Sakura Taisen

Reviews
Saturn
09/27/1996 (Japan)
サクラ大戦
Sakura Wars
It's often the case that popular anime or manga franchises are adapted into games, but not as often do you see a game franchise turn into popular anime and manga. Sakura Taisen is one of the best examples of this phenomenon, and given the pedigree of its creators it was probably destined to become a media franchise from the beginning. The creator of the series was Ouji Hiroi, a manga creator who is probably best known for the creation of Sakura Taisen. The scenario writer was Satoru Akahori, a scriptwriter, manga author and novelist best known for such 90s staples as Saber Marionette and Bakuretsu Hunter (Sorcerer Hunters). The character design was done by Kousuke Fujishima (he's certainly best known as being the creator of Ah! My Goddess!, as well as his involvement as a character designer in the Tales series of games) and Hidenori Matsubara (he did the character design for Fujishima's original designs in the various Ah! My Goddess! anime adaptations, and has also been involved as a key animator in many other big animated features). Last but not least, the music was composed by Kouhei Tanaka (a composer of more game, anime and tokusatsu theme songs than I can count). Continue Reading

Gegege no Kitarou: Youkai Daimakyou

Reviews
Famicom/NES
04/17/1986 (Japan), 10/29/1986 (US)
ゲゲゲの鬼太郎 妖怪大魔境
Gegege no Kitarou: Ghost Haunts
Ninja Kid
It's interesting to see the early results of a piece of distinctly Japanese source material being made into a game franchise. Gegege no Kitarou is a manga series by Shigeru Mizuki, created way back in 1959. Though Mizuki's series was originally named "Hakaba Kitarou" ("Kitarou of the Graveyard"), "Gegege no Kitarou" was the name of the slightly more kid friendly animated series that was created by Toei in 1968, based on the manga series. It has since been adapted into numerous other animated and live action series and features. While the light hearted and humorous horror vibe that Gegege no Kitarou gives off is not a completely Japanese idea, the ghosts and various monsters (or "youkai") that appear in the series are brought to life straight out of Japanese fairy tales and folk lore. The aesthetic is one not often experienced, so one might wonder how something so unique would translate into a video game back in 1986. The answer, thankfully, is not badly. Continue Reading

Ys

Reviews
Famicom/NES
08/26/1988 (Japan)
イース
Nihon Falcom's Ys series is known as a sprawling epic of games, spanning across many different consoles and computer systems. Back in the summer of 1988 though, the first game in the series had only been released on various Japanese home computers (though it originated on the NEC PC-8801) within the last year. The second game in the series had even already hit the PC-8801 just a couple of months prior. Nihon Falcom began life as a computer game developer, and wasn't very interested in porting their games to home consoles themselves. When one of their titles did make it outside of the home computer world, it was nearly always ported and published by other companies and with little involvement from Falcom themselves. It took Victor Entertainment, music company gone game publisher, and ghost-developer Advance Communication Company to bring us the very first home console port of Ys 1. And it's a very interesting foot note in the history of the Ys franchise for many reasons. Continue Reading

Choujikuu Yousai Macross

Reviews
Famicom/NES
12/10/1985 (Japan)
超時空要塞マクロス
Super Dimensional Fortress Macross
Horizontal and vertically scrolling shooters were incredibly popular in the arcades in the 80s, so naturally that popularity extended to home consoles too. In fact, by the end of 1985 the Famicom had already seen home ports of a lot of the popular arcade shooters of the time: Xevious, Galaxian, Galaga, Space Invaders, and Star Force. It only made sense that the hit anime franchise Macross, known for its mech/fighter plane hybrids, would be transformed into a horizontally scrolling shooter on the Famicom. Actually Macross had already had its first console shooting game on Bandai's own short lived home console, the Arcadia, just about 2 years prior. Though this came after the aforementioned genre establishing shooters, it beat some others (such as Gradius) to the home market by several months. Continue Reading

2013: A Year Reborn

Blog
2013 has been a bit of a strange year for me. It's the second year in a row that a particular set of personal issues have come to light, but it's also been a year of fairly great and interesting discoveries in the gaming world. I haven't played enough games that actually came out this year to make this into your typical "personal game of the year" post. As anyone who has read even a little bit of this site can probably guess, I'm constantly struggling to balance my gaming time between retro and modern games. That makes keeping up with the hot games of the year not always an easy thing to do. However I do want to briefly touch on the few games I did play that qualify. Continue Reading