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The Ten: Updated Wednesdays-Fridays-Sundays

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

JRPG Talk- Part 4: Combat

Welcome to another installment in a continued discussion of JRPGs. Today, we'll take a look at another core element of the genre- combat systems. While many of the terms and concepts in these articles may be applied to WRPGs as well, our discussion will mainly focus and reference JRPGs. Let's review our ever-growing glossary of terms:

Organic grinding- the experience (EXP) the game developers force you to accrue because of thoughtful game design.
Artificial grinding- the experience accrued for no other reason than to lighten the burden on the player or subvert the difficulty spikes.
Motif- A fundamental mechanic of a core environment in an RPG, such as a dungeon, or the overworld. Motifs encompass reoccurring mechanics.
Gimmick- An area-specific mechanic of a core environment. Usually a puzzle or gameplay element exclusive to an area.
Aesthetic- The artistic design of a core environment. This artistic element can contribute to gimmick mechanics.
"Traditional" Overworld Design- A reference to the top-down, "miniature" aesthetic present in classic role-playing games, this design often features terrain obstacles, random encounters, and minimal interactive elements outside of town and dungeon portals.
"Unconventional" Overworld Design- With the expansion of the genre, many new titles attempt Overworld design that increases or simplifies exploration to further enhance the experience. While there are a number of different styles, we have simplified this definition to any Overworld not top-down based.
Travel Cycle- The cyclical and predictable stages of travel found in "traditional" Overworlds, in which terrain obstacles and distance gradually become a non-issue thanks to new traversal elements.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Review: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Rules of nature!
This is a hard review for me to write.
I’ve done this sort of thing for many other games, and I have also done reviews for previous Zelda games. But Breath of the Wild is a different beast. It is a game so massive, it requires a massive, sloppy look at it from every angle I can think of. Within this note, you will find what I consider to be a comprehensive look at The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. If you would like to read about a specific perspective of the game, I have them listed here. Simply use your search function to skip right to a specific section by typing in the number listed below:
001: The Social Experiment (Introduction)
002: A Zelda Experience (Key Features)
003: A Game of Logic (Criticisms)
004: Placement (Conclusion)
Well, let's get to it, shall we? 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Review: Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

Filler entry, text to follow.
Kickstarter is a tricky mistress. She will tease you with promises of a great night on the town, but when you fork over the cash, things might turn out very differently than what you had expected. Of course, if you simply trust the developer to make a solid product and refuse to involve yourself in the "process," you are bringing that sort of result upon yourself, right?

But what if you really do trust a developer and want them to succeed? Where does that put you when things do not exactly meet your expectations? Well, that is a different side of Kickstarter, the one where established developers with a vision, or perhaps a familiar intellectual property, take to the site in hopes that their fanbase is still out there, waiting for another great experience. That can sometimes be even more disappointing than an unknown developer's product not resonating with you.

That brings us to Shantae: Half-Genie Hero.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Review: Pokemon Sun

Don't stare at it for too long, kids!
"I'm getting too old for this," I muttered as I switched to an area-of-effect attacking move with my Bewear, knocking out yet another S.O.S. wild encounter in two turns. Yes, there was plenty new to experience in the series' latest outing, but Pokemon Sun was testing my patience. I wondered when I became jaded enough about Pokemon to get annoyed by such things, but there I was- trudging halfheartedly through Game Freak's newest catchable critter title.

Sometimes, video games are like comfort food- it is easy to turn off your brain and roll with the punches, slipping into a familiar world and experience and unwinding at the end of the day. But Pokemon Sun did not evoke those feelings in me, and for the first time in the history of the 20-year series, I found myself questioning my love for Nintendo's most reliable cash-cow.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Article: T'was the night before NX reveal, and all through the Wii U retrospective...

Hello, Wii U.

Yes, it's me. Your owner. I mean, your half-owner, since Nintendo owns me because I actually own you. Listen, I've got some bad news. Sure, Zelda is on the horizon, and don't get me wrong- it looks great. But we need to have a talk, you and I. Tomorrow, Nintendo is putting the final nail in your coffin, you see. They're... oh gosh, how do I say this? They're announcing the NX. Like, in a 3 minute video. So I figured... I figured, it was time to say goodbye. Sure, I'll get Warmastered on you, and if Fatal Frame ever goes on sale, I'll try to pick that up, too. But buddy, once Zelda is out, and done... you're history.

