Monday, December 13, 2010

Pokemon Emerald (GBA)

As I grew up as a kid living in an urban town, we got fads late.  Pokemon was the one fad that hit us at the right time.  I started way back when with Red.  I had Gold and Silver.  Then, nothing.  Through my middle years, I didn't play pokemon.  It was because it wasn't cool.  Nobody thought it was cool anymore.

I forgot the most cardinal rule of gaming, you don't play games to look cool.  You play games to have fun.  What is more fun than collecting hundreds of little monsters and battling.  Nothing.

As I write this, two months of time have probably passed since I played this game for the first time and beat it.  I have to say, it was enjoyable.  I like the additions to the series from Gold/Silver (although now I have played Heartgold and Pearl, I won't dwell on this fact) and some of the new pokemon were okay.

What gets me with each new gen is that they try to add to the existing ones in ways that are just boring.  Like baby versions of useless pokemon (Azurill is useless) or evolutions for pokemon that didn't need them.  What happened to the first gen pokemon that were fan favorites but have been left in the dark.  Pinsir is popular, why hasn't he had anything change for him yet?  Can't give him an evolution.

If I had played this game when it first came out, I would have been disappointed.  Only after maturing in my gaming tastes can I say that I enjoyed this game.  It has the makings of an in depth RPG but you can still just go with the flow and have fun.  EV/IV training is still confusing to me but that's okay.  That isn't required to be good enough in this game.  That's why I think the Pokemon series as a whole is great.  There is depth in what you can do but they don't force it on you to have fun.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)

As the second game in the series that I played (yes, I played this second), I have to say it was incredibly enjoyable.  Let me get this out of the way, the cutscenes are long.  Very long.  But they are worth it.  The parts that you play are great and the balance between scenes and gameplay are nice.

I'll make this short since this game is very heavily reviewed.  I enjoyed this game.  Sure I'm not very good at being stealthy (I had so many alerts), but even a newb at these types of games can be good enough to beat it.  I will also say something, to the developers (as if they read this).  Please, PLEASE!  More Metal Gear vs. Metal Gear battles.  That was incredibly fun.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Turok: Evolution (GCN)

What a mess this game is.  Take a decent series from the N64 and bring it to the next gen.  This was multiplatform but I will be rating just the Gamecube version.

It is pretty standard in FPS to have many unique weapons and some difficult sections.  This game itself is a difficult section.  The flying parts of the game are often unfun and bogged down by terrible controls.  The worst part about this game is the difficulty.  It is wrong for all the wrong reasons.

Having ungodly AI is a difficult thing to get past.  No matter what you were doing, the AI enemies could see you and worse yet.  They had better weapons most of the time.  Glitchy puzzles and awful platforming are another plague.

The topper that put this game over the edge of bad to terrible for me was the ending.  You spend the whole game working your way to some epic last boss battle.  What happens?  You resolve the whole plot in a confusing cutscene instead of actually fighting the main villain.  Worse yet is you don't know if you actually won or not.

Disappointing game especially since the N64 game of the same series was very, very good.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Atelier Annie: Alchemists of Sera Island (DS)

This was a recent completion for me.  A fun little RPG.  Even though it was bogged down by too many scenes of friendship, numerous interruptions, and an annoying system for getting things done.  The alchemy system makes up for it.

Let me get it out of the way, I like making items.  I like taking junk I've collected and turning it into other junk or great weapons or whatever.  That's why I liked this game.  I could take dirt (in three different colors) and make glass balls)

One thing that really hurt the experience though was the lack of any real challenge.  It's not a difficult game.  Even though I didn't get the best ending because I didn't bother to befriend everybody, I was not punished.  I did get a good ending because I had mastered my Alchemy.

Another thing that bugged me was the constant interruptions by NPCs.  Every time I tried to do something, they would constantly bug me for useless items I had no way of making.  Often, I would have to buy the item just to give it to them.  Sure, I could have figured out how to make that item but buying the recipes was expensive and often not helpful because a lot of the stuff needed to make upper level things were very rare.

