Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES): Shoots for the Moon, Lands Among the Stars (Detailed Review)

Super Mario RPG | Bowyer

Super Mario RPG is a game that, when it was originally released, likely met with a lot of skepticism. Squaresoft’s RPGs are generally known as their huge sweeping tales that were not like anything that most gamers have seen at the time. Mario games, on the other hand, generally had no story beyond the typical excuse plot involving rescuing the princess. I can imagine the surprise when the two ended up going together like peanut butter and chocolate.

Since then, there have been two sub series that have been considered spiritual successors to Super Mario RPG; those being the Paper Mario series, and the Mario & Luigi series. Super Mario RPG was also one of the last games released for the Super Nintendo in 1996 and was the last game Squaresoft developed for a Nintendo system until Final Fantasy Tactics Advance in 2003. Super Mario RPG was the source of many technical achievements and innovations for the time of its release, but the real question is if it is as impressive today as it was in 1996. Read more

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

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

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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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

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: Holding My Thoughts in My Heart (Final Fantasy VII)

Final Fantasy VII | Corel Train Tracks

Welcome to this week’s VGM. I have decided that I would go with something that is from a game especially nostalgic to me, Final Fantasy VII. Of course, I’m never one to go with the predictable tracks like “One Winged Angel” or “Aerith’s Theme” or even slightly less common but still talked about tracks like “Still More Fighting” and “The Great Warrior.” The first track that comes to mind when I think of Final Fantasy VII is either “Interrupted by Fireworks” (which I honestly find more beautiful and emotionally moving than “Aerith’s Theme”) or “Holding My Thoughts in My Heart.”

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Amazing VGM: Shadowlord (NieR)

NieR Replicant | Box Art

This week’s VGM is going to be quite a doozy. Shadowlord is in my top 5 for best RPG final boss themes, up there with Dancing Mad, The Battle for Everyone’s Souls, Hopes and Dreamsand… okay I don’t know what the fifth one is yet. I do hope that I have made it abundantly clear at this point that I am a huge fan of both NieR titles. Even though there were a few qualms I had with the original, it was still such a powerful experience that I would easily play it again some day. I will admit that having an amazing soundtrack always helps, and NieR has one of the best I’ve ever seen (for those wondering, my favorite game OST is Undertale, which is why there has been such a focus on it, even though it is beaten out by both NieR Automata and Earthbound in terms of favorite game overall).

The last VGM I have covered from NieR was the hauntingly beautiful and sad “Emil Spoiler in Title” and I also touched upon the end credits theme “Ashes of Dreams” in my countdown of the most Beautiful JRPG Ending Credits Themes, so this isn’t the first time I’ve covered this series music wise. However, I will need to go into some plot details to fully explain the use of this music so SPOILERS AHEAD for NieR.

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NieR Automata: The Type of Masterpiece that you Rarely See, Especially in AAA Games (Detailed Review) (PS4/XONE/PC)

NieR Automata | title screen

Just a heads up, the reason the review is no longer up  this site is because it is now up on Brash Games, and I figure they wouldn’t want their content hosted elsewhere. There was a lot that I had to say about this game seeing as how it is currently in my top 3 favorite RPGs (or games in general for that matter).

http://www.brashgames.co.uk/2017/05/15/nier-automata-review/

If you would like to play this game for yourself (which you should) it can be purchased here (PS4 Physical), here (PS4 Digital), and here (PC Digital).

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