So I bought at 2DS

2ds-blue

I purchased a 2DS along with Pokemon Y on launch date. I wanted to buy a 3DS, but never found it to be in a price range that I find reasonable for a portable gaming console, especially considering my distaste for 3D-anything. The 2DS sold at $129.99 was not a painful purchase. The 2DS feels comfortable in your hands and doesn’t feel like a strain like the regular DS or DS Lite. I was afraid that the mono speaker was going to impact my experience, but honestly it wasn’t too much a difference to me.

Some games coming soon that I am looking forward to playing on the 3DS:

  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies
  • Dragon Quest VII DS (please bring it to the USA Square-Enix!)
  • Super Smash Bros. 3DS

I have to start researching what games I missed out on as well.

Oishinbo: Foodie 8-Bit Adventure

Recently I played a fan-translation of Oishinbo: Kyukyoku no Menu 3bon Syoubu (The Gourmet: Ultimate Menu) for the Famicom. As a food writer, I’m particularly interested in this foodie series and hope one day there’s translations of the anime and manga widely available. Although Americas widespread food-interested culture is in its early stages of blossoming (thanks in large part to the Food Network), Japan has long had cult food followings and this is just one of the byproducts.

oishinbo-_7-02-web

You play the game as Shirou Yamaoka, a journalist, as he attempts to assemble the “Ultimate Menu” for his employer, Tozai Publishing, in honor of their 100th Anniversary. Shirou’s father and rival, Yuzan Kaibara, is one of the best chefs in Japan and commands The Gourmet Club, creating the background for Shirou as a food specialist in his own right. Kaibara-san is smug and certainly characterizes what one might imagine a top chef would act like.

Oishinbo (J)-0

The game feels similar to a detective text-adventure as you spend time investigating food with help from the various people you meet. Fellow co-worker Yuko Kurita assists you on your quest which takes you to various towns and locales searching for the best ingredient or dish.

Oishinbo (J)-24

Like many text-adventures there are several parts where you simply are not sure where to go and are left wandering around hoping to find the right clue or to talk to the right person to continue advancing the story. There are quite a few situations that will lead you to a Game Over, many times when you least expect it, which was slightly bothersome.

The music isn’t terrible for the 8-bit era and actually made me laugh a little when it included a few American patriotic songs like Yankee Doodle.


Some Japanese gameplay footage

Oishinbo (J)-48 Oishinbo (J)-40

Overall, the game was a fun, short quest and a small peek into the world of Oishinbo and if you pay attention to the text you can actually learn a few things about cooking and food throughout the game. I’d recommend it! Thank you to Boojumsnark for your translation!

Dahlia Hawthorne = EVIL

Recently beat Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations…man Dahlia Hawthorne is one evil cookie. Just her music theme is scary.

On another note, I cannot wait for Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies (the real reason I picked up a 2DS)!

What I’m playing 3/22

First off, I think everyone should read these two interviews on Hardcore Gaming 101 on two Metal Gear Solid translators: Jeremy Blaustein and Agness Kaku. Both shed some light on the translation roles in the gaming industry and how sometimes they are unappreciated. I was really surprised to read that Kaku was paid less than $5,000 for the translation of Metal Gear Solid 2 and never had any access to the staff or development team considering how much a huge blockbuster game MGS2 was after the success of the original. Personally, I am a huge fan of the translation done by Blaustein and his translation is far superior to that of the Twin Snakes in my opinion.

I have been plowing through some video games lately. I beat Super Mario 64 DS the other day. Although I enjoyed the addition of new characters, it was frustrating to have Mario stripped of all his powers and the controls of the game were quite frustrating. Many of the levels that I died in would have been easily avoided if I had a Nintendo 64 controller during the sequence and it really makes you realize how Super Mario 64 was perfectly tied to the Nintendo 64 controller and just is not the same on any other system. Nintendo really took lots of thought on how to make the game fully utilize the N64 and it just does not work the same when ported to the DS.

Now I have started playing Sonic Colors lately on the DS. The game certainly gives you the feeling of speed you want from a Sonic game, although sometimes I find myself completely losing track of where Sonic is on the screen because he is moving so fast. I think it is certainly one of the better Sonic games that I have played in recent years. I want to pickup Sonic Generations and Sonic 4: Episode 1 in the near future to compare how those games add up. They looked promising to me.

Another Sonic game I have been messing around with lately is Sonic Adventure 2. I realized the other day that I never beat it on the Dreamcast. I decided to go back and boot up the old Dreamcast and give the rest of the game another run. I came back to the point where I left off and realized why I quit. There is this part in level 15 where Sonic has to kill some enemies over a pool of poison and then  light speed dash to collect some rings. For some reason it always malfunctioned and I miserably fell to my death hundreds of times before finally making it past the pool.

