Justin Nation Avatar Image

Justin Nation

Windsor, PA
MAMEiac
MAMEiac
MAMEiac
MAMEiac

Favorite Games:
  • Mario Series
  • Civilization Series
  • Diablo Series

540 games reviewed
72.4 average score
75 median score
61.7% of games recommended

Justin Nation's Reviews

Strangely enough this isn't my first rodeo, back in the day I wrote for the N64HQ as well as a few other outlets on freelance gigs but then when the HQ closed I decided to step it up and started The 64 Source. As the first word of a follow-up system to the N64 began to swirl I then decided to venture out into completely new territory and started OperatioN2000, where I had very little regular reputable news to share. With no other options I decided create my own content focused on profiling key developers and their current relationship with Nintendo or "dream games" where I saw opportunities for Nintendo to dust off classics or recently-made games and do something new with them on improved hardware. This was all going pretty well until my wife and I decided to have our first child and I then decided that it was time to hang it up and focus on my family. As I closed down both sites I did decide to partner with Billy Berghammer, another former N64HQ writer, who had created his own site, PlanetN2000. We agreed to move over the relevant content from the older sites to his and on top of that I had taken a grad school class in programming in ColdFusion and decided to offer to code the front-end and back-end for a new version of his site. Through these efforts the newer and more complete Planet GameCube was born! While I would occasionally contribute to that site, helping do things like working out Louie the Cat doing rumors and other odd things, I eventually decided to stop as my family obligations grew. While I had continued to follow Nintendo through both the Wii and Wii U eras my TV time was limited enough that I began playing more PC games again. It is in the PC space that I began to play a number of independent games and they started to be the games I enjoyed the most. Between their lower price, their often less traditional gameplay and approach, and their great variety I was hooked! With the launch of the Nintendo Switch I was already excited by the possibilities. The portability factor alone meant that I would have far more options and places I could play away from the TV, and games like Breath of the Wild looked impressive. With my oldest daughter poised to start her senior year in high school and my youngest finishing out junior high I started to see an opportunity to get back into amateur games journalism once again with what is now Nintendo World Report as well but I'd initially just thought about writing some editorials periodically. Then, right before the launch of the system, Nintendo had their Nindie-focused presentation and I saw my two most beloved gaming worlds colliding. The games I had been playing on my PC could now be played in a portable way and on Nintendo hardware! Being the type who tends to work against the normal current the concept behind Nindie Spotlight was born!
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10 / 10.0 - Stardew Valley
Oct 8, 2017

Stardew Valley is a game I came to adore on the PC and I’m thrilled that it is now on the Switch so it can be played anywhere. Within my family there’s so much love for this game that my oldest daughter specifically bought her Switch for this very reason. Though she has “finished” the game at least 3 times already, and is a walking encyclopedia of Stardew factoids, she still keeps playing. That’s the power of this game, and the sense of serenity that’s so easy to have when playing it, and it is why I’m giving it the first 10 I’ve ever awarded for this site. It truly is a modern classic, blending elements multiple games have touched on before and combining them in just the right ways to make something truly special.

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10 / 10.0 - Dead Cells
Aug 6, 2018

Bottom line, Dead Cells is absolutely the new gold standard of how to make an amazing roguelike that’s brutally tough but also generally fair. Slowly but surely persistence and success will unlock new items and enhancements that will then lead to deeper and generally more rewarding runs. Rarely is the game solely to blame for your deaths, you always need to make smart use of the choices your given, even if they may not suit your ideal style. Explore, exploit your traps to their fullest, always know where you’ll be able to safely escape to when things go south, and be prepared with the right gear for fighting bosses and you will make progress. If you’ve been looking for that game that always feels good to play that you can look forward to returning to and will always deliver a challenge and excitement Dead Cells absolutely fits that bill.

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9.5 / 10.0 - SteamWorld Heist
Mar 25, 2018

With multiple skill levels available SteamWorld Heist is a game that anyone, from a tactical strategy newbie to a grizzled veteran, should be able to enjoy. Well-designed, looking fabulous on Switch, and thoroughly engaging it offers a rewarding combination of careful planning and then execution in aiming that I can’t get enough of. Pulling off a tricky ricochet shot from across the room is such a rush, just remember that when you inadvertently end up blowing up a crewmate a little later because you didn’t plan it out well. While battles can be aggravating at times the great news is that every time you try placements and layouts will tend to vary either a little or a lot so you may have just had a bad break. If you haven’t yet checked out SteamWorld Heist you owe it to yourself to give it a shot, it is unquestionably one of the best games on the Switch.

