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I'm a serious video game collector who focuses mainly on RPGs. My favorite console is the SNES, but that doesn't stop me from playing modern games, thankfully.
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PLEASE NOTE: I have only played this game for two hours and with the Persona 3 team, so keep that in mind.

Well, getting this game was a fun-filled ride of garbage. I originally pre-ordered the premium editon at Gamestop, despite me really not liking to use them if at all possible.  A few days later, I saw it was available at Best Buy, so I canceled my original pre-order then pre-ordered it at Best Buy. Then a week later, I got a call from the gaming supervisor at Best Buy saying that the pre-order changed from the premium edition to the regular edition and he was not sure if they will be getting the premium edition in. So, I canceled my pre-order at Best Buy and pre-ordered it at Gamestop again. A few days after that, I got a call from the gaming supervisor at Best Buy saying that the pre-order for the premium edition is up so I canceled the pe-order at Gamestop and pre-ordered it again at Best Buy. Needless to say, the only person that I have ever seen working in that Gamestop probably thinks that I'm out of my mind, but Gamer's Club Unlocked giving me 20% off of new games and then getting Reward Zone points on my purchases on top of that makes it to be worth the hassle.

Was the game itself worth the actual hassle? Well, yes. While I am a huge fan of the MegaTen series, I am not the biggest fan of the Persona sub-series. It's just such a huge departure from the mood of the original series that it just doesn't feel like a Shin Megami Tensei game at all. They're too light-hearted for my taste for being a part of the massive MegaTen series, but that doesnt stop me from liking the games. This one is certainly no different. I purposely didn't watch or read juch of anything about the game after its initial announcement since I really wanted to be surprised. It was nice that they let you pick which game's team you would like to start out playing with, but I really hope that you get to use both teams in your party eventually.

The music? Standard Persona music, so basically it's pretty good mix of Jpop with rap and fits the game incredibly well. I just wouldn't listen to it outside of the game ever. Now one thing that I've always loved about the MegaTen series is the first-person dungeon crawling gameplay and this game brings it back to the Persona series, which I absolutely love. It really helps the feel of the game and feeling constantly lost, which I always loved about the first-person MegaTen games. My only major complaint; why do I have to draw my own map? It's absolutely pointless. It just slows down the exploration for me. I'n constantly stopping and drawing walls and putting down icons for certain things, then drawing more walls, all while looking at my side-menu to see how close I am to being attacked. It's just too much and I honestly don't see the point of it. Maybe there is a point and because I purposely didn't read or watch anything about the game, I'm missing something here, but whatever. I still find it annoying. Overall though, I'm having a lot of fun and I'm really glad to see yet another MegaTen game on the 3DS. It's such a great platform for these types of games, and I hoestly hope to see more soon.

Recently, I've gotten fed up with the prices of Super Nintendo games. I've instead have been trying to buy Japanese imports instead, so long as it's easy to play without knowing Japanese. They're usually a fraction of the price, and usually not much more to get them complete with the box and manual. I've been getting a few of the more expensive SNES games on SFC, like Castlevania: Dracula X, but I'm always trying to find a few games that never saw a release here in the west. While looking for good Super Famicom beat 'em ups, I've stumbled upon The Great Battle series. A crossover beat 'em up with Kamen Rider, Ultraman, Gundam and an original character that actually looks cool, all in super deformed style? Yeah, I'm sold.

While researching The Great Battle games, I found that it's a part of a pretty expansive Banpresto-developed series, called the Campati Hero Series, which ranges in different genres, to RPGs, sports, and of course, beat 'em ups. I couldn't find a lot on the games themselves, other than a few gameplay videos here and there. I ended up buying one of the cheaper games on ebay on a whim. I was pretty excited to get it, but I wasn't expecting much in the way of quality when it came to this game. Banpresto is a huge hit or miss in my opinion, especially with their licensed crossovers, but at the same time, they're mixing three of my favorite shows together!

