February 12, 2015

Minor Distraction: Dragon Quest

warning: may contain spoilers

When I saw Dragon Quest for a mere $1.99 ($3.49 regular) in the app store, I couldn't really resist the idea of having this outstanding title in my pocket at all times, and when I finished up my last Minor Distraction game, I decided to switch things up and for the first time in ATSG history, review a mobile game.
Of course Dragon Quest wasn't developed for mobile, the game was originally released in 1986 for the NES. In North America, it was retitled Dragon Warrior. It is among the first RPGs I ever played, so my reintroduction to the world of Alefgard is quite the nostalgic one. DQ broke a lot of ground in its day for having a great open world to explore, littered with towns and dungeon with a smattering of most interesting enemies. I fell in love with this game decades ago, and was particularly curious to see how it survived the mobile treatment.

At first look, the game certainly felt familiar, but seems to have received a bit of a facelift. The overworld and dungeons all appear to be crisper, brighter and more colorful than I remember the NES title to be. The text bubbles also got an update. That said, it looks fantastic! The sprite graphics approach is still present and they suit the small screen of mobile devices perfectly.

February 05, 2015

That's A Wrap: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

warning: may contain spoilers

One of my goals for 2015 was to get some damn Zelda onto this blog! And I suspected that if I didn't do it first thing, I'd never get around to it. So here we are! The first Legend of Zelda blog for ATSG: A Link to the Past. Arguably the most popular Zelda game to date.
ALttP was released in 1992 (North America) for the SNES and remains the most critically acclaimed Legend of Zelda to date. A fan favorite, the game won my poll for first game of 2015!

I haven't got much for you in the way of graphics for this title, because - let's face it - sprites are timeless and retro games have no business being held to today's standards. What I will say is that this game has aged extremely well. It looks wonderful and colorful and you really wouldn't know it's as old as it is if no one told you. And Link's hair is pink. Back off. He's trendy.
In the sound department, the sound effects are particularly charming. I don't think there was a single instance in which Link travelled up or down stairs during which I didn't giggle. The stairs sound, by the way, is incredibly unique in that there is a slightly different sound for ascending and descending. Sadly, it's the same effect regardless of the terrain, but still… 1991, man…
You'll also hear many of the now classic Zelda effects throughout the whole game, including "acquire an item" and the iconic "uncover a secret!" There is also an alarm effect for when you are short on health, which gets annoying real fast, but is effective nevertheless. My personal favorite sound out of this game is heard when transitioning between the Light and Dark worlds. Gives me goosebumps every time.
The soundtrack is, expectedly, regal and prominent and will give you no trouble getting stuck in your head and reminding you your game is incomplete while you're at a funeral.