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9.5 / 10.0 - SteamWorld Dig 2
Sep 21, 2017

SteamWorld Dig 2 is a fantastic game that demonstrates the full potential of the seeds the original had planted. At every phase it is clear that the team behind it has grown in terms of both concepts and skill in implementation. For me playing it and writing this review has also made me reflect on the amazing rate that the indie development scene has matured and turned into the collective juggernaut we are seeing today. Not only are we seeing good games at lower prices, we are often seeing AAA quality and ambition as well. This excites me greatly and I’m looking forward to seeing what these team members, as well as their ambitious contemporaries, have in store for us next!

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As with my review of DOOM before it you’ll notice that to this point I haven’t brought up the Switch itself in regards to the game and that’s for good reason. Aside from some unique features it brings to the game in the form of some Amiibo support (which awaits you roughly mid-game in a prominent area), motion controls that you may enjoy or not care for, and the ability to take the game anywhere there’s not a lot to say. The reason for that is in this equation the Switch only seems to have pluses and no discernable minuses. The conversion of Skyrim is, for all practical purposes, a flawless one from the time I’ve spent in the game. The details are crisp, the performance has no signs of hiccups or slowdown, and despite being run on a tablet-sized device with much more modest memory capacity than larger consoles or PCs there seem to be no compromises in sight. The only edge would go to the PC version for its readily-available mod support that can help you alter the game in some substantial ways, but in the case of the Switch the ability to play it anywhere in style more than offsets that sacrifice and even arguably makes it a superior version to the other consoles. Despite its age Skyrim is just as rich and robust a game experience as it ever was, and the fact that it can be played on a portable device is a technical achievement worthy of some praise. Congratulations to the team at Nintendo for making versatile hardware capable of this feat and to Bethesda for having both the vision and expertise to pull this off and to set the bar so high for the other major publishers.

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9.5 / 10.0 - Battle Chef Brigade
Nov 20, 2017

While I had high hopes for Battle Chef Brigade what stands out for me is how much they’ve exceeded my expectations on pretty well every level. I came in hoping for something in a true indie spirit that was fresh, quirky, and utterly unique. What I got was a lengthy and well-made story complete with some great characters, challenging and varied gameplay, and a strategic component that forces you to make some tough decisions in how you want to approach your battles. If you either have any affinity at all for great Match-3 play or have an open mind to trying something completely odd but that works very very well in execution I have few reservations with recommending it.

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Nov 18, 2017

I am absolutely in love with this game even though until I reviewed it I had heard almost nothing about it and that’s simply criminal. While I’ve played quite a number of modern arcade-style shooters I don’t think as a total package any of them have impressed me as much as Squadron has. Every aspect of the game feels like it was put in place with both skill and love and I’d say if you have ever enjoyed arcade shooters at all Aces of the Luftwaffe Squadron is well worth picking up! I think it has earned its place at the top of the genre and serves as the bar other arcade-style shooters will be measured by.

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9.5 / 10.0 - The Messenger
Aug 28, 2018

Games that are so clearly terrific and special in many ways, but that have a degree of difficulty that makes me concerned not everyone will get a chance to appreciate it, always pose a scoring challenge for me. Unlike, say, a roguelike where some mild progression and sheer luck can give you good runs every once in a while here there are no tricks, shortcuts, or luck to be had. Your options are merely to “git gud” or to stop playing. It’s an approach I find admirable, and given the generally generous spacing of checkpoints I think it’s as fair as it can be without completely compromising. If you’re up to the challenge, or to give it a serious try, this is absolutely a rewarding experience and one that pays off more and more the further in you’re able to go. The evolution of its visual style and gameplay are something I’ve simply never seen before and I think will inevitably be copied, they’re so impressively done. What will be far tougher to have any hope of replicating, and what really sets The Messenger apart, is the game’s tremendous sense of humor and poking fun at itself. The result is one of the most deserving titles of “the hype” I’ve seen in quite some time.

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9.5 / 10.0 - The Gardens Between
Sep 19, 2018

While some may not be fond of the game’s conclusion (I personally thought it was appropriate and touching) the journey in The Gardens Between is absolutely a special one. While mechanically a puzzle game, and one that can be tricky in places, as an overall experience it has a remarkably universal quality that I think anyone can appreciate. In a sea of indie (and even AAA) titles it stands out and is deserving of both praise and your attention.

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Nov 2, 2018

All in all, even years into its life, Diablo III is an amazingly strong title that may have had a rocky start way back at launch but has course corrected and improved substantially over the years. It offers a ridiculous degree of variety in how you can approach combat, a tremendous menagerie of monsters and bosses to contend with, and the variety of things to do after you’ve “beat the game” is staggering if you enjoy grinding to get that ideal build. Even if you’re just planning to play through the story with a class or two that will take you quite a number of hours and with a wide array of skill levels to set the game to you can push yourself hard or opt to slaughter everything in your path. The fact that all of this can now be taken anywhere you go and plays practically flawlessly is a true testament to what the system and the development team who converted the title are capable of.

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