Saturday, November 05, 2016

Nice Package! (Dōbutsu Banchō, GameCube)

Before we get to the meat of this post, I'd like to ask you a question: Why do you think I bought the copy of Dōbutsu Banchō (or Doubutsu Banchou) showcased in the photos below? Here are your options:

A) I was a huge fan of the Atlus-published North American version of the game, Cubivore, back in the day

B) I got its title confused with the Japanese title for Nintendo's Animal Crossing series (Dōbutsu no Mori)

C) I liked its cover art

If you went with option "C," go ahead and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.

Actually, go ahead and give your back a little pat, too, if went with option "A." Although I wasn't a huge fan of Cubivore back in the day--how could I have been? I never played it--I definitely knew of the game and the positive word of mouth associated with it.

Add those two components together and you've got a good explanation as to why I purchased the copy of Dōbutsu Banchō seen above and below when I came across it on eBay just over a month ago.

As those snapshots should make clear, this GameCube title's packaging is on point in all respects. OK, so the backside of its outer sleeve (see above) is a bit boring, but the rest of it is so intriguing I'm not too bothered by it.

My favorite part of Dōbutsu Banchō's packaging (or whatever you want to call the game's outer sleeve, case, disc and instruction manual) is its blood-covered disc, by the way.

As for the game's manual, I'm not entirely sure why I failed to take any photos of it. I guess this means I have to whip up another "Manual Stimulation" post as soon as possible--as long as it isn't a complete dud.

With all of that said, have any of you played either Dōbutsu Banchō or Cubivore? If so, what did you think of the experience? Let me and others know in the comments section of this post.

See also: previous 'Nice Package!' posts

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Let's ogle six lovely examples of Japanese PS4 and Vita cover art

To know me is to know I love a good piece of game box art.

Sure, most of the cover art I shine a light on here is of the "retro" variety, but that doesn't mean I turn my nose up at more modern offerings. Consider the following, all of which make me feel warm and tingly inside:

Birthdays the Beginning (PS4)--Although this game is still a bit of a mystery to me, that isn't keeping me from wanting it with all my might. Sadly, I'm unlikely to buy Birthdays the Beginning--even the North American release, which will hit the streets here early next year--because I don't currently own a PS4 and because I doubt that'll change in 2017. Oh, well, staring at its Japanese cover art (above) brings me so much joy that it (almost) makes up for the fact I'll likely never experience its gameplay.

Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 6 Gentou Rondo (Vita)--This one's a Japanese otome game, which means there's no way a copy of it is going to find its way into my collection anytime soon. (Not because I hate otome games, mind you; rather, it's because I can't even imagine attempting to play through an otome game in Japanese at this point in time.) If some brave company were to release an English version of this title, though, I'd buy it in a second--as long as the company in question retained its brilliant Japanese box art, of course.

Nier: Automata (PS4)--I may not be as hot to trot about Nier: Automata as your average "gamer," but I'm certainly hot to trot about its beautifully stark Japanese cover art. Granted, I'm a huge Akihiko Yoshida fanboy, so I guess my interest should've been expected?

Princess wa Kane no Mouja (Vita)--This piece of box art, for the upcoming title Western gamers often refer to as The Princess is Money-Hungry, is as bright and colorful as Nier: Automata's is dreary. I especially love its funky logo, which--appropriately enough--seems to be bathing in gold and silver coins.

SaGa: Scarlet Grace (Vita)--OK, so I'm no longer so sure I'm going to pick up this latest entry in Square Enix's odd SaGa series. (This despite the fact that I've got a huge crush on earlier entries that were released for the GameBoy, Super Famicom and PlayStation.) I am sure I like SaGa: Scarlet Grace's Japanese box art, though. Is it on the simple side in terms of design? Definitely. Still, it seems fitting for a title that'll hopefully end up being a compellingly strange RPG.

Touhou Shinpiroku ~ Urban Legend in Limbo (PS4)--This box art is for an upcoming PS4 brawler, if you can believe it. Fighting games usually prompt me to yawn, but this one has my attention thanks to its eye-popping cover illustration. Does this mean I'd probably buy Touhou Shinpiroku if I had a PS4 console? I doubt it. I'd definitely buy a poster-sized version of the above, though.

