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    • Looking Back on the Gamecube - A Collaborative Overview

      3 years ago


      BigJoe91 : Heeeeey… Screwattack. You’re still here? Sorry I didn’t call.

      Anyway, enough babbling. Noble Team approached me and asked if I wanted to join him in another console review, so I did. Seeing as you people seem to have an awful lot of attachment to that 5th generation, we decided to stray away from it and move on to better and bigger things. By that, we mean the Gamecube. Are you ready for this?

      NobleTeam1: I guess I'm ready (P.S. THIS CAT IS MAKING ME TALK ABOUT VIDEO GAMES THE MOST EVIL THING EVER), anyway, yes, I'm here to help co-review another console that maybe part of one of the best generations in gaming the 6th gen, specifically the Gamecube. So I guess we should get this started stat or else...

      BJ: Video games are evil? Wow, you read too many Facebook comments.

      NB1: THINKING BE HARD...I MUST LET THE INTERNET HIVE MIND MAKE MY THOUGHTS FOR ME INSTEAD! Anyway, I can assume that you do have some history with the system we are reviewing, and maybe you like it more than me or maybe not. Stay tuned, and find out in the next couple of paragraphs.

      Personal Experience

      BJ: I quit Nintendo home consoles after the SNES, choosing the Playstation in the 5th gen and the Xbox in the 6th. As a teen, I felt like I needed a more mature experience in gaming and, like many others still do, labeled the Gamecube as a kiddie console. Long story short, I didn’t play it much around release. A friend of mine had it and I managed to dabble with a couple first party games, like Mario Sunshine, Metroid Prime and Super Smash Melee. I also touched on that fantastic Eternal Darkness. However, local multiplayer Halo, Timesplitters(On 2 PS2 consoles with multiports) and Dynasty Warriors just consumed most of our time.

      I got a Gamecube fairly early when I started collecting though. With it, I managed to give the deserved time to Mario Sunshine, Paper Mario : The Thousand Year Door, Metroid Prime and dig deeper in Viewtiful Joe, Eternal Darkness and, of course, Windwaker. With that in mind, I think it’s fair to say I like the console a lot. There are still a lot of games I want for it, but I believe it held its ground to the Xbox and PS2. How about you?



      NB1: I think I share a similar experience to you as I grew up on the Snes, and Pokemon during my childhood years, and just like you the Gamecube just seem like the kid console in its heyday (which lead me to calling it the Gaycube, since dumb teen logic). Ultimately, my experience with the Gamecube would be limited for a while as I didn't know anyone that had one for some time, So my initial experiences with the system came “a la” demo station at a Hollywood Video that had Melee setup. Eventually someone I knew grabbed a Gamecube, and I was in awe when I saw Wind Waker for the first time, but that would be the last memory I had with it.

      You'd think seeing Gamecubes for twenty dollars would be enough for me to get one after its initial run, but nope even though they were cheap I didn't want one till its predecessor. Yes, I ultimately skipped a Gamecube in favor of the Wii. Having one that played GC games lead to me just buying any game I could for that system. So what made me want a Gamecube was that I found a Gameboy Player for 15$, and well I needed the system.



      BJ: So, we both established that we do have experience with the console, though limited. Still, even with limited experience, there’s a lot that can be said about the Gamecube.  Not being expert in hardware, we can only base our comments on the performance we see. One thing I can say upfront is that, being at their first disc-based system (Yes, I do know the 64DD was a thing), the loading times weren’t too bad on most Gamecube games, weren’t they?

       NB1: Yes, if I can give one thing to the Gamecube was that it had relatively short loading times for its games, which is always nice especially coming off the previous generations which weren't exactly quick in that area. One thing that still sucks about Gamecube games (well in general) is disc switching as games like Resident Evil Zero would make you swap between discs in part due to the disc format that Nintendo went with, or features would be cut from the GC version of a multiplatform game instead. Finally, and personally I have to say I'm not to fond of the hardware design, as it just looks lazy aesthetically.


      BJ: To be honest, I like the Gamecube physical design. Although other companies went more towards a machine or even PC look, you could count on Nintendo to remind you of a toy box complete with the little handle to carry it to your friend’s house. Sure, it’s a bit lazy, but it’s different from the others, at least. The discs were fairly unique and short on storage, but I didn’t come across many games in which I had to switch discs, so I didn’t mind. As for the power it was pumping out, I don’t want to go into the specs aspect of the console, but Metroid Prime, Wind Waker and even multiplatform titles like the Prince of Persia series really held their own against the competitors. In fact, I don’t think 3D Nintendo games have compared this good to competitors since.

      NB1: One last thing worth mentioning about the Gamecube is how relatively quiet it is, which is always a plus when it comes to any disc base system. And also if you want to play GC games in 480p, good luck with that, as those Component cables are expensive for the GC, but at least they are relatively easy,and cheap to attain for the Wii.



      BJ: Well, there’s one accessory that was cheap to find and fairly popular on the GC and the Wii. In fact, it’s still popular for the WiiU thanks to Smash Bros. Of course, I’m talking about the controller. What do you think of it, Noble?

      NB1: I actually find the controller to be pretty comfortable in my hands, but it does have a few issues to me. First one, and most importantly is the C-Stick which in many games acts like the second analog stick, too bad its awful in contrast to the GC's standard analog stick, and it's really noticeable in Timesplitters 2 for me. Secondly the Z button aka the menu button doesn't feel good in part to its size, and form to me, but at least it wasn't given any primary control in most games I've played. Lastly just a start button,which is just strange to me in any console.



      BJ: The Gamecube Controller does have a fairly unique layout. In fact, it almost feels like it’s been designed specifically for first party games, because it works wonders when playing Metroid Prime, Wind Waker and, of course, Melee. I absolutely love the layout of the A, B, X and Y buttons because you’ll end up pressing A more often in most games, if we’re being honest. I agree that dual analog shooters suffer from the lack of thumb space on the C Joystick, but at least it remains comfortable. I admit that I’m not a fan of fighting games and I’m glad, because I don’t see how that controller would work for those. Strangely, I love big controllers like the Xbox Duke and the Dreamcast, but this small one managed to be comfortable, especially with the great shoulder buttons.

      NB1: I guess even with my issues with the Gamecube controller, it doesn't matter as much since the controller works well enough. Though sometimes some Gamecube games got a little gimmicky,and required their own special controllers like that Donkey Kong game with the drums, speaking of the GameCube sure did have some wacky accessories.



      BJ: Compared to the other consoles, the Gamecube did have some special accessories. While the next generations would see plastic instruments and fight sticks, the Gamecube generation didn’t really know what accessories to put out. The DK Bongos, that weird keyboard controller and the microphone are good examples of accessories that didn’t get much use on the console, but there were some good ones also. Anything in particular you enjoyed?

      NB1: Yes, I can think of one accessory that I really enjoyed from the Gamecube, and that is that strange chainsaw controller Res...nah, who am I kidding, I mean the Gameboy Player. To this date, this is the best reason to own a Gamecube, since well you can play Gameboy/Color, and Advanced games on your television, and with a relatively comfortable controller as well. Sadly it doesn't support the heavily compressed video format known as Gameboy Video, so no Shrek to get rekt with on your Gameboy, well besides the movie tie in games. As for me, if it wasn't for the Gameboy Player I honestly wouldn't have bought a GC, as the Wii does pretty much everything a GC does.

      BJ: As much as I also consider the Game Boy Player my only reason to still own a Gamecube, I did enjoy one other accessory for it, the Game Boy Advance connector. While it was mostly used for bonus connectivity (the Amiibo’s ancestor, you could say), some games did innovate with it. The most notable was Final Fantasy Chronicles, where you could play co-op locally with friends and each would have a different information on their GBA. I never managed to get 4 people together who owned a GBA, but I saw the end result and found it interesting enough. My favorite use for the GBA connection however was for Pac-Man Vs. If you haven’t played that game yet, do yourself a favor and pick it up. Three people with GC controllers act as the ghosts navigating the maze with limited vision and the other uses the GBA and sees the whole stage as Pac-Man. I can’t really explain it properly, so check out a video.

      I guess it could be considered a third party accessory, but the Dance Pad made its Nintendo dayview on the Gamecube. I didn’t get the chance to play Mario’s DDR game and I guess I could still play it on a Wii. I did play with the microphone in Mario Party 6. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it, but Mario Party game, to me, have gotten worse after 4. Speaking of Mario games, what about the First Party software support for the console?

