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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: Doom: Icarus stuff
Posted: September 11, 2008 (01:05 PM)
Over the past few days, I've done a few more levels.

13. Asylum If you've played enough of this wad, you know that the red key is the one that allows you to leave every level. So, when you start this one and can see it from where you start, you might be led to believe this will be a quick-n-easy one. Wrong, as you have a lot of work to do in navigating a maze-like collection of corridors and rooms. I really liked the non-linear way this place was designed, as it gives you multiple ways to take out a lot of enemies and allows you to personally choose if you want to do certain parts or not (decent-sized non-linear level with only one key to find means many parts of this level are purely optional). However, there's an ungodly amount of health and ammo items and, overall, this is an ugly level. To try to create an "authentic" asylum, most of this place is colored a dullish gray, which really isn't the most appealing color to be staring at for an extended period of time. 7/10

14. Fortress of Evil Very nice level as you have to storm the perimeter of a castle and then enter and cleanse it of monsters. Well designed with a few little surprises. If you're careful, the caged Arachnotrons are simple to take out, but the two Spiderdemons that pop up when you're starting to make legit progress through this one are another story.....especially since you have to get by them to get out of the level. 8/10

15. Waste Disposal Like most "in ship" levels, this one is all sorts of ugly silver and gray. Also, the secret exit isn't exactly intuitive to find, as you seem to repeatedly have to go through teleporters in the correct order. Hell, even TNT's Icarus help page on their website notes that sometimes the second teleporter in the chain automatically takes you to the room leading to the secret exit, so randomly, you might not have to even do the full chain. There are a couple of decent fights here, but nothing to really impress you. 4/10

31. Great Balls of Fire When I think bonus level, I think of something cool that makes me glad I spent the extra time in L15 to find the secret exit. I don't think of a level like this. On the positive side, it's got a couple of rooms with pretty architecture. On the negative side, it's short and boring. This is more of a filler level than a bonus level. 3/10

32. Prestidigitation This level does a decent job of redeeming the bonus segment of Icarus simply due to cleverness. Most of the action takes place in one courtyard, but it seems like a much larger area. You start out in a near empty yard with a bunch of items along the perimeter, the red key at the far end and one lone soldier ready to be killed. Grab the red key and turn around to find five structures magically appeared.....with Cacos just streaming out of them. In fact, every time you do something here, it opens something up or alters the landscape. Now this is how to make a lot out of a short level! Would have been nice if it was longer, but I was happy with what I had. 7/10

16. Bootcamp Pretty fun level with some good fighting and whatnot. Does kinda die out towards the end as the "big" brawl that's supposed to be unleashed by getting the red key is sorta easy, being what that you can simply open a door, fire rockets into the Cacos and Arachys, duck back and repeat until only dead bodies are in your way. 6/10

Good fun. Decent megawad, but there just isn't much that blows my mind, so at times, it's more of an ordeal than a pleasure to do more than one level at a time.
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Title: A new review to enjoy and cherish. Welcome it into your hearts and it shall grow.
Posted: September 03, 2008 (03:50 PM)
Milon's Secret Castle

No new letter in the Alpha Marathon as I'd already done "M", but I'd been wanting to hit this game up for some time, so I did. I had fun writing it, so I'm happy. So happy I could cry.

So, now, all of you can quit with the fussin' and the feudin' and get back to what's really important reading my reviews with quiet reverance!
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Title: Stuff.
Posted: August 29, 2008 (12:31 PM)
Two TNT: Evilution level commentaries.

10. Redemption Kinda the exact opposite of "Stronghold" in that there aren't a ton of enemies, but a good number of them are big. Got a few Mancubi, Arachnos, Hell Knights, Revs, Cacos and Pain Elementals here. Very nice Chaingunner surprise towards the end. Kind of flawed by a key trap that doesn't always trigger properly. After grabbing the Yellow Key, monsters might teleport into its room right away.....or much later, like when you're on the other side of the hall starting to work on the room said key unlocks, making you have to backtrack to get your good kill percentage. 6/10

11. Storage Facility Pretty fun level. You start in a wide-open outdoor area as you circle around a huge building. Said building is the exact opposite: a huge, very cramped crate maze separated into three portions. Oh, and tons of monsters teleport into this place. Not sure what exactly causes this to happen (possibly grabbing keys, getting close to keys, getting close to the supercharge or something else), but you'll get human types, imps, revs and an arch-vile. And with the ton of small enemies and big doors that open and close, there's a solid chance you'll wind up with a ghost enemy or two. Fortunately for me, it was a regular zombie soldier, who couldn't hit the broad side of a barn on a good day, so I didn't take any damage while luring him close enough to a wall in the outdoor area to rocket-splash him. Inventive use of a megasphere here, also, as you have to let an arch-vile flameblast you and have that impact lift you onto the crate its at. 7/10

Also, for the past few days, I've been binging on Final Fantasy XII again. Played the storyline up through Giruvegan and the esper Shemhazai the Whisperer (real intimidating nickname there, douche) and am now going crazy all up ons side quests and stuff. Trophy game, mark hunts, optional espers, etc.
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Title: Three more Evilution levels completed
Posted: August 17, 2008 (01:30 PM)
7. Prison This level is pure sweetness! You start in a prison and have to fight your way out through a good amount of Caco, HK and weaker guards. Then, a warp takes you to a wide-open outdoor area where you wind up going through a guard tower, get trapped in a cage surrounded by Imps and HKs and finally have to hit a few switches to get through the exit room. That last room's a bit anti-climactic, but overall, this is one of my favorite Evilution levels. 8/10

8. Metal Early on, you think this is going to be a claustrophobic tunnel level strewn with lots of nasty little traps (like chaingunners suddenly coming out of a just-opened wall right behind you). But then, it turns into a more wide-open level with large fights in big rooms. And here, the level loses a bit of its luster. Especially in the final room. It's moderately fun cleaning the thing out initially thanks to a couple chaingunners in tricky location and hordes of imps firing down on you. But then, you're going from side to side, hitting switches to open new areas and killing the scant few adversaries in each area. Dull end to what had been an initally promising level. 5/10

9. Stronghold Good level if you have an itchy trigger finger. No big baddies here, but there are a TON of little fellows here. All three kinds of former humans, imps and demons are around every corner, teleporting into the fray and generally making sure your fire button gets a hell of a workout. Fighting could be better at times (a few cases where I just had to stand by a door and shoot whenever something crossed my path until all that area's opposition was gone), but a few nice traps nicely make up for that. 7/10
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Title: Three more Evilution levels done.
Posted: August 15, 2008 (10:46 AM)
4. Wormhole One of those levels that could have been great, but falls short due to bland design. On the surface, it looks like a very tiny level and it can be completed very quickly, but a bit of exploration leads to a teleporter that warps you to a mirror image level that expands to include a few more rooms. Problem is that neither half of the level is particularly exciting. There's a couple okay traps in the first half and a sneaky Archvile in the second, but very little else of note. 4/10

5. Hangar This is a fun level right here with a number of good fights, both in cramped and open situations. One minute, you'll be fighting Cacos, Imps and Soldiers in narrow hallways; the next, you'll be launching rockets across a courtyard to take out distant Chaingunners and Imps.....or fighting Hell Knights and Revenants in a vast chamber. Speaking of Revenants, keep an eye out for 'em if you go after that tantalizing Supercharge. 7/10

6. Open Season Second straight fun level highlighted by "the key room". All three keys are in the same room, but you have to enter various parts of it by different ways to get all three, meaning you'll constantly be searching for switches, warps, etc. to unlock the next new path. Some fun, if pretty easy, fights here. 6/10

That is all.
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Title: OKAMI!
Posted: August 14, 2008 (02:38 PM)

Yes, I did a non-short review for a non-Atari 2600 game! Aren't you proud of me? I am!