When I popped the game in I was kind of surprised by what I was playing. The game can be played with either one player, or two players. I've only had a chance to play in one player mode so far, and well... it's pretty different than what I was expecting. In most beat 'em ups, there's a weak attack, a strong attack that usually damages you when you use it, a jump button and a limited number of screen-clearing super special attack. In this game, there's a punch button, a kick button and a jump button. The placement of the buttons is a little different. A is punch, B is kick, and Y is the jump button. That takes a bit to get used to, but after that, it works pretty well. In one player mode, you can change through the four characters with the select button, but quite unexpectedly, all four share the same health, so there's no strategy to changing characters, especially since they are just as strong and fast as each other. It's just an asthetic opinion.

The game is actually quite difficult, which I mostly blame on the fact that your character is short and squat, having not much of a reach. While the enemies are the same way, a few have projectile weapons and can be really fast, so some can be annoying. Speaking of enemies, it seems that most, if not all are from Gundam, Kamen Rider and Ultraman, which is pretty cool. Most of the basic enemies are well, basic enemies in the shows, like Vagans and Shocker Grunts. Bosses in the game look really great, with their huge, animated sprites, but the actual fights are pretty lacklucter. Every single boss that I got to, I beat with just smashing the punch button. I've actually got hurt way more by single Shocker Grunts than I have by any boss in the game so far, but I haven't beaten the game so that might be why. Graphically, the game is alright. The sprites are AWESOME. They all have a lot of personality, but the backgrounds are pretty lackluster. I guess the sprite work makes up for it.

The music is pretty bland, nothing really stands out, but that's alright. I kind of wish they used music from the shows, but oh well. Banpresto doesn't really seem to like doing that. All in all, it's a petty fun game, minus some complaints. If you're looking for an amazing, groundbreaking Japanese exclusive game, this isn't it, but if you want a fun beat 'em up that's pretty cheap and you like Tokusatsu and Gundam, it's worth getting.

Now, I did not play this game when it first came out. In fact, I didn't even know it existed until a few years after it was released and I never owned a Playstation 1. I first heard of it early in my 9th grade year. My best friend was obsessed with the anime Hellsing, which he kind of pushed me into liking as well. It wasn't hard to do that, but it's definitely nothing that I would consider a favorite ever, but it was certainly enjoyable. His long-distance girlfriend at the time had Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and told me about how awesome it was. The last time I played a Castlevania game was Super Castlevania IV through emulation on the probably not completely unused ZSNES. So, now that I had something that could play PS1 games, I just had to get this game. The main character of the game had the same name as the main character in Hellsing and I got to play as the half-vampire son of Dracula and I get to kill Dracula? It was everything that this fourteen year old anime-obsessed goth kid wanted in life. Although, back then I was really fickle with money. I basically wanted to spend every cent of my pretty limited money on anime, anime conventions, and PS2 RPGs. I would see the game at places like Funco Land and at booths at anime conventions, but I had no interest in paying a whole 35 dollars or more for an old game! Who in their right mind would do that?  IT'S OLD! Nobody wants old games anymore. except for me, obviously.

Finally, two years later in 2003, I was in a Costco's with my dad and was looking in their video game... aisle, if you could even call it that. I saw a bin of greatest hits PS1 games, and while I was sifting through the numerous copies of Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX, and Tactics, I found one lonely copy of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Brand new. For $17.99. I couldn't help it anymore. I had to have it. I bought it without a second thought. I couldn't wait to get home to play this game. Two years of waiting came down to this fifteen minute car ride. It was probably the longest fifteen minutes of my life. It felt like a year, I feel like I could count the blades of grass as we drove home.

Now, for those of you who do not know anything about Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, it's an action platformer set in 18th century Transylvania (currently called Romania) where you play as Alucard, the son of Dracula who woke up to save Richter Belmont, the current generation of the long-living Belmont clan who have the job of trying to kill Dracula whenever his castle, Castlevania appears. This time when Castlevania appeared, Richter is nowhere to be found. This game is a huge departure from the series, which was known for being a high-quality, yet difficult straight-forward action platforming series. This game adds in a lot of exploration, inspired by Super Metroid, as well as RPG elements with leveling up, hit points and changing equipment. Instead of using a whip like in almost every other Castlevania game before it, you had a variety of weapons to choose from, as well as having the option to use a shield at the same time to help protect you as well.