Any old Sonic player can attest to the series unforgiving difficulty in past games, which was missing in Sonic Adventure (many people apparently complained about this). Sega came back around and made the sequel unbelievably unforgiving. Especially in the space levels (pictured above) where one wrong landing  can send you falling to your doom – and eventually lead to you restarting the level completely. My palms were pouring sweat during these space and various other grinding stages. The camera angles are also quite awful and often turns at the wrong time and leaves you dead. I have heard this is worse in the new Sonic the Hedgehog games…but have yet to touch them.

One thing I would have really liked in Sonic Adventure 2 was the areas like Station Square and the Mystic Ruins. I thought those locations added more to the story of the predecessor and the sequels story doesn’t captivate the way I wish it would.

Other than Sonic games I have started off my adventure in Dragon Quest VI. It is the last Dragon Quest games I have left to play until I can say I have played every game in the main series! =]

Lots to discuss in gaming. What are you playing these days?

I don’t agree with review score numbers

I write restaurant reviews for some local publications in my town and one of the things I hate to do is to assign a numerical score to a review. I feel the same way when reading about video games. Why? First of all, when you give something a number such as a 9/10 – the reader knows nothing except that you think this is a good game. Most people will glance at a score and then ignore everything else you had to say.  That is only the roof of the surface though…

The real issue I have with review scores is that it forces two things that are not the same to be compared. A 7.0 Resident Evil game is not the same as a 9.0 Final Fantasy game. They come from different genres, different companies, different budgets, etc. However, the numerical scores will cause people to compare the two at face value…when they actually have nothing in common.

I was reading this great review on Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City by Jim Sterling on Destructoid earlier tonight. The review is insightful and Sterling explains what he felt the issues with the game were and that he found himself still enjoying the game, despite its flaws. He scores the game a 7.5 and then people in the comments lash out against him for not scoring “better games” higher. Yet they are comparing games that do not fall into the same genre, console, etc. People need to realize that reviews are subjective. There is no truly wrong or right review score and as long as the reviewer shares his opinion, he has done nothing wrong.

Some people even claimed that he was bought off by Capcom to give a high score. These are probably the same people who claimed that Mass Effect 3 review numbers were purchased by Electronic Arts. First they are unhappy that the numbers are the same, then when someone is different they claim the same logic. Honestly, gamers need to grow up and form their own opinions. Read the review and make the decision for yourselves. Stop blaming someone for sharing their opinion and doing their job.

There might be some crooked journalists out there, but trust me – many journalists value integrity. They know they have a duty to their publication and to their website to be honest. There is nothing worse than spending time on a project and then having people trash all over it in the comments.

That’s my 2-cents on this issue.

Happy 15th Birthday NiGHTS!

I have many fond memories with NiGHTS into Dreams. Many of them involve spending the entire day playing and begging for just ten more minutes each time my parents harassed me about it. My Sega Saturn collection was short-lived, but one game I am happy I had the opportunity to enjoy was NiGHTS. The excellent soundtrack composed by Naofumi Hataya, Tomoko Sasaki, and Fumie Kumatani would go on to be one of my favorite soundtracks I would later add to my iTunes collection.

The thing that made NiGHTs so much fun was that it was a carefree game. You could dive right in and play. You didn’t need detailed instructions or have to worry too much about the storyline. It could all be inferred and that is one of the beautiful things about older games. Sega games, mostly arcade ports, never relied on a heavy storyline to be enjoyable and rewarding.

The controls were different than any game I played before. You could more or less fly around on a designated path. It invoked the feeling of a dream world where you can do things you wouldn’t expect to do in a game during that era. You could pick from two characters: Claris or Elliot and explore their dreams. They combine forces with Nights to save the dream world, Nightopia, from monsters.

NiGHTS was one of Sonic Team’s best games and it’s hard to believe that this game is now 15 years old! To celebrate the occasion, there is a new OverClocked Remix released for free today. Grab it at: http://lucid.ocremix.org/ In addition, fans of NiGHTS are campaigning for Sega to port NiGHTS. You can help their campaign by giving a free pledge at http://www.nid15.com/

I just dusted off my Sega Saturn. Time to play some NiGHTs.

