Amazing VGM: Smiles & Tears (EarthBound)

EarthBound | ending credits

Another years has come to a close, and It is time for me to end this year the same way as I usually do, with a highly emotional ending theme from one of my favorite games of all time. EarthBound holds a near and dear place in my heart, and I can’t help but become super emotional whenever I listen to its music or play it. Hell just speaking about it now makes me want to replay it.

And it is also quite appropriate since 2020 was a highly emotional year. It’s been kind of a meme about how much this year has sucked, but it did end on a positive note with Trump losing re-election. And yes, that doesn’t mean all of our problems are gone, but after four years of this asshole, it’s a relief to see him go the fuck away. And maybe things will start to get at least a little bit better.

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Standard Review: The Mysterious Murasame Castle (NES/GBA)

The Mysterious Murasame Castle | Box art

I’ve always had some level of curiosity towards retro Japanese games that were never localized, especially those by major developers before they got big. It’s hard to think of a more household name than Nintendo. After all, a lot of Nintendo’s major series have started back on the NES and are still going strong to this day. I mean, Mario, Zelda, and Metroid, no context needed.

But not every classic Nintendo title went on to get tons of sequels and get milked into oblivion. Kid Icarus got one Gameboy sequel and then a reboot decades laterbefore fading into obscurity again despite the reboot being very successful. Punch-Out got a SNES sequel that no one cared about, and then a Wii reboot decades later that flopped. StarTropics got one sequel then nothing. But at least these games were localized (except for StarTropics which was made in the US and not released in Japan).

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

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

Standard Review: Luigi’s Mansion (GC/3DS)

Luigi's Mansion | Logo

There are two kinds of people in this world; those that like Luigi’s Mansion, and people who hate fun. The first Luigi’s Mansion was apparently not well received when it originally came out since it wasn’t a sequel to Super Mario 64 and had some big shoes to fill. Luigi’s Mansion is not even in the same genre as Mario 64 so those comparisons only came up due to the fact that Mario platformers were previously released as launch titles for Nintendo consoles, and this likely lead kids to assume that Luigi’s Mansion was a platformer because it was a Gamecube launch title.

The Gamecube did eventually get a Mario platformer with … which apparently also had a bunch of people who didn’t like it because Nintendo fanboys are just unpleasable it seems… and also it’s kinda been close to two decades since it’s been released. This means that plenty of people have had time to examine Luigi’s Mansion on its own merits and many have rightfully concluded that it is a good game. Of course I always liked it to begin with and lost count of the amount of times I played it as a child, but what prompted this review was me playing through the 3DS port a few weeks before this was written.

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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.

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Quick Review – Dress to Play: Cute Witches! (3DS)

Dress to Play: Cute Witches is a game that got me based on reading about its premise alone on its e-shop page. The idea was to have a dress up game made for young girls that is about earning new items through gameplay. It mixes the appeal of mixing and matching clothes and accessories to create your ideal yet ads some actual gameplay elements to it so you don’t get bored in less than five minutes. Of course, to most grown adults, the idea of a dress up game sounds incredibly cringe worthy and childish, but there are still some older women such as myself (and some men) who can appreciate the cute appeal of it.

While the premise sounds good on paper, it is not fleshed out nearly enough to satisfy anyone but little girls. The main reasons for this are that, despite the game being inherently deeper than the dress up flash games you can find online, there is still not enough depth to the gameplay to hold one’s attention for very long. Don’t get me wrong, this game can still make a decent time waster for some, but it isn’t going to be enough to satisfy those looking for a deep gaming experience. 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

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