Classic Corner Extravaganza!

Hello everyone! Remember me? Long-time no talk! Despite being MIA for the past four months, I’ve been squeezing in some quality gaming sessions in my spare time and thought I’d just share my impressions on each and every classic game that I’ve played thus far.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

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Although I prefer Super Metroid – that’s right, I said it – there is no disputing the perfection that is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, a true triumph in game design. An exceptional experience from start to finish and a revolutionary implementation of longevity and replay value, with the inverted castle being a stroke of genius. Adding RPG elements to the Super Metroid structure is surprisingly effective and undoubtedly empowering. With a simple, yet efficient levelling system, a surprising selection of weapons with each of them encompassing a unique feel, a wide array of attainable gear with inimitable properties, and a bizarre execution of spell casting, all of which indicates Symphony of the Night’s idiosyncratic nature, that of which Super Metroid admittedly cannot match. Although I cater towards the more atmospherically eerie nature of science fiction, exquisitely depicted in Super Metroid, there’s an undoubtable charm to the demented representation of Dracula’s very own castle, so I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t aesthetically pleased. Not to mention that the crisp visuals are appropriately complemented by an extremely diverse musical arrangement that ranges from pieces ripped straight out of Transylvania to the grungy guitar licks of heavy metal. In short, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is gameplay perfection; simple movements and the visceral combat are heavenly, and its masterful sense exploration and progression is only rivalled by its predecessor and own legacy.

Chrono Trigger

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Chrono Trigger. My goodness, this game is simply immaculate. Its revolutionary addition of allowing players to start a new game with the statistics and/or equipment attained in the previous playthrough coined the ubiquitous term of new game plus, which has become fairly synonymous with Role Playing Games. Its turn based combat is extremely familiar for those who are accustomed to JRPGs, however it twists the standard formula ever so slightly and allows players to combine characters’ abilities to create devastating dual/triple techniques which are extraordinarily satisfying and a visual delight to say the least. Chrono Trigger is the quintessential embodiment of an adventure; an incredible cast of extremely lively characters that play off of one another, an uncharted journey that coasts off the edge of life or death, manipulating the very fabric of time to shape certain events of the story, and a melancholic farewell once the journey ends.

I didn’t realize how much I cared about Chrono Trigger’s characters until the tears started to percolate as I said goodbye to each and every one of them. Aside from Persona 4, Chrono Trigger arguably has the best cast of characters in any video game. Frog’s inner demons of incompetence and his inferiority complex with Cyrus, his childhood friend, is a tangible element that undoubtedly resonated with my own personal struggles. Robo’s very existence is a somber tale of soul searching and isolation as he is a decommissioned robot with a wiped memory bank, in the desolate future. His endearing relationship with Lucca will undeniably pull on your heartstrings as he bids her farewell when returning to his original timeline. Chrono Trigger’s exquisite score, impeccably composed by Yasunori Mitsuda and Nobuo Uematsu, is undoubtedly a favourite of mine and “To Far Away Times” has quickly become my favourite video game track of all time. Chrono Trigger is simply a masterpiece, in every sense of the word; with an excellent story with multiple endings, an exuberant cast of characters, an addictive turn-based combat system, an open-ended sense of exploration, and a stellar soundtrack, Chrono Trigger is easily one of the greatest games of all time and a masterful experience that should not be missed.

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

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While Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island is still my favourite 2D platformer of all time, its existence does not detract from the pristine quality experience that is Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest. The level of variety that Diddy’s Kong Quest presents is simply unfathomable, with each world and its corresponding level emanating a unique feel. Whether it be the wide array of different enemies to defeat, the excellent addition of new, and returning, animal buddies which completely fluctuates the pace of the standard, yet enjoyable platforming, the fanatical addiction of attaining every last hidden collectible, or the infectious soundtrack which is a masterpiece in and of itself, there is simply never a dull moment when playing Diddy’s Kong Quest. Each stage is both aesthetically and melodically varied, with each world and their corresponding levels catering to a specific theme and having exclusive gameplay mechanics that are only represented in specific worlds. Believe it or not, despite being titled Donkey Kong Country 2, Donkey Kong is by no means the star of this adventure. That notable honor goes to his best friend and nephew, Diddy Kong. However my personal favourite addition to the series would be none other than Diddy’s girlfriend Dixie Kong, who controls majestically given her exceptionally awesome ability, helicopter twirl, which allows her to glide through the air using her ponytail. Diddy’s Kong Quest is not only one of the best platformers ever created, it’s also one of the most creative and diverse, with each level and stage building upon the foundation of the last. For lack of a better phrase, Diddy’s Kong Quest always feels fresh and exciting with no element ever feeling out of place or regurgitated.

