Friday, February 12, 2016

Manual Stimulation (KiKi KaiKai, PC Engine)

That little peek into KiKi KaiKai's manual a couple of days ago--in my most recent "Nice Package!" post--wasn't enough, was it?

Don't be shy. I also didn't think it was enough. I couldn't just fill that write-up with photos of this PC Engine game's instruction booklet, though, could I? Thankfully, I have another series that's pretty darn suitable for such things.

Speaking of which, let's take a more thorough look at this Taito title's manual, shall we?

KiKi KaiKai's cover illustration sure is snazzy, isn't it? I especially like that there's more perspective and movement to it than a lot of its counterparts from the same era.

The art style used inside KiKi KaiKai's instruction manual is quite a bit simpler than the one used on its cover, but I don't see that as a negative. In fact, I'm a big fan of the illustrations that fill its handful of pages.

That's a very good thing, as without those wonderful drawings, KiKi KaiKai's manual would be nothing but a bunch of text, some squiggles and a couple of black-and-white screenshots.

Not that such a product would be the worst thing in the world, mind you. But who wouldn't prefer to look at pretty illustrations while learning how to play their brand-new (back in 1990), ball-busting PC Engine game?

My only complaint with this particular pamphlet: the same accomplished (and adorable) depiction of Sayo-chan--this is the name of KiKi KaiKai's protagonist--that appears on its initial pages also pops up a few more times as you flip through it.

Oh, well, you can't have everything, right? Anyway, speaking of Sayo-chan, she's a young Shinto shrine maiden living in Feudal Japan, in case you didn't pick up on that in the manual's opening salvo.

KiKi KaiKai's story can be summed up as: a handful of "Lucky Gods" (whatever that means) surprise Sayo-chan one day and warn her of impending danger. Shortly thereafter, they're ambushed by a group of thuggish goblins who whisk the deities away to a far-off mountain range.

Being the rather bold gal that she is, Sayo-chan chases after them--with this colorful HuCard's contents cataloging her ensuing adventure.

Some of the baddies she--and you, as the person who controls her in-game--encounters along the way can be spotted in the illustrations showcased above and below.

And here (below) are the bosses who do their best to impede Sayo-chan's progress. Not that I have any experience battling a good number of them. As I've surely said before, KiKi KaiKai regularly kicks my butt, so I've rarely made it past this overhead smhup's third or fourth stage.

How about you? Have you ever played either the arcade original version of KiKi KaiKai, this PC Engine port, or even some other iteration of this vaunted--if not exactly long-running--series over the years?

Even if you haven't, what do you think about the manual made for its PC Engine release? Please share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section that follows.

See also: previous 'Manual Stimulation' posts

Thursday, February 11, 2016

I don't know about you, but I'm surprisingly on the fence about Grand Kingdom for Vita

When I first laid eyes on Grand Kingdom's Japanese cover art, I was intrigued.

Later, when I came across a handful of screenshots of this PS4 and Vita tactical RPG, I transitioned from intrigue to full-on excitement.

Which makes sense, I guess, as it looks an awful lot like Vanillaware's surprisingly similar PSP title, Grand Knights History. (That makes sense, too, it seems. Tomohiko Deguchi is listed as director of both efforts.)

So, why am I now on the fence about buying the Vita version of this game, set to hit North American store shelves this June?

I watched this trailer, and the gameplay snippets showcased in it tarnished my view a bit.

Combine that with the fact that I have a stack of unplayed--hell, unopened in most cases--Vita games currently giving me the stink eye, and my hesitation should be easier to understand.

That doesn't mean I'll never pick up a copy of Grand Kingdom, mind you. I just doubt it'll be on or around its launch day.

How about you? Do any of you think you'll add either the PS4 or Vita iteration of this MonoChro concoction to your collection? If so, what's got you feeling that way?

Buy: Grand Kingdom Limited Edition or Grand Kingdom Grand Edition

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Shiren wanders back to North America this July with The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate

Are you a fan of roguelikes? Listen up.

Actually, even if you don't much care for these traditionally unwelcoming dungeon-crawlers, you still should listen up if you own a Vita (or PSTV) and you're looking for something to play on your Sony-made console.

