I just got three new import games from Japan, so today I thought I’d give a brief review on each one. But first a warning: I may start rambling and talking about ‘hardcore’ fanboy gaming stuff here, so, well, now you’re warned. Anyway, the three games I got were Bokura no TV Games Kentei (DS), Slide Adventure: Mag Kid (DS), and Bit Generations: Coloris (GBA).
Bokura no TV Games Kentei (DS)
I’m not exactly sure, but I think this basically translates to “Video Games Training.” There are DS training games to train your brain, help you learn a new language, even lose weight! But now there’s one to help you play video games better. Actually it just trains you to play classic Namco arcade games better. Which brings me to the point of why I imported this game. It’s basically the classic Nintendo parts of Wario Ware, except it’s Namco games instead of Nintendo. It’s like if 9-Volt was a Namco fan (which describes me to a T, sadly).
Here’s the game flow. You start out with a set of challenges where you have to play six mini-games right in a row. If you mess up, you’ll lose a life, and if you lose three lives, you have to start the challenge over. After completion, you’ll get a bronze, silver, or gold medal and points depending on how you do. You have a bar that you must fill up with those points, so try to get as many silver and gold medals as possible. Once you fill up the bar, you can take a test that has a selection of all the mini games you just did. But in the test, in order to pass you have to get a rank A or S to pass. And then you start the process over with groups of harder challenges. Even though this game is “Video Games Training,” don’t think they hold your hand through it. Experienced gamers will be challenged as well. Of course, it could just be the language barrier that makes it harder, but still.
Usually it’s pretty easy to figure out what you’re supposed to do in each game. If it’s a shooting game like Galaga or Xevious, you usually have to shoot everything or avoid everything. If it’s racing, make it to the finish in first place. Some of the mini-games are actually pretty clever. In one, you must make Dig Dug dig all the dirt, but they don’t give you enough time to do it. So you have to cleverly drop rocks to clear dirt faster for you. It’s like a Dig Dug puzzle game! Of course, since it’s in Japanese, some of the more RPG centric text only mini-games are tougher to figure out.
The game’s ‘host’ character looks like an arcade cabinet with arms and legs and a face. And the art style has a Katamari vibe to it, especially in the instruction booklet. You can unlock all sorts of extra challenges, sound tests, and other goodies. On the menu, your arcade machine guy walks around and you can talk to classic Namco characters. Wish I knew what they were saying.
You may think at first that Namco would release this game in the US. After all, Wario Ware games are popular and a lot of Namco classics are well known in the US. However, the mini-games in here aren’t based on the arcade versions, but the Famicom (Japan NES) games. And while some Namco games made it to the US NES, a lot of them didn’t. Some of the mini-games based on Namco (Namcot) Famicom games include: Xevious, Galaga, Dig Dug, Metrocross, Mappy, Legend of Valkyrie, Family Jockey (horse racing), Family Stadium (RBI Baseball in the US), Family Tennis, Tank Battalion, Warpman, Dragon Spirit, Tower of Druaga, Sky Kid, Galaxian, Rally-X, Final Lap, Dragon Spirit, Yokai Douchuuki, Dragon Buster, Star Luster, Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti (chibi Splatterhouse), and many more!
The other reason why I don’t think Video Game Training will make it to the US is because some of the mini-games are 8-bit versions of newer Namco Japan only games. One of Namco’s new popular games in Japan is called The IdolM@ster. Music and characters from that game have even appeared in Beautiful Katamari and Ace Combat 6. From what I’ve read about The IdolM@ster, it’s a game where you manage a group of pop singer star idol anime girls. But I’m not sure if the game is a music rhythm game or a dating sim (which would be disturbing if it was since many of the girls in the game look like they’re 12, one of the stupid things about anime). Or maybe it’s a combination of the two game types, I dunno. Don’t really have a desire to play it, either. Anyway, the 8-bit version of IdolM@aster on Video Games Training must be the dating sim part because you’re just selecting responses to what a IdolM@ster lady says, and there’s a heart meter on the left. OH NO, DID I JUST IMPORT A DATING SIM? EWWWW! Well, at least it’s only SNIPPETS of a dating sim. You don’t know what you’re saying because of the language barrier, but it doesn’t matter because I’d be guessing even if it was in English. Kinda like real dating, if she asks if her outfit makes her look fat, you have three choices to say: 1. Yes, 2. No, or 3. Run like Hell. Ha ha, just joking! I imagine in the game you just pick the choice that gives her a compliment on her blue hair. Actually the blue haired one is kinda cool…GAH, WHAT AM I SAYING?