The last complaint I have is the fact that I can't make weapons, only make them better.  Making a weapon from scratch is not an Alchemists job but it would have made the experience a little better by making me work for the weapons I used in battle, instead of just buying them.

Not a bad experience with this game.  Although, if you don't like Japanese voice acting, you are out of luck.  No translated voices.  Which isn't bad except some of the voices can be a little annoying.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Super Mario 64 DS (DS)

Now, I own both the N64 and the DS version of Super Mario 64 and I have to say that I prefer the DS version of it.  Why?  because this game just lends itself to being portable.  Even though there is little added, they did manage to make it unique with the way characters are set-up.  You start as Yoshi and have to unlock the other three: Mario, Luigi, and Wario.  Each has a unique skill.

Now, let me get this off my chest.  Some of this game was far too challenging.  Tedious levels were infrequent but they were there.  I am fortunate in the fact that I found numerous workarounds to the harder levels.  Including one that lets you skip most if not all of a difficult section.

All that said, I have all the stars in this game.  It's safe to say that I enjoyed it.  In fact, it was the first DS game I ever had.  I ignored the touch controls, which proved to be very smart.  Touch controls had not been perfected yet, so it was safe to just ignore them to enjoy the game.

I did enjoy this.  Platforming at its base form.  I love making difficult jumps or finding little secret ways around difficult sections.  A good launch title for a new system that has proven to be the largest collection in my library.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Final Fantasy VII (PS)

I have to be very careful when I write this review.  This is the most polarizing game out there.  If I say that I hated it, I am instantly branded as a "terrible" gamer but if I say this game was good, then I'm branded a "fanboy."

So I'm going to go between the two and say it is average.  It has good parts and bad parts.  The good parts include the story, fun side adventures (Gold Saucer is easily a game in itself), and pacing.  The bad parts include the battle system and difficulty.

The story is easily the most memorable out of all the Final Fantasy titles out there.  I still remember most of the details about this game and it sticks with me.  It also contains one of the most heart-wrenching moments in my gaming history.  I will not spoil it because these are spoilerless reviews but let's just say.  I shed a tear for this game.  The story is well paced.  Broken between three discs, it is easy to tell what you are doing and where you are supposed to be going most of the time.  Even if you don't feel like playing the story, there is so much side-story and minigames to this game.  They could be their own games.  Chocob Breeding and Racing while tedious reaps many benefits.  Gold Saucer is an awesome place to spend an hour or two.

This brings up the bad parts nicely.  The difficulty starts out quite alright.  Pretty standard, until you start getting godly equipment and materia.  I often had no problems with difficult bosses because I either had an uber spell or equipment.  In fact, for a good half of the game, I didn't even have materia on the main character.  I just spammed attack and took everything down.  This brings up the battles system.  While it was revolutionary for its time (limit break system anyway), it is not very engaging.  Pretty standard if you compare it to current games.

I'm not going to finish this game with a score or even a summary.  I'm just going to say that I enjoyed it but it isn't the best game I've ever played.  I don't think I've even played the best game I've ever played and I don't want to.  If I ever do, I probably won't play games anymore.  Why play games when you've played the best game ever?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Super Paper Mario (WII)

Now for a platformer, this would be mediocre.  For an RPG, this would be mediocre.  So what does that make this game?  Mediocre at best.

Issues riddle this game.  Things like boring story, way too much text, and slow-pacing.  In fact, I feel that the amounts of text were far too much for even an RPG.  When I have to press A 100 times to get a hint for the next puzzle, only to get wrong information, I get a little frustrated.

Of course, this game has some good things too.  The mix of platforming and RPG elements is quite well done.  Actually, it is incredibly fun.  Despite having to sit through what seems like War and Peace levels of text, this game is well polished.  I ran into no problems while playing the game and it was very fun for the parts I was playing.  Even though the game was bogged down by its own text, I know I keep bringing it up but there is FAR too much text for this game.  It really hurts to think about playing this again just because of that.

