Nintendo tributes Super Mario Bros. 3, one of the most inventive, joyously meaningful leaps they've ever taken, by taking a bunch of iconography from it for their kinda lame advertisement for a side gimmick most people turned off anyway.
Ok it's not as bad as that makes it sound, but we're scraping the barrel of Nintendo's game design here. Literally one of the first ? blocks has the raccoon suit in it for you to fuck around with. The easy criticism is that they want you to remember old thing to feel good, but the real problem is that this game has a lack of progression. You don't get the cape in Super Mario World until the second area for a reason; that game had design principles and ideas to introduce and wanted you to get to grips with the basic movement before unleashing you with the cool shit. This is so important to the game that when I watched people play that lovely SMW ROM hack where it was remade from memory, one of the first big things that jumped out to people was that they gave you a cape in the first area. And yeah that's because we've all played it 1000 times, but also because it fucks with the progression in a clear way. I shouldn't have this. In 3D Land you get that item within 10 steps because there's nothing they want or need to teach you. We're all on autopilot and everyone knows all you need to do is run and jump.
There's no concept of how the disparate levels fit together through theming or design, just some vague idea of gradually increasing difficulty and making sure there aren't like two Ghonst Houses in a row. It's a linear sequence of level ideas Shigru Miyamo had inbetween giving bad instructions to the Paper Mario guys for fun. The thing is, a lot of those levels are pretty fun, even though Mario's moveset is by far the lamest it's ever been. It turns out the minimum viable product baseline Nintendo platformer is still enjoyable because they know basic movement, momentum, and how to direct you through a level. They know too much to fuck it up but weren't ambitious enough to make it good.
In conclusion: play 3D World instead. I really like that game despite a fair number of these criticisms also applying to that. Does that mean I'm full of shit? Probably. But presentation means a lot. Plus it has more everything AND that more is higher quality. It brings my brain electricity to higher than 0, which is what I want in life and love.

Made my dopamine receptors so tuned to dings I'm considering buying a hotel reception bell as a sexual aid.

Knew this game was gonna be a banger as soon as I recognised Paul Eiding as one of the townspeople. At one point he narrates an ancient tome found in the labyrinth in his serious Colonel Campbell voice and it was just wonderful. Anyway, there's more to this than Paul Eiding. There's other voice actors. And a game around them. That game is good.
I was struck by its simplicity most of all. Straightforward XP and level up system, just 5 stats, non-respawning enemies. The entire game takes place in one town and one labyrinth that descends ever further; as soon as you clear a floor, the difficulty of the next one is solely down to the decisions you've made. No amount of grinding goblins is going to help you. They're not even in the game for one.
The simplicity helps it endure though. How many flash or indie games use this scenario? There's something approachable about these ideas that transcend the basic gameplay, which is largely clicking on skeletons and goat men. There's a wonderful enemy progression through the floors, each floor will typically have at least one new enemy, and they get bigger and cooler the further you go. No longer do I just kill skeletons, I'm killing 50 huge armoured behemoths who explode in a cyclone of fire when they die. It's heartwarming.
The graphics are nicely evocative, particularly the enemy design and animations, but the sound design is what carries. Sound is more important anyway, never skimp on sound, especially when you're making a game in 1996 that'll be played by me in 2023. Get yourself some good voice actors (kinda hit and miss here, the witch's performance is a kind of wooden that loops back round to being animated somehow), good music (the town theme is a tune that totally sets the atmosphere and the dungeon themes continue it), and good sound effects. You know it's a good game when a ring drops and it makes a satisfying ting, because they knew the player should love that ting. You will love the ting.
Most of all, I'm just so glad I actually liked a game in this style because I've been fascinated by them for a while now. This is a focused game with such a grasp on the more alchemical aspects of game design that it really endears you to the company that made it. Blizzard made something timeless here. So excited to see what they'll do next!

