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Grim's Game Reviews

Grim

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Mar 7, 2019
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Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
(Gyakuten Saiban 4)


Original Release Date: April 12, 2007

Original Console: Nintendo DS

Developer: Capcom

Plot: Seven years have passed; in that span of time, much has changed in the world of law. Apollo Justice is a rookie attorney on his first case, and his client? Phoenix Wright. In the seven years that have passed, Phoenix Wright was disbarred from being an Attorney and became a piano player and undefeated poker player. Now, he's once again a defendant in a murder case. Through Phoenix's help, as well as from Phoenix's daughter, Apollo discovers that it was his own mentor, Kristoph Gavin, who killed Shadi Smith, a wandering poker player, instead of Phoenix. However, the backstory behind Shadi, Phoenix, and Kristoph run back to that fateful court case seven years ago... Now working for Wright Anything Company, Apollo hopes to discover what exactly happened to Phoenix Wright and how he became the way he is today... 9/10



Gameplay: Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is where the series begins it's trend downwards, and it's here that I will not be reviewing the series much afterwards, as I have not played any of the other games post-Apollo. Much of the gameplay features of the first three games remain unchanged, however, there are a few additions that could be considered "improvements" if you really want to try and justify it. The first of many additions is that of 3D item investigation. If anyone remembers "Rise From The Ashes" from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, then this would not really be a shocker. However, this was the first game in the series to really explore the idea more, allowing for more variance and further fun in your investigation.

The second addition is use of the mic and actual investigative tools to discover evidence. In some parts of the game, you will be required to use the mic to blow into to help set up evidence. It's a neat little idea in theory but I've never been big on the DS gimmicks for the most part. If you're like me, it's a tedious addition that doesn't necessarily change up anything drastically, but just creates more to do.

Another piece added to the game was that of "Crime Recreation Mode" which allows the player to explore the crime scene as it was as it happened, to search for clues. It's a unique concept but isn't used to great effect in the game and unfortunately doesn't appear all that often. The best thing brought to Apollo Justice is its analog to the magatama of Justice For All and Trials And Tribulations: The Perceive System. Since Apollo himself does not carry a magatama, he cannot see Psyche-Locks themselves. Instead, he has his own way of telling when a witness is lying. The Perceive System allows Apollo to observe the witness and make note of their nervous tics and whatnot, like a poker tell. When considering this is the replacement for the Magatama, it's not a bad idea, in actuality and it's one of the things that makes Apollo more unique to Phoenix Wright.

Overall, there's not many big changes to the series and with a few additions here and there, the series starts to move further away from the pure visual novel storytelling that made the first three games unique and it starts to really become a proper detective game. Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you, but some of these additions were not all that well implemented, making it tough to really say they made the Ace Attorney series better. 8/10



Visuals: We continue with stellar visuals and incredible colors in the Ace Attorney series. Apollo Justice has some finely detailed sprite-work with many of the characters and the environments are gorgeous as usual. Even better are the cutscenes in-between cases, rendered in sketch-like art with incredible effect. It's some of the nicest looking character sprites in the series and my favorite is probably Trucy, seen below. More of the same, but still incredible. 9/10



Audio: Once again, more of the same from Capcom when it comes to good soundtracks for the Ace Attorney series. While not as great as the last three, there are still plenty of great tracks to have a listen to. I think "Cross Examination ~ Moderate 2007" "Trucy Wright ~ The Magic Girl" are the best in the game, but there are still plenty of other very good songs in here like, "Kitaki Family" and "Ema Skye ~ Scientific Detective". 8/10



TL/DR Thoughts: Apollo Justice is a good entry-point for newcomers of the series, it has some great storytelling throughout and you don't need prior knowledge of the series before hand to play it. However, it's frankly not as good as the original Trilogy, but is a fun romp in the world of Ace Attorney.

