Archive for the ‘Editorials’ Category.

Game Changers: Volume 14 – Final Fantasy I

Did you ever have the chance to play Dragon Quest I (aka Dragon Warrior) for the NES? We’re talking back in 1989 for us North Americans. If not, or in case you need a refresher, I’ll give you a little run down of the plot. You are the descendant of the hero Erdrick who, in times past, defeated the Dragon Lord. Now that the Dragon Lord has returned, you must track down  the scattered pieces of Erdrick’s arms and armour and defeat the Dragon Lord anew. That’s it. No really, that’s the whole thing. Well okay, you do rescue a princess along the way and you do have to collect some relics that will allow you to reach the Dragon Lord’s isle, but basically I’ve spoiled the entire plot for you. As you may have noticed, it’s a bit sparse.

Then came Final Fantasy I. Continue reading ‘Game Changers: Volume 14 – Final Fantasy I’ »

Game Changers: Volume 13 – Fallout 3

I’ve heard tell that in the days of the NES and SNES era, when a new Dragon Quest game was coming out in Japan, it would be like a national holiday as people lined up to get their copy. RPGs have never reached such lofty heights of popularity here in North America. Final Fantasy VII managed to popularize the genre certainly. The series and the genre itself have become much more well known since — and seen an increase in sales as well. And while no RPG has had the worldwide acclaim sales, and following that Final Fantasy VII did, Fallout 3 deserves a special mention for its breakthrough performance in the North American market in particular. Continue reading ‘Game Changers: Volume 13 – Fallout 3’ »

Game Changers: Volume 12 – Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VII, the legend, the phenomenon. Classic? Overrated? Whatever you may think of the game now, nearly a dozen years later, its impact on the RPG world is undeniable. More than any other game in the history of the genre, it brought RPGs into the spotlight and gave them a mainstream appeal never before seen (and only occasionally duplicated since).

Continue reading ‘Game Changers: Volume 12 – Final Fantasy VII’ »

Game Changers: Volume 11 – Pokemon Red and Blue

When Pokémon Red and Blue first came over to the States in September of 1998, the popularity explosion came as quite a shock to those unfamiliar with the series. They cried, “What was this game, and why does it keep our children up nights?” Mario never did that — well, not on this scale, anyway.  Continue reading ‘Game Changers: Volume 11 – Pokemon Red and Blue’ »

Dragon Age: Origins and the Curious Marketing Strategy

By now, anybody who cares has seen the trailers for Bioware’s upcoming fantasy RPG Dragon Age: Origins. We laughed, we cried, we wondered how in the world they thought adding Marilyn Manson to scenes of mass violence and armored dudes sneering at each other would help it sell. At E3, the gang and I got a closer look at the actual game, and while there was little to sway people one way or another, I did get the impression that there is cause for hope yet. Allow me to elaborate. Continue reading ‘Dragon Age: Origins and the Curious Marketing Strategy’ »

Game Changers: Volume 10 – Chrono Cross

Sequel. A word both thrilling and terrifying. How many times have you heard someone say about a movie that the sequel wasn’t nearly as good as the original? But unlike the movie business, the video game industry lives on not just sequels and prequels, but franchises. The biggest-selling RPGs these days are nearly all part of established franchises.

But sequels can go wrong. Very very wrong. Case in point: Chrono Cross. Continue reading ‘Game Changers: Volume 10 – Chrono Cross’ »

Editorial – Who Won E3?

Every year, people ask the same question. “Who won E3?” This is, of course, the hardest question to answer. Winning is very subjective. If you are a fan of shooters, you will think Microsoft won. Casual gamers will think Nintendo took top honors. To decide the winner, one must look at the announcements. Continue reading ‘Editorial – Who Won E3?’ »

Editorial – E3 is Energy, Exhibits, Equilibrium

Most gamers remember what E3 was like in the early to mid-’00s, even if they didn’t attend: showy exhibits, loud music, plenty of swag, booth babes, and a festive atmosphere. It was more than just a trade show; it was a festival of gaming for the industry’s best. It was the chance to try out games that weren’t out yet and talk with developers. It was an exhausting sensory overload and a collective experience that made many wonderful memories.

Continue reading ‘Editorial – E3 is Energy, Exhibits, Equilibrium’ »

Game Changers: Volume 9 – The Legend of Zelda

The year is 1987. The Nintendo Entertainment System is quickly becoming a household name. Most players have hopped and warped their way through Super Mario Bros., killed entire flocks of ducks in Duck Hunt, and probably taken more than a few potshots at that infernal dog that had a good laugh at you whenever you missed — man’s best friend indeed! Most NES-playing children were, by this point, pestering parents for new challenges. And for those who’d cut their teeth on the side-scrolling Super Mario, nothing could be more different than The Legend of Zelda. Continue reading ‘Game Changers: Volume 9 – The Legend of Zelda’ »

