538 Reviews liked by dwardman
System Shock 2
Lack of consequence is the real killer here. While the EMMI encounters are pretty enjoyable to navigate, the fact that you're given an automatic checkpoint before and after you enter each one of their areas negates the majority of their potential. When getting caught by one barely inconveniences you, there's no tension or fear, let alone any dread. The worst part is that the standard Metroid save system would've worked perfectly for these sections, which makes it one of the most frustrating changes to an existing formula I've come across recently. Just imagine how thrilling landing an escape parry would've been if the threat of losing progress loomed over your every move. Beyond that it's your standard Metroid game, but with all the ups and downs that come with modernization. I guess it was foolish of me to hope that the storytelling through gameplay that the series has historically excelled at would continue into the modern age, since Dread's story is told entirely through cutscenes and text boxes. As chatty as Fusion is, wordlessly stumbling across Ridley's frozen body is one of my favorite moments in the entire series- Dread never attempts anything similar. The game also has the tendency to "let you out" right in front of where you're supposed to go next whenever you get an upgrade or fight a boss, meaning it's only possible to get really lost if you purposefully get yourself lost, which I can see rubbing some people the wrong way. Ultimately, this one gets a "worth playing" from me due to some changes that make the world pretty fun to traverse, like the new mobility options and improved elevator system, but more importantly the presentation. The backgrounds are especially well done- they're so detailed and they really do great work to make the areas feel distinct and alive in a way that the older games in the series couldn't capture. But there were also some small decisions that really caught my eye. Samus being the only source of light in a save room before she saves. The loading screens being silent, wordless cinemagraphs. The map being divided into much smaller squares than usual, making it impossible to reach most tiles until you get some upgrades, which mimics the entire Metroid concept. That's what I want to see more of.
I’ve had this experience a few times now where I’d play Symphony with someone who’d already had their hands on it at least once, and they’d repeatedly go “oh shit I didn’t know you could do that.” I think it’s easy to look at this game as this perfect package of unmatched visuals and music, tight controls and a big-ass non-linear world to explore, but that’s probably part of what makes the case for it seem so deceptively simple at first.
The way spells are implemented is still wild to me and a perfect example for what I mean: Alucard technically has access to all of them from the start via a series of fighting game commands, but the game doesn’t actually divulge the necessary inputs unless you purchase the respective scrolls from the shop or stumble upon them by accident. I don’t know how exactly to relate this sense of spitting-your-drink-out surprise that I got whenever I’d trigger some new crazy move, but it’s exemplary of that natural curiosity Symphony inspires that draws me to it so much. Do we even need to talk about the inverted castle? It’s hard to say whether it was some kind of last minute addition (Bat Form means the level design doesn’t actually have to “work” upside-down and a lot of the mob enemies here can fly around too,) but the fact the devs seized that possibility at all is so impressive to me. The pacing in this second half is completely different from the first, letting you experience familiar locations in a way that’s nothing short of alien.
It’s honestly odd how Metroidvanias made in the wake of Symphony haven’t replicated this idea of giving you a dedicated endgame to actually flex with all your new abilities in (instead of just the token collectible item hunt with no new enemies or obstacles to make that process more interesting.) That’s on top of all the insane technical bullshit Symphony lets you overpower its challenges with, from Bat-Dashing over slopes to all the wild effects you get with the Shield Rod, another itch most modern genre takes don’t scratch. If you wrote this game off because you felt it didn’t have enough substance, I encourage you to give it another look and dig into its bottomless treasure chest of secrets and painstaking details.
A game that I can't believe was made by Nintendo.
I don't know if that's the right analogy, but if I were to say "Nintendo released a game like Fallout or Mortal Kombat" you'd get the idea?
Was Nintendo also concerned about its brand image?
It has become a fantastic game that has not even been sold in ROM. ...In Japan.
It's a top quality tactical game. It's a fun tactical game that I can still fire up my NDS and play.
It's a perfect game, except for the joke about one of the characters, the doctor, and the limited sales channels and apart from the cruelty of the story, I can't think of any faults. It's a masterpiece.
This is a work from the time when Square was the strongest game company in Japan, both in name and reality.
If there is a point or an ultimate in storytelling in a game scenario, this work is the closest to it.
For me, this is one of the standards of "game scenario". When I play a game that deals with robots, especially a later one, I always think of this one first.
In this sense, "13 sentinels" was a failure. (I'll write more about it in my review of The 13 sentinels).
As a child at the time of its release, I was simply overwhelmed by the worldview, which was based on mythology and religion, with parodies and homages to multiple science fiction and anime.
To digress a little, let me explain the historical/cultural context in which this game was made.
Christianity is not generally understood in Japan (although some people are very passionate about it), so the heretical Gnosticism is not understood, nor is Nietzsche, who criticised Christianity itself, except for a few crazies. Freud, Jung and Adler have also gained acceptance in recent years, but only subtly.
I have no idea how this tendency to disregard religion has evolved in other countries.
