Ten years ago today saw the English launch of a quirky Japanese puzzler, a sleeper hit that would go down as one of the most endearing, original, and gleefully weird gaming stories of the 2000s: Katamari Damacy. Its fever-dream plot has the record-scratching, Freddie Mercury-esque King of All Cosmos destroy the stars in a drunken fugue, and you, the diminutive Prince, must restore them with the Katamari -- a magical sticky ball that snowballs through cluttered environments, rolling up paperclips, flowerpots, cows, buses, houses, skyscrapers, and continents into new constellations. It also boasts one of the most infectiously joyous soundtracks of all time -- an eccentric, richly produced, and incredibly catchy blend of funk, salsa, bossa nova, experimental electronica, J-Pop, swing, lounge, bamboo flute, hair metal, buoyant parade music, soaring children's choirs, Macintalk fanfares, and the finest theme song this side of Super Mario Bros. Called a consumerist critique by sculptor-turned-developer Keita Takahashi (who after one sequel moved on to Glitch, the supremely odd Noby Noby Boy, and playground design), the series has inspired much celebration and thought [2, 3] on its way from budget bin to MoMA exhibit. Look inside for essays, artwork, comics, lyrics, more music, hopes, dreams... my, the internet really is full of things. [more inside]
Diggin' in the Carts: A documentary series about Japanese video game music, and it's effect on global music.
The beforemario blog showcases the toys and games Nintendo created in the period from the mid 1960s to the early 1980s, including: Nintendo Popeye Trump cards, Nintendo Love Tester, Nintendo Ultra Hand, Nintendo Disney Baseball Board, Nintendo Companion, Nintendo Mamaberica baby stroller, Nintendo Monster Copy, Nintendo Bee Hive Game and Nintendo Mister Magician Coin & Stick. Full list.
In anticipation of the Wii U Virtual Console release of EarthBound (Mother 2), Nintendo asked series creator Shiegato Itoi (official homepage) to say a few words about the game. What he wrote is nostalgic, heartfelt and perhaps even a little bit wise. [more inside]
Illustrator Jed Henry and woodblock printmaker David Bull recently collaborated on a set of videogame-inspired woodblock prints in the ukiyo-e style. Just recently funded through Kickstarter, the prints are already underway. There are videos of the creative process here and at the bottom of the first link.
Here are fan-translated Game Center CX (previously) Episodes on YouTube: #1: Atlantis No Nazo, #2: Challenger, #3: Ghosts 'N Goblins, #4: Konami Wai Wai World, #5: Metroid, #6: Solomon's Key, #7 & #8: Prince of Persia: Part 1 - Part 2, #9: Mega Man II, #10: Super Mario 3. Much more after the break.... [more inside]
Dogu are stylized clay figures from the prehistoric period of Japanese history. After Erich von Däniken popularized his 'ancient astronauts' ideas, Dogu became associated with alien visitors and appeared in many videogames.
More information from The Met and Wiki.
More information from The Met and Wiki.
Box Art showcases awesome and artistic videogame box art. Eastern Mind writes about obscure Japanese videogames, with a focus on adventures and music games.
The video game SEGAGAGA, a Japan-only release for the Dreamcast, is an incredibly odd bit of gaming history. A business sim (of sorts) it tasks the player to lead Sega to victory over its rival the evil DOGMA Corporation (a thinly veiled analog for Sony). Loaded with in-jokes obvious and obscure, it is a love letter to Sega fans, and it was one of the last Dreamcast games made before Sega went third party. After a four-year hiatus, the Segagaga fan translation project has resumed work on localizing this most unusual game. Intro video. Edge Magazine interviews the director. [more inside]
Amidakuji, or "Ghost Leg," is a lottery party game from Japan. At the top of a sheet there are a number of spaces for people to write their names. At the bottom there are prizes. There are an equal number of each. Between them is a map obscured behind a sheet. The map is made of straight vertical lines connecting the names and prizes. Connecting those lines at random intervals are horizontal lines. When it's time to pick winners, the sheet is removed and players can follow the lines to find their prize. You follow the line from your name down until you encounter any horizontal line, which you must follow, then continue down, continuing to follow all horizontal lines you encounter, until you reach your prize. No two horizontal lines can touch. Provided that, the process is perfectly deterministic and reversable. The same ends are reached whether you follow from the top down or the bottom up. If you have difficulty visualizing this, check the Wikipedia page. [more inside]
September 13, 2010 marks the 25th anniversary of the original Japanese release of Super Mario Bros, featuring the return of everyone's favorite sailor, Popeye. That's not right, he's the Italian carpenter, Mario. Wait, now he's a plumber with a brother (named Luigi Mario), and they're not normal, they're super! And they're fighting to save Princess Peach Toadstool from an angry ox king, who became the stubborn but cute turtle Bowser. [more inside]
Alright! Let's go on a journey — through time and space! There are 95 Pokemon stamps! Let's get all of them!
