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Column: Game Time With Mr Raroo

Comic-Con Time With the Raroos: 2010 Edition (Part 2)

July 23, 2010 12:00 PM |

Raroos at Comic-Con Logo[GameSetWatch columnist Mister Raroo and his family are at San Diego Comic-Con and are giving us the skinny on their experiences. We’ll be running daily updates from the Raroos, continuing with this report on the first full day of the convention.]

The Smell of Hard Corps in the Morning

Considering that we didn’t get a full night’s sleep and we had to drop our son Kaz off at daycare before driving to downtown San Diego to find parking, I think Missus Raroo and I did very well to arrive at the Convention Center right around 10:00 am. We wanted to have a little time to hit the main floor and check out some more booths before walking over to Konami’s suite at the ritzy Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel.

Konami had a lot of games available to play, and I chose to start off by trying out the beautiful Hard Corps: Uprising. I spent a great deal of my freshman year in college playing Contra Hard Corps on my Sega Genesis, and Hard Corps: Uprising is essentially a spiritual sequel to that game. At the ready to answer questions was Associate Producer Kenji Yamamoto, who jumped in and played co-op with me through the game’s first stage.

I’ve got to say, I kind of wish I had guys like Mr. Yamamoto around to play games with more often because he was smiling the entire time and genuinely seemed to be enjoying himself. He and I had a good chat about how great it is that 2D game design truly seems to have made such a strong comeback. And when I told him how much I appreciated the bright, vibrant colors used in Hard Corps: Uprising's visual design, he just laughed and thanked me for noticing.

Seriously, I’m so sick of drab games, and in the wrong hands a game like Hard Corps: Uprising could be yet another dull military-themed shooter. Thankfully, that's not the case, and in fact it almost seems downright happy… well, aside from the continuous shooting and explosions, that is. Three cheers for developers realizing there are other colors besides gray and brown!

Comic-Con Time with the Raroos: 2010 Edition (Part 1)

July 22, 2010 12:00 PM |

Raroos at Comic-Con Logo[For the third year running, GameSetWatch has sent our columnist Mister Raroo and his family to San Diego Comic-Con to provide a report on their experiences there. We’ll be running daily updates from the Raroos, starting with this look at Preview Night.]

A Perfect Preview

Life has been crazy in the Raroo household during the past few months. In February, we welcomed our daughter, Yoshie (Note: She’s named after her great-grandmother, not the Nintendo character… though it is a bit of a nice bonus!). During March and April I was dealing with some medical drama thanks to a problem with my gallbladder that ultimately ended in it being removed.

I’m in the final stretch of my Master’s Degree program and am trying to make it to the finish line before running out of gas. And both Missus Raroo and I have felt like we’ve been busier than ever at our respective jobs. In short, we haven’t had much time for fun.

With that in mind, the promise of taking time off from work to attend San Diego Comic-Con has been something we’ve been looking forward to for months. Now that it’s finally here, I’m happy to say that based on Preview Night alone, the break from our hectic schedules is just what we were hoping it would be. Serious fun has already been had, and the forecast calls for much more on the horizon!

In the last couple of years, Comic-Con’s Preview Night has been something of a nightmare. Everything from the registration process to the wall-to-wall waves of attendees was nothing but a headache for me, and I feared the worst would happen again this year.

Much to my surprise, the opposite was true. We arrived for registration about 3:00 pm, and within fifteen minutes we had our passes and were walking to go grab a bite to eat. When we returned to the Convention Center to hit the main floor, the line management was smooth and we were able to get in right at the official opening time. Good job, Comic-Con staff!

Missus Raroo Says: Falling in Love with Samurai Shodown II For All the Right Reasons

March 11, 2010 12:00 AM |

Missus Raroo Says Logo[In honor of the Neo Geo console's recent 20 year birthday, the GSW column regulars The Raroos dug back into the archives of their print zine to present us with Missus Raroo's classic article from 2005 about why she loves SNK's peerless Samurai Shodown II. Not only does her write-up give love to a great fighter, but it also sheds light on the artistry and details that help make it such a timeless game. Plus, her illustrations are really cute!]