And here's a couple more TnT Evilution level reviews as some bonus material.

2. Human BBQ I like this level a decent amount. You have good progression and a few nice fights in decent-size courtyard areas. Especially, when you cross an invisible tripwire and notice that behind you, a few Cacos and Imps are starting to cross the distance rapidly. That's a fun little battle. 7/10

3. Power Control This level was close to being great, but after the great part is done, the rest is anti-climactic. You have a great courtyard brawl where you have a ton of enemies in a circular path around it and a good deal more inside the yard. But when they're all cleared out, you just have a few small side areas with keys (and the easiest Arch-vile fight you'd ever hope to see). 5/10
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Title: More DOOMing stuff.
Posted: August 13, 2008 (02:42 PM)
I watched TV last night. Baseball and then the Olympics for a bit. Because of that, I got a decent amount of DOOMing in, as I hate just sitting and watching the tube when I can be doing something else at the same time.

So, here's what went down in ICARUS:

8. Donnybrook uneven level with some fun parts. After taking out some Mancubi and Cacos, you have a hellish yellow key puzzle that would have been fun, if not for multiple times where you have to speed run to get places before a door closes. Those are my least favorite puzzles, since I play on a keyboard, which makes them way tougher. Take that away and you have a pretty fun level. Lots of teleporting (both you and monsters coming in) and the blue key room was pretty fun, as there are two or three ways into it, so you can be sneaky and take monsters out from multiple angles. 6/10

9. The Moat it must be because I'm playing stuff intended for a PC on a Mac and things cross over platforms glitchy at times, but for the second-ever time, I encountered a situation where a megawad level crashes (first time being Requiem L3 at the very end). Here, it was the red key room. Not sure exactly what causes it to crash, but when the key descends and Cacos come out, it will crash at some point, even if I run out of that room. No big loss as I wasn't liking this level. I hate blackout areas because all they do is give various monsters opportunities to get free shots at you because you can't see them.....and a good part of what I'd been playing was in complete darkness. N/A

10. Bridge Pure "meh" level. Not a bad level, as it's loaded with solid fights, but the layout/design are boring and the gameplay was pretty predictable with no real traps or surprises. Not much to say about this one. 4/10

And, just to get all of Team TnT's work out of the way, I'm starting through Evilution (their half of the two-game Final Doom) again. I'd played through nearly all of it before, but got burned out on Doom and have forgotten all of it except bits and pieces, so I figured I'd start over since I will be reviewing Final Doom at some point and time. Did one level and most of another.

1. System Control above average opening level. If you're good with punching, you'll love the berserk pack in the first room as there is an ammo shortage early in this game until you finally grab the shotgun in one room and the pack of shells in another. When you see the blue key, be careful or you'll get cut to shreds by chaingunners. Main flaw is that to trigger a switch, you have to walk right up to the blue key door before you get the key. I don't like non-intuitive stuff like that, as I don't tend to walk up to doors I know I can't open, so I wound up having to look at a FAQ to see what I was missing. Still, a fun level. 6/10
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Title: The letter "W" has been Overdrived!
Posted: August 09, 2008 (02:41 PM)
W = Word Zapper

In my current mission to shit out Atari 2600 reviews like Taco Bell burritos, I give you this little gem. And yes, my folks really did buy me this game to give me something "educational" to play. Goes to show that no one's infallible.

Oh, and here's two more level recaps for Icarus (Doom megawad I'm currently playing).

6. P.E.T. Rescue nice design, as you can see the exit from where you start, but you have to go inside a structure and out another door to actually get to it. As for the level, itself......very short, very easy, very forgettable. 4/10

7. Sickbay could have been pretty good, if not for a very big flaw. This is the first level to have tougher enemies. On HMP, Mancubi, Hell Knights, Cacos and Arachos all make their debuts. But they're all neutered by this place's design and the fact you get enough rockets and shotgun shells to wipe a city off the face of the earth. All the tough enemies are confined to decent-sized rooms, so it's easy to open the door, launch some rockets and run away. Then, open the door again and either repeat or bring out the super shotgun if they're too close for that. If some of these enemies were used in traps, I'd have really liked this level. At it was, it was so easy I was able to really ramp up my life and armor. 4/10

At least the eighth level seems a lot more fun. Hopefully those two were just an early-game lull for the Team TNT folks.
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Title: Another Atari 2600 Flashback Moment
Posted: August 07, 2008 (12:56 PM)
Swordquest: Fireworld

You know, last year during the team tournament, one of the judges remarked about how it's kind of old and uninspiring for writers to simply pick out bad old NES games and bash them because, in essence, it's too easy. So I'm raising the bar and bashing bad old Atari 2600 games. Because it's even more easy.

Oh, that's right. I did tell Blu I'd be putting up more Doom progress from Icarus. So here's two more level recaps!

4. Engineering another short level, but better than Quarry, mainly because there are a few little sneaky sidepaths with a few imps inside ready to ambush players not paying full attention to their surroundings. 5/10

5. Flipside pretty fun level. You start outside a courtyard-like area with imps breathing fire from all directions. Tons of imps here, actually, with many teleporting in at various times. You go from the wide-open courtyard to a few more claustrophobic, trap-filled areas to get keys. Some of those parts are very predictable, but still a good level. 7/10
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Title: Another review
Posted: August 06, 2008 (12:41 PM)
Chase the Chuckwagon

I'm still binging on reviewing all the Atari 2600 games I own (even the ones I don't really remember well at all, like the next one I tackle.....so get prepared for a deluge of factual errors!), so I decided to hit up one of the most memorable.
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Posted: July 31, 2008 (01:19 PM)
J = Journey Escape

Look at that! I looked at my list, picked a letter I hadn't done and cranked out another Atari 2600 review! For one of the all-time greats, too! Who's laughing now?
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Posted: July 31, 2008 (11:03 AM)
Keystone Kapers

So, I did a super-quick Atari 2600 review with an ear-to-ear grin on my face because I was going to get a quick, cheap letter in the Alpha Marathon. And then I went to the AM thread and saw I'd already done a "K" review earlier in the year.

I hate myself.....
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Title: Blame Blu.....not me!
Posted: July 30, 2008 (12:42 PM)
So, for the Emp and Boo Hatred tournament, they gave me a Doom wad to play. The main effect that's had on my life is that is reawoke that sporadic off-n-on Doom addiction I have. So, I've been working through Icarus (done by Team TnT, who did 1/2 of Final Doom; the Evilution half) and Memento Mori (an "all-star" collection of designers coming together to make one of the all-time greats in the eyes of many).

