Greg Noe's reviews and writings

  • Contact

    My name is Greg Noe and I have been an avid video game player my entire life. I recently discovered I also love writing about games. You can reach me at:

    greg@firsthour.net

    or find me on Twitter @firsthour

    Things I would like to hear from you about:

    • Game review suggestions
    • Interested in writing for this site
    • Comments on the site or a review
    • Complaints on the site or a review
    • Just looking to say hello
  • The First Hour at firsthour.net

    My video game review site, The First Hour, currently located and being contributed to at The First Hour Blog will be fully migrated over to http://firsthour.net over the next few months. This is an important step for my site and its future as I feel the need to consolidate it with my other review site, Beyond the First Hour, and give me more flexibility on my publishing and distribution needs.

    Once firsthour.net is officially launched, it will be the one stop for me and all my video game reviews, thoughts on the industry, and periodic updates on my own game. I hope to have everything over here by early summer and will make official announcements and the appropriate redirects when the time has come.

  • Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga

    Full Review

    Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga CoverLego Star Wars: The Complete Saga is the combination of the first two Lego Star Wars games (The Video Game and Original Trilogy) in what is an obvious attempt to sell more copies of the games and reach that same Star Wars audience that will only buy the DVDs when they're all available in one, giant box set. So basically we have all the levels from the first game, plus all the levels from the second game, plus some more (minor) stuff in case you already own the first two. I received this game for the Nintendo DS, which is essentially my platform of choice of late, and played the heck out of it for the last week and a half. And surprisingly, I loved every minute of it.

    I'm not sure why it took so long for someone to realize that Legos are awesome, Star Wars is awesome, and video games are awesome, so why not put them all together. But it finally happened a few years ago and it was like my childhood fantasies were coming together for one last amazing adventure. Somehow though, I never played the first one (Episodes I-III) but got the chance to play The Original Trilogy (Episodes IV-VI). I thought the game was fun but short. The Complete Saga has allowed me to play the first game and replay the second, giving me a much more satisfying experience. It took me a solid 21.5 hours to achieve 100% completion and I'm a little sad to say goodbye. Thankfully though, Lego Indiana Jones and Lego Batman are only a few months away... Now let's get to the review!

  • Suikoden II

    First Hour Review

    Suikoden II CoverSuikoden II is a rare PlayStation RPG that can fetch some pretty ridiculous prices on eBay, with sealed copies climbing over $200. Expensive doesn't necessarily mean the game is any good though, as I've seen friends pay many bills for mediocre games that triggered the nostalgia portion of their brain. Either way, Suikoden II is a Konami developed role-playing game on a Squaresoft dominated system and thus never saw sales for this odd sounding game that came close to most other games. The Suikoden series is still being developed by Konami but many fans consider this as the best in the series.

    The game itself features an interesting political storyline with highly memorable characters. This description reminds me of Final Fantasy XII, but the difference between the two games is that in Final Fantasy XII the characters seemed far removed from the political scheming where in Suikoden II our heroes are right in the mix of things. The battle system is unique in that your team of fighters consists of six characters in turn-based combat. There are also 108 total characters you can recruit to your cause, a number that seems way too high but is actually manageable and keeps the game entertaining. When not in use, all your recruits hang out in an ever-expanding castle that also serves as your home base.

    This is all extra information mostly non-applicable to just the first hour of gameplay, but I consider myself a Suikoden II evangelist and will take any opportunity to push it to the masses. Now let's get started with the first hour of Suikoden II.

  • Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams

    First Hour Review

    Onimusha Dawn of Dreams CoverOnimusha: Dawn of Dreams is the fourth Onimusha game in the main series and was released in early 2006 for the PlayStation 2. I personally love the Onimusha series and find them some of the most satisfying games around. The games are heavy on katanas, demons, and blood, and Dawn of Dreams is no exception. I was introduced to the series after the second one came out and I've been playing them ever since. I even rented the crappy Super Smash Bros. ripoff, Blade Warriors. Back to Dawn of Dreams though, this game was actually kind of an unexpected sequel. After the third game was released, Capcom repeatedly said that this was to be the final Onimusha game, even though the game's own ending seemingly contradicts this. Thankfully though, this was an outright lie and the series went on.

    Dawn of Dreams is a hack-and-slash game set in late 16th century Japan. Many of the heroes and villains are based on important historical figures at this time, just imbued with generally evil and demon-like powers. This makes for a really interesting alternate history game where the timeline kind of veers off onto a crazy path and eventually meets back up when things settle down. Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams continues to use completely 3D backgrounds, thus giving the player complete control over the camera (this opposed to pre-rendered backgrounds with pre-determined camera angles, the technique used for the first two games) and overall better control over your hero. You also have a second member with you most of the time allowing you to switch between characters for combos and using different powers. Capcom may not have originally wanted a fourth game, but it seems they had enough ideas to start the series anew. But let's play the first hour of Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams and see if they pulled it off.

  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations

    Full Review

    Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations CoverPhoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations (longest game title ever?) is the final game in the Phoenix Wright trilogy, a series of defense attorney games for the Nintendo DS. If you are unfamiliar with the series, you will probably be stunned by the following description: You play as the young attorney, Phoenix Wright, in a justice system where your clients are presumed guilty until proven innocent. You are accompanied by a young woman who can channel dead spirits and murder cases are brought to court the day after the crime was committed. And finally, finger pointing and yelling "OBJECTION!" is your most powerful court room ally.

    Ace Attorney games are broken up into two types of gameplay: the first is the actual court room, where you will argue with the prosecutor and cross-examine the incessantly lying witnesses until they crack. The second gameplay type is the on-site investigation. Phoenix Wright himself will head out to the scene of the crime (though often crimes follow him almost like he's Angela Lansbury) and perform investigations, interview witnesses and suspects, and gather evidence. If you haven't figured it out already, this game has a LOT of text. This game is so demanding on your A button I thought mine would fall out by the end. Trials and Tribulations is driven by its story, and it assumes you have played the other two when it comes to the characters and events. You don't need to have completed the previous games to beat Phoenix Wright 3, but it will be a much more satisfying experience if you have.

    My category reviews should describe the game well, so read on for the scores which are out of 10.

  • 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.

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