though i have just now played the game in its entirety for myself, i have some history with it going back into the mid '90s. see, i actually owned a copy of it and had played just a bit of it before a friend of mine offered to buy it from me. he had a new sega cd, and i was far more stoked on squaresoft games; i wanted to buy a copy of chrono trigger (which was retailing for EIGHTY BUCKS!) and, well, lunar got me there. that's pretty much the long and short of it.
still, though the game was no longer mine i did see bits of it over at my friend's house. its music felt familiar and nostalgic even as i began to play it last month. now, in 2020, this version of the game carries with it the charming mystique of those early '90s cd-rom games from japan which largely eluded me as a teenager (i mean, until the ps1 and saturn... but i'm talking about the sega cd and the turbo cd, among others). in short, my enjoyment of this game leans heavily on this vibe.
it's just not a particularly great jrpg. it's not bad! it's good enough that i still look forward to seeing what improvements are made in eternal blue and the psx/saturn remakes. and frankly, the working designs localization does it no favors. i did not need to read dialogue about using barney video tapes as target practice in a fantasy rpg. also, there's a serious imbalance in the obnoxious encounter rate when i can't walk two steps without getting into a fight half the time, but every single boss fight is over in 3 or 4 turns. this is absolutely one of those jrpgs where the endless battling becomes tedious, especially since you're just attacking (or choosing 'ai', which is... also just attacking).
aside from wanting certain quality of life improvements to menus and understanding what spells do, i hope the future games are much more colorful. this one made overwhelming use of brown and often felt very drab—not the best use of the system's color palette, at least outside of the really nice anime-style pixel art cinematics.
one last note: the music is great! i just love this style of early disc-based, prog rock inspired jrpg music. from what i've heard, it's actually much more pleasing to my tastes than the music in the remakes. we'll see, though.
an earlier sugoroku game. think of a board game like snakes & ladders, or the parcheesi boards in dragon quest games. good stuff! i was having some issues with emulating the first game (it would freeze any time i encountered a bat...?) so i moved on to this one. both are great.
could be much better. the added frames per second aren't really enough to set this apart from the prepare to die edition (which can be modded to a degree, anyway). beyond that they completely ruined the backstab mechanic, making it 1000% more obnoxious, in my view destroying the multiplayer aspect. still, this is an acceptable way to play through arguably the best game ever made... i would just recommend going another route if you're playing it for your first time.
honestly, my score for this skews a bit higher than it should simply because i WANT to like this game. beyond its status as an early 16-bit rpg, the art direction—fantasy and sci-fi with just enough of that '80s punk edge—really works for me. it's just a shame about the clumsy writing and the torturously bad dungeons. oddly enough, this is arguably the worst phantasy star... depending on how one feels about generations of doom, anyhow.
protip! one thing you can do to increase your enjoyment of the game's finale: when you begin the fight with mother brain, mute that shit and put this on instead. trust me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bwt740KznHE
i was 18 when xenogears came out and it was... at that point, pretty much my favorite video game. which might be an understatement: i was obsessed. not quite final fantasy house levels of obsessed, but, well, it made a significant impact.
long story short, xenosaga was an incredible bummer. if a game can feel dead inside, where xenogears was bursting with spirit this was a mere husk. being honest, i didn't make it very far into the game before shelving it and never going back, so i do contemplate giving it another look now and then... but i would probably rather just revisit xenogears.
in terms of presentation, the lush color and detail of this port stands out from the snes original (also benefiting from better music—while still fuzzy in a way i don't mind at all—than the wonderswan version), and it's my favorite version of the game. i'm only a bit sad that it's marred by erratic input lag in battle menus (and frequent entirely discarded inputs), perhaps keeping this from being the sole and absolute best version... though i still choose it over the rest, ultimately.
anyhow, what can i say about final fantasy IV? in so many ways this is the quintessential final fantasy. this would be a great place for anyone to jump in, and a crucial one for curious fans of the newer titles.
this has been one of my favorite games to play off and on since beta. it's not a perfect game and i have had plenty of issues with it through all its changes, blizzard's own failure to truly honor the game's promise of inclusiveness, and so on... but when it comes to that feeling of flow—being in the zone, losing all sense of time as your body becomes one with the thing you are doing—this is one of the best. my favorite character is lucio; i love healing and his gliding mobility feels as good as it does to grind rails in jet set radio or rocket jump in quake. that alone makes this a great game, to me.
yeah, this game deserves way more respect. not sure what the low ratings here are for! it's pure '80s arcade goodness: shades of gauntlet, a little smash tv, and even a little zelda with the scrolling 'rooms'. i love its art direction, which is kind of an airbrushed quasi-giger style... my kinda shit. you run around saving people, gathering power-ups, blasting aliens , and escaping before the timer runs out. what's not to like? (play the arcade version.)
real primordial stuff, though emerging from the muck. i wouldn't recommend playing it without a guide unless you're really prepared to get down in there with this cryptic, moldy old thing and grind your way to understanding it. that said, i think it's an unfairly dismissed and even maligned game with some dope music and rewards for those who just find enjoyment in exploring the origins of action rpgs...! moving away from the original hydlide's ys-like bump action, this one's somewhat more zelda-like in that you attack with button presses. this time there's a class system, day/night cycles, and actual story/music! this is a real video game! and a good one, if not quite a great one.
game's gorgeous, and the serenity of exploration really draws me in. vistas galore. combat's excellent and seems to get even more exciting as you gain access to new characters whose abilities you can combine to really do some damage... that said, the writing is pretty bland anime junk. common enemies are, er, dark-skinned bushmen the bland anime knights describe as "of low intelligence" in a really grating manner. even ignoring that, i'm not sure how i feel about the whole f2p gacha system, which throws all kinds of power and wealth at you from the start so there's no interesting ramping up of strength or skill. whatever, i guess? i'm just not sure what kind of longevity this has in a world where i can play things like breath of the wild, dragon quest ix, nier automata, final fantasy xiv, etc. just feels like the sort of thing that eventually leaves you feeling empty inside lol. and, again, that "accidental" tonedeaf racism keeps rearing its head... honestly, nah, this ain't for me. could've been, though.