Over the years I’ve been working to keep up with what’s hot in gaming. Even if it’s not a game I’m too excited about, I try to get an idea of what people dig about it. I struggle to find something that excites me not only on first impression, but also after 10 hours into it. My game of the year is undoubtedly Bloodborne for PlayStation 4, which singlehandedly sold the system for me, but it’s rare for me to find something that resonates with me so well.

For the most part I’ve been gravitating towards Nintendo’s games. These tend to be well designed and easy to jump in and jump out, without lengthy tutorials. You don’t have to put in heavy work to get some joy out of it. The multiplayer gameplay is also brings me back to Nintendo’s games, since it seems like the entire game industry outside of Nintendo has forgotten why game systems have multiple controllers. More often these days, I find myself gravitating towards older games.

My main game of the moment is Final Fantasy VII.

bryson_ff7
These fun moments make me smile.

I played through this game when it released. I was 13 years old. After playing Chrono Trigger and Super Mario RPG, I was hooked on RPGs. I couldn’t get enough RPGs and this was by far my most anticipated game. And what do you know? It actually exceeded my expectations. I long considered this my favorite game of all time. This fact was definite until I played through Xenogears and Ico. Then, it became a toss-up. Over the years I’ve dabbled in emulated versions of FF7 but never replaying it more than the first 8 or so hours, which the first arc of the story within Midgar. It took me about 60 hours to beat it the first time, so it’s a relatively small chunk of the game. Continue Reading…

I started playing through Earthbound to see what it was about. There was a great little article on the original that never made it stateside in issue 5 of GameSpite Quarterly, the NES 25th anniversary issue. Just another reminder that I needed to play through this game! The only time I played it was back in 1998 on a SNES emulator, which barely ran on my 200Mhz Pentium 1 computer. Today, I’m running a much more developed version of that same Snes9x emulator, with a much better dual core processor and USB controller. No reason not to keep playing!

The first time I played, I only made it through the intro and a little farther after that. This time, I discovered why. Once the game opened up to the first town, it became a puzzle to determine what to do next. Back then, it was too frustrating with the choppy framerate of my slow computer. Now, I took the time to figure out what the game is about.

The gameplay of Earthbound is pretty much your typical Japanese RPG — think Dragon Warrior or Pok√©mon. You wander around locations and encounter random battles when you bump into enemies, similar to Chrono Trigger. You can obtain an advantage if you encounter the enemy from behind — and you start the battle at a disadvantage if they get you from behind. The battles are of simple menu driven variety. No cluttered menus and overly complex sub-systems.

What separates the game from everything I’ve mentioned is definitely the scenarios and dialogue. The scenarios are pretty random and wacky from what I’ve seen — from fighting thugs at their arcade hideout to fighting police. The dialogue is always on the side of humor and satire. It’s just goofy and funny! Makes me smile simply by reading it, wondering what was going on in the Nintendo translators’ heads in 1995. They did a great job! In addition to the writing, the game starts off with allowing you to answer questions from the NPCs early on. This will usually affect how they respond. But sometimes your answer affects your progress through the scenario. For instance, you may have to answer with the alternate response for something to happen. I got stuck at a part like that.

The music is great as well. I was like “right on” when they played a little reggae track when you enter a house. Great attention to detail with the tunes, it seems like they even sampled songs for many of them.

What I love about the game is that even though it’s so simple, it’s apparent that a lot of love went into it. I love that it’s not afraid to poke fun at it being a game. I even feel like if you took a lot of the gameplay out of it — like removing the battle system — it’d still be an enjoyable experience because of the definite world it creates for itself. Playing, I feel like I just gotta see what happens next.

Till next time…

-Bryson

Suggested Reading

Books are the most rich source of information and inspiration that game players don’t use. If you’re looking for some new resources, you may be interested in a short list that I’ve compiled. Each one is worth its own review and maybe someday I’ll do just that.

These books are guaranteed to give players a greater appreciation of their games and help developers make better ones. Continue Reading…

Faxanadu might be one of the best games you’ll never play.

  • Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Developer: Falcom
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Release: November 16th, 1989

“I’ve been on a long journey. I came back to my home town to
find it is almost deserted. The gate is closed, people are gone, and
the walls are crumbling. I wonder what happened?”

You’re a worn warrior returning to your home of Eolis, a village just outside of the World Tree. You have nothing but the ragged clothes on your back. You discover that the home you return to is not how you remember it. The lakes have dried up and it has become a monster-infested wasteland.

Sounds like the beginning of a grand adventure to me.

Continue Reading…

Advance Guardian Heroes Box

I was excited when this game was announced. A sequel to one of my favorite games. Treasure LogoAnd Treasure never makes sequels. If you’re not familiar with the work of Treasure, I wrote some impressions on their title Radiant Silvergun a few weeks ago.

Unfortunately this wasn’t the kind of sequel I was expecting. This game retains many of the fundamental qualities that made the first one so great but it’s missing something. Soul. And that’s ironic because the ridiculous storyline in the game revolves around your character being possessed by the souls of the heroes from the first game.

Continue Reading…

Radiant Silverbox

I was reading a GameSetWatch post about an interview with the Panzer Dragoon creator and I thought to myself, “Shit, I still haven’t managed to play Panzer Dragoon Saga yet!” If you’re not familiar with the game, it was the last installment of the series on the Sega Saturn, a 4-disc epic RPG. It’s regarded as one of the greatest RPGs but the catch is that it was released in extremely limited quantities in North America. I’ve heard rumors of something like only 25,000 copies were created since it was the end of Saturn’s life-cycle. Copies run for about $120 to this day.

Treasure Logo So I went to find out if it was emulated yet. I managed to find a torrent of not only Panzer Dragoon Saga but Radiant Silvergun as well. Regarded as one of the best shooters ever but never released stateside. The game was created by Treasure. I became a Treasure whore solely because of Guardian Heroes but I never imagined what could be so great about a shooter game. Copies of this game sell for up to $200. I finally understand what the hype was about. This is an amazing game.

Radiant Screen 2

Continue Reading…