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

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

EarthBound (SNES/GBA): Pure Artistic Desire (Detailed Review)

Earthbound | Ness's Nightmare

EarthBound is a game that has been well received since its introduction, but has only recently received a serious look by mainstream gaming websites in the past few years. We now find it frequently in top-10 lists near the number one spot. The weird thing about this however, is that Nintendo of America has ignored the EarthBound series and has given it no publicity over the years, so what was there to increase its publicity so drastically that major gaming sites started noticing? The answer would be the game’s rabid fan base that is incredibly loyal to the series and have pushed hard to get it noticed. This however has led some to some fans that are really overzealous and give the series a massive amount of hype with great expectations to fill. I myself at one point have been in that same position of near obsession with the series, but it has been years since then and I have moved on and played many other games that have made me just as passionate as EarthBound did.

I recently decided to replay EarthBound and I expected that losing my overzealous passion would make the game’s flaws more noticeable. Despite having a very special place in my heart I expected this review to be one that, while still having a positive tone, was more critical of the game. I was wrong, and being wrong has never felt so right. It turns out that not only in this play-through that I re-discovered exactly what it was that made me fall in love with it in the first place, but I discovered more. This play-through marks the only time that my opinion of a game I already played improved despite being one of my all time favorite games to begin with. Read more

Castlevania Retrospective #2: The Classicvanias (Part 2)

Castlevania Retrospective Part 2

Guess what? I didn’t completely forget about this retrospective project! After four months the second part is finally here… and I still haven’t beaten every Classicvania, or at least not every Classicvania gameplay wise. This piece DOES instead choose to rank the last of the traditional retro Castlevanias with the cut off point being the 2000s. Okay yes there is still technically Castlevania Chronicles but I’m covering the remake which was in 2001.

Castlevania has been kind of a strange entity in that nearly EVERY game in the series were linear sidescrollers, and then everything changed when the Symphony of the Night nation attacked! Since then the only traditional sidescrollers have been the aforementioned Castlevania Chronicles, the Rondo of Blood remake Dracula X Chronicles, the WiiWare title Castlevania: The Adventure Rebirth that can no longer be purchased since WiiWare was shut down, and Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon that isn’t even an official title.

But this article is about the five Classicvanias that preceded those ones, although that term is a misnomer because on two of them are good. Anyway let’s get going. Read more

RPGs of the Famicom: Earthbound Beginnings

Earthbound Beginnings | Title

With the release of Earthbound Beginnings on the Wii U e-shop, Nintendo of America has corrected a 26 year old mistake on their part. Earthbound Beginnings is the prequel to Earthbound on the SNES that was not originally released in Japan. The game was originally intended to be localized but was canceled despite the localization having already been fully completed. Until now the translated version of Earthbound Beginnings (which was otherwise known as Earthbound Zero) could only be played via emulation or a reproduction cart. Nintendo just now released the translated version for the Wii U e-shop making it available more easily and and legally.

Earthbound Beginnings is different from its successor in plenty of ways and is mostly an inferior game, but this is usually to be expected in terms of sequels. Even if one were to hold Earthbound Beginnings to the standards of a lot of modern day games it still handles things far more competently than most and is an amazing game on its own. Read more

Standard Review: Gargoyle’s Quest (Game Boy)

Gargoyle's Quest | title Screen

Having been born in 1995 and grown up in the 6th and 7th console generations, I missed out on a lot of classic titles. I didn’t know how to use emulators at the time and I was always very careful using my money so I didn’t get every virtual console title I was interested in. For fucks sake I only just recently started playing through the Castlevania series. The issue that comes with trying to revisit these older games is that not only is there a fuck ton of them, but that new games don’t stop coming out either.

Then there are people like me who have backlogs with 900+ games and who is constantly watching all corners of the market for anything interesting. Gargoyle’s Quest is not quite as popular as a lot of the more fondly remembered classics of the time period. For those that don’t know, Gargoyle’s Quest is a spinoff of the Maki-mura/Ghosts ‘n Goblins series starring one of those little red demons that everyone hates so much. I kinda failed to mention in my review of Ghosts ‘n Goblins that the original arcade game was from 1985 and thus was pretty advanced for the time but likely aged poorly. The same can probably be said of Gargoyle’s Quest. Read more

Standard Review: Ghosts ‘n Goblins (Arcade/C64/ZX/NES/Amiga/GBC/WS/GBA/PC/IOS/Android)

Ghosts 'n Goblins | Level 1

Ghosts ‘n Goblins was always infamous for being one of the hardest games ever made. That statement is pretty much 100% accurate, Ghosts ‘n Goblins is so difficult that it is only on the border of how difficult a game can be while still being playable. One should note that I am using the word “difficult” and not “challenging.” The reason I say this is because being challenging is generally a good thing as it implies that a game brings you up to its own level by being demanding and through its design.

Ghosts ‘n Goblins, on the other hand, is just difficult in the sense that it is very patience trying and unfun. Before I hear the parade of apologists proclaiming “git gud” I should make it clear that I did beat this game twice, and yes I am counting it as twice regardless of that stunt they pulled the first time. Ghosts ‘n Goblins may be beatable, but it isn’t exactly an enjoyable game to play. Most players will be having far more frustration than fun and beating it serves no purpose other than bragging rights. Read more

Amazing VGM: Spider Dance (Undertale)

Undertale | Muffet

Well it’s that time of the year everyone… no not that one. I mean the other that time of the year! Either way, my Amazing VGMs are all going to be Halloween themed for this month to fit the theme. I figure I’ll start with an Undertale track this week since I just put my review of it up and because I’m likely not going to be in the mood to cover this particular track for a while afterwards. Read more

Undertale (PC/PS4/Vita/Switch): A Deeply Moving Tale (Detailed Review)

Undertale | Memory Statue

Chances are, most gamers nowadays may have heard of Undertale, especially if they frequent this site. After all, it won the sites “greatest games of all time” contest and beat out games like Ocarina of Time and Final Fantasy VII. Some may argue that the victory doesn’t count because it most votes came from Tumblr users who don’t frequent GameFAQs, but it does not change the fact that it was always intended as a popularity contest and that every vote was from an individual who thought it deserved to win. So yes, it did in fact prove that Undertale is very highly regarded in the gaming community.

Keep in mind that this was all for a game created in Game Maker and that did not even have a press kit when IGN approached Toby Fox. So no this is not the same as some crap like game publications proclaiming a multi million dollar AAA title to be the Citizen Kane of gaming within a minute of putting the disk in the console. The only boost that Toby Fox got with Undertale was a successful Kickstarter campaign, and regardless of how one feels about Kickstarter, this shows how good it can be when used correctly. Read more

Amazing VGM: Determination (Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift)

Get all your Undertale references out of the way now because lord knows this blog has enough of them as it is!

Many of the Final Fantasy spinoffs tend to be overlooked. Most of us are looking for the best of the best when we seek out new games, and thus most would assume that the mainline entries are better than the spinoffs. When a series has been milked as much as Final Fantasy has, you know that the games that aren’t numbered entries may be forgotten in the conscience of the mainstream gaming community. I mean sure the first Final Fantasy Tactics is remembered as a classic but you don’t hear as much about the two sequels; Tactics Advance and Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift.

People disliked Tactics Advance because it wasn’t as edgy or “mature” as the original since it dealt with a bunch of school children being transported to a fantasy world as opposed to the politically driven nature of the original Tactics, but I find myself more attached to Tactics Advance than the original. Granted this could be because I only saw the original Tactics through a let’s play which makes it harder to keep track of things, and it could be possible that once I rectify this I may change my mind, but the point is that I like Tactics Advance. Read more