Monday, December 31, 2018

Worldly Weekend: Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX

Full Disclosure: This article will serve as the "main" review for Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix, as I have no interest in importing the original version.


And so begins our journey into the world of Kingdom Hearts remasters. For the uninformed, the three we'll be reviewing are three-course meal packages -- two upgraded ports and a cinematic feature "retelling" the story behind one of the handheld spinoffs -- designed for the purpose of uniting the series onto one console in PlayStation 3 (barring Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, which exclusively released for PlayStation 4 and would later be repackaged in Kingdom Hearts - The Story So Far on the same console). Given my peculiar relationship with this bizarre franchise, I simply cannot ignore reiterations that've hooked new fans, and so here we are.

In this case, we are reviewing Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX. Putting aside the series' latest in bizarre names, this first collection contains the "Final Mix" upgrade of the original Kingdom Hearts, PlayStation 2's Kingdom Hearts: Re:Chain of Memories remake of the Game Boy Advance game, and a movie version of Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days. As you may recall, I have conflicting feelings on all three: the first one's an aged, wannabe masterpiece that's more of a bizarrely enchanting freshman project, Re:Chain of Memories is an inferior remake worth only for 3D novelty, and 358/2 Days' pretentious presentation can't mask its identity as mediocre product. For the weathered Kingdom Hearts fan as myself, barring the first-ever release of Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix in the West, this is not an especially enticing purchase, particularly when considering 1.5 ReMIX has been repackaged into two further collections:  Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX and Kingdom Hearts -The Story So Far-.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

We Never Learn Vol. 1 Review (Hey Poor Player)




I don't think I'll be covering this series any farther, but I wanted at least one more rom-com before the year wrapped up, so what better choice than a Shonen Jump title?

I think We Never Learn would be really solid if it cut down on the sexualization hijinks. Call me a prude, but the stuff with Kirisu-sensei is really...yeah. Nisekoi was refreshing in that regard.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Review (Hey Poor Player)



Three days and 2600+ words -- all for the sake of the game that's taken over my life for the past ten days.

Have I mentioned how much I love Smash Bros.? I love it so much that I just share my favorite screenshots I've been taking. Here's one that's gained some traction on Twitter.


One Piece Vol. 88 Review



Have I been making it obvious I don't like Whole Cake Island? Goodness, I almost feel as exhausted as I did back in the weekly serial. Reverie and Wano can't come soon enough!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Best 25 Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS Remixes (Hey Poor Player)




In case you wanted a taste of how busy I've been over the past week, well, here ya go! My co-worker Kenny and I have been playing thgis since we met at E3, and I couldn't think of a better send-off to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS than this! Please enjoy our hard work by endlessly complaining about all your favorite songs that missed the cut.  

In the meantime: there's less than an hour to go until my digital copy of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate unlocks, and uh...I'm strangely chill about it. Expect not to hear from me for the next couple days as I embark into Nintendo Nirvana.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

Notice: Unfortunately, there wasn't time to access my SD-card saved screenshots for this review, so aside from my Miiverse archives, you may witness press screenshots of varying sizes. An error in formatting also excised most of the music links. Please excuse the inconsistency for now.


Again, the same disclaimer found within my Super Smash Bros. for 3DS review applies here: namely, any and all analysis on Super Smash Bros. for Wii U's worth as a competitive fighter shan't be present here. This is not a matter of passive-aggression, but merely one of disinterest, as I simply don't approach fighting games in that manner. Truth be told, however, the "casual" moniker is one I've soured on, as it doesn't accurately convey my relationship with Smash Bros. in the slightest; indeed, as both these reviews prove, my Smash intimacy demands I grant them in-depth evaluations as functioning video games, be it how much I delight in smashing things or the quality of alternative play provided.

