Log in

No account? Create an account
05 July 2009 @ 04:26 pm
Long time no post!

Just briefly, in regard to my last entry, there have been no developments on the Moon-getting-translated front, and I don't expect there will be as it stands :(

However, if you're the person responsible for this video,
drop us a line, would you? And for anyone who wants to see what the first half hour or so of Moon looks like in English, go find parts 2 and 3 on dailymotion!
Quite a bit of Lovedelic-related stuff has happened since I last wrote. Kenichi Nishi's last game with Skip, the hilarious Captain Rainbow was released, to the usual critical acclaim (4 straight 8/10s from Famitsu) and general public apathy :(  It's really good, you should get it. ;


Nishi then teamed up with another gaming iconoclast, Kenji Eno (the D series, Enemy Zero, Real Sound: The Wind's Regret) to release the 2 Newtonica games for iPhone, neither of which I've had the pleasure of playing - if you have an iPhone, they're a buck a pop, btw.

Skip resurrected the bit Generations concept under the name ART STYLE for WiiWare and DSI, including remakes of Orbital and Dialhex (now named Orbient and Rotohex) and 7 entirely new games. I haven't gotten around to playing even half of these yet.

Little King's Story from Yoshiro Kimura/Marvelous Interactive/Cing/Town Factory/Vanpool/etc was released in PAL territories a while back, and will be released in the US and Japan very shortly. It's been getting glowing reviews all over and they're definitely well deserved. I doubt I'll play a better game this year.

In non-gaming related news, former Skip designer hikarin (with a little help from lovedelic folk Hirofumi Taniguchi and Kazuyuki Kurashima) has released an animated short entitled Pipe No Machi 2 (no, I don't know anything about the original Pipe No Machi). You can watch it here, when it wants to work: 

In the not too distant future, we'll have a third Chibi Robo game (Welcome Home! Chibi Robo: Happy Spring Cleaning, or something like that) for Nintendo DS, as well as a second Tingle game for the same platform - Ripe: Tingle's Balloon Trip Of Love (mistranslated almost universally as Color-Changing: Tingle's Balloon Trip Of Love, if you're trying to google it). And there's talk of a sequel to Chulip as well. Good times :)

That's all for now. I may or may not get back to writing entires for the games I've missed so far. May not is honestly more likely. In the meantime, go play some of these games, why don't you?
25 August 2008 @ 04:03 pm
 I'm not under the illusion that a lot of people are reading this (your loss! :P) - but for those who are, just a heads up - updates will probably be less frequent from now on, as I'm working on a project I feel is a little more worthwhile - a full English translation of moon. The translation proper is being handled by someone else, I'm just taking play-through screenshots and will probably do some editing on the script when/if the translation is complete. I've also set up a forum for people who are interested in the project, and especially anyone who would like to help out. 

Keep an eye on:  http://www.sennue.com/en/moon/

and the forum: http://www.freeforum101.com/moonremix/

Also, when I have a chance, I'm going to play Rule Of Rose :P
Watch this space.
30 July 2008 @ 09:08 pm
 Howdy , and welcome to my Lovedelic page. 

This page is a lil’ tribute to one of my favourite video game developers ever (the aforementioned Lovedelic), and the companies that spun off from them after their untimely disbanding in 2000.

I hope you enjoy reading about this stuff and get encouraged to read more about these games and maybe even track some of them down – adventurous gamers WILL be rewarded. And if not, this was pretty fun to make for me anyway. 

Lovedelic formed in 1996, made up primarily of developers & designers who had previously worked for Squaresoft (who I’m sure you’re all familiar with). These include: 

Kazuyki Kurashima - Character Designer (Super Mario RPG, Live-A-Live, Hanjuku Hero 2)

Kenichi Nishi (Chrono Trigger, Super Mario RPG)

Keita Eto (Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI, Xenogears(?))

Yoshirou Kimura (Romancing SaGa games)

Taro Kudo (Super Mario RPG)

Akira Ueda (Final Fantasy IV, Secret Of Mana, Super Mario RPG)

Hirofumi Taniguchi (who never worked for Square, but is one of the most amazing video game composers ever)


Below, I’ll be spotlighting each of their games briefly.
If you want to read more about any of the games, there’ll also be a couple of links.
Or, you could go here:


This the first and best English-language blog about Lovedelic, by a dude called Ashley who's written for some well-known British gaming mags. Go look at it!  Not right now, but when you’re done here. And check back frequently, as it’s updated regularly. 

