Hello. This is the very first “original” post on the new site:

Some of you may have been followers from the previous “8bit Wizard” blog hosted on Google’s blogger service, so please allow to explain the reason for the transition.

I started the site back in 2012 as a place to blog about my interests in gaming, nerd culture and anything else that was on my mind at the time. I figured that I may have the occasional reader stumble across the site as they searched for game reviews, etc. But I never imagined it would generate any REAL interest. Over the last three years, the readership of the blog grew steadily over time. I began to notice that many visitors were navigating to the blog directly more and more frequently, instead of being referred by Google or other search engines. As time went on, I decided that my needs were slowly outgrowing those that Blogger was able to provide. As a result, was been born.

Over the last few weeks, I have migrated all the content from my old blogger account to this new site. A large part of this migration was handled automatically through the use of import tools. But I was left to deal with some minor formatting issues. Incompatibilities between the two services, I suppose. As a result, I spent the last two weeks editing nearly every post by hand. For the most part, I was able to fix most of the glaring issues. However, if you dive deep into some of the older posts, you may come across the occasional font or formatting issue that I just couldn’t seem to correct. But these shouldn’t really detract from your enjoyment of the site.

So, let’s spend a moment to discuss this change. Why “RetroSensei” instead of the old trusty “8bitWizard” moniker?  Well. First off, if you visit – you’ll see that it belongs to someone else. So rather than postpone my migration, hoping the domain would not be renewed so that I could snap it up, I decided to take the opportunity to rebrand. Instead of “8bitWizard” you can now call me the “RetroSensei”. Generally, the name puts across the same idea. But this time also adds a bit of a Japanese twist, which is something that I find favorable.

For more information on the name, and the meaning behind it, feel free to click the ABOUT button at the top of the page.

So, what is changing? Not much. I’ll be still posting game reviews, and my thoughts on other topics that interest me. But now, with a whole site at my disposal I’ll also be able to provide even more content. Coming later this year: the Retro Sensei Podcast. Everything that’s cool about this site in audio form! More information on the podcast in the coming months. Also, I may begin posting original videos and expand my horizons a bit when it comes to the content of the site overall. For example, I currently focus on video games, tabletop games, comics, and Star Wars related news. I plan to begin covering more topics that relate to nerd culture as time permits.

In closing, I hope you enjoy the new site and please bear with me over these first few weeks and I undoubtedly tweak things and make some changes here and there.


Blog Update & The Final Fantasy Initiative

Today, I’m going to take a moment to declare my intention to temporarily refocus my game playing agenda for the purposes of this blog.

I started this blog to share my love of video games and the nostalgia that I feel when I think about my youth. It didn’t take long for me to learn that there was a lot more to those warm fuzzy memories than retro video games. My childhood was extraordinary. I was born in the late 70’s, so my early childhood took place in the 80’s – a wonderful time for games, cool movies, cartoons, etc. All the great kid stuff came out in the 80’s. During this time, I also was blessed with the fortune of being able to experience life in a foreign country. My time in Japan helped open my eyes to a larger world and even though it was only three short years, it had a large effect on me as I grew into adulthood. After getting married and settling into the routine of the five-day work week, I had my first child.

Unless you’re just a selfish deadbeat, having a child changes you in ways that you cannot expect. Your priorities change, and so does your habits. Sometimes, things even end up coming full-circle. Right before my son came along, my wife and I enjoyed going to clubs, socializing with other couples, attending concerts, things like that. Video games and other “childish” obsessions had really been put on the shelf to large extent. However, once you have an infant in the home, you find yourself AT HOME at lot more than before. It doesn’t take long for you to go through that stack of DVDs you never got around to watching. Once they are gone, you’re bored. While I had never fully abandoned my interest in gaming, I now found myself thinking about taking up the hobby with more zeal. When you have baby sleeping in a bassinet for extended periods of time, something like a video game ends up being a perfect way to pass the time. You play it for as long as you need to. You can pause it, save it, whatever.

