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John Friscia


Favorite Games:
  • Illusion of Gaia
  • Chrono Trigger
  • Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete

54 games reviewed
73.9 average score
75 median score
44.4% of games recommended

John Friscia's Reviews

Managing Editor of The Escapist by day, indie developer of Boss Saga by night
Are you John Friscia? If so, email [email protected] to claim this critic page.
6 / 10.0 - Anuchard
May 1, 2022

Ultimately, Anuchard is an intensely monotonous game that really only succeeds in its art design and sound. Nearly every dungeon feels the same, and every battle outside of boss fights feels like a mindless waste of time. The story is more ambitious, but it never culminates in something satisfying across its dozen hours of gameplay. This is certainly not a game that lives up to the pedigree of the Soul Blazer trilogy. But perhaps stellarNull can dust itself off and deliver something more impactful the next time around.

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Mar 28, 2022

You don’t need to love Kirby to love Kirby and the Forgotten Land. Anyone who enjoys a quality platformer or just family-friendly co-op will find a tremendous amount of entertainment in this game. The vast number of upgradeable abilities and the delightful imagination of Mouthful Mode present constant gameplay variety, and the visuals and sound work in tandem to deliver one of the more memorable experiences Nintendo Switch has ever seen. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is an easy recommendation for almost any Switch owner.

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8 / 10.0 - A Memoir Blue
Mar 24, 2022

Ultimately, A Memoir Blue isn’t necessarily going to revolutionize video game storytelling. It is a fairly simple story of mother-daughter reconciliation, after all. However, it tells that story with an extremely thoughtful blend of 3D and 2D visuals that are densely packed with additional meaning. A Memoir Blue is in every sense a finely crafted piece of art, and that’s a pretty good way to start a new game studio.

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8.5 / 10.0 - Triangle Strategy
Mar 16, 2022

Triangle Strategy lacks the gameplay depth of Final Fantasy Tactics, and it doesn’t come anywhere near the story richness of Tactics Ogre despite borrowing its branching-path narrative design. However, Triangle Strategy’s streamlined battle system is significantly more approachable and less likely to invoke frustration. Likewise, even with the narrative being as bland as it is, it’s exciting for its own sake to see what happens when you make a big, story-altering decision. The final result is a strategy RPG that is extremely easy to recommend to newcomers, and longtime enthusiasts will probably appreciate it too. Triangle Strategy isn’t Square at its best, but it might be Square at its most fun.

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6 / 10.0 - Land of Screens
Feb 4, 2022

Land of Screens tells a short, hokey, on-the-nose story about disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with friends and family, and it's not remarkable in any way. Fortunately, the art and sound are excellent, making it a decent way to spend a couple hours.

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8.5 / 10.0 - Loop Hero
Dec 9, 2021

There is nothing like Loop Hero, and it feels born for Nintendo Switch. If you love roguelikes, nothing should stop you from playing this refreshingly weird game. And if you're like me and generally detest roguelikes, I sincerely believe you might be captivated enough by the game's unique and imaginative mechanics that you might not even think of it as a roguelike. The game just is what it is - it's Loop Hero. And it's the best example of indie ingenuity.

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In the end, a terrific battle system and great art direction just aren't enough to save Ruined King: A League of Legends Story from its lackluster narrative, clunky UI, and a wide spectrum of bizarre technical issues on Nintendo Switch. Hardcore League of Legends fans and hardcore RPG mechanics enthusiasts will still enjoy the game, but everyone else is better off playing something else this holiday season.

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Nov 4, 2021

Shin Megami Tensei V on Nintendo Switch retains all the strategic combat elements the Atlus franchise is known for, all while radically revolutionizing its world design to create an adventure that is completely addicting and flawlessly complements the battle system. It's a truly remarkable achievement. In fact, while some people think SMT should borrow more from its spinoff Persona franchise, Shin Megami Tensei V makes me wonder if maybe Persona could learn a thing or two from its older brother.

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Sep 29, 2021

Mileage will vary of course, and I can't say if my unexpected adoration of this game will extend to all players. Nonetheless, ActRaiser Renaissance is a meticulously crafted remake that genuinely improves on the original game in several respects while maintaining the spirit of what made it special in the first place. The simulation and tower defense elements are instantly addicting, and the sidescrolling sections really make you feel like God has come down to smite the wicked. ActRaiser Renaissance is almost the best-case scenario for a remake, and I hope Square Enix keeps it up.

