Saturday, February 04, 2017

Five overlooked Nintendo DS games you need to play as soon as possible

Don't worry, I'll publish more than "five overlooked games you need to play as soon as possible" posts this year. In fact, I'm working on a handful of reviews as we speak. I also have a slew of "Manual Stimulation" and "Nice Package!" posts waiting to be written.

The above isn't the full extent of what you can expect to see here in the coming weeks and months, of course; I just want everyone to rest assured that (hopefully) interesting content is on the way.

That's not to suggest the post you're reading right now is a total bore. I mean, unless you harbor an irrational hatred for Nintendo's DS handheld.

For those who are at least somewhat curious about that duel-screened system and its extensive catalog of games, you should get at least a slight kick out of this write-up about five Nintendo DS titles I think have been overlooked by the masses.

Daigasso! Band Brothers--I have a feeling I should include this game's 2008 sequel here instead, especially considering that more recent effort earned an English release (as Jam with the Band, although it only saw the light of day in Europe). I'm sticking with the 2004 original, though, because I've spent more time with it and, well, I prefer its cover art. Plus, if you're going to jump into an unknown game series, you should start at the beginning, don't you think? Anyway, don't fret about the first Daigasso! Band Brothers being in Japanese. You don't need to know a lick of that overwhelming language to enjoy this music game. All you need is a DS or 3DS system with a working d-pad and A, B, X and Y buttons--as they're what you use to play Daigasso! Band Brothers. In that respect, this early DS title is a lot like Namco's long-running (and also well worth trying) Taiko no Tatsujin releases, although in Daigasso! Band Brothers you use all sorts of instruments, rather than just drums, to play a vast selection of tunes.

Loopop Cube: Lup Salad--It blows my mind that none of this adorable game's many versions ever left Japan. Yes, this 2008 release, published by the charmingly named Dimple Entertainment, came out 12 years after the original title, developed by Fupac and published by Datam Polystar, was made available to Japanese PlayStation owners. And two years after the game hit the Nintendo DS, Dimple offered PSP fans a port, too. The different iterations aren't identical, mind you--each one offers up slightly unique puzzles, modes and options--but they all basically look and play the same. Speaking of Loopop Cube's gameplay, think one part Puzznic (or Bejeweled) and one part Sokoban. Although, unlike Hiroyuki Imabayashi's box-moving puzzler, Loopop Cube's stages are depicted from the side. That means some light platforming action is thrown into the mix, too. It's all explained in this wonderfully fashioned write-up, so check it out should you ever pick up a copy of this brilliant brain-teaser.

My World, My Way--I was skeptical when my pal Mollie first mentioned this Atlus-published game during a recording of The Nichiest Podcast Ever. Those skeptical feelings remained even after I watched some video footage of it. Still, Mollie's word means a lot to me, so I dutifully tracked down a used copy and put My World, My Way through its paces as part of my #ADecadeofDS series in early 2015. (Read my impressions here.) I walked away from that experience thrilled I'd followed Mollie's sage advice, as My World, My Way is a delightfully weird RPG that mixes traditional turn-based battles with a thoroughly unique world-building component. Also, its protagonist (a bratty princess who wants to be an adventurer) is about as far from typical as you can get--always a plus in my book. By the way, if you prefer the PSP to the DS, and if you can understand Japanese (or you don't mind playing a game you won't understand), developer Global A published an upgraded version of the game for Sony's first handheld in Japan, as Sekai wa Atashi de Mawatteru: Hikari to Yami no Princess, in 2009.

Pop Cutie! Street Fashion Simulation--Hey, I think the aforementioned Mollie turned me on to this oddity, too. Or was it Anne? Regardless, one of those two wonderful ladies deserve the biggest hug I can give them for making me aware of Pop Cutie! Although I wouldn't put this Koei-made title in the same league as Nintendo's similarly themed Style Savvy series, it's still a lot of fun. Just don't go into a playthrough expecting an overly deep experience. It feels very much like a mobile game before mobile games were a thing. (For an explanation, read my #ADecadeofDS post about Pop Cutie!) Don't take that as a negative, as it allows you to pop into and out of this Street Fashion Simulation without a whole lot of fuss--a big positive for someone like me who no longer has the time or energy to regularly spend multiple hours per day on a game. Bonus: even copies of Pop Cutie! are pretty cheap these days.

Zombie Daisuki--Here's another overlooked Nintendo DS title that gives off strong "mobile game" vibes. As was the case with Pop Cutie!, though, I don't use that term to cast aspersions on Zombie Daisuki. This ChunSoft creation isn't perfect--something I made pretty clear in the last post I published about it a couple of years ago--but if you can nab a cheap cart, I say go for it. There's no question Zombie Daisuki looks great, with pixel art that would've been drooled over during the medium's heyday. It also sports an intriguing premise--one which puts you in control of a horde of blue-skinned zombies and then has you sic them on living, breathing human beings. (It's not as horrific as it sounds, I swear. Everything here is presented in a very comical manner.) On the flip side, you may grow tired of Zombie Daisuki repetitive actions--hence my suggestion that you not blow too much to buy it.

See also: five overlooked Famicom, GameBoy, GameBoy Advance, Game Gear, PC Engine and PlayStation games you need to play as soon as possible

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Can you believe this is the beginning of The Gay Gamer's 11th year as a blog?

I certainly can't believe it. Regardless, it's true. I published my first post here all the way back on Feb. 1, 2007. I can't say my early write-ups were very good but, hey, you've got to start somewhere, right?

At any rate, I'm glad I launched this blog 11 years ago. I did it, by the way, because I desperately needed a place to geek out about all of the games and systems and related stuff that excited and interested me.

I also wanted to create a space where others would feel safe to do the same. Admittedly, I assumed at the time that the "others" in question would be limited to LGBT folk, so it's been a pleasant surprise to see a lot of "straight" people stop by this blog over the last 10-plus years as well.

Speaking of which, I'd like to thank everyone who has visited, followed or commented on this blog at some point or other between 2007 and now. I appreciate it more than you can imagine.

If you've never left a comment, by the way, why not start now? I respond to each and every one, and if I'm to be honest, I prefer engaging in those conversations to focusing on my own blatherings.

You don't have to limit those conversations to this blog, of course. I'm also active on Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter, so give me a holler (or whatever) on any or all of those sites if you're up for such social-media shenanigans.