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overdrive Welcome to my blog. Here, you may read all of my reviews. That will take a good deal of time, as I have penned quite a large number of them. I advise you to start now. And don't forget, constantly offer me praise concerning how great I am at doing what I do!

Title: Today I wrote my 330th review.
Posted: April 21, 2012 (01:04 PM)
It's a round number, so I'm noting it as a milestone of sorts. Which gives me an excuse to celebrate heavily today. CHEERS!
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Title: My reviews are getting longer again...
Posted: March 03, 2012 (01:55 PM)
I don't know if its just because I've had a lot to say about certain games like FF XIII and Chrono Cross, but I've been more in the 8-9 MB realm than the 5-6 MB realm recently. Might have to do a couple short-n-sweet reviews just in case I'm just getting overly verbose.

OD's Thought for the Day
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Title: Random Skyrim thoughts
Posted: January 10, 2012 (02:09 PM)
Since I'll be reviewing it in the next couple weeks most likely. Love the game, but am starting to get a bit tired of it. 150ish hours of something does do that.

1. Avoid Fast Travel when possible. I only use it to get back to base and/or collect quest rewards, but try to walk everywhere. The game's really attractive and immersive, but when you rely on fast travel, it really devolves. Which is why I'm still going strong after 150 hours. That walking takes time.

2. Most alive world I've experienced. Just the sheer number of quests you can get from just about everyone, as well as all the little randomized events that can happen as you're walking around the countryside.

3. If you play aimlessly with the purpose being to wander around and see what trouble you can get in to, it's near-perfect. If you play in a more regimented style, things kind of fall apart, as most of the game is based on a repetitive style. Get quest, go to dungeon, kill stuff, get item and/or kill boss, go back and get reward. If you're freestyling, you don't notice (or you notice, but don't care), but if you're planning to sit down and, say, knock off 4-5 missions for a guild or something, it kind of grates on you.

4. Even that's better than in Oblivion. Just because the dungeons look so much more varied. You might be getting sent to 30 different caves for fetch quests, but at least they don't all have the same general look.

5. Difficulty balancing is still an issue. Around when I hit the late 30s level-wise, virtually everything got very easy. It might have been because, thanks to smithing/enchanting perks, I massively boosted my armor rating AND added superior enchantments to everything. But, whatever, when you get to a certain point, it does get a bit depressing, as I went from needing to use stealth and guile in many situations to just being able to destroy everything with my fire-enchanted warhammer.

6. And by "stealth and guile", I mean "exploiting enemy AI issues". Hello, Mr. Bandit Marauder! You're a tough mofo, so how about I use sneak to peck away at you with arrows while you only make lackluster attempts to find me even though I'm only about 30 feet away! Man, I got pissed when I fought Movarth the Vampire, as he apparently regens health, so that strategy didn't work and I had to actually man up and fight melee style.

7. Gotten lucky with glitches compared to things I've read. Only quest that really glitched in any way was the Brotherhood quest where you have to assassinate a woman during her wedding in Solitude. Apparently, the town gets hostile and one of your DB buddies creates a distraction. Neither of those things happened and I also didn't get the reward for the perfect kill even though I did push the statue on her while she was addressing the crowd. The most annoying thing is that I did all three Bard's College fetch quests, but the special instruments never left my inventory, so I have 10-12 pounds of non-droppable quest items cluttering things up.

8. The inventory, for MISC items, is a bit glitched. Things don't always stack, which makes the list obscenely long. Also would have been nice if they created sub-menus for ores/ingots and soul gems and quest items. MISC just gets so long and cluttered.
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Title: What I'm playing now!
Posted: October 25, 2011 (01:04 PM)
Since it's been a couple of weeks since I've bored/enthralled everyone with that sort of thing.

1. Oblivion. Been so long since I played it that I decided to just start over. It'll be interesting to see how long I keep away from Fast Travel. Playing it in HD (didn't have my new TV when I first played it) is nice enough to keep me interesting in watching the countryside. I've done the entry level mage guild work (in other words, walked virtually all the main roads) and the opening bits of the main quest to where I now have to take Martin to Weynon Priory.

2. Final Fantasy XIII. In Chapter 8. Where Sazh and Vanille have to fight one of their eidolons. Not positive which one -- I just remember both were getting kinda angsty, but that chapter had been pretty throwaway with those two walking around a crowded city and occasionally getting story stuff before the enemy FINALLY started attacking, so I could so something while walking on rails. This was the first chapter things started annoying me, as at least the rail-walking was loaded with combat previously and here, I had two or three "walk a while, then cutscene" deals before getting to kill stuff.

3. Wild Arms 2. Mixed bag. I like seeing how a lot of WA 3 stuff was implemented here and just refined a bit for the PS2. But they tried to go more plot-driven here than in 1 or 3. I've had nights where my couple hours with this game have next to no dungeon work (the best part of these games, what with all the puzzles), because you're doing plot-related stuff. A couple nights ago, I got stuck with three boss fights in my home base that ate up a lot of time. Last night, I had to find three tablets in the water, followed by taking them to a town with a trip to an optional dungeon located in the mix. The optional dungeon was short. I do, however, still think Liz (and Ard, to a lesser degree) is the greatest character in the history of gaming.

On my computer, I'm also working on two others.

Phantasy Star 2. In the "about frickin' time" category. Nothing like a brutally tough old-school RPG to remind me of how easy gamers have things nowadays. Like last night, when I added Hugh to my party and just when I was starting to make him something better than a liability, I pick up Anna, so I have another L1 character to build up and buy better equipment for.

Dragon Quest VI (the translation patch for the Super Famicom version). In that really annoying grinding bit before fighting Jamiras. It takes a while to buy all the good equipment and he is a tough boss. A lot tougher than Mudo in my opinion.
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Title: A few early impressions
Posted: October 07, 2011 (10:34 AM)
Over the past week or two, I ordered (and received) Stella Deus: Gate of Eternity and Wild Arms 2 online and just started Final Fantasy XIII last night. Impressions are below:

1. Stella Deus: Through the first of five chapters. Pretty easy, but entertaining. The points system for moves/attacks/spells is pretty good and adds strategy. Nothing groundbreaking or awesome, but for someone who hasn't played a turn-based strategy game in some time, it's a good way to get reacquainted with that genre. If I'd find a battle that I struggle with, I can easily hit up the (dull) Catacombs fights for levels and money to buy stuff.

2. Wild Arms 2: Through a couple dungeons past the end of the intro stuff. Reasonably fun. I'd played the first and third games and it's kinda neat to see how WA 3 essentially refined so many elements of 2. I guess I'd always thought 2 was like 1, but it's more of a prototype of 3. I guess it got blah reviews mainly because it was ugly for when it got released, but if you're playing a PSX game now, you're probably not caring about graphics all that much. The "hit button to use radar to find towns and stuff...which don't appear until you've been told about them by people" element is as dumb as it was when I played 3 a few years back, but other than that, this is pretty fun.

3. Final Fantasy XIII: Into Chapter 2. Walk in straight line. Control new characters. Walk in straight line. Repeat for all of chapter one. At least the graphics/production is through the roof. So...what chapter do you start doing things that don't involve just walking in straight lines? Is it 10 or 11? I'm enjoying it mainly because of how good it looks, but do think it's funny that so far, I've done two things (staggering an enemy and pre-emptive attack) before the actual tutorial on them were triggered. I'm smarter than the game!!!! I do like the datalog. Those sorts of things really fleshed out the last couple Star Oceans, but not in an intrusive "30 minutes of exposition" about stuff way. Click a few buttons and you're good to go. I don't like how the exclamation mark appears next to items in the menu because you picked up another potion. Just have that stuff go down when you get a new item...not another item of a type you get every other battle/treasure chest.
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Title: Evil Empires Are Silly
Posted: September 30, 2011 (01:35 PM)
So, I started playing Stella Deus (PS2 turn-based strategy) last night. Like many games, it has an evil empire. There's a head overlord dude and four generals under him.

One of these generals, Viper, is an over-the-top insane guy. Crazed cackling before each line and a love of killing everyone he meets.

So, how does a guy like that become a GENERAL in any army worth anything? The other three generals all have come off as mentally competent and/or tough potential opponents. He's just an insane guy who the other ones seem to consider incompetent. Sure, guys like that might have a future in evil armies (as the rabid dog types you use to strike fear in the people to make them susceptible to what you're doing), but as a GENERAL? When the other generals look at him with contempt.

