Final Fantasy VII is the fanboy's dream come true. Not only is it the best-selling Final Fantasy game (at 9.5 million copies sold), it has one of the longest Wikipedia entries known to man (at 92 kilobytes and over 7,000 words). This is the result of the rabid fanboyism behind the 10 year old game that Square-Enix has only realized recently that it can milk to death with anime, spinoffs, and pretending there is no remake in the works. I'm personally not a huge fan of the game, I'm more of a fan of the even numbered entries in the series, but I've played through it at least twice and have traveled through the very fun opening Midgar hours many, many times.
Final Fantasy VII celebrated its 10 year anniversary in the U.S. on September 7th, so it seems like an appropriate time to review its first hour. I have fond memories of a very enjoyable first hour, so let's hope that it lives up to my memories. Here's to another 2,500 words!
The Curse of Monkey Island is the third Monkey Island game in the series. It was first though to transition from pixelated sprites to really nice looking hand-drawn characters and backgrounds. The game uses cel art and animation, making it quite bright and vibrant, if somewhat cartoony and quite different looking than the previous games. The Curse of Monkey Island was one of Lucasart's last adventure games, something they used to be quite known for, and also the last of their games to use the SCUMM gameplay engine. The first three Monkey Island games are some of the funniest and best written video games ever made, but let's see if the first hour of Curse is actually on par with the rest of the series.
There will be lots of pictures in this review because the art is just so great and I couldn't help but take lots of screenshots!
The first game in my new review series is Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance. The second Game Boy Advance Castlevania game and the third with Metroidvania style of gameplay (the first being Symphony of the Night, which I reviewed on The First Hour a week ago). The game was released in 2002 and then re-released again in the Castlevania Double Pack to reach a larger audience (as the first release of this game and the next had rather small releases). This is how I was able to play it for the first time, and being a huge fan of this style of gameplay, was very excited to play it. Let's see at how it panned out, all scores are out of 10.
Symphony of the Night is known by Castlevania fans as the definitive game in the series. I personally see it as the turning point from when the series went from tired and mediocre to awesome and addictive. The catch is, I had never played Symphony of the Night! I own every single portable Castlevania released for the GBA and DS (and 100% them all), but I have never played the pivotal game, until now. Did Konami have any idea what they had when they released this game (probably not)? Does the experience live up to the hype? Well, a Night virgin is about to find out.
Bully was Rockstar's big release last year on the PS2, and thus a big target for ignorant attorneys and retailers (it was also a hot topic overseas but people generally realized it wasn't that bad of a game). Beyond all the controversy, however, let's look at the core of the game: you're a misfit kid who's just been sent to boarding school, and you're meaning to come out on top. Bully provides gamers a sandbox school and city environment, fully interactive and fleshed out, utilizing the now classic (albeit aging) Grand Theft Auto III gameplay engine. Bully focuses less on destruction and bloody violence, and more on comical violence and something almost everyone can identify with: growing up and going to school. Does Rockstar pull it off? That's for someone else to answer. Does Rockstar pull off the first hour of Bully? That's for me to answer.
Diddy Kong Racing was Rare's answer to Mario Kart 64, which had come out earlier that year. Of course, no one had actually asked for another kart racer on the Nintendo 64, but Rare saw it as an opportunity to start the marketing machine for their future franchises, namely Banjo-Kazooie and Conker (yes, that Conker). They also packed in a bunch of other lame, no-name racers to fill the void - and thus, Diddy Kong Racing was born. The first hour of racers is typically much like the rest of the game, race, race, and race some more. So this will be very indicative on how Diddy Kong Racing (and its DS remake) fares as direct competition to Mario Kart.
Before I even start the main game, I notice a few things: it has been a few years since I've held the Nintendo 64 controller and this thing sure feels weird. It's very light and plasticky, and of course the three prong design definitely makes it one of the oddest looking around. It's also not terribly comfortable compared to more recent controllers, and even the SNES before it. Anyways, on with the first hour of Diddy Kong Racing.
Harvest Moon was a Super Nintendo sleeper that proved to be unique combination of gameplay and originality that received a small, but devoted following. Natsume released numerous sequels over the last 10 years trying a few different formulas, but the original has always worked the best. Harvest Moon is definitely not for everyone, however. The game moves very slow, and does not introduce the player to the core concepts very well. The player has to conduct much trial and error to figure out many things, and the weak translation doesn't help either. Let's see how the first hour of Harvest Moon progresses.
Half-Life 2 is one of those games that just delivers. Hyped up beyond imagination, Valve fulfilled their grand promise and gave gamers one of PC's greatest games. Delayed, leaked, and delayed again, Half-Life 2 was in the oven for a while, but many people would agree it came out perfect. But how were those first few bites, how was the first hour of Half-Life 2? Let us enter the world of City 17 and find out.
I should probably make it clear that my computer isn't that great, and the loading times are probably longer than what an avid PC Gamer would own. However, this review isn't targeted to such a small audience and my computer (Athlon 1800+, 1GB RAM, and Radeon 9800 Pro) may well be representative of the average reader. Anyways, on with the game!
Indigo Prophecy (also known as Fahrenheit to the rest of the world), is a Shenmue-esque psychological, crime, and investigation thriller taking place during a New York City winter. I consider the Shenmue comparison a compliment as the gamplay techniques used in these types of games can lead to some very fun experiences. But at the same time, this style is not for everyone. We will see how well the developer Quantic Dream pulls off this gameplay in the first hour of Indigo Prophecy.
Beyond Good and Evil: the most overrated underrated game of all time? So many people say this game is underrated, I have to wonder if that's really true. But that's not the point of this post, the point is to rate The First Hour of Beyond Good and Evil. Warning: absolutely no overrating or underrating ahead. I'm beyond that.