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Monday, August 23, 2010

Old-School Review - Konami Wai Wai World

It’s always been to my amazement seeing gimmicks such as crossovers of any form. Recently, I’ve been seeing many crossover games. Of course it’s no longer surprising considering that Capcom has done almost every crossover they could come up with in their fighting games. But don’t you think it would be cool if they could do a crossover platformer, adventure, or RPG game? So far though, I haven’t seen any such thing happen… At least not yet on my end. The closest I’ve seen to that was the Metal Gear Solid/Monster Hunter crossover in Konami’s Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, or Square Enix’s Kingdom Hearts series. But from all the crossover games I saw so far, for me, nothing would still top my one and (I guess) my only favorite retro crossover game: Konami Wai Wai World.

Konami Wai Wai World (or as I usually call it, Konami World) is an old-school game by Konami where they feature various Konami characters banding together to save the world. The game starts with your two main characters: Konami Man (I used to refer him as Captain Konami…) and Konami Lady. They’re both summoned by Dr. Cinnamon (from the Twin Bee series) and sent to different worlds using some sort of teleportation machine operated by Pentarou (from Antarctic Adventure) to save other Konami characters, and then travel together to space using Vic Viper (from Gradius) and Twin Bee to stop aliens from conquering the world… or at least that’s how I understand the game story goes.

Wai Wai World is a part platformer, part shooter game, having six platform levels to get through, one shmup level and one final platform level. Players will most likely need to get through the six levels to get their comrades, items and sub-weapons. Each world has a different feel, replicating the six Konami games they feature in the crossover.

There are eight playable Konami characters in the game. Each comes from other Konami games. (Well, almost.) I’ll try to share a little info on each character to the best of my knowledge…

Goemon: From the game Ganbare Goemon. His character is that of a ninja. I’m not really familiar with this character or any of his games. All I know is that he’s one of those old-school Konami characters. Goemon’s basic attack strikes upwards, giving you an advantage when hitting enemies from below. He’s also the only character that can open treasure chests for items. I’m not sure why, but perhaps it has something to do with his character.

Simon Belmont: From the Castlevania series. He’s a vampire hunter equipped with the legendary whip, Vampire Killer. Well, everybody who knows Castlevania should know about this guy. No need for further explanation. >=) Simon’s major advantage is his basic attack that can reach enemies mid-screen, However, it’s slow so you can’t always rely on it, especially since most enemies move at a quick pace. His sub-weapon (Cross Boomerang) is great… like always. >=)

Getsu Fuma: From the game Getsu Fuma Den, which I was fortunate to be able to play back then. Fuma is a swordsman possessing the legendary wave swords, called Hadouken, which he uses to fight off demons. Though he really looks cool in his game, I don’t see anything special about him in WWW. Strangely, he can break walls with his sword. Also, according to other reviews, with Fuma, items drop more often from enemies. I’m not sure though since I’ve never paid attention to the drop rate.

Mikey: From the game The Goonies, which was adapted from an old film carrying the same title. Mikey is a kid, making him the smallest among the characters. Because of this, his basic attack is also short-ranged and weak, but he can easily avoid projectiles especially when he ducks. Just be careful because he takes more damage than the others… because he’s a kid. >=)

Moai: This big-headed stone character was based on the enemies from the Gradius series and didn’t have its own game until they released a game some time after WWW, called Moai-kun (also one of the rarest games I’ve played back then) that featured it in SD form. Moai in WWW is big and is the strongest among the characters. He can break rocks and has tougher defense than the others… because he’s a rock, I guess. XP

Kong: From the game King Kong 2: Ikari no Megaton Punch. This game was based on a King Kong film. Like Moai, Kong is big and also one of the strongest characters available. He can jump higher than others because… he’s King Kong. (Why else? XP) His sub-weapon is also much stronger than others, but has very short range and the direction of the attack is downward, so it’s only effective when hitting enemies below.

Konami Man/Konami Girl: They’re the main heroes you start with in the game. The two are pretty much basic with decent attacks and sub-weapons, but later in the game, once you acquire a certain special item, they would have the ability to fly around, which is pretty helpful especially when using sub-weapons. Don’t think you can breeze through the game with this ability though. Its not going to work that way… >=)

Each character has their own theme music and plays whenever you’re using them, like Simon Belmont’s all-time favorite Vampire Killer theme. They also have their own death sequences. If any one of your characters dies, you have to revive them with the help of Dr. Spice (Dr. Cinnamon’s brother. They’re pretty much alike except that Dr. Spice wears black =/), and pay 100 bullets per character (yeah, paying bullets to revive a person doesn’t make any sense also =/). If all of them die, KM and KL are only ones that will be revived.