Pure silliness!!!
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Title: THE PAIN!!!
Posted: September 23, 2011 (10:55 AM)
At one point, I was considering reworking my Rogue Galaxy review because while replaying it, I was thinking my 3 might have been a bit low and the game was more of a 5 or so. Well, that might still be the case, but finishing the game proved to be so painful that I just don't have the energy to care enough to do so.

Here's how it went (massive spoilers for those interested in the game):

1. You reach the game's final planet and find out about a huge threat.

2. Go through dungeon, kill boss.

3. Enter shrine dungeon where you have to take about eight paths so each character can have a revelation about themselves.

4. Enter final dungeon. This place is very long and repetitive, even by the standards of a game that specializes in long, repetitive dungeons.

5. Fight "final" boss. This is a two-part fight.

6. Enjoy game designers remembering that, before this boss was introduced, they had perfectly good adversaries, so they quickly appear to get assimilated into the new boss.

7. Eight-part fight against new final boss. Each part is one of your eight characters against part of it. Fortunately, I never died because if I had, I would have gone back to the very beginning of the entire thing.

8. 30-minute ending after all that.

Yeah...never going back to that one!

Title: Production update and such
Posted: September 14, 2011 (01:21 PM)
I'm nearly finished with my playthrough of Breath of Fire II for this month's contest. I'm also nearly finished with my replay of Rogue Galaxy, where I've toughed it out and am at the beginning of the 13th and final chapter.

I'm trying to decide if I should rework that review, as I think I was too hard on it the first time. However, the "too hard" is more like where I think it should have gotten a 5 or so instead of a 3, as opposed to the sort of dramatic difference that would really warrant a rewrite. Time will tell. Just like time will hopefully tell me why I've invested like 50 hours of my time into replaying a game I didn't like just because a little voice in my head thought I should give it a second chance.

In other news, I've been looking both at my game collection and the collection of games I don't have, specifically in the RPG and turn-based strategy realms of things. I have a lot of non-ROM games that fit into one of three categories:

1. PS1 games I've beaten, but it was before I started reviewing and I'd have to probably play all or part of them again to review them.

2. Games I haven't played and/or beaten yet. Ranging from one of the PS1 Spyros to Final Fantasy XIII.

3. Reviewed games with unfinished business. Maybe it was a platformer that I played 70 percent of and felt I had enough of an experience to review. Or a RPG where I haven't got around to the postgame bonus stuff (and I would like to at least try it).

So, I've created a list of PS1, PS2 and 360 games I'd consider buying. And then after looking at Amazon, chopped some of them off the list (hmmm...Suikoden II's price HASN'T plummeted, I'll be damned...). Purchasing those will be rewards for clearing stuff off the unfinished list. Along the lines of a 3 things done, 2 games bought sort of thing. Finishing and reviewing Call of Duty 3 was one thing. Finishing Rogue Galaxy is another. The third likely will be finishing and reviewing Tales of Vesperia, since that game got put on the backburner for some reason in like May or so.

So, if anyone has ideas for games to purchase in the near future or down the road in more of the RPG/turn-based strategy genres, feel free to give them. Note: I will know if you're not being sincere, so don't even try suggesting that Monsterseed or whatever it's called, Emp. I'm mainly trying to avoid games that either generally considered CRAP or movies masquerading as games (which so far really has only eliminated the Xenosaga series).
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Title: Hits equal 300K
Posted: September 05, 2011 (11:22 AM)
Just another accomplishment on my part. This time getting my hits over the 300,000 mark. And I'm one hit shy of having 100 reviews with 1,000+ hits each.

It's about time there was a reason to have a holiday on the first Monday in September in the U.S.!

Title: A second try at Baldur's Gate II
Posted: August 03, 2011 (11:26 AM)
Sometimes I get these urges to play something and they are uncontrollable. Such as a few days ago when I decided that I really needed to try beating Baldur's Gate II. I'd been playing it a few years ago, but way too much shit was going on in my life and that game's way too engrossing and life-stealing for me to handle both it and real life.

So, it's take two!

As opposed to my wuss good-guy Paladin from the first trek, I figured I'd go with a character more along my heart — a Chaotic Neutral fighter. I can excuse good deeds because of the need to help people to get rewards and I can excuse the bad things I'll do because I just don't care about law and stuff.

My eventual party will be more evil than good, as both Edwin and Viconia are among the best of their class in the game. My second pure melee is a bit of a question. Korgan kicks ass, but is another pure fighter. However, both Minsc and Keldorn would have potential "hate...KILL" relations with other characters. Thief could go for the Imoen/Yoshimo/Imoen combo, as story dictates, or I could endure potato stories to have Jan. That might depend on how much questing I do before the Spellhold/Underdark phase of the game, as the longer I wait, the more underleveled Imoen would be. Jahiera would be the frontrunner for the final spot due to a couple great druid-only spells, but Mazzy could be a possibility. Any other character would be temporary character quest-only stuff.

So far, I'm in the first dungeon! Great progress, that! I just took out the Duergar battle with Ilyich and even showed some use of strategy by blasting the melee ones with a fireball before charging. Now I just need to remember how to take out the sewer Otyugh without getting diseased, as I don't think I have any cure disease spells. And since it's next, as I think I'll save the Cambion fight until the end of the dungeon.

Having knowledge of this place helps in being tricky...like smashing the two deactivated lesser clay golems one-by-one, as opposed to waiting until you trigger the alarm and fighting them both at once with no opportunities to sucker-punch them.

In other news: In the final dungeon of Cthulhu Saves the World, finished Chapter 5 in Resonance of Fate, at 4-3 of Yoshi's Island and am working on a SECRET MYSTERY REVIEW to put up today.
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Title: Of Resonance of Fate...
Posted: July 22, 2011 (01:05 PM)
Very impressive, through the first chapter or so. I'm in Chapter 2 where I still have to do the main dungeon and one sidequest which involves collecting three of an item dropped by a specific monster in said dungeon.

The battle system is a lot of fun. I think the most trouble I had with a fight so far was the one before the boss in the chapter 1 dungeon. One drum carrier (blows up when blasted with handguns), three dwellers (have to blow up their barrel before you can damage them) and three fat gunners who are on an elevated platform. Died about three times before beating that one. A couple fights killed me once (early random battle when I was stupid, a L3 arena fight because I was stupid, the stray cur quest fight in C1 because I was still L3 and made one little tactical error and my first attempt at the king goblin quest fight in C2...after which I switched weapons on characters to get a few quick levels and then destroyed it easily), but that one was particularly tricky.

So far, one of the better new-era RPGs I've played. Easily. Nothing fancy as far as graphics go, but the battle system is very addictive.

Title: Rob's newest milestone
Posted: July 13, 2011 (06:12 PM)
Looks like my just-finished review for Ms. Splosion Man is my 300th on this site. I should have some replica pro wrestling title mailed to me for this accomplishment. I'd wear it in public. And drop elbows on anyone who questioned my sanity.
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Title: That next update post (post RF Guerrilla edition)
Posted: July 08, 2011 (11:38 AM)
Been playing a good bit of Cthulhu Saves the World. Up to the dungeon in Innsmouth, which means I've done most things in the game. With the exception of the Astral Cave and final dungeon. And optional fight with Dem from Breath of Death VII.

Downloaded Apple Jack (platformer) as the game I spend my other 80 points on. First couple levels are simple, but there's potential once the game stops with the hand-holding.

Basically up to the part of Breath of Fire II where I fight the circus ringmaster to rescue Spar. Algernon was as tough a boss as I remembered. Even though I've been grinding a bit, it still was a tough battle. Its two sidekicks come back to life way too quickly.

And through 3-2 in Yoshi's Island.

Also, in my replay of Dragon Quest VIII, I finished the Argon Heart quest with Charmles(s), so it'll be time to take on Dhoulmagus...after a bit more treasure hunting and whatnot. I've ground enough in this game just by searching for all the overworld chests that this ought to be a bit easier than it was the first time through. Dhoulmagus was easily the toughest fight then. I won, but was all but out of magic.

Might do a shmup or something soon. Haven't done one (excepting my re-do of Wings of War) in some time.
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Title: Moar Progress. MOAR, I SAY!
Posted: June 27, 2011 (12:36 PM)
Ah, it seems my near-six month of lethargy to open 2011 have disappeared and I'm in a writing mood. Which explains why I did reviews for two really old games last week. I have a few more 2600 titles lined up for potential reviewing, because the world needs to know how I feel about Dodge 'Em. Don't deny...you care. More than you care about your own life.