And given director Masahiro Sakurai's God-given design philosophies -- "always consider the beginner player" and "make every game as it were your last" -- there is certainly no shortage of that to go around. Like every Smash Bros. before it, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is my kingdom -- one divided alongside its 3DS cousin, with which it shares the same gameplay engine and massive character roster. Common sense would entail I enjoy this version just as much -- if not more so -- but with an expanded empire such as this, its imperfections become far more prominent. As a self-proclaimed Nintendo fanboy, I am not blind to these faults -- much as I desire for Wii U to be a masterpiece, it only just misses the cut, and that wounds me just as much as I deeply adore it.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Dr. Stone Vol. 2 Review (Hey Poor Player)


 Article Here

Ouch. Yeah, this stung to write. As a professional reviewer, I hesitate the ethics of using "wait and see," but I cite Dr. Stone as one of Jump's current best for a reason. Hopefully Volume 3 picks up the slack!

By the way, I've been crank out a bunch of 3/3.5 reviews lately, haven't I? Believe it or not, another one's on the way, and the series involved may shock you...

Worldly Weekend: Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance



You know what? I'm skipping ahead. I don't have to play Kingdom Hearts: re:Coded to know it's utterly expendable to the series at large and that it was only designed for capitalizing upon the brand. I make this assertion knowing full well it's not entirely true  -- recent Kingdom Hearts III trailers depict its nonsense infiltrating the Big Hero 6 scenario -- but the latter is indefensible upon having the arduous displeasure of watching its movie adaption in Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD ReMIX, wherein I was begging, pleading for the bloated mess to end. We'll get to that when the time comes, but needless to say, I have very little interest in repeating my trauma with something so mercenary.

Anyway, here we are with 2012's Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance for 3DS. Commemorating Kingdom Hearts' tenth anniversary, it's only fitting that a) this would be the very last game to (finally!) utilize the original graphical engines and b) this would be the first in a line of games paving the way to Kingdom Hearts III. In fairness, I cannot recall if the latter was an explicit decision (the "lineup" bit, I mean), but it certainly exists now: there's the mobile Kingdom Hearts χ (which I haven't bothered with, and apparently will have key references in Kingdom Hearts III; groovy) and 2/3rds of Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue: the playable Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage (the very end of which directly leads into Kingdom Hearts III's opening) and Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover. (A cinematic adaption of the aforementioned mobile game, which further convinced me it wasn't bothering with.)

Monday, November 26, 2018

Dragon Ball: That Time I Got Reincarnated as Yamcha! Review (Hey Poor Player)



Sadly, my grandmother passed away last Sunday, which is why things have been quiet/getting delayed here for the past couple weeks. At least writing this perked my spirits up a bit -- Dragon Ball fans owe it to themselves to check this piece of hilarity out.

Anyway, this is also why my Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance review hasn't popped up yet. I've had to juggle a bunch of other committed works in the meantime and will be quite busy up until Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's December 7th release, but rest assured, it'll be here by the week's end.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Case Closed Vol. 68 Review (Hey Poor Player)

 

    Article Here

I'm waaaaay late in putting this up here, lol. In any case, much as I love Case Closed, I can't help but feel these reviews have grown a little redundant. Hopefully the next volume spices things up.



Friday, November 9, 2018

Super Smash Bros. for 3DS



Being that I have elaborated on my love for Super Smash Bros. countless times on this blog without having penned a single review, it's imperative I open this essay with an admonition: namely, I do not possess any interest in a fighting's game competitive depth. This is not a passive-aggressive jab against others' personal tastes -- I've long since stopped begrudging those for their preferences, as I was one of those who conflated vitriolic attacks on post-Melee iterations/series director Masahiro Sakurai with the competitive fanbase at large -- but the point is, whether or not the latest iteration of Smash Bros., Street Fighter, a Dragon Ball game or even a debut in last year's ARMS presents offensive or defensive playstyles or sufficient movement options are matters beneath my notice. This is not a matter of willful ignorance; they're simply not things I have an eye for.

Nay, my occupation with fighting games lies in three factors: a) whether it's fun hitting things, b) whether they maintain -- at least on a base level -- a functioning combat system, and c) if they possess enough content otherwise to keep me interested. Admittedly, this isn't always upheld across the board -- the Smash Bros. apologist in me can admit even now that tripping in Super Smash Bros. Brawl was a fundamentally bad concept, even if I don't personally care about it -- but the point is, not much of that is very different from what the general gaming media typically elaborates upon in fighting games; in other words, if you're looking for a systematic breakdown of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS as fighting games, I suggest you look elsewhere.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Regarding Leave Luck to Heaven's Late 2018/New Year's Schedule

Hey, all! Time for that talk I mentioned on Wednesday.

