Category Archives: Wii

Interview with Next Level Games’ Audio Director, Chad York

I’ve always been a huge admirer of Next Level Games and the minds behind their games, particularly from the music point of view. Mario Strikers: Charged hit the scene a few years ago, and its music went by unrecognized. I honestly think it has one of the most underrated soundtracks of all time. Thankfully, I managed to get in contact with the man behind the music of that game and a few other Nintendo flagships, Chad York. I’m thankful that he lent his time for me to interview him through Skype. It was more of a conversation really, an insightful one at that. For my first interview ever, it turned out rather well. Hope you enjoy!

Super Castlevania IV Review

Super_Castlevania_IV_USASuper Castlevania IV (Available on Wii, and Wii U)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Action
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Original SNES Release Date: December 4th, 1991
Wii Virtual Console Release Date: December 25th, 2006
Wii U Virtual Console Release Date: October 31st, 2013

Parent Talk: Super Castlevania IV is rated E10+ for everyone ten and older.  The ESRB lists fantasy action and violence as the main disclaimer, and I think that’s appropriate.  The game isn’t too gory, but does feature skeletons, Medusa, and other creatures of the night which could potentially frighten the very young.  That said, I know many people who played this game when they were only five or six and they turned out just fine.

Plays Like: The game plays very much like Castlevania and Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse on the NES, although taken to the next level.  The whip can now be swung in eight different directions, and even held in any position which acts as a sort of shield.

Review Basis: Having finished the game numerous times on the SNES, and the Wii Virtual Console, I decided to swing into action and play through the Wii U Virtual Console version just because it was an excuse to return to this incredible game.

Having come off of three incredible hits on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Konami was ready to rock the world with its fourth Castlevania, exclusively released on the Super NES.  While not technically a sequel, more of a reimagining of the original game, Super Castlevania IV features some of the very best audio, visuals, and gameplay the series has ever seen in 2D.  If you have never played this game before and enjoy the series, do yourself a big favor and go download this one straight away.

SCV4_2The Great:

Hands-down the very best gameplay element added to SCV4 is the eight-way directional whip.  Now you could jump and whip down, angle and whip diagonally, or whip straight up, and to the sides.  It was amazing!  You could even hold down the attack button and Simon would hold the whip out in front of him, which helped to protect against incoming projectiles.  Seriously, it can’t be said enough times, this was revolutionary stuff back in 1991.  For some reason Konami would ditch this gameplay element in virtually every single 2D Castlevania afterwards, and the only logical explanation is that it helped make the game a bit easier than the previous entries.  It’s a real shame though as it was just so awesome!

SCV4_3The Good:

+ Other gameplay refinements include being able to shoot your weapon with the R button instead of up and attack.  It might seem like a minor addition, but it went along way to help make this feel like a different beast.  There were also special objects Simon could attach his whip into that would allow him to swing from one area to the next.  Simon could also turn direction while mid-jump, and even jump on and off stairs.  All little additions that came together to make this something really special.

+ Phenomenal use of Mode-7.  Mode-7 is a unique graphical scaling effect the SNES featured, and Nintendo highly marketed.  Certain stages in the game made full use of the effect, such as the infamous tunnel stage that would frequently cause people with motion sickness to want to hurl their lunch.  It was a true sight to behold though, and made those playing the game feel like they were experiencing something truly special.

+ Outside the Mode-7 stages and effect, were the super refined graphics.  Simon’s sprite was larger than ever, the environments were more detailed than anything the NES could pump out, and the boss fights featured some truly massive foes.  One of my favorite was the two-headed dragon you fight during one of the early stages.  Sure there was some slowdown here and there, but it was worth it for these stunning visuals.  They hold up perfectly well over two decades after the game originally shipped.

+ The soundtrack is also fantastic.  Many of the classic tracks from the original NES trilogy return here, although sounding better than ever thanks to the SNES’ great sound chip.  Bloody Tears in particular was a great standout.

SCV4_4The Lowdown:

Super Castlevania IV has aged perfectly.  It’s one of the best entries in the “classic” series, and while it was never overly difficult thanks to the eight-way whip, it’s made even easier by the Wii U’s save states.  The graphics, incredible soundtrack and amazing gameplay prove that timeless classics are always worth revisiting.  This is one you shouldn’t hesitate to experience on any platform you can get your hands on.  It’s an instant buy!

