February 2021 in Summary: A Return to Form

Yeah, it’s been awhile since my last game review, huh? Sorry about that. At least I managed to talk about the first game in a series I’ve been meaning to tackle for awhile.


Films watched in February of 2021:

In theaters:

  • <None>

At home:

  • The Tree of Life (Terrance Malick, 2011)
  • Paprika (Satoshi Kon, 2006)
  • The Bridge on the River Kwai (David Lean, 1957)
  • Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962)
  • Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze, 1999)
  • Synchronic (Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead, 2019)
  • The Maltese Falcon (John Huston, 1941)
  • Adaptation. (Spike Jonze, 2002)

Games reviewed in February of 2021:

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light

Personally, I think it’s fascinating whenever a series has lasted long enough that when you revisit its oldest installments, you realize they used that legendary, classic arcade font even non-gamers know about. Fun Fact: It is said that the font first appeared in 1976 for the arcade game Quiz Show, which was made by Kee Games – a group consisting of former Atari employees (here’s a video demonstrating the game in action).

Also, this is review #9 to exceed 10,000 words! I didn’t think it was going to be that difficult, but as the first installment of Intelligent Systems’s long-running strategy RPG series, it gave me a surprising amount to talk about.

Back in 2014, I ended up the reviewing fourth game in the Fire Emblem series, Genealogy of the Holy War. It was the first 8/10 I awarded, but because it was one of my earliest reviews, it was definitely not up to my current standards. I have therefore removed it. I intend to rereview it after discussing the three games leading up to it. For that matter, I’ve been marathoning the series lately, attempting to complete the installments I hadn’t before. In fact, as of this writing, I have actually completed almost every game in the main series; the only ones left are Fire Emblem Gaiden and Three Houses.

Anyway, as strange as it may sound, playing Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light reminded me of when I revisited Pokémon Red and Blue back in 2017 in that doing so felt very nostalgic. It’s interesting because unlike Pokémon Red and Blue, I obviously didn’t grow up with the original Fire Emblem. Though I had always been interested in the series ever since I picked up The Blazing Blade back in 2004, I find it a bit strange that I would have those nostalgic feelings playing Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light. Has anyone else ever had those kinds of feelings towards a work they didn’t grow up with?

While the game itself hasn’t exactly aged well, I had a lot of fun playing it, and I can at least see fans of the series getting kick out of revisiting it. Otherwise, it definitely falls in that strange category of innovative games from the 1980s/early 1990s in that was doubtlessly daring and brave, yet unavoidably suffered from a cavalcade of growing pains in the process.

For that matter, Fire Emblem is actually a lot like Pokémon (or Metal Gear, for that matter) in that it was a series that started off with what would become its weakest installment in the grand scheme of things. I find that tends not to be true of most series – especially ones that debuted after 1994 or so. Usually, you want to make a good first impression. If you don’t, there is practically no chance of getting a sequel greenlit – especially in today’s AAA climate. With older series, the developers thereof could afford to get a little experimental, meaning the games didn’t necessarily have to stand the test of time, but rather pitch enough interesting ideas so they could resonate with a large audience.

The three franchises are also similar insofar that the developers had great ideas that greatly outpaced the technology available to them at the time. This is why I don’t think it’s a coincidence that, as those series went on, things only got better from there. The teams always had talented members; they just needed the technology to catch up with them.


Featured articles:

A Hard Day’s Night: The Beatles’ First Film Thing – I assumed A Hard Day’s Night was a concert film before I saw it; I certainly wasn’t expecting a slapstick/French New Wave kind of thing. Mr. Wapojif’s take on the film was fun to read.

Ranking all The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Dungeons – I would say of any top-down Zelda installment, A Link to the Past had the best set of dungeons. Nepiki goes a step further by ranking them in tiers, and the results are certainly interesting.

Revisiting Control in 2021Control is one of those games I’ve heard a lot of great things about, yet never got around to playing. I should really give it a shot – especially after reading Honest Gamer’s take on it.

A review of Shirobako – I find works about the creative process fascinating. This month, AK takes a look at Shirobako, which is about the anime industry. I find this show interesting because it seems to capture the creative process in a way that live-action couldn’t as easily. It definitely seems worth looking into.

