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Forums > Contributor Zone > Review of the Week - January 1-7 - Eight Is Enough

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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: January 07, 2018 (05:14 PM)
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Well, here we are. It's the first week in 2018, and I'm posting the first RotW topic, which is my first RotW in years, I believe. New year, new things. Or just really old things (for a few years, it was just me doing these topics every week).

Anyway, there were 11 reviews submitted from January 1 through January 7, 2018. Three of those were reviews I wrote, and they are thus ineligible for consideration. Joe can decide how they stack up next week. That left me with eight reviews to choose from.

I'm getting back into the swing of things, so like a total goof, I wrote up impressions for each review before tweaking as I picked the top three. I'll start by listing the five reviews below that didn't place (and including my comments on them), then counting down to the winner. I'm not sure how I'll do this the next time around, but that's how I did it this week. Enjoy!

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Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES) by Fiddlesticks

Fiddlesticks humorously begins by telling me what I probably expect from a review of Super Mario Bros. 2, and then follows that up by delivering that in abbreviated form before finally talking about the stuff that makes the game so much fun to play. I feel like if you chopped away some of that framework, there's half of a really good, nostalgic review here. I'm just not sure it does a good job of describing the game in a way that will entice new audiences to play it. Instead, it seems to rely on the reader's pre-existing familiarity with the odd subject matter. I would have liked to see more discussion about how those familiar elements come together to mean something. The best bit, in my opinion, concerned Luigi and his slippery, imprecise jumps (to say nothing of the graceful floating the princess manages). I would have liked to see the review consist mostly of that sort of thing. I didn't really disagree with anything Fiddlesticks said, mind you. It just didn't seem to add anything to discussion folks have already had, here and elsewhere. (Still, it was an enjoyable enough read.)

Arx Fatalis (PC) by JoeTheDestroyer

Arx Fatalis is a game I had heard spoken about from time to time, but I didn't get a real sense for what it was all about until I read this review. Joe does a beautiful job (as he did in his Horizon piece also, which I preferred) of making the underlying mythology sound interesting, and of describing standard moments of the game that make up the overall experience. I also liked some of his deeper critiques, like when he points out the game lets players be a magician but doesn't facilitate serious play as that class. It's a solid work all around.

Soul Historica (Android) by overdrive

Overdrive has a bit of a challenge with many of his Kemco reviews, when I'm the audience, because he often objects to genre trappings that to me sound quite alright. This particular review builds around the point that the gameplay--which I think sounds just fine--isn't very interesting, and so the need to play through large chunks of it multiple times to see all the narrative twists and turns that lead to a better ending is unacceptable. I can see where he was coming from, but I feel like as a reader I kind of have to take his word for it. He is helped through most of his critique by a confident tone that suggests he knows what he's talking about. Maybe what I really need to do is play a recent Kemco game for myself. Then maybe he won't have to work as hard to sell me on how mediocre they are.

Jump Gunners (PC) by EmP

This game doesn't excite me much, which I'm sure didn't work in EmP's favor as I read through his review. He did a decent job of describing the general strokes of the gameplay, and injecting some much-needed humor (particularly near the end), but there was some awkward phrasing and one of the key points--which is that the game could be a blast to play with likeminded friends--didn't feel like it was explored as fully as it should have been. It's still a great review that tells me a lot about the game, but it's not as special as some of EmP's other recent contributions.

Mighty Gunvolt Burst (Switch) by mariner

This was a strong review that probably would have placed in a slower week. It makes its point right away, that the game resembles classic Mega Man titles, and then backs that assertion up with compelling evidence before spending the remainder of its time describing in detail how the game sets itself apart from its inspiration. I happen to have played--and liked--this particular game myself, so I found myself nodding my head a lot. I also found myself wishing its author had avoided a few grammatical blunders and some excessively repeated words, but there was nothing egregious. It just didn't quite manage to crack the top three, even though I would encourage you to read it if you're looking for first-rate analysis of a game I would also encourage you to buy.

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Third Place: Nex Machina: Death Machine (PS4) by pickhut

Pickhut makes Nex Machina sound like a game that would routinely kick my butt. I like the occasional twin stick shooter, and pickhut did a great job of telling me how Nex Machina is similar to one of the most familiar of them. Then he describes--meaningfully--the differences that make the game worth playign in an era of clones. He made his points expertly, using good word choice to guide me along his thought process, and I definitely feel like I have a sense for why the game probably shouldn't ever hit my library unless I get a sensational deal on the PlayStation Store. There were some unfortunate grammatical issues in places, especially near the middle of the review, which held me back a bit, but otherwise this is a strong--exemplary, even--review of an interesting title.

Second Place: Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4) by JoeTheDestroyer

This review did a terrific job of making me understand moment-by-moment gameplay, with its examples of a few key moments during the game. Those descriptions didn't spoil anything that sounds remotely significant, and yet they painted a picture of the experiences I can look forward to when I play the game myself. The writing was generally sharp, with careful word choice that made for a fast-paced, enjoyable read.