And this is a link to an in-depth article on the first 3 Lovedelic games, by Bruno de Figueiredo, a pal of mine and a guy who really knows his stuff. Pretty much required reading as well:


Let’s go!

moon: Remix RPG Adventure (PSX)

Lovedelic's very first, and maybe very best release (October 1997)

I stumbled across a review for this quite by accident (first link below) and decided I HAD to play it. After spending countless weeks looking, I found a copy and it was on. Essentially a graphic adventure-style game set inside a stereotypical Japanese console RPG - a look "backstage" at your Final Fantasies and Dragon Quests, of sorts -  it's simultaneously a pisstake of and a love letter to the genre, as well as one of the most heart-warming, epic and ingenious games of all time. 

This metatextual masterpiece marked the first appearance of the hallmarks of the Lovedelic style, RPGs where instead of leveling up by slaughtering monsters, you gain experience by helping people and spreading happiness - this theme was used to great effect in subsequent games like GiFTPiA, Chibi Robo, Lack Of Love and Chulip. 

I was maybe NEVER as into a game as I was into this one, buying the official book for a considerable price from a Japanese online auction, scouring the internet for Japanese walkthroughs and trying to translate them so I could get those last elusive love points, and trading long and rambling emails examining seemingly irrelevant points of the story in excruciating detail with the less than half a dozen people I found who had played it. I even wrote a walkthrough for the damn thing.


Awesome review: http://www.rpgfan.com/reviews/moon/index.html

Another awesome review (French): 

Review of the (amazing) soundtrack (with clips!): http://www.rpgfan.com/soundtracks/moon/index.html

Artwork & stuff:

Wyrdwad's “Which Moon character are you?” LJ Quiz (SPOILERS): http://www.geocities.com/moon_remix

Full English walkthrough, by some handsome young go-getter <_<

Forum: http://www.snesorama.us/board/showthread.php?t=3589

Ridiculous Japanese commercial:

Part 1 in a series of videos showing someone playing through the game:
What you're seeing in the above video is "Fake Moon", the game-within-a-game that the main character is playing at the beginning - I recommend watching a few more to see some actual gameplay, if you're interested.

Also, that nifty little tune in the background of the commercial is Kera-Ma-Go, the game's... well, not exactly "theme" song, as it doesn't appear 'til relatively late in the game, but a song that's instantly reconizable to anyone who's played the game. It's written and performed by Hirofumi Taniguchi's band the Thelonious Monkees (see what they did there?) and sung by a 12-year old American girl, who from what I can tell was holidaying in Japan at the time and randomly asked to come sing on the soundtrack to this crazy game... you can't make this stuff up. If you ask nicely, I could maybe send you the full version.

The rest of the soundtrack is really something too - in the game itself there are 30+ songs all written by independent Japanese recording artists, and in the game itself you can purchase these from a record store and play whichever ones you like, at any time, in any order. There's some SERIOUSLY good stuff on there.

As with a few other games I'll be covering on this page, this one was scheduled to be released in the US and scrapped before it happened. A friend of mine recalls seeing a full page ad for it on the back of US Magazine "GamePRO"  back in 1998, and then.... nothing. 


My tresured copy of the official book: 

And another book I just discovered.... it's called Moon: Side Story, or some such thing.... I have no idea what it's about, and no-one I've talked to has even HEARD of it.... I want one! This one's currently at $70 and rising on an online auction.... ouch >_<

  EDIT: I've been informed by a Japanese acquaintence that its's actually a story book (the name probably should have given it away) about the further adventures of Yoshida (the purple bird). Very interesting. 

And my results from Wyrdwad's quiz:
You are the Invisible Boy!

Which "Moon: Remix RPG Adventure" character are you?
Quiz made by Wyrdwad.

29 July 2008 @ 08:53 pm

 UFO: A Day In The Life (PSX, 1999)

Lovedelic's second game didn't have a great deal in common with it's first, outside of a few recurring monsters.... that and the fact that they're both really weird. The RPG-with-a-twist structure of Moon is gone, replaced with one of the strangest and coolest ideas for a puzzle game I've ever encountered.

Here's a brief synopsis I wrote and posted on some other site one time:

Essentially, you play as some kind of alien with a camera thingy on his head, and you're charged with recovering 50 other aliens who are hiding out on Earth after their ship crashed.

