Pleasantly surprising games

Some games you buy and expect a lot out of it and for good reason, The Legend of Zelda for instance has decades of good will built up and dozens of great adventures, every one of these I expect to a AAA, brilliant adventure. So it’s not a surprise when I get one, I know the basic experience I’m getting from Zelda. Dragon Quest 8 was my first Dragon Quest game (The first released in Australia) and I was well versed in the franchise pretty quickly so I knew what to expect, but there are some games that have little to no reputation at all and you play them then you’re completely blown away, that’s what this post is about, so without further adieu… (There’s no Gamecube games on here due to the recent Gamcube nostalgia piece, otherwise Metroid Prime, Eternal Darkness and Starfox Adventures would have shown up) I did repeat myself but they were games that really deserved it.

Rogue Galaxy (Playstation 2)

Rogue_Galaxy_fan__s_art_by_adipatijulianAll I saw of this game was the box art in the shop and couldn’t forget it. I went home and googled this game, all I needed to hear was “PS2 RPG” to get me to hand my money over then all the reviews of Level 5′s RPG spoke to me, Rogue Galaxy is a pirate themed outer space action-RPG with an incredibly deep customization and item creation system, not too dissimilar in spirit from the Dreamcast’s Skies of Arcadia or Levels 5′s Dark Cloud/Dark Chronicle games. Like all Level 5 RPGs this game has some of the deepest and most fulfilling dungeons out there to explore, one of the great aspects is that the game features as little loading as possible, whole areas are open to you once you arrive and they definitely aren’t small. Your journey has you playing as Jaster Rogue, a man who dreams of adventures and gets caught up with a group of bounty hunters and ends up as a space pirate. Continuing the great tradition in science fiction that space is either the old west or the seven seas from pirate times. It features a battle system similar to Kingdom Hearts and a 100 level optional dungeon for the truly hardcore, my 100+ hours were well spent.

The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind (PC, Xbox)

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I played this for a minute on my Uncles computer, couldn’t figure it out, quit and resumed Age of Mythology. Then when I needed X-Box software I grabbed this simply because I had heard of it. So I decided to play it properly and couldn’t believe what I found. The instructions told me I had complete control over everything, flexible classes, weapons, steal anything, do anything and I didn’t understand just what it meant until I play the game and was overwhelmed, I had too much choice. I often got lost, abandoning quests for the closest temple or cave, do not give me this much choice in an RPG, I’ll never put it down and never get anything done! This caused me to fall in love with the Elder Scrolls and the way Bethesda makes an open world. Leading to hundreds of hours in this, Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout 3 and New Vegas.

Catherine (Playstation 3, Xbox 360)

Catherine.(Character).full.1150020This game was sold on sex, Catherine on the surface looks like a sexy game. Sexy artwork, sexy cover art, sexy trailers but the game you get is pretty far from that but not in a bad way at all. I didn’t know what to expect going in but I left with one of my best experiences ever. I’ve gushed about this game before so I’ll repost that, LOVE LOVE LOVE this game. This is one of the most surprisingly and thrilling gaming experiences I’ve had.

 Atlus make amazing RPGs, they also make games that will force you to tear out your hair and they’ll mix genre as good as any company out there, so after loving Persona 1,2,3 and 4 I was ready for anything they created (so far I’ve got all their DS, 3DS and PS2 games that I can find) then along came Catherine, it wasn’t an RPG but it looked like a highly sexual anime puzzler, Atlus made it so I handed over my money. And couldn’t be happier that I did!

The strange tale of Catherine is about Vincent, his girlfriend Katherine (stay with me) wants more of a commitment from him, but he’s not after that so he gets drunk with mates and meets Catherine (yep) and after waking up next to her he then finds himself having nightmares where and he other men (who have sheep like features) climb up a tower, and this is where the game starts. You climb up a tower where you pull and push blocks to make platforms to climb to reach a destination (Think Qbert) that gets harder and harder   due to obstacles such as other climbers, spikes, ice and blocks that deteriorate. It’s poses a real and fun challenge. The other half of the game play has you at a bar, while there you drink which makes you a better climber, play mini games, chat to the patrons building social links like other Atlus games, while reading text messages from the girls where your reply affects a naughty/nice value system that along with other choices affects your ending, of which get stranger and stranger. These choices are done at the start of every stages, you sit in s confessional and answer relationship questions with a selfish or selfless answer.

The storyline over the course of the game is wacky, as Vincent juggles two relationships he gets sucked into a story involving demons, fighting girls, and bosses, oh the bosses are great! A character has a pregnancy scare and the next boss is a baby or onetime it’s a crazy lover, you also unlock crazy difficulties and extra levels that I will never finish. This is one of the freshest, innovate experiences this generation, and I’ll never forget it, Atlus go from strength to strength, now where the hell is Persona 5?