Anyway, I'm kinda playing four games bit by bit right now, since I like variety.

1. Red Faction Guerrilla: I'm in Eos lowering control before I do the plot missions. The Free Fire Zone didn't have much, but the one plot mission there was good fun, if a bit crazy at the beginning because of all the so-called ally vehicles getting in my way constantly. I've noticed that my guerrilla mission work has turned from "do as much as possible" to "do the kinds you have fun doing". Which is limiting it to transporter missions, the ones where you get a big piece of machinery to get into in order to kill a bunch of soldiers or take out their vehicles, the "take out this building" quests and the demolition ones that are fun. Since two of those are pure salvage ones, (or three...can't remember with one of them), I hope those plus destroying marked buildings is enough to dump control to 0.

2. Cthulhu Saves the World: Through Dunwich and the Swamp Cave. Ghost Forest is next.

3. Breath of Fire II: Did Capitan (town with monster-possessed townspeople in the well) last night after grinding to gain money for Windia's equipment.

4. Yoshi's Island: I'd tried this one many years ago, but got frustrated due to some stupid idea that I HAD to get 100 on every level so I could do each stage's bonus level. Not doing that now. Playing one level per day. Did "Touch Fuzzy, Get Dizzy" last night, which while cool, is very, very easy. 1-8 comes up tonight.

Kind of a nice deal I have now, where it's one action and one RPG on both my consoles and my computer. With this potential boost in activity, I might try for this years Alphabet Marathon after all!
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Title: Progress: It's good.
Posted: June 15, 2011 (12:00 PM)
Since there is a scientific law somewhere that says progress reports are fun both to write and to read, here's what I've been doing in the wild world of gaming over the past however long it's been since my last progress report.

RED FACTION GUERRILLA: I'm pretty much ready to do the plot quests for The Badlands. I tend to do a lot of the guerrilla missions and high-caliber targets before the plot stuff and I've done everything available except a couple targets and a convoy mission. You can do both Badlands and Oasis stuff now, but I've been mainly focusing on the Badlands with a couple missions in Oasis also taken care of, as a transporting vehicle mission took me to the safehouse there and I figured I might as well do a house arrest and a property destruction mission while there. Lovin' life in this one, as I love being able to destroy stuff at will. Usually with games like this, I'm big into guns, but here, I've noticed that I primarily use melee and explosives like remote charges and the rocket launcher. I've gone from the assault rifle to the arc welder to the grinder to the nanorifle and whatever gun I have always seems to be the "forgotten option".

TALES OF VESPERIA: Right now, I have two things to do: the 100-man melee in the arena and the final dungeon. After that, I'll have the memory (bonus) dungeon and eventually, the 200-man melee. Took a break in order to play Guerrilla, but will have it finished, you know, sometime.

BREATH OF FIRE II: A few nights ago, we had a storm. A five-second power outage stopped my Guerrilla progress and the weather seemed like it might continue to be uncooperative, so I decided to go to ROM-apolis and I fiddled around with this one for an hour or so. Mainly handled the somewhat difficult moment that happens after Bow is taken out of the party leading you to try to clear his name. You have to go to an arena town where you wind up getting two new party members. This part is really tough, as you're flying solo and the monsters in the area are a significant upgrade over the stuff you were fighting WITH Bow in the party. So, I did that and upgraded equipment in the town and beat Baba in the forest in order to get the pass to compete in the arena. YAY!
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Title: Wings of Wor/Gynoug
Posted: May 04, 2011 (12:59 PM)
Here be the original review which shall be rewriten sometime between this very minute and Saturday.


Since the beginning of time, mankind has yearned to fly. Of course, until the level of technology began to match that dream, there were some disastrous results. Just go back to the mythic times of Daedalus and Icarus. While Daedalus seemed to catch the hang of using the artificial wings he created, poor Icarus flew too close to the sun, had the wax holding his wings melt and then took a one-way trip to the depths of the Mediterranean Sea. Not exactly a rousing success, is it?

Well, fortunately, technology has improved and planes of all ships and sizes were created, allowing air transportation for passenger and military use. Those military planes then became the inspiration for a genre of video games, known as the shooter. In these delightful games, earthbound players had the opportunity to take the controls of a fighter jet (or even a futuristic spaceship) with the purpose of wiping out evil wherever it may be lurking.

However, every once in a while, a game comes along that recaptures those ancient experimental days of flying involving Daedalus and company — and that is where Gynoug (Wings of Wor) comes into play.

Apparently something really evil is afoot in this game’s world....something so evil that no mere human could even dream of having a chance to valiantly succeed in battle. So, who gets called on to fight back the forces of darkness? How about a winged angelic statue, temporarily turned into a flesh-and-blood being?

So take control of your little flying buddy and valiantly battle through the six stages of Gynoug, destroying the grotesque forces of evil in a fun, but somewhat primitive, game released for the Sega Genesis by NCS in 1991.

After turning the game on and kicking things off, you’ll soon realize this is a pretty dark game. There aren’t many bright and vibrant colors or happy background music in this shooter. Many of the levels heavily consist of drab brown and blue textures to highlight the backgrounds — a technique that could be looked at as a flaw in many games, but actually could be seen as a positive here.

You see, Gynoug doesn’t strike me as an overly optimistic game. From the swarms of bizarre regular enemies polluting each level to the disturbing bosses to the abrupt ending where your beloved fighter simply turns back into a statue, this is a video game that embraces dark, dull coloring. This world is that of H.P. Lovecraft turned into a shooter with bosses as macabre as anything that games like Silent Hill or Resident Evil have to offer. Gynoug truly is a descent into a hellish world populated by demonic denizens — a world that seems to have lost all hope.

Which is where you come in. As an avenging angel, your job is to exterminate these demons and apparently give this world a second chance. Fortunately, you will have plenty of weaponry for this task. Not only do you have your basic weapon that can be powered up to a very effective five-way spread shot and then manipulated to fire in different patterns by picking up the appropriate crystals, but you also have a ton of special weapons. Picking up the appropriate scroll and using it will give you just about any kind of power-up you can imagine. From a shield to diagonally flying energy balls to magic arrows that home in on enemies to miniature angels that blast foes with lightning, there are plenty of ways to exorcise the world of evil in Gynoug. In fact, I’ve only mentioned about half of the power-ups, so you can plainly see this game has more enhancement items that the average shooter.

However, all the above-mentioned weapons pale in effectiveness to the Wild Fire attack. If you can grab the extremely rare “W” scroll, your base weapon will be enhanced for an unlimited duration of time. Bullets will be larger and seem to do more damage, making this a “must-grab” weapon. Add that to the fact that you only have a very limited amount of ammo with the other special weapons and the Wild Fire turns into an acquisition that is as close to mandatory as you can get in this genre of games.

The quest won’t be easy regardless of what weapon you hold, though. This game subscribes to the notion of throwing wave after wave after wave of enemies at you, giving you next to no free time to catch your breath. Mini-bosses and bosses fill the air with bullets and other forms of attack, giving you little room to maneuver in. Make no mistake about it, regardless of the difficulty level you choose and regardless of how effective you are at powering up your warrior, this is NOT an easy game.

That difficulty becomes quite apparent when you reach your first miniboss, a floating tortoise that is only vulnerable to attack over a very limited amount of its body. Within seconds after the start of the battle, waves of bullets will make their way toward you. Frenetically, you’ll grip the control, trying to dodge and fly between sets of bullets, hoping to get a few solid shots in on it after its weak spot is exposed in an attempt to finish it off before it inevitably blasts you from the sky, leaving only a couple of feathers from your wings to show you ever existed. Get used to that sensation, because all the bosses will challenge you with the amount of ammo they dump, while most of them are only vulnerable in certain spots or at certain times.

Many of these boss encounters also provide the highlights of this game. While most of the minibosses are relatively normal by shooter standards, the end-of-level bosses are all demented works of art. In the first three levels, you’ll watch the background dissipate from the screen, leaving you flying through blackness only to face a horrid combination of man meshed with machine. The first level provides a train with a human-like head protruding from, the second level brings you face-to-face with a sunken pirate ship that has its own gigantic head stuck to it and the third level puts you in direct conflict with what appears to be a gigantic furnace, also with distinctly human features.