Final Fantasy VII

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There is no denying that Final Fantasy VII is a revolutionary title which arguably popularized the JRPG here in the west, but how does it hold up nearly two decades later? Well the short answer is yes! Let’s start off with the bad shall we? Graphically, Final Fantasy VII has not aged well; the polygonal character models are extraordinarily hard on the eyes, and it’s fairly hard to take anything seriously when character interactions are rendered to nothing more but LEGO characters standing next to one another. However, once you are able to look past its archaic visual fidelity, you’ll be able to perceive Final Fantasy VII for what it truly is, a beautiful and endearing experience, which still managed to be surprising, despite the well-known spoilers. Final Fantasy VII is excellent at building upon a foundation and developing mishaps into intriguing structured elements. While Final Fantasy VII may present a rather sluggish beginning, the copious amount of intriguing plot twists revealed throughout the journey make up for the meticulous nature of the game’s opening. The battle system is extremely familiar for JRPG veterans but introduces an excellent Materia levelling and combination system, where each skill, magic ability, and/or summon can be augmented and enhanced for gratifying results. Final Fantasy VII is an experience that exudes both charm and personality, while adhering to the addictive nature of JRPGs. While its shortcomings are evident from the very moment you enter Midgar, Final Fantasy VII’s addictive nature will eventually slither its way under your skin and once its teeth sink into you, there is simply no letting go.

Half-Life

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I have a very polarizing opinion I’d like to exclaim, Half-Life’s story is surprisingly underwhelming; it’s not necessarily bad, but it’s most definitely not the amazing masterpiece of storytelling that some fans claim it to be. It’s a fairly standard plotline that serves as nothing more than simple reason for Gordon Freeman to move from point A to point B. All criticisms aside, Half-Life absolutely excels in responsive first person shooting, as its gunplay and intricate puzzles are nothing short of exhilarating; in fact, Half-Life is arguably my favourite first person shooter of all time. Though Half-Life was released before the prominence of aiming down sights, its heavy emphasis on aiming from the hip is surprisingly refreshing as this method of gameplay has been noticeably deficient in the modern realm of FPS’s. Half-Life’s gameplay would have been redundant if it didn’t have an impressive selection of weapons, but be rest assured knowing that Half-Life’s arsenal is absolutely beautiful. No two weapons ever feel the same, each with their own unique properties and most weapons having both a primary and secondary method of fire. Half-Life also rekindled my love for health packs! When was the last time you played an FPS that didn’t have regenerative health? This is most definitely a lost gameplay mechanic that is undoubtedly missed by many, as health packs added a certain essence of strategy to the FPS genre. Hopefully its sequel and its sequential episodes are able to expand on the tantalizing Black Mesa Incident and introduce new compelling characters, because interaction and development was poorly executed in the original.

Metal Gear Solid

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I struggled playing Metal Gear Solid for over two years as I was simply unable to overcome its mandatory reliance on stealth execution; I am fairly incompetent when taking stealthy approaches and the inability to fend off enemies once compromised left much to be desired. However through pure determination and curiosity, I was able to pull through my uphill struggle and finally complete Kojima’s legendary experience, and boy oh boy was it quite the experience. First off, Kojima’s creative implementations are idiosyncratic and simply ingenious; the boss fight with Psycho Mantis or finding Meryl’s codec code are a select few signature touches that highlight Metal Gear Solid’s exquisitely obtuse nature. Given certain claims about the convoluted and nonsensical nature of the Metal Gear Solid storyline, I was pleasantly surprised to find the plot both comprehensible and extremely engaging.  Characters are extremely well written, with Solid Snake, Otacon, and Sniper Wolf easily taking the spotlight, although every single member of FOXHOUND having a sudden change of heart is a little absurd and too convenient. Metal Gear Solid also excels in its boss fights, with each of them requiring a different method of strategy. The maniacal and obscene nature of the Psycho Mantis boss fight implores a “thinking outside of the box” mentality while the showdown between Sniper Wolf requires a considerable edge of patience and control, both being absolutely exhilarating in their own manner. While the controls can definitely be jarring at times, and the visuals are rather outdated – though nothing compares to the archaic LEGO structured visuals of Final Fantasy VII – Metal Gear Solid is still an excellent experience that conveys an intriguing tale and I absolutely cannot wait to delve into Snake’s next adventure.

