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). →  OutRun 2006: Post to Post

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that, not only is the original game a beloved classic, but it’s also very old, and runs on a piece of hardware that was outdated even when it was brand new.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.
 →  I’d buy that for a dollar.

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. →  Do a barrel read!

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. →  You lost me.

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. →  Ys: The Article of Napishtim

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. →  I’d buy that for a dollar.

Timely Thoughts on Mega Man 8

This is one of two mainline Mega Man games that got away from me (the other being MM10). This is the first time I’ve ever played Mega Man 8 in any capacity. And I’m here to tell you that it’s not all that good.

This game is very much a product of its time. The 32-bit console era was a period of great transition, as the industry not-so-gradually pushed into 3d gaming. When it came to old, existing franchises from the 2d era, this led to a bit of a crisis. As in animation, gaming had to deal with the fact that a lot of its audience quickly came to the conclusion that 3d graphics were better than 2d as a matter of course.

You could make a gorgeous 2d game on the Playstation (or Saturn) hardware with huge levels and interesting mechanics, and there would be a significant contingent of players who would simply refuse to play it. →  50 Cent: Readproof

Night in the Woods – Gregg Rulz OK

Let’s do crimes!

Night in the Woods is the first video game I’ve played since being given a Nintendo Switch.  Before that my experience was based in the Tomb Raider, Civilization, Prince-of-Persia-on-floppy-disk computer game days.  Little did I know this gift was really an elaborate trap by my brother-in-law to have me write for this blog he was relaunching. Bribe accepted, so here we are.

I enjoyed this game so much. And was shocked when I finished it in less than 48 hours, and yes, I did go to work both of those days. The storytelling felt relatable and fresh, decidedly millennial but in a good way. The game begins with your character Mae (a moody college cat) arriving back home to Possum Springs, where vibes are off.  Your parents forgot which day you were arriving so you must traverse some spooky woods to get home.  →  Ikari Warriors 2: Postery Read

SaGa Collection: A Review of the Games that Matter

In an era where I find online, free-to-play mobile games gross and yet play them anyway, an RPG experience that is small, complete, and playable in short sessions is a great palate cleanser.  I finally picked up the Collection of SaGa AKA the Final Fantasy Legends remasters when they came out on mobile. As our thousands of readers might recall, I’m unreasonably nostalgic about these weird games – at one point I wrote an FAQ on one of them.

COLLECTION of SaGa FINAL FANTASY LEGEND for Nintendo Switch - Nintendo Game  Details

The Collection itself is about what you would expect. I got the Android version, and the real lure for me was the ability to play in portrait orientation and rearrange the buttons for comfort. The price tag might seem a little high for what it offers – but the fast-forward feature is a godsend (particularly for the second game, and I imagine I will appreciate it on the third also). →  [put on your VR headset now]

Review — Suikoden Tactics

Disclaimer: Not really a “glorious revival” of videolamer, but I’ve written this stuff on my own site and by gum this site deserves some activity.  Don’t worry, I’ll probably only update once or twice before the site goes back into hibernation.

Recently, I finally beat Suikoden Tactics, the Strategy RPG semi-sequel to Suikoden IV.  As a long-time fan of the series, I had intended to beat the game for some time, held off by two things.  First, Suikoden IV wasn’t very good and the story never resonated with me.  Second, Suikoden Tactics has the much-maligned feature of permanent death for non-story characters.  When combined with the grid elemental system and a massive set of things enemies can do, it’s extremely difficult at times to predict whether a character will die in any given situation. →  Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatarticle

Review – Async Corp.

Async Corp is the latest, and probably last release from indie developer house Powerhead Games.  There are many reasons to mourn Powerhead’s departure, the biggest of which is that Async Corp. is a marked improvement over Glow Artisan, its award winning predecessor.  While Glow was a wonderful concept, Async demonstrates some of the fundamental qualities of the all time classic puzzle games.

In Async Corp, players are given two wells filled with squares of three different colors. Players select one square on each side to swap with each other in order to form a packet.  Packets are generated whenever some number of same-colored squares are arranged in the shape of a rectangle (squares being rectangles too, of course).  The rules of the game state that a swap can only occur if it will create at least one packet, and packets themselves can be cleared off the screen by touching them (clearing packets becomes, ultimately, the point of the game). →  Tokyo Xtreme Reader: Drift 2

Review – Kayne and Lynch

Kane and Lynch: Dead Men was, for lack of a better pun, dead on arrival in the minds of Internet savvy gamers, all thanks to the fiasco surrounding Jeff Gerstmann’s scathing review for Gamespot.com, and Eidos Interactive’s possible manipulation of the site.  That being said, if the controversy never occurred, I don’t imagine the game would have fared any better.  The signs of a troubled development process are all over the place, and the final product is a constant stream of highs and lows.

Where to start?  Visually, the background objects are gorgeous, but the foreground environments are criminally ugly.  The game often tries to hide this by placing levels in the dark, or by filling setpieces with several layers of tear gas smoke. It doesn’t always work, and when I got the chance to stare at some of the more atrocious urban environments, I wondered if I was looking at an Xbox 1 game. →  Up to 6 billion readers.

Review – The Last Remnant

I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about The Last Remnant. On the one hand, its Akitoshi Kawazu pedigree shines through, with an incredibly nuanced battle system that never fully makes up for its terrible plot. On the other hand, that battle system is really very good and worth playing the game for on its own, it’s just that the plot was made even worse – seemingly deliberately – to balance things out.