Now, back to my first time playing the game: As soon as I got home, I ran into the living room, ignoring my father's yells to help him with the groceries, ripped off the plasic around the game so quickly, I thought I broke the case at first and popped the game into my PS2. I didn't even sit down at all. I just stood there, mear inches from the screen as I listened to the haunting vocals that is the start screen music. It didn't even confuse me one bit that the game's save file started at the very bottom first. I just selected the first square, selected my name as Alucard, and started playing. The first thing that I really noticed about the game was the music. It completely blew me away. The mix of classical music with elements on modern electronic and metal music reminded me of a band that I was obsessed with at the time (and still am, honestly) Malice Mizer.

The gameplay, and the game overall felt so familiar, but completely new at the same time. The game can be fast-paced and very action-oriented, yet at the same time it requires some calculation, from strategies to beat bosses to what type of weapon to use against which type of enemy. I was completely hooked. I played for a while, beat the first boss, found a save point and then... I realized that you can't use PS2 memory cards to save PS1 games. I didn't care. I was going to try to go as far as I could until I died. I did this daily for about a week until I could get a PS1 memory card. Since then, I have beaten the game numerous times. I own it on every platform except for Sega Saturn, and I try my hardest to play it at least once a year. At this point, I can get basically run through the game and get to Dracula in a few hours, and every time it brings me back to my awkward, gothy anime-obsessed teenage years, reminding me that not much of my character has really changed. I just grew up a bit.

Level-5 has made some great games over the years, from Dragon Quest VIII and IX, to Ni No Kuni, Dark Cloud, Professor Layton and the White Knight Chronicles games. They really have a way of making a broad spectrum of types and genres of games, with different tones. It honestly has impressed me. What has really surprised me though, is how many of their games have never left Japan. Youkai Watch came out in Japan in 2012 and kids ate that game up.  It's basically Pokemon, but with ghosts and you use a watch to find, fight and sometimes catch them.

For those who don't know anything about the games, here's a trailer:

The games, and everything else revolving around it has sold like crazy. There have been lines outside toy stores to get a raffle ticket to get a chance to buy the very sought-after watch toy. The games themselves have sold over a million copies each- all while staying in Japan only and the large majority of the audience being young children. The games, while geared towards children, actually look good and really fun to play, and now that Level-5 has finally announced that the games will be released outside of Japan sometime in 2015, I'm pretty excited about this. The more Level-5 games that get localized, the better for me.

What I did find pretty interesting is how the differences between the Pokemon and Youkai Watch fanbases in Japan. Before it was official that the west were getting these games, I stumbled upon an article about Youkai Watch and why all these kids like it so much. One kid admitted that they like it more than Pokemon because adults don't know about it. That's completely understandable. I mean, if I was a seven year old Japanese kid, I wouldn't want to have to compete with adults for games, and toys and stuff on a daily basis, and having my parents creeped out by the number of people there significantly over the age of fifteen.

I kind of wonder how well this game will fare in America, especially with children. I guess we'll have to see how it goes next year.

So, it seems like everyone who writes on here seems to make an introductory post of some sort, so it made me think I should do the same thing. I didn't want to just talk about myself, and I really don't know ten things about myself to talk about, so I decided to write about ten games that inspired me to blog about video games in the first place. It's an easy topic for me, so I decided to be lazy and much less personal. Maybe others will write about games that inspired them as well?  Who knows. just to be clear, these are the top games that inspired me, not my top ten favorite video games, and these are in no particular order at all.

1. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

A video game that I bought for dirt cheap in a Costco's as a young teenager, oddly enough ended up becoming my favorite video game of all time. It made me grow an appreciation for the Castlevania series that still resonated with me today, even if the newer games are completely mediocre. Oh yeah, the music. THE MUSIC!

2. Donkey Kong Country

I've already said a lot about this game in my last post, but seriously this is my favorite platformer of all time. The controls are perfect, the graphics are great, even looking at it today, the levels are inspiring, the bosses are fun, and the music? This might be my favorite SNES soundtrack ever, and that's saying a lot. I love a lot of SNES soundtracks.

