I've been gaming since I was 3 years old. My first video game was Mortal Kombat for the Sega Genesis back in 1993 and my first gaming console was a Sega Genesis. I've been a gamer ever since! I'm currently a nurse and have two wonderful boys who are also gamers! Gotta keep the cycle going! I write reviews on my own gaming site which has been active since 2009. I do it for fun and get out my thoughts.
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GOTY '22

Participated in the 2022 Game of the Year Event


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Busy Day

Journaled 5+ games in a single day

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Recently Played See More

Trover Saves the Universe
Trover Saves the Universe

Jul 31


Jul 29

Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery
Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery

Jul 28


Jul 26

Aperture Desk Job
Aperture Desk Job

Jul 14

Recently Reviewed See More

I honestly don't know where to begin. Bravely Default was one of the most anticipated JRPGs in years. I remember everyone playing the demo and progress would carry across into the main game. It's good at luring you into a false sense of familiarity. You might think this is a typical JRPG with the only need to balance physical and magical attacks. There are over a dozen jobs in this game and they are crucial to getting through the many, and I mean many, dozens of bosses. Bravely Default is mostly a boss rush game with a few dungeons put in between to level you up.
The game starts out like any other typical JRPG. You have to solve a worldwide calamity, you are in a small town, you can visit shops, and you learn the ropes of the game. The main bulk of combat lies in Braving and Defaulting which allows you to borrow or save up turns. This is the key strategy this entire game and it takes trial and error to really learn when to do each of these during boss fights. You can bank up to three turns or borrow up to three. If you borrow turns in the negative you forfeit that many turns moving forward. This is great if you're powerful and want to get the battle over with or need to heal everyone fast. In combination with the right jobs and equipment, you can overpower many foes. Half of the jobs are locked away behind optional "asterisk" bosses while some are acquired during the story. The jobs are well balanced ranging between offensive and defensive types with supporting roles as well. The downside to this many jobs is the trial and error of knowing what jobs are best against what bosses. There are 14 levels per job and they don't level up super fast. You learn more job abilities as you level up as well.
It's important to balance your party. You don't want all offensive characters with none supporting you unless you're insanely powerful. The goal of the first third of the game is to awaken four elemental crystals with four guardians you have to beat to get to them. These dungeons are full of red chests with items and equipment, but some dungeons and areas have locked blue chests which can't be accessed until toward the end of the game. They contain some of the best equipment. There are save points usually before each major boss, and you can visit many towns to rest, and buy magic, armor, weapons, accessories, and items. The game consists of a large map that slowly opens up to you and eventually, you get a ship that can travel the entire map.
Now, I have to address the infamous final third act. These are chapters 5-8. Without spoiling anything you have to endure these chapters to see the true ending. You can skip this repetitive nightmare by breaking a crystal (I don't want to spoil more) and ending the game there. I sucked it up and endured cleansing the same crystals 20 times (literally 20) to see this ending. This is one of those things that makes me really have JRPGs. We could have just gotten a cutscene explaining what happens during these acts instead of literally repeating the same dungeons and bosses 20 freaking times. It was insanely boring and I wound up listening to music to distract me from the frustration. A lot of gamers will most likely just quit the game here or end it early with a false ending.
On top of these repetitive chapters, you can also repeat the optional "asterisk" bosses multiple times to level up your jobs. If you missed these asterisks during the first four chapters you can get these jobs later on, but the bosses are leveled to you. The benefit of getting them as they come up early on is you can level past them and make the fights easier. If you already have all the jobs you can just use these bosses to grind XP. There are some options to ease the burden a bit which helped a lot. You can actually turn random battles off or increase them. This is great for exploring a dungeon fully and then leveling up near a save or near the entrance. I really loved this feature and used it a lot. You can also reduce the difficulty down to easy any time or increase it. These options help push JRPGs into a more modern feeling and setting.
With all of that said the graphics are pretty and the music is great if repetitive. The same world map and dungeon songs will repeat a lot, but they aren't bad songs. The English voice acting is horrendous so I suggest the Japanese audio, and the story, while it does have a nice twist in the third act, isn't worth the extra dozen or so hours it will take to get through that third act to get the true ending. It's awful, boring, frustrating, tedious, and just plain not fun, and I can't forgive the game for this. No matter how good the rest of the game might be, or how unique the combat is, this third act is abhorrent and an obvious excuse to pad game time. I really hate, I mean hate, JRPGs that do this. It doesn't add anything to the game that a cut scene couldn't solve. Shame on Square Enix for this.
Overall, I'm not the biggest JRPG fan so others will like this more than I did, but that third act is unforgivable. I also felt there were too many jobs and the game's difficulty is through the roof. Towards the end of the game, you need to be doing close to the 9,999 damage limit to finish the game. To really finish this game and see everything that's here you will most likely need to hit the 99-level max at some point. This is an insanely hardcore JRPG and the casual Final Fantasy fans will probably quit during chapter 2 like I did when the game was first released. You will need to sink a good 100 hours just to see everything in the game including the bonus final dungeon that grants you the best stuff in the game to finish off the optional boss. While the graphics, music, and overall aesthetic of the game is pleasing this is a hate it or love it type of game.