As you know, I've been drowned by manga reviews for Hey Poor Player over the past couple months, and that's thrown a monkey wrench into my output here. Given the thrill of reviewing another medium over the past year, this isn't as regretful as you'd think, but given a) this priority has led to numerous delays, and  b) Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's December 7th release set to suck up my attention, I've found myself no choice but to make accommodations for this inevitability.

This isn't even getting into other factors -- sadly, it seems chemotherapy's no longer effective for my grandmother's cancer treatment, and we're expecting the inevitable within two months' time -- so please understand the following decisions weren't solely based around work/leisure.

First and foremost, Hey Poor Player's manga reviews will remain my No. 1 priority. This blog's only a side project, after all, and work is work. To clarify, this deluge was mostly due to VIZ's own delays in shipping thanks to their summer convention priorities -- to illustrate this workload, enough volumes poured in that I eventually reserved those reviews a month after release (typically, their launch months were a set goal). While I'll certainly be better prepared in handling that period from now on, there still remains a hefty amount of manga to review for the year's remainder. In case these reviews are of no interest to you, please make do for now.

However, this doesn't mean there won't be any blog reviews for November and December. For 2018's last two months, I've decided the following two series will take precedence:



It was always my intention to review Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS by the time of Ultimate's launch, and that remains the case. As it happens, the 3DS version's review is very nearly complete and was thiiiis close to making it by October's end, but things didn't work out. You can expect it sometime next week, and the Wii U game by early December. My undying love for Smash Bros. naturally entails a meaty length for both, so get ready to dig in!



 
Furhtermore, we'll be having a Kingdom Hearts Worldly Weekend Blowout. My original plan of wrapping up my Kingdom Hearts retrospective by Kingdom Hearts III's January release will continue as originally outlined. Four remaining games  -- Dream Drop Distance, HD 1.5 Remix, HD 2.5 Remix, and HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue -- will be reviewed by the year's end. Dream Drop Distance was also originally scheduled for October's end and should release very soon.

Other games may pop up here and there, but as everything above will take priority, you shouldn't expect more than two. 

So what does this mean for next year? Some delays on my end, naturally, but to ensure a steady review flow for both Nintendo and Worldly Weekend games, I'll be taking advantage of my NES Classic, Nintendo Switch Online, HAMSTER's Arcade Archives restorations, and the Namco Museum available on PlayStation 3, and engage in retro arcade/8-bit reviews! When given the innate brevity/replayability of classics like Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, and Balloon Fight, these reviews shouldn't take very to pen, thereby lending themselves to a convenient turnover rate!

However, an exact schedule hasn't been decided. It could be anywhere from a biweekly basis to a month, but regardless, I'd like for these reviews to maintain a frequent basis. Given the aforementioned brevity, they may also be shorter than average, but that's not exactly set in stone, either.

So, in summary: Smash Bros. and Kingdom Hearts for the rest of 2018, and Arcade/8-Bit classics beginning next year. When factoring in manga reviews and Sleeping with the Enemy, that's not a bad deal at all, eh? I'm looking forward to it!

Anyway, I'll see you all next week.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Sleeping With The Enemy: Accepting Aged Games (Hey Poor Player)






I don't recall how much I've elaborated on this subject here, but this is actually a deeply personal subject for me, so I'd be thrilled if you'd read it.

Anyway, I've got some important stuff to discuss regarding the blog, so watch for that later this week. I also may pop in to discuss the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct goodness tomorrow, but in case I don't, just know I'm likely in a hype-induced coma.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

How The Grinch Stole Smash Bros. (Hey Poor Player)



This came entirely on a whim last night; somehow, I finished up a 1000+ word rough draft last night, and it spiraled from there. Needless to say, a) I never expected ever writing this title, let alone featuring the above banner crafted by my boss, and b) I've never had as much fun following a potential leak/hoax as much as this one. Fingers crossed it'll come true, but as elaborated within the article, I'll certainly not blame anyone if it crashes and burns.