       First Party Software


      NB1: When it comes to first party support the Gamecube had some pretty great games, with some rather quirky entries in some of Nintendo's series. To me, the two personal favorites Gamecube titles have to be Wind Waker, and Double Dash, which are not only incredible games to this date, but also my personal favorite entries in their respective series. Also who knew Luigi was a part time Ghostbuster, well Nintendo did with Luigi's Mansion, and they made Kirby stop his murderous campaign to make him race. Then on the meh end of this you have games like Chibi Robo, aka little robot garbageman simulator, which certainly fitted Nintendo quirky nature during that era, but I'll assume Senor Cat is more fond of these games than me?

      BJ: Whew… looks like it’s confession time. I never played any Luigi’s Mansion, so I can’t comment on it. I’m also not a fan of Double Dash, which I always felt was tedious and tried to innovate too much over a functional idea. That being said, I did play a lot of GREAT first party games on the Gamecube. Wind Waker, though I have yet to finish it, falls among my favorite 3D Zelda games along with Ocarina of Time (that was also released on the Gamecube). While Super Mario Sunshine wasn’t my favorite Mario game due to the tediousness of many collectibles (mostly the blue coins), it remains a great game with solid gameplay mechanics and great visuals for the system. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door remains many people’s favorite Paper Mario game and while I’m still debating if I agree or not, I can’t deny its greatness. Since we’re talking about fan favorites, might as well mention Super Smash Melee, a game still played heavily to this day. Also, while it could be considered a second party game, no horror game have an impact on me as great as Eternal Darkness. The last time I tried to play, I considered calling a friend over so I wouldn’t play it alone. The hallucination mechanic needs to be reused. But, even these games fail to dethrone Metroid Prime as my favorite on the console. I can’t tell you how pessimistic I was of a 3D Metroid game after the stellar Super Metroid. I’m glad Nintendo waited for the Gamecube to present this game, alongside Retro Studios. To me, it’s still one of the best looking game on the console, especially when you get to Phendrana Drifts.



      NB1: While I disagree on Metroid being the best looking game on the GC, as that honor belongs to Paper Mario 2, also my favorite Mario Rpg, I can't deny that Metroid Prime looks, and plays well (which is impressive considering that it was a shift in dimension as well). Also worth noting if you dislike motion controls you can always play the Gamecube version of Twilight Princess. Alas not every Nintendo series would continue on console at least, as both Star Fox, and F-Zero would have their currently last home console releases on the Gamecube, but at least one is returning on the WiiU properly. So when it comes down to it Nintendo had some good first party support, third party well that varied as I rarely got the GC version of multiplatform games, though I can say this was different for you Joe?

      Gamecube Non-first party Library


      BJ:  I can’t say that I ended up getting a lot of multiplatform games on the Gamecube, but I really wish I did. The 6th generation gave way to a lot of games on the three platforms. While I can’t emphasize on a lot them, I can swiftly gush over the Prince of Persia trilogy. Now, originally, I had and played this collection on the Xbox, but I did try the Gamecube version and loved the controls. As for the other non-Nintendo games on the Gamecube, I guess we could include the follow ups of Sega after the Dreamcast was officially declared obsolete. Though Sonic Adventure 2 remains a controversial title, the remake of the original Sonic Adventure is worth mentioning as it remains a great game. If you enjoy RPGs, I also highly recommend Skies of Arcadia which also saw a gamecube port. What’s more awesome than a pirate RPG anyway? Maybe a bullet hell Shoot ‘em up? Well, Ikaruga saw its only North American release on the Gamecube. It’s more of a cult classic, but you get my drift. To round things off for the Sega game, I’ve always been a fan of the Phantasy Star Online games and, though the Nintendo Gamecube connectivity wasn’t as popular than the other systems, the single player was enough for me.  I mentioned Pac-Man vs. and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, but my favorite third party game was probably the Viewtiful Joe beat'em up. I’m not such a fan of the genre, but the button mashing, fast paced, gameplay matched the Gamecube hardware and controller perfectly. While we’re on Capcom front, you can’t forget Resident Evil 4, though it was ported to other platforms later. I prefer the Wii version, but that’s just me. Speaking of preferences, any fighting games worth mentioning on the Gamecube, Noble?



      NB1: Since Smash Bros Melee has already been talked about, and this section is about third party Gamecube games one does come in mind, specifically Soul Calibur 2, or as I refer it to the Legend of Zelda edition. Now like many of you here I wanted the Gamecube version of this game, since it had Link, whereas the Xbox version had Spawn, and the PS2 version had Tekken guy (that should tell you how much I "love" Tekken), but those didn't matter as the Hero of Time beating the shit out of non Nintendo characters was a dream come true to me. Outside of that I would say my experience with third party GC games is rather limited, as I own like 5 of them, but at least they are pretty good. To me, the best launch title of the Gamecube wasn't a Nintendo game, it was Star Wars: Rogue Leader as, holy crap, did it have the best home console versions of some of the most iconic battles in Star Wars. And that game still looks amazing to me to this date. While its follow up, Rebel Strike wasn't as good it did have some great missions that were mostly better than previous entries, but the game sadly forced you to some horrible on foot sections. The only other major third party games that I've got are the Resident Evil remake (which you can get for far cheaper now digitally), and Resident Evil Zero. Now out of those two games I've only beaten Zero, which I liked a lot more in part due to the partner system, and the game being a bit less big than RE remake, which just made a it an easier experience for me to get used to than the constant backtracking in other classic Resident Evil games. Well that is about the end of my Gamecube experience as I rarely buy Gamecube games that aren't first party titles, so yep...BYE!

      BJ: That’s probably because you prefer your Xbox, fanboy. *shameless plug for your Xbox review post*



      BJ: Anyway, I think we’ve looked at most facets of the Gamecube. Keep in mind that this is a general appreciation only. We are not Gamecube experts and, by the discussions above, you can see we don’t have the deepest experience for it. But, I think we can both appreciate the Gamecube’s merits. What do you think, Noble?

      NB1:  I do like the Gamecube and the small library of games it had, especially its first party ones, which honestly hold up pretty well for the most part (insert jab of the previous gen here). Having some of my favorite entries in some of Nintendo's series certainly make me warrant to recommend its games. I just think that you'll be better off with Wii that plays GC games instead, unless you really care about playing old monochrome games on a T.v. that isn't a Super Gameboy, and I can say Senor cat feels a bit differently different than me on this?

      BJ: Well, I do think owning a Wii makes the Gamecube less relevant as a console since most accessories will work with the Wii (I haven’t tested GBA connection though). However, the Game Boy Player isn’t compatible with the Wii and, until all of the good GBA games end up on the Wii U virtual console, you should get a Gamecube to stream or record footage of these GBA games. As NobleTeam said, the library is highly recommended, especially for the first party games, but I do recommend trying to pick up some of these Dreamcast remasters and ports if you can. As for the release of the Gamecube back in its prime, I guess it ended up being slightly overlooked. Looking back, I don’t regret going with the Xbox, but I would’ve preferred the Gamecube. To be honest, however, I still prefer the PS2 library. Any closing word for the people who already left comments without reading to the end?


    • Back in the Box: Final Fantasy Legend (Game Boy)

      4 years ago

      There are two main reasons for my occasional retrogaming. The first one is, like many others, nostalgia of the titles of my youth. The second one is to discover games I never had the chance to play and analyze them in their context. Final Fantasy Legend is a gem in that regards.

      Bonus points for the cool cover though.

      Packaging the classic early turn-based RPG combat and attempting to cram original ideas into the small cartridge space, Final Fantasy Legend manages to deliver a solid performance. The turned based combat is nothing new, but species are introduced to spice things up. From the beginning, you have a choice of being a monster, a human or a mutant. When the “main” character is selected, you can recruit three others. All of them have three lives meaning once you try to revive them three times in town, they cannot be revived anymore and you will have to recruit another member.

      Despite the 4 choices, monters all end up the same.

      The differences between the species are simple: Monsters morph into stronger monsters by eating their meat, which is creepy and unreliable. Humans have bigger backpacks, but their stats can only be increased with fantasy steroids that cost a lot. Mutants increase their stats with combat, but they have limited inventory and skills which appear and disappear randomly. Although I did not try many combinations, I do feel the stable growth of the mutants and the control you have over human characters give both of these a strong advantage. For half the game, the humans will probably be mules, while the mutants chop away, but it’ll balance out in the end.

      Sadly enough, typical stat distribution.

      As for the actual combat, the turn-based action remains very simple. Choosing your weapon/spell leaves little room for strategy and, considering items have limited use, very little room for risk. You mutants have absolutely random skills that can disappear in the middle of combat and the humans cannot even use magic. There are a lot of variety in the choice of weapons, but not enough room in your inventory, or money in your pockets, to take advantage of them. With the unusual improvement of stats and fast degradation of weapons, grinding for money will become mandatory way too fast. Since few attack target many enemies, it will also be a pain, especially with the very high encounter rate. In the end, the combat, even when fighting bosses, doesn’t come off as the most interesting part of the game compared to later titles like Pokémon. However, it is functional. As for its presentation, the frontal POV manages to preserve some memory for additional effects both in combat and outside. Palette swaps not being possible on the monochrome display, you will encounter a lot of enemy repeats, but the bosses are mostly unique. Overall, the monster designs are pretty detailed, especially considering the limitations.

