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Below, you can see the 20 most recent posts in the forums, starting with the most recent post first and working backwards. Signatures, avatars and other related information have been stripped so that the page will load quickly. Each post contains a link to the thread where it was posted so you can click to see it in its original context.

This is a fantastic update. Thanks for continuing to inform us. It helps keep things interesting, and I feel like so far we have the potential for a really competitive year if people keep showing up from week to week!

Yeah, but I'm on pace to break my personal record for most 2nd places in a year. And maybe beat Joe's site record for that, as well!

I know a decent game about an angry space monkey...

Go on. (Unless it's not on DS or GB/GBC/GBA, because that's all I got)

Congratulations to Joe for the win. One day maybe a cooking reference will get RotW, but the world is not yet ready.

It's just an interesting example that RotWs are just as much a snapshot of the judge as they are the featured writers.

Very true!

WEEK 18 UPDATE

Previously, Overdrive sat pretty in second, equal on points to pack leader, EmP, and missing out on the top spot on a victory tally alone. His early form has taken a slight wobble, and he has been ruthlessly usurped by Honestgamer, who has been gobbling up podium spots in the interim. Right behind them, Pickhut has *pick*ed up two wins since the last update and has put himself right among the runners.

The other big mover has been Joe, who has been uncharacteristically slow in picking up his first win. But it's in the bank now; both he and dagoss have the potential to creep up the rankings.

Conspicuous by their absence, Vacant has yet to dirty the table with their unwanted presence. They're current sharing Position Zero with Masters. Which will break first?

I played the middle Gothic and then stopped there, because convention can suck it! Maybe someday this will change, but I'm guessing not. The Risen games were pretty great, though!

Appreciate the nod; I ended up enjoying Narita Boy a hell of a lot more than I would have thought and heavily recommend it to all (which is probably why I wrote a review, I suppose...) Thanks of getting on the topic. I don't think anyone's going to be put out if these things are not put out immediately, so no one's going to sweat the delays. But if the topics start feeling like too much of a drain on limited free time, we'll try and reshuffle the rota or something.

Narita Boy wasn't eligible for this week, but I appreciate the extra feedback, which I find an interesting example about how people can digest things completely differently. The week it was eligible for, Joe had it pegged as the winner and had nothing but kind words for. This isn't a sly dig that Jason has it wrong; both takes have merit and neither can be considered wrong. It's just an interesting example that RotWs are just as much a snapshot of the judge as they are the featured writers. What a bizarre tangent to go on. I'll stop now.

Amazingly, this is Joe's first win of the year, I believe, so props to Mr. The Destroyer. I also hope dagoss continues his atypical choices when he can. I know a decent game about an angry space monkey...

Thanks for the comments and placement. Yeah, if I wanted to, I could have gone on for a long while ranting about the waste-of-time expansion. The enemies are all tougher versions of main game enemies. The final boss fight plays out much the same way as the final boss of the main game (alternates between fighting you and teleporting out of reach in order to fire projectiles and occasionally summon enemies) and so on. I was so bored that I abandoned melee for a long while simply to get an achievement for killing so many enemies with magic. Even though I'd put very few level-up points into any of the potential three spells.

I haven't seen 976-EVIL, but I did watch the sequel. Had two good parts to it. The main girl was really hot and there was one legitimately good scene in it (that basically seemed like it should have been in another movie) where a character gets sucked into a TV world that's a mash-up of It's A Wonderful Life and Night of the Living Dead. No, wait. Three good parts. The actor playing the villain was having a blast hamming it up to be as evil as possible. He was fun.

Thanks to a couple of holdover reviews from last week, this topic considers a total of six reviews. But which authors will score a podium finish? Pull up a chair and read on to find out!

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Adventures in the Magic Kingdom (NES) by JoeTheDestroyer

I always hated Space Mountain and liked to get it out of the way early when I play this one, as you said. I found myself nodding along to most of what you said, actually, though I do enjoy the game a bit more than you did. But just a bit. And we are agreed on which of the various attractions is the best. The haunted house, of course! But beyond that, I don't have much to say. This is a solid review and a good rundown of the game, with the right mix of summary and critique. I had no complaints, really.

