I’ve been meaning to do some video game reviews on new games as I play them, but usually got lazy and never did them, so I decided to lump them all into one huge review blog. Here you’ll find a list of all games that I have played extensive amounts of, as well as my overall impression of them compared to one another and then in-depth reviews on some of the more recently released games. I have only been playing video games for about 6 years, and of those 6 years, most of the time I couldn’t play. Despite this, I would consider myself a ‘core gamer’ as when I am not writing or drawing, my free time is spent firmly ensconced in front of a nintendo console.

Gameboy Colour:
Pokémon Yellow
Pokémon Silver

GameCube:
Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles
MarioKart: Double Dash
Super Smash Brothers Melee
Pokémon Colosseum
Pokémon XD

Gameboy Advance:
Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
Pokémon Sapphire
Pokémon LeafGreen
Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town
Golden Sun

DS:
Final Fantasy III
Final Fantasy IV
Pokémon Diamond
Pokémon HeartGold
Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
Nintendogs
Rune Factory
Rune Factory 2
Time Hollow
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth
Spore Creatures
Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days
Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness

Wii:
Super Smash Brothers Brawl
Rune Factory Frontier
Okami


Best Multiplayer: Super Smash Brothers Brawl/ Melee

Graphics that Blew me Away: Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days

Best Soundtrack: Okami

Best Real-Time Gameplay: Okami/ Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker/ Super Smash
Brothers Brawl

Best Turn-Based Gameplay: Golden Sun/ Pokémon HeartGold

Cutest Game: Nintendogs

Game that made me go SQUEE the most: Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town

Hardest Game: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Easiest Game: Time Hollow

Most Monotonous Game: Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass/ Harvest Moon

Most Interesting Concept: Rune Factory Series (Farming + Dungeon Crawling)/ Kingdom Hearts Series (Final Fantasy + Disney)

Best Storyline: Okami/ Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Most Sidequests: Okami/ Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

Best Boss Fight: Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Twilit Dragon: Argorock) / Okami (Orochi- 1st visit)

Scariest Boss Fights: Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Most Fun Dungeons: Okami

Most Epic Adventure: Okami

The Ones I Found Most Addicting: Pokémon HeartGold / Rune Factory

Cheesiest Storyline: Final Fantasy IV

Lamest Character Design: Pokémon Diamond

Best Character Design: Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Most Full of Bugs: Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town

Game that made me go WTF? the most: Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth

Most Bizarre: Spore Creatures

Saddest Video Game Moments [SPOILERS]: Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (When Zant injured Midna) Okami: (When Issun is left Behind at the Ark of Yamoto) / Kindom Hearts: 358/2 Days (when Roxas leaves the organisation)

Most Touching Video Game Moment: Okami (cutscene during final boss fight)

Overall Favourites:
Gamecube: Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
Gameboy: Pokémon Sapphire
DS: Rune Factory 2
Wii: Okami

Games I would most like to replay: Okami / Pokémon HeartGold

Game I was surprised was excellent when I thought it would be lame: Rune Factory

In-depth reviews:


Pokémon HeartGold
I have played and beaten many a Pokémon game, from the old Yellow to XD for gamecube to the ultra-lame Diamond. Silver was one of my favourites, and when I heard that they were remaking Silver and Gold, I was excited. The remake did not disappoint me as Diamond had, instead, it exceeded my expectations and I must say that this is the most amazing Pokémon experience I have ever had. I mean, not that it was so different from the others, it has the same basic plot. A young boy/ girl is given their first Pokémon by a Pokémon professor, and they’re off to explore the world, defeat gyms, and collect every type of Pokémon out there. But it was the little things that added up. For one, I loved how the Pokémon first in your party followed you around. It was beyond adorable. The soundtrack was a lot better, too, though I still found it a little annoying. Traditionally, I’ve always played Pokémon games with the sound turned off, but this one I could turn it on for a while without my ears hurting too much. The sprite drawings were also nice, and of course, since they were old pokémon (for the most part), the designs were cool instead of super lame like in Diamond/ Pearl. Features like the Pokéwalker and the seals for the pokéballs were also a nice touch that added variety (I love my Pokéwalker ^^). There were tonnes of minigames to keep you occupied and the main storyline seemed a bit more epic than other games, especially when Ho-oh or Lugia appears. They also went all-out with the legendaries; it is possible to obtain both Ho-oh and Lugia, Kyogre or Groudon, Latias or Latios, all three legendary dogs, and all three legendary birds and MewTwo. There are more legendaries, too if you attend events, and Rayquaza is possible to catch if you obtain Kyogre or Groudon and then trade for the opposite. Gameplay was the traditional level-up. The game did get a little dull after beating the elite 4 and entering Kanto, but still interesting enough to hold my undivided attention to the end. Once you enter Kanto, there will also be a host of new pokémon to find. A lot of Pokémon from Diamond/ Pearl creep up, too. After defeating Red/ Blue, though, there isn’t too much to do other than level and battle pokémon. Facing Red was one of my few gripes with the game. The battle is epic, but takes a LOT of level-grinding. You should be about lv. 60 once you’ve reached Red, but to face him requires levels of 70+, and they’re not easy to obtain as the highest level wild pokémon are around 50 and don’t give many experience points. I ended up transferring a level 100 Groudon from Sapphire into HeartGold to avoid all the grinding I would have had to do. Nothing loses my interest faster than having to grind levels. Other than this one small annoyance, however, the rest of the game is excellent. If you’ve never played Pokémon before, I highly recommend HeartGold/ SoulSilver, as it is by far my best experience with the series.

Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
The premise of this Zelda game is basically the same as most- you are the young hero, Link, setting off on a puzzle-solving, action-packed adventure to rescue the land from the impending evil force. However, this instalment has a unique twist- this time Zelda herself is your sidekick! In the style of Fullmetal Alchemist, she is an armour-possessing spirit who has lost her body, and it’s up to her and Link to get it back from the evil demon king. The gameplay is excellent, the stylus control couldn’t be smoother and the puzzles are tonnes of fun. What really won me over was the tower of spirits dungeon in which Zelda can possess Phantoms, different kinds of which can accomplish different tasks. You get to control both Link and Zelda through the many visits to this dungeon. Fortunately, unlike Phantom Hourglass, you do not have to redo the same floors over and over. The only thing I feel disgruntled about in this game is the very thing it was named after- the train. It’s fun at first, but the farther you get into the game, the more tedious it becomes. Even once all the warp gates are unlocked, it still takes forever to get from point A to point B, all the while dodging the same obstacles over and over. The train I think is really what kills the game, and it’s unlikely that I will want to replay it over like I did with Wind Waker. Sailing could also be tedious, but you weren’t restricted to such a linear path. It also didn’t help that I am a terrible engineer and tended to destroy my train on a regular basis. Other than that, though, Spirit Tracks is an excellent Zelda adventure. And either the puzzles are getting easier, or I’m getting better at solving them.

Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days
The hero of previous Kingdom Hearts games was Sora, the young keyblade wielder from an isolated island home. However in 358/2 Days, you take control of Sora’s Nobody, Roxas. He is new to Organisation XIII and as his best friend, Axel puts it, pretty much a zombie. He has no memories, no heart, and no place in the world. The Organisation takes him in because he can wield the keyblade and thus collect hearts from the heartless. As he collects hearts, the released hearts form Kingdom Hearts. When Kingdom Hearts is completed, every Nobody in the Organisation will finally have a heart of their own. Each day Roxas is assigned a mission to complete. These vary from collecting hearts to gathering intelligence, following suspicious people, defeating bosses and and gathering emblems within a certain time period. Completed missions can be replayed at any time as ‘holo-missions.’ Also, missions that do not advance the story line can be skipped if desired and played later as a holo-mission. The actual gameplay is excellent. Most missions are quite short, which is good because you can’t save during a mission, though you can withdraw and start it over again later. The plot is pretty good, that is, until you start getting pretty advanced into the game. If you haven’t played Kingdom Hearts 1, 2 or Chain of Memories, prepare to be confused! I never beat Chain if Memories and never played 1 or 2. The plot of 358/2 Days leans heavily on the events of previous games. And so by the end, I was so thoroughly confused that it somewhat spoiled the intense drama that was unfolding. However, you do not need to know what’s going on in order to play and beat the game, it’ll just makes things richer. The controls are a little complicated, but smooth once you learn them. The graphics absolutely blew me away. They were gorgeous and detailed- probably better than the N64 graphics. My only beef is with the camera angles. Prepare to get dizzy ans the camera wildly swings around- especially if you equip the auto-lock panel. Gameplay is real-time hack and slash. There is some strategy when it comes to arranging your panels appropriately for the mission. You cannot change them once in a mission, so come prepared! Overall I immensely enjoyed this game, even though I couldn’t get the full storyline effect.

