Imaginary video games featuring Bush and a drunk guy

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Offworld has a fun post about a new exhibit at game store Meteor in Tokyo, where dozens of designers imagined retro video games that were never invented. Like the one above, in which you play ex-President Bush trying to save NYC. Brandon writes:

The one game most after my one true heart is Cap’s vino-red King Drunk (which appears to serve dual purpose as pun on the shop name, Meteor [Mei Tei Oh]), in which players are given several attempts to clear stages “while enjoying the state of drunkenness,” and which prides itself on its “inability to control game action”:

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See the imaginary 8-bit games of Famicase 2009 [Offworld]

Annual human chess match held in Yamagata


An interesting game of Japanese chess, or shogi, took place in Yamagata prefecture a couple of weeks ago. In this match–played by two female professionals–high school students dressed up as warriors and courtesans and posed as pawns on a human-sized board laid out on a grassy field. It’s actually an annual event and is held on a mountain when cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Must be beautiful to watch.

via Mainichi

Video: New DS rhythm game ad featuring Beyonce

I just spent a bunch of time playing Rhythm Heaven, a new quirky rhythm game for the DS that comes out tomorrow in North America. It has all these funny mini-games, like filling a robot up with fuel or making monkeys clap to a dancing idol or making a choir of little boys sing. Anyway, I was googling around and found this ad for the game, featuring Beyonce sprawled out on a white couch playing the game.

New cell phone game pokes fun at the drunken ex-finance minister


A hilarious new invention by Tokyo start-up Liveware Inc parodies Shoichi Nakagawa’s drunken stupor at the G7 conference in Rome in a silly but addictive cell phone game. The goal is to try to keep Nakagawa awake during the press conference by “poking” him with the 5 key at the right timing so that he doesn’t miss any of the reporters’ questions. If he does, you lose. His approval ratings are displayed in big white print at the top of the screen–I don’t think they ever get super high, but the idea is to try to keep it from falling to zero. Pretty funny, and a quick and witty reaction to Japan’s most recent obsession on the part of Liveware.

Press release (Japanese) via the Japan Times

Related posts:
Ex-finance minister Nakagawa accosted Vatican statue, set off alarms
Finance minister’s public intoxication signals need for change

Super cute Nintendo DS purse


Most of the things I buy at Best Buy are really bad. Like the DVI-to-MiniDVI adapter that the guy in the laptop aisle pointed me to—it didn’t work on my new MacBook. Or the DLO IntelliTune iPod dock for my car. I almost crashed twice listening to Obama reading me Dreams from My Father (yes, he voices his own Audiobook. Awesome!) because other radio frequencies kept butting in. I returned both. But there is one good thing I bought at Best Buy, and that was this super cute Nintendo DS carrying purse. I love it. It fits all my cartridges, the charger, some lipstick, a credit card, keys, cell phone, and my DS, of course. And it was only $10.

New version of Game of Life caters to the hellish economy


Ever feel like The Game of Life was too cookie-cutter for your much more morbid lifestyle? Toymaker Takara Tomy is coming out with a new “super spicy” version of The Game of Life, which includes stops like shotgun weddings, gambling sprees, and the sudden and unexplained disappearance of family members. The economy sucks, people are stressed, things never go as planned. By the time you’re done playing a round, you might be thankful for what you have. The game is based on a Japanese idiom called 人生は波瀾万丈 (jinsei wa haran banjo)—life’s a roller coaster ride. It comes out in April, and will retail for about $40.

via Impress Watch

Jigsaw puzzles shaped like Japanese snacks


Japanese snacks give a whole new meaning to the English language. Carl is just an ordinary name in America, but in Japan, it connotes the most delicious cheese snack ever (better than Cheetos or Cheez-its, by far). Apollo is not a spaceship, but a delicious nipple-shaped strawberry chocolate. Black is not a color, but a flavor (chocolate again).

The snacks in this photo are actually not real; their jigsaw puzzles packaged and shaped like their edible counterparts. They remind me of the Jenga game made of gum wrappers.

Arcade Mania, a book about Japanese video game culture


I hung out in Shibuya a lot during middle and high school. It was just the place to be—cheap food, Tower Records, sticker pictures, karaoke, and yes, before any of that stuff existed, there were the video game arcades. My favorite was a five-story little building in the middle of Center-Gai on the left side. I don’t remember what it was called. It was tiny and narrow and smoky but that was where most of my friends and I met, so that if somebody was late you could just play games until they showed up.