Final Score: 9/10

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Review

ALttPThe Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Available on the Wii U, and Wii Virtual Console)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Action RPG
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Original Release Date: April 13th, 1992
Wii Virtual Console Release Date: January 22nd, 2007
Wii U Virtual Console Release Date: January 30th, 2014

Parent Talk: Grab ahold of your sword, pick up that shield, and go out there and rescue seven captured maidens, only then can you restore peace to the land of Hyrule.  Sounds awesome and epic, doesn’t it?  That’s because it is!  The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past features lots of sword wielding action, and yet thanks to the cartoony look, never feels like a mature game.  There are some enemies that might frighten the extremely young, but for the most part this is an adventure you’ll want to share with as many as possible, regardless of age.

Plays Like: Take the overhead perspective from the NES classic The Legend of Zelda, and mix the magic spells from Zelda II, and you have only a brief idea of what to expect here.  A Link to the Past (ALttP) forever changed action games upon its release in 1991/2 (depending on your region).  It set the bar so high that no game has ever been able to reach it.  It featured the best possible mix of supremely tight gameplay, a fantastic story, and incredible audio visuals.  Bottom line, this is considered the greatest game of all time for a reason.

Review Basis: Upon purchasing the game in 1992, I have completed it virtually every single year since.  There’s something extremely special about this game that keeps bringing you back for more.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is not only my favorite videogame of all time, but most of the world’s as well.  It was the first game that truly made me go WOW.  The world was massive, the gameplay was spot-on, the story was epic, and the graphics and music were just incredible.  Today, some 22 years after its release, it remains the best of the best.  If you have never played this masterpiece before, you cannot call yourself a gamer.

Who could ever forget their first steps outside.
Who could ever forget their first steps outside.

The Great:

Everything!!!  Thanks for reading the review.  Now go play it.  What, still here?  Why?!  I told you, everything is great, so stop reading and go play damn it!  Ok fine, you want further details, I’ll humor you, but only this once.

Let’s start off with the story.  For the first time in the series, the English actually made sense!  Sure the translation has come under fire in recent years with liberties being taken, but you know what, it doesn’t matter in the least.  The story was so shocking back in 1992 that none of us noticed, and given the quality of the dialogue, you won’t notice today either.  It was one of the first games I can remember that actually had an extremely detailed intro, if you didn’t hit the start button that is.  It explained all about the Golden Land and how a thief broke into this sacred realm and stole a very powerful object.  When you do eventually begin the game, you’re awoken by your uncle, who’s heading off to the castle to rescue the princess Zelda.  Being the good lad you are, you ignore his pleas to stay home and venture forth.  Eventually what appears to be a simple quest becomes something so much more.  By the time you face off against Ganon, and the credits roll it’s incredible to reflect back on all the adventures you’ve had, all the friends you’ve made along the way, and just how epic this tale really was.  Even today it holds up perfectly, but back in 1992 this was simply unheard of in the console space, and it forever changed people’s opinion of what a videogame could do.

One of the coolest uses of Mode-7.
One of the coolest uses of Mode-7.

Next up we have the graphics.  They’re incredible, even 22 years later.  Back when this game hit, the lightning and rain at the beginning of the game were eye popping.  It was such a fantastic way to start the game.  Later on, heading to the Mysterious Forest and unsheathing the Master Sword was another wow moment.  There was also the immense size of the game, not only were there almost a dozen dungeons, but the entire Light World had a clone, with the Dark World.  Clone isn’t the right word, as the Dark World was actually completely different, and because of that this felt like the longest game ever.  The level design was spectacular, the enemy designs were awesome, and the special effects, especially the Mode-7 map was just incredible.  Putting all these things together made one hell of an impression.

The audio was another area that was just spectacular in 1992.  The overworld theme from the original Zelda was crisper, sharper, and all around better in 16-bit.  The number of themes made for this one game were staggering to youngsters the world over.  From the Dark World theme, to the classic fairy music, the amount of songs that originated in this game remain surprising.  Every Zelda game since this one has borrowed at least one theme because they were that memorable.  The sound effects were also great, with a variety of different sounds emitting whenever Link cut a bush, hit into a rock, or attacked an enemy.