Anyway, speaking of Smash Bros...well, expecting something else by the month's end.

Friday, October 26, 2018

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Vol. 4 Review (Hey Poor Player)

 

Annnnnd that's a wrap!

...well, not really, as there's still the three VIZ sent me for this month and inevitably November, too. Needless to say, this month's been brutal, but I've learned a lot from it.

By the way, expect some meaty articles over the next week.

Detective Pikachu

Warning: While I don't outright ruin anything like "whodunit", my discussion of the story does imply some things; in other words, reader discretion advised.

The oddity of my first Pokémon review being a spin-off is duly noted, particularly considering that aside from Pokken Tournament DX, the last one I recall engaging with was the first Mystery Dungeon back in 2006 on Game Boy Advance. Still, you can't deny the appeal of Detective Pikachu: as anyone familiar with Meowth from the long-running cartoon will tell you, this is hardly the first time we have witnessed a talking Pokémon, but it's how this particular critter conducts human speech and mannerisms; namely, the adorable series mascot in Pikachu belting out a gravelly, world-weary vocalization and expressing fondness for women and coffee. Also, he's a detective.

A key sign of both The Pokémon Company and its home developers in Game Freak and Creatures relaxing regulations in the face of Pikachu's enduring popularity, which is a direction we should all celebrate. While thankfully nothing reaches beyond a G rating, Detective Pikachu's eye-grabbing concept is unlike anything the series has ever accomplished before: there's no starry-eyed youths seeking adventure, but a young adult cast on the job; no far-off dreams of being No. 1, but personal drive and soul-searching to discover oneself. All hardly adult, yes, but new territory just the same.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Astra Lost in Space Vol. 4 Review (Hey Poor Player)



One more! While Astra Lost in Space ends in the next volume, it'll be going out with a bang via a spoiler-intensive review, so catch up with it if you haven't already!

By the way, we've decided we'll emphasizing "one-and-done" articles for new manga here on out; in other words, Kaguya-esque situations where we'll simply preview new series (or, in the case of next month, just review one-shot manga). Sadly, I'll have to cut certain series to make room, and Fullmetal Alchemist: Fullmetal Edition and possibly Kimetsu no Yaiba are set for the chopping block. Apologies!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Super Mario Sunshine


And now, a story: there was, once upon a very brief time, I would've placed Super Mario Sunshine in My Top Five Video Games of All Time; No. 2, in fact, only behind Super Smash Bros. Melee. Call it the fervent hype of one little boy -- stumbling across a pre-release demo in New York City's Toys "R" Us remains one of my all-time favorite gaming memories -- but my bliss in Mario's tropical acrobatics couldn't be denied: be it bopping upon hapless NPCs and aimlessly hopping around the beaches and villages of Isle Delfino, hours upon hours were spent within torrid festiveness. Paradise was here, and it arrived in the anticipated thrill of a new Mario game.

Not many months later, however, a curious thing happened: the game slipped to No. 5, then No. 9, and then slipped off my Top Ten without a trace. It kept falling, falling, falling out of sight until its place within a Top 50 would be unfathomable. To say I grew a budding, resentful disappointment would be inaccurate, but the honeymoon period was certainly over, and the game's faults were too much to ignore.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Dr. Stone Vol. 1 Review (Hey Poor Player)



Been waiting forever to write about this one! Dr. Stone is yet another series I'll be stick with until the end, so look forward to it!

Anyway, three more.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Thursday, September 27, 2018

My Hero Academia Vol. 14 Review



Oh yeah, forgot to put this one up. Five more.

This was one was really easy to write for some reason.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past



How does one define perfection in video games? Is it recognizing how one game brilliantly executes its main goal? Is it simply returning to a childhood favorite again and again? Or, perhaps, is it something as broadly simple as doing everything right? In that case, it's difficult to imagine anything more perfect in the Zelda pantheon -- or perhaps even all of Nintendo's library --  than The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. There are a variety of reasons for this, but more than anything, it's timeless in its accessibility. Consider this quality when when juxtaposed to Zelda's other masterworks: Majora's Mask -- which I still consider the the series apex -- demands an entirely different style of play that can be too stressful, Breath of the Wild and even this game's sequel in A Link Between Worlds may stray too far from the series formula for some, Ocarina of Time suffers from the same graphical degradation as the rest of its respective generation, and The Legend of Zelda is too archaic and impenetrable by today's standards.

