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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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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.

Recently, I developed an obsession with Cave Story and I absolutely had to own Cave Story 3D, no matter what the cost. I looked at Gamestop's website and saw that while it happens to be a rather hard to find games, there were over ten stores around me that had the game, one being essentially across the street. I went over to pick the game up, but I didn't see the case for it anywhere, but I saw the cart in their used 3DS case. I asked one of the employees if they had the case and manual for the game anywhere, but they told me that they have been told to throw away all cases and manuals for used 3DS games. Refusing to buy such a new game that isn't complete, I went home and called all of the other stores on that list that had the game. I heard the same story over and over again; they were told to throw away cases and manuals for all used 3DS games.

Out of frustration, I decided to search for a complete game on the internet. Ebay had it for over 60 for a complete copy, and nobody was selling it on the game collecting forum that I belong to... so I decided to search on Amazon. I ended up finding a complete copy on there, for 40 dollars. Fifteen dollars more than what Gamestop sells it for. Out of frustration, I ended up ordering it there and got the game yesterday. I've been playing it, and enjoying it just as much as I enjoyed the free version of the game, but the more that I  played the game, the more annoyed I got with Gamestop.

Why did I have to pay an extra fifteen dollars for the box and manual? Why do they throw away boxes and manuals of 3DS games anyway? It's not like they're saving a ton of space by doing this. They take up basically no space as it is, and I'm probably not the first person to walk out of a Gamestop without an intended game because they purposely threw away a case. I honestly wonder how many people actually come in for a niche used title like Cave Story 3D, see the lack of a case and manual and still buy the game. Am I really the minority here? Are collectors really that few and far between that we make no difference to Gamestop when it comes to 3DS games? Would you guys buy a game that came out not that long ago that didn't have the case and manual, especially with niche games, or games that aren't easy to find?

E3 is pretty much the best thing for gamers each year. We get all of this exciting news about all of these new games and everything video-game related ever. Every year, there's at least five times that I see something that makes me stand up and scream like a preteen seeing their idol, and this year was no different. After the show is over, and the excitement for everything subsides, I start to feel the pains of disappointment about things that haven't been announced, or mentioned at all. There have been things that have been announced in the past that have just disappeared over time, and then there are some game-related announcements that I just dream about that never come true. Maybe I have too high hopes every year, but after it's all over, E3 always makes me want more.

Catherine 2 still is not a thing.
In the plethora of Persona-related games being announced recently, I was just wishing Atlus would pull out Catherine 2 out for E3. This puzzle game meets adventure game got a lot of attention when it came out three years ago, but since then... nothing. And I want more. A lot more. Now.

The Super Nintendo Virtual Console still isn't on the 3DS.
This is something that I really don't understand. It's not like the 3DS isn't powerful enough to emulate SNES games, and it's not like Super Nintendo games aren't popular or anything. You would think Nintendo would want to make more money, but I digress. I guess they want to keep it on the Wii and Wii U to keep an incentive for buying their newest home console. 

No new Sailor Moon game? Really?
So it's been twenty years since the Sailor Moon anime originally aired, and a new Sailor Moon series is just about to come out. You would think someone would be making a new Sailor Moon game, but not that I've heard. I really enjoyed the beat 'em ups and fighters developed by Angel and Bandai for the Super Famicom. They were just solid, quality games worth playing and I would love to see them make new ones with online play. 

My hopes for a Dreamcast 2 and Shenmue 3 may never die, but they're waning.
Alright, I know these now sound like lost hopes, especially with how little money Sega made from the first two Shenmue games and the Dreamcast as a whole, but why not try again? It's not like there aren't a lot of people practically begging for this stuff. I loved those fond memories of playing all of those wacky-obscure games on this console that was both ahead and behind its time all at once. Phantasy Star Online taught me to not trust people on the internet, especially when it came to a free-for-all trading system and games like the Shenmue series really got me into a more mature style of game.  Games with more complexity than any 32-bit RPG did back then. The Dreamcast turned me into a man, and I want it all back now.

No Majora's Mask 3D? 
This is one thing that I really felt teased about, with Zelda Williams coming on stage with that Majora's Mask replica, and all of her tweets talking about some huge surprise at E3.  Though I shouldn't be that surprised about it. I'm just kind of sad. When I first got the game for Christmas when I was 13, I wasn't all that impressed by it, although in later years when I would go back to it, I slowly started seeing the genius behind the game, and I really want to see it treated the way Ocarina of Time was on the 3DS.

I know there will always be games that I will want and will never come into existence, especially since I love such niche games. Maybe one year some of these games will come into existence. I can only hope, right?

E3 has become the industry event where the audience watching live streams at home are expecting to be wowed and surprised by new game after new game at every press release.  While it's always fun to see games come out from left field that nobody was expecting in the least, it doesn't change the fact that we see all sorts of really cool stuff every year at pretty much every press conference. So far, I've been most impressed by Nintendo. They're really doing some cool stuff over there, and it's making me really excited for the rest of this year and next year as well.  With all of the new stuff, here are a few that impressed me the most.

Zelda for Wii U

We all knew this was going to happen. They told us it would, but man, the little they showed us and told is just great. The fact that the game is going back to the roots of being open world again is great, and having some sci-fi themes in a fantasy game like this?  Amazing. I really cannot wait for this game, just like everyone else, it seems.

Fantasy Life

This game has been out for over a year in Japan, and everything that I've heard about it makes it seem rather impressive. Level 5 makes amazing games, and I'm glad that Nintendo is taking the initiative of releasing this outside of Japan.

Yoshi's Woolly World

We have been shown this game a few times now, but that doesn't make the gameplay that they just showed any less impressive. The look and feel of the game is just so... so damn cute. The ability to eat up yarn to change the environment, as well as eat other players and throw them to other parts of the level is just really cool. It apparently hurts them too. This game is going to be great.


Okay, so this really isn't a game, but I digress. Skylanders and Disney Infinity are really popular now, and it was just a matter of time that Nintendo would make their own version of this toy-in-games trend. What does kind of suck about Skylanders and Disney Infinity is you have all of these toys and can only play them on one game, or in one game and in some less than stellar capacity in the newer version of said game.  With Amiibo, you can use all of these toys in a multitude of games in different ways, and they level up in custom ways, making each toy have their own amount of RPG fun in their own right.  I want to see what they will do with Amiibo and Pokemon.  The possibilities (and money) are endless.


Shooters are what a lot of gamers love to play right now, so it was no surprise to see that Nintendo decided to come out with their very own take on the shooter genre. What they created though is a really fresh look at the seriously stale genre. Keeping the family-friendly feel is really nice too. Now everyone can shoot everyone and everything!

Nintendo really knows what games are about fun and they know how to make their games just that. With all of these games costing hundreds of millions of dollars to make with all of these "deep" CG trailers showing no gameplay and some of the most generic dialogue ever, it makes me smile to know that there's a company out there that's willing to keep things new, by keeping themselves not much different than what they were over 25 years ago.