And the offerings just get more demented as you go on. A rotting torso and head greet you at the end of the fourth level, while the fifth level is the abode of an imposing snake with a human head. Finally, you’ll finish things off with a simple, but brutally difficult sixth level gauntlet. First you fight through all five minibosses, then you take on stage four’s boss again and then you conclude with a monstrosity that can be best described as a larval insect with plenty of ammunition and a small weak spot that only is vulnerable at sporadic points in time.

To be honest, these end-of-level bosses are so wonderfully designed and portrayed that it makes most of the remainder of the game seem like somewhat of a letdown. I found myself wondering how NCS could make such large, detailed and disturbing creations to serve as the climax to the level, but make everything else so run-of-the-mill by comparison. I found myself just wishing that the level I was on would end, so I could just get to the boss and fight it.

Part of the reason for that is that there really is very little to do besides simply blast everything that pops onto the screen. Many horizontally-scrolling shooters are loaded with areas where quick and precise movements are necessary to avoid obstacles, but this game only has a couple such areas. The first part of the fourth level is somewhat of a speed zone, as you whip down narrow corridors on your way to the mini-boss. The first level has a few volcanoes that shoot lava you need to dodge. But other than those two instances, there are very few parts of the actual levels where you need to do more than shoot enemies and dodge their attacks while avoiding a fatal run-in with the ceiling or floor of your surroundings.

Also, as I mentioned before, most of the minibosses are somewhat normal, with the fifth level’s giant humanoid being the only true exception. Most of the regular enemies and your warrior are small and somewhat plagued by lack of detail. While I can excuse the drab colors as a way to enhance the mood, the general lack of detail that went into decorating most of the levels isn’t so forgivable. With a couple of exceptions (stages one and three and a couple of the latter boss fights), the music is pretty unremarkable, as well. The hit detection can be a bit “hit-or-miss”, as I watched bullets go through my character’s legs without any ill effects. This game is 13 years old and it really does show that age at times.

But that shouldn’t detract players interested in an above-average old-school shooter. Sure there are a number of minor problems with this game, but it still serves as an above-average effort with plenty of fast-paced gameplay mixed with a dark and somber atmosphere, giving it a certain degree of originality in a genre loaded with scads of games that seem satisfied to do little more than follow the formula set by their predecessors, only offering minor alterations. Gynoug is by no means a perfect example of how to make a game, but it deserves a little time in the ol’ Genesis simply because of the atmosphere it tries to create and the wonderful attention to detail used in crafting the macabre and ominous bosses.
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Title: Guhhh....
Posted: April 22, 2011 (01:57 PM)
So, I'm trying to shake off possibly the worst writer's block I've ever had. I'm talking NO MOTIVATION TO WRITE ANYTHING bad. Like not even getting to the point where I create a text document and just stare at it until I realize that I took two hours to write that many paragraphs — to the point where I think about creating one and then don't.

So, in order to help me, I'm going to give all sorts of "what I'm playing" updates. Basically any game from the past month or two from most time with to least time with.

1. Tales of Vesperia: Up to the fight with Tison and Nan. Boss fights are much tougher here than in the past couple Tales games. Seems that starting with Gattuso, I die at least once before winning. Gattuso and Barbos were particularly tricky. In Abyss, it seemed that you needed very little (if any) strategy to beat all but the toughest bosses. Here, you get shredded if you try to live by the "run up to enemy and hack wildly" method. I like that.

2. SMT Persona 3 FES: I'd played through it up through the first couple months and then it became a casualty of me buying my 360. So, I'm starting it back up again. I'm probably about to where I was when I quit (after the Emperor/Emperess fight, but nowhere near the next full moon). Definitely a "fine-line" game, although I admire how good it walks that line. The rogue-style dungeon crawling SHOULD be tiresome as hell, but the complete and total necessity of paying attention to strengths and weaknesses almost makes it a game within a game, as I'll be changing Personas from fight to fight in order to be best equipped for any foe.

3. God of War: I'd been playing it and was a bit into Pandora's Temple then stopped because I entered a pure-ass RPG mode. Since I couldn't remember any damn Blade upgrade attacks, I just started over and in a handful of hours have almost made it to that point (killed the three sirens in the desert last night). Carnage and blood are fun. Trying to target one enemy for a special attack in a cluster can be annoying. Such as the cyclops attack in the city square with all the life-restoring victims...I mean citizens of Athens. Or when you're in a narrow sewer corridor and trying to circle-button kill a minotaur for the health while being besieged by them and regular soldier foes. But it's hard to complain too much about a beautiful game that allows me to brutally slaughter medusas, sirens, minotaurs and other Greek mythos staples.

4. Cthulhu Saves the World: Haven't been saving the world much recently. At the town/dungeon with the zombie infestation early in the game. It's fun, but so far is coming off like "Breath of Death...but a bit upgraded". I'll have to have an evening with it soon.

5. Breath of Fire II: It and Chrono Trigger are the highest two games on my list of ones I want to play with a translation patch solely to get a more accurate glimpse as to how the game was before the dialogue was chopped up for American consumption. So that's what I'm doing here. I forgot how tedious the early going is. If you want to properly equip Ryu and Bow (or Bosch, in this translation) for the first dungeon, you better hope dog-boy can hunt a few boars for roasts (worth $200). And then, when it's just Ryu, the enemy difficulty picks up A LOT as you try to get to the Coliseum town. As I remember, when you get a more fleshed-out party, things are much more manageable (some areas are tougher than others, but nothing is OVERLY hellish), but in the early going, it takes a while to get going.

6. Illusion of Gaia: I'd been wanting to play this one again. When it comes to "career" goals as far as reviewing, one of mine is to do the SoulBlazer trilogy. I've done SB, so this is the next one. I've only had one session with it, which I played up to the longish hero and princess on a raft sequence. I did better against the first boss than usual (ie: didn't die, even though I went through most of my healing items before I stopped being an idiot and starting actually beating it down). That bastard is a brutal first boss by most games' standards. Has a number of attacks and you have little room to maneuver in.
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Title: Happy times!
Posted: February 02, 2011 (10:31 AM)
So, we're under a L2 snow emergency here in north-central Ohio and I get the day off work! Even better, it seems that (at least for the time, knock on wood) my internet is working good after two days of service so slow that I was wondering if I'd magically reverted to dial-up. That means RotW will be done today...unless it goes bad again. But first, it's time to fry fish. Which means I need to wash dishes.

A SCARY STORY:
Last night, I was playing Star Ocean: The Last Hope. As EmP and others who've played this game know, you often need to have plenty of time to invest in this game, as dungeons are LONG and save points are rare (like at the entrance and right before the boss). I'd actually been stalled in front of the Purgatorium for a week or two, as I didn't feel like devoting a whole night to one dungeon.

But last night, I was home and going nowhere, so I decided...LET'S DO THIS!!! And I did. Purgatorium completed. But not without a scare. A large amount of Ohio is currently without power and for a bit, I thought I was going to be among that number. The lights flickered twice...enough to restart my computer, but fortunately not enough to affect the 360 or TV (ran choppy for a bit, but that was it).

At this point, I'd been playing for a good 2+ hours since last seeing a save point. That would have been the sort of setback that put Last Hope on the "two-year hiatus" plan. But it didn't happen, so JOY!!!
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Title: Things I wonder: Symphony of the Night edition
Posted: January 26, 2011 (03:38 PM)
So, yo, I'm playing the Live Arcade port of Symphony of the Night and I've noticed that I'm struggling a bit more than usual with this game. Like, even to the point of occasionally dying in rooms other than that one where you have to use Sonic Bat powers to get through the dark, spiky room. I've come up with three theories for this. If anyone who is familiar with this game, both on the PS and Live Arcade, has insight...well, that's what I'm hoping for!

1. While this is essentially a direct port with nothing new besides "leaderboard" stuff, there was subtle difficulty tweaking. Like maybe certain enemies hit harder. I just entered the Reverse Castle last night and found the Chapel area to be tough, just because those Snipers of Goth flying angel-like enemies could bust the crap out of me with arrow attacks. I don't remember having that tough a time with them before.

2. Controls. Things don't feel as tight with the 360 controller as they did with the PS one. This game originally came out before the analog sticks became an integral part of gaming, so the game may not work as well because you're using them now. I do notice that when swinging at short enemies (ie: Thornweeds), I usually use the control pad instead of the stick to aim down with my sword.