And, luckily for you, I'll be updating you on my gameplay until I eventually lose interest in Doom games again! So, with three levels of each done, here you go:


1. Shuttlecraft might be as good as a L1 as you'll get in a Doom megawad. Nothing but imps, former humans and shotgunners, but they are used very effectively with lots of teleportation on the bridge, as well as a very diabolical imp-strewn chapel. 9/10

2. Shuttle Bay kind of an ugly level in appearance, with virtually all of it being the same silver texture, but it's a fun one to go through. A lot of the rooms are designed in a way where enemies can easy catch you offguard if you don't have eyes in the back of your head (and sides, too), it's pretty large for an early-game level and has good progression with virtually every new area you enter having a quick shortcut back to parts you've already been, so you don't have to backtrack that much. 8/10

3. Quarry kind of a clunker here. This is a very short level that's pretty claustrophobic and dark. Not many enemies, but for some reason, I tend to struggle a bit with this one. Probably because I'm trying so hard just to get through it quickly, I'm not focusing on those imps that just got released when I hit that switch or something like that. 3/10


1. The Teleporter solid opening level that makes you work a bit. Starting you off staring at the backs of a bunch of shotgunners is a nice touch and the game makes sure that everything you do triggers more enemies. Very compact, but full of action. 7/10

2. The Bridge some wide open outdoor areas connected by more cramped indoor areas. A decent trap or so indoors, but the outdoors areas are kinda empty, although they look very nice. 6/10

3. Interlock very small level that's pretty easy to get through. Not much to speak about here. Looks pretty good, but is forgetable. 4/10
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Title: 10 letters down, 17 (including the numbers) to go.....guhhhh....
Posted: July 24, 2008 (01:37 PM)
Sorry, Felix, your dream of me playing Castlequest this year might be going the way of the dinosaur, as I've covered "C" with:

C = Cyberdreams

Which also is for a contest, so that's two birds with one stone.

As for other progress:
Okami: Getting ready to go to Oni Island.
Dragon Quest V: Trying to earn enough money to buy all the really good and REALLY expensive stuff at the town your hero's mom was born in.
Final Fantasy Adventure: In Dark Knight's castle.
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Title: Lackluster gaming progress post.....
Posted: July 16, 2008 (01:38 PM)
Alrighty-o, then, kids! What am I playing and how am I doing at them.

1. Okami just got the catwalk ability, so I'm going back to previous parts of the game so I can climb up those walls I couldn't get up before. Then, I have to ride this dolphin around until I find the secret entrance to the Dragon Palace.

2. Dragon Quest V in the really big tower you go to after your wife gets kidnapped right after you get coronated king.

3. Final Fantasy Adventure beat Davias, went through some small cave and beat the boss there, now in another cave.

Also got to get started on my contest game and motivate myself to finish off a few shmups I started and haven't played in awhile. Last week, hung out with a friend and we played a good deal of Project: Snowblind. I liked that one. Reminds me I also should finish off Medal of Honor: Underground and get started on Black, since my friend keeps bitching at me to play the games I'm borrowing from him.
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Title: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!!! WHY?????
Posted: July 04, 2008 (01:37 PM)
Did Square at some point look at Final Fantasy Adventure (really, the first Mana game on the GB) and think...."Man, this game's cool and all, but what it needs is to be remade with a bigger, more intrusive, story!"?

One of those little things that's found its way into my too-vast list of games I'm working on is doing reviews of both FFA and its GBA remake, Sword of Mana --- after having both games on hiatus for a couple of years each.

The first shock to my system came when I started FFA back up again and noticed that I'd named the female character after my ex (since we were still married then). That was weird..... And the second one has come from simply releasing how bloated Sword of Mana is. Roughly 1 million sidequests that have no or very little actual importance. And this crazy-ass, all-encompassing storyline that goes in the ever-so-wonderful "no one's really evil and everyone has issues they have to get past" style of work.

I've played up to about the fight with Medusa on both games and the gameplay on SoM isn't lacking -- but they just put so much extra crap into that game that nothing really stands out at all.
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Title: A new review by me.....for you.
Posted: June 26, 2008 (01:08 PM)
Strike Gunner: S.T.G.

No new Alpha Marathon entry for me with this one, as it's my second "S" of the year. But a new review, nonetheless.

As for the near and distant future:
1. Got an arcade shooter that will be up next week.
2. Around the Crimson Helm fight in Okami.
3. Still on 5-1 in Medal of Honor: Underground, but haven't played that recently.
4. Ready to start the fifth stage of Coryoon.
5. Other stuff in various states of hiatus, disrepair and putting off.
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Title: Medal of Honor: Vanguard
Posted: June 11, 2008 (12:20 PM)
Is reviewed. See: M = Medal of Honor: Vanguard

I can see me having a few more FPS games reviewed this summer, as I'm playing MoH: Underground right now (on 5-1), my friend let me borrow Black. I have my EmP/Boo tourney pick. And, if not burnt out on them after that, I'd like to play Frontline, which would leave European Assault as the only PS 1/2 MoH game I haven't done. And my friend has that and should let me borrow it eventually (like after I actually beat and return any of the four games of his I have --- two for a good year, if not more).

And then, we have my other projects. I'm in an adventure mood, I guess, as I've been playing Neutopia 2, the Zelda Oracles and Okami a lot in recent weeks. And right now, as opposed to restarting Oracle of Ages, I kinda have a jonesing to play me a bit of Final Fantasy Adventure, which is essentially an adventure game, but with level-building.

And then, I really need to get going on one of my own little plans -- to start bludgeoning through some of the TG-16's most respected and illustrious shooters. Games like Cyber Core, Rock On and Toy Shop Kids. Games YOU need to hear about.

Or maybe some really shitty arcade shooters this month, just to give Leroux some really horrible stuff to match me on.....just for the sheer joy being an utter prick brings me! Have to see what I still have on my computer and redownload MAME.
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Title: Another new review!
Posted: June 09, 2008 (01:40 PM)
This time for L = The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons

So what's next? Between now and Wednesday, I'll likely have one out for Medal of Honor: Vanguard. Then, to name other games I'm currently working on:

On level 4-3 of Medal of Honor: Underground.

Started Okami a couple days ago. I like this one.

Think I'll abort my current Oracle of Ages game and just link my Seasons one to that game, so I can say I did one full two-game link.

Then, I have a few games like Mouryou Senki Madara, Neutopia 2 and others that I'm working on, but haven't had the time to play recently.

And that's that!
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Title: OD goes mainstream!
Posted: May 29, 2008 (03:14 PM)
With Resident Evil 4. Looks like my retro, obscure street cred's out the window unless I hit up some weird Japanese TG-16 shooter in the near future.

My seventh letter down in the marathon! Which actually is kinda sad, all things considered. Gotta start focusing on a couple games at a time instead of making minimal progress on a slew of 'em.
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Title: Moving on to other games.
Posted: May 28, 2008 (12:26 PM)
Well, I finished my first runthrough of Resident Evil 4 last week and have been spending time figuring out how to write my review for it. Think I might finally be getting things together in my head, but for whatever reason, this one's been tougher to write than others.

And then, there's the collection of ROMs I've been playing. Mainly the two Zelda Oracle games and Mouryou Senki Madara, but also Neutopia 2 and another game or two. I do have to say that I find Madara's old-school difficulty refreshing. I spent an hour or two last night just going in and out of a pyramid dungeon, making my way to one treasure chest, getting its treasure and then getting out and going back to town and saving. Nowadays, you don't have to do that, as you can bully your way past most dungeons in one sitting in most games.