      Get used to being broke.

      Fortunately, for a Game Boy title, Final Fantasy Legend boasts some impressive graphics in some parts of his environment such as caves, subways and towers. Despite some rich environments, you can feel they tried to stretch it as wide as they could, which puzzles me as a design choice. For the limited memory in the cartridge, there are too many different unimpressive environments that could’ve been scrapped to make way for more dialogue or other means to engage the player in its surroundings. The music, however, really shines, even through the mono speaker. Far from being a soundtrack CD worthy game, Final Fantasy Legend manages to have very short loops of chiptune music that never once got repetitive to my ears. Most of the game is spent climbing a tower and, luckily, its music really gets the blood pumping.

      I also have to point out this aptly named: Legendary Theme

      The same cannot be said for the story. Being greatly limited in memory, the characters falls victim to the early RPG curse of cut dialogue making it very hard for any player to be engaged in the NPCs surrounding the protagonists. As for the main plot, someone could make a very good case that nobody in the development team gave a crap about the story. The main objective is to climb a tower to paradise, for no apparent reason. To climb it, you will need to collect spheres to unlock the various doors. Each sphere you collect lies on a wide world on a specific floor of the tower. On each of these worlds, you will have to face at the most 1/16th of an actual story, making the game somewhat of a collection of 4 sidequests. Not only that, but they also have incredibly different settings ranging from a medieval land to a post-apocalyptic urban environment. None of these stories have any kind of link to one another and it shows. I don’t want to spoil too much, but I can assure you that the ending cannot be described as anything else than a complete joke.

      Exciting, isn't it? Climb some stairs, hero.

      Despite its flaws and technical limitations, Final Fantasy Legend managed to take most of what people enjoyed in classic console RPGs into the portable market. On some occasions, you will be surprised at what they could achieve with such basic technology. On other, more frequent occasions, you will pray for a manual or a guide to explain to you what is going on and what that thing you just picked up does. Unless you want to make a case study of early Game Boy RPGs like I just did, Final Fantasy Legend is a very skippable title.

      Haha! Not likely...

      Second thoughts:
      After I finished writing the review, I saw so many people consider the final boss as one of the hardest they have ever faced. Honestly, I didn’t have any problems and didn’t even use the one-hit KO trick. Get your sh*t together people.
    • Scoring Reviews - The Thomas Was Alone Case

      4 years ago

      There aren't a lot of events that will make me feel the visceral need to emit an opinion. However, there is one practice that is, seemingly, becoming obsolete due to the abundance and variety of games out there: as the title states, I'm referring to review score. You can thank Thomas Was Alone for this reflection. Coincidentally it will act as the prime example in the following blog. 

      In my case, a review, at the right place and the right time

      As I was writing my review of Thomas Was Alone, which you can read here, the comforting thought of not having to give it a score, crossed my mind. I've always had some trouble with scoring and ranking, but Mike Bithell's creation stands in a league of its own in the matter, joined by an increasing number of games out there. (The Stanley Parable just to name one.) The overall experience stays undeniably satisfying, but, when you break it down, there's not a lot to praise in there. 

      Look, there are shapes in different colors

      The simplest way to rate a game is to simply set a subjective score vaguely representing your general experience. If you do, however, prepared to get rammed in the comments for your lack of methodology and your misplaced subjectivity. In the end, you rate how you want to, but a completely subjective vote does lack the good basis needed for a credible “comparison to another game”-type of argument. Then again, that is what subjectivity means. If I were to subjectively rate Thomas Was Alone, I’d probably give it around 9/10 based on my feeling after the experience.
      Based on that, you decide to back up your review, dividing it in the general categories. Story, Gameplay, Graphics, Sound/Music and Value/Replayability. The first problem you’ll have is the weighting of the said score. Do they play equal parts? If it does, I’ll have to remind people that Shaq Fu’s graphics and music weren’t that bad. Would you dare give it a 5? In this case, with a 3 hour long playthrough, overall basic graphics and very standard gameplay in most occasions, I’d have trouble giving Thomas Was Alone anything over 6.5/10.

      Source: Gamespot review

      If all these elements don’t play an equal part, I guess the weighting becomes purely subjective, utterly complex or biased. Do you remove points for Mario’s underwhelming stories? Ignore music score for games in which you can use your own soundtrack? In other cases, a run’n’gun is just crazy action after all. In movies, when you go see a no-brainer action movie or even, dare I say, a porn flick, they have very specific roles to fill. Do you remove everything else unless it seriously hinders the specific experience you were looking for? How does this differ from a completely subjective score? I guess you’d have to consider every aspect anyway, just making sure the final score somewhat relates to your general opinion.  How about 8.5/10?
      Negative scores seems to be the way to go. Which elements really took away from the general experience? In that case, taking away a point gameplay and replayability, I’d have to go with an 7.5/10.

      Source: IGN review

      But, that doesn’t seem fair to me. With the quantity of indie games out there, Thomas Was Alone really differentiated itself from the rest. In the end, a lot of them have limited gameplay, graphics and overall length. When rated on that basis, compared to other of its kind, should the score stand out? Closer to the 10/10 mark? Then again, how do you compare it to other indie games when they’re all so different? Are we creating categories so general that they blend together completely opposite entities? Are indie games the “alternative music” genre of the gaming industry? Are they only “not AAA” titles? 

      No way I'll know what these games really are...

      This reflection does not recommend the abolition of scores. Also, it does not act as a scientific proof that reviews are useless. Don’t get me started on the war on “objectivity vs. subjectivity”. Language evolves people, get used to it. Some people use words in different ways, than they are seen in the dictionary. Thou shalt get used to it. I am also aware that the message seemingly sent by this article is to let every reviewer choose his way of scoring a game. To me, that’s not a message, this is an undeniable truth, a given. You can’t force a score system on someone, even if you do, he’ll find a way to work it to his taste. This only becomes problematic when you try to level all these methods to form the basis of a “metacritic” or “gamerankings”. Like a wobbly table, it’ll hold, but once in a while, someone’s going to spill his soup and will be pissed.

      I could've dug deeper and found more hate, but stuck with an unjustified double game jab

      Anyway, all I wanted to do was showcase my reflections on what would’ve happened if I went into my Thomas Was Alone review with the goal of writing a number at the end. It was the perfect example. It works best as an experience than a game, it’s greater than the sum of its parts and, though not revolutionary, remains a must-play, but short, but inexpensive title. Now, imagine if I was a professional? The hesitation and pressure would’ve been even higher, especially my opinion has a tangible impact on sales number, e.g. in the case of a lesser known indie game. Then, consider that reflection expanded on multiple sites over multiple reviewers. That is why you see scores all over the place for the same games. In conclusion, don’t take scores too seriously and please, PLEASE, read/listen to what accompanies a score, because they won’t disappear anytime soon.

      In other words, inconsistent numbers. Source: Metacritic

      Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
    • Top 10 Generator: Destroying the Game Industry

      4 years ago

      Maleficent thoughts haunted my soul long for too long. All these days, months, years where I have shared my love for video games, all these memories, all these My Gaming ABC’s letters, I was lying. My true self came to be these last few days and, my plan being close to fruition, I have decided to share it with you all, like any villain would do before his ultimate victory.
      “Victory over what?”, you ask. Well, dear friends, over the video game industry, of course. Long has it dominated your lives filling you with passion, joy, fun, pleasure, but no more! I have already set the gaming industry on a failing path. I am truly their Nemesis. Let’s see my 10 different strategies to burst into these big name company rooms with a rocket launcher while they’re working on their typewriters...
      10. Keeping Old Consoles - Hoarding = saving
      With backwards compatibility disappearing, gaming companies had to find alternatives. They took their classics and sold them back again to us, the bastards. Now all your consoles have been cheaply sold back to Gamestop for glimpses of hope of having a shiny new toy to play with. Foolish mortal! You gave away your chance to keep playing your classic masterpieces and you were tricked into buying them again!

      It still works, ok!

      Not me, however. No gaming company is gonna make a quick buck out of me just for porting a game they made 15 years ago. I’m keeping my old consoles AND my old games! Screw your Virtual Consoles, Xbox Arcade, PS1 Classics and Steam classics! I’m not buying a game twice, nor thrice. I prefer to swipe money directly from the main marketing strategies of these companies.

      9. Streaming Nintendo Games - Mario is camera shy
      We don’t know exactly when it happened, but it seems streaming Nintendo games has made its way into the list of sins. Then call me a sinner because I streamed a Nintendo game for almost two hours and Nintendo did not make a cent with all this time I spent on the game. They could’ve capitalized or monetize on all this footage, but they didn’t. They never even tried to shut me down.


