Top 100 Xbox360 Review: # 13 – Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006)

A Menace To Society.

Was this the moment where games hacked the human psyche?

157216-the-elder-scrolls-iv-oblivion-windows-screenshot-main-menuGame FAQs Ranking:  #13
My Rating: StarStarStarStarStar

A subtle reason I like reviewing older games is for the cultural and historical aspect. If you look hard enough, you can see the societal changes being reflected in the medium itself — no different than art or music. As technology has gone on to completely integrate with our lives (we just installed smart outlets that only require talking out loud to illuminate the house) you see this same theme ramping up over the years in video games.

Oblivion is a watershed moment in that story.  To me, it feels like a tipping point where video games were able to be more than just a hobby and could actually take over your life.  The in game counter for Final Fantasy usually clocked in at 40 hours with each entry and elicited self-moral shaming. I always considered what I could have accomplished with that chunk of time directed at some other task.

Oblivion made that look like child’s play.

Hijacking our sensibilities, it was easy to now play this game for 100+ hours. There was actually that much to do. Stranger yet, these hundreds of hours weren’t spread out over a year but were concentrated blasts starting in the afternoon and not ending and until 2am.

Replaying Oblivion made me go down that road one last time, albeit for just a quick 25 hour play through. It was hard to put down the controller, always wanting to do “just one more thing.” It’s still addicting and engrossing, but I kept thinking: at what cost?

Continue reading “Top 100 Xbox360 Review: # 13 – Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006)”

Top 100 NES Review: #20 – Mega Man (1987)

I Don’t Think I Like Mega Man.

I’m not looking forward to playing four more identical games to close out the series. 

Mega Man NES Title ScreenSydlexia’s Ranking: #20/100
My Rating: StarStar

I finally submitted my final “big” thing due for residency — a journal club review discussing Bell’s Palsy. If you think that’s boring enough, wait for what I used for entertainment in between revisions.

In theory, a more complex game of rock-paper-scissors should pique my interest. A break from the linear, ossified train tracks of other side-scrollers should be a welcome sight. A robust inventory of weaponry ought to make me squeal with joy. But, Mega Man just doesn’t. This is my second iteration (Mega Man X being the first), and it is all. the. same.

The biggest allure central to the plot is the order. There are initially six stages, and at the end of each one is a special boss. Defeating it garners you a new weapon. Each boss is super weak to one of the other weapons, so there is a particular order of stages that makes the most sense for you to run roughshod over the competition.

This is the kind of game that gets wrecked when there is a backlog of games in the queue.

Continue reading “Top 100 NES Review: #20 – Mega Man (1987)”

Top 100 PS1 Review: #2 – Final Fantasy 7 (1997)

Story Telling Matters. 

The Remake with all the bells and whistles can’t compete with pure polygonal poetry. 

Final Fantasy 7 PS1 IntroApe’s Ranking: #2/100
My Rating: StarStarStarStarStar

There is a scene in the Final Fantasy 7: Remake where the line is clearly drawn in the sand between new and old. It’s in Shinra HQ where the president is making a lengthy speech about destiny, fate, environment, power, and money. It has the double sin of being lengthy WHILE not saying anything important. It’s like squeezing a dry lemon: lots of movement but no juice.

This is endemic to the entire Remake. More dialogue, more graphics, and more action that ends up being less emotional. It’s no different than when I watched the bloated Star Wars prequels and realized that just because you have “more” doesn’t mean it’s going to make things better. Meeting the president in the original is super impactful, and he doesn’t even bother saying a word (for those who know why – 🥰).

But, was I giving the original too much credit? Nostalgia is a helluva drug, and it must have been at least 15 years since I last heard the whir of a PS1 in the middle of the night as I roamed the streets of Midgar. Were things really better with those horrendously looking blocks?

Yes. Yes they were.

Continue reading “Top 100 PS1 Review: #2 – Final Fantasy 7 (1997)”

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.

Continue reading “Top 100 PS1 Review: #21 – Final Fantasy Anthology (1999)”

Top 100 N64 Review: #29 – Diddy Kong Racing (1997)

Diddy Kong Racing > Mario Kart.

And my angry thoughts about Bumper the Badger.  

Diddy Kong Racing title Screen n64LesLites’ Ranking#29/100
My Rating: StarStarStarStarStar

Diddy Kong Racing (DKR) is everything you could want from a racing game. While Mario Kart 64 is just a straight up race for first, DKR has multiple-layers where it ratchets up the difficulty a notch at a time. As the game continues to tie your hands behind your back, you have to get more skilled and adept — no star power ups to save you here.

And it has adorable creatures to boot…except that piece of trash badger.

Bumper the Badger

Continue reading “Top 100 N64 Review: #29 – Diddy Kong Racing (1997)”

Top 100 SNES Review: #18 – Super Mario Kart (1992)

This Game Makes Me Dizzy.

And other musings from an out-dated racer.

