All posts by John

Octopath Traveler [Switch] – Review

Octopath Traveler - Switch - North American Box Art

One of the first games announced for the Nintendo Switch, Octopath Traveler had me intrigued from the moment I heard its ludicrous name. Developed by Square Enix and Acquire, it was published by Nintendo on July 13, 2018. As indicated by its name, the game highlights the journeys of eight disparate individuals. They travel throughout the continent of Orsterra in separate adventures inspired by golden-age JRPGs. Unique turn-based combat and addictive character development kept me entertained for the hundred hours I spent playing the game, even when the game’s storytelling underwhelmed me. Continue reading Octopath Traveler [Switch] – Review

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Half-Life [PlayStation 2] – Review

Half-Life - PlayStation 2 - North American Box Art

Half-Life is a game I’ve probably started a half-dozen times, yet never completed. It was one of the first video games I owned for a computer and I can still recall, quite vividly, when my mom bought it for me at a garage sale. Around this time – middle school – I had a burgeoning interest in video games, just as my enthusiasm for soccer waned. I had never heard of the game before but upon seeing the acclaim advertised on the big box Game of the Year Edition, I decided I needed to know about it.

Following an awkward period acquainting myself with mouse and keyboard controls, I assumed the role of Dr. Gordon Freeman and did my best to escape Black Mesa. At some point, struggling to overcome the odds, I burned out. Every now and then, as the years passed, I’d revisit the game, start a new save file, and proceed down the same path. Despite my inability to get very far, it’s remained on my to-do list ever since, especially considering its heralded status as a first-person shooter. Well, like I’ve done with many other games this year, I can finally mark it complete. Continue reading Half-Life [PlayStation 2] – Review

The Silver Case [PlayStation 4] – Review

The Silver Case - PlayStation 4 - North American Box Art

Unsure of what to play next after completing Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, my friend and I knew one thing: we didn’t want to play another eighty hour video game! Scanning the shelves of games in front of us, mulling our options, he pointed out The 25th Ward: The Silver Case. I had recently bought that game’s limited edition, despite the fact that its predecessor, The Silver Case, had been in my collection for more than a year, still unopened. I purchased both in part because they were inexpensive, but primarily due to my appreciation for their idiosyncratic writer/director, Goichi Suda, aka Suda51. Following research affirming the game’s length, and brief discussion on playing a visual novel, a genre neither of us had much history with, from a creator my friend had little experience with, we decided to start The Silver Case. Continue reading The Silver Case [PlayStation 4] – Review

Xenoblade Chronicles X [Wii U] – Review

Xenoblade Chronicles X - Wii X - North American Box Art

So, remember earlier this year when I began my Xenoblade Chronicles review talking about how I no longer had the time for lengthy RPGs? Well… apparently I do. Three months and 125 hours later, I’m finally done playing that game’s sequel, Xenoblade Chronicles X. Originally published in Japan by Nintendo on April 29, 2015, Monolith Soft’s Wii U follow-up arrived in the west half a year later, on December 4, 2015. Featuring no narrative continuity with its predecessor, this entry recounted humanity’s survival on an alien planet following the destruction of Earth. In nearly every way, the developer’s improved upon and expanded the systems they introduced in the previous game, making for an incredibly deep, and fulfilling experience. Continue reading Xenoblade Chronicles X [Wii U] – Review

Pokemon: A Grand Ambition, Update 8 – Shining Light

 

shuckle

It’s been a little more than a year since my last post, wherein I ostensibly reached the end of my “Grand Ambition.” Shortly after, I completed the National PokeDex in OmegaRuby, registering all 721 known Pokemon at that point. Upon hitting that milestone, my interest cooled. I continued popping into Sun to claim each new distribution, but nothing more.

Well, a few weeks ago I started playing OmegaRuby again, finally setting out to obtain some shiny Pokemon. My first target was Charmander.

As a reward for completing the National Dex in OmegaRuby, I received the Shiny Charm, an item which increased the likelihood of encountering shiny Pokemon. The standard rate in this particular generation is 1/4096. That is, each encounter, in the wild or by hatching an egg, has a 1/4096 chance of a shiny Pokemon appearing. Pretty dire odds… The Shiny Charm increases this rate to 3/4096, or roughly 1/1365. There are ways to further increase the odds though, such as breeding Pokemon from different regions – the Masuda Method. In doing so, and if in possession of the Shiny Charm, the odds the breeding Pokemon produce shiny offspring is increased to 8/4096, or 1/512. Regardless, they’re still very rare.

Unfortunately, I didn’t keep track of my progress, but I got my shiny Charmander after 150-200 eggs! I’d say that was maybe ten hours of playtime, spread out over a dozen or so sessions.

Wanting to “properly” train him, even though I don’t intend on playing competitively, I went down the rabbit hole of individual values and effort values… which is an overwhelming topic for another day.

Next target… SHUCKLE!

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare [PlayStation 4] – Review

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare - PlayStation 4 - North American Box Art

Acting upon a sense of urgency for no particular reason, this year has seen me completing many of the games that have populated my backlog for ages. Singularity and Syndicate, a pair of narrative-orientated first-person shooters, each with unique gameplay hooks, are two such games. While it misses the mark on alliteration, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare otherwise fits the bill, scratching that itch for what I want in an FPS. Published by Activision on November 4, 2014, it was Sledgehammer Games’ second entry in the series, following their co-development of Modern Warfare 3 alongside Infinity Ward. Additionally, Raven Software (the studio behind Singularity, coincidentally enough) developed the multiplayer components while High Moon Studios handled the previous generation versions. Continue reading Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare [PlayStation 4] – Review

Jet Grind Radio [Dreamcast] – Review

Jet Grind Radio - Dreamcast - North American Box Art

Having completed Jet Grind Radio for the first time, nearly twenty years after its original release and in spite of my awareness of its cult popularity, I’m nonetheless impressed by how fresh it remains. The team at Smilebit encapsulated a period of pop culture history so well: tonally, stylistically, and with such zest, that the game has eluded a potential fate of mere time capsule and is instead, timeless. It’s not without fault, however. In contrast to the vivacity of its aesthetics, the act of playing was oftentimes tormenting. An inadequate method of camera control compounded grievances I had with skaters’ rigid movement, momentum, and their flippant adverseness to grinding. With adaptation, I was able to compensate for these shortcomings and enjoy the otherwise exciting combination of skating and graffiti tagging gameplay. Continue reading Jet Grind Radio [Dreamcast] – Review