It was during this time that I once again allowed gaming to become a main hobby of mine. Once my son got a little older, he naturally wanted to play games as well. It was at that time that I knew gaming was something I would be able to use to help form a bond with both of my children in one way or another. I guess that’s a big reason why I’m so passionate about games these days. When I play a video game, it reminds me of the good times of my youth and also rings a chime on the present day as well.

When I started this blog, I decided to replay my entire game library. Starting with the games I played as a kid and progress onward to new games. To date, I’ve pretty much covered the first half of my plan. I’ve reviewed and a talked about a majority of the games that were important to me when I was a child as well as sprinkled in a few new releases from time to time. I’ve deviated on a couple of occasions, like my Castlevania and Mega Man playthroughs, but I’ve done a pretty good job to sticking to my original goal.

Currently, according my own plans, I should be focusing on games for the original PlayStation. But I’m going to announce another temporary deviation:  The Final Fantasy Initiative.

You see, Final Fantasy is one of my favorite video game franchises. I’ve played almost every title to date (with a few exceptions). These exceptions are the most recently released titles in the series. If you’re reading this, you know me by now. I am pretty OCD when it comes to playing things in a particular order and I’m starting to fall behind. There’s a slew of new FF titles on the horizon and I need to catch up quick.

So when it comes to my game entries, I’m going to be catching up on all of the remaining Final Fantasy games I have yet to review. So far on this blog, I’ve managed to playthrough Final Fantasy 1-7 and all of the related spin-off games thus far. Next up, I’m going to proceed onward with 8, then 9, etc. Final Fantasy XV is on the horizon and I would LOVE to be ready to play it on release day. Of course, I admit that I will unlikely be able to meet that goal, I do plan to be there as fast as possible.

Once I am all caught up on the series, I will resume my original plans.

October is coming…

Autumn is here! This is probably my favorite time of year. I love the crisp air, the falling leaves, the pumpkin spice everything… I also like spooky things. Creepy stories, scary movies and of course horror games.

Last year was a bit lacksluster on the blog here. For October I played and reviewed Blood and Blood II on the PC. In 2012, I was a bit more ambitious. I attempted to play every Castlevania title. I made a pretty good effort, but I did run out of time. My Castlevania marathon extended all the way into December.

This year, I plan to something similar. Starting today, almost all other games are on hold. I’m going to focus on a number of horror-themed games from now until the end of the October. If it goes well, and the mood still feels right I may extend it into the first part of November.

There’s so many to choose from that I’m not really sure where to begin. To start, I think I’m going to go a bit casual and kick it off with Zombie U. Next up, I may actually tackle Castlevania: Lords of Shadow II.

Below is a list of some of my horror-themed games, if there’s anything on the list that you would like to see reviewed, please feel free to comment or reach out to me through another method. (Many of you seem to like tweeting me):

Potential Spooky Games For October:

Slender: The Arrival
Silent Hill
Resident Evil
Fatal Frame
Corpse Party
Ghostbusters: The Video Game
Walking Dead

Also accepting suggestions

House Cleaning – Looking towards 2014

As the year rapidly comes to a close, I’ve taken a little time to do some major housekeeping on this blog.

First, I’ve eliminated some of the silly review designations (Retro review, catch-up review) – I decided that a game review is a game review regardless of how old or new the specific title is.

Second, I’ve also added a list of related games to bottom of each review. For those games that are part of a series there are now links to other reviews in the franchise. This list will be updated as I complete reviews going forward.

Also, with the start of the new year, I’ll be making more non-game related posts. When I first started this blog I had the intention of creating a place where I could wax nostalgic about the games I loved growing up as well as other things that are near and dear to my heart. My children are now at an age where they both enjoy gaming. My youngest son is only five, but he enjoys playing casual games on the iPad. My older son enjoys playing computer games and is currently a huge fan of WWE games on the Xbox.  I plan on blogging a bit more about what they are playing as well as addressing other topics that are relevant to both Geek Culture and parenting in the digital age.

