Looking Back on… Final Fantasy VII (Sony Playstation)

Final Fantasy VII
Genre: Role Playing Game
Developer: Squaresoft
Publisher: SCEA
Release Date: 8/31/97 (So here’s a fun thing I haven’t really posted anywhere else: the review I wrote as my application to write for IP Games/DHGF almost a decade ago now. It’s… not great at this point, but it’s fun and considering that it gave me the chance to do all kinds of cool things I wouldn’t have done otherwise, I consider it historically significant at least.)

It’s kind of weird to be playing a Final Fantasy game on any system other than one with the Nintendo name on it. I should admit, I’ve been something of a fan of the games since FF 1 was released back in 1990 on the NES. (This is kind of a fallacy, in that I didn’t play the original Final Fantasy until years after the fact, and in point of fact, Final Fantasy III/VI was my first actual exposure to the series. It’s correct in that I liked the first two games when I played them, but incorrect in that it presents the idea that I played them when they came out, which isn’t even close to true, as I was an SMS kid growing up.) Two SNES titles (as well as a handful of Gameboy games) later, and here we are, facing down the correctly numbered sequel to one of the best RPG’s ever made (that being FF3/6; though I still like Phantasy Star 4 better, I have to give credit where it’s due) (Still true; Final Fantasy VI is almost certainly the very best traditional JRPG ever made, but I still like Phantasy Star IV better because it pays off the franchise storyline well and I like the characters a whole lot. It also kind of pays off the romantic subplot from Phantasy Star II to a point, which is neat, and I wish that the Sega Classics franchise had lasted long enough for PSIV to see a re-release, if only because I’d have paid actual money to see that come to the US. As it is we have a fan translation of the first game, with the sequel being worked on now, so that’s something at least. Maybe someday Sega will finish the series off with a proper remake, but maybe someday I’ll win the lottery, because of the two, that one is the more likely possibility.) on the PSX. I had high hopes as I brought it home and popped it into my system, but I had the utmost faith that Squaresoft would once again deliver the goods with yet another highly entertaining RPG.

Well… not exactly.

Continue reading

Looking Back on… The rant heard ’round the internet. (8/19/02)

Hello everybody, and welcome to Your Hot Cup of Rant. I’m your host, who you can endearingly refer to as Rantmaster Mark, or Mark, or Rantmaster, or even Betty. (If you don’t get that last one, watch better movies before you come back, I don’t know what to tell you.) Anyway, we as a collective are a group of whack jobs and shitheads devoted to giving you, yes YOU, reasons to fear for the sanity of the world at large. I am the site’s general content provider, moderator, editor, and general lord and master of all you presently survey. (This was the official “first post” on the actual site proper; I’m skipping a bunch of the archived email list rants because they’re tough, even for me, to get through.) Roll call works as follows:

Continue reading

Looking Back on… WWE Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain (Sony Playstation 2)

WWE Smackdown! Here Comes The Pain.
Console: PS2
Genre: Sports (Wrestling)
Developer: Yuke’s
Publisher: THQ (At this point we’re reaching the end of the YHCOR reviews; about two years after this point, I’d be writing regularly for IPGames, and I only had about two more reviews in me for YHCOR before the entire process basically became something I couldn’t commit time to anymore. If I’d had the sort of easy-to-use tools we have now for posting to the site it might’ve been different, but at the time I was working with writing everything in Word, putting it together in Dreamweaver, passing it to my webmaster, and waiting for him to upload it, so it wasn’t the most intuitive thing in the world. These days I’m just too busy to keep focused on it, sadly, but assuming I don’t die by forty I’ll be back to it eventually.)

Ah, wrestling games. If anyone on this earth is familiar with wrestling games, you can damn well believe it’s me. From the glory days of WWF Wrestlemania on the NES (“Glory days,” he says. That game was the Hershey squirts.) to WWF Royal Rumble on the Genesis (Terrible game but man I loved it.) to WCW Versus the World on the PS1 (A lot of people thought that game was terrible, but it was basically a precursor to the AKI games we all loved to death, and for what it was, it was pretty fun.) to Fire Pro Wrestling D (Which was my go-to wrestling game until Fire Pro Wrestling Returns came out on PS2, which I will never stop playing.) and some version of Touken Retsuden on the Dreamcast (Sporadically; I could never get into the Touken Retsuden games, sadly.) to Def Jam Vendetta on PS2 (Vendetta was closer to an actual wrestling game, but Fight for New York was a better overall experience) to Ultimate MUSCLE on Gamecube (Man AKI made a lot of wrestling games even in their death throes.) to… you get the point, if there’s a wrestling game, I’ve probably played it, or some variant of it. I love ’em. (Loved, these days. WWE games tend to be the shits anymore for a number of reasons, and once you get a Fire Pro game in English you don’t need much else. Though man I wish THQ had paid off that rumor of releasing a downloadable version of No Mercy with an updated roster.)