Checkout the NiGHTS birthday buzz on Twitter: #NiGHTS15 and NiGHTS into Dreams

Follow me on Twitter: @CarlosPlays

Famicom Detective Club Part II: The Girl who Stands Behind

I played the fan translation of Famicom Tantei Club Part II: Ushiro ni Tatsu Shōjo (ファミコン探偵倶楽部PartII うしろに立つ少女), or Famicom Detective Club Part II: The Girl who Stands Behind in English last night and I was hooked. The game was originally released for the Super Famicom in 1998 (a remake of the 1989 sequel) via Nintendo Power and ported to the Game Boy Advance in 2004 as part of the Famicom Mini-series. I spent the whole night playing and then finished the game sometime today. I love mystery games and murder mysteries are always interesting to me as well. Some games that got me interested in these kind of text adventures are Snatcher, Policenauts, Deja Vu, and The Portopia Serial Murder Case. The original version of this game was on the Famicom Disk System and later ported to the Super Famicom and Gameboy Advance.

Two fan translation groups: “Neo Demiforce” and “Tomato” translated the Japanese game and released the patch on October 10, 2004. They did a great job translating the text. I’m no stranger to horror games on retro games and know that some can really spook you. Super Famicom Detective II did a good job of making my nervous about someone possibly standing behind me.

The story begins when you are adopted by an investigator, Shunsuke Utsugi, and trained as a detective…a position you accept because you are searching for your lost parents and Utsugi takes you in. You are assigned a case by Utsugi that becomes an interesting first case. Someone at Ushimitsu High School has been murdered. Ushimitsu is a school that has been plagued with ghost rumors for years. However, something lies within these creepy grounds and it’s your job to find out what that is. It’s difficult to know who to trust as everyone is looking to play an angle.

You question everyone from bartenders and students to teachers and policemen. The story is filled with twists and just when you think you have the story solved, you find new evidence. I got stumped a few times, but ultimately some parts are just about picking the right menu options. A version with voices would be pretty awesome, Snatcher-style. I have to admit it is hard to believe that Nintendo created this game, and it’s no wonder this game never appeared in the United States (besides the fact that most Americans fail to appreciate visual novel games the way the Japanese do). The eerie game soundtrack, color schemes, and anime scenes gave me the shivers at least a couple times throughout my play.

I finished the game impressed and wanting more. Definitely check this game out if you haven’t done so already. Hopefully someone will translate the original game, Famicom Detective Club, as the the second game is a prequel. Yet another day that I wish my Japanese foundation was stronger.

EGM’s 100 Best Games Ever

[Blogger note: I originally posted this to an old game blog of mine that I am officially retiring. I thought this list was useful and I do want to play most of these games so I'm posting it here]

In EGM’a January 2002, Issue 150, an article is featured where the staff members rate the 100 best games ever, and some staff members faves didn’t make the cut.

From 100 down.