In the case of Japan, the Aum Shinrikyo affair has led to a view of religion that can be seen as fearful, contemptuous or allergic.
In this context, with the exception of a series of works by Atlus (Megami Tensei and its offshoot, Persona), the culture of understanding and incorporating mythology and religion into games has died out.
Nowadays, myths and religions are treated as ornaments that look good and "seem to have a deeper meaning that we don't know what it is".
Again, For me, the standard of game scenario is this work. It's like a trauma.
It is both happy and unhappy.
When it was released,
“Wait, wait. I don't understand all that theological and philosophical!"
"Do you usually put in stories/parodies of minor works like this?”
"It's crazy! Whoever made this is crazy!"
I was like.
As of 2021, I played it again.
The conclusion of the game is quite simple, however, despite all the mythological and philosophical themes and episodes.
Human weakness and strength, cruelty and kindness, ugliness and beauty. Above all, men and women. Fei and Elly are two people who make you feel all kinds of emotions.
It's easy to get caught up in the huge number of settings and deep themes, but the heart of the xenogears is the story. The later Xeno series forgot about this.
Xenoblade 2 has been released, but it's probably a strategic defeat. (I don't feel like playing.)
Not that it matters, but the Xeno series is like Woody Allen. (Repeating the cycle of masterpieces and bad movies)
I hate believers. A masterpiece is a masterpiece, and if it doesn't live up to that, it's a defeat, and if it doesn't, you're just a bad.
There's a lot more to say, but it's probably over 10,000 words, so I'll leave it to someone else.
Is it a something sign that this year (2021) there are some many good commentary videos on this game?
Explanations and videos of Xenogears that I thought were good. (Memo for myself.)
I think it's great what they're trying to do.
A clear explanatory video that goes beyond the Perfect Works. (Japanese)
A very challenging Xenogears video that goes beyond the strategy guide. (Japanese. He's crazy.)
Dragon Quest is the rice.
For the Japanese, eating rice is just a part of everyday life, nothing special about it.
It's not the rice itself that people complain about, it's the way it's cooked, the amount of water used.
It is not a complaint about the rice itself. I think that's what playing DraQue is all about.
You can make one comment about the quality of Koshihikari or Akita Komachi every year - "it's good", "it's very good", "it's not so good this year" - but no Japanese person will go into detail about the quality of the rice.
(Do Americans mention the taste of pizza or Coke in detail every year? The same applies to vodka for Russians. A Frenchman might give a lengthy evaluation of a cheese or a wine. I don't know about the English. Oh, I forgot. There was tea.)
In other words, it has become such a traditional and standard game series that it is difficult to critique and observe.
So it's very difficult, but I wanted to think a little bit deeper about this "11".
I don't like meaningless sentimentality. I don't like to spend a lot of time in nostalgia, I think I should be doing something else.
This 11 is littered with symbols from previous games.
The characters reminded me most of 4.
The events are too many to observe: I was surprised to find a fighting tournament from 3, and a quote from the Gaiden manga (Emblem of Roto, it's a classic manga).
The choice of background music had so many winks to the players of yesteryear that it was even annoying.
But I didn't feel the "sentimentality" that I hate. Strangely enough.
Maybe it's because I felt that Yuji Horii, the creator of this game, wanted to say goodbye and thank you to all the people who have played DraQue so far.
I think it's safe to say that with "11", DraQue has come to an end.
It seems that they are going to make "12", but it will be completely different from the previous games. (I'm predicting that 7 will be the closest).
Koichi Sugiyama san passed away at the end of September. Oh... 11 is truly the last Dragon Quest...
May he rest in peace.
Your music is eternal.
Secret of Mana
This game & Xenogears might be the reason why I don't play FF much.(Incidentally, one of the messages in the Xenogears TV commercial was "Why there will never be a sequel to Seiken Densetsu/Mana Series".)
I think I bought it for 1,000 yen at the time when it was thrown out due to a fatal bug. As a result, I hit the jackpot.
I still listen to the music, especially "Danger". Hiroki Kikuta was a genius at that time. He might have been better than Uematsu.
Oh, and bug or not, I don't think the remake is worth buying.
But I like 3 better.
A great work. It can be described as the template or foundation of the series.
A clear article explaining the history of this game before it was created. (It is in Japanese.)
Of course, it's not "particularly" interesting to play now. But it's a great game. (So I hesitate to give it a star/rating.) Without this game, the MOTHER series and the Pocket Monsters series would never have been born.
The majority of NES games at the time of release usually had no consideration for the player.
It was needlessly difficult, mean-spirited and had no intention of entertaining the player. That was the normal game at the time. It was a time when normal was not normal. (The exception was The Legend of Zelda?)
Yuji Horii may not be appreciated outside Japan, but he's probably as great as Shigeru Miyamoto.
When it comes to difficulty, the feeling of playing, and making adjustments that are very difficult to put into words, there is no one like him. One word: genius.
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