It must have been crazy for people in the western world to see Final Fantasy go directly from FF1 to this. Much more emphasis is given to the story over the typical JRPG progression of: starting as a regular guy in a town at level 1, going out and fighting animals, getting lost in the overworld and starting to curse the existence of random battles. This one is far more linear, which sounds like it might go against the idea of a big adventure, but really it just cuts out a ton of bullshit and gives the game more focus. Despite JRPGs being one of the only genres of the time to have big maps to explore, I think those of this era work best with a certain amount of linearity - see Super Mario RPG, Earthbound, probably a bunch more examples when I get round to playing them.
Speaking of Earthbound, my favourite thing about the combat in that game (although it takes ages to get there) is the rolling HP. It's still turn-based, but having your HP gradually decrease after being attacked adds much needed urgency to your heals and finishing off battles as quickly as possible to presumably staunch the bleeding these children are experiencing. Well, thanks to the patented Active Time Battle system, every fight in this game has urgency. Everyone has their own speed stat that determines when they're gonna attack next. Those goblins aren't gonna wait for you to decide to slash them. They're on a schedule. They've got an appointment for gobbling at 2pm and need this fight to be over as soon as possible. Don't think too hard about that last sentence.
A cool intersection of gameplay and story is the sheer number of times your party changes. People move in and out of your party at the whim of the game's story, which I really like because other games would be like "nooooo!!! you can't just add a character 10 levels above everyone else to the party!!!" but FF4 is like, don't worry bro, it'll work out. And it does. I appreciate the willingness to give you fairly overpowered characters when it makes sense to, and then just balance the enemies accordingly. Another advantage to having a revolving door party is that your playstyle and strategies change up every hour or so. You might lose a tank melee character and gain two sorcerers. Better put the remaining tank up front, and use the sorcerers in the back to heal everyone and start focusing more on the elemental weaknesses of enemies. Not to mention all these characters have things to say and things to do in the story, which is normal now but pretty cool for 1991 on a 16-bit console. I wouldn't say the story is particularly high art or technically proficient, but it had Themes, a pinch of meaning, and at least a few characters I did end up caring about. At a bare minimum, it made me want to keep playing to see what it was gonna pull next. That's a low bar, but I've played Breath of Fire so believe me when I say these games can miss that bar.
Now to talk some mad shit about the game since I've been very positive so far. I don't think I'll ever like random battles. Very controversial opinion I know. I just don't vibe with each footstep feeling like playing Russian roulette with the bullet being about a minute of enemies that are the equivalent of Desert Bus - easy enough to coast through but you can't stop paying attention juuuust in case you total the whole thing. Even if you get rewarded for winning, sometimes I just wanna explore and look for chests please. It's a system that I haven't found a satisfying iteration of yet.
Also, the translation in the original NTSC release is a bit sketchy. I usually felt like I at least got the gist of what they wanted to convey, but what hurts it most is the severe text box limitations from differences in how much you can convey in Japanese vs. English within a certain number of characters. It does lead to some lines being slightly baffling. That's what I get for forgetting to do two minutes of research before playing a 20 hour JRPG. A quick look at available translations seems to conclude that the 3D remake has a considerably better script, as well as there being numerous fan translations, so look into it!
I'm not entirely sure why I chose this as the start of my old JRPG expedition over FF6, which was originally the plan, but I'm glad I did. I think this game has less baggage in terms of being an all-timer you have to experience, and to be honest I just wanted something chill to play before TotK comes out. Having looked into how pioneering this game was, I think it was the start of most things I value in this genre. It might be half a star higher with a better translation, but I really enjoyed my time here; it's truly a big hunk of lovely JRPG beef. The story comes at you fast, it's surprisingly investing, and there's plenty of meat and potatoes JohnRingoPaulGeorge mechanics to sink your teeth into. What I'm trying to say is that you should eat The Beatles. And play this game.

