Category Archives: first hour review

FIRST HOUR REVIEW – Deus Ex: Human Revolution

A little later on this than I hoped to be, but my coverage of Deus Ex: Human Revolution‘s first hour is now yours for the reading over at The First Hour. Either click the previous sentence or the image above to get there. Go ahead. I’d rather you read my article than the toss-able two paragraphs below.

I struggled–and am still struggling–with the game’s difficulty, even on that middle difficulty choice, which I guess some folks would call “normal.” A lot has to do with the in-game radar and how troublesome it is to walk creep the stealthy route. I have to imagine that going into a room and popping everyone in the head with a pistol shot before an alarm can be sounded would make things a lot easier…but that’s not how I like to play. Hopefully I get better as the game goes on and Jensen gets crazily customized, but I’m not holding my breath. Currently stuck on the very first boss battle, which I’ll save all ranting about for another post.

But yeah, Deus Ex: Human Revolution‘s opening sixty minutes. I died five times. Top that!

HALF-HOUR REVIEW – Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker

Attention fans of monsters and monster-collecting!

My review of the first thirty minutes of Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker is now up over at The First Hour. Do check it out, as well as click the link on minute #30 to get the full impact of the loss of my goo friend Blues.

It’s not a terribly long experience, the review, but that has to do with the fact that the game’s opening is basically “run up a mountain and grind monsters to a pulp.” I’ve gone a little further since then, getting a platypunk onto my team and equipping everyone with better weapons; however, still haven’t made it through that cave. I’ll be sure to sing it loud and proud the moment Hodor and Team Dream Beam make it to the mountaintop. Until then, heroes!

Totally died five times while reviewing Minecraft’s first hour of gameplay

At long last, my dear readers…at long last! I’ve mentioned here at Grinding Down and more than occasionally tweeted about the Minecraft review I’ve been working on over the last few days. Well, it is now done and posted and ready for your consumption. Head on over to The First Hour to see how I spent sixty minutes in the blocky world of Minecraft!

That about does it for this post. Short and sweet.

NOTE: The images in the review are from my own gaming experience, and those are my drawings on top. I like how they came out. Hopefully you do too.

Free-roaming and not knowing what to do in Minecraft

About a week or so ago, I openly mused on my Twitter profile about how I both wanted to give Minecraft a try and at the same time…did not. The former desire comes from the fact that Minecraft-related things are everywhere across the Internet; can’t go to YouTube without seeing some video about how this person and that person faithfully recreated Middle-earth or Mass Effect‘s The Citadel or all of Westeros. Can’t visit any kind of videogame-related blog without seeing a post or two or three devoted to why this beta game is greater than fully completed titles. Crazy things like that. The game’s infecting my brainspace, and I love its trixel art style, which helps it stand out as, yes, indie, but also something different. The latter desire…well, I guess you could say I was a bit worried about getting addicted to it, hard.

Magically, the peeps behind Humble Indie Bundle 3 were listening in, and have now included a free Minecraft acceptance coupon for as long as the bundle is running. No, wait. The bundle ends in five days. So that’s not correct. Customers that bought the bundle can play Minecraft for free up to…August 14, 2011. Ten more days. Now I have no excuse but to give the game a try and see if it’s for me, if it’s something I’d like, if it’s something worth devoting time and wrist cramps to on my crappy Macbook or if it’s better to wait for the Xbox 360 version.

All of those questions will be answered. I’m currently writing up a special first-hour review of Minecraft for, well, The First Hour naturally. And by special, I mean special. Just y’all wait and see…

In the meantime, I’ll continue to roam aimlessly, punch trees and grass and pumpkins, and die every time the sun goes down. That’s been my experience so far, but who knows–it might all just click randomly. Do I really have to build my own fort?

Check out my coverage of the first 30 minutes of Link’s Awakening

Hey! That Ocarina of Time game is being released again for like the seventh time today, now gracing the Nintendo 3DS with its legendariness and N64 graphics. I’m still unsure if I even care enough to want to check it out; more than likely, my second Big Name retail purchase for the 3DS is gonna be the next Animal Crossing title. Which, evidently, lets your character dress up like Link. Life’s a funny thing.

But another Zelda game was re-released in the last week or so, and that one I’ve actually played a bit. It’s called The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, and I covered the game’s first 30 minutes for The First Hour. CLICK THIS SENTENCE TO READ ABOUT ME FAILING TO REALIZE I COULD MOVE SEA URCHINS OUT OF THE WAY WITH THE SHIELD.

