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Reviews

EarthBound Review Rewind

The RPG that wasn’t afraid to get weird.

Remember that silly old trope in teen movies where the nerdy “plain Jane” character magically becomes super attractive just by removing her glasses? It was a bit like that with EarthBound- an RPG that was largely ignored when released on the Super NES in its twilight years. Nintendo’s ill-conceived ad campaign telling the player that “this game stinks” didn’t do it any favors either. The game’s overtly humorous kid-friendly facade was unusual for its time and quickly written off as ugly and boring by all but the most accepting of RPG fans. But thanks to the positive praise in gaming forums years later, it picked up steam and eventually became lauded as one of the best on the Super NES. Much like the bespectacled character in every 90s teen comedy, it was as if EarthBound removed its glasses. Nothing was different about it- just our perception of what was already there.

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Tetris Review Rewind

A game that needs no introduction; this review does, however.

As it so happened, the Game Boy was the perfect present, as my older brother found out when he graduated from middle school. After the party was over and everyone had gone home, mom and dad came downstairs with a just one more wrapped present. I still remember the brother opening the box and joyfully exclaiming “It’s a Game Boy”! Since Tetris came packaged with it, we wasted no time playing that Russian puzzle game for years to come. It was the perfect game to complement the perfect present.

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Qix Review Rewind

The original Geometry Wars

My earliest memory of Qix began sometime in the mid-90s when I saw it listed in a Funcoland price sheet (remember those?) and thought it was pronounced “quicks”. As a kid, I thought it was a rule that all words spelled with a “Q” had to be pronounced with the qu inflection. But years of expanded vocabulary eventually proved me wrong. In short, the game’s title is pronounced “kicks”- because I suppose the developer Taito wanted you to get your kicks playing Qix. See what they did there?

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Xevious Review Rewind

A Game Changer

Every time I play Xevious on one of Namco’s "museum" compilations, I can’t help but reminisce about the time when I first discovered the game in 1992 on the Atari 7800 (a system which also familiarized me with other Namco classics outside of Pac-Man). Back then, our family couldn’t afford the Super NES or Sega Genesis. So, in a move of what I think was out of pity, a friend of ours gave us her 7800 with a huge bag full of games. While rummaging through the cartridges, I came across the little oddity known as Xevious. It was probably the first game I had heard of that started with an “X”, and the name intrigued me. I quickly fell in love with the unique enemy designs and mysterious land structures peppered throughout the game.

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Gris Review

Do you like Journey, but want it to have a bit more Mario in it? This is for you.

While GRIS is a short, 3-4 hour experience that doesn't take a whole lot of gaming skill for most of its run-time, don't be fooled into thinking there aren't legitimately challenging platforming and puzzle sections. Whether this immerses you more in GRIS's world or is just an interruption to your good time depends on what kind of games you like, but I'd say it's well worth the experience. 

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Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride Review Rewind

Family Matters

August of this year will mark the 20th anniversary since Dragon Quest was introduced in the US. With 10 core sequels and many spin-offs since then, you’d think an RPG fan such as myself would be well-versed in the series by now. But in reality, my Dragon Quest knowledge over the years has only been cursory at best. I got started about eight years ago when I completed Dragon Warrior (the series’ name in the US until 2005), and I’m currently nearly halfway through the massive adventure that is Dragon Quest XI. My depth of familiarity with the series pretty much ends there. Or at least it did until I recently finished Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride- a Nintendo DS remake of the beloved Super Famicom original.

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Dragon Warrior Review Rewind

This RPG is a real grind. No dragon your feet here.

If there’s one thing I absolutely adore about Dragon Warrior (aka Dragon Quest), it’s how much its subtle charms have influenced each sequel to come after it. There’s just something special about playing the latest game in the series (currently Dragon Quest XI) and still hearing the familiar sound cues of attacking an enemy, taking a hit, or the brief but satisfying victory chime and level-up fanfare. Additionally, the character designs by Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball creator and illustrator) give a visual continuity throughout each game. Without question, the Dragon Quest series has laid down some deep roots that all started here. But although it's a beloved first entry for nostalgic fans of the series, newcomers might not warm up to certain gameplay elements that weren't refined until much later.

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Disgaea 1 Complete Review

Fifteen years old but still fresh for newcomers.

As much as I love games, I dread the hours it takes to get over the hump of one that’s new and unfamiliar. When I finally get over it, I hope that I didn’t waste those hours on a game I won’t keep playing. So when I fired up Disgaea 1 Complete for the Nintendo Switch I wasn’t sure what to expect. Even though it’s been fifteen years since the game’s initial release, it was still a new and unfamiliar title for me. Thankfully, I’m glad to say that the hours spent getting over that initial hump were worth it.

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Review

Is Ultimate perfect? Well, it's pretty damn close.

There’s always been something special about the Super Smash Bros. series for me, even starting with the very first release. I’ve always enjoyed fighting games, but admittedly, I’m not very good at them. Smash Bros. gave me the opportunity to really compete and enjoy mastery of a fighting game for once. Being skilled in the game doesn’t come down to your ability to input complex combos, but rather your ability to read and react to your opponent. It’s a satisfying mind game that continues to draw me to the series, especially as each game becomes more grandiose, featuring bigger rosters and level selections. Ultimate, as expected, is the most impressive offering yet, boasting every character to grace the series, most of the levels, as well as a set of brand new fighters that include many of the big requests fans have had for years.

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Sega Genesis Classics Review

It's a tubular collection, dude.

Sega has done a lot of great things with emulation as of late. On the 3DS, they released 3D remasters of a handful of games, which boasted a handful of improvements to the source material. Their Sega Ages line marks another batch of games that are seeing improvements to the original games as they release on the Switch. However, Sega Genesis Classics is more of a compilation of classic Genesis games with some additional features that make it a great collection to have on your Switch if you grew up with these old games.

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