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.

Tecmo Super Bowl

First Hour Review

Tecmo Super Bowl CoverTecmo Super Bowl is a classic football game for the NES. With the real Super Bowl airing tomorrow night, I've decided to post my first hour review of Tecmo Super Bowl a few days early. This won't be a typical review though, as I've played the game to death, I'm going to perform some Super Bowl predictions with the 17 year old game and pit the New England Patriots against the New York Giants. This is tomorrow's Super Bowl matchup but obviously these teams are very different than what they were when this game came out, so don't place any bets off the outcome!

Post-game results: Tecmo Super Bowl predicted the winner! Not even Madden picked them right!

A little about the game before we get started, Tecmo Super Bowl was the sequel to... Tecmo Bowl, and though that game was very good, Super builds and improves on the original in nearly every way. We now have 30 man rosters instead of 20 and Tecmo Super Bowl also featured 11 men on each side of the ball for every play, where Tecmo Bowl only had 9. It also was one of the first games to use real players and real teams, quite the feat back then as they were breaking new ground (actually, quite the feat now too since EA has a crappy monopoly on the NFL and the NFLPA). Anyways, Tecmo Super Bowl is a great game and I have some wonderful childhood memories of it.

Doing a little research, I've found something interesting: there are only a few players in the game that are still active (five to be exact), and two of them are playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday! Junior Seau played for the San Diego Chargers in Tecmo Super Bowl and now plays for the New England Patriots; and Jeff Feagles played for the Philadelphia Eagles and now is the punter for the New York Football Giants! That's pretty amazing the longevity these guys have (and the great timing of their careers).

Let's get to the game now, here's the first hour of Tecmo Super Bowl and a pre-enactment of Super Bowl XLII. By the way, I am well aware I can download updated ROMs with current rosters but I'm trying to review the original game just like it was meant to be played. In my commentary though I'll replace the old timers with their current counterparts, just to make things... interesting.

The Lost Vikings

First Hour Review

The Lost Vikings CoverThe Lost Vikings was released in 1992 and was one of Silicon & Synapse's first games. Never heard of them? They are now known as Blizzard Entertainment, the developer of many, many good games that end in Craft. Anyways, The Lost Vikings was released on the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and various other systems throughout the years, and gives gamers nowadays a really interesting look at the early history of Blizzard. The game itself can be described as a puzzle platformer, where you have to use the different abilities of three Vikings to solve puzzles, defeat enemies, and progress through the game's levels. My minute-by-minute update should help describe the game better. I will be playing just the first hour of the Super Nintendo version of The Lost Vikings, so let's get right to it.

In case you're a World of Warcraft veteran, you may recognize the three Vikings: Erik the Swift, Olaf the Stout, and Baleog the Fierce. They all make a cameo appearance in Uldaman, an ancient dwarven complex that serves as a mid-level dungeon. If you play as a Horde character you can even kill them for some unique items!

Gears of War

First Hour Review

Gears of War CoverGears of War is a third-person shooter for the Xbox 360 that came out in late 2006. The game was one of the first to use the Unreal Engine 3 (seen recently in Mass Effect), a game engine created in-house at Epic. Gears of War's combat system differs greatly from the typical shooter, focusing more on using cover effectively to engage the enemy. Hiding behind cover is built into the game and you either learn it quickly, or die trying. People were obviously looking for something a little different because the game sold quite well and it was just recently released on the PC.

Gears takes place in the future after an alien race has attacked humans living on the planet Sera, a world used to harvest fuel. All the men in the future seem abnormally large, as basically everyone in this game could play American football and dominate the game. I kind of like that style though as it serves the bombed-out, nuclear winter setting well. So I already like the atmosphere, let's see how the rest of the first hour of Gears of War turns out.

For my review on the whole game, please see my Gears of War review at Beyond the First Hour.

Hotel Dusk: Room 215

First Hour Review

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 CoverHotel Dusk: Room 215 is a point and click adventure game for the Nintendo DS. It was released early last year and features both interesting graphic styles and gameplay controls. As far as the graphics go, the characters are hand-drawn with a pencil and use no colors except for pencil shadings. The game is actually played quite differently too, instead of holding the DS like normal, you turn it on its side like you're reading a book. This gives you two vertical screens side-by-side that seem like it would be better for telling a dramatic story. It's definitely something to get used to when you first pick it up but it makes sense for the style of game it is. Speaking of the style of Hotel Dusk, something about this game reminds me of the old school scary game, Uninvited. Well, it scared me on the NES when I was eight years old!

