Thursday 24 October 2013

Bad Boy of Gaming: Contra Hard Spirits

Playtesting Contra Hard Spirits gave Genki a sharp, hard shock into how much our gaming skills are on the wane. Then when we think about it, Contra was always a real bad boy of gaming: a tough nut to crack, a real crack unit. Many would have sampled its delights as an early Super Famicom title. Konami certainly had the a grasp of the hardware from such an early stage that it would have spoken with a slightly squaky voice.

The hard as nails run and gun delight has been expertlu programmed to keep the frantic action varied and boiling to the point of nuclear fission. Also uses side on and overhead levels to keep the action fresh. The GameBoy version is a conversion of the fantastic Super Famicom version with extra levels and some surprises. Known as Contra Advance The Alien Wars EX in its English language version. Just don't say you weren't warned. But old school difficulty never did Genki any harm. Just a bit of a  nervous twitch...

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Grafting Games: Harvest Moon

Genki would rather not be running around after the horses, chicken and sheep everyday in this farm management game. Still the prospect of golden eggs helps Genki out of bed at the break of dawn. Plenty of freedom to visit others in town including the archaeologist, barmaid and little tree people (only after eating a special mushroom.) Miyamoto san would be proud. The very concept of a game running a farm was no doubt given a boost by Animal Crossing, yet the level of involvement and attachment ensures this is a real bumper crop. Working on a farm is fun but it also requires good organisation to keep the animals happy. The routine can be observed with room for a bit of fun on the side with multiplayer mini games and the locals are always up for a bit of banter.

The GameBoy got in on the act with a smashing version although the moles that get bashed on the head in the video games it is possible to play in game may disagree. Still farmers have never been big mole fans and its important to choose the right seed. Its possible to pop off fishing, even for a skinny dip in a hot spring in this varied version of the cracking Bokujo Monogatari.

There is a special For Girls version tailored more towards enjoying the title from a female perspective. The reactions of townsfolk vary plus the love aspect has been adjusted with the addition of rivals. More importantly the dog can now be trained instead of just getting underfoot.

There was also a more internationally minded version of the favourite farming sim on the GameCube as players get involved with English speaking non player characters, besides the mysterious love rivals that appear and of course the grind to keep the animals happy. Its Japanese subtitle is Shiawase no Uta.

Anyway Happy Farming.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Namco Gallery: Gaming History in a Cartshell

Namco have had a many and varied existence covering the coin-ops, sports games and just fine action blasts. As such the Namco Gallery encapsulates the spirit of retro gaming amongst its volumes in a nutshell.

Volume 1 is a fine compilation of Mappy, Galaga, Namco Classic and Battle City. The platforming delights of Mappy, shooting action of Galaga and golfing exertions of Namco Classic are well known and summaries are on the site. Perhaps the lesser known element in the package is Battle City which involves the players tank defending a position against a whole armoury of opponents tanks with cool calculated shots a requirement to progress.

Volume 2 features vintage shooter Galaxian, Dig Dug, Tower of Druaga and the baseball winner Famista 4. In Dig Dug players scrape through tunnels in order to eliminate the various critters hindering progress in this simple concept with pure gameplay. A fine game to go back to and very nicely preserved for future generations in this GB form. Druaga is from a golden era of gaming where players take on the role of knight tasked with clearing mazes. Set apart by Namcot's flair for appealing sprite graphics and some fine gameplay blending quick thinking and fast pacing to create a title as loved today in updates and on virtual consoles.

Finally Volume 3 contains four titles: Sky Kid, Babel, Family Tennis and Jantaku Boy. So its sports, mahjong and building up staircases to escape from Babels action puzzle levels. But its Sky Kid likely to be of most interest: a plane based fun shooter where pilots zip along rescuing folk and firing off a few volleys against the Red Barron like adversary planes. A tasty compilation. Happy Genki gaming.

Friday 18 October 2013

US Shenmue: Coversational Japanese Ahoy!

The huge budget opus of Yu Suzuki requiring no introduction. Set in a Japanese town complete with Snack (hostess bar) and game centre (arcade) including Space Harrier and Hang-On. Try not to get too distracted on the quest for vengeance! US Shenmue is a curiosity item in that the game box included in the outer card sleeve is the USA version, but with Japanese subtitles to help study English. And it really is a treat to assist language study with the conversational language being the sort gamers with a keen ear for linguistics will lap up. Even if some of it has a twinge of sailor speak.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Fame at Last....!

Not sure what my brother makes of being named in the article, but all publicity is good publicity right?
"The ritual of the cart and the console must be continued...!"
Happy Genki gaming....

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Puzzle Bobble Millennium

Perhaps due to its late arrival, Puzzle Bobble Millennium has become quite a collectable on the system. It is often the case that a late arrival in the system's lifespan leads to a lower print run and some notoriety as a rare title. The superb characterisation especially as found in the various characters inhabiting the story mode that make for such a winning combination when mixed with Taito's tried and tested action puzzle gameplay. A rarer version of the puzzler featuring the well loved Bob and Bub.