The good news is that even though Video Games Training probably won’t be coming to the US (though they did bring over Machigai Museum as QuickSpot), there’s another similar game that is. In Japan there’s a popular TV show where a guy plays old video games and loses, with funny results. I’d like to see it (legally) sometime. Namco made a DS game based on that TV show called Game Center CX, where you try to play different made up retro styled games. And it’s coming to the US (not from Namco, but XSEED) under the name Retro Game Challenge!
Slide Adventure: Mag Kid (DS)
The next two games I imported along with Video Games Training because they were super cheap. The first is Slide Adventure: Mag Kid from Nintendo. (there’s even a sticker of it in Brawl) The story goes that one stormy night, a fridge magnet holding a child’s doodles fell off the fridge. The magnet and the doodles magically came to life. The doodles started running all over the house, so it’s up to Mag Kid the refridgerator magnet to…uh…well I’m not exactly sure where the story goes next. But I’m sure you’ll have to save the day somehow.
Gameplay is viewed from a top down perspective as you slide Mag Kid around the house. If you ram into a doodle to make it dizzy, you can attach it to yourself like, well, a magnet. Then you can absorb its powers. One lets you shoot a laser, another is a bubble gun, while another lets you ram into things fast. You can trail multiple doodles to gain more power, too. Most of the game has you running around doing fetch quests, but sometimes you’ll have to fight an evil toy or appliance boss. If you need to get around the house, tuck inside a nearby pencil case or book bag and a family member will unsuspectedly take you to another part of the house. It’s kinda like Chibi Robo, but not near as good.
The unique thing about Mag Kid is how you move him. The game comes with an accessory that sticks into the GBA slot and looks a lot like the bottom part of those wireless computer mouseses. You just slide your DS around to move him. It works pretty well, too. I even used my hand as a makeshift mousepad.
But I think the reason why Mag Kid will never come to the US isn’t because of the one-time only accessory. It’s because I don’t think the game is very engaging. Oh don’t get me wrong, it’s not a BAD game and it has its charms, but it’s just not something that’ll blow you away or anything. And while the control scheme is unusual, it’s no more different or innovative than moving your mouse around on the computer.
Bit Generations: Coloris (GBA)
The last game I imported real cheap was Coloris for GBA. A couple of years ago at the tail end of the GBA’s ‘life cycle,’ in Japan they made a series of games for it called Bit Generations. They were simple games using abstract shapes to convey the most basic of gameplay ideas. I’ve always wanted to try them, but import prices were always too high, especially for what you’re getting.
But now they’re getting cheap enough to try, so I got Coloris. It sounded the most interesting out of all the games that were that cheap. The first thing I noticed about Coloris was the different kind of packaging. The Bit Generations games come in a cute little square box that’s different from regular GBA boxes.
At first glance it looks like a Bejeweled clone but it’s far from it. You do have to match 3 or more of the same color in a row, but that’s all that’s the same. Your squares are different colors but usually in the same color hue, just different shades. Your cursor will be the highest or lowest color grade, and changes every time you change a square’s color. A bar at the top will tell you what color it’ll be next. So you just change squares’ colors until you get the right shades to match. It gets kinda hard to see when there are multiple shades of the same color (yellow, light orange, orange, dark orange, red) so you’ll have a hard time if you’re color blind. And later on in the game you get multiple color gradients and if your cursor isn’t that same kind of color, it’ll turn into a garbage block. Kinda confusing.
Your job is to match up enough colors to fill a gauge so you can go onto the next level. Each square also has a line animation that gets faster and faster, and if it gets too fast it’ll turn into a garbage block. If there are garbage blocks on the field, the gauge won’t fill, so you have to clear the garbage blocks quickly by matching colors next to them a couple of times. You do have special squares that appear from time to time that clear out multiple colors in an X pattern or all the squares of the same color, though.
There’s a Clear Mode and a Score Mode with tons of levels. And all the menus are in English making the language barrier non-existent. Except I had a little trouble knowing how to play at first, but a quick trip to the Internet fixed that right up! At any rate, it’s a real fun and simple puzzle game and I’m glad I imported it.
And that’s all I’ve got right now. Next time I’d like to try and import the new Starfy DS game and the European Tingle DS game, but those will have to wait until later! I’ve spent enough money as it is.