Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation (NES/SNES/GBC/Ios/3DS/PS4/Switch): A JRPG Legend

Dragon Quest III | Box art

A lot of us who live outside of Japan don’t realize just how important the Dragon Quest series is to gaming. So many of us are bound to have at least one JRPG among our favorites of all time, yet ultimately aren’t familiar with the series that put this genre on the map. I’ve often thought of what it must be like to discuss the differences in gaming culture with a gamer from Japan, about the differences in popularity and what games that we never got in our respective countries.

Dragon Quest III is to the Dragon Quest series what Final Fantasy VII is to the Final Fantasy series. It’s the one that damn near every thinks of when they hear the name of the series. I finally got the chance to play through Dragon Quest III for myself a few months ago through its Switch port, and even thirty years after its release, it still kicks some serious ass! Read more

Bravely Default (3DS): Many Will Play, Few Will Finish (Detailed Review)

Bravely Default | battle

Ever since I knew of Bravely Default’s existence, I was hyped up for it. Just about everything I saw was a sign that pointed to this being an amazing game. First of all, it being a spiritual successor to Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light was a good sign seeing as how I found that to be one of the more underrated games in the Final Fantasy series. 4 Heroes of Light was a game I greatly enjoyed just due to how it managed to easily capture the feelings of Final Fantasy I-III while improving on their mechanics and presentation. Many have criticized it for being unpolished or overly difficult, but that was not correct. The game, despite not being easy in any sense, was well balanced enough due to how much more accessible and convenient the game’s job system was than previous games like Final Fantasy V. Yet what was probably the most memorable aspect of 4 Heroes of Light was its simplicity. Read more

Amazing VGM: Sealed Door (Chrono Trigger)

Chrono Trigger | Sleeps beyond the flow of time

So we all agree Chrono Trigger is amazing, and we all agree that it’s music is also amazing. I have considered replaying it for review purposes, but something something backlog too big blah blah blah you heard it all before. So I did the next best thing and watched Chuggaaconroy’s lets play of it. I remember a time when the most subscribed lets player on Youtube actually made videos for the fun of it as opposed to making them to cash in on fads. Yes I know he only covered this game last year, but we are talking about a game about time travel so… okay fuck it, I was just feeling nostalgic… and spiteful.

Read more

Amazing VGM: The Eight Melodies (EarthBound Beginnings)

EarthBound Beginnings | Melody

Oh what’s this? Annie has remembered that her Amazing VGM series exists after not posting anything one since May? Yeah, this series has been put on the back burner for quite some time. Really this blog in general was more of a side thing since I have been so heavily focused on political activism as of late, and thus when I found time to write gaming content, it was for my standard reviews. Of course I still need to get a few of those and I don’t know how soon I’ll get back to doing those, but I have thought back to my Amazing VGM piece on NieR Automata’s “Weight of the World. ”

I just re-read that piece and I forgot how touching it was. Generally my Amazing VGM pieces are short and and quick, but I basically used this piece to speak to both the current state of the world and my own personal life. The same went for my piece on “Reunited ” from Undertale, and I wrote that one before I even had this blog. Considering how emotional this year has been for me, it is only right that I continue this tradition, and to make it even more poetic, I will re-write the last pre Guardian Acorn VGM piece that I needed to revise, Earthbound Beginning’s “The Eight Melodies.” For the purposes of this piece, I will be sticking to official arrangements.

Read more

Cosmic Star Heroine (PC/PS4/Vita/XONE/Switch): Mission Accomplished (Detailed Review)

Cosmic Star Heroine | Silver Dragon

Without a doubt, my favorite game genre has to be the JRPG. Games of this genre tend to have just the right balance between familiar and new. They are wide and expansive yet they aren’t overblown wannabe Hollywood movies like most AAA games are… for the most part.

One who has followed this blog for a while is likely familiar with my love of JRPGs, and likely knows that I took way too long to get around to reviewing this heavily JRPG influenced game. This game was requested as a review by Ryumaou Juno, a former patron of mine and still an occasional reader as far as I know. My apologies for taking so long to get to this one, my unreliability with getting requested reviews out quickly is precisely why I added much more stricter criteria for them. But hey, my incessant procrastination meant that I could have this the 150th game review to be put up on this site… unfortunately I didn’t because I had to put my Eryi’s Action review up. Read more

Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Four (PC/360) – Through Hell and Back (Detailed Review)

Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Four | Tree

Oh the things you never expect. When I finished playing Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Three, I stated that I hoped that this game improved upon Episode Three the same way Episode Two improved on Episode One. While it is definitely fair to say that Episode Four was an improvement, I simply did not expect one of this magnitude. There are several things regarding this game that I did not expect.

It certainly does not do anything revolutionary nor does it look particularly innovative, but when you actually play it, you realize just how meticulously crafted this game is. Yes it may appear to be another parody of 16-bit era JRPGs, but it is so much more in terms of execution. Not only does it have the signature humor of Zeboyd’s games, but it also has a story that is actually compelling on its own merits. When you add an outstanding soundtrack by Hyperduck Soundworks, the same people behind the soundtrack of Dust: An Elysian Tale, and some of the most addicting and precise battle mechanics in any turn based RPG; you end up with a game that might as well have been made to silence anyone who said these types of games are only made to pander to nostalgia. Read more

Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Three (PC/360/Ios): Something Completely Different (Detailed Review)

Penny Arcade Adventures Episode Three | Logo

Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Three may be a jarring experience to those that have played the first two. This is the case with Episode Three because the development of these games shifted developers, from Hothead Games to Zeboyd. While Zeyboyd is a smaller development team and clearly does not have as high a budget as Hothead, they are still well known for their work on Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu saves the world. Being a huge fan of those games, I naturally had some high expectations for this game and I was hoping that this game would exceed the quality of both the previous Penny Arcade Adventures installments and Zeyboyd’s previous titles.

Instead, Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Three is a game that it is good in its own right and is definitely superior to the first Penny Arcade Adventures and Breath of Death, but does not hold a candle to Episode Two or Cthulhu Saves the World. It is hard to really say the game is a step back from Episode Two given that the games are quite a bit different, but in general, it does feel like a step down from the incredible experience that Cthulhu Saves the World offered. In addition, it feels like the game also suffers from simply not having the same budget as the first two Penny Arcade titles. When you add that Episode Three still retains some of the flaws of the earlier entries, you end up with a good game in its own right, but one that felt rather underwhelming. Read more

Amazing VGM: World Map Themes (Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line)

Dragon Quest I & II | Boxart

Yeah I kinda fell out of the habit of making Amazing VGM Pieces haven’t I? The last one I did was for The Dark Colossus Destroys All from NieR, and that was back in October. Perhaps I should capitalize on the game I just reviewed then? Dragon Quest II it is! Particularly I would like to go with the two world map themes and their variations. The first of these tracks is titled “Distant Journey” (Also sometimes referred to as “A Lonely Youth”), plays on the world map with an incomplete party, and is thus the first one you here.

Read more

Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line (NES/MSX/SNES/GBC/Mobile/3DS/PS4/Switch): 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

Dragon Quest (NES/MSX/SNES/GBC/Mobile/3DS/PS4/Switch): 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