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
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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
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
In a lot of ways, Dragon Age: Inquisition was Bioware’s second chance at making Mass Effect 3. Both games task you with uniting the world/galaxy to combat a common threat, and both games are the third entry in series packed to the gills with history and player choices. The problem is that a whole lot of people hated Mass Effect 3. Its ending, as well as other elements of its design, alienated or at least disappointed many series fans, especially considering that Mass Effect 2 was so acclaimed that comparisons to The Empire Strikes Back were made. Dragon Age: Inquisition was Bioware’s opportunity to show they still had what it takes to put out a high quality AAA release. And they mostly succeeded.
[No Spoilers Ahead]
[Please Note: This review only covers the single-player component of the game.]