Tag Archives: remake

Jarrod’s Drool is Toxic! -50 HP! Hero’s Turn: Dragon Quest VII 3DS Remake Confirmed [Updated]!

It was bound to happen. Traditionally, Dragon Quest games in Japan alternate between a full fledged sequel and a remake of a past installment. We’re up to DQVI in terms of remakes, released on the DS just last year. Here’s arguably the biggest installment of all time, remade on the 3DS. Release date: February 2013 in Japan. That’s pretty close.

Unlike the trilogy of remakes on the DS, the image on the left shows that DQVII’s conversion is going 3D and polygonal. For your background information, the DS remakes use a pre-existing engine which powered up the original DQVII on the PS1. Ironically, DQVII’s remake breaks the tradition by using what seems to be a new engine…which will definitely enhance the visuals a lot. That’s long overdue considering the PS1 version was butt ugly in my opinion. I’m not a visual person and enjoy trying any game as long as it’s good, but when I first saw DQVII playing in stores, I detested the visuals so much…and that’s coming from someone who had just played and got to know Enix through Star Ocean: The Second Story and Valkyrie Profile. Apparently according to our head honcho and resident DQ buff Jarrod Nichol, I missed out on a classic.

Well no more! This game has a very high chance of hitting international waters considering Nintendo of America’s dedication to the series as of late. Here’s hoping there’s some sort of announcement early next year…with an English version of Dragon Quest X for the Wii U I might add!

For now, we’ll keep you occupied with Jarrod’s retrospective video of the PS1 classic. Enjoy!






Update 10/31/2012: More news trickles after the initial announcement. ArtePiazza is confirmed as the developer so you know it’s in good hands. They’ve been hands-on with DQ remakes since 1996’s DQIII for the SNES and they’ve been responsible for the last trilogy of remakes for the DS. My analysis is that the engine they’re using for DQVII’s remake is based on the one from DQV’s remake for the PS2, because the art-style looks so similar. Also, the soundtrack will be fully orchestrated! Gotta love me some DQ music. Finally, new content and StreetPass features will be integrated into the main backbone. As if DQVII doesn’t need any additional content. The PS1 original is already freakin’ huge as Jarrod has said so many times.


The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D Adventure Log – Part I: Invading the Legendary Journey!

Yes, I’m a game blogger who likes to gloat and steal people’s thunder! Thus, the invasion of Jarrod’s ongoing Legendary Journey/Zelda series Marathon Play-through. Mwahaha! I’ve got three words for you, Jarrod: I’m…taking…over!

I kid, I kid. Sadly, Jarrod’s own play-through of this remade classic has been delayed thanks to his 3DS being stuck on transit. As South Park used to say, blame Canada! So I’ll be temporarily taking over this portion until my fellow Zelda fan finishes up The Wind Waker and gets his hands on a 3DS.

I’ve played around 6 hours and I’m on my way to the 2nd dungeon in Death Mountain. Sounds like a long time just for one dungeon, right? To be frank, I love exploring the overworld and getting my hands on collectables (Gold Skulltulas) as early as possible, so most of my play-through has been dedicated to messing around with OoT so far. What can I say about this classic that hasn’t been said before? While the 1st dungeon is incredibly simplistic by today’s standards, exploring has always been Zelda’s forte. I’ve immersed myself in finding those heart pieces and Skulltulas with a few more to find before heading on to Death Mountain. The Skulltulas locations are still so well-hidden…it’s times like these when it’s just fun to over-explore, expecting to find nothing….only to find that the developers are much smarter than you think.

But enough about gameplay. Obviously, the most striking factor about this remake is its visual appeal. This is what Ocarina of Time should’ve looked like if it weren’t for the n64’s limitations. The added detail to environments and particularly character models are breathtaking. Houses and shops in particular have a lot of added detail that wasn’t there before and character models look closer to the intended official artwork. Even meaningless places like Malon’s room or Impa’s house are fun to explore because of the new furniture, drawings, and signs…some of which add hidden gameplay tips to those who have not played the game yet. Not every little nook and cranny has been revamped though. You will still notice a couple of 2D textures here and there, which are more noticeable if you have the 3D effect on. Speaking of which, 3D is subtle, yet adds even more life to the environments. The fireflies of Kokiri Forest, falling rain in cut-scenes, the various backdrops in houses and fields — great to have these things flying at you in 3D.

I have to give props to Mr. Yokota and company for faithfully re-creating Kondo’s classic soundtrack. Aside from a few enhancements in sound samples and reverb effects, the soundtrack is exactly like you remember it from the n64 days. Even though I’m disappointed that Kondo did not let Yokota orchestrate and remix the soundtrack, it must’ve been a painful experience to re-create the same soundtrack on new hardware.