Game Changers: Volume 8 – Final Fantasy Mystic Quest

Anyone who’s ever tried to purchase vintage cartridge-based games on Ebay will tell you that prices can become hugely inflated based on the perceived popularity and rarity of the game. A hard-to-find SNES game cart can easily surpass its original retail price of fifteen years earlier. Even games that have since been ported can get high in price. For example, Chrono Trigger, which has recently seen its second port, can still go for anywhere from $30-$60 on Ebay. Auctions for Final Fantasy IV, which has been ported or remade a whopping six times, still go up to $20-$30 (or $60 if you’re picky about getting the box and all the maps and inserts). And Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, the first RPG tailor-made for the North American market and which has never been ported, goes for… somewhere between 1$ and $20. Continue reading ‘Game Changers: Volume 8 – Final Fantasy Mystic Quest’ »

Game Changers: Volume 7 – Deus Ex

Hybrid-genre games have always been something of an experiment, even as they have grown more common throughout the industry. Going back as far as the Doom era, namely with a little-known title called Strife (which was built on the Doom engine) hybrids don’t often truly appeal to fans of one genre or the other. Too much a shooter, RPG fans get turned off; too much an RPG, shooter fans won’t like it. This is a gross oversimplification, but there is truth to the notion that a hybrid game can’t lean too heavily on any single aspect. Continue reading ‘Game Changers: Volume 7 – Deus Ex’ »

Game Changers: Volume 6 – Chrono Trigger

Do you remember the days when you finished a game and it was over? The credits ran and you turned off your console and congratulated yourself on having fought the good fight and won. There was nothing left to do but move on to the next challenge. Well that wasn’t the case the first time you finished Chrono TriggerContinue reading ‘Game Changers: Volume 6 – Chrono Trigger’ »

NPCast 09 – Spoiler Ocean

Howdy-o, people. With Second Evolution and Last Hope safely behind me, I feel I’ve sufficiently distanced myself from both titles to calmly and rationally tear one of them to pieces. Which one? That would be telling. (It’s Last Hope.) Take a listen, and let us all see how biases form and express themselves. Extreme spoilers beyond this point: you have been warned. Continue reading ‘NPCast 09 – Spoiler Ocean’ »

Game Changers: Volume 5 – Final Fantasy II/IV

Welcome back to another edition of Game Changers. Last week we looked at EverQuest, the first MMO to really hit it big. This week we look at another game that revolutionized the genre, Final Fantasy IV.
Continue reading ‘Game Changers: Volume 5 – Final Fantasy II/IV’ »

Game Changers: Volume 4 – EverQuest

Type “World of Warcraft” into Google and you’ll come up with some seventy million results. That’s more than double the population of Canada, in case you were wondering. Now type in “EverQuest” and you’ll get a measly seven million results. With World of Warcraft boasting of some eight million users, EverQuest‘s comparatively tiny 450,000 users at its peak may seem like nothing, but back in the early days of the internet that was a lot, and without EverQuest, the Behemoth known as World of Warcraft would probably not have come to be. Continue reading ‘Game Changers: Volume 4 – EverQuest’ »

Game Changers: Volume 3 – Fallout

Throughout the 80s and most of the 90s, the role-playing genre was dominated by fantasy settings, standard sword-and-sorcery affairs time-locked in various medieval or feudal societies. There were occasional bouts of innovation, such as Wasteland, one of the earliest RPGs to touch on the idea of life after a nuclear holocaust. Still, they were few and far between, and most were doomed to obscurity. Continue reading ‘Game Changers: Volume 3 – Fallout’ »

Game Changers: Volume 2 – Final Fantasy III

For those who were playing RPGs in the Super Nintendo era, few would deny that Final Fantasy VI, released in 1994 and known to North Americans at the time as Final Fantasy III, was a remarkable game. Many still cite it as an old favourite. The game featured top-notch sprites, a huge step up from the comparatively diminutive figures in Final Fantasy IV (and V, though most North American didn’t know it at the time). It also had an impressive cast and storyline, and still stands out among Final Fantasy games for not having a single obvious lead character who never leaves the party. Yet there is another tiny addition to the game which was to have a lasting impact on the very way RPG fans play games. That tiny detail, so easily overlooked, is the in-game tutorial. Continue reading ‘Game Changers: Volume 2 – Final Fantasy III’ »

Game Changers: Volume 1 – Dragon Warrior

Welcome to the first edition of Game Changers. In this series, we’ll be discussing games that have had a major impact on RPGs in some fashion. To kick things off, we thought we’d look at Dragon Quest 1, known in North America as Dragon Warrior. For a lot of us, this was the first RPG we played. Continue reading ‘Game Changers: Volume 1 – Dragon Warrior’ »

NPCast 08 – Anecdotal Questions

Once upon a time, there was a rock radio station that, shall we say, presided over my heart – a role that would only be matched by one John Henry Eden a decade later. The station’s life, and death, had a profound impact on how I view the entertainment industry, and has led to a pair of questions about the things I enjoy. As usual, these aren’t questions I know how to answer, but I think they’re important nonetheless. Join me, won’t you? Continue reading ‘NPCast 08 – Anecdotal Questions’ »

Editorial – Konami’s Restrictive Review Requirements Reek

A few days ago, it came to light that Konami was enforcing certain restrictions on reviewers working on Metal Gear Solid 4. Now, this in and of itself is nothing unusual. Most commonly, gaming companies restrict when the press can release their reviews, and as a matter of professional courtesy, most members of the press abide by these restrictions.
Continue reading ‘Editorial – Konami’s Restrictive Review Requirements Reek’ »