Zen Arcade – Hüsker Dü was one of the greatest indie rock/punk bands of the 1980s. Matt of Hi-Fi Adventures takes a look at Zen Arcade, which is often considered their crowning achievement, although in terms of quality, they were amazingly consistent.

Pokémon Stadium – Gaming Omnivore takes a look at the N64 release Pokémon Stadium. It’s definitely one of those “you had to be there” kinds of games because while it’s not impressive now, being able to have your Pokémon battle in 3D was quite a treat back in 2000.

Pokémon 25: Ranking the Generations of Pokémon Games – With eight generations thus far, The Brink of Gaming takes it upon himself to rank each set of games in the mainline Pokémon series from worst to best. The results may be a surprising for longtime fans of the franchise.

Fallout 4 Review: The Confusing OneFallout is a franchise that has had its ups and downs over the years. The general consensus is that Fallout 4 is where things started really going off the rails, as Alex of Alex’s Review Corner points out.

Just Mercy (2019) – It’s a bit of a shame Just Mercy didn’t get more attention when it came out because it was really good. Mariah of Bizarre Brunette’s take on the film is definitely worth looking into.

Snap Judgements: Year On Edition – A year after entering quarantine, Aether takes a quick look at the various games he’s played. Between stuff like Chroma Squad and the VR edition of Superhot, it certainly seems like an interesting journey he’s had.


Links to my articles:

Game reviews:

Other posts:

25 thoughts on “February 2021 in Summary: A Return to Form

  1. Thanks for the mention! Shirobako is well worth watching, yeah.

    My time with Fire Emblem has been very limited, but I’ve liked what I’ve played of it. I own Fates Conquest now, but I haven’t played it yet — I’ve heard some talk about the NA version being kind of mangled in translation over from Japan, but I don’t know if there’s anything at all to that.

    I haven’t watched Paprika yet, but I did start on Satoshi Kon’s works with Perfect Blue, and it was quite something. I might write about that film if I can find something meaningful to say about it, though I know it’s been covered a lot already. I want to keep going with Kon’s film as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I’ll definitely be on the lookout for it.

      Fates wouldn’t be a bad one to start off with, although the Conquest path also happens to be the most difficult one. Fortunately, you can download the Birthright and Revelation paths as well (though I recommend playing Revelation last). Honestly, I don’t think the localization is bad; there was a bit of a stink over certain features being removed, but I found their absence didn’t affect the gameplay at all.

      Funny how I entered his filmography in the opposite direction; I started with his last film. I think it’s alright to cover something that has been covered numerous times before. When I started, I thought it was pointless to review something everyone already knew about or to mirror the exact same conclusion as the mass consensus, but eventually, I realized it’s worthwhile to do so because it’s helpful to have someone one can trust confirm if something lives up to the hype.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Good to know. I’m always wary of complaints over localization — sometimes they’re about important things, sometimes not so much. The removal of features does annoy me in general, but I can deal with it as long as it doesn’t affect my enjoyment of the game at all.

        Yeah, you’re right about that as well. If we couldn’t write about works that have already been written about, anyway, we wouldn’t be able to write anything much of anything at all.

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  2. Thanks for the nod, and I am looking forward to those Fire Emblem reviews. I am not familiar with the entire series, but I have been through some of them, so it will be interesting to see how our thoughts compare.

    As for having nostalgic feelings awakened by a product that I didn’t have contact with as a child, I can’t say I relate. But it must be connected to the overall feeling of the product being analogous to other stuff we grew up with.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome! Admittedly, it may be awhile before my Fire Emblem Gaiden review because I’m still in the middle of playing Echoes, but I do want to review every game in the series.

      I guess it could just be because I did grow up with The Blazing Blade (the first localized Fire Emblem game); either way, it certainly was interesting seeing the series’ humble beginnings.

      Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome!

      I would say most of the games are worth looking into; in fact, I’m pretty sure that whichever Fire Emblem games won’t pass from this point onward will, at least, receive an honorable mention. A lot of fans consider Three Houses one of the best games in the series, so I’m looking forward to trying that one out. The original game was very forward looking in 1990, though recommending it with a modern lens would be a very tricky proposition.

