Professional Writing

People pay me to write stuff too! Below is a list of some of the more noteworthy content I’ve written professionally. I intend to keep this page current, so if you’re disappointed with the lack of updates on this website, it’s probably because I’m getting paid to write for someone else! I’m writing primarily for Nintendo Enthusiast right now, but if you’d like me to write something for you, drop me a line.

2021

3/30/21:I Saw Black Clouds review for Nintendo Switch | An utter FMV failure“: I’ve only played a handful of FMV games, but I Saw Black Clouds encapsulates almost everything that can go wrong in designing one. 4/10

3/29/21:Feature: Tiny Thor is an innovative, beautiful platformer from a development dream team“: When I first stumbled upon innovative 16-bit platformer Tiny Thor in an Imgur post, I knew I had to interview the Asylum Square team to find out more. I hope this game shapes up to be as excellent as it looks, so that I can dubiously claim it was I who discovered a gem.

3/10/21:Telling a simple story in an RPG isn’t an excuse to tell a bland story“: Classics like Final Fantasy IV prove that a “simple story” does not have to be a “bland story,” yet recent Square Enix RPGs like Bravely Default II have very much bland stories — and we shouldn’t just roll over and accept that. Simple stories have the greatest potential of all to be enjoyed by a wide audience, and we must encourage Square Enix and other RPG developers to swing for the fences with their narratives every time.

2/25/21:Bravely Default II review | Another addicting Square Enix RPG adventure“: It’s always an event when Square Enix releases its next big RPG. This one is a lot like the original Bravely Default with a few notable gameplay differences. The combat and soundtrack are fantastic, but the story is still a largely generic disappointment. 8.5/10

2/15/21:PUSS! review for Nintendo Switch | Perfect for masochists & art lovers“: It’s basically a mouse maze game with insane visuals and a WarioWare-esque schizophrenic deployment of random levels. The game annoyed me from start to finish and I never really enjoyed a second of it, but it’s not badly designed, aside from some quirks and bugs. 6/10

2/14/21:Half Past Fate: Romantic Distancing review for Nintendo Switch | Ain’t talkin’ ’bout love“: An extraordinary waste of time. Fortunately, it’s only an hour long. 5/10

1/31/21:Cyber Shadow review for Nintendo Switch | A visceral, memorable platformer“: It’s refreshing when a game launches and turns out to be exactly what it looked like it would be. This is a hardcore old-school platformer with gorgeous 8-bit graphics that is an easy recommendation, even if it’s not particularly innovative. 8/10

2020

12/4/20:The SNES Encyclopedia review | A perfect coffee table book (that also covers Virtual Boy!)“: My review of a book detailing in brief every English SNES game released in the console’s era, plus every Virtual Boy game ever released as a bonus. If you’re a gamer of that era or just looking for a good, brisk history lesson, this is a ton of fun.

11/30/20:Immortals Fenyx Rising review for Nintendo Switch | An excellent riff on Breath of the Wild“: My review of a game that is 100% Ubisoft’s take on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I think it’s a terrific success with amusing comedy and a satisfying sense of character progression, so I’m really curious to see what extra adventures are delivered in the DLC expansions. 9/10

11/3/20:Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues review for Switch | A shockingly good beat ’em up“: My review of a Cobra Kai beat ’em up that is so much better than you would expect. The mechanics are really solid, all of the playable characters and enemies are unique and memorable, customizable skill trees keep progression engaging, and there is a psychotic sense of humor. (Johnny beats up his stepdad and his landlord, among other things.) You just have to watch out for a lot of performance issues. Regardless, it’s one of my favorite games of 2020! 7.5/10

9/7/20:Feature: Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory devs lift the curtain on the series’s Switch debut“: I had the opportunity to interview Ichiro Hazama, Masanobu Suzui, and Tetsuya Nomura himself about the Square Enix rhythm action game. As a longtime Square lover, I have to admit it was pretty cool. I also broke the story that, as of the publication date, there were no specific plans for more Kingdom Hearts games on Switch.

8/19/20:Volta-X review for Nintendo Switch | Addicting strategic robot combat“: My review of an extremely strategic 1v1 giant robot combat game. The depth of the gameplay and its customization is spectacular, so I hope it can find an audience. 8/10

7/19/20:Live A Live receives United States trademark from Square Enix“: I broke the story that Live A Live received a trademark in the United States from Square Enix. I really love that game, so it felt good to be able to share this news.