A Legend is born!
A Legend is born!

As great as the game is, people might be surprised to hear just how tough it was to complete.  Today we have the Internet, but back in ’92 there was no real way to get help if you got stuck.  Sure you could call a gaming hotline for crazy amounts of money, or subscribe to Nintendo Power, but what if the hotline didn’t have ALttP yet, or what if Nintendo Power didn’t cover the game in that particular issue?  That was it, you just tried, and tried again until you figured it out.  This was such a tough game that Nintendo included a sealed hint book in every copy.  That might be looked at as a fault, but it forced you to explore, and try all the various tools at your disposal.

Speaking of tools, the variety of weapons and items available were jaw-dropping back in the day.  In the original Zelda there were only a handful of items you could find.  In the sequel, the emphasis was more on magic.  With ALttP though, it featured the best of both worlds.  Not only were there tons of fantastic weapons and items to find, but you also had three powerful magic spells you could learn.  The Master Sword had a revamped attack as well.  You could even power-up classic items like the shield and boomerang.  It was nuts!  Overall, this really was light years ahead of the games that came before it.

How did I already rescue the princess?
How did I already rescue the princess?

All of these superb additions wouldn’t mean a thing if the core gameplay wasn’t tight and responsive, but boy was it ever.  Link could not move in eight directions, so everything felt so much smoother.  You could perform a spin attack by holding down the attack button, you could ram through multiple enemies with the Pegasus Boots, and perform so many other fantastic feats with little to no effort whatsoever.  That’s the clear sign that you’re ignoring the controller, and just focusing on the excellent game.

All of this is even before taking into account the Light and Dark World mechanics.  By exploring both worlds you could hop back and forth, finding secrets everywhere.  Exploring became much more than what players had experienced in the previous games, and it was so rewarding that Nintendo would mimic this system with their first 3D Zelda game, Ocarina of Time, except instead of travelling between worlds, you would travel between time.

Many Zelda bosses were inspired from this one battle.
Many Zelda bosses were inspired from this one battle.

The Lowdown:

I could go on for ages, but there’s really no point.  The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is a masterpiece that hasn’t aged a single day in 22 years.  It deserves to be played every year, and if you have never gotten around to playing it before, you really owe it to yourself to give this one a download.  It set the blueprint for all the Zelda games to come.  It’s the best of the best, a living Legend!

Final Score: 10/10

Jarrod & Steven’s Top 10 Wii Games of All Time

Next-gen begins on Friday, so Steven and I thought we’d look back on our favorite memories with the Wii, a console far too many hardcore gamers ignored.  So sit back and enjoy some really excellent games.

We both hope you enjoyed this look back, and encourage all of you to share your favorite Wii memories with us.

Jarrod & Steven’s Top 10 Games of the Generation

As of November 22nd we say good-bye to the seventh console generation.  Technically the seventh generation ended with the release of the Wii U, but now that the competition is launching back to back, I think it’s fair to say that the seventh generation comes to a close when the PS4 and Xbox One launch.  Regardless, here’s a look at the top 10 games of the generation, according to Jarrod and Steven.

Surely you have your own picks for the top 10 of the generation, and we’d love to hear what you’ve got to say, so do so!  The fate of the world is depending on you!

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link Review

Zelda IIZelda II: The Adventure of Link (Available on 3DS, Wii, and Wii U)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Action RPG
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Original Release Date: September 26th, 1988
Wii Virtual Console Release Date: June 4th, 2007
3DS Virtual Console Release Date: November 22nd, 2012
Wii U Virtual Console Release Date: September 12th, 2013

Parent Talk: Having played this while a youngster myself, I can understand why the ESRB rated Zelda II E for everyone. Considering the somewhat primitive graphics, there really isn’t anything too overly mature about the game except the overall plot, which thankfully comes across much clearer than the original’s did.

Plays Like: Unlike The Legend of Zelda, The Adventure of Link no longer takes place with an overhead perspective. Instead the game plays something more like Castlevania mixed with Dragon Quest. There’s still an overworld, although whenever enemies touch Link, they’re transported to a side-scrolling battle stage. Dungeons also take place in side scrolling areas where players engage in some of the most challenging battles ever to grace a Zelda game. Many consider this the most difficult game in the series, and for very good reason, it is. There’s also a leveling system, magic, and so much more.

