rpg

Glory of Heracles

Half-Hour Handheld

Glory of Heracles CoverGlory of Heracles is a DS RPG published by Nintendo and developed by Paon.  It attempts to harken back to the old school of RPGs, leaning toward the SNES era.

The playing of this game by me will discover whether this game achieves that goal, and if that goal is worthy.  Are SNES RPGs still relevant?  Have we moved on, or will the sense of nostalgia be enough to reel us in?

Glory of Heracles was actually a series of games in Japan published by Data East since 1987.  Nintendo acquired the rights when Data East went bankrupt in 2003.  This is the first game to make it to the west; apparently Nintendo is hoping to pull a Fire Emblem. 


Armada

First Hour Review

Armada CoverTime for a first hour review/chance to test out my capture card abilities. Today I'll be playing Armada, a Dreamcast game semi-randomly selected from those in my possession that have not been previously played through. Well, I think I actually played a few minutes of it when I got it, but nothing I particularly remember and certainly nothing particularly substantial. All I really recall is that it seemed to be received fairly positively and was supposedly a fine multiplayer game. So anyway, let's try it out. If you want to follow along with the video playthrough, you can find it at my YouTube playlist.

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days

Half-Hour Handheld
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days coverIf you didn't already know, Kingdom Hearts is a crossover series between Square Enix and Disney.  As unlikely as that seems, the games have been quite popular.  Two Playstation 2 games, a GameBoy Advance game that was later ported to the PS2 (I know) and a PSP game have come out of this union.

358/2 Days is the DS (and latest) installation of the franchise.  Although nobody's really sure how to say the title, it was a smart move to develop it for the dual-screened handheld, as more people own a DS than any other system.  The question we'll be asking ourselves today is the usual: is this game worth continuing?  Because it's a handheld game, which I believe should be designed for shorter playing sessions, I'll be playing just the first half-hour for review.

Kingdom Hearts has a lot of... how to say... avid fans.  Personally, I'm more of a casual fan.  I think that strikes a good balance for reviewing this game.

Chrono Trigger 15th Anniversary Tribute

Gaming Nostalgia
Chrono Trigger Super Nintendo coverI will readily admit that Chrono Trigger is my favorite game of all time.  I love the game to its full extent and no other game has really ever even come close to unseating it over the last 15 years.  That's over half of my life, and considering the hundreds of games I've played, I think it is an awesome accomplishment that one has reigned for so long.  I currently own three copies of the game, one for the Super Nintendo, one for the Super Famicon, and finally the re-release on the Nintendo DS.  They each have their unique story that I will tell.  I have chosen never to buy the PSX version for a few reasons.

This was the first piece of Gaming Nostalgia I ever wrote, but it's been sitting on the back-burner until the right moment.  This is as good as time as any since Chrono Trigger was released 15 years ago in Japan (and August of 1995 in North America).  I'm a sucker for celebrating anniversaries, so here's my tribute to the best game ever.

Odin Sphere

First Hour Review
Odin Sphere Cover

If there’s ever a time to start completing your PlayStation 2 collection, now is that time. A bunch of solid PS2 titles are still being sold in the numerous brick and mortar businesses that like to hock videogames. Each one will most likely cost less than $20.00, and given the number of games filling bargain bins to the brim, there’s good reasoning to dig around.

For example, Odin Sphere. A stylized, 2D action RPG based on Norse mythology from Atlus, it won’t win any "games as art" debates, but it could probably put up a decent fight for "games with great art." How will it play though? Let’s give it an hour.

Mass Effect 2

First Hour Review
Mass Effect 2 Cover

Mass Effect 2. It is only the sequel to one of my favorite games of all time. It is only the biggest release so far in 2010, and might be for the entire year. It is only... Mass Effect 2.

All right, I'll come back down to earth for a bit. I will admit, I am very excited for this game. I haven't been this hyped for a game since Majora's Mask. But I will try not to let it interfere with my duty as an amateur video game reviewer to answer the burning question: Would I keep playing? (spoilers: YES!)

