Dreamfall: The Longest Journey

First Hour Review

Dreamfall: The Longest Journey CoverDreamfall: The Longest Journey is an adventure game released in 2006 for Xbox and Windows. It's the sequel to The Longest Journey, a straight point-and-click adventurer released seven years earlier. Dreamfall takes advantage of the beefier hardware and features fully navigable 3D environments that plays more like Shenmue than Syberia. This may very well be the evolution of adventure games right before our eyes.

I never played the original Longest Journey, well, I take that back. I played the demo for a few minutes then turned it off. So much for the first hour of a demo, huh? There's something to be said about starting in the middle of any story driven game, it usually doesn't work. But that's The Longest Journey, and this is Dreamfall! If you're curious about the game after the review, it's readily available on both Steam and Xbox Live Originals on the 360. Check it out, after we check out the first hour of Dreamfall.

Kudos 2

First Hour Review

Kudos 2 CoverKudos 2 is a computer game made by indie developer Positech Games. Easiest way to describe it is as a turn-based Sims. You create a character, and balance their stats and needs as you live their life. That's really where the similarities end though as we'll see. In some ways, Kudos 2 seems to have even more potential than the Sims series.

The game is available for both Windows and Mac (just released the other day!), and features absolutely no DRM. One guy, Cliff Harris, makes his living off making video games. I think that's pretty awesome, honestly. Full disclosure, he gave me a review copy to play. This is the first time anyone has ever done that, indie or not, and I feel a bit honored. At the same time, I'm suddenly thrust this new and worrisome responsibility: will the free review copy somehow affect my score of the game? Will it adversely affect the score because I'll be trying too hard not to give it a good score? I will try to be as honest as I possibly can. Now let's get to the first hour of Kudos 2.


First Hour Review

Actraiser CoverActRaiser is a 1990 platformer/simulator for the Super Nintendo. No, it doesn't simulate the platformer genre, there are two distinct (very distinct) modes of gameplay in this game. You essentially play God, and are attempting to win back control of the world from the Devil. Of course, this translation never made it outside of Japan, but it's pretty obvious when you play it. I never played ActRaiser before this review, and really had no idea what to expect. First you play a pretty typical platformer, and then all of sudden you're building an ancient city while shooting arrows at demons. It's weird, but as you'll find out, fun.

The game has been released on the Wii Virtual Console, so there's definitely an opportunity to play ActRaiser still today. Let's start playing the first hour of Actraiser for the Super Nintendo.

Kung Fu Panda

First Hour Review

Kung fu Panda CoverKung Fu Panda is the video game based off of the recent movie hit. For Christmas I received an Xbox 360 and packaged inside was Kung Fu Panda and Lego Indiana Jones. Now, I've already reviewed the first hour (and beat, but didn't 100% complete) Lego Indy for the Nintendo DS, so I'm just kind of ignoring it at the moment. You may be in my position, you have this movie-based game about a bunch of animals that do martial arts, and you're really not sure if you should even bother unwrapping the plastic from it. So let me help you out, let's play the first hour of Kung Fu Panda together and see if it's worth playing.

Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble!

First Hour Review

Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble CoverDangerous High School Girls in Trouble! is a indie PC game released this year. It's a computer board game at heart with lots of puzzles mixed in and a mystery to solve at high school. DHSGiT (I think that's the only time I'll use that acronym, ever) is a period game set in America's roaring twenties and features a large cast of funny and well written characters. Tons of original art and gameplay is promised by the developer, Mousechief, who actually emailed me back in July and requested I give their game a review (and yes, I do take requests).

This is my first review of an independently made game, and I think I'll do more of them in the future. They typically offer such a unique experience that is simply not found anywhere else. I have a few other in mind that I think are worthy of a one hour go. But for the game at hand, let's get into the first hour of Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble!

Mother 3

First Hour Review

Mother 3 CoverMother 3 is the 2006 sequel to Earthbound that was only released in Japan. However, last month a fan translation was released and now I can play Mother 3 without referring to my Japanese dictionary every ten minutes. The translation is supposedly really good, even for a series that is chock full of humor and puns that take a lot of effort to translate from one language, and culture, to another.

One of the questions on many minds is why wasn't this game officially translated and released outside of Japan? I've been mind boggled about this for two years now and my respect for Nintendo of America definitely went down because of this. Gamers have seen this before with Sin and Punishment, Star Ocean, and even Final Fantasy V, but all of these games eventually saw a translated release. But from everything Nintendo says, Mother 3 will only officially ever be released in Japan. We all scream "why?" because Earthbound was so popular (which, of course, is Mother 2, with Mother never being released outside of Japan either). I think I finally got my answer the other day, when I read this absolutely great review on Mother 3. The reviewer described the game as poetry and that attempting to translate Mother 3 would result just like the generally awful translations of ancient haikus. The rhythm is gone. The original meaning is lost.

