Cosmic Star Heroine Review

As a refresher, I didn’t care for Breath of Death VII or Cthulhu Saves the World despite all the praise I’ve seen both receive, and that’s kept me from delving into the Penny Arcade games that developer Zeboyd Games produced after those first two. Every video about Cosmic Star Heroine intrigued me, though, with it seeming to draw inspiration from best-game-ever Chrono Trigger while putting its own spin on things, and so I bought it with the intention of seeing how it stacks up against some of my favorites in the genre. Its opening few hours proved mildly amusing, if a bit underwhelming given my high expectations, but the game soon after won me over in a big way to the point where countless softlocks, bugs, and typos couldn’t stop me from playing. While the way you get into combat is reminiscent of the encounters in Chrono Trigger, its biggest takeaway from that game is instead rock-solid pacing that avoids wasting your time with nonsense padding, and there are a handful of features taken from other games that are equally welcome. All of this coalesces into something that’s simultaneously a brilliant homage to classic jRPGs and strong entry in the genre in its own right. Read more →

Lost Odyssey Review

I first played through Lost Odyssey around the time it came out, and several parts of that first playthrough stuck out so much for one reason or another that I was able to remember entire sections despite it being ~9 years later at this point. Most notably, I remembered the game being filled with brilliant little stories that fleshed out the game world far beyond that of most jRPGs and caused the game’s actual story to look pathetic by way of comparison. I also remembered that all of the characters get split up at one point late in the game, so I made sure to engage in soulless grinding to make things a little more palatable. At the end of the day, Lost Odyssey is a massively bipolar game that oscillates between brilliance and stupidity to such an extent that it’s simultaneously both highly enjoyable and undeniably aggravating to play, and while it’s definitely the kind of game that’s easy to recommend, it’s also the kind of thing that’s best run through only once and then left as a fond memory. Read more →

Cthulhu Saves the World Review

It’s depressing the number of times I’ve covered the first game in a series, only to then leave the sequel (or unrelated followup in Cthulhu Saves the World’s case) untouched. Call it a bad habit. In my defense, though, it’s only been 4 months since I reviewed Breath of Death VII. That’s quite a bit more defensible than the 3 and a half years it’s been since I reviewed King Arthur: The Role-Playing RPG and its spinoff despite owning the sequel for even longer than that. I think part of the problem is one of expectations; it’s easy for a sequel to play things safe and end up feeling like the same game, just like it’s easy for a game to diverge so much from its predecessor that it fails to embrace the things that made the first game worthwhile in the first place. The latter is what’s seen Lost Horizon 2 sit idly on my desktop for the past few months, while the former is why I had to force myself to jump into Cthulhu Saves the World—I was expecting more of the same, and while I was pleasantly surprised by the number of things that were improved on since the previous game, the biggest problems remain unchanged and render a sizable portion of the game a tedious slog through yet more mazes. Read more →

I Am Setsuna Review

Chrono Trigger is easily one of my favorite games, not to mention a gateway drug that compelled me to get a Playstation 1 (for Chrono Cross, naturally) and subsequently discover all kinds of brilliant gems I had missed out on, so it piqued my interest when I Am Setsuna’s store page claimed to have been inspired by it. That’s a lofty claim, after all, especially in a world of endless Final Fantasy games where many jRPG developers seem to have lost track of what made their genre enjoyable in the first place. There have been occasional exceptions to that such as Chaos Rings 2 and other games that I similarly fell in love with, but Square-Enix pulled the plug on many Chaos Rings games not too long ago, effectively erasing them from existence outside of piracy. Giving money to something they published after that was a painful proposition. Still, curiosity outweighed my better judgment and I decided to give this game a try anyway. I’m glad I did—I Am Setsuna has its moments of being enjoyable—but the poor writing was enough to ruin the whole experience by the end and cause me to question why this game falls so short. Read more →

Breath of Death VII Review

This review will probably come across as mostly negative, and yet despite all of my problems with Breath of Death VII I still find myself interested in the developer’s later games. I mean, the humor here is spot-on and avoids being too distracting or falling into the same “look at me I’m so edgy” trap that makes Doom & Destiny so painful to play through, and little things like the combat system being designed to be faster than in most jRPG games go a long way toward alleviating the hassles of grinding (which I only found necessary on one or two occasions) and random battles. The game is also mercifully short, which helps keep it from outlasting its welcome. Still, I found myself finding excuses to not play it because of how barren the world is and how tedious the areas are, and that’s not a very good sign. Read more →

Breath of Fire 3 Review

Not so long ago, it dawned on me that it had been awhile since I had played through a Playstation 1 game. It being one of my all-time favorite consoles in addition to sporting a library full of all kinds of absolute classics (many of which I’ve only played relatively recently, meaning they hold up without nostalgia), I took a look at previous reviews and was blown away to discover that my last review of a PS1 game was almost two years ago. Deciding to finally rectify this terrible injustice, I went through the games I own that remained unplayed and quickly settled on Breath of Fire 3, assuming that it would be an enjoyable stroll through familiar jRPG territory. After all, Breath of Fire 1 and 2 have many similarities despite being very different games, and an online review I ended up watching made it sound like the high point of the entire series. It’s not, though. In fact, it’s one of the most arduous, painful RPGs I’ve ever had to fight my way through, and I accuse the nostalgia-fueled apologists whose glowing reviews led to me playing it of looking through rose-tinted glasses rather than attempting to judge the game from a more objective viewpoint. Point being, Breath of Fire 3 doesn’t hold up, and I fail to see how it was ever fun in an age when games like Chrono Trigger had long since discovered ways to avoid the tedium of the genre. Read more →

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