308 Reviews liked by mogchamp2

I've decided to reach out to the community at large with a bonding activity: I will give everyone a cookie if they can attempt to explain Devil May Cry having "aged poorly".
Bonus cookies: you are not allowed to mention weapon swapping (R3 is a button; committal actions are good for your health) or the camera (frigid take)

I ended up putting this game off for a long time despite knowing I’d really like it. So color me surprised when I played it and… I liked it. The insanely tedious and repetitive tasks each day when combined with the immaculate tropical atmosphere makes for one of the most unique experiences I’ve ever had in a video game. The writing is also really clever and metatextual, and I appreciate the ties this game has to The Silver Case both narratively and thematically. Plenty of other reviews on this site have said why this game is so great, so I’m not gonna waste your time with a long analysis of the sort. funny blah blah blah DS feeling! meta! ludonarrative! vibes! localize the PS2 version! suda!!! mondo!! KILL THE PAST! For my second KTP game, it’s another swing and a hit as far as I’m concerned.

This review contains spoilers

I beat this game two days ago and I have been hesitant to post my review since I've been debating what score to give it: 4,5, or a 6.
Ultimately and unfortunately, I give this game a 4 out of 10.
Lemme break down my experience with the game into 5 distinct 'chapters' like the game breaks it down between the protagonists.
Part1: Where is Kiryu?
(1 hour in as Akiyama)
Ok this guy and his story is really cool, I can fuck with this.
Part 2: Wait we're switching already to a new guy? Ok this prison stuff is interesting.
(everything with Saejima after the prison part) alright this isnt interesting at all, and this guy doesn't play that well.
Note: I almost dropped the game at this part because even the Majima fight at the end felt anticlimactic.
Part 3: Lemme give this Tanimura guy a chance.
(2 hours later) OK this guy is the least likable person in this series, when is the Kiryu or Akiyama part?
Part 4: My boy Kiryu! This is sure to be great.
(2 hours later) I cant believe how disappointing this is. We have 4 protagonists and only Kamurocho to explore where Yakuza 2 and 3 had 2 areas each, and they somehow don't treat the Kiryu chapters any better than the rest of the game.
Part 5: The end of the Kiryu chapter and the entire final chapter. I'm sure if youre still here reading this, you probably have played this game. Up until now I was sort of into the story, mostly the Yasuko part and not much else, MAYBE Tanimura's father's demise and not Tanimura himself. The scene on the rooftop at the end of chapter 16 was a roller coaster. The rubber bullet nonsense is known by this point, then Yasuko becomes a magic zombie girl who ignores getting shot and then immediately dies when she kills the other guy, then more rubber bullet nonsense. I cannot stress enough how lame a concept having rubber bullets ruining the Saejima scene is in a game like this. Top it off with a final chapter where we fight 4 guys where I felt like Arai was the only one I 'felt' like fighting from story implications. I dont even remember the senior cop guy's name because I had zero motivation to have him as a villain. It was so fucking inconsequential. ON TOP OF THAT, where 3 of the final 4 fights were 'ok,' the final fight against him is BY FAR the WORST fight in any Yakuza game I've played, and I've played 7 so far. (0-4 and both Kiwami) Who the fuck approved that? Overall the combat encounters in this game didn't feel too interesting, where even 1 on ps2 had more fun encounters. If the story is eh and the combat scenarios aren't that fun what are you even left with?
Then in the ending that whole weird part about Hana losing so much weight from not eating at all was so offputting. Leave the poor girl alone, don't make us applaud the idea that she's 'skinny' now because she was so sick she couldn't eat. I felt so bad for her and then they pull that shit out, and she takes off her glasses as if you can only be pretty if you dont wear glasses and are skinny. Such a stupid part.
This game tried new ideas and I applaud them for it but ultimately, coming off of 1-3 which all had stories and villains that I felt strongly about, to this where the whole thing just felt like it came and went, lowered my score of the game a lot. I liked Akiyama's part a lot, I wish the game had more of him and I felt they could have done Saejima better (Yes I am aware they are in part 5, btw) but Tanimura felt like he didn't belong with us.
One final thing to mention that also made me lower my view of the game: holy shit does this game feel rushed. It was made in less than 2 years, I think it was a little more than 1? and boy does it show. Hard to go into detail since it was so many little things I noticed, like the entirety of the final showdown of Saejima's chapters happening in 1 big room, where previous games would have multiple rooms for the different fights.
4/10, a bad Yakuza game.