Anyway, the story isn't really memorable and the ending is nothing to write home about.  In fact, it is quite predictable although there is a major twist at the end.  Which I honestly didn't see coming.  Other than that, it's a decent game.  Text HEAVY but decent.  The cave of 100 trials is fun at least.  I never did the alternate and harder one but I will eventually.  Plus the cards are a nice replay feature.  Trying to collect all the cards is something that would take a while.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (GB)

This was one of, if not the first, Gameboy games I ever beat.  Something about this game stuck with me through my life.  The memorable music, the awesome items, the Wind Fish, everything.  Heck, it's been over 10 years since the last time I played this and I still remember where most of the Secret Seashells are.

I loved this game.  Every aspect of it was awesome.  From the secret side-quests, to the hidden cameos, to the incredibly funny things that happen.  I remember all the frustrating bosses, the annoying parts, and of course where the hidden item was.

Let me begin by saying, they did a great job with this game.  It is very solid, very polished, and very complete.  You start weak and grow stronger.  You are rarely ever lost on where to go and often you will purposely get lost just to find things.

I still remember the first time I made it to the last boss.  It was incredibly satisfying.  Of course, I was young and I was easily beaten but I tried many times to beat it.  I still remember the first time I beat it.  It was after numerous attempts, my lunch of Top Ramen was cold and very mushy, and my parents were very angry that I hadn't eaten lunch with them.  I just remember how much joy I got watching the ending on my TV (I beat this on the Super Gameboy) and eating those awful noodles.

One of my favorite Zelda games.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quake 3 Arena (PC)

This will be short.  Actually, this is it.  I neither hated or liked this game.  In fact, the only reason I played it because I got it when I bought the Quake collection off of Steam.

The guns are fun, the computer AI ranges from godly to sand-filled skulls.  It is often frustrating when an opponent can snipe you with the worst weapon in the game from half-way across the map but you can't hit him with the best weapon and close range.

All in all, if you are into FPS and's not the best but it's decent.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Final Fantasy: Tactics Advance (GBA)

What fond memories of this game do I have.  In fact, it was one of the first three games I got for my GBA when I first got it.  This, Knightmare in Dreamland and Metroid Fusion were the first three games I got when I received the wonder Gameboy Advance for Christmas.

When I first started this game, I was quite new to RPGs in general.  This was my first tactical or strategy RPG in fact.  So I might be biased a little bit due to nostalgia reasons but I will still give it a fair review.

First, the complaints.  The battles are often repetitive and pose no real challenge when you have a good set-up.  The last few missions were far too easy compared to some of the very early missions which were intense.  The biggest complain is going to be the law system.  Limiting the player to what actions they can use is a way to challenge them, yes.  Making a law for not damaging an opponent type and then making the whole screen filled with that opponent type is poor planning.  Anti-law cards often do not help because the best ones are impossible to find sometimes.

The sequel fixes the law system but for now, it is a big damper on the game.  Choosing to only fight random encounters in the law free zones was my choice every time.  Since I didn't have to worry about laws and the only risk was permanent death of a unit, which never happens because you have to end the battle with them knocked out.  Meaning you can heal them and they will still come back.  So I made sure to place the lawless places together as often as I could.  So I could not have to deal with laws.

The game has tons of depth.  The missions are fun, albeit some of them are boring.  The class system is very much streamlined.  Getting new abilities and leveling is easy.  Although, one other complaint arises with the outrageous items needed sometimes for quests.  Or the fact that you can only have a limited number of quest items at a time.  I'm currently stuck on 299 (out of possible 300 + 10 bonus) because I don't have Black Thread.  Where do I get Black Thread?  Well, I can't.  They only give you two in the whole game.  Both needed for two other quests.

