Sunday, March 03, 2019

Manual Stimulation: Hoshi no Kirby (GameBoy)

I don't know about you, but something I expect from any Kirby game manual is a ton of adorable illustrations of the pink puffball himself.

Sadly, the Hoshi no Kirby instruction manual disappoints mightily in that regard.

Sure, it offers up a few nice Kirby drawings, but I thought I'd find a lot more than a few in this particular booklet.

Oh, well. It's still worth ogling. One case in point: the rather fabulous border that lines each and every page of the Hoshi no Kirby--Kirby's Dream Land elsewhere in the world--manual.

Seriously, it's bubblegum pink and it's filled with stars. What more could you ask for in this kind of situation?

This booklet is similarly filled with screenshots of the game, of course. Normally that would prompt an unenthusiastic yawn from me, but here they're colored to complement the rest of the manual's color scheme, so instead it produced a mildly appreciative nod of the head.

This next page, on the other hand, is like a stab through the heart. No one at HAL Laboratory or Nintendo could be bothered to whip up some line drawings of Hoshi no Kirby's items?

The game only has a handful, after all. Plus, I can't imagine reproducing them in illustrated form would be much of a challenge.

To be honest, the only illustrations that impress here are found on the Hoshi no Kirby instruction booklet's last couple of pages.

These pages detail the game's five stages, by the way. Speaking of which, I love their names--especially "Float Islands" and "Bubbly Clouds."

Now that you've taken a gander at the Japanese Kirby's Dream Land manual, what do you think of it?

See also: my Hoshi no Kirby review, some photos of the Hoshi no Kirby GameBoy cartridge and box, and scans of the Hoshi no Kirby Famicom manual

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Manual Stimulation: Nontan to Issho Kuru Kuru Puzzle (GameBoy)

Fun fact: Pokémon developer Game Freak had a hand in making the Super Famicom version of this adorable puzzler.

They seemingly had nothing to do with the original GameBoy release, though, which hit Japanese store shelves back in early 1994.

So who made it? Access, a company I'd never heard of before I started researching this post.

Sadly, I can't tell you how the two titles compare to one another. Based on what I've seen of the Super Famicom iteration, its gameplay mirrors what's offered up by the GameBoy cart.

As for what Nontan to Issho Kuru Kuru Puzzle's gameplay is like, imagine your typical match-two puzzler. (Yes, I said "match two" and not "match three" here.) Then alter that image in such a way that you can flip each of the game's pieces to see their backsides.

Sadly, that aspect of Nontan to Issho Kuru Kuru Puzzle isn't as thrilling as it may sound, but it still adds a unique twist to this overdone--at the time, in particular--genre.

With that out of the way, let's focus on the Nontan to Issho Kuru Kuru Puzzle instruction manual.

As you can see, it's very yellow-orange. It also features some nice illustrations of cute animals.

I think it could feature a lot more of the latter, though. I also think it could feature bigger and better illustrations of the game's puzzle pieces.

In the end, the Nontan to Issho Kuru Kuru Puzzle manual is more about explaining how to play the game than it is about forcing oohs and aahs out of readers.

To be honest, I can't blame the designers at Victor Interactive for going this route. Instruction manuals are supposed to educate people, after all.

Still, a little visual pizzazz would've gone a long way here, if you ask me--especially given this game's youthful target audience.

See also: photos of Nontan to Issho Kuru Kuru Puzzle's box and cartridge

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Manual Stimulation: Popeye (GameBoy)

Don't feel bad if this is the first you're hearing of this game.

After all, it was only released in Japan and it was both made and published by the unheralded Sigma Enterprises, Inc.

Plus, it isn't exactly a gem. It also isn't a turd, though. So what is it? Ignoring discussions of its quality for a second, this portable Popeye is, at its core, an overhead action game set in a handful of maze-like stages. Some folks might even call it a Pac-Man clone, although I wouldn't go that far myself.

Regardless, it's an enjoyable enough GameBoy title.

Another enjoyable aspect of this 1990 release: its instruction manual.

Things get off to a rather iconic start with the cover illustration seen above.

The game's story comes next--not that I can tell you anything about it. Maybe some kind reader can translate it for those of us who know little or no Japanese?

Next up, we've got a page detailing Popeye's controls and game modes. Interestingly enough, the two-player mode allows one person to control the husky, bearded Bluto--I'm guessing in a race to win the heart of Olive Oyl?

The spread above highlights Popeye's cast of characters. Swee'Pea is the baby shown at the top of the right-hand page, by the way, while the guy beneath him is Wimpy.

Oh, and those creatures near the bottom of the same page? Bluto tosses them around each stage to trip you up. Run into one of them and you'll be knocked out for a few precious seconds.

