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PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, '14, 7:21 am 
Normally I'd feel guilty about namedropping my own stuff here, but I've been here a while so I feel like I can kind of get away with it (Its easier to swallow an established member namedropping their own stuff than some random bum out of the blue!). But if it bothers you guys, I can edit it out of my post (or this topic can be deleted entirely).

Fair warning, I go pretty in-depth into this review. They're LONG. 2, 4 and 3 are over 10k words long EACH. And the PS I review isn't exactly short either. I put up nearly 40k words in reviewing the whole series. (Oh and my opinions on 3 aren't the most positive so if you're a fan of that game... yeah)

Phantasy Star
Phantasy Star II
Phantasy Star IV
Phantasy Star III

Since we talk about the Phantasy Star series here a lot, I was hoping that showcasing my own reviews wouldn't be a problem and would spur even further conversation (and this is also a not-so-subtle stealth "what do you think of my writing style" topic). What subtle, technical details in the games do you appreciate? The reviews I made focused mostly on very specific, nitpicking details so I'm curious what kind of small details other people like/dislike in the series?


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, '14, 6:34 pm 
Reading the PS I review right now, and so far I think it's spot-on. Seems to acknowledge the more dated or simply clunky aspects of the game while recognizing its innovation and heart. I completely agree with your assessment of the intro; it's underrated as a very effective, concise, no-nonsense summation of "why you should care about this game and this story". I played and enjoyed FF VII and VIII recently, and having to sit through an hour of cut-scenes and meandering plot points and pointless conversations made me really appreciate games that simply punch you in the face with their heart and soul and then get to the real point; gaming.

I really like your point about the implied elements in PS I's plot, too. Like other early RPG's I think it's what is not said that is more interesting than what is. Lassic was a very interesting villain to me for this reason, as other people here have pointed out; we know he was politically minded, but also that he was involved in some way with the dark arts, or was led in that way. His story arc has a kind of dark resonance with our own world; ideology and religion have often motivated or led astray powerful political figures.

I will be back with more later!


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, '14, 9:21 pm 
Hukos wrote:Normally I'd feel guilty about namedropping my own stuff here, but I've been here a while so I feel like I can kind of get away with it (Its easier to swallow an established member namedropping their own stuff than some random bum out of the blue!). But if it bothers you guys, I can edit it out of my post (or this topic can be deleted entirely).


There's rarely anything inherently wrong with making posts about stuff you write or do. There's a HUGE difference between showcasing something you're doing/have done and spamming and this here is 100% the former. So you're fine. No problems, no worries. :)

A little more on topic, I did not read all these, but I did check out your PSIV review. I agree with a lot of things you wrote. I like how you presented some of the backstory to it, like how Motavia was transformed between PS1 and PSII then back again for PSIV. And for the review itself...well, I agree with a lot of. I think one of the reasons the earlier PS games just don't grab me as PSIV does is because they are kind of clunkier and not as streamlined. They just simply aren't presented as well. Obviously, of course, presentation isn't everything, but it a good presentation can make up for a lot of flaws. Combine that with how well it flows, and you get a solid experience. Absolutely agree on that, as well as how you present the characters. The point of there being a core group as a way to disguise a weak cast is an interesting point to bring up, but I find myself agree with you that that isn't really the case. Most stories have a core character/group of characters who are better developed, with some support characters who aren't as well developed, but are as developed as they need to be. That's just how things often are. You don't need every character to be fully fleshed out, and heck, part of the fun for a lot of fans is filling in the blanks themselves.

One point you raised I found really interesting was Dark Force, and how in PSIV, evil is sort of represented as its own living entity as it turns more recognizably life-like through the game, resembling a human by DF3 (DF 2 makes me think of a crab).

Overall, good review of PSIV. Well done.

And if you needed further assurance that a topic about something you're doing is totally fine, please see my own example of namedropping something I'm doing. So trust me, all's good.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, '14, 9:40 pm 
Thanks! I figured my hyper-analytical style would be a turnoff for a lot of people, but I love going in-depth into things.

I'm mostly curious what people think of the PS3 review. I'll admit I really, really don't like the game but I intend for the review to come off as "Yeah I don't like the game, so let's investigate WHY it sucks" versus "This game is complete crap because I said so". Granted, I know this forum has a few Phantasy Star III apologists (Which is who I'm really curious as to what they think of it) so I hope it doesn't come off as cruelty for its own sake (Which is very common amongst the AVGN wannabe reviewers), but instead an honest look into why I don't like a particular game.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, '14, 1:59 am 
Ugh. I had a whole, in-depth post going, but my connection went down, I lost my post, and augh! There is no excuse for shoddy wifi connections in the Bay Area!

Hukos wrote:I'm mostly curious what people think of the PS3 review. I'll admit I really, really don't like the game but I intend for the review to come off as "Yeah I don't like the game, so let's investigate WHY it sucks" versus "This game is complete crap because I said so". Granted, I know this forum has a few Phantasy Star III apologists (Which is who I'm really curious as to what they think of it) so I hope it doesn't come off as cruelty for its own sake (Which is very common amongst the AVGN wannabe reviewers), but instead an honest look into why I don't like a particular game.

