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sashanan Reviewer and FAQ writer. Productivity tends to be on the low side, but I'm an old hand, having been initially on GameFAQs and now both there and here long enough for most people to believe I've been around since the dawn of time. I'm also Dutch, I write software, and I'm something of an old school gamer with a nostalgic focus on the Commodore 64.

Title: Review forming in my head...
Posted: July 16, 2009 (01:34 AM)
With any luck, I'll get it out of there in time to enter it into the TT. The subject is Hotel Dusk, and the verdict is significant disappointment.

Which seems to be perfectly in line with the reviews already up on the site, but it's just something that needs to be said.
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Title: Not a bad idea to bring some old work over from GameFAQs...
Posted: June 29, 2009 (01:07 AM)
Got some useful feedback on reviews that never really got any back on GF. There seems to be a largely general line through the three Moraffware reviews - not surprising as they're similar and two of them were written closely together. Some of it is "the usual" of being too technical which is no news to me and an everpresent caution light in my brain, but I was struck especially by a comment on Moraff's World where my writeup suggests a poorer game than I myself rate it in the end.

This is interesting because it even gave myself pause when I reread it. Why did I give it an 8? Because I love the game. Why do I love the game when, upon reviewing it, I mostly throw out what's wrong with it? Now there's a question worth pondering on further. Two possible answers seem to pop up: either I have focused more on the negative and less on the positive in my review than I do in my mind, or I didn't closely inspect my own final opinion on the game prior to writing the review.

Oddly - maybe hilariously - I now find myself wondering, based on my own review, if I actually like this game as much as I thought I do. Is this that famous reviewer cynicism that sets in when you've stuck with one form of media for too long? At any rate, in writing terms it's a back to basics thing. The review is a writeup of my opinion on the game. It may be worth it to doublecheck what said opinion IS, and why, prior to trying to write it down.

Fact is that over the past few years I've played a lot of games that honestly weren't all that good. There's no shame in enjoying them nonetheless, in fact that can only be a useful thing, but it raises interesting questions as to what, exactly, I look for in a game.

Title: Motivation
Posted: June 19, 2009 (01:38 AM)
Got a surprisingly good result out of MOTO2, and it provides energy. I'm geared up for the upcoming Team Tournament now. Although I technically have enough material to ride it out entirely on existing reviews (I identified at least seven that, based on past feedback, I know will do well), it's an appealing idea to write a few more as well.

Based on what I've been playing lately and the kind of games I want to write for, an option that comes to mind is Baroque. Potentially Final Fantasy 3 for the DS as well, but that's the kind of game where I quickly wonder just how much I have to say that hasn't been said already. Somewhat more obscure and recently finished titles would be two of PopCap's, Plants vs Zombies and Bookworm Adventures, but inspiration hasn't really hit for either.

Baroque should be good though, once I actually finish it (or put it aside in frustration, both are options at this point). It is an odd beast to say the least, and yet not as impossible to like as I thought. Nor as impossible to play. At first it seemed like it was even more brutal than Izuna, taking not only your items but also your experience levels whenever you die (or even whenever you complete the dungeon). But then I noticed that you are permitted hard saves after every dungeon floor, so getting surrounded and killed does not necessarily mean having to start over, as long as you remember to actually save.

That is, admittedly, one of my weaker qualities.
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Title: Up to 10 for the year
Posted: June 12, 2009 (01:11 AM)
10 reviews submitted over 2009. 8 of them are just ported over from GameFAQs, sometimes with minor updates, sometimes not, but it makes it look like I've been doing something. Two new pieces written, both this week. It remains to be seen if this is only the beginning, or both the beginning and the end. But I think there's a few more reviews rolling around in the back of my head, and I'd better get them out before they find the keys to the liquor cabinet.
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Title: Can't schedule creativity
Posted: June 10, 2009 (03:03 AM)
My imminent contribution for MOTO2 is still spinning around in my head despite my best intentions to commit it to paper. In the end I just closed my eyes and let cosmic energy guide my fingers on the keyboard, and when I opened my eyes again I'd reviewed Mana Khemia instead. Oh well.