"And much like Christmas, originally about the birth of a religious savior-figure named Jesus, is now about buying things for people and hoping that they buy more things for you, much how Easter, originally about the death of a religious savior-figure named Jesus, is now about receiving rabbit- or egg-shaped chocolates, now and forever Obon is about collecting all of the Pokemon." Japan, trains, marketing, pachinko, hordes of stamp-seeking children.
Takeshi no Chōsenjō: it came before the endurance test that is Desert Bus, and served as an inspiration for Janey Thompson's Marathon. In English it is known as Takeshi's Challenge. Released in December 1986 for the Famicom system, the game mechanisms include use of the Famicom microphone to sing karaoke for an hour. And that's after you drink to the point of blacking out, divorce your wife, quit your job, and learn to hang glide AND learn the Hintoba language, amongst other things. All of this takes place in lands populated with nothing but people that want to beat you to death. Of course, you can skip that all and complete the game in a mere 4 minutes by simply walking off the edge of existence, and magically ending at the final treasure room. [more inside]
Sure you consider yourself a retro 8-bit gaming geek, but have you played Udon Boy in Ramen Land, or Kung Fu Psycho Rider? Don't feel bad, they're from Japanese culture store Meteor's annual Famicase, an exhibition of imaginary games.
bit Generations is a line of Japanese budget-priced Game Boy Advance games Nintendo released these past two weeks. Most of the titles feature minimalist graphics combined with simple but engaging gameplay, echoing the company's recent philosophy. Perhaps the most intriguing of the games is Soundvoyager, in which the player relies almost entirely on audio positioning to progress- a bit reminicent of this. No word on a US release yet, but if Electroplankton made it out here, maybe there's a chance.
Hardcore Gaming 101 has a e-newsletter, but the best things there are the loving introductions to dozens of classic games and game series, all either sadly forgotten or practically unknown to the Western World. Thrill to the serious action of Compile shooters! Avoid the mocking gazes of friends, roomies and significant others while reading about venerable Konami cute-em-ups Twinbee and Parodius! Figure out why the hell so many Namco games have Valkyrie in them! Try to keep a straight face when confronted with the likes of Ganbare Goemon, Phoenix Wright, The Neverhood, No One Can Stop Mr. Domino!!!, Panic!, Urban Yeti and Segagaga, the Sega Simulator! Do, uh, something along with the T&A delights of Keio Flying Squadron, Popful Mail and Valis! All this and much, much, much much more.
Princess Maker 2 - Stressed out from current events? I doubt the game is as much fun to play as it is to be bewildered by, but either might help. "...is basically a perverse sports management simulation where your entire team consists of a single ten year old girl that you have to raise to adulthood. Much like any decent sports manager game you have to keep track of a nearly overwhelming number of statistics that fluctuate based on training. In Princess Maker 2 these run the gamut from the mundane like "strength" and "charisma", to the droll like "cooking" and "conversation", to the bizarre like "sin" and "temper". "
In-your-face shoot-em-up action by bedroom-coders/games designers. From Japan: Warning Forever; Perfect Cherry Blossom; Cho Ren Sha 68K; Bullet Philharmonic Orchestra; Score Soldier; rRootage; Every Extend; TKKN / Crazy Game; and Galshell: Blood Red Skies [NSFW]. Be attitude for gains! From the West: Deadeye; Strayfire; Warblade; Mutant Storm; Bugatron; Space Birdz; Spheres of Chaos; Battle of Yavin; Demonstar; 'Troid; Platypus; Gridrunner; Intensity XS; and Tsunami 2010. From the pages of Edge magazine.
His name is Mr Freetime, he has 2,967 copies of Moero!! Pro Baseball for the Famicom. He knows how to use them.
Boon-Ga Boon-Ga! [via fark] - a video game played by spanking. Even worse is the person dressed up like the game controller at a trade show, even more disturbing next to the person in the turd (?) costume. Brought to you by Taff System (link not functional at time of posting)