The game takes place in an apartment block over a 24-hour period, and the aliens will only appear in certain areas (of which there are 12, IIRC) and at certain times - you can replay each hour of the day as many times as you like.

To catch the aliens, you'll need to take a picture of them using aforementioned camera . Some require multiple pictures of them doing different things - after you've taken one, the big floating head back on your ship will tell you how many more you need.

The catch (and there always is one) is that the aliens are INVISIBLE. So how to figure out where they are? Observation. Things the aliens do will affect events taking place in the regular world - they will react to the inhabitants of the apartment complex, and the inhabitants will react to them (though they don't actually know they're there).

It's your job
to keep a sharp eye (and ear) out for unusual phenoma in your immediate surroundings, and try and guess where the creatures might be. There's a green icon in the top corner which will appear when one is close by, and it's up to you to snap a photo of it doing whatever it's doing and take it back to your ship as evidence so that the alien can be captured.

It's difficult to write a review, as there really is nothing else around like this. It's a great idea....not necessarily a great game, but worth a try.

There you have it. At first you'll be having a grand old time catching the aliens and reveling in the groovy little Taniguchi-penned tune that plays each time you do so (I had it as my ringtone for a while), as well as trying to piece together the story of what's actually going on in the lives of the various inhabitants of the apartments, but about halfway through the puzzles become RIDICULOUSLY obtuse and difficult, and the need for constant repetition and trial & error begin to grate. I can't honestly say I stuck with the game right 'til the end, though I did enjoy it and very much appreciate the left-of-centre thinking that went into creating it. If only all developers could have this many great ideas.....


Walkthrough (Japanese, unfortunately for you):  http://gamepukka.com/g005_ufo.html

Forum:  http://snesorama.us/board/showthread.php?t=32616

User review from Famitsu.com (Japanese) – he seems to feel the same way about it that I do: 

A couple of screenshots courtesy of Bruno De Figueiredo:

Now, for no reason, here's a picture I drew in MS Paint one day at work, entitled "UFO: A Day In The Life" - this was before I had actually played the game....

27 July 2008 @ 07:40 pm
LOL: Lack Of Love (Sega Dreamcast, 2000)

The final game developed by Lovedelic proper, and a very fitting finale indeed.

If you ever find yourself trying to make a case for video games as a legitimate art form, 
LOL: Lack Of Love may help your cause immensely.

Lovedelic's last title is a game that's wildly original, meticulous in detail and extremely fun, but also has an underlying theme of social responsibilty (though not in an annoying preachy hippy way or anything) and packs a genuine emotional punch.

Lack Of Love begins with a rocket landing on a strange alien planet. A robot gets out, and then out roll a bunch of bulldozers and the like.  Meanwhile, your character begins as a tiny organism inside an egg at the bottom of what seems like an ocean (but in reality is just a small pool of water), and after waggling the joystick a few times to break the egg and be born, you swim to the surface and must learn quickly how to survive in this strange alien ecosystem.

Throughout the course of the game you'll evolve, gradually changing form and growing larger and larger. You achieve this by helping other creatures, be it by fighting off creatures that are attacking them, rescuing them from some natural hazard or other, teaching them to find food or sometimes just playing with them. When you solve their problems you are given "the gift", and with a certain number of these you'll be able to create a cocoon, and emerge as a new life form - the theme of helping others as a means of growth appears again, and not for the last time.

Meanwhile, your planet is under colonization by aforementioned robots.... and they're from Earth. It seems the human race at this point has pretty much ruined the Earth, and has sent out the LOL probe in search of another planet suitable for human inhabitants, and they've arrived on yours. The two stoies intertwine in what is an immersive and utterly unique game like nothing you've experienced before.

The game scenario was designed by Kenichi Nishi and Ryuichi Sakamoto. We've mentioned Mr. Nishi already so far, and you may have heard of Mr. Sakamoto also - no, he's not some hotshot game designer, rather a well-known Academy Award-winning (amongst other things) Japanese composer, responsible for (again, amongst many other things) the scores of  some films you may recognise, including Snake Eyes, The Last Emperor and Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, starring David Bowie

That doesn't really have much to do with anything, but it's a cool picture.