Resident Evil 4

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Although Resident Evil 4 doesn’t meet the iconic horror standards that the original constructed, I’d honestly say that it’s a better game overall, which is high praise because I absolutely adore the original Resident Evil. As opposed to being called a survival horror game, I’d categorize Resident Evil 4 has a survival horror/action game as it caters to a more bombastic nature with intense thrilling set pieces as opposed to the enclosed, claustrophobic nature of the 1996 original. Granted Resident Evil 4 can still be scary; certain locales retain that claustrophobic intensity and the fact that you can’t move while aiming, as enemies creep closer and closer towards you, further indicates that Resident Evil 4 still emits that anxious and uncomfortable aura. Resident Evil 4 is also the title that popularized the “over the shoulder” camera view, which has become synonymous with the third person shooter genre. While Resident Evil 4 tosses out the adventure mechanics of the original and shamefully lacks its intricate puzzles, it has retained the key explorative structure by allowing players to deviate from the beaten path in order to collect an assortment of ammo, treasure, gold, and new weapons. As I previously noted, the set-pieces in Resident Evil 4 are absolutely insane, in the best meaning of the word; whether you’re harpooning a giant amphibious creature in an expansive lake or partaking in an exhilarating mine cart escape, Resident Evil 4’s endless supply of adrenaline racing moments are easily some of gaming’s very best. Resident Evil 4 also introduced arguably the creepiest enemy in the entire series, the Regenerators. These ugly monstrosities are capable of near-instantaneous regeneration, so normal weaponry is rendered useless. Players must use an infrared scope to target the plaga resonating inside these abominations, and must pick them off one by one. Accompanied with the grotesque but exhilarating boss fights, an excellent weapon upgrade and modification system, and the traditional implementation of ammo scarcity, Resident Evil 4 is a revolutionary title that pushed both the Resident Evil series, and gaming as whole, forward to a new era.

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

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I learned one thing from playing all of these classic games for the past four months: Square used to make some amazing titles, with Super Mario RPG being the third Square title on this list. Super Mario RPG is an excellent hybrid of Nintendo’s iconic character and Square’s masterful expertise of the role playing genre; Super Mario RPG is simply the best of both worlds with it being one of the greatest Mario games and one of Square’s finest RPGs. First off, Super Mario RPG is a traditional turn-based RPG with an interactive twist; if a normal attack is timed properly – pressing the attack button at the correct time during the attack– Mario, or the corresponding character, will deal an additional amount of damage. Special moves are also reliant on correct timing as each magic ability or skill require their own set of button interactions. This more interactive nature of the traditional genre is rather fitting to the creative foundation of the Mario series and is a refreshing take on a favourite genre of mine. Even though a lot RPGs continuously implement the bad habit of permitting too many playable characters, Super Mario RPG keeps things plain and simple; Super Mario RPG only has five playable characters, but each of them are given the right amount of screen time for them to feel relevant to the experience, something that Final Fantasy VII struggled with. The familiar Mario, Princess Peach (Toadstool), and even Bowser are as charming as ever here, with Bowser’s insecurities paying off as excellent comic relief. The newly introduced Mallow and Geno are excellent additions to the Super Mario team, with Mallow hilariously believing he’s a tadpole and Geno being a badass warrior from Star Road using a children’s toy as a vessel. These two amazing characters are inexcusably omitted from the rest of the Super Mario universe as they have not appeared in anything since their 1995 debut (and no, the Geno Mii Fighter Outfit in Super Smash Bros for 3DS/Wii U does not count!). It’s simply tragic.

