Tag Archives: Japan

Nintendo Releasing Mario Playing Cards

It pretty easy to always just associate Nintendo with video games, seeing as they out-dominate the market so strongly, but for historians of the company, such as myself, we also remember their early beginnings as a playing card manufacturer. It’s a part of their business that has never been forgotten, and still continues today with the announcement of these wonderful Mario branded playing cards.

Being release this July, in Japan, these three sets of Mario playing cards will go on sale, and feature three unique graphical designs. The first set borrows the 8-bit motif from the classic Super Mario Bros. – personally my favorite out of the bunch, the second has a hand-drawn art style – very similar to Mario from his Super Mario Super Show days, and finally a set that represent his modern-day look from the Super Mario Galaxy games.

They’re great looking cards, and seeing as they are from Nintendo, they should be of good quality too.  Hopefully we might see these cards as a US’ Club Nintendo reward item soon in the future, so start saving those points!

Nintendo Releasing Three Sets of Playing Cards – [GoNintendo]

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Do The Dew! With Solid Snake!

What’s better than a cold can of Mountain Dew and sitting back to enjoy your favorite stealth-action series Metal Gear Solid? How about a can of Mountain Dew featuring an awesome mug shot of that gritty box-loving hero Solid Snake.

It’s all thanks to a timely friendship by both Konami and the PepsiCo Japan branch, as cans of that citrus-flavored juice, which has so much sugar that you could probably pick up a mid-sized sedan after drinking one, will be promoting Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker for the PlayStation Portable. The set of eight cans will individually be graced with a character photo from the game, and better yet, will also have a special code that you enter into Peace Walker to receive a Mountain Dew designed shirt as a secret item for your in-game inventory.

Now without being actually in Japan, the only other way to get your hands on a special edition Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker Mountain Dew can is by ordering from an importer. JBox, and no, not that burger place with the Clown, is an online importer of many Japanese goods, mostly Anime related items and the like. There you can get your hands of a set of Mountain Dew cans, or how many you like, but hurry the cans are limited in number.

Mountain Dew featuring Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker [JBox]

Games of My Youth: King of the Monsters 2

SNK’s King of the Monsters 2: The Next Thing. If the first thing that comes to your mind is a giant fire-breathing lizard scraping tooth and claw against another mutant creature as they both lay waste to a city – then awesome – because that is what this classic Arcade game has to offer in ten fold.

But if you’re still scratching you head, wondering what crazy nonsense I’m spouting this time, then right now is the perfect place to humbly welcome you into the monster-filled world that is Kaiju. “Konichiwa!” as our friends from across the Pacific would kindly say. Greetings aside, Kaiju is a sub-genre of any Japanese live-action film or television drama that typically features beast-like monsters, the most famous of these being Godzilla.

In fact, the big-green machine himself made his first silver-screen appearance over fifty years ago, and has since then stared in 28 featured films. That is a lot of movies, and when you include the other Kaiju inspired works that have spawned since the age of the drive-in movie, the list is lengthy. From King Kong, to Ultraman, and that turtle-flying hero himself Gamera, there are a multitude of other giant creatures that have gotten their own big-screen title around the world.

The quality of these films, is yes, questionable, with the majority of which being right-down laughable. But for fans, including myself, we know that that is part of  the charm, the lovable whimsy of  such science fiction/horror films. There’s nothing more fun than watching mini-recreated city sets being destroyed by a guy in a rubber monster suit, explosions here and there, and dose of wacky sci-fi hi-jinks mixed in for good measure.

It’s certainly that same passion for the Kaiju sub-genre that is the basis for the King of the Monsters series when the first installment hit arcades in 1991. In King of the Monsters, you select any one of six monsters, each with their own set of special attacks and attributes, to do battle in a simple fighting/wrestling game. Really I should say that the game plays more like a wrestling game, which takes place in city-sprawled arenas, then anything else. More like “King of the Monster Wrestlers” to be fair.

You can grab your opponent and throw them against an invisible force-field that acts more like the ropes on a wrestling ring. Plus in order to win anymatch in King of Monsters, just like any wrestling event, you must pin your rival for the traditional three count. The game is pretty much no more or no less. And that would have been alright if there was never a King of the Monsters 2, which in my opinion offers some much more in presentation and gameplay. It’s night and day with each title thanks to a simple addition of another Arcade-genre staple.

King of Monsters Above, King of Monsters 2 below.


With King of the Monsters 2 a year later, SNK kept only three monsters and the combat system but added further depth by going the Final Fight beat-em up route. It’s that added style which gives the game a new layer of fun, keeping things from getting boring pretty quick unlike the first. That’s because you don’t have to pin down to win this time, just beat all that stands between you, including the level’s end boss.

In King of Monsters 2 you now have some neat details to help you on your way, such as power-ups that up your attack strength and special attacks. You can also pick up and throw buildings and assault vehicles now too. Something you would have thought would have been in the original, but wasn’t. Better late than never I guess.

Truthfully King of the Monsters 2 is just the better polished game over the first, and is the one that you should seek first. The music is livelier and the visuals  a tad bit more brighter and colorful than the original. I would say the only things that keep King of the Monsters 2 from becoming great are the grappling mechanics and stingy difficulty that can burn away any enjoyment.

While battling against your foes, the grappling gets messy and tiring. You have to forcibly tap the A button in order to get the upper hand, but sometimes it feels that no matter how much you do, the computer still has its way. That goes along with the harsh difficulty too. You will be eating up numerous continues after your character gets defeated – and I mean it. So if you are the type that doesn’t have the patience or neither the interest to begin with, then you might want to steer clear.