But, I do have to start focusing a bit more on those two games a friend let me borrow last year: Final Fantasy XII and Ace Combat IV. Especially since he has a few other games I want to borrow (Okami, Black, the last Medal of Honor game for the PS2), but likely won't be handing those to me until he gets those back.

I'm at the beginning of the fifth mission of AC IV, so my main thing there will be to get back in my groove, as far as handling the gameplay goes. With FF XII, my main challenge will be remembering just where I'm at and what I'm supposed to do. I know that plotwise, I'm at the place where you start out by fighting the five mandragora princes. And I know that I was taking this time to go after some of those optional espers and marks that I figured I'd be able to beat. But I can't remember what I had or hadn't accomplished yet. So I gotta hope I can find an email I sent my friend back when I was doing this, because I think I had a progress report up for how I was doing in my in-game "to do" list.

But then, after playing RE 4, I'm in a bit of an FPS mindset. Fortunately, I still have a couple unreviewed Medal of Honor games (Underground and the first PS2 one). So, I might also pick one of those up. Think I've done a couple missions in each one, but can quickly replay those and then get into the rest of them.

So, the gist of all this is that I'd probably get games reviewed a lot faster and more productively if I had any ability to focus on anything, as opposed to constantly playing 4-12 games at the same time!
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Title: Top 5 games I'm currently playing (in other words, a generic progress report)
Posted: May 15, 2008 (02:36 PM)
1. RE4 -- nearing the end. tussling with Krauser right now and trying to get my reflexes down so I don't eat through my healing items in no time at all.

2. Mouryou Senki Madara -- making decent progress. Well, by "decent", I mean really slow progress as this is one of those old-school RPGs where you have to build levels and where a lot of random encounters are very damaging.

3. Zelda: Oracle of Seasons -- up to the final boss of the eighth dungeon, so this one's about over.

4. Zelda: Oracle of Ages -- on the path to the fourth dungeon.

5. Neutopia 2 -- pretty much through one dungeon.

And there you have it. The least inspiring "top something" list of the past 24 hours!
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Title: Random Progress Report
Posted: May 08, 2008 (02:22 PM)
Just stuff I've played over the past week or so. As opposed to games I'm playing but haven't had time to get to for a couple weeks or ones that have been shunted to the back burner. Unless you want to hear me say that in Star Ocean: TtEoT that I'm in the lower parts of the Sphere Building right after killing the head of security guy for the 4th or 5th time over the past year and a half or so!

1. Resident Evil 4: Chapter 5-3. Last night, I totally got disemboweled by that thing Saddler refers to as "it". Great game. I find myself playing it in small bits and pieces just to let the experience sink in so that I can savor it more. I can see me giving this one a 10 easily.

2. Zelda: Oracle of Seasons. Currently nearing end of seventh dungeon. Like to have that game finished (non-linked) and reviewed by early next week. Well, either that or RE 4 --- maybe even both by the end of the week. Probably give it a 7 or so. Gets kinda cumbersome constantly changing the seasons to advance even one or two screens and to get heart pieces, gasha seeds, certain rings (like the Golden Beast quest one) and whatnot. Also just don't like the play control with certain magnetic glove rooms -- including the horrible boss fight with Digdogger. Has the classic Link's Awakening feel for awhile, but seems to get bogged down by the programmers seeing how tricky they could be later in the game.

3. Zelda: Oracle of Ages. Finished the first two dungeons. Too early to guess as to how I'll rank it. I do like the "two parallel worlds" theme more than the "one big world and one little one, but every screen in the big one has four possibilities" one. Just makes it a lot easier to focus on what you have to do and where you can go after getting new key items.

4. This Japanese NES Madara game I DLed and patched last night. Probably will near-immediately go on "LATERZ, DOOD" pile, as I have a ton of stuff to play, but this seems to be a pretty intriguing RPG. Anime-esque plot with you controlling some dude, who was found as a mutilated baby by some kindly old fellow who built you mechanical limbs, eyes and other necessary body parts. Now, you have to set out on a big ol' mission to take out a bunch of demon lords and regain your original body parts. Interestingly, battles are done via computer control in real time action while you can enter menus and give specific commands/tactics to characters. So, you essentially watch fights and input your two cents when necessary. Kind of like another Famicom RPG in Chaos World, but the battles are done from the same viewpoint as Emerald Dragon. Be interesting to see how much (or if) these mechanics work for me.

At some point, I'll be DLing a ton of other translation patches (and their games) that I just haven't gotten to yet for various reasons. No clue as to when I'll get around to them, but at least they'll be taking up space on the ol' hard drive!
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Title: HA! HA!
Posted: April 25, 2008 (03:02 PM)
Well, after blogging that I'd done my last review, Felix dared me to do two in one week. Then, EmP said it's shocking when I do two in one month.

Well, with this little salvo (S = Stinger), I not only did two this week, but I'm up to three in this month. Looks like I win at life this time! That'll teach ya to challenge my pride!

Now, I'm off to get loaded in celebration. Or.....actually just get loaded. It's Friday. I don't need a reason.
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Title: Here we go with another letter completed!
Posted: April 23, 2008 (10:53 AM)
O = Obscure: The Aftermath

Now that's taken care of, what will be next? Good question, as per the norm, I'm muddling through several different games as opposed to actually playing one (or two at the most) with anything resembling focus.

So it could be:
Resident Evil 4
Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, Oracle of Ages or Oracle of Seasons (yes, I am simultaneously playing all three)
Fire Emblem
Emerald Dragon
A special surprise (ie: a quicky shooter or platformer review cranked out for a game I busted through in a couple of hours cuz I didn't want to play any of the main projects)!
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Title: Another new review!
Posted: April 05, 2008 (02:23 PM)
Tag Team Wrestling

Posted here one day after actually being put on the site. Not going to help with the Alphabetic Marathon because I've already done "T", but I just felt the need to write about this game.
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Title: And here we go with gaming updates!
Posted: March 25, 2008 (04:38 PM)
Guess I've only really been playing three games in the recent past. This is always a chaotic time for me as I love the NCAA basketball tournament, so I've spent much of my free time the past two weeks either (a) drinking and watching the conference tournaments leading into the NCAA one or (b) drinking and watching the NCAA one.

So, here we go!

1. Resident Evil 4: Just started this one at the urging of a friend who owns the GameCube version and absolutely love it. Since I paid like $6.50 to rent it from Saturday to Thursday, I'll be driving to a used game shop either Thursday or over the weekend to pick it up cheap.

2. Emerald Dragon: Finally, a challenging moment! After breezing through the first good-sized chunk of this one, the back-to-back fights with Ostracon and Demon-Form Ostracon are brutal, mainly because both forms of Ostracon get many moves per turn and are fond of casting a certain very powerful magic spell that takes off up to 500HP (of the 2000-3000 my characters have) a pop. And it doesn't help for the second fight, that you only have four guys instead of 5 in your party....