Final Grade: 8.5/10
 
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Grim

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Zombies Ate My Neighbors
(Zombies)



Original Console: Super Nintendo / SEGA Genesis

Original Release Date: July 19, 1993

Developer: LucasArts

Plot: Monsters have risen up and are terrorizing the neighborhood, thanks to local mad scientist Dr. Tongue. Having witnessed an attack by one of the monsters, teenage friends Zeke and Julie arm their water pistols and prepare to save the neighborhood. Along the way, they'll gain bazookas, soda cans, Popsicles, weed whackers and crosses to do battle with this cornucopia of death, including: giant ants, evil dolls, vampires, mummies, and yes, even zombies. 7/10



Gameplay: Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a top down shoot em' up where you traverse the map and collect your neighbors before the monsters do. The game has some fantastic gameplay elements that are numerous throughout the game, but I'd like to think the biggest advantage this game has is cheap B-Horror charm. It is fucking awesome and in my top 10 favorite games of all time (#2 in fact)!

The first thing I should talk about is the main control system; they're actually fairly simple to learn, and I'll be going by the SNES control scheme (if you have the Genesis/ Mega Drive version, you've got the inferior one). The Y button uses weapons you have selected, and the X button uses items you have. B cycles through weapons, and A cycles through items. The L & R buttons open up a mini map that vaguely tells you where your neighborly fellows happen to be. The big complaint I hear people have with this control scheme is the fact you can't cycle backwards. I actually don't have a problem with this, since it's really a minor thing, but I do understand; you receive a huge satchel of weaponry, and cycling through them for a favored weapon type takes some time, but as long as you keep a level head, you'll deal with it and not get hurt in the process.

You can actually play a two player game, which is really a lot of fun. Unfortunately, there are a few too many problems to really recommend going for the long haul with it. For one thing, no split screen; that's right, you have to share the screen the entire game, but the maps give a lot of room for you to not have to worry about that. Secondly, you both would be getting so few items and ammo, since you do not share them, and for the long haul, that becomes a key problem after level 30, where resources become scarce very quickly, and enemies become much tougher. That doesn't mean multiplayer games can't be successful, just that they may not last until the very end.



As for the enemies, there are so many monsters in this game from classic and some modern horror that it is really amazing. This game is an all out homage to horror and the B-movies we all know and love. Movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre/ Friday the 13th, Child's Play, The Blob, Tremors, Them!, and even Honey, I Blew up the Kid (of all movies) are a part of the homage, with enemies reflecting that. Even their niches are present and accounted for. For example, a werewolf will die instantly if you throw silverware at it, the same happens for Creatures of the Black Lagoon. The most annoying enemies in this game has to be the spiders on many of the office levels; they're way too damn fast and can do a ton of damage if you don't kill 'em quick enough.

Your neighbors are most likely the most important thing in the game. Your objective is to save all of them, and failing to even rescue one in a level results in instant game over, regardless the lives you have. All of them are pretty colorful characters and are worth an assortment of points. You know that teach who keeps givin' you an F? He's worth 50 points. What a dick. There's usually 10 in a level you have to find, and as they die, there becomes less and less each level. Fortunately, since the game works with a point system, you'll be able to earn those victims back in due time.

The weapons and items are all really hilarious, as is the rest of the game (campy homage and all). Just a few of the items you get are medikits, Pandora's box, red & blue potions, and even decoy clowns! The biggest gamble for items happen to be the mystery potion; the various effects include healing, hurting, speed boost, and the dreaded Hyde Effect (turning evil and killing neighbors). Some of the weapons include Popsicles, footballs, tomatoes, fire extinguishers, and much much more.

There are a few key differences between the SEGA Genesis and the SNES version. If I can be brief, the key differences between the two are that the Genesis version has the radar locked on the screen at all times allowing ease of access, but also de-sizing the playable screen. Secondly is the control scheme, depending on if you are using a 3-Button or a 6-Button controller. There's also optional control schemes to choose from in the SEGA version, while you are locked into one scheme in the SNES version.

