1427 reviews liked by petro_sino


The presentation of Signalis is off the charts; very obviously drawing on the aesthetics and atmospheric feel of numerous survival horror games of the 5th and 6th generation and doing those styles in a committed and distinctive way. The environments, character design, sound design, animated cutscenes and occasional first person sequences work so well in producing a visual marvel that was executed so well by just two people. The title screen and menus alone are a strong show of confidence and style than most AAA games can barely muster today, outclassing even recent Resident Evil that is somehow still missing the iconic flare of the announcer saying "Resident EVIL" when booting up the new games. I guess it's just too campy nowadays to do something like that.

I just wish I liked Signalis even more on the gameplay front. It utilizes many great approaches from Resident Evil, in particular the first entry, but the execution felt off or even too derivative, the latter of which doesn't bother me that much. The 6 item limit felt too restrictive for the amount of puzzle solving and items the game gives out, which leads to a ton of backtracking through the same pathways to the same item box to stash items and run back through the same path to get the item(s) you left. Incorporating a way to expand to at least 8 slots like in RE1 or assigning specific items like the flashlight (not bad but bizarre to make that take an inventory slot) to key items would alleviate this issue without potentially undercutting the tension with decision-making of space for more resources to deal with enemies versus holding items for main and optional progression. (Also apparently there's been a patch for this that addresses this complaint but I didn't experience it on switch).

I was also surprised with how poor the shooting and lock on is here. Even classic RE has more accurate aiming and in Signalis there were many times where shots straight up missed opponents even while I was directly facing them. It's very wonky which's probably in service of the tension of encounters, but I felt frustrated more than tense when mess ups like that happened commonly. Not to mention many encounters can be cheesed easily by running past enemies or tanking damage rather than having to waste resources because of a missed shot or two. They were better alternatives for me than just downing enemies and this never really failed in my run of the game. This isn't much of a gripe for me, but it could've been addressed through introducing a new enemy type that challenged or punished running or even allowing enemies or certain ones to follow you into or walk through doors into different rooms. It would make encounters and traversal even more perilous and unexpected and be much better than recycling one of my least favorite mechanics from RE1 (burning bodies) and upping it by applying it to all enemies and making it way more frequent, thus making me less likely to want to use my weapons.

That said, the puzzles do make up for the lackluster survival horror gameplay. While they don't involve too much brain power to solve, most of them possess quite a bit of intriguing lore and detail to the world and made me even more curious about my surroundings. The signal based puzzles and few enemy encounters that used the radio were a sonic and visual treat respectively and added even more questions and intrigue to the setting than just only reading random notes that gesture to the going-ons of the place. I also love the textural differences across some puzzles that make it feel like you are operating or fumbling with some outdated or obtuse tech as it prevents them from being very simplistic in feel/look and solving. The puzzles overall work in part in crafting a strong story and world for many excellent survival horror games and Signalis carries on this tradition with its puzzles communicating a great sense of environmental design and storytelling, aside from the hilarious amount of puzzle solving prizes being more key cards.

Level design and exploration is probably the only other detriment I have with Signalis. While I love the amount of detail put into each of the rooms and spaces, it felt really straightforward much of the runtime. I definitely tried exploring around the rooms for anything interesting that would come up, but this usually didn't amount to much outside of the usual finds. Nothing much off the beaten path or even an alternate path or two that makes exploring more inviting. This isn't much of a huge thing, but it was a bit disappointing going down just one predetermined path for most of the time.

Could it have used less overt mentions to stuff like Evangelion, Silent Hill, Resident Evil and other horror and sci-fi media to cultivate more of its own storytelling? Yeah I agree and it is a bit grating in some moments of directly signaling said influences that did take me out of a good game Signalis is; the whole 'nowhere' section was very eye rolling given Silent Hill 1 is very fresh on my mind and I didn't care much for the take on it here. It isn't all overwhelming and the game still manages to carve out its own path with its lore, style and characters like Elster and Ariane and their cute relationship. I don't really agree with Signalis being the 'best' aspects of classic Resident Evil and Silent Hill like some people dub it, but it's still a strong and compelling effort in its own right. I enjoyed this sapphic ass tale and I'm interested in what the developers make next that will probably be even better than Signalis for me. Hopefully without a puzzle that is completely spoiled by a note sitting five feet away from it.

This review contains spoilers

Now that I've had a bit of time to collect my thoughts about this game I still find myself struggling to put into words how exactly I felt about Signalis after beating it, I've seen my fair share of bleak settings, but I think this one takes the cake for how brutal it can be for the characters of its own universe.

It's haunting, dreadful, merciless, and it's communicated to the player extremely well through gameplay, thanks to its overwhelming atmosphere, cryptic storytelling, and how it feels like you are never truly safe from what might be lurking around the corner. And while I think it suffers a bit from its excessive backtracking, it's still worth giving a shot, specially if you enjoy puzzle games.