Review Basis: Much like the original Zelda on the NES, I’ve played my fair share of The Adventure of Link. While this may be one of my least favorite entries in the series, it’s remains a fantastic game that dramatically changed the course of the series.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is generally regarded as the weakest link in the Zelda series, but that’s only because it tried to do so many new things. As a stand-alone videogame it’s actually extremely fun to play, so long as you aren’t easily frustrated. Reviewing this game as if playing it for the first time proved one thing right away, if you dislike dying a lot, this is most likely not the game for you. Outside the challenge, it’s pretty remarkable how well certain aspects have held up some 25 years after its original release?

ZeldaII_1The Great:

Having the balls to do something different. Bow and arrows, boomerang, bombs, yeah, they’re all gone in Zelda II. They’ve been replaced with an overworld and leveling system that mimics Dragon Quest. Enjoyed spending countless hours looking for secret entrances, well they’re still here although they’ve been scaled back to make room for what the real focus is, action. Link can learn a wide variety of skillful sword techniques including the awesome down-thrust, which is one of the most useful abilities in the entire game. There’s now a magic system which allows Link to shield himself, heal his wounds, or even transform into a fairy. All of these changes made Zelda II a completely different beast compared to the original, and depending on when you began playing the series, you either loved it or hated it. No one can deny that it was extremely risky of Nintendo to make all these changes, and today the game is remembered for having the courage to try something different.

ZeldaII_2The Good:

+ Extremely large overworld that contains loads of hidden goodies. While completely different than the original, the overworld still has its fair share of secrets. Players can find point bags, which aid in leveling, they can find heart containers, which increase Link’s capacity to hold more health, and more.

+ Grinding isn’t really required. Sure you can if you want, but unlike true RPGs, Zelda II works quite differently in that each dungeon automatically increases Link’s level upon completion. The game automatically determines which area will increase in strength upon leveling, be it either health, magic or sword strength.

+ Save sates are a blessing for new players. Given the extreme difficulty level, new players will be able to slowly ease into the game thanks to the save states, and not have to worry about restarting over and over again.

ZeldaII_3The So-So:

+/- Brutally difficult at the onset of the game, but slowly balances out as you progress. That’s not to say it ever becomes easy, but as you learn to use your spells more effectively, and get better at the combat system, things eventually balance out.

+/- Dialogue is more useful than the original Zelda, but players will still get lost. Thankfully towns are useful because there are more than a few characters which can point you in the right direction, but when it comes to hidden items that are required to progress, more often than not you’ll spend hours trying to find them unless you resort to using a guide.

The Bad:

– Hit boxes are extremely small. If you’re up against an Ironknuckle for example, unless you use the jump thrust move, you’re likely to lose of half your health because of how precise your hits have to be.

– Merciless. Difficulty is one thing, the lack of health drops from enemies is something else entirely. If you don’t use save states you’re going to die, a lot.

ZeldaII_4The Lowdown:

While many may dismiss Zelda II because of its difficulty or how radically different it is compared to its predecessor, it remains a fun game. The magic system remains fun to use, and exploration is easier than the original because of additional hints and a more linear progression system. If you can stomach the difficulty, aren’t put off by the emphasis on action, then Zelda II is certainly a classic worth revisiting.

Final Score: 8/10

The Legend of Zelda Review

Legend of ZeldaThe Legend of Zelda (Available on Wii U, Wii, and 3DS)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Action RPG
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Original Release Date: August 22nd, 1987
Wii Virtual Console Release Date: November 19th, 2006
3DS Virtual Console Release Date: July 5th, 2012
Wii U Virtual Console Release Date: August 29th, 2013

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates The Legend of Zelda E for everyone because of mild fantasy violence. I’m not sure how the ESRB can rate the game so low when it features one of the most grotesque scenes in any NES videogame ever. Don’t know what I’m talking about, finish the game and look at what happens to poor old Ganon. Truthfully though, children of all ages can easily pick up and enjoy even the most mature officially licensed NES games. Parents have nothing to fear here.