3. Fire Emblem (SNES): God, if you want to not lose party members to death, this game is totally brutal. Makes the GBA one seem like a walk in the park. You have very little storytelling right here and then you just get deluged by foes after a certain point. I'm on the seventh chapter of the first book and this fight is merciless. All of you characters start at the bottom of the screen and have to move to the top and then to the right. Moving down at your are two groups of eight enemies, evenly balanced between melee and archers. It's very easy for you to get one of your guys ganged up on by the archers and killed. And if you survive that, reinforcements start streaming out of the forts. Now that part will be easy, if time-consuming, as you can put your guys on the forts to block them off -- which means you can block off four of the five and kill all the reinforcements from the fifth and then repeat with the other four. Great way to not risk anything AND pick and choose who gets how much experience. But getting to that point --- that'll be the tough part...
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Title: Good news for me, good news for you!
Posted: March 06, 2008 (12:56 AM)
First off, I will have my really late RotW out tomorrow or Friday at the latest.

Second off, if you got to www.romhacking.net , you'll find a completed translation patch for the first SNES Fire Emblem game. It's both a remake of the original Japanese NES one and an apparently never otherwise released sequel. If, like me, you look at the Fire Emblem games as utterly wonderful turn-based S-RPGs, this is a find that's hard to pass up.

Third off, my apologies for not having the RotW out yet or for not being really visible the last few days. First ,as a sports reporter, I'd been swamped with Ohio's high school wrestling meet. I'd also been under the weather, which got worse with multiple 10+ hour days.

Far more importantly, someone who'd been extremely important to me in the past, who I haven't heard from in a good 7 years, emailed me Sunday and after far too long, the two of us have struck up conversation again. Regardless of the past, present or future, she's one of the very few people I can genuinely say I love and to be back in contact with her kinda overwhelms my brain.

While and after what had been a seemingly decent marriage collapsed, I'd kinda felt desensitized to a lot of things, but I truly feel like I'm coming back to life emotionally. I don't know what the future holds for me, but I actually feel like there's a real future instead of an endless stream of one day after another ahead.
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Title: Overdrivtastical things come in pairs!
Posted: February 22, 2008 (02:41 PM)
Burai Fighter means that I've cleared out another letter. Four down, 23 to go! I'm on a roll!
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Title: Another letter dies! This time, K!
Posted: February 21, 2008 (01:42 PM)
Which stands for: Kirby's Dream Land
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Title: Game Progress: OD Style
Posted: February 14, 2008 (12:59 PM)
So, what have I been playing recently between finally finalizing a dissolution and being bogged down at work due to it being basketball playoff time? Read on to find out!

1. Ace Combat IV: Shattered Skies -- friend loaned it to me a ways back and I'm finally playing it now. Never really taken time to do a flight simulating game before, but this one's pretty fun, especially now that I'm getting used to the controls. Only done two missions, but I'm digging it.

2. Kingdom Hearts -- at the Tarzan Deep Jungle world in my second attempt to get through this game since buying it. One of those games that's not as bad as a review or two on this site paints it, but nowhere near as good as (I believe) IGN made it out to be (think they gave it a 9+). I have fun with it, but it's nothing special. It'll be in the 6-7 category when I review it unless something changes.

3. Emerald Dragon (SNES port) -- just killed Gomez (aka: Gohmes) in the cave in the big forest. Fun game that could have been truly memorable with a few tweaks. In the 7-8 range, likely, at this point.

Other games on the docket that I haven't played in a day or 19:
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance -- beat the first Legion.
Adventures of Lolo -- through about 10 levels or so.
Dragon Quest V -- about ready to enter the volcano dungeon.
Lufia: The Legend Returns -- somewhere in the castle dungeon you get to after beating the battleship boss. All the dungeons blend together since they're all the exact same with a few different graphical appearances and different monsters.

And for ones that have been tabled for some time, but really do need to pick up again (especially FF XII, as it doesn't belong to me).

Final Fantasy XII -- think I'm preparing to fight Adrammelech.
Phantasy Star 2 -- very early in this game....like in the first dungeon.
Star Ocean: TtEoT -- in the storyline part of the Sphere Corp. building shortly after killing the snotty security guy on the first floor.
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne -- getting ready to go in the dungeon with the four Oni bosses.
And a few others I'm sure I'm not thinking of....

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Title: Good times!
Posted: February 04, 2008 (06:09 PM)
Yesterday, I found out something potentially great. The translation patch for the Super Famicom version of Emerald Dragon was completed, so many months after reading Zig's kickass review for the TG-CD version, I'll get to play (one version of) the game myself!
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Title: And here we go again!
Posted: January 31, 2008 (02:33 PM)
Second letter down in the Alphabet Marathon!

My second one down, only 25 more to go!

T = Tales of Legendia

So, what's next? I'd guess Ace Combat 4, Kingdom Hearts, Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance and Dragon Quest V might be front-runners, but you never know. I might just play some really crappy NES game to spew a bit of venom.
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Title: Overdrive blatantly pimps himself and his blog.
Posted: January 23, 2008 (01:47 PM)
Well, I started my entries in EmP's Alphabet Marathon.

Here's my first entry: F = Flying Hero

Considering I'm planning to do a review for Final Fantasy XII this year, one might wonder why I reviewed a game beginning with "F" for my first entry in this thing. And the only answer I can give you is that I was doped to the gills on medicine and, therefore, that didn't enter my head.

Potential games that will be reviewed for this (and possibly other) contests in the near future:

A: Ace Combat 4, Adventures of Lolo (yes, another two games for one letter thing)
D: Dragon Quest V
F: Final Fantasy XII
T: Tales of Legendia
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Title: Boom Tho, Kids!
Posted: January 11, 2008 (01:25 PM)
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Title: RPG Villains -- which ones are the best?
Posted: January 09, 2008 (11:12 AM)
Last night, while still recovering from the mass amounts of booze I put in me while watching my Ohio State Buckeyes get raped of their dignity by LSU on Monday, I was fiddling around with my "when I don't feel up to anything else" replay of Dragon Quest VIII and a thought went into my head.

Remember a couple of months ago when I put up a blog entry or two ripping on the quality of RPG heroes (or something like that). Well, that made me think about who the best villains are. It's a pretty complicated thing, as hardly any of the final boss enemies really can count, as they tend to be huge demon creatures that don't have much of a presence throughout the game as anything more than a behind-the-scenes presence.

Like, for example, in DQ VIII, count how many hours it takes before Rhapthorne does anything more than mind control other characters into doing his bidding. Or, for a really extreme example, count how many references you get to Necron or whatever his name is throughout FF IX before he appears as the final boss (hint: the answer is zero).

No, the best villains tend to be those subordinate types that pop up time and time again, actually are given some sort of personality and rarely are still standing by game's end. But while they're there, they do a lot to carry the game -- sometimes to the point where it just seem to be missing "something" after their demise.

Off the top of my head, here's a brief list of ones I liked (oh, and if you haven't figured it out, there will be spoilers up the ass probably). In no specific order....

Marcello -- DQ VIII: The perfect example of how great set-up and delivery can make a window-dressing character for much of the game one of the most memorable aspects of it by the end. For much of the game, you just gradually get to see bits and pieces of Marcello -- how he was born out of an affair had by PC Angelo's father and resented Angelo's presence because it constantly reminded him of the privileged life he should have had and his frustration at how his rank in the church was pretty much frozen because of his commoner status. And then, by fate, he gets his hands on Rhapthorne's staff, fights off the demon's attempt to control him and, for just a moment, shatters the glass ceiling imposed on him by his position to take over as the head of the church, giving an impassioned speech (blows Vayne's early-game FF XII one out of the water) about how kings and whatnot are empty titles "earned" by the amount of money one has and how he clawed his way up from nothing -- before letting everyone know they have no choice in whether they follow him or not, which leads to you fighting him, which winds up setting the endgame in motion. Awesome stuff.

