypt of the Necrodancer (PS4/Vita), Dragon Quest Builders (PS3/PS4/Vita) Dragon Quest XI (3DS/PS4), Final Fantasy Explorers (3DS), Hatoful Boyfriend (PS4/Vita), Odin Sphere Leifdrasir (PS3/PS4/Vita), Rhythm Tengoku: The Best Plus (3DS) and Zero Escape 3 (3DS/Vita).

That's just the tip of the iceberg, though, so if the list above sounds at least a smidge appealing to you, you'll probably enjoy the entirety of "Take 15."

Should you take the time to listen to the latest iteration of The Nichiest Podcast Ever, please leave a comment about your experience on Better yet, leave a question--so we finally can have one or two to answer when we go to record our 16th episode.

See also: previous posts about The Nichiest Podcast Ever