      How did I manage to avoid their Ban Hammer Bros.? Easy. I didn’t make money on the video either. Isn’t that one of the most clever things you’ve ever heard? If I don’t make money, I can’t give them money! Genius! One more step towards their eventual doom.

      8. Buying Used - Worst than Second Hand smoke?
      Rumor has it developers don’t make a cent when you buy your game used. Do you need a better reason to buy used, then? I don’t remember the last time I bought a new game. I like to feast on the smell of another person’s console anyway. The sweet aroma of a game that probably spent hours bathing in the sweaty remains of a gym uniform. That’s a bit weird, isn’t it?

      Sometimes, the games come with the weirdest salty jelly.

      Anyhow, by waiting usually around two months, you can get some pretty cheap prices for used games. When the sales are disappointing, it’s even cheaper. Basically, buying used will guarantee that there will only be two moneymakers: DLC and microtransactions. But we’ll get to that. The best part is that, by buying the game, you add weight to the servers hosting it. In short, you’re costing the company money by buying their game. That’s my kind of evil!

      7. No Sharing on Social Media - A grumpy cat
      Is it me or are we now obliged to share everything related to gaming online? The Miiverse, Raptor and now the next generation of video game consoles want to allow direct links to social and streaming? All that free publicity never hurt anyone. 

      Right... I wonder why I restrain myself...?

      And how about all those developers, big or small, invading social media to get your attention, your reviews, your opinions, your money. It’s like socialization has become more important than food. That’s why I don’t participate. More than that, everytime I even think about video games, I will confine myself in a safe room, barred from outside communications. I will ignore social gaming companies so much they will go crazy begging for my attention, my like and subscribes and my retweets! Soon, my friends, soon, they will destroy themselves over that insanity.
      6. DLC, Microtransactions Boycott 
      With Nintendo joining the free-to-play market (or F2P for all you cool abbreviation people), it seems microtransactions and DLC have become the norm. They do give good amounts of money for the effort involved in their insertions and creations. With the arrival of season passes, you can smell the amount of profits they give these companies.
      It is with pride that I announce that never have I bought or will buy DLC or Microtransactions under any form! I’d rather spend those little amounts on other useless material things anyway, like miniature chocolate that look like boobs.

      Be honest, which would you choose?

      But, seriously, with no money coming in from microtransactions and DLC, you can bet the gaming industry would fall apart. They’d have to release games that work properly. They’d have to make the games interesting the first time you try them. They’d have to develop games you will want to play again instead of just once. They would even have free space on the discs from all the on-discDLC they wouldn’t include. You and I both know that no company remembers how do do any of those things.

      5. Emulators - Free with the purchase of spywares
      Did you ever look at a video game and thought: “That’s a fun game you got there! It would be a shame if someone were to play it… illegally on an EMULATOR!” ? I did, more than once.  Whether on a NES, SNES, N64, anything! Who dishes out money for these old games when it takes minutes to find your own copies anyway?

      I can finally play the SUPER RARE Mario Bros. 2

      Whether you’re stealing money from the developer, producer or reseller, you’re stealing money from someone and putting it in your pockets for more important things, like movies and books. Anything is better than giving it away to an industry as useless as the gaming industry.

      4. Scoreless Reviews - A numbers game
      Remember that story when we learned that a lot of developers had bonuses and salaries based on aggregate review scores? How easy it is to abuse that system! You might have read my reviews before and realized I don’t give out scores. Of course, I’m not recognized on metacritic yet, but it’s only a matter of time before the gaming companies’ human resources department tremble at the reading of my reviews to find only emptiness as a score. With unhappy and unpaid employees, the downfall of the biggest developers will be imminent.

      Hey! You stole my idea!


      3. No WiiU Yet - I'm not the only one
      Have you started to witness the fall of Nintendo? No? Their sale numbers are a bit far from what they expected. What a shame… If I didn’t have anything to do with it, of course. What do these faulty predictions have to do with me? I lied to Nintendo, obviously.
      They had the balls to send me a survey and I gladly answered. “Why yes, I do plan to get a Wii U in early 2014!” OH THE LIES! HORRIBLE LIES! You heard it, I am one of the people they rectified their predictions for. I’m in the 75%!

      There are no games for it anyway.

      Now you may be wondering how that changes anything. Surely you have been coming out of an hermit’s hole if you haven’t heard all the expert analysis dooming Nintendo and their poor Wii U sales. Don’t be fooled by the fact that they caught up on the subsequent stock drop, don’t worry about the excellent 3DS and the quality of the software coming up, Nintendo will crash and burn and it will all be thanks to me.

      2. Supporting EA - Microtansactions, it's in the games

      Yes! Sweet sweet EA games!

      When I said I didn’t remember the last new game I bought, I was lying, yet again! I bought an EA game, new! Also, some Call of Duty and other loathed companies. Why am I encouraging their sale numbers? Well, they need to grow if they want to eat up the entire gaming industry!

      EA, voted The Worst Company in America, twice. Yet, it continues to be omnipresent. Thanks to evil people like me, they believe their practices are good and they make business models out of them. Other companies then adopt these practices and the evil spreads. Soon DLC, microtransactions will spread like the plague and no one will be able to escape, not even Nintendo! I see what you’re trying to hide behind that Pokémon Bank, and I love it! Don’t get me wrong though, like I said before, I sure don’t buy these microtransactions or DLC.
      1. Private Opinions - Silence is golden
      All these previous points don’t mean a thing. My ultimate weapon is the only thing I need to take down the video game industry. That weapon is my OPINION!
      How does my opinion hurt the gaming companies? It doesn’t, but keeping it hidden away does. When EA was making bad decisions on SimCity and their microtransactions, I kept silent. When the Xbox One wanted to spy on gamers, I kept silent. When Nintendo was dying because their stocks dropped by a couple of dollars, I kept silent. While all gaming companies are looking through the depths of Twitter, forums, Facebook, blogs, for the key to saving their skins, I was silent!

      See? I would've told them to hire more brunettes, but now it's too late for them!

      Without the precious analysis of all the non-economy trained gamers, these companies are destined to fail! How can they plan their budget without the fans of obscure Japanese titles that NEED to be localized? How can they develop their consoles without the crowd that is tired of Mario games but want a different Mario game? How can they strive to improve without the pressure of the Ouya loyalists? How can they keep the motivation to go on without the hardcore bashing of casual players and platforms? They can’t. Without opinions, they are hopeless companies filled with qualified employees, recognized experts and prize-winning innovations. 

      In the end, without my expert advice on who to bring in the next Smash Bros., how to improve Call of Duty and when to release Half-Life 3, they will not survive. In the end, it’s just logic. If everyone gives their two cents, they’ll make a couple of bucks.
      That’s right, I’m back!
    • Back in the Box : Thomas Was Alone (Steam)

      4 years ago

      There’s something wonderful about Thomas Was Alone. Something utterly magical, and not just about the game itself. I have completed this game minutes ago and, somehow, a sense of pride is flowing through me. Not because I had finished it, I was just proud of the era of gaming in which I live. If I want people to remember one thing about Thomas Was Alone, it’s that some developers out there are not satisfied by “just making a game”, and you have no idea how much I love that thought.

      Blocks are somewhat human too!

      You see, Thomas Was Alone, gameplay wise, is a decent game, at best. You control a bunch of quadrilateral shapes with various abilities that range from floating on water to inverted gravity, double jump and improved jumping capacities. You start at one point of a stage and face the ever-so-simple objective of reaching your goal. In this case, this goal is a custom shaped portal. As the game progresses, so will the complexity of the uses of these shapes’ abilities. In short, Puzzle Platforming at its simplest form. As far as level-design goes, nothing really stands out. There are a lot of puzzle platformers out there and Thomas Was Alone does not differentiate from the mass with its nerve-racking “doozies of a puzzle”. In fact, I found it to be on the easy side of the spectrum. Some of the levels are clever, but they do not make up the majority. Others, while using a cliché mechanic somewhat originally (e.g. the inverted gravity), become tedious because of the slow movement and the switching between characters.


      Ferrying across water is one of those slightly tedious, frequent task

      Strangely enough, with so many straight-lined shapes to control, you wonder if it affected the roundness of the difficulty curve. Until the end of the game, each “chapter” will introduce a new mechanic, but, in some places, you feel that the developer either wanted to give the player a break with an easy stage or just didn’t have much imagination left. As another example of slight inconsistency, only 2 or three stages actually use a mechanic that limits your time of action. Don’t let these flaws scare you away from the game, overall, the puzzle have enough difficulty to be rewarding and you never stop to exasperate yourself over how “cliché” some of the stages are. Not to mention, the controls are spot on.