I'm not saying I'm going to retire you for an NX. That's what Nintendo is going to do, for sure. And as long as my copy of Hex Heroes, the game I backed because it was made for you, is headed to your download cue, I'll still play you. Maybe I'll keep replaying Zelda, and maybe I'll make some Super Mario Maker stages... but come on, the 3DS version is coming soon, and it's probably going to become my go-to platform for that. But Nintendo is done with you, you know? So I think... I think it's time to do A RETROSPECTIVE WHOOOOOOOOO!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Bi-Weekly JRPG Talk- Part 3: The Overworld

Welcome to another installment in a continued discussion of JRPGs. Today, we'll take a look at the design of another core element of the genre- the Overworld. There is a specific definition that stems from a user-generated source which I would like to immediately identify- found here, of all places. To reiterate much of this definition, an Overworld is meant to interconnect specific locations and primarily function as a means for travel. But there are many questions the idea of an Overworld presents, and many concepts of game design that must be addressed. In discussing the subject, we might actually end up coining some new terminology. While many of the terms and concepts in these articles may be applied to WRPGs as well, our discussion will mainly focus and reference JRPGs. Let's review our ever-growing glossary of terms:

Organic grinding- the experience (EXP) the game developers force you to accrue because of thoughtful game design.
Artificial grinding- the experience accrued for no other reason than to lighten the burden on the player or subvert the difficulty spikes.
Motif- A fundamental mechanic of a core environment in an RPG, such as a dungeon, or the overworld. Motifs encompass reoccurring mechanics.
Gimmick- An area-specific mechanic of a core environment. Usually a puzzle or gameplay element exclusive to an area.
Aesthetic- The artistic design of a core environment. This artistic element can contribute to gimmick mechanics.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Bi-Weekly JRPG Talk- Part 2: Dungeon Design

Greetings, all, and welcome to another installment of an ongoing discussion of JRPGs. I began writing for this concept quite a while ago, around when I actually finished Xenoblade Chronicles X. (which was around February. It's been a while.) However, the completion of another title in this genre spurred me to finally post my thoughts and begin the series in full. I've done a bit of rumination on where to progress from our last talk, which largely had to do with the progression of story in the genre, but eventually lead into a discussion of the entirety of a game's progression. This lead to two definitions, which I'll reiterate so that we can use them moving forward. I'll do this for all the terminology I coin in each talk, so that we have a little glossary of terms before each discussion:

Organic grinding- the experience (EXP) the game developers force you to accrue because of thoughtful game design.
Artificial grinding- the experience accrued for no other reason than to lighten the burden on the player or subvert the difficulty spikes.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Review: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

Japan is happening. And it's oh, so good.
As someone who loves JRPGs, being a Wii U owner has been a bit disappointing. While the two Wii U JRPGs on the system are fundamentally different from many of their contemporaries, that number is rather bleak in itself. However, the differences they possess in relation with other games of their genre do make them curious and enjoyable. Case in point, the latter-released of the two and the subject of this review: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, an Atlus-developed title merging the Shin Megami Tensei battle sensibilities with the themes and characters of the Fire Emblem franchise.

Oh, it's also about Japanese pop stars.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Bi-Weekly JRPG Talk- Part 1: Story Progression

Since I have completed the story mode of Xenoblade Chronicles X (with an ungodly playtime of 147 hours), and since this is shaping up to be the year of the JRPG on 3DS, I will be writing a Bi-Weekly column on the nature of the genre. My experience? I have played an unhealthy variety of these games and would like to share my opinions and critique of some of the industry's recent entries.

The Japanese Role Playing Game is, for fans of fantasy, science fiction, stat crunching, or character building, an interactive love letter. It allows them not just to experience a lush setting and cast of characters, but to interact with the game world and sometimes alter or discover the plot in their own way. It enables them to choose from a variety of classes, stats, and party members to create devastating combinations that will ensure their victory- a victory that they would want to see. This genre has had different phases with different popular franchises, and new names emerge as the industry progresses and changes. But there are plenty of mediocre and downright bad entries, as well. I'll cite some of them soon, but I'd like to discuss a difficult trapping of these types of games.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Ten: Updated Wednesdays-Fridays-Sundays

No Link. Only Explosions.
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