Mass Effect 2 is the latest science fiction action/shooter/RPG hybrid from BioWare. The game picks up a few years after the first Mass Effect closed with Commander Shepard still in the starring role. The original galaxy threat is still at large, but is taking a backseat to a much more pressing and immediate menace. One of the game's big features is the ability to import your Shepard from save files from the first game. This is one of the reasons I beat the original six different times with four different Shepards. Maybe a bit excessive, but I was just preparing myself for the full experience come January 26, 2010.

So here we go, the first hour of Mass Effect 2. I will be creating a brand new character for the experience. If you're interested in checking out all of our other Mass Effect series content, we've got a ton of it.

Final Fantasy IV

First Hour Review
Final Fantasy 4 Cover

Square's Final Fantasy IV was originally released in Japan on the Super Famicom in 1991 and was localized in the US as Final Fantasy II, since the previous two games weren't released in America.

Final Fantasy IV changed the face of RPGs and set the standard for the name final Fantasy for years to come. The storytelling was unparalleled in video games and the amount of detail lavished on the game was staggering.

For the 20th anniversary of the Final Fantasy series, Square-Enix remade FFIV in full 3D and released it on the DS in 2008, this time with the proper number in the title.

I've never played the original Super NES version, so this will be my first encounter with Final Fantasy IV. Can it hold up in this day and age?

Note: I considered reviewing this as a Half-Hour Handheld, but since it was originally released as a console game, I will go ahead and play it for the full hour.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Full Review
Knights Of The Old Republic Cover

Back in 2003, I played a bit of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on the PC when it was released. It was college, so everybody was doing it, but for whatever reason, I only played a few hours. In 2009, I played the first hour of the game and rediscovered a gem. I loved Jade Empire and Mass Effect, but here was their older brother: slower paced and much more heavily based in the D20 rule set. It seemed like it wouldn't be possible to take the step backward from those action heavy games to Knights of the Old Republic, but after playing the first hour, I had to give it a try again.

I have a bit of an odd history with the game, like I mentioned, I played KotOR when it was first released, but gave up on it after reaching a key point in the game about 8-10 hours in. While replaying the game this time around, however, I couldn't remember how far I had played. I kept thinking, "oh, I remember doing this before, but there's no way I played beyond that" until I reached a point where I thought I really was playing all new content. Turns out, a few weeks ago I was perusing some random posts I wrote on a message board in 2003 and I was actually having a discussion with someone about reaching a particular scene I have absolutely no memory of playing. It was this really weird sense of deja vu, like I could have beaten the game but not remembered it.

I've beaten the game now though, here's my full review of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on the Xbox.

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story

First Hour Review
Mario Luigi Bowsers Inside Story Cover

The Mario & Luigi series has become one of the more interesting handheld exclusive franchises. Although heavily inspired by the console Mario RPG games, it has managed to make a name for itself with its unique battle system and comical dialogue. The series debuted on the Game Boy Advance with Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and continued on the DS with Partners in Time, which many regarded as inferior to the previous title. Developer AlphaDream brings us another entry with an off the wall premise and putting Bowser in the role of co-protagonist. First hour of Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story incoming:

Phantasy Star Zero

First Hour Review
Phantasy Star Zero Cover

Phantasy Star is back with Phantasy Star 0, the sequel to the console based Phantasy Star Online series. However, this time Sega managed to pack in a complete online experience on the Nintendo DS, allowing four players to connect together and fight in its science fiction/fantasy setting. Phantasy Star 0 was released in November and features not only a full fledged online game, but also an offline story mode for when your friends aren't around.

Grant has chosen to keep his first hour review limited to the offline mode, it is probably a toss up whether a new player will play online or offline anyway.

Greg's note: In high school, I had a few friends who were obsessed with Phantasy Star Online on the GameCube. They would come over to my house and just sit on a television all night playing it, though never online. It was the oddest thing and I always wondered why they would play a game called Phantasy Star Online exclusively off. Either way, it was entertaining watching them get wiped out by a boss but mostly everyone was just bored to tears as they discussed drop rates and their latest swords. One of my friends who did play online actually bought the giant GameCube controller keyboard, where a typical controller was mutilated and had 108 keys stuck between the thumstick and buttons. Awkward

Here's Grant's first hour review of Phantasy Star 0 (or Phantasy Star Zero for you 0/O impaired readers like me).

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