I'm not one of the apologists; the game stunk in almost every way and the only reason I enjoy it at all is because it had some of the best characters in the series (Mieu, Wren, Sari, Thea, Lyle). In theory it was a fantastic idea for a game, but in execution it was a disappointment. I'm not really sure why they even made it a Phantasy Star game. It's barely connected to the series at all.

Keeping in mind I'm not an apologist, I read your review and agree with all of your points. I don't think you have to worry about it sounding cruel for cruelty's sake, because it was just about the most thorough review of the game I've ever read. You also point out that you still play the game and believe that it should have been a great game. So true! You don't revel in the fact that it's a complete failure. I am so over the culture of cynical game reviews, and I didn't feel like you drifted into this territory.

I enjoyed all of your reviews. You have a natural, easy-flowing editorial style. I have two minor suggestions: I would break up some of the longer paragraphs, and there were a few instances of mix ups between its and it's. Oh, and the word "hallow" was used when you should have used "hollow." A little bit of light copy editing could take care it. :) Do you have other reviews? I'd love to read more from you.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, '14, 2:50 am 
I did a couple of other reviews, one for Sonic Genesis (the terrible GBA port of Sonic 1) and for Ristar (which was my first review).

Other than that, I haven't done any others.

I fixed the issue with "hollow" (I always get that mixed up somehow)!

Quote:Keeping in mind I'm not an apologist, I read your review and agree with all of your points. I don't think you have to worry about it sounding cruel for cruelty's sake, because it was just about the most thorough review of the game I've ever read. You also point out that you still play the game and believe that it should have been a great game. So true! You don't revel in the fact that it's a complete failure. I am so over the culture of cynical game reviews, and I didn't feel like you drifted into this territory.


PS3 angers me primarily because I wish it was a great game but ended up bogged down by laziness (the fact that the escapipe glitch was obviously known by the devs via NPC dialogue and no one bothered to fix it or do anything about it in particular gets my goat) and bad design. I wouldn't want it to be bad, that's bordering on masochism. But you're right, the psuedo-intellectual cynicism of video game criticism is a bit too much to swallow nowadays.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, '14, 2:57 am 
Hukos wrote:Thanks! I figured my hyper-analytical style would be a turnoff for a lot of people, but I love going in-depth into things.


I actually think your style is nice and balanced and, really, comes across as personal and friendly. It's well-written without sounding professorial (which is a territory I feel I know all too well, where I veer into Sheldon Cooper talk).

Also, I haven't read the PS III review yet (will get to it soon), but I agree with Tanith that PS III is extremely interesting but extremely flawed. In terms of a worldview and world-building and the sheer fallen scope of its inhabitants I think PS III is far, far and away the most interesting setting in Phantasy Star, but the game play is so terrible it makes what could have been an RPG for the ages into something that is very difficult to appreciate (or play).

But back to the review of PS I, I like the note about the lack of transitions into battles, that was a really neat touch. I also still have nightmares about Dezolis, so the criticism about inventory management there is true. I actually kind of liked the way it was broken up, made it feel more mountainous and treacherous in terms of terrain, but it was a nightmare to play through.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, '14, 3:26 am 
I think 3 definitely has an interesting setting, but I don't know if I'd call it the most interesting. Phantasy Star 1 is very unique for its time in the middle of a bunch of medieval Dragon Quest clones (not that PS1 isn't influenced by DQ, because it is and you're kidding yourself if you think it isn't).

Phantasy Star 2 is basically a Japanese reinterpretation of 1984/Brave New World with a bit heavier sci-fi themes going on. Nowadays that doesn't seem like too much but back in 1989 there was nothing like it.

Phantasy Star IV I'd argue has the most unique setting. There's a mix of old world themes, new world technology and spiritualism that all combine together for what I think is the most unique of the PS games. Yeah its a sci-fi game but that doesn't mean the entire game is Star Trek. Technology is used sparingly, making the technological elements feel almost fantastical in a weird way. You really get the sense of a lost civilization leaving behind all this cool tech years and years ago (and if you played PS2, you know why!). I haven't really played a sci-fi game that has anywhere near the same kind of feeling. It really is a sci-fi fantasy hybrid in the sense that it eloquently combines the best of both genres! And that's part of why I love it so much.

So its not like Phantasy Star 3 is the only unique game in the series. The whole franchise is full of 'em! Its just PS3 is so radically different from the other games that it's weird. Its a weird game in a weird series.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 4, '14, 12:13 pm 
Quote:What I take issue with is your repeated impugning of the integrity of PS3's developers. You got rather personal, wasting few opportunities to accuse them of laziness and incompetence. In a typical "angry review", that sort of talk is expected--it's what people are tuning in for. Like Tanith, I'm not a fan of that sort of thing, but I also understand that that's all part of their "act", stupid as it may be. However, in a sincere review like yours, I don't think there's any place for personal slurs. If a reviewer is going to paint a picture of a game dev as a lazy slug who doesn't want to do their job, then the reviewer had better make sure they can back that up. I don't think you succeeded in doing that at all.


