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Review: Bravely Default
By: | January 28th, 2014

Somewhere along the line, Final Fantasy partially lost its way. It strayed too far from the conventions that really made the franchise special, and with every spinoff, the series was further diluted just a bit. At every turn Square Enix attempted to reinvent the wheel for Final Fantasy XIII, but sometimes, it’s best to just expand upon the fundamentals.

That’s what Bravely Default does. It has a few modern conveniences like the ability to eliminate random battles and adjust the difficulty setting on the fly, but it’s still very much an old school JRPG. And I love it for that. Read more… »

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Review: Pokemon X & Y
By: | October 21st, 2013

We’ve seen a lot of Pokemon games come and go in the last 16 years, but most of them haven’t been as drastically different as their predecessors. Alongside of the sprite based models and the 8-bit tunes, most Pokemon games tend to feel the same, for better or for worse. But Pokemon X and Y is the first to real attempt to move away from sprites in favor of fully 3D models, with an orchestral soundtrack and a few other major changes in tow.

Although it may have a few minor technical missteps along the way, Pokemon X & Y shakes up the franchise mostly for the better. Read more… »

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is like trying to fall asleep while sharing a bed with somebody who won’t stop asking, “Hey, are you asleep yet?”

Considering how much I loved the original Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and 2010’s incredible Bowser’s Inside Story (the less said about Partners in Time the better), Dream Team should’ve been a surefire hit. Instead thanks to pacing akin to sleepwalking, a length that overstays its welcome, and near-endless dialogue, the game is closer to a nightmare than a blissful dream.

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Shin Megami Tensei has always been a fairly niche franchise. Outside of the increasingly successful Persona series, recently seeing a great deal of success with Persona 4, most Mega-Ten games have a fairly limited appeal in the west. While modern Persona games are appealing due to their social links, bright colors, and emphasis on flashy High School drama, the SMT series proper is essentially its antithesis, with an emphasis on  isolation, desperation, and generally, an insular heavy theme.

In fact, “insular” is probably the best way to describe the newest iteration in the SMT franchise, as  SMT IV does very little to welcome new fans. But for those of you who are already in, you really can’t go wrong, even if a few corners were cut to bring the game to the 3DS. Read more… »

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Review: Project X Zone
By: | June 25th, 2013

Ken, KOS-MOS, and Kurt Irving, oh my!

That’s right, in Project X Zone you’ll be able to team up with the likes of Street Fighter, Xenosaga, and Valkyria Chronicles characters respectively, as the mega-developers Capcom, Namco Bandai, and Sega have teamed up for a fan service offering of gigantic proportions.

But as many people know, not all fan service games are created equal. Read more… »

Animal Crossing is a strange series. What may seem like a chore simulator to one person is a lovable, living breathing world to the next. There’s really no silver bullet explanation as to why the franchise is so great — you basically have to experience it for yourself, and make an immediate decision as to whether or not it’s for you.

While the newest iteration, titled New Leaf for the 3DS may not be as “new” as the moniker lets on, it’s still a solid entry point into the franchise. Read more… »

Lego City Undercover: The Chase Begins review

Who would’ve thought that on rookie cop Chase McCain’s first day on the job he’d find himself traveling all over Lego City trying capture elusive criminal mastermind Rex Fury? Well, you probably did because both characters are right there on the box. Lego City Undercover: The Chase Begins is a 3DS prequel to the Wii U release that came out earlier this year.

While developer TT Fusion should be applauded for their ambition–trying to bring an open-world Lego City game to the 3DS–ultimately the hardware’s own limitations are what keep The Chase Begins from truly shining.

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Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity

What is Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity? A simple enough question. One answer is it’s the latest in the Mystery Dungeon series and the first one for the Nintendo 3DS. Another answer is that it’s a that mixes Pokémon with roguelike, dungeon-crawling mechanics.

But the bigger question that needs to be asked is: who is Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity for? I honestly can’t say. And I have a feeling that Spike Chunsoft can’t answer that either. Not having a clear audience in mind leaves the game  full of boring, repetitive gameplay that wastes the player’s time.

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MercurySteam has come a long way. After fumbling the much hyped Clive Barker’s Jericho, they were given a new lease on life by Konami, and headed up the reboot of the Castlevania franchise, titled Lords of Shadow.

While it may have more in common with God of War than Castlevania, I found Lords of Shadow to be a serviceable addition to the series, with a compelling story that will captivate most fans.

Mirror of Fate is MercurySteam’s second go, this time opting to go 2D and try their hand at recreating the magic of the portable Castlevania games.

With a rather tall order in front of them, I’m pleased to say that like Lords of Shadow before it, they somewhat succeeded. Read more… »

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Review: Fire Emblem: Awakening
By: | January 31st, 2013

Fire Emblem: Awakening

Remember those Reese’s commercials? You know the ones about “You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!” That’s Fire Emblem: Awakening.

“You got your dating sim in my strategy RPG!” Okay, that’s a little disingenuous, but either way, Fire Emblem: Awakening is an excellent game. “Prepare yourself!”

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Nintendo just released another new trailer for the upcoming 3DS game Fire Emblem: Awakening. This video shows off the character progression and class systems in the game. I recommend you watch this video as it shows how to get your characters to the more advanced classes.

Our review will go up later this week. Fire Emblem: Awakening will be released on February 4, 2013.

Review: Paper Mario: Sticker Star

Paper Mario: Sticker Star is the newest entry in the Paper Mario series and the first one on the 3DS. This latest entry plays up the series’ paper-based setting and humor to new heights. After Super Paper Mario on the Wii, at first glance, this game looks like a return to the RPG form created with Paper Mario and perfected with Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door.

However, even with everything polished to a flashy, shiny sheen, Paper Mario: Sticker Star is not an unequivocal step back when compared its predecessors. Frustrating design decisions and some questionable gameplay mechanics keep this from being considered among the top Mario RPGs.

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