For years, I have seen people call Suikoden II one of the greatest RPGs ever made, but until recently, I had never played the series. Thanks to the PlayStation Store, I have finally rectified this issue. One hundred and eight Stars of Destiny later, I am ready to weigh in with my opinions on the game and where I think it ranks with other classic RPGs of days past. Long story short, I believe the game falls short in a couple fundamental ways, but makes up for it through (for the time) shear originality. Read more
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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is basically the polar opposite of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Agonizing detail was put into the design of the compact but iconic levels of MGS4, and it was all wrapped up in a layer of story so dense and yet simultaneously elongated that you were basically watching the game more than you were playing it. Meanwhile, MGSV dumps you into a massive open world with only a few rules to follow, resulting in level design where very little stands out, but there is always so much to do, and the story is often almost nonexistent. In this way, MGSV actually makes for a rather harsh departure from any other numbered game in the series, and consequently makes for a strange swansong. I would like to do something different from my usual reviews, and instead merely discuss what I find to be the high and low points of this wildly different Metal Gear experience.
*Massive Spoilers Ahead* Read more
Until Dawn is a horror movie that you get to play and control. It celebrates as many tropes of the horror genre as it can fit into the span of one story, for better and for worse, but without ever devolving into parody or soulless copycat. This is not a game catering exclusively to horror junkies though; I had been excited to get my hands on this game for a long time, in spite of not actually being a fan of horror myself. As it turns out, my excitement was warranted. Until Dawn ain’t perfect, but that didn’t stop me from loving it. Read more
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is a game about death. In spite of the presence of magic, monsters, and chocobos, it manages to capture the despair and terror of war better than any game I have played before. Does that make this game a classic for the ages? No, not by a long shot. But it is quite a good upgrade on the Japan-only original released for the PlayStation Portable (PSP) back in 2011. I was an unexpectedly huge fan of the earlier PSP title Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII when it released, and Type-0 HD takes that action RPG style of combat and expands upon it with over a dozen new styles of play. Combine that combat with the obsessive ruminations on death, and you have a very unique new title in the Final Fantasy series, and a pretty unique title in general. Read more
Everybody loves to make “best ever” lists–best movies ever, best novels ever, best dish detergents ever, etc. And when it comes to video games, the Internet is bloated with articles trying to tell you which ones are the best. In fact, in my review of Axiom Verge, I casually began by calling Super Metroid maybe “the most perfect video game ever created.” But upon further scrutiny, I realize now that such distinctions are not really possible for video games. Here’s the simple reason why. Read more
Placed in historical context and judged by its own merits, I think Super Metroid might be the most perfect video game ever created. Through unusual art direction and an exceedingly good soundtrack, the game managed to create a deeply rich atmosphere and weave a story with almost no dialogue. The levels were also designed so well that the game never needed to hold your hand, nor did it ever offer to hold your hand. Super Metroid was an experience where gameplay was king 100 percent of the time, and success or failure could always be blamed squarely on you, the player.
Axiom Verge draws inspiration from several old classics, not just Super Metroid, but including Blaster Master, Bionic Commando, and even the original, seldom discussed Metroid. Yet it is still what many people now call a “Metroidvania” game, and it surely intends to deliver an experience where gameplay is king. And you know what? Axiom Verge delivers, above and beyond expectations. This game is just darn clever. The fact that it was made top to bottom by one guy is all the more impressive. Read more
The Dragon Quest series, known as Dragon Warrior in the US until the release of Dragon Quest VIII, is the prototype for the entire JRPG genre. Originally inspired by complicated western role-playing computer games like Wizardry and Ultima, Dragon Quest simplified the formula and ended up becoming the most massively successful game series ever in Japan. In the United States though, the series has always played second fiddle (or maybe fourth or fifth fiddle) to the prettier and more cinematic Final Fantasy series. You can’t really blame the US though; we never officially got the fifth or sixth installments in this country at all until they were remade for the Nintendo DS. And although we did finally receive Dragon Warrior VII for PlayStation, it did not arrive until 2001, a full year after the release of PlayStation 2. I myself did not get my hands on the game until 13 years later.
In spite of its absolute adherence to tradition and an almost complete lack of innovation in its gameplay, I find that Dragon Warrior VII still holds up surprisingly well by today’s standards. I would even argue that, in both good and bad ways, this game pushes the concept of the traditional JRPG to its limit. Read more
The more miserable you become, the more you cling to silver linings wherever you can find them. As I have touched upon in brief before, misery can be a good thing in doses. I have described misery as the floor in a metaphorical tower, where climbing the tower steps is symbolic of working toward a goal, and the top of the tower represents achievement of the goal. I have called the floor the “most comfortable place in the world to be, because there is nowhere left to fall,” but that is not entirely true. In the most extreme circumstance of misery, the floor can fall out from under you in a scenario otherwise known as suicide.
In your darkest hour, it might become that no silver lining catches your eye. It might be that you feel completely empty, and you cannot find any value in your life at all. What you might not be suspecting is that this pitch-black void could be precisely the thing to save your life–if every other measure has failed. Read more
Likely few people would outright classify themselves as pessimists, but they do exist. The decision to actively see the glass half-empty, or to unconsciously see the glass half-empty on a regular basis, is problematic. I mean, if you make a living as a bartender, then this is a very lucrative and optimistic way of thinking. But for everybody else, the glass half-empty mindset is impractical and, dare I say, quite immature. Read more
It had been eight years already since Battle of the Bands, but for Reggie, the wounds were still fresh. High school was supposed to be a world of possibilities, of beginnings, but Mr. Raster had literally pulled the curtain on all of that. Now, Reggie was just a man displaced in time, robbed of his moment in the spotlight and unable to move forward.
And like most men displaced in time, Reggie ate SpaghettiOs for dinner. It was all he could afford and all he knew how to make. He had finally moved out of the house a year ago and into a one-room apartment, which his few friends affectionately referred to as the Haunted House. The last tenant had died in an apparent suicide, which was lucky for Reggie, because it meant he got a few leftover T-shirts for free. Luck was always in short supply for him, so he took it wherever he could find it.
Reggie leaned over his TV tray while shoveling another spoonful of cheap sustenance down his throat. His hand shuffled under the old magazines on his table seeking the remote, so that he could put on the local news. He tried to catch the first fifteen minutes every day, just to make sure the state had not condemned his building.