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8 / 10.0 - Lost in Random
Sep 18, 2021

Ultimately, Lost in Random succeeds at telling a modern coming-of-age dark fairy tale that can be enjoyed by players of almost all ages, and the character and world design perfectly complements the zany and clever writing and voice acting. The gameplay is likewise unique and engaging, and even though combat doesn't offer extreme depth or challenge, it fits the scope of the adventure. However, the graphics and lighting suffer on Nintendo Switch, and if you have the ability to play it on another platform, you probably should.

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7 / 10.0 - Eastward
Sep 14, 2021

Eastward contains phenomenal art and colorful writing, yet the plot meanders breezily from moment to moment with little care for pacing and an unoriginal core storyline. Factor in average combat and puzzle-solving and a couple bugs that should be addressed, and Eastward is not quite as fun to play as it could be. That being said, a lot of people are going to fall completely in love with it anyway for the things it does right, and you might be one of them.

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7.5 / 10.0 - Hoa
Aug 23, 2021

Hoa is short and contains rather basic platforming and flawed controls. However, Hoa is also one of the most beautiful video games ever made, with preposterously strong visuals and music that will be remembered for years to come. It's up to you if the latter can make up for the former, but personally, I would recommend this game to almost anyone.

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7 / 10.0 - Button City
Aug 9, 2021

Ultimately, Button City delivers a deceptively poignant story wrapped up in an extremely adorable package. The playable arcade games also add some brief extra fun and novelty to what is otherwise a straightforward adventure. In total, it adds up to be a unique, memorable piece of art. But the slow walking speed is a drag, and the game's so buggy right now that maybe you should wishlist it and wait a few weeks to play it.

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Aug 7, 2021

The soundtrack is monotonous, the menus are a slog, and it often becomes too easy to button-mash to victory. But otherwise, NEO: The World Ends with You is a really cleverly designed game that packs a terrific amount of content into a small game world, and that even stays true continuing into the postgame. An engaging narrative that successfully expands upon the world of the original brings the entire experience together, and the final result is another inimitably unique action RPG from Square Enix.

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7 / 10.0 - Mythic Ocean
Jul 9, 2021

Ultimately, Mythic Ocean is a unique experience with its charming god-guiding gameplay and its exotic and atmospheric ocean to explore, and it is utterly immersive in the best way for the few hours that it lasts. However, the endings are not as memorable as the rest of the game. When you combine that with the tediousness of re-collecting pages on future playthroughs and going through many of the same conversations over and over again (though there is a fast-forward option), there is little incentive to replay Mythic Ocean as many times as it would like.

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7.5 / 10.0 - Game Builder Garage
Jun 18, 2021

Realistically, adults who want to program are just going to go learn an actual programming language and/or pick up a tool like GameMaker. But for impressionable preteen children, which arguably seems to be the prime demographic for this software, Game Builder Garage on Nintendo Switch can provide a comprehensive and accessible introduction to programming, despite a few glaring oversights. However, not just anyone is going to instantly click with and love this game. It takes time, determination, and raw passion to get the most out of Game Builder Garage. But maybe that's a good thing.

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7 / 10.0 - Mundaun
May 31, 2021

Ultimately, Mundaun is a creepy Switch game with creepy secrets to uncover across its creepy landscape, and it's easy to recommend to fans of adventure and horror. Others who don't typically play such games might just be bored to death with it though, especially if they get stuck on an objective they can't figure out. So basically, if your gut tells you that you might enjoy this game, it's probably right - and vice versa.

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When you set aside the little performance issues on Nintendo Switch and the lack of some quality-of-life additions, Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne HD Remaster is still an excellent dungeon crawler with tons of demons to experiment with and several different endings for hardcore players to find. The game feels like it's dragging on sometimes by so heavily emphasizing gameplay over story, but when the gameplay is this solid and with the world renewed in HD, it's not much of a complaint. This is quite the appetizer from Atlus as the wait for Shin Megami Tensei V continues.

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7 / 10.0 - Smelter
Apr 22, 2021

With enjoyable sim gameplay, an engaging element combat system, and excellent boss fights, Smelter is a game with a lot of good pieces across 12-15 hours of play. Unfortunately, it never becomes more than the whole of its parts. The platforming level design feels a bit unremarkable, and the Trials ruin the pacing. Still, if you love ActRaiser or Mega Man X, there's enough to make Smelter worth recommending.

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6 / 10.0 - Say No! More
Apr 9, 2021

Ultimately, Say No! More is short, vapid, and stupid… but it kind of works. Gameplay is basic almost to the point of meaningless, but when combined with its striking art style and funny writing and voice acting, it adds up to an experience unlike any other. Frankly, full price is too much to ask for a game this simple, but definitely consider it during sales.

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