One thing I'm certain about once the credits rolled, is that now I understand why its fandom is so obsessed with portraying Elster and Ariane in wholesome and cutesy situations, because it's the only thing that might save them from the overbearing feeling of Existential Dread that at least my ending (Promise) left me. But at least, I can find solace in knowing that they both went out together, to a place where time doesn't exist, to a place where they can dance together to the rhythm of the music, to a place where Ariane can finish her paintings, to a place where they can both feel whole again.

The idea of making a sequel to Chrono Trigger seems like a fool's errand, but surprisingly enough, the direction of Chrono Cross as a sequel is magnificent. They could have bitten off Trigger and made a budget-heavy, digestible sequel, but they didn’t. When sequels are made, creators can look back and improve upon their past mistakes. So looking at Trigger, what is there to change? There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, so how can it be improved in a sequel? This is why I respect the vision of Chrono Cross so much as a game and especially as a sequel. It doesn’t do the same thing better, but it rethinks the genre entirely.

Cross introduces so many quality-of-life gaming mechanics that have gone widely unused in the genre outside of its release period, and that is a shame. Gaming has instead leaned into battering you with where you need to be next with a marker indicating where to go, ensuring you’ll never be questioning what to do next. That’s the difference with Chrono Cross. Modern gaming is the equivalent of that one teacher in elementary school who was a little too nice and gave you the answers on your test when they shouldn’t have. Chrono Cross is instead like a well-trained tutor that gives you the tools you need to succeed but doesn’t flat-out give you the answers and makes you figure it out on your own. 

One of the features added that signifies this game's new direction is the ability to run away from boss battles with a 100 percent success rate. If you’re not equipped with magic suited for the fight, used the wrong spell, were about to die, or just didn’t like the way the fight played out, you’re welcome to run away from any fight you want with no penalty. Most games will let you retry a fight after death with no repercussions now, but you’ve got to remember, this was 1999! It doesn’t want you to lose hours of progress from something you couldn’t see coming and instead gives you all the attempts you need to figure out how to beat bosses. 

The gimmick of Chrono Cross's combat is equipable moves. They act as an item of sorts, and you can find them in dungeons or in shops. You need to balance out buffs, consumables, attack magic, and the like in the limited slots available. What makes this weird, though, is that once you use one of these moves, you’re not able to use it again for the duration of the battle, so what you have equipped always matters. That also means that all your magic will be recharged for the next battle. I love this, to put it bluntly. There’s no anxiety about saving all your MP for a boss battle; instead, you’re just expected to have fun and use what you have without repercussion. 

It just makes Cross have this easy-going and well-balanced experience. You’re not required to constantly re-equip yourself in towns or stop at inns. You just kind of, well, play the game. I’m making the game sound like it's way too easy, but no. It has a great difficulty curve, which I’ve come to expect from Square. The way it maintains the difficulty throughout the game, though, is through its fixed leveling. After defeating bosses in the story, sometimes you’ll unlock growth levels. These basically allow you to level up your stats from completing battles up until a certain point and lock off stat gains until you get more growth levels. In other words, Chrono Cross found a plausible solution to creating a grind-free RPG, and it works great. FF8 tried to get rid of grinding too, but it was flawed in its fundamentals by implying that you draw a surplus of moves from enemies, which is a different facet of grinding. It also punished the player for grinding by having dynamic leveling that made enemies harder as you leveled up, which is quite evil for the blind player. It feels like they took into account the flaws of FF8 and reworked them to be less obtuse and more user-friendly.

One of my favorite parts of Cross is its Suikoden-esque gameplay. Cross is, I guess, in the niche sub-genre of character-collecting RPGs. There’s 45 playable characters to get in the game, and instead of heading back to the castle to swap out party members in Suikoden, you can just swap them out whenever you want on the overworld. It was surprising to find a QOL I wanted in Suikoden lying in Chrono Cross this entire time. Obviously, not all these characters are good; many get much more screen time than others. Many stick out, though, my favorite being Karsh, as I loved his character arc. My favorite part about them is all of their connecting backgrounds. Instead of our traditional band of 7 or so party members, Cross focuses on building the world on a broader scale with a large number of characters to choose from, with many being interconnected in some way or another. 

