Two people could look at this game and come to entirely different conclusions. One could say that it’s the fifth verse, same as the first, another 160some pokémon and a whole lot worse. Another could say that the differences, though subtle, mix things up in ways that haven’t been seen in the series’ 15-year history. It’s a matter of how closely you’re looking. (more…)
Bio: T.J. Condon
- T.J. "Nerdboy Himself" Condon
- Remember that NPC in that game who never really had any useful things to say, except for once you hit the certain part of the quest where it doesn't seem like things should be different but he has the one piece of information that you already know but the game won't progress until you talk to him and you can't understand why and you don't want to resort to a walkthrough because you're not that kind of person and even if you were you think this is kind of an arbitrary way to extend the gameplay and the developers need to be drug behind the dumpster and beaten with a length of cable?
Yeah. I hate him too.
Posts by T.J. Condon
Nerdboy, Slayer, and CactuarJoe weigh in on the 156 new Pokémon available in the newly-released Black and White versions! (more…)
Back in November I reviewed Atelier Annie, a strange game that purported to be an RPG but was in fact a commerce simulation with some monsters popping up from time to time. I enjoyed it thoroughly, but felt there were a couple aspects missing… aspects which would’ve made the game even better. Chief among these were a more robust RPG element (as the stripped-down turn-based system felt chalky and unfulfilling) and the ability to actually micromanage this storefront attached to your workshop.
Recettear is an indie game about micromanaging an item shop combined with a healthy dose of dungeon-crawling. Does it fill the void in my soul left by Annie and her handwaving economics? Before this game, I’d never even heard of the word “Affirmifications.” But it seems so fitting. (more…)
I’m led to believe that hating on Japanese RPGs is the “in” thing right now. Yes, they were pioneering and revolutionary back in their heyday, that magical time around the fourth and fifth console generations (and specifically the SNES and PS1) when cartoony, sprite-based graphics were the norm and any semblance of an intricate plot was head and shoulders above the competition.
That said, Arc Rise Fantasia is a fairly standard JRPG. Brooding protagonist with oversized sword, quiet, sheltered healer girl, semi-fantasy setting, colorful character designs, it’s all there. And it’s better than the haters would lead you to believe. (more…)
Woo. That was a frustrating little head-cold. But now I’m back on my feet, and I have a whole notebook full of scrawled notes and shorthand, which is unfortunate because I don’t read shorthand. Oh, wait… yeah, that was just a coffee stain. Fortunately, it didn’t seep through to the beautiful pages I reserved for our sit-down with director Hajime Tabata and artistic director Isamu Kamikokuryo. You might know them as the creative forces behind Square Enix’s The Third Birthday, the long-awaited next chapter in the Parasite Eve saga. If you don’t, you do now. They answered questions!
THQ doesn’t publish RPGs. Thus, I can accept this XBox 360 I just won at their booth with no question to my jounalistic integrity. Here’s a super-cute Final Fantasy game. (more…)
Sitting here in the E3 media lounge, chicken caesar wrap on my lap, writing this post on my DSiXL. I call it convergence. (more…)
There were press conferences! And WE WERE THERE, MAN. WE WERE THERE. In ur briefings, eatin ur croissants and BBQ tacoz. Then we all went up to the beautiful RandomNPC studios in sunny Los Angeles, California (read: our hotel room) and, in various states of sleep-deprivation, yammered on about the things we saw. (more…)
Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love exists in a strange realm of intersections. It lies between dating sim and tactical mecha combat sim, between long-established Japanese tradition and familiar New York iconography, between the storytelling constructs we know as “video games” and “anime.” Like the Zen master, or the pathetic fanboy trying to get the “harem” ending, it strives to achieve balance in all things.
No discipline is flawless. At one level or another, we are all human, defective, stained with the deepest seeds of doubt and regret, shame and anger. But we can try, dammit. We can try. And this game, despite some technical flaws, tries. Dammit.
Sometimes, it’s refreshing to go through a game with no foreknowledge of what’s going on. I rarely get that opportunity, given how close my ear tends to be to any RPG-related news source. Rare is it that I can claim that a game’s flown completely under my radar.