3. Chrono Trigger

I consider this to be the best video game ever made. It took the conventions of the JRPG, and expanded upon them in ways no other game before it did. The story was interesting, the characters; multidimensional and diverse, the combat system was actually fun. While I love this game completely, I do not have the same type of emotional connection that I have with the others on this list. It doesn't make this game any less amazing. Calling it a timeless classic doesn't do it justice. It's just Chrono Trigger.

4. Dark Souls

(I'm sorry for using a let's play here, but it seems to be basically impossible to find gameplay footage from Dark Souls and have it not be a let's play.)
Dark Souls came out at a time when I was just completely finished with games of the seventh generation. I found mostly everything but a very rare few on home consoles to be boring, and incredibly easy. Everything was overproduced, lacked creativity and left me wanting more. Before this game came out, I was spending a lot of time and money getting older games, mostly for the Super Nintendo. I ended up deciding to get this game after a coworker got to play a demo of it somewhere and was talking about how amazing it was and how I would totally love it. I ended up buying it on a whim, and well... I'm incredibly happy that I did. It blew my mind. A Japanese RPG with an emphasis on gameplay, and the gameplay is actually amazing... and tough as all hell. Online interactions that actually work very well. Completely maddening and awe-inspiring boss battles that left me actually feeling satisfied, like I accomplished something when I beat them. This was everything that I was looking for, and what I compare every modern game to when I play them, and nothing else really compares. Oh, and the story? If you really feel like delving into it, it's actually really, really good.

5. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Like many people my age, this was the first Zelda game that I could really get into. It may not be the best Legend of Zelda game ever, but it really left an impression on me. It started a life-long love for the franchise that has yet to ever disappoint me. I even enjoy the CDi games, quite a lot actually. you have a problem with that? Come at me, bros!

6. Phantasy Star Online

Oh man, Phantasy Star Online; the game that introduced me to online gaming. I remember coming home from school and using up our one phone line for hours each day, ripping people off on trades, killing scores of really ugly enemies and just having a great time. The game really didn't age well at all, but that doesn't stop it from being fun. I was kind of a jackass back then, now thinking about it...

7. Earthbound

I first played this game in middle school when my father brought home a CD with a Super Nintendo emulator with a lot of ROMs on it. I was playing games at random when I stumbled upon this one, which completely hooked me. After that, I started looking up Earthbound on the internet, where I found out it was OMG SUPER MEGA RARE HOLY CRAP! Which isn't true, but whatever. It was because of this game that I ended up getting interested in retro gaming, and subsequently, collecting.

8. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne

Nocturne is really one of those games that completely changed my view of what RPGs are, and what they can be. A lot of people call this series Pokemon in Hell, but it's much, much more. The story is much darker than most RPGs that I have played at the time, and everything was much more mature. Not mature in the whole "there is blood and sex" way, but in a way where the story and characters are more appealing to adults than they are to kids. It was also probably the hardest RPG that I have played at the time. As a 17 year old, this game really helped expand my horizons when it came to video games.

9. Pokemon Red

This was the first RPG that I ever finished, just like so many other kids in my age group, but this is the game that started to get me into competitive gaming. I used to go to tournaments yearly for a very long time. I have since retired from playing Pokemon competitively, but I still have yet to find another game to replace it. That Into music though, it takes me back and pumps me up all at the same time.

10. Progear

I have loved shoot 'em ups before I knew to call them shoot 'em ups. I remember playing a lot of 1942 at my friend's house, and whenever I went to the arcade, I would always find a few quarters for Raiden or whatever other shooter they had there. It wasn't until I discovered MAME that I truly became an enthusiast of the genre. The first game to really captivate me though was Pogear. A horizontal bullet hell shooter made by the king of vertical shooters, Cave? I'm down! This game might not be as popular as the DonPachi or Mushihimesama series by Cave, but this one game is by far my favorite out of all of their works.

Today, I re-watched one of my favorite video series on youtube, TVandLust's Context Matters, where Craig talks about games from his youth and his life at the time when he was playing that game. A lot of his videos are downright depressing at times, but it really inspired me to talk about Donkey Kong Country, a video games that I love so much but rarely talk about. While my childhood is nowhere near as dramatic as Craig's, it doesn't make all of my childhood video game experiences to be complete happiness with candy and rainbows either.