Only Link's Awakening for Game Boy may match it here, and as masterful as that game's bittersweet balance of infectious light-heartedness and gradual melancholy is, A Link to the Past is instantly superior for presenting the greatest opening in series history -- as far as Nintendo games go, only Super Metroid and Metroid Prime may surpass it, and A Link to the Past may even trump those with its own title opener. After the Nintendo logo flickers on screen with the gentlest of harps, a majestic three-dimensional Triforce morphs into shape, before embedding within the game's logo as the Master Sword pierces through, a triumphant score celebrating our arrival into the latest Zelda adventure.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Sleeping With The Enemy: Embracing Disappointment (Kirby Star Allies) (Hey Poor Player)



That's right: it's a brand new column by yours truly, and it's debuting on Hey Poor Player! Wowza!
 
As this came out of nowhere, I'm certain you're asking how Sleeping With The Enemy was born. Truth is, much as Biweekly Music Wednesday! interfered with my schedule, I treasured how it was the perfect outlet to discuss personal musings regarding the gaming industry, memories of games past, and the like. With it gone, I certainly had more time for reviews, but the loss of expressing everything else was sorely felt -- I love talking about games, but the passion and fuel behind that love is just as important to me.

The answer was clear: I needed a new column, but this time I knew Hey Poor Player had to be its new home -- not only would that extend my reach and relax Leave Luck to Heaven's focus on reviews, but it'd spice up the site's output. Everyone wins!

Coming up with the theme of criticism was a challenge: any ol' topic can serve just fine as individual opinion pieces, and it's not like everyone's fascinated with my stream of consciousness, so I needed an eye-grabbing hook to lure readers. "Criticism" was eventually decided through two factors: the epiphany I elaborate upon in my debut Kirby Star Allies article, and reviewing this BMW! installment revolving around an infamous Xenoblade Chronicles: X tune.

How do we handle criticism? How do we handle disappointment, or maligned critique of mechanics we fail to understand? I answer to aim these questions and many, many more. You can expect new installments every two to three weeks.

(By the way, my boss came up with the name. Works quite well in grabbing your attention, right?)

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

Metroid


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.

Case Closed Vol. 67 Review (Hey Poor Player)



And a one.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Worldly Weekend: Final Fantasy II (NES/Famicom)


Not even one game later, and we've already arrived at Final Fantasy's infamous identity crisis. The game we are reviewing today is not the Final Fantasy II hailed as a SNES classic, but the Famicom's Final Fantasy II that released in 1988, never left Japan's shores, and is often cited as one of those experimental black sheep sequels that plagued the NES. For the moment, let us put aside the fact Western fans wouldn't experience the same frustration bestowed by Zelda II and Castlevania II until roughly a decade's time, and hone in on a more well-known source of frustration -- that, of course, being the name discrepancies exchanged among the first six Final Fantasys. With three Final Fantasy games -- Final Fantasy II, Final Fantasy III, and Final Fantasy V -- skipped over at release, Square had no choice but to dub their Western localizations of Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI as Final Fantasy II and III, respectively.

Needless to say, what resulted was an endless source of confusion regarding Square's retconning as they made their Western debuts via PlayStation, Game Boy Advance and DS incarnations, be they altered ports or elaborate remakes. And yet, in the case of Final Fantasy II, I cannot help but feel this was the correct decision: whereas Final Fantasy IV is a series masterpiece, II is certainly its retro nadir, filled with antagonistic design decisions that smother any goodwill it sought to bring. While hardly the worst JRPG, said decisions render it a slog of mediocrity as opposed to the prestigious, glorified adventure established from the very first game.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Super Mario Bros. 2


And now, to reiterate gaming's most famous switcheroo: what we know as Super Mario Bros. 2 in Western territories is not the actual Super Mario Bros. 2, which was deemed too difficult and too similar for foreign audiences. The solution: take an unrelated platformer (Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic, a Fuji TV collaboration that originally featured an Arabian cast), repackage it with Mario characters, get Shigeru Miyamoto and co. to polish up the gameplay, and voila -- you have gaming's greatest magic trick. It wouldn't be until five years later with the remake collection that was Super Mario All-Stars that rumors and urban legends whispered about Western audiences, with internet inertia finally dawning what would place among Nintendo's most historic fun facts.