That was posted a few days ago, but I forgot to link to it. My bad. Yeah, Link’s Awakening is a lot of fun. Easy to pick up, easy to put down for a little break. The music, my gods…the music. I’ve progressed a little further too; now I’m trying to collect enough golden leaves to appease some dude who–I’m assuming–will help Link on his journey to make the world’s largest omelette. I’ve gotten four down, but still need one more. Hopefully I won’t have to resort to using a walkthrough, but the overworld map is pretty big, and Link–a.k.a. me–can get lost fairly quickly.

Radiant Historia and history as it should be

According to the GameStop guy, I was the fourth person to pick up a copy of Radiant Historia yesterday. I should’ve asked him how many fratheads came in for their copy of Bulletstorm, but I forgot. Either way, it’s safe to say that this new RPG from Atlus is either going to sell slow, but steadily or fall victim to being too niche for the industry to pay attention to. I mean, my local GameStop didn’t even have boxes out for it yet under the NEW RELEASES section. Good thing I pre-ordered it.

Greg Noe wrote about the game’s first hour, and I’ve played all that and 30 minutes more at this point. Nations are at war, and the world is in clear danger of being turned into a desert. Two time- and space-bending figures, Teo and Lippti, attempt to try again to save it all by putting history’s chances on a soldier named Stocke. Last night, after saving an allied spy, Stocke had to make his first crucial decision, and I’m curious to see how it’ll play out. If it doesn’t go well, that’s okay. The great thing about wielding the White Chronicle is that Stocke has the ability to travel back in time to key events and try things differently.

The first sixty minutes of the game, the time that encompasses the Prologue, is very tutorial, which isn’t a horrible thing, but I am eager to get out there on my own and figure stuff out as I go. A good portion of Radiant Historia‘s beginning is spent talking and pondering, and thankfully the story and writing is strong. Heck, one of the villians even used the word cacophonous, warming the fire burning deeply in my heart. It is also quite refreshing to see a protagonist that is not silent, that is more like Mass Effect‘s Shepard, that is not a bumbling idiot led by his partymates, but rather a leader, a decision-maker.

However, not all is perfect. The sound of Stocke’s footsteps begins to grate, the overuse of cliche JRPG bubble emoticons, and for some reason I find Stocke getting stuck in the strangest of places when running around. Like against NPCs or behind a treasure chest. Something about the collision detection is off. Minor stuff, but irky stuff nonetheless.

Still, the story and battle system have their hooks in me already. I want to desperately know what happens when I side with character X over character Y, and even though the game’s opening only had a few fights to it I can clearly see them really becoming headscratchers. These are not fights one can simply auto-battle their way through. Turn order is vital. Planning and precision are also equally important. That’s like the total opposite of Dragon Quest IX (post-game currently) where all I do in that one is run around, spam the attack button, gain experience and coins, and do it all again–all while watching an episode of The Office or something.

I think I’m really going to love Radiant Historia. Thanks, Mom.

FIRST HOUR REVIEW – The Hobbit

If you’re an attentive Grinding Down reader, then you’ll clearly remember me picking up The Hobbit (GameCube version) recently. Well, I’ve now played the first sixty minutes of it, and you can read about all the exciting stuff that happened during said time over at The First Hour: http://firsthour.net/first-hour-review/the-hobbit

When asked if I’d continue playing, I answered “yes.” Alas, I’ve yet to dive back into The Hobbit and sneak past those three trolls, but I will. All in due time. Hey, Frodo didn’t destroy the One Ring in a day after all!

The road goes ever on, but only if you have a GameCube memory card

Chip the glasses and crack the plates!
Blunt the knives and bend the forks!
That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates –
Smash the bottles and burn the corks!

Bilbo Baggins also most definitely hates the entire population of Hobbiton. As he should. They’re nothing but a bunch of silly fetch quest givers, and shame on them for that. I mean, don’t they have better things to worry about? Like fourth breakfast or picking lice out of their hairy feet? Hogwash, I say. But I’m getting ahead of myself, even though, truthfully, I don’t get very far. You’ll see what that means in just a moment.

Tara and I were able to borrow an old GameCube controller from her brother so that we could test out the waters on Animal Crossing, LEGO Star Wars II, and The Hobbit. I literally looked everywhere on the Nintendo Wii to figure out where to plug this blasted thing in; the slots were hidden under a flap, next to another hidden flap; then, after starting the Wii up, I sat there pressing A on the GameCube controller like some kind of human reject, not realizing that we still needed to use a Wii controller to get to the main menu screen. Yup, smells like dragon dung already. Two very awkward controllers sat on my lap. Why can the Wii use a controller to play an earlier console’s games, but not allow it to function as a menu selecting tool? Is the science really that hard? Ugh.

