Chaos Dunk Advisory: 10 Year Warning

A very important game in the cross-cultural canon turns 10 years old today: Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, or, to give it its full title, Tales of Game’s Presents Chef Boyardee’s Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden – Chapter One of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa.

One of the most interesting, unusual and genuinely good freeware projects out there in the wild, Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, as we shall refer to it hereafter, is a JRPG-inspired game that every fan of the genre owes it to themselves to spend some time with… and that even people who don’t find themselves typically into JRPGs can also have a great deal of fun with, too.

Positioned as a sequel to both the 1993 Mega Drive sports game Barkley, Shut Up and Jam and the 1996 live action/Looney Tunes hybrid movie Space JamBarkley, Shut Up and Jam Gaiden is a highly creative sci-fi parody that pokes fun at a whole ton of things over its relatively short runtime, but manages to do so without ever feeling mean-spirited or like it’s “trying too hard”. And that, if nothing else, is reason for celebration.

Continue reading Chaos Dunk Advisory: 10 Year Warning

Taito Essentials: Cameltry

What a glorious name for a video game: Cameltry. Say it to yourself a few times. Cameltry. Cameltry. Cameltry.

So far as I can determine, there is no meaning to the word beyond “a 1989 arcade game by Taito”, which is sort of a shame, but, well, a game having such a peculiar name is at least one way to ensure it is memorable.

Fortunately, Cameltry is also a highly enjoyable if often overlooked installment in Taito’s arcade back catalogue, and well worth your time if you enjoy fiddly puzzle games and obstacle courses.

Continue reading Taito Essentials: Cameltry

Namco Essentials: Sky Kid

While I was familiar with most of the other games in the Namco Museum collection for Switch, one that I hadn’t come across before was Sky Kid.

First released in 1985, Sky Kid is a horizontally scrolling shoot ’em up based on the company’s Pac-Land hardware introduced the previous year. Indeed, this fact is fairly obvious, as the two games have a similar aesthetic, and in a later mission there is even a billboard where Pac-Man in his Pac-Land incarnation (sporting arms and legs) makes a cameo appearance.

It’s the first of Namco’s games to support two players simultaneously, and aside from all that, it’s an entertaining, interesting take on the arcade shoot ’em up.

Continue reading Namco Essentials: Sky Kid

Waifu Wednesday: Blanc

It’s Waifu Wednesday, and a popular request over the last few weeks of Neptunia-themed Waifu Wednesdays has been Lowee’s goddess Blanc. So this week I’m granting that wish!

Blanc is quite a contrast to the other goddesses of Gamindustri in quite a few ways, but she’s a popular character in her own right — and, like Noire and Vert, is an excellent personification of the company she is supposed to represent.

Hailing from the magical, wintery land of Lowee, Blanc personifies Nintendo, both as a representation of the company’s hardware from the Wii era onwards, and a number of aspects of the company from over the years.

Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Blanc

Can Post-Launch Support Go Too Far?

The hot news today has been the announcement of the Final Fantasy XV: Royal Edition, which not only features the base game and all of the Season Pass content, but also adds a number of additional elements to the mix that some may argue should have been in the game in the first place.

This is not, however, where the ongoing saga of Final Fantasy XV ends. Square Enix is planning a second round of premium downloadable content for the game, including standalone “Episodes” themed around antagonist Ardyn and fan favourite Aranea — and who knows what else?

There’s no denying that despite its immensely troubled development history, Final Fantasy XV has had more post-launch support than any big-budget triple-A game in recent memory — and by this point is starting to approach MMO levels of updates and patches. But is this actually a good thing?

Continue reading Can Post-Launch Support Go Too Far?

Cyberdimension Neptunia: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

One of the interesting things about the Neptunia series as a whole is that it doesn’t really have an overarching “big plot” as such, but nonetheless sees each of its characters getting plenty of development.

Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online is an especially intriguing case in that, although it is a spinoff title from the main series, previous examples of which have been regarded as non-canonical, it feels like one of the most significant instances of each member of its main cast “advancing” in their overall development and growth.

In fact, in many ways, the fact Cyberdimension Neptunia does not feature a prominent note that it is a non-canonical installment can lead us to believe that it is a quasi-sequel to Megadimension Neptunia V-II and its predecessor Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory/Re;Birth3, particularly given the presence of characters who were introduced in those games, such as Plutia and Peashy (Victory/Re;Birth3) and Uzume (V-II). And in that context it’s actually a very significant installment in the series from a narrative perspective.

Continue reading Cyberdimension Neptunia: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

Memrise: Another Daily Way to Practice Your Japanese

A while back, we took a look at Duolingo’s iOS and Android-based solution for training your Japanese skills on a daily basis.

Duolingo has since launched the Web-based version of its Japanese course and it is still a worthwhile use of your time, particularly if you’re starting out. But I’ve been exploring an alternative recently after my friend “Firion Hope” on Twitter made me aware of it… and I think I prefer it slightly after spending a couple of weeks with it.

That alternative is Memrise, and if you’re looking for a way to get into the habit of daily study as well as challenging yourself a bit, it’s well worth a look.

Continue reading Memrise: Another Daily Way to Practice Your Japanese

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