In other words, this is why Mario and the gang are suddenly throwing vegetables at bad guys rather than stomping them. Without this knowledge, it becomes all too easy to label Super Mario Bros. 2 as one of the many infamous "black sheep sequel" so dreaded on NES -- sequels in the vein of Zelda II: Adventure of Link, Castlevania II: Simon's Quest or even the Japan-only Final Fantasy II, all which were being divisive experiments that messed with their predecessor's formulas a tad too much -- but even knowing that, is it really the game's fault it doesn't live up to the Super Mario name? Adding to the confusion is how despite the Japanese version being called "Super Mario USA," Nintendo has been all too quick to brush Super Mario Bros. 2 under the rug and not only inducting this localized version into series canon, but has since referred to this game as the real Super Mario Bros. 2 (as recently as being heavily referenced in Super Mario 3D World, in fact).

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Astra Lost in Space Vol. 3 Review (Hey Poor Player)



                                                                  Article Here

 This time, it was plain ol'l forgetfulness that delayed this archival post, LOL

Anyway, despite the additional delays in game reviews from last month, we're back on track with that for now, so expect some gaming goodness soon!

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Promised Neverland Vol. 4 Review (Hey Poor Player)




Annnnd The Promised Neverland.

I wanted to have Astra Lost in Space up by yesterday/tonight, but various difficulties (not the least of which is major writer's block) have prevented that goal from materializing. Unfortunately, this means I won't be getting to Vinland Saga in time -- bummer!

Still, you can expect it sometime this weekend, and we'll be back to our regularly-scheduled program. 

My Hero Academia Vol. 13 Review (Hey Poor Player)


                                                                             Article Here

MY GOD I'M SO SORRY FOR THE DELAY!!! Between an exhausting new position at my job and an out-of-my-control delay for the manga reviews, I hadn't time for the blog; heck, even this archival post is a few days late!

Consequently, I really don't know if that E3 post is gonna come up or not, sorry! I may put up a "Best Of" picture list to make up for it.

Friday, June 15, 2018

E3 2018 Preview Hub

After numerous delays in everything from flight delays to LA traffic, I've finally begun writing my E3 2018 previews! These will last through Monday, and we'll be covering up to nine or ten games total. Each game will be divided into the days they're published, so review accordingly.


Friday, June 15th

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch)

Saturday, June 16th

Kingdom Hearts III (PlayStation 4)
Jump Force (PlayStation 4)

Sunday, June 17th

Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin (PlayStation 4)


Monday, June 18th

GunGrave VR (PlayStation 4)
Ninjala (Switch)
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age (PlayStation 4)

And that's it! I'll follow up with a retrospective epilogue for this post within the week.

Monday, June 11, 2018

I'm at E3!!!



It's...it's actually real. I even got to step inside just before the show tomorrow. It was only to pick up my badge, and it was only the calm before the storm, but it was still breathtaking.

Has everything I've done lead to this moment? I've always been a believer in fate, so it must be true. Tomorrow, I'll be in the same event I've been following for nineteen years, doing the same job as the journalists I've followed for just as long, live the experience I've been dreaming for so long, and be in the very same building as my lifelong heroes. It's too much to be true.

As I mentioned before, I'll be doing previews over the next week for Hey Poor Player, so I'm thinking I'll provide a "hub" post to document them all. You can look forward to seeing it updated throughout the week, so keep an eye out that.

For Smash Bros. and whatever else may come my way tomorrow...here I come!!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Unforeseen Incidents Review (Hey Poor Player)



This was another one I wasn't happy to give a relatively low score with, but I did what I must.

Anyway...that "SUPER EXCITING NEWS" I was talking about  regarding E3 the other day? Sadly, it didn't go through, but due to confidentiality, I can't quite talk about it -- let's just say I missed the cut to play a certain game behind closed doors. Just goes to show I shouldn't tease things not set in stone, heh.