Square’s golden era was during the PS1, and Chrono Cross is a finite example of that. It showcases Square’s innovation and their ability to be effectively experimental, but unfortunately, it didn’t have the impact it rightfully deserved. Much of Cross's game design went unnoticed in the grand scheme of things, as it has many features that I think could have become the norm for RPGs but just didn’t catch on as well as something like FF7. I’ll close by saying that Chrono Cross is one of the best sequels of all time and should serve as an example of what makes a great one. It takes place in a brand new setting and has completely reformed gameplay. Everything is different, almost unrecognizable at first, but the way it intertwines itself into the series is superb.

this review will be better in the future but for now...

how come this game had this one random ass human that was as unimportant as a grain of sand to be the one that has influenced an ending that was dark?

parents dying in a car crash, with this mike dude spiraling to a coma, with her sister wondering if she'll make it alive? i mean he opens his eyes and happy thoughts with joey and mari dolls ending it all which is good. but why..?

thankfully they changed it later to the same dude falling off of a tree, accidentally killing himself in the eyes of the girl. shit was HORRIFIED. at least the parents are alive!!!!

This review contains spoilers

ik it's like 1:33 in the morning with me posting this, but nah who cares.

 
The Legend of Dark Witch Review (Covers Dark Witch 1/Renovation, 2/Rudymical, Brave Dungeon/Combat, 3, The Meaning of Justice)


So glad that everything in terms of grade school, and everything else that I can possibly think of finally concluded on June 14. I never thought that I was going to be able to even reach this point in my life where I have as much time as I have, while also requiring the skills of an adult–even though I am not one myself just yet. And as I’ve started reviewing these games, I have been reminded of how all of them shaped who I am today. And honestly? I have to give most of this to the 7th Generation of Video Games. Yeah we are talking about the Nintendo 3DS/WiiU/Switch, Xbox One, and PS4. These systems have defined the generation that would not only give me love for what these consoles had, but the generations prior to this one. I love myself some of the NES, SNES, N64, GameCube, Master System, Genesis, Saturn, Dreamcast, PS1-3, 360… Mention any of them and I will gladly name a game that I know from said console that I really like. But want to know which one is the best of them all imo? The Nintendo 3DS.

The 3DS has been such a magical device for me. Out of every other system that I had touched when I was young, the 3DS was the first one that I've (or actually my mother since I'm too young to understand finances) ever purchased that truly was a device that I’ve owned and could mess with however I’ve wanted it to be. I believe that our family owns every Nintendo console from each generation! I’ve mentioned the above and I also have the Wii and the WiiU. The only console that I don’t i have the Virtual Boy. We even had the NES Zapper and little ROB sitting next to Zelda-like potions in my mother’s room. Believe it or not, my mother, sister, and little brother (not “little,” just a younger one as I have two but this one is 3 years older than me and the other one is like… born in 1997 years older than me) have a strong connection to Zelda that we just have a bunch of Zelda things that we have at home. The bad thing is, we don’t own every Zelda game sadly. 

The reason I love the 3DS (and partially the WiiU, gotta give some of that credit too to this console despite being a commercial failure) was because even under parental control limitations, I still was able to establish a connection to the real world, and the magic of video games through how Nintendo made their services more lively than ever. I will always remember the obsessions that I have had with Shantae, and Freedom Planet. I owned the original GBC Shantae as Virtual Console on the 3DS, and while I was mostly playing the game a la cheats, I still loved the atmosphere and the environment that the game had to offer. Same thing with Freedom Planet, but the main difference is that with Freedom Planet, *I wasn’t allowed to mention much of the game due to it being E10+, and I was 9 years old in 2015. Although my passion for it was strong because of me making references to the character’s dialogue, watching the heroes die constantly, and just looking at Lilac getting electrocuted. (I don’t know why my younger self thought that death was a funny thing to watch in video games). Another core memory from this age was when I was at some entrepreneuring program with him and my sister where I couldn't stop asking for someone who was related to them in school if I could've gotten Shantae and the Pirates Curse for the 3DS. I think he even actually had the physical for the last day we had the program too! But due to me being young, I still had to decline the offer. Thankfully, since I have to play games through other means (or purchasing it on Steam), I could always do this instead, and think about the memories that I've had with this person and my family. And y’know, if it weren't for these along with Some of the  DSIWare/Digital 3DS games like:

Drancia Saga

Fairune 1 and 2

Colors! 3D

Color Zen/Art of Balance TOUCH

Flipnote Studio 3D

Magical Whip

Chain Blaster 

MySims Camera

Bloo Kid 2

Mutant Mudds

And The Legend of Dark Witch, I probably wouldn’t have been the same person that I am today. Speaking of Dark Witch…
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October 17, 2015, On a Saturday where our family was going to a Bethpage Festival in Bethpage, New York for an event that they had, was my first ever glance at Dark Witch through The Legend of Dark Witch: Chronicle 2D ACT–the 2014 entry for the 3DS. I remember how I've witnessed my brother playing the first game’s demo, where it only contained Klinsy as the stage. I was interested because not only that it played like Megaman, it also had elements of Gradius into it. I've already pointed out in my Gradius III Review how much that game has been tied to me since 2009, and it still follows to this very day. When I saw that he couldn’t beat the first boss, I wanted to see if I could give the game a try and after some hesitation, I too was struggling against him. But that memory of not only DW, but going to New York as children will be one of the best memories of life with the family that I’ll never forget. However, this wasn’t the time where I have gotten ADDICTED to it, which will be explained in my Dark Witch 2 review after this one. But you want to know why I love this series so much to the point that even with all of it’s issuesI still play the games? BECAUSE of that platformer/Gradius combo alone. As of June 17 2024, I have still NOT found a combination of these two genres that doesn’t contain a bunch of girls, with a stupid developer , reused asset heaven, and a shitty fanbase. But I am not going to talk about all of this in one get go. 