Narita Boy (PC) by EmP

This sentence requires some attention: "You’ll find yourself eating more deaths leaning tells from the varied cast of enemy boss fights." That should be "learning." As for the overall review, you got LOTS of good bits in there, but the result--at least to me--felt a bit on the dense side. It was a less effective read than it might have been, I felt, because I almost got numb to the awesomeness you described. You could stand to break things up a bit more frequently to avoid some of the heaviest paragraphs, perhaps, or something similar. What's there is good, but the organization seems to work ever so slightly against it.

Darksiders II (Xbox 360) by overdrive

I felt like the organization here let you down, because it didn't pull me from point to point and build to anything. Usually, you're able to ramble through your series of points and they transition naturally, but here it felt like you circled back to some things (such as your keen interest in dungeons) and just referenced them occasionally, rather than establishing them more strongly and moving onto other points. You also relied fairly heavily on reader familiarity with the first game, especially toward the beginning of your text, which left me at a slight disadvantage as a reader. I do get your general points, and the text provides enough supporting details to make me believe you responded to what the game offered in ways I would likely mimic, but this wasn't what I would consider your strongest work.

Third Place: Insanium (PC) by EmP

Based on your experience with the game this newer release mimics, there's no question you did well to take the general approach you did. However, I do wonder if you didn't linger just a bit too long on Alien, because you were more than a third of the way through--almost halfway through, even--before you described the specifics of Insanium. That's not news to you, and you acknowledge it in your text, but I don't think the acknowledgement entirely erases the issue. You manage to pull it off and put together a good review that gives me an idea how the game might feel to play. So that's a "mission accomplished" in my book, but holds you back from a first-rate finish.

Runner Up: America's Test Kitchen: Let's Get Cooking (DS) by dagoss

I always enjoy reading about games that are a bit different from the norm, and my interest was rewarded here with a strong review for a cooking application. I've already left more detailed feedback in my feedback topic, so I won't repeat that here. I'll just say that out of the various reviews I've read this week while assembling this topic, yours was the review that showed the most personality. I come away with a good sense for the sort of experience the software will provide if I ever give it a shot myself (which I yet might). A very strong review!

Review of the Week: Spirit Roots (Switch) by JoeTheDestroyer

Near the end of this review, you make a solid point: that mediocre games don't suddenly improve just because they introduce extreme difficulty. I like how the review started with analysis of the elements that come together to create a mediocre experience, then transitioned into discussion of how one design mistake turned that into what frankly sounds like a nearly unbearable experience. It's a shame, because looking at the screens I can easily see why you would have been tempted to give this one a chance. The visual design looks quite appealing. Great writeup!

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As always, thank you to everyone who participated and ensured I had compelling reviews to read and rank. I never know what to expect when my week rolls around, and I kind of love that. Keep the good stuff coming, and I'll see you next time around!

Joseph Shaffer: famously late generating ROTW topics that consists of a mere three reviews. In my defense, I am now a supervisor where I work, so I sadly don't have the free time I used to (and when I do, I usually spend it sleeping or comforting my teething toddler).

I watched some horror movies. Shocking, right?

Fright Night (1985) is like Rear Window with a vampire, spliced with They Call Me Bruce? Basically, William Ragsdale realizes his neighbor Chris Sarandon is a vampire. He tries to enlist Roddy McDowall to help eliminate him because his character portrayed a vampire hunter in old school horror movies. Long and short, things get messy and fun. Also, Amanda Bearse and Stephen Geoffreys costar in this one.

And speaking of Stephen Geoffreys, I finally caught 976-EVIL (1988). Geoffreys plays a dorky, sheltered teenager who stumbles upon a 976 hotline that reads horoscopes (called "horrorscopes") that actually come true. The only catch is that the hotline is run by Satan, and Geoffreys ends up offering his service to the dark lord. In exchange, the devil grants him enough evil power to murder his bullies. Obviously, it's impossible to take a premise like seriously, so the movie is thoroughly kooky like it wants to be a Troma or Full Moon flick. It doesn't quite find the mark all the time, but it manages to be cheesy enough to pass its runtime decently.

