Super Mario Land
(Completed on 8 Apr 2024)

  • Once again, I felt like playing an action game after a long, sprawling RPG. This is the perfect little palate cleanser
  • Prior to this play through, I actually hadn’t beaten this one before. I remember long car trips with the Game Boy, getting so, SO close as a kid but never doing it. Saving isn’t supported in any way, so you have to beat it in one sitting.
  • By and large, I don’t think this game is very “good” as a Mario game, but it’s not imminently hatable and it doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s just a nice little way to kill 45 minutes.
  • The change of pace when it comes to power ups, level design etc is refreshing. Kinda funny that most of that kind of thing was done because of technological limitations


Metal Max
(Completed on 7 Apr 2024)

  • HOW had I only heard about this game recently?? Is it only because there was never an official North American release? Doesn’t seem to make sense considering the translation has been out for years. Either way, no one ever talks about it; there aren’t even any good guides on Gamefaqs or whatever.
  • The reason this is shocking is because Metal Max is incredible. I mean this with absolutely no qualifiers. It is not just “pretty good for its age” or “impressive considering the weak hardware they were working with.” None of that. It is unequivocally amazing.
  • Main takeaway that people should know: Metal Max is an RPG which has no trappings at all of a ‘fantasy’ setting. I would recommend the game regardless, but especially would recommend it if you’re tired of swords and dragons and such.
  • I’m not sure I’ve ever played another game which more perfectly demonstrates what it feels like to be a bounty hunter. Earning money is hard, bounties are not always easy to come by, and when you get one, you’re suddenly flush with cash and have to actually think about how you want to spend it.
  • Metal Max is also an open-world game. This is, again, meant in the true sense, I do not mean “oh some of the early ideas for an open world game were in here.” I mean it is truly open-world, you can hunt just about any bounties in any order.
  • Your party consists of a Hunter (you, the main character), a Mechanic, and a Soldier. All 3 of these roles do different things and are important. In addition, each of these 3 members can also pilot a Tank. Not all tanks in the game are literal tanks; there’s even a hotted-up van. You cannot drive the tanks anywhere you want, some places can only be accessed on foot.
  • Toward the end of the game, you end up with more money than you know what to do with, but in the early game, there is always a tension between spending money on human equipment or tank equipment. For example, if you don’t know what bounty you are going to hunt next, you could easily spend your whole bankroll on tank upgrades, only to find out that the next bounty is located somewhere the tanks can’t go.
  • It is so much fun to keep little notes, try and keep track of what you want to do and what order to do it in, and explore the world not knowing what’s on the other side of the mountains or the deserts or the massive cracks that have rended the continent in half
  • No spoilers in this review, but there is also a coherent story line to this game and certain things at the very end really are heart-wrenching. The translation I played is absolutely complete, it’s one of the better English patches I’ve seen for any game.
  • All that being said, I have to admit the things about this game that aren’t very good. All of the music and sound design is pretty weak. Individual songs in the game are good, but there are way too few of them. It gets very repetitive very fast.
  • The menu system is a complete nightmare, even compared to other Famicom RPG’s from around this time. Item management sucks, everything is buried 2-3 levels too deep, it’s easy to lose track of where you are, and text appears too slowly. Even the in-battle menus are tedious; it always feels like it takes way too long to get from “I’ve decided what I want to do” to “I have input the command to do it.”
  • I don’t know if the menu system helps or hurts this fact: combat is shockingly deep. In no sense is Metal Max one of those “push A to win” RPG’s. It doesn’t have the concept of “MP,” but there is “Ammunition.” Ammunition costs money, so you are constantly thinking whether every single encounter is economically viable. There are many, many circumstances where killing an enemy would not provide enough money to cover the ammo you spent to kill it.
  • These complaints are tiny in compared to what an achievement the rest of this game is. Though I have beat the final boss and shown the end screen, I want to go back and keep right on playing it right after I write this review. It is an amazing world to get lost in.

Housekeeping notes: RSS is live

Good afternoon frens. Hope everyone had a good Easter weekend.

I always thought I should write some kind of “recent changes” list for the site since I write all kinds of new features that are almost never obvious!

Today, the one I’ve added is an RSS feed. You can add it to your reader manually from


but auto detection also works (you can paste https://pyroclastica.com right into your reader app when adding a feed).

I think it’s a little rough; for one thing, it doesn’t display posts from the “Image stream” at all. But it does display all other posts! I figured, why let something so small prevent me from shipping? I can fix it later.

Eventually there will also be RSS feeds for each individual post type.

Also if you’ve never tried them, my favorite RSS reader apps are NetNewsWire and Reeder.

By the way, does anyone else remember how Feedburner used to let you submit your own RSS feed, and it would automatically turn that into an email list? So Feedburner themselves would email your subscribers whenever a new post hit your RSS feed? It looks like Feedburner might be still around, but I can’t find this feature anywhere! I have been wondering:

  1. If this is still in Feedburner, how to access it?
  2. If it is not still in Feedburner, is there another service that does similar? I would really rather not be in the business of sending my own emails!

If you know the answer to this, please email me or message me on Twitter or Mastodon!

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