6/20/20:Evan’s Remains review for Nintendo Switch | Puzzles meet awful pacing“: My review of a moderately fun puzzle game that is ruined by an overbearing and dull narrative that destroys any sense of pacing. This is the most forgettable Switch game I’ve ever played, which, ironically, might make it memorable for being unmemorable. 5.5/10

6/16/20:Exclusive: Volta-X is giant robot management PvP from a Final Fantasy & Metal Gear developer“: I had the opportunity to interview Fumiaki Shiraishi and Pramin Phatiphong at GungHo about Volta-X, an awesomely unique giant robot PvP / resource management title with tons of potential. Don’t sleep on this one!

4/28/20:Telling Lies review for Nintendo Switch | An FMV mystery to unravel“: My review of an FMV game played entirely through a fictional laptop screen, where you have to watch tons of video clips out of order with a goal of piecing together a mystery that the game doesn’t even tell you exists. It’s a great piece of art, but it’s not for everyone. Some people will just get bored. 7/10

4/12/20:Shinsekai: Into the Depths review for Nintendo Switch | Capcom’s underwater Metroid“: My review of Capcom’s take on Metroid II. Its large, inviting world and innovative oxygen mechanics make it a unique experience worth playing, but it’s full of little annoyances like excessive fall damage that regularly disrupt the experience. A sequel that ditches all the annoying bits could be outstanding. 7/10

4/8/20:Trancelation review for Nintendo Switch | Duolingo at the arcade? Not quite“: My review of a small indie arcade game about language-learning. I only reviewed it because their PR person was especially dedicated, so a big kudos to that person. In any case, Trancelation isn’t particularly good, but it might be a decent supplement to help you learn vocabulary with a language you’re already studying. 5.5/10

3/31/20:The Complex review for Nintendo Switch | An interactive movie experience“: My review of a literal interactive movie made in the U.K. The writing and acting are surprisingly competent, but the decisions you get to make for the protagonist often don’t have any actual effect on the narrative. Worse yet, basically all of the game’s 9ish endings are pretty bad and leave a lot of things unresolved. Despite that, considering it’s basically the same price as a movie ticket, it really is a fun use of time to play through once at least. Experiences like these always carry a lot of novelty. 7.5/10

3/12/20:Half Past Fate review for Nintendo Switch | Cheerful romantic comedy“: My review of a game that is basically an interactive movie with some very light adventure gameplay to glue the story segments altogether. The beautiful pixel art and energetic soundtrack exude positivity, and I’d actually say it’s worth buying for that reason. That being said, the writing won’t blow your mind, and gameplay is virtually nonexistent. 7/10

2/24/20:Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection for Nintendo Switch“: My review of six classic Inti Creates Mega Man games for Capcom. Zero is still obscenely hard if you play it as intended, but new Save-Assist really defangs the brutality of the games while retaining some challenge. ZX, meanwhile, starts out uninspired but ends up being kind of awesome with ZX Advent. I’m kind of surprised that game didn’t click with me when it first came out. (I already owned all these games in the first place, and I religiously buy up Mega Man games.) 8.5/10

2/8/20:FF DOT: The Pixel Art of Final Fantasy review | A book I wish I could love“: Pixel art from the first six Final Fantasy games is collected in this book, including an interview with massively influential pixel artist Kazuko Shibuya. It also includes new pixel art created for every mainline entry in the FF franchise by Shibuya, and it’s terrific. Unfortunately, the new inclusions replace important and iconic old art in some places, meaning the book’s sections for Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI feel frustratingly incomplete.

2/6/20:Kunai review for Nintendo Switch | Metroidvania with a blunt edge“: My review of a Metroidvania that has too many ideas and doesn’t execute any of them extremely well. Swinging around like Spider-Man is novel, but a complete lack of creativity in gameplay meant that the attractive visuals were the only thing worth writing home about. 6.5/10

1/13/20:Interview: Cyber Shadow is designed to push ‘two-button gameplay’ to its limit“: I interviewed Aarne “MekaSkull” Hunziker about his awesome 8-bit ninja action sidescroller being published by Yacht Club Games. I was able to mine a lot of new details about both the game and Hunziker himself for this feature, and it’s a personal favorite of mine.