      The platforming is pretty precise, so are the physics. Not the beautiful lighting effects.

      “Then why the praise? Why did so many people like that game? It’s just a decent puzzle-platformer.” That statement if far from the truth. It’s actually what made me feel this pride described above. Thomas Was Alone could’ve only been a puzzle-platformer. It would’ve been enough to sell some titles. However, its creator would not have been satisfied, I guess, because he created a puzzle-platformer with a story, character development, heart. Mike Bitthel created an experience. The shapes aren’t just objects, they’re “artificial intelligence” in box form, inside a simulation. They each have abilities, but they also have a personality. Each of their interactions and dialogs is brought to you by a stellar narrator in David Wallace. The dialogs are full of emotions, wit, life and, sometimes, geek culture references that do not feel forced, but natural. The premise itself evolves, taking surprisingly epic proportions.The music, while slightly electronic, sounds so organic, so natural. The rays of light and shadow effects, not only creating loneliness, but also hope. This presentation, this story is what kept me playing this game 2 nights in a row. Though it was short, I did not feel this attachment to an experience since Portal.

      This music makes these blocks sound so alive!

      If I had. for the sake of this review, to point out the flaws of the presentation of this game, I might point to the actual graphics. You can see that some improvement was made to try and add some details to this minimalist design, but there could’ve been a little more, especially in the stages themselves, which are all black. I would’ve also liked a little more closure in the ending. Some coop bonus stages would’ve been nice also.

      What an opener!

      No matter, Thomas Was Alone won’t blow your mind, but it will be remembered. It’s a decent puzzle-platformer that comes in one of the most beautiful and magical of packages. It’s proof that you can always do more, even when you work with less. It’s also renewed my interest for my own Steam games, but I guess, for now, it goes back in its virtual box… alone...
    • Tetris (NES) - Review A Great Game Day

      4 years ago

      As one of the early puzzle games, Tetris managed to put all the right pieces together to form an addictive formula. The combination of skill and quick thinking blends with the NES era of games perfectly.  That’s what most people already know, but, it is true of dozens of other puzzle titles. What’s so special about Tetris? To really get a feel of why Tetris shines, we need to clear the stage and build the phenomenon up again. 

      Such beauty

      When I go back to this version of the game, the presentation always strikes me. During gameplay, the simple metallic background leaves room for a colorful mural of puzzle pieces. With enough skill, the game will end with some well orchestrated animations to skyrocket your spirit. The music can be adjusted to your liking with three choices of catchy, but noninvasive tunes. But, as you know, it’s not just about the box, it’s also what you Putin it. 



      My theme of choice

      I don’t have to explain the gameplay of Tetris, what kind of blockhead doesn’t know about it? Though, focusing on the simplicity of the gameplay will Moscow many details really improve the experience. The marathon mode and time attack mode may seem as basic as they Commie-ven though they compliment each other so well. The “B-Type” tests your stage clearing skills by giving you an obstacle course challenge which, not only gives you a mode that is quick to play but also serves as a great practice for the marathon mode. It also introduced the gameplay that would become the main mechanic in Dr. Mario. Tsar-y, but accept it people, although the pill is hard to swallow. However, the “A-Type” survival mode can’t be considered anything other than the main event as it really hits the Marx. Giving you a sandbox on which to build your own legacy or failure. And that blank canvas will test you like no other game had tested you before.  The gameplay of Tetris might be simple, but the skills required to master really stack up. Your reflexes will get you out of some delicate situations; Your planning will help you build a tower to maximize your points or optimize the placement of the next piece; Your patience will let you wait for the right piece even through Cold War-esque tension; Your judgment and quick decision making will give you the courage to stop waiting for the perfect piece; Your confidence will prevent you from hesitation and keep you concentrated on the next piece; And, last but not least, your spatial awareness, assisted by the divisions within the blocks, will allow you to see where the piece is supposed to go before it even starts to drop.

      The blocks divided into units really help figure out where the next piece should go

      The addiction factor mainly comes from the rewarding feeling masterfully spread throughout the game. As we already discussed, Sotchi-nspiring animations really help you gage your overall performance, but there is, obviously, a lot more at stake. As with most arcade games, the player is mostly in it to break the high score. However, the score in Tetris can be one of two things: the actual number below the “score” label, mostly affected by the number of instances of multiple line clear and the line count, undeniable proof of your calm, your reflex and other survival skills. Having two ways to beat a high score ramps up the competition between friends, family and random internet people. These basic, widely spread practices only scratch the surface of the reward process. Spoils are hidden within the base mechanics themselves. As described above, the never Stalin action of Tetris consists of your biggest Russian your worst enemy. Without interrupting it, you can still assess your progress with the palette swapped activated after each 10 cleared lines. As a player, your are pulled to your objective one checkpoint at a time without any momentum break. Although, breaks themselves could be a good thing in this action packed challenge. As subtle as they are, Tetris does provide you with some small pauses when a line is cleared. Furthermore, the more lines you clean, the longer the pause. This means a big line clear will reward a slight drop in heart beat and increase in concentration efficiency. Finally, Tetris doesn’t demand perfection as any mistake can be corrected with enough patience and skill. The redemption feeling perfused in the player when clearing the holes mistakenly left in your Berlin Wall and sliding the puzzle piece just in time to adjust for a previous overturn should not be underestimated. This reward/redemption system assures that a feeling of Boris nowhere to be seen.

      In Soviet Russia, Samus plays the Cello

      From the array of skills required to master the game to the constant inflow of rewarding feelings, Tetris looks like it can do no wrong. No definition of perfect games really exists, but Tetris would certainly fall along those lines. If people want to give me crap for saying this, well Soviet.
      Don't forget to check out Review A Great Game Day for awesome reviews! And if you still have time, why not submit your own?
    • My gaming ABCs : W is for Worms World Party

      5 years ago

      Noble Team 1’s guess: Wipeout HD
      Wipeout HD, eh? No experience with that game or knowledge about it, unless it’s really one of the sequels of a gamer I tried in the old arcade days. I’m really not much of a racing game fan, even if you were to mix Star Wars Episode 1 Racer with F-Zero. Better luck next time Mr. Noble Team!
      Megasilver X1’s guess: Wiz ‘n’ Liz
      This looks like such a crazy game… I had never heard of it before, but it looks… special? I didn’t have the time to try it and I feel like I can’t do it justice unless I do. Seems like a fast-paced puzzle platformer… It looks to have pretty good controls for such a fast gameplay. I do trust MegaSilverX1’s taste in gaming though. If I find it cheap, I’ll definitely get it.
      FreDDaN1’s guess: Wizards and Warriors
      FreDDaN1 and I actually chatted about Wizards and Warriors before. Like many other people, the first thing mentioned is the soundtrack. I have to admit, it’s pretty awesome, especially for an NES game. As far as the gameplay goes, I haven’t tried it for cause of lack of time (and actual cartridge). It looks like your typical NES action platformer, but, having heard so many good things about it, I’m sure it’s great. I will definitely try it out.
      LightningandIce’s guess : Wario Land
      Wario Land, again? No, I’m not picking this game. Not only did I complete a whole review of it, but I can’t really talk about it franchise-wide, having only played/owned the first game. I would put in a few lines to recommend it, but, like I said, I wrote a full review. Are you guys even listening?
      vinicius fatality’s guess : WCW vs NWO: Revenge
      I don’t know why I forgot about wrestling games for letter W. I can’t say I’m a fan of wrestling, but I can say I do enjoy wrestling games. There’s just something awesome about turning a fake battle into a real virtual one. However, I don’t have many experience with this one. I started enjoying them more when you could create a wrestler. Can’t deny its popularity, though.
      Queldroma’s guess : Wii Sports
      How could we not mention Wii Sports? I was begging for someone to mention it after deciding to go with something else. Wii Sports probably has the highest ratio of people who played vs play time. You probably know of my opinion. The Wii and Wii Sports brought gaming to the very large masses and built the expectations that gaming companies have today. That might be a good or bad thing, but for now, let’s just say that it took a while before we had a good simple motion detection game after Wii Sports. I was a big fan of Baseball for a long time, until I got Guitar Hero actually. 
      I probably mentioned before that I never really had a good PC multiple times. Fortunately, one of my sister’s ex always managed to lend me some old PC games to play. One of these games was Worms World Party and boy was I happy to see it. It’s hard to describe what kind of game the Worms series is. It’s a cross between real-time strategy games and chess? It’s a non-tile based strategy RPG? It’s the spiritual successor to Gorillas? That might not be too far from the truth since research has led me to the artillery genre of strategy games.

      Practically the same!