I’ve noticed one instant of slowdown in Hyrule Market Place. Remember that room with tons of bottles? Breaking those off really takes a hit on the frame-rate, which makes me wonder if this will occur again if there’s too much going on.

I’ll keep you guys updated with the latest. In the meantime, keep it locked to Jarrod’s play-through of The Wind Waker!

The Sly Collection Review

The Sly Collection (Available exclusively only on PS3)
ESRB Rating: E-E10+
Players: 1-4
Genre: Platformer/Compilation
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Sucker Punch/Sanzaru Games
Release Date: Nov 9, 2010

The Great:

Three of the PS2’s greatest platformers on one disc. If you missed the Sly series, why are you still reading this? Go by this now! Usually lumped in with fellow franchises Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank, the Sly games offered platforming at its purest on the system. Not only are all three fun to play, the stories and characters are among the most likable of the games I’ve played.  The series is charming and can win over anyone.  Not to mention enjoying these three games on one disc, in HD, is a fantastic deal.

The Good:

+ Gracefully aged. Obviously Sly-Sly 3 aren’t as technically advanced as games being pumped out today, but so much in them just feels right.  The past excellent polish has so far stood the test of time.  The HD upgrade provides a new coat of paint for the vibrant and colorful cel-shaded worlds. The overall style helps give the games a pass on the low poly-count, but it’s so cartoony and fun you won’t care.  The formula is still addictive, and it’s neat to witness how the series improved playing each game successively.   It started simple and was added upon, but favorably, not unnecessarily.

+ A fantastic deal.  You’ll get your money’s worth with Sly Collection.  You don’t need a PS2, and the HD visuals are superbly shiny!  And of course, trophy support and new Move-supported mini-games sweeten the experiences.  There’s not much to dislike.

+ A great introduction to Sly.  If you haven’t played these platformers for any reason, this set is worthwhile.  Sucker Punch teased us with Easter eggs in inFamous (some in this disc), and hopefully more Sly is coming.  Hence, there’s no better way to greet Mr. Sly.

The So-So:

± Shallow Move games. They support four people simultaneously, but have nothing to do with Sly.  They basically boil down to target-shooting, or piloting a vehicle through rings.  A DualShock 3 can be used, a Move isn’t needed.  Either way, the minis won’t hold your attention, but they’re good for trophies.

± Past glitches are still around. Aside from the visuals, these are straight ports.  The Sly titles are polished, but control/camera issues from before have been carried over.  Instances are few and far between, but some clean-up effort would have been nice.

The Lowdown

There isn’t much negative to point out about this compilation.  If you care for additional detail, take a gander at the reviews for the original games on our site archives.  I can’t stress enough how much of a bargain this three-games-on-one-disc is.  Sly is one of my most beloved PS2 franchises, and I’m confident that there are many of you who feel the same.  Buy this.  I can’t recommend it enough!

It’s True: Dragon Quest VI US-bound on Valentine’s Thanks to Nintendo of America!

Put your fears to rest. A localized DQVI has been teased by Square-Enix for over a year. It seems that the reason they’ve been quiet is the switch of publishers. It looks like Nintendo of America were satisfied with DQIX’s performance because they’re handling DQVI as well. Sadly, DS ports of DQIV and V haven’t sold like hotcakes, but that’s because Square-Enix USA didn’t market them well. I have a feeling that NOA will hit gold with DQVI though. For one, it’s never been released in North America before. Also, let’s not forget NOA’s superior marketing skills. The SNES original has been praised like no tomorrow due to its interesting premise. I like the fact that there’s a parallel dream world that you can explore and this may tie into the storyline quite well. Our very own Jarrod Nichol wrote an editorial long ago about the history of the series, claiming that DQVI is by far his favorite one of all time, so that alone says a lot about it. What I’m a bit skeptical about is the remake’s graphics engine. The original SNES version has a lot of excellent spritework, which isn’t going to be highlighted in the DS version since it uses a modified version of DQVII’s engine (which has been the engine of choice for DQ remakes on the DS). I’m not fond of that engine much…I still find DQVII to be one of the ugliest games to grace consoles, but I have to admit that the small DS screens may make these games look better…and from the looks of the trailer, the animated sprites of enemies in the battle screen looks amazing.

The only road bump that may face its release is how close it will be to the 3DS launch. Backward compatibility helps, but no matter how good these end-of-cycle games are, they just don’t seem to sell well.

Source: Nintendo of America

Castlevania the Adventure Rebirth Review

Castlevania The Adventure ReBirth [Only available on WiiWare]
ESRB Rating: T
Number of players: 1
Genre: Action/Platformer
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Release Date: December 28th, 2009

Parent Talk: Castlevania has a T rating due to dark theme: slaying the vampire Dracula.  The game is filled with werewolves, skeletons, bats, and all sorts of ghouls.  However, the more conservative action sets the adventure apart from most we play today.  Parents need not be worried, but should be cautious with their younger gamers.  The soundtrack is comprised of classic Castlevania songs, so parents who grew up with the series on the NES may get a kick out of sharing this game with their children.

