Tag Archives: japan

Deathsmiles [Xbox 360] – Review

Stylistically, I’m not as smitten with Deathsmiles as I am with Akai Katana. What can I say, I’m just not into sexualized preteens and teenage girls! Honestly though, across the dozen or so unique half-hour playthroughs, there were only one or two skeezy scenes, but hey, one is too many, right?

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Raiden Fighters Aces [Xbox 360] – Review

As a kid of the 1990s, games like those included in the Raiden Fighters Aces compilation are what come to mind when I think of shoot ‘em ups. The three games included display an adherence to 2D pixel graphics, when in the mid to late 1990s, at the time of their release, 3D polygonal visuals were becoming the norm. The vehicles I piloted, those I destroyed, the villages and other locales I flew over all appeared to be grounded in reality, save for the sci-fi weaponry blotting the screen at all times. And the ludicrously high scores, now those I remember. Yep, stepping up to arcade cabinets at the bowling alley and having to count out the high score in chunks of three to see how many million points I attained, that I remember.

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Akai Katana [Xbox 360] – Review

It’s amazing what comes into your mind when you just stop and think, huh? For instance, just a few nights ago I was thinking about Akai Katana, the bullet hell shoot ‘em up I’d been playing on the Xbox 360. I first dabbled with it back in September, after thrilling sessions with Mars Matrix caused me to reevaluate the intimidating subgenre of shoot ‘em ups. That first session was a euphoric experience, full of lights, sounds, and unconscious reflexes, and I wasn’t even doing very well.  It was a lot like losing my virginity! And like that pivotal event, once it was over, I knew I wanted to experience it again.

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Sword of Vermilion [Sega Genesis] – Review

Although my playthrough of Phantasy Star II sputtered to an end well before that game’s completion, my appetite for an older JRPG hadn’t been satiated. There was no shortage of such game on the Sega Genesis Classics compilation I was playing, and with most of them still new to me, I decided to stick with it for the time being. Continuing on with the next entry in the Phantasy Star series – Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom – was an option, but I went ahead and placed it on my backlog. Instead, having learned that Phantasy Star II was the first JRPG released on the Genesis, I thought I’d follow it up with the next chronologically released JRPG (available on this compilation). That game, which debuted half a year later, was Sword of Vermilion.

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Picross: Lord of the NAzarick [Switch] – Review

I won’t lie. After more than forty hours with Picross: Lord of the Nazarick, I still have no idea what’s up with Overlord, the game’s underlying source material. In fairness, I’ve been slowly whittling away the more than 500 picture crossword puzzles for over a year, so of course the brief text conversations that occurred at the beginning of a particular character’s section didn’t stick with me. And hey, who cares anyway? My original intent wasn’t to familiarize myself with Overlord, it was to find a new well of Picross puzzles to solve at bedtime and on that account, it was a… well, a mundane success.

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Metal Slug Anthology [PlayStation 4] – Review

Last week was pretty great, and not just because I played through a different Metal Slug game each day. No, it was pretty great because I spent the week with my three month old son. My wife’s FMLA was scheduled to end and accordingly, we had planned for me to use up some accrued vacation time to prolong daycare one more week, and you know, get some quality time with our little tree frog. I had taken off the week when he was born, and of course we had plenty of bonding time in the evenings and on weekends when my wife would get a break, but nonetheless, spending so much unbroken time with him was immensely fulfilling. At this stage in his development, he seemed to make noticeable improvements with his motor skills daily; and I may be a little biased, but everything he does is so fascinating!

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Tokyo Jungle [PlayStation 3] – Review

When I think of Sony’s Japan branch, I think of all the oddball titles they’ve made in collaboration with smaller studios. Games like Rain, Mister Mosquito, or Tokyo Jungle.

Developed by Crispy’s, a seemingly now defunct developer based in Tokyo’s Chūō ward, Tokyo Jungle was published for the PlayStation 3 on June 7, 2012, with western releases following in September of that year. The middle release of their output, it followed MyStylist, their self-described “fashion life support tool” which remained exclusive to Japan following its February 2008 release for the PlayStation Portable. And to my knowledge, their 2014 endless runner Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day, made in collaboration with Grasshopper Manufacture, remains their last published work. Oh, and they also revamped Tokyo Jungle for mobile devices and the PlayStation Vita, although that version is shamefully unavailable to play anymore.

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Suikoden II [PlayStation] – Review

Suikoden II lives up to the hype. Having heard its praises sung for years, I’ve long been interested in playing it, and the series as a whole. The recent announcement of a spiritual successor reignited my desire to jump in, and I found the first game quite enjoyable. Suikoden II though, is an improvement in almost every regard. Like its predecessor, the developers adapted gameplay systems and formulas common to traditional Japanese role-playing games – think turn-based battles and town-dungeon-town progression – but did so with their own twist.

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Mars Matrix [Dreamcast] – Review

After beating Suikoden, the thought of jumping right into Suikoden II left me salivating. That game’s status as the best in the series, and one of the best JRPGs of all time is pretty much universally agreed upon . But, I slowed my roll. Typically, I sandwich a few shorter games in between playthroughs of role-playing games, considering they generally take thirty hours to complete, at a minimum. After all, I’m a grown-ass adult, with grown-ass adult responsibilities, so I don’t have the time to just sit around playing video games all day. Rest assured though, they do occupy way too much of my thoughts.

Anyways, collecting myself, I laid out the three games I’d be playing. The futuristic, yet mechanically ancient first-person shooter Codename: Tenka wasn’t a total bust, but after a couple of hours, I couldn’t justify playing it anymore. In contrast, the one-of-a-kind insect simulation Mister Mosquito only took a few hours, and was right up my alley. Finally, there was Mars Matrix. Spurred on by intriguing compliments delivered by Brandon Sheffield on Twitter (that I can’t seem to find now…), and the realization of how much the Dreamcast version sells for in the secondary market, I figured I ought to give it a shot, or a second one, since it turns out I played it back in 2011, an experience I’d all but forgotten about.

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Final Fantasy VII [Switch] – Review

Final Fantasy VII - PlayStation - North American Box Art

Years after completing the previous entry in the series, and following its release for the Nintendo Switch and renewed hype for the upcoming PlayStation 4 remake, I’ve finally completed Final Fantasy VII. It’s hard to dispute the game’s status as the most popular Final Fantasy, and now that I’ve experienced it in full, it’s easy to see why. The game’s modern/sci-fi setting and appealing characters make for a more relatable experience than previous entries. The fundamental RPG gameplay is rock solid, and the Materia customization is addictively satisfying. Also, it didn’t hurt that this was the first entry to release with 3D visuals, or that the soundtrack was phenomenal. More than twenty years on from its debut, the game remains a standout entry in the series, and an enjoyable RPG in general. Continue reading Final Fantasy VII [Switch] – Review