Shenmue I & II: It’s Back, and a Must-Buy


Shenmue I_IIa

“Hey, man… wake up! We’re finally out again on consoles (except the Switch) and PC!”

Speaking of backs: With my poor back giving me some trouble these past few days (ow), updates have been tricky to do, but I’m grinning and grimacing through the pain just to let you all know (well, those who haven’t snapped it up yet on PS4, Xbox One, or PC) that Shenmue I & II is out for $29.99 (physical or digital). Cue the parade sound effects!  I actually only got around to ordering a copy yesterday thanks to thinking it was shipping next week (oops), but it’ll arrive tomorrow, so I’m not too far out of the loop. I’d normally say that I can finally sock away my Dreamcast and original Xbox, but I still use them for other games because I am quite the nostalgic old coot. Anyway, let me get back to trying to give myself a back massage with a bunch of rolling pins (okay, not really, but it may come to that) and let you all go about your day.

Back (ow) in a bit.

(Thanks, SegaAmerica!)

Happy New Year (Take 2)

(Thanks, TroniCPol!)

Hey, my mood lightened! Ha. Anyway, I was trying to think of an appropriate New Year’s thing to post when it hit me that I hadn’t played the late Kenji Eno’s very offbeat D2 in about four years. It works as a perfectly bleak yet eventually hopeful holiday horror game experience for the period between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Thanks to just being too busy to unearth one of my Dreamcasts, make sure the battery is working so that I could start playing about nine hours before midnight so the end credit sequence ends with the onscreen game clock counting down to the New Year and getting a cheery message for all that effort, I haven’t gone near this gem. But that’s going to change.

Anyway, backlog or not I’ll finally replay this classic at some point this year just to see if I can speed through it a bit faster. Much of the game’s length is due to extended stretches of cinematic sequences that can’t be skipped, so it’s a pay attention game almost all the way through, lousy US dubbing and all.

Ah well. Anyway, Happy New Year, people – 2017 is going to be innnnnnteresting.


Stuff I Need to Play (at Some Point): Pier Solar and the Great Architects (PC)

Yaaah! When did this slip out? Oh, September 30? Well, I wasn’t paying attention, but this one’s on my list of too many games to buy and play. *Sigh*… well, given that I have the Genesis version here and have made it about halfway through, I know what to expect already. That said, the HD visual upgrade makes this one the one I’ll probably default to once it gets purchased. So many games… so little time, grrrr!

VGA 101: Happy Birthday, Sega Dreamcast: “It’s Thinking”… But Probably About Better Times.

Note: This isn’t at ALL a “complete history” of the console. It’s just more random off the top of the head wistful reminiscing!

(thanks, Wiidork!)
For one brief, shining moment (well, that moment lasted three years or so), Sega has many of us gamers on the edge of our seats and extremely happy about it. Once the US arm of the company deemed the Saturn “dead” and started peeling away support for it, there was a gap of time where we were wondering what was coming next. When whispers of a new and more powerful console code-named “Katana” started getting traction in the game press, followed up by early screenshots of works in progress, some fans were trumpeting that upcoming console as a redemption and return to form for the company and in Japan, while Saturn games were still being sold, it seemed that everywhere you went in some spots, ads popped up announcing something was coming from Sega that would be new, unusual and exciting. And oh, was it when it finally did arrive… Continue reading

Pier Solar & The Great Architects HD Trailer: The Return of Watermelon’s Modern Retro JRPG

I only own ONE copy of Pier Solar at the moment (one of the reissues with the Sega CD/CD soundtrack bonus), but that’s about to change soon when the fully revamped HD version of game FINALLY makes it to PC (for a few operating systems), Sega Dreamcast (!), PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Wii U (yes!) at some point this year. Or is it next year? It’s hard to say, but I’m sure it’ll be well worth the long wait in the end. The visuals certainly benefit from the transition, the new cut scenes also look great and yes, I’m betting the game is still as tough as it was when it was initially released. Anyway, the fine folks at Watermelon are to be commended for getting this new and shiny version out on pretty much anything that can play it as it needs to be played (on a large screen, of course). Nothing more to say here other than let the waiting begin!