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  3. Thanks for the mention! I’ve wanted to try out the Switch release of Fire Emblem(before Nintendo yanks it from the eShop). I had heard that the first game definitely shows it age, but is an interesting play if for no other reason than appreciation on how the series has evolved over the years. I myself, had no knowledge of the FE games until learning about Marth in Super Smash Bros and have only played a few of them, though I actually completed Three Houses back in 2019 and loved it, it’s definitely the most accessible game in the series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome! And I thought I might as well seeing as how it’s only $5. It was definitely an interesting experience playing the series from its humble beginnings. And seeing the various new additions they’ve added since then is very rewarding. I’m definitely looking forward to Three Houses because I’m told it’s one of the best games in the series.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the mention! I’m definitely interested in seeing future Fire Emblem reviews to see how much the series has improved (or not) with each entry since the first one, so looking forward to them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome! It may take awhile because I’m still in the middle of playing Fire Emblem Gaiden (or, rather, Echoes, which is the 3DS remake thereof), and I would rather review these games in order, but once I have, I intend to review a few installments in a row. The series’ core gameplay is largely the same across all installments, but the improvements each new entry brings to the table after the first installment really improves the formula.

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  5. It’s kind of weird that there aren’t more first entries that are the weakest in their series. You’d think, given that games are a medium that’s always building on top of the past, that things should be continually getting better and better with each installment. But, with those creative energies and the high barrier to entry for new IPs, you get the most innovation and risk taking with the original ones, whereas they’ll often let their guard drop or coast a little with follow ups.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is a bit strange isn’t it? I think in many cases, there’s a sophomore slump that occurs after the successful first installment. A lot of music critics speculate the reason why it happens in their field is because the artists have plenty of time to work on their debut material, and when it proves a success, they have significantly less time to work on the follow-up.

      It’s not limited to music, though. In fact, as bizarre as it sounds, the Uncharted series is a case where both of those scenarios apply at the exact same time. That is, the first Uncharted is indeed the weakest game in the series, but after Uncharted 2 put the series on the map (heh), the writers proceeded to let their guard down and coasted with the following installments. It’s why I don’t think it’s a coincidence that The Lost Legacy, which was the only installment aside from Uncharted 2 I felt was unequivocally good, had the other series mainstays take more of a backseat role; that energy from the new team was exactly what the franchise needed after playing it safe for two installments.

      Either way, I find that the series that have the most long-term success are, ironically enough, the ones with comparatively weak debuts. Series like Fire Emblem are interesting because you can see the sheer amount of good ideas in the original game, and while it wasn’t exactly a polished experience, it did manage to find an audience, which then got the team to start thinking about ways they could improve the formula. In other words, it gets just enough right that they can make a sequel out of it, but not too much right to the point where they get complacent and/or begin dismissing any and all criticism. As it stands, the original Fire Emblem was more of a crowd-pleaser than a critical darling, which is why I think even as early as Fire Emblem Gaiden, the developers were thinking about how best to improve their gameplay (well, that I find that Nintendo developers are generally pretty good at taking criticism).

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  6. Hi, thanks for the mention it’s very kind of you.

    To answer a weird but thought provoking question you raised in this, I do think people feel nostalgic for games they didn’t grow up with. For me I am super nostalgic for Fallout 1, but the game released two years before I was born and the first time I played it was in 2018. So bizarre.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome! Maybe it’s just that by playing an older game, you kind of get immersed in the time period in which it was released. Then again, I find the same thing applies most media; when a work captures the spirit of that era, it’s almost like going into a time machine.

      Like

  7. Having grown up with Pokemon, including Red and Blue, especially Yellow being the first one, I can definitely understand that nostalgic feeling of revisiting those kinds of games, even if they don’t age well. Last year I replunged into the Pokemon world by picking up where I left off by playing Platinum. Quite the ride, maintaining the classic game’s design without steering too far away from it anyways! I had started White (shoutout to you for that review a while back for making me want to go back to those games) but had to pause there because of all kinds of other games stealing so much more of my time hahah

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, those games haven’t aged well, but I can still appreciate the sheer innovation that went into them. The people behind the original Fire Emblem in particular got so much right on their first try that they were able to sustain the series’ relevance for the next three decades with only minimal changes to the core gameplay.

      Hope you enjoy White and White 2 when you get to them! As mentioned before, Gen V is my personal favorite generation. Gen IV is actually getting a remake on the Switch, but I think the original versions have held up well enough that one can appreciate what they were going for even today.

      Liked by 1 person

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