2019

12/23/19:Interview: SuperMash is a game that makes games, coming from a former Scribblenauts head“: I interviewed Joseph M. Tringali, the cofounder of Digital Continue, about his new game, SuperMash. Tringali is the former executive producer of Drawn to Life and Scribblenauts, and it was really fun to get insight into the development of a game that goes completely against the grain of other games from a design perspective.

12/9/19:Shovel Knight Showdown review for Nintendo Switch | A little smashing“: Shovel Knight adapted into a Smash Bros.-like fighting game isn’t perfect, due to awful bot AI, limited skill sets, and wonky balancing, but it’s still a really fun party experience if you have four players. 7.5/10

12/9/19:Shovel Knight: King of Cards review for Nintendo Switch | Ace gameplay“: A ridiculously well-crafted swan song from Yacht Club Games. King Knight’s quest features some of the best platforming game design I’ve ever seen. 9.5/10

12/3/19:Interview: Littlewood channels Animal Crossing to create the ultimate relaxation game“: I wrote up this feature about Littlewood from talking with its solo developer, Sean Young, who was very accommodating in sharing new details about the game. It’s a really beautiful game too, especially in .gifs, so I literally just enjoy staring at this interview.

11/29/19:Alien: Isolation review for Nintendo Switch | Still horrific in a good way“: My review of a port of the 2014 Creative Assembly/Sega game. Feral Interactive did a terrific job bringing this title to Switch, and as far as I’m concerned, Alien: Isolation is probably one of the best licensed games ever made. 8/10

10/11/19:Interview: One Step from Eden is the TGS award-winning successor to Battle Network“: This was a wonderful narrative interview with Thomas Moon Kang, whom I like to consider a friend, about One Step from Eden. I’m hoping to do a lot more writing like this.

09/19/19:The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening review for Nintendo Switch“: My review of the remake of the Game Boy classic. It’s the most bizarrely faithful remake I’ve ever played by far, perhaps even too much so. A lack of content for its asking price is all that holds this game back. 8.5/10

07/04/19:The four biggest American patriots ever on Nintendo consoles“: For July 4, I wrote the stupidest article that I’ve ever gotten paid to write, and I loved doing it. It’s a straight-up work of comedy. If you read only one article listed on this page, it should probably be a very important one like this.

06/29/19:Super Mario Maker 2 review for Nintendo Switch | Just go buy it“: My review of a game everybody already knew would be awesome, hence my title. I was really excited to be reviewing a first-party Nintendo title for the first time, and I’m glad it was up to their usual standard of quality. 9/10

06/17/19:E3 Interview with Edelweiss, the two-man XSEED dev behind Sakuna“: Exactly like the title says, I had the opportunity to interview Director Nal and CG Artist Koichi at E3 about Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin. I support their mission to bring a love of rice to the world.

05/17/19:Project Nimbus: Complete Edition review for Nintendo Switch“: My review of a mech combat game with super tight controls, a consistent frame rate, and a better-than-nothing story. The game’s downfall is that it can be way, way too repetitive, but the base gameplay is still pretty darn fun. 7.5/10

04/28/19:Shadows of Adam review for Nintendo Switch | Quality retro JRPG action“: My review of a game heavily inspired by SNES RPGs and Final Fantasy Mystic Quest in particular. Its excellent battle system and attractive pixel art make it stand out, but the middle of the game is basically just a long procession of back-to-back dungeons, which gets a little exhausting. In any case, its short, 12ish-hour length makes it a terrific choice for RPG lovers who can’t dedicate a lot of time to actually playing one. 8/10

04/21/19:Game Boy at 30: How Game Boy really conquered the world“: Game Boy turned 30 years old on this day, so I wrote a lengthy feature about why Game Boy so completely destroyed its handheld competition. I argue that vigorous marketing and positive word of mouth were at least as important in Game Boy’s success as its battery life, cost, and game catalogue.

