In the early months of 1995 my friends and I poured over every drop of PlayStation information we came across, whether it be a magazine ad with Polygon Man telling us the system was more powerful than god, Sony suggesting we were UR NOT E, or the giant cardboard cutout of whip wielding Sofia at the local Palmer Video that still managed to be half an hour away. The older consoles were looking less appealing by the day (thanks, Vectorman), especially when compared to generation-defining beauty such as the widely advertised Battle Arena Toshinden (Sofia wore leather, you see, which really pops when rendered in cardboard).
This Best Game Ever is brought to you by developers making their old games open source, which is a wonderful thing. Toys for Bob, the developer of Star Control I and II, released the game as open source in 2002 under the “Ur Quan Masters” title, since the name Star Control remains a copyright of Atari. The game is now up to version 0.6.2, giving an incredibly robust, bug free experience that surpasses the original 3DO version. I played the 3DO version back in the early 90’s, and I was overjoyed to find the Ur Quan Masters project and replay Star Control II. It’s free and fun – who could ask for more?
Star Control I set the stage for the franchise. The concept was fairly simple: a galactic strategy game with ship vs. → Who is that standing behind you?
For a change of pace over the holidays I went through Fable II, a light-hearted fantasy role-playing game developed by Lionhead Studios and its industry leading founder, Peter Molyneaux. Between the first and second Fable, Lionhead was purchased by Microsoft, meaning that Peter was now in the market of making Xbox 360 exclusives. I was especially curious to see if Peter and his team were going to take special advantage of the console like Epic Games has done with Gears of War. Sadly this wasn’t the case.
Before I get into that, let’s give the good stuff its due. In Fable II you play a hero born from a powerful bloodline, one that allows you to wield magic. A hero hunting villain is hot to kill you in hopes of ending the line and preventing your kind from stopping his plans for world domination. → Romance of the Three Articles IV: Post of Fire
I was a Nintendo kid growing up (until that stopped being cool, when I defected to Sony). I got a Genesis very late in the game, so I’m still playing catch-up on the Phantasy Star games. A couple months ago, the final game worth mentioning in the series was released on Virtual Console. I played through Phantasy Star 2 several months ago, so I figured I’d give its better-regarded descendant a go now that current-gen RPG releases have calmed down a bit.
Phantasy Star 4 deserves all of the acclaim it gets. If its fans are not heard as loudly as those of other, better-known series, they should be. Is it the Second Coming? Perhaps not. But it has all the requirements for a good RPG (aside from only one of two established religions being evil – I’ll overlook that). → Get lame or get out.
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.
Several improvements make up the core of the reason I enjoyed playing Persona 4 so much. You can pretty much copy the gripes from my Persona 3 and FES reviews and every single one of them has been mitigated if not completely resolved. → Onimusha 2: Samuread's Destiny
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. → Reading. Reading never changes.
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 the math.
Tales of Symphonia is one of the Gamecube’s greatest RPGs. I only got around to finishing it a couple of months ago at the urging of several friends. I was further encouraged to play through it by the impending release of its sequel, Dawn of the New World. Unfortunately, DotNW does not live up to its predecessor’s legacy and instead spends much of the time in its shadow.
Some of this is inevitable. Tales of Symphonia ends with the merger of two worlds, and much of the sequel deals with what happens afterward. The two lands of Sylvarant and Tethe’alla do not really get along, and bizarre weather events trouble the entire world. A lot of blame is naturally cast at the heroes of the first game. Lloyd, in particular, seems to have gone off the deep end as he instigates a massacre of a town during the game’s beginning. → I can has post?
Before they even released their next iteration, Square Enix has announced that Dragon Quest 10 will see the light of day on the Wii. The announcement comes as a surprise to no one (which is different than the angry genre fans that bet and lost on the PS3 carrying the jRPG torch). The question still remains as to what this will actually mean for the console.
While it is true that Dragon Quest has always appeared on the most popular console of the time, the reasons for this have always varied. For DQ 1-6, Nintendo was so dominant that there was no question as to where to put the series. For 7 and 8, Enix took a “wait and see” approach before choosing Sony, and released them many years after either Playstation had established their own dominance. → It’s dangerous to read alone, take this.
Writer’s note: At the time of this writing, Fallout 3 is a bit buggy on all platforms, and extra buggy on the PS3. I do not wish to neglect these issues, but for the time being they are not featured in the review. If the first patch for the game does not fix many of these issues, I will bring them up in a future piece, but I wish to avoid talking about bugs at the moment as it takes away some of the timelessness of a review. Fallout 2 was broken in many ways upon release, and no one talks about that these days.
We here at videolamer strive to provide timely reviews for major releases. The bad news is that juggling real life responsibilities and funding our own gaming budgets makes this a challenge. → I only ask one thing. Don’t read in my way.
The JRPG genre is filled to the brim with games that are so ridiculously easy they are bad “games” – in the sense that a game is something you should have to play optimally to achieve success. The Suikoden series, my favorite of the past two generations, has gone from being “somewhat tricky in one or two battles” to “a breeze at its hardest, with pretty much no thought involved.”
Part of this is a plague of the genre – the phenomenon of grinding. For those who don’t want to think about what they’re doing, grinding is an easy way out. There’s no need to play perfectly when you can spend a few hours killing baddies and come back able to beat the tar out of the bigger baddies. It takes time, but then JRPGs are filled with fluff already (mostly grinding, actually), so spending a bit of time leveling up doesn’t sound too bad. → I only ask one thing. Don’t read in my way.
Almost a month ago, Persona 3: FES was released. It not only contains the definitive version of my favorite RPG, but it has an extra “epilogue” chapter as well.
This is a cause for much rejoicing. I started playing it immediately, and so far I’d say I would pay the $30 just for the improved first game. But herein lies the problem, and the crux of this article: It has been a month and I am still playing it. Not only that, I’m still in the first section; the remake.
I love RPGs. I love playing lots of RPGs. But I also like having time for other, trivial things, like working, sleeping, eating, and the occasional shower. Most games in the genre are long; sometimes the length necessary for fleshing out the story, but more often it is just padding. → Prince of Postia: Article Within
Last year was a fairly interesting one for RPG fans. Some of the biggest names in the genre finished their PS2 swan songs long ago, and went off in search of new platforms. This left 2007 as a year for new ideas and lesser known series to take root and grab the hearts and money of fans. 2007 may not have had a big new Final Fantasy, but perhaps that is a good thing, as it allowed these other games to stand out, rough edges and all. While it comes a bit late, the following is an assessment of some of 2007’s biggest RPGs from both Chris (vl’s resident RPG expert) and Christian (who continues to look for the genre’s masterpiece). We also included FF12 in the mix. It may be a bit old to us modern folk living in 2008, but it is such a major departure from Square’s usual offerings that it deserves a bit more discussion on the site. → I can has post?
I finally finished Chrono Trigger, and only 12 years late. Not too bad. Much like Super Mario World, this is another classic that deserves the accolades it has received. I only hope Link to the Past and Final Fantasy 4 are Chrono Trigger good. Though because of the game’s quality characterization, I am now slightly depressed.
It has been pretty uncommon in my life, but now and then a game comes along that affects me like a great movie or novel does. Now that there is no more to see, what happens to the characters? Crono, whose name is a typo because of the apparent five character limit in the game, was the standard silent protagonist and I don’t give a damn about him. But Frog, Magus, Lucca and Robo I do care about. → All the lonely gamers, where do they all belong?