As you can tell, I was in a bit of an '80s mood (when am I not?). I also ended up watching Edge of the Axe (1988), a slasher about a computer programmer who sets up in a small town at the same time as a masked killer. It's a fairly by-the-books sort of film with a decent twist, but the best part is the way the movie pretty much predicted Instant Messenger and Google. The protagonist and his girlfriend communicate to each other through an Internet-ish computer network, which also has a crude search engine that she uses to look up info regarding an nearby asylum, where her psychotic cousin is supposed to be located. Unsurprisingly, she blames him for the recent wave of murders, but anyone who's seen their share of slashers knows not to trust the obvious culprits...

Finally, I watched the more recent film 47 Meters Down (2017), which turned out to be an entertaining, albeit simple, eco-horror movie. I didn't expect much because it sounded like it would be a pretty tame affair, being only PG-13, but it managed to have a few decently tense moments and a solid (and fairly mean) twist.


As for the reviews:

-OD- *SECOND*
Ah, Arcania... The Gothic series didn't need another game, but got one anyway. I know they've tried divorcing this one from the series, but when familiar characters pop up and the protagonist from the first three is the freakin' king, it's kinda hard to separate them. It also sounds like you went through the expansion, where I opted out of that junk. Getting through the main game while staying awake was difficult enough... Anyway, this review definitely encapsulates that awfully dull experience, offering up the best support possible while leaving things unsaid for anyone who insists upon playing this tragic misfire. It's obvious you now the genre well and you did your homework on the series, and it shows through your strong, authoritative voice.

-Honestgamer- *THIRD*
The strong introduction hooked me into this review, as it should. From there, you outline exactly how tedious this game is, and man, does sound like a yawn storm. I'm glad you also brought up how irritating it can be to get stuck on environments, because I think that quality gets underestimated or sometimes ignored in other games. It's a small misstep a game can make, but one that can really drag the experience down. It sounds like you were telling readers that this title can be decent, but only if they're willing to invest the time--and it might not be worth it for many potential buyers. I'd say you communicated that very well.

-EmP- *ROTW*
Geez, paint a picture with words, why don't you. This one's rife with enough vivid descriptions that it shows your passion for the title, but also makes me want to push this one up on my priority list. I don't know what else to say about this review except that you capture this game's essence with a way that's lively and not overly verbose, but also in a way that depicts how positively batshit the content is. If that isn't ROTW material, I don't now what is.

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This is the end, friend.

Curses! Foiled again!

Tokyo Xanadu is beaten, despite Jason's best efforts to keep it buried in my backlog forever.

My 2018 list is complete. I also beat the Utawarerumono remake for good measure. I don't think I want to play the Zen games.

Terminator: Resistance Enhanced
PS5
https://limitedrungames.com/products/terminator-resistance-enhanced-ps5

Added.

Because I'm mega-obsessive whenever I get into anything (I mean, I have like 560 reviews on this site, I don't know that needs to be said...), after I decided I liked the giallo genre, I might have started with going through list sites on the internet to glean the best. And then I might have gone through huge IMDB-compiled lists to find every one with a decent rating. And then I might have gone through other lists to find ones that may not have been on the previous lists, but some random internet person thought they were good. And now my list of "stuff to see if it's on YouTube" includes about 115-120 giallos. While I haven't watched Four Flies yet, it is there!

I love both Demons and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. Check out Four Flies on Grey Velvet, too, if you haven't yet.

EmP, look, me spending my entire RotW talking about myself while only giving vague, generic comments about reviews is part of my charm! And I don't think anyone can mock me for forgetting holdovers now, as I've gone a long time since forgetting one (even if I did forget them regularly for a bit) AND I did have that little period where I had to endure one of my reviews getting snubbed for like 17 straight weeks. Maybe 23.

Thanks for the commentary and for second place, overdrive!

I normally wouldn't begin a review with an outline of the control scheme. I go a lot of reviews without talking about that much, if at all, because there's not much that's duller to readers unless there is some sort of point in going over it. And of course, in this case, the controls ARE the point (of the game), so I felt like it was worth taking that risk to quickly make one of my points and then move onto more interesting discussion (with a callback to the intro where relevant). I'm glad you enjoyed the result!

