Review – Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is a “companion game” to the core game Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, which is still in development. Hundred Heroes is a Kickstarter headlined by Yoshitaka Murayama (story) and Junko Kawano (art), veterans of the original Suikoden. The Kickstarter is clearly designed to invoke the feel of the Suikoden series. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising serves as a kind of teaser for the game world as well as a standalone, relatively casual, action RPG. As a teaser for a future game, it works reasonably well. Isolated from that context, I’m not sure it’s a great action RPG, although I did enjoy it.

As Jay observed in a comment on a prior post, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is similar to Ys III (not just because many of the environments line up – that’s just a happy coincidence). →  Read me now, believe me later.

Aesthetic Gachaism

Here’s a pretty cool post from indie game developer Keith Burgun. It’s about a concept he labels as “aesthetic gacha-ism”, which he describes as follows:

The core of my conception of aesthetic gacha-ism is the commodification of games: both in how they are produced, the rules, the experience, the way it’s talked about. At nearly every level, the experience of games gets put more and more onto an assembly line, alienated from human experience, connection and meaning.

He then goes on to list some of the core tenets of Aesthetic Gacha-ism:

  • Extrinsic-reward driven (AKA “the metagame is more important than the base game design”)
  • Elements feel copy-pasted a lot, and/or “subdivided” to increase length
  • Compulsion-driven design
  • The (dreaded) crafting system
  • Commodified quests
  • More and more things “level up” in some way

(The author elaborates on all of these bullet points within the actual piece, so I encourage you to read through it.) →  It’s not you, it’s me.

White Flag – Giving up on Saga Scarlet Grace and Monster Train

I recently came to the conclusion that only chumps play every game until completion. And so here is the first entry in what will likely be a long, if not entertaining, series of posts on games I gave up on. I got lucky in that both are very good games that just couldn’t hold my attention until the credits rolled.

Saga Scarlet Grace: Ambitions

Scarlet Grace is the best Saga game I have played, which is similar to being the smartest Qanon believer. The series has managed to improve in stature amongst people who care about long running JRPGs, no doubt assisted by Jeremy Parish’s constant Kawazu fawning. I am happy the games exist because having something weird and different is preferable to not having it, but the games do not really come together from what I have experienced. →  Fine, but this article then no more.

On the Rejection of Writing Formal Game Reviews

Being a magnanimous business owner (of videolamer Corporate Consolidated Holdings LLC), I allowed Editor in Chief Pat to take a week off for vacation with his family on the condition he return with a Panzer Dragoon Saga write-up. This means that there is no one here to make my writing less bad or to talk me out of posting short, pointless, half-formed thoughts. So enjoy this one while you can.

In this site’s first run from 2005-2011ish I reviewed some games. Being in my 20s, I didn’t put much thought into my qualifications – I had a keyboard, a poorly reasoned and loud opinion, and an internet. All the pieces were there for insightful critique, as far as I could tell. The game industry was also smaller in those days and it was possible for a single person to comprehend huge chunks of context, history, game design lineage, developer and studio formation and attrition, and so on. →  Read Band 2

Review of Samus Returns for the 3DS

Samus Returns is a game that wants to be something, but can’t. After all, it is a remake of an existing game, Metroid 2: Return of Samus. On top of that, not only is the original game a beloved classic, but it’s also very old, and runs on a piece of hardware that was outdated even when it was brand new.

All of these factors work to dictate what a game like Samus Returns can and cannot do. By the rules of Modern Videogame Design, the following elements of 1991’s Return of Samus are unacceptable:

  • Its stark, mostly-black backgrounds.
  • It’s creepy chiptune music, despite the fact that it helps to create a certain mood that is absolutely perfect for the game’s setting.
  • The fact that the planet is mysteriously drained of deadly acid as you kill Metroids.
 →  Videolamer does what IGNotDoes.

Switch Mario Party Games Compared by a Dad Who Would Rather Play Something Else

I’ve played Mario Party games off and on in the past. Sometimes I even enjoyed them. When you’re with a group of friends or family, and the down-time between turns and minigames doesn’t matter as much, they’re a great background game.

As a parent to a child who loves playing them, I have officially played enough Mario Party. The good news, for you, is that I have played enough Mario Party on the Switch to go in-depth on which one you should play, when you would really rather be playing anything else.

Super Mario Party

Although it’s a few years old now, there are several points in Super Mario Party’s favor. It has a large variety of gameplay modes – including 2v2 and 4-player co-operative modes, in case your gameplay companion is really insistent about winning. →  Jet fuel can’t melt videolamer.

Out Run, I Mean Outrun Culture

A few months ago I found myself buying (and playing) the Sega Ages version of Out Run on Switch. It’s a great port with some interesting new features, and it made me appreciate the game all over again. Eventually I found myself doing some historical research on the game to learn more about its development and legacy.

Unfortunately, this was easier said than done. My search results were dominated not by Out Run, but by …. Outrun.