Nishi and Sakamoto's message is pretty clear: To truly grow as individuals, and by extension as a planet, we could all stand to learn to be a little less selfish... hopefully before we f**k everything up completely. Or something :P

Would-be importers should note that the game contains next to no text, Japanese or otherwise, and is easily playable by anyone, regardless of language. And I think, as you might have guessed, that it deserves to be played by everyone, regardless of anything :)  Go on, what are you waiting for?


Awesome walkthrough by jonnyram on GameFAQs. 
You'll almost certainly need this if you want to do EVERYTHING in the game:

Liner Notes Interview with Ryuichi Sakamoto about the making of the LOL soundtrack: http://www.sitesakamoto.com/whatsnew/lol.html 

LOL Project mission statement video - this appears about halfway through the game an explains the aims of the LOL Project. It's awesome -

Great video review by some Scottish guy

"Criminally overlooked games" YouTube video (about 10 minutes of gameplay footage from various points in the game: 


This was the last game by Lovedelic, as I mentioned, but fear not: their spirit lives on - next up we'll be looking at the first of the spin-off companies, Vanpool.
26 July 2008 @ 08:10 pm


Taro Kudo and Kazuyuki Kurashima's Vanpool was the first of the companies formed in Lovedelic's wake to release a new game (to generally positive reviews in Japan) and anyone familiar with their previous work would pretty much have felt right at home. Endonesia (or Endnesia, no "o", depending on who you ask) takes the Moon template - day/night & days of the week cycle, character advancement through helping others and completing tasks which unlock abilities that allow the protagonist to explore further and for longer periods of time - and runs with it. 

The game begins with a child playing on a swing in a park (in the shadow of the Enix building.... they published the game). And then, he swings a little more and appears suddenly in the magical land of Endonesia. That's pretty much the story right there. 

The object of the game is to reveal the 50 Gods of Endonesia, and each will be revealed when you complete a specific objective. To aid you in this, you have the ability to learn and project "emo" (emotions).

Let's take an early example: at the very beginning, your character arrives in an area that's bordered on all sides by statues (these are statues of the aforementioned Gods, which break and clear the path once the corresponding God is revealed), except for one side which is also impassable due to thorny vines. There's nothing that can be done at this stage, and after a few minutes of standing around, your character becomes "hungry". Now you've learned your first emo, you can project it onto a nearby dog, who then becomes "hungry" and eats the vines, clearing a path for you. Got it? You can see this in the gameplay video embedded below, I believe.

There were a few things about this game I didn't enjoy (we'll get to that), but I kept coming back for clever and interesting puzzles like these. Another one early in the game sees you learning the emo for "fun" by blowing up balloons, then using the emo on a fish, who jumps for joy out of the water, only to be eaten by a bird, who is then eaten by a crocodile, thus revealing the "God Of The Food Chain".  Pretty cool.

Endonesia's instruction booklet is really cool – I don't have a camera worth a damn or I'd show you. The booklet comes in a paper slip with “Endonesia Airlines” written on it, like you'd get with plane tickets, and the booklet itself contains a map, pictures of plasticine airline food and local wildlife, and your official letter of welcome from the Endonesia Director of Tourism (the guy on the right in the lil' pic below), in both Japanese and “English” - which is actually Indonesian. 

One thing that sets Endonesia apart from previous Lovedelic titles is the difficulty level, which is positively masochistic at times. Due to the relative obscurity of some of the puzzles and the narrow window in which you often have to complete certain tasks, it's quite easy to miss out and have to wait out the entire 10-day cycle before you can try the same one again. The game is split up into 7 areas, and each of them is MASSIVE, usually with only one central save point, and you'll often find yourself wandering off on a particular quest, only to become tired before you get there and have to try and turn back toward the save point to recharge.... and often infuriatingly fall just short, and die. So it's entirely possible to play the game for HOURS on end and achieve absolutely nothing.

I got about halfway through the game, even writing an FAQ up to that point, before these idiosyncrasies (combined with the language barrier, which is just HUGE with absolutely no resources on the game available in English) got to me and I quit. So it's not one of my favorites, but still worthwhile. It looks and sounds great (another happening score by Hirofumi Taniguchi, who worked with all 3 of the main Lovedelic spin-off companies), and as I mentioned, some of the puzzles are genius. If you ever stumble across a copy (unlikely) and decide to give it a try, I'll send you my unfinished FAQ. 