In this marathon of reviews for The Legend of Dark Witch, I will be taking a short break from Gradius (we only have Gradius Advance, ReBirth, and V left in the series! Gotta Keep this on my mind lol) to focus on a familiar series that you probably seeing me talk about in the past. I will critique every main installment, starting with the original on the 3DS, followed by the more acclaimed second game, Brave Dungeon—an RPG featuring Al from the series (The one on Switch/PC includes two librarians as extra characters, and an exclusive spinoff where two children battle using RNG,) a decent spinoff of the second game, the third game which marked the series' downturn, and Brave Dungeon: The Meaning of Justice, which should not exist. Additionally, I will share my personal experiences with the community, explaining why I departed and offering insights to avoid falling into a similar predicament. I believe that I have said everything needed for me to start reviewing, so let’s start off with…. 
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The Story


Now right off the bat, I don’t want to make Dark Witch anything interesting cause well, it really ain’t. Upon booting up the game for the first time, we are introduced to Syega, where it allows the humans of this world to use magic. Syega works similar to our technology, where it can be used for not only fantasy brawling, but for more casual uses. Countless researchers have studied its powers, expanding its general use, and eventually, it became “essential to the human race…” Just like our technology! We have it everywhere–phones, PCs, Tablets, consoles, handhelds, and not even ones that are classified as electronics, like a water bottle, the flashlight, glasses, and pencils. 

But all good things come to a halt where someone decided to steal MOST of the Syega in the country with most being left with losing the ability to CONVENIENTLY start fire, and healing wounds of the injured. The original text says that all of the Syega has been stolen, but from the characters that you fight against (excluding one), they all are shown to use Syega to fight against you, which immediately contradicts the story in the sense that everyone has lost Syega. 

One of the Gods in charge of managing magic, Zizou Olympia, sets out on a  quest to retrieve the missing Syega, seeking out a librarian, a treasure fighter, a beastman, an information broker, a student, and a Fae. Eventually getting the information about the prepeutrator, she enters the Forest of Dreams to find where this person could possibly be, only to stumble upon a guardian that kills anything on sight, but after topping ove her, Zizou finally enters the deep remains, to which that Riva, the Princess is shown with a treasure full of Syega shown in the background. Rivalry happens, and decides to use the power of Red Syega to give her temporary powers just for that final attempt to take you down, but nah, after spamming bound ring a couple of times, Riva is finally down, explaining the reason she took the Syega: Rasil needs to be the strongest nation. That’s it. 

And honestly, fuck her! People dislike Riva for the reason that she’s underused and just a bitch in general, and while I get that the developer didn’t want to continue her use in the following games, I'm glad that she never made a true return… only if you’ve played the Steam version of the game where she wants to tests the power of the Ich by infiltrating with their plans during the events of the main game, to eventually track down some peeps in Liana and eventually Zizou…

Okay everything I said about Riva in that instance is fake. While she DOES appear in the Steam version where she feels a LOT stronger, she is just an extra character to play as. No pre-battle dialogue, no after talk, and no cutscenes to show a sense of progression. At least she controls better than the hard brick that she has in this game. Speaking of, why don’t we talk about…
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The Gameplay
 

Think back to my previous comments about this game's resemblance to Mega Man and Gradius. These views remain unchanged– look at the games Dark Witch is inspired by, and look back at Dark Witch. You got the slot bar (called the Enhancement Slot [Bar]), and you got the skills you obtain from the bosses (which are referred to in this game as Technical Skills). The Legend of Dark Witch adopts the Gradius slot bar, modifying it to fit scenarios where you're grounded—whether it's outside a library, inside a school, or on an island. 

