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: 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

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

New Super Mario Bros U (Wii U/Switch): Same Old Super Mario Bros (Detailed Review)

New Super Mario Bros U | Box Art

New Super Mario Bros U was often claimed to be the strongest entry in the New Super Mario Bros subseries. There have even been some who claimed it was the best 2D Mario game since Super Mario World. I will say right now that neither of those two statements are true. Not only does New Super Mario Bros U not hold a candle to either Super Mario Word or Super Mario Bros 3, but it is also a step down from its predecessor New Super Mario Bros Wii (although it is superior to the mediocre handheld installments of the New Super Mario Bros series). While New Super Mario Bros U is an entertaining game on its own merits, it is disappointing that Nintendo seems to be unable to improve upon a twenty one year old game. 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

Amazing VGM: Battle 2 (Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest)

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest | Pazuzu

Admitting that you like Final Fantasy Mystic Quest… is kind of like admitting you are sexually attracted to trans women. A lot of people will strongly and adamantly deny it to save face… but everyone secretly likes both and it’s more cool to admit you do than to deny it…

…it’s a joke…

…no I don’t support lesbian erasure…

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Amazing VGM: Satellite (Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom)

God Phantasy Star III was such a weird game. Its setting seemed to be this weird cross between medieval and futuristic yet never was really set on one, the plot was barely prevalent but what little prevalence it did have was of the “WTF” variety, the poor testing and rushed design ended up with a lot of exploitable bugs or just odd occurrences such as a random enemy that was given that absolute highest possible stats and was stronger than the final boss… but could still be beaten relatively quickly cause it has the same amount of health. The game is an absolute mess and I cannot help but find it fascinating even if the game itself is ungodly tedious.

The music is something that also contributes to the surreal nature of the game. The soundtrack obviously tried to go for a more orchestral approach but trying for symphonic on the Genesis sound chip ends similarly to trying to tell Razorfist he’s wrong; they both just kind of implode on themselves at the mere thought of the possibility.

The resulting soundtrack is one full of tracks that are in the realm of “sometimes work but sometimes don’t.” Some tracks such as “Laya’s World” are actually Read more

Splatterhouse Retrospective #4: Splatterhouse 3 (Genesis)

Splatterhouse 3 | Box

Ah, Splatterhouse 3, the most ambitious of the original series by far. A lot of arguments could be made for Splatterhouse 3 being both the best AND the worst game in the series (not counting Wanpaku Grafitti). Splatterhouse 2 perfected the gameplay formula of the first game, and thus our developers likely did not know how to make any improvements. As a result, they did whatever any good developer does when they can’t top themselves; create something that throw the old formula in the trash and start from scratch. Given the stagnation of series that continue to rehash the same formula over and over again, this is a sign that quality is put over profit; but the results tend to vary.

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