Congrats to the other contenders, and especially to EmP for the win!

Look at it this way; had I not been there to nudge you for being slow, you might have had to talk about something other than yourself in the feedback.

Appreciate the win. It was looking for a while that I would run uncontested and that bloody Vacant fellow would rack up his first site king points of the year, but the last minute barrage did make me smile. Props top team weekend, and to OD for finally getting around to doing this thing and remembering a hold over for perhaps the first time ever.

This was going to be a really easy week, with there only being EmP's holdover review from his week, as well as my Arcania review, which is now a holdover for next week (HINT, HINT). And then, three people posted on Sunday and now I have to read four reviews. THANKS FOR NOTHING, GUYS!!!

Oh well, first, the movies. I've gotten on a bit of a giallo kick recently. Which is code for me saying that I'm totally into them and obsessively tracking them down on YouTube, while looking up lists of them on IMDB to find every one with some degree of popularity. So, in short.

A…For Assassin (1966): Played it close to the "classic mystery movie" template that was a primary inspiration for the genre; in fact, the plot is little more than an old guy was killed and all of his heirs, who hate each other, scheme and kill to get the inheritance. Was dull at times due to the focus on the police investigator interviewing people and this was a bloodless film, but it was short and a decent look at how these films were before they could be counted on to be illogical and sleazy.

The Killer Reserved Nine Seats (1974): This one also had the "bunch of interconnected people who mostly hate each other, but are stuck together" plot, but it was most definitely nowhere near "classic mystery movie" status. You have sleaze, nudity, supernatural stuff, a couple violent kills and pretty much any element you might expect to see in a giallo. I dug this one because it was pretty insane. Not every movie explains away the supernatural by saying it's a curse on a family because said family has a long and storied history of incest. There's also something inherently funny about watching people ranging from their mid-20s to their 40s and 50s creating the template for "stupid slasher teens" by constantly splitting up and regularly doing the least intelligent thing imaginable.

Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1970): The first giallo by Dario Argento. About the only thing keeping it from being a purely great movie from beginning to end is that the ending is a bit anti-climactic. The killer is disposed of instantly and the movie ends with a psychologist on an in-movie TV show explaining why that person was killing. Everything else was awesome. Argento was a master of working the camera and Ennio Morricone is as good of a soundtrack-maker as you can have. Super-highly recommended.

Red Queen Kills Seven Times (1972): Another really good one about a family curse that manifests itself when a dead member of the family seemingly comes back to life to, uh, kill seven times. Plays out like a murder mystery with the potential for the supernatural, as there also are a number of characters in the cast who have motivation to kill off the victims, as well. Fair amount of nudity and sleaze, too. Not as much as Killer Reserved Nine Seats, but enough to notice. Not that I was complaining, as Barbara Bouchet and Sybil Danning were in it!

The Fifth Cord (1971): A good movie that reminded a bit of Bird With the Crystal Plumage in that it was a more grounded murder mystery with a score by Ennio that also had some good camera work and a couple really suspenseful scenes, but just wasn't as good as that film. Those good scenes, though! Since Italians aren't known for giving plot armor to people just because they're, say, young children, it was really tense at the end when a small child was navigating a house where you knew the killer was at. Just one long "leave the camera running" scene of him going from room to room in a pretty dark place and activating the window shutters where you knew something would happen at some point, but not what, when or where.

And also, Demons (1985): Italian Evil Dead. Totally over-the-top and campy and I loved every minute of it. You can go from a creepy gothic vibe of the early minutes to a scene where a dude is racing on a motorcycle through a theater and slashing demons with a katana while heavy metal music is playing. Bonus points for the best product placement of all time: A can of Coke with a straw in it so that punk kids can snort coke out of it.