100. Decathlete (Saturn)
99. Wipeout XL (Playstation)
98. Quake III Arene (Dreamcast)
97. Mario Golf (Game Boy Color)
96. Phantasy Star (Master System)
95. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (Nintendo Entertainment System)
94. Baseball Stars (Nintendo Entertainment System)
93. Super Smash Bros. (Nintendo 64)
92. Ice Hockey (Nintendo Entertainment System)
91. Final Fantasy VII (PlayStation)
90. Resident Evil (PlayStation)
89. Dragon Warrior IV (Nintendo Entertainment System)
88. Virtua Tennis (Dreamcast)
87 Sega Rally 2 (Dreamcast)
86. ActRaiser (Super Nintendo)
85. F-Zero X (Nintendo 64)
84. Samurai Showdown II (Neo-Geo)
83. Daytona USA (Dreamcast)
82. Kirby’s Avalanche/Mean Bean Machine (Super Nintendo/Genesis)
81. Ape Escape (PlayStation)
80. Skies of Arcadia (Dreamcast)
79. Mario Kart 64 (Nintendo 64)
78. Star Fox (Super Nintendo)
77. Metal Gear Solid (Game Boy Color)
76. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Genesis)
75. Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete (PlayStation)
74. Shining Force III (Saturn)
73. The Revenge of Shinobi (Genesis)
72. Advance Wars (Game Boy Advance)
71. Phantasy Star II (Genesis)
70. Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos (Nintendo Entertainment System)
69. Metroid (Nintendo Entertainment System)
68. Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts (Super Nintendo)
67. Street Fighter Alpha 3 (PlayStation/Dreamcast)
66. Donkey Kong (Game Boy)
65. Perfect Dark (Nintendo 64)
64. Mega Man II (Nintendo Entertainment System)
63. R-Type (R-Types Version) (PlayStation)
62. Resident Evil 2 (PlayStation)
61. Nights…Into Dreams (Saturn)
60. Super Mario RPG (Super Nintendo)
59. Virtua Fighter 2 (Saturn)
58. Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis)
57. Final Fantasy IX (PlayStation)
56. Landstalker (Genesis)
55. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX (Game Boy Color)
54. Devil’s Crush (TurboGrafx-16)
53. Super Punch-Out!! (Super Nintendo)
52. Herzog Zwei (Genesis)
51. Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (Nintendo Entertainment System)
50. Guardian Heroes (Saturn)
49. Contra (Nintendo Entertainment System)
48. Paper Mario (Nintendo 64)
47. Panzer Dragoon II Zwei (Saturn)
46. Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal (Game Boy Color)
45. Phantasy Star Online Ver. 2
44. Super Mario Kart (Super Nintendo)
43. Final Fantasy Tactics (PlayStation)
42. Contra III: The Alien Wars (Super Nintendo)
41. Ms. Pac-Man (Multiplatform)
40. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (Game Boy Color)
39. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (Game Boy Color)
38. R-Type Delta (PlayStation)
37. Resident Evil Code: Veronica X (PlayStation 2)
36. Chrono Cross (PlayStation)
35. Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (Game Boy Advance)
34. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! (Nintendo Entertainment System)
33. Saturn Bomberman (Saturn)
32. NCAA Football 2002 (PlayStation 2)
31. Madden NFL 2002 (PlayStation 2)
30. Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike
29. Super Mario Bros. 2 (All-Stars Edition) (Super Nintendo)
28. Hot Shots Golf 2 (PlayStation)
27. Sonic CD (Sega CD)
26. Chrono Trigger (Super Nintendo)
25. The Legend of Zelda (Nintendo Entertainment System)
24. Super Castlevania IV (Super Nintendo)
23. Gunstar Heroes (Genesis)
22. Super Mario Bros. (All-Stars Edition)
21. Dragon Force (Saturn)
20. Galaga (Multiplatform)
19. Panzer Dragoon Saga (Saturn)
18. Pokemon Puzzle League (Nintendo 64)
17. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 (PlayStation)
16. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (Super Nintendo)
15. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec (PlayStation 2)
14. Metal Gear Solid (PlayStation)
13. Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting (Super Nintendo)
12. Final Fantasy V (FF Anthology Edition) (PlayStation)
11. Super Mario Bros. 3 (All-Stars Edition) (Super Nintendo)
10. Super Mario World (Super Nintendo)
9. Final Fantasy III (Super Nintendo)
8. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64)
7. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (Nintendo 64)
6. Soul Calibur (Dreamcast)
5. Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)
4. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PlayStation)
3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link To the Past (Super Nintendo)
2. Tetris (Multiplatform)
1. Super Metroid (Super Nintendo)

I’ll Take The Case! Let’s Play The Portopia Serial Murder Case

I have always been personally interested in mysteries and detective games. The Portopia Serial Murder Case (PSMC) or ポートピア連続殺人事件, is an 1985 Enix game designed by Yuji Horii (from Dragon Quest). Hideo Kojima has been quoted saying that this game was one of two games (the other being Super Mario Brothers) that inspired him to enter the video game industry. PSMC was a huge hit in Japan and a big inspiration for Japanese visual novels, still being ported to cell phones and other Japanese consoles today. An unofficial translation was done by DvD Translations on June 16, 2006. One particular FAQ points out that one can say Snatcher was to Portopia, what Final Fantasy was to Dragon Quest.

Portopia has some interesting ties to Dragon Quest. The success of Portopia, helped convince Enix to pursue making an RPG like Dragon Quest in a market they previously felt was only for action games. Koichi Sugiyama, Dragon Quest composer extraordinaire met with the Dragon Quest crew after filling out a consumer response card for the Portopia Serial Murder Case.

There is a prequel to the game called Hokkaidou Rensa Satsujin Ohotsuku ni Kiyu and there a is a Yuuji Horii Mysteries trilogy released now that remain untranslated.

It’s a first-person adventure where you make choices that impact your investigation and although there are certain things you must do to complete the game, the way you choose to do it is entirely up to you. The game has basically no music to it besides the opening and closing, and the rest is just sounds as you click your way around and try to solve the mystery of who murdered Kouzou Yamakawa, a successful bank company president. You assume the role of a nameless investigator who travels with his right hand man, Yasu to find Kouzou’s murderer.

Without further ado, Let’s Play The Portopia Serial Murder Case: http://www.gamespite.net/talkingtime/showthread.php?t=8704

Snatcher on Gamespite

Snatcher is one of my favorite games of all time and in my opinion one of Hideo Kojima’s best masterpieces. Although I owned a Sega CD during its short lifecycle, I did not play Snatcher until years later once it gained a cult following. You can ready my Gamespite article on Snatcher that I wrote in 2007 here: http://www.gamespite.net/toastywiki/index.php/Games/Snatcher

If you haven’t played Snatcher yet, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.

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