In Gradius, the following upgrades you have are Speed, Missile, Double, Laser, Option/Multiple, and a (?) which is either a force field or a shield guarding the front of your ship. In Dark Witch, the following upgrades you have are Speed, Wing (let's you glide for a short time), Line (Shoot an arrow which can be upgraded to shoot three of them), Comet (Shoot a Star that travels in a wave with one being in the center), Power ((Visibily) increases damage overall), and by finding a special Syega in the stage, Guard (protects you from one single attack). This slot bat can also be upgraded automatically, semi-automatically, and manually, but my personal preference is semi-auto cause I do like to get some done while I progress through the stage. The Syega that guards, “guard” is also not exclusive to that ability, either. Throughout the stages, there’s 2 Syega pieces that you’re able to find through sparkles that you need to either collide your shots or yourself with to get them. Each Syega makes you have a higher upgrade to anything that it provides: Speed for more speed, wing for more time airborne, or power for stronger hits against your enemies. Although I will say, the hit detection for said crystals is OFF. I’m playing this game on 3DS, and I know most of the locations as Zizou, and even then, 90% of the time where I’m saying that I’m surely right, I am right, but the dit detection says that I’m not. 

In Gradius, shooting orange enemies or a group of enemies causes them to drop a capsule, which advances your power-up bar by one increment, allowing you to get the  upgrade you want. Dark Witch handles this differently; defeating an enemy results in dropping an item called "Tres," which fills the bar more gradually to the upgrade you want, and as I said before, you can either have the game choose the upgrades for you, have some control of it, or have complete control over it, more like traditional Gradius. Riva's mechanics differ, with her abilities Wing, Linear Shot, and Comet being replaced by Dash (double pressing the left/right button for a burst of speed), Cobalt/Fire (a short beam that can be charged for a wider and stronger attack), and Sword (conjuring swords to your left and right), respectively. And just like Gradius, if you die, you lose all of your items! While this usually isn’t a problem for Gradius fans coming to this game, this comes to a problem with Mega Man fans and fans that just come see this series in general: This game’s major problem is not only Riva being a literal brick to play as (While Riva may seem superior with Cobalt and Sword when used effectively, the dash often causes more problems than it solves, Cobalt starts off too small to be effective without close combat (and Syega placed variably) for upgrades, and you almost need to use the main menu upgrades where you can collect more Tres), but the enemy + level design almost always seems.. broken and incomplete. Every stage had at least one enemy that really pulled my hair. Here’s each and every experience I had with the stages that this game has: 

Heaven’s Garden [Klinsy] 
For the first stage in the very first of the series, this stage isn't that bad. The “main '' enemy for this stage is the book enemies where they close to be indestructible, and open, shooting a page as its projectile. While this doesn’t seem to be the most vile attack in the game (lol), it’s annoying because of how the camera works in this game. 

I hate talking about the effing CAMERA out of all things, but it’s responsible for how most of the deaths and such happen even on the easiest difficulty. Dark Witch 2 suffers this same issue too, but I will explain in that review by how that game makes better use of it. In this game, there’s two options for the Camera: Distance, and Autoscroll. Distance sets the position of the player from 0-2, with it being directly locked onto the player, and 2 being Mighty Switch Force-like where the camera is on the far right or far left. Autoscroll is the amount of seconds it takes for the camera to adjust to the new position of the direction you’re facing: 0 being instant, and 2 taking 2 seconds. The game says “set camera panning speed” but nah, it’s straight up misinformation.”

With the camera being out of the way, the problem with how this is detrimental to the game is because just when you think an enemy isn’t loaded onto your FOV (for this case, it’s the book enemies), they’ll shoot the projectile and you have to make the quick movement or risk getting hurt, or blocking the attack. What is blocking you may ask?   Blocking is a mechanic where when an hurting hitbox approaches the player and you press left the second it touches you making you invulnerable for a few seconds, rewarding you with Syega. While this is tricky to pull off once you master it, it can make situations less of a difficult situation. And for numerous enemies that come from this game, it's almost borderline impossible to use blocking. Thankfully you only see these book enemies in the beginning of the stage with the rest being straight forward. 

Klinsy is what you’d expect from the short description of her: A librarian. She’s nothing really special other than the fact that she’s a prodigy in Syega research, which doesn’t provide anything for the story other than simple character lore. She attacks by sending beams that travel in random directions based on height, and the more she sends out depends on the difficulty chosen: Easy, Normal, or Lunatic. She’ll also use Dia Missile, which is the attack with the four (or eight by default(?)) shards that come in you like a rhombus, hexagon, octagon, whatever it is. She will eventually send clouds with raining projectiles and a Phoenix Shortly after that slao shoots projectiles. Get ready cause you’re going to be seeing the word “projectile” come up constantly. Her weakness is Divide Ice, where it will damage projectiles that she creates, and will stun her.