Friday 4 October 2013

Super Famicom Sparkster

Well known on the Mega Drive, yet this Super Famicom version really has the shackles off as Konami lets rip with vertically scrolling shooting levels with Sparkster on a hang glider to arrive for a boxing match with a boss, Goemon style. The crazed runners who speed past with a missile in tow require players to duck and weave in later levels. No further spoilers, suffice as to say there are so many special touches. We under the misconception that the definitive version was on the MD. Top stuff on the SFC.

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Ginga Force and Eschatos Wonder Pack

Genki is gearing up for the arrival of this superb double pack on Friday. Great value, Genki just wishes for better hand - eye co-ordination, rather than deteriorating. Sometimes I think it could be tactics, but watching some of these super play DVDs brings a sinking feel to the pit of the stomach. Still practise makes perfect and one day the aim is to hit the coin - ops of the Big T(okyo) with plenty of confidence and a bag full of 100 Yen coins. I fear it could be 500 Yen coins at this rate mind....

Ginga Force continues Qutes obsession with polygons to give the on screen shooting frenzy a real 3D feel as enemy vessels rise and fall from all angles. Combine this with some subtle lighting and it really keeps the trigger finger twitchy. Constant banter with the avatars helps add a little distraction from the intense action.

With Eschatos think of what Miyamoto san would have done given such raw polygon processing power on Star Fox and you are there. Eschatos has some scary bosses and genuinely breaks onto a new plane of shooting as they warp across the screen taking your line of fire with it. And as all good shoot em up fans know, bosses that can rotate freely do have a nasty tendency to reveal another side to their ship with fully intact blasters. Thankfully for Genki Easy mode exists.

Friday 28 June 2013

Go Gyaru: Gal Gun

Genki is excited about the overdue PS3 arrival of Gal Gun. Though perhaps that requires rephrasing in light of the subject matter. Certainly not your average shooter in the way the on screen 'camera' target is fired at the ladies in the game to win over their affection. As such it is a real cult favourite with the discerning otaku, though Photograph Boy on the PC Engine was never quite like this... Akiba culture has alot to answer for.

Thursday 27 June 2013

I wanted one of those: Hyper Boy

A real joy for anyone who grew up playing Grandstand games of similar dimensions. And Genki certainly cut a few teeth playing a yellow table top version of Frogger. This very smart accessory from Konami assists the original GameBoy. The handheld slips into the back of the Hyper Boy and gives it stereo sound through its side speakers. There is also a magnifying glass on its screen to give the screen dimensions a boost. The joystick and arcade style buttons help gameplay on almost all variety of games, especially shooters and fight titles. Thus avoiding the much feared finger cramp which few gamers can get insured against.

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Club Nintendo Mario DSi Pouch

Genki got a bit over excited on seeing these hats initially. Though it is perhaps for the greater good that they can't actually be worn. Certainly a very recognisable cap worthy of doffing your own hat to. Probably best not worn, especially to prevent the DS, DSi or DS Lite that can be stashed inside its pouch from taking a shock to the system.And also prevents poor: "It's me: Mario!" Impressions....

Monday 24 June 2013

Misty Eyed Classics: Nam 1975

Playing Metal Slug Advance and watching the Deer Hunter (well almost) got Genki thinking about the gaming equivalent of Apocalypse Now being set during the Vietnam War and some slightly unnerving later developments. But the game doesn't rely on any big license for a film that it may well be missing. Instead the player is present at the bottom of the screen and young marines must fire into the screen using the Operation Wolf style cursor, but at the same time cartwheel, duck and scramble away the marine to safety. Thus stretching eyesight to the max. A really atmospheric title that will draw players in to its depths. Never got past the piano scene in Deer Hunter mind. Think playing too much Nam 1975 made me fear the worst.... Do feel free to comment on either!

Thursday 20 June 2013

Mysty Eyed Classic: Metal Slug Advance

Mystery memories still prevail of popping coins into Metal Slug in the arcade, most likely with a bit of cigarette smoke still wafting in the air, like a jungle scene from a ropey Nam film. It stood out next to the likes of Ridge Racer and Tekken at the time simply by bucking the trend of 3D. But a couple of coins in (unlikely to have been 10p pieces, despite the nostalgia... Most likely 50p's....) its charms were soon more than apparent.

The concept of a handheld version of Genki's favourite run and gun really gets the gaming juices flowing. The NGPC version was of course an excellent conversion, yet the GBA screen dimensions allow for the extra space to be able to see what's coming ahead. And its usually an enemy barrage with some comical expressions when they are met by a tank or the like. Another gold star title for the roster that makes the GBA an old school gamers fave.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Mysty Eyed Classic: Ganbare Goemon 1.2

Genki Guru's will be well aware of our love of Goemon which seems to capture all we love about Japanese gaming in a well rounded and extremely polished platformers. And what Genki would have given for a handheld, colour version of Goemon back in the SFC day, let alone both the initial titles in the Super Famicom roster crammed onto one cart. Being Konami very enjoyable mini games with Gradius and fellow blaster Xexes featuring alongside a mole bashing game and wipe the floor with a cloth race are included. Bliss!

