Friday, October 28, 2016

Eight North American and Japanese Vita games I'm planning to buy (and play) later in 2016 or as soon as possible in 2017

The recent unveiling of the Switch did more than prompt me to contemplate all the things I may or may not be able to do with Nintendo's next console after I get my hands on one next March.

It also prompted me to contemplate all the non-Switch games I'm planning to pick up between now and then--and perhaps even after.

As the headline above hopefully makes clear, this post focuses on the many Japanese and North American Vita titles that I'm aiming to buy (and obviously play) later in 2016 or at some point in 2017.

A follow-up post that'll be published in a couple of days will cover the Vita games I'm considering buying during the same period of time, while a later post will tackle the slew of North American and Japanese 3DS games that are likely to land on my doorstep in the coming six months or so.

2064: Read Only Memories--It's kind of weird (some might say sad) that I'm starting this list with a port that may never see the light of day, isn't it? After all, developer MidBoss "indefinitely delayed" the Vita version of this LGBTQ-inclusive cyberpunk adventure a couple of months ago. Still, I'm holding out hope it'll eventually be released, as I'm desperate to play it and I really don't want to have to do it using my MacBook.

Crypt of the NecroDancer--I salivated over this game from the time it was first announced to the time it hit the Vita early in 2016. (It was a messy year or two, I admit.) So why have I dragged my feet in terms of buying it? Because I've barely turned on my Vita or played any of its games this year, that's why. That's not a rip on Sony's second handheld or its catalog of titles, by the way; the fact is I've simply been too busy and too stressed out this year to play more than the occasional 3DS or retro game. Thankfully, things will be much different next year--hell, they may be much different in a few days--so don't be surprised if I start chatting about this curious mash-up of the rhythm and roguelike genres sooner rather than later.

Dragon Quest Builders--Of all the "definitely buying later this year or early next" games discussed in this post, this Minecraft clone is the one I want the most. The main reason for that, I've got to sheepishly admit, is that it looks amazing. I especially love how Square Enix's artists have translated Akira Toriyama's character designs into 3D. On top of its delicious visuals, though, Dragon Quest Builders also seems like a ton of fun.

The Longest 5 Minutes--I already have the Japanese version of this weird Nippon Ichi title (known as World's Longest 5 Minutes on that side of the pond), which is one part RPG and one part visual novel. Oh, and let's not forget the two parts gorgeous 8-bit-esque graphics. Still, I'm thinking of double-dipping (NIS America announced in August it's prepping an English release for sometime in 2017), as I doubt the text in the Japanese original will make much sense to me anytime soon.

Princess wa Kane no Mouja--If the name to the left has you scratching your head, how about The Princess is Money-Hungry? The latter is the former loosely translated into English. For more information on it, check out these posts I published about it in August. Anyway, don't expect me to pre-order Princess wa Kane no Mouja or even pick it up shortly after it hits the streets in Japan late next month. Not only won't I have the time or attention span for it until early 2017, but I'd like to give NIS America a chance to announce a Western release before biting the bullet. (Of course, I may purchase a boxed Japanese copy regardless, as I have a feeling a North American version will be digital-only.)

New Danganronpa V3--Surely NIS America will bring this latest entry in Spike Chunsoft's series of horror-tinged visual novels to Western shores, right? Assuming that's the case, I'll definitely add it to my surprisingly extensive collection of Vita games as soon as is possible--despite the fact that I've yet to finish the first Danganronpa or even start the second.

Shiren The Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate--Although I placed a pre-order for this portable roguelike as soon as I was able to do so a few months ago, I canceled it just before release when I realized I wouldn't be able to play it anytime soon. I've seen so many positive tweets about it since then, though, that now I'm kicking myself for passing on it. So, the current plan is to convince someone in my life to buy it for me as a birthday or Christmas present. If that doesn't pan out, I'll buy it for myself.

VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action--What do we have here? Yes, another in-limbo Vita port of an indie PC game I'm absolutely itching to play. And this one's supposedly getting a (limited, I'm guessing) physical release, which is making the wait seem even more interminable. I guess the good news here is I think the VA-11 HALL-A Vita port is more likely to happen than the 2064: Read Only Memories Vita port, so at least I'll probably get to play one of these curiosities before the end of 2017.

Are any of you also looking to purchase one or more of these Japanese or North American Vita games in the coming months? If so, which ones?