The Silent Ice Roads [Al] 
Your normal Snow/Ice stage, but it honestly doesn't become much of the ice until the later half of the stages. This state's main enemies are the penguins with the shades, and the snowflakes which can split apart to two depending on your position. The penguins are like the books in Heaven's Garden where due to how the camera works, til see them come from nowhere and hurt you whenever. Now when an enemy or a projectile is off screen yet has been rendered anyways , the game will show a danger, but it's not 100% adjacent to where the projectile is. The Ice section also isn't that bad at all and to get past this part, you just have to rush for it, making good use of your jumps.

did you know that Al is a character that appeared in almost every Dark Witch game? Excluding Rudymical, Al was: a boss (Dark Witch 1 and 3), a shopkeeper (Dark Witch 2), the protagonist (Brave Dungeon 1, 2, and Break Block Syega Crystal, if that fucking counts as a game), a card (Dark Witch Story: COMBAT), and a character from many to choose from (Dark Witch Connect). I guess NAN-A (the lead developer for INSIDE_SYSTEM- the group who created this game) has a little soft spot for Al, and that’s why she’s included in every game in the series? I don’t know. To me, she’s kinda meh, as she’s your typical character who is obsessed with one main objective, with holding a giant weapon– a Scythe. Some call her a grim reaper–to which she negatively responds with, “no that’s not who i am thank you” most of the time, but eh, people call her that anyways. There’s also this misconception that she doesn’t use her Scythe as a melee weapon but in Dark Witch 3, she uses it as one, and I can imagine that if the game where to see the light of day out of the now dead 3DS, she’ll be swinging that bitch like it’s confirmed that mostly She uses it as a magic weapon. If they take it out? What a surprising change that NAN-A remembered to fix.

How does she fight in this game? using a plethora of Ice attacks, ofc. She sends 3 (or more) to you in a straight line, with  4 or more traveling in an arc above the player. She then hops and floats(????) sending ice crystals that break into multiple smaller projectiles and then eventually traps you in a circle, followed by her first attack. Her weakness is Upper Tornado where similar to Klinsy, will damage her projectiles but won’t stun her, but to just take a bunch of damage from her.


Ports-Math City [Papelne] 
Another relatively straightforward stage with the main enemy being the beasts with the bows/arrows and the boomerang ones. The former has a projectile that is hard to see, and hard to block cause everywhere you see this enemy it’s just difficult for you to make it pass them. The boomerang ones aren't bad if you know how to spam the attack button (snice this game doesn’t have a cooldown unlike games that follow it) to not allow them to shoot out their boomerang at all. 

Papelne is the first beastmen that you have in this game. Beastmen are half-human and half-fae with their origins being unknown as far as each game goes to inform how they live their lives (no, Dark Witch 3 doesn’t count despite the “Beastmen” in the game being Fae). She’s a toughie, with her ground impact being small or big, followed by a quick slash attack, with her sending some beams from the above to where you are, and she turns invisible having the same attack patterns as before. Her weakness is CircleCon, which can break her projectiles, but is shown to be inconvenient cause she’s moving everywhere and CircleCon is mad slow.


Twilight Prison [Blad] 
Main enemies  has those Fae looking idiots that shoot hearts diagonally left or right depending on where you are, and while they aren't too annoying, there's a section where if you don't have an upgraded line (and once again because of the camera), you can get hit by the heart and die because you can't control yourself during your hit stage. This stage also has those hedgehog enemies that when defeated, they shoot their spikes out and they're also annoying as hell. 

Man, Blad’s design reminds me of Knives from Scott Pilgrim, but somehow makes her low budget, lmao. She’s.. Alright as an information broker, but because she’s in it for the money, we clearly need to have something on us for her to give us any information, like all of the other brokers out there (i’m saying this despite not knowing what an actual info broker is like). Of course being Zizou, we just have to do the right thing and force the information right out of her, but then she would send rings that multiply to more rings, shooting rings as she spins around. She then throws out one that is fast like a bullet, and then some that are boomerangs. All I can say? fuck you with that bogus attack of yours. Wing and luck is on your side. Her weakness is Dia Missile, where it’ll stun her, and iirc, break all of her rings on screen. 


Chelsea School Dormitory [Sola] 
I don’t have much of an annoyance to the enemies within this stage, but the birds are kinda annoying cause they chill and slowly creep towards you but you can still get hit even if they don’t move but you do. 

Sola might come across as some edgy teenager in a school with a voice that sounds like she can come up to you and punch you in the face, but trust me she is not. In fact, they hired a new voice actress and changed up her attitude in following games, but still kept in how she’s like the others where she jumps to conclusions too easily, to then proceed to fight because of the actions you’ve done. She does this by sending a bunch or orbs that spawn crystals that depending on the color, will travel left or fight. She will then glide to do an attack similar to the weird one that Papelne has where it travels  from left to right except this time, they travel one by one in the direction you’re in. She then will summon a bunch of small moving projectiles that spawn near you, to then use CircleCon, which will move in a straight line but circling around her to then randomly send it off. Her weakness is Bound Ring where it breaks her projectiles and does significant damage to her.


