Top 100 PS1 Review: #21 – Final Fantasy Anthology (1999)

Reintroducing Final Fantasy To America.

Taking advantage of the popularity of FF7, Squaresoft rereleased almost every game they ever made for the PS1.

Final Fantasy V Final Fantasy Anthology Title ScreenApe’s Ranking: #21/100
My Rating: StarStarStar

RPGs were not mainstream until Final Fantasy 7 dropped on the PS1 in 1997. Even though Squaresoft and Enix released several iterations of their popular in Japan Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy  games, it was still a pretty niche market in America. Hell, Squaresoft didn’t even bother releasing all of their games in America leading to a unique numbering system that wouldn’t be corrected until the late 90s.

With FF7 being a blockbuster hit, Squaresoft wanted to capitalize with repackaging their catalog to a North American population now clamoring for more RPGs. Final Fantasy Anthologies was the first to release containing FFV and FFVI. Final Fantasy Origins (FF I and FF II) and Final Fantasy Chronicles (FFIV and Chrono Trigger) would soon follow for a total of 6 games being released for the PS1 which were ports of older NES or SNES versions.

Very little new content was added to these games. For the NES ports, the graphics were updated to SNES level. For the rest, short opening and ending CGI sequences were included. For those of us who already owned the originals (i.e: me), there was little benefit from buying these redundant ports…

…except when it comes to the never before released American titles.

Final Fantasy Anthologies includes such a title: Final Fantasy V. Only released in Japan, it is unique for having a diverse job system where characters aren’t pigeon-holed into a class type. Instead of the static characters in FFVI and FFVI, you can mix and match classes together to make unique skill sets.

I was more interested in the history aspect: every Final Fantasy is part of lineage where motifs, themes, and ideas build upon one another. This scaffolding is more apparent with the more titles you play by seeing how the series has grown over time. Having played the games that bookend FFV, I was interested to see where it stood. Was it more like FFIV with old-school conundrums or forward thinking like FFVI with a fantastic narrative?

Well, it ended up being a little of both. While FFV’s job system is THE thing that makes the game stand out, it’s not fantastically done. The other elements, mainly the story, are a disappointment and never reach the level I expected.

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Top 100 SNES Review: #24 – Zombies Ate My Neighbors (1993)

Plays like an Arcade Game… But It’s Not One.

I thought for sure this game was designed to take my quarters. 

Zomebies Ate My Neighbors Title ScreenSydlexia’s Ranking: #24/100
My Rating: StarStar

There are only so many two-player games in the world. Sure, everyone knows about about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Contra III or Super Mario Kart for the SNES, but the pickings quickly get thin. Zombies Ate My Neighbors (or ZAMN) seemed to be a viable remedy: a self-aware and irreverent top-down adventure with B-grade movie tropes should be easy enough to enjoy.

Everyone was willing to give it a try, but no one was willing to stick around.

ZAMN isn’t a bad game per say, but it doesn’t do anything to earn your undivided attention. Every attempt with different people followed the same crescendos — immediate interest, followed by a lull, ending with a let’s move on. I attempted a one-player go through thinking it might have just been my company, but I found that I solitarily followed the same peaks and valleys.

The reason is mostly in the gameplay; it uses an arcade design with lots of repetitive levels that are disconnected and has steep difficulty curves. There is plenty of weird but not enough substance.

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Top 100 N64 Review: #42 – Quake (1996)

Things Aren’t Looking Up.

Because the game barely lets you look up. 

Quake Title Screen

LesLites’ Ranking#42/100
My Rating:cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

Quake II was one of the defining moments of my youth. It was a beast to even get on multiplayer, needing to know coding commands, directory pathways, and IP addresses to get started. On my first map, I opened a bay door and saw rail guns firing in every direction as someone was fragged to bits right in front me. This. Was. AWESOME. 

Finding its predecessor on N64 was going to make my youth full circle. I meant to play the original but never did. I was wondering how it would port to the N64 since it was a game meant for the PC. This. Was. UNFORTUNATE. 

This could easily be a four (or maybe even five!) star game if played on a PC. It has the same old problems that every other shooter faced on the N64: without two analog sticks, you were restricted in how freely you could aim. This meant using a clunky collection of C-buttons on a X and Y axis to aim above. You will die several, several times from this alone. I found this limitation too much to overcome even with all the other amazing aspects.

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The Top 100 SNES Review: #28 – Soul Blazer (1992)

Two Modes, Fun Concept

Soul Blazer title screen
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #28/100
Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

Soul Blazer was a game that I knew absolutely nothing about, but I had heard much of it being from the heralded trifecta of Quintet, a Japanese video game company that created Act Raiser, Soul Blazer and Illusion of Gaia. Out of those game, Act Raiser was the only one I had played before, which was a cool mash-up of a city simulator and side-scroller fighter.

This game is no different as there are two different “modes” that you alternate between: 1) a dungeon crawler where you defeat enemies to release the souls of a town; 2) the town itself where the now freed residents help you with information/items to so you can get further in the dungeon. These two sections play off each other well as there was something satisfying about returning from a dungeon and seeing all the new things in town. Also, dying in any video game is typically frustrating, but having this mode to return to in-between dungeon bouts was refreshing.

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Top 100 NES Review: #1 – Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990)

Restoring My Faith in Humanity

Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 6.05.51 PM
This resembles most of my intimate relationships – someone throwing a tantrum and the other person pretending to be a seal.

Ratingsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

This past summer, I had more time that any 29 year old with a life plan should have — an entire Summer off. Our graduate program doesn’t do Summer classes which is an oddity as most other physical therapy programs have you doing a lot in the summer. All this means is instead of taking a manageable amount of credits each summer, our program shoves all of those classes along with your other coursework to see if you snap like a brittle asparagus stalk. Don’t worry though folks – I believe in a bend, don’t break mental state.

MCSMZ17_185831_D01_18_4b_575x575
Graduate school: a blanch and shock for the mind.

Anyways, with all this free time, I decided it would be cool to achievement hunt and get to some Xbox 360 games I had purchased but never gotten around to playing. First up was Thief, a remake of a popular franchise that I only played part of it’s original incarnation on a sample PC game disc.  This Yotube review describes it as “loveless sex. You can enjoy it, but something just feels wrong.” I never thought of comparing the basis of Grindr to a video game other than pokemon.

Continue reading “Top 100 NES Review: #1 – Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990)”