When it comes to reviews, if you’re a reader to the blog (I do have a handful), its probably obvious that I’ve focused a lot of retro gaming. What I’ve actually been doing is playing catch-up to a degree. I wanted this gaming blog to cover games both old and new. I decided to start with the games I grew up with and then gradually catch up to modern releases. this would help show the evolution of gaming during my lifetime, which is something that fascinates me. For the most part I’ve been very successful in this. So far on this blog I’ve replayed and reviewed the majority of games that were really relevant to me growing up. We’ve covered NES, SNES, Gameboy, and even some of the early PC titles from my teenage years. We’re quickly coming to a very important point in my gaming history… the dark years.

The “Dark Years” really began as teen. When I was around 16 years old, my focus shifted from gaming to more important matters for a teenager (ie: girls and Rock n Roll). It was during this time that I turned away from console gaming and picked up PC games instead. (That’s where we are currently in my review cycle). Even though I was no longer interested in the console market, they still existed and the market was growing. While I was spending my late nights blasting away at friends in Quake on the PC, the Sony PlayStation was surging in popularity. The Nintendo 64 was released, and the Game Boy color and Game Boy Advance were on the scene. This means that there were games, in franchises I love, that I overlooked.

I started console gaming again after my marriage, and I did catch up a little on some of these “dark years” titles, mostly Final Fantasy games,but there’s a large majority of games I never played the first time around. That will be next focus of the blog. I hope to start my “Dark Age of Gaming” reviews shortly after the first of the year. Then, my goal will be to catch up with games and franchises that interest me, later in 2014. Hopefully, by the end of next year, I will have knocked out most of my backlog and reached a point where I can focus on new titles as they are released. Of course, this will be easier said than done. But let’s see what happens.

Distant Worlds

As many of my readers might know, I am a rabid Final Fantasy fan. I’ve played nearly every title in the main series as well as several of the offshoots. One of my favorite aspects of these games is the wonderful music that is featured in them. Being the collector that I am, I have amassed a large collection of Final Fantasy soundtracks over the years. They are great to listen to when you are reading, studying, etc. Among them all, some of my favorites are the Distant Worlds live symphonic albums. The records feature classic Final Fantasy tunes played by a full symphony orchestra.

After several years, I’m happy to say I have finally been able to attend a Distant Worlds concert in person and it was nothing short of fantastic!

For those unfamiliar with the concert, I’d highly suggest doing a little digging around on YouTube for some footage or better yet, make plans to attend. It was simply an amazing experience. I’m thankful my wife was able to share the experience with me. It certainly made some new powerful memories for us both.

Castlevania Playthrough Update

Well, it’s Halloween. I think now its obvious that I’m not going to meet my goal of playing through every legacy Castlevania title before the end of the day. But, I gave it a good shot!

I’m almost finished with Curse of Darkness. After which, I have two more DS titles and a Wii game. At that point the original series will be complete. There is of course a remake of Castlevania Adventure on the Wii Virtual Console, and then a quirky multiplayer mashup. I’m going to continue with the playthrough and hopefully finish up in November.

I have admittedly been distracted by a number of things. The original version of Final Fantasy XIV is about to end. I have been very busy collecting once-in-a-lifetime achievements for the game, as well as playing the new Wizardry Online beta.

I plan to restore some normalcy to the blog in the coming days, so stay tuned.

Final Fantasy

If Wizardry is considered the grandfather of western-style fantasy games. Than Final Fantasy is its far-eastern cousin. While Wizardry was rooted in classic Tolkien-style swords and sorcery, Final Fantasy can be summed up as more exotic techno-fantasy type of genre. I was introduced to the series while living in Japan. I had noticed the game in the collection of several of my Japanese friends, and I knew that it was off limits. “No play!” They would tell me any time I pointed to the game. I assume they feared I would accidentally delete their character data due to my inability to read the Japanese menus. Even though I wasn’t allowed behind the controls, I enjoyed watching them play the child-like characters, as they explored weird underwater shrines and did battle with goblins or vampires.