Hotel Dusk is actually my first portable first hour review! Not sure why it took me 26 reviews to get to one, as I play portable games just as much as console and PC games. By the way, do you know how hard it is to get good screenshots of a portable game? Nearly impossible. Now let's get to the review.

For my review on the whole game, please see my Hotel Dusk: Room 215 review at Beyond the First Hour.

Mass Effect

Full Review

Mass Effect CoverMass Effect was my "must-play" game of 2007. Alas, it wasn't until 2008 that I finally got to play it. And play it I did: nearly 40 hours of gaming in 10 days is probably the most gaming I've done since Final Fantasy VIII was released (or any period of time that I played World of Warcraft). The game is not perfect, but I was engrossed the entire time and the game kept throwing surprises at me around every turn. I went in thinking I understood the game and thought I could play it the way I wanted to play it. Instead, Mass Effect played me like it was my first time saving the universe. I came out extremely satisfied and wanted to start it over again right away.

For my review on just the first hour, please see my Mass Effect review at The First Hour.

Bioware's epic is a combination of role-playing game and third-person shooter. Think of the best things Knights of the Old Republic has to offer and carefully mesh it with the best features of Gears of War, and you will have Mass Effect. However, the game is much more action-oriented than Knights but isn't as demanding as Gears, it really finds a perfect balance between the two that makes you wonder how they pulled it off. Geez, I don't know how I can go on without going into too much detail, so let's get right to the specifics!

Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings

Full Review

Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings CoverFinal Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings is the direct sequel to Final Fantasy XII for the Nintendo DS. It was released late last year and was the first game I received for Christmas and thus the first game I decided to play through. Revenant Wings is essentially a real-time strategy game on the small screen, something that is not attempted very often and especially not from a company like Square Enix. They do have plenty of experience with strategy games like Final Fantasy Tactics, but surprisingly the game does not play like that at all. It's much more focused on split second decisions and fast action.

The game brings back most of the main characters from Final Fantasy XII and also integrates a few gameplay elements from its big brother. The game is also long, clocking in at around 40 hours depending on how many extra levels you want to play. This is pretty typical for a Final Fantasy game, but it seemed really long for a portable title! Thankfully though, the game is designed to be digested in small chunks, so it still works very well as a portable game. Here's the review for Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings (from now on this game will be called Revenant Wings and the PS2 original will be called Final Fantasy XII).

Mass Effect

First Hour Review

Mass Effect CoverMass Effect is an action role-playing game for the Xbox 360. It was recently released in November and has received many great reviews and accolades since then. Of course, this doesn't always mean I will like it, but I have high hopes for it as it comes from a distinguished line of video games (notably Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire). Mass Effect takes place in the future after humans find out they're not alone in the universe and end up joining in a peaceful truce with many other powerful alien races. The human race has to deal with brand new styles of diplomacy and communication, but have also benefited from an influx of advanced technology. The concept of mass effect itself is similar to "the force" from Star Wars, but more grounded in technology and physics. It basically allows control over dark energy that species can take advantage of through the use of biotic implants and training.

For my review on the whole game, please see my Mass Effect review at Beyond the First Hour.

I'm starting 2008 (and Day 2 of reviews) where I left off with 2007: a new Xbox 360 game. And I'm actually really excited to be able to play Mass Effect finally (I've been borrowing a friend's 360 for about a month now, and have wanted to play this game more than any other, I even read the prequel book). Let's just hope my self-built hype for this game doesn't implode on itself, but from everything I've heard, I don't think it will. I'd like to quickly apologize for the choice of screenshots, they don't really fit the text but they are neat to look at! Now let's get started with Day 2 of The First Hour and my review of Mass Effect.

2007 Game of the Year Awards

Game of the Year Awards

Announcing the 2007 Game of the Year Awards from The First Hour!

Halo 3

Full Review

Halo 3 CoverHalo 3 probably doesn't need much introduction, being one of the most hyped game of the year and the climax to one of the most popular series ever. For the unaware, Halo 3 is a first person shooter putting you in the role of Master Chief, a super soldier in super armor. The game focuses on fast action and throws hordes of enemies at you. Halo 3 also features a variety of vehicles that are actually fun to drive and add substantially to the gameplay. Let's just get straight to the review.

Day One Recap

Recap

Twenty-four games have been reviewed. Twenty-four hours have been played. One entire day of gaming.

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