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.  … Read the rest

Review – SSX Tricky

In the early days of the GameCube one of the first games I made sure to get was SSX Tricky. It was awesome and I played it endlessly until I had mastered every single trick of every single character on every single course. Eventually I got bored of it because, well, it stopped being fun after doing the same “über trick” for the umptillionth time. It burned out my brain and I couldn’t take it any longer. From whatever was left of those brain cells lingered a memory of an incredible experience. Sometimes SSX Tricky would wander back into my daydreams and I would reminisce about how much fun I had.… Read the rest

Review – Shadow Hearts

Continuing my trend of catching up on PS2 RPGs, I picked up the Shadow Hearts series a few months ago. Since a recent spate of games (including Demon’s Souls, which seems to be a videolamer favorite) has kept me busy, I’m just now making my way through the series. The PS2 may have an impressive spread of RPGs – as I’ve discovered, still playing games I had barely heard about – but Shadow Hearts really stands apart, despite being an early game on the system that hasn’t really aged well.

By far the most impressive part of Shadow Hearts is the atmosphere.… Read the rest

Review – Digital Devil Saga 2

I have heard it said that the second Digital Devil Saga was rushed. The four hour long final dungeon might be evidence of this, given that the whole game is still only about 25 hours long total. This makes DDS2 only a bit longer than the first one. While DDS2 maintains the solid Press combat system of the first game, in terms of scope and story, it is leaps and bounds more engrossing.

In Digital Devil Saga 1, the player would often find himself wondering what in the blazes could be going on. Each new answer brought with it two or three new questions, making for a veritable hydra of a storyline.… Read the rest

Review – Digital Devil Saga

Atlus has a reputation for releasing games that appreciate in value. They print a bunch of copies, but they sell slowly at first but eventually you’ll need to trade in a console or two to have enough credit to pick them up.

Recently, they have been trying to curb that reputation – partly by printing more copies of new titles, but also by reprinting old games. Shortly before the ultimate demise of the PS1, they reprinted Persona 2, for example. More recently, they reprinted three Shin Megami Tensei PS2 games: Nocturne and the two Digital Devil Saga games, each of which had been selling for more than $60 for a good while.… Read the rest

The King of Fighters ’98: Ultimate Match

By the end of 2008, the situation concerning Western localizations of SNK games was at its grimmest. No one could tell what was happening with the US Branch. Did they actually have any power? If they did, why did they choose not to use it? Why were their games being released over a year after their announcements? What financial/business decisions forced them to use different developers for each port, leading to localizations of incredibly mixed (and now universally poor) quality? Why hasn’t their website been updated since last summer, and why are their forums dead?

At this point I have only a guess, based on the nature of their current lineup – after the remnants of old announcements are wrapped up and shipped out, SNK US may only exist for branding and licensing purposes, while all development, localization, and PR for future products is handled by Ignition Entertainment.… Read the rest

Review – Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria

The original Valkyrie Profile was, for a time, the poster child for good, rare, and probably overpriced PSX RPGs. In a surprising move a few years ago, Square Enix announced (to the joy of JRPG fans) not only a sequel, but a remake of the original. At the time I was interested, but had played through the original a couple of years earlier – not so long that I would want to replay it, but long enough that I had forgotten all the subplot related to the principal character of the sequel – the Valkyrie Silmeria. Not that there is a whole lot of it or anything, but it was important to me at the time.… Read the rest

Review – Persona 4

After blue comes yellow. So it would seem with the release of Persona 4, which has the same engine and battle system as its predecessor. Despite all this, it comes off as a much better game – Atlus clearly took the time to figure out what went wrong in Persona 3 and fix it. At the same time, they came up with a plot I found easier to connect with, composed better music, and even came up with better swag to lure people into buying the game. It’s no surprise, then, that Persona 4 is my new favorite RPG on the PS2.… Read the rest

Review – Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones

There are quite a few game series with planned trilogies in the works, but the modern Prince of Persia games are one of the first successful trilogies to wrap itself up in a few years time. Its successes and failures highlight several important points that these future sagas must address if they wish to avoid some of the pitfalls that keep the PoP trilogy from sheer greatness.

First off, a good trilogy needs to stay consistent. We all know about the hiccups that occurred in Warrior Within, though I found them far less offensive than most. Their true damage can be seen in the final chapter of the series, Two Thrones.… Read the rest

Review – Guitar Hero: Aerosmith

Say what you will of Activision and Neversoft’s handling of Guitar Hero, but the idea of themed games revolving around a particular band is a good one. Celebrating the history and catalog (as well as the conflicts) of a world famous band is a great honor. It allows young players to learn some rock history, and for their moms and dads to relive their younger years.

Say what you will about Aerosmith, but the band fits the above description, and have been a huge influence on the rock world for better or worse. Finally, I get to say that while I like Neversoft more than a lot of gamers, there are a few kinks they need to address if they wish to continue making these themed games.… Read the rest