Last Rebellion flew completely under my radar. (more…)
Part of the joy of writing for an RPG-centric website is that I can draw comparisons to some rather eclectic, obscure, and niche material, knowing that the reader will be able to follow my gist. It’s an amazing power, and one that I try to wield judiciously and in the name of good. However, Atelier Annie makes me wish that, rather than your standard RPG fare, my readers were versed in the equally insular world of German boardgames, particularly resource-management-centric, action-limited strategy titles such as Agricola, Stone Age, and Settlers of Catan. I’d probably have a much easier time of describing the cost/reward analyses, transportation efficiency concerns, and development strategies intrinsic to this Gust-developed JRPG. In lieu of such assumption, though, just take my word for it: Atelier Annie is an awesome, horizon-expanding game. (more…)
Ok. I’ll level with you. I’ve just scrapped my fifth attempt at an opening to this review. I’ve tried food analogies, tomato discussion, references to Halloween (the holiday and the movie), Tim Burton films, Okami, Phantasy Star… So, nuts to that. Settle in, kiddies. It’s story time.
Once upon a time, there was a little DS RPG called A Witch’s Tale. Her parents, Nippon-Ichi and HitMaker, were very famous in their own rights; one was a premier name in RPGs and the other was once a member of the famous Sega family. Though her pedigree shone, she was scorned from birth, partially due to the failings of her elder brother, Dragoneer’s Aria. As the young girl of the family, no one wanted to mention her in the same breath as her half-siblings Disgaea and Crazy Taxi. Realizing that she would have to seek her own fortune, she set out to prove her detractors wrong.
We Meet Again, Phantom Brave. It’s been a few years, hasn’t it? You sucked up a healthy portion of my time back on the PS2, you slick little TRPG. I had a blast with your free-and-open gridless maps, your extensive and esoteric concepts of what constituted a “weapon,” and your down-again-up-again story. Yes, we had good times. So how’s that intervening half-decade treated you?
One year, four months, and thirteen days ago I gave my opinion on Mana Khemia ~Alchemists of Al-Revis~, a title I described as “the union of several good ideas other games had but never put together before.” It was a strangely-worded explanation of a strangely attractive game; none of what I played then was all that new or unique, but so many elements came together into a deceptively entertaining gestalt that, frankly, I didn’t care. Mana Khemia was not unique, and I was fine with that.
Mana Khemia 2 isn’t unique, either. And I’m fine with that, too.
While trying to decide how best to open a review of Star Ocean: First Departure, I came to the painful realization that I couldn’t possibly do so without taking you back in time. Just wasn’t gong to happen. So generate 1.21 gigawatts, strap yourself in, and set your coordinates to Akihabara, July 19, 1996.
(insert Huey Lewis interlude and “Great Scott!” exclamation here)
Nerdboy is here to ease you into comprehension of Ys Books I & II, now available on your very own Virtual Console! The liveblog will be getting started at 2PM EDT, but feel free to check in early and get comfy in your own digital ringside seat!
Hit this link to get it started!
Alchemy \’al-kə-mē\ – A power or process of transforming something common into something special
One of the toughest challenges for a game in this day and age is the concept of “unique.” It’s a very nebulous term; you can take it to mean “going where no man has gone before,” or perhaps “something kinda familiar, but twisted beyond recognition.” Perhaps Mana Khemia is not a truly “unique” game. Every element of its gameplay feels like it’s been done before… but can a patchwork not be beautiful of its own right? The contrast of many fabrics may come together to create a beautiful work, just as the union of many existing concepts in game mechanics can join to create an excellent experience.
There comes a time in each… erm, week… when… (more…)
I spent last night screaming at big-screens, small-screens, wide-screens, and flat-screens with a restaurant full of Steelers Nation. We were echoing the emotions of our bretheren on-site at Heinz Field up the river; we were echoing the emotions of similar clusters of fans all over the city; we were echoing the emotions of every native son and daughter of the ‘Burgh. At the end of the night, after a nail-biting conclusion, screams and cries of despair, and speculations of next year’s prospects, I knew the meaning of the word “tune.” I was in harmony with this unruly mob. And that made me think.
(Honestly, this has relevance to RPGs. Just not yet. Hold on…) (more…)
That’s, like, so 1996…
I’m T.J. “Nerdboy Himself” Condon, and I’m insane. Or so I’m lead to believe.
But first, an introduction. I’ve been gaming for about 20 years now (Or roughly 83% of my time on this moist rock), and tend to do a bit of writing on the topic. I hold a degree in Film Studies, which I primarily use to dissect video games on an artistic level, just to action a personal vendetta against Roger Ebert. (Besides, anyone who gives Borat four stars can’t have his head on straight.) Also, upon receiving a copy of Star Ocean for the Super Famicom from a friend who had recently visited Japan, I proceeded to import-mod my Super NES with a $.25 paring knife and a pair of hedge clippers. I call it “devotion.” (more…)