The misty swirls of the horizon. The eerie darkness of the underground chambers. The imposing fog of the valleys and the oceans. What do they all represent? To me, it represents a sense of uncertainty, especially for the future that lays ahead.
Panzer Dragoon Saga’s reverence in the industry is one of myth - a one-of-a-kind game that even 25 years later, still provides an innovative and refreshing RPG experience with a combat system that no other title has come close to recreating. It’s quite literally an impossible game - a game created completely from scratch, that pushed the capabilities of the Saturn and its developers to the absolute limit. Panzer Dragoon Saga aims to stun its audience, even when it's breaking itself apart to deliver the technical pedigree required to run such an ambitious game, and its audience is practically non-existent. Even with the boundaries pushed to get this game to run as well as it does, there is one issue that persists throughout the entirety of PDS’ 4-disc run: the field of depth. After all, when so much meticulous attention is placed onto making the graphics feel as realistic as possible, something has to give. In this case, it was the draw distance.
However, in a surprising twist, the draw distance actually helps drive home this feeling of uncertainty that the atmosphere of Panzer Dragoon Saga demonstrates. The story takes place in a continent where the future of the world is uncertain, subjected to a predetermined fate prescribed to them by Sestren and the Towers. There is no predicting the time when your entire town will be razed to the ground by a wave of sudden monster appearances. The places Edge and his dragon travel to loom with the uncertain threat of an impending monster attack. They can barely see what lies ahead of them, whether it be friend or foe. Where most would be left second-guessing on their decisions, however, they choose to trudge forward regardless.
Ironically, the crippled field of depth in Panzer Dragoon Saga ends up being a perfect representation of not just that theme of uncertainty within the game itself, but its implications towards the circumstances surrounding the game is also just as bizarrely interconnected. Panzer Dragoon Saga was always destined to be released on the Saturn, with developers stating that only the Saturn could emulate the intended atmosphere of the world. Unfortunately, the Saturn was never destined to succeed against the almighty Playstation, and by the year 1998, it was on its dying breath. The Dreamcast was already on its way to take its place, and by the time of Panzer Dragoon Saga’s release, the Saturn’s fate was already sealed. Even then, SEGA’s future in the console market hung in the balance. It was uncertain whether they could weather the storm.
For Team Andromeda, that same feeling of uncertainty lingered in their minds as development progressed. Much like the game they produced, their output was pushed to the absolute limit, and yet I’m certain they knew they were releasing their magnum opus on an obsolete console, which meant that sales profits would be near impossible to achieve. People working on this game were strained, they suffered from mental health issues, a few even died. It’s an extremity that is incredibly rare across all media, and for what? Would Team Andromeda even survive beyond Panzer Dragoon Saga? The future existence of this very team was just as uncertain as the future of the company they worked for.
The motives of the people surrounding Edge throughout his journey of vengeance are just as uncertain. The target of his scorn, Craymen, who betrayed Edge and his mercenary team to retrieve Azel, is revealed to be fighting for what he believe to be a good cause - taking control of a Tower to extinguish a power-hungry and destructive force as well as halting the self-destructive nature of humanity, all while unwittingly becoming the thing he swore to destroy. Vaiman, the eccentric old man from Zoah who earnestly seeks Edge’s help in destroying the Empire’s air force, only aims to manipulate Edge for his own personal gain. Even Gash, Edge’s first friend during his journey, is secretly part of an organisation aiming to use him as a weapon in their plight to free humanity from the shackles of the Towers. Throughout this entire story, Edge, despite having the clearest and sincerest motivation of all the characters (to hunt down Craymen as revenge), ends up being the one being controlled.
Despite this, all of these actions are done through Edge’s own volition, his own choice to act. The dragon, despite being the reason why all the senior figures desire to control Edge, ultimately ends up being the one who gives Edge control. Control to travel the continent to fulfill his quest for vengeance. Control of every action in the heat of combat, the choice of how to strike and where to strike. The dragon is what frees Edge from the control of the imperialism placed upon him and society, the freedom of flying symbolising the freedom of choice he is granted. Ultimately, it’s his undying will and the choices he makes that convinces Azel to acknowledge and reconcile with her human side, and give her the choice of free will and agency over her own decisions.
Yet, that’s far from the truth now, isn’t it?
Even from the very beginning, Edge’s fate has always been the biggest point of uncertainty. Did he die when Zastava shot him in the opening cutscene? If so, why is he still alive? Will he still be alive when the journey is over? At the climax of the game, Craymen finally falls - but not at the hands of Edge. Even in his dying breath, he beckons Edge to control his own destiny. However, when Sestren eventually falls, Edge seemingly ends up becoming a martyr to his own cause - by taking control of his own destiny and choosing the path that he ended up taking, he ends up trapped in eternity. The world he saves ends up in environmental turmoil without the sustainment of the Towers, but even with the uncertainty of survival increasing, humanity finally has control of their own destiny, and the freedom of choice.
But this isn’t an effort credited entirely towards him - it is us, the Divine Visitor, the one who controls Edge, who guides him as he and the dragon overcome all the uncertainties that laid ahead, granting the world a choice.
In the real world, where nothing is certain, the only things that are true is the way we take control of our own actions, the choices we make in our lives, and the ideals we believe in.
Final score: 10/10
Focus/Theme: How Panzer Dragoon Saga’s field of depth encapsulates the themes of doubt, control and choice.

