Saturday, July 16, 2016

I am so ready to be 'Alone With You' on Aug. 23

Full disclosure: I've yet to play--or even buy--Benjamin Rivers' first game, Home: A Unique Horror Adventure. I've wanted to play it, though, thanks to its appealing graphics and intriguing gameplay.

The same could be said for why I'm planning to purchase another of Benjamin Rivers' titles, the upcoming Alone With You, around the time of its release on Aug. 23.

I'm interested in Alone With You beyond its graphics and gameplay, though. Specifically, I'm interested in the fact that it's being described as a "sci-fi-romance adventure." Who wouldn't want to experience such a thing?

If this is the first you're hearing of Alone With You, check out the launch trailer above. It should answer many of the questions you have about how this PS4 and Vita title looks, how it plays, and more.

I don't know about you, but between this game, 2064: Read Only Memories (out on Aug. 16 for both PS4 and Vita) and VA-11 Hall-A (supposedly coming to Vita in late 2016), my Vita's going to get a lot of love this fall and winter.

Are any of you also psyched about these in-the-works Vita (and PS4) releases? If so, let me know why by leaving a comment below.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Four reasons I'm planning to nab one of those adorable Nintendo Classic Mini: NES consoles once November rolls around

If you were like most folks in the Western world yesterday, you spent at least a few of its 24 hours staring at your phone while playing Pokémon GO. As a result, you may have missed seeing or hearing a piece of news that pertains to another curious Nintendo product. The product in question: the "Nintendo Classic Mini" NES.

This smaller, sleeker take on the Japanese company's first real games console was revealed early Wednesday and will be released in both Europe and North America on Nov. 11. I'm planning to nab one as soon as possible, and for the following reasons:

It's cute--I mean, come on. It's a tiny NES! What's not to like about that? OK, so I actually understand why some may not like it. After all, I've never been a huge fan of the system's design myself. For some reason, though, seeing it shrunk down as it is here brings a huge, stupid grin to my face.

That said, if Nintendo announces mini Famicom in the coming weeks or months, I may well buy it rather than this similarly petite NES. Or, who knows, maybe I'll pick up both of them.

It's cheap--I've encountered more than a few people on line who think this product's $59.99 price tag is a bit egregious. I think that's ridiculous. Packed inside each beautifully branded box is an adorable miniature NES, a controller that looks like a dead ringer for the original, an HDMI cable, an AC adapter and 30 pre-installed games.

Considering The Legend of Zelda, all three of Nintendo's 8-bit Super Mario Bros. titles, Kirby's Adventure and Kid Icarus are among those pre-installed games, that last bullet point's an especially big deal, if you ask me. Also, think about how much you'd have to plonk down to buy those games via the 3DS, Wii or Wii U Virtual Console. About $4 or $5 a pop, right? To own all of them, you'd have to shell out $120 to $150. With the "Nintendo Classic Mini," you have to hand over just $60 or so.

The included games--It's hard to find fault with the list of 30 titles that Nintendo's going to cram inside each of its tiny NES systems. Sure, I could come up with about 30--or even 60--others at the drop of a hat, but as far as "classics" go, I think the company has done a pretty solid job with this aimed-at-the-masses product.

I was especially happy to see so many third-party efforts appear on the list of included games. Hell, it could be argued titles like Bubble Bobble, Castlevania I and II, Final Fantasy and Ninja Gaiden alone are worth the price of admission.

Could they have given us the original Contra, Double Dragon and Mega Man releases rather than, or along with, their sequels? Of course. Also, I would've full-on swooned if, say, the palm-sized console came with Adventures of Lolo, the first Dragon Quest (Warrior), Duck Tales or Kickle Cubicle installed. I understand why that's not the case, though. And like I said earlier, even without those unquestionably stellar games, this plug-and-play product has my full attention and support.

The possibilities--As far as I'm aware, owners of these reduced-fat NESes can't take them on line, nor can they add external storage to them. Both of those aspects likely will make them harder to hack. (Says the guy who knows very little about such things.) Still, I get the feeling someone, somewhere, will find a way to make these things more practical. And by that I mean they'll make it so folks like me can fill out its games library a bit.