A Disclaimer From a Non-Gamer

I am, self-admittedly, every fighting-enthusiast’s worst nightmare. I am a button-masher. I know enough to realize that various direction and button combinations are supposed to result in special attacks, but I never manage to get the combinations quite right when I attempt them on purpose. I either don’t have enough fine motor coordination, or I just have really bad timing. Whatever the case may be, when I try to fight with some intentional strategy, I always die the fastest. Thus, it’s not like I button-mash out of stubbornness, it’s a matter of survival.

Given this background knowledge of my fighting-game skills, or lack thereof, you may be wondering what I could possibly add to a discussion about fighters. Your concerns are definitely valid, because I have not played very many fighters and even the ones I’ve played, I’ve barely clocked in more than a few rounds. I have, however, seen my fair share of fighters come and go, thanks to my time spent with Mister Raroo.

And, after years of exposure to myriad fighting games, there is one fighting game that stood out from them all. I couldn’t remember the name of the game, but I did remember how there were a bunch of cute barnyard animals in the background in one fighting scene. I was also able to recall there being characters with animal tagalongs, including one with a bird and one with a dog. This was enough information for the Raroo to identify the game immediately as: Samurai Shodown II, known in Japan as Shin Samurai Spirits.

If you want a “real” review that comments on attack combos and the like, then don’t bother reading any farther. If you want to know the place that Samurai Shodown II holds in relation to the other titles in the Samurai Shodown series, I couldn’t tell you. There are plenty of fan sites out there that can provide you that information in lengthy FAQs—I found quite a few when doing a little background research for this article.

What I didn’t really find, though, were write-ups that mentioned all of the reasons why I happen to love Samurai Shodown II, and so at least I don’t feel like I’m replicating what’s been written a million times before. So, without further ado I present…Falling in Love with Samurai Shodown II For All the Right Reasons.

Mister Raroo's Top Five Year of the Ox Games

February 10, 2010 12:00 AM |

Mister Raroo's Top Five Year of the Ox Games[And you thought the Games of the Year lists were over! Surprise! Regular GameSetWatch columnist Mister Raroo drops in to visit us with a look at the top five games that mattered to him during the Year of the Ox, from awesome iPhone games to funky DS titles and beyond.]

Falling Behind

I'll admit it: I'm late. That seems to be how I've been operating lately. Between a promotion at work, continuing with graduate school, and trying to spend as much time with my family as possible, I constantly feel like I'm a step or two behind. For GameSetWatch, I had a master plan to write something about my favorite games of 2009, but before I knew it January had come and gone, and now here we are in February.

Things are about to get even crazier. This month my wife and I will be welcoming a new addition to our family in the form of a baby girl. We're really looking forward to what a second child will bring to our little family, though we know we will be exhausted. That's all the more reason why I was disappointed I didn't get around to writing about my favorite games of 2009. I don't necessarily think anyone was waiting on pins and needles for what I personally enjoyed playing this past year, but I love year-end retrospectives and was sad I didn't write something up, if only for myself.

Leave it to my wife to be resourceful and think up a solution. She pointed out that the Chinese New Year doesn't actually start until Valentine's Day this year, and thus the brilliant idea was born to reflect upon games that stood out during the Year of the Ox, which began last year on January 26. So, here we are. The fact that I managed to find a moment to squeeze in this article seems like a small miracle to me.

Lots of Good Ox Year Games!My gaming habits have definitely changed as a result of being so busy, and I'm sure they'll probably evolve again after the baby arrives. No longer do I have the freedom to spend hours at a time on any given game. Rather, the bulk of my gameplaying has come in bits and pieces, and the games that I enjoyed the most are simply those that I was able to find the time to play. But, in some ways this has been a good thing, as it has prompted me to investigate many "casual" games that I would've probably not given a second thought to in the past.

All things considered, it was a pretty amazing year for video games. Honestly, the video game market seems like it's becoming so flooded that there is no way to play everything that looks interesting, but that's not necessarily a complaint. I'd rather have too many games to choose from than too few.

I was a busy bee with the likes of LocoRoco 2, Boku no Natsuyasumi 4, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Game Center CX 2, Phantasy Star 0, Space Invaders Extreme 2, Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth, and plenty more. But it is the following five games that stand out to me as the ultimate highlights from the Year of the Ox.

