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So Not A Gamer's Game Review: El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron

GET. THIS. GAME.

Y'know, I never bought the whole "games are art" thing--I scoffed at the idea for a good long while, then I played Lost Odyssey, and I decided that games were a nascent art form--one day, they could be art, but right now, they were at the level of "small child making odd scribbles on a paper then proudly holding it up for someone to praise." Maybe one day that kid'd be the next Da Vinci, but for now... "Yes, sweetie, that looks JUST like a cow! Wait, the head's over there? Ahahaha..."

I just finished El Shaddai, and I officially take back my "games aren't art" position. Completely and utterly, no codicils, asterisks, small print, or conditions. This game is art. Flawed, frustrating, unforgiving, and brain-bending, but art nonetheless.

And you should buy this game. The day it comes out.
 
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So Not A Gamer's Game Review: Radiant Historia

One thing I'm going to say upfront: game devs, it is time to stop being afraid of an unhappy ending. It is time to stop twisting a story to make a happy ending when unhappy is the only way something should end.

My biggest beef with a game doing that is a game I love, FF13. The only thing I didn't like was the cheeseball deus-ex-machina ending. Sometimes? It is OK for the good guys to sacrifice themselves to completely save the world. If FF13 had ended with the first pseudo-ending, or the second pseudo-ending, I would have fucking LOVED the game all the more, instead of feeling vaguely let-down, as I was when the game final cut scene kept going.

Radiant Historia is also a game that should have an unequivocal hero sacrifice, and yet, it tries to pull out the happy end, and is, I think, weaker for it.

Make no mistakes, it has a strong story, and good characters--it's an Atlus game, after all--but the ending felt weak to me, because they pulled back at the last second. I recommend the game, without a doubt--go get it when it comes out--but the ending was lackluster when it could have been amazing. Had they shown us what it was leading up to, and then not try to close it with ambiguity, this game would have gone into my "damn near perfect" category of games (currently only consisting of "Mizu no senritsu" and "Kirby's Epic Yarn"). Instead, it's only "really damned good."

The sucky thing is, some games do take that last step, the one Radiant Historia pulled back from--look at the Silent Hill series. Playing the other games, it's hinted very strongly that James never came back, which means one of the bad endings was what happened. And in Silent Hill 3, the protagonist of Silent Hill 1 is murdered. So why is it that RPGs--Japanese ones, at least; I just can NOT get into Western ones, and I tried--seem to think if the ending isn't bright and shiny, or at the very least ambiguous--that players will freak out?

Game devs...stop. Stop being afraid to pull back. If there can be books and movies that end in a way that makes the players cry when they're done...so can games. If you want to be considered an art form...be ready to take that last step.

Sometimes, it's OK for us to play as Aerith, and for us to therefore die.

We, the players, can take it. I promise.

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Game Review: Kirby's Epic Yarn

So Not A Gamer's Game Review: Kirby's Epic Yarn

THIS GAME IS MADE OF MAGIC AND WHIMSY. IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT, YOU HAVE NO SOUL AND I AM JUDGING YOU SO HARD.

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So Not A Gamer's Game Review: Tales of Vesperia (PS3)

I picked this game up when it came out for PS3, but only just now got around to playing it. :D  All in all, it was enjoyable. That's really all I can think of to describe it--it was good, but not OMFG WOW like some games I've played, but I don't regret the time I spent playing at all. It was a pleasant game, and it got me playing more Tales games (I'm playing "Tales of Hearts" now, and after I finish "Lost Odyssey," I'll probably pick up "Tales of Graces" for the Wii).
 
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So, all in all? If you speak Japanese and can get the PS3 version of this game, I recommend it. If not, get the 360 version, because even stripped-down, it's going to have the majority of the good things in the game (even if I can't imagine, seriously, how the game goes without Patty and Flynn. Props to them for a good job editing on both versions, if they made both feel completely seamless.)

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I went to a friend of a friend's farewell party yesterday in Osaka yesterday--and since it takes an hour to get out there, I took a game with me. I made a quick call between "Demon Summoner" and "World Destruction" ("Sands of Destruction" in the West), and took World Destruction because, hell, it's a game where your goal is to destroy the world, not save it, and that's awesome.

...or so I thought, until I started playing. Never have I gotten so disappointed so fast with a game. Gameplay is pretty good--standard turn-based system, even though walking in the world is a massive hassle because the controls are dodgy. No, no, where this game fails is...pretty much everything BUT gameplay.

The characters are not only cliched, they are annoying. They do things that make no damn sense. At all. And I wanted to smack the main character every time he ended a fight with "I did it, somehow," because he sounds like a spineless whiny, emo kid. The voice acting is terrible, and that includes Maaya frickin' Sakamoto. Even SHE is bad in this, and it pains me that Morte has the same voice as Lightning. NO. A SCRIPT HAS TO BE REALLY BAD FOR EVEN MAAYA SAKAMOTO TO BE UNABLE TO SAVE IT. AND IT IS. Her character, Morte, is an annoying, brainless action girl, who overshot "quirky" and landed into "you need drugs."

