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3.7 stars

Average score of 30 user reviews

Zettai Zetsumei Toshi: Old Wreckage With Lingering Potency 0

I won't attempt to claim for a second that I can really relate to what happened on the screen when I played Zettai Zetsumei Toshi, the unedited original Japanese edition of Disaster Report on the PS2 that thrusts you in the midst of a disaster-stricken Japan. I've experienced a few light earthquakes and some monsoons in my heyday as a Japanese resident and having grown up in Colorado, I've also certainly had my fair share of bitterly cold, dense blizzards during numerous winters and inappreciabl...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Tales of Xillia: A Saga of Integrity Amidst Advancement 14

On the modern video game message board, few sentences can perhaps be more predictable than ones that contain both "tradition" and "Japanese developed RPGs." What those words mean to you personally and, in turn, whether it's a good or bad thing that they're so regularly paired up is, in this instance, inconsequential; they're so ubiquitous that when those less than gifted in the art of articulation start arguments about the latter, it is all but guaranteed that they cannot be had without an utter...

20 out of 20 found this review helpful.

Analogue: A Vocal Story 10

I can't pretend to actually know Christine Love as a person. We've never had lunch together. I've never actually sat down and chatted with her. I don't know what makes her tick. Beyond the fact that I know that she is a person that exists and creates stories presented in the adventure game format, I frankly don't have much of a clue about who she actually is. This is to be expected; it's how things are in a typical author-reader relationship. She does the writing and I do the reading, but we nev...

7 out of 8 found this review helpful.

Devil Survivor 2: A Smart, Refined Elaboration on the Alternative 5

The original Devil Survivor was an interesting case study of sorts. At its core was an SRPG with an anti-SRPG heart. The same basic things were as important to success and victory in Devil Survivor as they are in other SRPGs, but they were handled with a far different mentality. Rather than throw lots of vague variables in your face and tell you to find some sort of meaning behind the madness, Devil Survivor kept your concern rooted in only a few clear things at any given time. The depth and dif...

8 out of 8 found this review helpful.

Nier: The Most Mixed Bag There Ever Was 9

Nier is an oxymoronic miracle. Rarely does a game go so thoroughly out of its way to seemingly appear dismissive on virtually all accounts before attempting to reverse course at the very last second, but that's exactly what Nier does. As a game, the myriad problems that you're bound to experience for its entirety, often ones that are easily fixable, make it extremely tough to recommend and its few merits aren't nearly good enough to justify buying it. By no means is it the sort of game that one ...

5 out of 7 found this review helpful.

Yakuza 4: Once More Down the Mirroring Rabbit Hole 23

When high profile Japanese games have been released overseas in recent years, they tend to garner a sort of critically analytical reception. Employing tropes and gameplay mechanics that are distinct and often operate differently than their western counterparts, Japanese games tend to, for better or for worse, attract the label of being “so Japanese” in terms of sensibilities and the sort of audience they attract. Although Yakuza 4 does exhibit some of these same apparent quirks, it's ultimately ...

15 out of 15 found this review helpful.

Catherine: A Late, But Great Entrance to the HD Party 30

Atlus has a habit of seriously biding its time before making its debut on most console platforms. Save for a few exceptions here and there, it's not usually a matter of if Atlus will develop a game for a given system, but rather when. In Catherine's case, that wait has been particularly long, with its release coming five years after the Xbox 360's debut heralded the coming of HD games en masse. With that arrival finally having come, Catherine continues Atlus' lengthy legacy for philosophically c...

82 out of 88 found this review helpful.

Venetian Blinds: A Game Done In By Its Own Ambition 8

When the Atari 2600 was released in 1977 on an unsuspecting world, it opened up a whole new frontier of entertainment. The television, having been a standby and constant companion for nuclear families for decades, no longer just offered entirely passive experiences. Instead of merely watching the television and reacting accordingly, you could actually dictate what was happening on the screen and have things happen on your own terms. The one-way street became a two-way and with it, our views of w...

16 out of 17 found this review helpful.

Sakura Wars: Bringing the Past Back to the Present 6

Releasing a new PlayStation 2 game in this day and age is a weird proposition. While the user base for the console is incredibly large and there's a huge library of games still being played to this day, the market has by and large moved on to the current batch of technologically superior platforms. Save for a scant few budget and sports game releases, substantial developer support for the PS2 is dead. Yet in comes Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love, a game that's not only late to the party as a PS2 g...

7 out of 7 found this review helpful.

Persona 3 Portable: The Almost Definitive Redux of an Iconic RPG 1

 When you look at Persona games, and really the Shin Megami Tensei franchise as a whole, by and large, they're RPGs that are always concerned with self-improvement. Atlus has a knack for delving into its back catalog and not only fixing what was broken in the past, but experimenting with things that still work anyway. The fruits of those labors don't always pay off, but when they do, they make for an experience that tells you those games are forward-thinking. That mentality naturally puts Person...