They just fucking nailed it. Do I have to say anything else? Well not really but I'm going to.
RE4 is an intensely rare game. I think I'm quoting Noah Gervais here, but it truly did come out fully formed; both a new genre was birthed overnight, but they also got so much so right that it still stands today as a pillar of everything its genre can be.
RE4R is an intensely rare remake. It so deeply understands what makes the original work, and not only recreates all the best parts of the original with a deep love for it, but also has the courage to go beyond and expand upon it in such interesting ways.
The combat still has so much of what you loved, but with all the lovely modern sensibilities from RE2 remake integrated into it. They expanded on the knife in ways I suspect will be controversial amongst diehard fans of the OG, but I love it. Essentially making it way more useful, but also having it be another resource you need to keep track of. Parrying is quite ridiculous but it fits RE4 Leon so well. After all, isn't the biggest change from the old survival horror entries to more modern RE4-likes just how cool Leon is and how eager he is to face his enemies head-on? Let him parry that motherfucking chainsaw. He deserves it.
Speaking of being fucking cool as hell, I was really curious/nervous about how everyone's characterisations would turn out. There was certainly room for improvement in the original (a lot of the characters were likeable but didn't have much actual character to them (Ashley)) but if they went too far into seriousness they would lose what made the original's tone so special. Well, they somehow had their cake and ate that mfer too. Leon is more sad, angry and visibly scarred from the events of RE2R, yet still ready to quip at a moment's notice, and somehow it works so well. I think this is going to end up being quite subjective, but I never thought they were reaching to include certain lines. Leon is less silly action man, and more cop who is so done with these zombies that he's gonna shit-talk them all day. I couldn't stop laughing every time him and Salazar interacted, because Salazar is still a silly little castellan man, but Leon is just that bit more grounded than he was before, allowing him to act as a (somewhat) straight man to this gleeful creepy funhouse castle boy. And I've gotta say I loved every cutscene with Leon and Luis together, and Leon and Ada together. They all have so much charisma and chemistry together. A joy to behold.
Ashley is also a huge improvement. She's still absolutely scared, but has so much courage. Ashley coming to trust Leon is handled quite subtly too, mostly done through gameplay early on. Her questioning certain things Leon asks her to do that would be questionable but eventually seeing his logic, both of them asking the other if they're ok after particularly painful fights, it works.
And I also loved how they expanded on the treasure/PESETA/upgrade systems. Giving you more choice with gem placements, way more lil side quests like the blue medallions, and especially the shooting range which is like the best fun fair attraction you've ever been to. It even has gacha! It all combines to keep my almonds activated consistently throughout the entire experience. Also the egg is still in the oven, which was the best part of the original.
Some people have called this game soulless and honestly I couldn't disagree more. First of all, we all know the soul is stored in the Regenerador ass jiggle physics. Second of all, this game is just bursting with love for the original, a clear understanding of what made it good, and a willingness to go out there a bit and juggle between the OG and their own take on the material. And that's exactly what this: their own take on the same gameplay philosophies. It doesn't supplant the original, they both stand together. They're both kings in my book.

I'm a little shocked this one is rated lower than the original on here - ok it's by 0.1, but still - this seems like a straight upgrade to me. The cars control better, the course is a little more interesting, it has really great music, and there's a lil currency and customisation system which I appreciate. Having some progression helps make it feel less like an arcade game you'd play with some buddies every once in a while and more like a console game I want to play more often. The game's aesthetic is drabber and duller than the last two and next one, which lends to it not ageing quite as well, but it still achieves that late 90s - early 2000s feel of "this thing is trying to be cool, swings hard and misses, but is still kinda interesting and fun in its attempt?" I like it.
Problem is, I believe there's still only one course you go multiple routes through. I actually like this by itself, but I think the game needs more than one. Also, I still don't fully understand how to drift in this dang game. But maybe that's ok; I suppose games need some mystery. The original Assassin's Creed had the bedroom of cryptic blood at the end. Undertale has W.D. Gaster. Rage Racer has drifting. There are some things we aren't meant to know.
So, I've played the original and this [Editor's note: I didn't play Ridge Racer Revolution because as of 5 seconds ago I don't believe in revolution. Ridge Racer should affect change within the racing genre by just being slightly mad about things.] and I'm excited to play Type 4 since everyone seems to love it. Yep!

