Category Archives: Reviews

Nier (Gestalt and Replicant)

Reviews
Nier Gestalt - Title Screen
PlayStation 3, XBox 360
04/22/2010 (Japan), 04/27/2010 (US), 04/23/2010 (PAL)
ニーア ゲシュタルト/ニーア レプリカント
Nier
Back in 2003, Drag-On Dragoon/Drakengard was a divisive release: It had a very layered and intriguing story, but badly implemented Dynasty Warriors-esque gameplay that just couldn't support it. It had many different endings that that were unlocked by fulfilling various requirements, the last one (ending E) being particularly odd. But it was the events of that odd ending that would lead into 2010's Nier. Though it doesn't take place in what you might think of as the Drakengard universe, the situation in the world of Nier is a direct result of Drakengard's E ending. In-game story details to support this wouldn't really come about until the DLC, but the pieces are there from the start. The Japanese slogan was "一人のために、全てを滅ぼせ" or "Destroy everything, all for the sake of a single person". Continue Reading

Gradius

Reviews
Gradius (Arcade) - Title Screen
Arcade
05/29/1985 (Japan), 1985 (US), 09/1985 (PAL)
グラディウス
Nemesis
Gradius (originally titled "Choujikuu Fighter Gradius") wasn't the first shoot 'em up to grace arcades with its presence, in fact many big names came before it. Space Invaders, Xevious, Galaxian, Ozma Wars, and even western titles like Asteroids and Defender all came first. So why was Gradius significant? Not only did it introduce several "characters" that would reoccur throughout the Konami universe (The very ship that you control called the Vic Viper, Moai heads, etc), but because it fleshed out the details of exactly what the average horizontal shoot 'em up would become: A game about strict power-up management, and pattern observation/memorization, and reaction. This may sound negative, but shoot 'em up fans (myself included) have long since embraced what the genre is, and they really have Gradius to thank for making it that way. Continue Reading

Makai Mura

Reviews
Makai Mura (Arcade) - Title Screen
Arcade
09/1985 (Japan and US)
魔界村
Demon World Village
Ghosts 'n Goblins
"Youkoso irasshai..." (Or "Welcome, come in...") was the slogan for Makai Mura, a fairly early arcade title by (at the time) young development company Capcom that positively dripped with atmosphere for its time. It drew players in with its dark atmosphere full of monsters and demons, and dirge-y but attractive synthesized organ and keyboard sounds. But these things were all hiding what would become known as one of the most difficult games of that time. Continue Reading

Double Dragon

Reviews
Double Dragon Arcade - Title Screen
Arcade
06/1987 (Japan), 1987 (US), 1987 (PAL)
双截龍 (ダブルドラゴン)
Yoshihisa Kishimoto and his team significantly evolved the beat-em-genre with Nekketsu Kouha Kunio kun/Renegade in 1986. Technos Japan naturally wanted them to make more of these games, so they were tasked with just that. June 1987 would be the arcade birth of not only an even bigger success for Technos Japan than Kunio kun, but also the birth of another beat-em-up franchise and further evolution of the genre: Double Dragon. Originally envisioned as a direct sequel to Kunio kun, Kishimoto was given two mandates: This game should allow for 2 players simultaneously and have a bigger international appeal. Given that Kunio kun had to be visually gutted in order to sell it overseas as Renegade, a direct sequel was pretty much out of the question. So instead of taking inspiration from the Tsuppari genre and his own high school fighting experiences, Kishimoto pulled from another source that was dear to him: Bruce Lee. He particularly loved "Enter the Dragon", and so he came up with not only the title of the game but also the names of the protagonists (Billy and Jimmy Lee) from these sources. Continue Reading

Nekketsu Kouha Kunio kun

Reviews
Nekketsu Kouha Kunio kun Arcade - Title Screen
Arcade
05/1986 (Japan), 12/1986 (US)
熱血硬派くにおくん
Hot Blooded Tough Guy Kunio
Renegade
Delinquent high school students talking tough and beating each other up in school uniforms while sporting distinct hair styles is probably not unfamiliar to those who enjoy Japanese media. This genre, called "tsuppari" (or "yankii"/"yankee" as we got into the 90s), was very prevalent in from the 1970s through the 1990s. Technos Japan's Nekketsu Kouha Kunio kun ("Hot Blooded Tough Guy Kunio") was the video game front runner for this genre, proceeding even one of the most well known representations of tsuppari, a manga series called "Crows". It's unclear how much inspiration was actually taken from other media, but in a 2013 interview director Yoshihisa Kishimoto said that the game reflected his own high school experience. Continue Reading
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