If you don’t know what OC ReMix is, get out from under that rock you’re rotting in. An organization set to celebrate videogame music, running strong for 13 years, have finally released their 40th album. Arguably their biggest work yet, what better than to tackle the best of the best? The original composer is Nobuo Uematsu. The game is Final Fantasy VI. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you it’s one of the best entries in the series, which conveniently contains some of the best music in the series, too. Each character in its large cast had a diverse theme, each track tried to go for a certain feel and genre. From Shadow’s country/western-like composition to Emperor Gestahl’s sweeping march symphony that always sends chills down my spine — From the infamous Maria & Draco opera to the quirky and appropriately-named Spinach Rag; Mr. Uematsu’s masterpiece constantly surprises you with versatility and memorable melodies. It’s fitting then that OC ReMix tributes this track in the only way they know how; make it more versatile and memorable. While a soundscape update to the original 16-bit tunes is always a treat, that’s not OCR’s primary goal. Just like Uematsu, they’re here to make videogame music sweep through a lot of genres and expand on the composition on the original melodies in unique ways. One could argue that this style of remixing may cause the original sound to get lost in the shuffle and become undetectable, but OCR’s remixers mostly manage to balance nostalgia and newness excellently. Their previous Final Fantasy album, VII’s Voices of a Lifestream, is one such album in my opinion. It contains some of the best material I’ve heard from OCR, and judging by the preview trailer of FFVI, they’re looking to topple whatever they’ve made in the past.
Think the Wii is dead after Pandora’s Tower? Think again. The Wii’s actual swansong is here thanks to its awesome mod community, which is made possible due to flexible homebrew development tools and software apps. Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii is a mod that has been in development for three years, and a sequel to the team’s previous project, Another Super Mario Bros. Wii. I’ve done a small let’s play video of the latter on our YouTube channel, showcasing the dedication this team has. I fully support this type of homebrew as the New Super Mario Bros. disc is required in order to access fan-made DLC. Also, mods have been a completely acceptable practice in PC gaming…yet sadly this has not been officially carried over to consoles due to the companies’ fear of completely cracking open the infrastructure. Well, since the Wii has the least amount of security compared to its competitors, unofficial modding has been one of its major advantages. While Another NSMB was simply a level swap edit with the same world map, audiovisuals, and gameplay concepts, its sequel steps it up a notch. As its trailer showcases, expect a completely redesigned world map, new levels, new challenges, new gameplay elements, new audiovisuals, and even a new suit. Don’t mind the compressed footage as I expect the graphics to look just as good as the original. I’m blown away by what has been shown thus far…the level design in particular is Nintendo-like in quality, unlike many hacks out there. This is by all means a full-on sequel that makes Nintendo own New Super Luigi U looks like, for a lack of better word, green.
Congrats to the team for finally releasing this gem. I’m happy that the release of the Wii U didn’t discourage them from continuing their work on it. I’ve completed the download as I wrote this news post, and I’ll be setting up a let’s play stream with subsequent YouTube mirrors as soon as possible. Keep it locked to COE for more info and coverage.
If the codes and programming are practically identical to the Eidos port, then the mod community should be pleased as they’ve been active for years…modifying the game to a point that it can be considered a remake!
Edit: here are the new features in the PC version: Cloud Saving, Achievements, Character Booster, and current PC optimization. They all speak for themselves except the booster, which is basically a cheat mechanic for newbies who get stuck. Somehow, you can level up your characters without the need for grinding.
Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword (Available only on Nintendo 3DS eShop)
Number of Players: 1
Release Date: February 2nd, 2012
MSRP: $6.99 US
Parent Talk Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword is a downloadable game in the Nintendo 3DS eShop catalog. The player must battle with dozens of other warriors across Japan to try and rescue Princess Cherry Blossom from an evil lord. The violence is no more offensive than a Saturday morning cartoon series; there is sword fighting, but no blood, gore, profanity, or vulgarity of any kind.
Review Basis: Completed the game on the normal mode and completed the 30-Thug and 50-Thug challenges.