When I was a young kid, I didn't have any video games, the only time I was able to play games was when I was over my friends' homes. I still remember the first time I ever played a video game; I was in Kindergarten at my best friend's house for the first time (who is still my best friend to this day) and he brought me to his room to play Kung Fu on the NES, and it completely blew my mind. After that, I begged my parents for an NES, which my mom was completely against me having. She thought kids should spend almost all of their free time outside, getting exercise and eating nothing with fat or sugar in it ever. One of my most vivid memories of this time, other than playing video games at my friends' house was all of the screaming. My sister had horrible food allergies that nobody understood at the time, which would cause her to have incredibly painful muscle cramps. My parents were constantly fighting, screaming at the top of their lungs at each other about things that I didn't understand. In the summer after first grade, my father went on a business trip that was going to be much longer than usual, about two months. While my father was gone, one of my neighbors was around quite often. It seemed weird to me, since I didn't see him often before this but he was really nice so it didn't bother me much. Then about a week before my father got back from his business trip, my mom told me that we're no longer going to be living in this house. My parents were getting a divorce and my mom, sister and I were moving to another house, with our neighbor and I will be starting a new school in the fall. Away from all of my friends.

We only moved about fifteen minutes away, but it felt like another world. I was living with a man who was essentially a stranger to me, who ended up marrying my mom very quickly. I didn't know anyone in my new neighborhood, but I eventually made a few friends. One or two of these friends had a Super Nintendo. Holy crap. A Nintendo that's SUPER. I had to have one. I begged and begged my mom for one. I got my best friend talking to his parents about the Super Nintendo too. How could we live the rest of our lives without this sixteen-bit powerhouse of pure power hooked up to our TVs? That Christmas, it came. I got a Super Nintendo with Super Mario World and Super Mario All-Stars. It was without a doubt, the best day of my seven year old life at that point. My mom still has a picture of me holding the box in my hands, grinning est to ear. I was probably the happiest that day than I have been in years. The games just amazed me. I've played the first three Mario games, but never like this, and then there was Super Mario World. Oh my god, it was just so big and there were powerups that just changed everything, and there was Yoshi and all of the secrets everywhere throughout the entire game... I felt like that kid in the Sega CD commercial who was blown onto the wall.

These games kept my seven year old attention for a very long time, but my birthday was in February and I knew that I couldn't have enough video games. That's just how this stuff works. While looking through a Nintendo Power magazine, I saw a game that I absolutely had to have; Donkey Kong Country. The small screencaps that they had on those pages just amazed me. They looked like real apes, and yet this was just a video game! I asked for this game from both of my parents, hoping at least one of them would get it for me. At this time, I was getting kind of annoyed with my dad. He kept on asking if my step father was abusing me, and sometimes asking me to lie about him abusing me to my mother. I used to bring my Super Nintendo with me on the weekends when I saw my dad so I had a way to distract myself from his babbling. Because of this, I think he grew a mild hatred towards that game system for a long time, and refused to buy me any video games, claiming my mother wouldn't let him buy any games. I found out years later that what he said was a complete lie. No doubt though, I got Donkey Kong Country from my mom on my birthday. I remember that day pretty clearly; it was snowing pretty hard and our school was closed. My step dad is a teacher at another school that was closed too, and my mom is a stay-at-home mother so we were all at home.

My mother gave me Donkey Kong Country right after I woke up, and my whole family sat on the couch and took turns playing. I didn't get what Cranky Kong was talking about in his day, but my mom and step dad told me about the original arcade game and how popular it was, despite its crushing difficulty. There were a lot of times like that where we would all play video games together, laughing, or yelling as we lost over and over again at that stupid bee boss. It was the first time that I truly felt like I had a family unit again, a group where I felt safe to be with. I got pretty much every single Donkey Kong game ever after that and it was the same thing. Our entire family would play together. There may have been some cracks in this new family of mine, from the screaming phone calls my mother had with my dad, to the battles that were arguments that I had with my step father in my teens, but we were never broken; and I feel like this one game series is what first brought us together as a whole family.