20 out of 20 found this review helpful.

Trauma Team: A Work of True Control Fluency on the Wii 10

Ask yourself this: How many game series do you know that not only have installments on both the DS and the Wii, but also manage to play similarly on both systems despite the entirely different control styles? There aren't a whole lot of games that probably fall into that criteria and if any do come to mind, it's probably the Trauma Center series. Aside from the already unconventional surgery-centric nature of the gameplay, the games have always stood out because of their smartly designed control...

32 out of 33 found this review helpful.

Valkyria Chronicles: The Strategy RPG for You and Me 6

It's easy to make a compelling argument that like fighting games up until the late 2000s, SRPGs have suffered from a case of increasing obscurity outside of Japan. A dwindling fanbase coupled with a slew of games made to cater only to that existing market makes it tough for someone new to the genre to break in and enjoy it today. Sega's PlayStation 3-exclusive Valkyria Chronicles, thankfully, avoids repeating those trends. A visually striking game with an engaging storyline and nuanced, yet intu...

15 out of 16 found this review helpful.

Deadly Premoniton: Highly Flawed, Yet Highly Loveable 10

For a game with a development cycle as long as Deadly Premonition's, it doesn't necessarily have a lot of excuses for being what it is. Jankiness in most every department is typically the name of the game and in the few fleeting moments where it does actually shine for legitimate reasons, its problems quickly humble it and bring it back down to Earth. Deadly Premonition is therefore not a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination. A quick glance at its box art and $20 price tag in the US is...

39 out of 39 found this review helpful.

No More Heroes 2: The Mish-Mash of Improvements and Experiments 5

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is an odd sequel to an already odd game. The original game was one that was simultaneously charming and gruesome, humorous and unflinching, but also one with quirks both deliberate and unintentional. Enjoying it was a matter of coming to terms with that and, like with most Grasshopper Manufacture games, being able to appreciate it on its own terms. Desperate Struggle is therefore a game with opportunities a plenty to improve upon an interesting foundation and...

24 out of 27 found this review helpful.

Trine: Where Physics and Level Design Mesh Well 2

Right from the get-go, Trine is the sort of game that knows what it is and isn't. It is a (predominantly) downloadable game, with a modest scope and healthy, but not particularly lengthy run time. In that regard, it's not particularly different from its contemporaries on services like Steam and XBLA. What it is not, however, is a game that should be scoffed at in most any regard whatsoever. While Trine is a game with a very specific mission in mind, one devoted to delivering satisfying combat an...

12 out of 12 found this review helpful.

Shattered Memories: A Spectacle for the Wii 7

In its own idiosyncratic ways, I see Silent Hill: Shattered Memories as doing something similar for its respective series like what Resident Evil 4 did nearly six years ago as well. I'm doubtful that it'll trigger as widespread of a revolution outside its franchise as the GameCube action-horror game managed, but just look at a screenshot or watch a video and it becomes pretty apparent that it's taking the series in a direction that's certainly new for it, but not without also being prone to trig...

25 out of 25 found this review helpful.

Imagine: The Phoned-In Shin Megami Tensei Installment 10

I think there's, hypothetically speaking, potential for an MMO set in the universe of Shin Megami Tensei. The venerated RPG series has more than enough distinct features and characteristics that, with the right attention and development team, could make for a really interesting game, especially in a genre for which people tend to cry out more variety. Atlus has repeatedly shown that it's very capable of providing things like moving stories and is more than willing to experi...

16 out of 16 found this review helpful.

Parappa: The Archaic Music Game Relic 2

Parappa's place in the pantheon of music games can't be denied. It helped launch a wave of beat-centric Japanese games that would come to have pretty prominent places in both homes and arcades for much of the later 90s and it did so with style. It's not everyday, even in these times, that you find a game where you play as a dog and use the power of rap to woo the sunflower of your dreams. But what the game did in the past and what it does now are two very different things and that's where Parapp...

3 out of 3 found this review helpful.

Tales of the Abyss: Quality Belying the Blemishes 2

Qualifying what Tales of the Abyss is and isn't is a bit of a difficult task. When I started playing it, it was difficult to not make comparisons to other games left and right, especially to Abyss' older sibling Symphonia, the only other Tales game I had completed. "Oh, Symphonia had the more simplistic story," I'd go, or "These characters don't look quite as flashy." Perhaps those comparisons are inevitable for me, especially since, like many GameCube owners, I played and loved Symphonia in its...

8 out of 8 found this review helpful.

Devil Survivor: The Game Able to Topple (This Reviewer's) Doubts 5

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor is something which, by all superficial accounts, shouldn't be for me at all. While I've absolutely adored some installments in the venerable RPG franchise, more often than not, I've typically been at least apathetic towards games bearing that series' name, if not outright disliking or loathing them. Throw in the fact that this game is a strategy RPG, a genre I find to be usually too inaccessible to me, and you have a game which I should probably be despising. S...

16 out of 18 found this review helpful.