Plays Like: At the time of its release it didn’t really play much like anything else out there. It was one of the first truly open videogames, allowing players to explore each and every square foot of Hyrule. By traversing the overworld and the various dungeons, players acquired new weapons and power-ups along the way. Eventually they would take the fight to Ganon and become the hero of legend, or something like that. For anyone looking to play through the game today, think of it as a much simpler version of A Link to the Past or any of the 2D Zelda games released after it.

Review Basis: I’ve finished the game once or twice over the years, maybe a few more.

The Legend of Zelda truly doesn’t need an introduction, nor a review for that matter. This game was so ground-breaking when it hit the NES that it single-handily established an entire genre. It remains one of the best selling NES games of all time, and the series has become one of Nintendo’s most successful to date. Instead of looking at the game through the eyes of someone who grew up playing it, let’s look at it from the perspective of a brand new gamer. How does the game hold up some twenty-six years after its original release?

Umm...thanks...
Umm…thanks…

The Great:

The sense of exploration is superb. From forests to a great mountain, The Legend of Zelda offers players unique environments to explore. Pre-NES games tried to give players the same sense of freedom, but failed due to technical limitations of the hardware they were released on. Here players didn’t have to imagine what the forest or river looked it, they could actually see it. Even today the graphics do a good job of highlighting key areas. You can easily tell where you are, and where you’re heading next. It’s because of this that you’ll want to keep exploring until you’ve seen everything Hyrule has to offer. That joyous sense of wonderment hasn’t aged a day.

One well placed bomb and this guy is toast.
One well placed bomb and this guy is toast.

The Good:

+ Great variety of weapons, and items. Each new one you find unlocks just a little bit more of Hyrule. Be it the raft, or the ladder, every time you get something new, you start to wonder where you’ll be able to go next.

+ Dungeon map system is great. Not only can you see the direction of doors, but it’s also extremely useful to locate hidden rooms, or areas where you can bomb to make shot-cuts to other sections.

+ Combat is exceptional. Not only do you have a sword that throws a beam when you have full health, but you can mix and match sword fighting techniques with ranged attacks such as using the boomerang to stun enemies and then moving in for the kill with the sword, or a well placed bomb. Every weapon can be used against multiple enemies and that’s where the deepness of the combat system shines through.

+ Surprising amount of content. There are exactly eight main dungeon, plus one final hooray against Ganon up on Death Mountain. The game was so big it came with a battery to save your game. Thankfully the Wii U version goes one step further and allows you to use restore points for those frustratingly difficult parts.

+ Miiverse integration with the Wii U version is outstanding. Now I can finally show players the proper way to play this game. What do I mean, I’m talking about having six heart containers, the magic shield, the blue ring, blue candle, bombs, and arrows, all before even entering the first dungeon. Now that’s how you roll baby!

Ah yes, I remember the first time I saw this.  Classic moment.
Ah yes, I remember the first time I saw this. Classic moment.

The So-So:

+/- The map system on the overworld hasn’t aged so well. Sure it’s great being able to see a dot in a large black rectangle, but realistically it’s too rudimentary for today’s spoiled gamer. You might remember there was a heart piece somewhere to the right of the map, but without having a detailed map, getting there may prove much more difficult than you realize.

+/- Link can only move in four directions, and because of that sword fighting feels far looser than it should. When you come face to face with a Darknut for example, it can be extremely difficult to attack and move a split second later. The bizarre thing is that the boomerang can be thrown in all eight directions, so clearly this was a design choice, not a technical limitation.

+/- Secrets are not highlighted or otherwise hinted at. Sure there are some poor translations which will get you to the next dungeon, but I’m talking about secret heart containers, rupee stashes and things like that. These secret areas are truly secret. The only way to know where one is, is to spend hours upon hours bombing every wall, or burning every tree. As such, modern gamers will likely have no choice but to use a strategy guide in hopes of acquiring all the necessary power-ups in order to complete the game. Good news is the Wii U has a built-in web browser players can use.

Really expensive, yes, but awesome just the same.
Really expensive, yes, but awesome just the same.

The Bad:

– Translation is awful. You would have no clue Miyamoto-san actually had anything to do with this game if you were to look at his name in the credits. What does “Master using it, and you can have it” mean anyways? Oh it means you require a certain number of heart containers, oh…well why didn’t you just say that? Some dungeons require you to follow explicit instructions in order to find their entrance, good luck with that.