If you've already played some of these titles, by the way, please let me (and others) know what you thought of them in the comments section below.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Manual Stimulation: Dungeon Explorer (PC Engine)

Dungeon Explorer is one of those PC Engine (or TurboGrafx-16, if that's how you swing) games I've always wanted to own, always thought I should own, but only recently picked up.

Why the long wait? The main reason, I guess, is that I've long thought of this Hudson-made Gauntlet clone as one that's only enjoyable when multiple people are playing it at the same time. (Dungeon Explorer famously allows five people to play through it together--assuming they have a multi-tap accessory and five PC Engine or TG-16 controllers.)

I still feel that way, actually, but a month or so ago I plopped down a few dollars on a used complete-in-box copy of Dungeon Explorer anyway because I went on a bit of an eBay binge and couldn't resist this game's top-tier cover art (see above) when I came across it.

It has to be said, by the way, that I didn't realize the content of Dungeon Explorer's instruction manual was on par with--or even better than--its cover illustration.

I especially like the grittiness of the art sprinkled throughout this HuCard's manual. Most manuals from this era featured art that was decidedly cute. Here, though, it's almost gruesome--or at least it's not as polished as what's on offer in the manuals that accompanied similar titles.

That the imagery showcased in Dungeon Explorer's instruction booklet is in black and white adds to its appeal, in my mind. That's not to say I would've minded if its designers had added a bit of color here and there, but I'm also not about to complain about its current look.

If you're looking for my favorite of this manual's many drawings, by the way, check out the squished, chibi-esque character illustrations seen in the spread below.

That said, I find the following illustrations of some of the game's enemies pretty thrilling, too.

Will all of this prompt me to get off my lazy butt and finally spend some real quality time with Dungeon Explorer? That's the current plan.

Of course, I have quite a few other games begging for my attention right now--like the 3DS remake of Dragon Quest VII, the just-released 3DS eShop title Chase: Cold Case Investigations, the Pokémon Sun/Moon demo and even Great Greed for GameBoy--so fitting it in this week or weekend may be tough. Still, I'll do my best to play at least a bit of it in the next seven days or so.

In the meantime, have any of you played either the Japanese or North American version of Dungeon Explorer? If so, what do you think about it?

See also: previous 'Manual Stimulation' posts

Monday, October 24, 2016

Nice Package! (Dungeon Explorer, PC Engine)

If you're one of the many millions of non-Japanese gamers who ignored the PC Engine or TurboGrafx-16 back in the late 1980s and early 1990s--or, you know, you're young enough that this is the first you're hearing of either of those NEC-made consoles--you may not know much, if anything, about Dungeon Explorer.

The best way to describe it, I think, is to say it's a clone of Atari's Gauntlet, itself a product of the 1980s. That's not an entirely accurate comparison, mind you, as Dungeon Explorer takes that classic quarter-mucher's overhead hack-and-slash gameplay and builds on it greatly. Still, there's little doubt the team behind Dungeon Explorer looked toward Gauntlet while developing their title, so I'm comfortable leaving my description as is.

Gameplay isn't the only area in which Dungeon Explorer bests Gauntlet, by the way. It also beats it in the graphics department.

Now, that's not to say the PC Engine title's the looker of the 16-bit generation, but it's definitely atmospheric. To see what I mean, check out the screenshots found in's and's write-ups on this five-player game.

Of course, you expect an atmospheric experience when you play at Atlus-developed game, right? Wait, you didn't know the company behind Shin Megami Tensei and Persona made Dungeon Explorer? Well, it did.

And then Hudson Soft--the now-defunct company that brought the world the Adventure IslandBomberman and a number of other series--published it. (In 1989, to be exact.)

As for Dungeon Explorer's lovely packaging, which is supposed to be the focus of this post, I've got to say its cover (and HuCard) illustration is my favorite part of the whole she-bang. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's among the best the PC Engine has to offer when it comes to box art.

That's not to say other components aren't ogle-worthy, too. For instance, Dungeon Explorer's instruction manual is filled to the brim with fabulous illustrations like the ones--of the game's cast of characters--showcased in the photo above. (For scans of the entire Dungeon Explorer manual, check out my latest "Manual Stimulation" post.)

With all that said, have any of you played Dungeon Explorer--or even Gauntlet? If so, share your thoughts on those titles in the comments section that follows. (Fair warning: I could talk about the latter for hours.)

See also: 'five PC Engine games you've overlooked and need to play ASAP'