Eventually, the game was translated to English and made available to the western audience. I snapped it up immediately and never looked back. The summer of my post-6th grade year was spent exploring the game to the fullest. I created characters of every class, snooped through every nook and cranny of the dungeons, and defeated the final monster countless times.

I knew that Final Fantasy II and III were already available to my Japanese friends, and I was more than upset to learn that Nintendo of America intended to skip these tiles and repackage the upcoming Final Fantasy IV as “Final Fantasy 2” for the American audience. The original Final Fantasy II and III would not be made available in the west for many years.

As time went by, I consumed every Final Fantasy title made available to me. Eventually, even the elusive 2nd and 3rd games in the series were released in North America. To date, I have played and completed nearly every single-player entry in the series (except for the newly released XIII-2). As far as the online titles go, I was active in Final Fantasy XI from 2003 until the spring of 2011. I have been a supporter of Final Fantasy XIV ever since.

While Wizardry, nurtures the purest part of my dungeon crawling, spell casting, classing D&D spirit, Final Fantasy appeals of me in other ways. The art direction reminds me of my years living in Japan, while the settings and in-depth stories cater to the classic fantasy elements that make Wizardry so appealing.

A few years ago, I thought it might be interesting to play through various game franchises and post reviews of each game, noting how they have matured and developed over time. I did this with the Final Fantasy series.

In the coming months, I’ll be posting these reviews.



One fateful summer night in 1989, my friend James suggested we play a computer game on his dad’s old black and white Macintosh. After a few rounds of Chess, I spotted an interesting looking icon in the games folder and pointed it out to James. “Oh no. That’s Wizardry,” he said. “It’s not very good. It’s too hard.”

Despite his protests, I kept bugging him and eventually he relented and let me play it. What I discovered was a mysterious labyrinth filled with dangerous monsters at every turn, cryptic messages scrawled on the walls left by less fortunate adventurers, traps, hidden doors and dead-ends. I was enamored.

“Hurry! Cast a healing spell!” I screamed as a band of Kobolds nearly killed the Fighter leading our party.

“I don’t know which spell is what!” James screamed. “They are all written in Latin or something!”

Moments later, the entire party was defeated.

“Oh no! My dad is going to kill me. This was his group, and I’m not supposed to play it. He’ll be so mad!” James gasped.

There was only one thing to do. I had to save James from what was sure to be a WHOLE WEEKEND of lawn mowing and car washing. We had to find a way to bring his Dad’s characters back to life. To accomplish that, we needed to create our own characters, send them into the dungeon to find and return the corpses of his father’s fallen party to the city where they could be resurrected.

It was truly a slumber party of epic proportions.

As I mentioned above, the game was Wizardry, and at the time it was the most fantastic thing I had ever played. It was the first game that really opened my eyes to world of swords and sorcery. If it wasn’t for Wizardry, I would have probably never taken an interest in other fantasy role playing games or even tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons. In Wizardry, you create and control a party of six characters. Their mission is travel to the bottom of a ten-level maze to recover a magical amulet stolen by a powerful wizard. There is no in-game map, so it’s wise to chart every step you take on graph paper. If you don’t, eventually, you WILL get lost – and that was bad. Very bad.

For a time, I could only enjoy the game when I’ve visit James. But a year or so later, I was able to get my hands on a copy of Wizardry for the Nintendo. The NES version was an upgrade of sorts, instead of being monochrome, the maze was colored a muddy orange. And there was actual music that played in town and on the title screen. Thanks to this port of the original classic, I was finally able to complete my quest to recover the amulet, thus completing the game.

When the sequel was ported to the NES, I purchased it and loved it just as much.


I knew that three more games existed in the series, but until the release of Wizardry V for the Super Nintendo, I was left out of the loop (my parents did not own a personal computer at the time).

