Saturday, October 28, 2017

A late 'Game of the Year' contender approaches: Witch & Hero III is coming to 3DS

A bit of news you may have missed late last month: Circle Entertainment slipped into its flurry of Tokyo Game Show 2017 tweets the fact that Witch & Hero 3 is in the works for the Nintendo 3DS.

That announcement made me happier than any other dropped during the formerly illustrious Japanese gaming event. If you're wondering why, consider that I named the first Witch & Hero one of my favorite games of 2013, and I did the same with Witch & Hero II last year.

Sadly, the only things known about Witch & Hero III at the moment are its title and Circle's goal to release the game before the end of the year.

A few other details can be gleaned--or at least guessed--from the tiny screenshots included in the above-mentioned tweet, thankfully. One is it looks like more than one "hero" will join the titular witch on the battlefield this time around. Another is the game may include a second witch as well, if the shadowy figure that's positioned second from the left on the game's logo is any indication.

Should that first assumption prove to be true, I can't say I'll be thrilled, to be perfectly honest.

Despite enjoying Witch & Hero II overall (as per my review), I preferred the original to it in the end because I found controlling both the witch and the hero cumbersome. Controlling a witch and two heroes--or, gulp, two witches and two heroes--in Witch & Hero III may push me over the edge.

I'll buy it regardless, of course. Hell, I'll likely buy it twice--once on my main North American 3DS, and once on my main Japanese one.

The real question in my mind at this point: will Circle bring the game to the Switch, too? If so, I suppose I'll have to buy it a third time.

You know what I'd like even more, though? A Switch port of the original Witch & Hero. The game doesn't need to be displayed across two screens, plus this would put one of my favorite 3DS eShop titles (check out this recent-ish post for nine more of them) on my current go-to games console.

If you're curious to read more about why I'm such a fan of the series' first effor, by the way, you can do so in my Witch & Hero review.

Other than that, are any of you also excited about the impending release of Witch & Hero III?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Dear Nintendo, please greenlight Switch sequels to these games

Now that the Switch is not only a reality but a runaway success, I can't help but daydream about all the games Nintendo could greenlight for it.

I say greenlight here rather than make, by the way, because I know Nintendo doesn't develop all of the games it publishes. The Kirby series, made by HAL Laboratory, is a good example. Game Freak's Pokémon series is another.

We already know new Kirby and Pokémon games are being prepped for Switch, of course, so no need to beg for them here. New Animal Crossing, Fire Emblem, Metroid, and Yoshi Switch game are in the works, too.

What more could a Nintendo fan and Switch owner want? Plenty. Personally, I'd like to see sequels to all the following games come to the hybrid console at some point in its lifetime.

Balloon Kid--Nintendo can be so weird sometimes. How else would you describe the company's decision to follow up 1985's classic Balloon Fight with 1990's great-but-should-have-been-even-greater Balloon Kid--and then never again return to the helium-supported series? Given that, I can't imagine Nintendo's prepping another Balloon Fight--or, better yet, another Balloon Kid--game for Switch, but I'd sure love it if that were the case.

Drill Dozer--Here's another surprise. I mean, I doubt this Game Freak-made platformer set the sales charts on fire in the months following its 2005 release (in Japan; it came out a year later in North America), but it's become a bit of a cult classic in the ensuing years. As such, I could see a good number of Switch owners welcoming a new Drill Dozer with open arms. The question is: does anyone want to make such a game? (Note: I'll accept a "no" answer if it's because Game Freak's busy producing another Pocket Card Jockey title.)

Endless Ocean--One of the great tragedies of the Wii era (in my personal opinion, of course) was that Endless Ocean didn't become even a tenth of the worldwide hit Wii Sports and Wii Fit became. Considering the console's casual-leaning ownership base, I really thought a game that tossed players into the ocean and then set them free to explore to their heart's content was a million-plus-seller in the making. Well, not only didn't Endless Ocean sell millions, but it sold so poorly Nintendo decided against paying developer Arika to produce a sequel for the Wii U. Here's hoping the company's bigwigs come to their senses and give the thumbs for Switch title.

F-Zero--Now that Nintendo seems interested in Metroid again, could it similarly revitalize its long-ignored F-Zero series? I have my doubts. Still, I can't help but hold out hope the Switch is home to the first F-Zero title since GP Legend and Climax hit the GameBoy Advance in 2003 and 2004.