So there you have it, all nine games that have kept me occupied and MIA for the last four months! Despite my selective qualms with some of the listed titles, I’m fairly certain that most, if not all of them will end up on my favourite games of all-time list!

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14 thoughts on “Classic Corner Extravaganza!”

  1. Definitely a great lineup of games right there (though I’d say FFVII is the weak link). A good number of my favorites showed up I see. Expect Mario RPG, DKC2 and SotN to be placed very highly on my list of favorite games.

    Nice to see you writing again. It’s been way too long. At least you came back with a vengeance with all these great games. Now try out Tropical Freeze!

    Also, SotN > Super Metroid. Just sayin’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks mate! I’m going to make a conscious effort to write some more! I’m practically sitting behind a computer most of the day for work, so sneak in some writing when the pace is slow! Don’t tell anyone 😛 yeah you briefly mentioned your thoughts on FFVII earlier this year. Why in particular is the game very underwhelming for you? I personally loved it by the end, despite its slow beginning. Chrono trigger and Super Mario RPG really solidified my love for Squaresoft! And I finally understand your rage for the agent omission in future Mario titles! Both him and Mallow were excellent characters! You’ll be pleased to know that I’ll be playing tropical freeze very very soon 🙂 haha you and I will never agree on the SotN vs Super Metroid debate 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t deny Super Metroid’s merits, but I’m just drawn into SotN in a way that Super Metroid could never do. Same thing with Super Mario Bros. 3 and World. 3 is one of the greatest games of all time, but I always have, and always will, love World more.

        Perhaps it’s just been too long since I played FFVII, but for me, I just felt that the previous games (the ones I played anyway), and the subsequent PSOne entries were better, so I always was kind of confused why VII was the one that made so big of a splash. That, and I feel it’s anime/cyberpunk setting slowly but surely ate away at the more vibrant, fairy tale settings the series had previously been known for, and it ultimately turned the Final Fantasy series into a bunch of anime cliches as time went on. Maybe that’s just me.

        Chrono Trigger and Mario RPG are sublime! I’m hoping to see them, and DKC2, earn a spot on your list. Squaresoft was so good back in the day. Unfortunately (and this goes back to FFVII), Final Fantasy seems to be the only game they make that they give any attention to these days. They used to be a jack of all trades.

        And yes, I greatly lament that Square have become so stingy that they won’t let Nintendo use the Mario RPG characters. The Geno Mii Fighter costume just broke my spirit…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Even though we don’t share the same opinion, I certainly respect yours 🙂 some part feels that I prefer both Super Metroid and Super Mario Bros 3 because I played them first, before world and SotN, which isn’t necessarily fair. Did you play SotN and Mario world after the other two by any chance?
        I’ve only played Final Fantasy VII and X, so I don’t have much to compare :/ although I prefer VII to X. I actually liked the steampunk aesthetic of VII, it was something different to the traditional fantasy setting that I would expect. Plus as you know, I’m not a big fan of the whole fantasy setting in general. Plus I was pleasantly surprised by the character development of Cloud and how he turned out to be far more accessible than the badass apathetic solider they initially portrayed him to be.
        Yeah, it’s a shame because Square’s versatility was exceptional in the 90’s! I can’t wait to also try out Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy VI! I really wish Square would honestly just try something new and not ride off of the success of Final Fantasy. And don’t you worry, all of those games you listed will have a spot on my list!
        Oh wow, that’s really petty of Square, I didn’t realize their omission was due to Square holding the rights to the characters, although it makes perfect sense now.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah, it is mostly Square’s fault, but Geno becoming a Mii Fighter costume after Nintendo got permission to use the character’s likeness I feel is entirely on Sakurai (I’m guessing Geno wasn’t anime swordfighter-y enough for his liking). I still hope one day that Nintendo and Square team up again to make Super Mario RPG 2 (I know, I’m a dreamer).

        You’ll love Secret of Mana I think. It’s basically like A Link to the Past with RPG elements.