Twin Bee, Vic Viper.. launching! >=D
Once you’ve gathered all the characters, you’ll able to ride either the Vic Viper or Twin Bee for the shmup stage. The two ships have their own distinctive characteristics in terms of power-ups, like VV has its usual laser and missiles while TB has its knuckle missiles and ring beam. But they also share some common power-ups like the barrier shield and options. (which we all know belongs to the VV, but here, TB can also receive it. Now that’s crossover!) >=) After the shmup stage, you’ll reach the final stage of the game. I guess I should leave that part for you to see for yourself. ;)

Konami's old-school powerhouse characters >=D

Konami Wai Wai World was a very good platformer/shmup game. I believe its one of the best games Konami made for the NES/FamiCom, though I wouldn’t be surprised if only a few people have had the experience of playing it. After all, it was only released in Japan. The difficulty of the game was okay, as it depended on the stages themselves. Personally, Kong, Fuma and Moai’s stage were the hardest. Navigating through the options would be something that might need some getting used to since it’s all in Japanese, but it shouldn’t take too long to figure it out. ;) If you’re a Konami fan of any sorts especially of their old-school games, then you have to try this. It would be much appreciated if you would also play the games that were featured here.

You know, for many years I actually had this wish. I wished Konami would get the idea of creating a new WWW game and feature today’s Konami games: Silent Hill, Metal Gear Solid, Suikoden, Castlevania… uhm… and Yu-Gi-Oh! Now THAT would be a great crossover, don’t you think? >=D Well, anyway, its just a wish. That’s about it for now.

Until then!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Special Birthday Post for Jima-san

In honor of The HobbyBox’s “Big Boss” for his upcoming birthday, let me share this post to him… That is, if he’ll allow this to stay posted, hehehe! 

Since Jima-san’s birthday is coming, I thought of posting something in The HobbyBox in dedication to the event. I couldn’t think of anything really interesting though, so I just thought of writing a testimonial about Jima -- on how I met him, how we managed to get along, what were my impressions of him at first, etc, etc. Something like that. So, this is how it goes… 

The Encounter 
We started as college buddies back then. Jima was my classmate in one subject during our first semester but we didn’t know each other yet at the time. However, he was one of the few people I easily recognized because I always saw him in the arcades, playing Power Stone 2. We only started to get along during our second semester. I got easily drawn to the guy because he’s one of the few people I could share my geekiness and such. From that point on, I would often visit his place and spend like half a day or more doing nothing but otaku stuff. Even up to this moment, I still keep in touch and pay him a visit whenever I can. So that’s how our “pack” started.

First Impressions 
Jima is very much an okay guy to me. Though some people would tend to think of him as a weird guy full of nonsense because of his ways, that’s just them, people being crappy a**holes. Guess it takes a geeky person to understand another geeky person, heheh! Unlike me, he’s not a very serious type of person. He’s easygoing and pretty much loves to have fun. I also first thought of him as a short-tempered person before because he usually swears whenever he’s deeply engaged in playing a fighting game in the arcade, but (according to him) he’s not angry at all. In fact, he’s not actually that easy to anger. 

Jima as an Otaku 
Jima doesn’t always ride along with the mainstream. He would rather enjoy things differently. He doesn’t flow along with other people getting into MMORPGs, Counter-Strike, DOTA (Defense of the Ancients) and Tekken, and instead would rather play Pokemon, Hokuto no Ken (Fist of the North Star), ParaParaParadise, The Sims and shmups… Yeah, he’s something like that. ;) Jima greatly appreciates old-school games of any form. He’s also a big fan of Nintendo which is why he’s most likely patronizing its products, like the DSi XL, and buying its games (as opposed to just merely pirating them). 

When it comes to anime of course, he’s an otaku through and through, so basically he loves everything about it. I can’t really pinpoint what are his all-time favorites since I don’t usually ask him about it though. Other than those usual popular ones, he loves anime with loli-based characters and simple slice-of-life stories. He also likes tokusatsu shows, most especially the Kamen Rider series, but I believe he only began his interest in it from Kamen Rider Kiva

Despite being an otaku, Jima is not actually that much interested in attending anime-themed gatherings like the Ozine Fest or such, not unless there’s something there to interest him or something good would happen to him at any of it. Of course, other than being an otaku, he’s pretty much a normal guy who also likes to do things like read books, watch informative shows like documentaries (like Mythbusters) and such. 

