Pretty early into my playthrough of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I decided it was the best video game that has ever been created so far. That’s an awfully lofty statement to make, I know. But since game journalism is practically exploding with 10/10 reviews already, it would be redundant of me to write another one. So instead, I would like to approach writing about this game from a different angle, much as I did with Metal Gear Solid V. I want to speak generally about the aspects of this game that, in my mind, succeed spectacularly–and I also want to talk about the aspects that could have been handled better, because even the best game ain’t perfect.
(No plot spoilers ahead, but some gameplay spoilers) Read more
The most dangerous enemies in all of Final Fantasy XV are trees. Not evil trees–just regular trees. The camera gets stuck on them mercilessly during combat, obstructing your view and making it almost literally impossible to fight near foliage. This is just one of many problems that makes this game the clunkiest and least polished main-series Final Fantasy title ever. I would be sensationalizing if I were to call the game bad, but it sure ain’t great, not in any context. Whether compared to past entries in the series or to other modern open-world games, Final Fantasy XV comes up short. Read more
For better or worse, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse looks and plays like expensive DLC for Shin Megami Tensei IV. It takes all the same locations from the first title and remixes it with a mostly new story, along with some new monsters and abilities. In theory, people who loved the original and want to play something else exactly like it have every reason to be thrilled. Heck, I myself have quietly regarded Shin Megami Tensei IV as my favorite game for Nintendo 3DS. But after playing Apocalypse–and in spite of it being a quality title in its own right–I can’t help but wonder if Atlus would have been better served to just dedicate its resources to making Shin Megami Tensei V. Read more
Guys, full disclosure–if I could live inside a Super Nintendo RPG, I would. My bias for Japanese RPGs in general is just ridiculous, but any RPG that draws influence from the 16-bit era piques my interest. With that in mind, I Am Setsuna is the most disappointingly flawed game I have played since Lunar: Dragon Song. Every aspect of its design suffers from problems that someone should have spotted during development. The game sells for a reduced retail price, but that can only excuse the game’s small scale. It does not excuse a bland and forgettable experience. Read more
When it was first announced that Nintendo and Atlus were collaborating to create a game that crosses Fire Emblem with Shin Megami Tensei, absolutely no one in the universe was expecting Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE to be the final result. It takes the standard Persona formula of high schoolers dungeon-crawling, but it throws out the series’s dark tone in favor of an overtly energetic and colorful J-pop backdrop. You play as teenagers who need to balance their obligation of protecting modern-day Tokyo with maintaining their careers as budding idols. As Polygon’s Janine Hawkins points out, the whole game ends up feeling like a Sailor Moon spinoff. Well, as a lover of both JRPGs and Sailor Moon, suffice to say I was pleasantly surprised. Read more
Professional gaming outlets have been unkind in their reviews of Mighty No. 9, and a tinge of frustration or perhaps even anger can often be found in the writing. Frankly, I neither agree with nor even understand most of their criticisms. After the long wait, after the roller coaster ride of enthusiasm, disappointment, and general confusion, Mighty No. 9 is a pretty good game! It is that unique hybrid of Mega Man and Mega Man X that I have been expecting almost all along, and to top things off, the game is budget-priced. I hope this becomes the first in a new continuing series for Comcept and Inti Creates, because while not perfect, it lays the groundwork for some truly excellent sequels just as Mega Man did in 1987. Read more
When Naughty Dog first announced Uncharted 4, I was disappointed. I felt like the series had run its natural course and that another game at this odd juncture would just feel repetitive. Unfortunately, actually playing and completing Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End only confirmed that feeling. Even worse, the game just does not give the player a whole lot to do. More than half of the game is spent walking, climbing, and staring at scenery, with combat serving as an uncommon and not utterly redeeming intermission. Production values are top notch throughout–as expected from Naughty Dog–but the experience distinctly lacks the magic and excitement of The Last of Us or, yes, Uncharted 2.
(This review only covers the single player campaign.) Read more
Xenoblade Chronicles X is a game about turning your brain off and indulging in a 90-hour power fantasy. To try to claim much more about the game than that would probably be overreaching. It takes everything about the design of its predecessor and says, “Let’s do that again, but bigger,” in the most literal possible sense. The only thing that didn’t survive the embiggening process was the previous game’s story execution. The ultimate result is an absolutely massive game where you as the player are largely left to your own devices, for better and for worse. Read more
Everybody can handle a small failure. If I lose a boss fight one too many times in a video game, my controller is likely to take a violent and irrational beating, but the loss will not cause me enduring emotional trauma or paralyze my ability to function afterward. The reason “small” failures are small though is that they come with minor and unambiguous consequences. The biggest failures we face in life come with a wide spectrum of negative consequences that all strike simultaneously, which in the process exacerbate each other so that the total anguish we feel actually becomes disproportionately high relative to the act of failure itself. This amplified anguish born from the intersections of separate types of negative consequences cannot be easily extinguished, specifically because of its ephemeral, comes-and-goes nature. What must be done instead then is to identify the individual threads of suffering that are created from major failures, so that when these threads intersect, we can rationalize the anguish we are feeling and ultimately overcome it. Read more
While I love and mildly worship the Lunar series, I did not have as fond a time with the original Grandia when I finally played it through the PlayStation Store. Unlike many, I found its story and characters to be generic at best or boring at worst, its battle system to be far too easy to exploit to remove all challenge, and even its music to be surprisingly unpleasant. Grandia II, which I did play briefly on the Dreamcast when it released, fares a lot better in my estimation. It jovially embraces practically every cliche of the JRPG genre–much like its predecessor and Lunar–but it stands out on the great depth of its battle system. This review will be covering the anniversary edition port on the PC. Read more