As far as I can tell, “Outrun” is the name of both a subgenre of synth music, and a surrounding subculture. According to the Outrun subreddit’s description, Outrun is:

Dedicated to the synthwave music scene, a revisionist 80s music style of synthesizers and pulsing beats, and the retrofuturist 80s aesthetic of fast cars, neon lights and chrome. →  Get lame or get out.

Top 5 Most Likely Video Games of All Time

After the recent scandal wherein President Carter revealed that the classic WonderSwan game Knuckle Justice: Fist of Freedom, Face on Fire (KJFoFFoF) was not an actual video game but rather an elaborate ruse perpetrated by stock insiders to bolster their Bandai holdings, the game industry has been looking inward and has not liked what it has found. With a key pillar supporting the entire enterprise of gaming now left crumbling into the ocean of deception below, it is unclear even to game historians if any actual video games have ever been produced or developed. It is against this tumultuous backdrop that we present you with our intensive research on the Top 5 Most Likely Video Games of All Time.

5. Rival Turf

With its overt graphics and controller support it is hard to deny this is a game. →  Eh, I've got nothing better to do.

Review – Ys IX: Monstrum Nox

So I just beat Ys IX. It was… better than I was expecting, but not as good as it could be. It takes nearly every feature and system from Ys VIII – features and systems, mind you, that were new and specifically built to work in that game’s very particular setting – and brings them whole hog into this new game, with a very different setting. Suffice to say that it doesn’t really work.

For example, in Ys VIII it made sense to earn rewards for mapping out the island, since it was literally uncharted. But it seems insane to be rewarded for mapping out a centuries old city (under the guise of “finding the places that tourists would be most interested in”).

Similarly, it made sense to have a crafting system on an island with no shops, and a bartering system that allows you to refine low grade crafting materials by essentially trading for them. →  For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a gamer against their game.

Affordable GOG Game Recommendations Part 2

More GOG recommendations, continued from Part 1 here.

More Strategy games

Knights & Merchants: The Peasants’ Rebellion – If you’re into sims, this sure is a sim. When I had the time to play the original release (which had no fast-forward) I reviewed it. I find myself mostly agreeing with my earlier self; it’s an interesting game if you’re into the idea of building a supply chain from scratch, sort of like a peaceful, less dangerous cousin of Dwarf Fortress. I’d probably recommend the more recent Banished over this one, if only for the clunky combat K&M requires you to engage in – but if you want to build a medieval ant farm and then leverage it to crush your enemies, this might be your game.

Seven Kingdoms 2 – This is a deep, relatively slow-paced RTS that was largely ignored at release. →  Are anyone else's nipples hard?

Affordable GOG Game Recommendations Part 1

Since videolamer has begun the process of following in Buzzfeed’s esteemed footsteps, it’s only natural that we reach for the low-hanging fruit of picking out games we played and telling you to play them. GOG (www.gog.com), briefly branded as Good Old Games, is stacked with tons of games created by incredibly talented developers years ago, most of whom will never see any of the money you spend because the rights have been sold and resold dozens of times over. But at least if you spend money on these 20-year-old games, it will assuage the slight twinge of guilt you might have felt if you pirated them.

Many of these games are more than 20 years old. Some run in DOS/DOSBox, but many have fan patches available. Check the corresponding GOG forum first – there is typically a stickied topic for mods/patches. →  Now with fewer vowels.

Last Minute Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Virtual Console Game Recommendations

With eShop purchasing for the Wii U and 3DS set to end next year, and the majority of releases for the Wii U coming out in the 2012-2016 timeframe, it seems appropriate to bring up the immense loss of availability that we’ll see once the eShop is closed.

Digital-only releases are already only available to those brave few that bought a Wii U. There are fewer systems and games available on the Wii U VC than the original Wii VC (RIP), so even what is still available until next year is a stripped-down version of what once was. But many of the games available on Wii U VC are still unavailable to owners of the Switch via the Switch Online apps – so once the shop closes for new purchases, the selection will be further stripped down. Given →  Are anyone else's nipples hard?

Deep Thoughts on the Hotline Miami Series

I played both Hotline Miami games sometime within the last year and a half (my memory’s a bit fuzzy on the specific date, and honestly, it doesn’t matter).

Before I begin, I want to make one thing clear. These games are even more violent and depraved than I ever imagined, even after reading lots of reviews and seeing lots of screenshots. Much like with the show Squid Game, there’s a general sense among Extremely Online People that you simply must partake in these experiences that go out of their way to traumatize their audience.

I think that’s a load of crap. If you look at a game like this and think “that’s not for me,” I think it is absolutely valid, understandable, acceptable, and in no way worthy of judgment. Indeed, I wouldn’t be mad if you, dear reader, feel that reading this post isn’t your cup of tea. →  Show me the reading!

