Saturday, February 20, 2016

Yep, Cladun Sengoku (Vita) definitely is yet another Cladun title

Considering my love of Nippon Ichi Software's first two Cladun games, you might think I typed the header above without an ounce of malice.

In reality, I typed it with a bit of charitableness as well as a smidge of malice. The former because I'm honestly stoked to play another Cladun title, and the latter because this third Cladun effort looks awfully similar to the two that came before it.

Don't hate me for saying this, but while watching Cladun Sengoku's first trailer yesterday, I had a hard time convincing myself it looked appreciably different from Cladun and Cladun x2.

Which isn't the worst thing in the world, of course. After all, I thought those PSP-based Cladun titles looked pretty darn great. Seeing Cladun Sengoku look almost identical to them, though, was--at least at first--undoubtedly disheartening.

Still, I'd be lying if I said I'm no longer intrigued by this upcoming Vita release. Does that mean I've already placed a pre-order for a copy via that old standby Not hardly, but I am giving it serious consideration.

How about you? Are any of you planning on--or at least thinking about--buying Cladun Sengoku once it's available in a few months?

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

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Say hello to my Dragon Quest 'Smile Slime' mug :)

A few months ago, I noticed that AmiAmi was accepting pre-orders for a number of Dragon Quest "Smile Slime" mugs.

Although initially my eyes were drawn to this liquid metal slime mug, in the end I decided to plunk my money down on the more traditional design that can be seen throughout this post.

Now that the vessel in question has successfully made its way across the ocean and into my welcoming paws, I thought I'd snap and share a few photos of it.

As I'm sure you can imagine, the Smurf-blue box showcased above served as my "Smile Slime" mug's home as it crossed the pond last month. 

What you may not be able to imagine is that the box is pretty darn small. I'd say it's just inches--three to four, tops--in any particular direction. 

Here's a glimpse of the mug itself. It's pretty small, too--which I guess could go without saying.

Mind you, it's not so tiny it could be confused with a child's sippy cup, but it's definitely smaller than your typical mug.

Which kind of sucks, as my original plan was to take this mug to work and make all of my co-workers jealous whenever I waltz down to the kitchen to grab a cup of joe.

(Don't trust the selfie above, by the way. I was holding my Dragon Quest-themed mug at least a foot in front of my face when it was snapped. Also, don't mind that expression on my face. I was trying to give the camera the old "single raised eyebrow" look and failed spectacularly.)

Oh, well. I still love my new mug, even if it isn't as large as expected. (Now where have I heard that before?)

If you'd like to get one of your very own, just click on the following link. Don't worry, the folks at AmiAmi don't pay me--or give me any other kickbacks--for promoting their site or products. (Not that there's anything wrong with that sort of thing. I just thought you should know I don't benefit in any way from passing along links like these.)

Buy: Dragon Quest 'Smile Slime' mug

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Shall We Do It? (Dragon Buster II)

On a whim, I decided to play the ancient Famicom game known as Dragon Buster II for the very first time over the weekend.

What prompted me to boot up this Namcot-made title? I'm not entirely sure, although I have a feeling I read Video Game Den's rather glowing review of it at some point in the recent past (I'm always scanning that site for morsels of retro-gaming goodness), and that's what pushed me to give it a go on Sunday.

If this is the first you've heard of Dragon Buster II, at its heart it's a dungeon-crawler. Unlike today's Etrian Odyssey titles or even yesterday's Wizardry releases, however, this one is presented in top-down fashion à la The Legend of Zelda or even StarTropics.

That's not to suggest Dragon Buster II looks or even plays like either of those last two 8-bit classics. Instead, it calls to mind old-school roguelikes--though I'm not sure any of the elements included in Namcot's creation are randomized. (Dungeon layouts certainly don't seem to be, although enemy placement as well as treasure chest and exit door locations may be.)

Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, Dragon Buster II is similar to another of the company's long-ignored IPs: The Tower of Druaga. The former is a lot more engaging than the latter, though, so if you're like me and the very thought of Druaga makes you yawn, don't be afraid to give Dragon Buster II a try at some point down the line.

