Friday, March 11, 2016

Manual Stimulation (Rainbow Islands, Famicom)

It seems strange to me now that I haven't always been a big fan of (now mostly defunct) Japanese game developer and publisher Taito.

Sure, I've always liked the company's first real hit, the arcade classic known as Space Invaders, well enough, and I fell in love with another of its quarter-munchers, Bubble Bobble, the second I laid eyes on it. Aside from that pair of games, though, I didn't think much of Taito until a couple of years ago.

What caused my opinion on the former jukebox-maker to do a 180? As far as I can remember, the turnaround was prompted by me finally--and kind of randomly--deciding to give its Chack'n Pop Famicom port and its Chuka Taisen PC Engine remake a go.

I enjoyed both of those games so much that I expanded my get-to-know-Taito-a-bit-better endeavor to include a number of others. Among them: Don Doko DonElevator ActionInsector XJigoku MeguriKiKi KaiKai and Panic Restaurant.

Admittedly, I'd played some of these titles earlier in my life. Most of them only earned a few minutes of my time, though, and none of them succeeded in blowing me away during that initial experience.

The same can be said of the Famicom conversion of Taito's Bubble Bobble follow-up, Rainbow Islands. This 8-bit "demake" (of sorts) really rubbed me the wrong way the first handful of times I played it.

Thankfully, I eventually pushed that negativity--born out of my love of the original coin-op--to the background and embraced the unique positives this iteration brings to the proverbial table.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Will the third time be the charm for me and Namco's Taiko no Tatsujin 3DS titles?

Full disclosure: I've owned a copy of the first Taiko no Tatsujin 3DS game--subtitle: Chibi Dragon to Fushigina Orb--for some time now and have yet to even open it.

I bring that up because the bulk of the remainder of this post will focus on how I'm awfully intrigued by the just-announced third Taiko no Tatsujin 3DS title and I'll probably buy it even though I've completely ignored its predecessor so far.

This third Taiko no Tatsujin 3DS release's subtitle is Dokodon! Mystery Adventure, by the way.

Here's what else is known about this handheld rhythm game at the moment: it's set to hit the streets--and 3DS eShop--of Japan on June 16, its cart will include over 70 songs and it'll offer players an RPG mode (like pretty much every other portable Taiko title).

Oh, wait, I nearly forgot: Dokodon! Mystery Adventure also will feature tunes from Ace Attorney, Kirby's Return to Dream Land and Monster Hunter X.

Now all I need for the folks at Bandai Namco to do is reveal the game's box art--which you just know is going to be brilliant (or at least brilliantly cute and colorful, much like that of Taiko no Tatsujin DS).

Oh, who am I kidding? Even if its cover illustration is a complete turd I'll very likely pick up a copy as soon as AmiAmi or Amazon Japan starts allowing pre-orders.

I don't suppose any of you are in the same Don-chan-loving boat?

(Via and

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

It was nice knowing you, Play-Asia: Amazon Japan now shipping (some) games and game systems to North America

OK, so that first bit of the headline above is a bit much. I don't really think Amazon Japan finally giving Americans and other foreigners the thumbs up to buy and internationally ship games and systems will result in the shuttering of import shops like Play-Asia. Nor do I want that to happen.

I wouldn't be surprised, though, if this surprising change of heart puts a dent in the business companies like AmiAmi, Play-Asia and other game importers are able to do.

Will it prompt me to alter my own online shopping habits? I'm not sure.

As far as I'm aware, the change only offers international shipping to foreigners who want to buy games and systems Amazon Japan itself stocks and sells. In other words, if you live outside of Japan and the game or system you've got your eye on is "fulfilled by Amazon" or is sold by a third-party vendor, you're out of luck.

As such, I'll probably buy the occasional current or current-ish game from Amazon Japan, but I'll also continue to buy games and systems from the North American Amazon site, AmiAmi, eBay and other online shops--depending on which actually has what I want in stock and which gives me the best price.

How about you? Do any of you think you'll turn your back on some of the online shops I've mentioned here and instead import games and systems from Amazon Japan from now on? Or will you continue to go to places like AmiAmi and Play-Asia for your Japanese gaming needs?

Monday, March 07, 2016

Nice Package! (Rainbow Islands, Famicom)

I haven't always been a fan of the Famicom version of Taito's Rainbow Islands.

For the longest time, in fact, I turned up my nose at it because few of its many components--graphics, soundtrack, gameplay--hold a candle to those found in the arcade original.

The one aspect of this 1988 Rainbow Islands port, if you can call it that, I've loved since I first came across it is its Japanese box art. (See this "Which Box Art is Better?" post from 2011 for proof.)

It should be pretty easy to understand why that is once you take in the photo above. Not only is it brilliantly colorful, but everything but the striped backdrop appears to be made out of clay.

Other parts of Rainbow Islands' Famicom packaging it are well worth ogling, too. Hell, even the sides of its cardboard box is quite a looker, if you ask me. (What can I say? I'm a sucker Japanese words spelled out in attractively crafted bubble letters.)

This game's instruction manual is similarly striking. Well, not so much its cover--although I do appreciate how the pink texts pops against all of the white and gray and black beneath it--but definitely its interior.