Anyways, The Hobbit. It’s the prelude to The Lord of the Rings, and I know it in and out, up and down, left and right, troll and orc, wolve and eagle, and so on. I’m mostly playing it to see how they handle the story, which is its most important aspect. The 2003 title hits the high and low end in the graphics department. In-game cutscenes and graphics are horrific and bland, with Bilbo’s mouth moving as if his jaw is ready to fall off any minute. Yet, there’s these storytelling sequences that use hand-drawn art and are voiced over by a decent Gandalf, which are surprisingly potent. I almost want to just watch them all in chronological order and call it the movie we’ve all been waiting for. Sorry, Rankin/Bass.

Alas, I did not play much of The Hobbit. I could not. Only got through Bilbo’s dream sequence and then wandered around Hobbiton for a bit, accepting stupid quests from stupid hobbity neighbors. Seriously, Hobbiton natives. Bilbo is not your bitch. That should be on a t-shirt. What was holding me back, you ask? It’s not like the difficulty is cranked up higher than Ciroth Ungol on a day when every orc has off. Memory, dear readers. Memory held me back. To be more specific, not having a GameCube memory card. Again, the Nintendo Wii fails to impress me as a piece of future tech in that it also can’t save data from GameCube games to its own, built-in harddrive. The dragon dung pile gets smellier.

Saving one’s progress is very important to me. Even if it’s only 30 minutes worth, or 15 minutes worth, or even five minutes worth. I want that experience locked in so I don’t have to repeat myself. And so I knew that I needed to stop sooner than later in The Hobbit, not wanting to get too far, to lose too much.

I visited the local GameStop during my lunchbreak to see if they sold any GameCube memory cards. Nothing was visible out on the floor, and they only had one guy working behind the counter. He was pretty busy with a line of middle-aged women, one asking about something called Dead Spaced Tools. Seriously, that’s what she asked for. Dead Space 2 much? So I’ll try again tomorrow. Once I do get hold of this legendary GameCube memory card, it’s go time for Bilbo and his gaggle of dwarves. Also, I can’t help but feel like this would make for an interesting review over at The First Hour. Do I even need to call dibs?

Scott, if your life had a face, I’d punch it and gain XP

Yesterday, after work, Tara and I went looking for apartments. Cause, more than likely, we’re gonna need a place to live after we get married. The one we saw is decent; it’s old and old-like, and it has these slanted ceilings to it because it’s basically the third floor, and these slanted ceilings are going to do battle with me and my head. Tara will be fine; she’s a short thing. But yeah, the timing of things to come and the constant worry of money and/or lack of money…well, it hit us hard with The Stress. Thankfully, I knew that once I got back to my pad that there’d be a light of happiness and distraction. See, Scott Pilgrim VS. The World: The Game hit Xbox Live just yesterday. Sure, those Playstationheads have already got to enjoy it now for a week, but I’ve had to bide my time accordingly. Not like I have things to do or anything. ::ahem::

So, this game…it’s hard. And it sounds beautiful. And the animations are top-notch. And I died a lot as Kim, and I could only beat Ramona’s first evil ex as a level 4 Scott. And I spent almost all of my money on sushi. And I love the references to all things O’Malley like the Kupek graffiti or seeing Lost at Sea in the bookstore. It’s Scott Pilgrim the Game, through and through.

One thing I don’t like though is how it controls, but the majority of that blame falls upon the Xbox 360’s controller. The left analog stick does not allow for quick side-stepping and yet the d-pad below it is not in the best place for this kind of button-mashing game. My thumb’s natural instinct is to go to the analog stick, and this leads to many faulty moves. And I don’t think I ever hit the block button once, but maybe I should rethink that considering how beat up Kim got.

Managed to snag three Achievements though:


Dirty Trick (10G): Defeated an enemy by throwing an object at him while he was already down.


Shopaholic (20G): Bought all the items of a shop during the same visit.


New Challenger (10G): Defeated Matthew Patel without losing a life.

That last one had me nervous. Patel wiped the floor with Kim thanks to his hipster demon girls, but Scott has a great kick-uppercut combo that slowly whittled him down into coins. After that, the world map opened to two areas, one that I’ve already gone to (the shopping district). Didn’t have any more time to play as the pillows were calling out my name. Might try more tonight, but every review says that the game gets extremely challenging for solo players. Gotta wait for Tara to join me in cold, snowy, pixelated Toronto. However, I’m not totally convinced on the RPG elements within, as the leveling up system is…decidedly odd. Will have to (pun-intended) experience it more.

FIRST HOUR REVIEW: Odin Sphere

You-hoo, down here. Right. My take on Odin Sphere‘s first hour of gameplay is now live over at The First Hour. Do check it out. I wrote it mostly as an excuse to post amazingly awesome cosplay pics, as shown above. Seriously, this game was made for cosplayers. I won’t be playing much more of it after a repetitive hour, but there’s no stopping me from loving the game’s art style and profound effect on the cosplaying culture.