Thursday, August 30, 2018

Manual Stimulation: Lucky Monkey (GameBoy)

Does Lucky Monkey not ring a bell? Maybe you know this adorable platformer by its Western name, Spanky's Quest.

I'm not a huge fan of either title, to be honest. Not that it matters--developer and publisher Natsume could've called this 1991 release (in Japan, at least) Monkey Game and I'd still love it to pieces.

Why do I love it? For starters, it's cute--and as you should be well aware by now, I tend to like cute games.

Also, a lot of Lucky Monkey's enemies are anthropomorphic vegetables or fruits--something else that's long caught my attention.

I'm attracted to more than Lucky Monkey's looks, though. I'm pretty fond of its soundtrack, too, which reminds me of the one conjured up for another Natsume joint, Shippo de Bun (Tail 'Gator outside of Japan).

And then there's the gameplay. I called it a platformer earlier, and while that's undoubtedly the best way to describe the action in Lucky Monkey, it's hardly a Super Mario Bros. clone.

Here, you take the eponymous simian through a series of tower-themed stages. To clear a stage, he (I think?) has to defeat all of its food-based baddies using balls that have been stashed away somewhere or other.

Actually, I'm not sure they're balls. After all, if you bounce them off the monkey's head a few times, they explode and shower the surrounding area--which includes some enemies, hopefully--with shrapnel.

So that's what you're getting from Lucky Monkey the game. But what are you getting from Lucky Monkey the manual?

Well, as you'll hopefully see as you go through this post, you're getting a rather nice example of a Japanese GameBoy instruction booklet.

I wouldn't call it a standout, mind you, but I wouldn't call it a turd either.

One of my favorite components of the Lucky Monkey manual: the little illustrations of the protagonist that line the top of each page.

The handful of (admittedly simplistic) other drawings that pop up now and then are worth ogling, too.

Also deserving of a thumbs-up, in my opinion: the blue-and-orange color scheme this booklet's designers employed during the printing process.

In the end, this one obviously could be quite a bit more thrilling, but even it its current state it's far from disappointing.

Or at least that's my opinion of Lucky Monkey's instruction manual. What do all of you think about it?

See also: photos of Lucky Monkey's packaging

Monday, August 27, 2018

Sushi Striker's retail release makes me wish Nintendo had done the same with some of the 3DS system's digital-only gems

When Sushi Striker was unveiled last summer, I was sure it would be an eShop-only offering.

After all, that's how Nintendo has treated this kind of game for the majority of the 3DS' lifetime.

So imagine my surprise when the company made it clear Sushi Striker was getting a retail as well as a digital release.

Naturally I went with the physical option--and then proceeded to enjoy the hell out of it over the course of 50-plus hours. (Seriously, if you tend to like action-puzzle games and you've still got a 3DS, pick up a copy as soon as possible. For more information, see my recent "five reasons I've fallen head over heels in love with Sushi Striker" write-up.)

Something I couldn't help but think while working my way through Sushi Striker's considerably beefy story mode (basically its only mode, if I'm to be honest): why didn't Nintendo sell boxed versions of some of its other 3DS eShop titles?

Which 3DS eShop titles am I talking about here? Pocket Card Jockey is one example. So is Rusty's Real Deal Baseball. And then there are the Pushmo, Dillon's Rolling Western, and BoxBoy! games, too. (Don't worry, I'm well aware of last year's physical BoxBoy! collection, but it only saw the light of day in Japan.)

Arguments could be made for retail releases of all these titles, if you ask me. For example, the folks at Game Freak--of Pokémon fame--made Pocket Card Jockey. That alone should have been enough for it to hit store shelves along with the eShop. (Something else that should've helped matters: the fact that Pocket Card Jockey is an absolute gem. I'd go so far as to say it's one of the 3DS' best games, in fact. To learn why I feel so strongly about it, read this post of mine: "If you own a 3DS, you need to buy and play Pocket Card Jockey right now.")

I thought a compilation of the three Mallo-centric puzzlers--Pushmo, Crashmo, and Stretchmo in my neck of the woods--was a sure thing, too, but obviously I was wrong. And I was wrong about Nintendo plopping to the first two Dillon's Rolling Western titles on a cartridge, too.

Of all the digital-only gems mentioned here so far, the one I can most understand not getting a boxed version is Rusty's Real Deal Baseball. Yes, such a product could've gathered all of its in-game purchases (which aren't insubstantial) into one package. Doing so would've required at least a little jiggering, though, and Nintendo probably decided that extra work wasn't worth it, especially given Rusty's undeniably limited appeal.

In the end, I know all of my moaning and hand-wringing here is beyond pointless. The ship's basically sailed on the 3DS, and there's no way Nintendo is going to pump out retail releases of Rusty's Real Deal Baseball, Pocket Card Jockey, Dillon's Rolling Western, or any other "old" digital game this late in the system's life.

Still, I can't help but harp on those missed opportunities a bit. As things stand, each of the games mentioned above eventually may be lost to time because they were never embedded on a cart.

I guess this just means I have to buy a few used 3DS systems and then fill them with these gems before Nintendo shutters the eShop. (I'd need a few to ensure there are plenty of backups, of course.)

Do any of you wish you could've bought physical copies of some of the 3DS' eShop-only treasures? If so, which ones?