I started choosing whichever option got me away from this person, because that's what I'd do in real life. Then when it forced me back into interaction, I wanted to close the tab. Maybe that's the point. Its construction and quality of writing are totally fine but I think being in the middle of a relationship between emotionally unstable people might be a form of hell for me.

cock: legend of the blowjobbos
now that that's over with, on with the review:
Croc is the little mascot who could. They even gave him a backpack to disguise how uninteresting his design is. Don't you love backpacks???
The game is so ok. You collect things and go through levels. There are 6 Gobbos to collect per level, with the last being put behind a bonus room at the end of the level, which is sometimes platforming but other times a minigame. You get one chance at this minigame, which usually starts with a tenuous indication of what you need to do, so by the time you've figured it out you've already lost. Now you need to do the entire level again. This game doesn't want me to 100% it.
Although I gave up on even completing it at all. I do like some things: the music, the odd bit of satisfying platforming, and I even like how Croc controls (with an analog stick, probably sucks with a D-Pad). But sadly for Croc, I had an existential realisation that I don't play games to tolerate them until I reach an ending that will absolutely be unsatisfying. I'm sorry Croc. Like a failed relationship, we've both learned an important lesson from our time together and I'm sorry we must part. Goodbye.

Weirdly soulless when it didn't really need to be; the type of indie game where there's a guy on an island who spouts random Zelda 1 quotes for no discernible reason. At its base, it takes some of the familiar dopamine hits from games like Stardew Valley and Minecraft and throws them at you at hyperspeed. It keeps your hands very busy and takes minimal thought to do anything, so it's a podcast game really - I turned the music off about 5 minutes in. The pixel art is fine, the gameplay loop does what it sets out to do, but the writing is weirdly off. I can't really see any of the charm it supposedly has; I'd even say there's an almost imperceptible mean streak to some of it: killing the kind turnips (ok i didn't have to do that but you want the space), an old man impressing on you that you're killing so much of the place's (infinitely respawning) natural resources, the fact that every NPC wants you to know how their existence doesn't matter in the slightest. Should I care? The game tries so hard to not try at all with its writing.
The game's store page says "The idle game you want to keep actively playing!", which is odd because that takes the idle out of idle game making it just "game", but it does remind me of a certain type of good-not-great incremental game where all the math fits together but it's just lacking some cohesive alchemical thing. A soul probably.

0.5 stars for Bubsy 3D? What a shocker!
But seriously, this game is shockingly, egregiously, irredeemably bad in a way that you need to experience for yourself to understand. I can only imagine the people who made this played it just before release and started rapidly biting their fingernails in nervous terror like in a cartoon, knowing just what they were about to put out into the world.
I finished level 2 and couldn't do any more. It's a big, wide open, messy level that - as far as I can tell - requires a temporary powerup to beat, which doesn't respawn, even after dying. So you can spend 20 minutes slowly manhandling Bubsy to complete the full level, take the powerup and not know exactly where to go with it, then it runs out so you're fucked and have to redo the entire thing. One day I might come back to be able to say that I've finished it, but my mental state will have to improve by like 5 points to handle it.
game sucks

I don't think anyone expected the sequel to Super Mario 64 to be anything like this. As if the staff at Nintendo went on an extended drug binge and one of them said "guys, what if Mario went to Italy with a water pistol?" and then after a bunch of laughter and sobering up, they ran with it for an entire game. But here we are, and coming back to Sunshine after many years, I like it more than ever for how weird and un-Nintendo it feels.
Most Nintendo games are finished for one. This has a real patchwork feel to it, a leaking bucket plugged up with what feels like test levels and blue coins, two hundred and fucking forty of them to be exact. So many moments in this game made me go full AVGN, turn to the side and say "what the fuck were they thinking??" into an invisible camera, because they were rushed to the point the difficulty in many places wasn't tested at all. Compared to the round planet of Galaxy, there's sharp edges all over the place here.
But despite their desperate attempts to reach 120 shines, there's a very solid core here. There's never been a Mario game so committed to creating what feels like it could be a real place; levels that blend sensical environmental details with totally ludicrous geometry end up coming across really well. I think the success of Isle Delfino is one of the game's biggest strengths, trading out the variety of Super Mario 64 for levels more considered and consistent. It also helps that Mario is super fun to control here. I was shocked to remember you can't even crouch in this game, never mind long jump, but the addition of FLUDD and the spin jump keeps the platforming engaging, pushing you to challenge yourself. Having said that, it's definitely part of a downward trend towards making Mario easier, but less satisfying, to control which continues into Galaxy.
So yeah. I had a really cool time with it. Just don't go for every blue coin, it's not worth it.