Continue reading

Looking Back on… Karma’s a bitch, ain’t it? (WWE, 2003)

(This one would’ve been written sometime around the Royal Rumble in 2003, so it just recently celebrated its twelfth birthday. God I’m old.)

Y’know, the other day, I came to a realization. For those of you that haven’t been keeping up, the WWE has been running for around, oh, fifty or so years, (The company started out back in 1952 as Capitol Wrestling Corporation under Jess McMahon, so that would indeed be more or less correct as a time assessment. Not bad with no Wikipedia to reference.) but has only been running under the leadership of Vince McMahon Jr. (that’s the douchebag presently in charge, for those of you not aware) for the past twenty-five of those fifty years. (He took it over sometime in 1979, so again, roughly accurate.) In those twenty-five years, the man has had two REALLY big periods, which largely occurred without his help, but rather almost by accident, (Incorrect; the 80’s boom period of Rock and Wrestling was almost entirely his doing, as he ran the territories out of business with a shitload of luck, a strong business plan and Hulk Hogan, so he knew what he was doing. The Attitude Era was kind of a lot of accidents happening in a row that ended up making him billions, however, so yes, that one was certainly not his doing in the strictest sense.) and two periods of downturn, which were almost exclusively his doing, by letting the inmates run the asylum. (We’re still in the middle of the second one with no end in sight, sadly, mostly because every time they get somewhere that could spike interest Vince shits right in it.)

Continue reading

Looking Back on… Wow. (WWE, 2002)

(This one most likely was written around its posting time, I’d expect; the WWE Armageddon PPV was released around 12/15, and this was tagged 12/22, so it makes sense time-wise. For reference, the prior piece would have been written sometime around Survivor Series in November, but was tagged as being posted in early December. Anyway, by all indications I’d been disgusted by the results of Survivor Series, and had opted to skip this PPV and simply read the results. From looking them over now, it seems like an okay PPV, so we’ll see how my opinion then matches up to my opinion now.)

Pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it? No? Well, let me say this: even after Vince McMahon dropped the revelation to his staff that Shock TV is dead, (This was in reference to an internet rumor that Vince announced that the long-standing “Crash/Shock TV” concept pioneered by Vince Russo was dead and should no longer be relied on. No idea how true it is, but it did reflect in the booking in the months and years following, so let’s say it’s accurate.) they still managed to shock me on this PPV. I mean, somehow, they managed to do some things RIGHT. (Story of their lives.) Now, I’m not about to say that everything was peachy, but honestly, they did a good job with what they had set up, and honestly, HHH was destined to go over, so I’m not too shocked about that or anything. (Which is worse: HHH wins lol or Cena wins lol? Discuss.) But Angle won the belt?!? Oh my shit, I think I might pass out from shock. (Angle had been a World Champion prior to this point, but had also been treated as something of a goober leading up to this point, so it was surprising. Say what you will about Paul Heyman, but his rebuilding of Angle during this time period was pretty decent.) And for those wondering, yes, I DID miss Armageddon, but I read enough recaps to have a solid feeling of what happened.

Continue reading

Looking Back on… Tonight! In This Very Ring! (Book Review)

Book review: Tonight… in This Very Ring! A Fan’s History of Professional Wrestling.
By: Scott Keith. (True story: back when Keith was first getting into publishing his own books, after The Buzz on Professional Wrestling, I somehow ended up receiving a link to request a review copy of this book, which I did, and somehow ended up getting one to review. At the time I was kind of just eh, whatever with Keith, but honestly, of the wrestling writers out there, the only ones I regularly care about reading anything from are Keith and Brandon Stroud, and I admire their work for entirely different reasons. I have my issues with both of them, obviously, but they’ve both been stand-up guys whenever I’ve talked to them, and they both generally write things I enjoy reading, so I’ll probably keep putting money into their pockets however I can until they retire or some shit.)

I’ve been meaning to review this book for, oh, four, five months now… and I’ve just never gotten around to it. Part of me feels as though I just can’t do the book justice… but another part of me basically just didn’t know where to start, to be honest. The book is quite a read, and it’s very entertaining… but it isn’t what you expect, and it might not be what you’re looking for. (Yeah, as much as I still like the book, it’s… different.)

Continue reading

Looking Back on… Silent Hill 3 (Sony Playstation 2)

Silent Hill 3
Console: Playstation 2
Genre: Survival Horror
Developer: KCET
Publisher: Konami

(Ah, Silent Hill 3. One of my favorites in the franchise, mostly because it brought the storyline of the first game to a logical conclusion, tied together the events from the franchise well enough, and showed that the concept still had some real chops to it. While many people love Silent Hill 2 over all others, the first and third games will always be my favorites, because I really loved the Mason family storyline, and while I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the second game in later years, it is not, nor will it ever be, my favorite, as Silent Hill 3 will probably always hold that spot. I still probably overrated it though.)

Continue reading