Yakuza 2: The Game Which Always Sticks to Its Cultural Guns 2

Let's get something important regarding Yakuza 2 out of the way immediately: if English is your native language, then this game was not designed for you. As the very title Yakuza 2 implies, the game is a very Japanese experience from start to finish. It may be a tale of gangster politics, but it is much more than a transplant of Japanese characters onto some Godfather copycat. The yakuza act and operate differently compared to their casa nostra counterparts and it shows in Yakuza 2 in spades. Ou...

7 out of 7 found this review helpful.

Beyond Good & Evil: The Solid Game with Aging Quirks 1

I realize that in doing this review in 2009, I'm around six years late to the Beyond Good & Evil review party. Originally released halfway through the last console cycle, the game has most certainly aged. Others have since come along and refined both the action-adventure genre itself and the storytelling methods employed by the video game industry in general. The aging process itself, however, proves to be unconventional, much like the game itself in its obscure heyday. It's still a solid ga...

11 out of 13 found this review helpful.

MadWorld: It Tries, But Not Enough for An A for Effort 0

Perhaps I came into MadWorld with the wrong expectations. Although it's the first game to be released by PlatinumGames, I had hope that it would be enjoyable given the developer's pedigree. After all, many of the prominent members worked for Capcom's Clover Studio, who happened to produce several games during the last generation I still remain fond of to this day. I thought that with that experience behind it, MadWorld couldn't go especially wrong, even if it was experimental to some extent. To ...

13 out of 15 found this review helpful.

Persona 4: A Truly Proper Send-Off For The PlayStation 2 10

As an RPG series, Persona stayed relatively under the radar for much of its existence in the United States. It wasn't completely obscure per se, but you more likely than not were an RPG aficionado if you knew of it. But then 2007 came and the game's number three installment in all its head-shooting infamy placed the spotlight on the series on an international level for the first time. The game, despite its flaws, was able to live up to such a role and be forever ingrained in the PS2's history. N...

67 out of 68 found this review helpful.

Mega Man 9: The Modern Retro Title That Could 0

Let's be completely honest with ourselves: if your heritage of video games begins and ends primarily in the realm of polygons and textures, chances are high that Mega Man 9 is going to seem rather foreign from a conceptual standpoint. It lacks much in the way of checkpoints, relies on tile-based sprites for its visuals, and has a difficulty curve which hasn't been witnessed in platformers for years. The length of the journey is less than that of an average first person shooter and, to top it all...

7 out of 7 found this review helpful.

Indigo Prophecy: A True "Cinematic Game" 4

Indigo Prophecy is a game that not all gamers can agree upon is a definitively good game. It defies the convention set by most other games before it. It's not an action game of any sort. It isn't an RPG with spiky-haired people. Nor is it anything else that can be classified under typical gaming standards. Instead, Indigo Prophecy serves its contents as a game for the gamers who prefer being compelled over being addicted by providing numerous unorthodox things that combine to be a unique package...

6 out of 7 found this review helpful.

ICO: Simplistic in Design, Yet Profound in Implementation 2

In a genre which has been as consistently crowded as the action-adventure for years, it can be incredibly difficult to make a game which not only stands out, but also has mechanics which work well and make the experience a rewarding one. Whereas most start with the category's basic foundation and then build upon and elaborate on that, ICO often does quite the opposite to great success. Eschewing complicated systems and instead preferring a vast amount of simplicity, the game tasks players with o...

12 out of 12 found this review helpful.

Okami: A Swan Song Most Worthy of Clover's Name 3

Created in a time when venerable developer Clover Studio was on its last legs, Okami is a game which naturally burdens itself with a number of expectations. Not only does it come after a line of well-loved Viewtiful Joe installments from the same developer, but an uncanny resemblance to other recent action-adventure games also raises the stakes for the quality which is to be expected from this game. Thankfully, though, Okami not only meets these standards, but often far exceeds them. The game ma...

12 out of 12 found this review helpful.

Vib-Ribbon: The Charming, if Somewhat Lacking Rhythm Game 0

The conventions employed by games within the music genre tend to be consistent across the board. Regardless of the catalytic instrument used, the gameplay ultimately boils down to simply matching some rendition of notes and/or beats with proper timing. In that respect, Vib-Ribbon is no different. However, a quick glance at the vector-style box art should be enough to indicate that Vib-Ribbon is really not that much of a conformist. It's a PlayStation import that not everyone will necessarily be ...

2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Sin and Punishment: A Flawed, but Worthwhile Shooter 0

With every generation of console games, there are always a few definitive games which, while classics, are never released outside of the land of the rising sun. Up until recently, Sin and Punishment was one such game. Coming out at the tail end of the lifespan of the Nintendo 64, the most exposure it had received until recently was within the hardcore gaming circle, within which it became a rather legendary game. Indeed, Sin and Punishment is yet another worthy shooter from critically-lauded de...

5 out of 5 found this review helpful.