Castlevania The Adventure Rebirth is a remake from the franchise’s Game Boy era.  This particular “rebirth” isn’t a mere visual update though; great changes to the level design and gameplay are also present.  The music is culled from various tracks across the Castlevania universe, like III and Bloodlines.  This release also falls in line with Konami’s other Rebirth games, like Contra and Gradius.  It’s a classic through and through, perfect for retro enthusiasts.

The Great: The classic Castlevania feel is back and in great form.  It comes off as an old-school NES game brought into modern-day, perfectly simulating what made the originals fun.  The difficulty is balanced and experience fun.

The Good:

+ The soundtrack.  The music celebrates Castlevania, which should delight fans.  The first stage theme is an updated version of “Reincarnated Soul,” which is that of the Sega Genesis Bloodlines.  The quality on the remixes is great.  It doesn’t hold a candle to Symphony of the Night, but there’s still a lot to like.

+ The visuals.  The presentation is reminiscent of Dracula X on the Super NES, rather than Super Castlevania IVIV’s colors were more muted and dark, while Rebirth is flashier and more colorful.  The aesthetic resembles what the SNES would offer, but cleaner and sharper.  This is one for the retro fans.  The default aspect ratio is 4:3, but it can be stretched into widescreen.

+ The level design.  There are six stages total, which sounds minimal, but the five main areas are surprisingly long.  There’s a healthy amount of twists and secrets, and though the focus is more on action than exploration, the levels feel “full.”  The spirit of retro Castlevania lives, especially with the classic clock tower area.

The Bad:

– The controls.  This complaint is a bit awkward admittedly.  The controls are tight and responsive, and the game supports many schemes.  The developers chose to implement the layout from the original three games.  I understand that they wanted Rebirth to feel like the classic NES games, but Super Castlevania IV improved the series by offering better jumping controls and the ability to strike in any direction.  Sadly that isn’t possible here, making the controls a little more frustrating than necessary.

-The boss/enemy selection. The monsters designed for Rebirth just……aren’t as cool as what could’ve been.  The first is a giant eyeball.  It’s OK, but why not classic enemies like Slogra and Gaibon?  Some of the others are a blade master (a common SotN enemy) and a were-mutant.  The most satisfying fights are easily the ones with Death and Dracula, but the rest are underwhelming.

The Lowdown: Castlevania The Adventure Rebirth is a reasonable investment at $10, and easily worth the ride if you want a quality action game.  It’s a must for fans, and can be a great start for those unfamiliar.  It’s a gateway to an excellent series.  It doesn’t match up to Super Castlevania IV or Rondo of Blood though, and both are available on Virtual Console as well ($8/9).  It’s not a bad idea to nab all three though; they’re great games.

Poke’mon HeartGold/SoulSilver Review

Poke’mon HeartGold and SoulSilver (Only available for Nintendo DS)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of players: 1-2
Genre: RPG
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Game Freak
Release Date:  March 14th, 2010

Parent Talk: Poke’mon is the go-to, kid-friendly role-playing game.  You always see children ask their parents to buy the latest for them.  Some might find the content objectionable (catching and battling animals), but it’s a vocal minority.  There’s no violence or bad language, and the series’ happy-natured setting makes it easier for parents to accept.  The main character is even contacted often by his/her mother!  Parents or older siblings can even play along, given the healthy emphasis on trading the collected Poke’mon.  Kids may also discover just how deep the experience is, and the strategy necessary. Poke’mon is additionally known for attracting casual players and dedicated tournament goers. The Poke’Walker device may even be an incentive for your kids to play outside.  Also understand that there’s little distinction between the HeartGold and SoulSilver versions.  The core games are identical, with the difference being in what exclusive creatures are available.  In order to collect ’em all, trading is a must.

SoulSilver and HeartGold are remakes of the classic second generation Poke’mon Silver and Gold, largely considered the cream of the crop by fans.  They introduced many to the franchise, and several features such as the real-time clock, an item hold and more came about.  Gold and Silver solidified the original formula and improved it.  HG and SS reuse all the content, but apply the presentation of the recent DS games to offer an enticing new package.  The experience is no different.  You visit towns, encounter new Poke’mon to catch/trade, and battle trainers.  Despite this rehash, the content is taken from what is considered the best of Poke’mon, updates the visuals, and adds even more new features.

Prime among the attractions is the Poke’Walker.  The handy contraption isn’t just a pedometer, but can increase a Poke’mon’s experience and happiness, find items, catch Poke’mon, and exchange gifts with other trainers.  Several “courses” become available with more steps, and each provides different monsters to capture.  You also accumulate “watts”, used to play the catching mini-game or find items.  There’s also a competition called the Poke’athalon, which sports a variety of touch-based events.  It’s a fun diversion.  Another notable mini-game is Voltorb Flip, a combination of Minesweeper and Sudoku.  There’s a lot to see and do in the game!

