Kidou Senshi Gundam

Reviews
Gundam (Arcadia) - Title Screen
Arcadia
05/1983 (Japan)
機動戦士ガンダム
Mobile Suit Gundam
The very first Gundam home console game was released in the height of Gundam-mania: A few years after the original TV series had wrapped up, approximately one year after the third and final compilation movie had hit theaters, but still a few years before Zeta Gundam (the second major TV series in the franchise) had begun. It debuted on a very unconventional piece of hardware for a Japanese game: The Bandai Arcadia. This was the variant of Emerson's Arcadia 2001 console that was manufactured by Bandai for the Japanese market (each country had its own version of the hardware, manufactured by a different company). The release date is believed to have been sometime in May 1983, and the retail price 3800 yen, though no official data seems to exist on either of these points. This was still a pre-Famicom market in Japan, and release dates weren't as carefully tracked. Continue Reading

Monster Hunter Stories

Reviews
Monster Hunter Stories - Title Screen
3DS
10/08/2016 (Japan)
モンスターハンター ストーリーズ
The Monster Hunter franchise was no stranger to spin-off games by 2016. Not counting any of the handful of mobile games available (very few of which were in the style of a traditional Monster Hunter game), there were already three different MonHan Nikki: Poka Poka Airu Mura games (two on the PSP and one on the 3DS) and Airu de Puzzle (PSP). They were all very different experiences from the mainline Monster Hunter games in both visuals and game-play, and were all developed by studios other than Capcom (The Poka Poka Airu Mura games by From Software, and Airu de Puzzle by Natsume). But it was a little surprising that there hadn't yet been an attempt to make a JRPG that took place in the Monster Hunter universe. Capcom clearly took notice of this, and a JRPG is just what we would get from developer Marvelous in Monster Hunter Stories. Continue Reading

Dracula II: Noroi no Fuuin

Reviews
Castlevania II - Title Screen
Famicom Disk System/NES
08/28/1987 (Japan), 12/1988 (US), 04/27/1990 (PAL)
ドラキュラII 呪いの封印
Dracula II: The Cursed Seal
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
Almost one year after the original Castlevania/Akumajou Dracula game, the same team is back to give us a direct sequel on the Famicom Disk System/NES. The nonsensical Japanese naming convention for the series begins here, since instead of calling this "Akumajou Dracula II", Konami went with just "Dracula II". The same basic Castlevania action is still here though, and it feels pretty much the same in your hands as before. But it's 1987 now and Dragon Quest has been released in Japan, so what kind of action game would this be if it didn't have RPG elements? Japanese ads referred to it as an "RPG Horror Action" game, and the timer and score that were present before are now gone. But even though the flow of the game is significantly different, the story is very much a direct continuation. And just like before, it's only really explained well in the manual. Continue Reading

Persona 5

Reviews
Persona 5 - Title Screen
PlayStation 4/PlayStation 3
09/15/2016 (Japan), 02/14/2017 (US and PAL)
ペルソナ5
An eight to ten year gap between mainline games in the Shin Megami Tensei family (Persona included) is not unusual. Persona 4 was a PlayStation 2 title released in 2008, basically two years into the life of the PlayStation 3. This odd release decision didn't stop P4 from successfully continuing the Persona legacy of being a cult RPG favorite in the west, that the series had really maintained since 3. Persona 5 was almost released in the same way: It was announced for release on the PlayStation 3 in 2014 (the same year that the PlayStation 4 launched in Japan), but the following year saw the platform changed to both PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. We'll never know how things would have gone for P5 if it had remained only on the PS3, in an era where it's becoming an increasingly ridiculous idea for your average gamer to keep anything older than the current generation of console hardware hooked to their TV. Continue Reading

Double Dragon

Reviews
Double Dragon (Famicom) - Title Screen
Famicom/NES
04/08/1988 (Japan), 06/1988 (US), 1990 (PAL)
双截龍 (ダブルドラゴン)
Almost a year after the original arcade hit, Double Dragon was brought home to the Famicom. This is the first of the handful of home ports that Japan would see of this game, and the NES version is probably among the first to be seen throughout the rest of the world (the microcomputer versions don't have exact dates associated with them, other than just 1988). The Famicom port probably didn't deliver the experience that big fans of the arcade version wanted, but it succeeded on its own merits. Continue Reading