The writing is painful. They're playing things off for laughs, which...does not fit the premise of the game at all. Plus, the jokes are just...bad. You can tell where you are supposed to be laughing; unfortunately, it's just not funny. I read on wiki that they toned things down because they were putting it on the DS and wanted to appeal to a younger audience (ie, originally, the downtrodden humans were food for their Feral overlords, not just subservient), and unfortunately, they shot past "toning down" into "lobotomizing."

I already dislike this game, and I'm only about two hours in, which is nothing in RPG time. Never have I wanted to save a good idea from its own creators so much, and I think it's worse because I played FF13, a game where it got "the good guys are really the ones trying to destroy the world" right. This game is just....painful.

Including the cutscenes. Yeah, so, on a portable system, making what is basically a 40 minute cutscene--several cutscenes in a row, seperated by fights you cutscene into and that lead directly into another cutscene--is FAIL. They got it right with you being able to save at any point...you can save from the menu at any time...with the exceptions of being in a battle or a cutscene. This means I was going, "For fuck's sake, my station is coming soon! Let me SAVE! Or at least put in a PAUSE!" Yeah, you can close the DS and it will go to sleep, but if I was playing this during my morning commute and hit all those cutscenes, I would have had to leave my DS on all day, which would have resulted in game loss if the batteries are running low.

This game needed to be saved from itself. It needed MUCH better writers than it had. This is the first time I, a total packrat, has found herself going, "Yeah, I'm gonna trade this one in." I'm going to give it a few more hours, to see if it picks up, but right now...I am very much not impressed. At all.

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So Not A Gamer's Game Review: Final Fantasy 13

I FUCKING LOVE THIS GAME.

ALL THE HATERS CAN SUCK IT.

...I'm really not sure how to break it down any more, and because I want to avoid spoilers, I'm just gonna point to what is normally "the short of it" to explain it all.

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Okami [PS2]

So Not A Gamer's Game Review: Okami
 
I am slow and late, I admit this.  Everyone else on the planet played this years ago.  And I actually started to play it years ago, well before there was an English version, and my Japanese back then was sufficiently crap that I ran screaming.  But in honor of Okamiden coming out, and it Chibi-Amaterasu being the cutest thing EVER, I decided to pull out Okami and play it (never mind the PS3 version of Tales of Desperia sitting sad and alone in my PS3.  That's next on the list To Play, followed by finishing FF7.  And no, I've never played it.  Shush.  I'll still be playing FF13 long before you suckers. >XD )
 
Also, as a warning...yeah, I played it in Japanese.  And a lot of the names are different--the names of people, places, and animals were really truncated in the English version.  I'm using the Japanese names, just because that's how I think of the characters.
 
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Eternal Sonata (PS3 version)

So Not A Gamer's Game Review: Eternal Sonata

If someone had told me I would be squealing "Chopin-sama~!" at the screen while playing Eternal Sonata, I would have thrown things. At their heads.

But oh, look what somehow happened.

This is a game that, by all rights, never should have existed. Honestly, I have no idea how they even got funding for this game. Can you imagine pitching it? "I want to make a game about Frederic Chopin!" "...The composer?" "Yes! I love his music, and want to introduce it to more people, and what better way than an RPG set in his dreamworld right before he dies! Oh, and all the characters will have names based on musical concepts!"

And it was funded. And I'll say right now: YAY FOR THAT. All my skepticism of this game and internal "...whaaaat?!" at the premise all vanished in a puff of smoke and were replaced with love love love.

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Final Fantasy XIII demo (PS3)

So Not A Gamer's Game Review: Final Fantasy XIII Playable Demo

Yeah, so, remember what I said about "I'll be the one laughing when FF13 comes out, because I live in Japan, bitches, and game in Japanese, so I'll get it waaaaaay before y'all get your greasy paws on it."

AHAHAHAHAHA, BITCHES. >XD

OK, gloating out of the way (OK, not completely, check out my sweeeeet 160 GB PS3 that y'all can't get outside Japan, AHAHAHAHAHA), the demo.

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Final Fantasy XII (PS2)

So Not A Gamer's Game Review: Final Fantasy XII

Yeah, yeah, I'm still kicking it old school. Laugh all you want; I'll be the one laughing when FF13 comes out, because I live in Japan, bitches, and game in Japanese, so I'll get it waaaaaay before y'all get your greasy paws on it. I'm learning how to game now so when FF13 comes out I can pop that sucker in and jump in straight off.

I actually finished FF12 a while back, but life kinda came and clobbered me upside the head then kicked me in the face, so there was no time. Now I've got the time, and it's time to review this mofo.

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