Wednesday, January 11, 2023

A cute kiss of death: early-ish impressions of Uchu Shinshuchu for Nintendo Switch

If you've ever dreamt of playing an old-school action-platformer that has you kiss enemies rather than jump on or otherwise attack them, Uchu Shinshuchu may be the game for you. Or it may not be, as even after conquering 25 of its 51 stages I'm still teetering on the fence as to whether I like or loathe this digital Nintendo Switch title.

My main issue with Uchu Shinshuchu, which tasks players with saving the world from an alien invasion using the power of their puckered lips, is that you have to get really close to an enemy to kiss it. That would be fine if the game provided its protagonist (named Saturday-Chan) a life or health bar and flubbing a kiss resulted in damage rather than death, but it doesn't. As such, you die when you lean in to kiss an enemy but instead miss and run into it.

Uchu Shinshuchu's start screen

That said, I've come to (mostly) appreciate this mechanic. It's strangely... fitting? You generally need to be bold to kiss someone, after all. Well, boldness is required to succeed at Uchu Shinshuchu, too.

A second issue with Uchu Shinshuchu, which may be even more damning than the first one, is that there's no backtracking. If you get stuck on a particular stage, you need to beat it or start over from the very beginning of the game.

Uchu Shinshuchu's story is as wacky as its gameplay

That hasn't proven to be a huge problem for me yet, but what has proven to be a problem is getting stuck during a boss encounter. I'm currently on the game's fifth boss and having a devil of a time defeating him. So, I can either keep trying or give up.

On a related note, another of Uchu Shinshuchu's unique gameplay components has you "befriend" (for lack of a better word) all enemies you kiss. You can toss these so-called frenemies at their comrades to stun them, which then makes them easier to kiss and befriend.

Yes, you kiss enemies into submission in Uchu Shinshuchu

That's cool and at least somewhat useful during the game's regular stages. It's nearly useless during boss fights, though, as if you don't defeat a boss on your first try (and if anything you're like me, you won't), you can't make use of these tossable frenemies. Why? Because you lose your cache of captivated frenemies when you die.

As a result, you usually have to tackle Uchu Shinshuchu's bosses solo. Considering how close you need to get to kiss them, this can be a frustrating challenge. I have a feeling a lot of folks will quickly give up on the game because of this alone.

You'll see this message a lot while playing Uchu Shinshuchu

Which is too bad, as I otherwise like Uchu Shinshuchu quite a bit. Although I found the kissing "attack" off-putting at first, it's since grown on me to the point that I now view it as a pretty novel addition to the often-staid platformer genre. Also, the game has a nice, if simple, look to it and a peppy soundtrack that recalls similar offerings of yesteryear (think Mega Man and the like). It helps, of course, that I don't mind dying over and over and over again. On the contrary, it usually cracks me up. If it's likely to drive you mad, you should probably give the game a pass.

Speaking of buying or passing on Uchu Shinshuchu: I paid $2 for it. The game usually goes for $8. I wouldn't recommend buying it at full price. I'm fine with having spent $2 on it, but I doubt I'd be as happy if I'd spent $8.

Monday, January 09, 2023

Non-game media I enjoyed in 2022

I know this site is called The Gay Gamer, but I regularly enjoy media other than video games.

As such, I thought I'd share some of my favorite books and films from 2022 here. None were actually released in 2022, mind you; I just read or watched and enjoyed them last year.

Still, hopefully my musings will either spur folks who happen upon this post to check them out, too, or at least get them to start a conversation about them in the comments section that follows.

An American Werewolf in London

I long ignored this 1981 film because I erroneously thought it was a goofy 1980s popcorn flick. I had no idea until I started through it just before Halloween that it was a horror movie with some (dark) comedic trimmings. That immediately made it more appealing to me — although I'll admit the opening salvo was a brutal and gory shock. Once I knew what I was in for with An American Werewolf in London, though, I had a blast with it. My only complaint is that it ends rather abruptly. I was hoping writer and director John Landis would draw things out more than he did. Oh, well, it was fun all the same.