Ziekfried -- Wild Arms: Loyal metal demon follower of Mother, until she announces that her plan is to destroy Filgaia and everything on it, including Ziek and his fellow demons. So, he sets up a plan where he disguises himself and helps your party defeat Mother, so he can resume his plan to take over the world. Which comes to an end when you eventually defeat him and he gets taken over by a fragment of Mother.

Dalton -- Chrono Trigger: Just something that amuses me about this somewhat comic relief figure. He's like the ultimate low-level lackey, but when Zeal falls, he tries to take over during the chaos, which hilariously fails. Both when his greatest success is followed by the "Crono victory" theme to his frustration and when his demise is set up by attempting to summon a monster who's afraid of heights.....while on an airship.
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Title: And the moment you all have been YEARNING for has arrived!
Posted: December 30, 2007 (05:05 PM)
Yes. If you look at the front page of this site or here in my blog, you'll see my 200th Honestgamers review.

It's for the epicly epic Wally Bear and the No Gang, which is one of those beloved, forgotten classics that no child should be forced to go without experiencing.

So, I hope you all have as much fun reading this review as I had playing the game. Or maybe not, as that might make you gouge your eyes out. So, I hope you have as much fun reading this as you have doing other things you find fun.

Rock on.
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Title: AS IS #199!!!!
Posted: December 21, 2007 (02:15 PM)
It's for Lufia: The Ruins of Lore. Also to be my entry in the ABC tournament. Easily found on this very site, from my blog and the front page (at least for now, a number of staff-types still have to enter their review, so it could disappear from there quickly).

Now comes the fun! Guess which game I'll be reviewing for my ground-breaking, earth-shattering 200th review!!!! For an event like this, a little community involvement is necessary.

So, share your favorite Overdrive Reviewing Memories, tell me I'm great and try to figure out what #200 will be.

And Felix, no it's not that damn fucking Castlewhatever game you keep trying to force upon me. I'll get to that one in due time. This ain't due time.
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Title: REVIEW #198 IS DONE!!!!!
Posted: December 20, 2007 (01:30 PM)
For Destiny of an Emperor II. You can link to it from my blog page or the site's front page (at least for now).

Won't claim it to be one of my all-time bests, as I basically scratched it out while trying to get thoughts for my ABC review in order, but I had fun cruising through it and it's a short, easy read.

Two more to #200!!!!!
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Title: Things are going to be getting AWESOME for you people!
Posted: December 19, 2007 (12:31 PM)
Not only am I currently working on my ABC Review RIGHT NOW!!!!! But I also have plans for two more Overdrive Productions in the near future.

1. While going through my library of ROMs, I noticed Destiny of an Emperor 2 was still there. I'd gotten nearly through the game when I upgraded my computer and, therefore, my emulators. I completely upgraded to a different NES emulator, which mean my save data and freeze state for that game no longer were usable. Not feeling any desire to replay that entire game, I forgot about it completely. But now, I remember it and will have a review of it up in the near future.

2. And then comes the event which will change society forever: MY 200th REVIEW ON THIS SITE!!! For a game only I know what it shall be!!! Coming to you on January 1, 2008 (or as close to that date as my inevitable post-New Year's Eve hangover shall allow)!!!

Yes, this is an exciting time for all of us, as we celebrate Overdrive and what he means to all of you! Orgasmic delights will flood your heads as show that, yes, I still got it! Prepare for pleasure!!!!
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Title: With a little over a week before the ABC deadline.....
Posted: December 14, 2007 (12:35 PM)
I am WOEFULLY behind on my Lufia: Ruins of Lore progress! Chalk it up to me doing a lot of in-office work, finalizing what's been an ungodly long dissolution from my ex-wife (where she finally signed the fucking papers today after over a year!) and partying a lot with it being my birthday this week (Wednesday, for those of you wishing to send me belated gifts).

But never fear! I got a friend's birthday tomorrow, so we'll be partying all day then, but I will be using a good chunk o' next week to ensure that this is the year I finally win this tournament! Or stab Blu in the neck for being the "sudden-death" judge that awarded EmP the tiebreaker vote over me last year, preventing me from meeting my true destiny! Or, even better, do both!

I have a foolproof plan.

STEP ONE: Focus more on the game so that even if I haven't beat it when it comes time to write my review, I still will have experienced enough to have a vast array of experiences to talk about in my review.

STEP TWO: Write a kickass review (ie: one where I don't use variations of the word "experience" twice in the same sentence like I did in describing my first step).

STEP THREE: Wait for the glowing critiques and really high scores given to me by the judges.

STEP FOUR: Make a half-hearted attempt at humility with the obligatory thanking of the judges and other competitors before boasting for 15 paragraphs about how not even the gods themselves can stop me now.

Simple, yet foolproof.
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Title: Venter, is this YOUR GODDAMN idea for a SICK JOKE?????
Posted: December 03, 2007 (03:59 PM)
So, there I am today, looking at some of these nifty new blog options and whatnot while waiting for the tech guys to come to my office to give me a spiffy new work computer (flat screen monitor, bitch!) and upgraded software.

And I notice on the "Top 8" blogs, one of them is from an unnamed "user" with a date of 1969 as their most recent blog entry.

Now, let's get something straight here. My ego is both extremely vast and extremely unstable. Personally I find it an insult that the morons constituting the general public apparently favor at least seven blogs over mine just because of piddly reasons like how other people review newer games or how other people update their blog far more regularly.

But to have a fake placeholding image up there taking away what could and should be MY EXPLODING HITLER image....well, that's just too much for me to stomach.

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Title: How a review gets created: the anatomy of Wizardry -- Part 2
Posted: December 02, 2007 (03:23 PM)
So, now I'd figured out my lead (read or re-read Part 1 if your itty-bitty head is confused right now), but after writing a handful of paragraphs, I had a problem.

Simply put, in looking for strong, attention-grabbing language, I'd painted myself into a corner. The direction my review was taking was that I'd talk about how the game is easier if you know that a large part of the maze, which includes the trickiest floors, doesn't have to be visited — followed by how I'd talk about all the little tricks and traps in the game that make it so it's never truly easy. But my language in those early paragraphs strongly hinted that the game's a piece of cake if you know where to go.

So, I had to rewrite chunks of my opening paragraphs to more accurately portray my views. After doing this, it was simplicity itself to finish off the review. However, there was still a bit more to do.

One thing I've been working on a bit is tightening up my work and not letting it get too long. So, I didn't want this one to bloat up to 1200-1400 words. I wanted to stay right around 1000, give or take a few dozen. And it can be easy to bloat a review like this, where a good portion of it consists of listing and describing aspects of the game that add to its difficulty.

So, I had to chop out or just lightly mention a few aspects of the game. Such as how devastating the poison status effect can be early in the game because it takes cleric-types a long time to learn the spell to remove it, it costs a lot to cure it at the temple AND an afflicted character loses 1 HP per step taken in the dungeon, which means they ain't gonna have much time to get to town before they die (which is even more expensive to remedy).