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Posted: April 24, 2009 (10:17 AM)
After bloomer inquired why my old review for Sword of Sodan (dates back all the way to 2001) never found its way to HG, I figured I might as well bring it over. In doing so I've corrected a few typos and style issues. I have deliberately not touched the content, although I was tempted. I figure in 2001 I gave my opinion the best I could, and if I update this one, I risk wanting to update ALL of them and that's a neverending cycle I don't want to get into. I'd rather spend that time writing something new.

So in mostly unaltered state, here's Sword of Sodan for your perusal and possibly even nostalgia. Watch out for pits.
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Title: An update
Posted: April 18, 2009 (04:18 AM)
Updated my review for Neptune's Daughters, leaving the content untouched (if I'd change that, soon I'd start secondguessing myself on all my old reviews) but cleaning it up some. The "good points/bad points" bit at the end that I used to do back then has been removed to avoid redundant redundancy, an instance of 'practically' that should have been 'pragmatically' has been corrected, and I got rid completely of the first person plural style of narration that annoys me nowadays. "We" don't go through a level, either I did or you are going to. "We" is appropriate only to cops ("what do we think we're doing?") and nurses ("did we sleep well?"). And queens, I suppose.

It's all pissing around of course, submitting small batches of screenshots or correcting existing reviews, what I really need to do is write. But this already marks a lot more out of work activity than I've been able to get myself to do for a long time, so here's hoping it's the start of a beautiful, er, submissionship.
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Title: HGWars may be in beta and prone to change...
Posted: April 15, 2009 (03:57 AM)
But it's already hideously addictive. Or addicting. Or whichever. (I was once told one is British English and the other American but who knows. As a foreigner I tend to mix my styles anyway.) I find that since I need 40 energy to do my preferred job, I'm logging in every 40 minutes a lot more than I should, and sometimes even more frequently just to see if I can bash anybody's skull in at this time. That's become rarer with new targeting restrictions introduced the 14th, but given the low number of players it's still surprisingly frequent. It seems that everybody else is playing as actively as I am.

We need more fresh blood though. Now where to get it...
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Title: I admit, I love to look at numbers.
Posted: June 12, 2008 (03:01 AM)
GameFAQs and Honestgamers both list review hits, but what GameFAQs has so far failed to do is allow me to do something as simple as sorting the reviews by number of hits (nor can I easily copy the hits table to Excel to do it there). Honestgamers sorts on hits by default, which gets a special and usually pointless gear in my brain spinning and is inexplicably pleasurable to me.

I derive far too much fun from seeing my most recent review for Fatal Frame slowly claw its way past the bottom of my review list, outpacing other recent additions like Impossible Mission and Phoenix Wright, apparently purely on account of being a more prolific game (as the review is not necessarily superior, and besides, a reader would only find that out after having generated the hit).

On the top end of the list something even more interesting is happening. Metroid Fusion has always been comfortably on top, being one of the best known games I've ever reviewed, and one of my earliest submissions to HG. It's near the top of my GameFAQs hits too. Here, however, it is rapidly being overtaken by a Commodore 64 review of all things, and a relatively recent submissions as well, in Neptune's Daughters. I can only assume the name draws attention, in much the same way Zig's Rapelay review does (except of course that it has over 100k hits and for me, "near the top" means just over 300).

Another thing that interests me and that I can't quite put my finger on yet is the difference between what reviews draw the most hits, relatively, on GameFAQs and what reviews do so on Honestgamers. Taking reviews into account for at least somewhat recent games (Commodore does poorly hitwise everywhere, with the notable aforementioned exception of Neptune's Daughters), stuff like the Phoenix Wrights and Impossible Mission do well on GameFAQs, having overtaken half my earlier reviews there in about a year's time. Here, they don't do much of anything. At the same time, Fatal Frame has been edging its way upwards and if it continues at this pace, it'll find the middle of the list within a few months too, whereas on GameFAQs it is being utterly ignored - despite being among the "Detailed Reviews" at the top of the list, so it's not as though it's being drowned out.