Some Favorite, Disappointing, and Interesting Games from 2017-2021 Part 3

Jay

Night in the Woods: This is part of a trilogy (in my mind only) of left-wing games that also includes Disco Elysium and Kentucky Route Zero (Cart Life and some others would also qualify). It may be a little twee at times but the darker themes give it an actual edge that separates it from normal precious, hipster writing. Writer Scott Benson has criticized other games for using political stuff as background scenery for games without actually saying anything meaningful in the specifics of the game. On the other side of that coin, how many times have EA or Ubisoft developers created something that is plainly political in some way and then in interviews explicitly stated the opposite? Even the Fallout creators took this publisher approved position while doing the PR rounds for Outer Worlds. →  Romance of the Three Articles IV: Post of Fire

Top 10 Trends I Ignored – An Old Man is Prideful of His Ignorance

In the dozen years since I used this site as a platform for bad jokes, Wii apologia, and po-faced discussion on design, many gaming trends have come, and in some cases, gone. Having ignored most of these shifts in the industry, I will now document these trends and explain why I am better than each of them.

  1. MMOs

These already existed when this site launched in 200…something. As I am competing with my dead grandfather at having the fewest friends, I worried social gaming would lead to comradery and therefore defeat. This fear was unfounded, however, as years on gaming forums have led me to accumulate exactly zero new acquaintances. “Who is that condescending guy who only posts single sentences that are obviously sarcastic?” is what I assumed people would say. →  We have nothing to lose but our games.

Playing a Classic Game for the First Time: Heroes of Might & Magic 3 in 2022

I had a classic game on my shelf for literal years, unplayed. It’s not the only one – although it’s one of the more prominent ones. It’s simultaneously a symbol of the dying physical game release and the lost excess free time of my youth. It’s the Heroes of Might & Magic III collection – the base game, plus two expansions, on one DVD. I bought it at a used book store for $10.

Might & Magic started as a first-person RPG series. King’s Bounty was a spin-off of that series, where you play a hero leading an army on a quest for magical artifacts. Heroes of Might & Magic then took the strategic combat of King’s Bounty and made it into a turn-based strategy game – you take command of a nation, with heroes serving as your generals. →  You fool. Don’t you understand? No one wishes to read on…

Some Favorite, Disappointing, and Interesting Games from 2017-2021 Part 2

Chris

Pathfinder: Kingmaker: In many ways Pathfinder: Kingmaker is like an ultimate successor to Baldur’s Gate – it adapts a well-known, popular tabletop system, has a wide-ranging campaign, lots of side areas to explore, companions to recruit, and the now-typical CRPG base building is present (thematically a main focus, in this game, although your interactions with your kingdom may feel pretty stilted).

At release it was notoriously buggy.  When I played a few months ago, it still ran slow, but I encountered only a few crashes.  I like Pathfinder: Kingmaker a lot, but the vast variety of classes, feats and spells available, to say nothing of all the magical artifacts, is positively intimidating.  And that’s as someone who ran through this module in an actual tabletop setting, so I already knew the mechanics and part of the plot.   →  Get lame or get out.

Some Favorite, Disappointing, and Interesting Games from 2017-2021

Resident Evil VII

There is so much to love about this game. I love that it is an unashamed homage to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and to a lesser extent The Blair Witch Project and other “found footage” films. I love the RE Engine, which looks gorgeous while running well on all modernish hardware.

I love how it feels both new and old at once. The first person perspective and overall tone are different, yet it repurposes classic Resident Evil gimmicks (ie. the villain who stalks you throughout the game), and it is still plenty goofy when it needs to be.

RE VII was a sharp way to revive the series, pushing it in a slightly different direction that doesn’t abandon the series’ roots.

Fallout 76

This is probably my favorite game from 2017-2021. →  Eh, I've got nothing better to do.

Connecting Old Consoles to New TVs: Now with Fewer Details

My old Pioneer plasma that now lives in a closet covered in a blanket had a lot of video inputs. Component and VGA inputs were casualties of my recent upgrade to OLED. Time marches on, unless you still want to play old game consoles or accidentally slip and fall and become frozen in a crevasse. Then, assuming you fall into the former and not the frozen category, you need to decide if composite video is sufficient for your fully-thawed, unconventional, yet not uncouth tastes.

For me, composite would not do, partly because I realized my new TV was capable of it only after I finished the project I will be explaining in excruciating detail. This fact aside, in order to get the best picture out of the old games I always plan to play but rarely do, I learned I would need to embark on a potentially never-ending-always-spending project. →  These are the games I know, I know. These are the games I know.

Shin Megami Tensei V, from the perspective of an SMT “fan”

I’ll start all this off with a long caveat. Shin Megami Tensei 4 on the 3DS was the first real SMT game I finished. But since Persona 1 came out on PS1, I’ve played pretty much every SMT spinoff. The core series has such an iconic identity among RPG fans – “The Dark Souls of JRPGs,” (because Souls and SMT are both accessible, you just have to put up with a lot of deaths).

Except that last part is also ironic, because the first two SMTs are (legally) inaccessible in English unless you installed them on an early Apple device years ago before they got pulled. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I’m the kind of person a true SMT fan hates, while anyone who’s not a true SMT fan thinks is an SMT fan. →  In all ages, hypocrites, called producers, have put crowns upon the heads of thieves, called publishers.