Belfer Islands [Stoj] 
I'm surprised that every main stage has an enemy that I hate! This stave has those random coconut with wings looking enemies that go down and up, and the mushroom gals that dig down from the bottom to come get you the normal way. Although this stage is mostly a cakewalk on its own, with another gimmick that is never to be used ever again: Totems that burn torches for a short period of time.

My brother likes Stoj a lot. He is into characters where they just have a wacky personality, just like him. He likes Sig and Echolo from Puyo Puyo, the Fool from Magical Drop, and Mari, in this game’s sequel. Stoj almost falls into the same boat with her being a character that does like food a lot, and battling for fun. She’s a fae too to which that she doesn’t have to use Syega to fight against her will! She will summon 3 tornadoes that go in the position of the player, and will rise up to send mini versions of her to come get you. She will then summon a portal that will try to suck you into it, and eventually she’ll summon tornadoes that come from right to left. her weakness is Ground Impact, where it’ll make her fall during her airborne attacks, and will do some significant damage to her..


Forest of Dreams [Verri] 
Too tired to talk about this stage, so let’s talk about this unforgettable idiot. She is just there to kill. She also carries a giant weapon that she uses in combat. She will teleport to come slash you in the same direction that she dashed in, to come jump slash to you. She will then send a tornado that goes quickly in the direction of you, so use wing when you see her about to swing her sword when she does that. She will jump to then swing a bunch of projectiles in a random arc, which is also dangerous. She’s weak to Dia Missile, but just use your default beam. using Dia missile against this boss is useless.


Deep Remains [Riva] 
We finally reached the aforementioned Syega hideout place, where the princess must be lying. In traditional Mega Man Style, we fight all of the main characters that we've fought with no changes, experimenting with their weaknesses, and defeating the bosses much quicker than last time. After that, we finally reached Riva. I’ve already epxlained how she is with the above, but to give you the same information to read, here’s what I’ve said: (Congrats for making it this far into the review, too!)

And honestly, fuck her! People dislike Riva for the reason that she’s underused and just a bitch in general, and while I get that the developer didn’t want to continue her use in the following games, I'm glad that she never made a true return… only if you’ve played the Steam version of the game where she wants to tests the power of the Ich by infiltrating with their plans during the events of the main game, to eventually track down some peeps in Liana and eventually Zizou…

She summons swords to crush you, followed by hard to maneuver through projectiles that come in an arc, then traveling to the direction to where you are. There’s a chance where she summons the swords again, which technically gives her a vulnerable state because the way that the swords spawn in is not that different from each other. She will spawn this random circle that goes around her, and will shoot some blue flame towards you sometimes. She then turns into a butterfly upon initial defeat, shooting projectiles and summoning enemies for a couple of minutes. Spam bound ring to get rid of the enemies and you’ll be safe for the rest of the fight. 

And that’s it for the gameplay section of Dark Witch. After you finish the game, the game will reward you with Syega , which you can use in the post game shop, that can help you through NG+ playthroughs, but honestly, with how this game is built, you’re better off doing this but for the second game.. I can’t wait until I talk about that one too cause it has a LOT to cover compared to this one. That’s about it! In renovation you’ll have the option to make it old and such, but nah. 
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Graphics

The graphics aren’t the best compared to other games that featured pixel art, but they aren't terrible. It reminds me of chibi art in TVs and other media, as it seriously emits that same energy. Everyone looks the same, and the enemies also look like they come from somewhere, which is ironic too cause they do actually come from somewhere; Most of the enemy designs and game design concepts come from an earlier point in NAN-A’s life when he was making Touhou fan games back in the early 2010s. Tres, Syega, the enemy designs, gameplay concepts, and the bosses attack patterns from Dark Witch all derived from the games linked from the above. I know this is the first game that I'm reviewing but I'm going to explain later as to why this is a massive detriment to this series presentation.

I would love to review these older INSIDE_SYSTEM titles, but I won’t be reviewing them in the future though because despite being Touhou fangames, they are HARD TO FIND playing them through other means, and they’re borderline _abandonware__. I also don’t really have as much interest in Touhou as other people. Not only that, Unlimited Heroes is harder to see and boring to play because of the basic Fairune-like chiptune music and the 100% screen in a 1920x1080 monitor, when 125% of 150% look much better to look at. 

To put things simply, Dark Witch is a way for NAN-A to play Touhou games without the licensing put on it during the times where it couldn’t be added to other platforms. Way before Touhou Luna Nights or that one fighting game that if forgot the name of.
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Soundtrack


I find it difficult to believe that the same person who made the damn Melty Blood Soundtrack also worked on this game: Raito. Dude is a living legend in terms of the games that he works with, always making sure that cooking is on his agenda. However, when comparing DW to MB, the differences lie in how intense the game's music is. But because I am talking about Dark Witch, he is shown to reuse a lot of instruments and ideas when it comes to the music for this game (the song linked is the poker game which, to even in the latest installment in this series as of 2024, Brave Dungeon 2, still uses this song, unchanged)

Not gonna lie, some songs that he made are great, but that’s about it for the soundtrack for this game. 
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Other Thoughts

So that's it for my first entry in The Legend of Dark Witch! As a starting point, this game and its level design isn't the best, including with how the game plays overall, but for it being the first game, it's a pretty solid title. Although I can't say for myself that I'll ever return to this game as much as the sequels. What it will remain as, is the series that has changed my life a lot. But, this isn't the Dark Witch game that j was actually introduced to. 2015 was just the year that I first saw it. Wait until my Dark Witch 2 Review for me to discuss this. I hope you've enjoyed this review!