I wonder if the cause of this should be found in the two sites having a different kind of audience. Or if I'm just reading far too much in arbitrary low numbers. No matter, this is the kind of stuff I love to think about when I have a spare moment to free my brain from work stress.
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Title: Once I was a reviewer...
Posted: May 18, 2008 (04:06 AM)
Now I'm just a guy with a Notepad window open and no words in it, because the six or seven opening sentences I've tried for my latest piece have all been backspaced out again. You'd think that having done this more than 60 times before, I'd be able to come up with...something. Anything. As long as it doesn't sound horribly cheesy and actually leads in what I want to say, rather than force me away from it.

I could spring that lovely alliteration "Fatal Frame walks a fine line between fear and frustration" thing that spontaneously came to mind earlier this week but I don't want to open that way. I've tried the whole thing with how characters in horror movies and games always get themselves into trouble by going places they know they should stay away from, but yawn. Snore. I could start about how survival horror employs a feeling of vulnerability to scare you - in this case by arming you with only a camera - but not only does everybody already know about that genre staple, it's also something that has been done by other Fatal Frame reviews already.

This really shouldn't be this hard. I've played the game, I've formed my opinion, I know what I want to say. Damn me if I can figure out how to say it though.

EDIT: Whew. Done.
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Title: You'd think that after 3½ years of having my most popular bashing review up...
Posted: April 07, 2008 (11:58 AM)
Someone would have noticed that in one paragraph, I refer to Mighty Beanz as Magic Beanz.

*mutters and updates on GF and HG*

I think I'll leave the part where I accidentally reveal it to be an emulated version as is, though.
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Title: Puzzle Quest is now certifiably addictive...
Posted: March 23, 2008 (02:13 AM)
I'm here at the PC playing it. In the other room is my DS with Apollo Justice inside. I'm loving AJ every bit as much as I did the Phoenix Wright titles. Logically - thinking back to how I tore through them all - I should not be doing anything other than eat, sleep and play AJ.

It's scary how mesmerizing a little Bejeweled can be once you add hit points to the equation. I think I should be grateful it does not have an ingame clock.
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Title: That's better.
Posted: March 21, 2008 (08:53 AM)
My session of Metal Gear Solid gone wrong found a happy end anyway - once I brought in my PS1, hooked it up and loaded my save on that, I was able to get through the cutscene without a hitch, and finish off the last bit of gameplay (which, as Martín G had told me, was really a formality). I'm all for formalities though, so I was now able to mark it off on my Backloggery (not to mention two Excel sheets of my own, one logging all my game finishes since late 2002, the other keeping track of unfinished games per system, now largely made redundant by Backloggery).

More good gaming news arrived with a package received from recent HG staff member siara79, which got here lightning fast I might add, and contained among other things Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. Given my history with PW so far, it's entirely plausible that I'll either finish it in the upcoming three day weekend (Easter Monday's a national holiday in the NL) or at least come a long way. Self-discipline was required to put it away and sleep last night.

And AJ is only the beginning. The package also includes both Luminous Arc and Hoshigami Remix - feeding my eternal hunger for strategy RPGs - Metal Saga (a recommendation from threetimes, a consummate FAQ writer/reviewer who I think has not penetrated to HG just yet), GrimGrimoire (something I've had my eyes on for a while now) and the strategy guide for Shining Force Neo.