3. The simple fact it's been a long-ass time since I've played the game. Like years after I'd beat it every few months back in the day. I had a particular order by which I'd do everything that I never strayed from which allowed me to go through both castles efficiently. There's no way I could remember that, so the deviations from the plan could be working to make things more difficult. But I wouldn't think that'd be a big deal now. I'm just entering the Reverse Castle after doing EVERYTHING in the first one and I'm pretty sure my plan always involved starting with the Darkwing Bat and then turning around, taking out the Medusa and going through the chapel. Unless there was a side trip into reverse Olrox or Coliseum I'd take for a weapon or armor or something that I'm not able to remember.
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Title: Ever had a "sense of futility" feeling?
Posted: November 22, 2010 (12:09 PM)
Throughout my gaming/reviewing stage (ie: the last 7+ years), I've operated both through emulation and purchases. Over the past couple of months, I've collected a number of more recent RPGs. Tales of the Abyss for the PS2 (already reviewed on GR) was the old-timer of the bunch, while I also picked up the 360's FF XIII, Infinite Undiscovery, Resonance of Fate, Star Ocean: The Last Hope and Tales of Vesperia. Along with Red Faction Guerrilla. And I do have my share of games I've owned for some time that I'd like to believe I'll finish at some point like SMT: Nocturne and Persona 3. A lot of work, but nothing that's not doable, given enough time.

But, just a few nights ago, I was unwinding before bed and suddenly, a thought entered my head. While I've reviewed a number of retro mascot platformers, I really haven't done (outside of a few examples like Sonic 1, 2 and Ristar) many of those more awesome and/or iconic ones. Like any of the SMB games, the latter Donkey Kong Country ones (which I liked much more than the first) and so on.

So, I went to my computer and, in an attempt to trim the fat, dumped off about 50 games I figured I'd never play. Leaving me with STILL more than I'd ever get to in normal lifespan. Something depressing about that. Like that no matter how much time I devote to gaming, I'd never wind up having accomplished all that I wanted. Like where if I did all of the above games, I'd regret never having gotten to Sonic 3 and Rocket Knight Adventures.

Title: All the awesome stuff I'm doing!
Posted: October 03, 2010 (03:33 PM)
FOR HERE:

Cocoron

My MOTO review. I had a lot of fun writing it. A bit more creative than some of the stuff I've done recently. For a while, I thought about doing the whole thing in "dream voice". Then I decided that would come out stupid. So I didn't.

Also, there will be a review of Comic Jumper coming here in the near future. Fun, quirky game by Twisted Pixel, who already have AWESOME POINTS from me for 'Splosion Man.

FOR GAMERONI:

http://www.gameroni.com/posts/217.html
That's my review of Spiderman: Shattered Dimensions. I really liked it. By our numbering system here, I'd say 9/10.

I've also reviewed various Dragon Age: Origins DLC, so if you want to know what I thought about the three downloadable side quests you can do with the main story, Darkspawn Chronicles and/or Leliana's Song, find them and READ READ READ.

I also have to finish my Lost Odyssey review at some time and will be reviewing Front Mission Evolved eventually. And I also tell the world all about my random thoughts about old games and stuff.

FOR WHOEVER I FEEL LIKE AT SOME TIME:

While dicking around on Wiki, I randomly discovered that there is an Atari 2600 Halo. This I have to see at some time and since I can play it online through some site, I might play it this week, next week or some other week. The possibilities are ENDLESS!!!
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Title: Disc 4: Lost Odyssey
Posted: August 25, 2010 (12:57 PM)
Great Jove, some of this stuff is challenging! I did the boss fight with the big demon and the two Keystones at the top of the Ancient Ruins and then the "save the city from the Arthrosauruseseseseses" battles.

Took me forever to beat the demon and three tries to beat the Arthrosauruseseseseses before the city was destroyed. Think I'm a boss fight away or so from being able to put saving the world on hold to whore myself out for sidequests and stuff.

Very good game. I'd probably like more storyline villains than just Gongora and the stupid Numara general, as most bosses are just "big monster randomly appearing to fight you" types. With unimaginative names like "Magic Beast" and "Ice Magic Beast".
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Title: A pair of thoughts!
Posted: August 13, 2010 (10:30 PM)
1. Made it to Disc 3 of Lost Odyssey tonight. After finishing Clash of the Titans, I can go back to this game. As I get farther into the game, I can see why EmP had said it's the best 360 J-RPG. When I "reviewed" it under the "HAMMER-time" name, all I mentioned for whatever wacky contest that it was for happened to be the "Thousand Years of Dreams" stories. As good as they are, I think the game would have to be horribly broken for me not to want to recommend it. The "Bright Rain" story which I got tonight was the perfect example of how beautiful in a depressive way AND thought-provoking these stories are. I'm glad there's a FAQ solely to tell how to get these stories. If there's one thing I want to collect all of in this game, it's the stories.\

2. I edited my Clash of the Titans review. Upon further review, I found enough typos and awkward phrasing to make me feel like EmP after a WQ proofreading. It's better, now!
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Title: Summoner...
Posted: July 28, 2010 (11:56 PM)
It really isn't THAT bad. Oh, it's horribly flawed, but it's rare that a game's plot has me this hooked. That mid-game twist is pulled off awesomely! And the moments where your party is depleted are awesome. If you have a full party, you can bash through everything...but if you're only controlling 1-2 characters, enemy luring and combo-working become essential. The section where Flece rescues Joseph is simply awesome because of that!
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Title: A mini-review that could wind up a....maxi?
Posted: July 15, 2010 (12:47 AM)
Tonight, for the first time in over eight years, I played Summoner... Perhaps I was in a particularly self-hating frame of mind.

You start out woodenly moving through a burning village, chopping down weak foes until it all mercifully ends. No, wait! It's not merciful...now you're in the overworld where you have to find some castle-town base of operations. And, for your solo character, any random encounter monster is best avoided unless you're patient enough to save after every single fight.

When you get to said castle-town, prepare to waste a gazillion hours. This is a massive, multi-sector place containing a ton of mini-quests waiting to be found. The first time (and, quite frankly, any other time) you visit, you'll likely be dialing the suicide hotline long before you get the cutscene that takes you into the sewers for your first real plot-action mission. Unless your memory is so photographic that you instantly can recall where Bhaordhs the Hwieornwsld happens to be stationed at whenever you're told to find its ass!
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Title: My latest brand new review!
Posted: July 01, 2010 (02:52 PM)
TwinBee 3

Heh heh heh...NOW I can simply spam forums with threads for everything I write instead of hoping someone starts a submission thread about it! I WIN!!!!*

Annoying for me was that I forgot that with my screenshot capturer on this particular emulator, I have to rename each pic after I take it, I guess. So, each shot I took (at least 10) replaced the one before it. So I ended with only a pic of the final boss. Which I trashed in a fit of godly fury. Live and learn, I guess.

*assuming this thread doesn't just get ignored. In which case, I really don't win.
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Title: Of dreams...
Posted: June 29, 2010 (12:10 AM)
Last night, I had the weirdest sequence of dreams I've ever experienced. I'd been getting wasted at a local race track all weekend, which I think set things up, as from what I've read, at least step one gets made more possible by things like eating before bed and having massive intoxication affect sleep.

STEP ONE: Dream Paralysis (when you dream, your body puts itself into a sort of paralysis to prevent you from damaging yourself regularly from reacting to dream stuff...sometimes that paralysis sets in early or doesn't leave on time...it tends to lead to "Silent Hill moments" where you're dreaming hallucination voices and the presence of really evil danger around you, your "dream self" can barely move and you think you're awake and don't know what's what). I had about 5-6 bouts of this in a row in the early morning (6-7 a.m.). I'd basically force myself out of one and doze back off into another immediately. The freakiest was a back-to-back one where I was laying on my side, couldn't move and heard a demonic voice behind me. I woke out of it, dozed off again and had the exact same experience. The only one that wasn't totally scary was one where my dream self was trying to crawl across a way-too-large bed to see what time it was while psychedelic color-shifting went on all around me.