God of Names            God of Food Chain          God of Time


Official site (Japanese):

(Extremely short) Trailer:

Opening sequence & gameplay footage (this doesn't make the game look particularly interesting, but it's just kind of a tutorial): 

25 July 2008 @ 08:46 pm
COLOBALL 2002 (PS2, 2002)

Vanpool's second outing was an entirely different beast. Touted as a “sports action game”, in reality Coloball 2002 is a strange hybrid of board game, collectible card game and Tactical RPG, played on a giant soccer ball.... or something.

This entry will be pretty short, because what I do know about the game can fit in a paragraph or so – not so long ago, I purchased a copy, but even playing through the tutorial, there's so much stuff going on that I barely understand, it's difficult to know where to begin. That said, the tutorial WAS fun.

For further information on the game, I'd highly recommend clicking the first link below, Wyrdwad's review on rpgfan.com. Here's a dude who obviously loves the game and has taken some time out to explain the damn thing to us bewildered masses. Also, he was nice enough to send me a partial list of units and their abilities that he wrote, so when I do get started in earnest, I might have an easier time of it... it seems like the kind of thing that will take some time to get the feel of, though. Wyrdwad assures me that even non-Japanese enabled folks shouldn't have much of a problem once they get into the swing of it - next time I have some annual leave from work, I'll spend some time with it and let you know how I do. In the meantime, enjoy the miniscule amount of information I've been able to rustle up:


The review in question: 

Official site (Japanese) – featuring some screenshots, and messenger icons you can download: http://coloball.vanpool.co.jp/

That's about it. 

Here's some character artwork:  



24 July 2008 @ 09:00 pm


This box is * MUCH * shinier in real life

In the years between Coloball 2002 and this title, Vanpool worked with Nintendo on the excellent Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga for Gameboy Advance - designing the minigames, to be precise - which was perhaps what got them the job of creating this, Tingle's first solo adventure. And really, it's a perfect fit - a character as *ahem* unusual as Tingle, and a developer in Vanpool who aren't adverse to some well, unusual ideas.... see previous entries. 

For those of you who don't know, Tingle is a recurring character in Nintendo's The Legend Of Zelda series. He first appears in Majora's Mask as a 35-year old man in a fairy costume, hanging out by the side of the road and selling maps to help his Father out. We see Tingle next in Wind Waker, in a jail cell (wrongly accused of stealing a camera, if I recall) and if you free him, he'll give you a map to find his island. Once there, he'll charge you exorbitant amounts of money to interpret a certain set of sea charts. He also appears in Four Swords Adventures for Gamecube, appearing periodically to steal your hard-earned rupees. 

Tingle's certainly not one of Nintendo's more popular creations, at least in the US - having done a bit of market research into whether or not people would like to see this game released in the States, the response was overwhelmingly negative. Europe apparently has no such hang-ups, and the game was released there in 2007.  Well, America, your old pal Bob is here to tell you that you screwed yourselves out of a pretty damn good game.

Our story starts with Tingle (at this stage not known as Tingle, just a regular dude in his mid 30s) hanging out at home when he is summoned to the pond at the edge of town by a strange voice. The voice is revealed to be that of Uncle Rupee, an odd looking old man with a giant rupee for a head. He tells the soon-to-be Tingle about Rupeeland, a wonderful place of luxury, decadence and hot babes. How to get there? Transform into Tingle and collect rupees, rupees and more rupees.

As well as being the objects of Tingle's desire, rupees are also his most important resource. Aside from purchasing items, information and bodyguards to fight enemies on his behalf (he's a bit of a weenie by himself), rupees act as Tingle's very life force. If he's injured in battle or falls into a trap in a dungeon, he loses rupees, simple as that. So it's quite a balancing act making sure you spend *just* so much on that potion recipe or bit of juicy gossip, so as not to run the risk of being killed on your way to your next port of call. Good fun.

Combat (excluding boss fights) is really basic - tap the hell out of the touch screen as fast as you can - but what the game is really about is exploration (and rupees, of course) - each environment is quite large, with TONS of little secrets tucked away and usually a fairly large dungeon to explore. Apart from one or 2 dungeons that are more infuriating than clever, a lot of thought and effort has clearly gone into every bit of the game, and it really keeps you coming back. The bizarre characters and sheer absurdity of the game's humour may be too much for some, but again, if this is you, you're really missing out. FPTRRL (for short) is an original and fiendishly addictive adventure, and if you have a DS it's definitely worth grabbing the European version.