I could go all day on the gameplay, but simply put, running around killing the monsters and saving neighbors in castles, neighborhoods, beaches, caves, pyramids and the like is just too much fun. Great gameplay and wonderful tongue-in-cheek humor will allow hours of fun, and the difficulty scales perfectly. 8/10



Visuals: Man oh man. The visuals in this game, whilst not perfect, are certainly great, even by SNES standards. Enemies are colorful and spooky, and the settings are gorgeous. You travel from regular places such as the neighborhood, offices, and shopping centers, all the way to pyramids, castles and even football fields (I also forgot to mention Hell itself)! The characters, and neighbors are nicely drawn and look really good. There's not much to say other than the Genesis and SNES versions have slight presentation differences, but despite its censored game over screen I'll still take the SNES version. I should also mention a small detail for you Europeans reading. The chainsaw maniacs in the game are changed to lumberjacks due to heavier censorship... I guess. So overall, these are cartoonish yet spooky visuals worth looking at if you're gonna be playing for 6 hours (like me). 9/10



Audio: Even better than the visuals is the music! There are so many memorable tunes in this game. It's honestly one of my favorite soundtracks on the SNES just for its kick-ass tunes. Some of my favorite tunes have to be "Mars Needs Cheerleaders" or "No Assembly Required". I totally recommend giving the music a listen to. It's all perfect for your running and gunning experience. I should also mention the spooky monster sound effects in the game, which are also great. Evil Dolls laugh wildly, and Vampires give that gutteral laugh, and the death explosion is AMAZIIIING! Thank you Joe McDermott for this wonderful gift. Ironically, if one is playing the Genesis version, they'll have a much worse version but with an extra song, "Mushroom Men". I'm honestly not a fan of the Genesis version and it's highly recommended to get the SNES version as it's fidelity makes for a better experience. 9/10




TL/DR Thoughts: Zombies Ate My Neighbors is an extremely fun pick up and play kind of game, with multiplayer support and 54+ levels to cruise through, this is not the kind of game that one would expect to beat in one night unless you are absolutely prepared for it. The B-Horror and movie culture of the 1990's with that flair of LucasArts humor exudes charisma in this little gem. I'd call it one of the most underrated horror-themed games ever.

Final Grade: 8/10
 
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Grim

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Mother
(Earthbound: Beginnings)



Original Release Date:
July 27th, 1989

Original Console: Nintendo Famicom

Developer: APE/Nintendo

Plot: A dark shadow hangs over a small community in America. A young couple disappeared from their homes in the middle of the night. They were recently married, and their names were George and Ana. Two years, and as suddenly as he had disappeared, George returned. He never mentioned what happened while he was gone; nor did he ever mention what happened to Ana. Soon after returning, he began researching a dark subject in seclusion.

Eighty years passed since then, and a young boy by the name of Ninten fights with forces unseen as his house is ripped apart by the paranormal. His father calls the home and tells Ninten of the research his great-grandfather had been looking into, which was PSI. He then tells Ninten to go and explore the world, and discover the extent of his powers while rescuing the world from dark forces covering the planet Earth... 7/10




Gameplay: Earthbound: Beginnings (known as Mother in Japan) is the seminal work of one Shigesato Itoi, a somewhat well known essayist, video game designer, and celebrity. He's known for such things and the Hobonichi Techo (a set of Japanese planners), as well as the Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shimbun ("Almost Daily Itoi News") website, furthermore, Itoi was also a guest on Iron Chef for many years, and voiced the father in My Neighbor Totoro in the Japanese version. To gamers, Shigesato Itoi is most known for Earthbound, the 1994 SNES masterpiece RPG (in addition to that, he also is credited with naming the Game Boy, Virtual Boy, and Nintendo 64 for Nintendo). However, before Earthbound, Itoi worked on another game before-hand.