      On a single terrain, usually surrounded by water, you take turns against your opponents trying to eliminate members of their worm armies. You control your own team of worms and must use multiple weapons to either throw them in water to deplete their HP. The actual artillery is where the fun really begins. Not only do you have access to heavy weaponry such as bazookas, homing missiles, air strikes, grenades and flamethrowers, but you also pack a bag of zany items with devastating power. There’s a Holy Grenade and another overpowered grenade in the form of a banana. Sheeps, skunks, pigeons, old ladies and cows also provide some impressive explosive powers. If you need some mobility, the homing super sheep or the exploding letters delivery might be your weapons of choice.

      It's on like Donkey Bomb!

      Another interesting feature of the game is the various soundbites your soldiers can have. While making a team, you can customize a lot of details including weaponry, grave symbol, flag, victory fanfare, but most importantly, voices. Whether you want to give your little worms sultry voices or hilariously cliched Scottish accents is up to you, but they will most certainly make you chuckle once in a while. In fact, this reminds me of an assignment for school where we had to film an add some effects throughout. Since we didn’t want anything to do with voice acting, we used Worms’ sound effects for the whole thing. Needless to say, it was a hit.

      By the GODS!

      Worms isn’t a complicated concept. It follows the eternal philosophy of easy to learn and hard to master. Each basic weapon is easy to use, but only an experienced player will ninja rope his way to the other end of the stage to shove a wind-controlled bazooka missile down your throat. The intricate mechanics will keep you playing, but the sheer craziness of the game will draw you in at first. In a world where Angry Birds is king, we don’t have to look too far for other examples of this approach. In fact, Worms World Party emanated such charm that it might be the only game my elder sister spent time playing with me and, yes, alone. She was a puzzle game fan, old point and click Sherlock Holmes style investigation games. The tutorials, in the form of skill-induced puzzles probably resonated with her. Don’t get me wrong, she was far from obsessed, but, to me, this shows the potential of a game like Worms and how great it would be on an iOS or Android platform.

      Wait... it does exist!

      I, however, was obsessed with it. After all, it was one of my only PC game. I would dare say that, safe from Super Mario Kart, Worms World Party was probably the game I practiced the most. As I mentioned before, the mission based tutorial really convinced me to hone my skills. The single player mode and its perfectly curved difficulty couldn’t have hurt either. However skilled I had become at hide and seek and wind propelled projectiles, I couldn’t have really tested my skills until much much later…

      It all went downhill from there.

      The time was 8 o’clock. The year was 2010. Everything else is a little hazy, it was my college (university) years after all… We were in the process of judiciously using school computers when the Worms installation completed… It was time, after three years, I had the chance to test my skills against an equally procrastinating opponent. Starting first, I had the upper hand, swiftly setting the tone with a Zero Gravity enhanced baseball bat to the face, but I quickly realized that would only scratch the surface of his army… One after one, my wormy soldiers fell victim to the ninja-like movements of their opponents and their infinite ropes… It was a bloodshed. And that’s when I stopped trying to be good at games. 

      Stupid portable ninja equipment!

      I’d blame the fact that it was Worms Armageddon instead of Worms World Party, but I couldn’t differentiate the two even if my life depended on it. I’d probably have an easier time trying to identify Call of Duty games. HA! Call of Duty joke, these never get old…
      So, how about you guys, any experience with Worms? If not, do you have any guess for letter “X”? Only three more to go!
    • Back in the Box : Final Fantasy IV Complete Collection (PSP)

      5 years ago

      I was honest when I said I was out of breath. Not because my breath was figuratively taken away by the game, but because I’m absolutely exhausted by this game. As you may know, Final Fantasy IV : Complete Collection for the PSP brings us a revamped version of the original Final Fantasy IV and the upgraded After Years collection introduced a couple of years before as an episodic tale game on both mobile devices and WiiWare. To close the gap between the story of the two, an exclusive Interlude is also included. 

      Easy there with the big words. I wouldn't call After Years a classic just yet.

      The revamped original Final Fantasy IV remains true to the original while bringing some things it had been missing all these years. The sprites have been updated and now surpass the quality of FFVI sprites on the Super Nintendo. The entire soundtrack was arranged, but, if you’re feeling nostalgic, you have the option to play the game with its original music. The translation was mostly fixed, but the team deliberately left out some classic misinterpretation such as the famous “You spoony bard!”. Fortunately for us, this helps understand and, in some occasions, even pace the story to its full potential. As for the gameplay, it’s been adapted to the content of the original Japanese version, or so I’m told. This includes a special dark wave attack for the Dark Knight Cecil, other abilities for certain characters and attack items. As for new features, the game presents an auto-battle mode which makes the combat go faster but prevents you from choosing actions. Unfortunately, it’s easy to use and the increase in speed is so beneficial that the player will be tempted to be overleveled and beat most of the game with regular attacks on auto-mode. The game also features challenge dungeons which can be accessed to add further replayability. Along with this addition, you also have the choice to change party members before attacking the final dungeon. Why would anyone want to substitute someone to one of the most balanced and well-built team in Final Fantasy history? Beats me, but the option is there. I don’t want to spend too much time here because I don’t need to fully review what is essentially a 20 year old game (this time), but I will say this is the definitive version of FF4 in my opinion. It corrects a lot of annoying features held back by hardware and keeps just enough art and appearance to give it a nostalgic touch. However, I do not like the Dark Knight and Dragoon walking animations. Small complaint, but I had to throw it out there.

      Apart from that, the improved graphics and animations are pretty impressive.

      As for the interlude, one could say it did what it came to do. You needed a story patch between the original and the After Years, I won’t argue that, but the whole section feels kind of useless. I’m not against the sequence, but losing all stats and levels when reusing the same characters remains frustrating. Then again, if you were to keep all stats and items, the combat would be too easy. In the end, all I’m saying is that a bigger cutscene would’ve been enough. Since the Interlude acts as a 4 hour long break between the two, it’s not really worth a lot of attention. I doubt someone could warrant a second playthrough of it.

      One of the four screens that could sum up the interlude

      The idea behind this review was to tackle After Years, so let’s get to it! Final Fantasy IV : The After Years follows the story of Final Fantasy IV characters around 16 to 18 years (I don’t remember exactly) after the events of the first game. To be blunt, the second moon returns and trouble starts anew on the Blue Planet. You start off following the story of Ceodore, Rosa and Cecil’s son, during his training as a Red Wings soldier. The first section acts as a tutorial and will teach you the new features of Bands and Moon Phases. Bands are techniques executed by multiple party members, just like Chrono Trigger’s Double and Triple techniques. They are quite powerful and need to be unlocked to be used. It’s a nice addition to the game however tedious they may be to use. I have to admit I didn’t use them much in the long run, but it was nice to see these attacks once in awhile. As for the Moon Phases, they basically represent how the moon affects the world. Each phases will power-up one type of action and weaken another. For example, a Full Moon will increase the efficiency of Black Magic but lower the strength of your physical attacks. There are four Moon Phases in all affecting White Magic, Black Magic, Attack and Special Skills and these phases change either over time or as you rest in an inn, tent or cottage. These Moon Phases will also impact the enemy, hence the strategy within them. At first, I admit the mechanic seems impressive. You start trying to manipulate it as best as you can, but down the line, you’ll just buy more tents and sleep until the moon is in the right phase for the team you built.

      Here, attacks are stronger and abilities weaker (Waning Moon)

      Once the opening chapter of Ceodore is done, you will get to choose between many chapters of famous FFIV characters such as Porom, Palom, Edward, Yang, etc. This mimics the split-party techniques of FFVI somewhat and greatly improves the storytelling and character development. i don’t want to spoil too much of the early story since it’s really the best part of this collection. A lot of characters are very well developed and most if not all new characters really add to the story and are genuinely interesting. I can’t really praise all chapters gameplay wise since the teams are sometimes horribly balanced, other times pretty enjoyable. To try and improve the distribution, your ranks are often filled with generic monks or mages. It ends up being a subpar gameplay experience that falls in what will be called the “why didn’t they put someone fun with Edward” corollary. Additionally, as you move from story to story, the character starting levels are usually equivalent, which means the game does little effort bringing variety in spells, strategies and even enemies faced. Furthermore, more than half of the dungeons are the same as in the original installment. This sometimes brings the negative effect of remembering a secret passage and finding only a Hi-Potion at the end of the detour. Since you start at low levels, the progression is quick and you can usually destroy enemies with little thinking, hence the overuse of the auto-mode. Still, the FFIV mechanic and classic monsters and dungeons are back which brings a satisfying feeling and, coupled with the great character development of many unlikely heroes, you will not get bored safe from a couple of stories. (LOOKING AT YOU EDWARD!)

      Palom on the left, Porom on the right. These kids grew up fast!

