El Shaddai/Forgetfulness

Back in July of this year I started playing El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. I'd heard nothing but fantastic things about it from plenty of sources that I trusted, and figured that I'd forgotten about it long enough. I'm happy to say that every bit of praise that had been heaped upon it was true: The game was fantastic. My understanding of it coming in was that it was sort of an arty 3D beat-em-up, which was completely fine with me. What I wasn't expecting was all of the other elements from other game genres that were thrown in, and for the most part, very well executed. The 3D platform could be a bit frustrating at times (perhaps that's due to me not being so great at 3D platforming sometimes), but I was thrilled with the 2D platforming and motorcycle stages. I would not hesitate to recommend this game to anyone. Continue Reading

Mobile Suit Z Gundam – Hot Scramble

Reviews
Hardware: Famicom/NES
08/28/1986 (Japan)
機動戦士Ζガンダム・ホットスクランブル
Mobile Suit Z Gundam - Hot Scramble
In February of 1986 the Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam TV anime had just finished its fifty episode run of nearly one year in length. It received critical acclaim all around, garnered the highest ratings of any televised Gundam anime thus far and is widely regarded as one of Yoshiyuki Tomino's (the creator of the Gundam franchise) best works. With Gundam fever spreading across Japan, it only made sense that the franchise should have a game on the Famicom. Continue Reading

My History With Monster Hunter and “Freshness”

Blog
With a copy of Monster Hunter 4 arriving at my doorstep soon, I suspect I'll be writing quite a bit about it in the coming months. In preparation for this, I thought it might be a good idea to briefly discuss my personal history with the Monster Hunter series as a whole. I'd like to do this completely independently of the individual series entry reviews that I've been working on, focusing more just on my personal experiences with them instead of analyses. I will also discuss why I'm so excited for a new Monster Hunter game when the series itself is so well known for not differentiating itself with each iteration. Continue Reading

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
Hardware: 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