Hard to put into words the power this game has but I know it when I feel it. It's Sonic skydiving out of a cop copter, it's locking onto 9 targets and once and getting that meaty score notif, it's gliding all the way from one peak of Pumpkin Hill to the other, it's the way each character gets their own musical genre, it's the obscenely harsh 100% requirements, the list goes on
Unstoppable apex, unequivocally itself, living by its own feeling.

Something I've been having a lot of trouble with while writing reviews in this website is doing so for games I love or really respect, partly because I feel like I wouldn't be doing them any justice whatsoever, or simply due to not being able to convey my feelings and experience properly (and honestly, there are reviews out there that are so good that it just feels like anything I'd write down would be inferior in every capacity).
However, this game, which also happened to be the 200th game on my profile, motivated me enough to at least give it a go.
"Even the sweetest treats get bitter with each bite."
I first stumbled upon this game when buying the itch.io Ukraine Bundle, and a friend telling me the game is amazing and "the Undertale of shmups" made me give it a go...
...and I ended up liking it so much I bought it on Steam not long after, if that's any indicative of how much I enjoyed it.
There are many things I could say about this game, but first things first, this game is a blast. It would be unfair to say other shmups aren't (i.e. CAVE games are amazing), but this game in particular shows it's been carefully thought of for years, and the sheer passion of the devs bleeds out of the game uncontrollably.
The controls feel snappy, it never felt unfair to me, the music is amazing, and so are the two-palette graphics. On top of that, it's really accessible to people who haven't played shmups before with its somewhat lenient continues/lives system.
...but most of this can be said for other shmups. What makes ZeroRanger stand out?
"You've entered a vicious cycle of life and death."
For starters, the game won't be a cakewalk. As is a staple of the genre, you will die. A lot. But your determination shall not waver, and even the game helps in this endeavour by progressively making it smoother with more continues the longer you play. The beautiful landscapes and scenarios this game presents while you shoot down Green Orange's forces will feel nowhere as unique and vibrant on your subsequent runs, but even so, you might feel compelled to keep pushing through despite the several adversities on the way (trust me, there are many).
"As you cling on to this cycle, your desires poison your mind"
With the actual progression system as your true companion in this journey, you will slowly gain the power to get through what this game has to offer, and even despite the aforementioned adversities, your rewards for your struggles will be there in the form of your runs lasting longer, and getting deeper and deeper into this everlasting cycle.
But it has an end to be put to. And the game seems so heavily insistent on the idea of reaching enlightenment. Maybe that's what's waiting for you at the finish line?
You may ask what that is, but I'm not one to say or decide. You can play this game and reach your so desired response, or lack thereof, but I'll keep this as vague as I possibly can.
"Ignorance. Attachment. Aversion."
The story and symbolisms that this game carries forward are top-notch, despite most of the storytelling being either very vague or just implicit. I will not talk about this much as I want to keep this spoiler-free, but when you reach the ending, the experience just clicks together, and makes the journey and the countless hindrances so much more satisfying in hindsight.
If whenever you finish the game you're confused, which you might as well be, there's a lot of discussion about this game and its story/topics online that may help on that front.
At this point in time, which is only a few days after having finished the game, I still don't know if I get what it tries to say in its entirety, but what I can grasp makes it a simple, yet meaningful story.
"Feeding these unwholesome thoughts will only lead to more suffering."
This game is probably one of the best experiences that are awaiting you in this entire genre. Maybe the game might not seem appealing to you, and that's fine, but if there's even one shred of doubt or interest, I strongly recommend giving it a fair shake before giving up on it. The game is a piece of art, but it's hard, and it will do what it possibly can to remind you of that fact of all times, so you know what you'd be getting yourself into.
Perhaps when you finish it you won't think the same way I do, or you may just think it's good but nothing amazing, but you never know, so give it a chance, I don't think you'll regret it.
Shall you get to dedicate some of your time to this game, remember these words:
Do not give in to Despair.
May you attain Enlightenment.
And if you do,
I hope you can carry this Power with you.

