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.… Read the rest

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.… Read the rest

Review – Flower, Sun and Rain

My first thought when I began playing Grasshopper Manufacture’s “Flower, Sun and Rain” was that it reminded me a bit of Killer 7. This isn’t any sort of surprise, considering Grasshopper (and it’s rebellious leader Suda51) was behind both games. It was, however, an informative revelation; Killer 7 is often praised for it’s unique audio and visual design, but as it turns out, these concepts were already being played with in FSR. The game features a well dressed protagonist, a mysterious briefcases, and character voices that sound like garbled computer voices. You could even argue that the the primitive visuals are an attempt at basic cell shading.… Read the rest

Review – Infinite Space

As a fan of the occasional science fiction novel, I’ve wanted to see a real sci-fi JRPG for a long time. The Star Ocean series occasionally tantalizes – then I’m reminded once again that the vast majority of each Star Ocean game ends up being the standard medieval fantasy-themed magic-filled claptrap anyway (or super-science with no explanation, which as we know is indistinguishable from the former). The Phantasy Star games have a science-y atmosphere, but they’re more post-apocalyptic in nature and there are only bits and pieces of the sci-fi around. Xenogears and Xenosaga probably come closest, but the former was more fantasy themed and the latter was too focused on inappropriate religious references to bother with much science, despite all the spaceships flying around and weapons research going on.… Read the rest

Review – SaGa 2 DS

Akitoshi Kawazu has sort of a shaky reputation among RPG fanatics.  He gets the occasional hit – if you can indeed call them that – with games like Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles.  More often he makes games that have only a niche following at best.  He’s best known for his work on the SaGa series, which hasn’t had a great game in a long time.  I suppose you might be able to find a few people who liked SaGa Frontier or Unlimited SaGa, but then some people like pain and insurmountable learning curves.

There’s one game, however, for which I have to really give him credit. … Read the rest

Review – Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes

As my friend drove us out to eat the other night I kept envisioning our car crashing into the one in front of it and that one following suit so that we had three aligned cars that could presumably then cross some screen gap threshold in order to attack some other cars. This phenomenon is usually discussed in terms of seeing giant Tetris blocks everywhere you look but I have also experienced it in the desire to continuously roll up objects. That Clash of Heroes has begun to project itself into my real life is a sign of something – this is the best damn DS game America has ever made.Read the rest

Review – Sands of Destruction

How is it that nobody can make a good JRPG for the DS? Some remakes have been all right, and a strategy RPG or two have been good. But every original RPG for the system seems somehow tainted by the platform. Black Sigil, Nostalgia, Beyond the Yellow Brick Road – hell, even a Suikoden spin-off was barely up to par on the system. Sands of Destruction is sadly no exception.

This isn’t to say it’s a bad game. Sands of Destruction’s problem isn’t that it’s actually bad – it’s just that it’s never good. It manages to be almost entirely middle-of-the-road throughout, with no particularly exciting moments and only a few terribly boring ones.… Read the rest

Review – Devil Survivor

Sometimes innovation doesn’t come from wild, crazy new ideas but from the melding of old. Like combining the wheel with fire, Devil Survivor melds two of the oldest RPG battle systems and the result is a flaming tire of fun. Battles take place on a grid following the standard SRPG trope of battles taking place on grids, but when two combatants meet the map cuts to a standard turn-based party-on-party RPG system. Suffice to say, the integration of these two long lived standards is almost as exciting as the monetary standard integration of Europe following World War II.

What Yuzu lacks in personality she makes up in breasts.
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Review – 100 Classic Book Collection

100 Classic Book Collection for the DS is awesomesauce. That’s the gist of this whole review for those of you unwilling or unable to read further. However, for those with some staying power I will qualify why it is such an amazing condiment after I clarify that it isn’t a game.

100 Classic Book Collection is not a game. Don’t be confused by the packaging, the little box and the little game shaped cartridge. When you pop the cart into the DS and open it up you will not find a game. Instead you will find an assortment of 100 classic books to read.… Read the rest

Review – Animal Crossing Wild World

Animal Crossing isn’t a game. It’s a career. A vocation, a mini alternative life. You could educate a child with it and it would turn out OK. It teaches you everything you need to know about the real world. It teaches you the importance of money, shows you the true value of patience, punishes you for lying, and when characters move out of your town it’s an important lesson about the harsh realities of bereavement in adult life. Freckles is gone, Timothy, she’s gone to another town very far away and she’s never coming back.

It’s not a game, it’s a job.… Read the rest