What happened to the two you had?  I either dropped one for a more important item (because space is limited) or I used it on the same quest twice that was repeated.  Maybe an option to replay every mission would be nice.  I'm not going to restart my 200+ hour file just because I accidentally missed an item and can't complete the game fully.

I enjoyed this game, a lot.  It got me interested in other SRPGs, like Disgaea and Luminous Arc.  It's one of the genres I have a serious soft spot for now.  Like Platformers, SRPGs are one of the few games I usually enjoy to a certain extent despite poor design choices.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Summon Night: Twin Age (DS)

When first playing this I thought that stylus only controls would hurt this game.  Not only does it not hurt it, it was actually pretty fun.  First off, I will say, I love action RPGs.  Love them.  My all time favorite game is Secret of Mana.  Before Square Enix ran the Mana series into the sewers, it was all I would play.  Of course, they decided to use the Mana series as a dumping ground for bad ideas but that is another issue entirely.

This game was fun, annoying at times, but really enjoyable as a whole.  The music was good, the ability trees and such were awesome and gave some depth.  Although not all the skills were useful and once you have the best one.  Well you could spam it.  Spamming was a little bothersome especially when it became clear that the game wanted you to spam it.  I remember a couple of bosses that required spamming.  But I can forgive that.

The story is two things, not-memorable but not detracting from the game.  I remember few details about the story itself.  I do remember having fun and enjoying the story at times but also none of it stuck with me.

All in all, not a bad game.  Not Secret of Mana, but good to fill the void until a good Mana game comes out (which will be never because Square Enix ran it into development hell and left it there).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wario Land: Shake It! (WII)

Wario.  A man of few simple principals.  Money, women, junk, and booze.  He covets everything and needs nothing.

Wario.  Although this game is frustrating at times and extremely fun.  It felt too short.  Although I haven't completed this game 100%, I still liked it.

Wario.  If only the motion sensing was a little better.  Tilting the remote to aim throws is nice and in fact very intuitive...but there often came a question to your accuracy.

Wario.  A simple post for a simple game.  It's fun, the bosses aren't memorable but it's grand.  The music is also great but you won't be whistling it at the end of the day.

Wario.  If only people actually read this blog.  But they don't so what can I do.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kingdom Hearts (PS2)

Disney and Square Enix.  Really?  Not that this is a bad game, in fact, I quite enjoyed it.  The pairing though, is unique.  In fact, most people will be put off by the fact that it has Disney characters.  I have to ask them why.  Sure, Disney has heart-warming and childish cartoon figures but there are also a lot of dark moments in Disney films.  Though this game doesn't get into them, I want people to know that Disney is more than childish.  The old movies had some dark themes and shady characters.  It's a good thing they are represented here.

Enough debunking, onto reviewing.  First, I have to say.  The story, albeit confusing, is there.  There is a deep story and it definitely has some strong themes to it.  Such as friendship, believing in others, etc.  There is also the dark/light struggle and very shallow moral issues to deal with.  It's not the best story I've ever encountered in a game but it is passable.

Now onto the heart of the game, the gameplay.  This is where it shines.  Battle is fluid, easy to pick-up the basics, and intuitive.  Magic use, is not.  The use of Magic in this game required me to have one thumb too many.  I often could not keep track of moving and selecting magic.  So I ignored magic for the most part.  Which really didn't matter much since the keyblade is a very balanced weapon.  Once you start learning good abilities though, you can easily tear through most battles in the game without much strategy.  See I said most because there are hidden bosses that DO take strategy.

All in all, I only have one complaint.  DO NOT put a 3-4 minute unskippable (Square Enix is notorious for unskippable cutscenes) cutscene before a very difficult fight.  Having to watch that cutscene 4-5 times was atrocious and I have to wonder why they wouldn't include a skip cutscene function (It is a PS2 game and that is a standard since the birth of the cutscene).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Custom Robo Arena (DS)

Now we come to the first game that I didn't really enjoy.  Going into this game, I really was excited.  Pocket sized robots that are customizable and fun to use.  Battling each other in an arena?  How can that not be awesome?  I will explain why.