Super Mario Kart SNES TItle ScreenSydlexia’s Ranking: #18/100
My Rating: Star.jpgStar.jpg

I’m exhausted.

Currently, I just finished off a 50 hour work week, but it doesn’t stop there: I have residency mid-terms in a couple of weeks; a paper that I’m trying to get published; research articles that needs to be read; and notes to be typed.

Needing to hit a restart, I decided to keep Friday night and all of Saturday completely to myself. I’m going to waste away laying around, playing video games, writing, guitaring, and whatever else fits my fancy.

I wanted something easy to kick it off. I preferred to avoid going through the hassle of learning something new, nor did I want to get pulled into a long adventure (here’s looking at you Final Fantasy). Mario Kart seemed to fit the bill. I could drink my Sam’s Club diet soda and do short three-minute races while taking breaks for instagram and self-reflection.

While having more content than F-Zero, Mario Kart SNES still seems pretty bare. The programming for certain situations also became very predictable (Need a star? Eighth place it is! About to pass Luigi? Guess who now has a star!). Not to mention the vertigo-inducing graphics where Donut Plains turns into a pixilated seizure of poop stains.

Continue reading “Top 100 SNES Review: #18 – Super Mario Kart (1992)”

Top 100 SNES Review: #93 – Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (1992)

95% Awful With A Couple Good Midi Tracks.

I didn’t expect much from the backend of this Top 100 list, and it still disappointed. 

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest Title Screen Sydlexia’s Ranking: #93/100
My Rating: Star

I’ve seen Instagram accounts for models that have more depth than this game.

Made to attract North American kids to the new genre of RPGs in the early 90s, Square gutted anything that might have raised the difficulty level a microgram. ANYTHING. Not wanting to risk us getting lost, the locations are named things such as ‘Aquaria’ and ‘Windia’ and ‘Fireburg.’ The world map is more like Super Mario Bro’s 3 forcing you into predetermined sidewalks of adventure. There is an option to allow autobattle where the computer takes over your sole companion’s commands because hitting the A button for two party members would be too much.

The game makes sure we avoid strategy, story, exploration, or anything else that might be kind of like, ya know, the things we enjoy from RPG games.

Continue reading “Top 100 SNES Review: #93 – Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (1992)”

Top 100 PS1 Review: #12 – Final Fantasy Tactics (1998)

One of the Most Engrossing Games Ever.

Possibly the greatest game of all-time — really!

Final Fantasy Tactics Title ScreenApe’s Ranking: #12/100
My Rating:  StarStarStarStarStar

Square had a ten year period where they could do no wrong.

In an age before copious reviews online, buying games was mostly winging it with a dash of expert advice from the Electronics Boutique employee. The only thing that came close to a guarantee was seeing a Squaresoft logo. Starting with Final Fantasy VI in ’94, Squaresoft would go on to produce some of the best games of all-time and in rapid succession.

Known mostly for traditional RPGs, Square began to explore other genres with the playstation 1. It’s amazing the amount of side projects they juggled which even included a realistic, one-hit-kill sword fighting game that is well regarded. Final Fantasy Tactics (FFT) is the company’s foreray into strategic gaming where they melded the genre’s typical elements with the Final Fantasy feel of chocobos, summons, and classes.

It might be their best game ever, and that’s saying something given their catalog which includes the ever popular Final Fantasy 7.

What makes FFT so good is the combat: the battles are intricate doses of choices, strategy, and chance where you become highly invested in the outcome. Even random battles become gripping as every decision you make has a ripple effect on the outcome. The learning curve is huge and the game mechanics are harsh, but as you get better, you start to unlock the beauty of the immensely customizable classes.

Continue reading “Top 100 PS1 Review: #12 – Final Fantasy Tactics (1998)”

Top 100 N64 Review: #69 – Mission: Impossible (1998)

R-R-R-Ridiculous.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to try and believe it. 
Mission Impossible N64 Title Screen
LesLites’ Ranking#69/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

The only thing impossible about this game is trying to understand it. If I had to chose what better represented reality, I would go with Lord of the Rings over Mission: Impossible. This world, filled with hideous polygons and multi-layered distance fog, cannot be of our own. It still has a couple good missions, though.

Continue reading “Top 100 N64 Review: #69 – Mission: Impossible (1998)”

Top 100 NES Review: #100 – Abadox: The Deadly Inner War (1989)

A Magic School Bus Tour of the Intestines.

This game made me ponder: what’s inside my bowels?
Abadox The Deadly Inner War Title ScreenSydlexia’s Ranking: #100/100
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

You know if you stretched out your small intestines, they would be as long as 22 feet. While Abadox is only a measly six levels, it’s going to feel like it is much longer, just like your jejunum and ileum. That’s because during the space invasion through the gut of an alien, you will die many times by its angry inhabitants. I haven’t seen a GI system this upset since I ate a whole pizza and half a chicken in one sitting.

Continue reading “Top 100 NES Review: #100 – Abadox: The Deadly Inner War (1989)”