      Each of these chapters give you access to a challenge dungeon that can be raided for additional treasure and experience. Furthermore, some specific conditions have to be filled for some characters to actually join the party. A sense of reward and replay value is certainly present. To entice the completion of these two features, you will be informed that these save games can be imported in the main story. Once you finish all chapters, you will start the end section of the game which begins with Edge, Rydia, Luca (King Giott’s daughter and official Cid clone) and a mysterious Man in Black. This will be the only part of the game where you have access to an airship. This airship will allow you to travel the world in search of the Eidolons, lost by Rydia. Along the way, you will; save most nations and rescue all playable characters in the meantime. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to play as them as they are all resting. This, of course, causes the 4 characters you are using to be overpowered by the end of the chapter. Not wanting to spoil too much, but you will rescue a very important character that will be only an emotionless and paralyzed shell of himself. No, not Cloud. Well, this reminds me, there is also a giant object from the sky threatening your world. Woo! FFVII references and we’re not done yet! In the end, this section is the best part of the game. It’s just too bad that you can’t use the characters you want in there. 

      Facing off against former allies is pretty intense.

      Once completed, you will leave for the moon on the Lunar Whale and will THEN have access to every character available in the game (if you reached the conditions for some optional characters). Around that time you’ll fall victim to the “OH GOD WHO DO I CHOOSE?” syndrome. Unfortunately, the closest monsters out are way too powerful and give very little EXP points which doesn’t help bringing weaker characters to the level of your stronger ones. As for me, I ended up using the strongest characters, mimicking the team from the original version with some minor tweaks. Starting at that point, you will only see a few dialog section without really developing any story. In fact, even the characters will keep repeating the same sentences and won’t ever reveal or show any evolution anymore. Considering you will spend the next 20 or so hours going down a dungeon and battling bosses every few levels, the flow of the game kind of slows down to a dangerous pace. With every boss you battle, the current characters will spurt out a one-line dialog. No two characters will say related lines and, in the end, these lines are forgettable when not downright idiotic or useless. 

      One of these "important" cutscenes

      Most of the bosses will be stronger version of encounters you had in the original version of FFIV, but the later ones are straight out taken from other Final Fantasy games (Gilgamesh, Ultros, Doom Train, Atomos, etc.). Truth be told, this dungeon crawling with boss rush mode is exactly that I refer too when I say I’m exhausted. You have to travel 45 floors of a Lunar Subterrane and battle bosses that end up all requiring a variant of the same strategy. I would say the developers got lazy and botched the ending, but there is so much detail in the music and the design of the later levels that I can’t really justify that thought. After having the possibility to explore the whole world, an overly linear passage feels pretty anticlimactic. Around the end, you’ll be drowning in money, occasionally going back to the shop to buy 99 X-Potions and 99 Cottages. You’ll find great equipment for everyone, but no shops will allow you to boost every character. In the end, you’ll just switch out equipment 10 times while going down the dungeon. The final battle, against a winged angel-like deity with multiple forms on a sort of tower (Hmmm… Familiar),  of this section as well as the whole plot fail to impress. The references to other Final Fantasy titles could be better, notably the absence of a different music during the referenced boss battles. (Even Mario RPG did it, it’s not that hard). However, with the incapacitated protagonist, giant object going toward the world (FFVII), the multi-party protagonist (FFVI), the bands (Chrono Trigger) are usually obvious winks.

      Look who it is! *wink wink* *nudge nudge*

      Don’t get me wrong, the game isn’t bad at all and is worth playing if you’re a Final Fantasy IV fan, but if you’re not, stay away from it. Even veterans like me may find the game to be quite boring towards the end. I still recommend it as it is the definitive FFIV version.

      They kept the best part of the game.

      Second Thought
      Since it’s not 2AM anymore, I felt I could give some additional insight on the game. Again, the experience was fun, for a while. I don’t regret playing the game and neither should most Final Fantasy IV. I just feel it could’ve been better. The references are irrelevant and too frequent to be considered fun easter eggs. You end up with too many characters to choose from with many being somewhat similar a.k.a the Chrono Cross Syndrome. The Band system and the Moon Phases are two interesting ideas, but I wouldn’t call them features. More time could’ve been spent on fixing other FFIV weaknesses such as the lack of stats shown when equipping a weapon. It’s better than the SNES version, but I still have to check my entire status after equipping a weapon.
      That being said, they did enough to make the game feel fresh and with the amount of challenge dungeons available and optional bosses, there is plenty of replay value for people who enjoy these kind of challenges and a completionist mentality. Maybe I’m just not one of them. One thing is certain, if I feel the need to play FFIV again, this game will come to mind immediately.
    • Back in the Box : Jeanne d'Arc (PSP)

      5 years ago


      Man, I would sound so cultured if it wasn’t for the fact that I speak French every day. In any case, Jeanne d’Arc is a tactical role-playing game released in 2007 on the PSP by the acclaimed developer Level-5. For those who don’t know, Joan of Arc, the Maiden of Orléans, led the French to many victories in their century long conflict with England. She was supposedly led by the voice of God himself, which helped her greatly in raising the troops’ morale.

      The game follows the historical beliefs and events and expands upon them. Away from her village, she finds a dead knight followed by a “magical” frog. After an unexpected flash of light, she finds herself with the Knights armlet which speaks to her. Coming back to her destroyed village, attacked by the English during her absence, she sets out to join the army with her two friends, Liane and Roger. The story is undoubtedly the strongest point in the game. The masterful way the armlets and mystical beings are merged with the actual historical events is no less than extraordinary, even though that is expected from a developer like Level-5.

      The animated cutscenes really help set the tone for this great piece of story telling

      Anime cutscenes enhance the storytelling and, although the chibi-like sprites outside of these animated sequences fail to convey the same level of emotions, it never feels too forced or far fetched. Not to spoil anything, but the young king of England as the main villain and the actual burning of “Jeanne” on the stake are absolutely amazing moments. The main villains are almost cartoony considering the mix of evilness and dementia that guides them. I'd compare them to Kefka, from FFVI. The French accents of the characters in the cutscenes, although annoying at first, were quite charming by the end of the game. Keep in mind I was hoping they would speak French the whole time, so you’ll probably enjoy the somewhat twisted English more than I did.

      When it's not animated, it just looks too cartoonish.

      The main characters and antagonists are well-developed and interesting. Over the short course of the game, they will mature and struggle, keeping them engaging. Their personalities will surely sway your decision when the time comes to build your team. Then, if you're like me, you will live frustration over frustration upon repeatedly losing the strongest characters in your party. Even if none of these “desertions” feel out of context, one can always experience some justified hatred when one of your favorite characters is replaced by a frog with a sword in its mouth... Oh, and other, less important, characters could go die in a fire for all I care...

      Oh wait...

      Overall, the presentation of the game is nice. The settings seem to correspond to the era the game is set in and they are well-detailed for a game of this genre. The music follows somewhat of a “casualized” medieval feel. It’s quite good at some moments, but nothing more than forgettable in the end. The sound effects could use a little more variety, although it’s a very minor complaint.

      The villains look... well... villainous

      The gameplay of Jeanne d’Arc inspires itself from various games of the genre. You can definitely recognize the gameplay as more of a Fire Emblem style, but using the settings and level-design of the Final Fantasy Tactics franchise. At one point in the game, I was surprised to see a stage cloned directly from Zirekile Falls.

      Wait! Delita! Oops... wrong game.

      Basically, your characters can equip a weapon, armor and shield (for some) and use a limited number of skills. With the number of slots available you have to balance the number of command, magic and passive skills you equip on them. Some commands and passive abilities need to correspond to the weapon the character is using. That weapon type cannot change as it represents its class. Every command and magic skill utilizes magic points. At the beginning of a battle, you have no MP, but as the battle progresses, it charges up. This encourages you to conserve MP until the time to use magic is optimal.

      The same MP mechanic applies to enemies. Eliminating mages should be a priority

      However, that is not the only mechanic that emphasizes patience and strategy. Some characters will wield an armlet, that, after a few turns (3 to 5) will allow you to transform into a fully plated version of your character for three rounds. You receive a new ability, a stat boost and if you kill an enemy, you obtain a bonus action. While this makes for an interesting feature, it often boils down the combat to weakening all enemies and letting an armlet wielder finish three or four in the same turn. As finishing off an enemy gives additional experience points, you will see your armlet wielders be a lot higher in levels than the rest of your crew.

      Medieval Sailor Jeanne!