First, the story.  It is so convoluted and boring that it's not even worth mentioning.  In fact, here is all I will say about it.  It was dull.  So dull, I don't even remember most of it.  This story could have any character switched out and replaced by a robot and you wouldn't tell the difference.  The relationships between characters is ranging between "knows" and "doesn't know."

Secondly, the battles.  While the battle system is great, the combat is fluid, each part has a downside and a plus, and there is a lot to having a good setup.  The battling itself is boring because there is no progression between who you fight next...until very late in the game.  Every battle feels the same, in fact I used the same setup for the whole game and each battle (besides the last few battles) felt exactly the same.

Lastly, difficulty.  In the beginning, the game starts out decently.  A nice learning curve is established.  You learn what sets work against what robots.  How to avoid certain attacks, things like that.  At the end of the game, you have no advantages.  In fact, the entire last few bosses, they have more advantages than you and there is no way to counter them.  This is not good pacing.  If I am expected to get better, then don't have it be for the last three or four battles.  Work me up to that point.  Also, don't make the last boss near god-like.  Having weapons, abilities, and the like that I have no access to or have never seen before is not fair.

All this said, this game wasn't terrible.  I beat it, it can't be bad if I beat it.  It just had some basic development issues.  One last thing.  Cleaning my robot, IS NOT AND NEVER WILL BE FUN.  Why is this a feature?  What were you thinking?  I know, DS touch screen needed to be used, let's put in this cleaning thing.  No.  Bad Nintendo.  Cleaning is not fun.  That's why I play games, so I don't have clean.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Contact (DS)

Now this game.  One of my first DS purchases.  In fact, one of my first Atlus games as well.  Not much to say about this game other than I loved it.  Everything about this game screams retro.  The style of battle was well thought out.

The battle system is what I will focus on here.  Basically your character has several jobs 6 (I don't count the default useless job).  You can pick your weapon.  Then to engage in battle, you just press a button to switch to battle mode.  If there are enemies on the screen, you pull out your weapon.  Just approach and profit.

The game starts out quite difficult (the first boss being difficult is not always fun) but it pays off in dividends.  Having you actually learn the basics before moving on means you don't get confused later.  The sticker system is useful but I never needed to use it.  My personal favorite job was Chef.  Because cooking was just so simple and fun.  You could try to make all sorts of different dishes and things.  Plus watching bosses die as you hit them with a Filet Knife was just awesome.

Was this a popular game?  No.  Should it have been?  Probably.  This game tried to do a lot of new things and nobody really paid attention to it.  I liked it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1)

For its time, this game may have been the greatest side-scrolling adventure.  It had it all, great soundtrack, great game mechanics, a story that was coherent, difficulty, and let's not forget...length.  This game takes me back.  When I first saw this game, my brother had borrowed it from a friend.  I watched him complete the game completely.  Every item, every enemy entry, and the whole map completed.

What really astounded me at the time was the music.  For a PS1 game, this was good.  Darn good.  I remember that there was one song that always stuck in my mind.  I forgot the area it was but that song was what drove me when I was playing so many other games in my life.  Now that I've had a chance to play and beat this game myself (on PSP), I have to say this game is still good.

The basics: You are Alucard.  You must stop Richter Belmont in Dracula's Castle.  Simply put the story doesn't sound much different that regular Castlevania games.  Dracula is involved somehow, you are in his castle, and things happen.  I won't spoil anything but the game does take twists.  You find out more about Alucard later in the game.  You learn the true intentions of the Belmont.  It's interesting.