So, as you can see, a lot of work goes into being as awesome of a reviewer as I am! You always have to be thinking to stay on top of your game!
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Title: How a review gets created: the anatomy of Wizardry -- Part 1
Posted: December 01, 2007 (11:35 AM)
I figured I'd do something a bit different from all the posts about the guy who got fired from somewhere because of something and how all our lives have been diminished because of it. So, what we're all going to read now is a look at the creative process that goes behind the writing of an Overdrive Productions Review!

We start at the beginning. Jason tends to like getting a couple of reviews from his staffers per month. Normally, that's an easy feat, but I've been on a long-term RPG kick. I was able to pull out of it and come up with six or so new reviews in a nine-week period during the Team Tournament, but then fell right back into RPGs. And when some of said games are new-gen ones, which take a hell of a lot longer to play (esp. if you're trying to be complete and do optional stuff) than your eight-bit Dragon Warrior-esque ones, it's not always easy to come up with reviews on a regular basis.

So, I looked at the games I'm playing. We have Lufia: Ruins of Lore, but that's my main choice for the ABCs and I'm no where near ready to start writing for that one. I'm closer with Tales of Legendia, as before getting my ABC letter that was the game I'd been playing the most, but would probably need a few days of hardcore playing to finish it, and that would detract from Lufia-time. And because of those two games, there's a number of other ones ranging from Final Fantasy XII to Dragon Quest V to Phantasy Star 2 that are both on hold and not ready for me to start writing.

But I had one option left! Another game I'd been playing sporadically was Wizardry I-II-III, a little-known Super Famicom compilation of the first three Wizardry titles (think like the SNES Super Mario compilation cart, where they take three eight-bit games and re-release them with enhanced graphics and sound). All three had been released on the Famicom, with I and II getting ported to the Nintendo. I was playing I on the SNES remake AND had owned it on the NES. This replaying of it was the perfect jolt to my memory of how the game was when I initially played it, so I had a game!

Now, I had to come up with a lead. Usually the success I have with this dictates how the review will go. I get a good idea in my head and everything flows from there. I struggle with a lead and I struggle with the whole review.

It didn't take long to figure this one out, though. I'd been doing a bit o' research, looking up maps, war doc's killer FAQ of the game and other bits of info --- as well as playing it on my own --- and found out that there is no legit reason to go to half the game's floors. AND, on top of that, the floors you don't need to visit tend to be designed far more sadistically than the floors you have to visit. One thing I read even made note that Wiz II only had six floors, but noted that each of them is important and that you have to explore all of them to get through the game.

So there I was -- with a strong lead that captures a point not too many people talk about. I was ready to rock-n-roll!

Tune in next time as OD discusses problems and pitfalls he encountered in writing this review, as well as giving you a glimpse of the "cutting room" floor. It's CAN'T MISS BLOG-VISION!
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Title: My Forum's Better Than Zig's
Posted: November 14, 2007 (02:11 PM)
I, Overdrive, am randomly discussing old-school RPGs on mine. And occasionally ripping on Zig's forum.

So if you like things I like, such as retro RPGs, making fun of other people and telling me I'm great, come on by to talk about Wizardry, NetHack or just to make fun of Zig and other people who think they're able to make cool forums. They aren't. I am.*

* only applies to people who think locking yourself in seclusion for most of your life to play games like Wizardry and NetHack is majorly important as far as coolness goes.
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Title: RPG Ranting Part 2: Stories and their Foolishness
Posted: October 31, 2007 (10:04 AM)
So, I was reading through the responses to my last blog entry (all of which, with the singular exception of EmP) were well-thought out (including the one busting on EmP) and one made me do a bit more thinking than normal (ie: a bit of thinking).

Spaceworlder had a good point about how RPGs are being ruined because of how too many new players are buying/playing them just for the story. And you know, that’s probably right and definitely would explain why so many games of the genre today have really easy main quests with all their difficulty being focused on side quests and optional post-game dungeons.

The sad thing is that, for the most part, these “stories” have, to use a tired phrase, “jumped the shark”. Remember how thrilled I was with Wild Arms 3’s story? How my review gave it a high score despite a few admittedly big flaws mainly because I really dug how the game fleshed out the villains, making them more than simple one-dimensional cackling evil-doers?

Well, yeah....that seemed reasonably new to me at the time (and done with better storytelling here than in other earlier games), but it’s gotten really old by now. Virtually every halfway recent game in the Tales of... or Wild Arms series are loaded with overly complex villains whom you oppose because their “noble” goals (tending to involve saving the world from itself or fighting back against the oppression/discrimination of their people) tend to involve less-than-cool methods like purging the world of all who aren’t on their side.

Some do a better job of this than others, but it all gets tiresome after a while. Partly because “complex” villains have become so plentiful they’re now more generic than the lovable old “I gots mad powerz and am taking over the world, you fools!!!! MUHUHUHAHAHAR!!!!!” folks like Garland (FF, not FFIX) and Baramos (DW3). And partly because heroes are still as boring and generic as they were back in the day when you controlled nameless guys with no history....just in a different way.

Nowadays (as in for the past decade-plus, it’s “cool” to have your hero be an angsty dweeb with a big, dark secret that threatens to destroy him....unless he can overcome it, learn the true joy of love and friendship and use that to prevail against all odds against the enemy. Oh, and while looking more like a teenage girl than an actual heroic warrior.

That’s probably why I look at Dragon Quest VIII as, by far, the best RPG of recent times. By making the hero a old-school silent protagionist without a slew of personal issues that come up at really awkward times (like when a really badass enemy turns into a big dragon and starts stomping his hometown), he actually seems like a breath of fresh air, even though he’s the same quiet guy from all the old-school RPGs. And the main enemies tend to lean toward being evil-for-the-joy-of-being-evil thanks to being possessed by an evil deity. The story revolves around chasing evil folk around and stopping them from doing evil stuff.

More or less, it’s the RPG I was playing back in the days of the NES and SNES, but with better graphics and sound. And that’s what I want. A fun romp with good guys fighting monsters and saving the world — not a bunch of emotionally challenged heroes fighting a bunch of emotionally challenged villains in a bunch of fights that make me wonder if I should be happy or bummed out because I won.

Title: Man, the typical RPG player's a real pansy nowadays, aren't they?
Posted: October 24, 2007 (12:08 PM)
Yeah, I know, this is going to make it look like I was middle-aged when Bard's Tale and Wizardry came out (DAMN YOU EMP!!!!!), but it's gotta be said. It just seems way too many people have no desire to be challenged by RPGs anymore.

I've been playing FF XII for some time. Basically, I do the main quest completely honest and use guides for one thing and one thing only: to make sure I don't miss out on optional stuff. I don't use them to be told HOW to beat Zodiark or Yiazmat, but I do use them so I don't fail to get the opportunity to fight them. Pretty much the only things I want them for is to make sure I don't miss all the marks, espers and/or rare game that gives trophies. And with a game this big, I have no desire to beat it, realize I didn't find a handful of cool things and have to start from scratch just to get them.

