#TBT Retro Freak: Cyber Gadget’s Time Machine Console May Be Your New Best Buddy

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I’d heard of the Retro Freak console a little while back but paid it little mind thanks to all the hype over Hyperkin’s RetroN 5 as well as the fact that there are too many other hybrid consoles out there vying for your retro gaming dollars. Now that I’ve read a bit more about it thanks to an email alert from Play-Asia, my eyebrow is up in a very good way. I think I want one of these at some point because I have a ton of games here for nearly every console it can play. The RF isn’t inexpensive at all, but that’s a good thing provided it does everything it’s supposed to.

Releasing in September are two models, Standard and Premium with the latter coming with a controller adapter that allows for Famicom, Super Famicom, Sega Genesis, and TurboGrafx controllers to be used. The big draw for many will be not only the 11 consoles the RF plays games for (Famicom, Super Famicom/SNES, Mega Drive/Genesis, PC Engine, TurboGrafx-16, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color, and Supergrafx), but the fact that the unit can rip and install all games from cartridges onto the console via SD card. In addition there’s an HDMI output, 720p upscaling, instant saving and even cheat codes for certain games.

I’d imagine those who can afford this will be snapping them up via pre-orders anywhere they’re going to be sold. Some will wait until the thing gets a few positive reviews though, but it’s all good at the end of the day for those with big collections who don’t want to keep too many consoles around their TV’s.

Yakuza 5: No Controversy Here, Just Sega Pleasing Some Fans


 

Almost lost in all this noise on Shenmue III and its somewhat controversial (to some) Kickstarter campaign was the fact that Sega of America itself was going to be publishing Yakuza 5 in North America this fall. General Director Toshihiro Nagoshi, Producer Masayoshi Yokoyama and their talented dev team are clearly showing that the PlayStation 3 isn’t “dead” yet as a viable console and the game certainly looks like their best work yet. Even better, it’s an exclusive to Sony’s console so you can wave your system under the noses of any friend with a competing console who may be a bit jealous. However, expect that console to be used to gently bash you over the head with if you’re too braggy.

Unfortunately for you physical media collectors out there the game is only getting a digital release via the PlayStation Network. So you’ll either need to bite that bullet and download this one or take the harder road, learn Japanese and import that version from a nice import retailer like Play-Asia. Of course, by the time you’re through with those crash courses in the language the game will be out here in English. So yeah, go support Sega of America with a purchase because they don’t make a penny on anything you get directly from Japan or anywhere outside the U.S. of A., folks.

Yeah!

@E3, Sometimes The Treehouse Hides All The Cool Stuff

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If you had the time and bandwidth this week you could have spend the better part of a few days watching Nintendo employees play a bunch of upcoming games at E3 that were part of their big puppet show press event. You also could have gotten to see at least one game not part of that family-friendly briefing that NEEDED to be given some mention outside the Treehouse Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water is coming this year, but you’d never know this if you only watched the main event. Anyway, the trailer is above and some 25 minutes of gameplay from the Treehouse trio is below. Listen for the warnings about the game’s content and prepare to chuckle a bit as the gameplay is a bit over-described yet is still unsettling. “Wetness Gauge” and all the uses of the word “creepy” made me crack up, but the game looks nice and scary where it counts and it’s absolutely not for the kids.


 

Nintendo @E3: In Between Glory Days, Some Sparks Still There


 

Okay, the puppets were cute and some of the lineup is really looking fun. But anyone going into this year’s Nintendo Direct at E3 expecting something mind-blowing was probably disappointed. Unless you’re part of that rabid and supremely loyal fan base that gloms onto every announcement as “epic” news, this year’s list of games was and is solid but not really that spectacular. Granted, seeing Star Fox return, that Mario Maker game for the Wii U, Xenoblade Chronicles X, that load of indie games (or “nindie” games) and a few other titles made me smile quite a lot.


 

On the other hand I also know that 2016 will be the big year of surprises and fun reveals as the company rolls out a new system that’s not going to “replace” the Wii U as much as add some new means of enjoying the games coming for it and perhaps some of Nintendo’s older titles. As usual, we shall see…

Devil’s Third Update: Tomonobu Itagaki In… Breath of a Salesman


 

Tomonobu Itagaki’s Valhalla Game Studios has been busy getting its Wii U exclusive Devil’s Third ready for prime time and the game finally has a release date. Well, provided you’re in Japan (August 4, 2015) or Europe (August 28, 2015). I’d speculate that Nintendo of America will drop the North American date at E3 next week as well as show more gameplay footage, but we’ll see what’s what then. I have a feeling they’re translating that video above into English as it covers both the single and multiplayer modes as well as shows off how the gae has changed for the better since last year.

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In the video Itagaki goes from game creator to extolling the virtues of the upcoming title in his trademark manner. Even if you don’t speak Japanese it’s a compelling video because of the man’s rough voice and distinctive look he’s kept for ages. The very bloody M-rated action game is certainly not for all tastes but it’s good to see the Wii U getting another game that’s not another family-rated party fest. The console needs quirky, funky games like this to show it’s not an “underpowered kid’s toy” as I’ve heard it described at a certain game shop around here.


 

Granted, it’s tough to say exactly how many fans of this over the top action game actually own a Wii U. On the other hand, I’m betting fans of Bayonetta 2 will be all over this game because that was another Nintendo exclusive that’d drove a few gamers to take the plunge and buy a console because it was the only one the game appeared on.

Japan Gets All The Cool Stuff: Remote Controlled R2-D2 Fridge


 

Okay, I want one of these just so I can see if it’s keeping those cold drinks cold because it’s using Carbonite and not deadly freon gas. I’d imagine Carbonite is somewhat non-toxic given that Han Solo went into the deep freeze long sleep encased in that stuff. On the other hand, it’s probably going to be really hard to open whatever beverage you pop into R2 if it comes out encased in a solid block of cold blackness. Hmmm… maybe this is an Empire plot, folks:

(thanks, love meme!
 