Now here we come to the main part, How does this game play?  Great.  In fact, it still plays great.  This is one PS1 game that I can honestly say has aged very well.  The mechanics are solid.  The selection of abilities, weapons, and special things is good.  Some issues occur while trying to find various parts of the castle and I often got lost.  This isn't a bad thing though.  Often when you get lost you find an item or weapon that you really needed.  Backtracking is one thing that hasn't aged well though.  It's an old system to make the player go to a new place, find a new item, and then return to an old place to progress more.  For it's time backtracking wasn't bad.  But now, the system is stale.

I can't believe that this game is as old as it is.  I mean when I played it, I was truly surprised.  I felt bad for not trying to get a copy and playing it all those years ago.  I mean, I still paid for the download off of Playstation Network but I feel I should have paid more.  I wanted to show Konami just how much I enjoyed this by paying more.

See, I can get through this review with no mention of "miserable piles of secrets" or throwing a wine glass.  You can too.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pikmin 2 (GCN)

Green.  Smiling.  After having finished the first Pikmin game, I opened the box of this understanding what was to come.  A fun romp through a world which I don't get to see often.  For being a GameCube game, it was quite stunning graphically.  The water effects were great, the foliage and lighting were vivid, and the world just seemed so alive.  Of course, when you first start the game, you are not where I am talking about.  No, you are in a cold, scary place.

The story.  Simply put is heartwarming and upbeat.  I won't spoil anything for people that haven't played it but it is definitely not the draw of this game.  Unlike the previous game, this one does not have a time limit.  Something that I view as good.  I felt much less stressed and rushed this time around.

So let's get into the meat of this game.  This is a 3-D Real-Time Strategy game.  For those of you that don't know what that is, it's essentially amount to commanding an army.  In this case and army of carrot-like monsters called Pikmin.  Just like in the first game, the concept is simple.  Command you army of little monsters to defeat much larger beasts, grow your army, and find treasure.  Simple as that.  One addition to this game is the cave system.  You will often run into little holes in the ground that contain a series of maps that are challenging at times and often times themed.

These caves make up a good portion of the game.  In fact, there are numerous caves I have yet to beat completely.  The reason why is you need an army of the special type pikmin to do this.  Purple Brawlers are heavy and can lift more than other pikmin types.  White Poison are small and speedy.  They are resistant to toxins and are toxic to enemies.  In addition to all those features, white pikmin can also find buried treasure.

This brings up one of my negatives points about the game.  Just running through this game like I did, not farming any particular type...I wound up with only 17 white pikmin my whole play through.  Now this may not seem bad but you need every single one you can get.  Without these, you can't find buried treasure.  So why not farm them like normal colored ones (not mentioned: Red, Blue, Yellow)?  Simply because you can't.  You can only find the flowers that produce white and purple pikmin in caves.

The only other negative point I can make about the game is the randomness factor.  Often you could be running through a cave and run into an enemy that you just could not defeat...simply because you were not expecting it.  One such enemy that I ran into was actually a secret boss that only spawns under certain tight conditions.  This boss ended up spawning on top of my army.  Reducing my army from 100 blue to 23 in a matter of seconds.  I was thoroughly confused at this.

All in all, I loved my adventures with this game.  I often think about dusting off my copy and going to 100% completion.

So for the first review, I feel I should point out something.  I am not a writer.  I am nowhere near being a professional.  I do play lots of games though and I know what is and what isn't a good game mechanic.  I know I'm missing some things in this review (namely how sprays are awesome and leader switching is often a death sentence) but I feel I got what I wanted to get into it into it.

Now I feel it is only right that I should provide this nice little disclaimer here saying this is my OPINION.  I know many will say that I am wrong.  That's fine, if you feel I am, just say so.  Swearing at me and saying I have poor taste will not only make you look bad but it will make me feel bad because you had to resort to such a thing.  I'm a reasonable person, if you think I got something terribly wrong...I am capable of revisiting past reviews.

With all that said, thank you for reading.  I hope you look forward to the next review.  I have over 100 games on my list to review.  So this might take a while.