Eventually, the information age hit my household and with the purchase of an IBM compatible PC by my mother, I saved my allowance and ran to the software store at the local mall. Sadly, too much time has passed and the older Wizardry titles were nowhere to be found. But the latest entry; Wizardry VI -Bane of the Cosmic Forge, sat shrink-wrapped on the shelf ready for me to take home. Even though it was now over a year old, this game was still a hot seller.

This was first title in a new direction for the Wizardry series. Released in 1990, the game features detailed graphics and outdoor environments. Bane was actually that start of a three game trilogy that wouldn’t come to a conclusion until 2001, with the release of Wizardry 8.

Bane of the Cosmic Forge

wizardry8-2   Wizardry 8

With the release of Wizardry 8 on the horizon, there was a enough renewed buzz around the series that a compilation was released of the first seven titles. The Ultimate Wizardry Archives. Finally, I was able to sit down and play all the games of the series that I had missed. It was delightful to watch the games progress in quality from title to title. Plus, finally being able to get my hands on the PC versions, I now had the ability to import characters from game to game.

As I dove into the series, I was surprised by the lack of information on the Internet available for Wizardry at the time, so I decided to create my own Wizardry fanpage. From 2001 to 2003, Kyler’s Wizardry Den was the largest source of Wizardry information on the net. I can boastfully say that my contributions to the Wizardry community live on this day. Even though my website is no more, the exclusive maps that I created can still be found floating around the web. At one point, I even boldly elaborated on the original background plot for Wizardry I, adding some colorful commentary and ideas to the scant three-line background found in the original manual. Before going bankrupt, Sir-Tech soft included my rendition of the Wizardry story on their website, officially making my ideas canon. I was honored.

Since the release of Wizardry 8 and the bankruptcy of the founding company, things here in the west have been quiet. Many young gamers have never even heard of the series. This, however, is not true for Japan.

Once Wizardry was released on the NES, the Japanese audience went wild. The first 7 games were made available on the Famicom, Super Famicom, and Sony Playstation (Japan only of course). At some point, a Japanese publisher bought the rights to the franchise and number of Japanese-exclusive games were made for handheld systems as well. To date, most of these Wizardry: Gaiden and Wizardry Empire titles have yet to see release in the US.

One exception was the release of Wizardry: Tales of the Forsaken Land. This title, known as Busin: Wizardry Alternative in Japan, did see a North American release on the PS2. While it did not sell very well at the time, it is long sought after by gamers like myself, and I highly recommended it. I have to admit, the Japanese “get it”. They understand what Wizardry is really about. If I may be so bold as to suggest, Tales of the Forsaken Land actually makes a better sequel to Wizardry V than Bane does. To me, it seems to be more of a natural progression. Sadly, the direct sequel  to Tales of the Forsaken Land never saw the light of day outside of Japan.

Wiz 6, 7, and 8, while great games, often times feel like RPGs from some other franchise. The Japanese titles, seem to stay very true to the roots of the series.

Tales of the Forsaken Land, was the our last taste of the Japanese Wizardry series until the recent release of Wizardy: Labyrinth of Lost Souls on the Playstation Network.


What a surprise this was! I am in love with this title. It is classic Wizardry with a nice modern polish to it. All of the original elements that made Wizardry unique are there. Yes, the Japanese have certainly put their own spin on the art-direction of the series. But, being a fan of Japanese art and culture, you will not hear any complaints from me.

I’m taking my time with this title, not wanting to finish it too fast because, believe it or not, the next chapter in the history of Wizardry is about to manifest here in the US with the release of Wizardry Online.

Yes! You read that right. Imagine, an MMO with the look and feel of the classic Wizardry… A maze crawler that features permanent character death, friendly fire, and always-on pvp. Brutal! The mere idea of it is an instant turn off for most western players. In games these days, if you die, no big deal. Just run out to your body in spirit form and resurrect with little to no penalty. Not with Wizardry Online. No sir! And we’re actually going to see a release here in the US. I still can’t believe it.