See also: 'Eight Vita games I'm planning to buy (and play) later in 2016 or as soon as possible in 2017' and 'Six Vita games I may buy (and play) later in 2016 or as soon as possible in 2017'

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Your new favorite tumblr: Katakana Kitten

OK, so maybe Katakana Kitten isn't your new favorite tumblr, but it's definitely mine.

Why? A quick look at this unique tumblog's description should help explain things: "Hellow, I'm Midori. I know some Japanese. This blog posts one example of katakana usage a day, usually from video games. Please use these posts to bolster your own Japanese studies."

Here's a recent example of the kind of content Midori has published on Katakana Kitten since the tumblog debuted last December:

She always follows up the screenshot and katakana sample with a short blurb about the game in question, too. Here's the text she typed up for Clock Tower:

"A noteworthy point-and-click horror game originally made for the Super Famicom, developed by Human Entertainment, 1995. Much of the game’s content and style was inspired by the work of horror film director Dario Argento."

In other words, not only can Katakana Kitten help boost your Japanese language abilities, but it also can broaden your knowledge of Japanese video games. Now if we could just convince Midori to start a second tumblr devoted to hiragana or even kanji usage in games...

Monday, October 31, 2016

Six North American and Japanese Vita games I may buy (and play) later in 2016 or as soon as possible in 2017

In my last post, I chatted about eight North American and Japanese Vita games I'm going to do everything I can to buy and play between now and, say, this time next year.

I'd also like the buy and play the ones mentioned in this write-up, but I'm far less likely to do so--and for a slew of different reasons (which change from game to game).

Keep reading to find out which titles I'm talking about here and why I'm not 100 percent sure I'll purchase them in the next six or eight months.

Alone With You--Although I've been curious about this game since it was first announced, I've cooled on it since reading some mighty negative reviews of it on line. Still, I can't help but want to see for myself if all the criticism is warranted, as I really like its art style and I also like the idea of supporting creative indie developers.

Caligula--And here's another game I started out wanting, only to find myself wanting it less and less as I came across more and more negative impressions of it on NeoGAF, Twitter and elsewhere. Given that, I have a feeling this is the least likely of all the Vita games discussed in this particular post to find its way into my collection.

SaGa: Scarlet Grace--In what world is a new SaGa game (or even a new game clearly inspired by Square Enix's SaGa series, like The Alliance Alive) only a possible pick-up for me? In a world where pretty much every second of gameplay footage released for the new SaGa game makes it look like a complete mess at best. Seriously, while the first Scarlet Grace screenshots suggested the title would be a serious return to form for creator Akitoshi Kawazu, seeing it in action prompted a change of heart that now has me assuming the opposite. I may buy a copy of it anyway, though, simply because I love SaGa and can't imagine ignoring one of its too-rare entries.

Steins;Gate 0--I've heard only great things about the Steins;Gate franchise. In fact, all of that positive chatter is what pushed me to buy the first Steins;Gate Vita game after it hit store shelves in my neck of the woods last year. So why am I not itching to purchase this precursor, too? Because I've yet to even open the aforementioned copy of the original. It's still in the running to be picked up sometime late this year or early next, though, because I'm worried that once I finally play Steins;Gate I'll wish I could follow it up with Steins;Gate 0.

Tokyo Xanadu--Full disclosure: I have very little experience with Nihon Falcom-made games. In fact, I'm pretty sure Ys I & II and Ys III are the only ones I've played to date. I'd like to change that by picking up this highly regarded action RPG--which supposedly feels a lot like the modern Ys titles, actually. The question is: when will Aksys Games bring it to our shores? All that's known about Tokyo Xanadu's North American release at the moment is it'll hit store shelves here sometime in 2017.

Yomawari--As is the case with The Longest 5 Minutes, which I mentioned in my last postI already own the Japanese version of this game. I'm contemplating getting the just-released North American version as well, though, because I'd really like to understand everything when I finally play through it. Or maybe I should just use this as an opportunity to improve my Japanese language skills?

Are any of you also looking to buy and play one or more of these North American or Japanese Vita games in the coming months? If so, which ones? Let me know in the comments section that follows.