So many cool ideas and things to see here, but its construction and switching between hubs the way it does makes it unbearable to actually play unless you're a youtuber wanting to look very surprised at seeing random wacky things for long enough to make a video.

The developers made beautiful landscapes. An ok story. Writing that flits about from being too flowery to decent to word association on par with a GCSE English student. These are elements of a game which could have been fine.
Dear Esther is a valid expression of games as a medium; I think the question as to whether it is only arises because the gameplay glue that should hold those previously mentioned elements together has been minimised drastically, which would probably be shocking back in 2008.
While playing, I couldn't help but think back to Metal Gear Rising - maybe the most polar opposite game to this you could find - specifically when the second phase of a boss hits and you get some dialogue as the vocals kick the fuck in and the stakes get even higher. Slightly different than slowly walking around an island. But the point is, the gameplay holds all those elements you can find in other media together and that's what elevates this medium. So by minimising the interaction with no subversion, you lose so much of what makes the medium special. You don't get an "Art Game" - it goes without saying that all games are art - if anything you reduce it's artistic merit.
Taking away pieces of a medium is valid exploration of it, but remove the interesting parts of it and play the rest straight? It's not surprising that the game is uninteresting, but the experimentation here giving an unsurprising result is the biggest sin of the whole thing. Maybe the fact that I'm talking about what gaming can be was the point of the entire game. In that case, I love that games can be this, but I just don't like, well, this.

Without a doubt in my mind, this is the most important game ever made. You star as the titular 3-D WorldRunner, in his 3-D WorldRunner adventures, mostly involving WorldRunning through a 3-D World. (
The game's use of early 3D may be seen as a gimmick by some, but I believe it is integral to the game's overall message. This game wants you to instinctively FEEL like it's a real experience, and for me, it was. Fourteen years before Metal Gear Solid 2 made its bold statement of art and specifically video games being worthwhile as contributions to human culture and society to be passed down through generations, here we have a game demanding your immersion through it's use of 3D graphics. There's even a special 3D mode allowing the use of 3D glasses to further remove the barrier between player and game.
Indeed, it's no coincidence the name of 3D WorldRunner is also Jack. This game was undoubtedly an influence on Hideo Kojima's conception of Raiden, and I believe it holds equal importance as an artistic statement on video games, art, and society.
Let's first examine the game through the lens of "Man vs. Man". There is one man in this game. But indeed he faces himself, through the monsters and obstacles he runs past. Such a beautiful statement on human determination: there is nothing more powerful than a discipled mind focused on one concrete goal, in this case, WorldRunning. The player and Jack are one in this, there is no barrier between them, for every person wishes for 3D WorldRunning in their SOUL. Was this game a direct influence on Toby Fox when he designed Undertale? I'm here to say: probably.
The next facet: "Man vs. Environment". The 3D World is a treacherous space. Checkered. Scrolling. Yellow. All words I could use to describe it. All that stands between you falling into the abyssal void is one perfectly timed jump after another. Perhaps this reminds you of something. Indeed, our lives are a sequence of perfectly timed jumps, and is anyone there to catch us when we fall? In 3D WorldRunner, no. A portrait of a world with just one man is a desolate one; no man is an island and this game teaches us that we must hold each other up if we wish to see the Sun.
The final truth: "Man vs. Society". At the end of every world, you face a dragon. Myths of dragons stretch back centuries; they are a beast to be overcome, requiring much courage, but yielding much reward, often monetary as the dragon's hoard is redistributed. How can this be seen as anything other than a call towards a more just society in which wealth is no longer controlled by the few but in the possession of the many? The dragon is a "Boss" in the video game sense, but also the societal sense, it clearly holds dominion over the smaller creatures, hoarding all those precious points, and your role as the Saint George of this 3D World is something we can all aspire to, in order to effect societal change in the real world. Again, this game's influence is felt in Persona 5, among others.
I hope I've given a glimpse of why this game is so important, not least to me. It's a primal call to the deepest part of our primitive brains for us to come together and end injustice to others and the self through art, music, books, literature, and in this case, video games. And the music is pretty good too.