Starting off a new series of super brief reviews/comments on games, books, and other stuff that I own or recently obtained. Today we’re going with Hylics, a great looking RPG Maker game, and Time of Need, one of my favorite critical books on art (yeah, yeah).
I won’t get super into Hylics right now, but I wanna say that the game looks and sounds fantastic. Mason Lindroth’s claymation/low-res artwork is fascinating to watch squirm around, and rarely are you even reminded that everything in boxed into RPG Maker tiles. It’s a testament to how far RPG Maker’s open endedness can lead to great things. The sound design is equally impressive, and definitely recalls Space Funeral’s use of Les Rallizes Denudes with its distorted, experimental guitar hums.
Hylics has something to say about Gnosticism, and while you don’t really get punched in the face by its gnostic hell world like in, say, Dark Souls, the use of real textures, bodies, and the motif of skin and transformation makes for a trippy adventure down transgression lane. It’s a short game, about two hours, though much of the length comes from how damn difficult the game is. The JRPG turn-based battles give you a decent amount of options, but players’ll probably find themselves dying frequently to the same enemies.
The writing is random to the point where it might be superfluous, and goofy NPC text is all over the place. I kept hoping that NPCs would start giving me puzzles clues or something, but that never really happened. There weren’t any lines of dialogue that stood out to me, but the writing should be taken with a grain of salt. Hylics is decidedly a game of beauty and aesthetic. Worth the couple bucks it costs.
I originally read this book when I was in high school because modernism freaked me out and William Barrett seemed to back up my notion that art of the 20th century was apocalyptic and that modernism was a problem that needed attention. Now that I’m old and boring, I know that Barrett’s not really saying anything radical, that he’s interested in sentence structures and telling it like it is about Camus and Nietzsche. It’s a fantastic read for kids interested in the development of atonality and Faulkner.
“Confronted by a world that has become meaningless, we cannot be convinced by rational arguments to finding meaning in it. But if life-giving energy flows we are able to create values, and we can then find reasons enough to find the world meaningful…Humor is a sign of vitality. So long as we can still laugh, we have not succumbed to despair.”
There’s a section on sculpture throughout history, comparing how men of different ages choose to portray man through art. I also like the cover ~
I’ll be posting new games to http://nilson.itch.io/.
GraveCamp is now available for free at itch.
Half up the arcade stairs,
the old heavy blue halo
crunching down on us,
earthquake roar, hurtle,
hurricane, heads up,
you speak in tongues on
a cartoon RPG religion.
Our feet stuck to wooden
planks, I set my fishbowl
drink down, sloshing pink
sludge, and repeat after
you three small mantras:
rhythm, respect, and
I first heard of Kickle Cubicle a few years ago when Mike McCabe included it on his list of favorite games. I was surprised that A. an NES game with alliteration in its title had eluded me for so long and B. that there was an Irem NES game released in North America that I had never played.
Irem, known for their R-Type horizontal space shooters, had a small output of excellent NES games, including Deadly Towers (1986), The Guardian Legend (1988), Metal Storm (1991), and apparently action-puzzler Kickle Cubicle.
From what I can gauge, Kickle Cubicle is based on a Japanese arcade game called Meikyūjima, or “Labyrinth Island,” which is also its Japanese Famicom name. The game looks a good deal like HAL’s Adventure of Lolo (1989), a series Nintendo should revisit one of these years (Lolo confirmed for Brawl?), with its tile grid-based, block-pushing puzzle action.
A short game I made in RPG Maker 2003 (works in PC only, I’m SO sorry) about Pancake, my son. He wrote most of the dialogue while we watched Steve Wilkos and Maury. I mostly used only the RTP assets just for the fun!
It’s sort of a neo-noir story about – stuffed animals -.
And yeah, Mike, it’s over when you beat the cyclops!
Title: Legacy of the Wizard
Year: 1987 (JP), 1989 (NA)
Platform: NES, MSX
Publisher: Namcot, Brøderbund
Developer: Nihon Falcom, Quintet
A bit of history: in the mid to late ‘80s, the big three names in RPGs in Japan were Enix, Square, and, not Atlus, but Nihon Falcom. Falcom, who most people know for the Ys series (which range from great to awful), but they actually got their start in the RPG market with their action-RPGs, the Dragon Slayer series. Released for the FM-7 computer (and later the PC-88, with an MSX port by Square) in Japan, Dragon Slayer became the smash hit of 1984, and it can be seen as one of the original action-RPGs.
Dragon Slayer IV: Drasle Family is the fourth installment of Falcom’s series, released in 1987, around the time that Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished Omen (oh boy), the first Ys game came out. For its North American release (NES), it was retitled Legacy of the Wizard, and I’m not sure how it was initially critically reviewed, but Falcom must have felt like they were on top of the world.
After doing some research, I also realized that Quintet was involved with Legacy of the Wizard, which adds some intrigue. Quintet, known for developing the flawless ActRaiser (1990), among other SNES RPGs, apparently first had their hand in Legacy of the Wizard. Well, it better be good then.
Title: Destiny of an Emperor
Over the years, I’ve played through a lot of NES RPGs. From ones in the sort of obscure category, like Sweet Home (1989), Ghost Lion (1992), and Radia Senki (1991), to the more obscure, never-been-translated ones like Niji no Silkroad (1991) and even the truly bizarre Otaku no Seiza: An Adventure in the Otaku Galaxy (1991), I thought I had covered most of the big ones.
Surprisingly, I had completely missed Destiny of an Emperor, which actually did have a North American release and seems to be at least semi-popular with the NES RPG crowd. The first time it was called to my attention was on cly5m’s website, who describes the game as a “high-speed Dragon Warrior with history instead of fantasy.” And that’s exactly what it is.
Title: Legend of Mana
Square’s PS1 library of games of one of my favorite things ever.
While the SNES JRPG library is home to some of the tightest, simplest, most charming, and certainly most nostalgic video games ever put together, Square’s output during the mid to late ‘90s is as tremendous as it is classic.
Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX and Tactics, Xenogears, Parasite Eve, Vagrant Story, Saga Frontier, Front Mission, and Chrono Cross combine to make a list that is so multi-textured, so rich on narrative and world, so experimental in both gameplay and storytelling, and just so full of soul, elegance, and personality.
While most of Square’s PS1 games feature some level of grit and realism, with a focus on cinematics and high drama that was afforded with the new expansion in technology, there were a few outliers from that Square gray tone. Brave Fencer Musashi and Threads of Fate are two moderately great games that are bright and colorful, and then there’s Legend of Mana…