"Don't you know that Blackmail is way uncool?" - Ryo Hazuki
I played Shenmue through the Shenmue 1 and 2 compilation on Steam, I think its pretty much the same version as the original minus disc swapping but if there are any major differences I wouldnt know. I was mainly interested in Playing Shenmue after really enjoying The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa a couple of months ago, which is a game that takes some inspiration from Shenmue in some aspects. And, since I think Shenmue has already been talked about from a myriad different angles on this site I think a nice compare and contrast will be good to do, especially to explain my personal experience with Shenmue and Ringo.
I was genuinely surprised when I started Shenmue and found myself enjoying the game, which underscores the benefits of playing things you might not think you'll like on the off chance you will. Its reputation for being slow and obtuse had my "filter-dar" screaming at me. Fortunately this reputation turned out to be mostly undeserved, especially the first 2/3rds of the game. It was honestly smooth sailing for most of the game, following a routine of exploring the various areas of the town interacting with locals and practicing combos at the local park. Shenmue is basically a point and click adventure game, you talk to people, follow leads, write down what you know in your notepad etc. At first the rather odd control scheme (not just the tank controls in a non horror game but the RT + joystick to shift Ryo's gaze until the camera locks on into something interactable was certainly not what Im used to) threw me off but its not too hard to get used to it.
At first there is a nice balance of progressing the main story and also doing side activities like the arcade, a couple of sidequests that flesh out the lives of the inhabitants of the town. The pacing is slow but its nice how much of it is dictated by the player, letting you take it all in, hell even the decision to not have fast travel (well, kinda) at first seemingly encourages going back and forth and running into scripted events. The problem however, and here's where the comparison to Ringo becomes more relevant, is that as you progress the pacing becomes a lot worse, the activities you have to do to kill time are really not all that compelling after a while, you get told to come back tomorrow or in a few hours and time just moves way too slowly. See, in Ringo the activities arent great either but times moves a lot quicker and the decisions you make are so much more rooted in roleplaying and just being able to squeeze as much as you can onto a day that until the very end of the game you are basically never bored. In Shenmue however by the time Dobuita started putting up christmas decorations I was just spending most of my time pressing forward + x to strengthen my pit blow combo.
Its funny, Ringo is a game about an aimless youth with no future where you're constantly trying to do it all but Shenmue is a game about a singleminded youth driven by revenge constantly fucking around doing nothing of note. If the mechanic is the message, Shenmue's time system could honestly work well for a reverse of Outer Wilds message. I find Ryo Hazuki to be not particularly compelling, mainly cause he's constantly alienating everyone who's ever loved him and who's telling him that his quest for revenge is stupid and dangerous, which they are right to do so. Now, I know that that is the point, its the whole martial arts drama schtick where a tragic quest for revenge means the MC must give it all up to pursue it, and Im sure if we ever get Shenmue 30 or whatever there will be some ironic twist to make Ryo doubt his own resolve and all that stuff. But I just dont find him or that arc compelling. Ringo is also a tragic figure who pushes away his friends and is seemingly doomed to waste his life away or even have it cut short, but he's much more human and relatable to me. Ringo is a game to me, about having too little time, but Shenmue is a game about having too much.
