Dragon Quest V is one of the most important role playing games to ever be released. Despite this, it has been a near unknown outside of Japan. Enix struggled to establish any sort of long term foothold in the North American gaming market. They were a bit more successful in Europe, enough to keep the doors open through the mid-90s. Translating RPGs is a long, expensive process, and Dragon Quest was the company's flagship series. The first four games on NES were all localized and released, but the process likely started too late. Japan got to see the full, natural evolution of these early Famicom RPGs, while the Western games were jumbled. They released a few years after their initial release as well. Japan originally saw the first Final Fantasy releasing two short months before Dragon Quest III. In the timeline of Western releases, Final Fantasy actually beat Dragon Quest II to market. Being a full game behind made Enix's games look that much weaker once they released internationally.
A big promotion with Nintendo Power got a lot of copies of the first Dragon Quest game circulated in North America, but the sales of each subsequent game in the series just fell. The later games in the series were also hurt, since they were released after the Super Nintendo's release. The early games in the series were like building blocks, introducing more core mechanics with each subsequent game. By the time that Dragon Quest V was getting ready for release, all these pieces were in place, and the focus on telling the personal story of the heroes became even more prevalent.
Continue reading Dragon Quest V: The Lost Masterpiece
Once upon a time, I convinced my mother to buy me an Atari Jaguar on clearance for sixty dollars at our local K-B Toys store. I had a nice stack of games with it including some of the 'good' ones like Alien Vs Predator and Checkered Flag. However, two games my sister and I played together for hours on end were Ruiner Pinball and Val d'Isere Skiing and Snowboarding. Ruiner Pinball is a pretty basic pinball game with some great sound effects. I remember Val d'Isere Skiing and Snowboarding to be a pretty good downhill skiing game, and for its time it may have been, but as it turns out, I must have had my nostalgia-colored glasses on.
Continue reading Ski Paradise
If you play Super Nintendo games you know what to expect. A Link to the Past, Secret of Mana, and Final Fantasy III are fantastic games, which many of us hold close to our hearts. Perhaps these were games you played as a kid or during your teens, but you at least have the satisfaction of knowing that you've experienced these essential pieces of gaming history. What we played in North America is only the tip of the iceberg though. There are so many great role playing games that we never got to see because they never left Japan. Here are five games that, thanks to translators and/or repro developers, we can finally add to our backlogs.
Continue reading Stuck in Japan: Five RPGs We Never Got to Play
Oh, hi! A lot of birthdays happened lately, so I'll have to be short.
November 19, 1998 (10 years ago): Half-Life is released (on PC; the updated PS2 version appeared three years later ).
I hope I don't have to explain as to why this is important: it is a very fun FPS game. It also has a very fun sequel, lots of spin-offs and expansions, and about a zillion mods. Back in '98, Valve managed to make a shooter which was cinematic, and yet didn't have a single cut-scene in it. If you missed it, or lost your disk or something, Steam has it right now for $0.98 (that is 98 CENTS). For best enjoyment, use the original version (not the Half-Life Source), but do install the High Definition Pack (paste this url into your browser with Steam running, no quotes: "steam://installaddon/halflifehd").
Also, some day we may have a very updated version of the original game thanks to the guys at Black Mesa Source. With the help of supportive community, those awesome people spent the last three years or so converting the original Half-Life into Source engine (as in fully, and not just the water, like in Half Life Source). Before you say "what's taking them so long", go and check out their screenshots and such. Be amazed.
Continue reading VG History: Freeman and the others