      As for the battles themselves, your army alternates turns with the opposite army moving around a grid-base battlefield, just like Fire Emblem. There is even a rock-paper-scissors system with three main magical elements. Some magic spells have these elements as proprieties or you can equip them as a skill stone on a character. My advice, however, is to simply use that RPS system when casting magic. Don’t waste a skill slot for this. Another interesting mechanic is the increase in defense when you bundle your group together. Also, if you attack an enemy, a burning symbol will appear behind it. Attack from that symbol and you will have a considerate attack increase. A lot of battle settings are in towns or other reclused maps. The placement of your characters therefore gains a lot of strategic value. Considering that grinding is a pain as money and experience are rather rare, strategy and planning will be valuable allies. Unfortunately, the horridly dumb AI practically renders all these strategic decisions useless. Some of the battles have specific objectives that range from kill the boss, to kill all enemies, to successfully escape. All this allows for a varied and rich experience. At the battle’s end, every character, even those who didn’t fight, will receive a base number of exp. Lesser used players will therefore never really be ignored stat-wise.

      The grid and turned-based combat expected from this genre

      Outside of battle, you can move around on a map either searching for a stage to battle and grind in or the next town to shop from the menu screen. You can save anytime and also combine some skills stones to forge new skills for the characters.This customization is welcome as, even if the number of possible skills is impressive, the same cannot be said of the equipment in the game. For a game of that length, you should have more than 6 models of the same weapon. There is some post-game content however limited it is. Some sidequests are also available, but they boil down to a couple of optional battles that give you overly strong equipment too soon. The variety of enemies is acceptable, but limited.

      A Final Fantasy Tactics style point to point map.

      In short, Jeanne d’Arc is a well-orchestrated story with excellent gameplay. Its strengths by far outshine the few and specific flaws I could express. However, once you finish the game once, you probably won’t feel as compelled to continue on or play another time compared to other franchises such as Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem. It’s really fun while it lasts and for the price you’ll pay, it’s worth every penny. It’s a relatively short game, but just long enough for a handheld title. Just don’t expect the game to revolutionize the genre despite its great ideas. For now, this game goes back in the box... Although I might finish the few post-game features beforehand.



      Edit/PSA: The term frog is used a lot by the English to describe the French. Don't use that word, it's insulting to French-speaking people.

    • My Gaming ABC's : Q is for Qix

      5 years ago

      LightningandIce and gameguy’s guess : Q*Bert

      I don’t like Q*Bert. I mean I &%?$&#* hate it. See what I did there? Alright, maybe not that much, but I don’t enjoy it and never had. Of all the gaming arcade classics you can name, it’s definitely my least favorite. Having said that, I guess I need to supply a reason. It just doesn’t grab my attention… I’m supposed to like puzzle games, but I just can’t be drawn in by a blob hoping on weird steps. There’s not enough action and nothing visually entertaining apart from the pretty good isometric 3D view. In short, meh.

      CaztheGamerGuy’s guess : Quake
      FreDDaN1’s guess: Quake 2

      Ah Quake, my original choice. I have very limited experience with Quake, but since it does have its own con, I figured I had to play a bit of it. Although I did play when I was young, failing to understand this “deep” Doom clone properly. I mean, it had different mechanics and it was slightly more difficult. It had pretty good graphics for the time and therefore could not run on my PC. I did play an N64 version when I started retro-collecting and hated it. But, in the end, I like these old PC shooters. Not enough to actually finish them, but I like them nonetheless.
      Shrapnel Leader’s guess : Quantum Break

      Hmmm…. A suggestion of an unreleased game, interesting. I only had a couple of trailers to build an opinion here, but I am careful with trailers these days. They’re like action movies, they all look good but I’m often disappointed. Quantum Break seems to be applying quite a lot of time manipulation, but will it be integrated to the gameplay properly or is it more of a plot device? Time will tell, but if you’re looking for a good opinion on a modern game, I’m not your guy.
      Combat Blues’ guess : Quest for Glory

      Seriously, there’s a huge problem in the gaming industry, an ENORMOUS problem. Forget microtransactions, DLC and always on: WE NEED MORE GAMES THAT START WITH QUEST! Do you have any idea how hard it was for me to choose a game this week? I mean, how hard is it to name a game “Quest” of or “Quest for”? But noooooooooo! They all have to be Space Quest, King’s Quest, Paladin’s Quest….. 
      Anyway, thanks to Combat Blues, we do have a Quest game probably worth more attention than the horrible Quest 64. So let’s take a look at that….. wait a minute…. I played this before! Yes! That was a while back though… My sister had a boyfriend who was really into RPGs, he actually showed me a lot of them including Final Fantasy VII and Lunar. I think one day he dug a bit and found this game to lend me on my PC. This was back in the days where the only compatible sound options for that game were the horrible beeps of my PC speakers. To make matters worse, this game is pretty complicated for a 9 year-old with no knowledge of English… Nonetheless, this game spawned my curiosity of PC games and led me to eventually play a couple of RPGs on the PC such as Diablo and Guild Wars. Being a Sierra game helped since I already played a couple of Sierra adventure games including Torin’s Passage. Happy this made the suggestion list, go pick it up to try it on GOG.com!
      NobleTeam 1’s guess : Quantum Conundrum

      Well, this game seems interesting. A game with the same feel as Portal? Don’t mind if I do. From what I’ve seen, I need to get that game. I am a sucker for puzzle games and British dialog humor. Controlling dimensions with a glove is a simple concept, but, like portal, switching it into a first person perspective really gives the push to take it out of the Flash games feeling. It’s on my Steam wishlist and I’m looking forward to try it.
      Megasilver X1’s guess : Quackshot

      How could you not like a game named Quackshot? Just the name itself is amazing! However, I never played it. I see it’s on the Genesis and the first playthrough video I’ve seen reminded me how awful the Genesis’ music can sound when you try not to keep in mind its limitation while composing. If you just make music then put in on the Genesis, it will sound awful and that seems to be the case with the music in this game. However, the Genesis had great graphics and sprites and this shows. Ultimately, this does seem to be a pretty good platformer along the lines of the Mickey Mouse games. Also, Donald Duck as a protagonist is a genius idea. I’ll have to be on the lookout for that one.
      I’m really digging deep for the Q letter. So few games starting with that letter so I had to collect my memory and get something really out of the ordinary. Of course, I’m a puzzle game fan, but that’s not why I chose Qix. I chose Qix because of this:

      Why yes, that is the clearest picture I could find.

      Most of you probably don’t know what it is. That awfully 90’s interface was called a Vidéoway. It was basically an old television provider terminal. Of course, along with some very limited functions, it also included games.

      See? the games were in section.... hum.... 2?

      Which brings me to that weird phenomenon for many gamers like myself: Why do we play games on every freaking platform we can find no matter how horrible they are? I didn’t have one of these little boxes, but a friend of mine did. When I was at their place, all I wanted to do was try some games for it. There was chess, mini-golf (called mini-putt around here) with the official rules no one understood and a lot of other board, card and arcade games. The graphics were reminiscent of old DOS style PC games and, of course, the remote was the controller. Of course, controller remotes being amongst the worst ideas for a controller in the history of gaming. But there I was, still trying to play those horrible games. Of course, Qix (called Stix) and the Brick Break clone kept me coming back. Oh and California Games, my friend had it on her computer for some reason. Well, I think it was California Games… It did start a small Hacky Sack trend in my youth. My record is 3 hits in a row! :D I know, I suck.

      Sooooo early 90's!

      In any case, Qix is a fun puzzle game. It reminds me of an old JezzBall. You simply have to draw a line. When you close it, it forms a zone. Cover 75% of the field with these zones and you move on to the next stage. Your enemies? A bar… group… of lines…. thingy… moving all around the place, some sparks moving along the lines you create and a fuse that runs after you on the lines you create. 

      In fact, this is a good little summary screen.

      It makes for a fast-paced, action packed puzzle game along the lines of Tetris. The injection of the random factor allows the game to hug the unfair difficulty line but always brings the failure back to the player’s own fault. After all the controls are spot on and you make all the decisions. In short, you are your biggest enemy. It’s simple, it’s fun, it’s a great casual game on a casual platform. A horrible casual platform, but still. I didn’t have it, so I had to play it. What better way to pass the time than a quick, simple, arcade style puzzle game? Not much else to say about this… I guess “Q” can also stand for quick…

      Wasn't the original version, but it was my version!

      You know what? This makes for a great opportunity to let you in on the letter “S” in advance. With all the “Super” games and other great titles, I just can’t limit my choice to one game so I want YOU to tell me about your personal picks for letter “S”. Just write a little text in format similar to what I’ve been doing for My Gaming ABC’s series and I’ll post it along with my own choice of game! Try to keep it around 500 words or less, I wouldn’t want the blog to be too heavy. You can PM me your choice and text on the Screwattack account or let me know on twitter @Bigjoe91 and I’ll DM you my email. I will edit the text and add in some images if none are present, but don’t hesitate to include your own image links! I’m eager to read your stuff too!

      Some of my potential picks. What about you?


      In the meantime, I’ll still need your “R” letter suggestions. Go ahead and comment!
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