Wish for the Man 
Well, what should I say…? Have good health, be prosperous, always be good, and all those other common birthday greetings I guess, hehehe! (^^) But seriously -- Always stay the same. Always be true to yourself. If you’re gonna change, always change for the better. What else…? Hmm, a girlfriend maybe? That would be nice, right? Hehehe! (^^) Well, just take your time with looking for your soulmate. Just one more thing -- if ever you’re gonna have one, make sure she’ll accept everything about you and you, her. That would make the relationship a lot easier (^^). Anyway, just always live your life the way you want… Stay otaku, of course!

Happy Birthday, Jima-san! 

Until then!


Monday, August 9, 2010

Figma x Revoltech x Nendoroid, or the Action Figure Primer, Part 1

One of the first Figmas: Hatsune Miku!
We otaku have our own fixations and most of us have probably bought and collected action figures of our favorite anime and manga characters at one time or another. It’s easy to confuse one action figure manufacturer with another given that there are a hundred or so of them out there. Here’s a handy guide to some of the more trusted brands out there:

Let’s start with Max Factory’s Figma action figure line. It’s one of the most popular out there and is usually the first choice among otaku when it comes to moe figures. The line’s signature is its anime and manga heroines: From Suzumiya Haruhi and her gang to the girls of Evangelion and K-On!, the line is just oozing with moe (though there are some male figures too). The figures are presented at about 1/16 scale, making an average Figma around 3 to 4 inches tall. They possess a high degree of accuracy towards a character’s features. Figma figures are full-featured and well-articulated, utilizing ball and hinge joints for maximum posability. All figures in the line also comes with a display stand, extra hands (affixed to a “hand rack” so that they won’t go missing) and faces, accessories and a zip-lock bag for storage and transport.

Some words of wisdom: Figma models may not be budget-friendly but are well worth the money. Another thing is that the figures tend to be fragile, so it’s best to store your Figmas in a moisture and dust -free environment when you’re not displaying them.
An assortment of Revoltech figures

Next we have Kaiyodo’s Revoltech figures. This brand is known for their use of the “revolver joint,” a newly developed joint that resembles a revolver pistol’s chambers. Revolver joints lock in place until they are moved, thus Revoltech figures are known to be solid, durable figures that can hold a particular pose indefinitely.

Revoltech is best known for their mecha figures, with the first released lines being Nagai Go’s robots, which include Getta Robo and Mazinger Z. Subsequent releases include Macross, Gunbuster and Evangelion mecha among others. Due to their exceptional posability, Revoltech also features characters from various video games and shonen anime like Street Fighter and Sengoku Basara to name a few. Thus, Revoltech is known as a GAR (or “manly” in common terms hehe) brand, the opposite of Figma which is too moe to handle.

But Revoletch has a special line called Fraulein Revoltech which features anime and video game girls. The line-up is not as extensive as Figma’s and not that moe (because of the revolver joints) causing the line to be a bit unpopular to moe figure collectors.

That said, Revoltech figures are surprisingly cheaper than Figma’s, making them a good choice for otaku on a budget. 
K-on! Nendoroid!

Now Nendoroids (mostly created by Good Smile Company) are a different case altogether. If Figma is known for being moe, Nendoroid figures take moe-ness to a whole new level. Nendoroids are all super-deformed (SD): Big-headed and child-proportioned figures, which simply spells moe and cuteness all in one neat package. Add to that the fact that almost all Nendoroids are anime babes and we got one of the best-selling toylines from Japan.
Death Note Pucchi Nendoroids: smaller than your average Nendoroids

And what’s better than a Nendoroid? A Pucchi Nendoroid! Smaller and way cuter than their bigger counterparts, Pucchi nendoroid are the latest in the lineup. You’d better get your hands on these when they’re released since some of them are made in very limited quantities.

So there you have it. Next time you want to get your hands on the anime action figure of your choice, you’ll know what you’ll get for your money’s worth and satisfaction. Watch out for Part Two of this series for a round-up of more anime toylines!


Monday, August 2, 2010

Old-School Review - Dragon Quest, Erdrick Trilogy

In honor of the release of Dragon Quest IX for the Nintendo DS handheld, let me share with you this review of one of my best-loved RPG games, right before I even knew about Final Fantasy!

Dragon Quest is one of the first few known RPGs back then, created by Enix (now Square Enix, after joining forces with Squaresoft). It was a decent RPG for its time along with Final Fantasy, but DQ didn’t have as much recognition in the US (DQ was renamed Dragon Warrior in its US release) compared to FF, and was an underrated game. Today, ever since the merging of Enix and Squaresoft, DQ games started to gain popularity in the west little by little as they were able to reintroduce old DQ titles by remaking it for certain consoles and, very recently, for handhelds.