The Ugly:

The Legend of Zelda has some of the absolute worst boss battles in the series. Some of the dungeons can be brutally hard, and yet you get to the boss and he can be defeated with literally one bomb.

It's around here where the game becomes rather challenging.
It’s around here where the game becomes rather challenging.

The Lowdown:

Wow this game sounds awful doesn’t it? The truth of the matter is that while some aspects of the game haven’t aged so well, this is still a game that deserves to be played. Remember that I’m reviewing this not for its past accomplishments, but rather as a game that’s being played for the very first time by someone in 2013. Even the newest of new players will find a lot to enjoy in this classic. There’s just something magical about it that holds up over two decades years after its original release, and that really speaks volumes to just how forward thinking it was.

Final Score: 8/10

Dragon Quest X Online PC Beta – Ogre Walkthrough/Playthrough (Part 6)

This is it everyone, the very last video on the first phase of the Dragon Quest X PC beta.  I’ll be posting more once the second phase begins.  Enjoy!

What it’s Like Playing a Polite MMO

For years MMOs have been the breeding ground for elitist garbage. Players think they’re better than everyone else out there just because they have a better gear score, or they’ve progressed a little further than others. When I first got into World of Warcraft I was shocked by just how unfriendly the trade channel was. That’s where you spam “Looking for XYZ.” People would tell others to F-off, and all kinds of nasty stuff. If new players had questions, they would very rarely get an honest answer from others, leaving them scratching their head trying to figure out whatever it is they’re having issues with.

The same is true for group-based content. Just hit up a Looking for Raid and say you don’t know the fight and see what happens. I assure you you’ll have at least one person say “how the hell is that possible, what are you some kind of n00b?” With comments like those, can you see how tough it is for new players to get into the game?

やった (Yatta!) typically means I did it!  Try saying this while on the road, and prepare for a billion positive responses.
やった (Yatta!) typically means I did it! Try saying this while on the road, and prepare for a billion positive responses.

So I was rather shocked when I started playing Dragon Quest X and everywhere I went people were helping me out. Be it with information, or just being overly polite. This was completely at odds with what I have experienced with WoW. Players would buff me up (raising my tension) constantly and if I happened to do the same to others, within seconds I would see ありがとう(Arigatō), which means thanks. We’re talking about a hundred or so of these every time I logged in. I’ve never seen anything like it. Happen to be low on health, well no worries, someone will come along and heal you, not expecting anything in return. It’s incredible.

Now that the beta is coming to an end, I’m kind of sad to see it go because these players that inhabit it are the nicest I’ve ever had the honor of playing alongside. It makes me wish all online multiplayer games were like this. New players are welcomed and if they have any questions they’re encouraged to ask. Veteran players remain polite and don’t treat others as garbage. In the end the whole community benefits because everyone is open to helping one another.

While all of this might change with the retail version, at least for now, I can honestly say Dragon Quest X is the most polite MMO I have ever experienced.

Meeting a New Friend in Dragon Quest X

This morning something very special happened, something completely and utterly unexpected, I actually paired up with another player in Dragon Quest X. One of my biggest fears has been that someone will find out I’m not Japanese and ban my account. I’ve heard this happening to quite a few people, so I tend to be very quiet whenever I’m in a main city. I don’t want to give it away that I don’t understand everything going on. Thanks to ProjectCOE and YouTube, that’s no longer a fear of mine.

This morning I checked the COE YouTube inbox, and low and behold there was a message from a YouTube user named IpeeInYourSoup. He was looking for some help in the game as he doesn’t speak or understand any Japanese whatsoever. I told him to send me a private message with his Skype username, and within a few minutes we were on Skype together. That’s where the fun began.

DQ X
That lovely notification in the top right corner is what has been hindering my progress since the get-go. It basically says the servers are going to shut down at 23:59, which was about ten minutes after I took this image. Grr!

Dragon Quest features a ton of Kanji so even if you know a lot of Hiragana or Katakana, that doesn’t always help. Needless to say I thought meeting up and actually joining a party would be a nightmare. Turns out it was a complete breeze. Two seconds after we met we were in a party together. I showed him around グレン (Guren, or Glen as everyone refers to it), and we set our plan of attack for tomorrow. Sadly by the time he had gotten back to me in a PM, the servers only had about forty minutes left before they shut down for the day. So we couldn’t exactly do much.