One of my favorite aspects of this cart-based adventure, by the way, is that its protagonist primarily uses a bow and arrow to send baddies to the great beyond. Even better, the arrows he shoots do more than just plunk off of the dungeon walls that surround him throughout his multi-faceted quest; rather, they ricochet off of them in a manner that is equal parts satisfying and thrilling.

Two other interesting components of this 1986 release: fog blankets (in more of a figurative than literal sense) each dungeon upon entry, and you clear the surrounding area with every step you take. Also, found within the boundaries of these underground chambers are a number of unique-to-the-genre foes like dinosaurs and beings that resemble the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

I've encountered a few niggles so far, too, I have to admit. The most noteworthy one is that there isn't much variety to Dragon Buster II's environments, as far as I can tell. After you've traipsed through the brick-walled dungeon as well as the mossy and icy ones, you've seemingly seen them all. Granted, it's possible I've yet to encounter a couple of locales, but I doubt the ones I've missed are worlds beyond the current offerings in terms of their aesthetics.

Another complaint can be leveled at Dragon Buster II's confounding lack of a soundtrack. For about 95 percent of the game, all you hear are your own footsteps and the sound of your arrows pinging off nearby walls. It's only when you approach one of the titular beasts that any actual music comes into play. I guess the title's developers may have done this on purpose, to add a bit more suspense to its dragon battles, but I can't say I think the trade-off was worth it.

Oh, well, I've enjoyed the time I've spent with this Famicom cart so far--even with its overly quiet and repetitively tiled dungeons.

Have any of you played Dragon Buster II? If so, what do you think about its looks, sounds and gameplay?

See also: previous 'Shall We Do It' posts

Monday, February 15, 2016

My gaming goals for this Presidents' Day

Since 1968, the United States has recognized the third Monday of February as a holiday.

Officially, what's being celebrated is George Washington's birthday. Despite that, the day often is referred to as Presidents' Day.

Why am I using this post's opening lines to offer up a lesson in American history? Because this holiday--regardless of what it's called--has provided me with an extra day off of work, that's why.

I want to do all sorts of things during this "lazy Monday," of course, and a good number of them are related to gaming. Specifically, I hope to:

* stick one of the 16GB memory cards I received as Christmas gifts into my pink-and-white Vita and then download all of the digital games I've had to ignore since that system arrived on my doorstep about a year ago

* finally transfer the contents of my gold Pokémon Center 3DS LL to the Japanese New 3DS I bought in late September

* buy Minna de Mamotte Knight: Hime no Tokemeki Rhapsody (aka Protect Me Knight 2) and Majo to Yuusha (the first Witch & Hero) from the Japanese eShop

If you're wondering why I'm buying another copy of Witch & Hero (I've owned the North American version for ages now), that would be because the sequel is due out in Japan on Feb. 17, and I--rather stupidly, I admit--want both games to reside on the same 3DS system.

Aside from that, I've got to admit I'm more than a bit terrified I'll screw up the 3DS LL-to-New 3DS transfer and wind up with a pair of borked handhelds. Here's hoping the YouTube videos I've dug up on the subject and Nintendo of America's own support info will save me from that tragedy.

Anyway, that's how I'm planning to do during my Presidents' Day. If you also have today off of work, for whatever reason, how are you going to spend it?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Here's your first look at Witch & Hero II (3DS)

This post is for the three other people in the world who, like me, are eagerly awaiting the release of Flyhigh Works' Witch & Hero II.

That day is approaching more quickly than you may think if you own a Japanese 3DS, by the way, as this sequel to 2013's original Witch & Hero will hit that country's eShop this coming Tuesday (Feb. 17).

And what if you don't own a Japanese 3DS? According to the folks at publisher Circle Entertainment, it'll be added to the North American eShop (and hopefully other Western eShops) sometime after mid-March.

In the meantime, take a gander the game's first trailer:

I can't tell if what's shown in it suggests Witch & Hero II will introduce some new gameplay elements or if it's just going to offer up more of the same.

To be honest, I'm fine with either option, as long as the final product proves to be as enjoyable as FK Digital's first effort.

How many of you--if any--also are chomping at the bit to buy and play this digital tower-defense title?

See also: 'Hear ye, hear ye! The release of Witch & Hero II appears imminent'