STEP TWO: The "too real dream". After finally falling asleep without another Silent Hill deal, I entered a four-part dream. The first part, I only remember entering a sci-fi looking room where I was transported outside a building. Part two was me and a number of people (a couple whom I've known in life, but aren't friends with or anything) were chilling in this idealistic sort of "nothing matters but this moment" sort of way. It was this childish, comfortable sort of feeling. In the third part, I was in the building. It was an elementary school, but much smaller than it looked from "part 2". It was basically one room, with crap set up to make it look like it led to other rooms. There was an attractive chick there. We went into a "secretary's office" (which was smaller than an efficiency apartment bathroom) and got busy. I remember someone I assume was the principal getting up from the next office with one of those "WTF? No way this is allowed!" expressions. She dragged me to the floor. Don't remember if the "principal" ended things or they just switched over, but "part 4" had me in a very broken-down, abandoned version of this place. There were two people working to fix a wall. Occasionally, I could find elements of my bedroom, but when I tried to focus on them, they seemed to disappear. I asked the guys what they were doing and they said something to the effect they were fixing a hole. My "dream-self" took things to mean that I was in an afterlife and if I didn't wake up soon, I wouldn't wake up at all, because when they blocked off the hole, I'd be trapped. My brain really messed with me here, as I didn't have my alarm clock set...but I could hear it and was thinking that I would wake up, but I didn't and its ringing suddenly stopped. I completely panicked in the dream and was slapping and pinching myself to wake up, but nothing worked...and then I simply popped awake. It was like I was released from my situation more than that I got out of it.

STEP THREE: the "prophetic dream". After that one, it was about 8:30ish and I had no need to be in work and was pretty sleepy (the sort of non-restful sleep I'd been having probably wasn't the best for recharging my batteries). I fed my cats and went to the bathroom and decided to see if I could fall back to sleep for an hour or so. I did. I dreamed I was outside a house with a number of people (once again, a couple of which I know, but aren't close to). I threw a can (beer, cola, I don't remember) and that somehow caused a chain reaction of the area crumbling. I looked behind me and saw gigantic (making Redwoods look small) trees descending thought the air (think meteoroids or comets) towards the house. One blasted through it near me, but not close enough to damage anyone. I obtained a message that we had to get to a certain room before 9:52, or "lose our heads". That room happened to be the same sci-fi room from the last dream which teleported me to the "I think I'm dying!" dream. One woman and I started messing around...a voice was heard (I wish I could remember what it said) and I immediately woke up. I rolled over to see what time it was and my bedroom clock said 9:52.

I have a lot of vivid dreams, but never any extended period of stuff like this. This is about all I've been able to think about all day. Did I actually visit what will be my afterlife when I die (a constantly changing series of rooms where people and situations change)? I've never had a lucid dream I couldn't escape and just bizarrely woke up from despite how none of my knowledge that I was dreaming worked. And to precede it with a chain-combo of sleep paralysis dream and finish it off with a prophetic dream.

Has anyone had shit like this happen to them while asleep? I'm not talking regular crazy dreams, but stuff where you woke up convinced you tapped into some sort of advanced consciousness and might have been lucky to get out of it. Like you got released, but might not be so lucky the next time.

Title: Old RPGs are the GR8EST!!1!1111!!!
Posted: June 14, 2010 (03:51 PM)
Tecmo Secret of the Stars

A little bit of nastiness disposed of. Now back to stuff I'm having fun playing, as I've gotten my bash review jollies out of my system for at least a few days.
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Title: One more acquisition!
Posted: June 14, 2010 (12:13 AM)
Since GameStop seems to be really hard to promote their card (apparently due to some change they made or something...I don't care), they're currently giving more trade-in value to stuff you bring in and lowering the price of what you take out. So I dumped off a couple more games I'll never play again and grabbed Star Ocean: The Last Hope for the 360. Like Infinite Undiscovery, it'll be a while before I ever play it, but whatever. One more J-RPG for the system in my possession.

Speaking of which, is there any reason pre-owned versions of Tales of Vesperia are so expensive? My GameStop had it at $44.99. I thought it came out in late 2008. Is it rare? I don't know why I care, as I've found all three "Tales..." games I've played (SFam Phantasia, PS1 Destiny and PS2 Legendia) to be repetitive deals that get dull after a bit. But if I saw that game for under $20 somewhere, I'd pick it up for the hell of it (that's why I got Infinite Undiscovery).
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Title: My latest review!
Posted: June 12, 2010 (03:48 PM)
Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II

Was hoping to have a second done today, but time seems to not be my ally, as I have plans for the evening. And tomorrow. So, I might finish it Monday.

I was going through my new/unfinished games and trying to prioritize them. God, I have a lot of games I could/should be working on. Like, a good year or more if I (a) don't buy/obtain any more games and/or (b) don't include all the stuff downloaded on my computer. So, I guess I won't be able to claim I'm bored and have nothing to play for some time.
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Title: Game trading!
Posted: June 10, 2010 (10:20 AM)
Yesterday, I took the day off work and traded off a bunch of older games I'll never play again for four others.

Obtained the two PS2 God of War games. I'd played the first one for a bit (I think through Athens up to the tunnel leading to the desert), Red Faction: Guerrilla (another game I've played for a bit) and Infinite Undiscovery (due to my obsessive desire to play most known J-RPGs).

Along with my really tedious attempt to get through Tecmo Secret of the Stars, the three PS2 games I've borrowed from my friend that I still have to beat (Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, X-Men Rise of Apocalypse or whatever its called and Call of Duty 3); my RPG cache for the 360 (including Oblivion, DA: Origins, Lost Odyssey and Enchanted Arms) and a number of other PS2 RPGs I really should finish at some time such as Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, Persona 3 and (if I ever pick it up again, Summoner)...I have a shitload of stuff I should be playing.

It's just a matter of actually showing some sort of mental cohesion to play and beat games, as opposed to playing one for a bit, then moving to another, and another, and another...and winding up with about a dozen half-beaten games that I'm wondering if I'll ever go back to.
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Title: ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: 200K hits
Posted: May 28, 2010 (03:19 PM)
A big number! Yay! It makes up for the fact that instead of working on a review today, I just zoned out and aimlessly surfed the net!

Offer congratulations here! (note to EmP: "congratulations" does NOT include issuing a reminder that you recently hit 400K review hits)
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Title: EXCITEMENT!
Posted: May 23, 2010 (03:15 PM)
Modern Warfare 2

My latest review. Struggled a bit writing it. I've noticed that the more obscure and/or retro a game is, the easier it is for me to write about it. Probably because I've done so many retro reviews over the years.

Next review likely will be the PS2 Baldur's Gate 2, as I finished it last week or so. I'm playing Lament of Innocence right now. Also feeling a bit of a desire to do something really retro. Zig's contest review is making me thing it'd be fun to review a cutesy shooter or something like that. It's been a while since I've reviewed one of those.
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Title: Here we go!
Posted: May 08, 2010 (04:24 PM)
Star Ocean: Till the End of Time

I had fun typing this one. I was in a fairly whimsical mood. Or just more insane than usual.

In the near future will be my take on Modern Warfare 2, which should be interesting considering my general apathy towards multiplayer stuff, which is a big part of this game's appeal. Will I have liked the campaign enough to praise this game?!? Tune in to find out!

And I'm going through a few borrow'd PS2 games. Playing Baldur's Gate 2 right now. Which makes me wish I was a barbarian who could solve all my problems with a big-ass axe. And also borrow'd X-Men Legends 2, Call of Duty 3 and one of the PS2 Castlevanias. Fun times ahead for me. Or suicide, but hopefully fun times.
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Title: NEW REVIEW ALERT!
Posted: April 10, 2010 (03:21 PM)
Project: Snowblind

I had fun with that game.

On another note, does anyone have that "nemesis" game? By which I mean a good game that you like and get into, but never seem to really make much progress with it. I started a new attempt on my nemesis game last night: the SNES Ogre Battle. I love so many things about the game, in particular how you have to monitor the strength of your units because your reputation goes down the drain if you build up a tiny handful of units and have them slaughter all the enemy...or liberate towns with low-aligned units and whatnot. And who wants to achieve an ending that features your character as a soon-to-be assassinated tyrant?

But the problem is that I've never gotten that ending or any of the better ones because I ALWAYS get bogged down a certain percent in and wind up putting it down. Maybe I should be an asshole tyrant who only uses powerhouse units and levels them to where they slaughter everything the enemy has, instead of trying to manage so many reputation factors.
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Title: Multitasking: Just one thing I'm too stupid to handle
Posted: April 01, 2010 (01:20 PM)
So, last night, I had my plan set. I have two TVs in my living room, so if I want to watch something while gaming, I can.