As you might expect, the Popeye instruction manual includes a page about the game's items. Sadly, there are only two: a can of spinach and a heart.

The can of spinach flies across a level at seemingly random moments. Catch it, and not only does Popeye become faster and stronger (the latter makes it easier to beat Bluto in a tussle), but he also can topple any obstacle that gets in his way, such as an alligator, a cannon, or even a hamburger.

The folks who pieced together the Popeye manual waited until the seventh page to explain how the game works. That explanation continues on pages eight and nine.

I'll do a deeper dive into this in an upcoming review of the game, but here's the gist for now: to clear each stage, you need to grab the hearts that are lying around, find Olive Oyl, and save Swee'Pea. Swee'Pea only shows up after you've accomplished the first two tasks, though, so start with those.

I'm not entirely sure what information the left-hand page above is supposed to pass along to readers, to be honest, though I think it may be giving hints on how to beat Bluto in the one-on-one fights that happen whenever he and Popeye touch.

The manual wraps up with some words about Popeye for GameBoy's two-player mode. I've yet to experience this mode myself, so I sadly can't tell you how it differs from the solo campaign (if at all).

See also: previous 'Manual Stimulation' posts on other Japan-only GameBoy games like Astro Rabby, Burning Paper, Noobow, and Peetan

Monday, February 04, 2019

To whom it may concern: I bought 15 3DS games in 2018

Actually, I bought 16 3DS games last year if you count my Japanese and North American copies of Dillon's Dead-Heat Breakers separately.

Which other 3DS games did I purchase in 2018?
  • 7th Dragon III Code: VFD
  • The Alliance Alive
  • Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
  • Creeping Terror
  • Dillon's Rolling Western
  • Ever Oasis
  • Jake Hunter Detective Story: Ghost of The Dusk
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising
  • Luigi's Mansion
  • Monster Hunter Stories
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux
  • Sushi Striker
  • WarioWare Gold
  • Witch & Hero 3
The most impressive aspect of this whole thing--or at least it's impressive to me--is only three of the 3DS titles I picked up last year were small eShop offerings. All the rest were full-fledged (and often full-priced) experiences.

Also, I finished five of the games mentioned above and put a good dent into two others by the time the year came to a close. (The Alliance Alive, Creeping Terror, Luigi's Mansion, Sushi Striker, and WarioWare Gold make up the first batch of titles, while the second consists of Dillon's Dead-Heat Breakers and Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux.)

Although there's no doubt in my mind I'll buy fewer 3DS titles in 2019 than I did in 2018, I don't expect that number to drop to zero.

In fact, zero is an impossibility at this point, as a couple of weeks ago I purchased a copy of Kirby Triple Deluxe.

And not only that, but two other 3DS carts--Etrian Odyssey Nexus and Yo-kai Watch 3--are on their way to me as we speak. Two others--Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn and Persona Q2 will join them in March and June, respectively.

Plus, I'm seriously considering picking up Detective Pikachu, Etrian Mystery Dungeon 2, Persona Q, and Yo-kai Watch Blasters as well.

I don't suppose any of you are still buying and playing 3DS games these days? If you are, let me know which ones you're planning to buy or play this year in the comments section below.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

How I spent my time with video games in 2018

I don't know about you, but the 3DS has spoiled me as far as tracking the time I spend with games is concerned.

And let there be no doubt: I like tracking the time I spend with games.

Why? I honestly have no idea. I guess it's just pure curiosity--as in, I think it's interesting to see how much time I put into the games I play (especially ones I finish).

Anyway, because none of my other systems track play time like my 3DS does, I have to track it the old fashioned way--by keeping my eye on the clock as I play and then compiling the results in a text file after I'm done.

That's what I did to come up with almost all of the figures you see below, which represent how I spent my time with a variety of video games in 2018:

  • Sweet Home (Famicom)—12 hours, 10 minutes
  • Death Mark (Switch)—11 hours, 20 minutes
  • Space Dave! (Switch)—10 hours, 30 minutes
  • Luigi’s Mansion (3DS)—10 hours, 25 minutes
  • Undertale (Switch)—9 hours, 05 minutes
  • Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers (3DS)—7 hours, 15 minutes
  • Tobu Tobu Girl (GameBoy)—5 hours, 45 minutes
  • Creeping Terror (3DS)—5 hours, 00 minutes
  • Phantasy Star (Master System)—4 hours, 45 minutes
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)—4 hours, 30 minutes (plus 7 hours, 45 minutes from 2017)
If you'd like to learn a bit more about some of these games, by the way, click on the links above.

Also, do you keep track of how much time you spend with games? If so, share your 2018 stats with me via a comment.

See also: how I spent my time with video games in 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014