For all of you who didn’t know, DQ is one of my all-time favorite RPGs, the reason being that it was actually the FIRST role-playing game I ever played, and I grew to like it much more than FF, which I only learned about around the late 90’s. Because of that, even though there are now new DQ titles available, I still love the original series of DQ, which is also known as the Roto (Erdrick in the US version) Saga.

The Erdrick/Roto Trilogy  
The first three DQ games cover the Erdrick Saga, essentially making it a trilogy. The series basically tells of the story of warrior descendants of Erdrick fighting evil in the land of the Alefgard Kingdom, which was the main setting of the game and later sequels. In the story, Erdrick was a legendary hero who freed the Kingdom of Alefgard from darkness. Main characters in the game are referred to as Erdrick’s descendants. Erdrick’s legend was revealed in Dragon Quest III, the final part of the trilogy. 

Dragon Quest I  
The story here revolves around a land called the Kingdom of Alefgard. It starts Tantegel Castle. The king calls upon the descendant of Erdrick (namely you) to journey to Charlock Castle to defeat the evil Dragonlord and reclaim the Ball of Light, which the Dragonlord had stolen, to restore the peace to the land. The hero will also have to rescue Princess Gwaelin, the king’s daughter who was abducted and held captive by a dragon in a cave located far away.

DQ I was a very simple RPG with very basic RPG elements, so basic that you might think you can actually do better if you created your own RPG in RPG Maker. Its battle system was also very simple. Monster encounters were only 1:1, but the simplicity of its battle system became one of the game’s trademarks, which they also applied to future DQ games. Because it was so basic, the game has its fair share of grinding to level-up and buy equipment, so that you can keep up with the adventure. 

 Dragon Quest II  
Set a hundred years after the first DQ, a new evil has appeared by the name of Hargon, an evil wizard who started attacking the Moonbrooke Kingdom. One soldier of Moonbrooke had managed to survive long enough to travel towards the Kingdom of Midenhall and tell everything to its king. After being informed of what happened, he ordered his son, the prince of Midenhall and a descendant of Erdrick to travel and defeat the evil wizard. As the prince travels, he is joined by his two cousins: the prince of Cannock, a neighboring kingdom, and the princess of Moonbrooke, who was cursed after her kingdom was attacked, but is later freed from it with the help of the two princes. Both cousins also share the same bloodline as Erdrick. Together, they travel the world to stop the evil wizard Hargon.

DQ II shares the same elements of the first DQ with some improvements. Graphics are much improved here. You can now command three characters to each have its own preferences. Monster encounters now spawn a number of monsters instead than just one. The world of DQ II is much bigger, allowing for travel from land to land, and also across the sea using a ship. Overall RPG gameplay was still basic, but expanded enough to give players a more solid RPG experience. 

Dragon Quest III  
DQ III is the prequel and the final story of the Erdrick series. When Aliahan’s hero, Ortega, fell in battle with the evil fiend Baramos, who is threatening to destroy the world, all their hopes are passed down to his only son: you the main character. When he turned 16, the king of Aliahan summons and gives him the opportunity to follow in his father’s footsteps to be the hero who will save the world from Baramos. The new hero of Aliahan travels the world along with hired warriors towards the castle of the evil fiend, but later realizes that saving the world is just a small part of the quest. A greater one was still to come.

DQ III was the most expanded DQ game among the three. It presented a whole new and much bigger world to explore. The game now allowed you to form a party with up to four members and let you choose from a variety of characters with different job classes. You can now save/store your money, items and equipment at certain storage shops available at the start of the game. The interface and battle system are still pretty much faithful to the standard DQ style. It was still basic as always but the many new features thrown in still made it worth playing.

DQ probably may not be the most engaging RPG you could play, but the traditional RPG style is something that separates it from other RPGs. It has its share of charm because of its not-so complicated story that might be too generic for some, but totally works all the way. To think that the character designs were done by the famous Toriyama Akira, of Dragon Ball fame.

I personally love DQ III because of its expanded gameplay and also because of my ever-so-geeky tendency to follow the story of an RPG all the way to how its legend started, which made the story of DQ III interesting to me. If you’re looking for a much simpler yet very good retro RPG other than Final Fantasy, then I would recommend you playing these first three DQ games, l and of course I would also recommend you to try DQ IV to VII and even the recent titles DQ VIII and the recently-released DQ IX. So that’s it for now.

Until then!