That game would be the original Earthbound: Mother. Mother is a modern-setting RPG taking place in 1980's America. You play as Ninten and friends (Lloyd, Teddy, and Ana), setting out on their adventures into the world to stop madness from taking over Earth. Along the way, you discover powers never thought real, such as PSI Attacks and PSI Healing. You also discover that the world is being influenced by the evil of an alien being named Giegue (Gygas in Earthbound). So your mission is clear, you must gain enough strength to take on Giegue while also searching for eight hidden melodies that will reveal secrets from decades past.

With that out of the way, Mother differentiates rather well from other NES RPGs of the time as it's setting, gameplay, script, and enemy types are all incredibly unique for the time. While it suffers from horrible RPG baggage that many other games suffered from in the 1980's, such as random encounter syndrome, and multiple overwhelming enemies, Mother does well to try to mitigate that baggage by being a generally fun and lighthearted experience with moments of tenderness and compelling character development. The setting of a 1980's America is actually pretty refreshing to see, as most RPGs of the era took place in either the mystical past, or a technologically advanced future. The script also used modern cadence and felt like it truly did take place in modern times, while still allowing for the fantastical to be possible. Enemy types were also a clever choice, with some including a farmer, a hippie, and even a mother-trucking truck (pun intended).

The PSI system essentially works as spells from other RPGs and uses PP (known as mana in most other conventional RPGs). Ninten and Ana are most capable of using PSI attacks and healing, with a range of powers including: Fire, Freeze, Thunder, Beam, Healing, and Shield, among others. Regular attacks are dictated by the speed and strength of each character, as well as what equipment they have on them at the time, like most regular RPGs.



Mother has an incredibly interesting and storied history regarding it's release. In 1989, the RPG had not truly taken off in the west the way it had in the mid to late 1990's (with the releases of Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, and Final Fantasy VII). While Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy were marginally big hits, most other JRPGs didn't sell very well in that time period. Shigesato Itoi's Mother was a huge surprise hit in Japan, scoring a 31/40 from Weekly Famitsu's notoriously tough judges. Everything was primed for a release in the West in the Summer of 1991, but then a change in plans occurred. Nintendo went full steam ahead in their production of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System that was to be released later that year, and Mother's Western release was put on the back-burner. Eventually, Mother's release (which was to be named Earthbound, by the way) was suspended indefinitely... and that was it. Eventually, ROMs from the internet appeared of Mother's Western localization done by the same man who localized Final Fantasy I, Phil Sandhop. Sandhop has determined that the ROMs of "Earthbound Zero" were in fact his script and writing. It is also the same localized version that would officially be released by Nintendo at E3 on June 14, 2015; considered by many fans to be one step forward to the official release of Mother 3.



Overall, Earthbound: Beginnings is a rather good RPG that has suffered from the sands of time, but still ages better than its contemporaries like Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior (albeit not as well aged as Sweet Home). It's well worth your time and effort to play through it and see the blueprint of Earthbound itself. 7/10



Visuals: Mother's visuals are striking in that they are genuinely good looking for an NES RPG, even today. The modern setting is a great idea and the places you go are interesting and completely different from one another. I think my favorite places are Magicant and Podunk. The enemy designs are great as well and look spectacular. 7/10



Audio: The music of Mother is incredible, in all honesty. A lot of the music is uplifting, filled with major keys, and the battle themes are all dark, contemplating, foreboding, even. The opening theme "Mother Earth" is one of the best of all time for how emotional it is. Just take one listen to it and don't tell me you don't feel something from it. A lot of the sound effects are very good considering it's from an NES. 9/10


TL/DR Thoughts: Mother is one of the best RPGs on the NES by virtue of it's setting and comparison to contemporaries of the time. While it hasn't aged as well as say, Sweet Home, I'd still say it's worth playing to see the blueprint that Mother set for EarthBound. Definitely worth purchasing if you have the chance.

Final Rating: 7.5/10
 
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