Warioware (Nintendo DS)

wario_ware_madness_by_hoppybadbunny-d36hyfmI can’t explain why I bought this but wow, the WarioWare series is built on the “microgame” concept. This is the simplest of games, you play microgames which essentially are mini games that goes for 5 seconds, that eventually get faster and faster with faster and faster music that ends up being quite ridiculous, these consist of slashing swiping, blowing, basically any input the DS can handle. This is one of the fastest paced and whackiest games available, anyone who has ever liked fun would enjoy this. There isn’t a whole lot I can say about this, except just play it, even for 5 minutes, it’ll be a VERY satisfying time.

(even in German, this video shows off the greatest of this series)

Bravely Default (Nintendo 3DS)

bravely-defaultYes, it’s from Square-Enix, the biggest RPG developer in the world, however this is a totally new IP not linked at all the many, MANY other RPG franchises the powerhouse company has under it’s belt. Traditional JRPG fans have been disappointed with Square in recent times, they tried and failed to recreate their old magic with games based on fresh IP as they did in the 90s with Grandia or Chrono Trigger with games like The Last Remnant and Infinite Undiscovery, after the really great and refreshing Final Fantasy Four Heroes of Light, it was time for a sequel, which Bravely Default started as, however it was decided along the way to make this into it’s own franchise. Bravely Default is everything Final Fantasy used to be. A new team was given free reign on the 3DS and they created magic, The game has a unique world, fun characters, dozens of optional quests, and an amazing battle system, Using a Brave or a Default, allows you to either take up to 4 turns at once or to defend allowing multiple turns later. The most addictive feature is the building of your own village, each day you connect online with other players anonymously, and they’re add to the town, then you assign then to rebuild shops, unlocking the best gear in the game, in other hands this would be tacked on social features but it actually works here and adds a new dimension. The story about saving magical crystals isn’t anything to write home about and the middle section of the game is odd, you basically repeat the same thing 4 times over, it’s a grind unless you play the side quests again each time and you’ll find a very fun story unfolding in the background and unlocking a more satisfying ending. This game is AMAZING. I stopped playing all others when this came out and it’s deserved, a fun story, great characters and a new battle system. 10/10 MUCH WOW! My 3DS tells me my average playing time was over 2.5hrs each time I turned on the game, it’s that good.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (XBox, PC)

34cbe8fd4e2fb49655b5f665beff1d45Ahh, Knights Of The Old Republic, the biggest surprise on the list, I didn’t want to like it when I bought it, I wanted to trade it in! Before this there were some very good Star Wars games (such as the Dark Forces, Jedi Knight series, Shadows of the Empire) but none like this, when I bought my X-Box I needed games, I wanted Jedi Academy, since I loved it’s prequel, Jedi Outcast, on the Gamecube, so I bought that and this game as well (on my friends recommendation) initially I hated this game and focused on Jedi Academy but after giving it a second chance, I fell in love with one of the best RPG games of all time AND one of the best Star Wars stories ever. KOTOR plays using D&D rules and a typical PC RPG battle system, on top of this is a deep light/dark personality system and great conversations with NPCs. You play as an amnesiac Republic soldier in the middle of a war with the Sith, who quickly becomes a Jedi chasing an old artifact called the Starforge, visiting familar and non familiar Star Wars worlds interacting with hundreds of memorable characters. The game features an incredible amount of side quests with a lot of choice surrounding all of that and an epic main plotline. I’ve played through this dozens of times and will do so many many more times. Lucky I made the decision to actually play this instead of trading it in!

Lost Odyssey (X-Box 360)

lostodyssey_01I heard about this because after the spectacular failure of Final Fantasy The Spirits Within, Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi “quit” the then named SquareSoft and started with own development company, Mistwalker which has given us some other good JPGs such as Blue Dragon and The Last Story. I was really excited to see their output and the trailers for Lost Odyssey didn’t disappoint, it looked epic. It has one of the most emotional storylines I’ve ever played, as all the immortal characters have amnesia (yep, amnesia in an RPG, never seen that before) but it works and turns out to be an all around amazing JRPG experience that may never be matched, my previous article on this game says it all:

If you’re just talking beauty, not in graphics (though they’re definitely good) but in terms of a story and the world it creates, look no further. The game tells the story of five immortals from a parallel world transported to an earth which is undergoing a “magical revolution” and get dragged into a war between continents. The evil Gongora is using a magical weapon called Grand Staff to take over the world and your band of immortals and regular folk must chase him around the world and defeat his plans, this would seem like your standard RPG fair if not for the characters and the world Sakaguchi built around them. The immortals struggle with their identity and what they mean to the world around then, and setting the world in a “Magical Revolution” sets up a visually stunning world.

