Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line (NES/MSX/SNES/GBC/Mobile/3DS/PS4): A JRPG Codifier (Detailed Review)

Dragon Quest II | jp box art

Dragon Quest II is often glossed over when discussing the legacy of the series. While Dragon Quest I is noteworthy for being the first game in the series and Dragon Quest III is noteworthy for being motherfucking Dragon Quest III, Dragon Quest II just seems to be known as “that one that’s really really hard and comes between Dragon Quest I and III.” I often see people act as if Dragon Quest II is completely unremarkable and that is just not the case.

Dragon Quest II is a pretty badass game when you get right down to it. I should note that I have not played the NES original this time around and am thus only familiar with it from a lets play I saw years ago and from what I’ve looked up about it. From what I can gather the later versions definitely seem more polished and well structured, that is unless you are playing and English fan translation of the super famicom version that is. Read more

Quick Review: LOVE (PC/Switch/Ouya)

LOVE | header

 

LOVE is certainly a unique game to say the least, but unique does not necessarily mean creative in this sense. In actuality, LOVE is an incredibly minimalist platformer that is manages to make a fun game out of incredibly simplistic mechanics and uses everything they can get out of them. Unfortunately LOVE is also a game that is way too brief to really recommend considering how little content it has. LOVE was originally an Ouya exclusive until the beginning of 2014 when it got ported to Steam. So far it is the first and only game to be designed by Fred Wood whose name sounds uncannily similar to Ed Wood. Also it has a very strange choice for a title seeing as how it has nothing to do with the game.

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Standard Review: You Have to Win the Game (PC)

You Have to Win the Gam | logo

One may have noticed that a lot of indie platformers tend to go with a retro aesthetic as of late. On one hand, one could see this as a way to capture the feelings of platformers of the time and are missing in games today. On the other hand, one could see them as a way of cashing on nostalgia from older gamers while simultaneously avoiding innovation and saving on the graphics budget. You Have to Win the Game is somewhere in between those two. One obviously cannot claim it is a cash in due to it being free to play and I don’t doubt there was a legitimate vision set for this title. However it is clear that this vision was a rather bland one.

Right from when you start up you can tell this game is trying way too hard to be a 1980s PC title. The first thing you hear is loud typing noises as the title is typed out automatically. You are given absolutely zero plot or back story in this game and your only motivation is, as the title says, “to win the game.” As far as I know, there isn’t even a story given for the game on its Steam page, just play it because they say so. I admit it is rather petty to really complain about this and I don’t even consider it a flaw; just more of an indication. Read more

Dragon Quest (NES/MSX/SNES/GBC/Mobile/3DS/PS4): A JRPG Pioneer (Detailed Review)

Dragon Quest | jp box art

Given the niche of people who read my stuff, I am sure most of you are aware of the impact the Dragon Quest series has on JRPGs as a whole. There is a strange sense of disconnect when thinking about how popular the series is in Japan when comparing its overseas releases. While the series is moderately popular in the west, the Dragon Quest series is pretty much mainstream in Japan. Today I am going to look at the game that started it all.

Prior to about a month ago, I have never played the first three Dragon Quest games (and still have not played the third as I am writing this). I beat the first Dragon Quest a few weeks ago and am very close to completing Dragon Quest 2. For the sake of context, the version I played through was the SNES version but I played a bit of the NES version until my emulator went kaput and made me lose all my progress. I plan to briefly talk about each version though and this piece is meant as a critique of the game overall. Read more

Quick Review: Mad Father (PC)

I’ve talked about Misao: Definitive Edition a couple weeks ago. I did find that there was at least a marginal amount of appeal to that game, but it fell apart under close scrutiny and it becomes hard to recommend. Mad Father was originally released in 2012 as a freeware title and was the second game developed by Sen after the original version of Misao. Despite this, Mad Father received a remake for Steam before Misao did. After having played both games it is quite obvious as to why; Mad Father is an immensely superior title.

The reason that Mad Father is so much better than Misao can be chalked up to a much more consistent story with much stronger writing. I do not consider Mad Father a perfect game by any stretch and it certainly has its fair share of issues, but I will say that I found this one have much stronger substance in its content and there were at least a few genuinely scary moments. Read more

Has it Held up? – Metroid (NES) (Standard Review)

Metroid | metroids

Recently I decided to play through the original Metroid on a whim. I have a specific set of games I want to play through but I always tend to deviate from that schedule eventually. The reason why I decided to was because I have actually never played the first Metroid before this. I have played through Super Metroid, Metroid Prime, and Metroid Fusion before but not the original. Granted I could have just played the remake Metroid: Zero Mission for the GBA but I wanted to see how the series started. I wanted to play through the first Metroid just so I can ask, has it held up?