Still, given the meetings and tours lined up, there should be plenty of exciting content to look forward to next week!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Worldly Weekend: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days

Note: Merely discussing the content of this game -- or even just looking at the below cover -- paves way for some early spoilers regarding Kingdom Hearts II. If you're planning on going into the series blind, you'd best skip ahead.


And so begins not just Kingdom Hearts further wedging itself into the realm of indecipherable names, but spawning what remains its biggest folly: an endless line of "bridge" games consisting of side-stories, prequels, and pseudo-sequels, all for the purpose of either divulging a particular interim  between certain games or setting the stage for Kingdom Hearts III. Be it the fault of a developer (Square-Enix) caring only to capitalize upon a successful brand or the burgeoning over-ambition of a short-sighted director (Tetsuya Nomura), it's vital to discuss why, exactly, this direction was problematic, beginning with the most obvious reason: it's been eleven years since the first three spin-off games (358/2 Days, Birth by Sleep, and Re:coded) were announced, and we're only just getting Kingdom Hearts III this year. Whoops.

This past decade's worth of wasted time and frustration is more than enough for fans to jump ship, especially when factoring in cost: over the next six years, engaging in the full Kingdom Hearts experience required the purchase of a Sony PlayStation 2, a Nintendo DS, a Sony PSP and a Nintendo 3DS. Being an episodic series, this is not like Final Fantasy's individualized entries where one can simply pass, say, Final Fantasy IX on PlayStation and pick up Final Fantasy X on PlayStation 2 without missing any context; nay, you must at the very least engage in Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance to make any sense of the series hereafter, and for the most dedicated of Kingdom Hearts fans, that potentially means shelling out cash for systems you don't particularly want (or, in my example, you're lucky enough to know someone at college who's willing to let you borrow their PSP and copy of Birth by Sleep).


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Fullmetal Alchemist (Fullmetal Edition) Vol. 1 + Manga Reviews Page!



Here's something a little different: a rerelease of a classic I never got into! What do I think of a series I waited fourteen years to dive into...?

In any case, I've finally got around to not only fixing up the The Archives, but have provided a Manga Reviews page. It's hardly as elaborate as my Reviews pages, but such a collection remained necessary, so please take a look. 

Next month will be a juicy month for manga fans, as I have four reviews planned (including another favorite ongoing series making its first appearance: Vinland Saga!); however, E3 season will likely push most, if not all, of those reviews towards the month's end, so keep that in mind.

Speaking of E3, there's some INCREDIBLY EXCITING NEWS I can't quite share at the moment, but certainly will when I'm given the all-clear. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Dedede's Drum Dash Deluxe


While we're questioning the eleven-year absence of Kirby spin-offs, we must also ask: why did it take it so long for King Dedede to get his own game? I mean, really, who doesn't love the gluttonous, self-proclaimed king of Dream Land? His plush design, self-centered antics, not-quite-a-good-guy but not-quite-a-villain morality and penchant for bugged-out eyes have won over many a Kirby fan, myself included, and it is simply ridiculous HAL Laboratory has not granted his own Popstar-trotting adventure to the gaming populace. No matter how you look at it, a downloadable rhythm game ain't gonna cut it!

Still, you could do with a lot worse than Dedede's Drum Dash Deluxe. Like its brother Kirby Fighters Deluxe, this spin-off is also based on a Kirby: Triple Deluxe sub-game by the name of Dedede's Drum Dash, wherein the penguin king hopped along on giant drums to reach the goal all the while clapping and bouncing to the beat of classic Kirby tunes (or perhaps not so classic: not many may recognize the secret Extra song was from Kirby's Dream Collection: Special Edition) Requiring careful precision of jumping, clapping, and navigating obstacles, these four levels were not only among some of the most difficult of Triple Deluxe’s trials, but introduced a welcome dosage of variety hardly explored in the series hitherto (that’s to say, rhythm; only one of Mass Attack’s mini-games springs to mind)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Silver Spoon Vol. 2



This series is really good. Like, really good. Go read it!

Anyway, the aforementioned Hyrule Warriors fixes should be up now.