Paris. A thief by night and regular Joe by day. A strange symbol your father left you. An Anti-Christ that has risen from the grave. This all sounds like an epic recipe for some crazy National Treasure sequel, and honestly, this kind of feels like an anime version of that movie. You play Phantom R and are trying to uncover an ancient mystery that your dad left you as a small boy while stopping the evil Napoleon Bonaparte himself from taking over Paris.
The story really takes itself too seriously for how silly the plot is. During the 5 hours you will spend with this game I honestly felt no attachment to the characters or story. They're very cookie-cutter and don't really develop any type of personality. The spotty voice acting doesn't help either. There are a lot of characters for such a short game and many of them only get a few seconds of screen time to shout at you and that's about it. It's a very forgettable game, not just in the story. The visuals are your bog-standard anime-style graphics. The game plays like a rhythm version of Professor Layton on top of all that.
Once you get a hold of your character and can explore the map you will be presented with still backgrounds on the bottom screen like in Professor Layton. You then tap away ferociously until stuff happens. You can collect two hidden presents per screen for golden coins that are used to buy aids during mini-games. Some screens will have secrets such as notes that need to be found to find a secret music page, soundtrack CD, or objects that produce sounds that are needed to build the master instrument. These hidden items eventually unlock hidden chapters, but I honestly didn't care enough for any of the characters to learn any backstory here from said chapters.
The meat of the game is the rhythm sections and these are fairly simplistic, but frustrating in nature. In most rhythm games you can get good at it by following the beat of the song. In this game, you don't ride the entire beat like in most rhythm games. Small sections are cut out with button presses. For example, you do a sequence with A or B buttons like A-B-B-A-B and that section follows the beat of the song. This would be fine if the entire game wasn't a Simon Says game disguised as a rhythm game. You have to listen to a sequence of notes and repeat them regardless of the beat of the song. I wound up failing many mini-games because I wanted to naturally tap or press buttons in time with the beat, but just mashing the buttons worked. Increased difficulty means more prompts to remember and they sometimes play so fast that it's almost impossible to remember the sequence on the first try.
While I praise the game for giving a variety of mini-game types they do repeat very often. The games usually require you to tap two buttons or swipe on the screen in certain directions. That's it. In between the rhythm games are mini-game puzzles that are fairly easy and offer no challenge. There are a few Simon Says ones in here too, but the sequence is remembered so if you mess up you just start at the last note you messed up on. That offers no challenge and allows you to basically mash all the buttons and not care about the order. While I could find a groove with some rhythm mini-games there were many that I just couldn't get into or kept messing up on and didn't understand why.
Overall, Rhythm Thief is a Simon Says game disguised as a rhythm game. There's no true rhythm here outside of repeating every pattern in time with a beat. I could do that without a beat. The increased difficulty isn't about more complicated songs, but just increased speed and more prompts in a shorter time frame. That's not challenging just frustrating. The story is nonsensical and takes itself too seriously with characters that are one note and don't have any time to build a personality to care for. While the visuals are nice it feels way too much like a cousin to Professor Layton and not its own thing.