The Great: An absolutely gorgeous game. Sakura Samurai is a wonderfully colorful and expressive journey. The aesthetic bears a strong resemblance to the Ukiyo-e visual style seen in the critically acclaimed Okami, but the visuals are far from generic and certainly not a ripoff. Characters are cartoonishly disproportionate, villages are fun to explore, and the presentation great. Even the menus are well-designed.
+ Wonderful timing-based combat. Sakura Samurai smacks of the Punch-Out approach to game design. There are a wide variety of enemies, each of which has a unique attack pattern. To effectively beat enemies, the player must recognize and analyze enemy combat stances and styles and master the ability to perform quick dodges, blocks, and sword swipes. Learning to watch for openings in an enemy’s guard should be familiar to anyone Punch-Out fan. Luckily, the combat is deep and the enemies are varied, making every showdown challenging and fun.
+ Upgrades, items, and depth. It may be easy to dismiss this game as a simple hack and slash title, but the combat is deceptively deep. The player not only has to watch out for enemy attacks, but also keep an eye on sword strength/sharpness, effectively use items, and save up energy for special attacks. Excessive blocking will weaken your sword, making attacks less effective until you either use a whetstone or visit the local forge. Swords can also be upgraded at villages and new special attacks can be obtained over the course of the game. Additional items, like Frogs and Kunai, can be used to throw off enemies and force an opening, while rice cakes can restore health.
+ Mini-games, villages, and more depth! There are about 30 spaces on the world map, but not every space is a battlefield. There are also three villages to explore. Each village has a standard inn (restoring health and saving), shop, and sword forge. Villages also have mini-game opportunities, letting the player take challenges in exchange for cash or stickers. Earning stickers can result in prizes, like special attacks.
+ The music is wonderful, especially the excellent battle scene music.
+ The story is brief, but charming. The introductory cutscenes are narrated effectively with both Japanese writing on the top screen, depicted on picturesque scrolls, and English text on the bottom. The presentation is absolutely stunning.
+ The 3D effect makes the presentation stand out even more, especially giving attention to the visually expressive opening story scene.
+Completing the game can take several hours to complete. There are 24 basic stages, three villages, and three boss castles. There are also two difficulty modes and three challenge modes.
+ The Rock Garden mini-game implements the 3DS pedometer feature in an interesting way. By dedicating more “steps” to the Rock Garden, the cherry blossom trees will bloom.
+ Precision Point feature. By dodging enemy attacks at the exact right moment, the player will earn Precision Points. Successively performing dodges without being hit, and you’ll be able to sell your Precision Points for a lot of cash.
– Defeated enemies rarely drop health items.
– The difficulty level, even on the normal setting, is surprisingly high.
Sakura Samurai is a gorgeous, fun, and quirky adventure. It’s well worth the price and comes highly recommended.
Nintendo has promised that the 3DS Virtual Console service will be home to more than just Game Boy and Game Boy Color titles. With that in mind, I just had to compile a list from the Game Boy’s old rival, the Sega Game Gear! With a wealth of Sega titles already available for download on the Nintendo Wii, it only seems like a matter of time until we start to see some games hit the 3DS…and it’s really about time. Due to the inability to play Game Gear games on any other piece of hardware, gamers have been at the mercy of both the Game Gear’s horrendous battery life and the forward march of time. If you have a working Game Gear today, I envy you. Now what follows below is my personal list of most anticipated Game Gear Games.
What Is It? Triple Trouble is one of the many Sonic the Hedgehog platformers available on the game Gear, originally released back in 1994. Though the Game Gear was technically inferior to the Genesis, Triple Trouble proved itself to be a capable and fun platformer. Unlike the first few Game Gear Sonic games, most of which were ports from the Sega Master System, Triple Trouble is new, unique, and quite large in scope. There are a total of six zones in the game, complete with special stages. This game is available as a secret bonus in Sonic Adventure DX and for the Nintendo GameCube, as well as the Sonic Gems Collection.