Rune Factory Frontier
The Rune Factory series is an interesting combination of a farming/ dating sim and a fantasy RPG. In this instalment, you take control of Laguna once more (the hero of the original Rune Factory game). He leaves Kardia and travels to Trampoli in search of Mist, the girl who gave him his farm in Rune Factory 1. Once there he finds her, and decides to settle down on yet another derelict farm in this new town. While there, he must solve the mystery of Whale Island and save the day again, all the while growing crops, forging weapons, cooking, making accessories, fighting and taming monsters and falling in love with the girl of his dreams. The graphics in Rune Factory Frontier are very beautiful, and it has several new features, such as the ability to bring a monster ally into boss battles. It’s a nice touch also that you can see Laguna wearing the accessories you make while they’re equipped. Seeing the monsters larger and more clearly is awesome, and there are a lot of new monsters as well as old. Monsters that previously did nothing but fight for you now have new features. Monsters can gather wood and wild plants now, as well as give seeds and rare items every few days when you use the harvester tool on them. Another new feature is the Runies. If you create the proper balance of Runies throughout the map, your farm enters a state of prosperity in which the plants will mature faster and bear fruit more often. However, this game advances very slowly and tediously. Your rune meter deplenishes very quickly, making it very very hard to level up after a while. Also, the fixed camera angle makes dodging monster attacks much more difficult than in the handheld games. It also takes a while to load new areas, making even moving around tedious. I am currently in the end of fall of my first year, One girl has 1/10 hearts for me, I have a field full of rocks and stumps still, I am only on the second floor of the second dungeon and am a dismal level 30. And this is all after putting over 50 hours into the game. As you can see, it advances so slowly it makes staying interested difficult. If I was able to level faster, it would make all the difference, but getting ahead in anything can take hours upon hours. I would only recommend this game if you had unending supplies of patience and persistence,

Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness
I won’t lie. This game got pretty terrible reviews. Which goes to show that you can’t always rely on reviews for an accurate depiction of a game. Nor can someone else tell you whether you’ll find a game fun or not. It took me a while to get into this one, but once I did, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Once more you are a young aspiring farmer given a run-down piece of land which you must build to prosperity as you fall in love with one of the villagers. This game lets you choose whether to be a boy (Mark) or girl (Chelsea). Whichever you choose, the plot is the same. Your boat is shipwrecked on an island, and instead of calling for help, you and the other travellers decide to call Sunny Island home. As you advance, more and more people come to the island until it is a booming town full of residents. You get to grow a large variety of crops and trees, care for Chickens, cows, and sheep, as well as a horse and a dog. You have 6 bachelors (or bachelorettes) to choose from. The controls are… wonky. It’s all stylus controlled, and very awkward. However, once you become accustomed to the odd setup, it goes fairly smoothly. There are no rucksack shortcuts, which makes things more time-consuming, but after a few seasons on your farm, you get to be pretty fast and efficient at accessing your items. It’s definitely a LOT harder than other Harvest Moon games. Tool upgrades are difficult to get and require a lot of patience to obtain. The harvest sprites do NOT help on your farm, and it is almost impossible to keep your animals outside. If you were new to Harvest Moon, I would recommend (More) Friends of Mineral Town for the GBA. however, if you are a seasoned player and are looking for a challenge, Island of Happiness is for you.

Okami
I know that this one isn’t a new release, but it blew me away so thoroughly that it deserved a review. I have only one word to sum it up: EPIC. A dark power in Nippon (Japan) has been released! The long sealed Orochi has awoken and the tree spirit Sakuya summons the goddess of the sun, Amaterasu to once more defeat Orochi as she did 100 years ago. Unfortunately, our lupine heroine has lost most of her power as people’s faith has dwindled. You must play through an intricate storyline to rediscover Amaterasu’s power, gain the faith of the people, and clear Nippon of the curse of darkness that casts a pall over all its wonders. You will meet 13 spirits of the brush (some multiple times). with each visit Amaterasu gains a new ability. She fights and solves Zelda-esque puzzles with the power of the celestial brush. The wii’s motion sensor allows you to draw on the screen to evoke different powers. This game is very difficult, but absolutely amazing. The controls are smooth as silk (excepting the dodge move, which doesn’t work, but you don’t really need to use it) and the game is amazingly large and complex. The maps are enormous, the gameplay intensely varied, and mini-games and sidequests are everywhere. The plot is not only complex, but moving as well (I cried during the cutscene in the middle of the final boss fight, and I do not cry easily at anything). The graphics are a bit outdated, but highly stylised and beautiful. They mimic Japanese Sumi-e paintings. I have long been a raving Zelda fan, but can easily name Okami as my all-time favourite game. It’s like Zelda on an immense scale. The characters are quirky and lovable, there are plenty of moments that will make you gasp, cry, and laugh, and the dungeons are some of the most fun I have ever seen. If you like RPGs, Okami is a must-play. I am eagerly anticipating its 2011 sequel, Okamiden for DS.