Don't worry, I won't whine if that fails to happen. I won't even whine if I drop nearly $60 on one of these suckers and it stops working at some point. I'll still have a lovely, NES-shaped paperweight, after all--and who wouldn't want one of those?

I'm not alone in wanting Nintendo Classic Mini: NES, right? Surely some of you also are chomping at the bit to pre-order one?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A few thoughts on a trio of just-released 3DS eShop titles (Unholy Heights, BoxBoxBoy! and The Battle Cats POP!)

It's been quiet around these parts the last week or two, I know. There's a reason for that: I've been on vacation!

Normally I prep a few posts in advance so no one can tell I'm away, but that wasn't possible this time around. Oh, well, what's done is done. Plus, that's all in the past now, as I'm home again--and ready to get back to blogging about games.

Specifically, I'm ready to write about the three 3DS games I spent time with while holed up (not really) in a mountain cabin outside of Asheville, North Carolina last week. 

My original plan was to put a good dent in a number of other 3DS and even DS carts--namely Chrono Trigger, Contact, Final Fantasy Explorers and Return to PopoloCrois--during this getaway, but that went out the window when I stupidly left all of them at home.

So, while the above-mentioned cabin still had WiFi (it only lasted a couple of days--harrumph), I bought and downloaded a trio of recently released digital 3DS titles that have intrigued me since they were first announced. The titles in question: Unholy Heights, BoxBoxBoy! and The Battle Cats POP!

Here's what I think of each of these bite-sized gaming experiences after putting a handful of hours into them.

The Battle Cats POP!--I was pretty darn skeptical about this PONOS-developed game before I first experienced it for myself.

Why? Well, for starters,  it's $9.99. To me, that's a lot for a digital title with a questionable amount of depth or content. Also, its art style is ... interesting. And I don't necessarily mean that in a good way--or at least I didn't before I was given a chance to appreciate it in context.

Once I began playing this tower defense title, though, its weird aesthetics made perfect sense. (Or maybe I should say they made as much sense as is possible for a game that features armies of felines who fight each other for some reason that's currently slipping my mind.) On top of that, it was so much fun I completely forgot I dropped nearly $10 to add it to my 3DS' home menu.

Based on what's showcased in this trailer, even more thrilling wackiness is in store for me if I continue to plug away at it--and I can guarantee that's the current plan. 

BoxBoxBoy!--I'll be honest here: despite the fact that I liked a lot of what the original BoxBoy! offered, I've yet to finish it. Although I'd like to say that's because some other game stole away my attention, in reality it's because I lost interest in it.  I

t seems almost criminal to say that, but it's true. For me, there's just something lacking in these HAL Laboratory-made platformers. They look, sound and--most importantly, in my mind--feel great, no question, but they also lack cohesion. Levels are almost painfully short, and they rarely seem to build on one another. (A skill or trick you learn in one may only be used in the next stage or two.)

Admittedly, BoxBoxBoy! offers more depth than its predecessor, and it's also less obsessed with handholding, but even then it doesn't completely solve the earlier game's issue of not being altogether enticing. 

Unholy Heights--Another tower defense game? Yes, but this one differs enough from The Battle Cats POP! that owning both isn't a completely terrible idea.

If you only have the funds to buy one of them (Unholy Heights is $3.99 cheaper than The Battle Cats POP!), though, I'd personally recommend picking up this Mebius-developed title, which shoves you into the shoes of a devilish landlord tasked with attracting monstrous tenants to protect his not-so-humble abode. I

t takes a while to get into, I've got to say, but once it clicks it does so in a way that makes it difficult to put down. Helping matters are Unholy Heights' chuckle-worthy text, appealingly drawn graphics and surprisingly deep--not to mention addictive--gameplay.

Just be sure you're in a patient state of mind when you boot it up, as there are times when the action flows like molasses (even when it's set to fast-forward). 

Have you played any of these games? If so, share your impressions of them in the comments section below.