Review of the Week: South Park: The Fractured But Whole (PS4) by jerec

I had missed reading any other site's reviews for this game, which I had meant to purchase but then didn't. I feel like I made the right call in avoiding other analysis, because Jerec's review told me everything I wanted to know. It worked especially well thanks to the fan perspective. I haven't kept up on the South Park television show (I've mostly just watched a few episodes from the first couple of seasons, and the occasional scenes from anything after that), so the details Jerec provided were interesting and gave me a better sense of how faithful the game is to the IP than I might have been able to develop on my own. He also did a good job of describing gameplay elements without boring me, and comparisons between the first game and the second were particularly illuminating. All in all, it was a detailed and enjoyable read.

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Thanks for contributing this week, everyone! Next week, Joe is in charge, so make sure you flood him with a bunch of great content and make his choice difficult. I certainly plan to, and I even have a head start. Mwa ha ha ha ha!


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto on secret doors to another world

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Author: jerec
Posted: January 07, 2018 (05:23 PM)
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Thank you Jason!

I definitely wasn't expecting a win on such a busy week, so this was a great who boost and a great way to kick off the new year.

I thought I got my last topic out quickly but I believe you've smashed my record.


I can avoid death by not having a life.

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Author: pickhut
Posted: January 07, 2018 (06:40 PM)
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Thanks for the placement and the comments! Glad you still liked the review despite some issues you found with it. Became a surprisingly loaded week as the days went by, so I was really curious to see how this RotW would turn out. Congrats to jerec on the RotW!


I head spaceshit noises.

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Author: EmP (Mod)
Posted: January 08, 2018 (01:53 AM)
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That's a pretty sudden topic there, Jason. Kudos on that.

Congrats to Jerec on seeing out a packed week. When I was drawing up the new rotas for RotW, I put Jason in the first slot as he's always going on about how busy he is, and figured it would be the slowest submission slot. And then this week happened. Proving I know nothing.

I'll check out Picks and Joe's review shortly.


For us. For them. For you.

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Author: JoeTheDestroyer (Mod)
Posted: January 08, 2018 (08:34 AM)
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Thank you for placement! I'm glad you enjoyed both reviews. Also, thank you for having this topic out right away. Finally, congrats to Jerec for besting me. But this isn't over by a long shot!

*heel posing*
*crowd boos*


The only thing my milkshake brings to the yard is a subpoena.

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Author: overdrive (Mod)
Posted: January 10, 2018 (12:31 PM)
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Thanks with the comments and I would agree that a bit of first-hand knowledge of Kemco games could be helpful in fully determining where I'm coming from.

FORTUNATELY FOR YOU!!!!! After doing a bit of looking on Kemco's site, both Revenant Saga and Antiquia Lost are on the Switch and we all know you're working to play every single downloadable Switch title (if you can stop being distracted by legit quality games like Xenoblade Chronicles 2). Bonus points for how Revenant Saga is the one I just finished and will be reviewing in the next week or so.

It's the sort of thing that can be hard to explain because they get a lot of fundamentals down but there's just this vague "unpolished" sense where it's hard to shake the belief that with a little extra work, things could have been a lot better. Sometime's it's shoddy writing, sometimes it's an ambitious combat or character-building system that winds up being better in concept than execution or, in particular with Exe-Create's games, sometimes one blends into the next because they rely on so many of the same core things from game to game WITHOUT the sense of one game building onto the next like we got from the four NES Dragon Warriors, for example.


I'm not afraid to die because I am invincible
Viva la muerte, that's my goddamn principle

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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: January 10, 2018 (01:06 PM)
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I do actually own a number of Kemco games they have published on iOS, 3DS, and I think Wii U. And they published a Switch game recently that doesn't seem anything like their usual budget JRPGs. But it's hard to pull the trigger on a 20-hour game when I can use that same time to review three or four other shorter offerings, so I'm not sure when I'll get around to finally trying one.


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto on secret doors to another world

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Author: overdrive (Mod)
Posted: January 11, 2018 (01:51 PM)
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I should have known, since you have an even larger backlog of games than I do, that a few of their games would have slipped through the cracks. And, from your response, it looks like I'll be the only one continuing to toil under the yoke of Kemco.


I'm not afraid to die because I am invincible
Viva la muerte, that's my goddamn principle

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Author: Follow_Freeman
Posted: January 11, 2018 (01:58 PM)
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Kemco sounds like an evil organization in a cheesy cyberpunk movie or something. "We have to overthrow the toxic influence of Kemco/Chem-co!" I'm getting that vibe from the descriptions of their games I'm hearing here. If chemicals start flowing through the streets and make us look like overdrive and EmP's avatars (sans EmP's crown) or, worse yet, something anime-ish since these are JRPGs, I'm blaming you guys for buying Kemco's games.

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