        As for which game I played first, I actually did play Super Metroid before SotN, though I BEAT SotN first. As for Mario 3 and World, there’s really no way to remember. When I say I’ve been playing video games for as long as I can remember I mean that in a very literal sense. And Mario 3 and World, as well as the Mega Man titles, are the earliest games I remember playing. Can’t really determine which one was the exact first.

        Glad to hear you’re appreciating many of my favorite games (by the way, you still need to play Banjo-Kazooie). I look very forward to seeing exactly where they place.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yeah the Geno Mii Fighter fiasco is all on Sakurai, which is so absurd since Geno would make an excellent character for Smash Bros. I would honestly love a direct sequel to Super Mario RPG, so we both can be dreamers! I haven’t played any of the Mario & Luigi or Paper Mario series so I’m not too sure how they compare or if they would suffice.
        Far enough, I forgot that you’ve been doing this for a long long time! I was an on and off gamer as a child, predominately playing Pokemon. The Wii U was my first Nintendo home console so I’m basically playing catch up with all of these classic Nintendo gems. It’s a shame, I really wish I had that same nostalgic attachment to these titles as you. Well we can at least agree, despite which one is better, they’re both excellent titles!
        And don’t worry, I will definitely get around to Banjo Kazooie! I have it downloaded on my Xbox One from Rare Replay!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario are both great (mainly Super Star Saga and Bowser’s Inside Story for the former, and the N64 and GameCube titles for the latter), but they are noticeably different than Mario RPG. Mario & Luigi are purposefully insane and comical, whereas Paper Mario is a bit slower paced and lighthearted. I enjoy them greatly (though less so with their recent entries), but I really just wish Mario RPG 2 would happen… And yeah, the Geno Mii Fighter costume was nothing short of trolling, considering he was one of the most requested characters for the series.

        Hopefully you’ll enjoy Banjo-Kazooie as much as I did. I think it holds up really well, especially for an N64 game. And it can help you get hyped for Yooka-Laylee. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s an impressive lineup you’ve got there. With the exception of Final Fantasy VII, I have played through and cleared every game on this list. I can see how they could keep you busy for several months.
    I myself like Super Metroid more than Symphony of the Night, but the latter is indeed a classic game in the Metroidvania subgenre. It was ignored when it was released, but it was since vindicated in the public eye as one of the best PlayStation games.
    What’s interesting to me is that the 21st century seems to have caused a rift among gamers; all of a sudden, it’s less common to see a universally beloved game. What’s also interesting is that no matter how different these tastes may be, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone actually disliking Chrono Trigger. I like to joke that Chrono Cross isn’t as popular because one person hated it, but that’s not too far from the truth. Chrono Trigger is a masterpiece, and every bit deserving of its sacred cow status.
    Donkey Kong Country 2 is my favorite 2D platformer of all time (though Yoshi’s Island isn’t a bad choice either). Now that I think about it, I always found it a bit strange how DK was only a playable character for the first game in the trilogy.
    I really like the level design in Half-Life, and although the story could be considered underwhelming (I thought it was interesting enough), I think it’s a method of storytelling that complements the medium more effectively than cinematic, non-interactive cutscenes.
    Like Half-Life, Resident Evil 4 wasn’t a game I played until very recently, but I was nonetheless impressed. It’s an excellent action game with superb level design.
    Super Mario RPG was the first JRPG I had ever played, and it got me hooked on the genre. I’ve always liked turn-based JRPGs that feature action commands as it gets the player to play a more active role in combat. It’s one of the reasons I like Undertale so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awesome! Well according to Wizarddojo, Final Fantasy VII is the weak link on this list so I guess you’re not missing out on much! Yeah, it certainly took a great ordeal of time but I’m going to make a conscious effort to write more, so your continuous support is greatly appreciated! They’re both fantastic games and are undoubtedly favourites of mine, I just personally prefer Super Metroid as its eerie aesthetic caters to my preferences, plus I’ve always been a sucker for the desolate nature of Sci-Fi.
      Yeah, honestly I noticed that video games were far more universally respected back then; nowadays everyone likes to nitpick and dissect the universally acclaimed, and sometimes it’s for good reason. It’s just interesting that the general consensus has expanded immensely as there’s more variety in the available selection as innovation is in short supply as of lately. But Chrono Trigger is a masterpiece, in every meaning of the word. I haven’t played Chrono Cross yet, but I will surely rectify that in the not so distant future.
      I found Half-Life’s greatest strength in its versatility in gameplay, while I thought it would be embedded in its story as people endlessly praise Half-Life for its narrative. It’s not necessarily bad, it’s just not as special as everyone claims it to be, although it’s interesting nonetheless. Granted, I hear Half-Life 2 is the better game of the two so I’m interested if there’s more to its narrative and if there is any character development at all. Though I will applaud Half-Life’s ability of control as everything is, in a sense, interactive, such as its omission of non-interactive cutscenes you mentioned.
      Yes Resident Evil 4 is sublime. It’s funny how it’s my favourite Resident Evil game, although it’s far removed from the series’ traditional routes and arguably led to the downfall of the series. But its thrilling set pieces, intense encounters, astounding action, and excellent level design sealed the deal for me.
      I really liked Super Mario RPG’s unique twist on the traditional turn based formula which paved the way for many modern RPGs – a recent example is the excellent South Park: The Stick of Truth. Undertale’s battle system takes interactivity to a whole new level! Each enemy had its own different “mini game” – for a lack of a better word – making each battle feel fresh, constantly keeping me on my toes!
      Anyways, I’ve rambled enough. Thanks for the comment as always!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Glad to see my opinion has such importance around here. 😛