Why Is It Worth Playing? Again, unlike most of the other Game Gear Sonic games, Triple Trouble is all new. Each zone has three stages, and most of the levels are surprisingly well-designed and large in scope. The developers managed to squeeze everything they possibly could out of the Game Gear, making a platformer that just couldn’t be done on Nintendo’s Game Boy. Though there are many criticisms about the game, Triple Trouble has amazing visuals for the Game Gear and is very enjoyable to play.
What Is It? Tails Adventure is unlike most every other Sonic the Hedgehog games available, most notably because Tails is the main character. This makes it one of the series’ first official spin-offs. Tails Adventure is somewhat similar to Nintendo’s Metroid series thanks to its non-linear platforming and action elements. In it, Tails must search an island for weapons and special items to defeat enemies, the Kukku Army, and retrieve the Chaos Emeralds. Like Triple Trouble, this game is also available in both the Sonic Gems Collection and in Sonic Adventure DX.
Why Is It Worth Playing? Tails Adventure can best be described as a slower-paced platformer, with emphasis on collecting items, backtracking, and RPG elements. The nonlinear design and surprising amount of content made Tails Adventure stand out in the Game Gear library and make it a worthy game to play still today. There are about a dozen stages to complete, and over 20 unique items to find and use. Each item makes exploring the island fun and interesting. With the ability to use the 3DS restore point function and suspend play to go online and look at game walkthroughs, many of the game’s problems could be alleviated.
What Is It? Mega Man on Game Gear is essentially a remixed adventure, combining stages and enemies from both Mega Man 4 and Mega Man 5. This is similar to the first four Mega Man adventures on the Game Boy, which drew inspiration from NES games rather than original material. This is the only Mega Man game available on the Game Gear and one of the few released for SEGA platforms in general.
Why Is It Worth Playing? For 2D run-and-gun action, it doesn’t get much better than Mega Man. Even though this pocket version is more or less an abridged remix of two NES classics, it packs a lot of fun into a tiny 4-megabit cartridge. The Game Gear’s color display and backlit screen made this game more closely resemble its NES counterparts, though the system’s limited battery life and the lack of a continue feature made the adventure more difficult to play on the original hardware. Having this game available on the 3DS Virtual Console would fix all of the problems that came with the hardware and it would also fit in perfectly with the line of Game Boy Mega Man titles.
What Is It? Defenders of Oasis is a classic turn-based role-paying game with a setting and story that draws heavily from Mesopotamian mythology and stories like Sinbad the Sailor, Aladdin, and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. The main character, the prince of Shanadar, is accompanied by a Genie and two other comrades who help fight for peace. The story only has loose connections with other games in the “Oasis” series though. The game mechanics differ greatly from both Beyond Oasis for Genesis and Legend of Oasis for Saturn.
Why Is It Worth Playing? DoS is, at its core, a quality RPG. While the combat mechanics are fairly typical for a JRPG, but that’s what made the game interesting—there simply weren’t many RPGs available for SEGA platforms early on. The colorful graphics and catchy soundtrack made the game stand out in comparison to what Nintendo offered on the Game Boy, but the original hardware’s short battery life made playing a lengthy RPG difficult.
What Is It? Shining Force: The Sword of Hajya is a portable entry into the strategy RPG series Shining Force, which first appeared on the Sega Genesis. It is a direct sequel to Shining Force Gaiden, a Game Gear title which unfortunately did not make it out of Japan. Despite this setback, players can still jump into this adventure quite easily. The game basically plays out as a series of turn-based battles on a variety of grid-based environments, separated by story cutscenes. Unlike other JRPGs, there is no emphasis on exploring a game world or dungeon-crawling.
Why Is It Worth Playing? Shining Force I and II for Sega Genesis are irreplaceable classics and forerunners for the strategy RPG genre. They blend together decent storylines with compelling gameplay. Sword of Hajya thankfully managed to retain the feel of the console games without sacrificing authenticity. The battles are every bit as compelling and the graphics looked fantastic considering the hardware. The Game Gear managed to closely mirror the home console versions quite well. Playing on the 3DS would make battles quite a bit easier as well, with the ability to make restore points mid-battle.