GameSetContest: Raroo Fun System Challenge - The Results!

December 9, 2009 12:00 AM |

GameSetContest Results Logo[Last month we held Mr. Raroo's first GSW contest, in which we asked readers to pitch a Raroo Fun System game in hopes of winning a free download of Arkedo's JUMP! or SWAP! In typical Mister Raroo style, the contest winners are announced in an atypical manner. Don't worry. The rest of us at GameSetWatch are as befuddled as you are!]

The latest issue of Japanese gaming magazine OK! Game! Score! lifted the lid on six new Raroo Fun System games that are currently in development and expected to release sometime in 2010. Intriguingly, the issue also provided a rare glimpse at three titles that have been cancelled. Preorders for the upcoming games began this morning, and as expected lengthy lines of fans gathered outside Awesome Onion game store locations.

We sent GameSetWatch’s Japanese correspondent, Shiichi Okuma, to provide coverage on what has turned into one of the largest gaming-related events of the year. Okuma interviewed many of the individuals standing in line to hear their opinions and expectations of the upcoming Raroo Fun System game barrage. Spirits were high amongst the preorder lines, and a handful of fanatics even came dressed in Police Chicken, Roger, and Mister Raroo costumes.

Angry Walter

Angry WalterIt’s uncommon for Raroo Games to let a second party developer handle one of its top franchises, but that appears to be the case with Angry Walter, the direct sequel to this past year’s smash hit Hungry Walter. Unknown developer Midodok is credited with production, though at this point nobody seems to know anything of the company beyond their name. OK! Game! Score! describes Angry Walter as follows:

Yes, the Walter of Hungry Walter fame is back--and he's ANGRY! The premise of this game is simple: make...Walter...ANGRY!

Some possible mini stages:

1. Move Walter's burger.
2. Poke Walter in the belly.
3. Kiss Walter's girlfriend.

Kazushige Sasaki, better known as “RFS_Maniac” on popular gaming message board GEONEF, says Angry Walter is his most anticipated game of the coming year. “I was a little worried because Raroo Games isn’t directly handling the development, but since they are still publishing the game, I have high hopes. I’m glad Midodok appears to be doing something beyond a rehash of the first game.”

Lalia Leapwell and the Lecherous Lemurs!

Lalia Leapwell and the Lecherous Lemurs!P.F. Studio’s latest title is certainly going to help fill a noticeable void of traditional platformers on the Raroo Fun System. Though introducing a new intellectual property can be risky in the current economic climate, OK! Game! Score! had a hands-on session with the game and complimented its creative level design and gameplay mechanics. The magazine’s description:

Laila's husband-to-be, Lucky, lands lad-napped by a gang of lecherous pirate-lemurs, leave it to Laila to save the day!

While Laila can't use force (She's a firm believer in peaceful resolutions; also, Lemurs are endangered -- and cute!) it's lucky for lithe Laila that's she's a world renowned gymnast, acrobat and athlete!

Pole-vault over pirate traps, backflip your way around guards, and do sweet tricks on Uneven Bars luckily and inexplicably scattered just about everywhere you go! Can you make it to Lucky before he finds himself lost in lemur-love-limbo!?

Tom Dodgers, perhaps best known for his over-the-top game reviews on his site Frantic Knob, provided a shockingly positive response when asked what he expected of the game. “P.F. Studios has yet to disappoint, though naturally my expectations for Lalia Leapwell may be artificially inflated by the fact that their past titles have all pushed the envelope of platforming when compared to the mindless typhoon of tripe that clogs the shelves of retail outlets.” Okuma reports that Dodgers asked what site his quote would appear on then let out a snort when he heard the name “GameSetWatch.”

REMINDER: GameSetContest: Pitch a Raroo Fun System Game and Win JUMP! or SWAP!

November 9, 2009 7:00 AM |

Contest Time With Mister Raroo logo[We're reposting this up top, since the deadline is tomorrow. Mister Raroo is looking for the best ideas of new games for the (fictional game console) Raroo Fun System. Channel your inner game designer and come up with something nifty! Up for grabs are "tokens" for free downloads of Arkedo Series - 01 JUMP! and Arkedo Series - 02 SWAP! for XBox 360! Just remember to put fun above all else and be creative.]