That's a tale in its own. I don't normally do strategy guides, having been a regular GameFAQs visitor since 1999 and all. siara79 on the other hand collects them. My copy of Shining Force Neo was originally hers (or if you insist on accuracy, her husband's), and passed on to me because it was deemed too difficult and frustrating. Now I daresay Sashy knows his RPGs and I cannot turn down a challenge once offered, either, so SFN went with me and I poured in 40 hours determined to conquer it in spite of its woefully unbalanced combat. Got a whole way in, too. But now, with the only remaining primary quest consisting of "take the holy trials and then go forth and slay the ancient evil", I find I'm far too underlevelled to have a shot at even the trials. This is not because I've rushed, this is because SFN decides to tack on an easy 20, maybe more hours of grinding at this juncture.

Much of the grinding consists of clearing 20 "optional" dungeons (optional in the sense that technically you can advance the story without them, except good ****ing luck surviving for longer than a minute) spread around the entire world map. Difficulty varies wildly, some I haven't even found yet, and with all the coming and going of other games I've completely lost track of which ones I've done, which ones I've skipped, what other side stuff I was working on, everything. The sole Shining Force Neo FAQ on GameFAQs is not particularly informative either. So when siara offered to send me her strat guide as well - which I really should have taken when I took the game last year - I didn't protest. Should be just what I need to untangle what the heck I was doing and finish off a game that's been permitted as part of my backlog for far too long already.

I guess I can stomach the fact that it tramples all over the Shining Force name. Hack and slash is the direction they've chosen for the series now, so meh, fine. But it does not even get THAT genre right. You're not automatically another Diablo 2, folks.
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Title: Crash? Crash?! CRAAAAASH!
Posted: March 18, 2008 (04:14 AM)
If there is such as things as the gods of gaming, they're a bunch of bastards. In 2005, I did what every gamer does at some point in their lives, and bought Metal Gear Solid. I was in the US at the time and found a new copy for a measly 6 bucks (at current exchange rates, roughly one hundreth of a eurocent), so I couldn't resist bringing it home. Along with 21 other games, heh. Owing to a number of factors including the aforementioned 21 other games, I never really got around to playing it beyond a quick try (in which I failed to ascend the learning curve, a phrase which here means "got my ass kicked repeatedly in the first two rooms") before moving on to Shadow Hearts and some of the other cool RPGs I'd brought home with me.

This did not please the Sultan's vizier, Jaffar, personified in this reality by Spanish-born, currently UK-based translator and game and movie critic Martín G., who happens to be a great fan of the series and at times approached inquisitorial persistence in getting me to pick up the game again. My subsequent purchases of Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 did nothing to get him off my back, because unfortunately he is well aware of my dogmatic "games are to be played in order" approach to my backlog, which effectively means MGS 2 and 3 are not, in fact, in my playable zone until such a time that the original is taken care of.

Catching me in an uncharacteristically docile mood on a peaceful evening in early March 2008, Mart seized the opportunity, hypnotized me and injected into my mind the belief that finishing Metal Gear Solid was a life necessity, and so I found myself putting aside the unique, peerless (we should hope) PS1 RPG Beyond the Beyond and slipping in my Metal Gear Solid CD instead. And - who'd have thought it - I liked it. As I first mastered the technique of snapping a guard's neck, something clicked between my hands and my brain and my fingers relaxed their vise grip on the controller to something more conductive to relaxed play, and before either Mart or I was properly aware what was happening, I was rapidly advancing through the game. Not an evening went by in which I didn't at least beat one boss, got a longer life bar and a bigger carrying capacity, and started voicing the opinion that Metal Gear Solid is, in fact, an RPG in disguise.

And the story! Surreal para-military setting and understandable Japanese fascination with nuclear themes aside, everything I came across made sense in the context of the MGS universe I was finally discovering, years after every other gamer on the planet already had, some of the more offbeat CODEC conversations had me laughing out loud, and even death and game over was a minor irritation as I could always get back into the action swiftly and exact furious revenge on whichever guard had dared to turn around at the wrong time. Hiding around the corner, knocking on a wall, quickly hiding in a cardboard box and then pouncing on the alerted guard as soon as he turned his back became far too much of a guilty pleasure, and did much to explain why the protagonist was assigned the Snake handle.