Why? A couple of days ago, the folks at Aksys Games revealed they'll be releasing ChunSoft's Fushigi no Dungeon: Fuurai no Shiren 5 Plus--Fortune Tower to Unmei no Dice in North America on July 26.

In this part of the world, the game will go by the far more understandable Shiren The Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate.

The best part of this out-of-nowhere announcement: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate will be available in both digital and physical (boxed) forms upon release.

If the game's Japanese name sounds familiar, by the way, that's likely because it's an expanded port of a Japan-only DS game known as, you guessed it, Fushigi no Dungeon: Fuurai no Shiren 5--Fortune Tower to Unmei no Dice. (Note: the DS game, from 2010, lacked the "Plus" part of the 2015 Vita follow-up.)

Sadly, no one seems to be taking pre-orders for this Shiren The Wanderer title--the first to see the light of day in North America since 2008's Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer, also for DS--at the moment, but I'm sure that will change shortly.

In the meantime, are any of you going to buy some version of The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate? If so, which one? (I'm going to go for the retail version, naturally.)

Monday, February 08, 2016

Nice Package! (KiKi KaiKai, PC Engine)

Those of you who use Twitter and who follow me may have caught this tweet I sent out a few days ago: "After a bit of a dry spell, I recently bought a ton of Famicom, PC Engine and PlayStation games."

The focus of today's post, Taito's KiKi KaiKai, is one of those games.

To be honest, I've been on the fence about picking up a copy of this title for a while now. Although it's a top-shelf port of the arcade game of the same name--also made by Taito and released in 1986--the simple truth is I absolutely suck at it.

Normally, that wouldn't be a problem. I buy plenty of games that seemingly enjoy pointing out to me that my reflexes aren't as sharp as they were when I was a kid.

The problem with this game, though, was that copies of KiKi KaiKai's PC Engine port tend to be pricey.

As a result, I've hemmed and hawed for a good year or so as to whether I should bite the bullet and buy the damn thing despite my issues or use my hard-earned cash on a couple of other PC Engine classics--ones that would have a less negative impact on my ego--instead.

Obviously I decided to go with the former in the end. And I can't say I regret that decision one bit. After all, just look at this title's beautiful packaging. From the cover of its instruction manual to the labels on the back of its case, it's pretty much perfect, wouldn't you agree?

I especially like the interior of KiKi KaiKai's instruction manual. The illustrations it offers up are the definition of lovely, in my humble opinion.

Of course, that shouldn't surprise me. Pretty much every Taito manual I've come across over the years makes me swoon. Two noteworthy examples from the PC Engine era: Don Doko Don and Mizubaku Daibouken. (Sadly, I'm not sure I'd say Parasol Star's booklet is quite up to snuff.)

If you'd like to sneak a peek at more of KiKi KaiKai's manual, you're in luck. I'm going to publish another installment of my long-running "Manual Stimulation" series devoted to this game's pamphlet later this week.

In the meantime, have any of you played any iteration of this top-down, push-scrolling shmup?

I'm especially curious to hear opinions of the arcade original or the PC Engine port discussed here, but feel free to sound off on the curious reimagining released for the Famicom Disk System or the follow-ups that hit the Super Famicom in 1992 and 1994, respectively.

See also: previous 'Nice Package!' and 'Manual Stimulation' posts

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Nippon Ichi Software's teasing a new game, and I think it may be related to the Cladun series

Raise your hand if you had a blast playing Nippon Ichi's Cladun: This is an RPG at some point after the quirky dungeon-crawler earned a worldwide release (for the PSP) back in 2010.

Now raise your other hand if you also enjoyed that game's sequel, Cladun x2, which first saw the light of day in 2011.

To those of you who now have both arms raised: I'm not quite sure how you're going to read the rest of this post (or start the video below), but I'm sure you'll concoct some sort of solution.

To the rest of you: watch and listen to the snippet above--yes, even those of you who have yet to even think of raising a hand--which the folks at NIS helpfully and straightforwardly named, "Title Teaser BGM."

In other words, the musical numbers featured in this teaser probably are from an upcoming Nippon Ichi game.

Given the chiptune-y sound of the tracks and the character sprite revealed at the video's tail end, I have a feeling the title's related to the company's Cladun series in some way. What do you think?