Its hard to sympathise much with Ryo when his Dad had no appearance beyond his inmediate murder when the game starts and incidentally, whilst the lack of certain modern conveniences enhance this game, if it were made today there would definitely be a playable prologue before the events of the game with Ryo doing some errands or something for his dad, tutorialising the various mechanics and such. A lot of this might also be the legendarily wooden acting of the english dub which I admit I picked due to its infamy but honestly there is just too little of Ryo himself being anything other than stoic angry man for me to really care. This isnt even a matter of Ryo being pretty distinct from the player because again in Ringo you are even more disconnected, not even privy to most of the conversations Ringo has with his gang members.
The kind of character and structure of the game with its slow humanism, feeding cats, helping the bullied etc makes the main quest jarring to me, Ringo should be collecting signatures to save the local school or something, not plotting murder. Perhaps this is just a personal thing, but then again if you were expecting anything else from this review then you were mistaken.
The game definitely takes a dip when the harbour is introduced, which is even more barren and boring than the main town, though thankfully most of your time is spent with forklift races and box moving, which are unironic highlights of the game. By this point though, Shenmue was really starting to wear thin, even the fights started to become more of an annoyance than a nice change of pace. There are a couple of scenes where Ringo shows some interesting side to him with Mark and Gui Zhang and Tom, but after a slightly annoying battle (I am also fairly shit at fighting games, so whilst I did well for 90% of the game I struggled with the final bout) the game just sort of ends. Its kind of ballsy just how much of a sequel hook the game ends on, seemingly treating Shenmue 1 as the first season of a drama series, fitting, I suppose but from what I have gathered the story of the series is far from over 20+ years later.
So why did I love Ringo but not so much Shenmue? Other than the points mentioned above, Ringo's character moments are so much more memorable to me, I will remember some lines in Shenmue for their delivery and silliness, but moments like Ringo not sharing his literature essay in class or his exchange with his teacher about wasted talent stick to me a lot more. I still enjoyed Shenmue and I'm glad I played it, but whatever it is that the people who love this game (and a lot of them being people who's writing I admire and respect on this very site) saw in it I just didnt quite find. Perhaps the nature of the "right place, right time" events meant I missed a bunch of things, and apparently Ryo's love interest Nozomi has most of her lines relegated to phone conversations? Of which I saw none and was wondering why she's such a flat line for most of the game despite her importance to Ryo and parts of the plot.
I'm not rushing to Play Shenmue 2 any time soon but who knows, maybe Ill play it at some point and come back to revise my thoughts on the first entry.

if i was a ghost i would keep ringing the doorbell because i am a pranker

Romans 10:9: "If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
Believe, brothers and sisters of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Believe in the strength of out Almighty Father so he may show you true salvation. Show your faith to him so he may show you the paradise that awaits in the end.

