Region Locking on the XBox 360

Why did I decide I needed a Japanese XBox 360? I cite the plethora of shooters (or "shmups", though I really do hate that word) that never made it out of Japan. One of the first things I wondered though, was just how the region locking worked exactly. Let's face it, there are a lot of ways to play games on the 360: Physical discs, XBox Live Arcade, and Games on Demand being the most popular. I scoured many forum posts that attempted to explain the ins and outs of how points worked across regions, and what games could be played on which region of system. None of them had all of the answers, and often the information was incomplete or just plain wrong. My goal is to ensure that no one else seeking these answers has to go through the same process to find out what they can or can't play on what and where. Continue Reading

ActRaiser

Reviews
Super Famicom/SNES
12/16/1990 (Japan), 11/1991 (US), 1992 (PAL)
アクトレイザー
The launch period of the Super NES is a very nostalgic-filled time for a lot of people my age, and big part of that is the deluge of new and innovative titles that developers were producing at that time (not to mention the improved graphics and sound that came along with the movement into a new generation). ActRaiser is always held up as a shining example of this innovation, and it absolutely deserves to be. From the moment you the logo flies gradually toward the screen using glorious Mode 7, and the music that sounds as orchestral as can be on a piece of 16-bit hardware kicks in, you see just how wonderfully ActRaiser merges 16-bit technology with fantastic game design and presentation. We have the developer Quintet to thank for this, and surprisingly this is their debut work. ActRaiser was originally slated to be a more standard RPG, but was scrapped and rethought fairly late into development due to it not being impressive enough of a game for a brand new and more powerful console. Quintet would also go on to bring us many games with some thematic simlarities to ActRaiser, such as Soul Blader/Soul Blazer, Illusion of Gaia, Terranigma/Tenchi Souzou, and even a sequel to ActRaiser. Continue Reading

Monster Hunter G

Reviews
Monster Hunter G Title Screen
Playstation 2
01/20/2005 (Japan)
モンスターハンターG
Less than one year after the release of the original Monster Hunter, Capcom released the expansion: Monster Hunter G. From the moment Pugi (the adorable little pig that wanders around your house/the village from every game here on out) comes walking across the title screen snorting, the game shows us that we're in for something more than your average expansion. In fact Monster Hunter G does everything that a good expansion should and more: It improves on some of the original game's flaws, introduces conveniences that make it easier to play, and adds a lot of new content. It creates a template that all of the "G" expansions would follow from here on out. Continue Reading

The Wonder of Lost Odyssey

I was told when I started playing Lost Odyssey a couple of months ago that it was essentially a modern version of Final Fantasy 6, which is one of my favorite RPGs of all time. Now I've had many RPGs recommended to me over the years, and I've found that rarely do they ever live up to the strength of their recommendations. In this case, the game completely exceeded its recommendation beyond anything that I would have ever expected. As I write this I have finished Lost Odyssey completely: I've beaten all of the optional bosses and have gotten all of the achievements (I am not typically an achievement hunter by any means). I don't mean to write a full fledged review for this game just yet, so let me tell you a little bit about what, in my opinion, is easily the best JRPG of the 360/PS3/Wii generation, if not even further back. Continue Reading

New Super Mario Bros. U – The Second Coming of Super Mario World?

In all honesty, New Super Mario Brothers U is definitely not the game that sold me on buying a Wii U shortly after the Japanese launch date. I had eyes only for the HD version of Monster Hunter 3G, with absolutely no intention of even buying this new entry in the Super Mario series until it dropped in price a bit. But then I heard the words that made my heart leap and brought back feelings of wonder once felt by my 11 year old self: "It's like Super Mario World." Continue Reading