I wanted to watch the UFC stuff on Spike and I wanted to play Project Snowblind. What happened was that I got through most of one level in Snowblind over the 3+ hours I was watching TV. I couldn't focus on both things at once, so I was essentially watching TV and playing a game during commercial and interview segments between fights.

And it's like that in reverse, too. If I just have a random game on TV that I don't really care about, I'll catch myself looking up and being like, "Whoa! How'd it get from 12-5 to 41-38 that quickly?"
In short, I'm just not good at multi-tasking. Woe is me.
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Title: My latest review for all of you (poetic, ain't it?)
Posted: March 26, 2010 (01:27 PM)
Darwinia+

Fun game. Now back to Project: Snowblind. Shoot, shoot, shoot; kill, kill, kill.

And also my replaying of the first American Fire Emblem on the GBA, this time in Hector Mode instead of Eliwood Mode. Fun little battle of attrition at times. Did Chapter 13x to get Merlinus. Took me three tries, but that was more because my goal was to kill the boss and visit the village, rather than just surviving for the seven turns that is this fight's stipulation. Next up is my assault of Laus and the beating up up Erik, the dickish son of the Marquess of Laus.

Other potential projects: resuming MoH: Frontline and any number of "on hiatus" 360 titles. Also, my friend has a number of PS2 titles I want to play and has mentioned that after he's done playing/replaying a few GameCube games, he might let me borrow that, which would be cool, as he has a number of games there I wouldn't mind sampling.

All in all, things are great to be me...assuming I can focus on any one game long enough to play it through. My erratic nature just gets more pronounced as time goes on.
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Title: My latest review
Posted: February 26, 2010 (04:13 PM)
F = Fire Emblem: Monshou no Nazo

Oh yeah, teammates for the contest thing! This is my contest entry. Please offer any potential input you have. I may even have time over the next day to put advice into work!
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Title: Finally!
Posted: February 17, 2010 (03:14 PM)
Batman: Arkham Asylum is complete!

In early January, I went to my best friend's house and we spent an entire day playing this game. I had plans to have it reviewed by the middle of that month. But instead, it stuck on my desktop and stuck there and stuck there with me occasionally opening it and adding a bit more or deleting a bit. Finally, today, I finished it! Now on to my next review, which hopefully will take less than a month to type.

Right now, I'm mainly playing my contest game, another game in its series and Medal of Honor: Frontline. And I noticed that Bioware released an update a couple weeks ago fixing the Dragon Age: Origins specializations glitch their Return to Ostragor DLC caused (if you were "lucky" enough to download it before they realized the problem and took it from their servers). So, I'll probably be picking that back up, as well.

And I'm entering a busy time at work for the next two-three weeks, as well. All sorts o' crazy crap going down, I guess!
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Title: Things That Annoy Me: V1
Posted: February 17, 2010 (01:10 AM)
The decreased challenge in games. I was playing Medal of Honor: Frontline tonight. Levels 2-3 and 2-4 aren't notorious for being tough or anything, but they were long and loaded with enemies AND there are no in-level saves or checkpoints, so if you screw up, a good deal of work could be wasted. You have to conserve health items, as one mistake could force you to backtrack to rejuvenate yourself...or risk death by whatever enemy crosses your path next.

That was the first MoH game on the PS2. The last was Vanguard. By this point, the series was using the hot new thing as far as taking damage goes, where you don't have those stupid unrealistic healing items laying around, but if you can duck out of harm's way for about 5 seconds, you'll be completely revitalized! And there were tons of checkpoints. A halfway decent player could bully through all (or at least most) of the game during an afternoon.

Uncharted II uses that same method of taking (and recovering from) damage where if you avoid taking damage for a short period of time, you fully recover from taking that rocket to the kisser. But with checkpoints that seem to be about .5 feet apart. In the fairly-late-game chapter titled "Cat and Mouse", you do your best to keep away from a tank for half the time and then skulk around to obtain rocket launchers to gradually destroy it. Two separate times, I essentially suicided a life to make a checkpoint. Unintentionally, but that's what happened. During a "tank chasing you" scene, I must have JUST made it across an invisible line before it killed me. During the "fight back" part of the chapter, I basically shot it with a rocket WHILE it was killing me. Both times I was rewarded with a new checkpoint...for failing.

That's a great game, but I really disagree with all the "IT'S LIKE A MOVIE YOU PLAY 10/10!!!!!" reviews out there. The game begs for you to beat it. It makes it easy to advance. There are no battles of attrition to get through levels. All you have to do is clear one challenge to have your progress saved. As a couple of people here have scored it, this game's more of an 8/10 than a 10/10. It's a fun roller-coaster ride of a game, but it's easy and I don't think it has the staying power I'd expect of a true classic.
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Title: Another "pulling teeth" day...
Posted: February 12, 2010 (03:32 PM)
So, I figured I'd finish that Batman: Arkham Asylum review that's been sitting on my desktop today. Sadly, all I got done was about 3-4 paragraphs that were utter agony to rip out of my brain. I might finish it before I have to go, but it's looking like a real longshot right now. This is easily going to be the review that gave me the most difficulty to write.

Not because of the quality of the game or anything like that...but because it's of a sort I don't regularly play. And, now, the additional issue of how I binge-played it for one afternoon about a month or so ago is starting to become a factor, as many little things are escaping my memory.

Annoyance...
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Title: ANOTHER 2009 year in review!!!
Posted: February 03, 2010 (01:11 PM)
Last year, I wrote a bunch of reviews. 30-some, I think. It was fun. You should hunt them down if you haven't read them yet. That is all.

Now it's 2010 and here's my third review of this year, which I did Saturday and am just now linking to my blog because I'm really lazy and stupid.

Vandal Hearts: Flames of Judgment

In other news:

I'm working on reviews for Batman: Arkham Asylum and Uncharted 2.

Dragon Age: Origins: Almost down with the Redcliffe Village/Castle part. For some stupid reason, I decided to have the little blood mage dude redeem himself by saving the prince. Jowan vs. Desire Demon hasn't worked out in my favor yet. In fact during my first attempt at that battle, he just flat-out got massacred. I tend to have two saves going, but my other one might be at the beginning of the castle...or might be at the beginning of the village and there's no damn way I'm doing the entire siege again, so that means I might have to suck it up and deal with Jowan's suckitude.

Fire Emblem (SNES): After playing Vandal Hearts: FoJ, I really wanted to sample a classic turn-based strategy game. It seems like the old-school Fire Emblem makes up for having far less dialogue than the GBA games in the series by simply being brutally difficult at all times. In the GBA version, it was easy to win fights. I lost a tiny handful of characters and did re-start a number of fights, but that was usually due more to just not wanting a certain character to be gone because I found him/her very useful. Here....it seems like if you make even a minor tactical blunder, someone's dying. Promoted enemies are just brutal, with even snipers (promoted archers) having good enough defense to hold their own for a number of turns against heavy armors and other offensive juggernauts. Mamkutes (dragon-men) just destroy units with their breath attacks. I'm up to L11 (of 20) in Book 1 and am finding it a brutal grind at times.

L9 was easy overall, but the Mamkute boss was vicious.
L10 started out easy, but gets very tough with a Mamkute and two tough promoted enemies (a general and sniper). The boss (a bishop with a good attack spell) was easier than the last few enemies guarding him.
L11 looks sadistic. You can recruit two pegasus knights right at the beginning, but they'll be worthless, as a crapload of enemies are archers/snipers, who maul flyers. And then there's a lot of heavy armor/generals to deal with before the treasonous king boss, who's also a general. And I needed to have a brand new character (a paladin) in my party because she's needed to recruit a third character. From what I've read, Midea is a pretty damn good horse-rider, though. The real bitch of it is the training of Linda. From what I've read, she's easily the best mage in the game...but when you get her in L1, she's a L1 character, which means she currently is weak to the point that she's only useful for putting the killing blow on a near-dead enemy. Which means that she currently is more of a liability than an asset.
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Title: Another review!
Posted: January 13, 2010 (02:03 PM)
Wacky Races

Finished this one up after it'd been stuck half-written on my desktop for a good month. With that taken into consideration, I doubt it's one of my best efforts, but at least it's a finished one!

In other news, apparently the Return to Ostragor DLC for Dragon Age: Origins is out now after being delayed a couple times. If so, I'll be downloading it tonight. And if I can beat Uldred in the Circle Tower, I might even play through it!
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Title: Another installment of DA: O meanderings!
Posted: January 08, 2010 (12:58 PM)
Be thrilled!