Fellow Wired writer Brian Ashcraft and blogger Jean Snow have a new book out called Arcade Mania: The Turbo-charged World of Japan’s Game Centers in which they neatly dissect the world of Japanese video gaming. It talks about rhythm games (BeatMania came way before DDR or Rock Band. I swear. I remember playing it every weekend when I was a kid); dating sims (dating in-game can be much more passionate than in real life); and UFO catchers (these days you can win everything from ice cream to blow fish). Gaming is a big part of Japanese mass culture—and was, even before the Wii—and I found this book to be a delightful peek back into that part of my history. You should check it out!

UFO catcher jeopardizes lives of prize blowfish


Why pay a 1000 yen for a baby blowfish when you can win one with your UFO catching skills? Blogger sosonko found this fugu UFO catcher in a Shimokitazawa game center. I agree with his sentiment that the existence of this UFO catcher is very wrong. For starters, blowfish are very sensitive creatures and need careful handling. They are easily agitated and even minor changes in the environment, such as switching off lights in the room can cause stress. When they are stressed, they may react extremely by blowing up or attempting to jump out of water. Even though it’s cute, blowing up is not a good thing because it takes an extreme toll on their bodies and shortens their lifespan. (by Emily Co)


Related stories:
Ice cream UFO catcher
Another ridiculous UFO catcher scenario

16-year old wins Japanese chess championship

20081124p2a00m0na007000p_size5 This is Kana Satomi. She’s a 16-year old high school student who just won the national title for best female shogi player in the world. She beat out 39-year old defending champ Ichiyo Shimizu in the Okayama tournament on Sunday. The youngest girl ever to win this title was Naoko Hayashiba, who was 14 when she kicked everyone’s butt in 1982.

Previously, I blogged about Beni Takeyama, an expert shogi player who is only eight years old! She is probably still making her way up the ranks of Japanese chess. Or maybe she’s way too young to compete.


Ice cream UFO catcher


It makes sense (kinda) to go to a video game arcade and spent 1000 yen (ten bucks) trying to win a stuffed Pikachu. But this takes claw catchers to a whole new inexplicable, nonsensical level. Why would you spend more than 100 yen to try to win an ice cream cone that you know is 100 yen at the store across the street?

Prime Minister Aso to be featured in an erotic video game

20081018_01A new erotic video game that’s coming out next year called "Love me seriously!" is rumored to have a character modeled after our new Prime Minister Taro Aso. As you can see here, he looks a lot like the guy, and his height (175cm) and hobbies (shooting guns) also match the PM’s profile. I think his job is specified as prime minister, too.

Of course, there’s a disclaimer saying that any similarities to real characters are pure coincidence. Fair enough. But this rumor has triggered a lot of buzz on 2channel, and I think it’s fair to say it surprises nobody that erotic game makers would want to celebrate the anime-loving politician in this way.

Link (Japanese)

Takahashi Meijin, the first gamer geek ever

Before gamer geeks became a dime a dozen, there was Takahashi Meijin. Takahashi was hugely famous and all over TV from the mid-to-late 80s because he was so good at every Family Computer games. Game software company Hudson actually hired him under the title “Meijin” (or expert)—his job was just to be really, really good at all their games. He can push a button with his finger 16 times per second. If you watch him play, he has absolutely no wasted movements—not even an extra blink, ever!

In this video, he says: “I’m actually pretty clumsy. It’s possible that you might be better at the next new game than me.” It shows his life story—born in Sapporo, dropped out of college, got a job at a supermarket, then eventually became a game software salesperson in Akihabara. He decided it would help him be a better salesman if he was good at the games, so he went home and practiced until he became the world’s first gaming expert. (Thanks, Baker!)

New Wii Game Turns You Into a Food Fighter


Major League Eating is a new Wii game coming out in Japan on October 14. It’s like any other sports game, except the contestants must compete in an eating contest. The idea is to use the Wiimote to carry food to your mouth as fast as you can; along the way, you can pick up items like farts and burps.

The star of the game? Takeru Kobayashi, of course. Joey Chestnut, the dude who beat him for the last two years in a row at the Coney Island hot dog eating contest, is in it too. It’s the first video game ever featuring the world’s best food fighters.

No word yet as to whether you can shoose to be 22-year old cutsey super eater  Gal Sone. She’s my favorite.

via Impress Watch (Japanese)

Silver Heart-Shaped DS Stylus for the Fancy Gamer


Are you a glamorous-at-heart game addict who wishes there was a little bit more flair to your console? I’ve seen people put fake diamond stickers all over their DS Lite, but this silver heart-shaped stylus takes fancy to a whole new level. You have to admit that the light blue box with the off-center heart and leather strap is reminiscent of a gift from Tiffany’s.