A Few Quick Thoughts About Fun in Gaming

In case you haven't guessed, the Raroo Fun System is a work of my imagination. But the fact that it doesn't actually exist hasn't stopped me from thinking up plenty of silly game concepts for it! Starting with Mister Raroo's Hauntastic Voyage to Ghosty Ghost Island, I've since expanded the fictional catalog of games by creating trailers via Nintendo's amazing Flipnote Studio.

The Raroo Fun System is now home to such would-be classics as Galaxy Intruders, Police Chicken: Interrogation Specialist, and my personal favorite, Hungry Walter (he likes hamburgers!).

As the name of the system implies, the Raroo Fun System is basically my tribute to the bygone era in which games had one main purpose: fun! While I appreciate the complexity that exists in many modern games, I often miss the simple, straightforward approach to game design that was often the standard during the 1980s and early 1990s. It was during that time period in which my love for video games blossomed, so it makes sense that I have such a soft spot for video games which put an emphasis on fun above all else.

GameSetSpooky: Halloween Time With Mister Raroo

October 31, 2009 8:00 AM |

Halloween Time With Mister Raroo

[In a change of pace from his usual GameSetWatch column, Mister Raroo treats us to a Halloween tale of gaming gone horribly wrong. As an added bonus, the story features guest artwork by death metal vocalist and illustrator Sean McGrath. You should think twice before you head to your favorite game store around Halloween, or you might suffer the same bad fortune as Mister Raroo. But don't worry, Mister Raroo's tale is only fiction. Or at least, we think it is. Now that we think of it, we haven't heard from him in a while. You don't think this chilling tale could be real, do you?!]

A Desperate Warning

Please hear my tale, dear readers, for it is through writing these words that I am attempting to confirm what is left of my sanity. I am still not completely sure that the events which transpired last night actually happened, as the mind is capable of strange and cruel fabrications. If it weren't for one horrible piece of evidence, I would write the whole thing off as nightmare. If only it were that had I ventured too far into the supernatural realms we visit while we sleep!

But no! I fear there is no escape, for even if it were all in my imagination, is there any refuge from the visions that fill our minds? When a moment arrives in which my throughts finally provide me with a brief respite from this terrible affliction, I hear her voice whispering in my ear. What a horrendous punishment! Why has fate chosen me to carry this burden?!

Mister Raroo Writing His Tale

All my life I have had a fascination with the macabre, an attraction that has permeated into my interests and hobbies. My friends and colleagues did their best to warn me that too much attention to grim pursuits would come back to haunt me. I always sloughed off their words, but now it seems their ghastly predictions have come true. It's one thing to enjoy an occasional visit into the shadowy recesses of the world, but the horror that lurks in the darkness is nigh unbearable when there is no escape from it.

It is only now that I am a prisoner that I see the error of my ways. When we lend our minds to the ghoulish world, it can take hold of us and steal our sanity. Dear friends, it is with but a thin thread of reason that I am even able to focus and write these words! So please, hear what I have to say, and take heed of my warning! For if you follow the same path I have tread, you may be the next vicitm of this abnormal, unnatural curse and you will be unable to free yourself from the horror that is this relentelss video game psychosis. Beware!

Dreamcast Time With Mister Raroo: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

September 9, 2009 4:00 AM |

Dreamcast Time With Mister Raroo[Continuing his 'Game Time' GSW-exclusive column, Mister Raroo takes a moment to reflect upon the ten years that have passed since the Sega Dreamcast's famous 9-9-09 domestic launch, looking at Fuku-san's piggy ban, Dreamcast "vultures," life-after-death game releases, and much more.]

What a Difference a Decade Makes

Ten years ago today I walked out of my local Software Etc. with a Sega Dreamcast and handful of games for the system. The rest of the day was a blur of slashing all challengers in Soul Calibur, racing down a skyscraper in Sonic Adventure, and throwing everything in sight at my opponents in Power Stone. Not only was I floored by the Dreamcast's vibrant, smooth graphics, but I can't remember a time in which a game system's launch titles provided me with so much happiness on day one.