The Nintendo 3DS eShop is already home to a wealth of classics, but with Nintendo’s huge catalog of games, there is always more available. What Game Boy games would you like to see offered on Nintendo’s 3DS Virtual Console service? I present my list, in no particular order.
Mega Man Xtreme
Original Release: January 17th, 2001
Developer: Capcom Production Studio 3
What Is It? Mega Man Xtreme is a portable spin-off game in the Mega Man X series, combining elements from both Mega Man X and Mega Man X2. In addition to classic enemies and stages, Capcom threw in multiple difficulty modes, new enemies, and an all new storyline to make the game into a distinct “new” entry rather than a simple port.
Why Is It Worth Playing? Few mascots do action as well as Mega Man, and the X series is particularly well-known and respected. Xtreme is a title that takes its cues from one of the best Mega Man games of all time, and manages to make it something new. While not as good as Mega Man X, this handheld outing provides great fun, a healthy level of challenge, several difficulty modes, and plenty of secrets. Better yet, each difficulty mode reveals more of the storyline. Mega Man is a classic game character and his handheld adventures are definitely worth playing. With the ability to save at any time via the restore point feature, playing on the 3DS could make difficult parts much easier.
What Is It? Crystalis is a port of an NES game of the same name. Even though it’s unquestionably a clone of Zelda, Crystalis manages to be a thoroughly compelling adventure. The Game Boy Color port added new storyline elements, but unfortunately the original’s superior soundtrack was thrown out, supposedly due to licensing issues with SNK.
Why Is It Worth Playing? If you’re going to clone something, choosing Nintendo’s Zelda franchise is a great choice. Plus, the developers added in many elements to make Crystalis fun and engaging. You can find and equip a great number of different elemental swords, all of which are capable of multiple levels of magic attacks. For example, the Lightning Sword can shoot out small bolts of electricity at first, but later, it can rain down powerful thunderstorms. You can also find tons of items and magic spells, allowing you to fly, read minds, and shape shift. Crystalis was an incredibly ambitious game for the NES and a handheld version would be a welcome surprise.
What Is It? Do I really need to say anything here? Everyone knows about Poke’mon. It only makes sense that Nintendo allow us to download and relive the original generation. Though the Yellow version is debatably superior, the original Red and Blue versions hold a lot of nostalgic appeal. Remember all of the conspiracy theories about how to catch Mew? Facing down Team Rocket? Throwing down against your rival after beating the Elite Four? Catching Mewtwo? There are so many amazing moments. While the modern games have improved on so many parts of the formula, it’s good to respect the original.
Why Is It Worth Playing? Poke’mon is a fun turn-based role-playing game, but being on the 3DS could make any of the game’s shortcomings much more bearable. Being able to save anywhere with the restore point feature and the excellent display options could mean the best way to re-experience the classic. Hopefully Nintendo would also go ahead to implement wireless trading as well.
What Is It? Dragon Warrior III is an upgraded version of an NES game of the same name. Like Dragon Warrior I & II for Game Boy Color, III managed to improve on the mechanics, graphics, and presentation of the NES original, making it become a classic in its own right. Dragon Warrior III for Game Boy Color was considered THE hardcore RPG for the platform and one of the system’s best games. Enix had taken extensive care in remaking the adventure.
Why Is it Worth Playing? If several perfect review scores aren’t indication enough, Dragon Warrior III was and still is an excellent game. The story was simplistic, but the amount of content was incredibly impressive for the time, and even now having a meaty RPG would be a nice addition to the 3DS Virtual Console catalog. Some kind of wireless trading feature would be necessary to take advantage of the “Monster Medal” system, but even without that, the classic turn-based gameplay, lengthy campaign, and timeless music and presentation make this a must play!