Yesterday, I had some free time and went to the GameFaqs message board for the game just to see what kind of talk people were having about it. It was a mortifying experience. Let's look at a couple of gems:

1. A thread was started where one guy was questioning the order Split Infinity had players doing certain optional things in his guide (mainly how early he said players could go after the White Mousse mark). I got the idea from reading the posts there that a percentage of players get the game and follow a FAQ word for word in how they play it. What's the fun of playing a game if you're just going to follow a guide to the letter instead of, I don't know, devising your own strategies to get past tough encounters and using your own ability to make decisions to determine where you go and when you fight tough battles?

2. There's a thread concerning your least favorite place in the game. The overwhelming pick is the Great Crystal, with the main reason being that it's a huge, confusing dungeon with no map and there's no save crystal right before certain huge encounters. What kind of pussyshit reason is that? It's absolutely sad that players are so lame now that they NEED to save at nearly anytime and need to have their hands held to get through any dungeon.

So what did I learn about a number of RPG players?

1. They'd rather completely rely on a guide instead of actually trying to beat a game on their own.

2. They are too lazy to make their own maps, prefering to complain whenever the game doesn't hand them a picture-perfect one.

3. They're mortified when they don't get the opportunity to save immediately before fighting any sort of tough battle. Because, god forbid they'd actually get beat and lose 30 minutes of exploration/fighting/etc.

I shudder to think about what these guys would do if they were forced to play a true old-school game where you were expected to draw maps and could only save in a tiny handful of specific spots. While I love how RPGs have become more commonplace due to being more accessible to the masses, the flaw is that they've become easier over time, so whenever something remotely challenging gets put into the game, people act like it's the most sadistic thing ever created.
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Title: Having a bit of fun
Posted: August 21, 2007 (09:31 AM)
I may be apologizing to the judges in advance, as it seems unclear as to if I'll have a new review up this week, or I'll be tossing them an old one (if I do, though, at least it will be one that you three haven't judged).

Main reason for that is that for the last couple of days, my sole gameplaying has been me getting back to my replay of Dragon Quest VIII. One of the sole downsides to getting the occasional free copy of a game is that I'm expected to get through the game and fire off a review as quickly as possible, meaning I don't really get to savor the good games (or, in most cases, even finish any of them, as my memory cards are loaded with near-finishes of about every freebie I've gotten).

So, I figured I'd start the game back up again a few months ago and every few weeks I pick it up and binge on it for 2-3 days before going back to whatever I had been doing. This way, I'd get to do some of the stuff I missed out on — mainly the post-game optional dungeon and bosses.

Right now, I'm back in Pickham getting ready to head out, talk to Red and do the dungeon in this area and am just as amazed by how killer this game is as when I first played it. Still can't get over how vast the overworld is. I'll set out with the intention to just run around looking for treasure chests in a specific area (like, say, the area east of the bridge and north of the road leading to Ascantha or whatever the place with the depressive king's called) and by the time I've done that, I've been playing for over an hour and I'm completely convinced I still probably missed at least one goodie.

When I'm playing a game like this, picking up a control to finish off Hydlide just doesn't seem so appealing. Come to think of it, that never seems appealing....just less so when DQ VIII's on my mind.
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Title: A lesson learned (at least for the immediate present)
Posted: August 18, 2007 (02:58 PM)
One of those funny things I've learned throughout my time reviewing is that when you get to this marathon known as the Summer Team Tournament, there are various lessons that never should be forgotten.

Some of them are pretty obvious, although I have screwed up and forgotten them from time to time (like in my two losses last year). First, we had me reviewing Castlevania 3. Nothing wrong with that on the surface, except that those old-school 2-D Castlevania's have been done so many times and are so well-known to the judges that it's extraordinarily difficult to present them in an original way.

Then, we had me bringing out Athena. Not a bad call, in my mind, as that review was my first contest champ. Unfortunately, it's also an old review that comes off a bit clunky now (familiarity does breed contempt, sometimes, allowing little errors that were passed over originally to become more prominent) and pretty much anyone who's been around any real length of time is so familiar with it that it's lost its impact to really impress.

But there's another lesson — one which seems obvious when put into words, but one which eluded me this past week because I was so absorbed with crafting a new review with the capacity to impress. When it comes to a long-time tournament such as this, where judges are reading a lot of reviews every week for over two months, it REALLY helps if the game you pick to review has that special something that truly motivates your writing.

Overall, I was pleased with Gunman's Proof. It was definitely a step back in the right direction from Guardian Legend. It probably would have beaten a good number of people in this tournament and probably would have gotten beaten by a good number. I think the problem was that while I was motivated to write something good, I didn't have much help from the game. It's a Zelda clone with arcade elements. Nothing more, nothing less. It has some campy humor, but nothing that really tickled my fancy. It was, as Genj kinda described my Dragon View review, basically me reviewing another mediocre ROM I have.

The basic point is that you have to find those games that truly stir up emotions. Maybe it's the most horrendously put together piece of crap you've ever seen. Maybe it makes you wish that even a tiny percentage of other games could be remotely as good. Maybe it just has that one element to it that completely captivates your imagination (like Wild Arms 3's story did for me).

I think when it all comes down to it, that's the main difference between my review for Gunman's Proof and those for Dragon Quest VIII and Wild Arms 3 (or my late, lamented Athena). The latter ones were games that inspired me in their own ways and made me reach for the heavens to find the words that could perfectly convey my feelings for the game. Gunman's Proof — well, uhhh....I really wanted to write a good contest review for it.

So, well, my review for this coming week will be for a game that definitely is capable of bringing out some sort of true emotion for me. Tune in later to see what "obvious" lesson I needed to be reminded of after that's all said and done!
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Title: An interesting time in the HISTORY OF OD, VOLUME VI!
Posted: August 13, 2007 (10:00 PM)
You know, I'm nearing 200 reviews on this site. And when you add my shitty early ones that are only on GFs, I've written well over 200.

When you get to that mark of prolificness, your worst enemy is stagnation, as you've written so much stuff that after awhile you fall into a formula.

I feel I've done that in a big way with about everything I've written this year. I'm not just talking about my "old reviews vs. new reviews in the TT" bitching I've been doing, but my work in general. I've been re-reading a lot of my stuff and I've noticed a certain spark of personality in even certain less-recognized older reviews that just seems lacking in my newer ones.

And when I read some of our newer writers, that feeling gets magnified. I've approved a couple of Suskie's contest entries in recent weeks and have been very impressed...to the point where I feel that my complacency with my "spot" is causing me to be eclipsed by newer guys. I might be established, but their writing shows they have the hunger.

And for a number of us, that hunger is a driving factor. I remember when I first started getting recognized as an upper-tier writer. I kept improving and improving, won a contest, placed highly in a bunch of others, was the first draft pick in last year's TT, etc. I remember, like True mentioned in his blog as a personal goal, thinking I was on the verge of being nearly the best, if not the best, reviewer out there.

And I lost the hunger. This competition has shown me it's time to regain it. I'm not going to make any guarantees for the next round as far as results, but I will say that if I lose to Venter, it won't be because I half-assedly churned out just another review. It'll be because I went out on a limb and fell off.

To me, that's the great thing about getting the high-quality new blood on the site. Not just the overall growth for the place, but because seeing guys you've never heard of before jump on board and submit great stuff is a wonderful motivating force for fossils like me who have a tendency to fall into a rut and put out reviews simply to put out reviews.
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