Review – My Japanese Coach

I have no idea how to review a language learning game before I’ve learned the language. Stay tuned for my full review of My Japanese Coach sometime in the next seven years. For now, though, I can address some of the valid and not so valid complaints people have had about the game.

The most flagrant problem is Ubisoft published a Japanese game that teaches you the wrong stroke order for some kana and kanji. Writing characters and syllables in the correct stroke order is (I am told) crucial in Japanese and it’s embarrassing that this game doesn’t get them all right. There are under 100 syllable symbols in Japanese and My Japanese Coach teaches at least five incorrectly. I can understand teaching kanji incorrectly, there are thousands of them and they’re complex, but after a few weeks of using an actual textbook, I could write all of the kana correctly. →  Game is dead. Game remains dead. And we have killed it.

Review – Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger is an embarrassment for the gaming industry. Straight up embarrassment. It’s embarrassing that a game that is over ten years old can be so well made as to put many current games to shame. It’s like the Roman Empire, without all of the strange pedophiliac tendencies but all of the impressive works of art.

Chrono Trigger is the latest in a series of Square-Enix remakes designed to milk old titles for every last dollar and yen. Like Dragon Quest, Chrono Trigger is a game that I somehow missed (though I did play the under appreciated Chrono Cross at some point).

Chrono Trigger is, simply put, a pleasure to play. The casual gaming experience (by which I mean, the fights, going from A to B, etc) completely trumps a game like Dragon Quest. →  Article Hominid

Review – Dragon Quest IV

For many, the Dragon Warrior/Quest franchise has a great deal of meaning, nostalgia and history. I remember playing Dragon Warrior on the NES when I was a young whippersnapper. I also remember that when faced with a choice at the end of joining the last boss or killing him, I decided to join him. The screen acquired an orange glow and my Nintendo froze. Was that what was supposed to happen? After my orange experience, I never touched a Dragon Warrior game again.

Dragon Quest IV, a Square Enix port of the original to the DS, presented an opportunity to reacquaint myself with the franchise. Having just run through the remake of Final Fantasy IV, I had high hopes that Square Enix would have scrubbed through the original and done away with any lingering issues to create a superior RPG experience, as they had in FFIV. →  Do a barrel read!

“Handheld games suck” say reviewers

The best reviewed PSP game on Metacritic is God of War at a 91, on the DS Chrono Trigger just edged out Mario Kart, the game’s scores are 94 and 91 respectively. The GBA’s highest rated game is Link to the Past at 95.

On the console side the top reviewed games are the Grand Theft Autos, Halos, Marios and Zeldas, spanning from 95 to 99. Console game scores for the top games seem to be significantly higher and the high ranking handheld games are either console franchises or direct ports of console games.

So what is going on here?

There are two possible explanations I can think of. Handheld games could actually be worse than console games. This may be true to someone subjectively, but it seems an absurd position for professional reviewers to adopt. →  I’ll read you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!

Review – Rondo of Swords

What we have already played shapes our opinions of new games. To an SRPG fan, a game like Luminous Arc is old hat. Yet people new to the genre may be taken in by the musical score, voice acting, interesting story and quality breast-focused character art. Without knowing what has come before, the game seems competent enough and can provide some good strategic fun.

The experienced SRPG fan likely sees Luminous Arc in a very different light. Its serviceable gameplay is often boring and it does very little to distinguish itself from older SRPGs beyond the innovative addition of painful load times between character turns. If you have played an SRPG or two in the past few years you will miss little by ignoring Luminous Arc. Of course if you are partial to the genre you may have already played the game and then realized the wallpaper images are the best thing to come from the design team. →  [post launches in virtual reality]

I fought the law and the law won – Tactics A2

I picked up Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift the other day and was initially very pleased to be playing it. I missed out on Tactics Advance on the GBA, but I am a longtime fan of the original. With about a hojillion classes, and the weapon-based learning system of FF9 (my personal favorite) I was immediately hooked.

But those details can wait for the full review. What I want to talk about is the law system. For those of you who haven’t yet played a portable Tactics, the law system is a mechanic that assigns a “law” to every battle. The laws aren’t your usual “no killing your neighbor” or “no raping your neighbor’s dog.” Instead they’re more Ivalice-relevant “no use of fire spells” or “no magic restoration items.” →  Look upon my works, ye mighty, and read!

Quick Impressions – The World Ends with You

I’ve put around five hours into The World Ends with You and besides the “I cut myself to see if I can still feel pain” emo moniker I am very pleased. The battle system makes use of both DS screens simultaneously and though movement of your character via stylus is sort of spotty, everything ultimately works together nicely. The music is absurd Japanese pop that’s both infectious and terrible and the graphics are very stylized – this is one of the few DS games that has a AAA presentation and Squeenix deserves praise for actually trying. Of course the game flopped in Japan and will likely follow suit worldwide, so their effort will be entirely unrewarded and they will realize what a huge mistake taking a chance was. Life is back to normal. →  Four out of five dentists recommend reading more.