What Is It? The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages were released simultaneously back in 2001. While they have some similarities, they are actually distinct adventures with unique gimmicks. What was more surprising was what Capcom was behind development—and they didn’t just make one “good” game, they managed to make two beloved classics. Both games are 2D adventures with an overhead perspective; similar to Link’s Awakening on the Game Boy Color. However, these games introduced a unique storyline (shared between the two games) and interesting design concepts. OoA was the more complex of the pair, focusing on the ability to go forward and backward in time. OoS was more focused on adventuring rather than puzzles, and the ability to swap seasons provided a distinctly different experience. However, having both versions meant you would have access to even MORE content.
Why Is It Worth Playing? Link’s Awakening DX is considered one of the better games available in the Zelda franchise. Both Oracle of Ages and Seasons are just as good and just as worthy. The exquisitely crafted dungeons, vibrant 2D graphics, and great content make both versions ideal buys.
Some other games I’d like to see include: Mega Man IV, Mega Man V, R-Type DX, and Harvest Moon.
What are some games you want to see hit the 3DS eShop?
Parent Talk: GrimGrimoire is an RTS originally released for the PS2. The PSN download contains that, with no extra content. The game’s colorful aesthetic makes it look like an anime version of Harry Potter, and its content is just as appropriate for children. There’s no bad language or blood. The only hindrance for younger gamers may be the challenge.
Plays Like: StarCraft, Swords and Soldiers, and other RTS games.
Review Basis: Finished the PS2 original and the PSN download.
Details: You can read Jarrod’s review of the original here.
What’s This About?
- GrimGrimoire is a fantasy game set in a wizard academy, which draws immediate parallels with Harry Potter. Protagonist Lillet Blan is an apprentice mage studying different magics under several eccentric professors, including a bearded gentleman named Gammel Dore, Advocat the devil, a woman that summons ghosts and spirits, and an alchemist that turned himself into a mutant lion.
- The story spans five days, but Lillet must relive them many times until you solve the academy’s mysteries. First, she needs the philosopher’s stone. Then, she must save her new friends from a bound demon and worry about what schemes other characters are cooking up. It’s an interesting cycle.
What’s This Remembered For?
- Its superb graphics and unique, but compelling gameplay. Vanillaware earned its reputation for delivering the best artwork and character sprites of any developer. Games like Muramasa: The Demon Blade and Odin Sphere have beautifully-animated and extremely vivid art; GrimGrimoire is no exception. Character portraits are large, detailed, and wonderfully colorful. Creature sprites are well-animated and ooze personality. The game’s presentation is spot-on, and looks even better now thanks to the PS3’s smoothing abilities. Despite being a 2007 PS2 release, GrimGrimoire looks more vibrant and fun than many other new titles available on PSN.
- GrimGrimoire has stayed outside the box in being a fantasy RTS game. It alternates dialoq sequences and battle, so things are simple and straightforward. In battle, you begin with a humble selection of “Grimoires” (magic books) which allow you to summon and command creatures. To defeat the enemy and advance the story, you must harvest crystals for magic energy that amass units to destroy the enemy’s runes. Runes are basically home bases, from which you cast spells. Progressing nets you a wider variety of Grimoires that can be leveled for better units and spells.
- Balanced and fun. Though it’s an RTS, the formula is optimized for consoles. The large character sprites are easy to manipulate, and it’s quick to select individuals or groups with the D-pad if any are stacked. Vanillaware thought of everything. Units are balanced so every map is a challenge. For example, ghosts (Astral beings) are immune to physical attacks, so you can’t bull rush and expect victory.However, units can be assisted to render them vulerable, such as with the Homunculi’s abilities.
Anything Else You Need to Know?
- This version is identical to the PS2 game. There’s no extra content, enhancements, or Trophy support.
- No other visual upgrades were made. No new maps were added either, so you must be happy with what’s there.
- Battles span about 20 minutes, and the game lasts around 40 hours, thanks to 25 story missions and 25 bonus missions.
Who Should Download This?
For $10, this is a steal. GrimGrimoire was one of the most original and entertaining 2007 games for PS2 and remains to be so. For any strategy game fan, this was worth $50 then, so it’s well-worth $10 now.