Kawazu has a long history of working on the SaGa games, and it is entirely reasonable to call TLR a stealth entry in the series, since it has many of the hallmarks. Aside from standard battle system/plot dichotomy, there’s a wonderfully imaginative world that very little is actually done with, entertaining side characters that never really break into the third dimension, incredibly good music that has only bits and pieces of substance to go with, and enough sidequests to deliberately avoid the main story for hour on end. →  Reading. Reading never changes.

Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom: etc, etc, etc

In a sentence, imagine Street Fighter II with slightly nicer graphics and hyper combos.

In more than a sentence, why is it that Capcom’s fighting games are allowed to be so lazy and yet get relatively good reviews? Street Fighter IV, Marvel vs Capcom 3 and the 1.1 versions of both of those. Shallow and lazy. Particularly the versus series. Great potential for some kind of interesting story mode reduced to a handful of cool cutscenes.

So. What do you get in Tats vs Caps? Not a lot. Punch people in the head on seven stages in Arcade Mode. Punch people in the ahead against the clock in survival mode and punch as many people in the head before your life runs out in Survival Mode. Even for a Capcom game there is a paucity of unlockables. →  Jesus: Readful Bio Monster

Review – Rune Factory 3

I think Neverland is set for life with Rune Factory. Few other series can withstand being rehashed over and over again without much in the way of innovation. Most stagnate enough that even the die-hard fans abandon them. Dynasty Warriors is a good example of one of the few capable series; perhaps it’s because the beat-em-up is that ideal genre where one only need switch up a few move-sets and add new characters and people will be satisfied.

Surprisingly, this game does not directly cater to the, er, fur-inclined.

Surprisingly, RF3 does not cater to the, er, fur-inclined.

Despite the fact that every Rune Factory is very similar, the three I have played feel very distinct. In Rune Factory 3, you still raise crops, forge weapons, woo women, and fight monsters –  many more activities exist, most of which are variations on the rest, such as wooing monsters and forging women. →  Game. James Game.

Alternate Take – Nier

Note: Some folks on Twitter asked me if I was going to write anything about Nier after finishing it.  I obliged, as I did find the game very interesting, but I want to point out that the game was already reviewed by Chris back in December.  The original review can be found here, and I recommend you read it first.  It covers some of the same ground, and  Chris has a much better handle on the genre than I do.

Nier is a bog standard action adventure game in which the lock and key puzzle system of modern Legend of Zelda releases is replaced with traditional jRPG time wasters (mainly sidequests and weapon upgrades).  Its environments range wildly in style, but the over world sections tend to be empty, sweeping plains which don’t really tell you much when viewed as a screenshot.  →  I got served!

Review – Glow Artisan

I have been meaning to review Glow Artisan for a very, very long time. Unfortunately, I had trouble sinking my teeth into it after just a couple of days (though those couple of days were, admittedly, fun). Did my struggles signify that it was, in fact, a bad puzzle game? I had to weight all the possibilities. My conclusion, at least for now, is that Glow Artisan is a good game, but it triggers a major psychological stumbling block within me.

Glow Artisan takes place on a grid of small squares. You are meant to color in the grid, using the three primary colors (which naturally create secondary colors when mixed) and an eraser. In addition, there are rules which dictate how you can manipulate each hue. A series of “glow emitters” sit next to the left and upper edges of the grid, which allow you to pull what is essentially a strip of color, either down through a column, or to the right, through a row. →  Castle Readigami 2

Review – Radiant Historia

Radiant Historia gets so, so close to being a bona fide classic. For three quarters of its length, it was my favorite genre-piece since Demon’s Souls. After that, it segued into its (shockingly) boring, generic final act. The biggest surprise of 2011 became the biggest headscratcher.

Radiant Historia is a classically styled jRPG with a time travel mechanic at its core. The player guides the protagonist through two different timelines, with the ability to travel to the past or present of either of them at will, maybe to fix a mistake, or to ensure that a certain event occurs. Time travel is at the very core of the game’s design. It drives, and explains, so much of what goes on. For example, while the hero can travel between the timelines, he can’t travel into the future (at least, not any future he has yet to experience). →  Fire Post Wrestling Returns

Portal 2 Review Part 2/2: The Negative Review

Any motion picture–such as 2001:A Space Odyssey; Demon Seed; Silent Running or Forbidden Planet–or Star Wars–in which the most identifiable, likeable characters are robots, is a film without people. And that is a film that’s shallow, that cannot uplift or enrich in any genuine sense, because it is a film without soul, without a core. It is merely a diversion, a cheap entertainment, a quick fix with sugar-water, intended to distract, divert and keep an audience from coming to grips with itself.” — Harlan Ellison

It is probably safe to say at this point that everyone loves Portal 2. Just look at Metacritic, just look at the sales charts, just look at what anyone, anywhere is saying about it. So what’s even the point of different publications hiring different reviewers anymore? →  Article Kombat

Portal 2 Review Part 1/2: The Positive Review

The first Portal seemed so undeserving of its success. It was essentially a Half-Life 2 mod similar to Research And Development only with a new gameplay gimmick. The story was only added later in the playtesting phase because players were getting bored with room after room of puzzles. Since the developers didn’t have time to model and animate characters a disembodied voice was created from the same disembodied voice that appears in both Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2. The end result was barely marketed at all and distributed merely as a small bonus bundled with other “real” games. By all rights, Portal should have been enjoyed for what it was and forgotten afterwards, along with every other short puzzle game. But it wasn’t. Everyone loved the final product, puzzles, storyline, dialog, and all. →  All this can be yours, if the read is right.