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Bandai Playdia - Early CD Rom Console -

Bandai went it alone to release its own baby rather than make third party releases for other manufacturers. This console is quite a curio rather than a gamers machine and vies for space on the Genki coffee table with a Casio Loopy to entertain visitors. Though the console has a sleek design with the control pad removable from the console base.
At the minute though a bit of drawing with Hello Kitty sounds as therapeutic as listening to Test Match Special to counter these pummelings on Dodonpachi Saidaioujou.... And I always believed I had been to the hard knocks school of gaming. I guess that school has been taken over and the door barricaded...

Friday 17 May 2013


Not assisting many gamers allusion that all the best pre-order gifts come from Japan comes a very smart cardboard box for collectors to store their roster of Famicom Mini titles. These GameBoy Advance titles were released to celebrate the fine Famicom's 20th anniversary. Lovely design and looks a real treat, especially if it can be filled with the full allocation of games. Or perhaps gamers would be happier not knowing what can be obtained in Japan...?!

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Cave Shooting Collection - going like hot Eccles Cakes!

Yoiks and double jinkies. This bumper pack seems to have created a perfect storm of frenzied demand and limited supply. The unseasonally chilly weather and the generous inclusions in this pack have brought a very festive feel to Genki Towers. Thanks to Cave for releasing it and good to know gamers appreciate the extras rather than complaining about the titles already owned. Never in the history of Genki have sales of a game been rationed in a USSR style. Anyway hope our blog subscribers get this heads up in time to make them feel Christmas (and we do, at present, have enough in stock for both of you....)

Thursday 28 March 2013

All Star Power League Gold Hu Card

Genki was recently proud to add Darius Alpha to our stock. Well that makes it sound like we have a few copies knocking around. Alas the supply of this game is strictly limited and its hard to find in collectors condition. Or any condition. But it blew our socks off to learn of the All Star Power League Gold Hu Card we recently clocked on sale in Japon at the tasty sum of 189,000 Yen. That's presently around £1300 or $2000 for our cross-Atlantic cousins. Yoiks! Still it is also pictured here for a mere 178,000. Jinkies!

The supplier mentions the dwindling stock in Japan due to them being sent abroad ad speculates from around 200 (or 100 according to the 178,000 dealer) there will only be one left in the whole country one day. I thought it was only us Brits who had such a depressing world outlook. Anyway next time you stumble across a copy in the bargain bins, try not to panic...

Game on! (Just probably not this particular one....)

Friday 22 February 2013

Oh My Car!

Genki is always intrigued by the differences between Western and Eastern versions of the same game. The box art issue with gruff Conan types replacing sleekly stylised anime artwork is no longer such an issue thanks to the cross pollination of Akiba influence. Yet why Final Fight has fish net legged Roxy and Poison in Japan removed in the West? And are we too nervous for the full glory of Biohazard (yes in Genki's case...!) ? Those of sharp eye at the Rage Quitter site have also noticed a slight change in this expletive...
Though perhaps we can see the reason's for this name change and why eyeballs are more desirable here.... 
Keep them peeled!

Club Nintendo Goodies

 Genki always struggles to resist the charm of Club Nintendo items. And these two have plenty of charm as well as historical significance as Nintendo dusts off the old printing press having started life as a playing card company. And few glasses wearers would decline a pair of cleaning cloths for their glasses with the friendly Yoshi discretely adorning them.

Nintendo gets back to its roots as a playing card producing company and it shows it has gathered no dust with these colourful, collectable, commemorative cards. Bowser fits the bill well as the joker and Princess Peach makes a smooth transition to queen.

 A set of two micro-fibre cleaning cloths suitable for cleaning the screen of your favourite handheld or perhaps even a pair of glasses. Each cloth is cut is a sixteen centimetre square and the set is made up of one green and one pink cloth with a nice representation of our Yoshi adorning them.

Thursday 21 February 2013

Gaming Price Inflation: Castlevania

Genki has noticed the vast inflation of late in the prices of the handheld versions of Castlevania or Akumajo Dracula. By either name Konami's series has had the strength in gameplay and the boldness in development to maintain a triple A series throughout the various formats it has graced since the Famicom era. The artwork here is from the fine DS version Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow.

 Vast cavernous levels that hide a multitude of secrets for determined gamers and all beautifully lit with flickering flames that almost drop atmosphere from them like molten wax. The stylus helps reveal hidden areas by breaking away walls and the use of the top screen for a map is a big bonus for those who wish to exorcise every last demon from the vast halls and nooky crannies. Follows on from the GBA games and maintains the impeccable standards.