The answer to that the original Metroid does in fact pass the test of time, but it does so with a C minus. I did have fun with Metroid but there was a lot of shit that really interfered with that and will be difficult to go back to. Nonetheless there is still quite a bit that puts this game ahead of mediocre clones like Legends of the Universe – Starcore even with the game’s age. Read more

Quick Review: Always The Same Blue Sky (PC)

Always The Same Blue Sky | Title Screen

Always The Same Blue Sky makes a rather bold claim on its Steam page. In all caps it proclaims “THIS IS NOT YOUR TYPICAL VISUAL NOVEL.” However I am going to have to disagree with that assessment. Always the Same Blue Sky is not bad by any means and does have its good qualities, but it is ultimately way too short and underdeveloped to consider this one to be above average.
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Duke Nukem Forever (PC/PS3/360): A Product of Before Its Time (Detailed Review)

Duke Nukem Forever | logo

TW: Misogyny, rape.

I’m no stranger to holding unique or contrarian views in regards to games. You kind of need to have either unique opinions or insight in order for people to want to hear what you have to say after all. There unfortunately comes the risk of having people accuse you of being purposefully contrarian in an attempt to garner attention rather than giving your own honest opinion.

The truth is that these are all my genuine opinions, I just don’t put that much stock in what everyone else thinks. I’ve always disliked how cliquish and conformist most mainstream gaming sites are in regards to games (among other things) and it always comes across as cringe worthy how people will take their word as law despite the fact that gaming media has become widely distrusted as of late.

I did not go into Duke Nukem Forever expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. Aside from the game’s poor reception there is also the fact that I never got into first person shooters even when they ARE well received. My only experience with the Call of Duty series for instance is playing about two hours of the first Modern Warfare and quitting because the game just didn’t click with me. Granted that was a few years ago and I did not play enough to get a full impression but I have other games I’m far more interested in. Read more

Dear Esther (PC/PS4/XONE): Vague Incomprehensible Nonsense (Standard Review)

Dear Esther | Logo

I’m not entirely sure how to feel about Dear Esther. I did enjoy it to an extent, far more so than I have enjoyed games influenced by its design. Specifically, I really enjoyed the graphical design and the music of the game, and the story actually had some layer of depth to it. Despite this though, I still did not find myself satisfied with it at the end of the day. It may be pretty, it may sound nice, and it may show some level of competence that was not shown in games like Gone Home, but it still does not change the fact that it is still a gameplay-less walking simulator that is over in less than two hours.

While the story does have some amount of depth to it, it is not a story that is particularly entertaining to see play out. The reason for this is due to the abstract nature of the plot. Dear Esther is not like any traditional form of storytelling that puts you in the perspective of a character and tells a story from his or her view. In Dear Esther, you do not even know who you are playing as or who the narrator is. In fact, you never see any characters in this game. There are no cutscenes or anything; it all just consists of walking forward and narration. Read more

Misao: Definitive Edition (PC): A Poor Man’s Corpse Party (Detailed Review)

Misao: Definitive Edition | logo

TW: References to Violence, Gore, and child abuse.

Lately I have had an interest in the “RPG Maker horror game” sub genre of sorts. The last one I covered was (Mario) The Music Box which I certainly enjoyed but my space bar did not. Prior to that the only other games I played of this type are Yume Nikki, LISA: The First, and Corpse Party Blood Covered (which wasn’t actually made in RPG Maker but probably could have been).

Games like Yume Nikki and LISA: The First are only tangentially connected to games like Corpse party, The Witch’s House, Ib, Ao Oni, Mad Father, and the subject of this review; Misao. The reason I say this is because those types of games aren’t explicit horror titles and are more so abstract walking sims with some very weird set pieces. I wasn’t crazy about Yume Nikki (although I can see why others are), I have quite liked the more straight up horror titles.

At the time of writing I have completed the Steam remakes of Mad Father and of its predecessor Misao. Despite the fact that Sen released their remake of Mad Father first, I decided to play Misao first because the original version was made before Mad Father. I am glad that I did so because it allows me to see how much was improved from one game to another. Read more