In many ways, my life was very different a decade ago. I was still fairly fresh out of college and was living at my parents' place while I tried to figure out exactly what I wanted to do in life. I had just switched my status at my library job from full-time to hourly so I could take the upcoming school year to earn my teaching credential. My parents didn't charge me all that much for rent, so I spent most of my free money on video games, and since I was single, playing games helped fill that void in my life, I suppose.

Comic-Con Time With the Raroos: 2009 Edition (Part 5)

July 27, 2009 1:00 PM |

Comic-Con Time With the Raroos[GameSetWatch has sent GameSetWatch columnist Mister Raroo and his family to San Diego Comic-Con to report on their adventures there. We've been running daily updates from the Raroos as the convention progressed, and after the first, second, third, and fourth parts, the fifth and final segment is about Sunday.]

Sunday, July 26: Crossing the Finish Line

There can definitely be too much of a good thing, and Comic-Con is a prime example of that. After spending more of our waking hours at the San Diego Convention Center this past week than anywhere else, we are more than ready to bid it farewell until next year. Even though we really enjoy attending Comic-Con, it never fails that by the last day we are looking forward to its finish.

Sunday is always Kids Day at Comic-Con, and we got in the spirit by bringing along our 10-year-old nephew, Mario. Even though we were feeling completely wiped out, it was nice to spend the day with someone who was anxious about seeing what Comic-Con had to offer. Mario was definitely looking forward to whatever adventures awaited us at the convention.

When we first walked onto the main floor, we were right by the Bakugan booth, and Mario made a beeline for one of the demo station of the Wii game. There was already another boy playing a two-player session against himself, but he soon handed Mario the second controller and they fumbled their way through the rest of the battle. The Wii game was nothing memorable, but it was fun that at the booth you could pose for a Bakugan-themed snapshot and get a free photo printed out for each person in your group. Nice!

Next up was the Pokémon booth, where kids were given a cute Pokéball beach ball. Mario sat down at one of the many tables to get an introductory lesson on how to play the Pokémon card game. As the tutorial went on, it was clear Mario was starting to get bored, and by the time he was done playing a round with the instructor he was ready for something else. Perhaps learning to play the Pokémon card game was a little too much like being in school!

Comic-Con Time With the Raroos: 2009 Edition (Part 4)

July 26, 2009 4:00 PM |

Comic-Con Time With the Raroos[GameSetWatch has sent GameSetWatch columnist Mister Raroo and his family to San Diego Comic-Con to report on their adventures there. We'll be running daily updates from the Raroos as the convention progresses, and after the first, second, and third parts, the fourth segment is about Saturday.]

Saturday, July 25: Running on Fumes

We were originally planning on being at the Convention Center in plenty of time to catch a SpongeBob SquarePants panel at 10:30 am, but all the activity of the past few days has caught up with us and we opted to sleep late instead. Seeing as we were running out of energy throughout the day as it was, I think we made the right decision to let our bodies rest a bit. All in all, we felt both physically tired and a little worn out on Comic-Con in general. It is grueling.

Our slight ennui was compounded by a couple of dud booths. I really wanted to see Scribblenauts at the Warner Bros. booth, but celebrity signings meant the booth was off limits, even though they had a demo station up and running. To top it off, the WB representatives were rather rude when I asked if I could take a quick look at Scribblenauts, so we figured they weren’t worth any more of our time and we went elsewhere.

Sadly, we fared no better at the Mattel booth, where they had Cars toys on sale. Kaz has almost all of the main characters in his collection, but he’s missing Sarge and Sally, both of which were being sold for five dollars each. However, when we got to the front of the line we were informed we couldn’t buy a specific character, but instead would be given a random character for our five dollars. We didn’t want to waste our money since we probability wouldn’t have been able to snag Sarge or Sally without dropping a small fortune, so we told them to forget it. The day was not going well.

Thankfully, my luck soon changed. Taking the time to try out Ignition Entertainment’s games turned my mood around and put me in high spirits. After going a round or two with the impressive-looking King of Fighters XII, I noticed Ignition’s Shane Bettenhausen walking around and introduced myself. Not only had Shane heard of GameSetWatch (hooray!), but he was more than happy to guide me through a demo of Muramasa: The Demon Blade.