The Day of the Triffids

I added this post-apocalyptic novel from 1951 to my Amazon wish list years ago when I was still acutely interested in the genre. The COVID pandemic put the kibosh on such interests, though — or at least I thought it had. An impromptu conversation about the 1962 film adaptation earlier this year reminded me of the novel's existence, and that led to me buying a copy and finally giving it a read. I struggled with it early on due to the depressing nature of the apocalypse that's at the center of The Day of the Triffids, not to mention the sadly realistic response to it. I eventually got over it, though, and from then on I was fully engaged. I'll definitely re-read this one in the coming years, and I may even watch the aforementioned theatrical reimagining of it. 

I Think Our Son is Gay Volumes 1 and 2

I decided early on in 2022 that I'd finally start reading some manga. By the end of the year, I'd read 13 volumes (or 15, depending on how you count them up) of four different series. Two of those 13 or 15 were the opening pair of I Think Our Son is Gay volumes, both of which surprised me by being far more touching and astute than I assumed they'd be. This slice-of-life manga series of four volumes is told from the perspective of a mother who suspects her teenage son is gay. Watching her grapple with her own internal issues, while at the time always being outwardly supportive of her precious offspring, struck a chord with me in a way that I didn't expect. Honestly, as much as I enjoyed these two volumes, I think they (and likely the rest of the series) would be even better for those who are struggling to embrace a gay loved one.

Laid-Back Camp Volumes 1 through 7

Laid-Back Camp may be the most joyous piece of media I've ever experienced. Everything is so peppy and positive that it never fails to bring a smile to my face. Which isn't to suggest it's annoyingly saccharine and lacking in depth. It sure is nice to read something so pure of heart once in a while, though. Laid-Back Camp follows a group of young girls who love to camp. They also love cooking and eating. The series, currently at 12 volumes, offers up surprisingly detailed descriptions of camping equipment, how to set up said gear, and how to prepare delicious-looking and -sounding camping-appropriate meals. That may seem goofy to some, but I loved it — especially when paired with a cast of endearingly dorky characters.

The Lathe of Heaven

Another novel that I had trouble with up to a point. With The Lathe of Heaven, though, the difficulty came from the protagonist being an annoying loser for at least half of the story, which centers on a man whose dreams can alter reality — and another man who takes advantage of that fact. Even when it challenged, though, The Lathe of Heaven remained a enthralling read thanks to the brilliant prose of Ursula K. Le Guin. She takes the story in some shocking and exhilarating directions while also keeping it grounded in the here and now. 


This 1986 release, which stars a young Elisabeth Shue, is billed as a horror flick. It sure didn't seem like one to me. There's some tension to it, but it's rarely scary and I only recall a single scene that could be called gross or gory. I still got a kick out of it, though, as the interplay between Shue and her simian costars rarely fails to captivate. I doubt I'll put Link into regular rotation or anything even resembling it, but I can see myself watching it again. On a related note, those of you who would like to see a real horror movie featuring scary-ass primates should check out Shakma from 1990. Ignore the critics; it's a terrifying treat.

My Brother's Husband Volumes 1 and 2

Similar to I Think Our Son is Gay in many ways, My Brother's Husband focuses on a straight Japanese man who welcomes into his home the Canadian husband of his deceased twin brother. The protagonist here, Yaichi, struggles more mightily with homophobia than does his counterpart in I Think Our Son is Gay, but his growth in this area makes My Brother's Husband an even more rewarding and tear-inducing read. This one is wrapped up in just two volumes, so it's a perfect gift for anyone in your life who is gay or who loves someone who is gay and hasn't entirely accepted that fact.


What a wild ride this manga is. The story begins in the small Japanese town of Kurouzu-cho, where the father of one of the protagonists becomes obsessed with spirals. That obsession doesn't end well for him or anyone else in this omnibus release. It would probably be a tantalizing-enough read in written form, but Junji Ito's macabre black-and-white drawings ensure it reaches that stature and beyond. Even at nearly 650 pages, Uzumaki is easy to race through, as the disturbing drama ratchets up with every new panel.