But alas, Mother 3 has been translated, and the first hour beckons. For those unaware, Mother 3 is a role-playing game for the Game Boy Advance. And this is actually the first review I've done where I've already reviewed a game in the same series as Earthbound was the second review I ever wrote. Well, let's go.

For a review on just the entire game, check out my Mother 3 review at Beyond the First Hour.

Night Trap

First Hour Review

Night Trap CoverNight Trap was a controversial full-motion video game released on a variety of CD-based systems in the early 90's. It serves as a great reminder to people who wish to defend against video game censorship in the United States as the game's leading opponents: Joe Lieberman and Herb Kohl, are still serving in the Senate 15 years later. Night Trap is pretty timid compared to some games nowadays and mostly attracted attention because it used real actors (if you could call them that) in pajamas and had a vampire blood sucking scene. There have undoubtedly been hundreds of scenes of vampires sucking the blood of a young woman out in film and even on TV over the years, but Night Trap gets targeted because why?

Anyways, a little about my experience with the game. I actually beat Night Trap a few years ago, it was an epic moment in my video game career and a story I'll be able to retell for ages. I first played it when it was initially released on the Sega CD back in 1992. Even then I realized how bad this game was, the control is simply horrid and the full motion video is anything but that. My friend and I played it because we were young and intrigued about the notion of the possibility of breasts in a video game. Of course, there isn't any nudity but we liked to think that if we beat the game, we would be duly rewarded. If you consider the opportunity to kill Dana Plato a great reward though, well, you will love this game. Now on to the first hour review of Night Trap for the PC!

Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden

First Hour Review

Ninja Gaiden Xbox CoverNinja Gaiden NES CoverNinja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden are NES and Xbox games with the exact same name. Ninja Gaiden for the NES came out in 1989 and Ninja Gaiden for the Xbox came out in 2004. I'm not sure why Tecmo and lead designer Itagaki didn't give the Xbox Ninja Gaiden game a subtitle, but it's too late to wonder, because there are officially two games under the name of Ninja Gaiden, just released 15 years apart. In first hour tradition, I will be only playing Ninja Gaiden for one hour, but because they are named exactly the same, I will first play half an hour of Ninja Gaiden for the NES, and then half an hour on the Xbox. This will complicate the review a bit, but I'll try to always make is clear what game I'm talking about.

This is an exciting time for the Ninja Gaiden series, as Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword was released last month for the DS and Ninja Gaiden II will be out in a few weeks for the Xbox 360. Remember, this is a new Ninja Gaiden II, not Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos which was released on the NES in 1990. Yeah, Tecmo does it again. I plan on playing Dragon Sword (not Dark Sword) someday as it sounds pretty cool, but this review is all about the first hour of the two Ninja Gaidens. So let's get right down to it. To start, the first thirty minutes of Ninja Gaiden for the NES.

Pocky & Rocky

First Hour Review

Pocky & Rocky CoverPocky & Rocky is a multiplayer scrolling shooter for the SNES and developed by Natsume, the creators of Harvest Moon. It's hard to imagine the guys who made a farming simulator once worked on a fast-paced, crazy hard shoot 'em up. But they did, and here it is. The game has a lot of charisma and character, but it's super tough! I recruited my friend Hylas to help me out, much like I did for Zombies Ate My Neighbors. This game once again proves that two heads are better than one, but is the game really any good? With a name like Pocky & Rocky, how can you go wrong?

Pocky & Rocky is actually the second game in the Pocky series (Kiki KaiKai was a Japanese only arcade game featuring just our heroine Pocky), but the first in the Pocky and Rocky series starring the girl and the raccoon. There's also a new PS2/Wii game called Kiki Kai World (or Heavenly Guardian) that is somewhat of a new sequel to the series, just 15 years later. Well, who cares about those other games, this is all about Pocky & Rocky! Now, let's get it on!

Suikoden II

First Hour Review

Suikoden II CoverSuikoden II is a rare PlayStation RPG that can fetch some pretty ridiculous prices on eBay, with sealed copies climbing over $200. Expensive doesn't necessarily mean the game is any good though, as I've seen friends pay many bills for mediocre games that triggered the nostalgia portion of their brain. Either way, Suikoden II is a Konami developed role-playing game on a Squaresoft dominated system and thus never saw sales for this odd sounding game that came close to most other games. The Suikoden series is still being developed by Konami but many fans consider this as the best in the series.

The game itself features an interesting political storyline with highly memorable characters. This description reminds me of Final Fantasy XII, but the difference between the two games is that in Final Fantasy XII the characters seemed far removed from the political scheming where in Suikoden II our heroes are right in the mix of things. The battle system is unique in that your team of fighters consists of six characters in turn-based combat. There are also 108 total characters you can recruit to your cause, a number that seems way too high but is actually manageable and keeps the game entertaining. When not in use, all your recruits hang out in an ever-expanding castle that also serves as your home base.

This is all extra information mostly non-applicable to just the first hour of gameplay, but I consider myself a Suikoden II evangelist and will take any opportunity to push it to the masses. Now let's get started with the first hour of Suikoden II.

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