Those complaints aside, if concepts of controlling a giant monster and smacking the guts out of other monsters are enough to string you along for a good half and hour or so, which is alright by me, then King of the Monsters 2 is a recommended try.

Now how do you get a chance to play this game? Well it seems I have the uncanny luck, again, of picking games that are not available yet on any official download service. With King of the Monsters 2, that means tracking down a Neo Geo arcade unit or home  console. And unless you have the money and hours to waste on Ebay to do so, well I can understand going with emulation.

SNK, along with fellow Japanese game company Takara, did do two ports of the Arcade version, one for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, both having their own special traits. The Super Nintendo version is almost a carbon-copy of the arcade one with some graphical and sound processing down-scaling to help the game fit on the cartridge.

Super Nintendo version above, Sega Genesis below.

Meanwhile the Sega Genesis port ditches the beat-em up theme and goes back to the fighting game premise in the original King of Monsters. Now according to which ever message board you hang out on, the Sega Genesis is the above-all best version of the game. Notably because, the Genesis port has the right difficulty level and is a lesser nuisance when dealing with the grappling mechanics.

Personally, I say if you can try both, go for it. Find which version, either Arcade or Genesis, is best for you. In the end you’ll still come away satisfied in your need to smash buildings and fight off aliens from sizes big to really really big.

The Arcades of Japan Though Pictures

What is it about an arcade that just makes one come alive with youthful spirit? Is it the bright lights glaring off glass monitors. The buzzing and beeping electrical sounds that loop endlessly throughout the air, aggressive on the ear drums, but rememberable long after you leave. And oh yeah – the games are also pretty fun to play.

Arcades were the birth place of the gaming community, or at least where most people, myself included, who began their interest in videogames, started out. On a Friday or Saturday, you and a couple of your friends would journey on out to your local mall or pizza joint, and begin a long night of quarter-spending amusement. And whether that night ended with you wasting all your weekly allowance, or getting your rear-end beat thoroughly at Street Fighter II, it was still a fulling experience.

Turn now to 2010, and the Arcade experience is rare and limited one. Where the only places left to go seek such a thing is at a place that serves beer and buffalo wings. And even there the choices are slim pickings; unless you like racing simulators. (Of which I do, but that neither here or there.)

No, perhaps the only lasting presence of what a true arcade feels like is still kept alive by our friends in Japan. There, multi-storied buildings dedicated to spending your saved up quarters (or in this case Yen¥) on fighting games, 2D-based shooters, or whatever genre your heart’s desire are in quite abundance. You can play modern games to even classic machines, that should have their own display at a Smithsonian’ exhibit, are all there for your enjoyment.

In Japan, arcades populate in places where commuters are in high numbers. This is how the arcade scene there is kept alive, by people, who after a busy day at work, kill some stress for an hour or two before going home.  And while that trend today has been steadily going down hill, forcing some arcades to close in numbers, the state of things over in Japan are at least better than here in the states where arcades are pretty much extinct.

It sounds like a true gamer’s paradise, and it is, or at least that’s how it looks like. But sadly you have to either 1) Live in Japan, or 2) cross the Pacific just to take an active part in. Always a catch… always a catch.

Well thankfully a NeoGaf user, by the name of DCharlie, has uploaded a hearty sum of pictures he/she has taken of arcades in Japan, and has blessed us poor souls by sharing them with us. And when I mean a hearty sum, I mean it; this gallery has a large variety of images taken from Club Sega in Akihabara (Anime nerd central of  Tokyo, Japan) to the legendary Shibuya Kaikan Monaco arcade near the Shibuya Station in Tokyo.

What I love the most though, is that the overall collection of photographs isn’t just a slide show of arcades, but also of living life in a city as unique as Tokyo. So thanks to DCharlie for allowing us a peek into his world, and some awesome arcades too.

Collection: Arcades of Japan – DCharlie

OBG Weekend Report: May 10th, 2010

As the name describes, this little feature is a quick look at some of what you missed over the weekend while you were out having fun and I was stuck in doors writing news. (Pathetic, I know.)

On Saturday we learned that May 20th would be the PlayStation Network  release date for Final Fantasy IX. Upon hearing the news, American fans of the Square Enix’ series cheered with glee, but then angrily grumbled upon seeing the words: “for the Japanese PlayStation Network store only.” Already on the PlayStation Network Store you can download both Final Fantasy VII and VIII, so this certainly makes happy company for the popular role-playing game.

Final Fantasy IX Hitting Japanese PSN May 20 [Joystiq]

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And speaking of downloadable content, more leaked footage from the anticipated Sonic the Hedgehog 4 hit the internet. Like a fleas on a hobo, videos keep popping up no matter how fast Sega can unleash it’s group of legal ninjas to pull them down. This blurry quality video shows off a later level in the game called “Mad Gear Zone” where Sonic displays a special ability he can only achieve when collecting a certain amount of “these.” I have to say though, I’m grateful (sarcasm) that there are people willing to risk their lush development jobs just to leak a videogame staring a little blue hedgehog protagonist.

UPDATE: Seems the full video has already been pulled, but fear not, a three minute excerpt has replaced it. Yay!

More Sonic 4 Video Spills Onto Internet Threatens Wildlife [Update] [Kotaku]

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On the viral video front, a fan-made trailer for a full-length movie staring Capcom’s Blue Bomber appeared and has made it’s way across the internet. While amateurish in it’s production value it’s a pretty well directed clip by dedicated Mega Man fan Eddie Lebron. Now after being amazed and laughably amused by this trailer, I was soon caught off guard that, not only is there a trailer, but also an actual film which can be seen over at ScrewAttack right now.

See The Full-Length “Mega Man Movie” [ScrewAttack]

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