This was a really ambitious game to make, one filled with love, passion, creativity and a distinct vision and I liked it a lot for that! I might not have played Bloodborne so I couldn't tell you how similar/different everything is, but I love how it was an April Fools joke turned into a full fledged and enjoyable game, and its such a visually distinct game from anything from the kart racer genre (even if the music is still cartoonish, but its still amazing regardless) and unapologetically retro, with some really useful options for customising your experience.
All items are pretty derivative of Mario Kart's items (blood droplets = coins, guns = green shells, etc) but they have a grittier spin on them, like blood increasing max speed, insentivising hunting other players and enemies on the course, as well as being able to collect aether vials while drifting for a little speed boost to your kart.
The diversity of missions in the campaign also made it fresh and like I wasn't just playing Grand Prix again, having some cool boss fights and making battle more than just a side mode, which is great because the weapons are really fun to use. Multiplayer is also really fun, having everything in the campaign (except for bosses) with a lot of customisation options for battle and races. Its a shame that after every round you get kicked out, so you can't select how many you want to do before getting booted to the menu, but its not a major annoyance.

I do have to admit that this game isn't perfect however, and my time on it was filled with a little more frustration than enjoyment since the controls didn't feel as responsive or nice to use as most kart racers; the lack of a more in-depth tutorial meant I was running off previous knowledge and muscle memory, which didn't help the feeling of the controls. The UI isn't the most intuitive it could be, there aren't any way markers for dark/foggy maps, sounds, especially voices, were so extremely quiet when compared to the rest of the SFX (I turned it up to max and I still could barely hear it over the music) and I hated the Nicholas boss for being unintuitive to fight and for being able to double tap with his body and his weapon.

Overall its a fun and promicing game but I probably overhyped myself before launch and subsequently got a little disappointed by it, but its getting updated pretty frequently so I can't complain, especially if my gripes get fixed. Trans rights!!

It took me many years, but I finished all of the games present in this collection.
I got the Castlevania Anniversary Collection back in 2019, and it was something great for the Castlevania series, I'd say. This franchise rarely got collections, and only a few re-releases here and there thanks to Nintendo's Virtual Console service.

Now, with this collections, we would be able to experience many Classic Castlevania games, all at a good price. It is a bit odd seeing games like Rondo of Blood and Castlevania Legends being excluded, but what we got is pretty good.
We got the original NES trilogy, the SNES and Mega Drive games, the first two Game Boy games and even the NES version of Kid Dracula as a bonus.
And in a update, they included most of the Japanese versions of these games, which is great, because it actually allowed me to beat Castlevania III.

The extra Bonus Book they added is also a nice addition, filled with high-qulaity prints of box art, and some interviews too.

Overall, the Castlevania Anniversary Collection is a great collection for those who want to get into the Castlevania series, and want to see where the series started.

Crow Country is a pretty cute little survival horror game with a PSX style - fixed camera angles and (optional) tank controls included. You play as special agent Mara Forest as you explore the now abandoned theme park Crow Country, shooting (or dodging) monsters and meeting up with other survivors.

There are puzzles to solve, weapons to collect, and secrets to find. Tonally and plot-wise it's a lot closer to Resident Evil than Silent Hill. There are some good jokes that contrast to the solid atmosphere when the game really wants to creep you out, and some genuine moments of tension to go with it.

If I had any negatives I might say I wish the game was a little longer (or maybe just bigger areas). That said, fans who are really into it have ample incentive to replay the game with bonuses unlocked after completing it with different ranks. Movement feels pretty good too so I would love to see some speedrunners take it on as well.

Overall, while Crow Country didn't blow me away like Signalis, it makes me happy that the PSX-style really has some fans in the indie world. It's charming and has an engaging enough plot, so I recommend it to anyone who enjoys survival horror.

It's decent. Gameplay is good, combat feels very responsive and cathartic, soundtrack is typical Motoi Sakuraba-fare (it's fine).
Characters have some interesting backstories but they don't have any chemistry with each other and thus the story comes off as very dull and uninteresting. Also the pacing is really awful, the big revelations of the story come way too late, almost at the end.

Think they're on the right track to bring some new life in the series.