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Reviews

Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow Version Review Rewind

I still remember when I first heard of Pokémon. My friends would show off their cards at school and once I started collecting my own, I needed more of them. I had no clue how to play the card game, yet I loved the designs to these creatures. I would hear of how much fun the video games were as well and I knew I had to try them. And once I got my first Gameboy, despite hating the idea of playing a game by navigating menus, I was hooked for life. Twenty years later, I’m still hooked to a formula that feels just as fun and addicting as it did so long ago.

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Final Fantasy IX Review Rewind

The greatest JRPG of all time?

In today's daily ephemera of new releases and dazzling technologies and breakthroughs, it's easy to forget about the Golden Age of the PSONE -- or, as we knew it at the time, the PlayStation. This is especially true of the JRPG's of the system, which today still have no parallel. While many consider the SNES as the glory days of the JRPG, to me, that has always been just a prologue to what we saw on the PlayStation. It is true that many of us cut our teeth on Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger, but the explosion of the genre catalyzed by Final Fantasy VII is a whole different matter. Not only were we treated to Square's trilogy of FF VII, VIII, and IX, but we also had Xenogears, Grandia, Wild Arms, Chrono Cross, Suikoden, among others. This was when the JRPG truly matured into an art form, and while we have had great games since, the depth and variety of them has never eclipsed what we saw on the PSONE. 

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Saints Row IV: Re-Elected Review

Improved insanity.

It's weird, but Saints Row IV: Re-Elected is the first game in about a year that made me feel like I need to write about games again. I didn't expect it to be quite as good as it was, but after an hour with the game I knew I was in for a treat.

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That Dragon, Cancer Review

Numinous Games presents us with a gut-wrenching experience that elevates the interactive medium.

"That Dragon, Cancer," is a game about hope -- its presence, and its absence. While forged in the anticipation of triumph, the end result is a meditation on failure and loss that is pretty hard to take, and without a doubt breaks new ground for the interactive medium. Created by Brian Green and his company, Numinous Games ("numinous" means "having a strong religious or spiritual quality"), this "game" (we have no other word for it that's adequate) is both gut-wrenching and an incredibly simple exploration of a young boy's four year battle with cancer. But while it takes on loss in a new way, it is also a commentary on games in general that is both surprising and profound. It is not without flaws, but the all-encompassing heart of it more than compensates for its failures. 

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Rise of the Tomb Raider Review

Proving once again snow always makes video games better

Life is full of mysteries. Who created us? Are we alone in the universe? And why did people love 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot so much? Don’t get me wrong, the title was not bad by any stretch of the word, it just felt like the textbook definition of mediocrity despite its glowing praise. While the game had almost as many issues as its sequel has microtransactions, everything wrong with the reboot was attributed to two core problems: Developer Crystal Dynamics wanted to turn Tomb Raider into Uncharted and Lara Croft into Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games.

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Splatoon Review

You are a kid, and now a squid.

You’re a kid, and now a squid. I can’t get that out of my head, but this simple phrase is one piece of the whole pie that makes Splatoon so great. Nintendo’s internal EAD team has tackled third person shooter elements in their other series like Zelda and Kid Icarus, but doing a full third person shooter with a multiplayer focus is a different beast entirely. This new IP from Miyamoto’s magic toy box is not only one of the most original shooters out on the market today, with its creative visual style and deceptively simple gameplay, but it's also one of the best multiplayer titles on Wii U right now.

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Super R-Type Review Rewind

May the Force be with you

The early R-Type series was one of the biggest icons during the shoot ‘em up genre’s younger years. After the success of the original arcade game, Irem followed up with R-Type II in 1989. It featured slightly prettier graphics, more power-ups, and an upgraded wave cannon. Two years later in 1991, the game was remade as Super R-Type for the Super Nintendo-- one of the first games for the system.

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Halo 5: Guardians Review

You now know why I say "Goodbye," you say "Halo"

Once upon a time, Halo used to mean something. Halo was the game which revolutionized the first person shooter genre on consoles, offered mechanics that developers still copy to this day, and was the unparalleled king of multiplayer games outside of PC. There were first person shooters and then there was Halo.

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Hogan's Alley Review Rewind

Training Day

I knew very little about Hogan’s Alley back in its heyday. Judging by the mean-looking gangster fully armed with a gun and grimace on the front cover, I figured that the game must have been some 3D action title featuring all sorts of wanton violence that my impressionable mind just couldn’t handle. However, as the years passed I eventually learned the facts of this game’s less menacing purpose.

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Ninja Gaiden Review Rewind

Tecmo Ninja

When I hear the word "ninja", one thing immediately comes to mind- the 80's. It was an era that was very friendly to ninja culture and the kids that embraced it. Meanwhile, video game developers where busy cooking up games of the same nature in the arcades. Tecmo was one of those developers, and in 1988, they released a brawler of sorts called Ninja Gaiden. A year later, they ported the game over to the NES, but changed the style of gameplay to better fit the style of home console gaming. They replaced the "beat 'em up" theme with a simple action/platformer approach with a bigger emphasis on well-timed jumps and using awesome ninja skills. Tecmo also added a deeper story and a new way to tell it.

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