As for actual reviews:

vgc2000 did one for Alex Kidd in Shinobi World. There were a few errors, such as "fair" for "fare" in what should read "standard platform fare" in the third paragraph (you do have it correct a couple sentences later, though). Overall, this is a capable review for a game in a series that I've never played to date. However, as someone who isn't familiar with this series (or this game), I would have liked a little more detail on things, as I feel I have the barebones essentials here, don't really feel like I learned that much about the game, other than how it's mostly a standard platformer and that the graphics are a bit simple.

THIRD PLACE

Brian's Red Faction (PC)

Yeah, the "destructible environments" thing is a bit misleading, isn't it? I remember playing this game for a bit with a friend one day and in the early levels, it seemed to essentially be little more than taking classic DOOM's secrets where you tap on a wall panel to open a room with goodies and making it so you could blow up the wall instead. And then we reached a stealth-based level in, I think, an office setting and lost interest. As I generally note with your reviews, you do cover the game and its elements; it's just a matter of delving into the blog-style writing to get to that stuff. For me, I dug the part where you talked about the destruction by bringing up the limits of the weapons and how secondary fire is often better than primary. The "political message in the game" part was a bit less interesting, if only because it seems everyone is all about politics nowadays, so if it isn't something that's dominating the game and its gameplay…well, let's just say when I'm running around Mars shooting stuff, I'm not going to be overly concerned with trying to find parallels to our modern society. I did chuckle when I played the first XBox 360 game because I figured they made the Mars overlords so over-the-top evil to distract people away from coming to the conclusion that committing acts of terrorism is a perfectly acceptable way to not let THE MAN bring you down.

SECOND PLACE

Jason's Astro's Playroom (PS5)

A quality review for a pack-in game where the only real reason for it existing seems to be as a tutorial for all the stuff you may or may not ever see any reason to actually use the controller for. While the intro had me feeling about the same way EmP seems to feel about my intros before I start actually talking about the game, I can see the purpose behind that when you take that into consideration. And you did a good job of setting this up as a fun game that happens to be non-essential fluff for most gamers. You did a good job describing its cool points, while also mentioning that it's short and easy. In other words, a good review with nothing to really object to.

REVIEW OF THE WEEK (aka: Overdrive Place)

EmP's Lost Words: Beyond the Page (PC)

So, here I am, typing this RotW on what is the first free day for doing this that I had this week and here's EmP, in my on-site mail box like a clingy ex, "Here's your reminder; don't forget my review; why don't you return my calls?!??!?" If I wasn't so lazy, I'd totally re-do the complete order for this week just to spite him. But I am lazy and I did really like this review. Like 90% of what EmP seems to review, it's the sort of game that, for me, makes a root canal done by a back-alley hobo insisting he's legit look like fun. But he did a great job with his writing and made this game seem intriguing. The tone was the big thing, as you did a good job of illustrating how the girl's real-life issues come through in the fantasy game aspect of it. This was a shortish review, but it said everything it needed to and I enjoyed reading it.


Off to wherever else today is going to take me. Odds are the bottom of a bottle, but you never know until you've drank your way down that far!

Fun Fact: Even if it was well over a decade ago, Boo was the person who put the idea of playing this game into my head. It just took me a while to actually act on it. In chat one night, he was talking about it and I asked what made it so cool for him. So he sent me a link to the whole cutscene where you meet Andrew Ryan and find out exactly what "Would You Kindly" means.

Score-wise, I was at 4/5 for a lot of the game, but had to go a bit lower just because of how anti-climactic those last couple levels were. At times, this was a super-fun game, but down the stretch, it was kind of dull, but with cool presentation. The game wasn't all that or anything, but it was good enough to make me glad that PlayStation Now put the remasters of all three BioShock games up (and, before that, they have all the PS3 originals there, too) and I'll likely get to 2 and Infinite at some point.

Also, for me, I think the intro was just me being kind of bemused by how frequently remasters and such come along. "This game came out on the last generation, so here it is again!" Probably ties in with Jason's postings about Sony execs being set against older games with their "who would want to play this?" attitude towards everything that isn't shiny and new. You'll (or Joe to be precise) will get that with my next review to a degree, too, as it's a PS4 remaster of a PS3-era game...although one that's nowhere near as significant...or even competently-made...as BioShock.

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