Thursday, September 13, 2018

Silver Spoon Vol. 4 Review (Hey Poor Player)

A bit late on this one --- this week's been a killer.

I should mention that while Silver Spoon is localized by Yen Press, there were delays in Viz shipping last month's titles again, and combined with this month's manga, that makes about nine manga to review./ As I have no choice but to review these through October, the flow of game reviews here may take a hit, so please have patience.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Worldly Weekend: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Genesis)

With Sonic the Hedgehog finally embedding the Sega Genesis into the mainstream -- enough to overtake Nintendo's own Super NES for the 1991 holiday season -- only one logical conclusion was inevitable: the need for a sequel. If momentum was to be achieved, being bigger, prettier and faster wouldn't be enough enough: nay, it must be better. If it must be prettier, than its pre-rendered 3D graphics musn't merely be for show, but instead highlight specially-earned sections of play. If it's to be faster, it must cut down on the momentum-killing puzzles and gimmicks from the first game to encourage more flow, upgrade the controls accommodate this venture, and then go a step beyond by the accompaniment a CPU-followable character that could be controlled via a second player. If it must be bigger, than everything just mentioned must play into every facet of its design.

What results is Sonic the Hedgehog 2, a game implicitly more confident than its progenitor. With the design lessons learned from the first title, the game could satisfyingly combine flashiness with enthralling gameplay, and so we have a game that is, for the most part, absolutely solid. It is a game of sufficient length (over ten zones -- just enough time for the practiced player to finish before supper), engaging feedback (the Spin Dash mechanic), and dense, captivating level design from beginning to end (not a single stinker in its zones, and all brilliantly capitalize on the original's multi-tiered design). No longer is Sonic a game meant to defeat Mario, but a game that can stand tall with Mario.

Friday, August 31, 2018


To discuss these Nintendo progenitors is something of a difficult task: much as I adore the likes of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, for instance, they've certainly been outstripped not merely by modern standards but in their own successors. While Super Mario Bros.' immaculate design renders it just timeless enough to be accessible even to modern audiences, however, the same can't be said for The Legend of Zelda -- it certainly remains a masterpiece for those wishing to invest time into it, but barring one's possession of an NES Classic and its instant save states, its cycles of punishment and foraging fare quite poorly against the conveniences of today.

Much like The Legend of Zelda, Metroid is also often cited as an impenetrable classic -- the game is hard-as-nails difficult, thinking little to nothing of the player's morale. The overall "maze" design, while taking care to distinguish Planet Zebes's underground sectors from one another, does not establish the same philosophy with its room design and we're left with a homogeneous, indistinguishable look that's prone for disorientation. There are various reasons for this -- Metroid had a particularly troubled development, for starters, and the game as we know it today only came together in the final three months of development -- but let's be honest: it's not as if Metroid was the only 80's game that employed similar tactics, and I'd like to think the game still holds up regardless. Being a Nintendo historian, it's easier for fanboys like myself to overlook such flaws for the sake of research and personal amusement, and Samus Aran's first adventure is hardly an exception.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Star Fox

Long before Star Fox disappointed again and again with genre shifts and half-baked game design, before Star Fox 64 solidified its position as a recurring Nintendo franchise, and before even Donkey Kong Country stunned the world with pre-rendered CGI, the original Star Fox captivated the gaming populace with polygonal graphics. The gameplay was great too, mind, but as this was the first Nintendo game to primarily utilize polygons, the tease we previously witnessed with Zelda: A Link to the Past's opening Triforce had been realized as a living dream. We had taken our first step into the future, so to speak, and the proof lied in the 3D Arwing gracefully operating by our very own hands.

Of course, as always with the passage of time, what was once cutting-edge is now primitive, and so Star Fox must now rely on its actual gameplay to preserve its legacy. Not that I particularly mind the presentation losing its luster -- Star Fox apparently has a dreadful framerate, and let it be known here and now that is, without fail, always something beneath my notice -- but as the following generation of Nintendo 64 and PlayStation games are mocked for their graphical degradation, how could a 3D SNES game hope to survive? Quite well, actually. Not that it has a patch on Star Fox 64 or anything, but it remains a close second if only for its laser-focused mission: being a competent space shoot'-em-up. With how all the post-Star Fox 64 games reinvent the wheel to not-so-great success (arguably, anyway -- I have a soft spot for Assault), this is a blessing. In addition to being a revolutionary landmark title thanks to its graphics, you get a simple, no-strings-attached rail shooter.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Worldly Weekend: Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (PSP)

And so along comes the second title in Kingdom Hearts' never-ending flood of side-games, this time on a console I have absolutely no interest in owning. As mentioned in an earlier review, I was only able to play Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep on a PSP lent by a buddy at college, and have since purchased the remaster contained within PS3's Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX. There are, I am certain, other good games on the system. Great games. Amazing games. But for the life of me, I cannot bring myself to care about it, and so I suspect this will be the one and only PSP review we'll see on here for some time. Perhaps my other Worldly Weekend retrospectives will eventually lead me to cross paths with Sony's handheld once more, but for now, I'm afraid you'll have to make do with this one article.

Regardless, I dub Birth by Sleep as a side-game with some mighty hesitation there, and that's for two reasons: a) Birth by Sleep is absolutely essential in comprehending the Kingdom Hearts story from here on out, and b) it's easily the series' best since Chain of Memories; actually, that probably remains the case. Not that it doesn't fumble in that typical Kingdom Hearts manner -- that, and while I hate to keep dragging the PSP, I heavily question its existence on the platform -- but we'll get to those problems when they come. For now, let's get into the good stuff.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

WarioWare Gold Review (Hey Poor Player)

Ahh, the return of WarioWare! It's so good! With so many terrible things happening in the world now, I can at least take solace in that this exists, and it is good.

...and that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is coming. That Direct was the stuff of dreams -- despite not knowing even a third of the soundtrack, already I'm planning out the My Music selection. Hosting series music between stages is such a dream come true! Oh, I can't wait, I can't wait!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames!

I love, more than anything, dumb absurdist humor. Much as I've elaborated on here about my cherished qualities of meditation and reflection, I am an absurdly silly human being, and take pride in my humor. As a child, randomness was a championed quality of mine not merely in making others laugh, but my channeling said randomness into the written word was how I discovered my destiny as a writer. It is how I still recognize the earlier seasons of SpongeBob Squarepants as some of the finest examples of animation ever crafted, the Canada episodes of South Park as proof Trey Parker and Matt Stone have the greatest jobs in the world, and perceive the impending arrival of Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus as nothing more than divine intervention for the sake of today's youth.

When considering all that, Nintendo throwing me a bone with WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames! in the midst of those halcyon days is nothing more than fate. It is extraordinarily, gut-bustingly funny, combining absurdist Japanese humor with the grossness of Nintendo's crudest mascot. It is only sensible Wario would be responsible for this madness: Mario's twisted doppelganger has always elicited a sense of self-centered absurdity, and so it is his natural duty to present the inner mechanizations of him and his buddies, be they for greed or the expression of art. Mostly greed, yes, but I'd like to think there is an inherent art in picking your nose.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Silver Spoon Vol. 3 Review (Hey Poor Player)

                                                                       Article Here

And a three. Not kidding here, folks: this is the best manga you can read today.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Vol. 1 Review (Hey Poor Player)

And a two. I'm still deciding whether or not to review Volume 2 this September.