Hotel Dusk--What's less likely than an F-Zero Switch game? A new Hotel Dusk for the hybrid system. That's mainly because CiNG--the developer behind that 2007 point-and-click adventure (read some of my thoughts on it here) and its 2010 sequel, Last Window--filed for bankruptcy seven years ago. Still, some of that company's former employees recently came together to make Chase: Cold Case Investigations ~Distant Memories~ for the 3DS. Although most who played that eShop title considered it a disappointment (myself included), I'd give its devs another shot if they could rope Rika Suzuki (Hotel Dusk's and Last Window's writer) into the project.

Ice Climber--I may very well be the only living soul who'd like to see Nintendo release an update to this masochistic Famicom and NES game. Sadly, I think an Ice Climber sequel would've fared best on the dual-screened DS (imagine it: pixel-based graphics, a jumping mechanism that doesn't make you want to yank out all your hair, and mountains that go on for days), but since that failed to happen, I'll ask for it to be made for Switch. To be honest, I'm not even sure how such a game would play out, although one thing's a must: Nana and Popo would have to be easier to control this time around.

Kid Icarus--I've wanted a "real" Kid Icarus sequel since I first played the original NES game as a kid. Uprising was nice and all (not that I've played it), but what I'm talking about here is a two-dimensional side-scroller that takes the 8-bit title's blueprint and expands upon it. Sure, a SNES sequel à la Super Metroid would've been perfect, but the same could be accomplished on the Switch, so that's what I'll wish for here. (For more on why I love Kid Icarus, read my "10 Most Influential Games" post devoted to it.)

Luigi's Mansion--Considering 2013's Dark Moon seemingly met with sales success all around the globe, I have to imagine Nintendo's already hard at work on a follow-up for Switch. If not, I hope they get on it soon, as I thoroughly enjoyed what I've played of the series' first two titles.

Mole Mania--Nintendo's failure to give this GameBoy classic a second chance is right up there with its failure to properly follow up Balloon Kid and Drill Dozer, in my humble opinion. Of course, the original release was met with disinterest around the globe, so I guess I can't criticize the hesitation too harshly. Still, Mole Mania's now widely considered an overlooked gem, so why not throw its many fans a bone by giving them a Switch sequel? Even an eShop-only effort would suffice, if you ask me.

Panel de Pon--For some dumb reason, the powers that be at Nintendo think the masses--outside of Japan, especially--would rather play Tetris Attack or Puzzle League than the syrupy sweet Panel de Pon. Is the assumption here that Westerners hate games that are slathered in pastels and star adorable fairies? If so, I respectfully disagree. I'll forgive the company its trespasses, however, if it offers up a new Panel de Pon for Switch that harkens back to the Super Famicom original.

BONUS ROUND: Tomato Adventure--Now that nearly everyone is burned out on the Mario & Luigi series, Nintendo should give developer AlphaDream a break and have it produce another Tomato Adventure. This time, though, they'd better release the game outside of Japan.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Manual Stimulation: Daichi-kun Crisis (PC Engine)

A few of the things that surprised me when I first flipped through this Japanese PC Engine game's instruction manual:

1. It's surprisingly short. If you include the page that tells you not to bend or pour water onto your HuCard, the Daichi-kun Crisis: Do Natural manual consists of six whole pages. That surprised me because this game is made up of a few components. One part of it is a simplistic life sim; another part leans toward the tower defense genre. I can't imagine all of that is easy to explain in just five small pages of text.

2. I imagined it would feature a lot more cow illustrations than it does. Seriously, the main characters in Daichi-kun Crisis: Do Natural are anthropomorphic cows--as well as a bear and crow with similarly human-like characteristics. Given that, I assumed its instruction booklet would be heavily weighted toward adorable depictions of said wildlife. In reality, besides the examples that are slapped across the manual's front and back covers, only a couple can be seen on its interior spreads.

3. It doesn't offer up a single screenshot. Some might say this is for the best, as black-and-white screenshots from this era tended to be the opposite of eye-popping. Even if that weren't true, they probably wouldn't have properly portrayed Daichi-kun Crisis: Do Natural's colorful (if a bit rough-hewn) landscapes. In other words, I probably should be happy this booklet sticks to text and the odd illustration.