        The sad thing is I think that more negative attitude doesn’t just apply to video games. As I’ve said in the past, we now have so many things as part of internet culture that almost seem to want to destroy the reputations of beloved movies. It’s like people don’t want others to like things. Even movies that get great reviews are made into something of sacrifices to appeal to internet egos. People like to dismantle and nitpick everything these days, and they’ll magnify the tiniest, most inconsequential detail into some breaking element. Instead of just making jokes, people seem to act like nothing is any good, and more or less try to belittle the creative works of people who actually have talent just to make themselves feel better. It’s not honest criticisms, it’s just belittling things to feed our own egos. I greatly hope this fad dies out soon. The creative mediums of the world can always do with more optimism.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes I don’t really understand what has happened to internet culture. I’m not too sure if it’s the prominence of social media that has lead to this behavior, but social media has definitely made easier for those to spread non-constructive criticism. It’s a double edged sword.
        It’s a shame that people can’t simply enjoy things nowadays, everything is subject to sheer belittling dissection. It’s pitiful really. I immediately thought back to the post you wrote a piece about the “honest trailers” videos and their destructive nature. People find sheer enjoyment in the most daft things, and that’s just further proof of the fact. It’s not creative nor constructive, it’s simply juvenile and adds nothing of value, but you’ve already said all of this 😛 I’m just worried that this fad has had too big of an impact on our current cultural standing and will forever be embedded into it. I’m not too sure how much longer the creative mediums can last with this metaphorical waste coexisting with it, as its popularity and relevance grows each day. Hopefully I’m wrong and it’ll die out. Don’t know if any of this even made sense 😛

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I really need to work out what consoles I have available so that I can try and play a few of these games. I’ve seen a few mixed opinions in the comments on FFVII but I feel like I definitely need to try it for myself, especially as you have said that even though some of the major spoilers are known there are still some surprises throughout. I definitely want to try Chrono Trigger and Super Mario RPG as well, as it seems they are quite revolutionary games for the genre. Great post as always, and I’m looking forward to what you write next!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the support dude 🙂 Can’t wait for you to write again! I always check my reader feed just in case 😛 Or you can just DM me on twitter when you post it if I miss it for some reason 😛
      Yes I think it’s important to simply play FFVII as it had a big impact on gaming, so just having an opinion on the subject is enough. The story is actually quite good and I was pleasantly surprised by some reveals. The game is visually archaic so just be prepared for that!
      Chrono Trigger and Super Mario RPG are masterpieces! I can’t stress that enough! And I think you’ll enjoy Mario RPG if you enjoyed the more interactive nature in turn based RPGs such as Undertale!
      Thanks man! I currently have a review of Ratchet & Clank cooking in the oven!

      Liked by 1 person

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