Bad PR 101: Sega’s “Funny” Folly Went Over (and On) the Heads of Some…

next gen sega card (Large)Yeah, that postcard to the left was promising back in 1996, but less than three years later, the Sega Saturn ship was about to come crashing to earth in a slow nuclear explosion. While the console did get a number of excellent titles, fans of the system in North America suffered through Sega of America’s leadership at the time that seemed to ignore some pretty obvious Japanese 2D imports in a few genres in favor of approving too many first and third party polygon-based games or imports that seemed “safe” bets if the right segment of the system’s audience was willing to buy them.

Combine that with some third-party games taking seemingly forever to arrive and Sega deciding to only ship limited quantities of the last few major games on the platform and having the gall to rub consumer’s faces in it for the best game on the platform (see below the jump) and you end up with a console that died a horrible death it really didn’t need to…
Continue reading

VGA 101: On Kenji Eno (2): Something Old Brings In Something New(-ish)…

Lumines ES2Lumines ES1So, as I posted last week, I finally got around to sending back that formerly long-lost Kenji Eno autographed copy of D2 about a week or so ago and got this nice surprise as a return response. A copy of Lumines: Electric Symphony autographed by the game’s producer and one of Eno’s close friends. Nice. Amusingly enough, I hadn’t played this Vita game previously, so now I get to do so and having done something nice for someone in the process. Yeah, I’m a nice guy under all that cranky. MOST of the time. Not get the hell off my lawn, you kids. Scoot! I have some games to play and no time for you whippersnappers. Git!


VGA 101: On Kenji Eno: A Loss Isn’t A Complete Loss If Something Is Gained In the Process…

D2_signedOne of my favorite game creators, Kenji Eno, passed away on February 20th and I’d planned to write up something memorial-esque last week, but couldn’t for a few reasons. The main one was it’s actually quite hard to write something brief about what playing through some of the games he and his studio WARP created during their brief run meant to me without actually going through the library here and taking time to do so. That’s going to get done in about a month or so, barring incident. The other was I wanted to read what some of his close friends wrote about him in order to get a better insight on the man and his work. There was also a little bit of unfinished business to take care of in getting a certain something back to a certain someone, so that had to come first… Continue reading

Pier Solar Goes Kickstarter Route For HD Remake – Give Them Your Money (Now!)

Confession: I’ve yet to play Watermelon Team’s incredible Pier Solar and the Great Architects (I’ve been dying to do so, but missed the original and all the assorted reissue versions), but the folks I know who have played it can’t stop singing its praises. I was thinking about finally getting around to snapping up a copy of this unlicensed Sega Genesis /Mega Drive game online, but Watermelon Team has a HD version in the works that’s even more tempting. Can you say Kickstarter project, ladies and gents? Yup, not only are the folks at Watermelon working on an HD version, they’re going to be getting it out on PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox Live Arcade and (Eeeeeee!) Sega Dreamcast (Eeeeeeee!).  Of course, I’m a bit ticked off that PSN, Vita and Wii U versions aren’t in the pipeline (hell, those consoles NEED great indie games like this so the suits can see they’ll sell like hotcakes), but hey – this is certainly a step up to the big time for a game that’s gotten solid reviews and a VERY loyal fan base.

The campaign  has already gotten a nice chunk of pledges and that’s thanks to the game itself plus some fantastic premium versions that are well worth the money. I need to flip a coin and see where it lands so I can choose which version I want, but I may end up with the PC version (boxed, of course). I wish I could afford one of the more pricey home versions, but it is what it is. Anyway, definitely do yourself a big favor and pledge to this project. Hmmm… maybe I’ll sell a kidney and go for that deluxe Dreamcast version, as I haven’t used my DC in a few months and it’s been looking at me funny from the corner of the room… We shall see. That fancy Magical Game Factory is rocking pretty hard these days…

Jet Set Radio Trailer: What’s Old Is New(s) Again…


Yeah, I missed running this short trailer update a few days back, but amusingly enough, a few weeks ago, I had the Dreamcast here plugged in and yup, got in some time with the original. Sega’s on the right track here, although in a perfect world, they’d just get a bunch of classic DC games out on a disc format so more people could play them. One game at a time may get the internet cheering (when it’s the RIGHT game), but I think the better thing to do would be to let more people see just what the Dreamcast era was all about with a bit of healthy budget-priced overkill….