This site reviews the first hour, and only the first hour, of video games. It gives a minute by minute look at what is potentially a deal breaker for many games. If a game isn't fun during the initial hour, why should we expect the last 10 to 50 hours to be any different? The First Hour updates every few days with a new game review. Please contact greg@firsthour.net for comments, game suggestions, or if you'd like to write for the site.

Psychonauts: An Audio Visual (Half) Experience

Audio-Visual Experience

Psychonauts CoverThis Psychonauts Audio-Visual (half) Experience contains and displays some of the vibrant, shiny, brilliant, and clever content that exists throughout the game.  Unfortunately, due to a variety of bugs that caused me crashes, missing graphical layers, strange periodic muted dialogue, control irregularities, memory leaks, and crippling fps drops, I did not have the heart to continue or even play the game for significant time each session.  But there is no question that the game itself has heart and some clever, varied visual design, thus here we are...

Video Games Live

Blog Post

Video Games Live LogoThose of us who play a lot of video games know the power that music brings to them.  We all have our favorite classic tunes, and we know the feeling of hearing a great piece of music while playing a game.  Personally I am a huge fan of game music, listening to soundtracks and remixes of soundtracks in my everyday life.

Video Games Live is a show designed to bring the joys of video game music to the greater public.  The show consists of an orchestra playing music from games while footage from the game plays on big screens, accompanied by a light show and sometimes stage antics.

Last week I had the privilege of attending this show.  For those of you who are stalking me online, let's just get this out of the way.  I live in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the show was just outside the city April 1st.

Now for those of you who listen to the podcast, you will know that myself and one of our other writers, Michael T, were planning on attending the show in February but it was canceled.  Although we're still not completely sure why, they rescheduled it at a different venue about six weeks later.

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

Full Review

Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks CoverThis is a first for us, but this is our second full review of The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks on the First Hour. Paul first reviewed the game in early February and praised it for its stellar action and improved controls over Phantom Hourglass.  He did note some issues with the train in the game, and while most of my opinions will echo his, I would like to get my thoughts down before I move on to other games.

This is Nintendo's second attempt at going for an entirely stylus-driven Zelda experience.  I'm actually still a bit shocked that this works.  It's not perfect, but it is definitely not substantially worse than playing a console Zelda game, and in some ways works better than the old 2D games.  Paul said he noticed improvements in the control, but either it's been so long since I played Phantom Hourglass that I didn't notice, or... they didn't make any improvements.  I'm guessing the former as I was rarely frustrated with the game control-wise.

Just like to quickly mention how awesome it is that we got two Legend of Zelda games on the Nintendo DS, especially considering it was nearly three years after the system debuted that Phantom Hourglass finally landed.  It'd be great to see a third, but I imagine Nintendo will be refocusing their efforts on the DSi or 3DS at this point.  Hey, you can always hire Capcom to make more portable iterations.

Borderlands: It's gonna be addicting

Blog Post

Borderlands CoverI received Borderlands from my brother-in-law for Christmas, but didn't have the opportunity to play it until my other brother-in-law was over to visit and asked to play it.  I watched him play while trying out the new Miles Edgeworth game, but Borderlands really grabbed my attention.

He chose to play as a berserker, and after the initial bus ride cutscene, he was on Pandora and kicking butt.  The game was very open but it always seemed like he had something to do. There were a couple of quest givers, he was leveling up, finding new guns, shooting more and more enemies.  He played for about two hours and had taken out the game's first boss after a few attempts, and then it was my turn to give it a go.

I can't believe I left this game on my shelf for so long, it's... awesome. I haven't played a game like it since World of Warcraft.  The open world feels big and intimidating, but it's one of those perfect examples of sandbox non-linearity with just the right amount of linear guidance.  The quests keep coming and I just kept leveling up.  There were skill points to earn and bigger and better guns to collect. I'm already hooked.

Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber

Full Review

Ogre Battle 64 CoverOgre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber is a mixed game, and has had mixed reviews. Some hold it as the holy grail of RPG/Strategy gaming, while others find it about as entertaining as a box of rocks.

I’m of the former. When I saw this game in Nintendo Power, and read about it, it was all new to me. I never played its SNES predecessor. But it looked so awesome. Being an RPG fan, and desperately wanting a reason to play my Nintendo 64 other than to play Super Smash Bros. or Star Fox. The game Quest 64 left a terrible taste in my mouth and made me desperately want a Playstation for some good RPG games.

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. 


The First Hour Podcast - Episode 5

Podcast
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Here it is, the fifth episode of The First Hour Podcast! In this episode, Paul and Greg discuss their views on the 3DS announcement, another writer (also named Paul) drops in to talk about the latest Pokemon games, and Mike returns to give his opinion of Final Fantasy XIII. And that's not all!

Download the podcast: 

Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts

First Hour Review

Super Ghouls n Ghosts CoverSuper Ghouls 'n Ghosts is a game I knew very little about. When I was about eight years old, a few of my friends said it was "the destroyer of worlds." Not just difficult, but impossible. None of my friends could progress very far, and as an eight year old, I wanted to prove to them that I was superior. Unfortunately, none of them would lend it to me, and I never really had the money to buy it and every time I went to the video store to rent it, it was always out. I don't know if it was just that popular, or if they lost it. I'm guessing the latter.

Now, I understand that it was made in 1991 by Capcom. It’s been ported to a bunch of different gaming platforms including the PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Game Boy Advance, PlayStation 2, Xbox, PlayStation Portable and Virtual Console on the Wii. 

It is the sequel to Ghosts 'n Goblins and Ghouls 'n Ghosts, and also loosely related to Demon's Crest. I've played games like Contra and got pretty far before hitting a mark that was impassable for me, even at the wee ages of nine. So I figured… how hard can this game be?  Here's the first hour of Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts.

Time Gentlemen, Please!: An Audio-Visual Experience

Audio-Visual Experience

Time Gentlemen Please CoverThis spoiler-filled Audio Visual Experience of Time Gentlemen, Please! contains both potential puzzle/adventuring hints as well as possibly direct spoilers, up to and including the ending of the game. If you are interested in playing the game and have yet to do so (check the less spoilertastic article on the game), then you may wish to avoid this article. Otherwise, enjoy the experience of this fun little indie adventure game. Also as a sidenote, due to a bug with the game engine, no dialogue was captured on the images until the last few images, when some setting changes fixed the issue (as a result, somewhat reducing spoilering but also reducing fun). Warning: potential spoilers below.

Ben There, Dan That! and Time Gentlemen, Please!

Full Review

Time Gentlemen Please CoverSo as I'm moving through my Steam backlog, my next games are the adventure duo Ben There, Dan That! and its sequel Time Gentlemen, Please! Both are old-school 2d adventure games, harking back to classics such as Maniac Mansion, Loom, Monkey Island and Sam & Max (admittedly, none of which I have played aside from the free Sam & Max episode on Steam).

 

In case you aren't familiar with the PC adventure game genre, they're dialogue-heavy puzzle/detective games of a sort. You walk around, talk to people, pick things up, interact with objects and generally figure out ways to progress to your next or overall objective. It's generally very simple to play, not requiring twitch skills or muscle memory like most modern games and can be taken at whatever pace you wish. The humor of the games are by far their biggest draw, with large amounts of clever, lighthearted, endearing dialogue. Of course, then the dialogue is the main draw of the genre and allows it to stand out over say, an electronic version of Clue. Other significant factors towards the final product include ambience, intelligent pacing and a basic yet effective control scheme. The genre as a whole has a fairly rabid dedicated fanbase. This is in contrast to the majority of the gaming world, who doesn't even know that the genre exists.

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