04/11/19:Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission review for Nintendo Switch“: My review of a Dragon Ball arcade game. Ostensibly, it’s a card battler, but in practice, it’s a game about hitting the A button at the right time during a mini-game. “Strategy” revolves around ensuring you have better timing at hitting the A button than the opponent. That’s the entire game. Some have found ways to enjoy this game, but I just considered it a terribly disappointing waste of time. 4/10

03/28/19:Elli review for Nintendo Switch | Accessible puzzle platforming“: My review of a visually attractive but very basic puzzle platformer. It doesn’t do anything new and the story is throwaway garbage, but the mechanics are simple and forgiving enough that it could actually be a great game for young children. 7/10

02/24/19:Strikey Sisters review for Nintendo Switch“: My review of a Breakout-style fantasy game with SNES-style graphics. This game is old-school in the best possible way, and I really loved playing it. For $10, this game is a terrific way to bridge a generation gap between younger and older gamers, and it’s just really fun by itself too. 8/10

02/17/19:Cinders review for Nintendo Switch“: My review of a visual novel that retells the classic Cinderella story with more complex characters and branching plot paths. The writing feels like Jane Austen meets Gilmore Girls, and Gilmore Girls is one of my all-time favorite TV shows, so I think of it mostly as a good thing. This is an enjoyable game, but at $20, it will only be worth your money if you’re really committed to finding all the different endings. 8/10

02/4/19:Etrian Odyssey Nexus review for Nintendo Switch“: My review of the final Etrian Odyssey for 3DS. The game’s supposed to be a celebration of the series that puts together the most interesting parts of each previous entry, but this was the first game I’d ever played in the series, so I just took its offerings at face value. Ultimately, I described this game as “Christmas morning for dungeon crawler lovers,” but it doesn’t do anything that would make anyone else on the earth ever want to play through it. 8/10

01/9/19:BQM -BlockQuest Maker- review | It’s like a ‘Legend of Zelda Maker’“: My review of a Japanese indie game that lets you build your own bite-sized, voxel grid-based action RPG dungeons. The game borrows its interface from Super Mario Maker and its gameplay mechanics from The Legend of Zelda, and the result is stellar. As far as game makers go, this one is really fun to use. Just watch out for its poor localization and repetitive music. 8.5/10

2018

11/29/18:NAIRI: Tower of Shirin review | Beautiful puzzle adventure“: My review of an incredibly beautiful point-and-click puzzle adventure game for Nintendo Switch. The story is terrific and the puzzles are rewarding, so it’s definitely worth a purchase–if you can forgive its awful and unexpected cliffhanger ending. 7.5/10

10/18/18:The gaming community needs the Virtual Console back“: Virtual Console on Nintendo Wii was one of the great revelations in video game history, and its absence on Switch isn’t just disappointing–it’s a disservice to the whole gaming community. Gamers deserve easier access to video game history, in the same way that people already enjoy easy access to old books and old music. That’s the crux of this article.

07/30/18:Mega Man X Legacy Collection 2 review | The leftover misfits“: My review of the four lesser-regarded titles in the X series. X5 was actually even worse than I’d remembered, and X8 was much better than I’d remembered. In fact, I was almost startled at how entertaining X8 was, especially when placed side by side with its deeply flawed predecessors. 6.5/10

07/30/18:Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 review | The best of the best“: My review of the first four Mega Man X titles, plus the new X Challenge mode. Mega Man X games have my favorite action gameplay style of any games I’ve ever played, so this was a great walk down memory lane. I was disappointed with how they chose to frame the X Challenge mode though. 9/10

07/15/18: Octopath Traveler review for Nintendo Switch | A new hope for Square”: My review of Octopath Traveler, a game that is the closest Square Enix has gotten to creating a truly great classic RPG again. The story and writing are disappointingly boring though, a far cry from Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger. 8/10

06/25/18: “The Development of Final Fantasy IV: A lengthy feature on the development, localization, reception, and legacy of Final Fantasy IV. I consider FFIV to be the quintessential Japanese RPG, so it had surprised me that no one had ever written an article like this before.

06/23/18: Lost in Harmony review for Nintendo Switch”: A review of a mobile game ported to Switch. In a nutshell, you’re much better off downloading the game for free on a phone than you are playing this sloppy port. 6/10

Previous

10/23/16:Shin Godzilla: An Unexpectedly Agile Monster Movie“: I watched the film Shin Godzilla during its limited theatrical release and realized that, in addition to being a condemnation of bureaucracy, it worked pretty effectively as an advertisement for agile project management as well. (I didn’t use to include this article on this page, but I added it retroactively because I like being able to share Godzilla with people in any form.)

09/26/16: “Making Your Boss Happy Is Not Your Job”: An explanation of why you need to keep your eye on a bigger prize at work, for the good of your company and yourself.