Who On Earth Is Yoshio Ishii?
After playing both of the really lovely Hoshi Saga games (and then annoying my sister by not helping her when she gets stuck), I realised that they came from the same person who wrote the completely stunning Cursor*10, Yoshio Ishii. I then realised I don't have the faintest idea who Yoshio Ishii is, and wanted to find out. It's not immediately clear.
For someone who's generated quite so many superbly fun Flash/Shockwave games, he gains little attention, lacking even a Wikipedia entry. GameSetWatch gave Ishii some coverage in 2006, and Googling his name will give you results based on commentaries of various games. Also, his cat-based Neko Series saw some coverage in 2006. But where's the glory? Gaming's equivalent of B. Kliban deserves more attention. So here are a few other highlights from his collection.
Basho Kioku is an extremely simple concept - you have to remember which of the 36 tiles you've already clicked on, but you've only got six markers to help you. It took me a few goes (without cheating), and a cunning system, to get through.
SCRXXX AS3 is a traditional-style mini-shmup, which becomes fiendishly hard toward the end. You must mine for fuel, although this is pretty inevitable if you hold down A as you swoop around. Or, if you're RPS-o-chum Rev Stu, this is interpreted as rescuing the puppies from the evil mines.
Plupon is a strange one. Descending bubbles contain numbers. Your task is to select three at a time that add up to 10. Collect enough 10s, and you complete the level. But if a number goes off the bottom of the screen, or if you total numbers over 10, it subtracts from your life. It'd be great if it took longer to get harder, and if it didn't make that wretched, ear-hurting bleeping sound.
Ok, I love this one. Although I've no idea what it's called so I'm going to name it Cat Hunter. You play a crudely drawn cartoon cat, shooting lasers from your hooked tail at other crudely drawn cartoon cats, including bosses. It's deeply silly, but the simplistic style belies Ishii's instinct for level design. It was by this game that the Kliban comparison became set in my mind.
Pani-Pane is just a flat-out good idea. It's a sliding-tile puzzle, but with the tiles containing tracks for a ball to roll along. You have to frantically rearrange the tiles so that the ball reaches its destination. And it's hard. Oh so hard. This one will keep you happy for a good while.
Last, and certainly least, Mr. Reimen. Complete this ridiculous micro-game to snort some spaghetti up a nose so it can come out of a mouth, and you're rewarded with a video of someone doing it for real.
The rest of the collection is here. And if you've not played Cursor*10 or the Hoshi Saga games yet, you're not having any pudding until you have.