So, all was good and happy in Sashy land right up until the epic confrontation with Metal Gear itself, almost but not quite at the ending, and the long bit of plot exposition after. Just as the game got busy establishing a link between the Gulf War and horrific genetic experiments, the image froze, the right half of it overlaid with green blocky stuff, but the voice went on...and then stopped as well, making room for sudden, unexpected music that may well be the game's end theme, and then nothing after that.

At first I thought it was just the next twist in a game full of fourth wall breaking experiences, but this time even switching the controller to port 2 did nothing. It slowly dawned on me that I wasn't looking at Kojima's next shiitake induced moment of brilliant and completely inexplicable inspiration, but at something far mundane: a crash. Oh well. A reset and another fight against Metal Gear later, I was watching the same scene again...and the exact same crash at exactly the same time. A third attempt then, this time pressing start to skip the cutscene so I could finish the game and maybe catch the proper scene on YouTube. But lo and behold! This is the ONE CUTSCENE YOU CAN'T SKIP. Metal Gear Solid after all hails from a time when developers asserted the right to MAKE you watch what they wanted, a time when Final Fantasies thought nothing of 2 minute summon sequences and Golden Suns made you sit through endless dialogue without any actual content, a habit fortunately now broken by newer ga- no wait, they still pull that crap. And in this case it was preventing me from finishing my game, within sight of the finish line at that.

When even a thorough cleaning of the CD did not help, and despite not seeing any visible scratches on the surface or anything, I was ready to give up until such a time that I could find another NTSC copy of Metal Gear Solid and play my last 20 minutes. Then, however, I got to thinking. The reason why I can play NTSC games on my European PS2 in the first place is the nice and cozy mod chip nestling inside its clockwork. And mod chips do more than just play different regions - they play copies. Illegality be darned - who would reasonably blame me for wanting to finish the game I'd paid for? A little searching and a PC left on overnight later, I burned myself another CD 2, dropped it in the PS2, reloaded my save, beat Metal Gear (something I'd gotten quite good at by now) and settled in to wait...

...and you guessed it, precisely the same crash.

I'm not entirely out of options. I can dig up my old PS1 if I can find it, which is not modded but does have a boot disc and spring setup, and see if I *can* finish on that. This in the event of backwards compatibility issues. A long shot, because if a game as prolific as this had known crash problems on PS2s, I think I'd know. Checked the GameFAQs Metal Gear Solid board anyway to make certain, but my symptoms didn't ring bells with anyone. I'm not too hopeful that switching the system will work, but it's something I'll have to try before I resign myself to the last possibility...that of a corrupted save. The prospect of replaying the entire game to *maybe* be able to finish it this time - or just see the exact same problem again.

If there's any joy to be had from this, it's that Mart is more distraught by the whole affair than I am. After all the pushing and coaxing to play this game, seeing him suffer is strangely therapeutic.

But I still want to finish MGS, dammit.
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Title: Bad poetry warning
Posted: January 15, 2008 (02:20 AM)
There was a young man in Nantucket
who found an old game in a bucket
made screenshots - a few
then sent in his review
said if I have time, then I'll FAQ it

It being Montezuma's Revenge of course and the review is four - heck, no, it's 2008 now, FIVE years old. Even then I had vague plans to write a FAQ for it but you know how it is with me and plans. Nonetheless...it's once again a tempting thought, and it would be easier, at least, than trying to find some kind of newer game to write for. For instance Etrian Odyssey still has no full FAQ on GameFAQs, has virtually nothing in terms of contributions here, and I did recently finish it...but I'm not confident I'd be able to do a game like that justice.

Speaking of justice, I really need to get to work on that Phoenix Wright 3 FAQ I'm co-writing with siara79. But after that...maybe. Montezuma was always a favorite.

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