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.

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.

First Hour Podcast - Episode 2

Podcast

Welcome to the second episode of the First Hour podcast! In this episode, Paul, Greg, and Mike T. discuss Mass Effect 2, Tatsunoko v. Capcom, ESRB ratings, and more!

Download the podcast here. We hope to provide iTunes and general RSS support very soon.

Please leave us your feedback!

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The Most Cinematic Moments in Gaming History

Gaming Nostalgia
Metal Gear Solid 4/metal Gear Solid 4 Cover

You know the scenes I'm talking about. These are the kind of scenes that you have a save file just moments before so you can replay them over and over. These are the scenes you invite your friends over to see so you can show off your system in all its technical glory; the scenes that surpass mere nostalgia and still to this day retain legendary status in the gaming community. These are some of my favorite impacting scenes in gaming history. What are yours?

Spoilers inside.

Immortal Defense

Full Review
Immortal Defense Cover

Our second entry in this indie game month is a tower defense game by Studio Eres entitled Immortal Defense. I use the phrase "tower defense" lightly here, as while marketed as such, (Immortal Defense – a Tower Defense game), the creators only borrowed the genre basics and strived for much more than tower defense game #481.

In case you aren't familiar with tower defense, it is a strategy gametype where the player is thrown into a fairly large, relatively open area with start and end points. As a level begins, waves of mindless enemies trickle from the start point and make their way to the exit. It is your job to place towers in strategic locations to hold off this onslaught. Resources and available towers are limited at the start, but increase as you kill enemies and as time progresses. Tower types are somewhat varied but usually have characteristics such as single shot vs multishot vs cone vs aoe, perhaps the ability to slow/freeze, and varying ranges from poking distance to full screen. The roots behind the genre have been around for a while but seems to have really taken off over the lifespan of Warcraft III. The mod creation tool led itself perfectly to creating tower defense games and many people were soon spending hours blowing up hordes of mindless drones. Following the huge success of these games, tower defense soon spread beyond mods to more easily accessible flash games and even standalones such as Defense Grid (on XBLA/Steam), and that's where we are now.

Super Bowl XLIV

Sports Pre-enactment
Super Bowl 44 Logo

Time for the third annual First Hour Super Bowl pre-enactment! With the big game just two days away, we play the upcoming Super Bowl match-up with a football video game. Now, we could play something fancy like Madden 2010, but that's no fun (literally), so we'll be playing one of the most entertaining football games of all-time: NFL Blitz on the Nintendo 64. I have a ton of great memories of this game, mostly of last second comebacks and aggressive rubber band A.I.

In 2008 and 2009, we played the Super Bowl with Tecmo Super Bowl, the epitome of classic sports gaming. NFL Blitz has some weird limitations though, you can't actually pick who you want to play against, so the only way I could match up the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints was to start a season. Thankfully, the two teams met in only the fourth game that season, so I was able to sneak a few practice rounds in. Unfortunately, this means I was only able to play the match-up once, instead of a best of three like I usually would. But like I said, the computer will simply not allow a blow-out to occur, so the game will be close no matter what side I play on.

So here we go, first we'll do a quick look at how the teams matched up back in the days of NFL Blitz (console versions were released in 1998) and then we'll play the game. In very un-Blitz-like fashion, we'll be playing the game with six minute quarters! The default quarter length is two minutes.

Post-game update: Blitz sadly fails to come through. Not only was the final score not 87-79, but the Saints won! Maybe next year!

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

Full Review
Legend Of Zelda Spirit Tracks Cover

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is the latest in the revered Legend of Zelda series. I doubt anyone needs an introduction to this series, so I won't give one.

Spirit Tracks is on the Nintendo DS, and is a direct sequel to 2007's Phantom Hourglass. The controls have remained mostly the same, with a few refinements that I'll get into later.

Spirit Tracks follows the story set out by Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass. It's now a hundred years later and everything is settled in the new land, with Zelda as the princess. Link is training to become an engineer (get it? Training?) when suddenly bad things happen and Link is the only one who can fix them. We've heard it all before, right? Maybe all except the train part. But this time, Zelda has had her body stolen, and she travels with Link in spirit form. She acts both as fairy companion a la Navi (although much less intrusive), and she doubles as a giant-sword-wielding, invincible suit of armor. Zelda can possess Phantoms and you can control her, in a new twist to the Zelda series. So for those of you clamoring for a playable Zelda character, this is as close as you can (and probably ever will) come.

GameTrailers.com discovers the awesomeness of first hour gaming

GameTrailers.com has recently launched a new feature called Hour One, a "brand new show that gives you the first hour of an upcoming or newly released game." Sounds a bit familiar! GameTrailers.com joins the ranks of yours truly, Games for Lunch, and Kotaku Australia in focusing on the first hour of a video game.

I was enthused when I found out that Kotaku Australia has written a few of them, but with GameTrailers.com jumping into the fray, things just got serious! Of course, they're going for more of the video experience than an actual review of the game, but I believe it legitimizes the importance of the first hour of video games even more. It's really great to see more and more reputable sites jumping on the first hour train.

Their first Hour One video was on Mass Effect 2, which I also reviewed the first hour of on its release day.

Dead Panic

Full Review
Dead Panic Cover

Zombie games are gaming's latest craze gone wild. With the popularity of zombie shooter Left 4 Dead at its peak, Call of Duty: World at War featuring a Nazi zombie mode, and old classics like Zombies Ate My Neighbors being re-released on the Virtual Console, a zombie outbreak is as ripe of setting as ever. Independent developer Sean Maher has brought the classic hobby of mowing down zombies to the iPhone now with Dead Panic, a tactical zombie shooter. Dead Panic is light on story, but heavy on difficult scenarios for your soldiers to survive. The premise is simple: strategically place your soldiers, and let loose horde.

Dead Panic is our first indie game review of 2010, we'll be featuring five more indie-developed games throughout the month of February. Dead Panic is available on the Apple App Store right now for the very reasonable price of $1.99.

February is once again indie games month

For the second year running, The First Hour will celebrate the independent developer by focusing on indie games! We've got six great games lined up from a variety of developers for a variety of platforms. I'm really excited to show off what these guys can do. If you'd like to get a head start on the action, here are the six games:

If you want to check out the archives, 2009's indie games month was inspired by Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble and featured Braid, Kudos 2, World of Goo, and The Magic Toy Chest.

First Hour Podcast - Episode 1

Podcast

Welcome to the first episode of the First Hour podcast! In this premier episode, Paul and Greg discuss the site's origins, discuss The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, and argue about the Nintendo 64's library of games.

Please leave us your feedback! We've been listening to podcasts for years but this is our first time actually producing one.

Theme Music
Plok Title Jam - Mazedude

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