The 8-bit era of Atari was before my time. I started the next generation with the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo as a young toddler. I still respect and have enjoyed iterations and ports of Atari 8-bit games over the years. What hasn't been done well is anything outside of bundles of seemingly random collections. They're nearly countless at this point and have spanned to nearly every console imaginable. Atari anniversary collections, various Atari-themed packs, and various retro packages with fancy UIs or presentations. However, no single retro package has been as cohesive or beautifully created as Atari 50. Even Sega's recent Genesis Collection with its retro 90's bedroom and bookshelf display can't beat this.
The entire game is presented like an interactive history lesson. You go through four timelines. Atari's origin story and their arcade routes. You get to see photos, printouts, commercials, and interviews with various Atari developers and industry veterans such as Tim Schafer (Psychonauts) and Cliff Bleszinski (Gears of War). These are presented in chronological order. A game is presented when its release comes up in the timeline. Some games have cover art, photos, and even comics underneath them to view. As you advance in the timeline you get a feeling like you're playing an interactive museum tour. There are no fancy 3D menus or anything, but the clean and simple UI works well. There are a few surprises peppered in like unreleased prototypes and Digital Eclipse's own recreations of iconic games like Yar's Revenge and Haunted House.
As you advance to the home console and PC timeline things get more interesting. You will eventually get to Atari 5200 and 7800 games which are a bit more advanced. You will also get to play a few PC games for the Atari home computers. Then you will finish up in the 90s with the Atari Lynx and Jaguar. Sadly, there aren't many games in this timeline, and the biggest issue with this entire game is the lack of third-party titles. You only get to play Atari-published and own games. That's very limiting, and while I understand this is Atari's own history there are many games that helped make their systems great outside of internal developers. The few Jaguar games range from Cybermorph to Tempest 2000 and Missle Command 3D. They aren't great, but interesting to dive into. That's another thing about this whole collection. Very few games are fun to play longer than five minutes. Some are pretty clunky and bad. This isn't a "greatest of" collection which I really appreciate. You will most likely go back to the more fun games like Missle Command, Centipede, Millepede, Tempest, or their latest versions in this game. You get special bezels, backgrounds, overlays, and control options for every game as well. You can also select various modes and some games support save states which is cool. You also get a digital view of every manual for the game including the arcade operator's manuals. They didn't leave anything out.
By the time I spent around 5 hours in the game, I got to the end of the timelines. You can go back and play any game in the library view and pick your favorites. These games run really well and look great, but many gamers who didn't grow up in the 80s will probably find this nothing more than a history lesson. Even more, will find pretty much every game boring or uninteresting. However, that's not a knock to the games, but just a warning to younger audiences. Anyone younger than 30-35 will most likely not find this game interesting or fun. If you have a curiosity about Atari's history or games then this is the best place to get that. If you have an itch for trying out 8-bit games or want to go back without emulating anything then this will give you nearly 100 games. I also appreciate how few ports and copies of the same game are in here. Each game was hand-picked and placed with relevancy.
Overall, Atari 50 is one of the best retro packages you can ever play. Telling an entire developer's history with games placed in their correct time slots and even including unreleased games and reimaginings of some is just fantastic. The videos are entertaining and interesting and you will learn a lot. There are so many details added from commercials, print ads, posters, manuals, customizable controls, save states, and more. It's a complete and cohesive package for Atari lovers out there. Just be warned that there are no third-party games and less of the 90s stuff.