Anyway, this cool fridge is currently only coming out in Japan at some point this year from Haier’s Japanese branch, but I’d imagine demand for R2 will be high enough that some will end up being imported by those hardcore Star Wars collectors who want EVERYTHING, damn the shipping fees (which will probably cost more than the unit itself).

And hey! Just for fun, here’s a nifty and informative Star Wars infographic that popped into my inbox as this post was being typed. Thanks, Morphsuits!

Star Wars Infographic

Xseed’s E3 Lineup: Bugs, Babes, Brains, and Booms

XSEED E3 2015
 

We are excited to announce a wide breadth of titles that will be showcased at Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2015.

Newly revealed games include The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel for PlayStation®3 and PlayStation®Vita, Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair for PlayStation®4, SENRAN KAGURA ESTIVAL VERSUS for PlayStation®4 and PlayStation®Vita, and Return to PopoloCrois: A STORY OF SEASONS Fairytale for the Nintendo 3DS™.

We will also showcase the previously announced titles SENRAN KAGURA 2: Deep Crimson for Nintendo 3DS™, Onechanbara Z2: Chaos for PlayStation®4, Corpse Party: Blood Drive for PlayStation®Vita, and Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders From Planet Space for PlayStation®Vita.

Well, it sure looks as if Xseed Games is going for the early (but entirely made up by me) award of “Most Stupidly Cool Japanese Games coming to the West Sooner Than You’d Think” as they reveal their excellent E3 lineup. My brain is busy calculating how much time I’ll be spending in those EDF games (which deceptively hide hundreds of hours of play time in their initially simple run & shoot gameplay). Xseed really loves you so it seems most of these will be getting physical retail releases as well as digital. Excellent. I like my library handy so I can show off cover art or rap someone on the forehead with that plastic case if they make fun of what I play.

Anyway, color me giddy (again) and thanks (again) Xseed. You guys all rock (again!)

Blu-Ray Review: Blind Woman’s Curse

Blind Woman's Curse BR_DVD Cover (Custom)One of those wild Japanese films packed with striking imagery and offbeat performances, Teruo Ishii’s 1970 hybrid Blind Woman’s Curse makes for another excellent Blu-Ray release from Arrow Video. It wraps up action and revenge flick aesthetics with a creepy tone, loads of late 60’s era sexiness and violence with a solid performance from beautiful Meiko Kaji. She plays Akemi, the head of a yakuza clan sometime during the 1920’s who’s been released from prison only to find there’s a pretty efficient pair of assassins as well as other folks after her and what remains of her loyal gang.

The main assassin (Hoki Tokuda) happens to be the sister of a rival boss out for her own revenge. Akemi accidentally blinded her during the fierce and beautifully shot sword battle that opens up the film and she now she’s somewhat hard to stop as she whittles down Akemi’s gang. Her assistant, a muttering and really creepy killer with wild hair (Tatsumi Hijikata) is one of those characters who gets under your skin and remains there from the moment you see him. Both he and the black cat that appears during the film lend a supernatural tone to the proceedings that lend the film a nice horror vibe. That said, if you pay close attention, you’ll see that the film tends to toss a lot at you with expectations that you’ll keep up.

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Shining Through: Old Memories Return Thanks To New Friends

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The first Japanese game I ever played to completion with no knowledge of the language outside a few basic characters was Shining and the Darkness for the Sega Mega Drive, later localized as Shining in the Darkness for North America by Sega of America. It wasn’t mad savant skills that got me through this text-heavy role-playing game, but a spoiler-free walkthrough and plenty of maps yanked from a Japanese magazine that came with the game when I purchased it. I’d played a few Japanese MD games previously, but most were shooters such as Gaiares or not quite perfect arcade ports like Golden Axe or Altered Beast.

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I stumbled upon Shining and six of seven other imports at a used book and record store in NYC back around early 1992 and couldn’t pass up buying all of the games at somewhere between eight and ten dollars each. All of those games are still in the library here and some even get pulled out and played on occasion. It took me the better part of the summer to complete SitD because I was only using the walkthrough when I got stuck and was filling in the plot on my own. It ended up being pretty close to what the actual game and English version would be because it was a simple “rescue the kidnapped princess!” story with a few expected and unexpected twists.

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Blu-Ray Review: Retaliation

Retaliation BR_CoverRetaliation (Shima wa moratta), Yasuharu Hasebe’s follow up to his 1967 yakuza flick Massacre Gun is another gem from the director worth a look. Packed with great Japanese actors throwing themselves fully into their roles as gangsters and plenty of full color violence, the film’s only “weak” point is a plot where you can often see what’s coming a mile away. But Hasebe’s technique shines here as the director pulls off some great shots and keeps you hooked in right from the beginning.

Akira Kobayashi plays Jiro Sagae, a gangster fresh out of prison after an eight-year stretch for murdering a rival yakuza. He’s followed from jail by Jo Shishido’s Hino, the brother of the man he killed who’s been planning his revenge for years. As Hino attacks Jiro, Hino’s girl (who’d been following him) rushes in and interrupts the battle, forcing Hino to put off his vengeance until later. Jiro eventually goes to see his aging and indebted to another crime boss Godfather who sends him to pay his respects to his former rival. That Boss makes Jiro an offer he can’t refuse in the form of busting up another gang trying to buy up farmland in a tiny village so a factory can be built. Jiro gets a ragtag group of assistants from a failed actor, a card shark, a pair of singers and amusingly enough Hino, the man who tried to kill him at the beginning of the film.

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