playstation

Suikoden

First Hour Review

Suikoden CoverI tend to be conscious of the games I buy. When I plunk the cash onto the counter, I've usually made the decision to do so months in advance. I've read some previews, watched plenty of gameplay clips, and probably played a demo (if available). This is normal for people to do when they're about to shell out $60 and tax, but I tend to do my research even when the game can be bought for a Hamilton. What can I say? I'm kind of stingy. Chicks love a pennypincher.

I indulged in a blind-buy some time ago, when a game called Suikoden went on sale from the infallible PlayStation Network for a scant three dollars. I guess I can't really call it a "blind" purchase, considering I'd heard of the series, knew it was some sort of JRPG, and recalled some praise for it throughout the years. Still, this was a small triumph for my freewheeling, devil-may-care side. The side that grins mischievously as a tossed beer can ends up in the trash rather than the recycling bin. The side that saunters across the street with reckless abandon when the orange hand in the crosswalk orders me to halt.

I've finally worked up the courage to start playing this recklessly-bought game. Will it turn out to be as thrilling as the initial purchase, or will I pledge to never blind-buy again?

Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen

First Hour Review

Dragon Quest 4 CoverDragon Quest is one of the most popular gaming franchises in Japan, but it has always been in the shadow of other RPG series like Final Fantasy over here in the west. Square-Enix decided to see if they can rekindle some interest in the series putting the series on the DS, with remakes of IV and V already released, and VI and IX coming within the year in the States. While all eyes are on IX, let’s look back at the first Dragon Quest remake for the Nintendo DS, Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen. Originally released on the NES, and then remade for the PlayStation, the DS version brings us new features, a new translation, touched up graphics, and two-screen goodness.

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.

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.

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.

Street Fighter: The Movie... (The Game?)

Gaming Nostalgia
Street Fighter The Movie Poster

Ah, yes, the Street Fighter movie. No good phenomenon is safe from Hollywood's prying eyes, and Street Fighter was no exception. Street Fighter II was released in arcades in 1991, on consoles in 1992, and it quickly became a smash. Supremely polished with well-balanced 1v1 play, SFII jump-started the fighting game craze of the 90s, packing arcades as well as basements around the world. Capcom ultimately released 5 or so additional iterations of the game before moving on to Street Fighter Alpha and a continuation of the numbered series (along with a puzzle game, a simplified for-kids title and an outsourced 3d line).

Along with Street Fighter mania arrives the inevitable movie deal. Starring the Muscle from Brussels himself, the movie was pitched and billed as a good vs. evil tale. At this time, the Street Fighter storyline was not fully set it stone out and the screenwriters' eyes gleamed to this, taking heavy liberties with the plot arc and character backstories. It essentially took each the characters from Super Street Fighter II (minus Fei Long, who was somehow twisted into Captain Sawada). Each were then designated as either good or evil (allowing for swaps along the way) and they seemingly wrapped a story around that.

Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee

First Hour Review
Oddworld Abes Oddysee Cover

Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, a puzzle-platformer developed by Oddworld Inhabitants, was released in 1997 for the PlayStation and PC. It uses pre-rendered graphics for its backgrounds and sprites, and has a large list of actions that can be taken by the player, including making the player character speak.

I remember playing the demo of this game at Toys'R'Us, and being impressed by its graphics and gameplay features, as well as the odd feeling of it all.

Oddworld is now available through Steam for play on the PC, and that's where I got the copy I'll be playing. Although it can be played with the keyboard, I will be using a gamepad because I find it very cumbersome to use a keyboard to play a game designed for a controller.

Final Fantasy VIII

First Hour Review
Final Fantasy 8 Cover

I used to call it one of my favorite games of all-time, I'm honestly not sure where it falls now since I've only played it once, and that game started 10 years ago. Final Fantasy VIII was released on September 9th, 1999, Sony's answer to the Sega Dreamcast North American release on the same day. I plowed through it in epic sessions of high school gaming, finishing it less than a month later after 60+ hours of gaming. While I'm a huge fan of the Dreamcast and will probably dig mine out over the next few days to honor its 10th anniversary also, Final Fantasy VIII just clicked with me. I'm not going to get into Final Fantasy VII versus VIII or anything, save that for some forums, I will, however, get into the first hour of Final Fantasy VIII shortly.

Well, I said I wouldn't get into FF7, but that game had a great first hour! Especially for a Japanese role-playing game that usually spends more time explaining the intricacies of the turn-based battle system than actually being, you know... fun. So it's been a while since I started a new game in Final Fantasy VIII, I remember the great opening video, and that's about it. So here's the setting: it's 1999, the sequel to one of the most popular games ever is now in your hands, and you're about to make the decision to either sign the next month away to it, or try to recover some of your cash at EB Games. So let's play the first hour of Final Fantasy VIII and make our decision.

Chrono Trigger

Full Review

Chrono Trigger CoverChrono Trigger for the Nintendo DS is the second port of this classic Super Nintendo role-playing game. You guide a group of time-traveling heroes through different time periods to save the world from the alien parasite, Lavos. I'll get my biases out of the way right now and say that the Super Nintendo version is my favorite game of all time. Out of the hundreds of games I've played, Chrono Trigger stands as the undisputed number one. So I had very high expectations for the 2008 portable port of the 1995 original, so let's just get to my review to see if it lives up to the hype... and see if the game has stood the test of time.

Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure

First Hour Review

Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure CoverRhapsody: A Musical Adventure is a role-playing musical for the Nintendo DS. Now, when I say musical, I really mean a musical. The cutscenes feature the characters singing songs, in Japanese. This is not a very common genre combination, there have been plenty of musical games, PaRappa the Rapper comes quickly to mind, but that was the whole premise of the game. Here we have a console RPG wrapping periodic musical numbers. And it is made by the developers of the popular Disgaea series, so it can't be all bad, right?

Rhapsody DS came out in September of 2008, and is a re-release of the 2000 PlayStation game. In North America, it has been pigeon-holed as a "girl-game", essentially the kiss of death for any kind of mainstream attention besides the typical, "hey look, a girl game that's not about dolls or ponies!" Well, I didn't know this going in; I hear about an RPG for the DS and it has my attention. Since females supposedly take up a ton of the market now, I think it's my responsibility to play a wide range of games. Well, I'm joking there, but variety is important, and at least now I can say I've played a musical, even for an hour.

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