Entering the werewolf lair didn't turn out so well for me. My party tended to get raped repeated by about the first encounter with werewolves... especially during that inevitable moment when one would knock my character down, jump on him and repeatedly drill him into death. So, like any hero, I caved and decided to save this place for later.

So I went to the Circle Tower. The Tower itself was pretty easy. The only fight I had to reload a significant number of times was right before you meet the Sloth Demon where you can fight a handful of Templars with a Blood Mage behind them. That took a while. Probably because I was too stupid to think about setting Alistair's tactics to where he uses Templar powers on stuff that uses magic. And because there's a trap right inside the door, so I find myself having to waste a few seconds having my character disarm it, which makes it a bit tougher to get around the templars to get to the mage before he gets too frisky with his spells.

Another tricky fight was the one with two waves of undead with an Arcane Horror trailing behind. But I got that on my third try. Nothing else really bothered me. Might have reloaded once with a Desire Demon/Templar fight and that might have induced me to just let another Desire Demon keep the Templar she'd seduced later on in the place, but my character's a bit of a bastard from time to time anyway.

The Fade's a cool place. It's almost like a game within a game with you going from one dungeon to the next to get powers that allow you to access places you couldn't get to before. Regularly receiving stat bonuses is pretty cool, as well. It started off easy, but now that I'm in Mages Asunder, enemies are making me cry. Before going to bed, this cluster of three mages inside a room you need Burning Man form to enter killed me about 1,845,384 times in a row. Maybe more. It felt like it. Looks like this is a point where I'm going to actually have to think to find an intelligent way to overcome an obstacle, as opposed to simply charging the opposition.
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Title: 2010 begins with a bang!
Posted: January 03, 2010 (07:35 PM)
Ys III, peeps!

Will this be the year I finally win the ABCs? I say so...and if three judges know what's good for them, they'll say so, too!
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Title: At least one more letter!
Posted: December 30, 2009 (02:41 PM)
J = James Cameron's Avatar: The Game

Which brings me up to 18. Which is where I'll finish. I have one more review that I may finish tomorrow if I can get motivated to finalize it (writer's block has been a bastard with it), but it's for a letter I've already done.

In other news, since I haven't updated my Dragon Age: Origins quest!

1. Did the lower part of the Dalish forest ruins. Killed a Revenant there. He was a rough one, but I had far more trouble with the Arcane Horror in a different room. That bastard teleported all over the place blasting me with spells. Not cool....

2. Instead of going to the Werewolf Lair, I decided to think outside the box and went around the world a bit to get some sidequests. Mainly the capital city and the port on the way to the Mage Tower. Killed random thugs and stuff. And another Revenant.

3. Went back to the forest. Took out the Greater Shade in the west part. The key to not losing 3/4 of your party apparently is to not examine anything and leave immediately. In the east part, a quest I had unlocks a battle with Blood Mages near where you can have a big undead fight by tampering with a tombstone. They got the better of me during my first go at them, so I decided to try again later.

Now in the Werewolf lair. Due to being assigned Avatar, I haven't progressed from there. And it will be a few days before I do, as I have to focus on my ABC tourney game when I play stuff from now until Sunday night.
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Title: Dragon Age: Origins III
Posted: December 10, 2009 (11:16 AM)
And my journey continues. My party is Me, Alistair, Morrigan and Shale.

1. Bought and played The Warden's Keep downloadable content. Kind of a fun little quest.

2. Been short on playing time, but still have done a good chunk of the Dalish/Werewolf quest. Where I've learned the important lesson that Revenants are real bastards. I'll be going back to these woods at a later time for the tombstone battles and to collect 1-2 chests that I'm not good enough at lockpicking yet to open.

3. Currently in the lower ruins. Fought a dragon to get there and have been taking out undead left and right now that I am there. Got some Juggernaut armor for killing some shades, which opened up the tombstone quest completely (so I can get killed by Revs at three places instead of one, apparently). No hurry to have that happen, as it'll be a while before Alistair is strong enough to equip it.

QUESTION FOR THOSE IN THE KNOW!
In the first part of the forest, near the poet tree, there's a campsite. Just by inspecting any of it, your party winds up falling asleep. Then, three of them are dead and the survivor has to go one-on-one with a Greater Shade. Which leads to it killing Morrigan (who's my survivor), as she has no physical ability. I looked this place up online and found that it's your highest-willpower character that survives. There was one message board post from somewhere that stated there allegedly is a way to make choices so you don't lose 3/4 of your party. Does anyone know about this? It's kinda an unimportant side-thing along the path, but the completionist in me does want to slaughter that shade.
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Title: Dragon Age: Origins: II
Posted: November 29, 2009 (11:35 PM)
Haven't had as much time with this as I'd want, but moving along.

1. Finished off early stage. The cinematic aspect of the battle/betrayal was well done. Very epic feel to the proceedings.

2. Lukewarm about the village there after the initial part is done. Almost like a tutorial after the origin part is over. The only remotely challenging fight was the one bandit party with a "leader" character.

3. Then did the free-for-me get-the-golem shit. Fun quest. I'll never look at my cats in the same way. Toughest fight was the one where you free the villagers, as the enemy had numbers and some good units (emissary) out there. It might replace the dude I got from the stupid village's cage as my tank....or replace Alistair, so I don't keep confusing him with me.
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Title: Dragon Age: Origins
Posted: November 19, 2009 (12:22 PM)
Every few years, I actually like to do something really fucking crazy like buy a NEW game instead of one that's a year or two old and, therefore, cheap. I had many weiner-hardening choices when I left home yesterday.

I could have picked Modern Warfare II, but after reading Jason's review and various message board/blog entries, I think the last thing the world needs is my opinion of No Russian (if you do want it, I completely advocate terrorists mowing down the unwashed populace and would have probably killed more than any of the actual bad guys if I was playing it).

I could have picked Borderlands, but there's this really lame song playing during the commercials for it that I see on TV. It's not Kid Rock, but it sounds enough like him to just make me irrationally angry about this game.

So I went with Dragon Age: Origin. Here are my opening opinions.

It took about an hour to figure out how to get my FREE unlockable content (a big-ass golem and his storyline quests). You have to start the game, access downloadable contest there and input the EA code.....not the Microsoft code redeeming. It took me forever to figure out why I was trying to fit a 16-figure code into a 25-figure code bar and why it was failing repeatedly.

Anyhow, I then created my character — a human noble rogue. I made him look like me.....if I was a really fit and athletic medival stud, instead of me. While doing this, I was wondering how exactly this bright, shining star of a royal family could be a rogue. Do his aristocratic parents simply not care that he spent his youth picking locks and stealing purses instead of exhibiting noble traits?

I got a quicky introductory quest that involved killing rats in the kitchen's larder. The best part was after the fight when the knight I was made a joke about how big heroic quests always seem to start with rat-killing.

And then my family got betrayed by the vaguely sinister friend of my hero's father. Which led to me and the bad-ass hero Grey Warden being the only known survivors. My parents, that rat battle-ally knight, random other folk.....all victims. No wait....that's right, my pet battle dog survived too. I like him. He'll rip YOUR leg off as soon as look at you, but if I pet him, he'll roll on the ground in pure ecstacy.

Grey Warden Duncan takes me to the camp where the king's army is preparing to fight Darkspawn. I get to take an initiation test to become a full-fledged Warden. Unfortunately, my battle dog can't come along for the ride. Instead, I and two other potential Wardens travel under the tutelage of Alistair, another Warden. One of the other two is a pickpocket who has no idea why Duncan picked him. Neither do I. The other constantly goes on and on about his wife and soon-to-be-born kid. I hope we get to string him up and use him as bait to catch some really big monster.

Right now, the four of us are having fun walking around and killing all sorts of wolves and goblin-like Darkspawn. I'm digging the game and its atmosphere. I'll probably be digging it more when the more on-rails intro parts are done and things get a bit more open-ended. Big challenge is just learning the interface and stuff, as this game is a bit more complicated than the normal RPG.
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Title: Another review.
Posted: November 13, 2009 (03:18 PM)
Revelations: The Demon Slayer

This is for the Brevity or Bust challAnge.

As for my other gaming, I'm fiddling with Oblivion and screwing around with the first SNES Shin Megami Tensei and with Mystic Ark, but I'm really not focused on much of anything. Very unfocused, actually, with my gaming. Just sort of playing something for a half hour and then picking up something else. You'll have that.
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