The Great:

A classic experience.  This is Poke’mon in its purest form, covering the Johto and Kanto regions.  The gameplay is accessible and fun, and should bring back seasoned Poke’maniacs.  The battle system is simple, but only the dedicated will master it (EV training, infecting your monsters with Pokerus, finding shiny Poke’mon, etc).  It’s amazing that Game Freak created a world that’s so ordinary, but can really hook you in.

The Good:

+Trading and fighting locally and online.  The system from Diamond/Pearl/Platinum returns, and the convenience is wonderful.

+The depth.  There are so many things to do and see.  The adventure can easily span 100+ hours for anyone willing to scour everything.  There are tons of reasons to backtrack and explore.

+The presentation. While HG and SS aren’t the most impressive games on the DS hardware, it’s an aesthetically-pleasing package, just like the previous DS releases.  The sprites are colorful and the semi-3D effects are cool.  Some areas sport interesting backgrounds and added touches, like reflections in pools of water.  The interface is also more touch-friendly.  All actions, except character movement, is accessible by the stylus.  The menus are clean and organized.

The Bad:

– Familiar much?  If you’ve tired of Poke’mon, these re-releases probably won’t change that.  Despite gameplay refinements, the structure is largely the same.  The emphasis on grinding and the simple turn-based combat may also turn off those wanting more complexity.  Many complain that the games are just one repackage after another, and that’s true to a degree.

The Ugly:

The attack animations and Poke’mon cries.  The cries sound stuck in the Game Boy era.  Sure it’s easy to recognize, but why improve the music and not the effects?  The attack animations are also conservative, with the Poke’mon just shuddering rather than lunging forward.  However, I can understand that the huge creature roster would make instituting unique animations across the board a heavy load — so it’s a necessary evil.

The Lowdown:

HG and SS are an absolute must for Poke’mon lovers.  Tempted to return?  Want a fresh start?  This is an excellent option.  There are problems, especially the dejá vú that could turn anyone wanting a change in direction away.  Still, if you did or didn’t miss originals, there’s still so much to enjoy here.


Wipe That GRIN off Your Face…

It’s another sad day in the gaming industry. Bionic Commando Rearmed is one of the best classic remakes and sold respectably on PSN and XBLA. And now, the studio behind this great game is gone for good.

The developer itself claims that the reason for their closure is that “too many publishers have been delaying payments”, which is part of the truth. A couple of days back the Swedish studio made a lot of cutbacks, leaving a bit of hope that they’ll live as a smaller entity. Sadly, it doesn’t always work that way in this dog-eat-dog industry. The aforementioned game has been their only hit. Their other, bigger-budgeted console games haven’t been received well critically or commercially. Game adaptations of Wanted and Terminator Salvation simply sucked, while the 3D sequel to Bionic Commando had better reception but still sold terribly.

Either way, GRIN had a lot of potential to develop a bigger fanbase…so it’s truly sad that they’re dead. On the bright side, you’re bound to hear from another studio rising from the ashes…which I’m proud to say will happen in GRIN’s case. There are talks of a developer called Outbreak Studios formed by ex-GRIN employees, which will reportedly focus on the download market. Baby steps, indeed.

Do yourself a favor and download Bionic Commando Rearmed in loving memory of GRIN. The game has been recently patched to make it flow better…even newcomers can get into it.

Source: GRIN official website

Walking on The Yellow Brick Road under the Lunar with XSEED!

We’ve been raving about this publisher in our podcasts and blog posts for so long now it’s not even funny…but they surely deserve it. “The next Square-Enix” is bringing us English-speaking fans games we’ve never expected to be released outside of Japan. One such game is The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road on the Nintendo DS, known in Japan as the anagram “Riz-Zoawd”. What’s interesting about this game is that it’s based on an old licensed property….so XSEED surely needed Warner Brothers’ approval to publish this game. It must’ve taken a lot of effort and/or money from this indie publisher to negotiate with WB…which is why it has taken so long for this gem to be released in North American shores. Developed by Media.Vision of Wild Arms fame, The Wizard of Oz is surely going to impress all of us when it hits shelves in Fall 2009.

Another game XSEED will publish this December is one that passed my radar during E3 2009…I’m surprised that our E3 team didn’t catch it as well. Lunar: Silver Star Harmony on the PSP, remake of the famed Lunar: Silver Star Story for the PS1. I’m a huge fan of Working Designs’ handling of the property back then, so I’m really looking forward to this remake, too.

Keep doing what you’re doing, XSEED. Your line-up is extremely impressive.