So I actually never beat this game before. Way back in the good ol 2013/2014 days when I first played this, I was never able to beat the final boss. (I did play through a good chunk of the game back in 2019 as well but I randomly dropped it for some odd reason...idk why because I remember having a blast). Anyways, besides the Grunty fight, I was also never able to beat either of the Canary Mary rematches. Other than the races and final boss, I did everything in the game on that first playthrough. Well I'm happy to say after all these years, I've not only beaten the game..I've 100%ed it as well.
Was it super tedious like everyone seems to say nowdays? Uhhh no? Not in the slightest, I had an absolute blast replaying this. The only part I down right disliked was the 2nd Canary Mary rematch race. I eventually learned the optimal strategy, but not without getting a nasty blister beforehand. Yeah that's super dumb ik, don't even get me started lol.
Anyways, Tooie brings forth a ton of improvements in regards to Kazooie. Your moveset from the last game has little tweaks all over the place that improve the gameplay (swimming is way smoother, your roll attack is so much better etc etc.). They fixed the pitched up voices when fast forwarding dialogue from the first game. Music notes now don't get reset when you die...in fact the focus on collecting notes was lessened drastically since they're all in bunches of 5 or 20. The level theming is so..SO much more unique compared to the first game. I absolutely love some of these level concepts..like an abandoned carnival run by Grunty, a fire and ice world, a dinosaur world...everything is just so much more creative setting wise.
The expanded moveset is great for the most part. First person aiming when shooting eggs was a good addition..and so were the new egg types. I think the first person segments were a lot of fun. The split up mechanic and abilities you get were super cool..though banjo's later abilities do seem to feel the same a lot of the time, especially those last two you get.
The game's writing as a whole is way funnier and cynical compared to Kazooie, it fits the series so well. The characters in Tooie felt way more fleshed out and memorable compared to Kazooie's characters...though there are returning ones from Kazooie as well. The Ost is amazing and while very different compared to Kazooie's (it goes for more atmospheric/ less upbeat tracks) its just as good.
So the big issue people have with this game is the backtracking and they think the worlds are too big. I never had an issue with the backtracking at least on this playthrough, it never felt tedious at all for me to go back and get jiggy's I couldn't get before. Feels more like a metroidvania in a sense and I love that. The interconnectivity is absolutely amazing in this game and is my favorite aspect tbh. As for worlds being too big, I can't understand that sentiment for any of the worlds besides maybe Terrydactyland. While I did enjoy that world this go around, it is a bit too big for its own good. Other than that, I had no issue with each world's size. Yeah even Grunty Industries, which was still semi-confusing didn't feel that big. It was moreso confusing to figure out how to open the way forward to jiggies and stuff. Solid level overall (and it has my favorite world theme in the game). I'd say my favorite level was Witchy World with Hailfire peaks coming at a close second. Both were fantastic imo. The lag can get pretty bad at points in Hailfire (and throughout the whole game there's lag during certain parts) but it never bothered me much.
If I had to give my gripes with this game, the aforementioned Canary Mary rematch for that Cheato page still sucks. Even with the method I found online, it still isn't fun. The final boss also isn't nearly as good as Grunty in Kazooie. Idk it was much less iconic and didn't make full use of the duo's whole moveset like it did in Kazooie. That plus the ost wasn't nearly as good. Not a bad fight in the slightest, just doesn't touch Kazooie's final boss. Though I will say, after finally beating her all these years, that final part can be brutal. Once you get the hang of it, it isn't terribly hard. However it's certainly harder than Kazooie's final boss.
I may be crazy for giving this a 10 just like Kazooie, however this game had even higher highs than Kazooie despite it not being as replayable due to its size. It was really addicting to play (I beat it in 4 days..and one of those days my power was out lol) and even now, I can't stop thinking about it. It's goated just like Kazooie, but for different reasons. Might bump it down to a 9 eventually however right now, 10/10 it is. Very underrated game now it seems, sad to see so many people hate on it when it's really undeserved.
I really don't know why but I do honestly keep thinking about this game and replaying it again already. Might put it at the top of my 2023 list if its gonna be like that lol.