To me, that's not being personal. Maybe its because of how I was raised, but calling someone lazy isn't a personal attack, its just a statement. I'm very blunt, so saying "you're lazy" isn't meant as an attack but more along the lines of "yeah you guys were lazy, don't do this again".

To take that as a personal attack would signify that you need to not let things bother you so much. But I was also raised in the kind of household where people would say things like that to each other very often and nothing was thought of it. People would call each other lazy and other things and never once took it as a personal affront.

Quote:It's not a secret that the team who worked on PS3 wasn't the most experienced; it's also not a secret that they didn't have a very long development cycle. I've never made a commercial video game before, but I know it takes a bit more than just "not being lazy" to make one get off the ground. There're budgeting concerns, time management concerns, marketing concerns, HR concerns, creative concerns, and on and on. It's not a walk in the park. With properly bad circumstances, even the best of developers can and will produce garbage. I don't know what Team PS3 had (or didn't have) to deal with, but I don't see much in your review to make me think you really know, either.


This feels like a the kind of "You can't criticize an artist if you're not one yourself" fallacy. Yes, making a game is hard but that doesn't absolve someone of any criticism that comes from the perception of lazy game design. With the amount of design decisions that don't make any sense from a pragmatic point of view, the logical extension is that the designers were lazy.

Its like how even if someone makes a bad song, a lot of work went into making that song. However, you can still say it was a terrible song. You can even claim that the songwriter was lazy for not going outside of their boundaries or because they made weird composition choices that make no logical sense.

Quote:Here's the scenario I imagine is closest to reality: Team PS3 was inexperienced and on a pretty tight schedule. Their design was overly ambitious, and they found themselves unable to deliver as their deadline drew near. Instead of infusing more staff and money into the project, the "suits" probably figured they could break closer to even if they just shipped the game in its ugly-but-playable state. (Or whoever was pulling the purse strings was TRULY incompetent and believed PS3 was in good enough shape to rake in the dough.) Whatever the case, they put together what they had, released to market, and the rest is history. Now, I can't prove that this is the way things went. But what I've said is plausible. What plausible explanation can you give for nearly every inadequacy in that game's being attributable to laziness or negligence? Do you think the team members wanted to get themselves fired? Unless there's some real evidence to support this "laziness", I just don't buy it.


This doesn't explain stuff like why the Escapipe glitch exists and why the devs didn't fix it even though they figured they should reference it in their own game. Instead of you know, taking THAT time they used to make a joke and instead making their game less buggy. That's the kind of laziness I don't like. If you've got time to make a terrible joke about a game-breaking glitch, then you have time to fix your damn bug (Which of course could have easily been done by not having the opening town sell Escapipes, but apparently that's too complex of a task)

Like I mentioned before, calling someone lazy isn't a personal attack, as far as I'm concerned. A personal attack would be using a whole string of obscenities that I can't repeat on this forum followed by "Oh and I hope you kill yourself" (note that this is merely an example and I don't actually want anyone to do that). THAT would be a personal attack.

Maybe I'm just really, really blunt and take an extreme view of what constitutes a personal attack but to me, that goes down a slippery slope where the slightest criticism suddenly becomes a personal attack. And in that kind of scenario, nothing ever gets done because no one ever criticizes anyone else.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 4, '14, 4:56 pm 
I only just started reading the PS III review, but I wanted to chime in and defend Hukos's criticism of its development. I'm in a somewhat different camp in that I liked PS III, thought it was very interesting although flawed, but I think the general argument presented in the review is very reasonable. I would imagine we can all agree that PS III is ambitious, though underdeveloped in many ways. The example of the Escapipe glitch is a very good one for Hukos's point; the developers clearly (for whatever reasons) had less than ideal priorities. They were aware of a serious problem in the game and opted to take development time to make a joke out of it. I wouldn't personally call this laziness, so much as a misguided sense of humor, but I think the criticism is a reasonable one.

Again, I would personally say overambitious, but there are signs of it everywhere. Hukos pointed out the music in his review; some of it is very good, but the sound quality hurts a lot of it. My bigger concern is this; the designers built a very beautiful and dark world, with fascinating characters and a vastly complex history to populate it, but didn't spend the time to do the very first thing a game should do; build a playable game. The magic system is completely broken, combat is a muddled joke, and enemy sprites literally look like something out of a bad kung fu movie.

So again, given all that, I think it's fair to say the developers were lazy. I wouldn't personally phrase it so, but I can see it. They clearly took the time to do the things they wanted to do, to sort of put the icing on the cake, as it were; they just forgot, or neglected, to make a cake.


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