Just walking around and being able to speak with someone in this vast world was a real joy. I can tell you right now that if this game ever gets released in North America, I’m going to be playing it for a very long time. Between all the customization options available with skill points, the profession system, and the insane number of world bosses, there’s little reason to put it down to be honest. This is classic Dragon Quest, except where everyone you meet is a living, breathing, real-life person. It’s amazing to be able to share your love of the series with someone else as you just grind through some levels.

I would love to be able to experience this game with more people, especially those that happen to speak my language. I’m going to try and convince some of the COE staff members to climb aboard when the next wave of testing begins, because this has been a true blast and I know at least three other people on the site that would have just as much as I am having.

Level Up: Dragon Quest X Learns PC Ability! Let’s Discuss the Future of its Release Stateside!

Last year, hardcore DQ veteran Jarrod Nichol and I had a long discussion on Dragon Quest X’s Japanese Wii launch in the replies of my article, which resulted in me talking about an imminent port. Can’t say I told you so, but it’s finally here! Another successful prediction by yours truly! Scroll down the comments of previously-linked article for proof. I can’t believe it’s launching so soon though; September 26th.

Let’s backtrack and analyze the history bit by bit as this series of events make a lot of sense. Console-exclusive MMOs are relatively unheard of, so last year’s Japanese launch of DQX on the Wii was a wild card. For a DQ title, it sales were lacking. As an MMO, however, it has done exceptionally well, looking at the fact that it was released for a single console that dried up in popularity by 2012. In that year alone, DQX sold 660000 copies and has gained over 400000 subscribers. That’s what I a call a money-maker in the long term.

There are a couple of downsides to the whole story, however. It’s late Wii release and complex requirements for it to run on the console (mandatory USB and two discs) spelled immediate doom for an international release. Western Wii owners will most likely not jump through these hoops in order to play a single game. The Wii U port was the only hope for a bigger draw due to hassle-free gaming and a potential international audience. Sadly, however, that port was released in Japan on March with very little fanfare; just over 33000 units sold on launch week. Not even the power of the Dragon Quest could help spike Wii U hardware sales in its native country, and that says a lot. Again, these sales definitely makes a console release internationally out of the question. It would be a hassle for Nintendo of America & Europe to publish the game, localize its text, and maintain its servers…especially if the return isn’t going to be satisfying enough.

Here we are in late 2013…and for the first time in the franchise’s history, a PC port is heading our way fast as the result of aging Wii hardware and a poor Wii U showing. Some would say that hell has frozen over, but looking over the past paragraphs makes this evolution completely logical. First and foremost, MMOs will never hit strides with console exclusivity, as our good old friend Tim always says. Square-Enix is already bleeding money as it is, and desperate times require logical business moves. The structure of this genre fits PC like a glove as it requires the following: constant updates/patches, solid hardware, flexible OS software, and a constant internet connection with special account management and frequent logins. Consoles are relatively close platforms at the end of the day so managing MMOs and accounts through them will always prove difficult, but that looks to change with next-gen. Nonetheless, I think that the PC provides a significant advantage to Dragon Quest X and its rabid fanbase as it is arguably the biggest platform this franchise has ever been in. Additionally, the potential for localization and an international release is huge. Mark my words; it is bound to be released in English — but we’ll have to wait awhile for that to happen because Square-Enix already has an MMO planned for the end of the year: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. It’s unfair for the international audience to have both competing franchises under the same company launch simultaneously, especially since Final Fantasy has always been a bigger name in the west.

As for the game’s future on console, it looks bleak to be blunt. I don’t think Square-Enix are stupid enough to suddenly pull the plug on Wii and Wii U owners because the current fanbase is already set and solid, especially on the Wii. Japanese gamers are safe for now, but international fans shouldn’t expect too much. It all depends on Wii U hardware sales. If Nintendo successfully jump-starts the system by 2013 and early 2014, we may see a simultaneous launch of DQX on the Wii U and PC in 2014. If not, then it will remain PC-only. A PS4 release is also possible, though I guess Square-Enix will monitor Final Fantasy XIV’s sales in that platform and act from there.

A penny for your thoughts? Sound off in the comments below.