The battle system is a unique take on turn based affair, you face random encounters which will immediately turn modern gamers off, but once you get inside a battle the fun begins. Attacks are based on time, if you do a physical attack or use an item it gets done straight away, but a spell may take 2 or 3 or 4 turns to cast, so you need to add strategy, is it worth it to use a weak attack and do 20 damage now or use a higher level attack and do 45 later. Most developers wouldn’t take the extra step that Mistwalker does, your immortal characters can fall unconscious in battle but they resurrect turns later, while their human counterparts do not.

The real beauty here and the thing I will never, ever forget are the “A Thousand Years of Dreams” all throughout the game you find little stories of Kaims life, written by Japanese writer Kiyoshi Shigematsu and translated by a Harvard scholar. These thirty three stories may be the most meaningful, imaginative and heartfelt writing gaming has ever seen, and that is not fanboy exaggeration or hyperbole, I would recommend reading to fans and non gamers alike. http://www.wattpad.com/story/530761-forgotten-dreams-of-eternity-lost-odyssey-thousand

Kingdom Hearts Retrospective

It took me until the release of the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix to actually get into this series after I wasn’t interested in it when it was first released, but it was well worth it to buy this collection and I actually regret not doing so sooner. I dove straight in and bought everything I could soon after. So let’s go over the ones I’ve played and look toward the future of the series.

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Beginning with where it all began, Kingdom Hearts for the Playstation 2 released in 2002, the game that was created because Square wanted to make a 3D adventure game to rival what Nintendo had done with Super Mario 64 Continue reading

Elder Scrolls Online Beta Impressions

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So I got VERY lucky and was chosen for the fourth round of beta testing over the 7th of Feb until 10th of Feb weekend, to the envy of many people I know. Going in I had a lot of questions, I needed my mind to be changed on this game, I stopped playing MMO’s a long tome ago and wasn’t sold on The Elder Scrolls in the genre, does it feel like an MMO? Like every MMO? Does it actually feel like an Elder Scrolls? Most importantly is it fun and worth $88 Australian and then a further $15 a month to access it? let’s go over all the important information I learnt from 3 days of playing this game.

To me after spending time with this game a decision on purchasing it comes down to one thing, can you pay $15 a month for Skyrim? That may be the question for every pay-to-play MMO, but it feels more important here. Continue reading

Nostalgic Gaming: The Gamecube

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The Gamecube era was the first time I truly had control of my gaming destiny, it was when I had enough money to not have to ask for games or wait to get gifts. So when I could buy myself one of the brand spanking new consoles I saw that the Gamecube had a remake of Resident Evil coming soon and Super Mario Sunshine! So I saved and saved and bought the console with Mario Party 4, Luigi’s Mansion, Resident Evil, Super Mario Sunshine. This turned out to be one of my best gaming decisions ever.

Before the Gamecube you could say I had no console allegiance, I owned a Mega Drive until it died, then it was replaced with a Playstation 1 and Nintendo 64. I eventually got all three consoles but the Gamecube always had a line up screams fun and adventure and Nintendo always feels like that friend who always provides a great time.

While the Gamecube lost it’s generation sales wise, it left a legacy of titles to be very proud of. So my favorites in no particular order… Continue reading

Nintendoom and how to fix it

nintendo-2Perhaps the greatest lineup of characters of any company, rivaling Disney and Marvel

So, Nintendo is in a bit of trouble…

The Wii U hasn’t been selling very well and although it’s sold 40 million units overall, the past year for the 3DS was very good (and the highest of any console) but not at Nintendo’s projections, After altering sales forecasts for Wii U and 3DS they announced they had lost money this quarter and then said management would be taking pay cuts, Nintendo also announced a new business strategy to shareholders, let’s analyze this and see what’s good/bad and could be better.

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TV Review: Sherlock Season 3 (Spoilers)

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Aaaaaaand we’re back!

Sadly and magnificently Sherlock season 3 has ended. The end of this show is always bitter sweet. You watch three great movie length episodes then a cliffhanger and an agonizing wait for more. I would put this show up against any other.

Season 3 had a lot to do, the cliffhanger from season 2 with Sherlocks apparent death and rebirth had left viewers hanging for two years and episode 1 “The Empty Hearse” based on the Sherlock resurrection “The Empty House” story had to provide a good answer to this, update us on Watson, establish the new status quo for the show AND give us a compelling case for Sherlock to solve that would bring he and Watson together.

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Why change genre for a sequel?

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When you play a Dead Space game it’s a fantastic third person horror game, so why is the Wii spinoff/sequel an on rails shooter?

When Capcom announce new Resident Evil games on the Wii why are they on rails shooters? Resident Evil is a third person survival horror game!

When certain games get portable spinoff or sequels why is the gameplay completely changed into a card based system? Fans would have gotten really excited for a proper Metal Gear Solid game on the PSP, but instead they get a card game and while Ac!d was fun, it wasn’t Metal Gear.

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