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

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

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 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: 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

How I’d Remake Deadly Towers

Deadly Towers | US Boxart

Ah Deadly Towers, I just posted my review of it last month. While I may enjoy it, it’s clear that most people don’t. It’s not hard to see why given the myriad of problems with it but that’s not what we’re here to talk about. I am pretty sure that most gamers have likely thought of how they would make their own game if they had the resources available, ideas are much more common than action after all. I’ve certainly had plenty of projects in mind and have even began writing the script for some, but it’s unlikely you’ll get to actually see me developing a game any time soon. I have way too little resources or experience to do so at this point in my life so I’ll just bounce off ideas like anyone else.

The point of this article is to imagine what a remastered version of Deadly Towers would look like if it were made today. I’m going to at least keep it within the realm of what an indie studio could create today and not imagine it with AAA production values because that’s far less likely to happen. Read more

Deadly Towers (NES): Deathly Underrated (Detailed Review)

Deadly Towers | jp box

Look up in the sky! It’s a bird! it’s a plane! It’s….

CAPTAIN CONTRARIAN!!!!!

And she’s here to say that one of the most reviled NES games of all time is… actually pretty damn good. Yes, I fucking said it! Seanbaby is a fucking hack! Do you wanna fight about it? Well I hope not because I’m not willing to pay travel expenses to challenge random strangers to fights over video games. Also I have weak girly HRT muscles.

Anyway yes, I not only enjoyed this game but I think it is among one of the most underrated games on the system AND showed a lot of innovation and creativity for its time. I just want to remind everyone that this game was originally released in 1986, only about 9 months after Zelda 1.

That is not to say that Deadly Towers does not have some terrible design decisions or oversights, but I have yet to see many who give credit to many of the game’s stronger points in favor of placing it on the same tier of trash as licensed LJN shit. There is no reason for this to have been rated as the worst NES game above shit like Action 52, The Uncanny X-Men, or just about any licensed movie tie in. At the very least, Deadly Towers is overhated. Read more

Seanbaby’s Worst NES Games Countdown is Garbage. Here’s Why.

Seanbaby | Top 20 worst NES games

Seanbaby is fairly well known in online gaming communities. I believe it is accurate to say that his style of writing was what later influenced that of many game reviewers, including that of AVGN. The subject of this article is one of his most well known works, and one that likely influenced a lot of later video game critique, or possibly media critique in general. I am deciding to make a piece about this article precisely because this piece has largely gone unchallenged over the years and everyone assumes video game critique has gotten bad only recently.

The key issue behind Seanbaby’s countdown is the lack of research or substance involved in its creation. It’s all just an excuse to hear Sean’s stand up routine while using these games as a base. While I do find the quality of the humor debatable, I wouldn’t take issue with it if game reviewers were not under the impression that this was the ONLY way to review games. I have nothing personal against Sean or anything; this article is merely a work of criticism towards not just this piece, but how a lot of people review games in general. It is of course expected that Sean would be better at it as a professional than some random forum troll that thinks he’s smarter than everyone else because he thinks games made by Nintendo are shit, but that’s not setting the bar very high. Read more

Castlevania Retrospective #1: The Classicvanias (Part 1)

Castlevania Retrospective Part 1

So there is this video game series called “Castlevania.” I’m sure you never heard of it as it’s quite obscure like everything else I cover. In all seriousness though there was a time when Koonami actually made good games and wasn’t obsessed with Pachinko machines and Soccer games. They had many influential and beloved series such as Gradius, Ganbare Goemon, Metal Gear, Contra, Suikoden, and Silent Hill, and not to mention plenty of other cult hits like Shadow of Destiny, Azure Dreams, Zone of the Enders, and other series that I never actually played but will still get weebs riled up by mentioning since no one else knows they exist.

The last time I did a retrospective, it was on Namco’s Splatterhouse series where I reviewed each game individually. I only needed to cover five games so that was more manageable, but the Castlevania series has over 40 of the bastards to cover and I kinda want to do other shit. As a compromise I decided I would start by covering multiple games per article so I don’t need to write a full review for games most of you already have played or know you should play. This does still allow me to touch upon the more obscure and lesser known entries in the series and compare them to the ones everyone likes and mock how inferior they are or make you feel bad about having not played them (mostly the former in this piece). Read more

Amazing VGM: Monster Dance (Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest)

Castlevania II: Simon's Quest | What a horrible night to have a curse

Simon’s Quest was an interesting game. There were a lot of unique ideas present at the time and it laid the groundwork for what Koonami would later perfect with Symphony of the Night. Yet there are also a lot of shortcoming present. I’m not here to talk about those though, we’ve all seen the AVGN video after all. Instead I would like to focus on its presentation, and by that I mean the track listed in the title of this article… you did notice that right? Read more