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

Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven (3DS): As Dull as an SRPG Can Get (Detailed Review)

Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven | box art

It is titles like Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven that helps me truly appreciate the work that niche publishers like XSeed put into their localizations. I do not say this because I enjoyed Lord of Magna, as I honestly found it rather bland, but more so because it shows they care for the genre as a whole. Yes it is a pipe dream to live in an industry where every time I see a new JRPG announced, I don’t need to tell myself “this game looks very cool, it’s a shame that it likely won’t be loacalized” but  when even some of the more mediocre titles like Lord of Magna are being localized, it definitely provides a lot more hope that a lot of the best titles will get one.

I will also admit that curiosity plays a large factor in that I like to see if these games are any good in the first place, and even when a game does not get the best reception I still tend to prefer seeing it for myself. As such I generally am hesitant to take any claims of “this game wasn’t localized because it’s terrible” seriously. It can sometimes make one feel like an ass if you ask a publisher to localize a game that can take up time and money only to say that their game is bad and their effort was pointless. So despite me not caring for Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven, I am still glad XSeed brought it over and I’m glad to have given my money if only because it supports them for doing so (plus it comes with a nice looking box with a soundtrack CD, which the collector part of me always appreciates).
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Standard Review: The Legend of Dragoon (PS1)

The Legend of Dragoon | Logo

This review was certainly put off for quite some time. I should let it be known that I am reviewing this two years after I beat it, but my memory is pretty good in regards to these things. I don’t quite remember why it was that I didn’t write a review at the time but I’m finally going to write it now. The Legend of Dragoon is a fantastic game and quite simply put, it deserves the praise it gets.

The Legend of Dragoon is far from the most original JRPG out there and if you are looking for something unique to the genre then this likely won’t satisfy you. In fact, the game actually had mixed reception at launch. Former IGN reviewer David Smith once said “Games like Legend of Dragoon and Shadow Madness rank among the worst of the previous generation, regardless of genre” only a year after he reviewed it and gave it a 7 out of 10. Yeah, IGN reviewers being incompetent bought out morons is hardly a recent phenomenon. Read more

Hyperdimension Neptunia (PS3): Not the Best, Not the Worst, but Definitely One of the Most Interesting (Detailed Review)

Hyperdimension Neptunia | Limited Edition Box Art

The first Hyperdimension Neptunia was definitely an interesting game. Technically the entire series is an interesting subject when it comes to games but the first game is especially so. Despite receiving mostly poor reviews from critics and a lot of gamers themselves, its unique premise and ideas helped it put Idea Factory on the map. Shortly after its release, demand was so high that prices for a new copy of the game that it went for up to $120 new on Amazon. I remember when I first found out about this game, I was incredibly fascinated by it due to its premise alone. I have looked up as much as I could about the game and was almost decided to get the game used for $80 despite it looking far from a well designed game. There were easily a lot of noticeable issues with gameplay and presentation, but its personality was so intriguing that I wanted to play it anyway. In fact, I was so interested in the game that It was what prompted me to get a PS3.

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Standard Review: Inuyasha: Secret of the Divine Jewel (DS)

Inuyasha: Secret of the Divine Jewel | Box

My feelings on the Inuyasha anime have been fairly mixed over the years. When I saw it as a child, It had me hooked and I was seriously drawn into it, but over time I started to notice more and more problems with it. The series has some very strong and powerful moments, but there are two problems. The first of these is repetitive nature of the plot that is paced like a bad JRPG where every arc ends when Inuyasha almost kills Naraku but he gets away due to some bullshit reason. Additionally the fight scenes also seem to be based on turn based RPG logic because it they always seem to end when Inuyasha remembers to use that super powerful move he just learned 40 episodes ago to destroy the enemy. And the second reason was just how cringeworthy our central characters are. Inuyasha is an overconfident dumb ass with a massive ego and Kagome is your typical Mary Sue only with bitchy anime girl disorder, and I would know since most of my Twitter followers also have this disorder.

