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

Dear Esther (PC/PS4/XONE): Vague Incomprehensible Nonsense (Standard Review)

Dear Esther | Logo

I’m not entirely sure how to feel about Dear Esther. I did enjoy it to an extent, far more so than I have enjoyed games influenced by its design. Specifically, I really enjoyed the graphical design and the music of the game, and the story actually had some layer of depth to it. Despite this though, I still did not find myself satisfied with it at the end of the day. It may be pretty, it may sound nice, and it may show some level of competence that was not shown in games like Gone Home, but it still does not change the fact that it is still a gameplay-less walking simulator that is over in less than two hours.

While the story does have some amount of depth to it, it is not a story that is particularly entertaining to see play out. The reason for this is due to the abstract nature of the plot. Dear Esther is not like any traditional form of storytelling that puts you in the perspective of a character and tells a story from his or her view. In Dear Esther, you do not even know who you are playing as or who the narrator is. In fact, you never see any characters in this game. There are no cutscenes or anything; it all just consists of walking forward and narration. Read more

Riddled Corpses EX (PS4/XONE/Vita): Grindy yet Kickass Twin Stick Action (Detailed Review)

Riddled Corpses EX | Title Screen

The last two twins stick shooters I reviewed were… kinda shit. Those two games were Hatred and Venusian Vengeance. The former was a soulless cash in whose only claim to fame was shallow shock value that can only effect the most sheltered of individuals, and the latter was an ugly looking and tedious “retro throwback” with plodding level design. Riddled Corpses EX thankfully bucks this trend by being a good game.

I should clarify that I have not touched the original Riddled Corpses and that this version (the PS4 version in particular) was my first introduction to this title. The changes to the original game from what I looked up include an additional story mode, an engine that runs at 60 FPS, character stats, a new soundtrack (or possibly two depending on whether or not the unlockable metal arrangement were in the original game), online leader boards, a revamped combo system, two player co-op (online, but not local), and less grinding. 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

The Last of Us (PS3/PS4): Why I Don’t Like AAA Games (Detailed Review)

The Last of Us | Joel and Ellie

TW: Gore, Death.

There perhaps, has not been a game as overhyped and lavishly praised as much as The Last of Us since the PSOne era. Not since Final Fantasy VII and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has there been this much hype towards one game in particular. However, both Final Fantasy VII and Ocarina of Time were legitimately good games. Ocarina of Time was one of the first 3D action adventure titles and there was very little else like it at the time. Final Fantasy VII, while not exactly revolutionary in its design, did create one of the first great cinematic gaming experiences and did so in a way where, to this day, people still miss the point of what made it a great game to begin with.

Fittingly enough, The Last of Us is one of those games that took great influence from what Final Fantasy VII brought forth whilst also missing what made it a great game to begin with. Unlike the aforementioned titles, The Last of Us could not have any less original unless it stole code from other games.

Originality is not always necessary to being a good game however. Maybe people could have just gave it all those game of the year awards because it just did everything so well. Yeah and maybe we will discover that Elvis Presley, Kurt Cobain, Freddie Mercury, Tupac Shakur, and Michael Jackson never actually died and all plan to collaborate for a comeback album but you never know. Read more

Amazing VGM: The Dark Colossus Destroys All (NieR)

Ah yes, three of my most shilled games in a row for Amazing VGM. I’d normally do something from Saya no Uta since I just reviewed it but I kinda hinted at this one last week so I better follow through. Anyway I’ve been meaning to touch on this one for a while since it really is an amazing track from an amazing game.

NieR is known for its outstanding music after all, so it’s time to cover a track that was good enough they made it twice! Starting with the original. 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

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