Friday, June 16, 2017

I'm stoked about the unveiling of Sushi Striker (3DS), and not simply because some of its characters are beefy studs

What's Sushi Striker, you ask? A sushi-themed puzzler that's being developed for the 3DS by indieszero (of Electroplankton, Retro Game Challenge and Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy fame).

Nintendo revealed it a couple of days ago during E3 2017 and at the same time mentioned it will release sometime in 2018.

Unfortunately, it's not yet known if Sushi Striker (full title--Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido) will be sold via retail or if it'll be relegated to the 3DS eShop.

What is known, beyond the aforementioned facts, about this "conveyor belt sushi puzzle action" game (that's Nintendo's official description of it) is that it's stuffed to the gills with musclebound studs.

Don't believe me? Feast your thirsty eyes on the following:

I don't know about you, but the last guy is the most visually appealing to yours truly.

Not into men? No worries. The game also features a bevy of attractive women--as is made abundantly clear in Sushi Striker's first trailer.

Does any of the above have you salivating over the 2018 release of this yummy-looking (in more ways than one) puzzle game? Chat about it with me and others in the comments section of this post.

See also: 'The best 3DS eShop games you've never played (or, 10 overlooked 3DS eShop games you need to try as soon as possible)'

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Manual Stimulation: Astro Rabby (GameBoy)

I haven't been shy about declaring my love for the Japan-only GameBoy title known as Astro Rabby lately.

Late last year, I included it in a post about five overlooked Japanese GameBoy games I thought people should play as soon as possible. And a couple of months ago, I mentioned it again in a write-up celebrating the 28th anniversary of GameBoy's Japanese release.

Granted, I haven't always felt so positively about this Cyclone System-made and IGS-published game. When I first played it a few years back, I was far from impressed by it. That said, I changed my tune after returning to it some months later and giving it a second chance. (The second set of impressions can be found in this "Shall We Do It Again?" post.)

If this is the first you're hearing of Astro Rabby, the gist is it's an overhead action game that's unlike anything else I've ever played. For starters, each space-based level (viewed from an overhead perspective) scrolls forward automatically. Your goal, as the titular "rabby," is to not only keep up with that forced movement, but to leap into the air to avoid the baddies and to smash into the Super Mario Bros.-esque question-mark blocks that dot the planetary terrain.

The latter are an especially important aspect of Astro Rabby, as hidden within one of those blocks is a "power-up part" that not only bolsters the abilities of the game's big-eared protagonist but also allows him (and you) to move on to the next level.

Except for the game's disastrously annoying bonus stages, all of the above is surprisingly exhilarating and enjoyable.

Also enjoyable, of course, is Astro Rabby's instruction manual. Its front and back covers, showcased in the first scan (above), are especially so, if you ask me, although I also love the character illustrations included in the second scan, which details the game's story. (Sorry, my Japanese skills aren't yet advanced enough for me to translate it for you.)

Actually, cute illustrations are par for the course in the Astro Rabby manual, with the ones above being my favorites.

Admittedly, IGS' artists could have included many more of them in this booklet. Instead, they filled the majority of its pages with low-quality images (photos?) of in-game sprites.

Even they provide some charming moments, though--like the "enemy" sprites highlighted on the left-hand page of the spread above.

The "panel" sprites seen on pages nine and 10 of the Astro Rabby instruction manual (below) are less thrilling, perhaps, but at least they're educational. In particular, they let you know you should avoid the one on the right-hand page that looks like a cracked brick.

You see, if you jump on a single panel too many times, it crumbles away. Step or jump into the resulting hole, and you lose a life.

Page 11 of this game's manual describes its handful of collectible items. As far as I can tell, the "S" one improves Rabby's speed, the "J" one enhances his ability to jump and the "B" one either increases his bullet stock or makes his bullets more powerful. Oh, and the last item is a 1-up.

Don't be fooled by the adorable illustration that takes up half of the Astro Rabby manual's second-to-last page (below). It relates to the game's previously maligned bonus stages, which means it's evil.

Thankfully, failing to successfully complete said bonus stages (and believe me, you will fail to successfully complete them) won't keep you from progressing to the next proper level. Still, they're so infuriating that any reference to them gets my blood boiling.

With all that out of the way, if you're up for learning more about this oddly endearing GameBoy import, I'd highly recommend reading my Astro Rabby review. Also, photos of the game's stellar box and cartridge label can be ogled in this "Year of the GameBoy" post.

See also: previous 'Manual Stimulation' posts about Taiyou no Tenshi Marlowe, Totsugeki! Ponkotsu Tank and Snow Bros. Jr.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Nice Package! (Mizzurna Falls, PlayStation)

I've been obsessed with Mizzurna Falls since I first read an article about it on the now-defunct Eastern Mind blog a number of years ago.

You might think it piqued my interest because it's often described as being something of a precursor to the 2010 cult classic, Deadly Premonition. In reality, the thing that initially attracted me to Mizzurna Falls, which released in Japan (and only in Japan) in 1998, was its captivating cover art.

There's just something about its wintry landscape, and the illuminated town that's nestled among its shadowy mountains and trees, that made me want to own and play this game.

I also was drawn to its odd title and even odder subtitle (the latter being "Country of the Woods and Repose"). And then, of course, I couldn't help but find the Twin Peaks-esque story--that focuses on the mystery of a missing girl--and open-world gameplay alluring.

Another intriguing aspect of Mizzurna Falls: it was developed and published by Human Entertainment, the same company that gave the world the classic survival-horror title, Clock Tower.

Not that the two games are at all alike. Oh, Mizzurna Falls has an unsettling air about it, but I wouldn't say it ever even approaches the terrifying heights of Clock Tower.

Given the above, it shouldn't be too surprising to hear this game's instruction manual is a bit quirky. My favorite spread is the one highlighted above, which details the titular town's map.

I also like the pages near the end of Mizzurna Falls' manual, which offer up English and Japanese lyrics to the title's theme song.

For some dumb reason, I failed to take a photo of the Mizzurna Falls game disc when I snapped the others showcased here. I'd take one now, but I didn't bring the CD with me when I left Seattle early this year. (It's currently in storage--and won't be reunited with me until sometime this summer.)

I can tell you that you're not missing a whole lot. The disc basically depicts the same scene printed on the Mizzurna Falls manual cover--only in black and white rather than in color.

Oh, well, the gameplay embedded on that disc is what's important, right? And Mizzurna Falls' exploration-heavy gameplay is--or at least seems to be, I've only played a small portion of it so far--pretty special.

I'll try to share some more detailed impressions of Mizzurna Falls once I get my hands on its CD again in a month or two. At that time, I'll also scan its instruction manual and share the resulting images in a future installment of my "Manual Stimulation" series.

In the meantime, I'd highly recommend reading the Eastern Mind blog post I linked to earlier. It's more than a review; it offers up all sorts of background information and in-depth analysis that help explain why Mizzurna Falls is so impressive--especially for a 19-year-old game.

See also: previous 'Nice Package!' posts about The Adventure of Puppet PrincessMoon: Remix RPG Adventure, Ore no Shikabane o Koete Yuke and PoPoLoCrois Monogatari.