Official Japanese site (worth a look for the bizarre demo):

http://play.tm/story/13581   - This guy gets it... but for objectivity's sake (stupid objectivity!):




Really good walkthroughs:

Wikipedia entry (quite informative):

Teddy the bodyguard brings the laughs: 

Japanese commercial (translated):  
Gameplay video:

An interesting note or two - the fish statue in the above video is called the "Zora Statue" in the Japanese version, referring to the aquatic race from the Legend Of Zelda series.... this and almost all other references to the Zelda games have been removed from the European version. Why, I'm not sure.

Also, charcter designer Kazuyuki Kurashima doubled as Tingle's voice actor for this game. Cool :)

Now a few pics:

On the day of the game's Japanese release, someone dressed like this may just have been hanging around your local game store (if your local game store was in Japan). Awesome, and creepy.



Tingle's sexy (?) sidekick, Pinkle, and freaking adorable dog, Barkle.

In addition to the 3 games listed above, Vanpool have worked on a few other things, but none that I feel warrant an entry of their own. We've already mentioned that they did the mini-games for Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, but they also developed another Tingle-related game - Tingle's Balloon Fight. Essentially the NES classic, Balloon Fight, but with an extra game mode or two, and the inclusion of Tingle (for better or worse, depending on how you feel about the little fella), this game was offered exclusively to Official Nintendo Club members in Japan.  I picked it up on eBay for next to nothing. If anything, it's a good conversation piece, I guess.


Vanpool also developed a couple of fitness titles for Nintendo DS, Let's Pilates and Let's Yoga:


If you're interested.... :)

Next up we'll be looking at Punchline's Chulip, but first, a quick detour via the Post-Lovedelic works of Akira Ueda.
23 July 2008 @ 08:49 pm

Akira Ueda didn't go on to form or join one of the companies (Vanpool, Punchline & Skip) that are widely regarded as the successors to Lovedelic, but he's definitely still out there making games.

After Lovedelic, Ueda hooked up with Grasshopper Manufacture, designing and directing the 2 Shining Soul games for Game Boy Advance. For those who haven't played them, both are pretty straightforward action RPGs, and didn't get the best reviews... personally I liked the second one.

Ueda's next project for Grasshopper was Contact, an RPG for the Nintendo DS. This one hints at Ueda's Lovedelic past moreso than anything else he's done, with a strange scenario where you, the player (yes, YOU) make “Contact” with The Professor, who in the game has had his ship attacked by aliens and needs your help, and the help of a boy named Terry, to recover the cells needed to power it so he can return home, with the DS being your method of “Contact” with them both. As charming a premise as this is, when you get down to it, the game is really just a pretty basic dungeon-crawler and despite some great ideas, the rudimentary and repetitive battle system drags it down completely. A lot of people liked it though, so it might be just me.

Ueda then left Grasshopper (side note: Punchline's Yoshirou Kimura was the executive producer on Grasshopper's recent Wii title No More Heroes) to form his own outfit, Audio Inc. Their first release was another action RPG, Deltora Quest, based on the anime, which is in turn based on the series of fantasy novels by Australian author Emily Rodda. This one hasn't made it out of Japan as of yet, and I honestly don't know much about it. It looks pretty cool.

Audio Inc's most recent title was released in Japan just a month or so ago, and goes by the name of Majin Tantei Nougame Neuro: Neuro to Miko no Bishoku Sanmai (try saying that 3 times fast). This one is also based on an anime, and appears to be some sort of Phoenix Wright-style detective adventure.

There you go. Ueda's games don't really carry on any of the Lovedelic themes or common characteristics, so I didn't bother writing an entry for each of his games, but if you're interested, his should be enough to get you started. The first 3 games in particular were released everywhere, and there's a wealth of information available on them. Go nuts.


US Box art ^                              European Box art ^


22 July 2008 @ 09:41 pm

Yoshirou Kimura's next step, post-Lovedelic, was the formation of Punchline, and the announcement of Chulip presumably bought great cheer to fans of his previous company's work.

