Reputed to be one of Treasure’s best games and one of the most ambitious shmups of all time, Gradius V is the stuff of legend. Expensive and difficult to track down on its native PS2, thanks to the PS3’s online store it is finally within easy reach for PS3 owners. And at a cheap price too! Having sunk my teeth into it at long last, I’m happy to say that in my opinion this game’s glowing reputation is justified.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Gradius V is the way it shakes up the conventions of the traditional 2D shooter genre. When I wrote about Shienryu on PS1 in my most recent shmup review, I concluded that it was competent in all areas but inspired in none. Gradius V is similarly competent, retaining the tried and true gameplay mechanics of the Gradius series, but this fifth entry is also incredibly inspired, adding puzzle elements into a genre that is generally much more taxing on your thumbs than your brain. Continue reading
The Rune Factory series, a spinoff of the Harvest Moon franchise, eerily responds to all my criticisms of a recent Harvest Moon game. Frontier boasts an impressive cast of likable characters, enjoyable gameplay, solid storytelling, and variety, an element distinctly lacking in some of the Harvest Moon games. Not only do you get to befriend townspeople, cook and take care of your fields, you also fight in dungeons, befriend monsters, and forge your own weapons, tools and equipment. There’s so much to do in fact that is the first part of a double post. The second post will explore the weird gender dynamics in the game, of which there’s much to discuss, but for now I’m going to summarise the game and set out my space-time continuum theories about Frontier. Continue reading