Just thinking about it, I am reminded of that night in ’89. Crawling through the uncharted dungeon trying to find Jame’s father’s characters…  I can’t wait to relive that magic moment again.



As I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, I grew up as a military brat. As a result, my family relocated numerous times during my youth. Shortly after starting my 4th grade year, my family moved to Okinawa, Japan.

Living in Japan was one of the most defining experiences of my life. I still remember the shock of exiting the doorway of the climate controlled airplane after a 22 hour flight and stepping into the humid sub-tropical air for the first time. It was was like a slap in the face. It was just like walking into a steamy sauna, only with the smell of salt water and foreign foliage in the air.

The jet lag had really taken a toll on me, and I found myself unable to sleep in the hotel room that first day. So, I flipped on the TV only to find three channels. One English speaking station operated by the US government and two local Japanese channels. Watching Japanese television for the first time was a wake up call like I’ve never had… A cheesy samurai soap opera, followed by a children’s show featuring an octopus farting into a Jello mold made one thing abundantly clear; I was now in a completely different world.

3772349310_7b9de77e47 A bottle of Sake featuring the corpse of a venomous Habu snake in the bottle

Living inside the confines of a military base in a foreign country can be a bit deceiving. Inside the barbed wire fence, you could almost believe you never left the normalcy of the USA. But step outside, and there’s no question… things are very different. One of the first things I learned to enjoy about Okinawa was the food. You can’t take five steps without encountering some kind of noodle dish. They are everywhere. Cold noodles, hot noodles, sweet, spicy, savory – you name it. Over my three-year stay in Japan, I became quite fond of the various flavors the orient had to offer. It’s an obsession that lasts to this day.

The first time you taste something like Miso, or some other foreign spice or sauce, it can be a little off-putting. But once you break thru the defensive concept of “I’m not used to this”, you might just surprise yourself! There’s often a whole world of good food out there that you never knew existed..

One thing I will say about the Japanese people, they certainly like their candy. Japanese snacks and confectioneries are like no other. The variety of flavors seems endless. For example, over here in the US, we have three flavors of Kit Kats. Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, and White Chocolate. That’s it. In Japan, that’s not the case. Over there, on the shelf of any random convenience store, you might find Kit Kats in such exotic flavors as: Wasabi, Orange, Banana, Cheese, Sweet Potato, Basked Potato, Key Lime, Green Tea, etc.


In the short three years I lived there, I was never able to get a firm grasp on the Japanese language.  But I did have many encounters with local kids my age. One thing that we both understood, regardless of our language barrier were video games. The Nintendo Entertainment System, or as it was called in the Japan, the “Famicom”, was extremely popular with the youth in Japan at the time.The two system shared a number of titles as well. This gave both American kids and Japanese kids a common interest. Games like Mario and Zelda didn’t rely heavily on words, so there was no real need to to be concerned with a language barrier when playing one of these games with local who couldn’t speak English. Occasionally,  a Japanese friend would lend me a Famicom game to take home and play. However, the shape of Famicom carts were different than those made for the NES. This initially led to a compatibility problem. But, thanks to the thriving Asian black market, there was an easy solution… Meet the “HoneyBee”:


This beautiful piece of engineering made it possible to fit a Famicom game into a standard North American NES. Oh, the fun times that were had thanks to this little devil.

But Japanese video games were not the only media that kids like myself enjoyed. The longer I lived there, the more I became absorbed with Japanese pop-culture. I viewed anime and crazy game shows, I read manga, I collected wacky Japanese pencils, I listened to local pop music. There’s so much I could write about when it comes to my experiences in Okinawa. And perhaps I will do so in future posts. For now, let this serve an introduction into my obsession all things Japan.

I consider myself to be a “Japanophile” of the most distinguished degree. Just don’t call me a “weeaboo”…