CHULIP (PS2, 2002 (JP), 2007 (US)) 

Japanese box art                                    US box art

Chulip has been labeled a "kissing RPG", and if that doesn't make much sense to you, you're probably not alone :P

Our main character (named by the player) is a boy in his early teens who has just moved with his Father to the distinctly 60's/70's (Japan) flavored "Long Life Town". Once there, he has a dream about kissing a cute girl under a magical tree that is said to grant a happy and lasting relationship to any couple who kiss beneath it. During his meanderings about town the following morning, he learns that both the tree and the girl are real, and are both right there in the town he's just moved to. Approaching the girl and moving in for the kiss in real life, however, the boy finds himself unsuccessful and the recipient of a nasty slap.  Turns out he's "not her type".

After a heart-to-heart about it with his Father, the boy sets off on a quest to win her heart and prove he's a stand-up guy. How to do this? By kissing else everyone in town first. As much as this wouldn't work in the real world, it's a pretty great premise for a game. Along the way, he'll also have to learn to write the ultimate love letter to get her in the mood for when the day he can finally kiss her rolls around. How lucky then that Michio Suzuki, a Mr.Saturn-like disembodied head with a paintbrush sticking out of it, lives in a drain near his new home, and just happens to be in possession of the "Ultimate Lover-Letter Writing Set". Which is soon thereafter stolen. D'oh!

Gameplay-wise, Chulip is again a variation on moon - essentially your character is quite limited in the amount of stuff he's able to do at first, and will only be allowed to explore further from his home base the more his "heart grows" from kissing people. And like moon, the key to progression is usually helping others. Sometimes the kiss itself is all a character needs - everyone likes to feel better about themselves - and in these cases it's usually just a matter of approaching carefully at the right time, or perhaps having a certain item on your person. More prominent characters, however, usually have a whole side-story revolving around them and it may take a good chunk of the game before events fall into place and you're able to help them out and be rewarded with a kiss for your efforts. 

There's Batayan, for example, the guitar-slinging slacker you can see in the video below. Tired of just breezing through life, Batayan realises he needs a job, but how to get one? Well, maybe you could become president of the huge factory the next town over and hire him? As if this weren't difficult enough, Batayan quickly becomes dissatisfied with his job and longs to return to his carefree lifestyle, so before he gives you a kiss, you'll have to fire him too!

If you're intrigued by the concept, you should be, but as for the actual gameplay, well, that's a less obvious proposition. Chulip's a game you'll probably either love or hate, and though I'm firmly in the former category, if you check out the reviews you'll find plenty of people leaning toward the latter. 

The first bone of contention for most is that save points are so few and far between. Why is this important? Because dying in Chulip is really something of an inevitability. Going in for a kiss on someone who's not yet willing will get you a smack in the mouth and lose you some hearts, but you  can be injured by seemingly innocuous things, and for seemingly innocuous reasons, just some of which include: touching poop while rifling through a garbage can for stuff to sell at the pawn shop, playing on playground equipment, not turning taps on and off in the correct order while taking a bath, drinking tea with a zombie in a graveyard at night (fair enough, really), reading a boring comic book (seriously), smoking (again, fair enough), breaking curfew, and in one instance, getting a puzzle RIGHT. Also, to even be able to use a save point in most areas in the first place you'll need to unlock it by completing a task for someone, and WHO is rarely immediately obvious.

Also, progression in the game at times seems to be directly related to how willing you are to look up a walkthrough (tellingly, the US version's instruction booklet includes a full walkthrough). The game absolutely NEVER holds your hand, and at times you'll likely have no idea what you're supposed to be doing next, or at other times you WILL have an idea of what you're supposed to do next, but even with all the tools at your disposal the solution may be so out there and illogical that you'd never have though of it by yourself. Quite a few reviewers also made mention that the game's graphics look extremely dated in comparison to other PS2 releases of the day - this makes sense when you remember that this game came out in the US a full FIVE YEARS after it's Japanese release (no, I don't know why either). People who care about that sort of thing probably shouldn't be playing games like this anyway, really.

If you can look past all this and take the game on it's own merits, you'll enjoy it. And really, the game is so freakin' charming, it's very not hard to. If you're interested in getting yourself a US copy, it might be prudent to do so as soon as possible. It was released in the States exclusively through Gamestop and in limited numbers, and copies don't pop up on eBay all that often nowadays. Good luck!


Official page (English):

Tremendous interview with Yoshirou Kimura:

Metacritic page with links to a bunch of reviews:

Also, reviews of both the game and the soundtrack (one of Taniguchi's BEST!), the latter with audio samples, both by Wyrdwad: 

Wikipedia entry:

G4TV video review (quite a bit of gameplay footage):