4. As much as I like the second-to-last page's item art, I would've preferred drawings. Seriously, it would be difficult to argue that the folks at Salio took the easy way out while producing the Daichi-kun Crisis: Do Natural manual. Granted, the company may have had just a handful of staffers when it made this game, so maybe my criticism is out of line. Surely its in-house or even outsourced artist could've whipped up some item doodles in just an hour or two, though?

All that said, I'm still pretty fond of the Daichi-kun Crisis instruction manual. It's not exactly stellar, but it's also not a total dud. Speaking of not-duds: if you've got the time and interest, I'd highly recommend checking out my "Nice Package!" post on this game. That write-up does a better job of explaining its gameplay and is filled with photos of its packaging.

See also: previous 'Manual Stimulation' posts about Don Doko Don, Hana Taaka Daka!?, KiKi KaiKai and Parasol Stars

Sunday, October 22, 2017

A few (more) thoughts on Yomawari: Night Alone in honor of #HorrorGameOct

Nippon Ichi's Yomawari: Night Alone and I have a complicated--and convoluted--history.

First, I bought a boxed copy of this Vita game's Japanese release. (See some photos of its case, cartridge, and instruction pamphlet here.) Although I'd been keenly interested in it since it was announced, it took me a good number of months to even put the Yomawari cartridge into my Vita. And after all that, I only played it for a short while before walking away because I just wasn't in the mood for a scary game at the time.

Then, earlier this year, I felt like giving it another try. Rather than boot up my Japanese cart, though, I purchased the North American version from the PlayStation Store. I actually put about two hours into Night Alone that time around, but this playthrough--which I discussed in this post from mid-March--was cut short, too, thanks to a little game called Dragon Quest Builders.

And why didn't I return to Yomawari after Dragon Quest Builders lost its hold on me? I'm not sure, to tell you the truth. I guess I turned my attention to something else--perhaps a 3DS title (or two)?

Regardless, between then and now, I've completely ignored Night Alone. I picked it up for a third time a couple of weeks ago, though, because my friend Anne kicked off a horror-focused community game-along--called #HorrorGameOct--that got me thinking about it again.

So, here we are. Attempt number three. The first thing you need to know about my latest Yomawari: Night Alone playthrough is I once again started from scratch. It's been so long since I last tackled the game that I thought returning to my old save file would be a mistake, so I erased it and threw myself into a new one.

Something else you need to know: I'm referring to a walkthrough this time around in the hopes it'll help me finish the game. As much as I hate to admit it, I find it easy to get lost while playing Night Alone thanks to its confusing map (or maybe it would be more accurate to blame its distressingly similar-looking alleyways and streets) and dimly lit locales.

Actually, due in large part to the above-mentioned niggles, I can honestly say I'd probably rather experience Yomawari: Night Alone on a TV than on a Vita. Which is saying a lot, as I almost always prefer playing games on a handheld device to playing them on a traditional console.

Another thing I hate to admit about my current Yomawari playthrough: I'm pretty sure its hiding mechanism failed to ping my radar during previous attempts. Now that I'm aware of and making use of it, though, I'm slapping myself. For starters, it makes it a lot easier to avoid the game's ghoulish baddies. Plus, it's fun to duck behind a sign or jump into some bushes and then "watch" as a nightmarish creature or two passes by via the protagonist's heartbeat and what I can only describe as a sort of heat map. (Less fun: leaving your hiding spot and immediately being killed. Oh, well, you have to get used to dying if you're going to play this title.)

Other than all that, I don't have much new to say about this Vita game. I'm still a fan of its looks, which are one part cute and one part horrific. (You'll know what I mean regarding the latter the second you lay your eyes on one of Night Alone's more hideous enemies.) I can't say the same about its soundtrack, but that's only because the bulk of Yomawari is experienced in near-silence. That's fine by me, though, as it enhances the atmosphere and tension.

As for the gameplay, it impresses, too. I guess some might disagree, as Night Alone's basically a visual novel that allows you to run around a small town and avoid monsters--rather than stare at static screens--while progressing its story, but I'm enjoying it overall despite its issues.

I've heard the game can be finished in just a handful of hours, so I doubt it'll be long before I encounter its end credits--assuming I continue to plug away at it (and keep my eye on the aforementioned walkthrough) this coming week. That's the current plan, so look for me to write and publish a Yomawari: Night Alone review soon.

In the meantime, have any of you played this Vita thriller? If so, please share your impressions of it in the comments section of this post.