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Detailed Review: South Park: The Stick of Truth

South Park: The Stick of Truth | Logo

Trigger Warning: This review contains references to racism, anti-semitism, and forced cross dressing. The game itself contains depictions of the above in addition to gore, nudity, scatology, sodomy, abortions (performed on a man), miscarriages, and Nazis (of the zombie variety).

Just looking at the creation process of South Park: The Stick of Truth, it is easy to see practically endless ways how this game could have been a colossal disappointment. First of all, there is the fact that it is indeed a licensed game, which sets the bar low seeing as how most licensed games tend to be average at best even when they have a significant amount of potential and hype. Even ignoring that this is a licensed game, this was the first time that Matt Stone and Trey Parker had any involvement in a game based off their license (they  have admitted in the past to being displeased with previous South Park

games, which is why they made sure to be more closely involved with this game). To add to this, the game went through development hell due to THQ going out of business and the publishing being transferred to Ubisoft. There were practically thousands of reasons to be skeptical that this game would turn out well, whether they be concerns about how South Park’s heavy emphasis on political and pop culture based writing would not transfer over well into a video game, or even looking at Obsidian Entertainment’s track record of having their games released plagued with bugs and glitches that would out due even Bethesda’s games.

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RPGs of the Famicom: Sweet Home

Sweet Home | Title Screen

If you live outside of Japan, you likely don’t know of many JRPGs prior to the 16 bit era. Hell, you may not even know of many DURING the 16 bit era either. Until Final Fantasy VII popularized the genre with its cinematic CG cutscenes and enormous marketing budget (not that the game had no merits in story or gameplay, but plenty of other games did to), even the most popular JRPGs in Japan were a niche attraction in the west. JRPGs retailed for up to $80 at the time without adjusting for inflation, and publishers often could not afford quality localization teams. A majority of games localized by Ted Woolsey, for instance, were handled within a month and had to cut several sentences down. The fact that games like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy IV & VI, and Super Mario RPG had such strong scripts regardless really shows a testament to his ability, which allows me to cut him some slack for how bad Breath of Fire’s was (and also because Capcom themselves did a much worse with Breath of Fire II). Oh, and if you were in Europe then you likely never got ANY of these games.

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Amazing VGM: Boss Battle 3 (The Legend of Dragoon)

The Legend of Dragoon | Virage

Aha gotcha, mentioning The Legend of Dragoon at the end of my last Amazing VGM wasn’t a coincidence, I’ll bet you didn’t see that one coming did you? Yeah I still need to write my review on this game cause I’m almost 3/4s of a year overdue on that, but the review is lowest on my priority list. Anyway, this week’s VGM is what I consider to be this game’s best battle theme… which isn’t saying much cause I’m not too into the other ones (aside from the Forbidden land battle theme, that one is badass). They aren’t bad by any means, but they just sound so standard. Granted, i would say that fits since The Legend of Dragoon is a very standard JRPG, but it is so in a way that reminds one of why they liked JRPGs in the first place.

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JRPG Update: 7/3/2017 -7/9/2017

I have an unfortunate announcement to make regarding the status of JRPG Update. Following this article, JRPG Update will be put on indefinite hiatus and will most likely be canceled entirely. As satisfied as I was putting these together each week, I have found that it has also become way too overwhelming to do so on a weekly basis and it has reached the point where they are interfering with my other work. Additionally, this is not a case where I can just take a break seeing as how more and more stuff builds up over time, which will just make it infinitely more time consuming when I decide to resume.

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JRPG Update: 6/19/2017 – 6/24/2017

JRPG Update logo

So, this week, we have seen the release of God Wars: Future Past (PS4/Vita, June 20th) and Ever Oasis (3DS, June 23rd). I have also decided to try out a new format for JRPG Update, and one will noticed most of the pictures have already been used. That is partially to save time for myself given how much time I spent editing in Amazon Associates links, meaning I make a small amount of money any time someone clicks one of these links and proceeds to buy something from Amazon.

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